December 31, 2011

My Daughters, With New Years Resolutions!

I often worry about how I will teach the girls that it is better to give than to receive.  We live in an increasingly materialistic society where everyone seems to only do things for personal gain.  I know that if I want my children to learn generosity, I must lead by example.  In that vein, I have decided that instead of giving myself New Years Resolutions, I would be selfless and give them to other people!  Generosity is important!

So, without further ado, New Years Resolutions for other people!

In 2012, Harper resolves to do the following things:
Enunciate her needs without foot stamping
Minimize the number of times she pees through her pajamas in one night
Learn that her sister needs slightly more support when being picked up by the arms
Learn coordinate geometry
Dance more
Discover that not everything needs chocolate chips
Learn that the words "pants" is not pronounced "meese"
Not teach her sister to be as destructive as she is
Win full scholarship to college in precocious toddler contest
Remain out of the dating scene (That blond kid at day care better back the hell off!  Share his animal crackers, I don't think so!)

In 2012, Brynn resolves to do the following things:
Sleep through the night
Not cry hysterically when minor things go wrong
Sleep through the night
Daintily pick up soft foods and roughly pick up solid foods, instead of the reverse
Minimize the number of times that she falls down the stairs or off the bed
Sleep through the night
Grow more teeth
Win full scholarship to college in adorable baby contest
Remain out of the dating scene (A recurring theme)

In 2012, Sara resolves to do the following things:
Remain best wife ever
Continue not finding reasons to leave me
Continue being the responsible adult in the household
Remain best mother ever
Dump all of her supermodel boyfriends for her dumpy, lazy husband
Teach more dances to Harper
Teach some dances to Brynn when she can walk
Promote this blog to everyone

In 2012, my parents resolve to do the following things:
Visit more
Attach the adorable pictures of my children to all outgoing e-mails and text messages
Pledge to babysit for weeks on end so Sara and I can go globetrotting

In 2012, my students resolve to do the following things:

In 2012, my great-uncle whom I have never met or heard of resolves to do the following things:
Leave me a vast fortune and estates in England, Ireland, Scotland and the Maldives

In 2012, Ireland resolves to do the following things:
Discover how amazing Sara and I are
Give us a free vacation to visit

Man!  Coming up with resolutions for other people is so much easier than doing it for myself!  I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!

December 25, 2011

My Daughters, The Musically Deprived

I was in choir for most of my academic career.  I started singing in 3rd grade.  In 6th grade, I played Fagan in my schools production of Oliver.  I had solos in chorus in 7th and 8th grade.  When I got to high school, I joined Honors Choir and was in the school musicals as understudy for the lead for 2 years.  All of this is a long way to state that I have spent much of my life singing.

I have had many songs in many languages spill forth from my gaping maw.  This not only includes songs that were written by various famous song-writers, but also show tunes, TV-theme songs, as well as songs that I've made up on the spot.

It is because of these facts that I find it terribly confusing that when I rock Harper to sleep at night, I am only able to conjure three songs into my mind that contain enough lyrics to be able to sing.

These songs are, in no particular order:
You Are My Sunshine
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
What A Wonderful World

Why these three?  I HAVE NO IDEA!!  I want to sing songs by Guster, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Frank Sinatra, Alison Krause, Johnny Cash, and many, many more!

Where are all the songs that I know?  Why do they run screaming from my head the minute that I turn the light off, turn on the twilight turtle and humidifier and sit in the rocker?  My various choir directors would be so ashamed of me, and deservedly so!

I want to sing to my girls.  They want me to sing to them.  I need to remember more songs.

I need to remember songs that are not theme songs to Thomas the Tank Engine or Caillou...

Please leave comments with good sleepy time songs that I could sing as well as a complete list of lyrics.

Here's a nice picture.

December 23, 2011

My Daughters, Who Have Everything

I should have written this post weeks ago, but as stated before, I don't always complete the tasks I set for myself.  Perhaps that's why I writing this while sitting with a plate of cookies instead of working out.

In any event, the holiday season is upon us.  This means, of course, that everyone on the planet is struggling to empty their pockets to provide wonderful gifts for my children.

I heard an amazing report on NPR about a grandfather who decided that his grandchildren had enough toys and games and what he really should get them should be something else.  He decided on livestock.  Through Heifer International, he donated livestock in the names of his grandchildren to needy people in third-world countries.  I think this is a wonderful idea.

Another story was about how rather than objects, a man gave his grandchildren experiences.  He took them on a helicopter ride, booked a hotel that faced fireworks on the 4th of July and took them to all of the places in the local city that they had never seen.  His thought was that after he was dead and gone, the toys and games would be too, but the experiences could never be removed.

My students have been asking me what I'm getting for my kids and when I tell them "nothing" they sneer at me and call me a bad parent.  On truth, Sara and I did get Harper a gift, but it's nothing huge.  My thought is that at 2-years and 10-months, the girls don't have any concept of the season or what it means to get gifts.  Also, we buy them things often enough that this isn't really any different.

When family asks what they should get the girls, I've been trying to keep in mind the phrase "They need to go to college some day."

They have quite a large number of toys and clothes.

What would be really useful ...

What the girls would REALLY love...

Would be a European tour package for their parents.

December 15, 2011

My Daughters, The Patients

I have mixed feelings about the doctors office.

On one hand, I appreciate that there is a medical expert with whom I can consult when the medical issues of my children are beyond "put a band-aid on it."

On the other hand, my deep-seeded cynicism leads me to question any diagnosis as mumbo-jumbo and voodoo.

Doctor: "That abrasion is frequently indicative of a sub-dermal hemotoma.  You'll need to remain prostrate until the ventricles have retracted."
Me: "...none of those are real words.""

It upsets my wife that I don't get sick.  Does that seem like she wishes me ill?  Perhaps I should rephrase.

My immune system is composed entirely of grizzly bears who fight off infection with chainsaws and flamethrowers.  As a result, I don't often get sick.  When I do, I fall squarely in the camp of "Sleep on it and it will be better" and since I've been concussion-free since '93, this is a good tactic.  Sadly, I've been trying my best to project my medical philosophy onto my children.  For the most part it works fine.  I do, however, find myself at the doctors office more often than I would like.

