Thursday, September 30, 2010

In the still of the night

I've always heard the running joke among parents that they love their children the most when they're asleep. I get it. They're not moving, talking, destroying or doing anything else that causes the parent to be on their toes. It's funny. I can appreciate that. I do think the parent isn't serious when they say it though; there's really nothing quite as amazing as watching your children play and learn or hearing them talk and laugh. These moments are much more incredible than after they've gone to bed and you can sit on the couch debating between watching the Vampire Diaries or Family Guy. But there is one moment after they've gone down that may be the most amazing. The "tucking them in" experience. It might be one of my favorite, and certainly the best part of them going to bed. This is when you creep in to their room to make sure everyone is covered and in a good position before you head to bed yourself. It's the only time that they are truly still and you can really just look at them. Look is different then watch. Watching involves darting your eyes back and forth, trying to keep up with the one on the left hand side of the room while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the one on the right. You end up either cross eyed or "frog eyed" as a result. But at tuck in time they are still, they are quiet, only their gentle breathing causes the hushed whooshing sound and their little chest to rise and fall ever so softly. They're faces are expressionless, but perfect, like the cherubs painted in the cathedrals and palaces of Italy, France and England. Their bodies are relaxed in what ever contortionist pose they've settled in to for the night. It's like a perfect painting that you can stare at for hours. ... only you can't, because every now and then a floor board creaks or a cat meows, or the damn dog starts creeping toward the open bedroom door and her nails "tic, tic, tic" on the hardwood causing the picture to stir and Gina and I to dive for cover for fear of a peeping eye catching a glimpse of us and rousing completely. As we cower on the floor, staring at each other, daring the other to laugh, the stillness returns and we take it as our sign to leave. We slip out the door and turn down the light and head to our own bed with a warm fuzzy feeling that only a parent can know. That really is one of my favorite times. It has nothing to do with the joy of my child still and quite, just the joy of being able to watch them, to absorb them, to bask in the glory of the gift that they are with out worrying about things to trip on, things to knock over, or who has put what in their mouth.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two heads are great. ... four arms and legs can get a little messy though

Now that we have Gina home I'm starting to see a downside of her having been gone that I did not expect. As Gina pointed out last night, and I took offense to the fact that it was a pretty accurate description of me, I'm a bit of a creature of habit. Not crazy, washing my hands 70 times an hour and locking all the doors in the house 17 times before bed, but certain things I like to keep consistent. I'm up every morning at 5:30. I go to bed every night by 10:30. I go to the gym at 11:00am on weekdays and 8:00am on weekends. I get a morning coffee only if I arrive in front of the Starbucks by my work between 6:30am and 6:35am. ... ok that last one is a little crazy, I'll admit. But I like keeping those things consistent. With Gina gone, that consistency was implemented in to my routine with the girls. 5:00 is dinner, 6:00 bath, 7:00 is bed. Most other things I was flexible on, I wasn't in there at 7:30 in the morning banging pots and pans to make sure they were up or anything like that, but I stuck to this schedule when it came to a bed time routine. I liked it, it seemed to work well for the girls, and I got used to the pattern. Gina doesn't like patterns. She's more of a "where the wind may take us" type of a person than me. I love that about her because my mom's that type of person too. I think it's a great influence on the people around them and usually (I could tell you stories of the exceptions) it works out better when you take that kind approach to some things in life. But, again, with Gina gone I became very comfortable with my routine. Now that she's home, she's not a fan. We were a great two headed monster for the first 10 months. We functioned as one unit, contributing ideas, taking the best and then executing precision team work. Well, the last several weeks, being on my own, I sprouted arms and legs so I could operate while she was gone. ... when she came back, though, it proved to be far to many appendages getting tangled up in every process. Now, suddenly, we weren't a two headed monster anymore; we were Siamese twins. Not one unit, but two stuck together and trying to go in separate directions. I want to keep things on a schedule, Gina wants me to go with the flow, I don't know why she has to do "this" and she can't stand that I have to do "that". Never expected this. Now that festival season is over and we can go back to having both of us around full time, this is going to be our new challenge. To re-merge into the perfect two headed monster we were before. As we discussed last night during our "truce" meeting, it's going to require each of us to sacrifice a limb or two, but here are the positives: a) with only one arm it's much harder to wring your spouses neck, and b) (here's the best part) it only takes one arm to hold up a glass of wine. So keep a look out for the two headed monster learning how to walk again, with a glass of wine in each hand and twin girls in tow. But don't tell the cops. I can't have a DTHMWI (Driving a Two Headed Monster While Intoxicated) on my record.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grandma's Day Off

