Friday, December 31, 2010

Minivan Rock Show

For those of you that don't know me personally you may not realize that I was classically trained in A Capella Shower Solos and Car Radio Duets. It's a gift I have really. Someday you may be so lucky as to pull up next to me at a stoplight when Bohemian Rhapsody comes on. ... it's quite a show. I think I've even gotten better (or worse depending on your angle) since parenthood started as it's now almost like an outlet. Anyway, yesterday I park my car and finished up the high note on a Linkin' Park song and as I grab my cell phone I realize I've gotten a text from Gina (of course I can't hear my phone cause I'm in full blown rock mode) asking me to stop by Costco and pick up diapers - I have no problem running errands but I hate getting home and then having to go out again. So I head over to Costco, have a few choice words with some other drivers on my way, and then pick the worst line in the place to purchase my one item the night before New Years Eve. While in line I get a call from Gina who tells me she's got to run out to the Armenian store for some things but she's in the Costco parking lot getting gas and she wants to switch cars so I can get the girls home and she doesn't have to take them with her. No problem, switch goes fine, but now I've got this built up energy from the whole thing. We start to drive away and Gina's got some country song playing on her iPod so I quickly turn that off and the radio on. It was like the heavens opened up and a white dove descended on us as the soft piano starts up on the Styks "Come Sail Away". I turn around and warn the girls that the show is about to commence and they had better be ready for the ride. As the sun drops over the horizon and twilight sets in I start in with the soft vocals, serenading my lovelies in the back seat. Then, it gets amazing; just when the heavy guitar riff ignites the girls start dancing (they are my children after all) and those little light up shows I talked about a few days ago start going crazy. Suddenly, in the dark car, we've got a special effects light show keeping time with a full scale rock performance. It was like we were center stage at the Staples Center, and it made for one hell of a 5 mile car ride home. All we need now is a diaper fog machine and some pyrotechnic bibs and we can go on tour opening for KISS. Ok, maybe we'll start with Rafi or the Wiggles. ... they might be more down our alley.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh The Faces They'll Show

Being a parent you often find yourself wondering where this stuff comes from. Is this from my side of the family or can I somehow pin it on hers? Is it contagious? Is it free thinking or just a random coincidence? Last night Arianna was making the funniest face I can recall ever seeing it, and she did it over and over throughout the evening (I'm told it had already gone on through out the day as well). She looked like a constipated Lou Ferrigno turning into the Incredible Hulk. She had her arms outstretched and locked at the elbows, fists balled, eyes bulging from her face and a teeth barring, clenched jaw grimace. She'd hold the pose for about 10 seconds, sometimes so tightly that she'd shake a little, and then she would bust up laughing and run away. I don't know where she got it. I don't know if she was pretending to be angry or just being silly, or if she was focusing really hard and then became embarrassed when she realized I was watching her. I have no idea. All I know is I became so fascinated that I too began doing the pose subconsciously. Should make for an interesting work day today. Who issued this unathorized PO??!!! You. ... won't. .... like me. ... when. ... I'm. ... aaaannnnngggrryyyyyyyyy!!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unoriginally original

When Gina and I started the process of choosing names for our daughters we had several factors to consider. First there was the Greek factor. Most of the time Greek families name their children after someone specifically, be it relative or important religious figure. At the very least they choose a Greek name for sure. This gives rise to the stereotype that all Greeks are named either Nick, John or George. ... which a lot of them actually are. There was also my side of the family which tends to choose names based on their meaning (which Gina only recently realized that all names actually had meanings attached to them) and often based on a passing of initials or similar sounds(my Grandfather, Uncle, Cousin and Second Cousin all carry the initials RWS while my sistes and I all have the hard "K" sound to start our naems). What we decided was to screw all expectations from our families. We were going to choose names that we fell in love with, regardless of whether they fit into the molds expected of us. We wanted names that went well together but were independently beautiful and strong; and also names that were not overly common. There is nothing wrong with the Sarahs, Chris' and Matts of the world, but I grew up with 5 friends named Chris and 4 named Josh and we eventually just called them all by their last names only. I didn't want that for my kids. I wanted names that were familiar yet under-used. So we spent an entire afternoon sitting on a bench at the dog park going through names in a giant book one by one while we threw the ball for fat dog (who, at this time was still skinny dog because we had plenty of free time in those days to sit on a bench at the dog park and work her out all afternoon). We came up with our top 10 lists and then compared. Similar names moved on to another list which we then ranked. The common denominators (we both had the same top two so that worked well) became our girls' names. We chose them for beauty and meaning and it worked out well that one has Greek roots and one has Celtic roots so everybody could be happy. We then passed on our mother's names for the middle names. So we put all this work in to come up with these somewhat unique names - granted not as unique as Sarsaparilla but not as common as Emily, at the time the top name - you can then imagine our frustration when Gina stumbles across an article from Parenting Magazine last night listing Genevieve as one of the best baby names for 2010. And not just top 50, number 7! What the "f"?! It also goes on to predict that after a bold jump from it's 2009 standing Genevieve is destined to be the new "it" name in coming years. We didn't want an "it" name. We wanted a unique name. We wanted our daughter to be known as Genevieve, not as Genevieve K., or Genevieve Kopp or (god forbid) just Kopp. Granted, it is kind of awesome to be in the front of a "coolness" wave, but why can't I have that apply to my hair cut or my fashion sense? Something like this I really had hoped to keep as just ours. Between the two of us, Gina and I have only known 1 person named Genevieve. In 28 years just 1! I only knew of 2 people named Arianna and neither of them I knew personally. I really wanted to keep it that way. But it appears our attempts and uniqueness are just too popular. Alas, we are destined to be cool. Damn you hipster genes! Damn you to hell!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ever look at your feet when you walk? Don't.

It seems there is always that one present at any gift giving function that surpasses all the others. It's not always the most obvious choice, either. Sometimes it's a cool hat that gets more attention then the new video game system. This year the girls scored a giant slide, a pink retro tryke, glow worms, giant stuffed animals and a whole mess of cute cloths. But there is one present that has almost consumed them (and Gina) more than any other. Sketchers. Yes, shoes. It shouldn't come as a shock that the only thing most women love more than a fancy pair of shoes is a fancier pair of shoes - and my wife (and now my daughters) are no exception. Gina's dad and stepmother bought the girls (among a slue of other things) a pair of shoes that look like a 6 year old on speed got a hold of a bedazzler and their younger siblings tennies. As if that wasn't enough of a sensory overload they decided to put LED lights in the toes so that every time the kid takes a step their own private fireworks shoe goes off on their foot. Gina had wanted to buy these very same shoes a while ago, but as we could only get a few pairs at the time and the Nordstrom's shoe lady convinced her to go with shoes that had better support for the girls developing feet. Damn sales person, looking out for the well being of our children! Anyway, when Gina unwrapped them at her dad's house she went berserk, so the last two days these have been the shoes the girls have worn. They are very cute, and very stylish, but they are also very distracting. Not only do I catch the girls walking into walls while staring at their toes, but as we drove home from Arizona I kept thinking I was getting pulled over as I'd see red and blue flashes in my mirror as the girls kicked their feet together the see the light show. Again, I think the shoes are awesome, but maybe we can figure out some way to divert their gaze to the horizon in front of them and not straight down at their feet. It's not that everyone else around can't see them coming (for crying out loud I think the International Space Station has got a clear view of their movements), it's the objects that are incapable of movemen that I'm concerned about. Like the table, the wall and the staircase.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Real Horses Don't Sing Songs

We are back from Arizona, and despite the saving grace of my iPad and the abundance of WiFi signals the residents of the two homes we stayed in couldn't seem to remember the passwords necessary to access said WiFi, so I've been going through what some may call blogging withdrawal, which leaves sufferers finding themselves air-typing their thoughts out onto an empty lap or table top. Really just makes you look neurotic more than anything else. So let me catch you up. First off all we've had a lot of rain in California and, in case you didn't know this about Californians, we don't handle weather well; especially water molecules that fall from the clouds. ... we don't really know what to do with it. So the drive out Monday night (an already 8 hour drive) took a bit longer considering the first 100 miles were at 35 miles an hour. We ended up rolling in to Tucson around 3 am to find my father in law (bless his soul) still up waiting for us. He helped us in and we finally got the girls to sleep in their pack n' plays by 4 or so. Next morning we were a bit groggy, but thrilled to be out of the rain an in Grandpa's house. One thing about Grandpa is he loves horses. They have a horse boarding business on their property (also a sports club and a wedding facility) and his wife's family has a huge cattle ranch in southern Arizona. So waiting for the girls when they got up Tuesday morning were their very own first horses. They were plush, stuffed and nailed to curved pieces of wood to help them rock, but they were horses as far as we were concerned. They even whinnied and moved their heads when you squeezed their ears. The girls were very intrigued by this. In fact, when we went and saw they real horses later they kept trying to squeeze their ears to see if it worked on them. Turns out real horses don't work that way. That, of course, didn't stop us. The rest of the week was full of adventures. We went to the zoo, we went to a choo-choo park, we visited the ducks and even a fancy high society party in Phoenix. We were very busy, and very good apparently because Santa spoiled us rotten. ... or was it Grandpa?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas in the Desert