The girls have both had runny noses for a few days.  My own thoughts were "The weather is changing, they have colds."  Sara made an appointment for them last night.

I HATE taking the girls to the doctor.  I will take one, but taking both sets my stress level to DEFCON 2.  The last time we were there was for Harper's 2-year check up where the doctor told us not to let her watch too much TV.  I want to take this opportunity to point out that, in the waiting room of this office, there are four televisions and no toys.

Since children in general are pestilential filth carriers, and a doctors office is tantamount to a plague ship, I can understand not wanting sick children to spread their diseases all over fun objects, sharing not only the fun, but also the illness.  This is, however, the first doctors office that I have seen that has NOTHING for children to do but sit and watch TV.

Just inside the door, however, there is a giant bowl of lollypops, just waiting for over-eager 2 year-olds to scream about how badly they want them.  We get called out of the waiting room where I am asked, while holding a baby carrier, a baby snack, a toddler snack, a bottle, a juice cup, a baby and a roaming toddler, to put them on the scale one at a time and please keep them from running into other patient rooms.  The juice cup really has to be watched.  That jerk wanders!

We finally get into the room and Harper wants to drag the chair over to the sink and spray water all over the floor.  Brynn wants to be put down, but knowing what MY kids put on the floor, I don't want her crawling there.  I put her on the table and she immediately tries to climb off, or at least dangerously close to the sloped edges.  By this point, Harper has moved the chair again and has managed to twist the top off of the lighted devices for looking in her ears and eyes.  She wants to examine the unwilling throat of her sister by trying to hold her down and shoving the device into her face.  At some point between breakfast and lunch the next day, the doctor finally arrives and the following conversation ensues:

Doctor: "Hello.  What brings you in today?"
Me: "I don't know.  My wife made the appointment."
Doctor: "Alright.  What did she make the appointment for?"
Me: "I don't know.  We didn't get that far in the conversation."
Doctor: "What symptoms are they experiencing?"
Me: "I think they have colds.  My wife thinks they have something that can only be contracted from monkeys in southeast Asia."
Doctor: "Have the kids been to southeast Asia?"
Me: "We were there for lunch yesterday, but they weren't bitten by any indigenous wildlife."
Doctor: "You're very funny.  What do you say we get out of here and go somewhere to blow off some steam?"
Me: "That sounds great.  The kids can walk home."

That's only if the doctor is one of the hot lady docs at the practice.  If it's one of the men, it goes more like this:

Doctor: "Hello.  What brings you in today?"
Me: "I don't know.  My wife made the appointment."
Doctor: "Alright.  What did she make the appointment for?"
Me: "I don't know.  We didn't get that far in the conversation."
Doctor: "You are a terrible father.  I will be calling child protective services as soon as you leave."

For some reason, I find the male doctors to be slightly condescending.

"Why are we here so often, dad?"
"Either to flirt with the hot lady doctors, or to be reminded what an awful parent I am."

I am proud man, but I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong.  This particular trip, Sara was very much in the right.  For the stress that I endured on last nights visit, we were given a diagnosis of three ear infections and pink eye.

Needless to say, I was not as unhappy to go to work today as I normally am.

Alright, maybe my feelings about the doctors office aren't so much mixed as much as skewed drastically to one side.

November 30, 2011

My Daughter, The Insomniac

Pro-tip for a happy relationship: Buy a couch that is comfy enough to sleep on.

Because you will need to sleep on it.

Brynn has not been sleeping well lately.  Part of it is not feeling well, part of it is teeth, part of it is that I think she hates us.  Or loves us too much.  Hard to tell.

Lately, any time we've put her own, she starts screaming.  This includes night time.  At night, we've been able to let her cry herself out and she'll fall asleep, for a while.

Last night, at midnight, she started up again and would not stop moving long enough to fall back asleep.  It was that kind that all parents know where you turn to your lovely, wonderful child, and in your most sweet and elegant voice say "If you would just stop @%$#ing your arms around, you would fall asleep!"

Sara and I decided that we had to vacate the room.

We BOTH slept on the couch last night.

Luckily for everyone involved, I woke up about 10 minutes before my alarm would have gone off and started the whole thing again.

Hence, why I'm typing a blog entry at 5:28 am.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a sound proofed room in which to stick your 9-month-old.

November 24, 2011

My Daughters Are Thankful for Chocolate Chips and People Small Enough That They Can Bite Their Heads

Thanksgiving and elections have a lot in common.

Well, one thing at least that I can think of.

I often feel, when someone asks me what I'm thankful for, that I am suddenly running for office.  It's hard to tell if they want the truth, or if they want something to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside: the verbal equivalent of being wrapped in a warm blanket with hot cocoa in front of a fire with a snow gently falling on the silent world around us.

Other than the occasional misanthrope, I am willing to bet that everyone you asked or will ask this week what they are thankful for will reply with the following, or some variation thereof:
My family
Good health
Being employed

When a politician is asked about the economy, Republicans will almost always say "no more taxes" while the Democrats will say "the rich need to pay more taxes."

While all of these responses may be true, they are predictable and boring.  If, somehow, we don't say those things, we are looked at in horror and disgust.

"What are you thankful for, Justin?"
"I'm thankful that Han shot first and was a better shot than Greedo."
"...Is that all you have to say?  What about being thankful that your family is healthy?  What about being thankful that you have a job?  Are you some kind of monster?  I'm thankful that I don't have to spend any more time with a callous, heartless, misanthrope like yourself. Good day to you, sir."
"I'm also thankful that this conversation is over."

So, aside from the typical stuff, here are some things that I am thankful for:

I am thankful that I made it to Thanksgiving without assaulting any of my students enough to be reported.

I am thankful that Seabase, the children's play area that looks like an acre-sized McDonalds' PlayPlace allows adults to accompany children on the apparatus.

I am thankful that more and more people are getting into Doctor Who.  Seriously, the show is excellent.

I am thankful that I liked A Song of Ice and Fire before it was a popular TV show. (Haughtily adjusts homemade hipsters glasses)

I am thankful for this amazing pumpkin dip I made.  Thanks, me!  You're great!  I appreciate your noticing that, me.  Of course!  Any time!

I am thankful for streaming Netflix, although not as thankful as I would be if they had the Muppet movies.

