Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Photo Album

Micah and Malorie had a great first Christmas in St. Louis. They met too many new friends to list, received tons of great gifts, got baptized, listened to hours of Christmas carols, visited family and became acquainted with what is commonly referred to as "The Lou." It would take about ten paragraphs for me to sum up the trip, so I decided to put ten pictures instead. Then, I will write a silly caption for each, that way I won't feel entirely lazy. Here goes:


What better first picture than one of Micah's first kiss. OK, to be more specific, this is Micah's first kiss from a girl not named Mom, Grandma, or some other relation. Also, no one tell Tessa, Micah's Jacksonville girlfriend, about Layna, Micah's new St. Louis girl.

The twins first Christmas was a white one, as Rachel points out (so literally). Not enough snow to sled on, but then again, going sledding with two four month old children is probably not a good idea.

Micah and Malorie got the pleasure of not only seeing their Great-Grandpa Klug again, but also meeting their Great-Grandma Finck. Thanks for being there Nana, Micah and Malorie loved meeting you.

As much as we try to convince ourselves, I am just not sure that the monkeys will be good babysitters for Micah and Mal.

Malorie had a blast trying on new clothes and hats she got for Christmas, like this one that everyone called the Strawberry Hat. Check her out, already waving to the cameras.

After about 83 outfit changes, Mal's excitement for the Christmas fashion show waned.

Rachel and I even got to sneak out for a date night to the Busch Braggin' Rights college basketball game between Mizzou and Illinois. Hey, Chief Illiniwek, what was that final score again?

I thought I would make it a few years before my son's clothes became cooler than mine. I made it four months.

This is Rachel and me at the end of the day on Christmas. I know that because we are both showered, there are no infants in our arms, we look exhausted, and if you look real closely, you will see dried formula vomit on Rachel's shirt.

At the end of the trip, Grandma Judy had to say goodbye... and then about ten hours of cleaning to get her house back in order. The twins had a great time, and can't wait to see the Midwest again soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Report Cards

With Rachel being a teacher, and me a perpetual student of something or another, we are both pros at report cards. Over dinner last week, I asked Rachel if she missed preparing report cards for her students, an activity she usually has to do this time of year. She glared at me as if I were insane, freezing me mid sentence with her icy stare, and then returned to her mashed potatoes without saying a word. She didn't have to tell me, I knew from previous experience that she hates drafting report cards.

Had Rachel let me finish, I would have told her that after Micah and Malorie's recent visit to the pediatrician, I thought it would be entertaining to post the kids progress in the form of report cards. Some schools give "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" grades to young children; some go with checks, minus and plus signs; and others choose to use more ambiguous grades like symbols for sunshine, clouds and rain. For the sake of simplicity, I will use letter grades. You may also note the subjects aren't the traditional writing and arithmetic that is evaluated at later ages. For the first four months, we will stick to the milestones they should have made it to thus far, as they would probably score poorly if I graded them out on geography.

Student: Micah Klug
Grades
Sleeping: A
Cooing: A
Rolling Over: B-
Grabbing Stuff: A
Smiling/Laughing: A
Growing: A+
Comments: Overall, Micah has done a terrific job. His strongest subject is growing, as he now weighs 15 lbs 13 oz. This puts him into the 75th percentile among his peers, which is terrific considering where he started from four months ago. Micah also has come a long way with his sleeping, which has been uninterrupted through the night for several weeks now. Micah does great during playtime, talking and laughing with his classmate. If there is one thing Micah needs to work on for next semester, it is his rolling, which lags behind. This is probably due to his chunky nature, and should correct itself soon.

Student: Malorie Klug
Grades
Sleeping: B
Cooing: A-
Rolling Over: A+
Grabbing Stuff: A-
Smiling/Laughing: A
Growing: A
Comments: Malorie is 100% little girl; the daintiest child I have ever seen. She is a maestro at rolling over, going tummy-to-back and back-to-tummy with ease. I expect her to start scooting any day now. She is really beginning to use her voice, talking, cooing and laughing daily. She has done a tremendous job in growing, now weighing 13 lbs, nearly as big as Rachel's parents cat Caramel. Malorie is so curious that she has gotten a bald spot on the back of her head from looking around so much. She is still working at sleeping, which is hit or miss. She will sleep through the night for a couple nights straight, only to follow it up by waking at 2 am for several straight nights. All in all, she is a pleasure to be around.

So, hopefully I won't get any nasty letters from parents, or have to schedule a conference with myself to discuss the my own assessment of my children's abilities (that would be weird). But, as any good teacher would, I will be standing by for feedback on ways to improve my assessment process and willing to speak to anyone who has concerns. Next semester we will be adding some new, challenging subjects like "eating solids", "crawling" and "not hitting your sibling with things". I would try to get Rachel to write the next report card, but I think if I asked I might get those mashed potatoes thrown at my face.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Slippery Slope

In college I took a philosophy class. Nearly ten years later, I can't remember the professor's name, much of what I learned, or even what year I had the class. In fact, the only two things that stuck in my mind about Philosophy 101 are the pretty brunette that sat in front of me and the idea of "The Slippery Slope." The slippery slope is the argument that once you take one small step towards a direction you don't want to go, you will inevitably continue to gravitate towards that negative direction, as if you were sliding down the slope of a snow covered mountain. The argument is ethical in principal, but can be applied to real life as well.

