Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick Or Treat!

I remember two different versions of Halloween from my youth, one in which we ran around our neighborhood in a sugar induced euphoria, bouncing from house to house with out any thought in the world but how many wrappers we could pass out in by the end of the night. The other was what awesome party could I get invited to and how attractive of a costume could I come up with before that party arrived. Both of those Halloweens are fond memories, but none compared to the Halloween we had tonight. This third form of the holiday was twice as exciting, 3 times as important and 4 times as exhausting. There is so much pride at every door that opens with "awees' and ooohs" and there is such a thrill from watching the girls figure out this interesting exchange of "I knock on door and you give me candy", even though they don't know what candy is yet (but daddy sure does!). But after umpteen blocks of carrying around 30 pounds of baby, plus costumes, plus loot AAANNND trying to hold on to our dog who was sporting fairy wings and getting almost as much attention as the girls, my arms hurt, my feet hurt and my head is throbbing. I think one of those Halloween parties is actually taking place in my head right now, just behind the eyes, in one of my sinus cavities. It's way more exhausting being a parent of a kid on Halloween. And can I just rant for a little bit and say that anyone over 14 should not be trick or treating?! And definitely no one over 18. And especially, ESPECIALLY no one taller than me. If you're 6'4", you need to find something more age appropriate. And if you are under 14, but still taller then me, then get to basketball practice. ... what are you doing out here wasting that god given gift?! I don't know, as a dad with kids it feels like this is their holiday to be out and having this experience. Some junior in high school wearing a hoodie and sneakers, swearing and pushing his way through my kids to get to a free "fun sized" snickers bar really rubs me the wrong way. At the very least have enough courtesy to dress up and put some effort in. That's it. The transformation from cool guy to crotchety old man is nearly complete. Now you'll excuse me, I've got to hick up my slacks, find my reading glasses and yell at some kids to get off my lawn!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Shameless Plugs

In the constant pursuit of elusive funds for impending college tuition's I'm going to use this Friday morning to make some plugs that might help increase the savings account. First of all, I've entered a short story in a "children's bedtime story" competition that comes with publication and a cash prize. To be honest with you I had originally written a really good story and then found that I was limited by the character/location images offered in the illustration program. As I said, my original one is really good and maybe someday I'll put that one out there, but the back up is alright. So if you get a chance, follow the link and vote for my story "The Knight and the Frog".

The next shameless plug is for the book I just self published based on this very blog. OK, so it basically IS just the blog divided in to months with original illustrations added in. But there is an intro, as well as the pre-birth blog and the first 3 months written out which you can't find online, so there are things in there you can't get for free. ... I'm not a very good salesman, I know. Anyway, if you have any interest in ordering a copy you can find it here "The First Year of the Rest of My Life: thoughts and ramblings from a first time father of twins".
That's it, I'm done with my pushy sales shtick.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fe Fi Fo Fum. ...

While it's true that size doesn't matter, I still get a small amount of joy in gloating about it. The girls had their 1 year old check ups yesterday and, in addition to a couple of shots, the doctor confirmed what we already knew - them's some big 'uns. Arianna is our "lightweight" coming in at 24.8lbs and 30.5 inches tall, still in the very top percentile. Genevieve continues to be just a little bigger, at 27lbs and 33 inches tall. As I'm still trying to get an idea of what "normal" is (by the way I hate that word) I looked up average heights for toddlers. Turns out we weren't even close to the 1 year old average, so I looked at the 2 year old stats. The "average" 2 year old is expected to be around 27lbs and 34 inches in height. ... Genevieve is one inch away from that mark and Arianna is close enough to be considered with in that size range. That means the girls, at 1, are healthy 2 year old sizes. I'm hoping that they slow down this growth rate or we are going to have a couple of Amazonians on our hand. Forget volleyball scholarships, they'd be ready for the NBA. All in all we're just happy that they are healthy, but it's nice to know that what we are doing (and who knows what exactly we're doing) is helping them grow up nice and strong. Just a little visual, the picture below was taken at their birthday party last week, the other little boy is their cousin Cameron born in August 2009, 2 1/2 months before the girls. I don't blame him for looking up at Genevieve, I just hope he doesn't get a crick in his neck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Silver Lining

It appears that fatherhood has begun to take it's toll on my youth. Last night Gina found the first grey hair on my head, and while many a wife would pluck or dye that silver strand she knows how much that badge of honor means to me. You see I'm actually excited at the prospect of grey hair (by the way is it gray or grey, always confused by this one). Since I was a child and I learned the basics of Gregor Mendel's gene chart I quickly learned that I was doomed to my grandfathers head of hair. ... which was completely empty. ... before he was 30. My goal since then has been to maintain some form of non-embarrassing covering until at least 30 and perhaps even see a few non brown hairs make their debut before I go the way of Bruce Willis and raze the entire lot to the ground. And so, with this one grey hair, I celebrate the hope that the rest of my hairs follow suit and change their color rather then their location. ... which seems to be my shoulders and lower back.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Woo Who?

