Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sophie's Choice

We're not hip parents.  It's true; I'm the first to admit it.  We don't have the high tech baby video monitor with motion censors and heartbeat/core temperature regulator.  We didn't do the sign language thing.  We don't do calculus flash cards or advance scuba diving lessons for toddlers either.  Mommy and Me swim classes was about as "trendy" as we get.  So, needless to say, when I came across this Sophie Giraffe infant toy a while ago and read how it was the "it" toy for babies I didn't rush out to get one.  I was almost indignet to the fact that it was "the" celebrity teething toy of choice and put off by all the wonder claims surrounding it.  It's a bloody rubber giraffe. ... how earth changing can it be.  A toddler is going to stick it in her mouth and chew on it; call me crazy but I'm not sure that anyone toy can claim to be superior in this task even if it is Parisian.  So on Sunday we stopped by my sister's house to get some docs notarized (so nice having a notary related to you) and pick up a mattress for a pack and play, and while we're leaving my sister runs out and asks us if we want this Sophie toy that someone gave her.  Her kids are well equipped in teeth already so it would just collect dust there.  I sighed.  Literally, I sighed.  Fine.  I'll take the stupid toy that everyone says is amazing and I'll have to prove that it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Damint.  It is all it's cracked up to be.  I can't explain it.  Rosaline loves that freakin' giraffe.  It's like crack in chewable mammal form. I've never seen her (or the girls at that age) take to a specific toy the way she does.  I took off work on Tuesday and we went to a water park with the girls.  Sophie was in Rosaline's clutches the entire day, and it kept her perfectly content if not exstatically entertained.  So I'm not getting paid advertisement fees or any kind of kick backs; I'm just honestly throwing my support behind this galvenized ungulate and telling you the stupid toy is like baby crack, only it helps cut teeth rather then make them fall out like adult crack; which I don't recommend.  Even if it is Parisian.
 

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Where Are the Goldfish's Pants?!"

God I love my children.  They make me laugh all the time; even at 2 am.  Last night (this morning rather) we got up with Rosaline around 1/1:30.  She got her shots on Friday - which I should also note she weighed in slightly heavier and longer then Genevieve at her 6 months so dare I say we have another giant on our hands - and she's reacted with a fever and general crankiness all weekend long; poor kid has been miserable.  Well, prior to bed Arianna had been getting up and wandering the house.  The last time being around 11 and looking or her Cinderella doll.  I had a feeling she would be up again but I didn't hear anything, so when Rosaline got up I went to grab some water and saw Arianna passed out on the couch.  I scooped her up and took her back to bed and as I'm placing her between the sheets Genevieve sits up and yells "where are the goldfish's pants?!" I spin around too look at her and ask "what?!" "Where are the goldfish's pants, Daddy?" "I don't know sweetheart." And with that she threw herself back and passed out again.  It's 1:30 in the morning, I've gotten very limited sleep in the past three days (it was also our anniversary on Sunday so we'd been out to dinner late the night before, plus Rosaline not sleeping = us not sleeping) and I am dying from laughing.  Clearly she gets this sleep talking thing from me, so it only makes it more hilarious to me.  But talking in your dreams is one thing; dreaming about goldfish in pants. ... that's unique.

On another note, or to reiterate, it was our 6 year anniversary yesterday.  November will mark 10 years of "being together" and I would like to shout from the top of the internet mountain that is this blog that I love my wife more and more with every passing day and I couldn't have imagined a better person to share my life, my love and my children with.  The themes for the 6th anniversary are candy and iron, and it fits because there's nothing sweeter then her, and nothing stronger then us.  Ok that was cheesy. ... but I'm allowed to be cheesy on my anniversary.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm Happy Being Me; But Thanks For Thinking You Know Me.

