Monday, December 23, 2013

Koppywrite Infringement

At Rosaline's birthday party a few weekends back, the daughter of my good friends very sweetly presented the girls with a drawing she had made of the sister princesses from the new Frozen movie.  The artists is 8, so her skills with a crayon were mind boggling to the girls.  The next week or so they treated this masterpiece as a treasured artifact; taking it in the car with them, to Yiayia's, to their room when they went to bed.  It was very sweet.  Well, last week "sweet" turned to a con job.  Genevieve smuggled the artwork to school with her and then presented it to her teacher as "look what I drew".  Fortunately Gina was still with in ear shot when this was said and after much dragging of feet Genevieve finally copped that she did not, in fact, draw it. ... but she wishes she could have drawn it.  Oh wishes; you foul temptresses you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Roz the Great and Powerful

Two years ago I held her for the first time. Two years ago we sat alone, the two of us in an empty nursery, waiting for her first bath and bonding in the silence. The remarkable silence. She clutched my finger and stole my heart. Well, the quiet's gone. But this morning, as she climbed in to our bed and peered over Gina's still frame, her smile spreading across her cherub face as she met my eyes with hers, she once more reclaimed dominance over this softy heart of mine. There's nothing really to say because at some point words cease to carry weight. Nothing could fully capture how much I love these girls, and nothing could fully relate how amazing it is to watch them grow. Happy Birthday my Rosaline. My Zozzie. My Rozzy Kamakazi. My Zoz the Great and Powerful. My Roz-mataze.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Premature Elf Relocation

I've been good.  I haven't once mentioned our Elf on the Shelf, and for a blog about parenting, during the Christmas season I feel you all owe me a debt of gratitude for keeping this thing to ourselves.  But last night I almost blew the lid off this whole damn thing.  Everyone knows - E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E knows - that the elf doesn't move until the kids go to sleep.  Then the little creeper takes off to report to Santa and comes back to commit some shenanigans before the kids wake up.  But yesterday she was in the pre-decorated Christmas tree, and last night we decorated said tree, being careful to place ornaments around her and not actually touch her (you know, to remove her magic with our coodies).  But that elf must be hitting the candy hard because by the time we were done that branch was under serious distress.  So the girls were corralled upstairs for bed time and I was tasked with relocating the decorations (we had all the expensive's on the bottom branches, most of them on the left side of the tree and for god's sake I couldn't find the end of the light strand to plug in the star).  In order to relieve the branch I pulled the elf down and set her on the chair - operating on the assumption that the girls were upstairs for the rest of the night.  Well after bath and teeth brushing and half way through our second story Gina realized that Rosaline had left her tiger and her lovey downstairs, so she asked me to fetch it.  Genevieve, trying desperartly to score extra Santa points in the final round, offered to go and get it for me.  What a sweet little girl.  Well, 30 seconds later the shrieks of horror echoed up the stairwell.  "JOVI MOOOOOOVVVVVEEEED!!!!"  Gina and I looked at each other in panic.  Up the stairs darted Genevieve, dashing down and passing her mid-way went Arianna - off to investigate on her own.  Fortunately they bought the whole "Jovi must have thought you went to bed" shtick, ignoring the obvious "he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake" doctrine.  It was a close one, a little too close.  So for all those elfing parents out there beware: premature elf relocation can happen to anyone.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Things They'll Take For Granted

I grew up in a city.  A city by the beach.  I will never fully appreciate the smell of the ocean.  I will never be amazed by a 7-11 within walking distance.  I will never sit in awe as a Lamborghini passes me on the highway.  These are things I take for granted.  Now that we've transplanted ourselves to a some what more rural setting (this is a guy from LA talking; rural means someone down the street owns a horse) there are things I see that amaze me, and I know these are things my girls will never truly appreciate as it will be the world they've always known.  Last night we went out and cut down our own Christmas tree.  That's right.  No muddy lot set up where they tore down an old gas station and have yet to start construction on the new one.  No sickly looking trees spray painted white.  No petting zoo and Santa's lap stand.  Just a dark hill full of trees, a borrowed saw and splintery old cart.  And it was magical.  The girls boarded the old cart - and I really do mean splintery; when I went to put jammies on the girls after we got home Genevieve had a sizable splinter still sticking out of her rear that needed to be removed. ... now that's childhood memories.  With all aboard we trekked up the hill, the girls calling "mush reindeer" behind me. 



We wandered into the forest and found a beautiful tree (best part it was at least 40% cheaper then buying from a lot) and we got down to sawing.  The girls pushed and down it went.  We loaded it on the cart and set off toward the car. 



It was amazing.  Something out of a movie for me.  The girls absolutely loved it.  But as we drove home, it occurred to me, this is their new normal.  For me, it'll never be anything less then amazing that we live somewhere that this can be done.  For them. ... eh. ... it's just another year picking up the Christmas tree.  Just like preschool is another day on the farm.  Just like sitting outside and staring at the billion stars is another summer night.  I guess, at least, they'll appreciate the beach.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Toilet Lockdown

Sometimes there are things that happen in my parenting life which force me to pause, reevaluate where I'm at and really ask "is this f$%#ing happening?!"  On Saturday we had a couple of friends over to watch the big UCLA/USC game and let all the kids run around and destroy my upstairs for a few hours.  The game had just concluded and parents were sorting out their children when I could hear a faint yell above the frey.  I slowly ascended the staircase, realizing that the shouts where coming from an upstairs bathroom.  "HELP!"  Arianna was screaming.  "What's the matter, honey?" I asked as I neared the top.  "Rafe locked me in the bathroom and I have squishy khakas. ... can you wipe me?"  I froze on the last step.  WTF?!!!  Sure enough, the door was locked and a stones throw away stood two-year-old Rafe.  He's got a face that is hard to read and for the life of me I could not figure out how he would have managed to pull this off.  And he just stared at me, holding his blanky like "IDK man."  All I had to go on was her word.  Regardless of the facts, there I knelt at 8:30 on a Saturday night, picking a bathroom lock to free my daughter from a toilet to which she was chained by squishy poop and the need of an adult wiper. ... Livin' the dream folks. ... livin' the dream.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

But You ARE Asleep, Honey

Last night, around 2:30, I awoke to Arianna's face pressed firmly against mine.  It wasn't comfortable for me, so it couldn't have been comfortable for her; though she remained sound asleep. I must say, however, that it was a marked improvement over the previous nights parade of Genevieve and Rosaline, tromping into our room around 3am, carrying pillows and blankets and stuffed animals, loudly proclaiming that they were there to watch cartoons on our iphones.  I scooped up the slumbering tot, gently scaled the baby gate that keeps Charming's destructive puppyness at bay during the midnight hours, walked down the hall and gently lay her back in her own bed.  As I brought the sheets up around her chin, she shot up to a seated position and quietly began to whimper.  "I don't want to go to sleep, Daddy. ... I want to snuggle with you and Mama (sob)(sob)."  I tried to shush her as not to wake the others, but she grew more and more agitated.  Finally, I got down on my knees, pressed my lips against her ear and whispered "but Honey, you are asleep."  She instantly fell silent and dropped back to the bed like a ton of bricks.  This magic may never work again in the history of parenting; but for one night, I am "The Kid Whisper".

