Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Definition of a Twin Bed

Now that the girls have been fully transitioned to big girl beds (and not just their cribs minus a wall "big girl beds) for over a month, we've stumbled across a minor hurdle.  Genevieve, who is much more the cuddler of the two, has developed a habit of finding midnight refuge in her sisters bed.  It's really from a sweet place, she just doesn't want to be alone.  But it's created a bit of a headache.  See, she doesn't just climb in and fall asleep; she climbs in and starts pulling at her sister's hair, tickling her toes or pinching her cheeks - basically anything she can think of to keep her sister awake with her.  What's become even more interesting is there's no fighting when she's discovered and made to go back to her own bed.  As soon as the door slides open, she climbs out of her sister's bed (often extending a hand so I can help her down), trots over to her bed and climbs up, lying down on her own pillow like it's no big deal.  It usually only happens once a night and it tends to come with in the first 20-30 minutes of bed time, but last night she did it at least a half dozen times, and as I was getting ready this morning at 5:30 she did it once again.  It's tricky on the monitor too, because it's hard to tell if that lump (either the one in Genevieve's or the second in Arianna's) is a baby or some other appropriate bed time companion (like sheets or a stuffed animal).  You kind of have to watch carefully and see if you notice a third arm move or a second head roll to the side.  I know they're called twin beds and all, but she doesn't have to take that literally!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wipes Out!

There are moments in life where you see something happening but are left with the horror of knowing there's nothing that you can do about it.  Like a car that's hydroplaning or those folks in a movie where an asteroid is headed right for earth.  Instead you are left to brace for impact and hope for a miracle.  Gina was in Fesno this weekend and I kept the girls even busier then normal.  We had a couple of birthday parties, breakfast with my mom and a lot of the usual running around town.  The moment referenced above, however, came at the very end of the weekend, as we were leaving our last birthday party and headed home for immediate baths and bed time.  The girls had spent the whole time running around with other kids at the party, circling by for a bite of hamburger or a sip of juice before trotting off again for distant giggling and other unseen shenanigans.  It was finally getting late and we needed to get home if we were going to make it into a much needed bath, so I rounded them up and we said our goodbyes.  We walked down the street to our car and I went to lift Genevieve up and put her in her car seat, at which point she says to me "Dadda, khaka."  Really?  When did you poop child, why and why didn't you tell me back at the house?  I laid her down on the grass and, sure enough, an explosion of bodily fluids had ruptured the diaper and soaked in to her little white shorts.  Now I can be blamed as the non-observant parent, however I must note that there was no oder to this thing.  Crazy, I know, but there really wasn't.  It was just all over the place.  So I stripped the shorts and tossed them in a bag, pulled out the wipies and got to work.  It was then that I noticed how light the wipie bag felt. ... noooooooooo.  Fortunately, I cleaned up the mess and had about 2 wipies left, I had managed to squeak by with only using 3 - my lucky day!  I strapped her into her chair sans pants and walked Arianna around the car to her side.  As I bent down to pick her up she looked up at me and said "Dadda. ... khaka."  Shit.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Future

