December 19, 2012

My Daughters, Not Safe Enough

We tell them that there are no monsters.

We tell them that there is nothing waiting for them in the darkness, that we will keep them safe.  They come into our rooms in the night when they wake from a terrible dream, seeking comfort.  We brush the hair out of their eyes and tell them "Hush.  Everything is alright.  There is nothing trying to get you."

We read them story after story where the monsters turn out to be a coat rack with a funny hat, a stuffed bear sitting in a rocking chair, a tree branch blowing in the wind.

On the rare occasions where the monsters are real in the sense that they are creatures with horns, sharp teeth, scary faces, claws, we always discover that they were simply misunderstood.  They have a change of heart and end up saving the protagonist from a raging river, from falling from a tree, from being lonely.

These are excellent stories with important lessons about friendship and tolerance.  They help us to teach that the world is not such an awful place.

We tell them that there are no monsters.

But there are.

They don't have horns or claws or live in caves or under bridges, or in dungeons, but they exist.  The world is not the awful place that the media often makes it out to be, but it is dangerous.  We do our best to protect them, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, but there is no way to completely protect them.

And we shouldn't be able to if there were.  They need to be able to experience life and the only way to do that is with risk.  A life without risk is no life, but we try to minimize it.

When bad things happen in stories, it's easy to explain with backstory.  We tell them that this happened because the monster was left alone and no one treated him nicely.  We tell them that no one gave him a chance to be friends.

The reality is much more terrifying and we have no way to explain it to them, or even to ourselves.

Bad things happen and there isn't always a reason.  Sometimes it's because people get sick, or were treated badly.  But there isn't always a reason and we don't know how to handle chaos for the sake of chaos.

Our reactions are rarely rational or expected, but in retrospect, they make perfect sense.

On September 11, 2001, I was at college outside of Pittsburgh.  When the news announced that the plane had gone down in Somerset, my mother was frantic in trying to reach me.  The crash site was 100 miles from me and I couldn't understand why she was so upset that I hadn't picked up the phone or called her back any quicker.  I chalked it up to parental paranoia and lack of geographic knowledge.  I never understood why.

On Friday, I understood so clearly that it hit me like a train.

On my drive home from work after the shooting at Sandy Hook, there were hundreds of cars in the way.  Every light was red.  Even at green lights, people were taking their time.  At four specific points, I found myself having to resist the urge to smash my car into those in front of me just to get home and hug my children.

The shortest route between my house and Sandy Hook Elementary School is 404 miles.  It wasn't far enough.

December 14, 2012

My Daughters, Infected (Me Too!)

A plague has descended upon my home.

A pestilence so vile and vulgar that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have sent me a letter stating that, in accordance with the Public Safety Act of 2005, I must tent my home and place signs in my yard declaring it a quarantined site.  They have even sent me a beautiful, high quality vinyl banner to hang on my door that reads "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here!"

What, pray tell, is the name of the sorrow and misery that now infests my domicile?

The contagion goes by the name ... Dora!  (bum bum BAAAAA)

Woe unto us.  WOE UNTO US!  I thought I was a good father.  I thought I was doing what was best for my children.  I can only assume that Harper caught this ailment at day care and spread it to her sister.

Symptoms in children will vary from those in adults.  In children, symptoms include calling for Dora at all hours of the day, yelling nonsense word that sound like Spanish, but are not, and a burning desire to carry a backpack full of random items.

In adults, the disease manifests in a more vicious way.  All songs that the infected adult has ever known suddenly turn into insipid chanting about traveling from place to place, interspersed with random Spanish words.  Years of membership in choirs, and the musical accumulation that accompanied them, flow out of the ears of said grown-ups and puddle on the floor, to quickly evaporate into the ether, never to be seen again.