So with Gina still on her way home from Arizona yesterday, as mentioned previously, Grandma took the day off of work to watch the girls for me during so I could go to work. Little did Grandma know that my sister's babysitter would call in sick so her two kids to watch would quickly become four. Somehow, she managed it brilliantly, balancing naps, lunches and poopy diapers for four children under the age of 3 (and three of those under the age of 1). When I came to pick them up, three of the four were still in afternoon naps and only Caelyn, the youngest, was awake, lying on her play mat giggling to herself. So big time kudos to Grandma. I don't think even she knew she had it in her. When I asked her if she was ready to do it full time, however, she quickly said she needed a while to think about it. I figure "a while" to mean 4 to 5 years. After picking them up we rushed home so we could eat, bath and be ready for Momma when she walked in the door - and we timed it perfectly, just latching the last diaper on as she came in - though in the excitement said diapers struggled to stay on the naked babies. The girls were ecstatic!! Well, Genevieve was ecstatic. Arianna took a couple minutes to forgive Momma before she went berserk as well. I swear, watching them looked like they were trying to merge into her body and become one being with her, Genevieve's face smashing in to Gina's abdomen while Arianna nestled in to her armpit. After a couple of minutes, though, they came over and gave me a quick, little love so I didn't feel totally forgotten about before bounding back over to Gina. Can't really blame them, though. As we know, Dad's can be great, but they're not Momma, no matter how hard they try. It's like sugar free gum, diet soda and soy milk. You can survive just fine with those things, but in the back of your mind you wish you had the real "bad for you" stuff. Good news girls, the real thing is back! Now I'll just head on over and take my place on the "consolation prize" shelf until the next time you need me. ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Downloading Momma

Well, we survived the weekend. Despite the record breaking heatwave trying to melt us, and the lack of maternal presence in the house, everything turned out just fine. Saturday morning my mom came over super early so that I could get to my mud run in Lake Elsinore, and she got the girls and fed and then carted them over to her house for the morning. She got to experience first hand the joy of getting two babies to the car. I think she thought she'd be able to carry them both like Gina and I do but she doesn't have the same upper body strength or experience juggling them that Gina and I have built up over the last year. So she took one and then the other, and as she relayed it, had a panic attack the whole time about leaving one in the car unattended while she fetched the other. She and my aunt then took the girls to the mall to play in the kid zone (which they loved) but didn't calculate for the walk there and back and the girls ended up going down to their morning nap way late - and late nap usually equates to short nap. So when I got home from my run (4 miles or sand trails + 101 degrees = exhausted) and realized they'd only slept 30 minutes I had to immediately pack them up and head home to try and get a good nap in their cribs. Two minutes into the car ride they passed out, so I spent the next hour holed up in the car waiting for them to wake up. Decided to at least catch part of the UCLA game (an amazing win over 7th ranked Texas) so I headed to my friends house a mile away, parked in their drive way and left the girls in the car with the a/c full blast so I could watch on the TV in their garage 3 feet away. The good nap lasted us the rest of the day so, aside from a poop in the bath tub by Genevieve, the afternoon and evening went off with out a hitch. Let me talk about this poop in the tub for a moment; only Genevieve seems to have this problem. I let them play in the tub for a while and when I came back in and started to scrub Genevieve, I noticed the water was awefully dirty. I lifted her up a bit to scrub her legs and I saw a small little floater escape from it's hiding place under her bum. I lifted her all the way up and, to my horror, discovered an entire U.S. Navy Flotilla readying for a beach landing at Normandy. Now the question: who do I leave in the tub while I rush the other one to the sink for a second bath. For fear of retribution by them should they read this later on in life I will forever keep this fact to myself. Needless to say we took two baths that night; one in the poopy tub and one in the kitchen sink. After bed I then got the pleasure of cleaning and bleaching the tub, at which point, I will mention, I finally got my first much needed shower of the day - I'm sure everyone I came in to contact with appreciated the smell of sweat, mud and lake water that was permeating from my body. Sunday morning was even more fun. Gina couldn't stand being away from the girls this long so we set up a Skype account that allowed us to video chat with her from our computer (she borrowed her sisters laptop). The girls were mesmerized (once they realized that it was Momma on the screen and that her voice was not coming from behind them) and spent the whole time trying to figure out how to get her out of the box she was trapped in. After that Genevieve spent the rest of the morning glancing back at the computer waiting for Gina to reappear. We headed over to my mom's again, to escape the heat, and Gina needed one more quick fix so we did another quick video session. Gina really appreciated it, but I think it messed with the girls a bit - being able to see her and then having her disappear again just as quickly. When I was a summer camp counselor we didn't allow parents to call their kids (and vis-a-versa) for the whole week for this very reason. We found that out of site out of mind worked great for the homesickness issue, but once they heard their parents voice, suddenly they couldn't take it anymore and often had to be picked up early. But we did our best to make it through the day despite the Momma-sickness, cooling off at the wading pool and then on great Yiayia's cold tile floor (went over there for dinner). My mom came over again this morning at 6 so I could get to work, and with any luck Gina will be home before dinner so everyone can get some much needed hugs from Momma before bed. That's the plan anyway. And hopefully Grandma will improve on Saturday's morning nap - maybe she'll even get them out of their pj's and in to some day time clothes today. But hey, it's Grandma's house; anything goes at Grandma's house.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is covered in vomit!