T-minus 6 hours until launch (and 4 hours to lunch, which is good too). We're heading out to Arizona today to spend Christmas with Gina's dad and his family. It'll be nice as we've not done the holidays out there before (at least since I've been around) and instead of bouncing around between our families here we'll be in one spot the whole time. It's also nice because Grandpa gets the short end of the stick on time with the girls, living so far away. Almost a whole week will be really good for everybody. The 9 hour drive there and back, however, will be good for nobody. ... especially mom and dad. Our plan is to leave a little past nap time so they sleep a few hours. Then we can stop and run around, get some dinner and then they'll only have to "suffer" for an hour or so until they reach the bed time zone and sleep the remainder of the way. ... keep in mind this is only a theory, like Cold Fusion, Spontaneous Generation or the Michelson-Morley experiment. ... not a physics person, huh? Anyway, the goal is to get there by midnight, at which point we'll have to then confront moving sleeping babies in to a strange new house with pack-n-plays. I'm assuming it will be good times all around. But hey, that's what you do for the holidays, right? You make yourself and those around you as miserable as possible so that you can bask in that misery together with those you love most. I'm pretty sure that's the meaning of Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa, Ashura, even Bodhi Day. So, in case I don't get to blog again, Merry Ashbodhikwanzhannumas Everybody!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Mr. Kopp please come to the kids club. Mr. Kopp to the kids club."

Gina and I are gym rats. One of our first conversations when we met in college was about work out regiments (hot, right? It was followed up with a debate about who loves ice cream more. ... we have a lot of inner conflict going on). Anyway, I use my lunch breaks during the week and Gina will typically run before the yoga classes she teaches, but Saturdays are a bit of a mess because of time constraints. Typically I will do an early morning run with fat dog, and then Gina will leave when I get back so she can run before her class. Today we thought, since the girls are down to one nap a day and can usually wait until after noon to take it, we would go to the gym together and put them in the kids club. One nice thing about teaching is you get free kids club. So we dropped them off, Gina went off to her class and I climbed aboard the tread mill. Literally, just after I passed the second mile mark I hear the big brother voice come over the speakers "Mr. Kopp, please report to the kids club. Mr. Kopp, to the kids club." I had flashbacks to grade school and being summoned to the principals office (I wore a shirt that said "Shift Happens" a week after the Northridge quake. ... to my private Christian school. Surprisingly they weren't offended by the insensitivity to a catastrophic natural disaster, but were unamused with the implications of swear words). I flew off the tread mill and entered the kids club a sweaty mess to see Genevieve crying hysterically. "She's just really tired" said the attendant. First of all, everyone says this. ... all the time. My daughter has "sleepy eyes", that's just how she looks, but I'm not going to argue with the 12 year old in charge. I convince her to hold them for 5 minutes so I can just shower and I return to now two screaming babies. Gina has 40 minutes left on her class, it's raining outside and I've got to do something. I can't go home, because I'll have to turn right around to get Gina. I can't sit in the car because. ... well. ... that'll make them much less happy. I'm afraid they might fall asleep, but they haven't eaten lunch yet. What to do, what to do. So I left the gym and headed straight to McDonald's. ... that's like leaving church to hit up a bar. I figured I'd get some chicken nuggets and some milk and at least get them fed. Well, there is no left hand turn opportunities and a severe shortage of u-turn locations in this area so after a series of strategic lefts I came back to McDonald's to find a line down the street. By the way, nobody is fussy anymore. In fact, we seem to be quite amused at Daddy's frustration. It dawned on me that there was a Weinerschnitzle (hard word to spell) nearby, so I jumped out of line and headed back toward the gym. I found an empty drive-thru line, but apparently there was only one woman working the entire restaurant, and I have a feeling she was literally processing the hot dog meet herself from some swine she was hand raising in the back because it took her 20 minutes from taking my order until she was able to produce 6 mini corn dogs and a small fries (I asked for apple slices to which she replied "we don't serve fruit" - I questioned the fruit smoothie machine in the corner and she said it was from a can. ... awesome). So I got back to the gym parking lot 35 minutes later then sat my 6'2" self backwards on the center console of our 4Runner and fed my lovelies until Gina came out. The gym staff also forgot to tell her we would be waiting in the parking lot so she waited in line to pick up two kids from the kids club who weren't actually there. It was a fun Saturday morning. Not likely that we'll try to go to the gym at the same time for a while, but hey, this is how you learn, right?! Right?!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Adult Conversations

We had some friends over last night for dinner, which we hadn't done in ages (about 15 months), and the girls behaved beautifully - minus a little meltdown at bath time. But can you blame them, who wants to leave the party to go wash behind their ears? They proudly waddled around showing everybody their toys and how things worked, making sure to wrap each of them around their little fingers as they do so well. You know that children take on the mannerisms of their parents, otherwise we wouldn't have those cliche sayings such as "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" or "she's her mother's daughter/father's son", but it's still crazy to see yourself so much in someone that young. Gina and I are entertainers by nature. Gina loves to go all out and make everyone happy and comfortable be it through food or conversation. I, on the other hand, am a board certified schmoozer; as happy as a clam bouncing from conversation to conversation, handshake to handshake throwing out one liners and compliments like they're mardi gras beads in New Orleans. Our daughters are very much the same. There's a group of people other than Mom and Dad and they happily bounce from person to person, comfortably working the room like they've been trained to do it. It was very cute to see. Now this wasn't a rager of a party, just a couple of friends, but in our small place it feels like a packed room, so after the girls went down to bed it turned in to more of an intimate conversation at the table (trying to keep our voices down but occasionally told we were being too loud by a well placed Genevieve scream). There was one point of conversation, though, that I really wanted to share with you here, involving the parabola of aging and our reflections on the world around us. One of our friends is finishing up her masters and as a result is doing some tests at the college nearby. She was explaining how she was working with this 95 year old man the other day and as they walked across the campus toward the lab a large plane flew overhead. This college is right in the flight pattern of a regional airport and a large military base, so those of us nearby are so used to fly by's we don't even acknowledge them anymore. But she related how this old man stopped completely and just looked up to watch the plane, taking in the wonder of what an incredible thing it is until it had gone from sight. If you stop and think about it, it truly is an amazing thing to witness. In his life time he's gone from a sky that was exclusively for the birds to one dominated by magnificent metal beasts, defying the laws of the universe. Her story reminded me of our daughters, though. For example Genevieve and the moon. Every time she gets outside she looks around to find it, and when she does she stares and points in awe at the glowing orb above her. I haven't really looked at the moon in who knows how long. I've seen it. I know it. It doesn't impress me any more. But to her, it's brand new. It's interesting. Who knows how many more times she'll be able to find it in the sky. It's an interesting arch of human nature. To travel from amazement, to indifference and finally to respect. For our girls and for this older gentleman, these experiences are limited. For our girls they are new and unique, for him they may be the last of their kind. I just found that to be a beautiful comparison. Though they are nearly a century apart in age, they are still looking at the world through similar, open eyes while the rest of us walk around with blinders on all day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No, not the bubbles. Anything but the bubbles!!!

It was a pleasant evening in Southern California. The sky was greying with future rain clouds and the Kopp family had just finished a Christmas shopping run. The girls had eaten their dinner and everyone was happily playing, and that's when they attacked. ... bubbles! Dun, Dun, Duuuuuuuun.