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Know Daddy's Wrong, But Please Don't Argue With Me

Someone sent me this e-mail chain with a bunch of absurd detention notices yesterday.  One of them was from a teacher who was punishing a child who argued with him in front of the class regarding a fact which the teacher - admittedly in the form - had wrong.  I laughed, what a fool. .... yeah.  About five hours later I would face a similar situation.  I picked up the girls from my in-laws in OC (Gina teaching/I was in the area) and after a painfully drawn out dinner in which I had to convince them of every bite, I started to pack things up to head home.  I had a pile of shoes and socks and Arianna was first.  She suddenly informed me that she wanted to use the potty first; great idea - off you go.  I called over the next victim: Genevieve.  As Genevieve is deliberately ignoring me Arianna starts screaming behind me.  She's standing next to the toilet, pants around her ankles and she can't hold it a hummingbird's wing beat longer and pees into the pants around her ankles. ... WTF??!!!!  I get her on the toilet of the final few drops and start cleaning things up as I my mother-in-law heads up stairs to search for some sort of replacement clothing to get us home.  Genevieve is still ignoring me.  I grab a nearby Rosaline and, staring at three pairs of similar looking socks, pick the ones that match the least and put them on Rozzie.  This was my mistake.  When I finally drag Genevieve over to put on her shoes she begins wailing at the horror of having the wrong socks.  She was wearing the ones I put on Rosaline (orange socks, pink shoes and black pants. .. again, WTF?!).  I ask her to please just put on the socks that are there, they're green and pink, her two favorite colors. ... that was kind of like throwing a warhead into an already bubbling volcano.  She unleashes the furry of repressed sock aficionados worldwide and begins screaming at me about sock culture and.... well, god knows what it really was, I was just seeing red once she started mouthing off at me over socks.  So now I'm trying to keep Rosaline from heading home with out us, mopping up the aftermath of Arianna's accident and yelling at Genevieve to just put on the god damn fucking socks.  Now, while I refrained from actually saying the g.d.f's, the were certainly implied by inflection.  It was principle at this point.  I realized the socks were wrong.  I could have made things easy by sitting Rosaline down and switching her socks out; but I'm not about to let a four year old push me around with that kind of attitude.  Finally she got the mother loving socks on and I put her on the toilet to make sure we didn't have a double puddle.  Now Arianna is screaming because my mother in law found some pants, but she doesn't have underwear, so she's now got a wedgie - Arianna, not my mother-in-law.  Let me just say in an aside that there is nothing funnier then a little girl sobbing and saying the word "wedgie".  Sadistic, I know, but hilarious.  I give her the old "you're the one who peed in your pants so you're going to have to deal with this until we get home" speech for the second time in six weeks.  I then head up to check on Genevieve who spitefully banishes me from her presence telling me she doesn't need me around anymore. .... Fortunately we got home to find that Charming had eaten a Barbie. ... all in all a pretty good day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Work-a-holics

It runs in my family, the need to work more then you play.  It has caused me to fight hard the option of playing hookie to attend field trips versus the option of trekking into the office for a fun filled day.  And it seems that my kids are prone to the condition.  Last night, as dinner was being dished on to plates, I told Genevieve to come sit at the table (she had been playing with her toy computer - a heart shaped Disney princess contraption).  "Ugh" she sighed, prying herself up and carrying her computer over to the dinner table.  "I just have so much work I need to get done, Daddy!"  It was like a mini me. ... and it was horrifying.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Uncool To Drool

I didn't get much time with the girls last night, as it was Wednesday (Gina teaches in Orange County all day) and they don't get home until almost 10.  But the brief time I had was. ... magical?  The dogs and I unloaded everyone from the car as they pulled in the garage and herded their prejammied little bodies upstairs to brush teeth.  Everyone was done and off to bed except for Genevieve, who was rehearsing what appeared to be a musical while sitting (sort of, maybe a quarter of one cheek actually touching) on the toilet.  I told her to wrap up the second act and start brushing her teeth.  As soon as the bristles touched her lips she started crying hysterically about her mouth hurting.  Given the matinee performance I just saw I wasn't all that impressed.  But, being the diligent father (the one who's made similar mistakes in the past) I checked anyway.  Sure enough she had a couple little soars on the inside of her mouth, fever blisters or something.  I told her to rinse out and I'd put some Orajel on them to make them not hurt any more.  The only one of our kids who even remotely accepted Orajel was Rosaline; the other two won't let it near their mouths.  So to ease her apprehension I applied some to my lip first - you know, to show her I wouldn't spontaneously combust, or anything like that.  Finally she let me proceed and I swapped some over the inside of either side of her mouth.  We got in to bed and I did my kisses - by now my bottom lip totally numb as I'd clearly applied too much.  I figured that was a good sign as she'd not feel any discomfort.  I walked downstairs and hadn't sat in my chair for more then two minutes when I hear a pitter-patter across the ceiling above me, followed by Genevieve balling at the top of the stairs.  She was completely inaudible.  As it turns out she "couldn't feel her mouth," "she couldn't talk" and she'd "drooled yuckies all over my pillow". ... yeah. ... that would be my bad.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Know My Kids Like The Back Of My - What The Hell Is That?!

We like to think that we're experts when it comes to our children.  We know what they love, what they hate.  We know how to motivate them and how to get under their skin.  We don't know shit.  We THINK we know.  Genevieve's favorite animal fluctuates from what's in front of her in that moment: Bear, Giraffe, her sister.  Arianna has 100 "favorite" movies.  They all seem to love what ever ice cream we have in the freezer at that moment the most.  And yesterday was a perfect example of how wrong my assumed knowledge of my kids can be.  The girls had a field trip to Sea World (I know, I know - Blackfish. ... I'm sorry) so I took off work to tag along.  Everything went swimmingly (that's right, I punned it just now) until the end of the adventure when the girls wanted to spend some time on the massive play structure.  Like massive massive. ... really.  Arianna was running across a bridge about three stories up when she yelled down at me that she had to tisza (pee).  I told her to hurry down the stairs so we could go.  She said she wanted to slide one more time.  I told her "no"; she didn't listen and ran for the slide instead.  Then. ... she stopped.  Here's where I failed in my knowledge:
1) I thought my kids could hold it for one more exhibit before we pottied on the way out
2) I thought my kid could hold it long enough to make it down the stairs
3) I thought my kid was 100% potty trained. ...  so no back up clothes are needed anymore.

We made our get away from the park with Arianna sporting a hoodie sweatshirt for a diaper.  Thank god we got to park in the back as part of field trip.

Second incident, same day:  Went to tuck the girls in around 11:30 before hitting the rack myself.  Went to Genevieve's bed first, reached down to the foot of the bed to grab the sheets and in the pitch black I felt a head of hair.  Not uncommon, Genevieve will move around alot in her sleep.  I prepare to turn her right side up when I notice a full head of hair already resting on the pillow.  How cute!  Arianna has crawled in to bed to snuggle with her sister. ... but which one is which?!  Aha!  I know my kids.  Arianna has a slightly up turned, button nose, so in the dark I gently run my finger across the face.  Arianna!  I scoop her up, standing tall and prideful in my knowledge of my children, even in dark.  I lay her in to bed just as Gina comes in the room to do her midnight kisses.  I look at my wife, exuding pride (the 7 deadly sin pride, not the good pride) just as "Arianna" sits up and whispers in my ear with Genevieve's voice "Daddy, what are you doing?"  Shit!  I got the wrong kid.  "Go back to sleep honey, everything's fine". ... just be glad we didn't have identical twins or one of you would have had to get a tattoo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Padawan Becomes the Master

Here's the thing about little kids: Once they figure something out, they think they're the foremost expert on the subject moving forward.  Rosaline has juuuust begun to potty train; as in, she's gone to freshman orientation and one frat party but  has not had a single lecture hall moment yet.  But apparently she already knows everything and is now dean in the potty department.  Yesterday morning, as we're preparing to leave for a busy day, I tell Gina I need a few moments to use the restroom before we leave.  Unfortunately, Rosaline overheard this.  She starts yelling at me and pulling me by the hand towards the downstairs restroom.  She then sets up the potty training seat on the toilet and tells me I need to sit on it.  When I try and remove it she warns me that I'll fall in.  I use a quick slight of hand and slide it to the side as I sit down. ... she notices but let's me off with a cross glance.  She then stands in front of me and "walks" me through the proper form of doing a "khakha".  She bows her legs out, as though riding a horse, clenches her fist and grunts loudly.  She then motions for me to try.  I stare at her blankly in disbelief at which she frustratingly repeats the process only more exaggerated this time.  I comply.  She then applauds and tells me I'll get an M&M all the while tearing off a large amount of toilet paper, then fighting past me to attempt to wipe my backside.  I realise I'm a 230lb man and she's not even two yet; but she's pretty forceful.  At this point I'm screaming for Gina to please come remove the potty police so I can do what I need to do and get on with my day.  As she's dragged from the room and the door is slowly closing behind her, I swear to god she locks eyes on me like a warning; if I don't do this correctly she's going to come after me with all the power of grayskull. ... no pressure.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pic if the Week