Let me begin by letting you know that this is the final weekend of the festival season, which means the final weekend of no Momma and solo Dad. But it's not that easy folks. No, this final weekend is our 12th round, our game 7, our Mount Ventoux stage. If you're not a sports fan what I'm saying is this is the hardest and most crucial. This weekend Gina is in Tucson, a quick 9 hour drive away. And rather then a Friday night through Sunday event, this is a Thursday morning through Monday. As tough as it is going to be on us, I know it will be even harder for Gina. But this blog isn't about her problems, it's about my problems! ;) So the biggest hurdle is the fact that 3 of the 5 days are work days for me. Fortunately Grandma and Great Yiayia are stepping in. The girls played at Great Yiayia's all day yesterday and I dropped them off there again this morning. They slept well through the night except when Karma went ballistic over a cat fight in our yard and woke everyone up at 3am. The girls went back to sleep just fine, but Karma got a time out (although I don't think a time out at 3am is much different then just going back to bed and sleeping). In the "time to be awake now" morning, Arianna woke up first so I gave her a bottle which she sucked down and Genevieve woke up shortly after. I threw some clothes on them and stuffed the diaper bag so we could run out of the house and I could get to work. As we're running toward the car I suddenly feel my entire right side get warm. I stop, look at Arianna and discover that she has thrown up all down my body. A little bit on her jacket, but mostly on mine, my pants and my arm. We are literally four steps from the car, and now I'm faced with the dilemma of what to do. My right hand is completely covered in vomit, my car keys. ... in my right pocket. I've got two babies with out shoes in either arm and I'm standing in a parking lot that sparkles in the morning sunlight from the shards of glass scattered about. I suck it up and slide my vomit covered hand into my pocket and pull out the keys. My hand emerges surprisingly clean as I then realize that means my pocket is now full of Arianna's breakfast. I then perform a juggling act that most circus' couldn't pull off and get the girls in to their seats while simultaneously sliding Arianna out of her puke jacket. I then run into the house, tear of my cloths and grab some new ones, and dress as I'm running back to the car. Thank god the rest of our complex is later risers or they would have gotten a nice morning show. Now that I'm at work I don't know what's worse a) looking and smelling like vomit or b) smelling like vomit but not having any evidence on you to blame it on. So that's my day so far (all 2 1/2 hours of it). Lot of daylight left. We'll see where it goes from here. Day "one" down, Day "two". ... covered.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hard Knock Life

With the rise of power comes the inevitable potential for a crash landing. Rome learned the lesson, the Wright brothers learned the lesson, even Mervyns and Robbinson May learned it (remember when they used to have stores in every mall?!). Now the girls are learning it. With walking, comes falling. What goes up, will come down. ... sometimes face first in to the changing table. Last night Grandma was over and we were practicing walking in our bedroom just before bed time. Genevieve walked over to me and I returned her hug then turned her around and sent her back toward Grandma. She must have seen Arianna off to the side doing something interesting because she changed course, tripped on some pillows on the ground and face planted in to the changing table. The way she hit, my first thought was she busted her nose or knocked out teeth (it was really hard), but as I scoped her up to check it out I could already see the bruise forming on her forehead just south of the hairline. Parental nature kicks in and you start running through the check list: did she pass out: no, are her eyes dilated: no, is the surrounding tissue severely discolored: no, are her motor skills affected: no. Oh, last box, is she pissed off: ... big, freaking "check"! We were five minutes away from bed time when this happened, so needless to say we did not get to bed on time as the next 30 minutes were spent trying to keep an ice pack on her face. I had to give her snacks to keep in both hands so she would stop trying to pull the pack away, and she was honestly done crying about 3 minutes after the incident - but I was still sweaty and shaky for another hour or so. I had my mom keep the ice pack on her face as she took her bottle and as I laid her down she was smiling under the shadow of the knot rising off her forehead. She didn't fuss or cry all night and every time I checked on her she was sleeping peacefully, so I'm sure she's just fine, but incidents like this kind of make you want to cover them in bubble wrap and packing foam for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Evolution of Dog

