Monday, December 31, 2012

Blackberry Spray

There are those special moments in the life of a parent where you feel like this moment could not be any sweeter. ... but most of the time you feel like the recipient of a kids choice award getting slimed in accolades.  This week marks a bitter sweet moment for me, my littlest sister is moving off to western Illinois to go back to school for her Masters in Recreation (she's been a middle school teacher for the past 5 years at a charter school in LA - they told her this year she would be her last one there so she's taking the opportunity to go in another direction).  I'm very excited for her, but also a little heartsick to know she'll be so far away for so long.  Anyway, we had a dinner for her at my mom's house over the weekend and she had written me a beautiful letter which I was reading through teary eyes after just finishing my meal.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Gina was fighting with Genevieve to eat the fruit that was still being pushed around on her plate long after the rest of the clan had finished their dinners and moved on to dessert.  The particularly problematic piece was a rather juicy blackberry which Gina was requiring her to at least "try".  We're not the type of parents who make our children eat things they hate, but we are very much the type that are going to make sure you try everything at least once before you determine you do, in fact, hate it.  So Genevieve has finally been forced to stick the berry in her mouth and is chewing it like a cow on it's 3rd digestion.  I, meanwhile, I'm about halfway through this letter and relatively clueless to the firepower forming across the table from me.  Suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, Genevieve spews the berry (which I want to reiterate was VERY juicy) out of her mouth, directly at me, coating me, the table and the letter in a mist like spray of berry juice and pulp.  I was speechless (fortunately Gina was not) sitting in berry, juices dripping from my letter and my face.  This is parenting folks.  Someday, when she's about 23, I'm going to watch her load up a plate of fruit at some sort of a salad bar and I'm going to notice a particular blackberry sitting atop the pile.  I will simultaneously laugh and cry at the recollection of a long past incident.  One which summed up parenthood quite succinctly.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Last Elf Standing

Santa is a busy guy.  He spends all year bustin' his red hump and then on his one day off he whirls around the world dropping off all it.  So I can't really complain if I have to put in a little effort in the red zone to pull off something amazing.  Every parent has that story. The bicycle with two missing gears at 12:30am.  The life size robot and no AA batteries.  My story involves a four story, Soho towne home that looked really easy in box at Costco.  Not so much spread across the floor at 11:30 Christmas Eve.  It was like some designer at IKEA went off on a weekend bender and designed a Barbie doll house.  It was classic "allen wrench only" situation with color coded screws that had no bit and undersized, predilled holes.  The instructions went way off the normal base of having them printed vaguely in fifteen different languages, opting instead to print them in no languages at all.  Just poorly drawn pictures from about 30 yards away so you couldn't tell what shape each piece was let alone how big  Then they had the instructions printed out of order.  Steps 1 - 4 on page one, 5-8 on page 27.  9 - 12 came in somewhere about page 5 and then jumped back to 2 for 13-16.  You can see how this pattern played out.  I'm pretty sure I put in every screw at least twice (having to undo them all at various points because this was on backward, upside down or not at all).  Then, somewhere around midnight, my Mother-in-Law says "that looks great. ... but how are you going to get those back panels in there?"  SHHHHIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!  Fortunatly we were able to half way back track while my wife's uncle held the frame in place so we could slide out just a few screws and slip the panels back in.  The rest of the house went to bed while we soldiered on.  We finally finished the house around 1 and started in on the furniture when around 1:30 the girls bedroom door suddenly flew open and we froze in horror as Arianna stared at us through sleepy eyes.  "I need to go tissa (pee)!!!!!"  Gina ran to intercept, I quickly turned out all the lights and we seem to have avoided any questions.  She went back to bed and we went back to our miniature furniture restoration.  By about 2AM we were finally in bed, the penthouse apartment was securely constructed, the mini piano was tuned and the tiny toilet was flushing properly.  I went to bed with visions of dancing little girls geeking out over such a great gift in my head.  Then, on Christmas morning, all the girls decided to sleep in.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

