Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Got Milk?

Let's do some math.  There are 64 ounces of milk in a half gallon.  If I drink an eight ounce glass with breakfast and Julia has about the same amount in her coffee, how much milk must each of the girls drink to go through the entire half gallon each and every day?

Stop looking for a calculator - it's 24 ounces each.

If you got your calculator, just to double check my math, you should find that I'm correct.  While sign language may not be my strong suit, numbers are.

 Math IS fun, so let's do some more. 

Each day, the girls have on average six wet diapers.  The diaper I change first thing in the morning usually holds about 12 ounces of urine.  Their clothing holds another four ounces.  The sleep sack catches two more.  That's 18 ounces of urine in the first change. 

Put the calculator away, please?

This leaves six ounces of milk unaccounted for, but with five other diaper changes yet to be considered.  This is where the math stops adding up.  Yes, I did just put a horrible pun in here.

Each of those five diapers has more than one ounce in them.  Where does this come from?

The obvious answer is other items they consume that have liquids.  On some days they get orange juice or water, so that makes up some of the shortage.  Fruits, vegetables, and BBQ sauce (sometimes the only way they'll eat an item is when it is doused with Bone Suckin Sauce) make up some more of it.

There are still fluids unaccounted for!!  Are they losing water weight each and every day??  Their skin looks healthy, so I can cross that fear off my list.

The truth is, they subsidize their intake with water from their pool or the tub.

There is nothing more beautiful in life than watching both of your girls "make water" in the tub (aka pee), grab something that holds liquids, and then re-ingest some of their homemade "water". 

Often, the new concoction contains water, urine, and soap.  YUMMY!!!

I'm not a chemist, but I am pretty sure the following equation is true, so I'm not too disgusted.

                                Soap + Urine = Clean Water 

I think it's great that they're learning how to use a cup on their own AND we don't have a huge mess to clean up.  I think it is NOT great when they are drinking their own filth

 In a third world country there may be no other option but to drink your own (and often anyone or any animal that happens to be upstream from you) urine, but here at home, thankfully, there is.

So how do we stop this despicable practice?  Simple.  Remove anything from the tub or pool that can be used as a drinking utensil.  The only thing we couldn't remove was the wash cloth, which counts as a drinking utensil.  Since the primary function of the cloth is more important than the other uses, we decided to leave it in the tub.  We do, however, have a protocol for usage:
  1. It goes into the tub only when we are ready to use it.
  2. If it is confiscated by toddlers, we try to take it away (using other toys as distractions) or at least wring it out before it can be used inappropriately.
  3. We remove it from the tub as soon as the washing stage is complete. 
By following these simple steps, you too can live a life free of botulism, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever. 

Maybe that is a little over-dramatic, but at least you can stop watching your children drink their own pee.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This one's a little different than you're used to

Excuse me sir, you cannot move about the cabin until the captain has turned off the seat belt sign,
 is what the male stewardess flight attendant said to me as I pushed by him.

All I could reply was,

Looking for a funny vomit picture? Use this one, don't google it yourself.  Trust me.
This past week I was away on a business trip.  I was preparing a nice little post about leaving my girls and listing the things I could do to make the time away from them go faster.
I was struggling with the post. 

I really felt like I was forcing the topic.  Why wouldn't it come to me? 

Now I know why!  I was supposed to write about something else, something a little more hacky

Why business travel sucks. 

I could also call it worst business trip ever, but I feel that would just be inviting something worse to happen.

Why, you might ask, was it the worst trip ever?

On Monday my first flight was delayed.  This caused me to miss my connecting flight, miss a meeting, and added four hours to my travel time.

On Thursday I awoke at four AM to catch my flight home from San Francisco.  By the time I changed planes in Denver, I didn't feel very well.  My text to Julia went something like this:
So nauseous! 
I spent most of the two hour flight from Denver in the bathroom. 

You haven't lived until you've crammed yourself in a 2x4x6 bathroom for two hours and COMPLETELY emptied the contents of your stomach. 

Actually, there was plenty of room as I only used a 2x2x3 area.

The verdict is in - food poisoning, from bad seafood.

After landing, I was barely able to drive myself home.  I walked in the door, plowed straight past a sign my daughters had colored for me to welcome me home, and went straight to the bathroom to pick up where I left off. 