The infected adult will find themselves responding to normal questions in the vocal intonation of Swiper the Fox. (Aw, MAN!)  They will find themselves, alone in the car, asking, and answering questions about destination (Where are we going? To the big red building where I work!) and wondering where the trumpet playing snails are for musical accompaniment.  They will find themselves wondering where the mean old troll is, and what riddle they will have to answer, when entering the Turnpike.

Please.  Spread awareness so that in the future, this horrid disease can be controlled and, hopefully one day, cured.

Thank you for your attention.  This message has been a service of Adults Against Terrible Kids Programming.

December 4, 2012

My Daughters Have a Crap Dad

I am an amazing father!  Truly, it's inspiring!

I am dedicated, loving, patient, creative, and fun!

All of the above is true under the following conditions:
1) The children are not hungry
2) The children are not eating
3) The children are not playing with playdough, markers, crayons, pretzels, crackers, etc.
4) One of the children is asleep or elsewhere
5) Sara is not home
6) No one else is around
7) The children are not tired
8) The children are not overly stimulated
9) The children want to read a book or play at the playground
10) The children are strapped into a moving stroller or carseat

When those things are true, I am a rockstar dad!!

(To clarify number 5, this is because when Sara is home, the girls stick to her like glue and I might as well not be there.  She asks me to take one to give her a little bit of breathing room, but unless I strap them down, they shoot right back to her like iron filings to a magnet.  It's only when she's not around that they care about me in any way.)

It's incredibly hard to be a good dad when you're as selfish as I am.  I spend way too much time and energy trying to make myself happy and not enough trying to make my family happy.  I recognize this and I am making efforts to change it.  I could blame my job for my lack of patience with my kids, but in reality, I know it's all me.

Luckily for me, I have two things going that help.

The first is that my kids are way too cute to abandon at a truck stop.  Just when I think I'm completely about to lose my patience, I watch them interact in a way that just melts my heart. The other day, I walked into the living room to find B wearing a pull-up like a hat, staring into space, pulling it on and off her head, as if trying to find the perfect fit.

"Much better!"
During a bath, H got a hold of her rubber duck and began singing over and over.  She picked the skit from Sesame Street where the jazz owl explains that if Ernie wants to play the sax, he is going to have to make the choice to put his rubber ducky down.

All cares disappear and I have to hug and kiss them until they punch me in the throat, or give out a high-pitched scream that threatens to shatter my windows.
No parental abandonment THIS week

The second is that Sara is an amazing role model for me about what a kind, loving, patient parent should be.  I watch how she interacts with the girls and I am not only baffled by how well she does it, but also confused by her enjoyment, even when they are being difficult.  She seems to have endless patience, not just with their destructive antics, but also with my seeming inability to control my kids.  I keep telling her that I'm awesome when she's not around.  I can sit and read with the girls for hours.  They help me make dinner with not TOO much of a mess.  They help me clean up toys and, in nice weather, we have great time at the park!

But when she's around, I might as well be a cardboard cutout for all the good I am at child-wrangling.  I try to help by doing non-child related things, like making and cleaning up from dinner, doing laundry, picking up toys, etc.  I know that from the moment she walks in the door until when I put B down for night, I will get minimal interaction with my children.  And I don't blame them.

No matter how good the burger may taste, you'll always choose the filet when it's available.

The one consolation is that their aversion to me is so great that I am amazing at putting them down for the night, or for naps.  They would rather sleep than be held by me any longer than necessary.

So after a whole weekend apart, it was mom climbed in between the car seats and was dog-piled by crying children while dad unloaded the car.

In addition to working on my patience for their behavior, or lack-there-of, I am working on my patience for their dismissal of me when Sara is around.  It's not personal, but I need to work on remembering that.

H and I had a great daddy-daughter day a few weeks ago and, in spite of their face, which I swear is entirely due to them being too cold, I had a great daddy-daughters day with both of them.  The key seems to be getting them out of the house...

...where they can't break my things.

Halloween was fun as well

November 24, 2012

A Letter to Rolling Thunder Skating Center

This post has nothing to do with parenting, but this is the vehicle that I have at my disposal to spread the word.  Please share it with people who skate, and/or live in the Philadelphia area.