OK, so this post is not about the twins, per se, it's more about marriage and a disheartening thing I heard today. And it's not aimed at parents, or women, it's aimed specifically at the guys out there - and in theory, my daughters should they grow up and ever read these writings. To set this up for you let me start by saying I am constantly attempting to surprise my wife. It's one of my main goals, to successfully surprise her. In the beginning it was mostly my fault, like a giddy school kid I would let something slip or stupidly allude to an impending surprise, but as I got wiser it seemed that Gina's subconscious was always one step ahead of me. If I was going to buy her a camera she'd go out and buy the same camera a day before I planned to give it to her. For her birthday I secretly took the day off work and was going to surprise her that morning and take her wine tasting. ... she decided to substitute teach a yoga class. It's a losing battle for me, and yet I press on. So last week I saw that the new Taylor Swift album was coming out this week, and knowing my wife loves her I cashed in some points I'd been saving on Amazon and pre-ordered the CD. I was totally stoked this morning when I had a ship confirmation in my e-mail inbox, knowing that the CD doesn't release until tomorrow so I had pretty much locked this surprise up. Of course this afternoon Gina calls me to tell me that I'll "never guess what!" Turns out, when she went to Costco to buy dog food they had a big display offering members the Taylor Swift album a day earlier. ... cue sitcom "you've been foiled" music - wa-wa-waaaaaa! So, I'm having a conversation about this later with a male friend of mine who has been married a lot longer than me and has kids of his own and his response is "the sooner you realize that you're already married and you don't have to woo her anymore, the happier you'll be." What?! I reiterate for those that think this makes sense. ... WWWHHHHHAAATTTT?????!!!!!! Guys, this is 2010, not 1910. You're wife, you're girlfriend, you're circa 1980's best friend who you're secretly in love with but can't figure out how to tell her has options these days. Even after she's married you, with a divorce rate nearing 50% there is no stigma attached should she decide you're a chump and she dumps your ass. This is no longer a world where you can get away with wooing for 2 years and sitting on a couch with your hand on your crotch for the next 60. If you love your wife you need to show her, you should WANT to show her. This morning I overslept and while I was in the shower at 5:45, long before she needs to get up herself, Gina was making my lunch so that I could save those few minutes and get out the door. What's more, she put some toast and jam in there for me so I could eat breakfast on the road. This woman deserves to be wooed, she deserves to be surprised, she deserves to be swept of her feet time and time again (no matter how many times I fail at my attempts). And something tells me guys, you're partner deserves it too. If you're like him, if you feel wooing is something that stops. ... so too will your marriage. Those are my words of wisdom to you. And girls, my daughters specifically, if you're reading this, the moment your partner stops wooing you, the moment they stop showing you they love you, feel free to walk. You deserve more. You're worth more. And you're more than capable of standing on you're own two feet until you find someone who can sweep you off of them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kyle Kopp and Too Much Birthday

As I write this entry, around 10:30pm PST, I have a feeling the clock is lying to me. There's no way it's pre 2am. I am as wiped out as I've ever been. ... ever. ... e-v-e-r. They day started at 4am when I awoke to the pitter patter of little rain drops. ... not a good start for a birthday party that will be mostly out doors. Everyone got up around 7:30 and we got showered and dressed in our pre-party duds and out the door to Grandma's house to help set up, which when you are 1 years old means getting in the way. We said "damn you dirty rain" to the clouds and set up everything in pure defiance of Mother Nature and, it worked. By noon the clouds gave way to a gorgeous sunny day and the soggy ground got. ... well, a little less soggy anyway. The first guests got there around 2:45 - which let me point out one of the main differences between white people and Greek people. ... punctuality. Most "americanized" folks tend to show up either on time or early. If it's a 3 o'clock party and you're there at 3:05 you spend the next 20 minutes apologizing for your tardiness. If you're a Greek and you show up for a 3 o'clock party at 3:05, you circle the block until 4 because there is no way that anyone you know is there already. This is a point of conflict in our marriage. We compromise by being 15 minutes late everywhere and then I apologize while she waits in a corner for the people she knows. Hey, it works. Anyway the party was in full swing by 4 and let me say, it was really swinging. That house was packed! It was tough because we sent out a lot of invites, but only got a handful of rsvp's, so we had no idea if we were getting 20 people or 90 people. We ended up with around 50, 60. Nice group too. Kids were running around playing in the "kid zone" we set up in the living room. Adults were talking and laughing. Jon was cooking about 30 pounds of tri-tip. And the girls were eating up the spot light. Just perfect. I could not believe how many presents were there. ... it took us forever to get through them. But it just reminds me that my girls are really something special. They are loved by so many wonderful people, and that's how we've survived this past year. Grandma's and Yiayia's who open their doors, feed us, cloth us, change us. Aunts and Uncles (from newbies to Great, Great's) that hug us and kiss us at every turn, and some of the best friends that money can buy. ... and we don't even have to pay them! Well. ... not all of them, anyway. ;) Point is, this was an amazing way to celebrate the biggest of all birthdays - the very 1st - and it reminds me how many people truly love us and how lucky we are to have them in our lives. And let me point out that this does not mean all the people that truly love us but couldn't make it aren't appreciated as well. The distance that separates us from you is only physical, we still appreciate the emotion support and the good vibes you're always sending our way! Now to bed, like the idiots that we are we agreed to go out to brunch in the morning. Are we stupid or crazy? I'm going to say both. ... some form of "stazy". .. or is it "crupid"?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oblivious Thy Name is Parent