You remember the book A Christmas Carole, right? OK, ok, maybe not the book, because who reads classical literature anymore - but you at least recall Disney's animated telling with Scrooge McDuck, yes? Personally I prefer the Bill Murray version, Scrooged. Anyway, what ever version of the story you have in your mind (even Ghosts of Girlfriends Past will do) you remember that the main character is visited by three ghosts. ... four, I guess, if you count Marley. There's the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. The first shows the old you, the second shows the current you and the third shows the dismal portrait of what you are about to become should you continue down the road you're on. I'm quite certain I was visited by the third ghost last night. Almost exactly 8 months ago I gave Gina 2 tickets to an upcoming Taylor Swift concert in August as a Christmas present. It was actually a pretty cool way of doing it; (this is me tooting my own horn) I made a crossword puzzle and most of the answers had to do with Taylor Swift songs and info about the venue/date. Then the final across spelled out the answer. Anyway, at that time we were driving two 14 month old little girls to my Father-in-law's in Arizona for the holiday and life was good. ... it's still good - it was just slightly less complicated. I never thought that this concert would finally come and we'd be over halfway done cooking our 3rd baby girl, living with my mother-in-law and preparing to meet with our new tenants to sign docs over how many keys and gate clickers I was providing them with. But that's how life rolled out. Then, last week, I am informed that one of my sister-in-laws was also going to the very same show as Gina and I. ... along with 5 of her soon to be high school senior girlfriends. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuuuun. Naturally we weren't about to make them worry about driving and navigating down town LA on their own so we (after my bid to secure a limo crashed and burned) borrowed Gina's mom's Suburban and trucked them all down. I counted 957 "like's" during the conversation to LA and was screamed at in surround sound to jump out of the car on the drive home and rescue a wayward chihuahua on the side of the 101 at 11:30pm (I was then told I didn't try hard enough when the spooked thing took off at a surprising rate of speed, looping through the gridlocked traffic and popping out again in front of us, charging down the freeway as fast as it's pint sized legs would carry it - seriously though, their master plan was for me to wrap it in my suit jacket and take it home with us, as if charging through the LA freeway waste in my Alfani's wasn't enough). I desperately clutched my beer at dinner while they sipped on water "with a lemon, please", and breathed deeply as they giggled and posed for self shot photos in front of some guy from a TV show I've never heard of. I even scolded them when my sister-in-law called to tell me they were ready to meet us by "the statue of some guy sitting at a desk" (RIP Chick Hern. ... I will make sure my daughters know what a great man you truly were. ... not just "some guy". .... sheesh. ... the jello's jiggling). I survived the night, but it did not escape me that this was a glimpse in to my near future. Gaggles of giggling girls and their world which escapes my understanding. An excess of "likes", a fondness for diminutive dogs, a chorus of power ballads by the female artist of the day, a lack of sports knowledge, attempts to ignore the old man in the suit jacket (me, by the way) and no one hearing a word I say.  Fortunately, although I can't (and don't want to) change my future outcome like Scrooge was able to do, I was giving a tool that should assist me on my journey.


Lot's and lots of beer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Love Letter Shared

I'm a bit sappy.  I'm the guy who tends to keep things that make me emotional; mostly touching letters or pictures with great meaning.  I have this small cigar box that's I've stored these things in for the last 10 or 15 years.  When something hits me hard enough, it goes in the box.  That way, when I'm in one of my "throw all this clutter away" modes, I don't toss what's hidden away in the box.  So last night we working at the condo - rented by the way, in less than 5 days on the market, to the first lookers. ... not bad - and I was in one of those above mentioned moods, ready to toss anything I could find because our storage space was quickly running out of. ... well. ... space.  Gina left to teach a class and I was left a lone of a while. ... dangerous combination when I'm in such a mood.  But I stumbled across my box.  I wanted to share with you one of the letters I found tucked inside.  It's only a few years old, from Gina about 3 months before the girls were born.

"One blond, one brunette, one crazy child (um. ... Genevieve!) & one calm child - two polar opposites, but nonetheless best of friends.  That's what I think when I dream of our little girls & that wouldn't be far from the truth by looking at their parents.  You & I came together from two seperate walks of life, two completely different personalities - the ying & yang of sould mates.  And through the years we have become equals, those who compliment one another beautifully & above all best of friends.  I can't wait to embark on this journey of parenthood with you.  As we've already seen, I know we are going to mamke a fantastic team!  It will be tough & I know there will be some nights where we'll want to strangle one another, but we'll come out stronger & anscathed just like we always do because we have each other lean on. 
You are going to be the best Daddy in the entire world & I know our little girls will love you with just as much heart & soul as I do.  With this gift, I hope they walk in your footsteps & grow up to be passionate, loving, creative & beautiful inside and out. ... just like their daddy.
Always love, Gina"

The gift, by the way, was a size 13 pair of pink converse sneakers, and 2 pairs of baby pink converse sneakers.  Two years later I still get all chocked up, knowing that we are succeeding. ... that I am succeeding.  But there's more to this post than just showing off a wonderful letter to the rest of the world.  This post is more aimed at my daughters, should they someday read these writings.  Girls, in adulthood, when you find yourself someone that you think you are in love with, ask yourself honestly: have you found this?  If you haven't. ... keep looking.  This kind of love is what gets you through the dark nights.  This kind of love is what helps you rise again.  This kind of love can topple mountains and move oceans.  This kind of love is worth searching for, because this kind of love is what made you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fodder for a Future Freud