Then, after sufficiently emptying my body of everything I'd eaten since last Thanksgiving, I went to bed, where I spent 28 of the next 30 hours. 

Being sick is (usually) not that bad.  Being away from my family for any extended period of time is (usually) not much fun.

So coming home and going to bed (when I expected to have family time) was quite the disappointing way to end a week.  At least I lost nine pounds, caught up on my sleep, and got to use a sick day! 

Woo hoo.

PS - For those of you that doubt my craziness, it has been almost three days since the poisoning took place.  I have eaten only two pieces of toast in that time frame, yet my body is craving one thing, and one thing alone.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bawk bawk bawk bawk

I am not a chicken when it comes to trying new things. 

I am a huge chicken when it comes to my girls doing it. 

photo credit

I know they need to live and learn, but sometimes it scares me.  I turned out mostly fine after doing a ton of dangerous stuff.  Maybe I am treating them more like girls than little adventurers.

I have a solution - I'll create a danger scale, so I can be a little better prepared how to respond to injury.  This should allow me to gauge their relative danger potential and determine how to react based on that rating.

Each action will be given a rating from one to five, with the coresponding definitions:
  1. nothing is completely harmless, but this is as close as it gets
  2. crocodile tears, but no lasting concerns
  3. real tears, possible red mark or welt, definite shrieking
  4. lots of tears and wailing, definite red mark and/or bruising, possible bleeding
  5. tears, wailing, blood, skin grafts, trip to the hospital, possible coma    
Now that we have established our scale, it is time to determine how to react. 
  1. do nothing
  2. do nothing
  3. do nothing
  4. be close and try to prevent injury, but mostly do nothing
  5. find something else for them to do so I can do nothing
The list should work fine - as long as I can properly rate an action.  The new problem I've created for myself is thinking that everything is a 5.  In reality, the girls probably do very few things that are in the 4 or 5 class, but I tend to imagine the worst and therefore put their actions there.

If anyone has dealt with their own chicken issues?  I would love to hear how you've coped.   

Monday, August 22, 2011

New to me

I've only bought two brand new cars in my life. 

The rest were used, but still new to me.  Just because someone else has already driven the car doesn't make it any less exciting, for me, the first time. 

Whether or not the clock has already been programmed by soemone else doesn't mean that I can't be just as excited when I figure it out - and then remember how to do it again when daylight savings hits. 

Since Julia gets to see the girls all day long, she gets to experience most everything they do for the first time in real time.  I either hear about it later, or see them doing it myself.  Those times I see them do something for the first time, I get so excited!  I yell to Julia to let her know what they are doing and typically get the response:
Yep, they started that a few days ago. 
At first that depressed me.  Actually, it depressed me for quite some time. 

I kept missing out on these milestones.  I think I might have been looking at these new actions as some sort of foolish competition. 

I was losing. 
Julia got to see everything.
I got to see nothing. 
I hate to lose. 

I don't know exactly when it happened, but at some point I just started thinking differently about it.  Instead of seeing it as a missed experience or as a loss, I decided to look at it as it truly was - still a new experience for me and the girls. 


                                          "All I ever do is win" - Charlie Sheen

I still yell for Julia, just in case what they're doing is something new - and just to be sure what they are doing isn't some sign language I don't understand. 

But - I no longer feel bad that I didn't see it first.  Every so often I still see something for the first time and that is exciting. 

I've worked hard to teach them new things - things their mama probably doesn't really want me teaching them, but oh well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Can't we all just get along?

  Stonehenge may or may not be a calendar, but it works for me here.

One part of my crazy mind wants to just go with the flow.  The other part wants to have an entirely structured day.  Can they coexist? 

For me, not every day is exactly the same, but for the most part every Monday is similar to the last one.  The same can be said of the rest of the days of the week, save the weekend.  It's not even really remotely the case for Saturday and Sunday. 

The truth is this - the part of my day, when I'm at work, is very structured.  Not because someone's told me it has to be that way, but because I've come to find how much I enjoy knowing what I have to do and when I'll do it. 

I'm very good at reacting to the curve balls that are thrown at me, but I prefer to hit the fastballs.   