We took the girls out for yet another birthday meal last night - one thing I've learned with my wife is that birthday's last a month, not a day, so there are infinite amounts of birthday dinners, lunches and celebrations. This time we went out with Gina's mom and sisters for dinner. Couple of things to account for, it was late in the night for the girls and although we gave them a late afternoon nap we were still getting to dinner about 2 hours after they normally eat, also UCLA was playing a rare Thursday night game against the #1 team in the country and finally the National League Championship baseball game was also on so any place with a TV was packed. This restaurant had about 20 TVs. ... in fact, I'm pretty sure they had more TVs then employees working. So we got there and found Gina's mom in the crowd, immediately placed an order for a hot dog, fries and avocado so we could try to get the girls fed. We then spent the next 45 minutes trying to keep Genevieve from pushing her high chair in to the aisle with her feet, Arianna from spitting milk and keeping shoes and socks on feet all while getting food down their throats and trying to ignore UCLA getting obliterated on the TV directly to my right. Gina's sisters were trying to feed the girls root beer floats, wine was being knocked over in slow motion and there were 6 conversations going on among 5 people. ... it was kind of like being in the pit of the NYSE. Anyway, after a while this guy finally comes over and tells me we need to keep it down cause we're ruining his dinner. My face went white and I turn in slow motion ready to throw down because I've had it up to here (I'm holding my hand just below my eyes so you have a reference point) and I see somebody I know. Three agonizingly slow seconds pass before I realize it's Don - a friend of a friend who's house I've been to numerous times for parties (in fact see the "nipple luge" post back in February). What's more he's been sitting at the table with his wife and kids three feet to my immediate right this whole time. ... directly under the TV I've been staring at for 45 minutes. Turns out I'm the a-hole. I'm sure they're sitting there thinking "hey it's Kyle and Gina, any minute now they are going to look at us and say 'hi'. ... any minute now. ... annnnnyyy minute now. ... a-holes!" Until they finally come over to point out how oblivious (or rude) we are. That's the thing about being a parent, at least at this age, 112% of your focus is on the kids, especially when you're out in public and there's food involved. Then you have -12% on the game (had to get back to 100% somehow) so that leaves nothing left for the world around you outside of your little bubble, which only extends about a foot and a half from the center point. So I'm sorry Don and Jenni, it was not personal that we had no idea you were right there next to us. ... we're just parents, and we're still figuring this thing out. You've had several years more practice than us. And thanks for pointing that out! ;) Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to my bubble.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The First Day of One

Ok, so it's official. No more sappy "my babies aren't babies any more"; they're one now, let's move on. I think it best to take stock of what we're dealing with. As mentioned in the past, when they were born there wasn't much to them - they cried, they ate, they slept and they pooped. ... pretty much a blank slate. So what are we working with now? Well, we're walking. ... really walking. I mean these girls know how to move, and they know how to do it quickly and agily. They've mastered walking with their arms full, holding on the another moving object (like a cats tail); even drinking while walking. So that box can be checked off. They've got teeth now, and I've got the bite marks to prove it. Last night Arianna used her new chipped tooth to take a chunk out of my stomach while we were horsing around. We're even learning about taking care of the teeth we've got left. Every night we brush our teeth before bed time, half of which the girls are allowed to do it themselves. They've got a sense of humor. Our house is always full of laughter. ... sometimes so much laughter that it turns to unexplainable crying. We're feeding ourselves. ... kind of. They're great with the hand to mouth, that's easy, so we're entering into the world of tableware. If you spear a piece of food on a fork the girls know how to get it their mouth. And they know "how" to spear it themselves, but they can't get the power behind the mechanics to make it work; but they know what they're supposed to be doing. So let's see, we've got walking, we've got laughing, we've got teeth and we've got feeding ourselves. So on the "to do" list we've got talking, running, potty training and complex algebra. We'll see what we can get done before 2 sneaks up on us. But even if we stopped now, eating, walking, laughing and teeth should be enough to get us in to Congress. ... or at least on to the Bell city council.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The First Year of the Rest of My Life

