Monday, October 31, 2011

What does the future hold for Hadley?

In looking back at some old pics of the girls I see some possible careers for them.  Today we'll go through Hadley's.

Fire Marshall



Electronics wizard


Racecar driver


 Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What does the future hold for Brynne?

In looking back at some old pics of the girls I see some possible careers for them.  Today we'll go through Brynne's.

Rambo, or Rambette

WNBA player - assuming it's still around

Race car driver (or superhero)




Fan of Devo


Veterinarian again

Escape Artist - before

Escape Artist - after

 Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The professor becomes the student

At work I quite often have to attend training meetings or seminars.  Most of the time they are quite useless in my opinion, but I go into them with the same thought:  Find one thing I can use.

There's gold in these here hills I tell ya!
All it takes is one nugget to walk away with and I can consider my time spent there as justified.

Reading to the girls at night is not at all like this.  It is a very enjoyable and fulfilling time for me.  We get to read to them from one of their story bibles.  We, in essence, get to teach them and train them from the best book available. 

I really didn't expect to find any useful bit of insight in the books (here and here) we are reading from as I assumed they were just stories from the bible written so children could grasp the basics of deeper text. 

I've nearly completed reading the bible from cover to cover myself this year.  I didn't read it from Genesis to Revelations in one fell swoop.  Instead, I used this method.  It was a little easier for me to follow as making it through Jeremiah or Isaiah can be a bit difficult - you'll know what I mean if you've tried it yourself.

The books do tell the stories exactly as I had imagined.  I was wrong, however, in thinking the girls would be the only ones to benefit from the books.

I found it - my pure gold nugget.

In writing about the death of Jesus, the book made a profound statment I had never thought of before.  Jesus is hanging on the cross and people in the crowd are making fun of him.

"If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!" they said.
And of course they were right.  Jesus could have just climbed down.  Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop.  Like when he healed that little girl.  And stilled the storm.  And fed 5,00 people.
But Jesus stayed.
Ready for it?

You see, they didn't understand.  It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there.  It was love. 
Awesome.  So simple, yet so HUGE! 

We are nearly done with the second book and will be starting from the beginning of the first one again when we finish.  I think I'll be paying a little more attention this time around to see what else I might have missed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Welcome to the emotional roller coaster

Last week, as we were battling the dreaded croup, I had something happen which has never happened to me before.  I know, once you have kiddos this is a regular occurrence, but this one was different.

Typically, when something like this happens, it's either purely a joyful experience or purely a dreadful one.

Last week was once.

Brynne was barking like a seal in her crib while Mama and I listened to her through the baby monitor.

This seal...

not this Seal
Every time I would get up to go try and do something for her she would stop coughing.  I would wait to see if she went back to sleep...crawl back into bed...doze off...and then be awakened by another round of animal noises.

After one particularly nasty bout she fell silent again.  Too silent.

Then the silence was broken.


My heart was bursting and breaking at the same time.

Brynne was hurting, which was hurting me.  She had tried to deal with the coughing, but was not doing so well.  So she did something I hope she'll continue to do for a long time to come. 

She asked for Papa to help.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is there no end to a toddler's supply of snot?

I am NOT a fan of bows.  Hair bows, that is.  I have nothing against wrapping a present nicely.

There is one exception.

I will use them to keep hair off the girls' faces when their noses are little snot faucets.

Brynne with her arm around her imaginary friend.
Hadley, at 6 AM, giving the sign for sleep.
Now, I encourage their usage when the snot faucets are going full blast at 6 AM, Mama is out for a run, and I need to brush caked on snot out of their hair.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We don't waste food in this house

Most of the time my girls are very good eaters.

They do have their own plates, we don't make them share like this.
Some of the time they get into a little funk - like when they're either tired or not feeling well.

In these instances, they really seem to enjoy putting the food in their mouths, chewing it up, and then spitting it back out.  Often, this includes raking it out of their mouths with their fingers.

If they aren't listening to my verbal instructions, I have to act. 

Step 1 - Prevent the food from escaping by holding my hand over their mouths. 

Results - Not good: choking; gagging; biting of Papa's fingers; and, ultimately, the food comes back out.

Step 2 - Pile the semi-chewed food up on their tray and see if they will go back for it.

Results - Brynne has never touched her food using this method.  Hadley will consume it about half the time.