Recently I recognized an appearance by the slippery slope in my life for the first time since my Philosophy final exam, occurring with regard to Rachel's choice to nurse the babies. One late night as Rachel and I drearily fed our two babies, Rachel looked at me as she fought Malorie to latch and told me that she didn't want to nurse Mal that time. Malorie is a notoriously slow and picky eater, usually needing an additional bottle to ensure she got her nutritional needs met. Also, it's not fun at all to fight sleep for an extra 20 minutes while trying to feed a baby who just wants a bottle. I looked at Rachel, muttered something about the slippery slope, and then went to prepare Mal her bottle.

My comments about the slippery slope went unnoticed by Rachel that first time, but soon Malorie was taking only a bottle for all overnight feedings, and I kept chirping about the slippery slope. The chain of events had begun, and Rachel and I were sliding down. A week later, Rachel decided to feed Malorie from the breast only when she seemed, "really hungry," a vague and relative term that in our case meant never. Mal was now a bottle fed baby.

Within weeks, Micah's feedings were dragging on longer and longer. Soon, the thirty minute feeding window allotted for each baby had become an hour for Micah, who nursed for thirty minutes and then took a bottle for thirty more. The elongated feedings wore us out and restricted Micah's playtime, as he would be so tired from the feeding that he would sleep soon after finishing. Rachel began to notice my slippery slope comments as we slid a bit further down the slope, deciding we would only allow Micah to nurse for 20 minutes.

Each time we tapered more time off of Rachel's nursing, we further depleted her supply. The body only makes enough milk to meet needs, and we kept telling the body we didn't need as much. This, coupled with Rachel's body's original resistance to producing an adequate supply of milk, slowly continued the slide down the slope. Soon, Micah was not content at the breast, crying until he was given a bottle. Eventually, Rachel chose to skip afternoon nursing sessions when Micah was most fussy. Then the nights dropped off, and within a week Micah was also an exclusively bottle fed baby. Rachel pumped her milk to meet some of the need, but within days her body realized no babies were being fed and stopped producing milk. Our descent was now complete and the slippery slope had claimed another victim.
Rachel and I have been feeding the babies only formula for a few weeks now, and feedings are more predictable, faster and easier than before. In the long run, Rach was going to have to stop nursing the babies eventually and she did a fantastic job of it for over three months, devoting countless hours to feeding instead of sleep. However, she's still saddened by her lost bonding time with the babies. If nothing else, over the course of the last couple weeks Rachel learned everything I did in a college philosophy class though; she had been unaware of the consequences of her decision until the slide began, but now she is well aware of the concept of the slippery slope.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dear Santa

It's a little known fact that back in 1762, George Washington's uncle, Gus Washington, dressed up like Santa Claus at the local market. All the forefathers brought their children, as well as their goats and mules, to sit on Gus' lap as he channelled Papa Noel. The young Betsy Ross, having not yet learned the art of sewing, drew charcoal portraits of each visit with Santa for the parents/goat owners to take home and hang on their walls. The tradition has changed a bit since then, with the invent of digital pictures and malls, and the sharp decline in livestock ownership. However, despite the changes in format, the tradition has carried through.

This year, Micah and Mal got to partake in the tradition for the first time as they travelled to the local mall in St. Louis to meet with Santa to discuss their merits for gifts and get their picture taken. While walking through the mall to make it to Santa's workshop, Malorie expended all her energy, looking from right to left at each passerby. By the time we made it to Santa's outpost, she was sleeping, unwilling to wake up for even jolly St. Nick himself. True to his word, Santa saw her while she was sleeping, allowing the slumbering baby to take the photo while unconscious. Micah, on the other hand, was wide awake and observant for his photo with Kris Kringle. He did not cry in panic as his mother used to do as a child, nor did he smile or chatter this year, but I'm sure that during future encounters with mall Santas Micah will make his personality more apparent.

As I tucked the picture of the kids with Santa away in a suitcase last night, I couldn't help but try to imagine what their letters to Santa would look like this year...

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy this year. I sleep through the night, share with my sister, and haven't pulled my dog's tail once. I would like some more formula or rice cereal... really anything I can eat. In fact, if you would, please leave me some of the cookies and milk that my parents leave out for you. Although I have never eaten a cookie, I'm pretty sure I would like one. Santa, let's face facts, you and I both really like to eat, and so I'm sure you can imagine how unhappy you would be if your Mom and Dad only let you have eight ounces of liquid every four hours. I'm practically starving here. So, this year I don't want a toy truck, some clothes I will just outgrow in a few weeks, or even my two front teeth; all I really want for Christmas is food.
Sincerely,
Micah James

Santa,
I will not waste your time with stories of how good a girl I have been this year, since I know you've been watching. I would really like it if for Christmas this year you gave me some sort of corrective device to allow my vision to improve to it's maximum capacity. I spend most of my day just watching things: my parents, my knucklehead brother, the TV, etc. But, I still have a bit of foggy baby vision, and I would like it if I could see the full color spectrum clearly earlier than six months of age. Also, some books, a dress and makeup would be nice.
P.S. So sorry for sleeping when I met you the other day. I was tired from people-watching outside of Macy's. I'm sure you know how fun and tiring that can be.
Love,
Malorie Rose

Baptism

Christmas time is, for the most part, about vacations, family and presents for Rachel and me. With the exception of the few years we spent apart while I was gone on military assignments, Rachel and I have made the holidays about those three things every year. So, it makes sense that this year for the holidays we decided to go on a vacation to visit family and show off our two little presents. And, during our trip to St. Louis, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce the children to our faith by having them baptized.