It's a tough thing, growing up.  You get older and you start to see the ugliness the world holds.  As a parent, I just keep putting money away, fully aware that on top of college and weddings, the next biggest expense will be psychiatry visits.  And yesterday's experience is sure to be among some of those repressed memories that come up during their sessions.  We went to Gina's cousin, Nina's, (yes, their names rhyme, move on) birthday party.  It was her 12th (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) birthday party. ... revisited. ... so they had a couple of pinatas for everyone to take a whack at.  From the moment we walked in the front door the girls were going crazy for the two "nay, nay's" (horses. ... although one was actually a unicorn) that were standing alert on the living room piano; and when they made their way outside their faces lit up.  Then they got a little puzzled when people started tying a rope to them. ... even more confused when they were hung from a tree. ... as the baseball bat started swinging, panic officially set in. ... and when the family dog went rogue (my fb friends can see the video on my wall) and mauled the unicorn, spilling his candy coated bowels on the lawn, I knew the memory had been burned in the mind as a traumatic moment.  Fortunately the lollipops gathered up in the aftermath seemed to repress the memory so I don't have to deal with it for a while.  We were even allowed to take the heads home and I put on a macabre sort of puppet show during the drive home.  Ahhh, childhood.  What would it be with out repressed memories.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life in My Mother-in-Law's Garage: Le Grande Tour

It's dawned on me, suddenly, that I'm probably not going to have you over for tea any time soon.  That being said, I thought I'd share a little peak at our new digs which I've been talking about for the past two weeks.  After all, I know the term "my mother-in-law's garage" brings with it certain imagery and I don't want you all to think we're roughing it in anyway.  In fact, we're quite literally turning the term on it's head.

Our Bedroom
It's bigger than our old room, as we can now fit our king size bed AND the nightstands side by side, and still have space between the stand and the wall.  We used to have the nightstands at the foot of the bed because it was the only place they'd fit.  You can also see we've got enough space for the new baby's bassinet and the rocking chair in the room.  Looking at it now, it's kind of hard to believe a couple months ago there was a car parked in here and engine parts scattered around the room.

One of the last things on the "to do" list is to get curtains up on all the windows. ... but I'm kind of hesitant of losing this view.

On the landing there's room enough for my desk, and we even get our own fridge!  Ok, not really.  This is just the "garage fridge" with all the drinks and frozen goods that don't fit in the kitchen fridge.  This is also a reason for concern with at least one of my sister-in-laws who has come up with the horrifying scenario that she might come down in the middle of the night for a bottle of water and walk in on us in. ... um. ... a compromising situation.  Just her saying that out loud has pretty much killed what ever labido I brought with me from our old home. ... which hadn't already been killed by the new baby.  I call this area the doorway between worlds.

Ok, our old bathroom was beautiful - hand tiled walls, granite counter top, jacuzzi bath, ect.  But let's face it, the thing was tiny (we canafford nice things, just reeeeeeaaaally tiny nice things).  This bathroom is actually what was left of the original master bath before they rebuilt and moved upstairs, so it's nice and big and Gina and I have yet to jockey for mirror position, climbing on each others back for a glance at some pesky nose hair or pimple.

Living Room
I'm going to officially admit to being spoiled.  When the idea was proposed a few months ago of moving in, this is the room I thought we'd be sleeping in.  I had no idea they'd  move out the cars and give us all the space - and to be honest I was content with that.  But now we actually have room for our own little living room, complete with TV, sofa and even one of my guitars (all 5 of them turned out to be 4 too many).  Behing the slatted doors is our closet.  Not as much closet space as we had, but GoodWill benefitted from our necessary downsizing.

We even got the girls their own little chairs so they can watch Sesame Street with out having to trek upstairs and take over the main TV.  Since so many people ask, the chairs are from BigLots! and cost $59.99.  Of course to find two in the same pattern we had to call, like, four different stores and have them hold, but most people won't have that problem.

