Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hold your Babies Tight...

Hi everyone-

I usually use my blog to examine the sardonic and cranky 'dad' point of view that many parents feel but don't actually articulate. I love my children and have had fun making light of the darker and not too sexy side of rearing kids. It's life, right? Fun and games.

Its my nature to be sarcastic, and this blog is a fun avenue to explore the other side of parenting. Some of you have said I have an ability to tell the story thats on your minds but not yet 'ready to actually say'. I've been lucky to have a little success in my style of writing but thats not whats on my mind tonight.

Friday's nightmare in Newtown, CT. shocked us all. There aren't words. I won't try. Anyone who has children is in the same foggy, fucked up, non comprehensive state that I'm in.

As I'm writing this its been 96 hours and the there have been thousands of editorial responses form gun control to mental illness (and everything in between) as to the cause of this tragic event.

I'm not going to wax poetic on my opinions- there are too many out there right now and I'm a dime a dozen that won't solve the issue alone or waste your time telling you what I think. It's a bigger issue than a single blog can solve. We've all by now read the statistics of our country, and conversely other countries regarding gun ownership and mortality rates. The same with mental illness and treatment or there lack of...  

My thought tonight is to use this shitty, unbelievable event to take stock and remember the simple things. Say 'I love you' every day. Kiss you children as much as possible. Look at them for a second longer as you drop them off at school. The moments you have with your family sholuld be cherished, really- just love in the moment.

I'll be snarky another day.

Hold your Babies Tight...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Come Hug Daddy in the Bathroom

In the early days, that is to say pre-children, I never thought for a second what joy could come of using a bathroom facility alone. All by my big-self. Now that I have children I understand those many, many years were wasted (ha!). I realized too late that it was a brief moment of solitude, a vacation I never took or even knew existed until the beasties came alive.

Post children, the first few months and even the first year I started to slowly realize that a minute in a bathroom without interruption, children, tasks or a wife was a golden opportunity to do absolutely nothing- just to think for a brief moment without feces, tantrums or orders being thrown at me.

That old job vacation time didn't roll over when my new career as a parent began in earnest.

I have adapted to a level that makes me appreciate and understand how we as humans slowly over hundreds of thousands of years shed our tails and slowly began to walk. And build fires. Even invent deodorant. My point is going to the bathroom now couldn't be any farther from the opposite of what I was used to for the last 39 years.

Given my new found adaptive techniques, I still try to sneak off and just go pee for a second. ALL BY MYSELF. It doesn't happen- ever.

All of the things boys and men have learned over adolescence and adulthood have gone by the wayside. Don't talk to a guy next to you while going to the bathroom?- Ruined. Look over at a guy (or worse, DOWN at a guy) while hes peeing?- Forget it. Touch a dude during the act- UNFORGIVEABLE...

When these cardinal rules were first broken I was unable to handle any of the offenses well. Miller would tear into the bathroom just as I was ready to 'go'. An ensuing stalemate occurred- lots of looking. Up and down. Staring happened frequently- for both of us. After a while it got cute- he would offer me some tissue after I was done. We do live with two ladies, I'll give him that...

Later phases of 'WFT' elevated into a bearhug around one of my legs in mid- stream. Staring was still the predominant action but the touching added a new level of difficulty to the task.

As for the adaptation, I'm equally proud and embarrased to have conquered all levels of potty terrorism my children have inflicted on me. A 5 piece Mariachi band could walk in on me these day and I wouldn't  blink an eye. Lets do shots, I say!

Come hug daddy in the bathroom...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Adult Costume Shopping.

It was beautiful Sunday. The Weather was sunny and hopes for a great day were high. The morning started off innocently enough and I even took the time to make eggs for the beasties. And toast.

Frozen waffles and syrup are for weekdays when we can run out of the house as the nanny arrives before the bath salts that are sugar kick in and faces get eaten. There could have been a tantrum or two before we got to the car and our routine 'weekend adventure' began but I was happily not taking notes as I hadn't yet been kicked in the groin.

First up was our family obligation to visit the University Village shopping.. 'Mall'?  It's basically an egregiously overpriced outdoor strip mall that carries 99% of the crap you can buy online. It DOES, however, allow you to drag your beasties along for the fun of it. Screw internet shopping. Plus they have a covered playground to expunge you of guilt for dragging the kids on a shopping trip. We do this EVERY weekend. FML.

After 30 minutes at Banana Republic (did I mention FML?) we boogied over to the playground for a bit of kid time activity. After about 20 minutes, I realize we'd worn our luck out and a kid on kid confrontation was imminent (that I'm going to run away from) So... It's lunch time! Yippee!!

Off we go- food is disposed of, some of it in my kids bellies, some of it on the floor, some inevitably in my lovely wife's purse.

Here's where the day turned into 'Dad's gonna get drunk tonight'....

We had a birthday party to go to the next weekend. It's a costume party. 1920's. There no faking that stuff. Its now close to 3:00. We decide to skip naps and forge ahead to secure costumes for my lovely wife and myself at the risk of putting our kids on tilt. In hindsight, boy did we.