1 Up

And there you have it.  A baby becomes a little girl.  Rosaline turned 1 yesterday.  The big 1.0.  It's crazy.  Two years ago she wasn't a part of the plan.  One year ago she became the new plan and today. ... well, today we realized that our planning sucks and that whoever is running this circus is much better at this kind of stuff.  I always thought I was awesome.  Sounds bad when you say it out loud but that's what I thought.  Me, alone. ... I could do what ever I wanted.  Not like, stay up till midnight eating chocolate covered waffles and watching rated R movies.  But like what ever direction I wanted to go I could conquer the world and become master of my own domain.  Then I met Gina.  That's when I realized how truly wobbly I really was.  I wasn't conquering the world I was providing the tread for it's foot to walk on.  Suddenly I was emboldened.  Here was this stunningly beautiful, brilliantly minded and compassionately unequalled woman who found something in me to love.  If that didn't give me the confidence and a support to start kicking ass and taking names then nothing could.  And I thought, at the time, my god we are truly awesome.  And then Zoe came.  I thought how perfect the world was.  How lucky we were in that moment.  How fortunate.  And then we lost her.  She was gone.  The moment was tarnished.  What happened is not what you might expect.  It should have been a crushing blow.  At the very least it should have knocked me from my pedestal again. ... but it didn't.  It hurt. ... worse than anything I could ever begin to explain through written word. ... but it didn't knock me down.  That support, that brace, that strength. ... she held me up.  And I pulled her up.  And in that moment I knew how truly awesome we were.  A few months later we found out about the twins.  Briefly I thought how maybe we weren't quite awesome enough to handle this. ... but I got over that.  And then I held them.  I realized in the at moment, clutching a newborn in each arm, how much we had really been missing.  Gina gave me all the confidence in the world, but motivation wasn't what I thought it was.  I had swagger, but I had nothing to drive it forward.  In that instant I realized I needed to be more; not for me, not for Gina. ... but for these two little creatures who suddenly depended so much on me.  And in the years that followed. ... you got it. ... I realized how awesome we were as a family.  Some year and change after that, the little pee stick showed two lines.  I cried a little.  I did.  I had obtained awesome and I didn't know how this would effect my awesome.  And then we thought we lost her too.  I flashed to Zoe.  Her loss made me appreciate the twins so much, and now, to think I lost another one (prepared for or not). ... I didn't know how I'd cope.  But there was my support.  There was my strength.  She held me up and I pulled her up once again.  And, surprise!  She wasn't lost.  She was there.  A brilliant little flash of blobbiness on a dark computer monitor.  And I realized, once again, how awesome we were.  Of course, we also realized how little space we had.  So much awesome we had no place to put it all.  So my in-laws, with out hesitation, opened their home to us all.  And I realized, then, just how awesome they were. How truly awesome they are.  That amazing woman holding me up. ... she brought reinforcements along with her that I never really noticed were there.  And they held us up.  And then she was born.  All by herself.  One lonely little baby that seemed so odd.  I felt like I had so much time to just sit and stare at her in that nursery because there wasn't a screaming banshee copy in the cradle next door.  Just her.  Big eyes staring at me.  Little finger clutching mine.  She didn't cry much.  She didn't fuss.  She just looked at me.  And there. ... right there. ... I realized how unawesome I was.  How alone, I'm insignificant.  How on my own two feet I'm just an average nobody.  But somehow, by some act of mercy, fortune or randomness these components, these gifts fell in to my lap.  They brought me strength.  They brought me courage.  They brought me passion and desire and tenacity.  They made an ordinary man extraordinary.  They made me - this simpleton - awesome.  Happy Birthday my sweet Rosaline.  May you some day know the joy I have watching every second of your life unfold before my humbled eyes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pic of the Week

"Chilling' out max and relaxin' out cool and all shooting' some b-ball outside uh duh school"


