Monday, February 27, 2012

Putting Down "P's"

It seems that at this stage in life it's back to back "big steps".  Potty training, big girl beds, getting self dressed - and now we've arrived at the danger zone: getting rid of those pacifiers.  I remember it clearly; we brought the girls home from the hospital and we had a plan.  We weren't going to have binky junkies on our hands.  The girls would learn to self sooth with out the aid of addictive faux nipples.  HA!  I think that lasted all of 20 minutes on the first night.  We're so resiliant.  Since then we've not quite been the junkies afeared, but there certainly wasn't a bed time with out them.  In fact, when night time came around the girls would light up at the prospect of binky time (P's as they called them - short for papilla's; Greek).  But it's come time to part ways.  Nearing the 2 and a half mark it signals an end to an era.  And this weekend was good encouragment.  We took the girls to the cabin for some snow (of course it ended up being a 75 degree February weekend in Big Bear) and they napped twice with out the aid of a pacifier.  There was also one other incident where Genevieve fell out of bed trying to reach for a P that had fallen.  It was a good indicator that the moment had arrived.  So we talked about it before bed time; we told them that P's were now for Rosaline only; that they were big girls and they didn't need them anymore.  No complaints.  Bed time was a little on the rough side, but there wasn't one single request for a P (just a lot of requests to go pee) and they both fell asleep (and stayed asleep) with out them.  As I was dressing this morning for work, Genevieve trotted in to go the bathroom.  I helped her out and took her back to bed after.  As I laid her down Arianna sat up and whispered gently "P daddy?"  I couldn't resist.  They made it to 5am.  Gina could use the extra sleep and I figured it's a weening process.  Afterall, going cold turkey is hard.  The least I can do is give them a little taste of the sugar on it's way out the door.  That, and I'm just a huge sucker when it comes to my girls.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Den-eye-al

Let's be honest, while I gleam with pride every time I hear someone say that the girls look like me, I'm hoping to hear less and less of that as they continue to grow.  It would be unfortunate to walk a 6'3", broad shouldered, square jawed daughter down the aisle while her veil tried desperately to cover her 5 head (too big to be called a forehead) and her perpetual 5 o'clock shadow protruded through her cracking foundation.  While I make a decent looking man I would be the last woman standing at closing time of any local pub.  The 2 at 10 and 10 at 2 doctrine would not apply to me.  But there is one thing I can pass on which won't jeopardize their ability to go out in the daylight. ... my eyes. ... which is ironic because I have a real sensitivity to daylight and have to wear sunglasses almost all the time.  But anyway, my baby blue peepers have no problem transitioning between the genders; looking equally good in eyeliner as they do in eye black.  And, as luck would have it, all three of the girls are blue eyed (although there's still potential for Rosaline's eyes to change, though it's looking unlikely at this point).  Perfect!  While they grow in to beautiful women, just like they're Mama, I'll still be able to look at those eyes and know there's a little bit of Daddy in there too!  But apparently not everyone feels this way.  We have a disgruntled offspring.  You see, while Genevieve is thrilled to point out that she and Arianna and Daddy and Rosaline all have blue eyes, Arianna is somewhat resistant.  She is adamantly denying her blue eyes.  Refusing to admit they are of an aqua pigmentation.  Instead she insists they are "green. ... like Mama".  And god forbid you correct her.  "No Daddy!  No blue eyes.  Green eyes!"  And she is willing to fight you to the death over the subject.  It's actually gotten to the point where she cries over the subject.  I feel bad.  I didn't mean to do it. ... I didn't mean to pass on my eye color.  I'm sorry!  I'm so sorry!!!  I never thought I'd ruin her life.  So I compromise; I tell her maybe they'll turn green later.  That at least subsides the crying.  If not, we'll hope it works like the fashion industry. ... where blue is the new green.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ni-ni Time for Daddy

I won't lie, we had some pretty rough bed times the past few nights.  Everything culminated on Monday night and I got pretty agitated with the girls (I think they got up a total of 7 times a piece in about a 25 minute span).  But I paid for it when I got home last night.  It was my turn to go to bed, apparently.  Arianna drags me in to her room because she "has something to show" me.  She then tells me sternly "lie down, close eyes, go ni-ni".  I comply, and she then tucks me in.  "Me read you baby Ariel book?" She ask.  I sit up and say "OK" to which she responds "no get up, lie down, ni-ni time Daddy!"  She re-tucks me in and starts to read. ... the book is naturally upside down.  Then Genevieve comes in and gets perfectly giddy at the situation.  "Ni-ni time, Daddy" she squeels "Close yes, no talk!"  I was then held hostage for the next 25 minutes in a toddler size bed, my entire head and bodies covered by blankets (and at one point the toddlers themselves) while the girls "read" me the princess books of the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty.  I guess this makes us even.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