I am thankful for the expanding, hardening foam that helped me to stop the leak in my basement.

I am thankful to PNC for sending me an e-mail when I have money in my account again.

I am thankful to the Republican party for the candidates that it has put forth for President.  This has truly been a magical season so far.  (Take from that what you will)

I am thankful for Spotify allowing me to listen to whatever music I want!

I am thankful to Justin Beiber for not being in or near my house.

Happy Thanksgiving.

You are thankful for two posts in one day!

You are so welcome!

My Daughters, The Soon-To-Be-Nudists

I am fascinated by the concept of clothing design.  I am most certainly a man who believes in function over form, hence why I dress for comfort rather than to impress.

I have several friends who are clothing designers and they believe in the opposite.  The clothing that they make is weird, and crazy and amazing and wonderful and nothing I would ever wear.  It's mostly latex, spandex and feathers.

I almost hate to go shopping for clothes because of the variety.  I don't want to try on 15 pairs of pants just to find the one that has the cut that properly accents the non-existent nature of my butt.  I have too much everything else, and no butt.

Obviously, I do not have a degree in clothing design.  I view clothing from the practical side.  It is because of this, that I have come to a very important conclusion: The only qualification necessary to be a popular designer of children's clothes is that you must never have had to dress a child.

I don't want to get into the fashion of color schemes or picture themes just yet.  I am speaking merely about the physical construction of baby clothes.  By the time the child gets to the age of two, it's not really a big deal because they understand the concept of "Hold still for one second!"  Harper is not really a problem.

Brynn, however, simply lacks the capacity to sit still long enough to allow herself to be dressed.  My mother experienced this a few weeks ago while attempting to change the little squirmer and, understandably, gave up.  To change this child's diaper and get her dressed takes dedication and patience known only to the Dalai Lama.

If I were a highly paid clothing designer, creating marvelous pieces of under- and outer-wear for children under the age of two, I might include a very wide variety of colors and patterns.  I might have animals and rocket ships and hamburgers and hearts and construction equipment and music notes and Lego's all over the outfits.  I would have shorts and long pants and sweaters and t-shirts and onesies and full body outfits and hats and socks.

What I would NOT have, at least not in any functional capacity, would be snaps or buttons.

We have this outfit and it is adorable!  Harper looked great in it and now Brynn looks great in it.

It has 12 snaps.  WHY??  What baby will sit still long enough to button 12 snaps??  The legs flail and kick and pop button number 3 open just as you get number 6 closed!

Strategy: Pre-snap the legs, slipping baby legs in, then snapping up the middle.
Strategy: Put arms in first, so no matter what, baby can not escape, can only mess up the snapping of everything else.

I imagine that in designing baby clothes, items should be considered in the following order:
1) Safety
2) Ease of Changing Diaper
3) Style

In several outfits we own, the first two are completely disregarded.  Brynn has one outfit that, in order to change her diaper, must be completely removed with the exception of the snap holding it around her neck.

We have another that, when she crawls, her legs come out of the pants and her knees, tugging on the stomach area of the outfit cause the outfit to pull her head slowly to the ground until she is eventually trying to dig a trough in our carpet with her skull.

For the love all that is good and decent!  Why aren't all baby clothes made with zippers??

Also, it appears that someone in the future has heard my plea and sent an amazing invention back in time.  They missed the mark though.  We needed this two years ago!

November 18, 2011

My Daughter, The Birthday Girl

Harper turns 2 today.

It's very weird for me to say that because, as usual, I find it an overwhelming shock that I happen to have a child, let alone two of them, let alone one who happens to be two years old.

Harper celebrated her birthday by sleeping in a little bit and then getting up and being happy all morning.  It must be my birthday too!

Two years ago today, the hospital allowed us to take home this small mewling mass of human.  These last two years have been fraught with all sorts of monumental life changes, including, but not limited to, purchasing a house, moving into said house with a newborn, birth of a second lovely daughter and a major job change for Sara.

Through it all, I've been keeping up with this blog, sporadically.

My mom, her partner and my grandmother came to visit us two weeks ago.  It was a wonderful visit and I'm very glad that they were able to come out and see the girls.(I suppose they came to see me too)  While here, I was explaining to my mom how I've started using Twitter as a marketing tool for the blog in an effort to drive traffic here.  My grandmother asked me why I wanted to do this, and what the purpose was of having the blog in the first place, not that she didn't love reading about how I get covered in bodily fluids and the like.

I explained to her that increased traffic means increased comments and feedback, which in turn allows me to improve the blog.  I want to make it something that people want to read.  She asked me why, wondering if I was making money off of it, or if it was ego, or something else.  I gave her an answer right off the top of my head, which I think makes it more true.

I told her that yes, I want people to like it because at some point, monetization may be an option, but what I really want, more than anything, is a record of my exploits and adventures as a parent.  I want, upon their high school or college graduations, be able to turn this blog into a small book that tells the story of their lives from my perspective.

We all live our lives with ourselves as the main characters.  We are our harshest critics and greatest proponents but there is a limited amount of empathy that we can have.  We never get to live our lives though someone else's eyes.  I want my girls to be able to look back and see what it was like for me and Sara without the benefit of our hindsight.

To fully answer my grandmother, I want this blog to be an ongoing birthday gift to both of my daughters, a chronicle of their lives.

With that in mind, I'm going to take the easy way out and link you to two previous posts.  The first is the first real post that I wrote as a dad.  I know it is just that because I brilliantly titled it First Real Post as a Dad.  The second link is to the post from Harper's first birthday.  It is filled with typical birthday wishes that I will reiterate again this year.

Happy birthday, Harper.  I love you more than I can ever express in mere words.

Also, if someone wanted to turn the blog into a book and sell it to millions of people as either a guide to parenting, or a warning, that would be a great gift for the girls as well. :-)

To leave you with a smile, here's a video of Harper feeding Brynn this morning.

November 13, 2011

My Daughters, Victims of a Philosophical Father

Many people, when watching children's programming, would consider the educational justifications of having their children plopped in front of the TV.

After over-exposure, some adults may begin humming the songs of the shows, refer to the actors as actual people, or even adopt the mannerisms and phrasings of the characters.

I, however, begin to contemplate the deep, philosophical questions that are invoked by cartoon reality.  I am out of clever introduction, so without further ado, here is a list of shows and the queries that pop into my head.