Step 3 - Modify the spit covered glob of food.  This can be accomplished by: hiding it in another bite of something; removing it from the plate, putting it back on a fork, and hoping they don't notice; or smothering it in BBQ sauce.

Results - The odds of Hadley eating it stays at 50%, but jumps to 75% when BBQ sauce is utilized.  The only way Brynne will go for it is if BBQ sauce is involved.  Even then, she will still spit it out half the time.  Once she realizes what I've done, she won't touch anything with BBQ sauce for the rest of the meal. 

Smart kid. 

Step 4 (aka the last hope) - Show them how yummy the meal is by eating it myself. 

Results - This never works.  I will continue to try, though. It might work at some point in the future. 

I'm kidding myself.  I know it will never work, but I continue to clean up after them as Julia is a wonderful cook and I hate to see the food go to waste.  The leftovers that used to end up as my lunches later in the week have now become the girls' meals. 

I'm ok with that.  I'm also not grossed out by anything.

If this is the only way I can get my leftovers, then so be it.  Better me than the dogs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vacation - Papa's point of view part 5

This is the last time I’m going to say it; if you’re just joining me you should really go back and start at the beginning of this adventure. 
We left home and caught our flight.  From there we got our rental car and hit the road.  We pulled into the parking lot and there waiting was a stranger with a box fan that would never be ours. 
Jane was the box fan owner.  Jane is actually Melissa.  John is her husband Derek. 
Julia and Melissa co-write a blog about beauty.  They found each other through a twin web site and hit it off.  They became virtual friends.  Last fall, Julia made the statement about how she was so blessed to have stumbled into such a great friendship, but she felt sad as she didn’t know if she would ever meet her friend in person as she lived half way across the country.
I filed her statement away in the bowels of my crazy mind and decided right then and there they would have to meet.
Booking the actual trip took all of two hours, give or take. 
All of the deception and misdirection took ten times that amount of time.
The hardest part was trying to keep it all straight.  Lying is such tough work! 
We had a great week, despite some of the early troubles.  Julia and Melissa were able to do something neither of them had thought possible.  Our girls were able to play with new twin friends.  Derek and I were able to meet and strike up a friendship. 
What a great vacation!
Best of all, Julia was totally surprised.  She didn't know what we were doing, or that we were spending the week there, until Melissa told her in the parking lot where they met.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


(Sung to the beat of Shoop, from Salt-n-Pepa)

Here they go, here they go, here they go again
Girls, what's your weakness? Coughin

Ok then,

chillin', chillin', mindin' my business
I heard the monitor and I couldn't believe this
I swear, I stared, Julia my witness

My girls were coughing kinda
Wicked, wicked, have to kick it

I'm not shy so I gave them some benadryl

A doctor? No, that don't make me
We need sleep so I dose them swiftly

Croup, croup ba-doop
Croup ba-doop
Croup ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop

Don't want no croup, baby.

Too late.  Both girls have it. 

You can stop singing now. 

Nights are awful.  Cool air humidifier, steamy shower, walks in the cold night air, ibuprofen, benadryl, honey elixir - none of these are working. 

Waking up (assuming they actually got some sleep) with their hair stuck to the snot that's drained from them overnight can't be much fun. 

At least we have Boogie wipes for this.  These have a magical formula that destroys dried snot on contact...more potent than regular wipes, Formula 409, or straight bleach.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Repetition is the mother of all learning

I believe the title to this post is an old Russian proverb, but I don't really know. 

I've heard it so many times it's stuck in my brain - thus proving the statement true.

In working with our girls to get them all learned up (don't worry, Mama will be teaching them English and grammar) we have utilized this strategy, but added our own twist. 

While we repeat everything constantly, we also add in sounds and actions as everyone learns best in a different fashion.  If I read an instruction manual (as awful as they are) I might understand how to assemble something.  On the other hand, if I just jump right in and try to assemble it I will more than likely know how to do it going forward. 

Since our children can't yet tell us how they learn best, we use varying techniques to teach them.

Here are a few examples:

This is a rocking horse and that is what we call it - or horse for short.

We also call him Howard - Howie for short.

Mama does the sign for horse - I haven't learned it yet.

We also make the neighing sound of a horse when they play with it.

At some point the little sponges understood all of those references and now, when we read a book with a horse in it, they will either go get Howie, neigh themselves, sign horse, or at the very least point to him.