Upon arriving at the 'Vintage Costume Shop' parking lot I noticed we were basically in a driveway. Like, someones house kinda driveway. There was a dusty redish Camaro and and a 1950's era Ford pickup quasi parked in front- both in questionable working order. I joked to Sarah that we were walking into the set of Paranormal Activity 4. That didn't go over well with her from the stare I got.

Upon entering the shop, which was in fact a dillapitated turn of the century craftsman home, I realized my assumption wasn't far off the mark. The place smelled like a homeless person took a dump in a bucket of horse urine, then paused to smoke a carton of Parliaments before throwing up.

To top it off it the owners had turned hoarding into a business. There was NO room in this place. Before I got my bearings, Miller disappeared. Literally, he was invisible being about 3 feet tall- there were little corridors carved into this hell hole and crap was either hanging or stuffed into shelves, ceiling to floor. By the look on the owners face, I know he at least got a glimpse of Miller- his furrowed brow told me as much.

 I spent equal time trying to find an outfit and trying to police the constant flutter of fabric that would swirl past me at waist level. After 30 minutes, I couldn't take any more of the madness and threw whatever I had picked out on the counter area- I had to get the kids out of there. My lovely wife was lost in another generation and in a fitting closet trying on 30 pound sequin flapper dresses- one painful outfit at a time.

The Beasties and I went out to the yard. They were in another dimension of rowdy, pissed-offness that I had not ever thankfully seen before. Miller was running around like a wild man while also trying to inflict as much harm on Quinn as possible. It reminded me of a swarm of bees, 3 minutes of spastic exertion followed by a flyby to swat his sister at full speed, followed by more spacsticness. rinse repeat.

I was doing absolutely nothing about this because a short while earlier, I remembered I gave Miller my keys when we first walked into the door. I had frisked him on the way out and he was clean.

I spent the next 10 minutes going inside to look for keys to back outside refereeing an MMA match on the front lawn. Quinn was in the wrong weight division but was putting up a valiant effort.

I was now on my hands and knees in the yard assuming Miller had flung the car keys away during one if his spastic episodes. Ah- HA! I found them and looked up at the progress of the grappling show- just to see Miller catch up to Quinn at a full sprint and whack the back of her head. By the time I got to her he had smashed her face on the grass so hard her lip was bleeding and I was seconds away from being a Jerry Springer candidate for reckless endangerment of my kids.

I don't recall the message I left on Sarah's cell once we were in the car but it did make her come running out to the car in mere seconds.

Costume shopping is for adults only.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Grass (or Hotdog) is always Greener

This is a little ditty that was recorded during a typical dinner with the beasties last week. It could have been recorded last night, or even tomorrow as its not remotely out of the ordinary. Quinn has dashed into her 'Terrible Two's' with gusto. While I do feel slightly bad for Miller's predicament, she has had a great muse and mentor to hone her skills, namely Miller himself.

What is not seen in the video is the rest of the hotdog that I put behind him on the dining room table- but Miller had already gone down the rabbit hole of hysterics and there was no saving him.

Enjoy....(I kinda did)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caillou is going down

Caillou has become an institution in my sons TV library. I'm not sure how or when it started- possibly during the early years of complete parental ignorance and confusion, and having 2 children within 17 months might have contributed to it as well. There must have been a time where relative peace and quiet trumped quality of parenting. I hope my lovely wife and I were just too exhausted to pay enough attention to what we put on the TV for him.

Regardless, Caillou has infiltrated our household like methamphetamines has to Applachia.

Bottom line- I hate that little @#$% Caillou. 

First let me start with the name. There have been 108 episodes featuring that whiny flesh toned Jack in the Box. I guarantee there is not a child on the planet named after that kid. I think we parents have all learned from the iconic Johnny Cash song 'Sue' to not give our children ridiculous names (unless you're a celebrity, of course). And lets face it- 'Caillou' is impossible to spell. In fact, I had to look it up on the 'ol internetz for this post. And every time I mention the name again I have to look up and see how I spelled it the last time. (Close your eyes right now and try it- betcha' can't do it).

His name seems more appropriate as a character in Dances with Wolves. Perhaps as Kevin Costner's reliable but mute side kick. (Kevin Costner: 'Caillou, get the fire ready!' Caillou: mmmmmmmm'.) Maybe there's a sequel in the works. Run with it, Orion Pictures, this one's on me.

Now lets get to the looks. I'm not one for pointing out shortcomings of children but not only is Caillou a blatant rip off of Charlie Brown, but in a more dumbed down way. My son draws portraits of Caillou every day- accidentally. If you can draw a vague rendering of a circle and manage to leave a dot or scratch inside of it- you have a pretty decent likeness of Caillou. 

And man...does that kid WHINE. This is something I don't need any more of it in my house, we're at full capacity for that behavior as it is. It seems the only person having a good time on the show is the grandmother, who also happens to be the narrator. (read: not really in Caillou's presence, she's apparently in the sound studio doing voice over, so why wouldn't she be happy?)