We chose to have the kids baptized at Webster Gardens Lutheran Church in Webster Groves, at the same church where Rachel and I were married. Webster Gardens is also the same church in which I was baptized. And so, last Sunday, in front of our family, in a ceremony presided over by the same Pastor who married us, Micah and Malorie were anointed with holy water and claimed as children of Christ.

Rachel and I were proud and overjoyed at the turnout to support our kids, as family travelled from near and far to see the ceremony. The twins had two great-grandparents, all four grandparents, six sets of aunts and uncles and numerous other well wishers there to see their big day. Malorie, as alert as ever, watched carefully as Pastor Christiansen poured water over her head. She never cried or uttered a peep; she was just content to observe the happenings. Micah decided to go to sleep during the hymns leading up to the baptismal ceremony, and so he was a bit startled to have water poured over his head. However, he didn't cry either, waking up just long enough to check out all the people around him and then drift back to sleep. After the church service, Rachel's parents hosted a brunch at their home where all those attending the service could come and hold, feed and spoil our little bundles of joy.

Everyone knows a baptism isn't complete without the choosing of Godparents. Micah's Godparents are Rachel's sister Chris and my brother Mike. Rachel and I chose our two siblings because of their great amounts of love and life to share with Micah, as well as their strong faith in the redemptive power of the Lord. Malorie's new Godparents are Jenna, Rachel's childhood friend, and her husband Karl. Jenna and Karl have been great friends to Rachel and me since we first began dating, and were with us the night we learned that Rachel was pregnant. They are fantastic people with a centered, faith based life, and we could not think of better role models for young Mal.

If there is one last thing, other than vacations, family and presents that the holidays usually represents, it's catching up on neglected duties. Over the past few weeks I have had several blog post ideas floating around this crazy cranium of mine, but no time to write. This week, as we relax in St. Louis, I plan on posting several updates on the kids. Check back daily for a new column about our family. You can consider it your Christmas present or your lump of coal for being naughty, depending upon your level of enjoyment from each post.

Monday, December 14, 2009

We Are Not Good at Cereal

A few years ago, breakfast cereal maker General Mills started a website called "mycereal.com." At mycereal.com a customer could mix all their favorite cereal components into one blended box of new cereal, create their own packaging, and then have GM manufacture a box of the cereal and send it to their doorstep. Alas, as I was doing my Christmas shopping today, planning on creating a box of "Aunt Maggie-O's" for my sister on the site, I found that mycereal.com is now defunct. Apparently General Mills found few customers willing to spend ten bucks for cereal they could mix up at home for cheaper. Either that or those who really badly wanted to buy a box of Wheaties with Fruity Pebbles and the rainbow marshmallows from Lucky Charms mixed in it had already spent all their money on drugs.

My serial thoughts of cereal were prompted by our recent step in parenthood, feeding solid foods to the twins. Last week Rachel purchased our first box of Rice Cereal to feed the children, who according to our pediatrician are ready to munch. Evidently the kids have not watched enough TV to persuade us to buy cereal with magical leprechauns or talking tigers on the box, because the box of rice cereal only had pictures of other babies on it. As a dug elbow deep into our new box of rice cereal, I became blinded by rage. For the life of me, I could not find the prize in the box. I clearly recall from my childhood that kids cereals include a Johnny Qwest decoder ring, some Transformer iron-on shirt decal or another awesome prize. I guess the makers of Earth's Best rice cereal have not learned how to market to kids yet. I also learned that infant's rice cereal resembles instant mashed potatoes much more than they resemble Rice Krispies. The rice cereal didn't snap, crackle or pop; it only got stuck in my arm hair, which led to our purchase of a second box of rice cereal.

Eventually we got around to feeding the stuff to Micah and Mal, who were not impressed with my impersonation of Count Chocula nor the Earth's Best rice cereal. Micah got impatient, astounded that we wanted him to trade the last four ounces of his bottle for two teaspoons of tepid, tasteless mush. Malorie, bless her heart, made a better attempt to eat the stuff, but ended up with most of it on her bib, with a generous smattering also in her hair, up her nose and in the fold of skin on her neck. It didn't surprise me that Micah and Mal didn't take well to the rice cereal, as most babies are not good at eating right away. However, I still maintain hope that my kids will be savants at something, getting the concept right away with little to no explanation. I guess solids are not their forte, but on the bright side, maybe Micah already knows how to throw a curve ball.

Anyway, back to cereal - So we are going to feed the kids this Earth's Best junk for some length of time, and then eventually they will graduate onto other cereals. As I recall, Rachel told me the progression goes rice cereal, then oatmeal, then barley, then Cocoa Puffs followed by Aunt Maggie-O's. I guess I had better go buy some Kix, Frosted Flakes and Cap'n Crunch, because these Aunt Maggie-O's aren't going to make themselves, and apparently General Mills and mycereal.com isn't going to be much help.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Baby Loucks

A special congratulations to our dear friends Natalie and Brett, who welcomed their new daughter Jillian Grace to the world this afternoon. Jillian weighs seven pounds, 14 ounces and measures a tall 20 inches. Micah and Malorie can't wait to welcome their new playmate with a big honkin' slobbery kiss. Mother and daughter are resting well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sleep Rash

Over the past two weeks, Malorie has gradually joined the "sleeping through the night" club. She began to sleep further into the morning the day after Rachel's parents left, and before we knew it she had slept until at least 6 a.m. on three consecutive nights. That's why last Thursday was so perplexing. Malorie had a great day in terms of her meals, and so Rachel and I anticipated a good night's sleep, which can be very addicting. Little did we know that it would go down as a night of parenting infamy in the Klug house.



