Monday, April 30, 2012

What If?

I was supposed to be writing about the girls first dance recital today.  The one where Genevieve ran from the stage crying half way through and Arianna just stood there like a statue, hypnotically staring at carnival ride off stage right.  Instead, it's a split second at bed time that's been bouncing around in my head for the last 12 hours.  Screaming in my ear the be dealt with.
Because of the recital the girls missed naps yesterday.  Ok, it wasn't really the recital's fault; we had them in bed with plenty of time, they just refused to nap.  So by the time we got to the community fair where the dance was they were anything but thrilled.  Then the scene unfolded and the attitude's continued to persist so we went home for a quick dinner and then straight to bed.  By the time we'd jammied up they were getting in those sleep deprived crazy moods.  I told them they would only get one story because it was late and they were tired, and that proved my point because they both started crying hysterically.  We finally got them in to their beds and then the battle became who's bed Momma would sit on during the story.  Arianna made it clear that Genevieve would not be allowed on her bed to share Momma and things got worse from there.  Finally we settled things and I pulled a book and sat on the nightstand between their beds to read it.  And here's where it happened.  For what ever reason Genevieve got really excited.  She grabbed the safety rail on her head and bounced herself up and down.  She must have come down just right because the next second she launched in to the air.  Because she was holding the rail her legs went up and her head and torso went down so she was completely vertical with her feet toward the ceiling, head aimed right toward the floor.  I can describe the whole thing in slow motion because that's exactly how it played out.  She came down towards the floor below head first, arms still at her side from having held the railing.  I know her arms wouldn't would get out soon enough break her fall because I caught her, my left arm reactively sweeping around in a hook motion and just barely snagging her ankles.  When she stopped, the top of her head was a mere inch from the floor.  I know there's no way to for sure how bad this could have been, but come straight down on the floor with the full weight of your body on your neck?  We'd be lucky if we only ended up in the hospital with a concussion.  This had all the potential for a broken neck.  A cracked skull.  Any number of horrible outcomes.  I lowered her gently to the floor and my heart exploded in my chest.  Sweat poured from my brow; I had to leave the room.  I came that close to losing my child.  That close to having all this potential, this clean slate and bright future wiped from the slate before her, all in one stupid and innocent motion.  Gina doesn't like that I do this, but I play the "what if" game in my head all the time.  What if I went left.  What if I stayed here.  What if, what if, what if.  Well, what if I hadn't sat between their beds.  What if I was still picking out the story.  What if it was Gina reading.  What if I was holding the baby.  What if, what if, what if.  There's this blog going around right now, a bucket list for Avery, a 5 month old who has an incurable disease and will die (not might, will) in a very short while.  Oh, that every child had a parent who loved them as much as these.  The blog they write is not in mourning or in complaint, it's simply their attempt to give her the best short life they can.  To enjoy every moment that they have her.  To love her, as much as they can while they can.  My daughters don't have an incurable disease.  They don't have a clock counting down they're time.  By all odds I will not be there to bury them when they go.  But I should treat my time no different then these parents.  I should love no less and work just as tirelessly to give all of myself while I still can.  Because, while I have no countdown signalling a coming end, what if?  What if?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pic of the Week

"How To Eat A Cupcake,
and other lessons taught by Aunt Cassie"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good Dog

Arianna is fighting some sort of bug.  Just before I got home last night she threw up all over Gina and then just sunk into the couch in misery for the rest of the night, plastic red bucket clutched tightly on her lap.  At one point she hit 102 on the thermometer, but by bed time she was drastically cooler.  Still, it was not her best night.  When I went to bed around 11, I thought it weird that the dog came up to my side of the bed and started whining.  She had just gone out to pee, and it was raining pretty hard so I know she wasn't in a rush to do that again.  None the less, I've learned my lessons, so I got up and followed her.  But instead of going right toward the back door, she turned left, nosing right up to the girls bedroom door.  Inside I could Arianna moaning and flopping around so I went in to check on her.  Sure enough, she was awake and trying to get comfortable - she'd twisted herself all up in her blankets and was not pleased with things.  I reorganized life, she asked for some water so I obliged, and she went back to sleep.  I left the room and there was the dog, curled up on her living room bed (dog has beds everywhere) and fast asleep.  That's what you want from your dog; a second set of eyes who put you and your family above all else.  And that's why nobody makes movies about the family cat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"All By Myself"