I have an alternate and more realistic title for this show. How about 'Birth Control'. This seem to get the point across more effectively. At the risk of putting MTVs show '16 and Pregnant' out of business, just have you sex- aged children watch a few hours of Caillou and we'll nip this teen pregnancy crisis in the bud. Thank me later President Obama.

For the first time in my life, I rued the day DVR was invented. Caillou can be watched ANY TIME. Whenever I'm forced to pick up the remote and scroll around to find Caillou (its either watch whining on TV or experience it real time with my son) I am pleasantly reminded things could be worse.

He hasn't yet found Spongebob Squarepants. Who also should have a starring role in that Wolf Dancing movie, I think.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Will Pee for Soup.

Quinn is weeks shy of turning 2. In the last month she has loudly proclaimed 'POTTY' no less than 100 times and actually gone the the bathroom and successfully peed in the toilet 3 times so far. (Pretty far below the Mendoza line for you baseball fans)

I'm not one of those parents who thinks this borders on precocious behavior.

In fact, I'm amazed that her potty training started before she was, say, 14. Miller started the potty training process a few months before his 3rd birthday and now abuses it like Jay Z does to a Black AMEX card. And while I'm happy to not have to put diapers on him anymore his use of it has become a tool of psychological warfare that makes me understand the increasing number of frown wrinkles on my forehead.

No matter where we are, He will proclaim 'I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!" Usually the declaration happens in the car once everyone is strapped in and we're about to pull out of the driveway. Or when its guaranteed there isn't a bathroom within a few miles- I swear he has some sort of bizarro reverse GPS navigation system built into his bladder.

We were fairly diligent about his potty training as he was the first child. Now that he's so recently out of diapers, I haven't had a chance to recover quickly enough to jump back in and do the same work for Quinn.

I think she started the process earlier because she learns by example from mimicking everything Miller does. For potty training this has been beneficial I guess. For temper tantrums, hitting family members and general pissy behavior, not so much. I've learned to take the good with the bad.

She could give a crap about my armchair quarterback method during her latest conquest. 'YEAHHH QUINNY!!' I ridiculously squealed like a high school cheerleader yelled the first time her pee landed in the toilet bowl. (I thought those life moments should be met with a ridiculous level of parental positive reinforcement.)

It was not needed I soon found out. Instead, she gave me a look of icy indifference as if she had been doing this forever. I thought about reminding her about the dump she took during bath time the week before but thought better of it. I'll be the bigger person. I'm so pathetic, but back to pissing stories.

We were all now on heightened watch. Anytime 'POTTY' was screamed, My wife and I would drop everything and run with her to the bathroom, yank her pants and diaper off and plop her on the toilet. And wait. And stare. And bribe.

Usually the way to get to Quinn's heart is thru my lovely wife's purse. Mascara, lip gloss, lip balm, you name it- if it goes on your face and makes a mess, count Quinny in.

This was met with little success. Quinn knew she could sneak over anytime we weren't looking and get the prize without performing. In hindsight, we should have thought of more obvious alternative forms of bribery, but keep reading.

On the third successful attempt I was greeted with one of those ' AH-ha!' life moments that are so simple yet never cross the mind until it actually happens and you realize what an idiot you are.

After peeing in the potty Quinn looked up and proudly said, "Soup now, Daddy?'

If only I had known.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'Eff the Easter Bunny.

It's been 3 days since the worst best day a toddler can have- Easter. I'm still recovering and don't expect to be able to carry on intelligent conversations until the wine cellar runs dry.

This Easter holiday took me by surprise. I didn't fully invest in the same amount of pre- holiday paranoia as I did before Christmas. I had so many nightmare expectations in December that thankfully never materialized. You see, at the time, I over thought every present I purchased (Is this Hello Kitty going to cause someone to lose an eye? Can Quinn swallow this 4' fire truck? Who's going to burn the tree down??...and so on and so on, ad nauseum).

Ultimately my stress level was raised to a comfortable enough point that Murphy's Law took it as a generous sacrifice and ironically afforded our family a magical time to share presents, eat great food and enjoy all around harmony. In other words- A Perfect Holiday.

The Easter bunny just delivers candy. How hard can this day be?

Well, with minimal presents and a ridiculous focus on sweets, it's fucking VERY hard. And lets face it- Saturday's sit-down to color eggs was a nice tradition to pass along to the kids but no toddler is going eat the shit out of 3 dozen colored hard boiled eggs when there are Jelly Belly's in the house. Protein- 0, high fructose corn syrup- 1.

What they will do is try to inhale their body weight in sugar over a 2 hour period like they've never see a Peep before. Wait- they hadn't and that was part of the problem. (I do occasionally have standards)

Parental instincts are an interesting thing. For example, any owner of a 3 year old knows something's fishy when their child goes silent for say, 8 seconds. There were several times on Sunday where I lost (mental) sight of Miller for several MINUTES.