The obvious question here is "why is a four-year-old bald?" but a basic Google search provides the answer to that one.  Apparently, they felt that if he had brown hair, he would have only appealed to kids with brown hair.  If he had blond hair, he would only appeal to blond kids, etc.  This of course, begs the question, "why wouldn't a bald kid only appeal to bald kids?"  How big could that demographic possibly be?

Caillou, the boy of the giant bald head and absurd name, has a sister named "Rosie."  Why is her name so mundane (no offense to any readers named "Rosie") when his is so ridiculous?

Why does Rosie have no clothing except a housecoat with ruffled sleeves and collar?  Who dresses their child that way?  Then again, the mother wears the exact same outfit, but with pants, so I guess they shop at the same store.


In a world where anthropomorphic animals are the primary residents, where these animals act like people, how do they decide which animals get to act like people, walking, talking, owning property, and which ones have to remain as regular animals, scrounging in the dirt for food?

How does Kipper own a house, when he doesn't have a job?  How does he pay his mortgage with his life of leisure?

Also, is everyone in this world on sedatives?

Berenstain Bears:

Again with the choice of clothing for the mother, are those pajamas?  She runs errands in pajamas?

Someone wrote a blog post about naming, but apparently, the grandparents in this family didn't get the memo.    Can you imagine the emotional trauma that the parents endured going through school with the names "Mama" and "Papa"?  Just picture the conversation!

Bully:  Hey, Papa, what kind of a stupid name is that?  You a dad or something?

Bullies are not not known for their witty repartee.  Additionally, it means that the grandparents wanted to ensure that they had grandkids some day.  The destiny was guided by the names, much like naming a child Doctor makes it difficult not to become a doctor.  Or naming a child Chastity and being shocked when she becomes loose in the ways of women.  Sadly, this trend continued into the current generation.  Do they want the kids to become a monk and a nun?

What would they name a third child?

Sesame Street:

I understand that a large part of this show is about diversity, so I will run down the main diversities in terms of the personality disorders of the cast.
The Count: OCD
Cookie Monster: It's in the name!  Eating disorder.  (Again, see Berestain Bears for the destiny/naming connection) Also, his grammar is atrocious!
Elmo: Speaks only in third-person
Ernie:  Inability to read social cues, optimistic jerk
Bert:  Depression, pessimistic jerk
Grover: No clue, but something is seriously wrong with this guy.

Many of these characters have traits that would put them solidly on the Autism spectrum.

Bob the Builder:

Mostly, this show makes me want to build things.  But I am curious, as with Kipper, who decides which construction equipment is allowed to be alive?  Why isn't the shovel dancing around?

Who pays for all of the materials?

Thomas the Tank-Engine:

This show disturbs me on a level that I can't quite describe.  I want to see the first episode where some mad scientist creates sentient trains with human faces and emotions.  What could that motive possibly have been?

When I think of what hell might be like, it is close to being a train on this show.  Imagine for a moment that you have full control of your mental faculties and the complete and total inability to move anything other than your eyes and mouth.  If you want to travel, you can only move front and back along a track that someone else had laid down.  Above all of this, you need a constant supply of energy that you are completely unable to get on your own.  All the while, a small person with infinitely more freedom climbs in and out of your head and tells you what to do and where to go.

Also, why, on an island as small as Sodor, are there so many trains??

There are other shows, but I think this entry is too long as it is.  So much so, that both of my children have fallen asleep reading it.

November 5, 2011

My Daughters, The Marathon Runners

I am in serious trouble.

I mean life-altering trouble.

The kind of trouble that may lead me to leave my family, gather my liquid assets, change my name and move to another country.

Brynn is on the move.  God help me, I have two mobile children!

I think it's revenge inflicted on us by the ghost of Patrick Swayze.  He has returned from the great beyond because Sara broke the first rule of "Don't piss of Swayze:"
She put baby in the corner!

As long as he doesn't start massaging me while I'm trying to make ashtrays and coffee mugs, we'll be alright.

She went from stationary mode to mobility VERY quickly.  I don't mean that the transition was swift, as much as the moving is swift.  Her attention span is also swift.  One she arrives on one side of the room, she sees something elsewhere that she finds interesting and goes for that.

She has also taken to following her sister around, which is freakin' adorable!  Harper will lead her into their bedroom, proceed to pull all of the books off of the shelf and then the two of them will roll around in the literary accomplishments of Mercer Meyer and Dr. Seuss.

Brynn also has started indicating when she wants to be picked up by crawling over to said victim, and pulling herself up pant legs and looking helpless and sad until she is removed from the floor.

Having hairy legs, I have never been more pleased at the impending approach of winter and putting my shorts into storage.

As far as Harper goes, she has been doing her level best to remind Sara and me that she is almost 2.  She is starting to perfect her dramaticollapses to the floor and often garnishes it with a sprinkle of arm flailing and foot pounding.

It's not always sunshine and bubble gum though.  There are tough times too.  I have had to take a few days off of work to spend time with my daughter.  THE HORROR!!

We've gone to the park and played outside and went shopping!  It's was traumatic!


So...Who wants to buy me a smart phone with a better camera?

She even helps me with yard work.

The girls play very well together, no matter where they are.

Next weekend, Sara will be going to Florida with Brynn for her friends baby shower, which means that Harper and I get to spend the whole weekend together!

One of us is going to end up corrupted and I sure do hope it's me!

September 28, 2011

My Daughters, The Ones With The (Remote) Control

I wrote and re-wrote the first sentence of this blog entry no less than eight times in an effort to try to word what I wanted to say in such a fashion that would not have someone call Child Services on me.  As it is, I know that this entry is going to make me look like a bad parent.  Allow me to begin with the following:

I have great amounts of respect for people who were able raise well-balanced, happy children without the use of violence and before the invention of television.

Sara and I try to limit the amount of television that the girls watch.  While Brynn would be happy to watch a multi-colored strobe light that would send anyone into fits of epilepsy, Harper requires some sort of programming.  We have been sticking to two things.  The primary tele-caregiver is Sprout, the 24-hour pre-school channel (do I have enough hyphens in this sentence?)  The shows are all short, under 15 minutes and are all based in pseudo-education, focusing on numbers, letters, activities and life lessons, such as "take turns" and "don't bite your friends."  The other show she likes is Sesame Street, or more specifically, Elmo, which, if I have to describe to benefits of that, then I need you to post a comment about how you get internet at the rock under which you live.  This is quality programming.