This seems to be our new favorite phrase around here.  Let me help you in to your chair, "Daddy, all by myself!"  Let me help you wash your hands, "By myself!"  Let's get your shoes on, "I do it by myself."  We spend so much time wanting them to be independent and then, sadly, they are.  Of course don't be fooled; there are somethings they can't do by themselves.  I went to check on Arianna the other day after she got her self on the potty to do #2.  As I head toward the bathroom door she comes skipping around the corner.  Did you go?  "Yes, Daddy."  Who wiped you? "All by myself, Daddy."  Clean up. ... Aisle 4!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Daddy's Day(s) Off

Oh, the joy of children. ... almost as joyous as the days away from them.  I kid, I kid.  But I did take a little break from reality over the weekend; went down to Temecula and played in a 3 day, 4 round golf tournament.  You think chasing 3 girls around is exhausting?  Try swinging a golf club nearly 500 times in 90 degrees plus.  Whew!  Before I get to my stories, it's important to point out: there is nothing better then spending time with my family.  I know that sounds sappy, and I also realize that it's necessary to take that break and do something other then be "daddy" and spouse.  But as much fun as I had with my friends, playing golf, hitting the casino and drinking way to much beer - it doesn't even hold a candle to the trip we took to the zoo yesterday after I got home - and the zoo was closed.  Be that what it may, here's a rundown of my weekend off.

5:30 am, woke up and drove to Yorba Linda to pick up my buddy and golf partner.
7:00 am, left his house
7:20 am, stopped by my Corona office to install a new water unit - long story on what happened that required this
9:00 am, arrived at resort
9:20 am, checked in to our room and "unpacked". ... meaning we got all the beer on ice
9:45 am, grabbed breakfast in the club and was introduced to 4 other guys as "the 185". .... my last time at this tourney was about 4 years ago. .... I had a really rough opening round
10:30 am hit the driving range and became overly optimistic
11:45 am, tee'd off. ... reality sunk in
11:46 am, cracked first beer
12:00 pm, threw first club
12:05 pm, gave up caring
1:23 pm, had this photo taken 16 times because my buddy's dad couldn't figure out the iPhone

4:35 pm, finished first round
5:00 pm, regrettably played 3 more holes for "fun"
5:45 pm, took worlds best shower
6:00 pm, hit the bar
7:00 pm, dinner
8:15 pm, buddy #2 showed up
9:00 pm, was convinced to go to a bar in "down town"
9:05 pm, paid for the first cab
9:20 pm, called cab to come back
9:25 pm, arrived at casino
9:26 pm, reluctantly paid for the second cab ride
10:00 pm, lost track of both my buddies
10:20 pm, felt really old ordering a bottle of water from the cocktail waitress
10:30 pm, down to last 40 bucks
11:00 pm, things got really interesting.
Here's the story: I haven't seen my friends in a while and I'm getting really bummed out at this table.  Suddenly, I hear the table behind me going crazy.  I turn around and see buddy #2 (who's a tall 6'4") playing at the handicap blackjack table with three "little people".  I look at the depressed crowd of retiree's surrounding my table and figure "what the hell, if I'm going to lose my money I'm going to have a story to tell.  I sit down at "1st base" (my buddies at 3rd with the three others between us).  Suddenly the table explodes.  Black Jack!  Black Jack!  Double Down!  Dealer Bust!  Dealer Bust!  Dealer Bust!  I start a little stack of blacks to my left and we're screaming, high fiving and the whole time I'm thinking this is a scene out of Hangover 3 or something.  This drunk woman stumbles up and asked to take a picture with the 3 saying "you're on that Little People Big World show, arent' you."  One of the ladies gets offended and tells her to leave.  My buddy asks if that happens a lot and she replies "Yea, but in all fairness we were on that show a couple of times".  She just explains she doesn't like having her picture taken with fans of the show.  Then the offensive colloquialisms start spewing from my mouth with no intentional malice at all, but no for thought to prevent them.  And I have no excuse, I'm drinking water all night.  First I was congratulated by the guy on a black jack.  I tell him "you have to enjoy the little things in life".  He shoots me dagger eyes and I apologize like a maniac because I didn't even think about it like that.  Later I've colored up blacks and I don't want to break them, but I need an extra $5 chip to double down.  I tell my buddy across the table "toss me a 5, I'm a little short".  One of the ladies yells at me "really?!"  And it just continued from there.  "Give me something small".  "I'll take a tiny one"  Had to have said at least a dozen unintentionally offensive things.  The cab ride home my buddy is giving me so much crap thinking there's no way I wasn't doing it on purpose.  Anyway, it was magic.  One of the best tables I've ever played with, on or at.
1:30 am, cash out +$200
1:45 am, pay for the 3rd cab ride of the night
1:55 am, hit bed
5:30 am, rise and shine for round number 2
6:20 am, breakfast
7:15 am, tee off
7:16 am, early morning swear session
8:00 am, first beer of the day
8:45 am, lose first ball of the weekend
8:46 am, lose second ball of the weekend
12:15 pm, finish 2nd round and order last turkey sandwich from the snack shop
12:15 pm - 12:25 pm, slowly eat said sandwich right next to snack shop line while other patrons attempt to order turkey sandwiches. ... overly enjoy sandwich
12:30 pm, peel off sweat soaked clothes and change into something dry - 85 degrees felt like 95
1:15 pm, tee off for round number 2 - Best Ball match
1:15 pm - 4:00 pm, have only 1 of my shots used by team of 4
4:00 pm, leave after hole 11 to get ready for my step-sisters wedding down the street
4:45 pm, arrive at hotel to meet Gina and the girls
5:10 pm, arrive at wedding
5:55 pm, this photo is taken

