Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sound of Music

We're musical in our family.  We've never met a karaoke bar we didn't close down; we sing at the top of our lungs when we drive; and when we die we will go to a giant dueling piano bar in the sky.  It's only natural that our love of music was passed along through our genetic material to our offspring.  It is interesting, however, to see it manifest it's self so differently in the three.  Granted, Rosaline just found her voice so it's only natural that she "sings" in shrieks and squeals. ... but it's loud and she entertains the crap out of herself when she does it.  Genevieve is the meticulous one.  She has lately taken to wandering the house (or where ever you find yourself) singing the same few lines of a song over and over and over and over.  Right now it's The Little Mermaid.  "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isnt' it neat."  I just want to yell at the top of my lungs "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD - WOULDN'T YOU SAY MY COLLECTION'S COMPLETE!"  But this is what's interesting. ... that's exactly what Gina does.  She gets a song stuck in her head, but only a small portion.  And then she ends up singing that small portion on loop for the next 12 days.  This has it's benefits, she learns the real words of the song and not the "Tony Danza in my head" versions of them.  Arianna, meanwhile, takes after me.  She sings what ever the hell she feels like.  Screw the words. ... screw the melody sometimes.  She will tell you she's going to sing the Belle (Beauty and the Beast) song and then proceed to belt out some song that repeats the word "flowers" a dozen times and bounces all over the note scale.  I, too, have been known to replace words I don't really know with words I feel make a good fit.  Green Day's probably my favorite band of all time and most of the early albums I just end up singing "na-na's" and "blah-blahs" when I play them, despite having heard them hundreds of times. When Gina catches me with a wrong lyric she never fails to point it out. All that really matters, though, is the singing.  Whether it's pitchy or the lyrics are off or what ever, singing is a sign of happiness.  Happiness is all I care about.  So sing away my dears.  Drown out the outside world and continue to fill our home with magic.  "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat.  Look at this stuff, isn't it neat."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"60" is the New "Grandma"

I wondered long ago what my 500th post would look like.  Would there be a party?  A red carpet?  Would the news outlets of the world run something on their front page?  Their back page?  Their Tuesday Evening Edition?  It's fitting that this post be about something big; something important; something meaningful.  Well Sunday my mom turned 60. ... and that's pretty damn big in my book.  Add to it that in celebration she rented a house on Catalina (an island off our coast for you non-Californian readers) and had all of us come party with her for the long weekend.  Now my mom is a very special person - as most mothers are - and the greatest contributing factor to the man I am today.  I've modeled myself, as best I could, on her.  I've looked at the world through the same eyes that I believe she does.  When I grow up. ... I want to be my mom.  That being said, I want my children to learn the same lessons that I have, through the master directly.  I try and instill my outlook on life through her lessons; but a weekend retreat where they have full exposure to the one who taught me. .. pretty freakin' sweet.  So here are the kinds of things my mother taught me, which I hope my girls learn as well.

Make sure you stand out from those around you.

Golf when you get the chance.  If you're a lefty, swing left.  If you're terrible ... just laugh.

Let your kids decide where to go; even if they're holding the map upside down.

1) enjoy simple things like a nap
2) but never let a napping adult go unharrassed.

look at life with unique perspectives

never pass an ice cream shop

laugh into the face of the screaming wind, so those behind you can hear you

stay close

never walk single file when you can walk holding hands

sometimes the balcony seats are better then the front row

 & the hard way is often the most rewarding.

To my mother: You are the blessing I never earned.  I never had to convince you to love me.  I never had to apologize for mistakes I made.  I never worry about falling on my ass because I never doubted you would be there to catch me.  My courage came from your strength.  My intelligence from your wisdom.  My compassion for your selflessness.  My hope from your unwavering positivity.  My love from your shoreless ocean of love.  30, 40, 60 or 90 - you're my mom; an ageless entity who I will always look up to and whom my children will learn the same valuable lessons from.  I couldn't have asked for a better mother and I'm fairly certain that God couldn't have designed a better one anyway.  Happy Birthday. ... and thank you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tattle tail

I'm always amazed when people try to keep secrets from their spouse - especially when they have children.  Children will rat you out the first chance they get; they don't even need to be interrogated.  And if they aren't there to witness your dark secret first hand, you can be damn certain they'll find out about it somehow. ... and THEN they'll rat you out.  I got the below text this morning as proof:
Let me start by saying I'm not dumb enough to try and keep something like this from my wife.  I'm terrible with secrets and this would be my first ever traffic ticket (15 years of driving and only pulled over once. ... talked my way out of that; surprise surprise) so chances are I would not handle it well.  But I didn't get a ticket.  This is what happened.  I was taking the girls home from the Greek Festival on Saturday and Arianna was being difficult when I was buckling her in.  She told me she didn't want to be buckled and I told her it was against the law not to.  I told her that Daddy has to wear a seat belt and so does she; if we don't then the police man would give us a ticket.  This notion of the police man and his tickets really hit a nerve with Geneveive and she kept asking "why" over and over.  "Police man mean?"  "No, he just wants us to be safe."  "Why he give you ticket Daddy?"  "Because he wants to make sure we follow the rules."  "Rules to wear zoni (belt)?"  "Yes, the rules that say we have to wear a zoni." 