For the Love of Dog

I'm a dog guy.  I always have been.  From the Irish Setter's I grew up with to the mutt that I now trust with the things most precious to me.  Nothing against cats, I have two (albeit not by choice), but I don't trust a person who dislikes dogs.  I can't.  These are the first domesticated animals.  These are man's best friends.  If such a thing exists, these are our species' soul mates.  It doesn't mean everyone should own one; they may not fit into all lifestyles - I get that.  But at least have the capacity to see their importance in the human life.  Have the inner desire to stick out your hand and scratch a back as it walks by. ... that should be instinctual.   That's what I mean by "like". ... appreciate what it is dogs mean to us as humanity.  I don't often write about our dog, Karma, but the truth is she's our first Kopp Girl.  Our practice baby.  Of all the dogs I've had she's been the creme de la creme; the watermark.  The transition she's made from spoiled dog of newlyweds to family guardian has been nothing short of remarkable.  And it's gotten to the point, if short handed, I can rely on her to simply sit by a baby and offer a comforting presence in the room while I take a shower.  Or to allow grabby toddlers to torment her to no end (although I do get the puppy dog eyes at me begging for relief sometimes).  There's also the nusance of her newly found barking habit; but it's got endearing qualities as it comes from a place of protection for our children - she only does it when there's activity at the front door, and it only started after the babies had come home; she's alerting us to an incoming "stranger".  But more than her transition, it's what this dog has meant (and always will mean) to our girls that makes me value her so much.  Example:  on Sunday, Arianna woke up from a nap a little early. ... ok, an hour and a half before her sister even stirred.  Gina was off at a festival this weekend, so I took her potty, grabbed her a snack and asked her if she wanted to watch a movie.  "Dora!"  "No. ... I can't take anymore Da-da-da-da-da- Dora right now.  How about this puppy movie?"  She lit up at the Lady and the Tramp cover, so I popped it in.  She cried nearly the entire movie.  Not because she was throwing a fit, or because she didn't like it. ... she was so sad that the puppy (Lady) was lost and couldn't find her momma.  "Puppy need to go find Momma; puppy need to go home for baby."  She kept repeating.  Then she decided that she needed her puppy so she started calling for Karma, who happily trotted in.  She then watched the rest of the movie with her arms around Karma's neck. ... and despite the lack of oxegyn that dog happily obliged the death grip.  These kids will make friends through out their lives.  But they'll never trust anyone as much they trust this dog.  They'll have other pets, but none as memory impressing as her.  They'll have homes and families of their own, but they'll be built upon a model that included this wonderful dog, not just two parents and a handful of siblings.  And they'll grow up; find themselves; move on.  And they might do all that with out realizing just how big a difference 55 pounds of mutt has made in their lives.  But I doubt that.  I doubt that highly.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dinner, Revisited