Out of nowhere, Mal woke up screaming at 2:30. We knew she didn't need to eat, so I gave her a pacifier. She fell back asleep, but the restless slumber didn't last long. On my third trip to console her, at about 4:30, I decided to bring her back to bed with me to try to get her to sleep more soundly. However, upon laying her on my chest, I realized she smelled like the inside of a Port-o-Let on a hot summer day. Distinctly, I remember mumbling to Rachel, "I think she pooped. I should go change her." But, after a conversation with my groggy wife that consisted of about 6 words and 24 different types of grunts, I decided the diaper change would wake Malorie up. Besides, what was a few more hours of sleep going to hurt?


Mal slept there on my chest until I woke for work at 6:30 but that last REM cycle cost more than I bargained for. By morning time, Mal's dirty diaper had caused a bad rash. For the next three days, our poor pretty princess screamed bloody murder during every diaper change as we wiped her sore bottom clean. Rachel and I took the abuse she yelled at us, all the while knowing it was our fault she was hurting. It took a full three days for her rash to finally clear. Now I'm no fool. I know that I have decades of parenting left, during which I will make countless mistakes that will make me feel guilty, disappointed and rotten. But, since this time is the first time I've felt those feelings, I decided to let my stomach churn a bit longer than Mal's butt burned. And for now, I'm resolute that I will not let her sleep through a dirty diaper again. I just have to remember to remind myself of Mal's poor sleep rash the next time she wakes me up at 2 a.m.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Tis The Season Already?

Thanksgiving's over. So is November. That means the year's just about over. This decades pretty much over too. Time speeds by like a jet whizzing past us. Yep, time flies, and so do my in-laws, who took off for home after spending the extended weekend with us here in Florida. Looking back, their trip moved past like a rabbit through the grass. Luckily, I was able to take enough mental snapshots to compose a recap. And so, with my usual flair for music, here's my summary of the weekend. (To the festive tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas)

12 Pounds of turkey,
11 Football games,
10 Hours sleeping,
9 Rollee Pollies,
8 Tiger wins,
7 Wines a-sipping,
6 Micah sirens,
5 Stockings hung,
4 Missed steps,
3 Cracked ribs,
2 "Turtles" loved,
And a fake mini-Christmas tree.

The turkey and football should be self-explanatory. We ate (and much to the chagrin of the women) watched a lot. Malorie has begun bordering on sleeping through the night, hence the ten hours of sleeping. Mal also serves as the inspiration for nine, as she put on a show for Grandpa Bob and Grandma Judy by rolling over for them several times during the trip. Three generations of fans watched the Missouri Tigers football team rack up their eighth win of the season by besting hated rival Kansas in a Saturday matchup. It always feels good to "Screw KU," and now the Tigers will wait and see what Bowl game they'll play in this year. Rachel, her parents and I met our friends Pat, Kat and Erin at a wine tasting on Friday. Bob was most impressed with the Cabernet of the seven wines. Micah was impressed by Pat's mother, who was in town for the holiday and held him the entire time we sampled the wines. Micah also rings in at six with the number of times he cries per day, one at the beginning and one in the middle of each of his three naps. His adorable Beavis and Butthead "Huh-Huh-Huh" cry is now long gone, replaced by "The Siren," a cry that is loud, shrill, and goes, "WEEE-oooooh, WEEE-oooooh" for what seems like days at a time. During the break Rachel hung five stockings over the mantel and put up one Christmas tree next to it, thus beginning our first Christmas season as parents.

You may have noticed I skipped a few numbers. That is because song numbers four and three make a whole story unto themselves. Last Saturday, at Rachel's behest, her father agreed to hang our Christmas lights. As he was retrieving the box of lights from the attic, he missed a rung in the ladder and crashed to the garage floor, cracking three ribs. As if the fall and cracks weren't enough, Rachel and her mother then decided to try home remedies for Bob's pain. They gave him a painkiller - the one Rachel was prescribed to dull the pain of her recent Ceasarean Section. Instead of dulling the pain, the prescription medication had a reaction with Bob's blood pressure meds, causing nausea, light headedness and headaches. After a trip to urgent care, Bob's weekend was ruined, as he was forced to spend the rest of the trip recouperating on our couch. Fortunately he was well enough to travel home, where he is taking the week off of work to recover. Dad, we are thinking and praying for you each night, and hope you feel a lot better soon.

Finally, I saved the number two to ensure a happy ending to my post about time flying. Thirty years ago, Rachel and her sister Christine were babies like Micah and Malorie. Their parents, Bob and Judy, enjoyed the phase Rachel and I are currently experiencing, where the babies are beginning to lay on their stomachs and look aound. Bob nicknamed his girls "turtles," for the way their bald little heads would stretch up and peer around the room. The highlight of my weekend was watching Bob and Judy rekindle their love affair for "turtles" through my children. As much as I wonder and complain about where the time goes so quickly, I loved watching thirty years melt away from my mother and father-in-law as they played with Micah and Mal. Here's to hoping that this holiday season, time moves more like turtles than a rabbit or a jet.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

This Thanksgiving I have more to be thankful for than ever before. The addition of Micah and Malorie to our household has been a tremendous blessing. Words could never describe how awe stuck I am at the gifts I have been given, yet I thank God each night as I lay down to sleep as if they could. As I lay down tonight, these are the things I will thank God for giving me:

Rachel, the most wonderful woman I ever met, who God somehow saw just to make my wife. Micah and Malorie, the twin babies that were nothing more than a hopeful prayer at this time last year. Tyson, the pain in the butt howling dog that somehow weaseled his way into my heart. Family; my amazing parents, grandfather, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, the Fincks and my extended family. Many people in this world claim they have no family. I proudly boast the opposite, I have a great big family. The safety and security that our Armed Forces provide, and to the brave men and women towing the line tonight so I can lay here in comfort. For shelter, love, ability, the gift of flight and all the menial possessions I claim as my own - I am thankful. For the down days, times spent in anger, frustration, envy, fear, worry and doubt I am still thankful, because they allow me to keep perspective on how truly blessed I am.