When I'm at home, the only thing consistent about our routine is the inconsistency. 

Here is what I have come to understand about myself:  I prefer more structure for larger items and less for the smaller ones. 

The girls have the same bed time routine every night.  Nap time and bath time follow the same rules.  Meals are planned at about the same time everyday.  Those are my big items.  Everything else is small.

Seems simple, right?

Not always.

On Sunday, Julia wanted to take the girls for a walk at a local nature preserve. It was a beautiful day, but I knew we had just under one hour before they should start eating their next meal.  My mind started to plan the outing:
  • 30 minutes of total drive time to and from our destination 
  • 20 minutes to walk the mile loop
  • 10 minutes to prepare their food for dinner
  • 10 minutes to cover the miscellaneous events such as loading and unloading the car, changing diapers, and such.

We couldn't do it.  There just wasn't enough time. 

I put my foot down.  Then I put my other foot down.  I kept putting one in front of the other as we walked the mile loop.

I could feel myself getting frustrated.  I had a master plan and things were not going according to this plan.  What the cuss?

                                                                           Fantastic Mr. Fox - what a great movie.

Dinner would be late, which would result in added fussiness (for both Papa and toddlers), which would then cause dinner to take a lot longer than it should.  This would throw off the rest of the night, and possibly do the same for every other occurrence that would ever take place in my life from this point forward. 

My life was ruined.

Can you guess what happened? 

I was wrong - again.  Maybe that should be a label.

The girls adapted better than I would have.  The walk outside was just what they needed to relax them.  We got home (late) and played while Julia made their dinner.  They didn't get fussy.  They ate a great meal and everything was once again right with the universe.

Lesson learned - my need/desire for structure is not as great as the girls' need/desire for (minimal) flexibility and experiencing new things.

Events like this probably won't lead to me abandoning my structure all together, but I did leave my watch at home yesterday.  Accidentally. 

I missed it. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How do I love thee...let me count the ways

Hugs and kisses are easy to understand. 

Laughter, holding hands, and snuggling are other ways.

Hadley giving me the sign for "I Love you" is yet another.

Those are easy to identify - assuming you know the sign as I now do. 

My girls have other ways of showing me that they love me since they can't yet say it directly.  Papa and Cook-a both, in my opinion, count.

I wasn't entirely sure what Hadley was trying to tell me the first time she walked up to me with her eyes closed, mouth open, looking like she was ready to give me a big, wet kiss.  I leaned in for it and WHAM!  She lowered her head, aimed for my forehead, and gave me a running head butt.  It all happened so quickly I was caught off guard.  I didn't have time to react, which was probably a good thing. 

I would have been stunned if my head were not so hard.  Hadley recoiled a step, looking a little dazed yet smiling, and decided she enjoyed it.  She charged back in to ram me again.  I let her.  I'd seen her and Brynne doing this to each other and decided it would be okay.  It didn't hurt me, and it didn't seem to bother her. 

Aside from the red spot on her head, she appeared fine. 

Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement.  Brynne was now on the attack.  I turned just in time to catch her head-butt on the nose - squarely.  That one did hurt a bit, but the pain went away as my watering eyes dried up.

I didn't have time to hurt, I had two little foreheads coming back at me again.  I caught these on the forehead and the giggles ensued.  Apparently they both inherited my rock hard noggin.  I knew they had the size based on being consistently at the top of their growth charts in head circumference, but until now, I wasn't sure about the density - they have it.

My two little mountain goats love to butt heads with me, and each other. 

Mama's head is not quite as solid, but they still give her a shot from time to time.  I imagine they stick with me and each other, mostly, because of the sheer size of the target. 

The floor, walls, and windows are all fair game, though we try to encourage them not to go slamming their heads into just anything (and anyone) in the area.

If you ever get the chance to meet our girls and don't have a solid head, please wear a helmet.  It's fine if you choose not to.  Just don't be embarrased when I wake you with smelling salts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things I call my kids for $200, Alex

If you were watching me on a hidden camera, you might assume that I have forty children. 

I don't. 

I do have about forty names I call the girls. 

I thought I'd throw this list of names out now, and let you all reference it in the future to verify when I am actually referring to my girls. 

It's not easy to tell sometimes.