"To Cool For School... And to Wear Sunglasses Right Side Up"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why I Cried at the Disneland Parade

The big girls turned 4 on Sunday.  Four!  As in, out of the "toddler" classification and now on to big girls status.  And this was only made more evident in our birthday exploits.  With our good friends in tow we spent two magical days at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  But let's be real, it's not as if we'd never been to Disneyland before; but we'd never been been to Disneyland post four, and that made a huge difference.  Suddenly the girls are tall enough and brave enough (have to have the combo) to go on the "big kid" rides.  They dared the Space and Splash Mountains.  They harnessed the rapids. They strode confidently into the Haunted Mansion and as we light sped our way to Endor, Genevieve leaned over towards me and told me that this was amazing.  No child. ... you're amazing.  To continue to observe this transformation of people, witnessing the miracle of each pedal blossom, that is the most amazing thing I've ever experienced.  And for some reason, as the princess parade passed us down Main Street, and "Aladdin" leaned off of his flying carpet to wish the girls happy birthday (clearly identified by their official "birthday" buttons), my eyes welled.  You'd think by the fourth of these I'd have lost some of the sentimentality; but no.  It's the most magical thing in the Magic Kingdom.  Fortunately there's some child like wonder in them.  Arianna professed that when she grows up she wants to be a professional unicorn rider.  I was hoping for doctor, but I imagine if she can go pro at this it should prove lucrative.


In the mean time, enjoy Genevieve's face from Splash Mountain.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

3rd Down and 6 to Go

Sleep.  If you think about it the bed was a pretty stupid invention.  Let's put ourselves high above the ground, without retention methods, while we're comatose and unable to control our movements.  The only benefit is to store stuff you never want to find again because you forgot you stuck it under your bed.  With the girls, they did alright training for this nightly balancing act.  Of course, it helps that we purchased mini railings that attached to their big girl beds and kind of encouraged them not to fall out (I won't say kept them from falling out because that wasn't always effective).  This time around, with Rosaline, we tried to use the same partitions but in all the moves. ... well, we lost the straps the keep the partition secured to the bed. ... so it's even more useless.  We tested her out during naps, going with out the wall and she did quite well, so we moved to the night time and diligently watched the monitor to make sure there were no issues.  First few runs, no problem.  Except that the static on the monitor (haven't used in a while) kept us both up and exhausted the following day.  Well, last night it all went to shit.  The first thump we heard from downstairs around 9.  We could see her on the monitor as well, but the roll out motion was unobserved.  I rushed upstairs and scooped her up; she's crying but still pretty much asleep.  I retuck her back in and go back down stairs.  About 9:30 we see it happening.  Of course the thump beat us upstairs and this time Gina scooped her up, piling pillows on her side to act as a retaining wall of sorts.  Around 10:15, as we're getting in to bed ourselves and just as I'm setting up the monitor (we had it downstairs with us earlier in the evening) the familiar thump once more.  This time she had thrown herself back into bed before Gina could even get in the room.  So. ... three downs and only 6 more hours to go.  Needless to say it was a light sleep by us, waiting for that familiar thump in the dark once more.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Lowness Of Humanity (it's a funny post, don't worry)

So with all the developments lately and the severe lack of blogging on my part, allow me bring you up to speed on a few things before we get into this post.
1) Big Girls in Preschool
2) Arianna started speech therapy (going well, not serious)
3) Rosaline in big girl bed. ... sometimes
4) Rosaline potty training. ... sometimes
5) New dog is really big
6) Grandpa bought us a trampoline
7) Momma finally done with festival season so Daddy is regaining sanity

Now to today's post:
Last night as we're getting ready for bed, Arianna runs into the bathroom where I'm brushing Rosaline's teeth, stark naked and holding poop stained underwear.

"Daddy!" she yells, somebody got my khaikis (underwear) all yucky!"
"What do you mean 'somebody,'" I ask sceptically.
She doesn't miss a beat, "Someone else must have been wearing them and they got khaka (poop) in them."
"Someone else, other then you, was wearing the underwear you just took off your body?"
She looks at me with the most earnest of eyes, "That must have been what happened," she replies, shrugging her shoulders and walking away as though she's proved her point and we both must simply move on at this point.

So, to the rest of humanity I say this:  How low must one be to steal a three year old's underwear, poop in them, and then return to replace them on her body; essentially framing this otherwise perfectly potty trained toddler.  I thought stealing candy from a baby was the worst. .... but this is awful.  You should be ashamed of yourself mystery pooper. ... absolutely ashamed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Assistant to the Regional Manager

As parents it's important to be the boss, each with equal power.  Like the CFO and the CEO, or a Board of Directors.  A very small Board.  But as you climb down the ladder in any organization you'll find there are still positions of limited power all the way to the bottom.  That's right, even the guys who scrap bird shit off the Empire State Building have a supervisor.  SSBS.  Supervising Scraper of Bird Shit.  In our family, it seems, that there's this jockeying for a position we didn't realize was even open: VP of Children Operations.  It seems that the Board is too consumed with the bigger picture of running a household and there's a general consensus among the employees that micro managing will be a better tactic at the child care level.  Of course, there seems to be three self appointed candidates for the position.  Every time I turn around Genevieve is scolding someone or reciting a company bylaw.  Last night she yelled at Gina (a very exhausted Gina, I might add) for bringing a glass of wine upstairs.  "Momma!  There are no drinks allowed upstairs.  You're going to spill on my brand new carpet."  I thought Gina was going to pop, but she looked completely caught off guard.  Arianna, meanwhile, feels that we're not safe enough and that every one climbing onto a chair needs a boost up, and everyone who slightly stumbles in their walk must be tackled to the ground and restrained for their own protection.  Then there's Rosaline.  She's' the whistle blower.  Everything is everyone else's fault. Not the most ethical way to climb the ladder, but effective none the less.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Well. ... You Made it to the Bathroom. ... Sort of...

Hi, remember me?!  Well, we're getting an early jump on potty training with Rosaline.  She has become aware of her bodily functions a little earlier then the girls did so we're striking while the iron is hot.  We've had a few big successes, but as always more misses then hits.  The last few days (while it's still warm enough) we've just been going pantsless. ... Rosaline, not the rest of us.  Last night after I got home, everyone was transitioning from dinner to bath time when the pantsless wonder wandered off.  She had been sitting on her baby potty off and on for the past twenty minutes (you know, sit for thirty seconds, run around for ninety, back on for fifteen, run for sixty), so we knew she was close to needing to go. .... but now she could not be found.  Turns out she ran to Mama and Daddy's bathroom like she was supposed to.  However she opted to go into the shower rather then to sit on the toilet.  Close kid, but not quite right. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Parenting Issues Effect Us All

Loooovvved this!  It's not easy being a dad all alone on a busy Sunday.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pipe Wrenched