I will give thanks tonight for all that, and then pray I'm never foolish enough to overlook the bounty I have been given. Then I will pray that those out there who lack these gifts will one day feel the way I do tonight. Happy Thanksgiving all - and I miss your pie Mom.
BK

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Headline Surfing

Often lately I have found myself in a pinch for time. I have not had ample time to do all the things I used to do, such as keeping current on current events. Instead of reading newspapers and magazines like I used to do, filling my mind with facts and opinions, I now partake in what I like to call headline surfing. I take five minutes to review the headlines of several different websites, learning all that I can from the fragmented, attention grabbing titles of the articles I used to read. That way, I may not have the whole story, but I at least remain aware of the latest happenings with government (health care bill through the house), sports (Bears still suck) and fellow multiples parents Jon and Kate (apparently she has a new haircut and he is starting a rock and roll band). So, in honor of my new news gathering techniques, here is the Klug Crew version of headline surfing, with all the notable news of the past two weeks in headline form.

US News
Gallup Poll: Average Klug Kid Nap Time Increasing in Duration
Dog Barks at Doorbusters, Bell Ringers Alike

Health
Malorie Maintains Growth Climb - Now in 25th Percentile for Weight
CDC Report: Parents 75% Vaccinated Against Flu

Government
Princess Malorie Refuses to Cede Control of Late Nights - Sanctions Likely
Treasury Secretary: "Babies are Freakin' Expensive!"

Travel
Aunt Chris Returns to Florida, New Wardrobe for Twins
Twins on Thanksgiving Travel: "No Thanks!"

Sports
Micah Rolls to Redemption, Matches Sister's Feats
Heavyweight - M.J. Klug Goes Up a Weight Class For Next Fight

Entertainment
Twins Seen Partying Two Fridays in a Row
Jumperoo Toy Bounces into Homes Just in Time for Holidays

Headline surfing doesn't have all the fun features of a traditional newspaper - no classifieds, coupons, commentary articles or that Family Circle comic where you follow the dotted line to see everywhere Jeffy has been. However, you can all feel free to leave your comments as letters to the editor if you choose. Oh, and here are some pictures, because every good journalist knows that if your story is short on words, you had better put a big picture to fill the space the editor assigned.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My New Favorite Band

Growing up, my father was in a band. He toured the central Midwest and played Country and Western shows on weekends, earning the adolation of his son, who naturally named his father's band Desperado as his favorite. As I grew older and more rebellious, I immersed myself in Alternative Rock, soaking up late nineties bands like Guster, Bush and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I spent time in college as a radio disc jockey and got to meet some of my new favorite bands and get a paycheck for doing what I love: listening to music. However, these days my music is mostly shared with my kids via my Ipod. I'm sure that one day they too will rebel against their father's music, and probably end up liking something other than what I like (Please not Nickleback... They can like Celine Dion, Jonas Brothers, Shakira, whatever, just please don't let my kids grow up to like Nickleback). But for now, they seem to be having fun with me. Here is a video of Malorie rocking and rolling, and Micah singing a song for his mom. Their talent level may not be on par with Von Trapps or the Partridge Family, but the kids new musical acts have earned them the title of my new favorite band.

video

video

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our Trip to Jacksonville

Did you know there is a "Lebanon," Missouri? Or that Baja California is not actually in California? I know of three distinct Aurora's, one in Illinois, one in Colorado and one in Missouri. And I think there is a town called Springfield in just about every state in our union. So, it should come as no surprise that there are multiple Jacksonville's out there. However, despite my geography knowledge that would make Mr. Rand McNally himself blush, I still find it ironic that the first time the twins leave Jacksonville on a trip, that they should end up in Jacksonville... North Carolina.


This past weekend I was invited to be the Re-enlisting Officer for my brother-in-law Nick, who serves as a Corpsman at Camp LeJuene in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Rachel and I decided that we would make this occasion a dry run for our Christmas trip to St. Louis and try taking the twins on an airplane. I must admit I had some serious trip trepidation, but I'm happy to report that the excursion went much better than we anticipated.