The first time I could hear myself think I bolted upright from the couch to find the source of suspicious peace and quiet. I immediately saw a shut bathroom door and my lovely wife was in sight so I knew we were in trouble. This happened way after Easter baskets had been collected and stored on top of the fridge for a sugar moratorium.

I went to the bathroom and opened the door.

Miller was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall with the lights out. Shoving his sister's jelly beans in his mouth like a smack addict.

The funny thing about jelly beans is that they stick to the back of your teeth (I forgot this until I caught him) Another thing about jelly beans (when you're 3) is that they make you drool- upon turning the lights and seeing this depravity I focused on the purple hued spit string extending from his lower lip down to the puddle resting on his half prone belly.

'What are you doing Miller??' I asked.

'Noshing Daddy' he replied.

He looked pathetic enough at this point but now he had a jelly bean induced lisp. 30 or so of those suckers attached to your molars can have that effect, I guess. He now reminded me of a cat who had gotten a fur ball stuck in its throat and was trying to cough it up.

I 'gently' grabbed the remaining candy from his clutches and told him to go downstairs and get ready to go visit his grandparents. Round 2 was about to begin.

I had no idea what was in store for the rest of the day.

'Eff the Easter Bunny.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I'm Happily Aiming Low!

Hi reader(s)

I wanted to share a happy moment with you. I was just picked up by the site Aiming Low. It's an awesome family, fun and friends blog collective that has been nice enough to think one of my humble posts is worthy of a little more attention. I'm honestly flattered and it makes me want to write more- funny how that dangling carrot works for humans too.

Speaking of carrots, I'm mid way thru a post about Easter but haven't been able to put the PTSD to bed enough to finish- more on that shortly.

You can see my post Here

A big thanks to the Aiming Low family and staff, especially JW Moxie who has had to deal with my email inquiries and couldn't be a better supporter of writers she's never met. :-)

Aiming Low has never felt better

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I need to tip better next time...

I love to eat in restaurants. I have always appreciated the entire experience that an evening out with my beautiful wife has to offer.

We met in NYC and these liasons instantly became a part of our courtship. Partially because Sarah also enjoys my love of food but mostly because the apartment we lived in was less than 400 sq. feet and we shared it with a few mice. Who also generally helped themselves to our food.  (I still haven't gotten over watching a baguette wrapped in paper crinkle about without the help of human contact). But thats another story.

After moving to Seattle, the first few years were more of the same, minus our mouseguests. Nights out exploring our new cities abundance of bars and restaurants was a seamless transition to the evenings in New York we so loved and missed.

Post children, our dining frequency has barely skipped a beat. What has changed is the quality of the dining. Gone are the nights of saddling up to a bar at 11 PM, not a kid in sight, and ordering a bottle of wine and steak frites like the days of old.

Now our choices center around 2 very important things that have absolutely nothing to do with food. Crayons and play spaces. Yep- I just said that. Fortunately living in Seattle affords us some very nice non- franchised places to go- I've proudly never had to step foot into a ChuckE Cheese. I even had to Google the title of that place to make sure I was spelling it correctly. (I assumed it was 'Chucky' but apparently he has a middle initial- so grown up of him) I know its a matter of time before the inevitable happens but for now we happily stick to small, locally owned neighborhood hangouts.

The qualifying elements of these restaurants seem to be based on my children's needs. You might think I was putting them before me. That would be a dead wrong assumption. The crayons and play area are merely a ruse to ignore the beasties as best as possible while pounding a drink or 2 and inhaling what I would have compared to dog food a few years back.  Ironically I now find it generally enjoyable. Its no longer about the ambience of the interior (do you think those rafters are recycled Douglas Fir??) or the meal quality (this chef makes a mean roulade!) but rather increasing the odds that your dinner or beverage doesn't land in your lap and that no glass is broken. It's a far cry from the days of being blissfully married without kids but nowadays I convince myself theres a nice ring to it.

On a recent excursion to nameless 'dining spot' (possible paranoia and legal ramifications prohibit me from calling out the destination) we were meeting up with our closest friends who just returned from vacation. We were obviously happy to hear all of the news and catch up as it had been weeks since seeing them. This allowed for an unusually long period of play space time for our kids.

During dinner, our daughter Quinn kept us posted every 30-40 second on the status of what disgusting overly touched object she was putting in her mouth, which was very sweet of her. Why a public place would have fake baby bottles and plastic food replications is beyond me but I can now confirm she has essentially kissed every child under 6 in the greater Puget Sound area because of it.

Miller and our friends child had holed up in some kind of mini- dollhouse thingy but were not causing the rest of the kids in the asylum to riot- so all was good.

Dinner was mauled, conversations were had and when we all agreed we were pressing our luck we decided it was a night. Out the door we went.

Our car was directly across the street from 'dining spot' and it was still light out  As I began to put Miller in his car seat he reached into his pockets and began cackling 'HUHUHUHUHU'- it was a 'Dumb and Dumber' kind of chortle.

He proudly produces a restaurant stolen black and while plastic cow covered in enough crap to rival the underside of my car. I quickly looked over to the place expecting to see the waitstaff at the window, all calling 911 on their cellphones while pointing at us. Thankfully that was not the case.