Last night, Sara and I, with the urge to skate, went to a rink in Philly where I grew up skating.  The experience is summed up in the following letter that I wrote to the management, because I'm a good liberal and writing letters is what we do.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area and remember skating at WOW when I was younger.  When my wife and I came to town for the Thanksgiving weekend, I was pleased to see that you had reopened and we came out to skate last night.  My wife and I are both members of the Westmoreland Roller Derby League and skate several times a week, she as a derby girl and myself as a referee.  The idea of being able to skate while on vacation made us both very happy.

I am saddened to say that it was, by far, the worst skating experience that I have ever had.  With one disconnected young woman at the check-in counter, it took her 12 minutes to get 2 groups of people in and paid for.  She seemed to have no interest in customer service whatsoever, nor did any of the managers who walked past, saw the line out the door and their employee moving at a snails' pace, and did nothing.

After we paid, which seemed unnecessary since no one was taking tickets or looking for bracelets, we wove our way through the massive crowd, put our shoes in a locker and attempted to make our way to the rink.  I say attempted because there was a clot of people blocking both the single entrance and the single exit.

Finally reaching the rink, we discovered what could only be described as rolling anarchy.  Children and adults alike were skating in whatever direction they chose, backwards as well as straight across, with no regard to order or the safety of other skaters.  People who fell on the track were left to their own devices as people fell over them, rolling away and spreading out in a widening pool of bodies.

There were multiple people on the ring without skates, some of whom were parents walking with their inexperienced children, but several of whom were older children and young adults, seemingly out for a stroll, many of whom were eating snacks and dropping things on the rink, making themselves and their meals a hazard to everyone around them.

With all of this taking place, we saw just one staff member on the rink and it was, apparently, not his job to keep people moving or safe.  It was, apparently, his job to help beautiful women back to their feet.  Repeatedly, he skated past the people wandering the rink without skates, saying nothing about how dangerous that activity was.  Repeatedly, he skated past the young man who decided that he liked the song being played by the DJ and thought it would be a good idea to stop skating and dance in the middle of the rink, forcing people to skate around him.  Repeatedly, he skated past downed skaters, including small, screaming, crying children, without a thought of helping them up.

After 10 minutes, my anxiety was so high that we were forced to leave.  When we went back to the lockers to get our shoes, we were forced to slowly pick our way across a floor littered with discarded skates.  Without having a policy of making your patrons trade shoes for skates, there was no incentive for anyone to return their skates, and so left them scattered wherever they fell, once again, creating a hazard for everyone else.  Your staff appeared to accustomed to this policy as we saw a young man pushing a shopping cart, collecting skates and returning them to the rental counter.

At that point, we left and drove up to The Palace Skating Rink and enjoyed a well-lit, organized, and safe remainder of the evening.

This experience has so soured me to your establishment that I will never return.  I understand that I am one person who lives far away and my lack of attendance will not hurt your bottom line.  You clearly are doing something right as the building was packed solid with people who appeared to be enjoying themselves.  I have no illusions about how my boycott of Rolling Thunder will cause you to lose sleep.

My complaint is not that your establishment was not fun, although it wasn't.  My complaint is that the level of danger involved for skaters and non-skaters alike was so high that my conscience will not allow me to let it go uncommented.

I write this letter merely to relay my experience and to express my utter disappointment.  I will be posting this letter here as well as on the website for our derby league.

Rolling Thunder (Please excuse my shoddy cinematography)

The Palace (Please notice the difference)

November 14, 2012

My Daughter, Dentally Unsound

A few weeks ago, we noticed a black spot on one of Harper's teeth.  After weeks of trying to make an appointment with a pediatric dentist, we finally got one.  Sara took her over and came back with news of what terrible parents we are.  From Sara's telling of it that afternoon, the conversation went like this:

Dr.: She has 300 cavities.  We will need to pull all of her teeth, replace them with wooden nails and tiny railroad ties.  We will also need to tattoo on her arm a warning to all other children not to go near her because they may catch Crappyparentitis.
Sara: Oh no!  What can we do to prevent this in the future?
Dr.: I strongly suggest that you put your other child up for adoption before you and your husband accidentally kill her.