And with that, it's done. One entire year has flown by. This little rock has completed an entire circle around it's home star and we are back under the same celestial sky we started under. I can hardly grasp at the concept: my girls are babies no more. Sure we will call them babies, and we will go on referring to them by months (14 months, 16 months, 24 months) until we are able to accept the reality that they are no longer infants but tottering little toddlers now, already wandering away from us in their slow move toward adulthood. To step back and look at the last 365 days is to see a map of the most spectacular journey I've ever been on. I can see it all on an imaginary folded little pamphlet as a red streak darting back and forth over little symbols and black dots with small print telling me what it's supposed to represent. Here's sleeping through the night. Over there is crawling. That one is eating solid foods and back there is rolling over. It's like it all happened so fast that I know I was there and I have these flashes of still images but the journey itself is just one giant blur. I see these little munchkins running around in my kitchen, tormenting our dog and flashing the most brilliant little smiles in my direction and I can barely remember when they were these tiny little blobs of screaming panic, flailing around in confusion as they were passed to me in that hospital room. That eternity of a day when I was terrified to blink for fear of them disappearing when I opened my eyes, the thought of missing a millisecond of their lives that I would never get back. The evening of staring. Down at them, then up at Gina, then back to them. The smile widening further across my already stretched face every time. I vaguely remember the sleepless nights that followed, the confusion over everything from poop regularity to bumps and bruises, the concern over what I was doing wrong rather than the pride over what I was doing right. The minor accomplishments that had us jumping for joy like we'd just won gold in the Olympics. I desperately cling to the memory of the magic when their personalities began emerge, the morph from always sleeping or screaming to smiles and giggles, curiosity and wonder. Fortunately I still get the joy of them needing me, wanting to be held, comforted in the act of burying themselves in my chest. The day they stop needing that as much as I do will surly be a tough one for me. But, with the sadness of another step away from me comes an overwhelming sense of pride. I helped define these little people. They are pieces of me. Everything that they accomplish is my accomplishment too. Their successes are my successes. If they fail, then it's because I have failed them first - and I will not fail them. Today doesn't just mark the date of their birth, it marks the date that I pledged my life, my love and my loyalty to them. The date that I decided to put them above everything else in this world and beyond. The date that I become more than a man and more than a husband even. The date that I became a father. The date that I became Dad. The date that I, too, was born.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chip of the old block

Well, it seems that Arianna may be starting to get some of my good looks. ... accidentally of course. Gina called me this afternoon to relay that our soon to be one year old is sporting a newly chipped tooth, which is kind of sad considering she's only had them a few months. When you first get that call, of course, you start envisioning a hockey player with a stub left dangling where her incisor once hung, but the more we talked the more it came to light that it is just a slight corner of the tooth and not some major break. Apparently Gina's mom is calling it a "coke bottle chip" referring to back in the day when kids would chip their teeth using them to open bottles. ... I guess the kids weren't that much brighter in the good ole' days than they are today. Anyway, the perplexing thing is how and when she did it. Gina has not seen her take a spill or cry about anything that would imply it happened today. And yesterday there wasn't anything either. The only thing I can think of is after they went down to bed last night and Gina had left, Arianna started crying pretty hard, enough so that I went in to check on her cause it seemed something was wrong. I, of course, checked to make sure she didn't have some appendage stuck in the crib and then picked her up to check for blood, it never occurred to me to check her teeth. Anyway, she calmed down quickly and went to sleep shortly after so I didn't think anything of it. I'm not too concerned, as it's just a baby tooth so it'll be gone in a couple years. And we weren't really planning on pushing her in to modeling or anything so that's good. Plus, we now have matching teeth - I got mine several years ago in a scuffle with some less than reputable characters, so I'm glad she found a different means of attaining hers. Now I'm wondering if that means when the Tooth Fairy comes for that tooth, does she only half to leave half of the payment? That sounds fair, doesn't it?!