My own peculiar style of fatherly instinct took over and instead of marching him back in the restaurant to the humiliation of being found as a thief, apologizing and learning from his mistake, I shoved him into his car seat and quickly drove off.

I'll make it up the them I promised myself.

I need to tip better next time...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dude, stop licking that...

In dealing with my 3 year old I've found it challenging to interact with him on pretty much every level that has made me a proud, responsible and productive member of society. I've learned that there is no room for negotiating, partner bargaining or rationalizing- all good adult life tools but equally terrible for getting my son to do anything other than what he wants to do.

To combat this ever-changing landscape of emotional tirades, temper tantrums and general insanity I've put in hours of diligence and research.

Parenting blogs are a great (if short term and mostly amusing) help. Books can be a decent source of wisdom in their own snarky way (do these writers actually have children I wonder..) 

Finally, important lessons from Miller's teachers have come in handy.

By handy, I mean I've learned to get down to his level when addressing the behavior in question. Its design is to not intimidate child in question which goes against what I generally want to do when confronting his unwanted behavior, but whatever. This task has relieved me from any thoughts about going to the gym as I now seem to do at least 50-60 deep knee squats a day. I've also been trying the 'option'  rule- give him 2 choices in how to correct the behavior- the first giving him the option to 'not do shit unless' and the second, me making him 'not do shit unless'. Sometimes it actually works.

What I do know is that I now have a subconscious conversation, ever so quickly, with myself before 99% of my interactions with Miller. Nothing I say flows seamlessly or in an effortless fashion- mostly because his behavior doesn't warrant an effortless or seamless response- he just does ridiculously stupid shit 99% of the time- including when he sleeps

Its not necessarily unnatural to me anymore either. I chalk it up to confirming my position on raising a well rounded, socially adept little person- like every other parent.

Occasionally though, Miller throws me a curveball. when that happens all pre- precessed daddy rhetoric goes out the window and we're just a couple of guys doing dumb stuff on the fly, like reality TV.

Today's curveball came with picking Miller up from school- a typical Monday afternoon ritual. As we get to the car though, Miller takes a swipe at it. With his tongue. He literally licked the damn car. And then did it again. And again.

I don't know when I actually chimed in- it was probably between the 2nd and 3rd lick- because I was silently screaming 'WHAT the fuck are you doing? Are you FUCKING kidding me??? OH MY FUCKING GAWDDDDD !!!!  before I finally burst out loud with, DUDE, WHERE'S your head??? I felt like Ashton Kutcher's character from that movie. I had no other response and I challenge any other parent to come up with a better one given the circumstances. It wasn't a proud moment in hindsight I admit.

I quickly got him into the car as that somehow would make the germs spread slower- then I started to think about his sister's nose thats been flowing snot since early November.

Something tells me Quinn has also been the benefactor of germs from our car and other disgusting surfaces.

I've added a new phrase to my budding Daddy vernacular-

Dude- stop licking that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Whats behind door #3?

Both of my beasties sleep well- they're down for 11-12 hours most nights. I don't take this for granted but also think theres some hint of Darwin theory involved for everyones sake. 

Miller has his own bed, which means he can get out of it whenever he wants. He's generally great at staying put minus those random episodes where he shows up in our room at 3 AM after a bad dream. (why is it always 3 AM?) Those nights are akin to Wrestle Mania, but in the dark. I end up keeping one eye open the rest of the night defending flying elbows to the forehead and the sneaky roundhouse heel kicks to the crotch. It's something I didn't need confirmed but it validates my theory that Miller can't keep still even when asleep.

In the not so recent past he began to get out of bed all by himself and would climb up the 2 flights of stairs to our room- yippee!! This was a much heralded change to waking up to a screaming baby on the monitor, followed by a quick game of ro-sham-bo between 2 half awake parents for the dubious honor of going downstairs to collect the little guy from his puddle of confusion at daybreak.

On the days that Miller did sleep thru the night, the morning caused a bit of anxiety as I didn't have control over when he'd actually wake up. Or what he'd be wearing upon arrival at the entrance to our bedroom.

The variance is incredibly diverse let me tell ya.

Some days he'll proudly stomp into our room shirtless with his backpack on- stuffed with dinosaurs and other sundry but essential (to him) items. Other days he will announce himself fully naked. (although that is usually saved for the Amazon Fresh guy).

He has even learned to fashion his pajama shirt into a makeshift halter top- his head and one arm popped out of the neck hole while the empty sleeve dangles off to the side, intended to add some flair to the ensemble I guess.

There have also been a few nods to bad 90's hip hop artists in the form of completely backwards pajama's, top and bottom, a la Kris Kross. (I know you're singing 'Jump, Jump' in your head right now- sorry.)

There is usually a pregnant pause as he stand in the doorway, to make sure we are clearly taking in all of the awesomeness that was thought up minutes ago. Then he will proudly run across the room and pounce on us- so begins our mornings.

He does have a certain flair for the dramatic. 