That was it.  That was the incident.  And you can bet your ass the first mention of a policeman this morning and Genevieve blurts out that Daddy got a ticket from a police man after the carnival.

This is why I don't take the girls with me when shopping for presents.  Learn to talk and they instantly become blabber mouths.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I can appreciate what high schools these days are attempting to do with health classes.  They want to prepare young people for the hard work required in parenting, and hopefully convince them that they should put a few years between now and the time they actually do have kids.  But I gotta say, a bag of flour (or what ever your high school budget allowed for) just misses a few things.  Yes, it gets you through the first couple months when you have to carry the bag of future cake mix with you everywhere you go.  And maybe you're from that side of the tracks and got yourself one of those dolls that cries every hour till you feed it or change it or put it into sleep mode.  But this is just the trailer for coming attractions.  They need to experience the "I don't know what I want and you have to keep guessing" stage that comes around 6 months old.  The "I'm going to wait until the brief moment you turn your head to do something reckless" stage of 1 and a half.  The famous two year old tantrum stages and the "I can do it all by myself so leave me alone or I'll scream" stage that goes with them.  These are where the joys of parenting truly lie; how can they make these teens think the hard part involves carrying around a 5 pound sack of powdered grain?!  Of course, they also miss the joyous and bizarre things that can't be lumped in with the other stages mentioned.  Point in case; yesterday I was sitting on the toilet, minding my own business.  We're not a shy family - we're not the "walk around with out your cloths on kind of family" but by no means close the door and turn out the lights if we need to change our underwear - but normally I might close the door during such an occasion.  Unfortunately the pool side suite lacks a door going from the bathroom to the living room - there is a door from the bathroom to the garage, though, which always makes it exciting if you're doing your business and hear a rustle in the garage and have to wonder "who might be coming through that door and when" paired with "is yelling 'occupado' worth waking the sleeping baby in the other room?"  Anyway, I'm sitting there, no one in the garage, and things are quiet elsewhere; until I hear the sound of a shaky wheel.  It's easily identified as one of the toy umbrella strollers that the girls have, and it's headed right for me.  Sure enough, the pink wheels shortly round the corner and pull up next to me on the toilet, Arianna beaming with excitement.  "Me bring you necklace Daddy!"  Hooray. She then proceeds to "decorate" me with an array of colored Mardi Gras beads, adorns my head with a tiara and tells me I'm now a pretty princess.  I'm not sure this is the type of throne most princesses are pictured on.  She then leans her elbows on my knees, puts her face in her hands and stares up at me. ... um. ... I'm kind of busy here kid.  "Daddy, you doing kha-kha?"  "Yes, honey. ... everybody poops."  "You get two mm's?"  "No, Daddy doesn't need any candy; thank you."  "Me get them for you."  At this point she attempts to climb up in to my lap to reach the M&M "I peed in the potty" candy dispenser.  This is what I'm talking about. ... they never taught us about this in health class.  Or maybe I was just sick that day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pack Animals

There's an old Bulgarian saying that translates "if you call one wolf, you invite the pack."  It's meant to be a warning.  On it's surface, don't try and deal with a lone wolf because the others will soon follow.  But it's also a metaphor; don't mess with a pack animal because you'll quickly be out numbered.  Guess what?  Twins are pack animals.  The girls all went to the beach the other day to relish our short lived Southern California spring before it becomes the full blown summer and the beaches are packed.  The rule of the beach is that all toys brought by other kids are fair game for usage unless the other child communicates a desire to horde his or her toys to themselves.  The girls know this rule.  They share their toys and they share other kids toys.  If the other children ask for them back the girls abide.  Likewise, they know if they want their toys back they've got to express this nicely.  Well this particular time a little boy, a year or two older then the girls, wasn't so good in the communication department.  Rather than ask Arianna to refrain from using his sand toys, he simply stood off to the side and worked himself in to a fit.  Finally it was too much and he started yelling at Arianna, who couldn't figure out what this crazy little boy was screaming about so she just stared at him blankly.  His rage spilled over and he finally pushed Arianna down.  Now most parents would spring into action and come to the defense of their toddler. ... but Gina didn't have a chance.  Before she could make a move Genevieve comes running over to the scene and puts herself between her sister and her attacker.  She pushes the boy back and then puts her hand out in a "stop" signal and yells "No little boy; you don't push my Sissie!"  Confronted with the bigger of the two and now outnumbered the little boy turns and runs away crying.  Arianna gets up, hugs her sister and says "Thank you Sissie."  This is the love that's there.  In all the chaos, this is the heart of it. They love each other.  They protect each other.  They're pack animals.  So be warned little boys: if you call one wolf, you invite the pack.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Finding Her Voice