A lot of people I meet try to convince me how talented I am.  After all, I write a blog.  Just like 172 million other people on this planet.  The truth is, my talents are ordinary.  But because they're so highly publicized (meaning I put them on the Internet for strangers to stumble across when they're looking for something completely unrelated) mine get more attention.  Gina's main endeavor to this point has been her yoga and I think it would defeat the purpose of yoga to go around telling people how awesome you are at it.  Unless, of course, you're Bikram.  Anyway, one of Gina's less known talents is her cake creation.  She's made some pretty impressive consumables over the years.  Recently a family friend with a catering service suggested Gina do cakes semi-professionally and put her in touch with a local football booster club that she was catering the end of year banquet for.  And just like that, they hired her for 3 sheet cakes.  So the past 24 hours she's been bouncing from kitchen to yoga studio to changing table managing an array of hats she puts on through out her day.  The best part of this story is how she told the girls all day yesterday and all day this morning "do not touch those cakes".  They were great about keeping a safe distance. ... that is until they were frosted.  This morning, just after Gina finished frosting the Spartan logo on the two sheet cakes, she hears an ominous "mmmmmmm" come out of the kitchen.  Naturally Arianna could not resist the call of the frosting and took her cute little finger right through the green line.  Shhhhhhh.  Nobody but us has to know. ... ok.  We'll just list her as an official "tester" with the company.
Oh, and if you're in our area and like cake and/or yoga, feel free to call Gina up.  I'll get more to you all as this starts to take off, it's still in it's infancy.  But, hey, we have a logo!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meeting Santa

My In-Laws live in a very unique community, one of those old school places where the neighbors all know each other and people still wave as they pass one another on the street.  As long as I've been around there's been a local realty agent who's strapped a sled to a trailer and towed around the neighborhoods dressed up as Santa behind their SUV.  It's become a tradition, and each year you wait for the Christmas music blaring over the PA of the white Chevy Tahoe to turn down your street so you can see Santa.  Well my Sister-In-Law was perched in her upstairs room and kept running down yesterday with the news that she heard and/or saw Santa on a nearby street.  The girls would work into a frenzy, but each time the man in red turned in the opposite direction, making his way around our street.  Finally the girls needed to nap and there was no sign of reindeer in the nearby vicinity.  A few hours later Arianna came out from hibernation and she and I went for a little walk while her sister knocked out a few more, well needed "z's".  About half way up the street, one of the other streets that t-bones into ours, echoed of carols.  "SANTA, Daddy, SAAANNTTAAA" Arianna screamed.  Before we knew it he had pulled his slay alongside the curb in front of us.  I frantically texed Gina knowing that if we went back and woke Genevieve we'd miss our opportunity.  I was hoping she was up and Gina could rush her out in time.  He invited Arianna on board but, like every parent hopes, even Santa couldn't entice her to get into a strange car/sleigh.  She asked me if I would go with her so we both boarded but, I told her, I was too big to fit on Santa's side of the sleigh so she would need to sit next to him.  She was shy and didn't want to talk until he asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  After that you'd have thought the two were old friends.  She wanted a real castle for her dolls to play in, a new dress for Ariel (doll) and a soccer game so her princess could play soccer, which had Santa and I both looking at each other in confusion on how to pull that gift off.  But it was a perfect moment, a moment in her childhood that I'm going to carry with me forever.  That moment of innocence where a man in a red velvet suit, in the Southern California sun, with a horribly fake beard, being towed by an SUV with AYSO stickers on the back, can be overlooked for the sheer joy of magic.  Because that's what it is.  Believing in something, anything, that projects nothing but goodness in what has long been a rough world.  Santa, like Jesus or Buddha or Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln, carries this image that some of us can be nothing but good.  Unflawed.  Perfect.  As a parent I see my child look at that image with hope for the world around them.  That maybe everyone can be like Santa.  Of course, she I'm certain she just looks at it as "this fat guys gonna bring me free stuff for eating all my veggies and not throwing a tantrum, right?"  It is what is.  Oh, and shortly after we returned home Genevieve woke up and we spent the next 20 minutes roaming the block hoping we could find him again.  A well timed helicopter flew overhead to which I convinced them that it was Santa returning to the North Pole to start building their Christmas order.  Arianna asked me to build a helicopter so we could follow them.  I'm afraid my children think to highly of my qualifications in life.  Just sayin'.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Oh Advent Calendars; staples of the holiday season.  You know these things - open one door every day in December and get a little candy or prize out of it's hiding spot.  The girls love these, they were big hits last year.  Even more this year.  Now, they're trying to outsmart us by pulling fast ones on the night shift.  Gina left to teach just as dinner was getting underway last night.  A few minutes later the girls starting asking me if they could have the chocolate from there "cammander".  Of course, I replied.  They finished up and off we went to open door number five.  I should have suspected something was up when Arianna seemed to have trouble finding the number "5".  21, 13, 28. ... we were no where near 5's neck of the woods.  Finally I decided to help her and pointed to number 5. ... which was already open and eaten.  Did you already do this?  Yes.  Well we can only do it once a day, number 5 is done for today.  There was a small pause. ... We could do number six!  I finally got wise when Genevieve tried to pull the same exact move.  These kids aren't dummies, they knew what they were trying to do.  Later, as I tucked them in Genevieve (always asking questions) asked her usual "what are we going to do tomorrow, Daddy?"  I don't know honey, we'll see.  "We can open number six tomorrow," she replied.  What she left unspoken was "and try to sneak number seven past Daddy after that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Talk To Me

