Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heeeeeeeeeere's Mommy!

Let me start by saying that the title of today's post is not a reference to "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson". It's a reference to Jack Nicholson in "The Shinning". ... which I'm pretty sure is, itself, a reference to Johnny Carson, but it's much creepier than Ed McMahon saying it. Anyway, something has happened. After a weekend of ease and bliss with the girls a flip has been switched and suddenly my easy going girls are no more. I'm afraid to say that the catalyst is not a change in diet, a shifting of the poles or a solar flare that threatens to cause a tidal wave to sweep over Nebraska. It is the the very think that I had looked forward to from 8am on Friday morning. ... the return of Mama. I thought when she returned it would be a life of ease and simplicity. The girls had turned a corner and were going to sleep with out any kind of a fight, snoozing through the night until well after daybreak, even eating all of the food I could get in the near vicinity of their mouths. I was sure when Gina came home this streak would continue, only now there would be two of us so it would be even easier. Look how wrong I turned out to be. Instead, whether they're trying to teach Mama a lesson or make Dad out to be a liar, the girls have given up those easy ways and even seem to be making things more difficult then they were before. They are fighting every nap, whining at every turn, waking up and screaming for over an hour in the middle of the night. ... what the heck happened? I had to confer with some of my coworkers on this phenomenon and the dads all agree: remove mom from the equation and you get angelic performances. Reason: kids know that dad won't put up with any $h!t. When mom's home they play on her weaknesses - their sounds of anguish and misery - to get the result that they want. They're like lions cutting off the weak zebra and then pouncing all at once with claws out and teeth bared. When dad's home they know he'll either be comatose asleep or just turn the TV volume up so what's the point. This is the first time that either of us has been away for more than a day so it's our first experience with this phenomenon, so I'm kind of intrigued by it. It makes me much more comfortable going in to the main stretch of festival season, as Gina will be away much of the next month or more. But it makes me terribly sad for Gina. You can look at it as though they just love her more and want to be with her so bad it hurts, but that's also a lot of extra pressure to put on her that I don't have to deal with. It's like if you have a Super Bowl caliber team that refuses to play football when the coach is around, but if he goes on vacation and leaves the assistant in charge they go 15 and 1. Then upon his return they get blown out in the first round of the playoffs. Hopefully this is just them trying to get back at her for leaving them with the tall angry guy called Dad and they will return to their former glory today. If they keep beating up on Mama, though, she may just resign and take an analyst job on Sports Center. We don't want that to happen.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Operation "Mom Out of Town" Comes to an End.

At approximately 11:05 last night I was effectively removed from duty as the sole parent in charge of baby duty. And as the smoldering wreckage slowly went out we surveyed the damage and what was left. Oh wait. That's right. We survived. We went almost 64 hours with out a mom on site and we lived to tell the tale. I am about as wiped out as I've ever been in my life, but the house didn't burn down, the girls didn't lose weight and we made no trips to the hospital, so I'll consider this weekend a glaring success! I think a little piece of Gina is sad that the girls didn't have major meltdowns with out her (not that she wanted me to suffer, but she wanted to know she was missed). Not being here, I think she believes that if they didn't lose it then they must not have missed her - but I'll tell you what; by Sunday they definitely had a little attitude going on which I think was a manifestation of their missing Mama. It wasn't major, but ever 10 minutes or so yesterday afternoon someone would just start crying for no reason and neither of them would settle down - they were like twin tornadoes spinning through the house. It was like a nervous energy about them - as if they were starting to think Mama might never come back and it was working them into a frenzy. They still went to sleep just fine, and as I crept out of the house this morning for work Gina mentioned her surprise that no one woke up at all during the night (that's the third night in a row for us). I hope this is the gift I give her for coming back: a new found ability to sleep all the way through the night with out any waking up. Of course I think they're smiling faces this morning when she gets them up will be enough of a gift. I can only imagine how exiting they'll be. It's going to be an "I love Mama" bloodbath! Oh the humanity!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chick Magnets. ... Engage!

Single men everywhere, the first part of this post is for you. Forget killer abs, sports cars and adorable puppies. Go out and get our self a baby. Don't ask me where, that's your problem (in fact, this may kill two birds with one stone and solve the orphan problem as well). What you see in the movies is 100% true - chicks love babies. I mean loooooove babies. The one thing they love more than babies? Men with babies. You can tell from my candor that 36 hours into operation "momma out of town" all is well on the home front. Girls did incredible last night. I got up twice to check on them because they didn't make a peep after 7:30. Finally after 7am I poked my head in just as Arianna was stirring and, upon seeing me, she nearly jumped out of her crib thus waking up Genevieve too. But 12 straight hours with out a mom on call and nothing but solid sleep? I'll take it! So we got up, had some breakfast and then went to the gym. This is the first time I've taken them there, Gina's taken them a few times the last month so she can go to spin, but I usually go on my lunch breaks during the week and early Saturday morning so I can pick up coffee on the way home - this gets me out of morning diaper changes AND breakfast so how can I complain about that arrangement? Anyway, I needed my endorphin fix so time to try something new. Before I even got the double glass doors of my sanctuary I was mauled by an exiting spin class. At least I think it was spin. ... they were very intense women so I know it wasn't yoga. I felt like the 5th Beetle making my way to the front desk. Upon arrival all three of the ladies behind the counter started falling over themselves: Are they twins? They're so cute! Are you the dad? Did you come by yourself? Your so good. That's just amazing. What a good dad! ... I like this gym. This isn't a normal greeting for me. In fact, in the 10 years that I've been a serious fitness guy I never get more than a script read "have a nice workout" from these people. I'm there minimum of 5 times a week (and that's a bad week) and these folks don't even know my name yet, let alone show me any kind of emotion. Suddenly they're fawning all over us. "Can I get the door? Wow you hold them both? You're so strong!" It's official, the girls are now coming with me to the gym as often as possible. Aside from that the rest of the day went swimmingly as well. We went down to Dana Point (Great Grandparents house) for our cousin Cameron's 1st birthday. Actually it's his second birthday. ... celebrating his first year. He had another one on his actual birthday at my step-sisters mom's house. This party was for her dad's side of the family. Girls had fun, although they may have made an enemy. Just before we left Genevieve beat up the birthday boy by pinning him against a wall and then bashing his head in to it. I swear, you don't want to get on that girls bad side, she has a twisted sense of justice. I'm pretty sure this was her punishment for him having a binky. ... his own binky. How dare he.