I assume Howie is a "he"-- thankfully Howie is not anatmomically correct, so we just don't know.

They'll also take the horse magnet and make the same noises and gestures.

We have Phineas the Frog.  Phineas, thanks to this book, goes ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, hop, hop, hop with corresponding signs and sounds.

Another critter is Fido the dog.  Fido was an easy one since we have two real puppies, so the girls know all about canines.

We do this for non-animals as well.  They have Carla - the car.

Knowing the girls understand us is a wonderful feeling.  It also makes cleaning up before bed a lot easier. 

I can ask Brynne to put Howie back in his stall and she'll do it, giving his ear a squeeze as she goes, so he'll play some music to dance to while she works.

I can ask Hadley to park Carla next to Howie and she'll do that as well. 

We can do the same thing for Phineas, Fido, books, cars, cups, and blocks.  Actually, we can do it for almost every toy they have. 

It's so nice to have two cleaners - especially when neither of them is me. 

It might take them a little longer to pick up than it would for me, but when they work together they do pretty well. 

This also teaches them something I think is very important - to leave things the same as they were when you found them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vacation - Papa's point of view part 4

I’ll say this one more time; if you’re just joining me you should really go back and start at the beginning of this saga. 
Julia was starting to freak out a little bit. 

She had so many questions about what to pack – for herself and especially for the girls.  Would their nightly routine be too disturbed?  Would we be able to have white noise for them to sleep?  Would we take their high chairs?  What about the stroller?  What about toys and books to pack?  What would they be eating?  What was the weather like – at least the temperature range?
I assured her that I had already considered these issues and she should trust me to take care of everything.  John and Jane, having twin girls of their own who were slightly older than ours, were able to provide us with most of the larger necessities we couldn’t pack, but Julia had no way of knowing that. 
Then it happened – Julia made an off-hand comment about the trip and was too close in her statement to our actual location, so I had to throw another curveball.  I don’t throw a curveball, so I actually threw her a knuckleball – those are tougher to hit as nobody (not even the thrower) knows where it could end up. 
Monday – One week to departure.  I came home from work trying to appear very much stressed out.  I informed her that the airline sent me an email as they had cancelled our flight due to a lack of passengers.  I hadn’t had time to work through any alternative plans, but I assured her I would get on it tomorrow. 
Tuesday – Six days left.  I informed her I had been able to get flights in roughly the same time frames to an alternative airport.  It would require more driving time, but it was doable.  I was also able to change the car rental, but the hotels were proving to be more difficult.
Wednesday – Five days out.  Still showing her my frustration as I couldn’t find what I needed from the hotels in the area.  I recapped my struggles from early on, making sure to point out that now I was trying to find two more hotels to add to our itinerary.

Thursday – Four days to go time.  One more hotel down, leaving us one night unaccounted for.  I also let her know I had found a box fan on Craigslist so our need for white noise and to replicate the girls’ sleeping environment at home was solved.  We were to meet the seller on Monday in the parking lot of our first hotel. 
Friday – Three days until we leave.  I booked the last room and we were all set. 

In case you didn’t realize, the original plans were still our actual plans.  This was all for show.
Saturday and Sunday were days we spent creating lists of what to pack and then packing what we could in advance.
Monday we left.

One more post next Friday to finish this off, hope you tune in.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What an idiot

So I went for a run yesterday.  I hate running.  There is absolutely nothing about it I enjoy other than it seems to make Julia happy when I do some kind of cardio workout. 

I don't get a runner's high.  On the flip side, I don't really have any muscle aches after doing it - though my knee hurts - so maybe I'm just not trying hard enough.

I do enjoy being outside.  I also enjoy the silence that can only be found at 5 AM on a path winding through the woods.

I'm not really a music buff, so I don't wear, or own, an Ipod.  I suppose I could dig up my old Walkman, but I don't think I have any working tapes left for it to play.  I might as well carry around five pound weights as they would provide the same usefulness.

Yes, this is the one I own (on the left).  I'm so high tech.

You might ask "What on Earth do you do for forty five minutes when you run?"

I pray.

It's difficult to make time to pray when you're constantly pulled in so many different directions, at least that's what I tell myself. 

I actually do pray quite often in short bursts throughout the day, but there are so many distractions I find my mind wandering.  Running and praying, being out in God's great creation is the one time I can truly focus and just let my thoughts run free.