Some of these are easy to understand how they came about.  Some of them really don't have an explanation, other than the fact that I have a crazy mind. 

Good luck trying to follow the path of the crazy train!

crazy train

Here are their shared names:

Little Ones
Sweetie Pies
Squids (my personal favorite and mildly unexplainable)
Little chick-a-dees
Monkey britches
Lil britches (note there is an "R" in the word)
Poop factories
Snuggle bugs

And now for the more child-specific ones. 

Let's start with my oldest, Hadley:

Brynne (sometimes I get them confused)
Brynhadley (sometimes I just almost get them confused)
Hadley-kins (my personal favorite for Hadley--a mildly unexplainable nickname)

Brynne's have a little more diversity:

Hadley (yup, goes both ways--name confusion)
Haddle-brynne (almost, again)
Boo-boo (As in "Hey Boo-boo, let's go get some pick-uh-nick baskets" ~Yogi Bear)
Brynne-a-puss-rex* (my personal favorite for Brynne and an utterly unexplainable nickname)

*All "puss" references should be pronounced like pussy cat, not like discharge.  Sorry, no easy way to differentiate those two.

I don't know how many of these will stand the test of time.  I'm sure as some of them get retired, there will be new ones to step in and replace them.
I've come to learn that I owe my parents an apology for making fun of them when they called me and my siblings by the wrong name.

Sorry, Mom.  Sorry, Dad.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Toddlers and ShamWows

What an odd title. 

How could these two things be even remotely similar? 


It is easy to see when you think about it.  They both pick up more than you would ever expect.

The ShamWow is designed to absorb something like 50 times its weight in liquids.  It also picks up dirt, hair, small rodents, and occasionally a small child.  Before you wring it out you need to carefully inspect the contents of it.

Toddlers pick up everything.   Not physically, though they are constantly surprising me with their feats of strength.  I'm talking mentally. 

I knew they were absorbent, but I had no idea just how much they would understand. 

When our girls get sleepy, they will often put their hand on the side of their head (sign language for sleep - add it to my list).  If I don't catch that sign, they will come to me with their sleep sack in one hand and then lead me to the changing room with the other, so they can be changed and put down. 

Just the other day, as Julia was babysitting another slightly younger toddler, Hadley did an amazing thing.  I didn't see it first hand, but Julia told me about it when I got home from work.  She went to slightly-younger-toddler's bag, opened it and removed all the items he needed to nap.  Then, she took them into the changing room and lovingly placed them in his pack-n-play.  Lovingly means she tossed them over the side, and then came back to the living room to play.  Her work was done.

She picked all of that up just watching and listening.  That got me thinking: 

How much else has she been picking up on that we just don't yet know about? 

How many times have I been critical of someone or something and she's heard it?
Does she file that away and plan to use it at a most inopportune time? 

Are my actions even at this stage shaping how she will interact with others? 

Of course. 

Our girls are hanging on every word and action of ours, so we need to be extra careful in everything we do and say. 

It might be cute, to some people, the first time their children drop the F-bomb at a family gathering, but not to me.  We work so hard to teach them to be obedient and respectful, but I often forget they are always listening and learning from us - the good and the bad.

We don't often swear at our house, but an occasional one slips out.  Maybe one of our dogs got underfoot when we were making dinner, so we let something fly.  Maybe I was tired, misunderstood something my wife said, and reacted poorly. My little ShamWows don't just cue in on the words I use, but on my tone as well. 

Baby-proofing means not only protecting our children from physical dangers in their environment (which often includes locking the toilet seat down, so at 3 AM my bladder is bursting while I try to open it), but it also means protecting them from our words and actions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It could have been worse...

...it could have been Friday the 13th instead of the 12th. 

They (whoever they are) say that bad things come in threes.  After today, I fully believe it. 
Bad thing #1 - Morning came too early.
photo credit here

Hadley is cutting all four incisors at the same time.  They woke her up at 5:30 AM, and she did not go back to sleep.  At 5:45 I went and got her.  At 5:47 she fell asleep on Mama. 

It wouldn't last.

I looked over five minutes later, and she was staring right back at me.  She gave me a little smile.  I tried to pick her up and move her back to her bed, but she was not having it.  She wailed until she got back on Mama, but she never fell back asleep. 