Look how easy it is to justify sticking my toddler in front of a television.  It's a little more difficult when she comes home from day care and plops herself in front of the TV and looks at me and says "beebee?"  Or when trying to put Harper down to bed, she asks us to rock her and sing to her and when asked what she wants us to sing, she replies with "na na na Elmo."  Her favorite bedtime song is Elmo's Song.

Don't worry.  I think I may do a post soon with all of my favorite Elmo videos, most of which include celebrities.

Before you judge me too harshly, please read on.  For those of you who are parents, please prepare your mouths to utter the words "Well, duh!"  For those of you who are not, I have some information that may come as a bit of a shock.

Parenting is tough.  ("Well, duh" say my parent readers.)  It is tough in ways that I never would have imagined.

When you think about becoming a parent, you romanticize the entire process.  You think that the tough decisions will be things like "How do I talk to my child about drugs/sex/drinking/anythingfunthatIdon'twantthemdoing?" and "How do I plan to instill the proper values in my child?" and "Do I dress her in the blue dress with the jean shorts or the red top and matching pants?"

You spend hours discussing how you will mold them into citizens of the world, how you will teach them to appreciate the arts.  You say things like "My child isn't going to watch any TV" and "We're going to do family outings to the museum" and "Look at that child rolling around on the floor of the restaurant!  What awful parents he must have!  I would never let my child act that way!"

Then you have kids and you find yourself saying things like "We would love to come to the party but we don't have the mental strength to fight the battle of the car seat" and "Go watch Elmo.  Daddy has to poop" and "Please get up off of the restaurant floor before everyone here thinks we are bad parents."  Then you have all of the questions that you never thought you would ever ask, like "How did you get peanut butter inside your sock?" and "Your sister does not go in the dishwasher" and "Why are you chewing on a diaper?"  Christ, I hope it was unused.

You think that your child is going to be Jonathan Lipnicky from "Jerry Maguire" in that he/she will be precocious and cute and say adorable things like "The human head weighs eight pounds."  Perhaps you are one of the few realistic people who knows that there will be cute times, but there will also be projectile vomit and walls smeared with feces and tantrums.  What you do not expect is what actually happens.  You expect that you will be getting up at all hours to soothe a crying child.  What you do not expect is that that child needs to be soothed because they are covered in urine and grape jelly.  Where did that sandwich even come from??

You find yourself in absurd situations.  You find yourself still in your work clothes, cooking dinner, frantically eviscerating vegetables in ways that might be in violation of international law, knowing that you have a limited amount of time before your child remembers that you exist and comes wandering into the room, placing themselves in the most inconvenient spot possible and begins to scream incoherently while pointing around the kitchen.

"What do you want?  This?" you ask, while gesturing wildly with a kitchen knife.

Picture yourself standing with a friend in the nosebleed section of a baseball stadium.  Suddenly, your friend points onto the field and says "Look at that guy!"  With 10 players and 3 umpires, it takes very little time to narrow down and figure out who is talking about.  You could ask questions like "On the left side?" "On our team, or the visitors?" or "At which position."  When you figure out who he is talking about, you can have a good laugh, or cry, or whatever is appropriate, together.

Trying to identify what your child is talking about in the kitchen is very similar, except that, instead of pointing to the field, your friend is pointing into the stands, filled with 70,000 people.  Instead of being able to ask pointed questions, you get to ask "That guy?" while pointing in the general direction.  Instead of having a calm resolution like "Yeah!  Look at his hat!" once you have pinpointed the person he is talking about, your friend screams at the top of his lungs and points in another direction entirely.

Or he just storms out of the kitchen to dig his fingers into your unattended chap-stick.

In short, I do my parenting much the way I play chess.  I go into it with a grand plan feeling that I could beat a good number of players.  I quickly find myself out maneuvered and after 2 moves have switched to an entirely defensive strategy.

It is for these reasons, your honor, and because sometimes you just have to go to the bathroom, that I do occasionally use the television to babysit my children.

But I swear, I never inhale.

Now cute pictures to make you forget what a bad parent I am.

We win the "War on Car Seats" by losing the "War on Drugs."

September 2, 2011

The Mom is Posting Something!!

Good Evening,
I just wanted to share a few gems with you. Phrases if you will. If you are a parent, you will most likely understand, and if you aren't then you will probably still find it amusing or just think I am weird.

"After we clean up the alphabet, then we will be home" - sent as a text to let the Dad know our ETA

"I think she is going to poop a coupon" - In this one I wish she hadn't eaten the coupon, it was for a free chicken sandwich! Dang!

"I'm waiting for the wife to get home, so that I can poop!" - The Dad doesn't feel comfortable having a poop party and inviting everyone.

I know it has been a while since the last post. What?...We have kids! Since the last post I am sure things have changed some. Justin is back to school, and not so sure about it. He is now at the Jr High and to give you an idea of the difference he found a student with a pacifier - NO KIDDING I found it and asked him where it came from. I thought maybe Harper had stolen it from a kid at daycare. He informed me he took it off a student. Gross!!

I have sadly left PTI... :( However I now have a new job in Greensburg! It is very nice to be closer to home and forget when I last filled my gas tank. I am working for Pace Analytical, testing water samples for Radioactivity. It is very different and very busy. I get to take the girls to daycare and I don't have to leave before I get up in the morning... yeah that is early!!

The girls are both doing well. Lil B just had her 6 month check up. She is weighing in at 13 lbs and 25 inches long. She is petite and very happy, strong and giggly! She has 2 (going on 4) teeth and loves to stand and play with Harper. They often giggle at each other. It is too cute!

Miss Harper is also doing well. She has been putting words together to form old Chinese woman sentences.
Ex: "Go nigh nigh?" (She likes to get in our bed and pull up the covers) "Seee down" (this comes with a pat on the floor or wherever might be most inconvenient for you to sit down) "Baby Eeet?" (She likes to try to feed Brynn, that isn't a good idea). "Poo Butt?" (Unfortunately she was accusing someone after she busted them on the toilet)

We are looking forward to the cooling weather of Fall and seeing some friends and family in the upcoming months. I'm sure we will have a few more great phrases, and please feel free to share yours too! Take care!!