6:00 pm, wedding starts - as does trying to keep Genevieve from talking and Arianna from wiggling too much. ...why did they put us in the 2nd row?
6:30 pm, wedding is over and this photo is taken

6:35 pm, I am sent back to the hotel because Gina left the "jammies" bag behind.
7:00 pm, arrive back at wedding reception
7:05 pm, catch first kid trying to stick their finger in the wedding cake
7:10 pm, Rosaline pukes on suite jacket
7:12 pm, this photo is taken

8:00 cupcakes are stolen
8:01 this photo is taken

9:00 pm, pack up the kids and send them on the 2 hour drive back home
9:01 pm, remind myself what a wonderful wife I have. ... add to "wonderful" "amazing" "beautiful" and "more then I deserve"
9:02 pm, drive back to the golf resort
9:20 pm, park and head up to the room
9:30 - 10:30 pm, hotub
11:00 pm, bed
7:30 am, wake up
8:00 am, breakfast
9:15 am, tee off. .... again.
10:00 am, lose ball number 3
10:05 am, lose ball number 4
11:15 am, lose ball number 5
2:00 pm, final putt on the final hole
2:01 pm, final putt again because last final putt lipped the freakin' cup and didn't go in.
2:02 pm, throw balls number 6, 7 and 8 in to the water off of 18
2:10 pm, jump in the car and drive like a mad man to the birthday party in Norco (north 30 minutes) that I'm already an hour late for
2:50 pm, arrive at birthday party where they are watching the superman video I made last year (long time readers might remember that) because I couldn't make it.  The girls seemed a little worried that I was on TV.  I think most casting agents in the region had the same fear; which is why my acting career went bust.

The rest is kind of a blur, but at some point I made it home and I'm assuming I eventually went to bed because I woke up Sunday morning and we went to the zoo. ... and it was closed for renovations.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Greek Easter: that's right... We get two!! Xristos Anesthi!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Darndest Things

I'm not sure how you can go through parenthood with out a sense of humor.  I know it's easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated, but if you aren't laughing just as much as your crying/pulling your hair out then you're doing something wrong.  My kids make me laugh out loud at least 15 times a day - and don't forget I'm at work from 6:30am to 4pm. ... so that's only like a 3 hour span!  These two from last night I just had to share:
1) Gina went out for ice cream (don't judge us, we're junkies) after the girls went down and I was doing some studying.  You know that eerie silence?  That one that clearly indicates something is amiss.  Like standing in the woods and you don't hear a single bird chirping - you know you're about to be eaten by a bear or wolf or rabid beaver.  Well it was too quite.  So I got up and rounded the corner to the entry way and there's Genevieve sitting on the rug petting the cat.  I give her the look. ... the "what do you have to say for yourself?" look and she looks up at me, completely straight faced, and says "this cat is bugging me!"  Nice.  This cat, the one that was on the opposite side of the house from your room is bugging you while you're in your bed trying to sleep?  Well played young one.  She must know I never trust a cat.  Back to bed!
2) While tucking the victim of cat harassment back in, Arianna sits up and asks the famous "that sound?" question.  It's nothing honey, just Daddy studying.  "Why?"  So I can make lots of money and send you to college someday. "Me no go to college!"  We'll talk about that in the morning. ... but FYI, you are going to college.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Evolution of Little Girls