Nearly eight months in to home ownership and thus far, the adage that a home is a never ending series of projects is proving to be true.  We came home late Sunday night to a busted sprinkler line (off the main, before the control switch) that had been shooting a geyser into the air for who knows how long.  All I can say is that my back yard was a swimming pool. ... and not in a good way.  So Morning morning (Monday the holiday/my day off) when I woke to deal with that I was already a little miffed at the thought of all that wasted water (and dollars).  I decided to start with something small, something simple, something easy.  So I prepared to install the dogs auto-water feeder onto the hose line. ... which consists all of screwing the cap on the faucet end.  Long story short I broke the copper pipe off in the wall by over wrenching it. ... yeah. ... that was the easy project for the day.  So five hours later, as the plumber was finishing soldering on the new pipe, Genevieve says to me over hear plate of dino nuggets "Daddy, maybe next time you should let me fix the pipe. ... that way it doesn't break like it does when you try and do it."  Thanks kid. ... just remember when CSD shows up, you asked for the job.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two For

Been absent this week so I need to make it up to you with a "two fer":

Part 1: The First Step on the Path to Education
The girls started preschool last week.  I know. ... take a moment.  Where did the time go?!  We were  a little nervous, for kids that have a stay at home mom that can be a tough transition to a school type setting where Mom's not around for several hours.  But our worry was for nothing.  Not only did they not cry (pretty much a "see ya mom" response) but Rosaline was the only one who DID cry, because she wanted to stay with sissies and not leave with Mama.
They're school is something else, too.  We wanted to find a place that offered a unique setting, something that could start them off on the idea that school was fun, adventurous, a place they wanted to go every morning.  What we found was Little Valley Adventure Learning, a home preschool that combines both the educational (retired LEUSD preschool teacher with early child and human development degrees) and the adventure part (an outdoor "organic" learning environment with goats and pigs and chickens and ducks and peacocks and and aviary and vegetable gardens and. ... well. ..a whole lot of other "ands").  This is turning out to be the perfect recipe of fun, socialization, exploration and, above all, learning.  Every day the girls come home they have something "fascinating" to share with us; some new song, some new number, some new fact.  It's brilliant.  I couldn't be happier with this set up and the girls feel the same.  They'll never experience anything like this in the school system again, and rightly so - basic counting is easy when you're collecting eggs from the chicken coop, but complex algebra may require more then a few hens - so I'm glad they have the opportunity to experience now.

Part 2: I Think We're Alone Now
Our kids have never experienced one on one time. It just doesn't happen.  From the word "go" there were two, and shortly after there were three.  Yesterday Genevieve got a rare opportunity to go shoe shopping with Gina  all by herself.  The sisters were left with Yiayia and the two of them went off on their own.  Genevieve couldn't help but relish in the moment.  She kept telling Gina how "amazing" the experience was and how much she loved shoe shopping with her.  Even by the time I got home she had to fill me in on the girl time her and Mama shared. "It was just the two of us Daddy; no Arianna, no Rosaline.  It was lovely."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pic(s) of the Week

"Education is the start of fulfilling your dreams."
-Unknown

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nevermind

So last night, we put on Pandora (which plays on the surround sound through the Apple TV) and were experiencing some nostalgia on the 90's channel while the girls ate their dinner.  Every song that plays automatically pops up a picture of the album cover on our TV.  So, suddenly, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came over the airwaves, and accompanying that was the cover from the album Nevermind. ... the famous one fo the naked baby in the swimming pool.  Holy hell. ... a near riot ensued.  "Look at the baby's popo daddy!  Eek!".  Freakin' Rosaline kept spinning around in her high chair, pointing and saying "popo. ... popo".  Popo, by the way, is a general reference to private parts.  I'm horrified how obsessed they all were by this.  Completely horrified.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Life Aquatic

I'm a water baby.  A Pisces by definition.  I grew up on the water of Southern California, swimming, sailing, scuba diving. ... it's my second home.  I longed for the day that my kids would join me in my element, hoping they would take as much a shining to it as I have.  To this point. ... they were slightly less enthusiastic about water then your average house cat.  That's an over exaggeration, but trying to get them to practice they're swimming was like yanking teeth.  Then something happened.  They spent a week in Arizona with my father in law last month.  You can't spend 7 days in Arizona during the summer and survive with out being in the water for 6 and 3/4's of that time.  The light bulb went off during this week.  They figured out the combination of gyrating body parts to make propulsion in the aquatic environment work.  Suddenly they come home and they're like little otters.  They jump, they swim, they dive, they float. .... it's a beautiful thing.  Of course, I, the working dad, haven't been able to see this first hand yet.  The only pool time I've gotten has been joining other kids to play in the baby pools.  But yesterday. ... yesterday was like Christmas and Easter and an un-Birthday all mixed together in August.  We went to the big pool in the afternoon and not only did they swim, they let me launch them in to the air for flips and dives and cannonballs.  One of my parental fantasies since I was a pint sized flying kamikaze cannonballer.  And they loved it. ... I think we could have stayed there all night if not for the water logged toes and fingers.  Darn wrinkly appendages.  It was pure bliss for me.  Playing with my children is always the highlight of my life. ... but to do it in MY environment. ... that was remarkably special.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's What Dad's Are Supposed To Do!

Mom's wear many hats.  Many, MAAANNY hats.  Nurses, chefs, advisers, confidants, security, fan club, ect.  And more and more dad's are starting to add to their hat collection as well.  Truth is, we are just as capable of rocking most of these hats in our own way.  But there's one hat that we can't seem to shake off, no matter how good a dad we are. ... the "bad choice in what we let you watch before bed time" hat.  After Rosaline went to bed the other night, I let the girls stay up and watch a movie.  We rented "A Monster in Paris" which is a Belgian film, dubbed in English and it really is a great flick.  In fact, I'm shocked it wasn't released in the US theatrically.  However, it's about a mad science experiment the causes a flea to grow into a 7 foot, musically gifted and emotionally fragile monster like version of itself - voiced by Sean Lennon (John's son).  Very sweet, but a little scary.  When Arianna went to bed she couldn't shake the image of an alligator at the beginning of the movie that chases one of the characters through a zoo.  It's a funny scene in the film; but in a dark and silent room it seemed to have a bad effect on her as she conjured the images once more in her mind.  I felt pretty bad about it, so I brought her downstairs and curled her up on my lap while I sat on the sofa.  She closed her eyes and pressed into my chest as she finally started nodding off with a sense of security cloaking her.  And then I turned on Shark Week.  I'm told by Gina that may have only compounded the problem. .... but I had that damn hat on!  Sleep tight kiddo.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

Sorry, Folks!  I know it's been a while.  I spent a week in Atlanta for work and then another week working on some private matters I'll go into in the coming weeks.  Anyway, all is fine here still. ... just as entertaining as always.  I thought I'd take a moment today to share with you something I'd never thought I'd have to say.  "You - we do not let other people look in our butts. ... only doctors.  And You - we do not look in other peoples butts unless we go to medical school and become a doctor. .... do you understand me?"  Response: "What about Momma's?  Are they allowed to look in our butts when we have problems with khaka?"  At this point I must walk away, because we're going down a path of hypotheticals from which one can never journey back.  FYI, names have been replaced by "you's" to protect the innocent when they enter Junior High School. ... though it doesn't really matter that much who was what "you" in this particular set of events.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Home Theatre

It's commonly accepted that theatre originated in ancient Greece, at a time when arts and imagination where exploding beyond the camp fire tales and cave art that had, to that point, encompassed the entirety of human creativity.  It became a showcase of perfection: scripted dialogues and choreographed moves, each moment strategically designed to illicit a specific response from the targeted audience.  As a theatre major in college I know all  to well the various forms out there.  I've studied everything from Dada to Kabuki; performed everything from Shakespeare and Sophocles to Berrie and Bernstein.  But through all my exposure to the art (and I think most of us on and behind the stage realize this) it's evident that the idea of "art" to the audience varies widely from that of the artist.  You're watching a play and you feel it's the actors job to perform.  The actor sees the very word for what it is. ... "play".  It's all rooted entirely in humans ability to imagine; to create; to make believe.  What a glorious moment that is.  When you create something entirely you.  Even if it's a song scored by another or a monologue written by another: no one is ever going to say it, sing it, dance it just like you.  It's your own.  It's beautiful.  To watch my daughters "perform". ... to play. ... to make something that started as a tiny spark in their perfect imagination and grew, and grew, traveling down their nervous system until it jolted their bodies and their mouths in such a fashion that this ball of creativity manifest through their limbs and vocal chords.  It's the very same spark that ignited the Greeks to action.  It's the same spark that ignited Jackson Pollack to swing a paint brush.  That forced Beethoven to pound on his first ivory keys.  That guided Shakespeare's pen to record the beautiful words swirling in his head.  And somewhere, even if never conveyed through words, they each had a father who sat in wonder. ... just enjoying the show.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pic of the Week

Not often is my daily quote app good enough to steal "pic of the week".