Monday, October 18, 2010

45 Minutes of Youth

Gina's great uncle Tony, the girls great-great uncle, has been in the hospital the last few days with, what appears to be, symptoms of vascular dementia setting in. At 91 he's already lost a leg to a botched knee replacement several years ago, but has managed to live on his own with the aid of a hospice and done relatively well considering. Know, unfortunately, his age and tender condition are really starting to show. This has taken a really big toll on Gina's grandmother as he is her older brother and someone she's always looked up to. Now it's her responsibility to take care of him and carry him through from day to day. We decided to take a visit to the hospital yesterday for both Tony and Yiayia's sakes, we thought they could both use a little of the girls energy. What we ended up doing was energizing the whole hospital wing! Yiayia was meeting with the doctor to discuss Tony's options when we got there, and she really needed Gina to sit with her and help her through it - not that she's incapable, but the emotions make it really hard to look at the facts and reality of the situation. That left me and the girls, along with some help from my 10 year old sister in-law Ilianna, to roam the floors until they were done. What was a drab and depressing hospital wing when we arrived quickly became infused with life and laughter as the girls trotted by each room peering in at the occupants and eliciting smiles and "hello's". It's amazing what extreme youth does to extreme age. These patients see people all day long in nurses and doctors and other guests, but they really don't care much about them. Then comes waddling by this new life, this ultimate in youth and suddenly their surroundings melt away and they forget. Maybe it takes them back to their own children and grandchildren. Maybe it takes them back further to their own infancy. Maybe it's simply the purity of someone that young, someone that untainted. It's like all the garbage around you that you wade through for a lifetime suddenly becomes worthwhile when you see the innocence in a baby still learning the basics of walking, still shrieking with excitement over something new to them that is mundane to the rest of us, still full of untainted and unselfish joy. At that point 91 and 1 aren't that different. At that point, for that brief moment, life makes sense. It wasn't lost on us the irony that we were also in the same hospital the girls were born in. Nearly one year to the date we were back where it all began. After we hung out with Tony for a while and gave some big supportive hugs to Yiayia, we made our way out so we could get a nap. As we passed the open doors in the hall we received "goodbyes" and waves from those stuck in beds with tubs running in and out of them. It seemed what little energy was left in them was expended in simple gestures to the girls. Gina was a little puzzled as she was not there for our celebrity parade up and down the hall over and over and over. That afternoon the girls napped longer than they have in weeks, nearly 3 hours. Part of it was the late rise that morning and the lack of an AM nap as a result, but in my heart I think they needed the extra sleep after giving off so much of their life force to those people in the hospital wing. They gave a little bit of their youth to a dozen people who hadn't had any for a long, long time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Your Other Sister

Gina and I don't talk about Zoe much outside of the walls of our home. She's a topic that we typically keep to ourselves in whispered conversations late at night when we can't sleep or during breaks in a normal conversation where the silence is oddly deafening. The thought of her makes us cry, but it's a good cry in the sense that it means she's still a part of us. If you're not family or friend close enough to be family, Zoe is our first daughter. She passed during pregnancy after being diagnosed with a sever case of hydrocephalus for which the specialists could do nothing. I won't go in to the details because the details aren't important. What's important about Zoe is what she meant and still means to us. How she's affected our parenting of her sisters and how she's defined me as a father. I'm always hesitant to write about her. I feel like this is the twins' blog and that my general format is lighthearted and good natured. ... I don't like dealing with things that are "heavy" because why would anyone want to read about that? But as I'm driving home from work yesterday a new song came on the radio and it punched me right in the mouth. Yeah, songs can do that. You've never had that happen before? Turn to a country station and wait about 15 minutes, some thing's bound to come along that will do this to you. Anyway, I've heard this song before once or twice, but I started listening to the lyrics, and as I wept like a teenage girl it just spoke to me. This is the song I would have written after we lost Zoe. These are the feelings that I feel about her and what I would say if I could hold her and look at her. And while she was not destined to physically be a part of our life, emotionally and spiritually nothing has had a greater impact than her presence. When we were expecting her we took a picture of Gina's belly once a month. With the girls we took a picture every day. We video everything now. I write this blog all the time so that I can save these memories. We are constantly out doing things with them, going new places, experiencing as much life as imaginable. I think a lot of that comes from knowing just how valuable these girls are to us, and we were taught that lesson by Zoe. Not that we wouldn't have loved them, but to be consciously aware of what it feels like to lose them. ... that makes every moment crucial and important and valuable. Part of me feels like the girls have their own built in angel watching over them always, but part of me would trade that in a heart beat if it meant they had their sister instead. Of course reality tells me that we could never have had all three - Zoe was due in January 2009, the girls were conceived February 2009. The timeline says that their existence is reliant upon her loss. Zoe means "life". It's fitting in two senses, she never got the gift of life but was able to give it to her sisters. But that's not important to think about. What is important is that the girls have a sister. She watches over them and she taught their daddy to never take a single thing for granted. To never forget that my life is about their lives. Each breath should be absorbed, each sound really heard and each smile locked away in my mind as yet another moment that my heart truly melted. I love my daughters more than anything tangible or imaginable. And that goes equally for all three.
Rest in peace sweet girl.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Carry Bradshaw in Training