I don't know what my problem is. I have visions of my children in bubble baths and I can't seem to let the idea go. I've got bath time pictures of my childhood; big grins and foamy beards; and I can't help but want the same enjoyment for my children. But as much as they like bubbles floating through the sky, you better keep those damn bubbles out of their bathtub. I'd tried to slip some in last week and everyone freaked out on me. I thought at the time it was because they were already in clear water and suddenly they couldn't see their toes any more and this bothered them. So last night I put the bubble bath in while the water was running so the bubbles would be there to start with. ... nope. We have a bath time ritual of throwing all of our tub toys in to the water before I throw them in, which the girls have a blast doing. Last night they just peeked reluctantly over the edge of the tub at the soupy mess below and I had to put the toys in for them. This should have been the first sign. As I went to put them in afterwards (first Genevieve and then Arianna) they started screaming bloody murder as soon as their toes slipped below the frothy surface. It was like the shower scene from Psycho in duplicate. ... with more bubbles (good call on the chocolate syrup blood Hitchcock; in our scene the bubbles everywhere made it hard to take the screaming seriously and the last thing you want is Norman Bates giggling as he brings his knife down). Momma abandoned her attempt at wrapping presents and enjoying a glass of wine and quickly pulled the plug to send those bubbles back to hell. But now we've got two wet, screamy, foamy babies and it's too much work to try and refill the tub and start over at this point. So I get the mati (evil eye) from Momma as she has to now jump in and shower with each one individually while I hold the other naked baby and hope not to get peed on. Even though the bubbles were gone, the night was shot. Everyone was in grumpy moods from then on and they all blamed Daddy for it. No one wanted me to hold them or dress them or even look at them the wrong way (except Momma, she would laugh every time I muttered "damn bubbles" to myself like a crazy person). So we learned a valuable lesson last night: bubbles floating by in the air, good. Johnson and Johnson Bedtime Bubble Bath "to soothe your child before bedtime", bad. Very, very bad.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life Style Choices

I'm not the type to judge. I'm the understanding guy; the one who can almost always see the other sides point of view. If you don't pray the same, eat the same or love the same as me; I'm all good with that. You do what you feel compelled to do with your life and I'm going to do what I feel compelled to do with mine, and I believe if we can all allow that in one another we're destined for a much happier planet then the one we currently live on. That being said, my daughter is much to young to be making such life decisions already. It seems Arianna has made the life style choice of. ... ugh. ... a vegetarian. Now, nothing against herbivores, I'm just saying we have these sharp little teeth called canines for a reason, to tear flesh from bone. Why deny that? She just decided to stop eating meat. Just flat out decided. Today she wouldn't eat chicken nuggets at her Yiayia's house. Seriously, kid not eating chicken nuggets is one thing, these were in the shape of dinosaurs. ... DINOSAURS! What's wrong with my child?! Now I'll let her slide here. We don't eat fried things in our house, while we are carnivorous we are still pretty health conscious (that's what happens when you marry a yoga instructor), so perhaps the texture threw her off. But then we went to sushi for dinner tonight and we ordered the girls the kids chicken meal, which is normal chicken, not fried. She touched it to her lips and started gagging on it like it was poison. How could she not like the taste? If everything tastes like chicken then you've got to like actual chicken, right? She had no problem scarfing down the rice or the edema me beans. She did fine with cheese and avocado earlier at lunch, too. She's been like this the last few days. Last night she wouldn't eat the meat in the ravioli, either. Time for an intervention. Or an exorcist. I can handle any life choice, but this. She's part Greek for crying out loud, how am I going to explain this to my in-laws?! It's ok, it's ok. She'll just eat the lamb.

Oh, and like it's not obvious which table has the little kids at it, you've got to put up a caution sign because we spilled one glass of lemonade? Really?! Thanks. Might as well put us in a HASMAT bubble and set up a quarantine area until we finish our meal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Please Don't Feed The Animals"

I don't care how cute and cuddly they appear, these are still wild animals.


This is for your own safety.

Thank you, the Management.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mother of All Headaches, meet the Mother of All Mothers

I hate Web MD. I think people are made more paranoid with the modern age ability to self diagnose. I am constantly on Gina's case because she's the worst at this, and if you don't know medicine (which we don't) a simple sty can become eye cancer and an an ingrown hair is one of those "tree man" tumors. That being said, I have "cluster headaches". Apparently it's a form of migraine that manifests behind the left eye and only affects the left side of the face and neck. The symptom descriptions match mine to the "t" and I'm not a fan of doctors offices, so I'm going with this self diagnosis until my head falls off and proves it otherwise. When I get these flair ups there's not much that can be done. Pain killers never seem to do the trick; the only thing that makes them go away is sleep. I had the latest round start up on Tuesday morning and it died back down by Tuesday evening. It flared up again really bad yesterday, though, so much so that I left work a little early and by the time I got home all I could do was fall in to bed. Gina was a little surprised (nearly had a heart attack) when she came home and saw a 6'3" shirtless man standing in her hallway coming to greet her(when I get these I can't even pick up the phone and have a conversation - just driving home took every ounce of energy). She sent me back to bed and allowed me to rest a little longer. Unfortunately, she had to leave by 5:00 to teach a class. As she was getting ready I even asked her to call in sick, I offered to pay her fee if she'd just stay and let me sleep. She eventually conceded, but by that time I had determined that the 60 people waiting for her shouldn't be disappointed just because I have a headache. People operate under much greater trauma, so I practically pushed her out the door and I took a deep breath, put on my happy face and played with the girls. I literally just wanted to stick a hot poker in my eye, but I limped along through the next 30 minutes until dinner time. I got them in their seats and started handing out pasta noodles. As I was cutting up some bananas, focusing everything I had on not cutting off a finger on accident, I noticed a woman in white outside my window (sounds like a fairy tale, or the beginnings of a Christmas song) waving at us. I was in no mood to deal with people, but I trudged over to the door to figure out what she needed. When I opened it I realized it was my mother in law. "I was called for reinforcements" she said. My instinct is to not impose on people so I assured her I could manage, but she told me she had already driven all that way and I wasn't getting rid of her that easy. Thank god. She asked what she could do and I word vomited "everything" so she gladly took over. I then crawled back in to bed and fell asleep. I woke up nearly an hour and a half later, headache gone and the girls just heading off to bed. I hate the fact that I missed those few hours with them. The whole point of my 9 hours at the office is to make it home for those 3 at home, but I needed it. Better yet, my wife KNEW I needed it and she made the call with out consulting me (because I would have refused the help). Thank god for these amazing women in my life who take care of me: the world's greatest wife and mother and the woman she learned it all from. With out them I would be a mess. And a very cranky mess at that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adventures in Baby Proofing

Whether or not you are one who believes in such things, there are "signs" all around us in the world. Some people live their lives by these signs, some ignore them as happenstance. Gina's grandmother, for example, is from Greece and she read in a coffee cup (it's an old Greek tradition so just go with it) that we were having twins over a year before we conceived the girls. She's in touch with the signs. I tend to recognize them after the fact, when it's a little too late to do anything about them. Like that Mountain Avenue exit we just past a mile ago. ... that was the same Mountain Avenue exit we were supposed to get off on, but I enjoy U-turns. We bought our condo about 5 years ago (yeah, look at market history and you'll see exactly how exceptional my timing was there. ... talk about signs) at the height of the market in one of the biggest crash areas of California - Orange County. Forget the obvious signs on this one, the key was that the people we bought it from were moving because they were expecting a baby (hint, hint) and there just wasn't enough room for the the three of them. ... now there's the four of us. You would think newlyweds looking to start a family someday would consider this, but it was, after all, only going to be a "two year" house. So five years later here we are. Aside from space, we're running into another frustrating problem which we could have foreseen long ago. Baby proofing. We bought this place because it was with in our budget (we were smart and did stick with something we could afford on only one salary, god forbid. ... which He didn't), but we also bought it because of how nicely it had been upgraded. Gorgeous counters, custom cabinetry, hardwood floors, ect. But you ever notice that people who have nice things typically have one thing in common? No children. That's because nice things aren't baby proofable. Yep, I just made up that word. That just happened. Because custom cabinets, with all their intricacies, don't have thick enough wood to drill latches in to, and decorative doors overlap the cupboard too far to install locks in (at least if you ever want to UNlock them). Brushed chrome handles can't be strapped down and granite counter tops. ... well, they're granite. Since the girls became mobile I've been trying everything to baby proof this place and it's official; yesterday the last option out there failed. I've managed to make the entire baby proof section of Baby's R Us not work. We've only got one cabinet (the one under the sink) that I've managed to lock down from prying hands. Everything else is a glorified toy bin. So all of our toxins and dangerous items are now crammed in there like Noah with a last minute memo from God that he's got to take 10 of every animal instead of just the 2. It's just the way it's going to have to be. And let me just say to future dads: (not that I didn't try) get the baby proofing done before they can move. There is nothing more challenging (over exaggeration) than trying to drill a 7mm hole only 1/8 of an inch in to a cabinet door with out coming out the other side while a sticky little hand meticulously plucks out your leg hairs. This attempt last night was really tricky and I finally decided to continue when the girls were in the bath because my leg was almost completely bald and I couldn't take everyone "helping" so much. But the blasted thing didn't work and I was still in the middle of drilling a giant hole in the back of my cabinet door when naked, bathed babies came tearing out of the bathroom and back to my work area. There's something a little unnerving at how my 1 year old girls' eyes light up at the sight of power tools. Oh no. ... I get the feeling I'm missing another sign here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

You like me. You really, really like me!

