Monday, August 30, 2010

Happily Ever After

I remember the day I opened up Sports Illustrated to find that one of my favorite writers, Rick Reilly, was quitting his weekly column in the magazine. I remember the pit in my stomach upon learning the news. I remember the glum way I described his decision to Rachel. I remember concluding that opening SI would never be the same. Although I in no means consider myself to be anywhere near the quality of an award winning writer like Reilly, I fear that I may be subjecting dear friends and family to the same feelings I felt that day with the next sentence. This will be the last post I write for the blog.

This blogging experiment began in modest some time ago when Rachel convinced me to write updates on the pregnancy, if only to put my journalism degree to use. It was a great way to prevent telling the same stories ten times over the phone only to forget them a week later too. The medium proved invaluable during Micah and Malorie's tumultuous first week, as I passed information from hospital bedsides directly to the extended network praying at home for good news. The blog turned my kids into philanthropists before they could leave their hospital beds. My favorite entries, the ones I wrote about coming home, those crazy overnights and the love in this household will always resonate in my mind when I wonder what life is all about. It's not often that a person can take the time to amass a running record of his family's triumphs and challenges. I plan on using these posts to recount and retell our parental trials again and again. I hope that one day Micah and Mal will strengthen their relationship with us by reading the blog we tried so hard to fill with love, hope and humor. But this is a stressful time in our lives right now and we are facing challenges that deserve more attention than blogging for now. Plus, the one year birthday seems like as good a time as any to cut the writing off. I mean, I don't want my kids to grow up constantly nervous that I will embarrass them somehow with what I write. I can't think of a single teenager who wants their parents to post their exploits on the Internet.

I would be absolutely remiss if I did not take a moment to thank all the wonderful people that made this blog so cool. Thanks to my parents and the Fincks, for allowing Rachel and me to use their guidance as benchmarks for our journey into parenthood. We undoubtedly would not have been able to do it without you. A big thanks to Nicole, who put this whole blogging thing into Rachel's head, and then helped so much in the Beard for Babies campaign. I owe Jackson some made-up songs and a few noogies. Thank you to all the spectacular people who took time to respond to our columns with witty comments, especially Aunt Carol, who always took the time to comment on our musings. Rachel and I would log on religiously 24 hours after a post to check what you had to say. It was as much fun reading all of you guys' writings as it was constructing our own. Thanks to all the people who signed up to follow us and all the anonymous persons out there who have checked in periodically to see how The Crew was doing. Not a week has gone by since this whole blog thing has started that someone has not told us that they liked the blog. Your encouragement went a long way. Finally, thanks to Rachel. She constantly pushes me to be a better person. Whether it's letting me tease you on the Internet via the blog or forcing me to take the trash out or just being my sounding board - you are the light of my life. I could not be the person I am without you. I love you, and I thank God every night for bringing you into my life.

One telltale sign of a poor writer is relying on a crutch. My crutch is a compulsion with concluding every post I write with a final paragraph that somehow justifies the obscure first paragraph I write. Anyway, back to Rick Reilly. He still cranks out those award winning columns, only now for another boss. After an extended hiatus, he started writing for Maybe one day I too will find another means to express my penchant for prose. Or maybe this is the end of my written endeavors. Either way, I have enjoyed the time.

Thanks again for making our little family of one dog, two parents and two babies, two babies, feel so big and so special. Take care.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ain't No Party Like an M&M Party

To my very best recollection, Rachel and I never intended to give the kids alliterative names. In fact, we scoffed at many of the traditional twin names, calling them silly and ill-conceived. It wasn't until the night the twins were born that we finally decided on the names for them. The fact that our two names began with the letter M didn't immediately cross our minds because I was sleep deprived and Rachel was drugged. Anyway, at some point while the kids were still in the hospital, someone (I honestly don't remember who) suggested that our kids who were formerly known as Red and Lellow were now M&M, like the candies. A seed was planted in Rachel's mind. It grew slowly at first, but by last week it was in full bloom. We would throw an M&M themed party for the kids first birthday.

For the party, my wonderful wife thought up and constructed grandiose entertainment centers for kids that were based on the M&M candy theme she so embraced during the kids first year. In other words, ain't no party like an M&M party! We set up stations like "Pin the M on the M&M," "Color an M&M," and "Get Your Picture Taken with an M&M." There was a cookie decorating station where kids could top a cookie with frosting and M&M candies. Guests were encouraged to guess how many M&Ms were in a mason jar and treated to M&M cupcakes. Rachel did all the legwork for the party, leaving me to do what I do best, clown around and make a fool of myself (see attached pictures).

Micah and Mal, for their part, did a great job of being the guests of honor. They rolled in and immediately began playing with anything and everyone imaginable. They chowed pizza like they had Domino's on speed dial. And they ate cake as if they were in a race against time. Actually, I guess they were kind of in a race against time since we decided to take their cakes away after about ten minutes of messy-faced entertainment. The twins even opened all of their presents from the guests at the party, except towards the end of the present opening Micah climbed down off my lap to play with a new truck he had just received.

All in all, Rachel's M&M themed party was a great success. It was, of course, all due to the her efforts and the good moods of the twins, but I will still accept credit. I did help with the clean up. After the party was all finished, the room was good as new and the kids were in a cake coma/nap, I looked at Rachel and got a new found sense of fear for the future. I could see this glimmer in her green eyes, and it terrified me. She was already plotting next year's party. I know her. The party after year two will simply have to top this one. The third party better than that. By the time the kids are ten, we will have to rope the moon and book Hannah Montana to perform from there for their party to top the year before. Now I just want to know who suggested next years' theme to Rachel. I will get you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Like Good Versus Evil Only With Baby Hair

"If you cut her hair, I will cut yours. I will shave my name in the back of your head while you sleep."