In a sign of how big the girls have gotten, Genevieve has now decided that she has an opinion on what she wears. And we're not talking the simple "I don't want to wear what I have on" and running around naked, but the "I found this and I would like to add this to my ensemble". Last night she was amusing herself by pulling cloths out of the suitcase still on the floor in their room from their weekend stay with Grandma. At one point she came a cross an orange onsie that she then starting toting around the room with her. I could see her getting frustrated, snapping the onsie around in a whip cracking fashion and then scooping her head down like she was trying to get the onsie on top of it. I told her to bring it over and she gave it to me, but when I took it she started whining and leaning in. I got the sense that she wanted it on so I popped her head through the neck hole and left it around her like a scarf. She looked down at it, adjusted it slightly and then strutted around the room like all was finally right with the world. She wore the orange onsie "scarf" for the rest of the night, totally happy with how she looked in it. And thus it begins. Life with girls is now getting girly.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Con-Sti-Pa-Tion constipation is the name! Keep-the-rhythm or you'll be out the game

Oh my poor Arianna. This kid has always had some difficulty keeping the rhythm, if you know what I mean, and she ends up with a back up worse than the 405 in south county at 5:30 on a Wednesday. Well we had finally gotten it somewhat under control through a daily regiment of prune juice multiple times through out the day but now we are suffering collateral damage from the weekend at Grandam's house. You see, despite the note I left reminding Grandma, she forgot about the prune juice requirement. I have to let her slide her, though, because it was kind of overwhelming being her first time overnight with the girls for almost two full days. Unfortunately, though, Arianna now has to deal with the fall out. ... or lack of fall out I guess you could say. She looked like she was about to burst a blood vessel last night, but all she managed was a little gas. I feel so bad for her. Her little tummy is all filled out, and she doesn't want to eat because her stomach hurts her. Then she just stands there crying in pain and turning red from trying to push so hard. We even tried a suppository, but it didn't work, and getting it in there in the first place was like hammering wooden nails in to a brick wall. I had hoped that after she fell asleep, maybe she'd relax a little and pass something in her sleep, so when we checked on them before going to bed ourselves I made Gina (against her protests that there was nothing in there) stick a finger in and double check. There was nothing (Gina's always right) and it woke up Arianna so we had to dive for cover on the floor where I received glares for the next 3 or 4 minutes before we finally crawled out of the room on our hands and knees while Arianna scoured the room in a half asleep daze. I felt like Indiana Jones sneaking out of some jungle temple trying to hide from the all seeing eye of some idyllic statue that turns people to goo. Actually I felt more like his Asian sidekick, Short Round, in the Temple of Doom stepping on the booby trap devise and saying "oops" with a sheepish grin. I was then forcibly reminded of where Gina's finger had been as a future warning to trust what she tells me and not my gut instincts. Lesson learned. ... and most likely quickly forgotten.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crashing A Wedding