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Great Escape

There are those moments in life that completely take you by surprise.  Like going to get your 18 month old out of her crib in the morning and having her meet you in the hallway.  Yea. ... that is unexpected.  Looks like we're making that transition to toddler bed sooner rather then later.

Monday, July 1, 2013

There's Just No Cure For Stupid

With out fail, every summer, every week, you hear a similar story.  Temps sky rocket and some poor child or dog has been left in a car and, literally, cooks to death.  It's atrocious.  And it's so preventable. ... assuming that most of the population had a brain.  Right now, here in So Cal, we are in the midst of an epic heat wave.  They're saying it's top three in the last 100 years.  Even worse for us is we just moved inland from the beach so, for us, it's exceptionally hot.  Yesterday we were out running errands (went a little crazy at Marshalls) and with the girls spent Gina had one more store she needed to run into.  So the girls and I putzed around the parking lot while she got to it.  After a while she called me - stuck in line - and told me a woman had come in screaming about a dog locked in a car.  She asked me to go scope it out.  I drove around the lot until I came onto the scene.  A brown Ford Flex with paper plates and a Rottweiler sitting in the passenger seat.  Now, the windows were cracked slightly - but in 103 degree heat, what's 2 inches of open air going to accomplish.  That's like taking the top off the boiling pot of water and claiming it's chilling.  Security was already on scene and had called the police, so I was just spectating on this one.  A short time later the man comes out - huffy that so much attention was being drawn to him over this, and begins arguing with security and the screaming woman my wife had met.  Worst part of all of this (maybe not worse then the dog being left, but certainly the icing on the cake): the store he had come out of. ... .PetsMart.  Yup.  The one store in the world that ASKS you to bring your dog inside with  you.  Where's the excuse on this one buddy?!  You leave your kids in the car when you go to Toys R Us, do you?!  No matter how many news reports; no matter how many warnings; no matter how many heat waves we go through and see this same thing play out in tragedy, you just can't cure stupid.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

7 Years, No Itches

Tried to find time to write yesterday, but it just didn't happen.  Yesterday marked the 7th "birthday" of the unification that started this chaos.  Seven years ago a boy stood next to a girl in front of 250 witnesses and dedicated their lives to each other.  Seven years ago these two naive young people imagined the family that would follow them.  They fantasized about the adventure that lay before them and they tried to dream the biggest dreams theirs blissful minds could allow.  Seven years ago those kids couldn't comprehend the enormity, the majesty, the wonder that would come.  Seven years ago they couldn't fathom the pain they would share.  The strength they would build between them.  That the love which they could barely contain on that beautiful June night would blossom, would grow, would press outward from their very souls and bloom into a household of scampering bare feet, of mutilated Barbie dolls and princess music drifting on the afternoon air as the sun set over their very own hill.  Seven years ago my imagination wasn't capable of this fantasy.  Seven years ago I already thought I had it all.  Seven years later I'm still waiting to wake up.  To realize that no single man deserves all this and I'd simply been enjoying the most beautiful of mid summer dreams.  Seven years later I'm still trying to earn the love that was given to me.  Still trying woo that girl who said yes.  Still trying to fulfill the promises I made with that ring.  Seven years later and I'm too busy, my hands to full to worry about scratching.  Seven years later, my heart is still so full that I fear it may burst from my chest at any moment.  Still pounding as hard as it did in that little boys body as he stood at an alter, palms sweaty, knees weak, eyes moist and smile so big that it seemingly wrapped around his face and touched corner to corner at the back of his neck.  Seven years later. ...and I'm ready for seventy seven more.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pic of the Week

"Just another day at Grandpa's...
No wonder they don't want to leave!"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lonely Boy

Since they were born, my life has revolved around them.  I've not been absent more then a few days at most.  But after driving them out to Tucson to see Grandpa on Friday, I had to board a plane back home Sunday night, while they staid another week.  I don't begrudge the stay.  My father-in-law is a really good man, and living 9 hours away means the girls don't see him nearly enough to get to know that fact for themselves.  They'll always be playing catch up in that relationship, despite the dent a trip like this will make.  With that understanding firmly in place. ... god damn is it quiet.  Like, eerily so.  I didn't mention, they took the dogs as well (my father-in-laws house is a dog mecca) so it's just me and the cats.  And let's face it: cats do not equal good company.  It's almost horrifying to realize how empty my world is with out them in it. ... I mean I've got nothing.  I've long since abandoned most of my "non-family" conducive friendships.  And those that I haven't. ...well, they have their own friends and families to keep them busy.  I have my job. ... but after 10 hours of that already, it's hardly enough to fill up the other half of my day.  I have projects to keep me busy during the waining twilight, but once that sun goes down. ... just silence.  I've taken to keeping the hallway light on (the one we keep dimmed so the girls can see their way into our room at 2am) because when I wake up in the middle of the night it makes me feel like they're still there. .... but they're not.  I could go to a bar (eh).  I could go to the driving range some more (what's the point).  I could watch TV (temporary distraction).  Or I could just write a whiny blog about how much I miss my girls.  Yeah. ... that sounds worth my time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pic of the Week

"On the road to Arizona... And NOT morning people"

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tea Time with Daddy

I just erased a whole explanation of this moment, why; what it meant; how it will be recalled.  But I don't think it needs any depth beyond what it is.  Mom away for the weekend, so Daddy set up a little tea time while they were napping.  Will go down as one of my fondest memories.  Definitely top 1500.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CSI: Hundred Acre Woods

You always hear on the news at night how everyone missed those early warning signs.  The child was clearly off, clearly dark, clearly possessed the mind of killer.  Naturally, then, my heart stopped and my mind dropped when Arianna gleefully handed me this coloring project yesterday:

 
Yes, you're seeing this right.  All of the water droplets coming of Piglett and Pooh are a crimson, blood red.
 
I hesitated a moment, collecting my thoughts and taking note that all the knives were still placed firmly in their holder on the kitchen counter.  Was there something devious behind the sweet little smile?  Did she have any idea what this image now shows?

"Honey," I asked delicately, not wishing to get on her bad side.  "Why did you chose to color these red?"
With out hesitation she offered, "Because the water will be yellow and when red mixes with yellow it makes orange. ... I like orange."
 
Oh thank god.  She didn't mention blood at all.  No talk of "owies" or hurting Pooh.  No sharp, stringed instrument overture blaring in my life sound track. Not wanting to draw any notice to where my mind went I told her that it was amazing and I was so proud of her remembering how colors mix.  I patted her on the head and she skipped of to finish her work.
 
Then she stopped, turned and said 'But Tigger's gonna die tonight!"
 
Kidding. ... I'm kidding.  But if I ever end up the victim of a homicide and you're watching the news report of my death. ... know that I saw the early warning signs.  I knew this day would come.  It all started with the double murders in the Hundred Acre Woods.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Catch Phrases

I guess it's a sign of greatness; having your own catch phrase.  You know you've made it when you can break the 4th wall, look at the audience with a grin and say "whatchtalkin' 'bout?" and have a comical melody play a few bars while the canned laughter rolls.  So I can't really fault Arianna for deciding she's now going to have her own catch phrase.  But I gotta say, with out the laugh track or the house band to back it. ... it's getting a little old.  "Whoopsie".  That's what she's latched on to.  And she tilts her head, places her pointer finger on her chin and shrugs her shoulders up - very reminiscent to the Coppertone Sun Tan Lotion kid
Come to think of it. ... she looks almost EXACTLY like that kid.  Only she has a shirt on.  And Charming has yet to bite anyone's butts. ... yet.