I read this article today on Slate that was in response to the taboo of women who don't want to have children.  It, itself, was actually in response to another Slate article on the subject of the child bearing vs. childless, and the overall tone implied somehow that we parents secretly envy our childless counter parts.  That, while we love our children and wouldn't trade them for the world, we wish, in the recesses of our hearts, that we could have our freedom back.  I wish they'd asked me.  My answer would be, if that's the case, you're doing something wrong.  You're doing something very, very wrong.  Over the past 2 and half years I've made an effort about half a dozen times to go out with friends as "an adult".  I always go out after the kids have gone to sleep and I'm pretty much only there because I feel obligated not to let friendships dissolve not because I want a break from my children.  And the majority of the time I'm checking my phone to make sure my kids are alright.  I wake up the following morning tired, agitated and wasteful of my time.  And you know why?  Because my kids are more fun then my friends - sorry friends, but it's true.  My children don't need alcohol to loosen up and laugh.  My kids don't talk crap on each other or BS their way through the night trying to impress whomever might be near.  To my children I'm the rock star; a hero; the greatest thing in the world.  They light up when they see me in a way that no one else on this planet ever has/will/should.  And I light up even brighter when I see them.  The other day I had to work late and I was furious, not because I was tired or frustrated by the work, but because I was missing the opportunity to take my girls swimming.  I've never been that upset by missing a night out with the boys.  Which is why I haven't done one in several months. You think I miss vacations?  First of all, we still go on vacations.  And what would a vacation be with out my children anyway?  We went to Cancun for a wedding a few years ago and, yes, it was fun.  But I would have rather my children where there on the beach with me.  I would rather my children were splashing in that water then me just sitting there board working on my tan.  I think we racked up a couple hundred dollars in international cell phone charges over the 4 days we were down there.  What I'm implying is, it's true that being a carefree adult is a lot of fun. ... but it's actually even more enjoyable with your children around.

At one point in the childless author admits that she doesn't see the miracle in child rearing.  Well listen sister, that's because it's not a miracle.  A miracle is bearded deity instantly turning plain water into wine to keep the party going.  The alternative is the tenacity of a simple farmer to take a crop of grapes and lovingly, diligently, painstakingly transforming it into a breathtakingly vivacious bottle of wine.  That's child rearing.  A blank little blob and the loving, mind blowingly hard work of the parent to transform that into something the world will wonder at.  Sit back at the end and say that's what I created.  Yes it's hard.  Yes, it's exhausting.  But do you think the vintner would prefer to pour his Chardonnay from the tap?  To get his Cabernet from the hose out back?  No.  There's beauty in the work.  There's love in the process.  There's joy in the product.  What we do as parents, we do out of love, not obligation.  And we wouldn't trade our world for yours under any circumstance for any amount of time.  It gets to a point that with out children what do you have?  Your job?  Your hobbies?  Your cat?  It's kind of a pointless, self gratifying experience. ... it's not really life.  You think we want to be you?  You think we envy you?  No; truthfully we pity you.  Not in the snotty, condescending form of pity, but in the fact that you have not yet had your eyes open to the wonder that we have.  It's like we have this secret to life but you don't want it.  And while we don't begrudge you your choices, we certainly hope you are fortunate to see our side of things.  Because it may be fun at 30.  It may be great at 40.  It may be divine at 50.  But there will be a point when those childless friends have moved on to kids.  When those that haven't, start to pass.  When you begin to find that you're all alone and the party just isn't that much fun anymore.  What will you do then?  Turn to the child rearing friends you admonished long ago?  Call up the nieces and nephews of the siblings you didn't have time to conform to?  The natural desire to procreate is animal instinct to keep the species alive.  But it's more for us humans.  Our social structure has developed the need to have children into more then a survival of the species; it's for the survival of you.  That's why we don't want to be you.  Because the things you fill your time with instead of children. ... they're just a waste of time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Too Much Coffee