In my 28 years on this planet, I've spent a combined total of about 11 months with out a dog as a part of my home. There were Cheyenne and Rusty the Irish Setters, Brownie the English Springer Spaniel, Kopper and Aurora the Golden Retrievers, Dakota the Samoyed and now Karma the mutt. There were a couple of great dogs in there and a couple of less than show quality ones, but they were all instrumentally important to my development as a person. When Gina and I moved in to our first apartment (10 of the 11 dogless months) I made it very clear that as soon as we had space, we were getting a dog. From a family that had one failed attempt at dog ownership (lasted a few months before they gave him to a friend) Gina was ok with the idea, but it wasn't her driving ambition in life either. Well, about 5 years ago, before we even got the keys to our condo, we ended up adopting Karma from the local humane society. We fell in love with her so hard that we ended up driving back from Arizona so early in the morning that I don't think you could call it morning in order to pick her up before she was given to another family. We named her Karma because we thought the act of rescuing rather then buying a purebred would balance our karmatic energy in the world. What we ended up with was a dog that stained our rugs, discolored our hardwood, ate our remotes, our wedding album, our wedding sign in book, three doormats and two palm trees. She even tried eating my turtle, but the turtle took a bite out of her first. She dug up more of our backyard then I did trying to landscape it and cost us hundreds of dollars every time we had to take her to the vet to have shards of a toy she digested removed from her butt. Gina and I experienced serious bouts of adopters remorse but, the truth is, this experience prepared us for children more than any other in our lives. We stuck with her and in the end we wound up with the greatest dog I've ever known. Vocally commanded she is 100% in control off leash, she knows commands from "sit" and "stay" to "time out" and "cheeseburger", she even allows our cats to climb on her and lick out her ears with out ever snapping or becoming aggressive. What's amazed me more about her, though, is the transformation I've seen after bringing children in to the home. I was very worried about ending up on the 10 o'clock news as another dog owner who's child had been mauled. I wasn't going to be that guy. From the moment we found out Gina was pregnant we began preparing Karma for the girls arrival. I would stick my fingers in her mouth when she tried to eat, we would taunt her mercilessly with her favorite toys never allowing her to take them out of our hands, Gina would even make her lick her swollen belly so that Karma knew what ever was coming was something to love and not something to compete with. When we came up to the door that first afternoon home, we set the girls on the front step and opened the door slowly to introduce Karma to them. She bounded out of the front door and froze, nearly hanging in the air, as she looked them over, then she turned around and grabbed her toy and dropped it between their car seats, ready for them to play with her. The first few weeks she was a different dog than I'd known. She was extremely protective of them. She began barking at anyone coming to the door (she never barked), she would pace frantically when they were upset, and if they were in separate rooms she would walk back and forth between them endlessly, making sure she kept an eye on each of them. When we started to lay them on the floor to practice rolling or belly time, Karma was never more than a few feet away from them, laying silently, watching them. I remember one day I was folding laundry in the bedroom while the girls slept in bouncers in the living room. When I came out to check on them, Karma was sleeping between the two, her front torso curved slightly around one of the bouncers. Despite her maternal behavior, this was the tough time. She suddenly took a back seat to these two newbies, but she never seemed to mind. Then they started eating real food and life got dramatically better for Karma. She learned to park herself under the table, between their highchairs, and what ever fell she graciously vacuumed up. When they started crawling she resiliently took the beatings; bracing for impact as they bared down her, pulling hair, poking eyes and patting her head. When they took her toys she whimpered a little, but never tried to grab them back, and she was always conscious of which were her toys and which were the girls'. She's never taken one of their toys, not once. Last night, there was a new development and I could see a sparkle in Karma's eyes as she realized these kids are going to benefit her even more. Arianna has suddenly started to comprehend how to play with the dog. She identifies that some toys are hers and some are Karma's and that if you pick them up and throw them, Karma goes and gets them. Not only is that fun for her, but Karma seems to enjoy it too as that silly tail thingy starts wagging and she brings the toy back. Now, Karma usually brings the toy back to me as she's not quite sure these babies know what they're doing, but she waits for me to give the toy to the girls and then she waits patiently for them to remember what they're supposed to do with it. For non dog owners this whole thing may not make sense - what's the big deal? Well, Karma was our practice baby. Our first attempt to "raise" something together and work through the frustrations that arose out of destruction and potty training and everything else. Cats don't have this experience. They are loaners, they clean themselves, they do what they want and they come potty trained (kind of. ... it helps when you put the potty in the living room and not in the backyard). For those with out kids, this might not make sense either, but again, Karma was our first "baby" so it's wonderful to see that all the babies get along and that our family has successfully merged in to one. Dogs in the family has played a great role in making me who I am, and I know that dogs will be a great influence in my children's lives as well. And to watch the evolution of our own dog, from scrawny, destructive puppy in a cage at the shelter to patient, child proof, family dog is truly remarkable. And to know that this is the dog my children will look back on in 20 years as the dog of their youth makes her all the more important. They're not going to remember how they pounded her, ripped the hair from her body or stole her most prized possessions (a squeaky cheeseburger and a crusty stuffed lamb), they are going to remember how she was always there when they needed her and that she was their first great friend.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry

Went to my moms house for the afternoon so we could do some swimming and the girls could play with their cousins. Genevieve was in a bit of a funk and at one point she started crying while playing with the Cinderella Princess Kitchen (how anyone could cry when they had a Cinderella Princess Kitchen to play with is beyond me). Well at this point her cousin Connor took it upon himself to teach her a valuable lesson - "big kids don't cry!" From the mouths of babes. Connor is, after all, the authority, being the most recent big kid crownie in the family after conquering potty training. Let me point out real quick that being potty trained only means you pee in your pants 2-3 times a day as he proved through out the afternoon. But that's ok. The rule isn't "big kids don't pee in their pants" it's "big kids don't cry". Which makes sense, because you can't say grandpa isn't a big kid and he pees his pants all the time. But you never see the urine soaked old bastard cry, that's for sure. On a side note, nice of Connor to welcome the girls in to the big kid club and make sure they know the rules. I'm pretty sure the only way to get in is to have a member invite you. Kind of like the Skull and Bones fraternity at Princeton. Anyway, in conclusion, I didn't get a picture of Arianna at the soccer game yesterday so I needed to even the score with a cute photo of her. So here it is. This is what happens when do hard time in the Toy Land jail. Note the ball and chain. Don't think she'll be drinking breast milk and driving her power wheels again any time soon.

