Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm here for you, sister

Tuesday and Thursday mornings I bounce out of bed drag myself out of bed a little after 5 AM to get in a workout.  I started this about a year ago.  The reason for getting up so early is that Mama goes to a boot camp at 6.  Back when I first started, the girls were only sleeping until 6:30ish, so I had to have my morning grooming ritual completed by the time they started hollering for me.

Recently they've been sleeping in later and Mama has been home before they wake up, but I still continue to get up early just in case.

Today was a just in case type of morning.

At 6:15, shortly after I came upstairs after my workout, Brynne (who is the better sleeper and rarely wakes up earlier than she should) woke up screaming bloody murder.  I tried to give her a minute to calm down and go back to sleep, but she only increased her wailing.  I went in and told her it wasn't time to get up yet and she needed to go back to sleep. 

She screamed louder and said no.  She was standing up, bouncing and yelling, so I picked her up, hoping she wouldn't wake her sister.

She clung tightly.  I again told her it was too early to get up and I was going to put her back to bed.  She again yelled no and held on.  I asked if she wanted her baby, to which she replied yes, so I gave her the doll. 

One more time I tried to put her back to bed and again she responded the same way.  I asked her what she wanted to do and she pointed to the door, meaning she wanted to be up. 

Hadley started fussing, so I decided to try and take Brynne to our bed and see if she would lie down while I got ready for work.  As I grasped the door handle, Hadley spoke. 

"Sister.  Sister?"

Brynne looked in her direction, but couldn't see her as it was still dark.  She reached out toward Hadley with both arms.  I asked if she wanted to go back to bed.

"Yes.  Sister." was her reply.

I laid her down, she fussed a bit, and was quiet as I left the room.

About an hour later, as I was getting ready to head out the door, Mama informed me Brynne had just spoken again.  She said "all done", but wasn't fussing.

I love my morning routine.  Even though it was altered, I love my little Brynne for putting aside her desire to be out of bed so Hadley would stay asleep.  Had Brynne gotten up, Hadley would have followed shortly thereafter.  I don't know if Brynne was thinking this and being selfless, or if she just decided she was tired after all, but I think it was the first one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Bird

Not really.
Actually, it was a beautifully clear Saturday morning, but the other intro sounds scarier.  We were at the park and there were birds, ducks, and swans all around us.

One of the swans came up to us so Mama fed it the only thing she had handy - a peanut butter cracker sandwich thing.

It enjoyed the treat, and wanted more.

It came closer.  Brynne reached out her hand to pet it and it snapped at her.  It snapped a second time, coming within inches of her cute little nose - apparently confusing her button nose for a button shaped treat.  Brynne didn't so much as flinch.
You are about to get a whooping Mr. (or Mrs.) Swan

Papa intervened at this point.  I put myself between the swan and Brynne, holding out one arm to ward it off and the other to hold Brynne back.  The swan, still delirious from the wonderful peanut butter cracker thing, tried to take a bite out of my arm.  Obviously, it thought I was either afraid of it or it didn't realize I was much bigger than the child it just tried to attack. 

I didn't move my arm and so it's beak grabbed on, ever so briefly.  They have tiny little teeth, and they are mildly sharp, but they didn't break the skin or even leave a red mark. 

The swan pulled back, trying to judge the situation.  When it came in for the second attempt to bite my arm it met my closed fist instead.

Dear PETA members - I did not punch the swan.  I merely held my fist out and the swan initiated all contact with my stationary hand. No animal abuse here. 

The swan then realized the gravity of it's mistake and went off in search of other snacks.  Unfortunately, the first thing it saw was Mama and Hadley.  It took a few steps toward them, realizing this was the actual source of the food. 

Hadley was holding a cracker, waiting to throw it.  The swan moved in and took a shot at the cracker.  It missed, but managed to hit Hadley in the pig tail.  Hadley looked stunned, and nothing more, but was quickly moved to tears when Mama screamed.

The swan, perhaps a mother itself, recognized the scream and decided it was better off searching elsewhere for food.  It scampered off with Brynne and I serving as escorts.  Brynne got a big kick when it flapped it's wings and waddled away.