Running a little too late for breakfast at home today, so I swung in to Starbucks for a coffee and spinach wrap.  Now I go here about once a week during the weekday's and we typically stop by as a family at least once on the weekend.  So, frequently but not crazy.  I'm pretty much the only person in there at 6am so the barrista's have learned my name and drink, but what I didn't realize was how much my kids were making an impression (assumably with out me, because the weekend staff isn't usually the same as the weekday morning staff).  Today the manager was making my drink and out of the blue she says "Are Genevieve and Arianna your daughters?" "Um. ... yeah." "And what's your wife's name?" "Gina."  "Your kids are too funny. ... they crack me up every time they're in there.  They're always so excited about cakepops!"  My first response is how wonderful that my children have such bubbly personalities that I'm recognized as a result.  This thought is quickly overcome by, how much coffee is my poor wife needing to drink just to survive the day?!  I mean it's one thing for the barrista's to learn your name - they write it on the cup; it's a whole new level of frequency when they learn your children's names.  No wonder we've got the gold card.  They're taking our gold, we get the card.  So much for college girls, your parents have an addiction problem.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day of the Dads

As it was Father's Day yesterday I didn't concern myself with writing a post; which I normally don't do on the weekends anyway.  Sorry readers, I love you  but the weekends I prefer to spend facing my children and not my computer - here at work on a Monday it's a different story.  Anyway, it was Father's Day.  This, like Christmas, is a day that has evolved dramatically over the past decades in what it means to me and how it is received.  Long story short, Christmas morning was the day my dad announced - screamed violently is more accurate - that he wanted a divorce from my mom.  So that holiday has been bumpy ever since.  Well, later that year, after his wishes had come to pass and we'd recently moved out, somehow my sisters "slighted him" at my high school graduation and he left quite possibly the most threatening and hateful message on our answering machine that I had ever heard.  This was 2 days before Father's Day.  Naturally when Sunday rolled around my sisters (14 and 15 at the time) weren't too keen on going over to his house (which at this point was our old house devoid of furniture which he refused to move out of or cooperate with the sale of).  So I went alone.  This was the last real conversation I'd have with my father.  It escalated from verbal combat in to a full physical confrontation which ended with my ejection from the house and the complete dissolution of my relationship with my father.  In the 12 years since I've seen him twice: once on a freeway in rush hour where I kept my window rolled up while he yelled at me from a nearby lane; once after he survived the Thailand tsunami and came back stateside for some medical things - yes, he now lives in Thailand and actually was in that event and I felt really bad cause his leg got all mangled up as a result so I agreed to have dinner with him so he could meet Gina. ... after this encounter she told me she never wanted to see that man again; that's how well it went.  So that's my dad.  I don't really remember any specific Father's Days prior to 12 years ago because I never really felt like celebrating the man.  The image of a Father was very distorted for me and the concept of the dangerous power such a man held over a young child just left a bad taste in my mouth.  I always wanted to be a dad but I was also always in fear that I'd be just like him. ... something I couldn't live with had it come true.  But October 20th, 2009 rolled around.  On that day I held my little girls for the first time.  On that day I couldn't be pried from their sides in the nursery.  On that day I realized something magnificent. ... I am not my father.  I am not the same man.  I hold the key to that power and I have the understanding of it's potential; for good and for evil.  I'm kind of like Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility. ... and I get that.  I made a promise then that I would be a dad worthy of a day.  So I relished yesterday.  Yes the brunch was nice; the golf lessons are duly needed.  But more importantly, my daughters wanted to celebrate me.  I earned my day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For A Bunch of X Chromosomes, There Sure Are A Lot of "Why's"

I always thought the image of a little kid asking "why" after every response was just embellished for comic effect.  Truth is. ... it's not really that funny.  We're in the "why" stage right now, and holy crap is it getting annoying.  I'm thrilled that they are inquisitive but I don't think that's the basis of the "why" question.  Because you give them an answer and they still ask "why" again. ... it's like a nervous tick they can't control.  And you can't honestly answer the question because the answer doesn't make sense to them yet.  "It's time for bed, now close your eyes and go to sleep."  "Why?"  "Because you need rest for tomorrow."  "Why?"  "Because with out it you won't have energy." "Why?" "Because your body has been depleted by today's activities and the human body requires sleep to recoup said energy?" "Why?" "I don't know."  "Why?"  "Because daddy slept through that class in college." "Why?" "He was tired." "Why?" "Because he went to a rager the night before?" "Why?" "Because he hadn't met your mom yet." "Why?" "AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH  And there's no response that can end the cycle.  "Because" doesn't work.  "Why not?" doesn't work.  Even silence doesn't work. ... they just get louder and louder and repeat it with fewer breaths between until you come up with some sort of a response.  And then it cycles again.  Why?  I don't know.