The dust has settled. The votes have been tallied and the envelopes opened. And now, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have voted and awarded the Kopp Twins with the 2010 Best Writing award. This really means a lot to me, more so than any of the other award could. We were handily beaten in the Blog of the Year category, but I have to be honest with you, we were severely outmatched there. The other two finalist had far superior blogs in design, content and all around composure. Looking at them I had to wonder aloud, "What am I doing in this category? I don't belong here." The truth is this blog hinges on it's writing. That's pretty much all I have to offer. I'm not an astounding photographer. I don't shoot brilliant video. I don't offer reviews and product placements and monthly giveaways. I just have my stories. Our adventures written out as best as I can. And that's the way I like it. So to be awarded for that, to be told that what I do, I do well. ... that really makes me proud. I did not deserve to win Blog of the Year. I have no qualms or hard feelings there. I do feel I deserved to be in the running for Writing and I am touched that others thought me worthy of that award. The other two in that category are wonderfully writing as well, each deserving to be considered along with me, so to be among such good company is even more touching. I thank you for your support thus far, and I hope you choose to come along with us as our adventures continue. We will be revamping the blog a little in the next week or so (everyone deserves a make over from time to time, and with our new trophy now seems like a good opportunity) and I hope you find the changes to be for the better.
Much gratitude for your continued support,
Kyle

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Two Girls + One Dad = Never on Time. ... Ever

Well, Gina and Yiayia had their big Holiday Jewelery boutique this weekend so, for the most part, I'm on single parent duty. But that doesn't stop me for overbooking myself, though. So Saturday I entered us to join in on a one mile fun run to kick of the Belmont Shores Christmas Parade. I even talked Papa Jon into running with us. ... dressed as Santa Claus. ... of course the trade off is that I would run as Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf. The girls Thea Ilianna has also been bugging me to join in on one of our races (she's 11) so I signed her up for the kids run taking place after and loaded her up with my brood. The run was to start at 6pm, kids run at 6:15 and they suggested being there at 5:30. Well we were there at 5:30. I'd even go so far as to say we were there at 5:28 We didn't find parking, however, until 5:50. ... over a mile away. They told us to pay 10 bucks and park at a nearby school parking lot. Found the school. School had no parking lot, nor anyone willing to take my 10 bucks. So after sprinting to the race site we got there just in time to watch everyone run by us at 6:05. I grabbed Ilianna and left the girls with my sister so I could at least get her to the start of the course in time for her run. We got about a block when I noticed a group of kids run by us. I turned to watch, a little confused as we still had 5 minutes until the kids were to run. Then I saw the "clean up" guy follow them up in a little golf cart. I looked down at Ilianna who looked up at me dejected. So we both missed our runs (I was late, she was early, but they sent the kids with the adults as not that many had signed up). Amazingly, though, Papa Jon still got in and even won second prize in the costume contest. Apparently he parked near the end of the course and just jumped in to finish out the last 100 feet or so. When the guy handed him his award he told him "just so you know, I cheated." To which the guy responded "Just so you know. ... I don't care." Gotta love the Holiday Spirit! So Buddy the Elf corralled his dejected sister in law, his cranky daughters and his cold sister and headed off in to the freezing winter night. The End.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Theif

There's a moment in the life of a twin parent that is more alarming then any other non-injury related moment. The second you realize you've run out of diapers with out knowing it. Especially first thing in the morning. You've now got two ticking time bombs to worry about going off at any moment and you start running through your head your options: can we make it Costco and back before one of these goes off? Should we suck it up and buy the name brand at the market on the corner? Do I cut the red wire or the blue? Do you feel lucky? Well? Do you... punk?! So rather than feed breakfast this morning or go on our Saturday morning run (our attempt to keep the chubby dog in shape) we piled in to the car and headed to Target. Because a trip like this isn't exciting in it's own right we had to add in to the equation that we all overslept (not normally a bad thing) and Gina had to make it to teach her yoga class in an hour. ... so we were short on time. Well after running through the store and making our way through check out, I was pushing one of the carts (two carts - one per baby - for one pack of diapers. ... ridiculous) and I suddenly noticed that Arianna was playing with a Princess Jasmine doll. ... which we don't own. I'm not entirely sure how or when she got a hold of it but my daughter is now, officially, a shop lifter. I wrestled it from her, left Gina to load everyone back in the car, and took the walk of shame back to the check out girl and apologized. She seemed more confused why I returned it and didn't just keep the five finger discount. I'm not going to start encouraging theft this early on. ... that's not how I want to end up putting my law degree to use.

Friday, December 3, 2010

No more monkeys sleepin' in my bed

3 o'clock in the morning is an interersting time. It's kind of like going to one of modernist art museam in Eastern Berlin. You don't really want to be there, but if you find yourself there by mistake you can't help but note the surealistic contrast to the norm. Usually, if I'm conscious at 3am, it's for a bathroom visit - during which I'm either begging our bathroom dwelling cat (yes, we have one of these and she almost never leaves the bathroom. ... I don't brag about her in blogs much because. ... well, she's weird) not to claw my sleepy pants as they bunch around my ankles or I'm staring at the soft glow of the night light panel on the hallway light switch as it has this irregular glow which I'm certain has a pattern to it, I just have to crack it and maybe I'll solve world hunger. Needless to say brain function at this time period is questionable. Well, 3 am this morning involved none of these things as Genevieve dominated the early morning hours. As usual, I'm not sure what her deal was, but she was upset about something. First Gina went in there with some water and rocked her a bit, this settled her and Gina came back. About 10 minutes later, though, she was back up again so it was my turn. Daddy's aren't necessarily better at this stuff then mommys, but I find that if the girls get me in the middle of the night, they don't want to risk getting me again so they go back to sleep. I rocked Genevieve for a good 10 minutes or so and she conked out pretty good so I put her back to bed. As I slowly slid my hand out from under her head, though, POP - eyes wide open. I fled the scene quickly and she stayed quiet for about 15 minutes, but then she was back up again. Gina got the tylenol and then went back in. Nearing 4am I thought I'd try to sleep until I got the call from the dugout to go back in. I woke up a little while later to a tapping on my back. I went to roll over and figure out what Gina was doing and found myself lodged against a speed bump. Someone how the con had worked and Genevieve had found her way in to our bed. It's been nearly 8 months since we had company, but I should explain that Gina was working a jewlery boutique with her mom until almost midnight the night before, so she was exhausted and not willing to fight. I had to get up in an hour so I too was not willing to fight. Check mate. Hopefully this doesn't turn in to a pattern of any kind. This bed ain't big enough for the three of us. ... heck, this bed is barely big enough for me alone. I think this is how dads end up sleeping on sofas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We have a saboteur among us

I sense a disturbance in the force. Someone in my home is pitting my own daughters against me, and I have a feeling it's the one who is supposed to be my best friend. (Cue murder mystery music) Last night I was feeding the girls dinner after Gina had left to teach; a nice little meal of pasta, meat sauce and vegetables. Arianna sits on my left side, Genevieve on my right as they do every night. The girls are flying through their pasta with an unbelievable speed - well, Genevieve isn't unbelievable, that girl loves food, but Arianna is giving me very little resistance. This is my first clue that something is a foot. I turned around to grab more pasta for Genevieve and as I turned back, that's when I saw it. Out of the corner of my left eye (in which I'm nearly blind so that's got to say something about how UN-sneaky they were being) I see Arianna's right hand flick off the table quickly and I hear the exhale of dog breath as Karma catches something before it can hit the ground. I stare wide eyed at Arianna who looks at me with one of those quizzical "what?" expressions. I turn to Karma who pretends to be watching the cat walk by. "I'm on to you" I tell them both. Karma walks away to the other side of the kitchen and sits innocently, looking at us from 10 feet away. I continue on, my gut telling me that the two of them are in cahoots. A few minutes pass and then I catch them in the act. Arianna starts dangling empty fingers over the side of her high chair. I look at Karma who stares intently at them like a base runner staring at the third base coach, waiting for the signal to steal. Arianna looks at Karma, who then lowers her head (I swear, it almost looked like a slow motion nod from a sinister Bond villain). And then it happened: a quick flick of the wrist and a noodle goes flying in Karma's direction. Arianna's face immediately turns the opposite direction to appear as though she is not involved and Karma springs forward in a dive to catch the noodle before it hits the floor. Ever since the girls were born Karma's packed on a few pounds. This was the quickest and most nimble I've seen her in quite some time. For a second I was more impressed than I was upset. I scold them both and each looks at me innocently. Arianna as though it was all an accident and Karma as though she'd been trying to help me keep the house clean. No one here did anything on purpose. Bull! Dinner continues on, each of them returning to their previous positions. But I'm on high alert. I know they're working together, just waiting for another moment to strike. And then it comes. As Karma launches herself this time I quickly turn and yell "sit!" Ah the magic word of a well trained dog, she has no control. Her head may want to defy me but her butt is mine. ... um. ... that came out wrong. Anyway, her back side drops to the floor leaving her mouth a foot away from the noodle. I go for the one-two punch: "stay". Karma's eyes widen in horror. Not only has she been made to sit, she now must stay as well. ... and with a noodle only inches from her teeth. Arianna's face has now turned to panic as well. If Karma is out, who is going to eat her noodles now?! Excellent. Daddy has won this battle. Arianna finishes her dinner with out assistance, and Karma spends the rest of the meal forced to look at the noodle that got away. She may have tried to draw my daughter on to the dark side, but the Jedi master is stronger, and he remains in control. ... for the moment.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Award Season