Oh the magic of dinner time.  Everyone sitting around a table together, laughing, enjoying the food. ... screaming.  Wait, what?  You don't have toddlers?  How boring for you.  My girls enjoy food. ... partly because we make them.  We've seen picky kids the world over; the ones who want this, but not that.  Who won't look at a vegetable with out dry heaving.  The ones who demand McNuggets instead of the home cooked meal before them. ... we don't have those children.  Not by their choice, mind you.  It's just a requirement of being one of our children.  You eat your food. ... deal with it.  Genevieve has no problem with this. ... that kid loves to eat.  But Arianna. .... well, she sees it as an opportunity to test the boundaries of the system.  One night she scarfs down pasta, the next night she can't stomach to look at a noodle.  Trust me, it's not that she doesn't like the food (how many times have I forced her to take a bite only to have her look up and say something like "Me like Mac n' Cheese Daddy!").  She just likes to test her limits.  So last night it was loukaniko and penne (loukaniko is a grilled sausage with oregano and lemon and ... look. ... it's Greek and it may be the best thing out of Greek since mathematics).  Meat was gone in a flash, but that penne just found itself pushing around the plate.  I finally had enough (Gina teaches so in addition to here I was dealing with the baby and Genevieve who can't stop from talking with her mouth full and is either dropping it all over or coming very close to choking) so I sent her to sit in the corner chair until she wanted to eat like a big girl.  It didnt' take very long and she came back and, naturally, decided she likes the penne.  Genevieve finished first (obviously) so I got her some licorice for dessert.  Arianna, fueled by the red candy, inhaled what was left of hers and waited patiently for the reward.  I grabbed her candy and air drummed with it as I walked back - kind of a "no hard feelings look how silly daddy is" moment.  She stared at me briefly and then proceeded to vomit the entire meal up.  We're talking everywhere.  Table is covered, she's covered, floor. ... covered.  As Genevieve and I paused briefly in surprise, the dog came flying out of now where like some foreign sovereign had started throwing jewels from a passing motorcade.  I yanked her away (I don't mind giving her scraps or letting her lick a used dish. ... but that's a little low on the totem pole) and scooped up Arianna with the other hand.  I got her to the sink and, literally, sat her in it; stripping off the covered cloths and making sure she was prepped for another round.  But she just looked at me like all was well.  I asked her if her tummy hurt and she nodded, so I just left her there, naked in the sink, while I cleaned up.  Meanwhile Genevieve is just sitting there, eating her licorice like it's no big deal.  "Sissy puky-puky Daddy" she says as I walk back up.  Thanks Captain Obvious.  She then proceeds to direct me to spots I missed in my clean up effort.  Very helpful.  Oh parenting. ... never a dull moment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love: [luhv] noun, verb: A Proufoundly Tender, Passionate Affection for Another Person

Fellow bloggers, do you ever do that thing were you write an entry and then an hour later remember that you'd already planned a different entry and you need to now have two posts with in an hour of each other?  Yeah, I forgot it was Valentines Day and then my coffee kicked in and I looked at a calender.  So, blog number 2 for the day: Love.  It's interesting that I kind of hate the word "love".  Not like it did anything to me which is deserving of the animosity; I wasn't beat up by the world love at 13 and I've never had my heart broken after using the word carelessly.  But I do feel it's an improperly and over used word that deserves more respect and caution.  For example, I don't love my iPhone.  .... ok. ... maybe I kind of do - but I don't love my car.  I like it a lot.  And I don't love my shoes. ... although I've worn them to oblivion and have no intent to relinquish them for a replacement anytime soon.  I don't love running. ... but I do it a lot.  I don't love my job, but I go - and I don't love the money it gives me, though I do need it.  I don't love movies, but they bring me joy.  I don't love vacation, but it's something to look forward to.  The realization didn't dawn on me for quite some time, so I can't fault those who still can't comprehend the true meaning of the word.  You see, I first understood love when I met Gina.  And, no, it wasn't a romantic comedy type love at first sight followed by shenanigans; my love for her grew from a strong like. ... which grew from a physical attraction. ... which grew from an awkward "eye's meet" moment in an otherwise boring Anthropology class.  But once I realized that I loved her. ... I realized how powerful and different that was.  I loved my family already, but that's a built in love.  You love them because of their relation. ... not necessarily because of who they are.  Gina I loved because of who she was; it was something I had to open myself up to and allow. ... it wasn't stemming from my DNA.  That, I thought, was the pinnacle of love.  It couldn't get any more powerful than loving someone by choice as result of their perfect compatibility with you. ... and then October 20th, 2009 struck.  I thought I'd love my daughters just as much as my wife.  I thought I had the utmost capacity to love while they were tucked warmly inside her belly.  And then I saw them.  Arianna first, then Genevieve a few minutes later. ... Rosaline a few years after that. ... four letters is not enough.  That's when I realized how truly special that word was.  It was bad enough to share it with Gina and my favorite sushi restaurant. ... but my kids took the word to an entirely different level.  So, while I may still toss the word out there as a habit, the truth is there is nothing that I really love - honestly, yearningly, painfully love - like my 4 women.  Sorry iPhone. ... we can still be friends though.  iPhone?  iPhone?  Call me.