July 22, 2011

My Daughter, The One Who Finds My Weak Points

I'm not usually one to write lists, but I think that it is important to discuss one of my least favorite things about being a parent and, I feel, the clearest way to do so, is in list form.  So, without further ado:

Four Reasons Why Diaper Rash Cream Is Worse Than Human Feces
In no particular order

1)  It smells worse than poop
  I may have written a post or two about the horrendous alchemy that occurs in the intestines of a child, converting innocent things like blueberries and apples into something that Satan himself must have concocted.  My daughters give off odors from their posterior ends that would cause those who work with raw sewage to weep for their mothers.  During the diaper changing process, I attempt to bring some light to the awkward situation of wiping the anus of another human being, by saying things like "Ew stinky!  Let's get a fresh diaper and we'll be aaaaaaaaall clean!"  I know, someone nominate me for creative dad of the year.  What is usually said, however, sounds more like "Ew stink...BLECH!!  DEAR GOD GIRL!  What did you eat?!?!?"

With this said, I use baby powder when the girls have rashes because the smell of the diaper rash cream is worse than the worst diaper I have yet to change.  It smells of depressing retirement homes where the relatives never visit and the nurses would rather watch One Life To Live than find out why Mrs. Elderson is moaning.  It smells of people who have been living at the hospital because they don't have the strength to leave and besides, where would they go?  There's no one waiting for them at home.

2)  Harper will not eat her own poop
  I type this while knocking on wood.  So far, she has shown no interest in writing her name on the wall in poop, as is shown in every comedy that has toddlers.  She has actually demonstrated an aversion to her own waste, wanting to get the diaper off and away from her as soon as possible.  She is clearly my daughter in this respect as, once I soil myself, I too need those clothes as far away from me as I can get them.  The diaper rash cream, however, seems to hold some strange fascination for her.  She loves to pry the lid open and squeeze 15-20 butts-worth of cream onto her fingers, most of which goes into her mouth.  Once there, she realizes that this was a terrible idea, but for reasons I will lay out in number 3, it's too late.  This does not, however, stop her from doing it again the next time she gets her hands on a tube.

3) Poop is not grease-based... least until they start eating more buffalo wings and faire-food.  Parents who are reading this will know that, in the course of parenting, occasionally, you get poop on your hands.  It happens.  In my case, there is lots of crying involved, but once I settle down, I wash my hands and I'm alright.  Soap and water remove all traces of texture and odor of whatever the girls had for breakfast.

Diaper rash cream is made with a mixture of skunk vomit, super glue, and sun screen.  In this particular case, it is the latter that concerns me.  What this means for me is that even the slightest trace of the stuff on my skin and my pores open up, as though they have stumbled upon an oasis after wandering in the desert for weeks, drinking in as much as possible, pulling it deep into the dermis.

Now, we watch Sesame Street fairly often, as I did when I was a child.  The only segment of Ernie and Bert that I remember from my childhood was one in which Bert painted his hand purple.  The paint wouldn't wash off and he had to wait for it to wear off on its own.  The cream is the same way.  No amount of hot water, soap, steel wool, borax, hydrochloric acid, etc. will remove the goo and therefore the smell.  I feel as though for the good of humanity, I should lock myself in quarantine.

"Why can't you come to work? Are you sick?   ...   DIAPER RASH CREAM?!?  Jesus Christ, son!  We'll be praying for you.  Take as much time as you need.  We don't need that spreading through the office."

4) Harper gets it EVERYWHERE
  As though my previous items were not conclusive enough, my biggest issue is when Harper manages to combine all three into one super-happy-fun time.  She puts it on everything.  This evening, after getting a liberal dose from Sara, Harper managed to get a hold of the tube.  By the time I found her (read: 3 seconds later) she was using it to finger paint on her sister.  When I grabbed the tube from her hand, she flung herself away from me, leaving a diaper rash hand print on the couch and a line of cream along the carpet.  Since it is grease-based, as previously mentioned, it will be there, smelling and being unsightly, forever.  In hurling the tube out of her grasp, the cap came off, leaving more drops on the wall and floor.  While I was trying to clean up those spots as best I could, she somehow managed to find another tube, opened it with her teeth and started giving herself tribal tattoos.  When I went to clean her, she ran away and buried her (cream-covered) face in the upholstery of a chair.  If you're wondering how long it will remain there, please allow Squints to tell you.

As I've said before, Harper does not like to play with her poop.  If, however, she decided tomorrow that she wanted to finger-paint the walls with her own excrement, it would be easier to clean up and would smell better than the current medium of choice.

I feel like my house may reach a tipping point.  Sometime soon, there may be so much diaper rash cream spread of various surfaces that I will cease to attempt to clean it.  I will simply let it pile up until, in an effort to escape the smell of itself, the house opens a portal to hell and sucks itself in.

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate diaper rash cream.

I can't wait to grow up and find other things you hate!

July 15, 2011

My Daughter, The Tester of My Psyche

It has always been my goal to keep this blog positive.  Even when I get frustrated about things, I try to put a happy spin on them to make it entertaining for everyone.

It is precisely because of this that I have avoided writing any posts lately.

I have been frustrated and have been unable to see a way to spin it for entertainment value.  So what have I done?  I've decided that I need to just get my thoughts out of my head so that I can make room for funny
anecdotes again.

Harper has been making me insane as of late.

Let me back up.  I don't know where my left post ended and I'm WAY too lazy to go and check, so as a quick rehash, let me say that once school let out, I've been home with the girls.  I've been keeping Brynn with me almost every day, unless she's being taken care of by her aunt or grandmother.  Harper, I have been sending to day care twice a week in order to get some things done around the house and to keep her socialized with other kids.

When Harper is home, I have been trying to take them out as much as possible.  Errands and road trips are a bit ungainly as Harper likes to scream and cry every time I put her in a car seat.  Instead, we go for walks.  I found a coffee/breakfast sandwich place that's about a mile and a half from the house over the hills of the town so I'll put them in the stroller and we'll go there and back.

There have also been a few times when I strapped Harper into the backpack carrier and pushed Brynn in the stroller and we walked on the trail.