The twins ate four meals in airports or on planes, and did not vomit on any unsuspecting travellers. They didn't annoy the other passengers by crying on the planes, although Mal did whimper for a while. No one gave Rachel angry, naughty or even interested looks when she nursed Micah in public; mostly people just minded their own business. The only negative experience was when a flight attendant had to separate Rachel and me on the second leg of the trip. The plane we rode in was tiny and only had three emergency oxygen masks per row, and so our family of four had to split up between two rows. However, the flight attendant whose head was already in the clouds moved me to a row next to a woman in a flu mask who apparently had some terrible variant of the whooping cough. Within seconds of me sitting down next to the human H1N1 virus, Rachel was yelling for the flight attendant to move me again. Luckily there was another woman one row up from my new seat that switched me. Apparently she was either blinded by Malorie's cuteness or was a danger seeker, because I am pretty sure that she is now bedridden with some terrible malady.
Once we arrived in North Carolina's Jacksonville, the real fun began as Micah and Malorie met their 13 month old cousin Kaileb for the first time. Kaileb is at exactly the right age to be curious about babies, and so he immediately tried to trade Micah pacifiers. However, coordination at 13 months is not as developed as you would imagine, so Kaileb promptly stuck the offering into Micah's eye instead of his mouth. The next three days were filled with equally hilarious and frightening interactions between the cousins that made us laugh while cringing.

Kaileb is an absolute hoot, the kind of kid you can't help but love, which is a testament to what a fantastic parenting job my sister Katie and her sailor husband Nick are doing. They are faring quite well for themselves, which made me content as a big brother and as a Godfather to Kaileb. As I re-enlisted Nick for another four year tour in the Navy, I swelled with pride for his accomplishments as a sailor, a lifesaver, a husband and a father. Thanks again for the honor of re-enlisting you, Nick.

Finally, I wanted to share a picture of my babies. They are really doing well with the head control, starting to sit in bumpo chairs and smiling a lot more these days. However, I still sometimes think of Micah and Mal as my little Red and Lellow. This outfit coordination was not planned, but the coincidence was noticed. Whether we're in Jacksonville, Florida; Jacksonville, North Carolina; or any of the 50 Springfields out there, I will still associate those two colors with my babes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scary Stories

The book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a phenomenon in Mrs. Olsen's fourth grade class. The Scholastic book order form that came out in October prominently featured the book on the front cover. The black binding surrounding the drawing of a creepy tree-face smoking a pipe eerily drew us students in, prompting nearly every kid in the class to order the book. We feasted on the short stories meant to get us amped up for Halloween, sharing our favorites with those who were not that far into the book. In honor of the most frightening kids book I ever read, here are Rachel and my favorite Scary Klug Crew Stories just in time for Halloween.


Micah and Malorie Meet a Ghost

We parents planned the excursion rigorously, passing up valuable sleep and waking up early to get ready. We woke the kids up on schedule to feed them, but they were still sleepy, throwing the first wrench into the plans. After basically force-feeding the babies to make sure they would be happy, I took Micah to change him into the fancy outfit laid out for the trip. Malorie, in an act of silent protest against the force feeding, decided she would not burp, forcing Rachel to stay and work with her. As time ticked down to under ten minutes until the family had planned to leave, Micah began to squirm and cry on the changing table. Sensing something was wrong, I picked him up and held him to my shoulder just in time to be showered with a voluminous eruption of vomit. Micah was soaked but feeling better; I was soaked but feeling worse. I had to pass Micah off to his mother to get hosed off and dressed, as I went and re-showered to remove the milk vomit from my hair, ear, back and chest.

After rapidly dressing Micah and changing Malorie's diaper, there was no more time to dress Mal, so she went on the trip in her pajamas. I took the fastest shower of my life, probably missing up to 40% of the vomit, but I at least had the illusion of feeling cleaner. I quickly threw on some nice clothes and grabbed a piece of bread and water for breakfast to eat in the car, forsaking the time it would take to toast the bread. Rachel did a great job of getting the properly dressed Micah and the unburped, pajama wearing Malorie into their car-seats, but she forgot to grab the bag of items meant to take with us to donate to the local food pantry.

Once we all arrived at our destination, the babies who had made so much trouble all morning made like saints. They slept through their entire first church service at Advent Lutheran, slumbering especially soundly during the songs. Micah and Malorie made their first trip to the communion table as well, receiving their first ever blessing from their Pastor - thereby meeting for the first time The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

Frightening Feedings

It was a dark and stormy afternoon at the Klug house. Inside, it was eerily quiet. As I sat down to a delicious lunch (Hot Pocket), I suddenly heard a scream coming from the baby’s room. When I walked in I found that Malorie was HUNGRY! She was crying her usual “waaa! waaa! waaa! Come and get me and feed me” cry, so I picked her up and began to warm her a bottle. I changed her diaper and we calmly sat down to enjoy some Oprah and milk and a pepperoni pizza Hot Pocket when... "ahhhhhhhhhhhhh..." another scream from the baby’s room. My frustration kicked in... Micah was HUNGRY too!!!

Now, usually I do my best to space the kids feeding schedules out by at least 45 minutes during the day. After much trial and error I have found that this best allows me to peacefully feed one baby without having one hungry baby just waiting. However, inevitably, at some point during the day, they will catch up with each other. (I can only control so much). Normally, if one wakes up early I try to just pacify that baby as I finish feeding the other one. This juggling act can get kind of hairy, especially when I have to start holding the “passie” in with my foot.

With this particular feeding, though, Micah would not take his “passie.” He would not stall. He was so hungry there was nothing I could do but feed him. But how? I only have two hands and I was already feeding Mal. So, what happened next was probably the spookiest thing ever, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do... I attempted to do a breast feeding/bottle feeding simultaneously. Things got a little scarier when burping time came along. I would lay one down in a Boppy while burping the other, then switch. At one point, I did try to do them both on my shoulder at the same time, but I had no luck with that.