Oh. ... Hello World. ... I Didn't See You There

You forget how quickly the transition happens.  It's like a dry field suddenly sparking into a giant fire.  One day she's just sitting there; blobby.  Only goal in life is to drink, sleep and release fluids.  Then, like a bolt of thunder, she suddenly aware of this great big world around her.  She laughs at silly faces. ... she stares, unsure of the really funny ones.  She gets excited when her sisters lean in toward her.  She loves to look at colors on the wall.  It's as though for the past 8 week (my god. ... 8 weeks already) she's been in a waking sleep.  Eyes open but not really looking.  Now, the blinders have fallen away.  The world is all around her, and she can't get enough of it.  Just like that, the wonder has begun.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Harvesting Raspberries

There's a lot of turmoil that comes with sisters.  There's hitting and biting and hair pulling.  There's name calling and toy stealing and attention grabbing.  There's also lying and tattling and, of course, trickery.  But for all the animosity, for all the confrontation and frustration that comes with having a person so close to you, someone who from day one you're in as much competition with (for milk, for mom, for anything and everything) as you are reliant on for support and strength, there's one thing that siblings don't have with each other that the rest of the world does. ... walls.  There's no pretenses.  There's no gimmicks.  No fakeness.  You know me and I know you and I accept you just as you accept me.  I know this with my own sisters, but to see it from the perspective of the parent is a beautiful thing to watch.  Last night. ... it all came down to harvesting raspberries.  I had the girls all upstairs, drawing the bath, when I noticed Rosaline and I were alone in the bathroom.  I walked in the next room to break up what ever fight was causing the delay when I came upon the scene.  Two naked little bodies, intertwined on the bedroom floor, blowing farts on each others bellies and laughing.  Laughing that pure, unfiltered laugh that you only do with the people you truly trust.  Now that's beautiful.  For all the conflict they seem to have, for all the screaming and all the "sissie did's". ... it pales in comparision to the love these two really have for each other.  The trust they place in the other.  The comfort they find in their lifelong companion.  It all comes down to harvesting raspberries.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back to Centered

After 7 weeks Gina is back in tree pose again; she started teaching her full schedule effective Monday.  So I'm back to my solo act at night (obviously living with the in-laws it's not like I have to do it all myself, they are more than willing to assist, but I get satisfaction from being successful on my own).  Well, when the girls were this little Gina's class load was not nearly as big as it is now.  We didn't really have to worry about whether or not she'd be back in time to make the next feeding.  This time, with a 7 week old, the feedings are a little more frequent so we're figuring that part of things out.  I got the girls down no problem, but then Rosaline was starting to get fussy.  Gina was still an hour or so away from being home so I decided there was no time like the present to see if we can make the bottle work.  I don't know why I had any concern at all.  This kid knows how to eat.  Bottle?  Piece of proverbial cake.  It was a little interesting at first because she's used to a breast which is a "suck, suck, suck, milk" sort of a thing.  You have to work a bit before it comes and then work a little more before another batch comes, and so on and so forth.  With the bottle it's kind of "drink or drown kid".  It just comes flowing.  So she latched on and suddenly her eyes got really wide like "um. ... what's going on here?!"  It started flooding out of her mouth so I pulled it and gave her a chance to mentally process it all.  After that, though, she was a stud.  Like a seasoned frat boy chugging a 40, that bottle was toast in no time.  When Gina got home there were two in bed, one in a crib, lights out and Daddy with a cold Corona to reward his accomplishments.  That's right. ... that's how I roll ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Parenting is a Marathon

So many story lines from this weekend, it was debatable what to blog about.  But, if I just slip in there that I completed my first marathon and didn't go into detail I imagine quite a few of you would think "what the hell?!" So, yeah. ... I finished my first marathon on Sunday.  The Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach.  I'll describe it a little and then get to something a little more prophetic at the end: it hurts.  Oh my god it hurts.  Everything from my eyebrows down is aching this morning.  I've got a coffee and a bottle of aspirin on my desk and I'm not that eager to reach for the coffee just yet.  The first half I did really well.  I was pacing for a 3 hour, 45 minute race for the first 13, 14 miles.  But at mile 8 there was a pretty big hill, and by the time I reached the top of it I knew I'd depleted most of my energy on it. ... and I could feel things slipping away at that point.  By 13 the 3:45 group passed me up.  I tried to stay with them but, there was nothing in my legs.  By about 18 the 4 hour group passed me up.  By 20 my first wave of cramps hit and by 22 I thought my legs were literally just going to fall of and I'd have to roll the rest of the way.  I'll put it this way - I hate banana's. ... hate them.  Can't even stand the smell.  I ate 3 between 20 and 24.  Desperate to end the cramps.  By 24 the 4:15 group got the best of me.  That was the one I really tried to catch.  I pushed everything I had into that. ... but I had nothing so it was kind of like trying to coast a car uphill.  At 25 I had the 4:30's were hot on my ass and I was fighting to keep with them.  So much so that at the last 1/2 mile I popped something in my calf (not a tear or a pull, more like the muscle just seized up. ... you could literally see a ball protruding at the top of the muscle) and I ended up "Qausimodoing" it across the finish. ... kind of an awkward, limping gate.  It's kind of cool because people went nuts seeing me fighting so hard to finish, which made me feel incredible. .. but nothing in comparison to hearing my name called and seeing my wife and children on the other side of the fences, right at the finish line.  Thank god I was wearing sunglasses because I lost it.  You have to walk quite a way afterwards till your clear of the gates, during which volunteers are handing you water and fruit and energy bars. ... I'm just taking them with my head down so no one will see me crying.  I can't tell you what an accomplishment it feels like. ... but it's a total mind f(%#!  For 4 and a half hours it's just you, in your own head, you're best friend and your worst enemy. ... it's really a struggle.  The only thing that gets you through that is the thought of those who are willing to wait at the finish line for you.  Those who want nothing but your success.  Those who love you regardless of your time.  Life is a marathon, but so is parenting.  It's endless, successive nights of no sleep.  It's stressing about every bump and bruise.  Repeating the same lesson over and over and over.  It's caring too much and hoping to big.  It's loving so deeply that a simple thing like not wanting to hold your hand while crossing the street breaks your heart a little.  But it's a race worth running.  For every road block and leg cramp, it's also the most rewarding accomplishment that life can bring.  In my own opinion, there's nothing more impressive than raising a wonderful human being to adulthood.  That's worth applauding.  They should hand out medals for parents that are able to accomplish that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Masterpiece"