When Harper is at day care or with a relative, I can do pretty much whatever I want/need to do.  Brynn is still at the stage where she's content to sit in the car seat and watch what's going on.  With her alone, I've been able to go to lunch with friends, work on the wall, run errands or just waste the day watching movies or playing video games.

I think it is because she's so easy to take care of that my frustration level with Harper has increased drastically.

I've spoken before about she doesn't really want to play with her toys, but only wants the power tools.  She only wants to destroy things that we need, like my car registration.  She'll stand in the kitchen and point to something and make a sound like a wounded animal.  When we point to things that she might be wanting and say "Do you want this?" she screams and throws tantrums, regardless of whether or not that was the thing she wanted.  The other alternative is that she'll ask for something clearly, agree that's what she wants and then, as soon as it comes into her hands, she freaks out and throws it away.

Last night, while I was on the phone with Verizon Customer "Service" she stood at my feet and screamed.  When I went to another room, she followed me and screamed.  When I went to pick her up, she thrashed until I put her back down.

I understand that there is a level of frustration on her side as well.  She knows what she wants to be doing and simply does not have the vocabulary to communicate the way she wants.  There is a huge gap between what she wants to be telling us and what we want to be communicating to her.  For the most part, she understands us.  We can tell her to put her clothes in her hamper, and she will.  We can tell her to go find her shoes, or a diaper, and she will.

Last week, after telling her that she cannot hit her sister, I told her to go and say sorry and she did.  It just about broke out hearts, but she knew she had done something wrong, said sorry and walked into her room to go to bed.  I rocked her to sleep and told her how much I loved her and how proud I was that she said sorry and how I know she loves her sister, she just can't play as rough.

As I said before, I've been trying to keep this light and positive, but these are things that I need to get off of my chest.  I also feel very bad that I don't talk about Brynn much.  I don't want her to get second child syndrome and I spend a large quantity of time with her, but at this point, it comes down to one simple thing.  She just isn't doing much.  She's unbearably cute and has a very good-nature.  She sleeps pretty well, eats pretty well and is easy to take care of.

Here are some pictures with a few clever captions.

 Neon Swing X-Perience owes me endorsement money


Go to my happy place... 

"Noooo, Mr. Bond!  I expect you to die!!" 

Having to deal with me, my ladies need a nap.

June 23, 2011

My Daughters, The Fashionistas

I have seen the end of my marriage.  It will end in tears, hair-pulling and misery.  There will be "other women" although they won't be my girlfriends.  There will be clothes and personal belongings thrown into the street, although again, they won't be mine.  I do, however, have a secret that I have been keeping from you, dear readers.

I hate the dressers in my daughters' room.  I hate them not for the color of their finish, but for the content of their drawers.

"Sometimes, daddy likes us to match!"

I have previously admitted that I am not the most clean or organized person in the world.  There are almost no symptoms of OCD that you could claim I have.  The current state of the interior of my car can attest to this fact, as would the pile of clean clothes that I keep moving back and forth from the bed during the day to the empty hamper at night.

One of the few things that I do keep at least semi-organized is my dresser.  I do this not out of some sort of need for universal order.  "In a world gone mad, wracked by chaos, one man has the courage to fold his underwear and put them where they belong!" (I hope you read that in a movie announcer voice.)  I do it, I think, mostly because during the school year, I get up much earlier than Sara and I don't want to wake her by hunting for my clothes in the dark.

Sure, we'll go with that because it makes me seem nice...

The point is, I know where my clothes are.  My current dresser has three drawers and is organized in the following way:

Top Drawer: Black/gray/white t-shirts, underwear, socks
Middle Drawer: Pants, sweaters/sweater vests
Bottom Drawer: Shorts, t-shirts with designs, pajamas, workout clothes

I also have a closet for the shirts that I hang and two drawers under my bed for random other clothes that I wear infrequently, like hoodies and sweatshirts.

I think there is an order to the dressers in the girls' room, but I can't tell what it is and last week, I am ashamed to admit, I had a full-blown OCD meltdown.

Since I ranted at my poor wife, who is, as always will remain, my hero, for much longer than was fair, I will only saw one thing in my own defense:  As a stay-at-home-dad for the summer, I find it overly-frustrating that I am unable to discern any order from the dresser drawers and therefore must spend 20 minutes searching through onesies, pants and tops just to find a matching, weather-appropriate outfit.

 "But, your honor, these drawers...they don't make sense!"

"Agreed.  I hereby dissolve this marriage on the grounds of incompatible drawer organization styles."

Post-hissy-fit, when we were organizing the drawers, as per the orders of the marriage counselor, Sara gave semi-explanations as to why the clothes were where they were.  Now, having calmed down, I can admit that there was a logic to it.

But I am not a reasonable person.  We haven't done Harper's drawers yet, but I think I will need some serious sedatives before we tackle those.  I don't want to say things that I will regret.

I will simply end by saying this: Thank you so much to everyone who bought adorable outfits for the girls.  They are incredibly cute (or they are in storage) and we are greatly appreciative to everyone.  For now on, however, in lieu of clothing, donations can be made to the girls' college funds as those do not take up room in the dresser.

June 7, 2011

My Daughter, The Serial Killer

Last night's dinner consisted on bar-b-qued beef, asparagus and sweet potatoes.  Harper got her plate of sweet potatoes and, after being told they were hot, proceeded to blow on them to cool them off.

In her version of blowing on her food, her hair blows up in the middle of her forehead and the food stays hot.

Once the succulent sweetness was cool enough she gripped it lightly in her fist and proceeded to squeeze the ever-loving crap out of it!  As the gooey orange stickiness oozed from between her fingers, she got the sudden idea that her sister was hungry and may enjoy of a bite of sweet potato garnished with toddler fingers.  We were able to put a stop to that, but not before a trail of potato was left between the table and the bouncer.

For my in depth feelings on this particular situation, see my post about textures.

After dinner, I took my lovely and beautiful daughter to the sink to wash her hands.  My daughter has the soul of a cat which manifests itself in very bizarre ways.  She doesn't land on her feet when she falls, she doesn't lick herself to get clean and she doesn't poop in a litter box (although that might be an improvement.)