While my dream of Oscar contention was given up in pursuit of the day job so I could afford to feed these little people that have consumed my life, it turns out I can still win prizes for just being a good dad. ... well a good dad with free time and a knack for writting. We joined the blog network Multiples and More a few months ago(you may have noticed our shiny badge to the right of this post, pretty swanky if I do say so myself) and now were in the running for a couple of their annual awards. Now I'm not the type to put pressure on my children to win. I was the guy whose dad was banned from all interschool athletic competitions for his in game anger management issues - and that was in a christian school league - so I'm not about to make it all about winning when it comes to my kids. ... but when it comes to me, I really want to freakin' win something! It's one thing to have friends and family constantly telling us we're doing a good job, but to have a bunch of strangers tell me they like how well I write about doing a good job. ... now that'll make you feel good about life. So if you find yourself with some extra free time after reading this amazing blog (I'm in a full swing award season promotional blitz now) go ahead and vote for us. Then maybe we can add another new shiny badge to our little blog about a dad stumbling through fatherhood. And I promise, I'll keep my acceptance speech short. ... ok short-ish.
Vote here for the Kopp Twins, nominated for Best Writing and Blog of the Year!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharing is for suckers!

Of all the challenges that you face with twins, I'm starting to think we may have run in to the most challenging of all. We've conquered double breast feeding (well, Gina did, I mostly just sat on the sidelines watching that one), we've conquered sleeping patterns, we've learned to walk, we've even learned to balance the budget and not go completely broke raising these two. What we haven't figured out yet, is how to share, and I get the feeling the girls are in no rush to master that one any time soon. Genevieve's our biggest problem. She seems to always want what Arianna has, even if Arianna has the same exact thing as she does. Because Genevieve's got the size advantage, she also has little problem taking what she wants from her sister. Arianna's personality is also perfectly suited to Genevieve's in that she moves on quickly. Her sister rips something from her hand? No problem. She quickly finds something else to play with - which her sister will naturally rip from her hands as well. Our boiling point, though, is this toy car we have. They only make this thing as a one seater and we only have space in our living room for one car, so it's a recipe for confrontation. If Genevieve sees Arianna in the car, she storms over, and tries to drag her out of the vehicle like a carjacker. If that doesn't work, she pushes her sister in further and crams herself into the car next to her so that Arianna starts to pop out of the passenger side window. Then everybody screams and starts crying and we've got to figure out how to extract two babies jammed inside a tiny car who want to remain in the vehicle but just have their sister removed. ... it's a delicate situation. Most of the time I end up taking the car away and putting it in our room, on top of the bed where they can't get to it and then no body's happy (especially Daddy, who's ready to melt the stupid thing and be done with it). The thing is I know Genevieve gets it when I tell her she has to wait her turn. I'll see her storm off toward her sister and I tell her "you need to wait" and she'll look at me with this inner turmoil expression of "I know, but I can't stand it dad!" She'll stand by the car, rocking her hips slightly and slowly inching closer and closer. She'll glance at me to see what I'm going to say and then slowly lower her hands toward the door. "Genevieve," I'll say, and she'll stand back up slowly, leaning her butt toward the car even more - keeping eye contact, mind you, like somehow I'm locked in her tractor beam and don't notice what's taking place below her neck. Finally, after a back and forth negotiation she can't take the waiting any more and will pounce. I know she's a sweet girl 99% of the time and I know that conflicts with the "mine" stage that we're in right now. ... I'm just ready for her to be in that stage where I can explain why she needs to share and she can understand that and then her sweet side will take over. In this stage of life I sometimes feel like I'm just talking to a brick wall. A very cute brick wall. One that understands what I'm saying, it just doesn't care.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Double the Inspiration

Those of you who know me personally are well aware of my feelings on an active lifestyle. I am part of that transitional generation, the last of the kids who played outside and the first of the kids who sat in front of a video game console. My parents were in the anti-gaming league so I grew up riding my bike, playing sports and getting in to what ever trouble I could find until the street lights came on. I carried that mentality in to my adulthood and nothing frustrates me more than a child sitting on a couch in the middle of they day tapping away on a controller. We get one life to live and so much of it is being wasted in a virtual reality instead of the actual reality we have around us. In an effort to encourage my own children to adopt this philosophy, not only will we not be having any kind of video game system in our own home, I will also have to be the example that gets set. A lot of these kids today are inactive because their parents are inactive; why should they get up and move when mom and dad sit on their butt and watch 40 hours of TV a week? We've done the mud runs, the 5k's the charity walks and our goal is to a full marathon some time next year. In my work up to that event I competed in my first Triathlon yesterday (a sprint tri - 1/2 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 4.5 mile run). It was a bit ambitious, but I want the girls to grow up seeing me doing stuff like this and realizing that this what life is about. I've got to say it was the hardest physical experience I've had thus far in life and it was bordering on one of the most emotionally challenging as well. As grueling as it is to force yourself to continue on, it's an extremely lonely couple of hours. Your swimming in frigid water, some how alone in a violent mass of writhing swimmers clamoring on top of one another hoping to shave a few seconds off their time by drowning those around them. You drag yourself onto the beach, legs wobbly and everyone around you screaming and scrambling towards their bikes. Then you sit on an uncomfortable pole, legs pumping as hard as they can to carry you up one last hill after which you collapse off your bike and desperately will your legs to carry you on their own for the run portion. It was on the bike that I really hit my hard spot, though. I was completing the first lap of the 2 lap course and climbing the final hill. My inner voice was damning the part of my mind that got us into this mess and I caught a glimpse of the red double stroller. The girls were still sleeping when I started the race (6am registration, 8am launch) so they had just gotten there when I came upon them. To see the three of them standing there - Gina screaming my name, girls smiling as they realized it was me passing by - I lost my composure. It's one thing to climb a hill on a bike, it's an entirely different experience to do it with your eyes swelling with tears. For the first time that morning I didn't feel utterly alone. The second lap was much easier, part of it because I wanted to see my girls again. My thinking in all of this is that I'm doing this stuff for them, to set a positive example in their lives, but I realize that it's them that get me through these things. Trekking an hour from our house at 9in the morning to stand on a freezing cold highway and watch me zoom by for a split second. Just long enough to scream my name and toss me a wave, just long enough to give me hope, to give me courage, to give me strength. While I'm trying to inspire my girls, it's really them that inspire me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Little People, Little World

Remember when we were kids and we would build forts out of sofa cushions and play house in old refrigerator boxes? Yeah, they don't have to do that anymore. We went with Grandma yesterday to this incredible place called Pretend City, although the name is kind of misleading because you don't really have to pretend anything, they kind of imagined it all for you. There is a mechanics garage, a farm, a grocery store, a beach, a fire station (honestly, an entire city) all kid sized. The girls were in heaven, as were the other couple of hundred kids running around the place. The parents were mostly exhausted. As much as there is to see and do it seems like the kids wanted to get it all done in a 5 minute burst and all three (Connor went too) had a different plan of attack, so it was a little like setting hamsters loose in a cheese warehouse and then trying to recapture them with the lights off. Honestly though, I can't wait to go back. This place was so cool. ... one more thing I wish I had thought up first.









Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

This is in order from least to greatest, although to make the top 10 you've got to assume that even the least is still pretty great.

10) My job: I don't love my job. In fact, I don't even like my job. But I like getting money and in today's world it's tough to find someone who will give you money for anything, even doing something you don't like. And I'm pretty sure there are a heck of a lot of people out there who would love to hate my job for me, so I'm pretty grateful that I get to do it.

9) Days off from my job: Weekends, holidays, vacation, sick time - what ever the reason I'm grateful that I get time off from my job (like the next 4 days) to be with my family. Just think, a century ago there was no such thing as time off. ... you only got it when you died.

8) My house: Yes, it's impossibly too small. My neighbors are a real pain. We lost our ass on this thing when the market fell. It was only supposed to be a "2 year house" 5 years ago. But you know what? It keeps the rain off of our heads. It keeps the cold wind outside. And it keeps all that oozy, gooey, sappy love of ours with in its walls!

7) Friends and Family: The past 13 months have been rough on the friends and our extended family. Priorities have changed dramatically and we don't get to see them as much as we'd like. But even though we don't see them directly in front of us, I know they are standing right behind us, arms outstretched ready to catch us if we fall and put us right back up on our feet. I feel that even though we are not their for them all the time, they're always there for us. For that I am grateful.

6) Karma: Yes, the ancient Indian balance of good and evil is great, but I'm actually talking about my dog, Karma. It may seem weird that she's above above (or below depending on how you're reading this) friends and family on this list, but if you find that puzzling then it's clear you've never owned a dog. She was our practice baby. She is our therapist. She is our vacuum cleaner. She is our friend and our ally. As grateful as she may be that we rescued her from the pound that day, I am even more grateful that she rescued us.