Friday, August 27, 2010

do you smell that?

That's the smell of fear! The festival season has officially started so Gina is in Fresno for the weekend... That's right. The whole weekend. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I've never had to be the sole parent for 72 hours straight so I'm a little freaked outright now...scratch "little" and replace it with extraordinarily. That's better. So far we've gotten through Friday... Well, the day part at least. Not sure how 10pm through 7am is going to go but I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty to write about tomorrow.

Lessons in Hygiene

In our pursuit of instilling good habits early on we've begun our foray into the magical world of dental hygiene. I've watched other parents try and introduce the toothbrush later on in life and I've never seen it go very smoothly. We decided (and the doctor agreed) that it would be best to begin early on so it's not a foreign activity. Plus, they do have teeth now so where's the downside in making sure they are clean? As I stood at the mirror last night helping Genevieve brush two things dawned on me: 1) this is the only time it should really be called a "tooth" brush rather than a "teeth" brush, and 2) she is really enjoying this! There was no struggle at all, in fact, she helped by smiling the entire time. The only tough thing was keeping her from chomping down on the brush head, but when she did this she immediatly giggled and released it. It was quite an experience. I hope she enjoys doing her homework later in life as much as she enjoyed this little task. Oh, on another note, lesson to future parents: when you give your child/children a bath and you go to pull them out of the water and find a "raisin" floating in the tub - unless you've given them raisin's sometime in the last 48 hours, it's probably not a raisin. Best not to try and pick it up. Gina learned her lesson the hard way. It was like a scene right out of Caddyshack. Only this didn't turn out to be a candy bar.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bargain Babies

Had to stop by Costco on my way home yesterday because we had run out of diapers with out realizing we were low. It's amazing how many diapers we go through despite Gina's, shall we say "frugal" usage of them. If I have a poopy diaper that I suggest changing it must first be reviewed to see exactly how poopy. Upon review I often receive the "denied" stamp with the explanation of "it's not thaaaat poopy". My theory has always been any poopy is too poopy. But that's why she's in charge. You see one of our biggest concerns when Gina got pregnant (aside from when are we going to sleep) was how were we going to pay for this? Gina really wanted to stay home, and I really wanted her to, as well. Plus we knew daycare would be outrageous and would probably cost more than Gina made anyway. Now 10 months, and somehow not in the red yet, I was curious how we were making it work. I started running the numbers in my head and I came to the conclusion that Gina has saved us a small fortune through her "not too poopy" mentality. Check this out: Breastfeeding - the girls now consume about 5 ounces, 4 times a day, each. That's 40 ounces a day and nearly 14,600 ounces in a year. In the early months they drank even more than that because they didn't have solid food yet, but we'll just use the 20 ounces a day for guestimation purpose. The Costco brand of formula comes in packs of about 216 ounces for $105, roughly 50 cents an ounce. That means, in one year, Gina has saved us around $7,300 by breastfeeding, assuming minimal consumption and there were no allergy problems forcing us to use the more expensive brands. Pretty cool right. Now check this out. Daycare is pretty pricey in Orange County. A lot of places run at least $100 a week (and that would be a freakin' rock bottom price). If Gina went back to work after 3 months, for two kids, we'd have spent around $8000 (probably more) by their 1st birthday. Gas would have come in to play too, as Gina worked in Irvine. Her drive was 18 miles one way, so at 36 miles a day she would have driven around 7,200 miles between the 3 month return and the girls first birthday. Let's say gas averaged $3 a gallon and her car had an average of 20 mpg like the salesman told us (it's an SUV so I'm sure he was full of it). There's 360 gallons at a cost of $1,080. Just those three things alone saved us $16,380 in the girls first year of life. And that's not even counting all of the hand me down cloths and toys we gladly accept from friends and family (even our cribs are repainted hand me downs), the free baby sitting from Grandma's, Yiayias, Theas and Aunts, the money saved by Gina making baby food rather than buying or the heavy handed "not poopy enough" policy. Twice in the past 2 years I've had someone tell me that "God only hands extreme situations to those persons who are capable of handling them". Well, thank god for my wife. Without her choices I might have had to pay for those diapers yesterday with IOU's.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All By Myself. ...