She may have said that Harper has 4 cavities, two of which needed to be crowned, but I know what I heard.

It was recommended that we use IV sedation to knock her out while the work was done.  In the time it took my ears to hear this and register that this was probably a good idea, my mind filled with images of Harper screaming at the top of her lungs, bolted to a chair while Bela Lugosi slowly closes the door.
"Show me your molars!"

When I look around at people's teeth, it makes me wonder about causality, specifically the idea that correlation does not imply causality.  I know that people don't visit the dentist as often as they should, as indicated by the retched state of the visual incisors, stained, chipped and rotting.  When we called to make an appointment for Harper, and were told they might not be able to get her in until January, I wondered if there were a lack of dentists because demand was so low, or if people don't go because a two month wait to have a painful problem corrected is unreasonable.

In any event, we managed to magically get her in yesterday.  The office called as Sara was on her way to work to say "Be here in 10 minutes!  You should have anticipated the fact that we don't care about your schedule at all!"

She did well and got her teeth fixed with a minimum of fuss.  Meanwhile, I was being a good liberal and trying to learn all I could about the issue.  I learned that 40% of children under the age of 5 have multiple cavities and it usually is not the fault of the parents.  Parents out there will note how difficult it is to brush the teeth of an unwilling child.

"I won't let you put on my shoes.  What makes you think I'll let you in my mouth??"

We had her on soup and light liquid yesterday so the anesthesia wouldn't make her sick.  Today, I sent Brynn to day care and stayed home with Harper.

This was my hope for the day.
As I was getting lunch ready, I put the baby carrier on the sofa and went out to the kitchen.  I turned around just in time to see that Brynn had crawled into the carrier and was rocking it off couch.  I managed to get there and grab the carrier just in time to cause more damage to my kid by grabbing the edge and causing her to slam her face on the handle.

Go me!

I managed to get her to school without any more issues.

Harper and I went over to the park and played for a total of 8 minutes until she got too cold.  Then we went to Barnes and Noble where Harper sat and played with Lego, building buildings and houses and towers.  Then she decided that she wanted to play with the trains, so we did that.

In the mean time, I got a frantic call from the day care.  I am, apparently, not only a crappy parent in terms of dental hygiene, but also in terms of responsibility towards other adults.  When I dropped Brynn off, I had apparently neglected to tell them that Harper would not be staying.  After 15 minutes of turning the place upside down and not finding her, they called to ask me if she were spending the day with me.

How many heart attacks can I cause in one day?

I bought a book for her, another for me to read to the girls and a book for me.  She didn't want to wait to read it.
The unicorn king is named Unicornio.  Really.
This was followed by lunch at Panera and now her napping while I try to remember all of the things I wanted to write here including all of the jokes and references that I missed.

Let me once again, reiterate what a terrible parent I am in the form of a list of things that have happened over the past week or so.

1) I let me 3 year old get multiple cavities so badly that she needed crowns
2) I watched as my 1 and a half year old jumped off the sofa and smashed her head into the air return, giving herself a giant goose egg and an ugly cut
3) I let my 1 and a half year old climb into a plastic death cage and roll herself off the couch
4) I grabbed said plastic death cage and hurt said child worse than if I had just left her alone.
5) I forgot to tell the caretakers of my children that one was not going to be there, causing panic
6) I also slammed Brynn's fingers in a drawer last night.

I'm going to spend the afternoon wallowing in my own self-pity and watching TV.  I expect around 4, I'll realize that kids are pretty accident prone and these things happen.

Then I'll just be happy that I got to spend a really great day with my daughter!