We did, however, have a good inquisition last night.  Around 8 we had a tiny little earthquake - 4.1.  Not really a big deal at all here in California, but the house got a nice little shake.  I run in to check on the girls - it's not their first earthquake, there's been about 4 good ones since they were born, but it's the first where they might have the capacity to get spooked - and Arianna sits up and asks "Daddy. ... why you shake my bed?"  "Because I love you honey."  It was all I could think of. ... because I love you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dreams of My Daughter

I always thought that dreaming was a nightly occurrence for everyone.  It wasn't until I was much older that I was informed not only do most people claim to not dream regularly, but those that do can rarely remember their dream upon waking.  I'm one of the curious few that dream every night and usually I have a great recollection of what was dreamt.  Some of the best ones I still remember even years later - the flying pants was one of my favorite, and of course the blackjack game dream that made me believe we were having twins the first time, even before the first ultrasounds.  Well, now that I'm in full dad mode a lot of my dreams are of my children, and it's not just their good behavior.  The other night I woke up in a huff around 3 AM.  Gina was nursing the baby and I demanded "What does 'Hannibal' start with?!"  She, totally confused, answered "H"?.  "That's right.  It starts with an 'H', not a 'G'!"  At this point she couldn't contain herself "What are you talking about!" she exploded with laughter.  You know those moments in life where you realize too late that you've injected yourself awkwardly into a situation?  Like showing up at the costume party in adult attire to find out it's a church function for children.  I suddenly realized I was awake and no longer in my dream so I had to sheepishly explain what was going on.  The girls have these blankets they sleep with that have their names embroidered on them.  I was dreaming that Genevieve was fighting over such a blanket with Hannibal, and I was trying to settle the fight as it was, in deed, Hannibal's blanket.  Makes sense, right?  Well then Gina is confused why I would be dreaming about Hannibal Lecter to which I had to explain I'm an even bigger dork then she might realize. .... I was dreaming about Hannibal of Carthage.  Well now I'm giving Gina a history lesson at 3AM trying to explain that Hannibal is the one who crossed the Alps with elephants to attack Rome and somehow this makes more sense then Hannibal Lecter.  She just stared at me blankly so I went back to sleep.  Anyway, this is my point - my daughter is confrontational and tough.  She's so tough that I'm now dreaming of her fighting with one of the greatest Generals in history over a stupid blanket. ... and she was clearly winning or I wouldn't have had to intervene and explain that "Hannibal" begins with "H". ... now that I've written this post, I can see why Gina looked at me like I'm nuts.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