The anthem of every broken hearted single man played through my head today head today as the girls left me in the dark and quiet apartment myself to attend a bridal shower for Gina's cousin. It's not often that I find myself alone on a weekend, so I brushed the rainy clouds aside and relished in the moment. Then, once my Slurpee was done, I got to work cleaning the house. Found the kitchen table that has been missing for weeks. Vacuumed up enough animal hair to warm the entire Inuit population through the winter. Framed and matted the new baptism pictures of the girls (part of the inspiration for cleaning off the table was that I gouged through two pieces of cardboard under the mat board and through our table. It's ok, it runs with the grain lines so I don't think Gina will even notice. ... doh!). Swept and mopped the floors, even cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. But what does it matter? The moment the girls walked through the door it looked like a hurricane had been through the place again. Oh well, life of a parent I suppose. It's worth it though. They have so much fun making messes. And I got them back, so who cares if they were destroying my hard work. And can I just say (and I'm pretty sure this applies to all daughters of any age) the way to win your dad over is simply lay your head against his chest. I don't know if the girls were tired today or if they just missed me that much, but once they got home and we were playing on the kitchen floor while Gina cooked dinner, they kept crawling over to me and laying their heads against me. They would quickly pop back up and scamper off, but they'd return soon enough to repeat the task. That gets me every time. I would gladly lie down in traffic for such a gesture. ... thank god they don't ask me to do that though, because I would have a tough time removing the tire marks from my shirts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

Sometimes I wonder if we over do it. It seems like, since the girls were born, we jump at every new opportunity that comes along - packing our weekends full of actives upon activities. I guess our thinking is that the more stuff we expose the girls to the better. Even if they don't get what the activity intends participants to get, they are still out in the world, in new situations and around new people. And if we can keep this momentum going I think it can have an extremely positive effect on them. I remember spending weekends at Huntington Library, or the Pasadena Arboretum, snorkeling in Catalina, even going to the horse races at Santa Anita. We were always out doing something unique. At the time I thought nothing of it - it was normal for me. But looking back I see how many other kids just spent their weekends and summers in front of a TV or a video game. The fortunate ones rode their bikes and ran through sprinklers, and while I did a lot of that too, I still have these much more unique memories. I hope to create similar memories for my girls - but you have to start now, even though they won't remember or understand a thing, you know if we wait until they're five we'll find it much more difficult to get the ball rolling. Today we had the opportunity to go to the Natural History Museum in LA for free, so we jumped at it. Best part, they had an outdoor butterfly habitat that you could walk through and be surrounded by these incredible insects. You have to love the fact that people freak out when a cockroach crosses their path, but they pay 20 bucks to walk into a room filled with it's cousins, who's only real difference is wings and some pretty colors. That just makes me laugh. The rest of the museum was great too - lots of dinosaur stuff that I'm sure the girls will enjoy when we go back later in life. We also had a close encounter with real nature. As we walked past the Exposition Park Rose Garden on our way to the cafe for some lunch a humongous Red Tailed Hawk swooped through the garden and came, literally, with in a foot or two of Arianna, who was being held up by Papa Jon. I'm not 100% convinced that the bird wasn't actually gunning for her, it was that close and was on a direct course for her. My heart literally stopped beating. I also have a feeling that it only altered its flight plan at the last moment because it saw Genevieve nearby and was afraid to incur the wrath of such a formidable foe. I don't blame it. A hawk is tough. ... Genevieve. ... she's tougher. Mess with her sister and you might replace the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner.

We followed up the museum with our Thia Eleni's birthday bash. It was a few months late, but a sweet 16 party is worth the wait. It had kind of a glow in the dark, techno vibe with all these glow in the dark necklaces and sticks. It was very cool once the sun went down and the room was just a glow. The girls had a blast and we had a tough time prying them away from the dance floor for bed time. I hate to end with a cheesy joke, but all the way home. ... the literally glowed. In the picture below, you can see Genevieve with in the camera's flash area and Arianna in the background, she's the area that looks like something right out of Tron. Either Tron or Close Encounters of a Third Kind.

Freaky Furlough Friday

So yesterday's half day of work took an interesting twist. Dropped of my car for service and Gina picked me up to go to lunch. We ended up going to Panera Bread and Papa even joined us (by the way, I just realized that we call him Papa and his name is Jon. ... Papa Jon. ... mmmm. ... pizza). Anyway, the first interesting twist is when Papa put Arianna on the table and introduced her to pole dancing.

Not really sure how I feel about this.

Next we went to Babies R Us to pick up some photos we had done two weeks ago (official baptism dress photos. ... so gorgeous). That's when, thanks to Mama, I turned around to find Genevieve covered in Pooh. Both literally and figuratively.

Had a different visual in mind, huh?!

Finally, Gina had to teach a class in the late afternoon so I was home with the girls. It was like a bazillion degrees (I'm sure that's a real number - look it up) today so I left my shirt off. Well, the girls suddenly became interested in anatomy. Mostly Daddies nipples. This is the third and final "twist". I'd turn my head to look at something and somebody would bring me right back to middle school with a good old twist of the nipple. I couldn't get them to leave me alone. It's like they were mesmerized. I was forced to put my shirt back on because I couldn't take any more purple nurples. Fortunately for you I don't have a photos of this incident.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Days You Gotta Dance