I had been looking forward to sleeping in after a long week - and by sleeping in I mean 7 AM.  It was only slightly more than an hour, but I sure would have loved it.
Bad thing #2 - Brynne got in a fight.  She lost. 

We were at the doctor's office for their 18 month check-up. While waiting for the doctor to come in the girls were playing.  Brynne came running back across the room. 

She tripped. 

She slammed, face-first into a chair that was butted up against the wall. 

The corner of the square metal chair leg she slammed her head into only had a small dent in it, but her face is broken.

To add insult to injury - she still got a shot.
Bad thing #3 - A visit from the local fire department. 

The girls had just gone to sleep when our smoke detector went off.  It's right outside the girls' room, so I scrambled to shut it down before it woke them up.  I reached up for it, and was preparing to dismantle it, when I heard the alarm from another room. 

I left this detector and went to our room, where the carbon monoxide detector resides. 

Sure enough, it was screaming.  I took it down and popped the batteries.  The alarm was not the one chirp/beep every 30 seconds that tells you the batteries are dying.  

It was the actual alarm sound.

I still changed the batteries, just to be sure.  The alarm stopped, but we decided to call the fire department just to be safe.

They came out and checked our house.  Everything was fine, and they found no trace of carbon monoxide.

Fireman number one had some helpful advice. He told us to have one detector on each level of the house, and to put them as close to the floor as possible. 

Fireman number two went through the checklist of everything they searched and we signed off saying nothing was found. 

Fireman number three just had this to say: How long have your girls been asleep? 
Me: About an hour
Fireman number three: Maybe you should go in and check on them just to be sure they're only sleeping.

What a pleasant thing to hear near the end of my day. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Operation Puppy Dog

Mission:  Get through the kitchen, into the puppies' room, shut the dogs in their crates, and return to the livingroom without being seen.

Timing:  Wait for Mama to be outside and Papa to be distracted enough to not latch the baby gate properly.

Casualties:  Not likely, but one may need to sacrifice for the greater good of the mission.

Final report (as seen through the eyes of the enemy - Papa):

The baby gate works great, but only when we shut it properly.  This past weekend I opened the gate and walked through to write something on our grocery list in the kitchen.  I was only going to be in the kitchen for a minute so I didn't latch the gate - I just let it be close to shut so I could easily walk back through. 

As I wrote the first item on the list, I heard: Squeal! Pitter-patter-pitter-patter-pitter-patter.

I turned around to find Hadley making a mad dash for the dogs, with Brynne right behind her.  Following tried and true divide-and-conquer military strategy, Brynne was veering off toward the dogs' food and water bowls. 

They had swung the gate open, but did not let it slam shut.  That would have alerted me of their invasion.  Basically, they teamed up to get further into the room, as a unit, than they ever had before. 

I imagine their entry went something like this:

Brynne quickly and stealthily breached the gate and held it open for Hadley.  The recon work she had been doing taught her to be careful not to open it too wide so as to avoid the squeak it makes when opened about 70% of the way.  She then gave Hadley the old "wiggle-two-fingers-in-front-of-her-eyes" military sign, and pointed toward the dogs. 

Hadley did a forward somersault, pulling into a crouched position to await her next move - getting dog hair all over her in the process to camouflage her movement through the kitchen.  She did this to get as far into the kitchen as she could without making any noise. 

Brynne, then slowly closed the gate behind herself - leaving it slightly ajar to aid in their escape.  Then, they both took off running at full speed, apparently thinking their bare feet would prevent me from hearing them. 

This was the only mistake they made, and it led to their ultimate downfall

They failed to realize that when they run, they sound like a herd of elephants.

When the alarms in my head went off, and I was finally alerted to their presence, they were already six and eight feet across the open terrain. 

My initial instinct was to capture the closest perpetrator, detain her, and go for the second.  As I surveyed the situation, I changed my plan mid-stride. 

Brynne was going for sustenance, while Hadley was going toward the ultimate objective.  Hadley had the most potential for danger, so I went for her.

Brynne saw what I was doing, and took evasive maneuvers. 

As I rounded the island and moved to intercept Hadley, Brynne stepped right in front of me.  She stood there with her arms outstretched at her sides, her head turned to the side, and her eyes closed.  She meant business. 