But it's getting so over used in the week since she latched on to this. 

"Arianna, eat the rest of your dinner."
"Whoopsie!"

"Arianna, pick up your cloths and put them in the hamper"
"Whoopsie!"

"Arianna, get in the car already!"
"Whoopsie!"

She's even gotten to the point of unsolicited usage.  "Hey Daddy, wanna see what I can do?  Whoopsie!"

I love her to death.  And it's very cute that she understands the concept of comedy (she's doing it for the laugh after all) and it's not nearly as bad as the "Oh Pan Gangam Style" she latched on to over Memorial Weekend, thanks to my niece.  But if I hear "whoopsie" one more time. ....

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pic of the Week

"Full Swing: 
When playing mini golf, always aim for your sister."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blue Eye's "Buy" Dinner

Skipped on "pic of the week" and I'm sorry about that.  We spent the holiday weekend over on Catalina Island for our second annual "Grandma's Birthday Celebration" and it slipped my mind.  We had a wonderful time though - the girls got to run rampant through the 5 bedroom house with their cousins in a massive, bait ball of children; we rented kayaks, we golfed (both real AND mini), we danced, we karaoked, we toured the island on a supped up golf cart. ... it was wonderful.  But perhaps the most interesting thing that happened in our four days there came on Sunday night at dinner.  My sister and one of my nieces had left for the mainland already, but we still had a full table of 9 for dinner out at a waterfront Italian joint.  So Rosaline gets the seat at the head of the table which places her in close proximity to a middle aged couple at a nearby table perpendicular to ours.  The man comments on Rosaline's "beautiful blue eyes" and her curly head of hair, to which she flirts back with all the confidence of super model.  The moment passes and we go back to our respective meals.  About 15 minutes later, however, the waiter walks up to us at the other end of the table.  He leans in and in a hushed voice says, "Keep this on the down low, but this gentleman at the other table would like to pick up your meal tonight.  He asked me not to say anything but he also wanted to add another round of drinks and I didn't want to bring them out with out you being aware of the situation."  And then he leaves. ... and we're all left to scratch our heads.  What do we do?  He said not to say anything, but a meal for 9 with two rounds of drinks at a waterfront restaurant on an island none the less, isn't chicken scratch.  I can't help myself and I stutter a "thank you" attempting to blend gratitude and "no big deal" into one phrase.  He smiles, and as they begin to collect their things he offers only "Pay it forward."   And with that, they exit.  Bizarre.  Inexplicable.  Amazing.  My girls aren't old enough to appreciate a gesture like that.  But some day they will be.  And I hope that I'm in a position in life that I can be that generous to the strangers around me.  So they can see an example like that, and strive to match it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sink or Swim

With summer officially in full swing (in California we have to seasons: Summer and Summer Lite), it's time once again to get in the pool for swim lessons.  Since we moved, it's no longer feasible for the girls to go to Ms. Joanie any more - and her brilliance as a swim instructor is going to be missed.  However, we found a replacement starting lessons in our community so the girls were signed up and ready to go.  One of the downfalls of children with a stay at home parent is they tend to have apprehension when it comes to new situations, mainly those in which that stay at home parent is not allowed to get involved.  We know this all too well, so we started prepping the girls weeks ago in anticipation of this moment.  And by prepping I mean bribing.  The girls will get new princess costumes to add to their boudoir if they go all the way through lessons with out giving anyone a hard time.  And for this first lesson, if they made it with out crying, they would get a new toy.  We even went so far as to buy the toy already and hold it hostage until they proved themselves worthy.  I came home early so I could take part and all through the drive there, the walk up, the disrobing the girls were adamant they would not cry and they would do "great".  Standing on the first step of the pool and both were in hysterics.  Damn it!  Gina and I self banished ourselves to the club house.  We slowly made our way back about 15 minutes later and the new Ms. Julie must have worked some sort of magic because both were laughing and going about the lesson with out a hitch.  Genevieve even gave her instructor pointers as she waited on the steps for her turn (love that my kid learning to swim is telling the teacher how to teach the subject she doesn't know. ... high school should be fun).  Anyway, I think this should prove to be a good fit, even if we traded Ms Joanie for Ms Julie.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Children Belong to Us All

I had a light, humerus story to share with you today.  It had been bouncing around in my head all weekend just waiting for some free time to write it down.  I don't remember what it was anymore.  Two generations ago my ancestors made a decision to move west, toward the sunshine and ocean breezes of Southern California.  What they left behind was a farming community in a land locked State of Oklahoma.  This isn't to say, somehow, that I'm tied to that community through ancient neighborhood ties or that some how I'm suffering as heavy as they are from the loss of people I have no real ties to.  I'm not looking for condolences.  I'm simply pointing out the "what if's".  More heart wrenching, however, is the "what if's" when you look at the pile of rubble that once was a school.  A mud coated, blood soaked, crying child is everyone's.  There's no identity there - and we quickly impose our own.  We see our own child's school, our own daughter's broken bike, our own son's missing shoe.  Our hearts cry out over the grief of parents we've never met but can so easily relate to.  Their agony we feel so easily at the mere thought of it being us in their stead.  We switched over from the news a while later and watched a movie that Gina rented: the Impossible.  Though it's been years since that wave devastated South East Asia, though once again I feel myself connected.  My father was a survivor, one of the few actually in the water at the time who lived.  He was scuba diving in Phuket when he suddenly found himself in a tree a mile or so inland.  He survived with heavy damage to his leg, but he survived none the less.  His fiance did not.  So I was already watching this movie with weighted heart when the story of a young family unfolded and I watched as their three school aged sons - and the countless other children - experienced the horrifying power of mother nature.  Once again I place my children in their spot.  Imagine the horror of a parent dealing with the loss, the unknown, the fragile heart of parenthood as it is shattered by uncontrollable, incomprehensible nature.  As I closed up the house that night, locked the doors, tucked in their safe and warm, sleeping little bodies, I crouched on the floor for a moment to thank Karma for her nightly bedside vigilance, and I thanked a god I haven't spoken to for some time that I've not had to deal with the reality of such heart ache.  To feel even an ounce of that weight through this bond of parenting is more then can fathom.  Though it offers them no real condolences as they deal with their losses, I hope they know we see them all as our own children.  We grieve with them.  We cry for them.  We pray, even those of us that haven't in a while, for their souls.  Because the children, they belong to us all.

Monday, May 13, 2013

WTF?