True Intimacy

I was going to write kind of  a whiny blog today.  Not really my style but I seriously jacked up my back at the gym on Monday and I've been hobbling around like Quasimodo for 3 days now and it's really been tough, especially with the kids.  It was a stupid moment too.  I've been an every day lifter for 12 years now, it's a big part of my life.  Going to quickly, wasn't paying attention and jerked up an 85lb curl bar with a straight back - POP!  That was it.  Now it seems like all the girls want to do is climb on me or have me carry them; I can't even sit down with out a grimace and you want me to haul 40 pounds of dead weight to bed?!  And go figure, every night they've been falling asleep, turned around in bed.  Lifting them and re-arraigning is usually no big deal at all. ... but man, I'm like the Druids trying to figure out how to arrange the Stonehenge rocks.  I need a pulley system and a team of oxen to get this done.  But I digress, this was the blog I was going to write, not the one I'm choosing to write now.  You see, in my state I decided to mentally prep for when I'm back in lifting action by reading up on some new routines in my Men's Fitness.  I never really do these. They look good and they work for Ryan Reynolds but I can never remember them when I get to the gym and if I do I always feel like a duck in space (which, by the way is as far as he can get from water).  So in the back of these magazines they have all these "dude" ads.  Some are for supplements and home equipment but most are about sex.  Scantily clad women promising longer, faster, harder. ... what ever you need.  The word they choose to toss around most is "intimacy".  "Regain your intimacy".  Regain it.  Like at some age or point in life we are expected to have lost it.  So. ... what exactly IS intimacy?  I realize it's intimate, but what does that really mean?  I think society tells us it's sex.  Men certainly seem to think that's what it is - which is why these ads use it.  I think women think it's snuggling.  Being close to one another - which give us guys the wrong idea that they want to get our version of intimate - which then frustrates the attempted snuggler because that's not what she had in mind.  But is that it?  Is that the extent of intimacy?  Is this what's lost when sex becomes a holiday event, once a year.  Or when we stop sitting on the sofa together, stop holding hands and intertwining our appendages simply to intertwine them and nothing more?  Is the husband working on the computer upstairs and the wife flipping through the newspaper downstairs really less intimate then the newlyweds doing. ... well. ... newlywed things?  I argue they are not.  And here's why: children.  The kids.  I think they're usually the excuse as to why intimacy has stopped - I mean nobody wants to have they're toes tickled by a toddler while they're being "guy" intimate at 11:30 on a school night.  But what could be more intimate then raising a child together?  The guy intimacy that made the kid (and has since stopped or greatly slowed) and the girl intimacy (for which there's no private time for any more) are physical, but to grow something together; to nurture; to experience pride and unfiltered happiness in this one little thing. ... it leaves you more exposed and more in touch with your mate then anything else ever could.  We let down our guard so much in parenting, we don't shy back from anything.  In sex. ... we can be polite to say the least.  "Was it good for you?" "Oh yea. ... it was great."  Please.  It was 14 seconds of nothing but sweat and brief undulation; now I just want a shower.  But in child rearing we're honest.  "I don't think you should talk like that around him", "I want her going to this school", "I believe those aren't the best friends."  What ever the conversation, there's so much more at stake and no wall telling you to hold back, don't say anything, be polite. The passion and love for our children leaves us more exposed then anything else could.  The two of us, exposed together, then experience this level of intimacy that nothing else could ever match.  It's gross sounding but it's like two wounds pressed together; healing over each other.  Ok, a little less gross - it's like hybrid plants.  My step dad has several of these.  An orange tree, a lemon tree and a peach tree all in one.  They do it by cutting off a branch, cutting open a portion of the trunk and then quickly forcing the two together, allowing the plants to fuse into one.  This happens through the exposure our children force upon us.  We are mom and dad, but we are also parents; one tree, with two different branches bearing separate fruits.  I think we forget that, or maybe fail to realize that's what we are.  We think we need to regain this lost intimacy of sex or hand holding to regain our intimacy. Truth is we never lost it. ... and never will.  Even in divorce that intimacy exists.  We're forever combined in this child.  Forever exposed to the other by our love of the same thing.  Intimacy has been defined as "a level of belonging together."  Regardless of if we belong together, we belong with our children.  And that is as intimate as it gets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Comedians