Everyone was fine.  Mama apologized for her scream to the first person she saw.  Unfortunately, that person happened to be someone jogging by who had not heard the incident due to his headphones.  He gave a confused look as she spoke at him, nodded, and picked up his pace - putting distance between himself and the crazy woman.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Too nice?

I'm talking about the weather. 

It has been unseasonably warm just about everywhere this year.  After a short winter, we were all ready to get outside and enjoy it.  We kept thinking:
"This is it.  Today is the last of the good weather.  We need to get the girls out and enjoy it."

The foul was well-behaved, until he attacked.  And then Mama screamed.
Then the forecast would be updated and we'd be in store for a few more beautiful days.  The next set of bad weather would be announced, so naturally we needed to be outside while we could.

Then the forecast would change again and we'd  be blessed with more great days.

We'll continue to be outside, so my posts will probably continue to be spread out some. 

Hope you're enjoying it as much as we are!
30 minutes after he attacked, the girls forgave the bird...but kept their distance.
I love it when they hold hands without any prompting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Papa's Hair Salon

I don't believe my hair has ever been more than two inches long at any point in my life.  My girls were born with almost that much.  This is written more for fathers than mothers, but feel free to keep reading no matter what sex you are.

Today, their hair reaches almost halfway down their backs.  It has grown at an amazing rate recently.  One day I was struggling to hold it out of their face with a hair band and the next thing I know it is in a pony tail.

While I never had to deal with hair issues myself, I have become at least halfway decent at styling theirs.

Here's a quick rundown of the options I have for them:

Hairband - I used this before I felt competent with any other styling work, and when time was/is of the essence.  Particularly, I use it when they start eating and I haven't done anything to their hair.  It pulls the hair out of their eyes and mouth so they can get food in there instead (the mouth, not the eyes).  It also works well when they have a runny nose.  Hair clips might work well for some kiddos, but not for ours.

Pony Tail - The basis for all the hairdos, so we'll start with it.  Pull all the hair you can from their bangs and sides toward the back of their head.  Use one hair tie to hold it in place.  Until it is long enough, this is not an option as the shorter front hairs will fall out and go right back to hanging in front of their eyes.

Water fountain - This works well no matter how long their hair is.  As long as their bangs are long enough to obstruct their vision, this has a use.  You'll need to pull the hair up into a pony tail, but have it start on the top of their head.  The shorter the hair, the closer to the front you have to work.  One hair tie here will also do the trick. 

Pigtails - This is the next step after the water fountain.  It is slightly more complex, takes twice as long to do, but is at least twice as cute once you figure it out.  All you have to do is take the hair on the left side of their head and pull it into a pony tail starting somewhere over their left ear.  Repeat on the right side. 

Braids - I've never found braiding to be a problem at all, but that's probably because I was a Boy Scout in my youth and figured it out at a young age.  The reason it's the last style listed is because you need the most amount of hair for it, as well as the most patience from your client. 

Divide the hair into three sections - left, middle, and right - all having approximately the same amount of hair.  The easiest way to proceed is to take one hair tie at the end of each group of hair to temporarily hold it in place.  Grab the lock on the left and move it to the middle, going over the top of the current middle lock.  Now do the same with the right one and put it int he middle.  Back and forth you go moving the outside lock to the middle until you reach the end.  Use one hair tie to hold the three in place and then remove the original three ties you put on.

Once you can do that you've graduated from Papa's Beautician School.  There is no more I can teach you about hair styling.  If you want an official degree, send me $50 and a SASE.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Humidifier failure

I'm allergic to dust.  Actually, when I was tested for allergies growing up, I was allergic to over 95% of what they tested for, so this is no surprise.  Most of the allergies are just a nuisance more than anything severe, and dust is no exception.  Sometimes I might have a little difficulty breathing, but nothing serious.

Recently, the girls and I have all had some nighttime coughing stuff going on and we just couldn't identify what was causing it.