Girls Room
And the best part is the girls got keep their own room in all of this.  My mother-in-law moved her office to the part of the garage that's still a garage (yes, it started out as a very big garage), and they even painted the walls pink, just for them.

We ditched the cribs in the move and they went right in to their new big girl beds. ... although they seem to prefer both being in the same big girl bed.  If I'd have known, we would have just bought one!

this is the all to often vacant bed. ... it's so lonley.

The only thing I really miss from the condo though, is the girls room.  I don't have pictures but if you're a long time follower I'm sure you've seen what it looked like.  I put a lot of time and energy in to designing that room - two tone pink with a white border between and a 6 foot cherry tree that had blossom's blowing all around the room.  It really was a killer baby room.  But hey, I can't complain.  In fact, for all that we've been given I am eternally grateful.  This transition period could have been brutal; it could have been cramped and uncomfortable; it could have been expensive.  Instead, it's been quite pampered.  I've been spoiled in life by the great fortune of finding a wonderful woman to marry me.  And I've been further spoiled by the wonderful family she brought along with her.  So for those readers out there who "feel bad" about our situation; stop.  We're fine.  In fact, we're more than fine.  We're living in my mother-in-laws garage.  And it's pretty freakin' sweet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pinks Are On Me!

Well it's official.   At least as "official" as it can be with out physically holding the baby and staring at it's genitals myself.  We're having another girl!  Now don't misread me.  It can easily be said another, with a downturn in tone and an exasperated huff.  That's not at all how I am saying it.  I'm very excited to have another lady in my life.  I do well with girls, and I'm so in love with the two I have now how could I not want another just like them?!  Not to mention I consider their Mama something spectacular.  Three more of her are bound to make the world a better place.  This has left us in a name bind though.  We absolutely love our daughters names and now trying to come up with a third is proving difficult.  Part of the problem is we feel like the girls names fit them so perfectly - but we've also been calling them those names for almost two years now so it's hard to remember if we felt that from the beginning or just over time.  But those are minor details.  What is important is that baby and mommy are looking very healthy (although baby is already measuring really large - we always seem to get these petite Asian women doing the ultrasound and they always seem floored by the size of our babies - which was to be expected for us) and that our family is going to grow with another wonderful addition.  Also important is that we have plenty of cloths for this kid already and should be able to avoid most non-diaper expenses until she weens at about 1.  The key is, if you're going to have an unplanned child (not an oops, remember ;) then make it as cheap as possible!  Truth was, if this had turned out to be a little boy, he'd still get stuck with a closet of pink cloths until he was about 7 or 8.  I figured at that point I'd just teach him how to box.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pay Per View

Alright folks; lights, camera, action!  We finally broke down and got a video monitor for the girls.  In our condo their room was so close that a monitor was an absurd idea, but since the move we've been using an audio monitor and - aside from the annoying feedback and range problems - we came to find out we were missing a lot.  A whole lot!  You see the girls figured out that when they talked it would trigger us to come in and put them back to bed; clever girls.  So they began communicating with out talking.  The audio would be dead silent and then a slight bump would trigger us to peek in and find that they had managed to get all the toys out of their chest and onto their beds, climbed into the same bed or, using these newly mastered ninja skills, climbed up on to their dresser and raided the binkie stash (that last one was the most alarming one to walk in on - find your 2 year olds' suspended 6 feet off the ground supported only by tipie toes and one hand, the other feverishly tossing pacifiers down to the bed below).  So we took back the audio and traded up to live feed unit.  You've got to wonder, in the age of flat screens and iPad's why is it that a monitor still looks like it came right out  of a 1975 gas station cashier's desk?  This was immediately noted by my sister-in-law, who I don't believe has ever seen a TV with a back before today - but it was a very valid point.  I'm proposing someone who's more technically savvy then me figure out a way to make the image show up on a computer or tablet via a wifi feed so I don't have to spend an hour every night lying on my bed, straining to make out the grainy, night vision images (Is that a hand?  Is that a foot?  Was that a ghost?!!).  But I digress.  Last night I found my self glued to the set after I put the girls down, experiencing the same sort of emotion one gets from a soccer match.  Just watching, waiting for something to happen, anticipating that it was coming up shortly,  here it is. ... nope. ... then slumping back down when nothing came about.  I kind of miss just the audio, where I was happy with knowing that I simply couldn't hear anything, so they must be fine - now I can see how much really goes on in there.  As soon as the door closes both girls pop up.  Genevieve immediately rotates so her head is by the foot board.  Arianna scours the room, no doubt assembling a master plan of some sort.  Genevieve picks up her tiger and makes it do ballet across the side rail.  Arianna scoots to the foot of the bed and throws her legs over the exit point. ... poising herself for the jump down to the floor.  Genevieve checks out her toes.  Arianna looks around, waiting for an "all clear" moment.  Genevieve now joins her in a similar position.  They then stare at each other for a few moments, like there's some kind of freaky, X-Files telepathy thing going on.  Then Genevieve aborts and lies down again.  Arianna stares right at the camera.  AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!  I'm officially freaked out now.  Turn the image off.  Audio will suffice for the remainder of the night.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fine Art of Dining