Bob Barker would be proud.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nigh- Night

Miller and Quinn's rooms are on the same floor of our home. It's the only convenience we have going for us during the evening cattle call that is our children's bedtime.

Our living room, where we spend most of our waking hours together is one floor above which is not at all convenient. But like gravity- everything that goes up must, eventually come back down.

When eyes start getting rubbed and the tantrums begin to hit an absurd level of frequency, Sarah and I give each other the high sign to commence with getting the kids ready to go to sleep. My high sign usually starts with teeth clenching, followed by a bulging vein on the side of my head- I don't know I'm doing this- I just look at Sarah and see that her eyebrows have disappeared into her hairline and her eyes are much larger than normal circumstances. Its definitely time for bed- for the safety of everyone involved.

We begin to herd the family downstairs... with the enticement of toothpaste. Our kids LOVE toothpaste- I think it was Quinn's first two- syllable word. (although for a while it sounded like 'poo-paste'- quite the opposite sounding affect)

This word is merely the starter gun to the marathon of getting them to sleep. I'd like to think that in coming years we'll miraculously train our kids to be pavlovian dogs with that one word utterance but for now its just the beginning of the fireworks.

Stalling ensues. Usually with Miller asking for more to eat. Then he'll utter 'Whe...Whe....Where's the IPad?? One more show, DADDY' followed by dancing around the living room like someone who just opened the door to an intervention. Quinn has kept her eyes on the prize and has begun her belly slide down the stairs to the bathroom. This can lead to a glare from Sarah as Quinn is my responsibility. Miller is a much more time consuming project.

You see, everything in my blood wants to follow her down the stairs and get her to bed, quickly- the light is at the end of the tunnel. In the near future I can imagine eating dinner without fear of it being flung at me, or sit on the couch and hear my brain do something uninterrupted for a change.

At the 20 minute mark we're usually all in the bathroom and the toothbrushes are in the beasties hands.

They don't respect the values of good oral hygiene, but rather abuse its minty fresh flavoring by sucking on it like newborn calves on a teet. They also stand at the sink elbowing each other for position to take a bird bath with whatever appendage they can throw towards the running water.

Hey- at least we're all on the same floor.

After what seems like hours, Sarah and I separate the warring factions, clean up the buckets of water on the bathroom floor and finally move them to their respective rooms.

There is a changing of the guard so to speak. Things begin to get quiet, pajamas are wrestled onto little bodies and reading begins.

Eventually Sarah and I will meet back upstairs- alone. Just the 2 of us. We trade stories about the bedtime ritual, what books were read, how much 30 lbs. babies can crap, etc, etc. But mostly we relish the few hours we have to make dinner, eat, not move and then, finally drag ourselves to bed.

Nigh- Night.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it No....no.

Last week our little burrough of Seattle received about 7 inches of snow over 2 days. 

The story should end right there except this city goes completely sideways over a slight dusting of snow, much less measurable accumulation. The LA Times even called us Snow Wimps. I'll let that rivalry take care of itself- onto my personal tales of the apeshit craziness that happened within the walls of my own house.

There was ample time to prepare for the snow apocalypse as every local (and most national) TV stations were covering the impending weather, ad nauseam. The night before, Sarah and I went to the grocery store along with every other person in our greater metropolitan area. I think we all arrived at the exact same time. 

While shopping, Sarah came up with a few projects to pass the time with Miller and Quinn- making hot cocoa, baking oatmeal cookies and even using marshmallows and toothpicks to make mini igloos. Awesome and thoughtful ideas. Ideas that also contain sugar. Heaping boatloads of SUGAR. Neither one of us thought much of it at the time.

We woke up to several inches of snow already covering the neighborhood. It was beautiful. Then we realized a few things.

The snowfall meant we had no childcare to watch the Beasties. This also meant my lovely wife and I were stuck at home. With the Beasties. Like a family. For what would be 4 days. I'm convinced that modern families are not designed to be around each other that much. Isn't that why we invented the 50+ hour work week? And fantasy baseball?

I also think most of the life distractions recently invented to keep families from talking to each other in their own homes have a maximum 2 hour shelf life. For example, HBO Original programming, XBox, bathroom doors with locks, etc etc.

These distractions got us to 10:30- maybe. 

The snow falling from our living room window was starting to get deep and we could see sledders outside. This duped us into thinking it would be fun to join. Miller had also figured out that the marshmallow project was edible so it was time to get outside and expend some energy.

45 minutes later, we were all (mostly) at the front door, bundled up in layer after layer of snow clothes. Quinn had rain boots on that were two sizes too big and she stumbled around like Neil Armstrong on his maiden voyage to the moon. Miller was throwing a hissy fit about which mittens he could wear. He also repeatedly knocked Quinn down as he ran back and forth from the front door to his room. I had been sweating my ass off as I was ready 38 minutes ago.

Out the door we went.

By the time we got to the street the snow had picked up and was also really wet. We were soaked. Not letting this hinder our adventure we forged ahead, inch by inch. I was leading the group mostly because Sasha the dog was invited (not by me) and I was holding the other end of her leash as she bounded towards sledders at the end of our block. 