We've had humidifiers in all of our bedrooms since the girls were born.  Recently we've had to replace them.  The stupid humidifiers came with filters that "never needed to be replaced".  The company was so sure of this they don't sell the filters as a stand alone product.  The problem with this is our filters started filtering poorly.  They got to the point of letting no water or moisture through AT ALL.  If I wanted to replace the filter I would've had to replace the whole unit.  I guess that's one way for the company to boost sales, but it didn't work with us.

Now, the girls have a frog humidifier in their room and we have an elephant in ours.  They are filterless, so no need to worry about changing them again either. 

The old humidifiers sat directly on our dressers and worked well - before they didn't.  The new ones couldn't be set directly on wood because they produce a cool mist, which could damage the wood finish if placed directly on it. They recommended not using a toel either.  The fan pulls air in from the bottom, so a towel restricts that air flow too much and results in very little moisture.  I found that out when I discovered a very wet towel under the humidifier.

Next, I placed a piece of plastic on top of the towel, and then set the humidifier on that.  The plastic was not thick enough to provide enough support, so the air flow was still limited.  I then replaced the plastic with the lid of a five gallon bucket which used to hold drywall.  This was sturdy enough to provide the required support, so our problem was solved. 

And then it wasn't.

It would appear our water is too hard.  Within days of getting the lid in place we started noticing a fine white dust on everything.  Furniture, flooring, clothes, everything.  According to the manufacturer's website, using a demineralization kit and purified water would alleviate the problem.  I tried it all and still the white layer grew larger.  We looked into a water softener, but the cost would not justify it unless we were planning on spending a long time at our current location.

I was perplexed.  Why had the other humidifiers worked?  Why had the one in the girls room worked for months without residue and the one in our room failed immediately?  We were getting water for them from different faucets so I tried getting all the water from the same one.  That should've had no impact as it's all the same water source, and it didn't. 

My sister-in-law was in town and made an off-hand comment about the white film resembling drywall dust.  As I lay in bed hours later it hit me.  There was still some drywall mud on the lids.  As the moisture settled onto it, the mud softened, spread thin, and dried.  The thinner layer of mud was then being sucked up by the fan, run through the humidifier, and coming out as a drywall dust vapor, which would then settle on everything.

After a VERY thorough cleaning of the bedrooms and replacing the drywall bucket lids with the little plastic things potted plants set on, the white stuff stopped.  The breathing fits are gone, as is the coughing.  I no longer wake up at night needing to use an inhaler and the girls are sleeping well again.

Life is good.  Perhaps I should've titled this user failure instead of blaming it on the humidifiers. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mama Loves: A Festive, Domestic God

It's true.

I can hold my own in the kitchen.

Festive cooking cutters make breakfast way more fun!
No matter how big or how small the "holiday" I carve up french toast for the occasion.

Joining my wife today for her weekly Mama Loves linky party. Have an idea that makes parenting better? Share the love!

PS - The title was mama's idea.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It all revolves around the garden.

When you have your girls dress up as garden gnomes for Halloween......

you're bound to get garden helpers in the spring.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pure Genius

We were not looking forward to the time change - again.  It seems like it has never been easy to transition the girls smoothly, though we have tried both doing it gradually and ripping the band aid off.

This year looked to be especially bad as we were slated to work the nursery at church, which meant not only would we all lose an hour of sleep for daylight savings, but we would have to get them up earlier so we could make it on time.  The day showed signs of being the perfect storm.
Flavor Flav, Mayor of the time change.
Thanks to a bit of luck, and a stroke of genius if I do say so myself, it went off without any problems whatsoever.

Both girls woke up Saturday morning an hour before they normally would have.  I got up with them, changed them into their clothes for the day and started to feed them breakfast. 

As they were eating, I noticed the clock behind them.  I went ahead and sprung it one hour forward.  I then went around and did the rest of the clocks in the house. 

We became trendsetters.  Before anyone else in the country, I presume, had moved their clocks forward, we were doing just that.  I was sure the rest of the country that participated in the time change would follow suit, and sure enough, they did.   

Lunch was an hour early, and so was nap time.  Dinner, bath, and bedtime all came early.