I've always thought I was funny.  I've usually been wrong; leaning more towards loud and obnoxious - but when I see a stand up act I wonder if I could do that.  Probably not, but it be fun to try some time.  So you start mentally running through what your routine might be about: airplane food, life in urban America, how southerners mispronounce words, if all else fails I'll just smash fruit with a sledge hammer.  But it's become quite obvious these past 3 years why comedian's who talk about their families are so successful (Cosby, Ramono, Engval) .... there's an infinite trove of material that comes out of the mouths of your kids.  It's like they write this stuff for you!  Last night I'm putting the girls to bed and with in a span of 5 minutes I feel I've got enough stuff for an entire opening act.  The girls reluctantly go down and about five minutes later I hear Arianna up and crying.  I run out to find her in the living room and she's screaming about an owie.  I sit her on the bench and ask her where; "MY TOOOOOEEEEEE!"  Which one: "THIIIISSS ONNNEEEE!"  And how did you get the owie?  "SIISSSSYYYYYSSS HAAAAIIIRR!"  Wait. ... what?  How did you get an owie from Sissy's hair if you were in your bed going to sleep.  Suddenly her cry stops dead cold.  The "oh shit" look sweeps over her face. ... she's said too much.  She then softly stumbles through the part where she was trying to climb in to Sissy's bed.  Right.  We're good then?  Yeah, we're good. ... back to bed, no more crying.  As I walk her in to the dark room Genevieve suddenly bursts from her bed and screams "SURPRISE!"  I about have a heart attack.  I look at her like "what the..." and she explains "me surprise you Daddy!"  Yes, yes you did; but it's bed time.  Not time for surprises.  She explains "no, me surprise you by making you come into my room."  She's beaming with pride, like somehow she's harnessed the powers of the universe and gained control over my physical actions, forcing me to enter her room against my own will.  I tuck everyone back in and kiss them goodnight.  Genevieve pulls me close and whispers "Your beard is making me itchy."  "OK," I reply.  "You need to go to the bathroom and get your white beard on to shave it."  "OK," I reply.  It's not until I'm walking out the door that I realize she's talking about shaving cream; my first thought was she wanted me to be Santa for some reason.  She must have watched me shaved and that's the best she can describe it; a white beard that removes the old beard.  I close the door behind me and I just start laughing.  Maybe it wouldn't be very funny if I recounted this to a group of paying audience members, but to me this stuff is hysterical. ... every moment with them is pure entertainment.  And there's not even a two drink minimum.  Well. ... most nights anyway.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Time, And The Feeling is Right!

It's arrived.  No more out of the blue rain storms.  No more sweaters and long pants at night.  No more escaping the call of any body of water that can be turned into a cooling station of some kind.  June is here. ... summer. ... is. ... here!  Saturday alone we were in our bathing suits twice, once at my friends for a swim in the kiddie pool and then later at my cousin's for a run through the sprinklers.  Yesterday we hit up the community wading pool (which just opened so it's at the lowest pee levels for the summer) and cooled off for a few hours.  It's not crazy hot.  But it's California; we're sissies.  68 is freezing and 75 is boiling.  That and we're pretty much born in swim suits so any excuse to don them is hastily grabbed.  I just love what water represents.  I know that's broad and fairly obvious; but it's pure, it's refreshing, it's the giver of life and we have this natural predisposition to immerse ourselves in it.  We make our settlements around the abundant sources of water but it's not enough just to drink it and feed our crops, we have to move on it, swim through it, bath ourselves in it like Dionysus in wine.  We pour it on our heads, we soak our appendages in it, sometimes we just lay down face first in it and blow therapeutic bubbles from the holes in our faces.  We love water.  As much fun as I had as a kid, it's even more enjoyable to watch my children enjoy the water.  I miss the daily swim lessons being at work; but everyday I get my update from Gina.  This weekend watching them wrestle in the pool with the other kids was almost as refreshing as being in there.  Watching them squeal with delight as they tried to outrun the sprinkler (hoping to be doused with water but pretending like the goal was to avoid it) made me grin from ear to ear.  Sitting waste deep with them in the wading pool. ... well, I almost forgot that there were a dozen other toddlers in there with us. ... and who knows what they were doing in that pool at that exact moment.  I did enjoy watching the other parents there too.  One little boy (obviously potty training) tried to relieve himself in a corner.  His mother got wise and sprinted after him to which he responded by running way, pantsless.  They then chased each other around the pool, she yelling at him to stop and he giggling with delight as his naked little butt zipped by my head for the 3rd lap.  Then there was the little girl who decided to disrobe (or desuit I suppose is more appropriate) in the middle of the pool.  Her mother had to hike up her dress and reluctantly wade over to stop that from happening. ... which she was too late for.  Made it kind of feel like the watering hole on the African plain.  All these different kinds of animals coming to one spot for the same thing, looking around at the others - zebra looking at the spotted giraffe, giraffe checking out the elephant, all three staring at the gazelle being gnawed on by the lions and thinking "yep. ... I've got to deal with that shit too."