Rosaline is practicing with those vocal chords of hers.  Screaming like a Banshee at a sporting event.  It's practice, I know.  I remember how this works.  They start with the mumbling, figuring out the slew of sounds that can be created by complex combinations of tongue, lips and teeth.  Now it's the volume control stage.  How loud can we go? How quiet?  How 'bout NNNOOOOOOWWWWWW??????!!!!!!  I love this though.  I know what's next.  Next we work on words.  I love words.  I was excited for the twins to talk and now that we have full, long winded conversations (often about absolutely nothing) I'm more in love with them then I ever thought I would be.  I can stand there and listen to Genevieve talk about why her carrots are giving her a hard time for 15 minutes.  I can lean against a bathroom wall all day and hear Arianna talk about the movie she was watching earlier while she works on a stubborn poop.  I can lay there in bed, them obviously stalling on bed time, while we discuss what adventures tomorrow may bring.  The responsibility of parenthood often snaps me out of it and forces me, kicking and screaming, to push them in what ever direction they should go.  But secretly I harbor the desire to stay in that moment forever.  Prolong these wonderful conversations I dreamt of when they were in Gina's belly.  I guess I've always been the type of crazy that talks to himself. ... and now I have little crazies who talk back.  And soon there will be one more.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Santa Card

I finally know the true joy of Christmas from the perspective of a parent.  There's finally, for one month of the year, the undeniable presence of the wild card.  The Santa Clause Card.  Don't want to brush your teeth?  Well forget explaining cavities and gingivitis. ... Santa Clause won't bring you presents.  Don't want to eat your broccoli?  Fine. ... Santa doesn't want to make that extra stop at our house this year either.  It's sinister, I know - but let's face it. ... that's why parents invented Santa Clause to begin with.  And let's be real, a lot of parents do the same thing with Jesus year round.  It's particularly effective in our house because my mother in law has a festive wreath that goes up during the holidays with Santa's face right in the center.  It hangs directly above the kitchen table.  Argue with me about not eating the veggies now.  This weekend I was helping the girls get dressed in the morning when Arianna leans in and whispers "You know what Daddy?  Santa is watching us."  Her eyes then darted towards the kitchen like some prisoner planning and escape with the warden in the next room.  I've even gotten to the point where I don't have to say the word Santa anymore.  I just have to ask the girls what it was they wanted for Christmas.  Oh, that's right. ... a real castle for your dolls to play in.  How's that going?  Child manipulation by exhausted parents. ... that's the real reason for the season!