You know what?  Forget the self-pity!  Today was great and I'm glad I got to hang with her!

October 23, 2012

My Daughters, Only Vaguely Related To This Post

When I became old enough to have and go to sleepovers, I did so with a frequency that would make one wonder about the stability and safety of my home life.  It wasn't that I didn't like being at home, or that I didn't like own bedroom.  I have always been a very social person.  Sara and I have had many discussions about how I have social needs beyond family life.  She is usually content to spend the weekend with the kids, seeing her parents, or visiting with relatives.

I am not.

I like all of those people just fine, but I need more social interaction than that.  I need to be with friends very often.  I think this may be why I spend so much time on Facebook, but that's a post for another time.

In any event, I went to a ton of sleepovers.  I practically had a bag packed at all times in the event that the phone would ring and the following conversation would occur:

**RI...**  (I never let it get past the first chirp)
Me: Hello?
Awesome Kid From School: Hey Justin!  This is (Awesome Kid From School)!  I just got a new video game! Want to sleep over tonight and we can play it until we fall asleep in a bowl of popcorn?
Me: DO I??? You bet!

Author's Note: This never happened

I did get invited to sleep over at a friends house every other weekend or so. It didn't happen as often as I wanted for two main reasons.  The first reason is that "as often as I wanted" was every night.  I would have been happy to be picked up from the house of Friend A on Saturday morning, go home, get fresh clothes and head over to Friend B's house to sleep over for Saturday night.

Unrealistic?  Maybe.  Awesome plan?  No doubt!

The second reason was that most of my friends were girls.  This was due to a misguided section of my brain, lovingly raised and taught by movies and TV shows, that firmly believed that the best way to a woman's heart, or at least to second base, was to be her friend.

If the friend zone were on FourSquare, and if FourSquare had existed in 1995, I would have solidly been the mayor with absolutely no fear of being ousted.

Of all of the places that I remember sleeping over, there is one that sticks out in my mind more than any other.  I can remember no place more fun than staying at my friend Bryan's house.  He always had the coolest toys and video games and his parents are fantastic.  I stayed there so much that even to this day, I call his mother "Mom."  He collected the kinds of toys that were awesome and made it tough to sleep.  Not so much the batman figures, but he had a whole wall in his room covered in Alien and Predator toys that were staring at me all the time, wondering at the identity of this interloper in their midst.

Even at a young age, I was always an early riser.  It didn't seem to matter what time I went to sleep, I was always up at 6:30 or 7.  This posed a problem as he would be fine sleeping in until 9 or 10.

When I stayed at his house, I knew that I would be up, staring at the ceiling for a few hours before he got up.  Occasionally, I would bring a book so I had something to read, but more often, I would lay there for a while, praying for a priceless vase from the Ming Dynasty to fall off of a shelf in the living room, or for a cat to come in and pounce on Bryan.  Then he would wake up and say "Man, it's so early.  I won't be able to go back to sleep.  Let's do something awesome!"

And we would!

On occasions more rare than hen's teeth, I would gather up the courage to be rude enough to fake sneeze and then quick close my eyes, hoping that my allergies would have the same effect as the Ming vase or the errant cat.

I can't remember a single time when that worked.

I tried to be a good house guest and a good roommate, partly because I was raised to be those things, but mostly because I wanted to be invited back!

The girls have been sharing a room for a few months now and, for the most part, they are good roommates.  They do go through each others drawers every once in a while, but Brynn sleeps in her bed and Harper sleeps in hers.

However, as with every roommate relationship, each party has a trait that, if left unattended to, will bring about the decline of the relationship, forcing it into the downward spiral which culminates in one person putting sardines inside the pillowcase of the other in retaliation for replacing the toothpaste with caulk.

Since both the pillowcase and toothpaste belong to me, I would prefer to avoid this.

Harper's bad roommate trait is that she has a tendency to yell very loudly in the room when she needs something.  Call me crazy, but I thought part of the reason we got her a big girl bed was so that she could come and get us when she needed us.