5) Sisters: I am surrounded by them. The lone wolf in a pack of pink poodles, so I better be grateful for them. 2 blood sisters, 2 step sisters and 3 sisters by law. The truth is I love them all, and they make my life a real joy. A brother might have been great, but I'd trade 7 sisters for 1 brother any day. Which is funny, because when I was younger I recall trying to make that trade and no one would go for it.

4) Moms: I've got two pretty terrific ones of these. My own mom has been my hero for as long as I can remember. She made me the man I am and she did it with out a very good example to show me. So I decided long ago that I was going to base the man that I would become on my mother. Sure there are side effect, like my love of the color pink, but I work hard every day for my family. I dream big every night for my family. I love hard and I play often and I do everything with in my power for my family. The best example of a good man, is a great mother. And I had one of those. I also hit the lottery with my mother-in-law. There are horror stories out there from down trodden and sad little shells of husbands. They must want to kill me with envious rage. My mother-in-law is amazing. Sometimes I think she forgets that I'm not really one of her flesh and blood children. ... sometimes I forget as well. She has 100% confidence in me as a man, as a husband and as a father and the best part is she lets me know it. I don't just "feel" like part of the family because of her - I am.

3) Life: You know how you know it's a good day today? You woke up. With out this breath in my body I wouldn't be able to be grateful for anything. For that fact I am grateful. What more, I live in a wonderful country, a beautiful state, and vibrant and colorful city. I wasn't just give life, I was given luck as well.

2) My wife: Gratitude isn't a big enough word. Thanks is hardly the verbiage. Recognition and benediction are far too formal, and beholden just sounds to holy. When she found me I was a broken, scared, starving little mutt. Hunkered down in the corner of a deep, dark alley. Her voice calmed my heart. Her smile brightened my world and her hand pulled me out of my abyss and brought me to my feet again. It was her love that built a fire in me, taught me who I was, showed me the man I should be, the one I wanted to be. With out her, this list is much shorter. ... and my story does not have it's happy ending. I don't deserve this woman in my life, but I'm grateful that she hasn't figured that out yet.

1) My angels: I found purpose with Gina. I learned drive from my mother. I got strength from my family and friends. But all of these things were tools; objects to be used for creating a masterpiece. My children are my masterpiece. I will not do great things, but I have a feeling they will. So, by default, they are my great thing. Or things, I suppose, as there are two of them. They quickly have become the center of my universe. The magnetic energy around which everything else in my life spins. They hold me in the palms of their chubby little hands. They are mine, but the truth is I am theirs. If everything else in my life falls to shambles in an instant tomorrow, I would still have to bow my head and give thanks; for He has given me the greatest gift of all: fatherhood.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monsters to scare cancer

If you've never heard of Aidan Reed you should really check his story out. He's a typical 5 year old American boy who spends his free time drawing some really great monster pictures. Oh yeah, and his aunt sells his pictures to pay for his cancer treatment. While Aidan is lucky in the sense that his form of leukemia is fairly treatable with a very high success rate, his fight has still pushed his family to the brink with its high expenses. As a parent the choice is obvious, house verses child - child wins every time. But to be put in that situation is a nightmare in itself. Fortunately Aidan's aunt came up with an idea of selling his drawings in the hopes of raising a little money to help out. Well the idea exploded and has taken on a life of its own. So far they've raised enough money to cover the costs of his treatment, allowing the family to save their home. I read about this last week and it's been rolling around in my mind since, so I decided that we are going to add a link to Aidan's blog and a link to his Etsy shop so if you feel the desire to help out, you have the resources to do it. With two little monsters of my own I'm hoping this brave little boy is able to use his monsters to chase off this demon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Elmo Must Die

I'm starting to form an opinion (with out ever watching an episode of Sesame Street, mind you) that Elmo is in fact the devil. And I'm not talking just some random demon, I think he's the head honcho, the actual devil himself. The girls got one of those talking Elmo dolls, along with a talking Cookie Monster doll for their birthday a few weeks back. Cookie Monster is relatively laid back, you have to click on a cow in his pocket to get him to say anything and it's mostly just "allo der moo-moo cow" and "Cookie Monster had a farm, e-i-e-i-o." Which ever girl ends up with the blue fur ball mostly snuggles with him. But that freakin' Elmo doll. ... everything on him is a sensor and every noise he makes is annoying to the point of insanity and worst of all, the girls absolutely LOOOOVVVEEE him. They've both figured out exactly how many times they have to squeeze his right hand to cycle through the sayings and get to the one where he sings "head, tummy, feet and nose" (of course he can't sing the correct version because he lacks the required equipment of shoulder, knees and toes which makes it all the more aggravating to listen too). So an average car ride (Elmo and C Monster have been banished from the house and exiled to the car) sounds a little like this "Find E-You fo-Give El-he he he-Fin-Hands, tummy feet and nose... Hands, tummy feet and nose... Hands and feet and a tummy and a nose, Hands, tummy, feet and nose - feet and nose!" We then cycle through the same routine another 279 times until we arrive at our destination with mommy and daddy ready to put a hit out on Elmo. And I don't get breaks from the red haired demon when I go to work either. Any phone call I get from Gina through out the day I am guaranteed to hear his voice in the back ground, same cycle, same aggravating emotions. Then I get to have him in the back of my mind, haunting me the rest of the day. As I type this I am actually humming the "hands, tummy, feet and nose" song desperately trying to purge it from my thoughts, to no avail. I know I can't take the doll away from the girls because they really do love him (and his third person references make it apparent he loves himself too!), so I'm anxiously awaiting the day the batteries finally die and I can stare at his mute carcass with overwhelming joy. Of course the toy company seems to have the same batteries they use for deep space travel and, by my guess, they'll finally run out sometime in June of 2045. By then one of us will surely be dead. ... and I have a feeling Elmo will be singing at my funeral. As they slowly lower my casket in to the hole, the bagpipes will swell with a soft, mournful note as his shrill voice breaks the cool morning silence "hands, tummy, feet and nose - feet and nose." The mournful widow will seek solace in the red haired bastards embrace and his plan will be complete. With me out of the way, Elmo will quickly take over control of the family. Wow. This vision took an interesting turn in to Soprano land.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

D.A.D.D.S.

Well a good friend of the blog, Hayley, came down south for a visit this weekend and, while she had alternative motives for the 5 hour drive, we told ourselves she was strictly down here to visit us. The lovely person that she is, she came loaded with gifts for everyone in the family and her gift for me has inspired me to start up my own chapter of a men only fraternity. ... no. ... not that. I am now accepting applications for the Southern California chapter of D.A.D.D. - Dads Against Daughters Dating. Membership will include a workout regiment, martial arts training, an NRA subscription and your own "posse" for situations that require back up. We'll also train and assist with window bar installations, padlocking and security surveillance systems. Plus, you'll get this great membership t-shirt. Contact me now for application information.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God Bless Coffee

In the past I've made mention that wine was specifically designed for consumption by parents needing to unwind. Now, I'm also going to claim that coffee was designed specifically for parents needing to drag through a day after their kids kept them up the whole night before. True, there are many people in the world who have no kids and enjoy both coffee and wine regularly, but the appreciation level is what's lacking. Those young whipper snappers get their soy ginger latte to recover from studying all night for mid-terms, we parents need it because we laid in bed for 8 hours listening to one year olds scream in an oddly impressive harmony, then had to get up and function at work. So while the pledges over at Theta Nu are enjoying a double foam peppermint mocha with a pumpernickel scone to nurse their hangover from last nights kegger, I literally need the quadruple shot espresso coursing through my veins at the moment to simply keep my eye lids from cementing together and my head from permanently affixing to my keyboard. It all started when we were decided to go to bed "early" last night. I was picking up the toy graveyard that our kitchen turns in to during the course of the night and I pushed the girls chairs back in against our dining room table. Well, the damn cat was sitting under the chair and got spooked, jumped out and latched on to a metal (fortunately empty) wine rack and brought it crashing back down. As the dust settled and I clenched every fiber in my body to avoid skinning the fur ball alive I listened for the expected shrieks of waking babes. Oddly there was nothing so a few tense moments later we continued prepping the house for bed. We then went in to do our final check on the girls and as Gina creaked the door open she locked eyes with Arianna who was sitting in a dazed stupor, probably trying to go back to sleep from the cat/wine rack fiasco. Of course, upon seeing mom she started crying which woke up Genevieve and the night began. We spent the next two hours with the girls crying, quieting, crying again, quieting, crying again, quieting. Every time we would make a move toward the door to settle them they'd quiet before we got there and (assumably) go back to sleep. By the time we laid back down ourselves, though, someone would start crying again. We were like tennis balls in a Federer - Nadal match; to the door, returned to the room, to the door, returned to the room, lob to the door, smashed to the room by Federer, great return by Nadal to the door. Finally we just went in, picked everyone up, got them some cold water and rocked them for a while (it sucks to be the dad in this situation when there's only one rocking chair - 30 pound baby gets heavy real fast at 12am). They seemed to settle a little bit after this, but sure enough not long later we were back up again. I managed to squeeze in a precious few minutes of sleep before the 5:30 alarm but I know Gina got less because every time I woke up she was already awake, propped up and listening with a pained look on her face. We both have concerns over these situations but she takes it personally, like the girls are judging her because she doesn't have an answer for the situation. As I was getting ready in the dark this morning she sat up, awakening from one of her brief moments of sleep and asked if anyone was crying while I was in the shower. Even when asleep she still was dreaming about them crying. So this morning, as I drive in through the morning fog, it wasn't the usual question of "should I stop for coffee on the way in", it was "where" and "how big".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Timing is EVERYTHING