When things were all said and done, all three of us were wiped out. I laid them side by side in Boppy pillows and we all caught our breath. I would never wish that situation upon anyone, nor would I have wanted anyone to witness what it looked like. It was definitely... VERY SCARY! After a brief recovery period, I finally settled in for some Oprah and a now cold, stale pocket. Yum.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bullets and Baby Faces

There are certain things in life that don't go together: Cats and Dogs, Pickles and Peanut Butter, Tents and Sub-Zero Temperatures, Cubs and World Series (can't believe I said that). Bullets and Baby Faces probably, under almost anyone's definition of good taste, would not go together. However, I think I can make it work. So, I will dispatch all the fancy writing and hit the highlights in bullet point then entertain you with my babies making faces. For the record, I know that 85% of the blog readers will now scroll past all my words to the faces. Thanks for reading if you did.
  • Nicole's visit was great but as with most trips, too short. You're welcome to come back anytime... but I want Paul and Jackson to come next time. I need some man-bonding time.

  • The babies had their two month visit. Malorie has climbed to the 25th percentile in weight, tipping the scales at 8lbs 15 oz. Micah made her look like a feather as he busted through the ten pound threshold. He is now 10 lbs 6 oz. Micah and Mal want everyone to know that getting vaccines is not fun.

  • I have averaged about four hours of sleep all week as I have stayed up during the nights cramming for my MBA class assignments.

  • Rachel has been a champion throughout her first week alone with the kids while I am at work. On Tuesday night, I pulled into the driveway and saw her, the kids and the dog taking a stroll around the block. Today she and the twins visited Jodi and Jacob.

  • Micah and I got dressed up for the Bears game last Sunday night against the Falcons, but the Bears lost. Micah cried, but I won't hold it against him, I cried when the Bears lost until I was about 8 years old.

  • Mal Pal saw a lactation specialist. The lady said Malorie doesn't open wide enough to latch well. Then she made Malorie eat from a tube while shoving her finger into the back of Malorie's mouth. Malorie showed her dissent by burping milk up onto my flight suit.

  • The specialist told Rachel that her lack of milk was from being too stressed out, which stressed out Rachel more. Ah, the joys of mother/daughter bonding.

Now, instead of reading my useless blather, look at my beautiful babies as they make faces for you. I told you Bullets and Baby Faces could go together. Now I've just got to work on the Cubs and World Series.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Klug Family Tree

Rachel and I may believe that we started "The Klug Crew" when she threatened to withhold children's naming rights from me if I did not start blogging about her pregnancy. However, truth be told, the Klug Crew began long before our kids or the invent of fancy-schmancy Internet weblogs. Rachel and I got a reminder just how far our family tree stretches downward when my parents, sister Maggie and my grandfather came for a visit last week.





Mal Pal and Micah enjoyed meeting their grandparents. At the end of the visit we were all sad to see my mom leave to go home. She was a tremendous help for the month she was here, and now we have one more visitor (Nicole) before the training wheels come off and Rachel and I try this parenthood thing on our own. Yikes!












Malorie got snuggly with Maggie, but Micah was not so kind. Hands down the funniest moment of the visit was when Micah made Maggie earn the title of Auntie Burp Rag. Aunt Maggie held onto Micah after he spit up milk all over her, but as she did so she turned beet red and started exclaiming, "I'm not freakin' out! I'm not freakin' out!" Luckily grandma was sitting nearby to grab the baby as Maggie ran to the bathroom.





Here is Mal Pal being thoroughly unimpressed with Great Grandpa's story about the Korean War. Apparently she is not a history buff.







Micah, on the other hand, seems very interested in the story Great Grandpa is telling. Either that, or he is looking up his nose.






Finally, anyone who knows me well knows I could not resist a shot at Rachel's Cardinals. One year ago at this time I was downtrodden due to the Cubs being swept in the first round of the MLB playoffs. Tables turned this year as the Cards were eliminated in three games by the Dodgers. Here is Micah getting upset after seeing Chris Carpenter give up a run in game one. It happened to coincide with Micah being hungry and tired, but I'm pretty sure he was crying because he was wearing that Cardinals onesie.

Do You Believe In Magic?

I grew up in a house with six kids: three boys and three girls. Despite all the fun times I had with my sisters, there was always a clear delineation as to what belonged to girls and what belonged to boys. Jelly shoes, New Kids on the Block sweaters and Barbie dolls - girls. Baseball cards, toy cars and boogers stuck to walls - boys. Hair brushes always have and always will fall into the girl category. Brushes were both unappreciated and unused by the boys in my house. In fact, the only reason I think I ever touched a brush was to use one as a weapon.

This marked line of boy versus girl items has followed me to my new home in Florida, where there is now a controversy brewing. Rachel wants to brush Micah's hair after his baths, despite my strong objections. I've tried using reason. "Micah doesn't even have any hair," I protested, to no avail. When Rachel picks up the brush anyway, I've tried to sway her using facts. "The only boys who use hair brushes are magicians and John Stamos," I cry when Rachel takes the first swipe at Micah's peach fuzz. I've tried faking tears and would have attempted to use the brush as a weapon against Rachel, but she's already holding it. Plus Florida has strong laws against spousal abuse. In spite of all my pleas, my son always leaves the tub straight haired and emasculated.