As much as I hate that once a week, I look over to see a tiny silhouette standing in my doorway, inducing panic, fear and visions of a zombie apocalypse, I would prefer that to having her wake her sister at 3am.

Brynn's bad roommate trait is that she is the toddler equivalent of the guy on the top bunk.  If you've never lived at college with bunk beds, allow me to illustrate.

Picture that you are sleeping, dreaming of a beautiful woman who only has eyes for you.  In your dream, she asks you to curl up next to her on the couch and cuddle while you watch a Ridley Scott film.  In reality, you turn on your side, making the slightest of noises as the bed springs readjust beneath your shifting weight.  You hear another slight noise, and open your eyes to discover the upside down face of your bunk mate mere inches from your nose.  He has a concerned look on his face, or at least it seems so since emotions are hard to identify while upside down.  "Hey, buddy!  Everything alright?  I heard a noise and wanted to check on you!  Since you're up, let's play a game!  First, I'll think of a state and you try to guess it by guessing the state bird!  Ready?  GO!"

No, this is not a conversation I ever had in college.  My roommate, two weeks into the semester decided he was too lazy to climb to the top bunk and slept on the couch instead.

Brynn is this way in that, at the slightest noise in the room, she stands up in her crib, even from a dead sleep, and peers around the room, wanting to be a part of whatever is happening.

Gift giving holidays are coming and, while I have posted many times about how I don't want gifts, I think that if someone felt compelled to buy me anything, I wouldn't turn down bed straps for Brynn and a night gag for Harper.

Impromptu Survey:  How many of my readers have put Child Protective Services on speed dial?

If I put her in a cage at home, I'd go to jail.  Justice?  I don't think so!

Maybe I can just get Brynn to sleep in the sink.

September 25, 2012

My Daughter, In A Bed

A few weeks ago, we decided that it was time for Harper to be out of her crib.  She was climbing out anyway and doing so in a fashion that lead us to believe that she might take a 4 foot drop in the dark in the middle of the night.

For those of you unfamiliar with the experience, there is almost nothing more horrifying than being woken from a dead sleep by the bloodcurdling cries of a person who is reaping the direct consequences of their actions.  This applies both to college students waking up in an unfamiliar bed and rolling over only to discover that they spent the evening with someone who was excommunicated from the Addams' family for being too weird, as well as to toddlers who have fallen out of a crib in an ill-conceived attempt to visit mommy in the middle of the night.

They never want to visit daddy.

The toddlers, or the college students.

So we did away with the crib, but without another bed, we put her mattress on the floor.  It worked well because she didn't have anywhere to fall, but there were some unforeseen consequences, namely that our lovely, precious gem would not so much sleep-walk, as much as sleep-do-the-worm, all around her room, into the living room, etc.
She made herself a nest
 It was a constant game of "Where is Harper sleeping now?" that you hoped wouldn't be answered by a small hand under your foot, followed by screaming and/or teeth in your leg.  Our house began to resemble a beach infested with very well-disguised stingrays.

This, but with babies.
 In any event, we searched for a while and discussed the merits of the different types of beds.  In the end, we decided on a regular bed, rather than a toddler bed because we would eventually need a bigger bed anyway.  We decided on a bunk bed so that when Brynn is big enough for a regular bed, we could save some room.

Through the amazing generosity of Sara's aunt and mother, we ordered the bed we wanted and waited the week for it to show up at the store.  We presented our online receipt to the clerk, who managed to rouse herself long enough to call for assistance in moving the rather large and awkward box out to the car.

The elderly man who showed up with a rolling cart was nice enough but decided he would need some help getting the box onto the car.  I couldn't help him because he informed us that they had no string or twine with which to tie the box to the roof and as a result, I had to go and purchase bungee chords.  How convenient it was for me that they sold them in the store.