Well, the last of the summer concert series' came to an end last night, and fittingly for Gina and me it was a swing theme. Another opportunity to teach my kids a valuable lesson. As the Dixie Chicks song goes (and for fear of reveleaing my closeted affection for country music I won't mention that I'm fairly certain the song was really written by Keith Urban. ... doh!): "Some days you gotta dance, live it up when you get the chance. When the world don't make no sense then you're feeling just a little too tense, you gotta loosen up those chains and dance!" My growing list of things I want to teach my girls includes the ability to dance. And I don't mean the ability to dance well, just the ability to dance period. It's an incredibly freeing experience to move to music. My mom instilled the knowledge of dance on me a long, long time ago - but I was always a little shy about making the move on to the dance floor in front of a crowd (I know, me "shy" in front of a crowd - since when!). But since Gina's come along I've learned that all those other people be damned, I have fun when I dance! My mom has one of the cliche saying signs somewhere in here house - "dance like nobody's watching". Screw that. Dance like EVERYBODY is watching. Because it shouldn't matter. You should be free enough in yourself the enjoy life regardless of those watching. I had to reteach that to Gina last night. We were in a park, so there really wasn't a dance floor, and at most there were two other couples dancing. She kept turing down my requests to dance (what wife turns down a husbands request to dance?). I finally dragged her to the front just before we had to go and we did our thing. We were a little rusty, true (in fact at the end of the song I tried to bring Gina in so I could dip her but she misread the cue and nearly took my head off with a close line straight to my throat) but we enjoyed ourselves. We enjoyed ourselves enough to run back on the floor for one more even though we were approaching 8:30 (our girls are such troopers)! And I'm glad my children will get to see that. I don't really remember my parents dancing. I'm sure they did, but I remember my mom dragging me out, not my dad. And maybe that's because she wanted to teach me the ways of the force, but I think it's because she didn't have fun with him. I want my children to see us have fun with each other. I want them to see our example of what "happy" is - because if there's one thing I want for them in life it's to find a love like I've found. Someone who makes them happy. Somone who has fun with them. Someone who they can be with who will dance with them like everybody's watching. Oh, and they had a free caricature artist at the park, so you can see the girls as a work of art below. I think they lady did a good job. She even got their noses right!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Walk Watch 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are officially on Walk Watch 2010. With multiple confirmed sightings (including yours truly) it's only a matter of time until enough evidence is captured on recorded media that we can officially prove to you we have a walker in our midst. Gina witnessed Arianna take 3 steps unassisted this morning. Then, this evening, I saw two more. Granted, they were more of a shuffle and a slide, but they were forward movement under her own power and with out the assistance of anything to grab, lean or balance against. With 5 confirmed steps (and assuming Ilianna is to now be believed) it's only a matter of time until we are all doomed.

Two Sizes Two Small

So I've officially come to the determination that 800 square feet of living space is not nearly enough for 4 people, 2 cats and a dog. I know. When you say it out loud like that it's pretty obvious. That's roughly 115 square feet of space per person or slightly more than the 10ft by 10ft confines of some prison cells. But when you're living with in it denial can be a strong force. It's gotten to the point now where, on top of daily vacuuming, sweeping and moping to maintain the animal hair tumbleweeds, if anyone turns around too quickly they are bound to topple over someone else. Yesterday it was Karma who turned around and plowed over Arianna. Earlier it was Arianna who plowed over Genevieve. I've nearly broken my neck dozens of times avoiding plowing over just about everyone in the house (even my own self at times). Yesterday I just hit my limit with it. I got through getting the girls down to bed but afterwards I was in such a foul mood that Gina decided I'm "man PMSing". I prefer to call it manstruating, but I suppose it doesn't matter the title, I was not fun to be around. And it's not like there is anything we can do about it anyway, but that makes it worse, right?! So i figured that's what a blog is for. To vent about the things you can't actually do anything about! Well, that's not entirely true. I did what any smart women in such a situation would do. I made a 9:30 run to Paul's Place and got Feta Fries, a grilled cheese sandwich and two chocolate shakes (one was for Gina, relax). Surprisingly, that helped. Now I just have to go work those extra calories off today. Sometimes I feel like all the estrogen in my home is having an effect on me. Don't forget, even the dog and the two cats are female. Nahhhhhh. That's crazy. Well, back to my double skinny soy latte and the current issue of US.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elsusive Sightings

[to be read with the voice of the narrator from the Twilight Zone]
Like the mysterious Bigfoot and the elusive Chupacabra, there are now some questionable sightings of another intriguing species making their way around backroom whisperers: the 10 month old walker. The sightings can not yet be confirmed by audio or visual recording devices, so we have to go on eyewitness accounts for the moment. And the only supposed witness coming forward at this time is Gina's 10 year old sister Ilianna, who is known to spend her summer days consuming large amounts of bad Disney Channel TV. So take the purported sighting for what you will, an actual happening or a figment of a young girls imagination brought on by an over indulgence of Wizards of Waverly Place. She adamantly claims she witnessed Arianna walk on the afternoon of Monday, August 16, 2010. Personally, I think she thinks she saw what she says she thinks she saw, but she also thinks I didn't see what she thinks she says she saw, even after she says she saw it. ... at least I don't think so. And so, with such fuzzy details and scattered testimony, the legend grows. But who's to say, in such a vast and unexplored world that things of this nature don't exist? Maybe one day you too might find yourself face to face in such an encounter. Hopefully you'll have you're 16mm camera at your side, unfocused and over exposed, perhaps slightly water damaged as well, so you can catch the grainy and suspicious image on film as the creature makes it's awkward gait back into its forest home. Then it won't matter what you say you think you saw because we'll all know that you think you saw what you said you saw. Yeah. I think.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