She does, however, love running water and will play in it for hours, provided she doesn't have to get in it.

I turned on the faucet and she shrieked and reached for it.  Since she is short with appropriately proportioned arms, she is unable to reach the water with both hands at once while being held at the sink.  I leaned her to the right and stretched her left hand into the water, rinsing off the congealing potato.  I had previously been unaware that unbuttered potatoes could congeal, but there you have it.

As I began to tilt her to the left to wash her other hand, said hand came into view from behind her body.

And by hand, I mean, of course, a 10 inch chef knife moving ever closer to the soft flesh of arm.

Through violence or sleep deprivation, my daughter is trying to kill me.

June 5, 2011

My Daughters, The Enemies of Morpheus

As I get older, there is an increasing number of things that I am learning to live without.  While my income has increased dramatically from when I was 9, my understanding of finance has also increased, leading a decrease in financial security (mostly perceived rather than actual.)  Similarly, my enjoyment of toys has changed.  I remember being able to spend hours playing outside with a GI Joe, a stick and hole in the ground.  Sara seems to still have to ability to imagine on the level of a small child as is evidenced from her playing interactions with Harper, but I, sadly, have moved into the realm of feeling silly with some of that, or simply being unable to muster the imagination to play those games.

More than any of these things, I've been living with less and less sleep.  In college, I was able to stay up until all hours of the night, but I was also able to sleep in when I wanted to.  Overall, I would say I survived college on 6-7 good hours of sleep a night, (45-50 a week) on average.

When I moved to New Jersey, I was still in stay-up-late mode, but I had something for which I needed to awake in the morning.  (5-6 hours of good sleep per night, 40-50 a week, on average)

Upon commencement of my teaching career in PA, I slept even less.  I was staying at work late and didn't wind down until late, but was still up early in the morning.  Through all of this, I wasn't sleeping well because I was worried about money and we were close to having a baby.  We'll say 30-40 hours a week of good sleep.

This school year, I was getting up at 4:30 to leave the house by 5:15 and be at work by 6:00.  Why do I do this?  There is a long answer for another post, but the short answer is that if I don't get my work done before the day starts, it won't get done.  I don't stay after (also for the other post) and I'm too distracted during the day, so I get to school when no one is there and do what I need to do before they arrive.

I was still going to bed between 9 and 10 and getting up once a night or so with Harper, or bad dreams, or just general bad sleep.

Once Brynn arrived, she was sleeping in our room so that she wouldn't disturb Harper and so that Sara could feed her in the middle of the night.  Brynn is many things, including cute, small and noisy.  She was very congested for the first few weeks and so she would squeak, snort and make all manner of loud auditory emanations throughout the night, further complicating my sleep patterns.

Recently, Harper has been waking up in the middle of the night wanting hugs.  This is my job and while I'm not happy to be doing so in the middle of the night, I will never complain about my daughter wanting to wrap her arms around my neck and lay her head on my shoulder.

Last night, I didn't get into bed until almost 1 and lay awake listening to the sounds of the house until almost 2:30.  Harper was up around 3 yelling for me.  At 7, I was UP with no hope of falling back to sleep.  I went in to get Harper around 8 so that Sara could sleep some more and found my lovely daughter, naked butt sticking up into the air, splashing in a puddle of her own urine, which, because the mattress is coated in plastic, had managed to pool in the middle of the bed and soak into the stuffed animals.

I'm at about 15-20 hours of good sleep each week.

May 20, 2011

My Daughters, On Welfare

Three weeks since an update?  Small wonder that no one comments on here.

This has been an insane couple of weeks.  If you have not been following the news, America's War on Teachers is in full swing.  As a result, it appears that the superintendent of my employing school district is looking to cut a quarter of the teaching staff and many of the secondary programs, such as home economics, technology education, business and French.

I will refrain from ranting about my feelings on this subject and leave it at the point where I am uncertain about my professional future.  If things continue in this trend, I may be leaving education in the next few years.  I will be unhappy about that, but I have babies to feed and every year that I stay in education will make it harder to do something else.

In an effort to save a little bit of money, we examined the day care situation.  I will be playing stay-at-home dad for the summer, sending Harper to day care once or twice a week so that I can get some things done.  In the fall, with Sara and I both working, we would have to send the girls to day care every day.  On top of this, I leave the house around 5:15 and Sara leaves around 6.  The day care, however, does not open until 7:30.  This means that in addition to the $1300 per month that we would be paying for both girls, we would need to find someone to take them over every morning.

So, we're exploring the idea of a nanny.  I've put an ad on Craig's List and we've started interviewing people.  I thought the first interview was promising, but Sara wasn't convinced.  She has concerns (rightly) about a stranger being in the house and taking care of the girls all day.

Due to my inherent "ivory tower" liberal snobbery, I didn't even write back to half a dozen women who sent me replies with horrendous spelling.  I was tempted to give an interview to one woman just because I was curious what she was like in person.  Her e-mail was:

"I seen your add on web. i'm gr8 with kids and they like me to. i have lots of free time and i will be a good baby sitting person."
You wanna do what now?

Sara's concerns are well founded.

So the process continues.  I need to write a grant to study the effects on homeschooling and get the gubment to pay me to stay home with them.

As the school year draws to a close, I can feel myself fraying at the edges.  I have several projects that I'm planning for the summer, including a few trips to the Philadelphia area.  I'm working my way through building a retaining wall in the back yard, which I'm enjoying immensely.  I've discovered a new love of physical labor that I've never really had before.  I was doing boxing almost every day, but the outside work is doing wonders for how I feel.  Also, you would be surprised what being sick to your stomach for a week will do for the waistline.

I've been discussing it with my coworkers during our "What are you planning to do when they close the school and send all of the kids to private schools?" talks.

I'm thinking more and more that if I can't find a job in education, I may turn towards being a laborer for a contractor.  In education, you almost never get to step back at the end of the day/year, point to something and say "I did that."

The summer that I worked on a carpentry crew, I went home tired, dirty, hungry and satisfied.

The problem is now that I' have kids and a mortgage, a laborer's salary will not sustain us.  Time to start doing Extreme Couponing!

I have a lot of thinking to do.

In any event, here are the pictures you came here to see (and a video!).  If there is something that you would like me to talk about, feel free to leave it in the comments.



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