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
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
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.
Micah James

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.
Malorie Rose


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 "" At 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 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 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.