I could tell she fully intended to "take one for the team". 

I took one quick step around her, slammed into the wall, and barely avoided knocking her down.  When I regained my balance and reached Hadley, she had already shut one dog into her crate and was going for the other - giggling all the while.

I scooped her up and went back toward Brynne, who had resumed her mission of searching out rations for their return trip, but since the dogs had recently eaten there was nothing for her there. 

I scooped Brynne up in my other arm, and headed back to safety - putting them on the other side of the gate.

When they were safely returned to their designated section of the house, I went back to finish my list - which I had now forgotten.  I made sure to latch the gate this time. 

The giggles stopped suddenly. 

As I re-entered their territory I found them on the couch, looking over the top at the dogs and smiling mischievously. 

They might as well have been giving each other a high-five, or maybe even a fist bump

I know they are dreaming up their next big operation already!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raising hip children

I was not cool in high school or college. 

I was an athlete, so I was semi-popular, but far from cool.  I am pretty cool now - at least my wife and children think so - I think. 

Actually, I am far from cool. 

I have no fashion sense.  I think a navy shirt goes well with black pants.  My wife has to approve my wardrobe every morning to prevent me from embarrassing myself.  If she's not awake when I leave, I just use my one or two default outfits that I know will not draw any unnecessary attention.

I make stupid jokes that may or may not be "appropriate" given the situation.

I don't know or care much about cars, electronics, and popular shows/movies. 

I don't listen to new music or hang out at the trendy spots.

I can't dance (thank you Phil Collins) - unless you consider my white man's overbite move and the occasional robot as dancing.  Okay, so I also do the shopping cart, mow the lawn, and the running man for a laugh - but that's it.  I can't even do the electric slide - maybe that's not a bad thing.  Even slow dancing with my wife is awkward.  Size 15 shoes tend to crush anything they get near, so I don't pick them up to dance - they just slide.

My girls don't stand a chance to learn anything hip from me, so I count on Julia to do that.  With all that said, there is one cool thing I have taught Hadley. 

The fist bump.

We started with high fives, then moved on to low fives.  Next came the tens.  I really thought I had taken that as far as possible - until I gave her the fist bump. 

She looked quizzically at me (as if calling me her big, dork dad), clenched her fist, and bumped me back. 

I laughed. 
She laughed. 

We proceeded to fist bump that whole afternoon. 

Brynne has yet to do it - maybe she knows the fist bump was semi-cool last decade, but has since lost any cool status it ever had.  Maybe she is saving herself from being uncool.  She won't wear a cell phone on her hip in a little clip on carrier either, so it's possible she has already surpassed me in coolness. 

I don't do that and never have - just wanted to get that out there.  I didn't avoid it because I thought it was not a good look, but rather because I just didn't realize people were doing it until it was too late.  By the time I caught on to how awesome it looked, it was already outdated.

All I know is that Hadley and I are now working on going from the fist bump to jazz hands and we'll soon be working on secret handshakes. 

Once we have that mastered, we'll work on the Kid n' Play dance move. 

Perhaps I am cooler than I give myself credit for.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Paternity test

We hear all the time how much Brynne looks like me, and Hadley looks like Julia. 

For just a moment the other day I caught myself wondering if these two, were in fact, my children. 

Here's the scenario:

We were finishing dinner.  The last step of dinner, before brushing teeth, (I failed to mention in my second post - I know the sign for brushing teeth, so that makes seven signs I know) is some sort of dessert.  Since they get bon-bons all day we try to do other stuff - fruit, fruit mashed into applesauce, kettle corn, and graham crackers are all common.

Eating the same stuff over and over and over bores me. 

I thought it might be boring for the girls as well, so I asked Julia if she would make some homemade chocolate chip cookies.  (I really didn't think the girls cared about eating the same stuff - I just wanted cookies and it is harder for Julia to say no if she thinks it is for the girls instead of me).

She made the cookies, and we had them for dessert.  One bite for Hadley, one bite for Papa, one bite for Brynne, one bite for Papa.  I eat quicker so I needed another bite while waiting on them to finish.  Problem.  They didn't finish their bites.  They spit them out or threw them to the ground.  What a disaster! 