Put Me In Coach!

Another weekend sans Mama - this would be the fourth in a row (I think) but good news is that next weekend is the end of "festival season" so we should get her back for a while after that. We went to our Thea Ilianna's soccer game yesterday, and as you can see from the picture Genevieve is already trying to work her way in to the line up.

The girls have been tremendous (shocker) all weekend long, and they were especially super troopers yesterday. We got up earlier than normal from our morning nap so we could make the 12:30 game. Then after that we went to Costco (needed cat food and dog flea meds) and Home Depot before getting back home well beyond nap time. But they hung in there and didn't complain at all. Costco was fun because it was Saturday rush hour there and not single person stopped me. I could hear them talking about me but usually (and maybe it's cause Gina is there) they come up and stop you to ask questions or peek at the girls. Maybe I just looked like a dad on a mission and they didn't want to get in my way. I did hear one guy, on the way out, say to his wife "he's here by himself with two! I'm not sure I could do it with one." To which his wife responded "I know you couldn't do it with one." I wanted to turn around and shout "You can do it man! You could do anything with the right attitude." And it got me to thinking (I know, dangerous) that's the biggest problem people have. They tell themselves it's too hard or outside of their realm of possibility, but the truth is if you go in with the mindset that you can do anything, you almost really can. Almost is an important word, though, cause despite the mindset I'm pretty sure I can't jump a car over the Grand Canyon or build a rocket to the moon. Although blowing myself up would count as almost making it there. Home Depot was far less interesting. Turns out guys looking for channel ox and metric nuts aren't interested in babies, no matter how many of them their are. Check out girl was a different story, but that just pissed off the line of metric nut aficionados behind me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BTW

As big a movie fan/historian as I am, I couldn't place the song "Animal Crackers" as Gina was singing it last night while making dinner. Shocked at such a travesty, Gina had to pull up the clip on YouTube and make me watch Shirley Temple sing the song from the movie Curly Top. While watching this clip I couldn't see anything else but Genevieve on the screen. A while back I made the claim the Arianna looked like the Gerber baby. ... well I now think I know what people see in Genevieve. Look at the picture below and tell me I'm lying. I don't have anything current, this is from a few months ago, but now she even looks more like The Little Princess actress then in this pic.

Look at the eyes, the doll like lips and the slight cheeks that give way to the chin. It's crazy to me! They looks so close. Of course it could be my imagination, you tell me. I've had that damn Animal Crackers "in my soup" song stuck in my head all morning and it may be driving me slightly insane.

For The Love of Bed Time

When, exactly, is the point in life where your view of bed time changes? I know there's a moment some where suddenly the flip switches, I just can't recall when. The girls are great sleepers now - of course I'm probably jinxing it with a comment like this - and they even go to sleep some what smoothly. Last night they only cried for about 3 minutes after we put them down before passing out. But before bed, as soon as we started getting ready, Arianna started crying and whining, like she knew it was coming. One moment she's playing happily, laughing with her sister, suddenly jammies come out and the water works spring from her eyes like geysers in Yellowstone. I'm sure I was that way when I was a kid, in fact I know I was. I remember faking that I had to go to the bathroom because I could crack the door a little and still see the TV. But now, I spend most of the evening waiting for bed time to come on, dreaming about dreaming. As soon as Gina is ready to move that direction I get a little giddy inside. Climbing in to bed is like jumping in the pool on the first day of summer; dive in, belly flop, cannon ball - who cares, what ever gets me in faster! But the girls just hate it. I suppose it's because they still think there's so much to do and see. The thought of closing their eyes and missing something is horrid. I just don't get it. Someday, I know they'll see my point of view. I'm going to try and take note of exactly when that day is. Pinpoint the moment the switch flips. Of course, maybe that's a sad day. Maybe the moment that flip switches is the moment the move from child to adult because, that's when the world is suddenly not as interesting to them. There's nothing amazing any more when they'd rather close their eyes then fight the exhaustion to absorb the wonder that's all around them. Great. Now I've depressed myself. I've identified myself as a boring old man who doesn't see the wonder in the world around him. That's it. I'm gonna go find myself some damn wonder to absorb and keep me awake at night! Why do I have a feeling this is just going to make me more tired?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Globophobia