Miller made a break for it to catch up with Sasha and me. It began so cutely. Like any curious 3 year old he was sticking his tongue out to catch the snowflakes as he ran toward us. He also did this with his eyes closed. About 8 steps in, the little sugar fueled vehicle that was my son began to veer sharply to the right.

Bam! He tripped on the hedge of grass (covered at this point in snow and invisible to his blind eyes) and landed face first. To his credit he was going at such a good clip his landing knocked his gloves completely off.

Immediate crying and whining ensued. Cold Hands Daddy, COLD HANDS DADDYYYY!!!'

It had been a memorable 4 minutes or so outside but it was time to turn around and go home.

On the way up the 37 stairs to the house, I began plotting how to add schnapps into my hot chocolate without coming across as a derelict.

We were after all, only half way thru day 1 of 4......

Monday, January 16, 2012

Food for Thought

Quinn starts most mornings with 2 bananas. Starts.

She's 19 months old. It sounds excessive because it is. I understand as the adult in these transactions I should impact and change this ritual of gluttony- but you see, I can't. She demands 'NANA'! more NANA!! with an increasing hostility that makes me dread her entry into the 'terrible two's'.

I've tried various ways to break this process. First I cut the banana into as many pieces as possible. I'm getting so skilled they're beginning to resemble poker chips. It doesn't slow her down though, she just double fists them while mumbling 'nana'! 'nana'! her face looking like a squirrel drunk with an entire winter's haul of nuts in its cheeks.

I also try to get her involved. I'll strip off the first segment and give her the banana to finish peeling. This gives me an additional 3 or 4 seconds to get the cutting board and knife out before the yelling begins. I feel like a contestant on Hells Kitchen but my daughter is Gordon Ramsey and I'm about to be sent packing.

Mid-way thru the second banana Quinny becomes somewhat reasonable and sated. Miller takes this lull in action to announce from the couch that he is hungry. He's more of a waffle guy and being three, he likes to do everything himself. Not in a generally efficient way but by himself none- the- less. A quick trip to the freezer and Miller is back on the couch eating a waffle. A frozen, rock solid waffle. I can't convince him to see the benefits of a toaster yet. Or the perils of loosing teeth but in his defense all the current ones are coming out anyway.

This incites Quinn to riot. How dare I deprive her of carbs- she begins to yell 'down!' 'DOWN!!! off the kitchen bar stool so she too, can go grab a frozen waffle- (damn those bottom loading appliances). I meet her demands out of fear and lack of caffeine.

Quinn follows Miller to the couch where the bickering begins- I'm happily not the target during this segment of our morning. 'Mine'! mine!! MINE!! mine!!  Back and for they go, each one yelling progressively louder as to prove their waffle is most supreme.

Inevitably, the wrath of sweaty, tiny hands begins to thaw the waffles out- and the possession clock expires for both of their shrill voices- they begin eat the damn waffles, in silence.

I generally tune this out now that I've heard it a few hundred times- it's my moment to lean on the kitchen table and drink a cup of coffee-

It's MINE.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Awards Season is Upon Us

I just dropped my lovely wife off at the airport for a fun filled four days in Vegas. Bahhhhh.

Normally I'd be completely inconsolable and jealous at this turn of events but she's actually going for work- CES is this week. A work trip to Vegas is kinda like being the designated driver at Oktoberfest but I'm sure she'll find a few moments of joy eating at Bouchon educating tech bloggers on various OEM PCs and Windows.

I wanted to take a moment away from my usual posts about family dysfunction to humbly announce a couple of *ahem, awards I've graciously been a part of or nominated for.

First- thanks to Mary Harnetiaux at Bermtopia. My infant(ile) blog was nominated for a Liebster Blog award!

The Liebster Blog Award originated in Germany and recognizes up-and-coming bloggers. It is meant to showcase those who have fewer than 200 followers  (Liebster means “favorite” or “dearest” in German.) It's presented in the spirit of pay-it-forward.

I will shortly pass this forward by listing my 5 favorite blogs so please stay tuned- also definitely check out Mary's site as I read it daily and she never disappoints with humor and insight :-)

Second, I'd like to share a trailer for a short film I'm a small part of. It was just picked up as an official nominee at the Spokane International Film Festival, and I couldn't be prouder to be a (tiny) part of something so great.


Here is a link to Steel Drum in Space productions where you can watch the trailer and read about the real genius' behind the film. We hope to be updating the awards as we're in the midst of festival season and this will be the first of many, fingers crossed!

I'm sure the next four days of watching the beasties alone will give me plenty of fodder to resume my normal posts- carry on and thanks for reading!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Cost of a Tree

I imagine all parents pass milestones that serve as reminders of how pricey the little beasties we put on this Earth can be.