my sister-in-law has created another masterpiece of my masterpieces.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quit Beating That Horse Daddy!

There's something about the first smiles.  They're addictive.  Like crack.  Or Scramble With Friends.  The only difference is, in the beginning they're few and far between; and unlike crack or Scramble, you don't really want to share them.  So once you find a mechanism that works, you keep at it until you've exhausted the supply.  You can't help yourself.  You make a silly face and a simultaneously silly noise and those little dimples sink down. ... your heart leaps out of your chest and you get all warm and fuzzy.  You do it again, to see if you really were the cause or if it was just a fart.  It worked again!  Yes!  One more time!  One more time!  One more time!  One more time!  Ooops.  Dimply smile has now morphed in to a quivering lip and a furrowed brow.  It's like she's saying "please, Daddy!  For the love of god just stop beating that dead horse already."  But I can't help it. ... I'm a junkie. ... a junkie for baby smiles. I'll give it one more go. ... Oh, wait a minute. ... it's my turn to go on Scramble With Friends. ....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Good Old Fashion, American Tantrum

Seafarers often talk of the mysterious and unexplainable; like the rogue wave.  The inexplicable 100 foot wave of water coming out of an other wise calm sea.  Hit one of those last night, we did.  (Doing my best Quint from Jaws impersonation) 1,100 men went into the water, only 316 came out. ... toddler got the rest."  I don't know where it came from, but it hit hard.  It began simply, a request to put toys away and come have dinner while Gina fed the baby.  Arianna came and sat down just fine. ... Genevieve never arrived.  So I went to look for her and could hear her bouncing around in her room.  Walking in I noticed a bubbly, naked little girl.  "Me naki!" she proudly exclaimed.  "It's not bath time, sweetie, it's dinner time.  Get your clothes back on and come eat."  I was laughing, not angry, not demanding, not. ... anything really.  She immediately ran past me, a streak of white, and in to our room.  "Me naki, Momma!" she yelled out.  I came in behind her, cloths in hand and once again explained it was dinner time, we needed to get dressed.  As I tried to put her shirt on, in slow motion I noticed the eyes furrow, the bottom lip protrude and her entire body went limp.  It was upon us.  Time sped up again and it was too late. ... we were fully engulfed in hurricane Genevieve. ... a tantrum of epic proportions.  I ended up scooping her rag doll body off the ground and putting her in her bed, assuming she'd grow tired of crying over nothing by herself in the quickly darkening room.  Nope.  As Arianna and I continued through our meal, Genevieve screamed away.  And screamed.  And screamed. ... oh, and she also screamed a bit after that.  Door was closed.  No audience.  But she was unrelenting.  Finally, when Gina was done with Rosaline, she went in there and dragged her from the dungeon of her room.  Three times she tried to force her to apologize to me.  All I got a glimpse of was the top of her head as her eyes stared down and her body leaned the opposite direction of me.  It finally took me leaving the room before she would come and eat.  And after that, she was fine.  The storm had passed.  Leaving just as inexplicably as it had arrived.  I don't understand much, but I do understand this. ... kids are incomprehensible.