5 Minute Time Out

I hear it a lot - mostly from family and friends who are close, but not close enough to see behind the curtain of our little operation. "You guys make it looks so easy!" My first reaction is to argue the compliment, "you're kidding right?! This looks easy?!" But I bite my tongue because the more I chew on it the more I think they're just filling empty air with a cookie cutter comment. Like they need to say something so they pull this little cliche statement out of their back pocket. It's right up there with, "you two are such a great couple" and "those jeans look amazing on you". No one really means it (not they don't either, just that they aren't really spending their brain power analyzing the amazing angles that the jeans have given your butt) but they feel they need to say something and they have nothing else to offer so they spout the saying. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's malicious either and I certainly appreciate them giving us the little boost in confidence, it's just that I want to be clear, what we are doing. ... it's not easy. Anyone that tells you it's easy is full of it. This weekend has been a great example. The girls were tremendous, but we were all over the place in celebration of Gina's birthday and come this afternoon we got home and it hits you like a ton of bricks. Scratch that, two tons. ... maybe even two and a half. The girls were playing in the living room and Gina, running on reserves, was listlessly dusting the girls room. I needed to do something. I called her in to our room and made her sit on the bed. I grabbed her feet, swung them around so she was lying down and I took my place next to her. "5 minutes" I said. "The girls are playing happily, there's no drama. Let's just lay here for 5 minutes." And it was spectacular. Sometimes you just need to call an audible time out and lay down. A 5 minute boost won't get you through the week, but it'll get you through dinner, bath, vacuuming and bed time. And that's exactly what we needed. After that, it's up to a bottle of Malbec to carry us the rest of the week. By the way, you know the first mention of alcohol, even more specifically wine, in history? It's just after Noah docks the arc in Genesis. The wine that he makes suddenly ferments (allusively for the first time ever) and Noah gets plastered. I think it was Gods gift. The rainbow said He would never flood the earth again, but the wine gave Noah the courage to populate the earth again. I'm just saying, having kids lends a whole new appreciation to a nice bottle of vino. Don't judge me. I'm a father of twin girls! ;)

The Mastery of. ... the Farting Noise

There are those accomplishments which make you glow with excitement - first step, first word, first piano concerto - and those that make you sigh with relief - first doctors appointment, first poop, first laugh. And there are those that make you beam with pride. Those differ from parent to parent, and more specifically from gender to gender. For a mother it may be the first boyfriend/girlfriend they bring home. For a father of daughters this is definitely not one of them. For a mother it may also be their first recital or their first woman's empowerment speech. For a dad. ... it's much more simplistic. Like the first farty noise you teach them to make with their mouth. Now that's something to show off. Yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, Arianna woke up having mastered this talent, and she spent a good part of the day showing it off. All morning while Gina was at the gym it was "thbt, thbt, thbt." Then all the way up to LA to see Gina's dad for lunch it was "thbt, thbt, thbt." Then all through lunch at Houston's it was "thbt, thbt, thbt." You think this got old? Of course not! I'm still giggling just thinking about it now. She took a little break when we got to Gina's mom's house for her birthday dinner. I think the large audience intimidated her. But by the end of the evening I could hear in some other corner of the house "thbt, thbt, thbt" and then someone else laughing at the accomplishment. This highlights two different things. One is that a child recognizes laughter as a reward. The more you laugh, the more they do it. Second is the difference between men and women. Women start as babies, turn to kids, become girls shortly after and then turn in to women. Men, we also start as babies and make our way to kids, become boys shortly after. But then something strange happens. We start to look like men, but we never truly become them. We stay boys for ever finding, finding an unreasonable amount of humor in teaching our own babies to make farting noises. Hehe. ... fart.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mama's Birthday

So today is Mama's birthday. Exactly one year ago she was a gigantic, uncomfortable life support system for two people we had yet to meet. We wanted to make sure she knows exactly how much we love her and how much we appreciate every little thing she does, so yesterday I took the day off of work and surprised her with a wine tasting trip in Temecula. I didn't tell her what we were doing so I got up at 5am like normal and "went to work". I really went to the gym and then the grocery store so I could get our picnic lunch together. Then I stopped by Starbucks and headed home. I expected everyone to be up by that time so I thought I would walk through the door to "hooray's" and "oh my goodness". Instead everyone was still asleep. So as I walked through the door I woke Gina who had a mini freak out "who's there! What are you doing!". Had a little flashback to the "mommy call 911" boy in Palm Springs. Other than that the day was great. But there is one thing I still wanted to do. She reads the blog from time to time, and the other week she made a comment "I hope that people who read this, and the when the girls read it later, they know mommy loves them too. ... she just doesn't blog." So if there's any doubt, I just want to make it very, very clear: Mommy loves, loves, loves, looooovveeess her girls. In fact, she loves them so much that she spends all her free time taking care of their every needs, while daddy sits down and writes at a computer screen. So girls, if there's any doubt, I want to make it clear on Momma's birthday that she loves you more than she can ever say with words - written OR spoken. That's what a great momma you have!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Doctor Appointment Update