For me it began with the amount of paper products I bought and immediately disposed of when Miller was an infant. I found myself at the store every 48 hours stocking up on enough diapers and wipes to last until he turned five. (I had no idea children shouldn't be wearing diapers at five- it was my rookie season). Without fail, two days later the diaper genie began to belch out the overflow of these now soiled and disgusting products. So off to the store I went, again and again.

I didn't really mind the errand aspect of the job as most dads will confirm, this ritual became a kind of mini-vacation, a few moments of peace- especially during those early months. It was nice to be out among the public, even though I looked like a hipster crazed homeless person. Matching socks?, mehhhh. No shower in 3 days? Thats what baseball hats are for. Off I went.

In minutes, I travelled to a distant foreign land. Modern society. A people of sensible outfits. Who had hair product and time on their hands. I however, was straight out of the pages of National Geographic.

The store lights were always the first shock. They were too bright for my cave dwelling vision. Second was the illumination these lights cast on my ridiculous attire- awesome for me.

I did see women without babies attached to their breasts, which was a welcome but foreign experience. Thankfully I had the support of a cart to lean on and stagger to my designated aisle- good ol' #6. (its a small store, thank whatever pagan god these folks thought my tribe belonged to).

In defense of the store, lighting is not designed to induce coma- like sleepy time so parents can grab a 20 minute nap. I get it. What I don't get, and would like to recommend to groceries across the world is this:

  1. Put the diaper, wipe, paper product, toilet paper, paper towel, etc, etc products in the LAST aisle CLOSEST to the exit. This will ensure minimal contact with regular customers and the likes of me and the Walking Dead.
  2. DIM the lights in this aisle- I understand that an heirloom tomato's chance of landing in my basket is enhanced if I see that perfectly reflected water drop from it's well positioned light source. A box of diapers doesn't warrant light- its like crack. I just need it.
  3. If followed, your business will be better for it- trust me...

When I'm done with diapers forever, I promise to buy a shit load of those Heirloom Tomatoes- in season. At full price...

Just keep 'em away from aisle 6.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

No 'Year in Review' for me.

Fortunately there was plenty of action to convey, mostly at my expense over the holidays. Here are a couple low highlights from the past 2 weeks...

My daughter Quinn learned about Santa. Rather she learned to say 'Santa'. She's in a very object focused point in her life. She calls things out purely by name to remind us that we have functioning ears. It's a constant inventory of the world around her- if theres a question about what to call the blanket I'm holding she will call out 'BLANKET!'. If I'm on the couch with the iPad, she will grab it and try to smash it into my face yelling 'IPAD' and so on. All day.

When Santa finally hit her radar in the form of several Christmas decorations around the house it made for a lot of confusion. You see my dogs name is Sasha. Quinn had already filed her name into the top 10 identifiers we enjoyed hearing every few minutes. For grown ups the difference is easy to decipher but coming from a 19 month old who pronounces 'water' as 'daughter' you might see how it can get a bit confusing. So, any older white male, beard or not (grey hair being the only common denominator) became 'SANTA!' or 'SASHA'. It depended on mood and on how much time you spend with her to know the difference, not that strangers cared.

Miller is able to carry on long, mostly- articulate conversations unlike Quinn but they inevitably turn to questions. And more questions. At home, I'm all for explaining the difference between a T- Rex and a Triceratops or why 'four more minutes Daddy' doesn't mean wilding out for an hour or why Mommy doesn't have a penis- but this becomes a double edged sword when in public.

The week before Christmas, we all loaded into the car to get our tree. I wasn't sure why we all had to go as I knew who would be toting the beast up the 37 steps to our house. At the entrance to the lot, there was a gal with a crew cut working at a sawhorse station trimming the butt end of the trees before they got wrapped. The best way to describe her was handsome- but definitely female. For safety reasons I imagine,  her set up was a safe distance from the rows of tree inventory stacked against those temporary wooden frames built for three weeks of mayhem. Miller was oblivious to the tree section or the quest to find that perfect Balsam Fir for the living room I was trying to sell him. The action was with this woman in the snowmobile onesie and the loud chainsaw.

After losing Miller's attention for the tree hunt two or three or five times- (each time I'd find him too close and tug the back of his hood towards in the direction of the task at hand with no luck- off I went). On the last attempt, his little voice chirped out oh-so- high and piercing 'DADDY- WHAT HE DOING??' 'WHAT HIM DOING DADDY????'

Before he even finished screaming,  I had subconsciously mapped out the next closest tree lot and strategized an excuse to tell Sarah's parents why we couldn't support the local charity that funds long term AIDS care in our neighborhood. (Sarah and her family have been buying trees and volunteering at this lot for decades). I could have apologized but in the spirit of the holidays I did infinitely worse. I looked at Sarah and ran...to find that tree.

I went total hunter and gatherer. and, well....fill in the blank.

The tree I found was surprisingly at the far end of the lot, around the corner of most of the other trees- and it was perfect. I mean, really it was one of the best trees we've ever had. it was a perfect triangle, no crooked spine and zero empty spots.

I took it down today and every single needle dropped off if it- EVERY one as I first took the ornaments off and then the lights.

Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to not run from one mess to create another?

Happy 2012!