Today, let me acknowledge that yesterday was the Birthday of my most amazing wife. ... my only wife to be exact. After a 9 hour drive home from Reno we were able to take her out to dinner at Benihana's and celebrate with white sticky rice everywhere. It was wonderful. We even shared our teppanyaki table with a large family with their own set of twins in the mix, albeit about 30 years older than ours. After an exhausting meal trying to, as Gina put it, quell World War III, one of the ladies leaned over and told her how well behaved the girls were. It's funny how people fail to notice all the little things we do to keep up appearances. Like ordering a glass of ice so they can play with that. Bringing coloring books and crayons. The toy hippo that kept flying through the air. The rushed order of steamed rice. The shoes that were taken off. The extra sets of chopsticks.  The constant reassurance that ice cream would come.  The 14 pounds of edemame which shoot at surprisingly high speed when squeezed by a little hand.  The hats we made great use of, and the beads of sweat that pour down our face.  I'm glad that all goes unnoticed. 


This next piece is entitled "Progression of Sticky Rice"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pic of the Week

"Always Wear Appropriate Safety Gear,
 When Eating Breakfast Cereal"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Midnight Ride

Gina's in Reno this week, left on Tuesday with her mom and their jewelry endeavors.  So we have about 5 1/2 days with out the matriarch to keep us in place.  Fortunately (and this was part of why we chose to move last week and not next week) we've got reinforcements in the house now.  My sister-in-laws have been watching the girls while I'm at work, so that's been a real help.  But at night, the other residents head upstairs to tend to their own night time activities and the girls and I stay down in our rooms on the bottom floor.  The girls went to sleep really easy.  I mean super easy.  Like, so easy I should have known something would happen.  I even told Gina when she called that there "hasn't been so much as a peep".  All that new hard wood flooring beneath my feet and I didn't think to knock on it once!  There's still a little work to do on our room, which includes a couple of 60 watt light fixtures referred to as "the night lights", which offer a softer alternative to the florescent lights that fill the room.  I checked on the girls at 8:30 - still passed out - so I tucked them in for the night, closed their door, and scaled the ladder up in to the rafters where the lights needed to be installed.  It's now about 9:30 and I've got one fixture in and was about half way through the second when the silence of the night was broken by an eerie "doo-doo-doo / dun doo-doo-doo / dun-dun doo-doo-dooooo".  For those that aren't experts at Cranium's "humdingers", this is the sound that their princess scooter makes when you push the Cinderella button.  I freeze, listening.  Monitor next to me has been silent.  No other noises follow.  Must have been the cat.  We're good now - I keep working.  A few seconds pass and I hear a soft rumbling noise.  Like someone is moving something across the marble floor.  I figure one of my new co-tenants is trying to do something - you know, when you try to do something quietly and it ends up 1000 times louder.  I hang my head down from the rafters and peek around the corner to see out my door, just as the front end of their Little Tykes car slowly rounds the corner into my room - Arianna driving, Genevieve pushing from the back.  Both of them look up at me like teenagers who've just pulled into the garage (which is ironic that they actually did) 4 hours past their midnight curfew to see dad standing their with a cup of coffee and a scowl.  Needless to say it was a mad dash back to their room and up into their beds again.  It was a race to see if they could get there before I could catch them, because they know that I'm not going to take them out of their beds to give them "da-da's".  Who am I kidding?  These kids know me better than I know me - I'm not the "da-da" giving type, and they call my bluff every time.  But I'm going to need to figure something out, because they've obvioulsy learned some ninja moves to avoid being detected by that monitor. ... and that could lead to trouble.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How do I love thee? Let me count the owies.

