Friday, December 31, 2010

Minivan Rock Show

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh The Faces They'll Show

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unoriginally original

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

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

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

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Real Horses Don't Sing Songs

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas in the Desert

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Adult Conversations

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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

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

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life Style Choices

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

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Please Don't Feed The Animals"

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

This is for your own safety.

Thank you, the Management.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mother of All Headaches, meet the Mother of All Mothers

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adventures in Baby Proofing

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

You like me. You really, really like me!

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

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

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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Theif

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

No more monkeys sleepin' in my bed

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We have a saboteur among us

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Award Season

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