When Sunday morning came early, it was no different than any other day we worked the nursery.

I will admit, it was very strange having all our clocks "wrong", but in the end, our ability to remember we were operating on a slightly different time zone paid huge dividends for us.  I doubt we'll be able to repeat the performance in the future, but we'll take it this time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First failure

I thought I'd share my first failure as a father today.  Quick story.  Hope you enjoy.

The first time I was feeding Brynne was within 12 hours of her being born.  The nurse came in while I was holding Brynne and told us we needed to feed them.  She gave me a four pack of formula, instructed me on which nipple I should use, and then directed me to give her two.

I looked at the four ounce bottle, thought it seemed like a lot of food for a newborn, but started the feeding process. 

I can't possibly tell you everything that was going through my mind, but I was a little overwhelmed.  It was such a blessing to be able to feed my daughter.

Brynne took down the first bottle eagerly.  I removed the nipple, put it on the second bottle, shook it well, and resumed the bonding/feeding. 

She got through about three ounces and then stopped.  I tried to encourage her to eat more, but she was not having it. 

Since I'd never read anything about feeding, and had no clue what I was supposed to do, I decided to do the only thing I had ever seen on TV or in the movies - I burped her. 

As I held her to my shoulder and patted her back, she unleashed a glorious burp.  I thought I was done and felt pleased I could help.  I held her up to look at her...

then she threw up.

Not a little.  This was a large vomit.  Fortunately, I had a blanket on me which caught everything.

The nurse came back in as I was cleaning up and seemed surprised at the amount of vomit she produced. 

The nurse asked how much I gave her.  I sheepishly admitted she hadn't finished the two bottles.  I asked if I should try again or wait.  I failed in my first fatherly duty.

The nurse looked a little shocked.

I didn't understand why she looked so appalled.

As she went on to explain, I was supposed to give her two OUNCES of formula, not two BOTTLES.

I wanted to smack the nurse.  Instead of doing that, I merely asked her to be a little more specific in the future when giving instructions to me or any other new parent. 

I don't think I can take all the blame for this failure.  Actually, I think I can take very little responsibility for this, but since I failed to ask a question, I suppose some of it falls to me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What a week

This past week has been a bit crazy.  I thought I'd share some of the stupid things that have gone on around me, and some of the things that made me smile.
Who has the more mischievous look on her face?

Stupid - An extended cab truck, with a full sized bed, parked in a compact car space in the parking garage. 

Good - the car next to said truck, on the driver's side, parked within inches of the truck.  The truck driver will now have to get in on the passenger side and crawl across.  Well played.

Stupid - I follow a guy onto the elevator.  He pushes the button for the 14th floor and then I push the button for the 5th floor.  As I step to the back of the elevator and the door closes, he steps to the front and stands right in the middle of the door.  As the door opens to the 5th floor, I have to say excuse me so he'll move and I can get off the elevator.

Good - He must have been distracted all morning thinking about getting to be in the front of the line.  I say this because he had one white and one black sock on - I only noticed this as the brown suit pants he was wearing made him look like he was expecting a flood.  They were about three inches too short.

Stupid -  Me throwing up all night and then deciding to eat some dry toast early in the morning.  That was fine, but chasing it with a glass of milk was a bad decision on my part.  Dairy + stomach flu = no toast or milk in my tummy.  It also meant no bile, no acid, and really no anything in my stomach for many more hours.  Reminded me of this.

Good - Mama being incredible and taking care of twin toddlers and ailing Papa for the day.  While they didn't come in to play and jump all over me (thankfully), they did stand at the bedroom door and wave at me, telling me hi and bye, while I was quarantined.

Stupid - see here, and here as well.

Good - see here.

Stupid - Me misreading my wife's facial expression and then making a crack about what was taking place.  Only later did I realize she was not laughing at the situation, but merely trying not to cry as she attempted to parallel park...our 17 foot long extended a tight spot...on a busy road...with two screaming toddlers in the car...and a flock of observers on the sidewalk. 

Good - The look of appreciation on her face as I later acknowledged my failure, apologized for my words, and asked for her forgiveness.