It was a long Mother's Day yesterday.  Gina had festival in Bakersfield on Saturday but was determined to be home Sunday morning for her special day.  So she drove through the night and rolled into bed a little after 3AM.  Of course, with kids there's always a 7AM wake up call.  So she was pretty much running on fumes the entire day.  We then headed out to her aunt's house, which is about 2 hours from us, for a day of excess swimming in the oven like heat that hit So Cal over the weekend (didn't drop below 80 at our house until about 2AM this morning).  So by the time we made it home, got everyone into bed and mustered the energy to pour a Margarita, neither of us could be pried from the couch.  That is until, in the ominous dark and silence, we heard a toilet flush upstairs.  There were a few thoughts running through my head: 1) I'm so proud of whoever got up and went to the bathroom all on their own, 2) who dared to get up from bed on their own, 3) I hope she wiped and 4) which of us is going to go up and check on this?  It's Mother's Day (and she made  no movement at all) so I got up and trudged upstairs to investigate.  The light in the bathroom was off, and the bedroom door was only slightly ajar so my first thought was she went back to bed. .. how cool.  Nope!  As I passed the dark bathroom I saw a silhouette moving around.  Sure enough, there was Genevieve, standing on a stool and checking herself out in the mirror. ... in the dark. ... wearing her bloody high heels!  WTF?!  I looked at her, just a look, and she fell to pieces: "I'm sorry Daddy, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I couldn't even come up with a response.  So I hugged her, slipped her heels off and slid her back into bed.  All I could say as I descended the stairs, shaking my head and Gina asked what that was all about. ... "What the F....?"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Contraband Under the Mattress

So, if you haven't followed us in a while (and based on my posting frequency it's been a while even for those who have followed) my wife (and by default my children) are Greek.  While the rest of you were honorary Mexicans for Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, we were still firmly Greeks; celebrating the Orthodox Easter (although we still had Corona's on hand).  It's the one holiday we don't have to split between the families so it's nice.  And I needed to lay the ground work so you didn't think I was REEAALLLY behind in my story telling as I start into this "Easter" story.  So the girls had round two of eggs and candy; Yiayia had bought them new little zantas (purses) for the occasion, and through out the day they kept them close at hand - even opting to use them in liu of their usual Easter baskets on the egg hunt.  Now, we're probably a little on the conservative side when it comes to what goes in our children's food.  With a yoga instructor mom and a marathon running dad. ... you can assume we limit the candy intake.  We're not total prudes (our wedding reception tables were named after our favorite ice cream flavors instead of numbers and we had scoopers trail the limo instead of cans) but we do monitor and track how much, and of what, they eat.  So we let them have few pieces on the day of the party and the rest were to be save for a later time.  Unbeknowwnst to us, Genevieve determined that "later time" for herself.  Fast forward 12 hours and Gina wakes up for Monday morning, Arianna having crawled in to snuggle a bit some hour or so earlier.  It's not Arianna that wakes her, however. ... it's Karma. ... Karma who is feverishly trying to get something off her back side. ... which turns out to be Starbursts candies. ... plural. ... which are stuck on her butt.  It doesn't take long for Gina to track the source back to the girls bedroom and from their Genevieve's bed; which is strewn with candy wrappers like crime scene of the M&M's guys' murders.  The child is also wet because her hands are sticky with evidence and she's been trying to wash them before she's caught, literally with her hand in the candy jar.  Naturally she denies it.  It must be someone else's bed; someone else's candy; the dog must have done it.  Oh she tried them all on for size.  Her purse, the one that she clutched all day, had made it into bed with her that night.  And the sneaky little candy junky had loaded it up when no one was paying attention.  Very clever little one. But guess who's candy intake just had it's monitoring level doubled up?  I'll give you a hint. ... it's not the dog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

No, I'm Daddy

I try, for a moment, to put myself in the mind of my children as they attempt to learn this complex form of communication we call English.  We think it so easy - some of us - as we've been spouting verbal vomit for decades with out a second thought - though some of us should really reconsider how much we talk.  But here are these newbies who have the same volume of thought rushing through their rapidly developing brains and yet they can't quite connect the dots to turn that thought into a communication to the world around them.  It must be frustrating.  I patiently listen as Genevieve gets choked up on a particular word "Daddy, I; Daddy; Daddy I; Daddy; Daddy; I; Daddy I forgot."  Or Arianna stumbles through a multi syllable word with all the grace of an ice skater in bowling shoes.  But they're in a much better place.  At least they've mastered the basics.  They can tell you a host of things. ... sometimes in ridiculously unnecessary specifics.  Don't ask about the movie Brave. ... you'll be cornered for an hour and a half listening to in depth arguments over why little girls should not turn their mothers into bears.  Riveting.  But then there's Rosaline.  She's been verbally restricted for a year and a half and she's finally breaking through the damn and attempting to speak to the world around her.  But, like a new born fawn, she's shaky and prone to misstep.  Her particular difficulty, at least the one that most concerns me, is in remembering my name.  I'll be enwrapped in some other task and I'll feel a slight tug on my pants "Momma, galla!"  "I'm Daddy", I'll respond.  "Momma?"  "No. ... Daddy."  Sometimes I feel like I"m arguing with a squirrel.  Standing over her, hands on my hips "I'm Daddy."  To which she stares up at me blankly, big doe eyes in a confused peak.  "Momma?"  "No, I'm still Daddy."  She could care less, as long as she's got my attention my name is pointless.  "Galla?"  Fine.   Two minutes later, "Momma, coco?"  I'm Daddy!  If you want the cookie it would serve you well to get my name right."  "Coco?"  [sigh] "Fine!  I'm envisioning a problem through the remainder of our relationship.  She'll go through elementary school with "two moms".  Her future dates will have to meet her Mom first before they can go out.  Her Mom will walk her down the aisle at her wedding and we'll dance the Mother/Daughter dance as I pass her off to her new spouse.  We'll have Mother's Day in May and then again in June. The only question left is when she has children of her own will I be a Gammie, a Grandma or - going with the Greeks - a Yiayia. ... oh the choices I have before me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

High Heels? Really?!

It's been a while; thought I forgot about you, huh?!  No, just bidding my time, waiting for something epic to write about.  I've kind of felt that my posts and experiences were diminishing in interesting nature (at least to you readers; personally I find every moment breath taking).  There had been no milestones or truly amazing experiences to share with you all.  But, alas, we've stumbled upon such a moment.  High heels.  High heels signify more than just stylish footwear.  They symbolize maturity.  Grown ups wear high heels.  Princesses wear high heels.   But, that's why the girls so desperately want to wear them, trampling around clumsily in their mom's size 10's at every opportunity to do so.  Usually with out cloths on because they find they're way in to her closet almost every night as the bath is being drawn.  I hope this doesn't become habit.  Naked high heels strolls, not baths.  Anyway, I came home the other day to a horrifying vision - the girls.... in their OWN high heels.  Now I know some of you are disgusted with us, 3 1/2 year olds don't need high heels.  Whatever.  This was not my thought.  My thought was simply, "what happened to my babies?!"  Regardless of their need for such shoes, the reality is they are already moving toward that direction. Their already wanting to grow up.  Already wanting to be women and not children.  Already wanting to be done with me.  Well, I'm not ready to be done with.  I'm not.  I'm not, I'm not, I'm NOT!!!!! Maturity sucks.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jackals With Forks

There are things in life that cannot be unseen.  Car accidents.  Kevin Ware's leg.  Cher.  These moments are forever burned upon the iris and the impression leaves one with a squeamish worry about the potential for this situation playing out on them.  On Friday we went out to dinner at the Claim Jumper.  Genevieve had been battling some sort of bug for a few days and had thrown up enough, that meals weren't being pressed upon her.  She finally seemed back to her normal self so a dinner out seemed an order.  As soon as we sat in the booth, however, Genevieve began working herself into a frenzy ("I can't eat anything cause my tummy will get full and I'll throw up again), to the point that she actually did puke up about a quarts worth of strawberries and bananas from lunch time.  Fortunately Gina had a dog bag in her purse from Prince Charming and caught it all just as our waiter walked up to take the drink order.  "I'll come back," he said as he kept on walking.  She laid down on her death bed the booth seat for the rest of dinner.  That is until dessert found it's way to our table.  My favorite: the mint and chip mud pie.  A mountain of ice cream formed into an Oreo pie crust with thick hot fudge and whip cream on top.  You ever stand out in the desert at night and hear a lone coyote howl?  If you do, don't stand in one place.  That's a cry to the rest of the pack that something delicious has been found.  If you stay long enough, you may realize it was you.  The "mmmmm" from Arianna and Rosaline and the clink of  fork being raised was enough to stir the final member of their pack and they descended upon this hill of goodness like a wall of locusts on a lonely desert oasis.  I had only enough time to plunge my fork into the center of the pie and hold it in place while the carnivores (icecreamacors?) devoured around it like piranha stripping the meat off a bone.  So much for the patriarch getting first choice.  I was relegated to licking the plate, eyes alert, quietly looking up, under the brow; watching the chocolate covered mouths that surrounded me lick at their chops, ready to bolt should they choose to attack once again.  It was terrifying.  I only hope that one day they don't acquire a taste for Daddy.  There won't even be enough time to scream.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Princesses Get Their Prince