By now you know me.  I'm a little on the accident prone side (St. Lucia anybody?).  I've never really gotten used to this 6'3" frame and these size 13 feet so I run into the occasional wall and stub my toes on a daily basis.  This past couple of weeks, finishing the build out of our new room, I racked up quite a few notches. ... literally.  Ripped off half my pinkie toenail.  Sliced my thumb on sheet mettle.  My hands on razor blades.  Knee on a piece of molding.  Oh. ... and I electrocuted myself 3 times.  Twice on the same outlet!  So know that we're done I've got a number of band-aids still clinging on.  Now, Genevieve is my sweet little soul.  Her most defining trait (aside from running in to walls like her dad) is her compassion.  When Karma had surgery she would sit with her and "read" books.  When Arianna gets hurt, she's right there stroking her back or giving out kisses.  So it's only natural that every time I stop moving, she's right there to count up all of my owies.  We sat on the floor last night before dinner and went through them all.  "Owie Dada, owie".  "Yes, that's an owie".  "Owie Dada."  "Yep, that's another one."  "Owie."  Yep, you're right!"  This seriously could have gone on forever.  What's crazy is she even remembers the former owies.  Like the slice on my thumb, which I took the band-aid off of a couple days ago.  She still goes right to it, points it out and gives it a kiss.  I will be surprised if this kid doesn't end up as a doctor, nurse or a vet (she's got that fondness for animals too).  There's just too much natural compassion for the condition of those around her for her not to be some sort of caregiver later in life.  Not that Arianna lacks compassion - she's also a total sweetheart - Genevieve just oozes it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Imagine That

For nearly two years now, my favorite time of the day was the hours after I got home and before the "bed time process" kicked in - i.e. bath, teeth brush, story time ect.  This was the two hour chunk of my day where I could get on the floor and play with my girls.  It was necessary for me to be involved.  Someone had to bring the stuffed monkey to life, or push the Little Tykes "smart car" around.  The girls loved to play, but they couldn't do/think of these things on their own.  Yesterday I got home and I sat down in their room to play.  I grabbed a stuffed animal and started a little puppet show. ... only no one was watching.  I glanced up to see Genevieve on the floor with a Barbie making it dance and Arianna sorting stuffed animals on her bed, and then trying to feed them pretend soup.  It suddenly dawned on me. ... they don't need me to make play time work any more.  Their imaginations have kicked in and I'm a spectator now, rather than the driving force.  Later we took their little power wheel quads outside and as I went to push them, Genevieve hit the power button and drove off with out me.  I stood in the dust cloud and watched her drive off in to the sunset. ... and then straight for the pond - she can't quite turn yet so I had to run after her and flip it around for her.  I'm probably a little late in my conclusion here, but they haven't been babies for a while.  And now they're barely even toddlers. ... they're little girls.  And while little girls still "need" their daddies. ... they don't need them as much.  Thank god there's another little one on the way; this transition is proving hard on me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How Now Brown Cow, Where Art Thou?