I've been listening to these little cherub voices for so long now that I almost forgot the steps it took to get here.  It wasn't like they just sat up one day and said "Me no be silly and tissa in my khaikis, that baby stuff."  It was a progression of babbles and sputtering. ... kind of like starting up an old VW. ... it backfires and shakes and spews unidentifiables before it gets the familiar whistling/hum that we all recognize as Herbie.  And Rosaline is turning that key now.  She's found the sound potential in her vocal box. ... and she is working the crap out of it.  The other morning she woke up around 3AM to feed and Gina laid her next to me on the bed so she could reorganize life.  I rolled over and was greeted by those big blue eyes about 2 inches from mine and she launched right into a full blown discussion of god knows what. ... but she was very excited to tell me about it.  Yesterday I was changing her butt and we took nearly 15 minutes because we got so enwrapped in a dialogue.  Genevieve even climbed up on to the bed and joined us. ... unfortunately she wasn't able to translate.  I've got this opinion that babies know the secret to life, they just can't communicate it with the rest of us, and by the time they learn English (or what ever language you speak) they've forgotten what it was.  Genevieve is so out of practice with baby jibber that, she too, could not access the infinite knowledge stored by the young sage in the soiled diaper.  The down side of the voice is that the cry is no longer a simple cry.  It comes with a squeal and a scream and sometimes a gurgling sound that makes you jump from the couch, over the dog and somersault across the bed only to realize she's still asleep and not, in fact, dying some horrible death.  Also the "angry" baby sounds much more angry when the voice is behind it.  But it's a fair trade.  Nothing is as cute as the new found voice.  And to watch those babbles transform into words transform into sentences transform in independent thoughts and such classic conversations as "Me make a momma kakka and a baby kakka in the potty. ... now me get two m&m's?" .... it makes parenthood the most beautiful, shit covered experience in the world.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Post Mother's Day Reflection

I'm not a fan of Hallmark holidays.  You know, those excuse holiday's which see the value of a flower with a 5 day life span shoot up 300%.  Those ones where card companies make you feel the need to spend $3.95 on a card with a photo stock image and someone else's half hearted attempt at saying what's in your heart, so they can continue funding a floundering cable channel that shows crappy made for tv movies long enough to sucker Oprah into buying it from them to continue her march towards world dominance.  But Mothers' Day. ...  I'm ok with that one.  That one makes sense to me.  Maybe it's because the mothers I've been exposed to earned it.  Hell, if that's the case then they should have a Mothers' Week - one Sunday in the football off season hardly seems enough.  I was raised by a working mother.  A woman who busted her ass day in and day out so I could go to a private school, a great college, have a kitchen full of  food and a young life full of unbelievable experiences.  Then I married a woman who's become a stay at home mom.  She may not punch a clock but she works harder and dedicates more of her self then anyone I've ever met.  I get my teaser runs at nights when she teaches, but dinner, bath and bed is like a preview of the feature film.  It's 2 minutes of edited clips that really give you very little of the 3 hour epic.  On Saturday Gina had a jewelry show and it's the first time I've had all three girls by myself - the last few she's taken Rosaline with her since she's still breastfeeding.  Let's just say it was appropriate that Mothers' Day followed, because I certainly appreciated my wife more then ever when she got home.  5 AM Rosaline was ready to go.  Talking and squealing like a teenager at a Bieber concert.  Girls followed suit shortly and we cued up Dora so I could get things going.  Naturally Rosaline wasn't her usual charming self; teeth are starting to make their way through so she's been up and down in the attitude department.  So the day basically was happy for 20 minutes, angry for an hour, sleep for 20 minutes, repeat.  Her schedule being thrown off only made taking care of the girls more complicated, which adjusted their attitudes as well so by 5 when Gina walked back through the door it was like the second coming of the Messiah.  It's not that I wouldn't appreciate my wife otherwise, but it certainly adds to her value in my eyes when I've dealt with her life for half a day.  I don't know how she goes through all of that and is still smiling when I come home from work.  Maybe she's delusional.  Maybe it's the same euphoria I had when she got home.  Maybe she's just the most amazing, brilliant, strong and capable woman in the world.  Then again, maybe it's just the boxed wine in the cupboard beneath the microwave.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Starry Eyed"

and my apologies for being MIA all week.  I promise to do better next time.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Old Men Go Deaf

Took the girls on a walk when I got home last night; nothing unusual but we went around a different block then normal.  The girls were all wound up and they ran ahead, pushing their little toy umbrella strollers and crashing in to one another like NASCAR drivers down the stretch while the baby dolls strapped in clung desperately for their lives.  Rubbin's racin', right?!  Well, for some reason or another they decided this was a perfect time for a screaming match.  As they pulled further and further in front of me, they got louder and louder in an attempt to out do one another.  I'm a stickler on indoor screaming. ... not a fan.  But outdoors, in the afternoon before the sun's gone down. ... what the heck, right?  As I lumber along behind them, like a civilian car cautiously keeping distance behind the sirens of the ambulance that just past by, this woman in one of the houses shuffles out in her house shoes to see what the commotion is about.  I sigh, expecting to get some kind of stink eye or lecture for allowing my children to behave like banshee's on crack, but instead she yells out to me "I have two of those myself, you know.  And this never stops.  Mine are adults and they still scream like crazy; especially when they're in the same room."  I chuckle and lament "So there's no hope for me, huh?"  Without missing a beat she responds "Nope - that's why old men go deaf."