Parents figure this out quickly. Timing is crucial to everything you do. Wait too long to feed a baby and they won't eat. Too early and you've got the same problem. Not tired enough or too tired and they won't sleep. Start your "abc's" too late and they'll end up street walkers, too early and you've got a Ted Kaczynski. Ok, maybe an exaggeration on that last one, but you catch my drift here. It's a sensitive balance of when you do what. So yesterday the girls only caught a 20 minute nap on the way to having lunch with my mom at work. They played around in her office, went and ate - even rode a carousel before they dropped grandma back off at work. Problem was when they got back to Yiayia's they really weren't ready to take a big nap because that teaser was still holding them over. Gina was substituting a class last night so when I got to Yiayia's to pick them up they'd still not napped and we were coming up on 5 o'clock (a big nap that late means bedtime gets pushed back). So I tossed them in the car and hoped they'd fall asleep for the ride home. Well, Genevieve did but Arianna just sat there rubbing her eyes in exhaustion (still hasn't learned that you can't rub away sleepiness, you've just got to give in to it). By the time we got home Genevieve was still asleep but Arianna was in a really grumpy mood, so I couldn't just sit in the car with them as I had planned. I woke up Genevieve (not happy about that) and took them both inside hoping I could just plop them in bed and get them a 20 minute quickie (my how the definitions of certain words change as you morph from newlywed to parent). That didn't work either, because we were too late for a nap with Arianna and now to early for another nap with Genevieve. What ended up happening was Genevieve laying down in her crib playing in the dark room while I sat in a rocking chair next to her holding Arianna who snuggled into my chest but remained wide eyed and delirious for about 30 minutes. I must say, as a parent this is not what you "plan for", but secretly what you kind of hope will happen. The older they get the rarer and quicker the snuggle sessions last so if I can get that much of a chunk and she's game for it I'm happy to sit there in the dark with my arms around her for as long as she can stand it. The only down side is I've only got enough space on my lap these days for one at a time - but Genevieve was fairly happy playing with a baby doll so I don't think she minded. Fortunately this was also enough of a down time to help us survive dinner and bath and then make it to real bed time openly ready for the sleep. Of course there was another lesson in timing during the bath. I had Genevieve in and soaking and was getting Arianna ready to join her. I took off her diaper and noticed how dry it was. Just as I turned to throw the diaper away my foot felt warm and wet and I looked down to see her peeing on me. I was two seconds too early with the diaper removal. Gina came home about 5 minutes after that. See, timing truly is everything.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wedding Fantasies

Little girls are notorious for fantasizing about their future wedding dates. They dress up in over sized gowns and tie together a bouquet of colorful weeds so they can march down a mock aisle and fake marry the little boy that lives down the block who thought he came over to have popsicles and play on the slip n' slide. After that they play house, where they live in a discarded refrigerator box and have someones younger brother who just wants to be included in the game for a pet dog (if there's more than one younger sibling around then they also have a cat and boy do those two get in to some shenanigans). Well, for boys we don't really fantasize about weddings until much later. ... like 3 and a half minutes before we pull the ring out of our pockets and shakily ask you to marry us. That's the first moment we even have a concept that a ceremony might take place some day. But I'm learning something new about the time line of wedding fantasies, you see the little girl isn't the first one to have it. ... it's her father. ... and it's not really a fantasy as much as a nightmare. Our first instinct when we look at our little girl (or in my case little girls) is to selfishly dub them "mine". "That's my little girl!" And we all know what happens the moment you claim something as yours. ... you start freaking out about people trying to take it from you. The proud father instantly develops a little Golum inside with horrible grammar that whispers in our ear to "protect the precious!" We start playing this loop in our mind of the next 30 years and how we are going to handle these boys that come and "trys to stealz them away froms us." So that soft focus wedding fantasy that our daughters have is also playing in our mind, but more with a Stanley Kubrick style shot and a death metal soundtrack playing to it. But there is one part to the fantasy that we view with moist eyes and a heart melting smile. ... the father daughter dance. I try to block out the wedding fantasy and keep it from ruining my days, but yesterday a song came on the radio (this happens to me a lot) and all I could think of was having that last dance with my daughters before I pass them off to their betrothed. The soft focus, the back lit image, the slow motion. ... it was magic. Don't get me wrong, I can definetly wait for that day, I'm in no rush at all. But when it comes and that song starts up. ... cue the rain maker cause a storm is coming. And as a string quartet plays Guns n' Roses "Sweet Child of Mine" I'll spin my little girl across the floor, fighting the demon inside that screams to keep her for myself, and pass her off the only other man capable of loving her as much as I do. And if he hurts her I'll break his freakin' neck. Now that's a fantasy that makes me smile.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Under the Sea

Visited the Aquarium of the Pacific today. Words don't really do the day justice, so here's a look for yourself.
video

Over the moon for the moon

This is now my second attempt at this blog entry, the last one was hijacked by Genevieve and you can see how that turned out. It's fitting that she was the culprit as this entry is mostly about her. When the girls were born I remember the doctor saying that they could only see a few inches in front of their noses so you had to get really close in for them to see that it was you. As they aged we could notice as their vision increased - they noticed the dog, they saw the tv, they'd recognize us from across you a room. Well, Genevieve has moved way outside her little box of objects in her world and taken notice of (and developed a great affection for) the second most distant thing she can see. ... the moon. She discovered it about a week ago and, like Galileo before her, has fallen head over heels in love with it. If you take her out in the night time she instantly scans the sky till she finds it and then points it out too you until you are back in doors again. Yesterday we were at a jewelry boutique with Gina and I took her out back to get some air. She instantly started pointing up at the sky and cooing. Several people around us asked what she was pointing out and, without looking myself, I said "the moon must be up". Sure enough, turning around, there it was. The faint white daytime moon just peeking over the roof of the house. When Shakespeare wrote "arise fair sun and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou, her maid, art far more fair then she," he was complementing Romeo's Juliet. I think Genevieve may have written it differently, with Juliet whose "vestal livery is but sick and green" followed by a request for the moon to shine more brightly.

Over 20t\\20

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"That's your daughter!"

Explain to me how it is that when genes are passed from mother and father to the baby, only the good genes from the mother and the bad genes from the father are absorbed? You see, I'm noticing a pattern (shocking, Kyle sees a pattern in something): when ever the girls are cute, or funny, sweet or smart I'm always told they "must" get that from their mother. "Oh, look Arianna is so smart, Gina was just like that!" Or, my favorite, "Genevieve is so pretty, she looks just like Gina at that age." I'm ok with this, I'll agree my wife is a stunner and was a very cute baby, so that's an ok thing. But how come they only revert to being my offspring when they've blown out a diaper or shoved their finger up their nose? I haven't blown out a diaper in years, why am I getting credit for this?! Today I got a call about "my daughter" who decided to sit in a mud puddle while everyone was walking to the car this morning and completely mucked up her pants, shoes and everything else she had on, forcing Gina to go back in the house, clean her and redress her. When is the last time I chose to sit down in a mud puddle? And how is that a genetic trait that I passed along? I've already got a title in my house as "the king of all things sh!t" because I somehow get stuck with picking up animal waste, changing the really gross diapers, dispatching of weird insects and cleaning "unidentifiables" on the kitchen floor - now I'm also the bearer of genetic defaults? Am I supposed to add this to my resume? "The king of all things sh!t and purveyor of genetic defects". It's kind of catchy, but it hardly seems fair. I'm just saying, for once I'd like a positive trait to be attributed to my half of the DNA. And throwing an excellent tantrum (though it does have the word "excellent" in it) is hardly a positive trait. ... although I do throw a mean tantrum. One might even call it "excellent".

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dirty mouth?