These couldn't be my children.  I ate their discarded bites to console myself.

Well, as it turns out, they are my children.  A few days later I came home late from work, and Julia was just finishing dinner.  Chocolate chips were melted on their hands, faces, and in their hair - good thing it was bath night and both of us were home. 

A few more days go by, and this time when I come in the door for lunch Brynne is holding a bite of cookie in her hand and with a huge grin starts yelling cook-a, cook-a, cook-a.  I prefer for her to announce my arrival with Papa, Papa, Papa, but I now know that if I'm gone, I can be replaced by cookies. 


All is right with the world, as the identity of their father is now clearly me.

I also now know the sign for cookie.  Apparently it is very close to muffin and cupcake.  If you have a list running, I'm up to ten signs with these three similar ones. 

Go Papa!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

MAMA - That's me yelling, not the girls

As Red, from The Shawshank Redemption, said about Andy Dufresne's first night in the slammer:
That was the longest night of his life.
It wasn't exactly the longest day or night of my life, but it sure felt like it. 

Mama was getting out of the house for some much needed social time last night, and Papa got to put the girls down for the night by himself.  It wouldn't have been that bad, but we're in the middle of transitioning to one nap, so they just didn't bank enough sleep yesterday. 

That by itself is not a bad thing - I can handle sleepy and fussy babies. 

I have about four things I can do to entertain them, and typically one of those four will work.  I had all my best tricks ready to go, but I didn't plan on more difficulties.

Plan one:  Play with toys.  We'd been doing that all day so they were not eager to continue that.  Mama had also been gone during the day, so they were a little sick of my entertainment.  Plan one = fail.

Plan two:  Read some books.  Again, we'd been rotating books and toys all day, so that was met with a less than enthusiastic response.  Plan two = fail.

Plan three:  Go for a walk.  Aaahhh.  This worked wonderfully - for about ten minutes.  You see, the one thing I failed to count on was the weather.  We've been lacking rain for so long I forgot what it felt like - until we were at the farthest reach of our estate and it came bursting forth.  That means we were about 25 yards from the back door.  The rain came fast, hard, and cold. 

Both Brynne and Hadley were moving their hands up and down as they squinted at me through the downpour.  I now know, that is the sign for rain.  I had no clue they knew that sign or what the sign for rain even was, but one of their signing books was open (right to that page) on the floor when we got back inside so now we all know how to sign "rain". 

Lemonade out of lemons. 

We made it to the back door, only to find it locked.  We went around to the garage - I had closed the door.  One last mad dash took us to the front door - which was locked.  We were now stranded.  Locked out of the house and standing in the pouring rain. 

I'm lying.

The front door was open so we came inside.  Still, plan three = fail.

Plan four: drink until I pass out and wait for Mama to come home.  I'd never gotten to plan four before, and I just couldn't bring myself to drink that much.  I thought to myself:
Self - What is the stupidest thing you can do now? 
Self replied:
They seem to enjoy bath time - let's try that!
I wasn't thinking.  I was out of good options so I decided this would suffice.  I gave the sign for bath (another one I now know) prematurely.  Fail. 

I grabbed the loudest screamer and struggled with her until I was able to get her changed and dressed only in a diaper. 

I now grabbed the lesser screamer, who had become the greater screamer, as she pounded on the bathroom door waiting for her bath. 

One wiff was all I needed to know that this would not be easy.  Blowout.  Fortunately it was contained, but just barely. 

I could hardly hear her screaming as her sister had now picked up where she left off, banging on the bathroom door.  Both girls were now diaper clad and ready to bathe.

Typically, Mama would be getting the bath ready while I was getting the girls ready.  I didn't think about this ahead of time.  The girls and I were now in the bathroom and I was totally unprepared for a bath.  I ran the water and tossed in their toys.  They were so excited to get into the tub. 

Their screams were making it impossible to think. 

I put them in the tub.

Fail.  Diapers were still on.  Pick up one, remove the diaper, return to water.  Repeat. 

Fail.  The running water had encouraged them to empty their bladders.  I now have two girls in the tub and no clean diapers.  In addition to this, I realized I also didn't have their towels (still in the dryer), washcloths (also in the dryer), clean pajamas (in the changing room), or my drink (in the kitchen).