There are times I feel like being a dad is almost like being a scientist.  And this blog is kind of like my field journal.  As Darwin penned his origin story on the Galapagos, I too am charting the evolutionary process of a little girl.  Well, three little girls.  I got a particularly interesting look at things last week as several different scenarios came to a front.  Gina's friend from up north came down with her two kids (boy 4 and girl 5) and stayed the week with us.  Then, on Wednesday night, my 12 year old sister in law had a sleep over (spring break) with 5 of her little girl friends.  Add to that there is a 19 year old sister-in-law as well (17 year old was tromping around Europe last week so she didn't come in to play).  Here's what I saw: we all know that Rosaline loves to watch the twins.  They mesmerize her like nothing else and she squeals with delight any time they associate with her.  My girls, meanwhile, were fascinated by the 5 year old.  They wanted to follow here around everywhere.  They wanted to hold her hand and sit next to her watching a movie.  They wanted to play with her dolls and dress the way she was.  Naturally, the 5 year old was shadowing the 12 year olds the whole night.  Wanting to play what they were playing and laughing at things she didn't understand, simply because they were laughing.  Then the 19 year old came over and I could hear her talking to the 12 year olds as they ate dinner and, you guessed it, they were all intrigued by this grown up teenager.  All the while the 19 year old just wants is to strike out in the world as her own adult.  What suddenly flashed in to my mind was this re-imagined Evolutionary Chart of Man.  You know, the one that goes from fish to upright walker in the course of 5 or 6 images.  Except this time it was of my girls.  I've got the first two stages; the infant and the toddler.  But the rest of them all under the same roof really painted quite the diagram.  After toddler is child.  Then pre-teen.  Then teen.  Then woman.  Then. ... (gulp) wife.  And don't get all PC on me - I realize "wife" may not be their end destination and I'm not pigeon holing them into that.  This is strictly for educational purposes.  It's science, so back off.  But that really does freak me out.  It's like I've really only got one stage left before I lose them to teenagerious sapien.  One more stage before they get all teenager on me.  After that. ... when it goes from "daddy" to "dad". ... well, then my moment is gone.  My job evolves as well.  I'll go from the cuddly chair and the human jungle gym to the monetary provider and the screener of boyfriends.   Good jobs.  Jobs that are important.  But I really like being the jungle gym.  I really like being the cuddly chair.  I really like being Daddy.  Why does this stuff have to go so quickly.  Why can't they stay this way for ever?  I guess the true beauty of parenthood is watching the cycle.  Not the stages, but the whole cycle.  If you stopped a marathon at the 3rd water stage it'd be called a 5k. ... and that's just not quite as impressive.  So bring it.  You don't have to rush it. ... but go ahead and bring it. 


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Come Fly With Me"

first trip to Disneyland. ... and yes, I took this shot from another elephant.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pockets

For all the attention given to mom's purse, I think the pockets of dads go slightly under appreciated.  After all, you can just as easily identify a man with kids by his pocket as you can a woman with kids by her hand bag.  Yesterday, I got home and realized I'd carried about 13 Dora stickers in my back packet all day.  I changed in to shorts and took the girls on a walk, during which no less then 43 "spiky balls from the tree" were put in my pockets for storage.  I had 4 mutilated dandelions and one rock also entered for safe keeping.  After cleaning out the nature, I also discovered 3 hairbands in one of the pockets.  They'd been there for who knows how long.  Aside from keys, wallet a cell phone, a childless man might have the following in his pocket:
Lakers tickets
backstage passes
money
"digits" from the waitress last night
winning lotto ticket
lucky Vegas coin
coat check receipt
money
foul ball (assuming he wore large pants to the game)
gum - unchewed (this is key)
golf ball marker
oh, and money

Again, compare this to me:
Dora stickers
"spiky" balls
dandelions
hairbands
rock
and for the record, no money. ... not even a penny.

See.  It's pretty easy to spot a dad.  Just examine his pockets.  Oh, and if he's got nothing (indicated by the turned out pocket liners and an "oh gee" expression), he's married and expecting a child.  Don't worry friend, those pockets will get filled in no time.  Oh my, will they ever.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Big Brother Down