Defined as "a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of balloons, despite the understanding by the phobic individual and reassurance by others that there is no danger." Sound silly? Hey, stop laughing! That's my daughter you're laughing at. Yes, it appears to be true. My dear Genevieve might just be a globophobic. I know. The bully. The fearless child. The "dive head first in to a coffee table because I want what's on the other side" kid. She's always been shy about balloons, which is extremely noticeable because of how much Arianna loves them. But now that they're moving around it's even more obvious. We went to Gina's uncle's house for his birthday on Tuesday and we came home with a bunch of balloons because Arianna couldn't stand to be separated from them. Genevieve, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with them. Making it a point to keep her body as far away from them as possible. If you walked by them while holding her she would lean back in the opposite direction and just stare at them, like if she turned her back they would come after her. It was even worse yesterday. By the time everyone got home in the afternoon the balloons were now on the floor as they were losing their helium. How dare they! Those inflatable bastards, coming down to her floor! As she screamed and fussed I came in to try and calm her down (Gina had to get dinner going so she could get out the door for her class so she couldn't protect her any longer). As Arianna frolicked through the inflatable playground Genevieve stood behind me, clutching my shirt in a death grip and peeking around my shoulder to watch her. I don't recall any catastrophes with balloons in the last 11 months, but she sure has some deep seeded hatred of them. Maybe she's afraid they're going to carry her away. Maybe she's afraid they're going to smoother her. Maybe she thinks they resemble the womb and she's not going back to that dark place. I don't know what it is, but man is it deep. I don't know what we're going to do for the birthday party. How can we have a kids birthday party with out balloons? Maybe we'll just fill the dog and cats with hot air and tie them to the chairs. At least we know she likes the animals.
Watch Walk Update 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen, just when it seemed we were ready to crown a winner in this race, suddenly things have never looked closer. Yesterday Gina reported Genevieve had walked from her mother's kitchen, through the dinning room and into the sitting room all under her own balance. She also reported that she'd not seen Arianna walk more than a step or two in days. As I was ready to call this race in favor of the dark horse, the favorite suddenly pulled even last night with an unprecedented display of walking prowess. From 5pm until 7pm she spent the vast majority of her time on her feet, much of it moving in a forward motion. She walked across the bedroom, she walked across the kitchen, the living room, the dinning room, to the 30, the 20, the 10, TOUCHDOWN!!! Sorry. ... caught up in the moment. So as it stands, these two are dead even with no one clearly ready to take the crown. Who will take the gold and forever be known as the first walker? Why me of course! I started walking well over 27 years ago. Take that babies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Fathers Duty

I've always held the belief that, in modern society, there's not much of a difference between the roles of mother and father. Yes, the women carries the child for 9 months and often is the sole source of nourishment for the first few months after birth, but aside from that there's nothing the father can't and shouldn't be expected to do. But the truth is there are always going to be small differences in the roles. Typically the mother is, most often, going to be more of the natural nurturer. Not that the dad is incapable of this, but, with us, our girls naturally gravitate toward Gina when they're upset and if she's available. If she's not then I can step in and fill the void, but I know I'm just the consolation prize. And that's OK, the father has his own natural role that's specific to him. I was reminded of this by an article I read yesterday.



A first time father to be was driving with his pregnant wife when a car in oncoming traffic swerved into their lane. Destined for a head on crash that would have killed both of them, the father slammed on the brakes and turned the wheel hard to the right spinning the car perpendicular to the oncoming menace and ensuring that he would absorb the brunt of the impact from the side. He was killed, but the maneuver worked, saving both his wife and their baby inside her. As I digested this story over the past 24 hours I thought about whether his move was intentional or instinctual. Was he intending to take the brunt of it himself, or was he trying to move the car out of the path all together? I then put myself in his seat. Every good father would answer the same way with such a hypothetical: absolutely we sacrifice ourselves for our children, but how do we know what to do in a mere fraction of a second? What if we freeze? What if we suddenly become selfish? And that's where we are wired differently. A mother is wired to nurture her children. To sooth them and to hold them. To warm them and to tend to them. We fathers aren't always graceful with this. We don't always know what to do when there's a fever or an owie. We don't know the right words to say when they've had a bad day. We don't always have the right words of encouragement that they need. But we won't hesitate to jump in front of a truck, dive on a grenade or fight off the wolves. Yes, a mother will stand between her children and a charging bear, or cover them with her body to protect from falling debris, but when the father is there, this is his role to fill. For some dads the only thing we have to offer is our own lives for theirs, and that's a gift they will never have to ask us for. It's our duty, it's our pleasure as fathers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Just In. ...