I do my best to keep my language in check around the girls, but every now and then I get in trouble for letting something slip when I stub my toe, stab myself or completely destroy something. So there's a little bit of fear in the back of my mind that one of the girls is going to repeat one of these words someday and I'll get in real trouble. Well, it seems that Genevieve has taken it upon herself to preemptively strike. We were running a little late with bed time last night so Gina took off to teach her class and the girls and I finished getting ready. As the girls are brushing their teeth the phone rings. I grab it and a pleasant voice on the other end starts giving me the pitch for breast cancer awareness donations. Before she can get very far in to her script, though, I turn around and see Geneveive with a bar of soap in her mouth, chomping away. I explain this to the lady who kindly lets me go and I have to spend the next 5 minutes pulling chunks of soap from my daughters mouth. Her entire tongue had turned white and there were little bubbles in the corners of her mouth. Personally I think she was just mixed up which Dove bars are for eating and which are for washing our bums with. I will say this, however, her breath smelt of an Irish countryside spring afterwards.

Monday, November 8, 2010

While you were not quite sleeping

Interesting scene last night: we made our final rounds before going to bed and we were delighted when we checked on the girls and heard no noise. No coughing, no wheezing, no sniffling, nothing. It was beautiful silence after a week of these ridiculous colds. But, of course, a moment like this is always to good to be true. As I placed a blanket up around Genevieve, she suddenly startled awake. I hit the deck in perfect for Child's Pose and Gina struck a Downward Dog. We held our yoga poses for a good chunk of time waiting for her to settle back down, but she refused. While we stifled our laughter she eventually sat up completely and started a whine. Gina tossed me a binkie which had been thrown on the floor near her and gave me a look that I should do something with it. Still cowering down I slowly raised the binkie up like a periscope, snaked it through the slat in the crib and placed it her open mouth. She gripped the binkie firmly in her mouth and relaxed for a second. Then she got this look on her face like "What the hell just happened" and promptly stood up and glared down at her ridiculous parents in their yoga poses. Silly Daddy. Did you really think you could pull that off? As the full blown cry kicked in I retreated back to our room, even getting a "seriously?" glare from our dog on the way, and let Momma fix the mess I just made.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear Lord, deliver me from footwear

I used to think there were few things worse then shopping with a woman for shoes. ... I admit when I'm wrong, and I was very wrong. Shoe shopping with three women is far worse and I can only imagine how much harder it's going to get when they actually WANT to go shoe shopping. As it is we were looking for something to do yesterday afternoon when Gina suggested we go to the mall to exchange a few birthday outfits that didn't fit our enormous children. It took us no time at all to make the exchange, but then Gina saw shoes. We've been down this road before. We once went shoe shopping specifically for me and after 5 minutes and a pair of Alfani square toes I ended up sitting in an arm chair for an hour and forty-five minutes while Gina scoured the Nostrum heel section only to leave empty handed because they didn't have anything that worked. I've learned not to ask questions while you're in the moment, because coming between a woman and a potential pair for shoes is like trying to save a deer from a hungry momma grizzly. There's only one outcome and it involves you losing your head. So when I heard "the girls need some shoes, do you mind if we stop and look real quick?" I said "of course not honey", and I bit my tongue. The taste of blood reminded me that I was still alive. ... for the moment. Nearly 2 hours later our "quick trip" was coming to a close and I was standing at the cash register handing over the AMEX having little to now clue what we were buying because only one pair of shoes fit and the others were needing to be ordered and shipped. I was asked often what my preferences were but I'm not really sure what I was looking at as my energy was spent keeping Arianna from eating a pair of red dress shoes and Genevieve from shoplifting a stuffed puppy she had fallen in love with. As for that puppy I pity the person who ends up buying it as I could never find it when it came time to leave, but I know for a fact it was covered in snot, slobber and every other germ riddled discharge pouring from my daughters faces as a result of these colds. As we left all I could do was look at the mass of boxes, scattered shoes and destroyed displays, turn to the sales lady, shrug my shoulders and tilt my head to the side. "Sorry?" Like that somehow covered it. And with that we were on our way. Next stop, Red Robin for dinner, so we can make another underpaid college graduate clean up the walking disaster that we are. And that was fine with me. Eating I can handle. Shopping. ... that's rough.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Alphabet According to Twins


Best purchase we've made in months has to be the magnetic alphabet Gina scored from Big Lots about a month or so ago. The girls absolutely love them and as a result they've made it to the far reaches of the universe - it's not uncommon to unload the girls at my moms house and find out an "R" has tagged along for the ride. I've found letters in cribs, under couches, other peoples houses even other peoples backyards. Suffice to say we've permanently lost several letters in the last few weeks. So I give you the revised alphabet according to twins: DEGHKLNOPQUTZ. As you can see we've gotten ride of that selfish "I", those mean "B's" and most of the letters that begin the big money swear words ("F", "A" and "S"). We've also removed the "W" because we can always just use the "U" twice, right? And this new alphabet lets us still say words like "putz", "hen" and "kleghn". ...so that should still allow for some interesting conversations.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We're All On Quack!

As we continue to fight these terrible colds over here, something other then snot has emerged from Genevieve's face. ... what I'm going to call her first real word. Genevieve has had this thing with animals, I won't call her an animal lover per se because when she is next to them she kind of beats them up (tough love maybe) but she sure does love something about them. We've noticed that she has started to imitate the noises they make. You might recall the growling episode several months ago. She also meows and barks when the appropriate animal makes their noise. These aren't so much her saying the word "meow" or "bark/woof", just a similar sounding noise, like a high pitch squeal or a gruff grunt. But as I discovered last night (and Gina the day before but she failed to mention it to me) Genevieve has now started to say the word "quack" for ducks. Unlike the other two this isn't a recreation of the duck sound but actually the word quack. It comes out more like a "cuck", but it's obvious her intentions as she does it in response to the word duck or the word quack. And, with out any kind of endorsement deal here, I must be honest - we owe the first word to a Leapfrog learning station toy. It was that little e-book that repeated the phrase "the duck says 'quack, quack, quack'" over and over and over which lead to her learning of the word. So there you have it, we're in to the talking phase already. My understanding is once you enter this phase the next trick is trying to figure out how to make them stop talking. ... this could get interesting.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Couple of snot nose little kids

Well, the first cold of the season has snuck in to our house. No telling where it came from, but if Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls had twin babies I think they'd look pretty similar to my girls right now. They aren't seeming to let it affect them to much during the day. They're still running around playing (I think Genevieve may even be enjoying the snot flow as she can't seem to keep her hands out of it). Arianna is a little more irritable than normal, but I think it's because she's feeling drained, and like Daddy, she doesn't operate too well when she's tired. The biggest problem was sleeping last night, especially with Genevieve. Because she couldn't breath out of her nose she kept waking up, and when she put a binkie in to go back to sleep she couldn't breath at all, so this was causing her to fuss up a storm. It would only last a minute, maybe two, before she'd pass out again because she's exhausted, but she must have got up like 6 times last night. I felt like we were back to 8 or 9 months ago. Gina finally got up and rocked her a bit around 5 because she wasn't going back to sleep on that one. By the time I left for work this morning Gina was back in bed and all was silent. ... well, except for the heavy mouth breathing coming from all the plugged up noses.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hit Me Baby One More Time!

Monday's are the worst. I think that God decided to make Sunday a day of rest because He needed to mentally prepare for the upcoming Monday which He knew was bound to be a bummer. Sure enough, Adam and Eve ate the apple and the s#@t hit the fan. Well my Monday's aren't much better. The girls eat dinner at Yiayia's house to give me a solid couple of hours to study and listen to lectures, but this means my only real time with the girls before they go down and Gina heads off to teach is the crabby hour where we bathe, change, drink our milk and brush our teeth. Lately we've been trying to move toward one nap a day so "crabby" has kind of morphed in to "furious" and "hell bent" by the time we get to the end of the day. Last night when I went to help everyone in from the car I was greeted by Gina yelling (she will argue she was merely conveying a point in a loud and firm tone) about a missing knee brace so I grabbed Arianna who started screaming at me, passed her off to Gina to calm down and picked up Genevieve, who also promptly starting screaming at me. We moved in to the house where everyone continued to scream at me culminating with Arianna actually hitting me when I tried to console her. This is the first intentional hit that I've received. I've been smacked by flailing arms before, but this had wind up, aim and then the evil stare afterwards to let me know she was serious. I don't know what you do at one. I told her 'no' but to be honest I was more saddened by everything than mad about it. I only get about 45 minutes on Mondays before they go down and I have to return to monotonous legal lectures so I like to make the most of it, but when I'm getting beat up and screamed at it makes me want to slink off in to a corner and whimper like Karma does when she's in trouble. So instead I skulked off to the bathroom to start running the water for a bath. As I moped around in there I suddenly felt a tap on my thigh. As I turned around I saw a sheepish grin and a naked Arianna standing there. It may not have been an apology per se, but it was enough for me to forgive and move on. Of course the furious hour continued once everyone was in the bath, but I didn't take it personally any more. One little smile is more than enough to get me through the rest of the night.