We finally made it to the Orange County Fair yesterday.  Just in time too because it closes down today.  My mom had tipped me off to a special (don't know if it's new or just new to us) that allowed anyone to get into the fair for $2 between 10 and 11am.  With normal adult tickets being $11 you can bet we made sure to get the gate right at 10:52am.  That's $18 just saved on Gina and I, plus we took two of my sister-in-laws with us so $36 saved. ... that ended up getting them about 2 1/2 carnival rides.  Let me just vent about that for a second.  It basically works out to 50 cents at ticket, and most of the rides were 10 - 12 tickets.  So they're charging $6 a ride and they only last about 25 seconds.  So for 1/2 hour of entertainment it's going to cost a single person nearly $360!  Our kids are never going on carnival rides.  That's ludicrous!  Ok, I'm done with that.  Fortunately our kids had no interest in rides what so ever.  They were much more impressed with the baby deer they got to pet, the elephants giving rides and giant bug exhibit.  I figured out who to quell fear with the girls.  Any time they see something scary, like a 15 foot tall animatronic tarantula (they weren't buying that this this was itsy bitsy from the song) I make them wave at it.  How can you be scarred of something you're waving at?!  Works like a charm.  By the end of the exhibit I had to pry Arianna away from the 2 story praying mantis because she was blowing him kisses and won't walk out.  But bugs and elephants weren't our main objective yesterday.  We were in pursuit of cows.  A bovine adventure, if you will.  You see we didn't make it more than 5 feet in the parking lot with out a tantrum being thrown.  We were able to subdue in promising that we'd see cows if everyone behaved.  For some strange reason there was not a cow to be found.  There were about 30,000 pygmy goats and plenty of competitive chickens (I could not tell you a single difference between the blue ribbon winning chicken and the 5th place one - I'm assuming the one with the blue ribbon does magic or something), but no cows.  We even went to the stables where a giant ceramic cow with sunglasses was standing out front. ... nada.  So we told the girls the shaded cow was the moo-moo we had come to see.  I'm not sure they bought it.  But we're at the fair.  This is nothing a 4 foot long corn dog can't fix, right?!  While we're on the topic of fair food, I'd like to quote Marge Simpson in saying "Homer, I didn't say they couldn't deep fry your shirt; I said you shouldn't."  Folks. ... deep fried Klondike Bars? Deep fried Kool-Aid.  Deep fried butter? Seriously?  Butter?!!!  Why don't we just deep fry a heart attack for you?   Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  And with that, our fair day came to an end.
Genevieve being mobbed by goats and deer

I should also note that as of late last night Gina and I are finally settled in the "pool side suite".  I slept in my bed last night and pulled my clothes out of an actual dresser this morning, rather than a stack of drawers on the living room sofa.  I'd like to thank all my in-laws, but especially my father-in-law, for all the hard work put into this thing.  We spent nearly 13 hours working Saturday and he put in another solid 8 yesterday in addition to a full day Friday, and the culmination of 2 months of work is now complete.  I didn't have the heart to kick him out so we could go to bed as I felt he earned the right to sit on our sofa and just stare at his masterpiece for a while.  So for all of that, I just want to publicly thank them.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fishbowl Parenting

Well, we're pretty much moved in to our new digs.  And by pretty much moved in I mean all our stuff is physically in the building, mostly piled up in the living room as we wait for our room to be completed. ... might have jumped the gun a little with our move date.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend we'll be 100% in.  Fortunately the girls room was ready, so they're squared away, new big girl beds and all.  Last night Gina went to teach and I had a sudden epiphany that I hadn't given much thought to prior.  I was feeding the girls dinner and two of my sister-in-laws were helping/eating their own dinners.  Genevieve was being whinny and refusing to eat anything.  I took her out of her chair to have a discussion and from that point on she was doing the limp body resistance to avoid doing what I wanted her to do.  Now I'm not a child beater or a screamer or any other kind of horrific punisher in my parenting.  But sometimes a little punishment is necessary.  As I'm trying to figure out the best way to approach this I can hear that the other side of the room has gone dead quiet (or maybe I just imagined they were) and I suddenly get the feeling that all eyes (or at least all ears) are on me, waiting to see how I handle the situation.  I found myself struck with stage fright.  In our own home, with in the confines of our walls, we are all granted the ability to parent as we (and our partners) see fit.  I'm suddenly in a fishbowl with my parenting style up for the viewing and scrutiny of others.  It's very awkward.  Again, I'm not one to do anthing severe or extreme - but it's still an odd feeling to have 5 other sets of eyes and ears on you at all times; watching you, contemplating your choices, forming opinions.  The same feeling progressed through the night as we did baths, dressed in jammies, even read our bedtime stories.  It's going to take some getting over on my part, because fishbowl or not I'm still Dad, and I have a job to do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go