(read with your best 1930's sports radio news voice)
Ladies and Gentlemen, just when you thought that Walk Watch 2010 was over and Arianna Kopp had taken the title of "First Twin To Set Foot", Genevieve Kopp has once again made it a neck and neck duel. Yesterday she had multiple, back to back walking sessions of 5 or more steps. Even when Daddy finally got home, with out hesitation, she walked half way across the room to him. What's the key to this success you ask? Why key's of course! That's right, plain old, everyday key's such as the ones you have now in your purse, your pocket or that place you can't remember. Turns out that common keys really get Genevieve's motor running. On a side note, I was toying with saying they really get her "turned on", but I'm not quite ready to use that kind of phrasing when it comes to my daughter just yet. Does this mean the momentum has switched? Quite possibly, but it doesn't mean the race is over. As was made obvious yesterday, folks, these little girls are just getting started. So grab a soda and something to eat, Ladies and Gentlemen, cause this competition is anything but over!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Empress Strikes Back

I don't know what was up with Genevieve last night. Talk about an attitude problem. I have a feeling she's getting some more teeth (Arianna is working on the two upper teeth next to her incisors so I think those are starting to come in for Genevieve as well) and that's what I'm going to blame it on. But man was she in a foul mood last night. With Gina teaching her Wednesday classes I was left to deal with the full effect of Hurricane Genevieve. It culminated in a bloody nose for me when she popped me in the face and her finger went up my nose. Those little nails are like razor blades. It might have been my fault though. I was putting a ring toy on my face so my nose was sticking through the hole and they were grabbing it off and laughing. Granted, the toy wasn't on my face at the time, but it was a similar motion to what I was having her do when the toy was there.

UPDATE - WALK WATCH 2010 ....
We interrupt this program to bring you this update. ...
Arianna Kopp has passed the 5 step mark. That's right ladies and gentlemen, last night she did more than take steps, she literally walked. Counting stopped at 9 as the witnesses disbelief set in. Total distance covered was nearly 3/4 of the bedroom. It was accomplished in a slow, deliberate and steady manor marking the first official "walk" rather than a graceful fall with choppy steps in between. This is truly one small step for twins, one giant leap for twin kind.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programing. ....


So I can't really blame her for taking the "swing" at me. But I did have to go the rest of bed time prep with toilet paper up my noise, cause it was really a gusher. I haven't had a nose bleed in years, and I certainly haven't had one from the hand of another person since Junior High. Who knew my own daughter would be responsible for my blood shed. Sounds like the beginning of some horribly depressing Greek epic film. And as the daughter spills the blood of her father, the Oracle's prophesy rings true, that his reign would end by her hand and the sun would once again shine on the face of the empire. Fade to black. Credits roll.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Walk Watch 2010

So tonight we had the joy of watching -
Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt your regularly scheduled programing to bring you this update in Walk Watch 2010! It has been confirmed that the foot race in progress for first twin to walk unassisted for more than 5 steps has just become neck and neck duel. Earlier this evening Genevieve took 4 unassisted steps before calling it quits. Unfortunately, later attempts to video this milestone were unsuccessful, only giving us this video. video
Hold your collective breaths ladies and gentlemen, it's only a matter of time before no one is safe. And yes, I do mean you.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programing. ...

Welcome back Rob!

We had another eventful day yesterday to close out our second straight weekend of Mama working festivals. My good friend, actually the best man at our wedding - nothing against the other men their, it was just a title - Rob just moved back from Buffalo, NY by way of Portland, OR and his official welcome home party was yesterday. We had actually seen him twice since hes been back but both the times the girls just kind of stared at him in curiosity at another man the same height as Daddy, which they rarely see. The last time they had seen him(more accurately the last time he saw them, as I'm not sure their eyes were really working all that well yet) they were just a couple of blobs in pink onsies. It was quiet a shock for Rob and his family to suddenly see the girls waddling around, destroying everything they could touch and laughing at everything they discovered. Their house wasn't even close to baby proof, as it hadn't seen a baby in well over 20+ years. The girls had a good time pointing this out as they tested the front screen door that didn't latch, banged on the glass coffee table and threw magazines all over the floor. But I don't think anyone has ever enjoyed seeing their home destroyed more than they did. The best part is our other friends with kids came so we had lots of people to play with. We had so much fun that nap time just kind of snuck up on us, so (with no options there) I loaded them in the car with the plan on getting them the few miles to our house so they could nap and then come back for dinner. Well, as I pulled into our complex I look in the rear view mirror to see two passed out babies in the back seat. So I circled back to Rob's, parked in the drive right next to the front door, cranked the AC and let them sleep for 45 minutes. I kept getting concerned comments from other people: "is that smart to leave them like that?", "what would Gina say?", "isn't it going to get hot?" Seriously?! I'm 10 feet away from them. Do they think they are going to unbuckle themselves, jump in the front seat and drive down to Mexico? Plus, Gina's the one who first started doing this at her Yiayia's house. You can't wake them up and bring them inside and then expect them to go to sleep again. And the AC's on full blast, that's why the car's running, so no, it's not going to get hot. In fact, I might be more comfortable in there with them because there's no even an AC in the house! After that we came in and had dinner - which everyone made a big deal about me feeding the girls rice, beans and carne asada. 1) like I don't know what I'm doing by this point? 2) why couldn't they have these things? 3) they've been eating this stuff for months now, if it was problematic we'd know by now. I think this is why people have kids with such boring taste pallets. They don't give them anything but bland, boring food for much of their early life that of course they're not going to like anything resembling flavor later in life. Aside from the questions about my parenting choices (which I think were genuine and not meant to be insulting or contrite because I was a solo parent with two infants, which is anomaly for some people) we had a really good time. After the party we went home and had our bath, got on jammies and crashed by 7. Then, for some strange reason, Genevieve started having a fit around 10 o'clock. Gina was still not home yet and, I gotta tell you, it was quite a struggle for me to stick to our plan of letting her cry and go back to sleep on her own when I was alone in the house. When Gina is at home I don't have such a problem with it. I think because in the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" routine I'm the "Bad Kopp" so I have to be the tough one, but when the good one isn't around suddenly I get all maternal and mushy. I ended up just lying face down on the cool kitchen floor to stop from sweating, and listened to her until Gina called and announced she was on her way home. I warned her of what she was coming toward, but, of course, once she walked in the door there wasn't a peep all night. Except for a phone which "someone" forgot to put back in to its recharge doc that started shrieking an hour or so later. A mad dash to locate the source and silence it before it woke anyone else up proved to be the lone excitement of the evening. Like nothing else exciting happened all weekend. Yeah. ... right.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Well I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more