Good - A lunch date with my three ladies and sister-in-law at work.  I got to show them all off as we walked around the office.  Also, so many compliments on how adorable and well behaved they were - all of them.

Stupid - The new version of bubble wrap.  Our girls love the old style you can actually pop.  In case you missed it, you can see their joy here.  The new stuff has five or six air pockets that are not filled fully with air.  As you squeeze one, the air simply moves to the other pockets. 
Herding chickens...always a good time.

Good -  In the end, I discovered if you roll it up, and then have a toddler jump on it, it will still explode, but nothing like it used to be. I'm sure it's better for shipping, but it's much worse for entertainment than it used to be.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Peek-a-boo is an age old game, I imagine.  Our girls have gotten into the fun and try to play as often as they can.

I try not to let them do it at meal time, unless it's a bath night.  They do have a good time with it, but they also end up with whatever they're eating caked in their hair and all over their faces.  The worst part is if they have something with a little spice to it as it will always end up in their eyes.
This is mild compared to what they are capable of.

The top five locations, in no particular order, to play the game are as follows:

1 - Behind the curtains in the changing room.  One of them will stand behind the nearly floor-to-ceiling curtain and wait for us to ask where they are before wrestling with the curtain and eventually coming out to say "boo".  The only thing we can see are their legs, which are clearly visible.

2 - Inside(?) their easel.  Again, we can see their feet, but I guess since they can't see us they assume we can't see them.  That is, we can't see them until they lean out the side and holler "boo" again.

3 - Anyplace they can cover their eyes.  Same logic as above - if they can't see us they must be invisible.  Family Guy has a great bit about this.  When Peter covers his own eyes, Stewie can't see him.  It's funnier now that the girls are doing it.

4 - In their tent.  The tent itself is made of a very thin material, which allows you to see shapes, though not specific details.  They'll hide in their until you are visible, either through the door or one of the other openings, and then call out "boo!" with excitement.  It's pretty cute to hear "boo" and then look to see where they are seeing you from - usually a two inch opening through which only one little eyeball is visible.
The pirate boat is another prime location.

5 - My personal favorite.  I went to our bedroom and shut the door behind me to change.  I could hear Hadley cracking up at something, so I assumed Mama was playing with them.  As I opened the door to come out and see what was so hilarious, Brynne was standing there with her arms raised, a huge smile spreading across her face, and she yelled "BOO!".  Hadley was standing a few feet away and she erupted into more laughter.  She knew what Brynne was going to do and the anticipation had her in a tizzy.

I had scared Brynne a little bit by saying "boo" as she walked around a corner earlier in the day.  She learned from that and tried to scare me back I guess.

I love these girls.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Professor Papa - Part 9

This is the series of posts where I try to brag about something I've taught the girls - both good and bad.  Today's lesson - don't get stuck assuming you have to act a certain way just because you're a girl.

It was a little chilly to be outside, but the girls were going a little stir crazy as they hadn't been outside for a few days.  It was also a little moist due to the recent drizzle - which probably didn't help their mood any. 
Stir crazy can cause this damage in ten minutes.

As we were running around the house, Brynne tripped and fell.  She got up, looked at her wet knees, and started to bawl.

I asked her if she was hurt and she said no.

I kissed her knees, just to be sure, but that didn't help.  She just stood there sobbing away, looking at her knees, and trying to wipe away the dirt and water.

My first instinct was to pick her up, kiss all over her, and carry her inside to change.  Fortunately, I didn't do that.

Instead, I dropped to my knees in the wet grass.  I then stood up and showed her I was just as wet as she was.  I told her it was ok to get dirty, I even sat down to get my butt wet.  She looked at me, started laughing hysterically, and then sat down as well.

She made a huge point of standing back up and pointing at her bottom with such pride.
Hooray for wet clothes!

We finally did go back inside, but she refused to change her pants.  She was actually a little too wet to just allow her to walk around the house, so I changed my pants.  Immediately, she was giving me the sign to change her as well.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Little girls can get dirty, play with trucks, and do anything else they want.