I know, I know - "two blogs in one day! Kyle you're smothering us!" My apologies, but we had a doctors appointment today and I thought it kind of related to my post from earlier. Official doctor stats are Genevieve weighing in at a whopping 24.5 lbs (for those of you playing the home edition, that's about a 360% weight increase in a little over 9 1/2 months). Arianna is right behind at 22.5 lbs (a petite 315% increase) and both are extremely healthy. Now the question, are these kids really as big as Kyle's been saying. For their age Arianna is nearly a midget sitting in the 95% bracket. That means out of 100 kids, she's one of the 5 biggest. How about little Ms. Geneveive, the small one at birth? Try the 100% bracket. That's right! That means out of 100 kids, she's the biggest. So unless the other kids on the playground can recruit all 3 of the other top 5 for their team, my girls stand a heck of a chance in a throw down. Gina even quoted the doctor as saying Genevieve looks like she could take on the Green Bay Packers Offensive line. ... that's a big kid. As far as developmental marks, the doctor said they should be close to crawling (we've been speed crawling for weeks now) and they should be able to support their weight standing up when holding on to someone else's fingers. Um. ... the girls have been doing that for about 3 months now. And lately they've taken to running while holding on to fingers. All said, the girls aren't just right on track, their in the pole position waiting for everyone else to catch up. It's amazing how quickly parental pride kicks in. My kids haven't really done anything except grow according to their natural genetic make up, and here I am taunting other parents "my kids better then your kid, na-na, boo-boo, stick your head in poo-poo." I should be ashamed. I tell you what, it's only a matter of time before I'm rocking the "my toddler can beat up your honor student. ... and she's a girl!" bumper sticker. But seriously. ... she can.


We may have a bully problem on our hands, I'm afraid. Worst part is. ... I think we're the bullies. The girls play date yesterday ended with Genevieve smacking the other little girl in the face in order to get the keys she had been playing with. After that (once she stopped crying) what was supposed to be our new friend wanted nothing to do with the keys, most likely out of fear that Genevieve would strike again should she even think about trying to play with them. I swear this is not something we're teaching the girls to do. I don't want people to think we've got a baby Fight Club going on over here, trying to create little Tyler Durden's. ... that would be Brad Pitt's character from Fight Club. And besides, even if we did, first rule of Fight Club? "We don't talk about Fight Club!" I think the problem is a result of there being two of them. They're used to competing with each other for things they want; pushing, smacking and pulling on one another. It's like toddlers who are used to rough housing with other kids their age who then try and put a newborn in a choke hold. ... they don't really know any different. Add to that the girls are monster babies, dwarfing other kids their age and you've got Johnny from Cobra Kai in a onsie. ... please tell me that Karate Kid reference wasn't lost on you too. That was a great pull. Anyway, the "fighting" continued come bed time. Girls had a rough time napping during the day and we didn't get them down to bed soon enough so we hit that "too tired" stage. If you're not a parent, make sure you make a mental note that such a thing exists. If you can find a way to avoid reaching the too tired zone, you will be a much happier parent. It's worse with twins because they just work each other up even more. One screams, the other screams louder, the other has to match and raise and then so on until the decibel level is in the range only dogs can hear. Anyway, it ended with Gina on the porch trying to escape the shrieks and me watching TV trying to drown them out, both of us silent because our frustration at this point caused anything that came out of our mouths to seem very reminiscent of an attack on the other. Gina wanted to save them, I wanted to let the cry it out and go to sleep on their own. Instead we argued about it and the girls passed out some time during this. In fact, they passed out hard! We went in about 15 minutes after the last sob to make sure they were in good positions and tucked in comfortably and Genevieve was asleep in a sitting position, her head leaning forward against the railing of her crib. It almost looked like she had fallen asleep while standing and just kind of collapsed into that position. But, it worked. They didn't peep until the sun started peaking over the horizon. A very, very good sleep. Wax on, wax off Daniel-son.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is the Earth spinning too fast. ... or is it just me?!

I believe the the principles of inflation are starting to effect the passage of time. Much like a dollar doesn't buy you what it once did, an hour doesn't seem to grant you the time that it once did. I used to take a buck from my moms purse, walk to 7-11 and buy a slurpie and a giant candy bar, sometimes a pack of fruit stripe gum too! Now, not only can a kid not walk to 7-11 for fear of abduction, gang initiation AND having to pause what ever video game he was playing for the last 13 and a half hours, but that dollar that once filled my stomach to the max won't even buy him the smallest of slurpies, let alone candy and gum. Time is doing the same thing. Summer used to last a life time and a one day seemed to go one for months. Now as soon as I step out of bed it seems I'm already on my way back in to it. What's worse, I get up a good 4 hours earlier than I did when I was a kid and go to bed 2 hours later. That means I've got an additional 6 hours and my day still goes by faster. I feel like I get only a few moment with the girls and when I see them next they are another day, month soon to be a year older! I don't know who's sadder for them to go to bed, them or me. I know it's not Gina. The moment their asleep you see this grin spread across her face that can't be wiped away. I look back at the past 10 months (that's right folks, we're in month 10 already!) and I think how quickly it's all happened. The previous 9 months just dragged (especially for Gina) and the years before that moved even slower. Now you blink and it's gone. This time inflation thing is killing me. I think I need to find a way to stop it, or at least slow it down, before I turn around and their in prom dresses. Of course, that sounds like the beggining of a super villian if I ever heard of one. I'll say this much, if one does come along and that's his master plan: to slow the earths rotation, thus suspending the passing of time. ... you won't see me calling for a hero to come along. I could be very happy with that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Close Encounters of the Twin Kind