just to be the man who walks 1000 miles to fall down at your door - yada yata (yada yata), yada yata (yada yata) umdilum dilum dulim dulim dulim de lye. Ok, got that out of my system (will make sense later). Went to the Long Beach Greek Festival yesterday to see mama in action. Now the last time we went to a Greek festival that she was working at we didn't stay very long and mama got a little upset as a result. This time, since it is the church she grew up in and there were plenty of people she wanted to show the girls off to, I was determined to last as long as possible with the girls. They did very well, lots of people saying hello and wanting to see them. But nap time crept up on us and by 3:30 they were ready to crash. I didn't want to take them home yet because their aunts were dancing at 6 and we really wanted them to stay for that. So I figured I'd take them on a walk outside of the festival where it was quiet and maybe they could nap a bit. Problem is our girls don't really nap in their stroller. ... ever. So getting them to go to sleep was quiet a chore - especially with Genevieve sitting backwards facing me, just staring at me through sleepy, unblinking eyes for most of the trip. Looking back on a map I figured I walked just short of three miles to get barely a 30 minute nap in (not 30 minutes of walking, just 30 minutes of sleep). But it worked. We made it back and the girls held on until almost 7. They watched all the dancing, even did a little themselves, and were a huge hit at the old persons table. Although looking back on it I think there was so much ouzo at that table that they were seeing double and thought they were quadruplets an not just twins. Oh well. Then we left, got back home way past bed time and, despite our banshee wails through changing, nursing and teeth brushing, pretty much crashed as soon as their noggins hit the mattress. Another long day, but worth the trip.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

U-C-L-A! Fight! Fight! Fight!

Well, it's another festival this weekend so we're on our own. Fortunately this one is local so even though we don't get Gina back until after bed time, she's still here for a while in the morning. But that gives us kids all day to ourselves. Yesterday was the start of the UCLA football season so the girls and I went to my friends house to watch their first game. Now, two weeks before they were born I bought these official Adidas cheerleader outfits for them to wear come football season. I bought them in 12 month sizes thinking they'd be 10 months old at kickoff; we should get a couple months out of them. They stopped fitting in to them in June. ... so much for that idea. Anyway, the game itself was a good experience for the girls. It'll get them used to the disappointment inherent in being a UCLA fan. Close game is lost on a failed 2 point conversion with 2 minutes left and then a failure to recover an onside kick leads to a break away 60 yard touchdown rush with under a minute. But who wants to root for the team that always wins, right? That would just get boring. I think if we had those cheerleader outfits things might have been different. At least it would have been a cute photo op.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All I Need is this couch. This couch is all I need. And that mirror. ... This couch and that mirror and that's all I need. Nothing else.

(It's a long title, I know, but it's a reference the the greatest comedy of all time Steve Martin's "The Jerk", which makes ME laugh - so deal with it)
It's the simple things in life, really, that make it so enjoyable. The girls have been testy the last few days (retribution for Mama being gone last weekend) but they finally got back to themselves yesterday. After Gina left to teach her classes last night, once dinner was finished, we hung out in the living room and played until bed time. During this time I found that the girls are a perfect representation of both mom and dad, they only needed two things to be thoroughly entertained: a mirror (mom) and a couch (dad). We have a giant mirror hanging on the wall above our living room sofa, and they bounced on that thing like they had just landed on the moon so that they could catch a quick glimpse of themselves in the mirror before coming back down to earth. They were totally content with just those two things for more than an hour. It was very sweet to watch. Just taking it all in it once again makes me wonder how some people don't enjoy this time with their kids. They'd rather tend to their farmville cows or their gossip rags and sports center. I can't imagine not simply sitting and enjoying my girls enjoy themselves. I feel sorry for the parents that miss this stuff. Forgive those fathers, for they know not what they do.