As they saying goes "all good things must come to an end."  And today, what has been a good thing for us, must.  Gina and I bought our condo 2 months before we got married.  It wasn't our dream home, it was our stepping stone to one.  At that point (do you remember 2007?) you could do no wrong purchasing a home.  It was the one guaranteed investment that would increase with time.  Then 2008 walked up and kicked me in the nuts.  In the 5 years that followed I watched our place lose almost 70% of it's value.  We soldiered on.  We modified the loan, we found ways to fit two new bodies in to the mix.  We never missed a payment, never considered walking away.  But it won't work any more.  Not just the fact that Bean is going to be one body too many, but the area is fine for two adults who keep to themselves - it's a terrible influence for a child growing up.  Yesterday was another reminder.  Not only did I witness another fist fight between 8 year olds (several of them throwing f-bombs along with fists), but Gina got blocked in by a fire truck when she was trying to leave for yoga, that was administering aid to a 3 year old that ingested anti-seizure medicine because there was no parental supervision. ... ever!  The older our girls got, and the more they desired to interact with the Lord of the Flies kids, the more we knew we needed to leave.  My in-laws provided us a window to jump through.  They've bent over backwards converting part of their garage (used to be the master suite on the original house which, they had converted into a man cave of sorts for Gina's step dad's Corvette's) into what is now being labeled "the pool side suite" as it opens up into the courtyard pool area.  They're welcoming us with outstretched arms and genuine excitement to have us there, which makes the tough pill to swallow a little smoother.  It's not that I don't love them or that we don't all get along - it's just that I really love our little family.  I love how we do things and I love being the unit that we are.  Merging with another established unit threatens to tarnish what we've already got going.  It's not a guarantee to happen - just a concern of mine that it might.  But, this is an opportunity that we can't pass up.  We're going to rent our condo as quickly as possible.  Even if we can just cover 80% of our mortgage payment, that's 80% of our main expense that we can save up and put down on a house of our in a year or so.  Plus, if we can last 12 months, then our condo will be considered a secondary rental property and I should qualify for a "first home" loan at that time - at least that's what I'm told by my real estate/finance acquaintances.  In my gut I know this is the right thing.  In my gut I know that it will all work out well in the end.  In my gut I feel confident in this decision. ... and yet, in my gut, I feel pretty nauseous.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Stand at the Porcelain Corral

How is it that I go a couple days with out blogging only to have 5 different post inspirations come about in the same day and then have all 5 trumped at the last minute by another story about poop?!  I don't want to write about it, but it's like being a traffic reporter. ... you can't avoid discussing the really horrific wrecks.  So after a long and tiring weekend with out mama, who was in Santa Barbara, we got home last night and I tossed the girls in the tub for a much needed soak.  I should mention at this time - and we'll talk plenty more about it this week - that we're moving in a few days.  I've mentioned how cramped our tiny condo has gotten and that the neighborhood is not good for our girls to grow up in - constantly stressing that I'm looking for any way out.  Well, we found it.  My in-laws have reconverted what was their original house (since incorporated to be part of the garage) back in to a living space; so we're moving in with them and renting our condo until we can save up enough of a deposit on a new house.  This should provide much fodder for the blog.  Anyway, let's get back to the story.  The girls were done with their bath, so I got Genevieve out, dried off and jammied up.  I went back to the bathroom to find Arianna standing up and red faced.  Now this kid has a tough time doing the deed.  Rule of thumb with her is never touch the pooping baby.  My problem, though, is she's still standing in the bath. ...and she's recently been cleaned.  After trying to convince her for a minute or two to come out and sit on the toilet, and having her flail like a rabid monkey when I touch her, I abandoned hope and took up action.  Like an old western movie I cleared the civilians (bath toys) out of the streets and I preemptivly drained the water, so if it dropped she wasn't standing in poop water.  I readied the wipies and braced.  We locked eyes.  A dog barked.  A cat hair tumble weed rolled across the bathroom floor.  And then she shouted "Cacccaaaaaa!" as the redness in her face broke and she inhaled deeply.  I dove, arm outstretched and wrapped around her back side.  Crisis averted.  As the townsfolk cheered from their drying spot on the bathtub ledge and the last of the water swirled down the drain, I flushed the nemesis down the porcelain god and pulled a still clean baby from the bathroom.