Long weekend. Looooong, looooong, loooooong weekend. Gina's cousin, Nicolette, got married on Sunday, but when you're involved with a wedding that means you've got things happening all weekend leading up to the ceremony. Friday we had the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. We also had to pick up my tux from the tiny little suit shop in Claremont (really far from our house) so we ended up spending close to 3 hours in the car Friday afternoon. The girls hung in there, though I know they weren't too happy about the situation. They played happily in the church during rehearsal and won over almost every heart in the wedding party, and then made a beautiful disaster of the restaurant at the rehearsal dinner and won over the heart of the bus boy assigned to sweep under their high chairs every 5 minutes. We didn't end up leaving there until almost 9:30 so we changed them in to jammies and they passed out on the way home. Saturday we went to lunch with my parents and then took the girls to their first pumpkin patch experience. They went on the little train and then the carousel and we finished with the petting zoo - you know how Genevieve loves her goats. Then Saturday night we had to go up and stay with the wedding party in LA, so the girls went over to Grandmas house for a slumber party. Seems like they had a really good time - I know my mom loved every minute of it. We, on the other hand, had our first night both away from them. I finally see, first hand, how hard it's been on Gina with all those festivals. Your telling yourself to enjoy the night of adulthood, but you want nothing more than to see them and make sure they're ok. It's rough. I may have compensated by drinking a little too much and crashing a wedding in the hotel bar wearing flip flops and a t-shirt. I did get a dance with the bride, though, who made me aware that I was slightly under dressed, but she was glad I was enjoying myself. What can I say, I'm awesome. Next morning, in all the preparations, I didn't eat much more than a muffin and drank quite a lot of coffee to nurse a slight hangover, all the while failing to drink more than the one bottle of water Gina forced on me. Fortunately, because I tied on one too many the night before, I didn't join the rest of the groomsman in the pre-wedding celebrations taking place that morning. Still, once my suit and I met the 95 degree Los Angeles weather we decided to only last about half way through the 45 minute ceremony and fainted right up there in the middle of everything. Again I reiterate, I'm awesome. I could feel the lights going dark so I made a motion to get down and sit in the pews, but as soon as I made the move I could feel the blood leave my face and I was gone. Talk about stealing the show. I woke up to smelling salt and the bride exclaiming "Opa!" I spent the rest of the evening consuming as much water as I could find and gladly accepting all the ribbing dished out. After all, it's not everybody who can crash two weddings in one weekend in two completely different fashions - on figurative and one literal. It was nice to get back home, though, and look in on my girls. This being the first wedding I've been to as a father, it is quite emotional watching another dad give away his little girl. I had spoken with the father of the bride the night before and I asked him if he'd lose it when the time came. He told me he would be amazed if he kept it together, and I confided in him that I knew I'd be a sobbing mess on my girls' wedding days from the moment I laid eyes on them. The only thing that will keep me from openly weeping on those days is if I pass out. ... and we now know there's a strong possibility for that to happen as well. Have I mentioned my awesomeness lately?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Families Stick Together

So I decided that you can tell a parent by looking their cell phone. Try it next time you meet someone new, before they've told you about their kids - which is tough because it's all we talk about,trust me; I had my haircut yesterday and every time the stylist (yes, I go to a stylist and not a barber, because that's how I roll) tied to change the subject I'd quickly find a route back to talking about my kids. Anyways, take a look at your new friends phone. If there are teeth marks, a sticky film and a cracked screen then you've got yourself a parent. Or someone with some unspeakable issues. Also, they probably have a refurb model because those teeth marks aren't the first, and slober takes a toll on electronics. Last night we went to our local sushi hang out and I pull out my phone this morning, it's still covered in sticky rice and drool thanks the Genevieve. I even washed it last night, but it's still there, like a concrete encasement that I need heavy machinery to remove. I also notice another funny little "scene" last night. We were surrounded by three other couples: a mid 20's "new" couple with out kids, a mid 50's "old" couple recently with out kids, and an early 40's "in the midst of it" couple with two kids. The one thing all three couples had in common? They were all staring at our table most of the time we were there. The new couple had fear in their eyes, the old couple had fondness and the middle couple had sympathy. Very few words were exchanged between us and them, but I could read their faces like a book. Especially the guy from the young couple. His eyes were glued on the girls and his mouth wide open with a "dear god, please don't put me in that picture" expression. The older couple asked us the girls ages and then moved to waves and smiles at the girls. The middle couple kept telling their kids how they were when they were that age. From an aerial view it would have made a very nice diagram in a high school health class showing the progression of a typical American family: see Joe and Deb date, see Joe and Deb stress, see Joe and Deb work, see Joe and Deb relax. I would have taken a photo of it to post here, but my camera lens was filled with sticky rice at the moment. In fact it's still filled with sticky rice.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And the Title goes too. ...

Well, I'm going to call it. For weeks it's been a neck and neck battle to see who would claim the title of "first walker". But I've got to give it to somebody, so the front runner, the first born, the "little" sister, Arianna takes the crown. Both girls are walking very well, but Arianna is pretty much only walking at this point. It's a rare thing to see her crawl, while Genevieve is still about 50/50. Although, I do have to say that Genevieve is a much better climber. There is nothing that girl can not get on top off. The other day she pushed her little cozy coupe car against the couch, climbed in to the driver seat, then out the window Dukes of Hazard style on to the couch and up on to the back of it so she could see herself in the living room mirror. That's quite a skill on it's own and a nice consolation prize. Of course I'd just prefer her to stick to walking as it's a much less traumatic fall. We've actually decided to let them climb up on things because we know their inclined to do it anyway when we're not looking, and at least this way we can ensure they've learned how to get down. Anyway, I can't believe we're well in to October already. Gina and I are having flash backs to a year ago when we were doing weekly doctor's office trips and people were starting a pool on the birth date. I would actually get disappointed when the doctor didn't say "alright, let's just take them out now" because I was so anxious to meet them. It's amazing what has transpired in such a short time. To have watched these two make the journey from sparkle in our eyes to sea monkeys to blobs to infants to little midget people running around has been the most joyous experience imaginable. I think it must be hard for people who've achieved extraordinary greatness in their lives (astronauts, presidents, explorers, scientists) but who've also been parents to look back at their life and pick their crowning achievement. I think it'd be very hard to see any accomplishment as being greater than that of raising a human life. I know there is nothing I've done yet, and it's doubtful there's anything I will do, that I'm more proud of than than how I've spent the last 11 months and 17 days. At my funeral, my life can be summed up in two words: Arianna and Genevieve. Well, I guess if you can't "and" then that's three words. Technicalities.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Family "Air"-loom