We ventured in to a new and exciting frontier today. One which was as awe inspiring as it was hostile. ... the mall playground. We stopped by after lunch with the idea that the girls could watch the kids play and maybe, when they're walking, we could come back and they could join in. ... oh no. ... not our girls. As soon as the safety strap was unsnapped Arianna bolted across the floor with Genevieve in hot pursuit. They set up camp at the 3 foot long goldfish statute near the center of the compound (not quite ready for the off-road monster truck or the convertible sedan), and made their first contact with intelligent life. ... well, he was four. ... and even for a four year old I'm not sure he was top of his class. We'll just say they made contact with life. Little Tony tried desperately to impress the girls with his complex jumping skills and his ability to balance on the fish. I'm not sure the girls were really moved by his talents, but I can tell you this - he was very proud of himself. We had several other fly by's, but Tony was our main relationship until another pair of twins moved in on the turf. These girls were 2, maybe only an inch taller then our girls and they were fascinated with them. I've talked before about my theory of connections between twins and other twins, and this encounter only solidifies that. These two were hugging and kissing and petting the girls hair non stop for a good 20 minutes. Their mom and (I'm assuming) grandma would continually pry them off our girls and move them to another end of the compound only to have them b-line it straight back to Arianna and Genevieve. It was intense. One of the girls even tried to pick Arianna up and make off with her, despite the fact that I'm sure she couldn't be more than a pound heavier. Arianna, tough girl that she is, turned around and smacked the kid upside her head, gaining her release, and then went on playing. I tell you, my girl is tough. I think she'd take on a first grader given the chance. The playground did its job, though. Two minutes into the car ride home and it was lights out. I think we will come to like visits to the mall. That is until they start asking for credit cards and pretending like they don't know who we are after they get one.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood..."

I don't know about you, but I often find myself going back in time to decisions I've made and wondering "what if". They're not always life changing choices, sometimes they're quite insignificant, but I wonder where I would be had I gone that way instead of this. What if I hadn't transferred twice in college. What if we'd waited to buy. What if I'd taken that job, refused another, tried for a long shot. What if I'd majored in something practical or taken a class that made more sense. What if I saved more and passed on those purchases. What if I said "hello". ... what if she hadn't. It amazes me how our lives hing on such choices, and the potential sway is 360 degrees in differences. But the thought always crosses my mind after such flights of fancy, if I'd made that choice I would not be here, I'd be there. And, in truth, all the choices in my life have led me to my wife and daughters. Every mistake has funnelled me in their direction. I may not have my movie star life. I may not have my dream house and my adoring public. I may not be the success I imagined. ... but the truth is, I am. There's not a step, a bump, a failure or an accomplishment that I would do any differently if given the choice because it would mean I'd have to give them up. I love these day dreams because they make me remember this. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the Child Diet

After the girls had gone down last night, Gina and I were sitting in the dimly lit kitchen discussing the day. I had another furlough day so we took the girls out to lunch at Gladstones by the marina in Long Beach. Lunch started out nice, sitting on the patio enjoying the sun and the slight breeze, but the breeze turned to wind and the sun turned to shade - suddenly Arianna was not having such a good time. We picked up and moved to inside the restaurant but she continued complaining. We finally realized, running through the checklist of things to complain about, that it was those monster feet of hers no longer fitting into the shoes (I told Gina I couldn't get them on and they were too small, but she jammed them on anyways and said they were fine). Once she was barefoot she was back to normal, but by then lunch was over and it was time to move toward our afternoon nap. The discussion last night, though, wasn't so much about Arianna at lunch, just the act of eating in general. Gina has come to the determination that having children may just be the best diet ever - allow an explanation before you make your argument that she's full of it. The trick to this particular diet is eating somewhere other than at home. At home you feed the kids, clean them up, set them down to play and then eat yourself, getting what ever amount of calories you require for the day. But, take two nine month olds out to a meal and it's a different story. You've got approximately an hour and half before a meltdown will begin. You sit down, order drinks and appetizers and then begin feeding them. Feeding a kid at home isn't a huge deal. It takes maybe 20-30 minutes, but feeding a kid in a restaurant where waiters zoom by and neighboring tables are laughing or talking loudly and suddenly you've got distractions. Distractions add another 20 or 30 minutes to a meal. Appetizers start coming in about 10 minutes after you order them so now you're juggling plates, sippie cups and toys to make room for hot calamari that must be placed outside the grab zone (in our case two grab zones which slightly overlap in the center of the table) which severely limits table space. Now you're focusing on feeding kids as quickly as you can so that you can start eating yourself. But the kids aren't on the same page as you so your attempt to hasten the experience actually causes them to fight you more making it worse. Then your meal shows up, so now you're stacking plates of thus far untouched appetizers and commandeering the tables next to you so you can try and make some room. Try arguing with a guy who places his bread basket on your table when he's got two infants strapped to the other side of his table staring you down daring you to open your mouth. You'll find yourself speachless and unable to object. Then, what ends up happening is you take something off your plate, bite it, give one half to a baby and the other half you eat. Take another bite, half to the other baby, half to you. Take a third bite, half to one baby, then the other child starts whining so you give the other half to her. You've now taken three bites and only truly consumed one. ... extrapolate this and tada, you've got a diet. A one in three ratio of consumption to bite, or a third of the calories you originally would have eaten. After about 10 bites you're an hour and a half in to your meal and it's time to move on for naps anyway. Plus you're really too exhausted to try any more. This is how Gina has gotten her pre-pregnancy figure back in 9 months. Ok, I think the 9 yoga classes she teaches a week play a bigger part, but she swears the "diet" has big impact too! Sure you've just spent $20 on 10 bites of a meal, but think how much some of those other diet programs actually cost. We may be on to something. I can see us now on a late night infomercial, after the 12:30am rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond, we pitch adoptions from Malawi with George Foreman and the Shamwow guy as the latest trend to trim the waistline. "Call now and we'll even throw in Cambodian baby absolutely free, but wait that's not all: tell the operator the secret pass word, "baby belly bump burn", and you'll get this collectors edition Russian child too! That's three babies, a $150 value, for the price of one! Call now, operators are standing by." I like it. Now I just have to put a call in to Billy May's and get this thing off the ground. Oh wait, that's right. ... he's dead. He may not be the best pitchman for this idea then.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Two Dads