When I get out to the car where they are waiting, I find the elderly man and a younger guy in his early twenties.  The two of them being their attempt to load the box onto the roof.  This consisted of the older man calmly holding the bottom of the box while the younger guy slipped a disc, had a hernia, sweated enough to fill a swimming pool and grunted in a fashion that should have brought wild boars in heat from a 300 mile radius.

We get the box onto the roof, get it home, and get it into the house.  I love putting things together, so I started at it.  For the first half hour, Sara was very helpfully on the phone leaving the girls to be very helpful themselves.  When I finally put a stop to that, I managed to assemble the bottom bunk, placing the material for the top bunk in the attic to await the time when Brynn as well needed a bed that 50 times too big for her.

I put my tools away, clean up the room, and go and get Sara.  I wanted to show off the bed that I put together.  I wanted to show her the sweat and love and energy that I put into making my daughter's life that much better, nicer, etc.  I was proud.

"Where are the rails?"
"...They are on the top bunk."
"Oh.  I thought you were putting the top bunk together."
"Oh.  It looks great!  I love you!"

When I got home from work the next day, I disassembled the bed, took the pieces upstairs, brought the other pieces down and assembled the second bed.  I am proud of that one too.
Harper loves it and sleeps in it, rather than wandering the house at night like the vengeful spirit of a departed disco dancer.

I would much rather she be the vengeful spirit of a departed Carlton.

September 18, 2012

My Daughter, Starving Herself

I've been thinking about food an awful lot lately.

I've started making a concerted effort to become a bit more healthy.  I've been running at the gym and a little bit outside, both with mixed success.  I have a short-term goal of running a 5k at the end of October, with a long-term goal of a half marathon during the summer.

So far, I've been very good about going to the gym regularly.  I've been running every other day and doing circuit training or other activity on the off days.  On Sundays, we have derby practice, but if it's a run day, that gets done too.

I've been very pleased with myself and my friends and family have been very supportive.  I even created a Facebook page to keep track of what I've been up to and hopefully the public humiliation/encouragement will help me even more.

As far activity goes, I think I'm doing alright.  The key now, is food.

Why does it have to taste so good?? I am beginning to think that there is a vast conspiracy that make vegetables and healthy food taste like feet.  I do like to make grilled veggies and I love a good salad, provided it's covered in cheese and bacon bits.

That's at least three food groups, right?  Salsa and nachos covers four! (Tomatoes are legally a fruit!)

Five, if you get them with meat!

My other main issue is quantity.  I know that it's ok to eat bad food as long as it's in moderation but, seriously, who wants moderation when you have freshly made pumpkin caramel cheesecake?

When we make homemade pizza, why wouldn't I want 6 slices??

Portion control is something I do not do well.  I'm working on it though.

Why is this in a parenting blog?  Somehow, this has to be related to kids, right?

Harper has moved into happily being a picky eater, the kind of picky eater that makes me insane.

She won't eat.  At least, she won't eat at a speed that prevents mold from growing on her meals.  She jumps down from the table with the attention span and energy of a squirrel.  I have been having lots of trouble at meals because I need slightly more order than that.  By the end of the meal, there is usually more food on her plate than when she started.

This is because her food was given the time to grow, gain sentience, breed and raise multiple generations of baby chicken noodle soups, all in miniature bowls.

She also randomly decides that she doesn't like certain foods.  Conversations go like this:

Me: Harper, what would you like for lunch?
H: Pizza!
Me: Alright. Let me warm it up for you.
**2 minutes later**
Me: Here's your lunch, babe.
H: I don't like pizza!
Me: ...You love pizza.  You would eat it at every meal if I let you!
H: NOOOOO!!  No pizza!  I don't like it!  I want soup!

At this point, another, perhaps better, parent would make her soup, followed by the next thing she asked for. 
 But I am not that parent.

Brynn has been doing well, so my lofty goal is as follows:

I will take all the food I want and all the food that Harper wants to eat, put it all on a plate and split it in half.

Realistically, I should just eat half the food that I do...