The "eye in the sky" officially came down yesterday.  Our video surveillance of the girls is complete. ... at least as far as sleeping toddlers are concerned (first dates and college are open ended).  I know there are a lot of people who couldn't comprehend talking such equipment out of the rotation. ... just about as many who couldn't fathom putting a camera in their room to begin with.  But it's not necessary any more. ... and it was when we first put it in.  The girls have been in big kid beds since August (nearly 8 months) so there's no concern anymore about them "having issues" with that.  They've also shown a continued pattern of coming to get us when they need us and when they do choose to scream instead. ... well, we found we can hear them quite well.  Biggest reason of all is that stupid monitor has never had a clear signal (not sure if it's the metal beams in the house or if it's just too far away) and I couldn't be more then thrilled to be rid of the cackling static that constantly popped through the night.  Truth is it had to come down eventually anyway.  There's bound to be a line where a video monitor in your child's room is inappropriate.  That may be 13, it may be 9, it may be 5.  I'm not really sure (though I would probably realize it about 3 years after it crossed the line and none of my daughters were talking to me any more).  But it doesn't matter.  It's purpose is served and it's not necessary anymore, so why push it to the brink of appropriateness.  Part of growing up is letting the reigns go a little.  Just a little.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Self Portrait"




(found this on my phone a few days after a mud run race, during which she  must have been playing with it)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Neediness of Twins

Before the girls were born, when we had time to sit and think, to plan before action, to contemplate the future, one of the things we wondered aloud was "do we split the girls up at some point?"  Do they share a room for the rest of their lives?  Do we put them in the same classroom for kindergarten?  Do we buy matchy clothes?  Do we always have them do the same activity or does Gina take one some place while I take the other?  We've not answered these questions just yet.  We've got our thoughts, our hypothesis. ... but we haven't a damn clue on what is "right" to do.  And here's the dilemma: we want them to be themselves, not "the twins".  If we encourage their independence, maybe they'll find it.  But is that who they are?  Last night the girls went down and I went about briefing a few cases, waiting for Gina to come home.  After about an hour Arianna woke up crying (more of a whimper, not a scream or anything) and calling for me.  I went in and asked her what was wrong - she asked me between breaths "Daddy, where old sissy go?"  First let me explain that there is "old sissy" and "new sissy" to distinguish between the twin and the baby sister.  I told her that Genevieve had already gone to sleep and that's why she couldn't hear her anymore.  Keep in mind Genevieve never shuts up.  The kid just talks and talks and talks until she finally blacks out; so it's no wonder Arianna assumed if she couldn't hear her, she must not be there.  She kept whimpering, obviously upset by what ever had caused her to wake up.  After a few minutes of rubbing her back, Genevieve - in a very soft voice - pipped up "here I am sissy."  Whimpering stopped.  Arianna rolled on to her tummy and the lights went out.  I tucked her in and moved over to Genevieve - she too was passed back out.  My problem with forcing them apart to find their own identity is that their identity is undeniably intertwined with that of their twin.  Their world has always been one of close proximity and reliance upon their womb-mate.  In moments of fear they have the courage of two.  In times of panic they literally have an outside, calming voice beside them.  They never laugh alone and they never cry alone either.  In all the fighting and the screaming and the typical sisterly actions, they are anything BUT typical sisters.  There's something special there.  Something unique.  Something, I wonder, if I have any right to force apart.  They need each other.  At least for now. And maybe that will change.  And maybe it won't.  But who am I to say the neediness of twins is a weakness.  If anything it might be what makes them stronger.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Momma Mia!

Here I go again.  My, my; how could I resist you?  Gina and I got a grown up date night last night; we went to see Momma Mia up in Hollywood.  After reminding myself why I hate LA so much (1 hour and 10 minutes to go 20 miles because a couch was blocking 2 of the 3 lanes on the 101 through downtown), we finally made it in just enough time for appetizers and a drink before curtain call.  Now, we've seen this show a couple times, and the movie a couple more, so it's like this was a totally new experience for us. ... but at the same time it was.  You see, we've not seen it since the kids were born.  My, my. ... that changes things.  The whole story (and mind you this is not exactly Tennessee Williams in it's book - it's more like an excuse of a story line to tie to as many ABBA songs as possible in 2 and half hours - but if you acknowledge it for what it is and what it wanted to be then it's very good) revolves around a 20 year old getting married and not sure who her real dad is.  So pre-children I was singing along with Dancing Queen and wondering where we could grab a drink after this whole thing.   Now. ... now I'm all teary eyed at the wedding scene and having an internal conversation with my future son-in-laws about how, if they ever harm my daughters in anyway, I'll end them and make sure no one finds their bodies.  All I could see in that white dress was my three little girls, all individually, yet all at the same time - which makes me wonder if I can get all three married in one event and save myself a fortune. ... probably not.  Anyway, it's just one more way that children alter your perception of the world around you.  Nothing is the same after they come along - there's so much more meaning in the world, in life. ... in love.  Even in ABBA.