However, Rachel got her comeuppance as Micah made my words prophetic the other night. Micah had just finished eating, I mean drinking, and so Rachel began to burp him. She held him upright, covered her lap with a burp cloth and began patting his back. Then the magic show began as Micah the Magnificent erupted with a roar of a wet belch. Rachel looked down onto the cloth expecting to see burped-up milk, but there was none. "Wow," she said as she examined the rag, "I can't believe he had that big of a burp and nothing came back up with it." However, once she moved the clean rag, the trick was revealed. Micah had somehow burped over, around or through the burp cloth and right onto Rachel's leg that had been fully covered by the cloth. "How in the world..." Rachel began, but I cut her off. "That's what you get for brushing his hair!" I bellowed belligerently. My bewildered wife caught on as I proclaimed, "Now you've turned our son into David Copperfield!"

I guess there are worse things than brushing a boys hair with a brush instead of a comb. But, then again, there are worse things than getting burped up milk all over one's pants. I hate to say it, but Rachel, you got what you deserved. If there is one thing I appreciate, it's justice. Now I guess I had better learn to also learn to like magic and little boys using girlie hair brushes.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

I know, I know, it has been a very long time since I wrote to update on the day to day events that make the Klug Crew what it is. Since I will have to practically write a novel to catch everyone up on what's been going down with my favorite kids, I figured I'd use to format of one of my favorite kids book series. So, from this point on, you are free to choose your own adventure.

CHAPTER ONE: Our tale begins with Rachel, the lovely matron of the Klug household. Rachel celebrated her 29th birthday last weekend. Unfortunately for her, the birthday began with her crying. The twins had kept her up most of the night, she had a painful clogged milk duct, and her husband was leaving for Gainesville to attend his business school classes for the weekend. If you think Rachel's birthday was brightened by a baby's smile, turn to chapter three. If you predict Rachel's birthday was livened up by a near death experience, turn to chapter five. And if you envision Rachel muddling through the weekend without her husband and then was so sleep deprived that she hallucinated, flip to chapter six.

CHAPTER TWO: Malorie's tiny nostrils have been a source of worry for us from the get go. First, they were too small to get the feeding tube down in the NICU. Then, since we have gotten her home, she has had the snorking problem where it sounds like she struggles to breathe. However, recently Rachel has been using the aspirator to pull some boogers the size of earthworms out of the tiny holes. The green, slimy slugs have relieved a great amount of pressure from Mal's nose, and have created a great bit of entertainment for Rachel and me. If you agree laughing at boogers is silly and that we need more entertainment, see chapter seven. If you believe boogers are the craziest thing we've seen this week, see chapter six. And if you wonder what Micah does instead of hording monstrous snots in his nasal cavities, see chapter three.

CHAPTER THREE: Rachel's days have a brand new routine that has the house abuzz. When Micah wakes to feed, Rachel will hold him in one arm and tickle him with the other. Micah has discovered his smile, which absolutely lights up the house like birthday candles. If you want to know what Malorie does to compensate for her brother's smile, see chapter two. For Tyson's reaction to baby smiles, burps and farts, see chapter four. And if you surmise Micah should hit the town with his new found glee, see Chapter seven.



CHAPTER FOUR: For the first few weeks Tyson avoided the burping, farting, crying machines with all his might. However, over the past few days he has started sniffing the twins out. We believe this curious phase is en route to Tyson's eventual acquiescence to being Micah and Malorie's best bud. It's only a matter of time. Until then, we'll still arrange for him to get out of the house for play dates with his dog pals Onyx, Lucci and Nani. To see how the babies get some time away from Tyson, see Chapter seven. If you think Tyson should stay home more in case someone coughs up some food on the floor, see chapter six. And, if you wonder whether Tyson makes Micah smile, see chapter three.
CHAPTER FIVE: The night of her birthday, in between the five o'clock and eight o'clock feedings, Rachel and her two buddies Kat and Sheryl tried to sneak in a few Yum Yum and Crunch Crunch rolls from a local sushi joint that needs some help giving their fare some creative names. While apparently trying to eat fast fast, Sheryl choked on a Yum... or maybe it was a Crunch. Anyway, our website-designer/photographer/life-saver friend Kat saved the day by performing the Heimlich Maneuver, thereby shooting the rice and seafood from Sheryl's throat and right onto Tyson's floor. If you think Tyson sniffs only half chewed seafood, see chapter four. If you think the house is too dangerous, and so Rachel should get out more, see chapter seven. And if you guess a gasping girlfriend was the worst part of Rachel's birthday, return to chapter one.

CHAPTER SIX: The other night, I woke to the alarm to feed the kids. I began getting up, and then said over my shoulder, "Rach, time to get up." Without moving, Rachel exclaimed, "Mal is chuggin' this!" I spun around quickly, not anticipating babies to be feeding yet, and my instincts were correct. Rachel was sound asleep and Malorie was still snug in her bassinet. "Rach," I said, "Mal is still asleep in her bed." "Oh," said my dejected wife after her dreams were ruined. If you think Rachel was tired from hitting the town with the babies, see chapter seven. If you want Rachel to get more relaxing time with her friends, see chapter five. And if you are interested in what Malorie actually does, see chapter two.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Micah and Malorie have been putting on their boogie shoes (ok, only Micah wears shoes) and hitting the town with their parents this week. Early in the week they returned to Walmart. On Wednesday, their thirst for adventure not yet quenched, the twins attended a Navy ceremony called a Hail and Farewell at River City Brewhouse. Then, to complete their trio of trips, they crashed a house party at our friends the Loucks' house on Saturday night. Rachel and I are starting to feel more and more comfortable taking the twins out; I guess you could say we are finally able to start choosing our own adventures.

Woof, all the blogging this weekend has made me tired. I choose for this adventure to end.

The End