My prayers typically start with thanking God for everything He has done in my life to bring me to the point I am today.  For those things I know and those I don't.  I confess that I am not worthy of anything, yet He still loves me and pours out His love on me. 

When I'm done acknowledging this, I ask Him to help me with whatever seems to be troubling me at the time, as well as for the areas in my life where I am constantly falling short.  After I'm done with me, I move on to Julia, the girls, my family, her family, friends, neighbors, our church, our old churches, and anything else I've heard of where prayer is needed/wanted.

As I was running and praying yesterday I was hit with a sudden revelation.  I was praying for other people, but the things I was praying for were things that also applied to me.

Nearly every prayer I was making could have my name in it instead of/in addition to the person I was praying for. 

More patience, less stubbornness, more grace, the ability to see someone else's point of view, working to be closer to the Lord, more understanding, more caring, less selfishness - they all applied to me as well.

I kept thinking about all the shortcomings other people had (in my eyes) and those were the areas I was praying for them in.  You see the problem here?  I am so deficient, yet apparently I know what's best for other people.

Additionally, my prayers tended to have the answer in them.  
Dear Lord, please help Johnny realize if he does this he will have this happen.  Help him to do this instead.

How arrogant!  Who am I to know what is going to happen?  Who am I to think I know what God has planned?

I'm nobody.  I don't know anything.

I was/am humbled.  God chose this particular morning to show me the error of my ways.  I'm sure it's neither the first time He's shown me, nor the last, but it's the first time I've truly seen it.

One of my more consistent prayers is to be a better man, husband, father, leader, and follower. 

Today, God clearly answered that prayer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Professor Papa - Part 2

Science has brought us so many new technologies and discoveries.  Most of the research, I imagine, is initially directed toward developing things that are beneficial to mankind.  Unfortunately, when a new invention comes out, there are always people looking to use it for other purposes.

The same can be said of stuff we teach our children.  Not that they are intentionally seeking devilish uses for their new found abilities, but it happens. 

No matter how good our intentions are, our children can easily use our lessons for evil instead of good. 

Here is one instance of that.

The good:  throwing a ball

From the first second the girls picked up a ball I was showing them how to throw it to me.  They didn't have the skill set yet to actually do that, but they tried.

Their earliest attempts to throw were just droppnig the ball.  If it landed on their toes and rolled to me I considered that a success.

Next, came the ability to drop a ball directionally.  All this means is they were dropping it, but moving one hand slightly to propel the ball one way or another.  Neither of us knew which direction that was, but it was done on purpose.

We then proceeded to do the two handed shove, which moved the ball with more velocity.

Finally, they were able to toss the ball.  Sometimes it went where they wanted and sometimes it went behind them - but they were throwing it. 

As we've continued to work on this they have increased the consistency with which they can get the ball to me.

If you're trying this at home, be sure to keep them at a safe distance.  Too often I have "caught" their throws (from two inches away) directly on the nose.  More often than not, when they do this they are running at me with their arm cocked back and don't decide to throw it until they are at a range where they can't possibly miss from.

Using a soft or inflatable ball helps avoid permanenet damage and/or scarring.

We've also made a game out of playing catch.  Sometimes they play catch with me.  Sometimes they play catch with nobody.  They just throw the ball and then scamper after it, giggling all the while.

How can playing catch be evil?  Keep reading.

The bad - throwing everything else

I didn't specifically teach them to grab a wooden block or a toy and chuck it.

I didn't throw the blocks and have them learn from my example.

Nevertheless, they have taken their ball throwing lesson and expanded upon it. 

They've also learned from their experimentation.  Here are some of their findings:

1 - small items fly farther than large ones

2 - small objects fly faster than larger ones

3 - large objects make more noise when they hit the wood floor

4 - large objects make sister cry louder and longer than small ones

5 - throwing an object can get it to places where toddlers can't fit, or aren't supposed to be

6 - Mama and Papa get confused looks on their faces when they find objects in locations they shouldn't be in

7 - Some objects are too heavy to be thrown

Throwing is not the only thing they've learned.  If you look back, one of the steps in learning to throw was the shove.  For those objects too heavy to throw, namely sister, they can be shoved in the direction you want them to move.

I have no plans to avoid teaching them basic survival skills - such as how NOT to throw like a girl.

I do plan to try and figure out what some evil uses might be, and then instruct them accordingly during the teaching phase.