This is not intended to be taken as a social commentary with my opinions plastered through out and jammed down your throat, this is just an observation and a few thoughts that were raised by it. If you hate what I have to say I'm sorry. Next time I'll give you a light and fluffy puff piece with heaps of humor and tenderness. I'll even through in a cherry on top. ... ok two. But today, I feel the need to let this out. Yesterday we trekked down to San Diego to see Gina's step-Grandparents (Jim and Diane) who were in town staying at their condo for the week. They are wonderful people who have always been supportive of Gina and me, and have now transferred that love to the girls as well. We hadn't seen them since April so we felt it important to go down and at least get a few hours in with them so they could play with the girls. Their daughter and their two granddaughters were also down to spend the week at the beach and they brought with them (at least for the weekend portion of the trip) her two gay friends and their four year old son. Now, I know everyone has an opinion on subjects like these. Even people who stress "Oh, I don't have an opinion on that" really do have a very strong one which they will fight tooth and nail in defense of should they be pushed enough. So I don't want to get in to that, it was just an interesting observational moment, so stifle your opinion and just allow yourself to think about it for a few minutes. None of my gay friends have kids, at least not yet, and the only families like this that I've seen are at a huge distance or on TV (I love Modern Family and Glee), so this was the first time I'd really been around a relationship like that and had a chance to sit, watch and think about it. First of all, the obvious thing, these two were very good dads, very attentive to their son and, by all that I could see, really worked like a team in what they did (more than many heterosexual parents I know). But what happens when he's 15 and he has questions about dating girls? Odds are he's going to be straight despite his parents orientation. I will offer my opinion that I think people are born this way, it's not a choice they make themselves, and I think the dads would be inclined to share this belief as well, so I'm sure they will not try and "force" gay on him as some might think. But how can they offer this heterosexual advice? Also, how will the boy handle it at that age? It's no big deal when you're four, but I was 15, I know how 15 year old boys talk: "that's gay", "you're gay", "this is gay". ... how will that affect him. Will he be hurt by it, or will it roll off his back because his parents prepared him for it? Will society have changed enough by then that this will not be as big an issue as it was? Lot of questions. I think of the movie The Birdcage, and while it was a fictional comedy, it's grounded in some potential truth. Will he run into the same types of situations as he grows through adolescence and into adulthood? Of course I wonder about the positives too. This boy was four and one of the dads was running through new vocabulary words he had learned this summer. How many heterosexual parents really take the time to do this? Surprisingly not enough. They were very focused on his politeness and his social awareness as well. Again, watch Jerry Springer, lot of parents failing at this. These two men were both bright, educated and well presented which will be a wonderful influence and one I wish I could extend to a number of dads I've run across. Also, as Gina pointed out while we discussed this on the drive home, the boy will, for the most part, be freed from the "macho" burden imposed by many dads. True, he will most likely never learn to hunt or fish or camp, but he will also probably never be screamed at from a bleacher during a sporting contest only to watch his dad be banned from all future "Christian League" sporting events. He will never be told he can't audition for a play because it's too girlie. He will never be told disgusting jokes by a father attempting to bond with him, or have his dad uncomfortably pass on his collection of dirty magazines. I doubt a good natured "wresting" match will never result in a hospital visit and a "one on one" game of hoops will never result in black eyes and stitches. Then again, he will never know the unparalleled warmth of a mothers hug. He will never see a male/female relationship behind closed doors. He will likely miss out on the "guys guy" things that don't involve dirty jokes and porn (ex. arm wrestling, motorcycles, burping contests, the various forms of pronouncing the word "dude" and their different social meanings). It's an interesting exchange. You loose a little and you gain a little, so does that make it even? Is it a different experience than the one we will give our girls that is really not that different at all? This, of course, is a new outline of an average family for which we don't have the ability to look back on 50 years of results and say "this is what will happen," but I think it's exciting to see. There are people who will hate this and make life tough for them. Many of those people screaming the loudest, of course, are such atrocious parents themselves that I wonder how they feel justified. Then there are people who will love it, many of them screaming the loudest never having raised a child themselves, nor having the slightest desire to do so. But I know, in time, the dust will settle and despite a persons own leanings an answer will be there. To finally offer my own opinion I tend to lean in the direction of The Beatles. I think that, in parenting, all you really need is love, or at least it's the most important thing you need. There are so many children lacking this one crucial necessity that who cares if it comes from a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, or just one really, really good single parent of either type. As long as the child is loved, I am going to support the parents who provide it.