I ran throughout the house to gather everything, pausing only momentarily, to freshen up my drink, and returned to find them right where I left them. 

I lied again. 

I wasn't about to leave them alone in the tub, for anything other than my drink. 

One more lie.  The drink was already in the bathroom.  That, amazingly, is the one thing I remembered.

The actual bath itself went fine. 

We got ready for bed, read from our Bible, had a glass of brandy, and went right to sleep - 45 minutes earlier than we should have. 

It is amazing how a little bit of brandy can put a baby right to sleep. 

I am the baby in this scenario - my girls got milk as usual.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What's wrong with you???

I am a Seinfeld fan.  There's an episode where Kramer's phone number is close to the movie theater's phone number and so, he just starts answering as if he were the theater's automated recording.  When someone would key in their zip code, he couldn't tell what it was, so he would just ask them to tell him where they wanted to see the movie, in his best automated recording voice. 

I feel like Kramer quite often now.

Sidebar -
loathe those automated operators.  Use your snobbiest voice and say, IIIIIII'm sorry.  I didn't understand your reply.  Please try again. 
Do that to your significant other about nine times in a row and see how much fun it is for them. 

I usually end up just yelling, Operator! into the phone until it gets me to a person.  The voice tends to sound a little dejected by the end of it, so score a moral victory for me! 
Auto-op realized it was unable to help me and truly feels bad - maybe it will get a bad review at the end of the year for poor customer service. 
Back to the main story. 

Julia (my wife, for those of you that don't know me) stays home with the girls.  All day long they eat bon-bons and work on their sign language.  It's gotten to the point where they know over 40 signs. 

I know four of those. 

My mind is like a steel trap with a lot of things, but it is more like a steel colander when it comes to sign language. 

When I get home from work I typically feed the girls dinner.  They will be eating just fine, until they decide they want something else.  At this point, one of them will start convulsing and the other will either be laughing, or making wild gestures of her own. 

If they want something other than milk, water, bananas, or grapes I simply cannot help them - those are my four signs. 

I yell for Julia (for her and not at her) to tell me if I need to do some sort of medical(ish) treatment on them, or perhaps perform an exorcism.  After she reassures me they are not actually convulsing, and that they merely want blueberries or strawberries, I can relax. I get them the food and they are good - until we run out of said food and they, again, appear possessed. 

There are only two solutions to this communication problem that I see: I learn sign language, or they learn to speak. 

I'm convinced they will use words more in their life than I will use sign language, so I'm going with the second option.  I will continue to yell for Julia when the girls have fits.  I'm sure this won't go the way I want it to, so I'll probably be a master in signing soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Somewhere in the Middle

There seems to be three unwritten (yet mandatory) rules in blogging. 

Rule one states:
In your initial post, you must acknowledge you never imagined yourself as a blogger.
So acknowledged.

Rule two states:

You must identify the reason you started blogging.
Rule three states:
You must provide some background information about yourself.
I considered titling this inaguaral post "In the beginning", but that has already been used by an author far more talented than me.  The other reason I didn't want to start with that title is that it would force me to start in the past.  I am choosing to jump in at the present time.  If you want to know more about the first 18 months of life with twin girls from my perpsective, then you'll just have to buy my book (I know it's a shameless plug, but oh well). 

To be truthful, it is not a book yet, as it has not been published, but we're working on it.  My literary agent told me I need to start a blog so I can keep writing and get my name out there - that's rule two for those of you scoring at home. 

My girls are now just over 18 months old.  Everyday they do something new and amazing - and frequently humorous.  My plan is to entertain, educate, and enlighten. By the way, the fourth and only optional rule of blogging is to identify what you hope to accomplish through your blogging, so there you have it. 

Mamas and papas tend to see things a little differently - this Papa is no exception.  Actually, I am quite the excepiton.  I'm strange - I admit it freely and love it.  My mind does crazy things and goes crazy places.  Stick around and be you might just be amazed...confused...frightened...and more!

Now that the four rules have been taken care of, I can get started with the story telling.  I expect it to be a little like Mr. Toad's ride (wild - in case you aren't familiar with that particular story).   I don't quite know what to expect going forward, but in the very least it should be...interesting?