September 4, 2012

My Daughters, Not Working For Serta

Have I mentioned lately that I love my children?

Perhaps I should take this opportunity to do it again.

I love my children.

They help me in more ways than I can count, but I will attempt to list a few.

Cute kids make it worth it to come home from work.  After a rough day of counter-productivity and indifference, it is wonderful to come home to the following conversation:

Harper: "Daddy, you're a good guy!"
Me: "Why is that?"
Harper: "Because you make me happy!"

How could I possibly ask for more than that?

They are an inspiration in that I want to be able to keep up with them in all aspects of life.  They can run for hours and not even understand that frantic panting means they should stop.  I've set a goal for myself to run a 5k in about 6-7 weeks and a half marathon next summer.  I have no idea how realistic these goals are, but I've been sticking with my training schedule and we'll see how it goes.

They also inspire me to get a higher paying job so I can buy a bigger house where they can each have their own rooms FAAAAAAAAAR away from me.

Sara and I had a derby bout this weekend so the girls went to their grandparents.  Saturday night and into Sunday morning was some of the most restful sleep that I have had in months.  There were no mysterious feet pushing me out of bed at 3am.  There was no waking up to the sound of screaming at 1:30 only to discover than both girls were back to sleep by the time I went over to check on them.

There was no one pulling my nose hairs at 6:30am in an attempt to get me to put Babar on.

The girls are tiring enough when they are awake, I don't know why they also have to be so difficult when they are sleeping.  I still feel that I have less need for sleep than Sara does, so when I hear the girls, I try to get up and get them before she does.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

It really should be the other way around since it seems as though she can fall back to sleep faster than it takes me to wonder why I'm up at such an ungodly hour.

Don't let the pictures mislead you.  These children are devious, energetic, frantic and insane.

When we first had Harper, we had cats.  A good friend told me that we needed to get rid of the cats because cats steal the breath from sleeping babies.

If we had cats now, they wouldn't have the chance.  I hate camping, but I'm thinking I can convince a 1-year old and a 2-year old that camping is awesome and they should do it all the time.  I'll even set up a tent for them in the basement.

You see what a nice, kind, selfless guy I am?  I would even set up the tent for them.

August 20, 2012

My Daughters, On Vacation

Yesterday, we returned home from several days at the beach.  This was Harper's second trip and Brynn's first.  Rather than give a blow-by-blow of the activities, which would be amazingly boring for anyone who doesn't have my last name, and probably pretty boring for them, I will simply write a few of the lessons that I learned along the way and, of course, post some adorable pictures.

The first lesson is that no place is child-proofed as much you would like.  A nice home filled with memories of your own childhood are also filled with tiny shells and spice canisters at knee-level, all of which your own children will find and destroy with reckless abandon and complete disregard for your own upbringing.

Another important thing to know is that you can't possibly clean enough sand off of your kids to make them happy.  They will manage to stuff granules into crevices that you didn't even know existed.  If you put said child in the washing machine for 3 weeks, they will still have sand in their hair.

The most important lesson, however, of this past week is the fact that the job of the person taking pictures is not to chronicle the vacation, but to provide the rosy picture of what the vacation is supposed to be, whether or not it happened.  This is not to say that one should use the camera to lie, but rather to avoid the unpleasant realities that exist when traveling with children.

The following is a list of things that were not recorded on the digital record:

Children up at 3am for no reason.
Children screaming for their mother to carry them at all times.
Children falling and biting their lips, bleeding.
Harper standing on the beach, refusing to move until Sara picks her up.
Brynn climbing off the porch, running down the street, laughing as we chase her.

None of these things are important.  What's important is the record of happy times that we all had at the beach.  In 20 years, none of us will remember that I was ready to come home within 10 minutes of being there.

What we will remember is the collection of smiling pictures that I took, the sunrise that I watched with Harper when she got up at 5am, for no reason and bobbing in the ocean, holding my laughing daughter.



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