Just cause Dad has to stay home doesn't mean he doesn't get to do something fun!  A few weeks ago we decided to go check out a littler of Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer pups.  Gina and I have been talking for a long time (before we even found the house) about adding a second dog to the mix.  Karma is the best dog ever. .... but she's kind of a sissy la-la.  We wanted a bigger dog that would take on more of the natural protector role (we've got a serious "neighbor issue" that I don't want to get into) that Karma just didn't feel comfortable doing.  At the same time we needed something that we knew would be good around the girls.  Now, we had an incident with a Rhodesian a while back.  Up at our cabin we were out on a walk when Karma was attacked by a Rhodesian who had been out front playing with his family.  She ended up ok, a little soar but not stitches or broken bones; it was more of a jarring emotional experience.  At the time I was pretty hot under the collar.  I was more upset about this family letting such a large dog play out front with out a leash.  In truth, I can see where the dog came from: they (and as he say it, he) had a two year old nearby that he saw himself as protecting.  Karma posed a threat, he did his job.  Later that day I saw the family (neighbors) leave with the child in the car seat, dog in the seat right next to him happily liking the little boys face.  So clearly they're good with kids (and protecting kids) but also clearly we need to keep him on a tight leash. ... literally.  All in all we've done extensive homework on the breed, met the mom (who was very nice and never showed any aggression while we were with her puppies) and I feel very confident that this will make a good addition to our household.  Anyway, we saw the pups, and we found one we really were drawn too, so we put a down payment to hold him.  As we drove home we talked about what kinds of names might be good for a boy dog to have.  The first (and most enthusiastic) was Prince Charming.  Eh. .... I'm not quite on board with that one.  Let's try more.  Silence.  Gina floated some options, I floated some options.  Nothing was sticking.  Finally I said "His name is not going to be Prince Charming, we need to think of something else."  They paused for a moment, then Arianna screamed "How about Cinderella?!" Prince Charming it is!  Well last night, the breeder called to say the puppies were ready to be picked up.  A week early.  Nothing for me to do with the noise makers out of the house this week, so I headed off to pick him up.  We had some male bonding time and he is every bit as sweet as we anticipated.  I think we'll keep him ;). So, some day in the near future, when Charming manages to escape, I'll be going door to door asking my neighbors if they've seen my Prince Charming.  Fantastic.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Single Light in the Upstairs Window

We had a really nice Easter yesterday (round one of two as Orthodox Easter comes next month).  Stayed up late making baskets that were thoroughly appreciated and then got up early to hide the eggs (fully convincing the girls that Karma had just chased the Easter Bunny over the hill as they came down stairs).  We then tromped over to my moms house where 9 grand kids (and 2 honorary grand kids - our friend was down from Nor Cal with her son and daughter who stayed the weekend with us then joined in the festivities) were greeted with a sea of eggs covering the front lawn.  It was, all in all, a very nice day.  Afterwards Gina and the girls headed up to the Ventura County coast with Hayley to spend  a few days relaxing at the beach.  Karma and I headed home.  When we bought the house it was so joyous to hear the walls echoing (still have limited furniture for such a big place) with laughter and screaming and fighting.  But as incredible as that much sound is, it's equally as deafening in it's silence.  I didn't even remember to turn the lights on until well after 8; even then it was lone kitchen light or side lamp near the bed.  At first I was able to keep busy with task - got a new table saw last weekend so I broke it in finishing the hardwood in the casita.  But by sundown the wind kicked up and I was relegated to indoor activities.  With out bath time or stories; with out dinner and the subsequent clean up; with out fights to mitigate and bellies to blow on, the air in my lungs seemed wasted; useless.  I paced from room to room, looking for something to do other then veg on the couch.  Finally I yielded around 9, did some sit ups and went to bed.  Falling a sleep is difficult in that much silence.  I woke around 1 AM and noticed light (with no hallway night lights on, it gets pretty dark) coming from the girls room.  In a panic I leapt from bed and rushed through their door.  It was the street lights.  Streaming in through rarely open blinds.  Just  another reminder that I was alone in a great big house.  Puts in perspective how much your family becomes you.  With out them around, you're really just a shell.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pic of the Week

Why I love California: First "summer" dinner outside, during the rest of the countries winter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Missing the Actions

I'm going to miss so much.  It's becoming evident.  Going forward, as the girls get older and I keep climbing the "ladder", our activity schedule will be in conflict.  When they're little, things like naps and lunch and Momma's sanity kept them limited to what they could do during the daylight hours.  But now, in the remaining years leading up to Kindergarten, they have all this wonderful time to fill with amazing things.  Today they started "Princess Ballet" classes.  Unfortunatly for the girls there were not real princesses to meet when they got there, but for me they were the princess to see.  But here I sit; 40 miles away; bills to pay and stacks of paper climbing higher then I care to describe.  And they danced.  And they loved it.  And they made friends. ... And I missed it.  "Missed" is a word that can be interpreted by the hearer/reader.  I don't lament being abscent, I lament not absorbing the moment.  I'm sure there were plenty of parents there that still missed it.  Parents who didn't realize how important that moment would be to someone else; but that's how it goes.  And it's only going to get worse.  Soccer starts for them in a few weeks.  This summer will hold theme parks, and water parks and park parks.  There will be craft classes and story times and play dates and all sorts of crazy-enducing moments.  And I'll miss those.  Desperatly.  It's the cruel paradox of life that, in order to support your children you must miss a great deal of that life your supporting.  Whoever had this brilliant idea of creating "work" was a real @$$hole.  I was never bothered by working before the girls.  But now, I feel like there's always some place better I could be.  If only a Nigerian banker would send me an e-mail asking for my help transfering a large some of money in exchange for a reasonable percentage; then I could retire and enjoy every princess dance class imaginable!  But alas, all I get are e-mails about Orbitz deal of the week.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fake It Till You Make It

First of all, I didn't even notice we passed the 600 posts  mark.   Seriously, this is 603 and I'm just noticing.  Is that where we are at now?  Centennial milestones are no big deal?  Kind of like after 40 you just stop celebrating the birthdays.  Fine. ... so be it. 

I think some people have this impression that this time around is a repeat of all the the things I experienced double when the girls where this age.  But it's not.  It's a little the same, but like a Seinfeld rerun it hits you different based on where you're at in life now.  Something funny then isn't as funny now.  And somethings that went overlooked or, god forbid, unappreciated then are relished in this  new moment.  But, that aside, experiencing a baby is, in it's self, completely different then experiencing a baby with toddlers around.  Here's the example: Participation.  Rosaline knows about 10 words at this point: Quack (a favorite first word around here), Please, Thank You, Caltsa (socks), Mama, Daddy, Wow, No and a couple others that are escaping me.  Nothing to really saturate a conversation - unless you're talking about impressive socks geared towards parents which you politely refuse. ... with ducks.  The girls, on the other hand, are participating in one long conversation that has endured for 16 months straight.  So what's a verbally limited sister to do?  Pretend.  As they sat in the bath last night and the girls (playing with dolls, perpetually) commented on how pretty the other's hair was and beautiful her dress was, each turned in toward the other leaving Rosaline with a view of a back, Rosaline held her own doll (upside down) and then gibbered in response to everything they were saying as though she was thoroughly entrenched in the conversation at hand.  The girls didn't even know she was there.  She probably KNEW they didn't know she wasn't there.  But that did not stop her one bit.  As my momma always said, you're not a part of the conversation until you ACT like you're part of the conversation.  So fake it till you make it kid.  If nothing else, I find it thoroughly amusing.