Growing up my family had a 35 foot, Catalina 34 sailboat. Don't get confused on why a 35" boat was called a Cat34, it's not worth waisting the brain power on. Anyway, between the ages of 5 and 18 that boat was kind of the center of my families world because it was the center of my fathers world. Every Wednesday in the summer was racing, just about every weekend we would go to Catalina Island and in the winter it was out rigged for scuba diving and lobster hunting. These are the activities that really defined my childhood, but it didn't stop with what you could do on the boat, the boat itself really defined it too, even down to her name. You see my father had an infantile sense of humor, one which he passed on to me and one which I will most likely pass on to my children as well. Because it was a racing boat, and because it was a boat that harnessed wind power AND MOST OF ALL because of my dad's sense of humor, the boat was named "Passing Wind". Any suspicion that her name was innocent in nature ended when you saw the design on the racing shirts: A gust of wind coming out of a section of cloud whose crescent shaped puffs looked much like a persons back side, with the ancient moniker for wind (the "cloud man" seen on ancient maps) looking sheepishly back wards toward the action. My dad found this funny. My dad's friends found this funny. I found this funny. So it's no surprise that last night as we headed to tuck the girls in before making our own way to bed, I was rendered unable to assist. We cracked the door open and Gina slid in while I dimmed the hallway light, and just as I started to move through the doorway Genevieve started moving around as if she were about to wake up. Gina hit the floor and I quickly retreated pulling the door closed to darken the room, and just as I did so she let out a series of the loudest flatulence I've heard in quiet some time. I lost it. I couldn't breath I was trying so hard to hold in my childish laughter. Every time I regained my composure and headed back to the room I lost it again as soon as I reached out for the doorknob, spinning around and running to our room to stuff my face in a pillow and drown out the wheezing and gagging noise I was making. I literally tried to reenter the room 5 times. Finally Gina came out to scold me, finished with the task at hand, and not nearly as amused as I was. That, of course, didn't keep her from making farting noises the rest of the night in successful attempts to make me laugh again. What can I say? It's in my blood. And when Gina pointed out that it wasn't nice of me to make fun of her I had to explain that I was not laughing at her. She's my child and thus she would find this just as funny as I did, therefor I am laughing with her. ... she just doesn't know it yet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Parenting Takes A Big Set Of Balls

I mean that literally! We went to a birthday party on Saturday for one year old friend of our and they had a plastic swimming pool filled with the play place balls like McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese. The girls were in love! They climbed in to the tub, out of the tub, threw balls in and threw balls out. It was a hundred degrees outside and they refused to come in to the air conditioned house and away from the balls. They had the time of their life. So much so that I mentioned it to my mom who promptly went out and bought a bag of her own, so yesterday, when we went over for dinner, there in the living room, much to the girls delight, was a swimming pool of balls. I tell you what, you can spend $100 this Christmas' on the "hot new toy" and not get a fraction of the satisfaction that a couple of cheap plastic balls in an old kiddie pool are able to get. Kids are fairly simple, it's us parents who over complicate things.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Last of the Great Furlough Days

Today was it. The company is finally in the black again so starting next week our furlough day experiment will come to an end. I've got to admit that I found the half days on Fridays worth every penny of the 6% cut. And while it will be nice to have that money coming back in to our account. ... if asked I would gladly surrender it permanently to keep the extra hours with my sweet girls. Fortunately, we've made good use of these days. I know a lot of people I work with have just sat at home or caught up on yard work, but we've made it a point to get out as a family and spend time together. Today we made sure that we didn't waste the final one either. We had a nice lunch at Islands and then spent the afternoon playing in the "new" water playground at the Long Beach Towne Center. I say "new" because it's the first time we've seen it, but we're being told by those more in touch that it's been around for at least a year now, maybe more. But in our defense Gina and I have been to the movies only three times in the last 11 months, basically the only reason to go there, and we didn't go to the Towne Center for any of the 3. I know, 3 movie theater experiences sounds like a lot for parents of newborns, but considering the movie junkie I am that's quite an accomplishment. But, that aside, we got some cute shots of the girls today that I think will you'll enjoy just as much as we did.