"No you won't," Rachel correctly replied back to me saucily. But, I hope I made my point. I was making my final stand in defense of my poor Mal's pretty hair. You see, Rachel thinks Malorie's hair has grown too much in the back, and now resembles a mullet. So, Rach wants to cut it off.

I tried to tell Rachel of all the great people in the world who were bald on top with long hair in back like Mal, but all I could think of was Ben Franklin and my old Finance professor. Then, I told Rachel that I imagined my baby girl's first haircut being done in some fun salon where she sits in a pink Cadillac shaped chair and gets a lollipop when it's all over, not in our dimly lit bathroom with Rachel holding her down with one hand and chopping wildly with the other. When my appeals to her sense of reason and sentimentality had both failed, I threatened retributive follicular assault.

Obviously I will not cut Rachel's hair. We spend about three hundred bucks a month on shampoo and electricity to power her blow dryer and hair crimper thing. So, I'm almost out of options to keep Mal's beautiful hair that she's worked so hard for on her head. That's why I'm taking to the Internet. I need you out there to let Rachel know how wrong she is about wanting to cut Mal's hair before it even gets a chance to properly grow in.

So, who are you with? Is it Team Billy or Team Rachel? Team Mal Pal or Team Mean Mom? Team Sunshine or Team Scissors? Team Good or Team Evil? Take to your keyboards. Rise up on email, comment on the blog, Facebook Rachel. Help me save Mal's baby duck butt hair-do. If nothing else, just distract Rachel long enough for me to have time to hide the scissors.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Snapshots at One Year

It's a cliche to say that a picture's worth a thousand words. Even though that cliche, like so many others, rings true, pictures can't say everything.

For instance, this picture of our beautiful babies can show it's their birthday. The hats and sign give it away, right? But it doesn't tell how Micah only recently got his first tooth while Mal has four chompers. It can't describe the meals we share in those chairs. A picture will never tell the worry Rachel and I have over the kids' nutrition and diet. It'll never convey the fun I have with the kids nightly as I try to clean the remnants of those meals by brushing their teeth, singing Raffi's song and fighting like the dickens to keep the kids in one place for long enough to get something meaningful out of it.

You can see from this picture that Micah and Malorie got matching outfits from their Grandma Finck for their birthday. You may be able to imagine her working hard at the sewing machine, and the anticipation Rachel and I had as we opened the package after it arrived. However, the picture doesn't show Micah busting out of his outfit in the legs, which forced Rachel to take it off of him soon after the picture. You might guess that he is still growing exponentially, but the picture gives no hint of how much he has slimmed down since he started walking. You can see that the outfit may be a bit too feminine for a baby boy. However, without the back story of Rachel washing a dark blue onesie to try to "man up the outfit," you'd never know the true humor of the situation.

The picture of the kids in the pool on their birthday tells a story of wet adventure. An astute eye might pick up that the bottom lobe of the pool is popped. But no one could possibly know that Mal swam with no diaper. Or that Rachel worried the whole time. Nobody can tell that Rachel and Natalie chose to hit the backyard pool because it's easier to wrangle kids there than at the neighborhood pool.

You can look at Micah and Mal eating their birthday cookies, and laugh at Micah's frosting mustache and Mal's chipmunk cheeks stuffed full of frosted sugar cookie pieces. But without words, you could never imagine Rachel burning the first batch of cookies, flooding the house with smoke while the kids played in the pool out back. You couldn't possible know the bad mood Rachel was in when I got home from work because of that incident and the fact that Malorie skipped her morning nap. The picture gives no hint that Rachel bounced back from her mood in time to enjoy a great night with the twins and me, or that the kids got a second serving of cookies so that Daddy could see them eat.

The picture of the kids with their new wagon they got for their birthday will show they liked their first present from us. However, without the detail only words can provide you would never know that Micah was terrified of the wagon as I first brought it into the room, singing "Happy Birthday" the whole way from the kitchen. You'd never know how much research Rachel and I did to find the wagon we liked best: the one with a canopy, cup holders and an affordable price tag. The picture won't let you in on the fact that it rained tonight, so the kids had to take their first ride around the house instead of around the block.

Pictures are great. But no picture will ever come close to capturing how much fun, angst-filled, amazing and heart-stoppingly wonderful the past year has been. We love you more than pictures or words could ever tell Micah and Malorie. Happy Birthday kids- Love, Mom and Dad.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Daddy's Greatest Hits

Do you remember that song that was playing when you gave your baby her first bath?

{Cue Music} Malorie, Sweet Malorie. Things are looking up, hun, things are looking up hun.

How about the first time your child walked?

{Cue Music} Big walkin' big guy, big walkin' big guy.

For new parents, music can be a great way to connect with your kids. That's why Klug Crew Music has complied all of Daddy's Greatest Hits onto one spectacular CD. Why not have the master of making up ridiculous songs for his kids serenade your kids? Take a look at the timeless tracks on this compilation:

1, 2, 3 Micah James
Malorie, Sweet Malorie
Good Morning to You
Rinse Rinse Rinse-a-roo
Micah, James, Micah James Klug Rap
Ring-a-Ding-Ding (Eat Your Dinner)
Big Walkin' Big Guy
It's Time for Cereal Cereal
I'll Take a New Diaper Please
Pony Boy
Ducky Towel and A Monkey Towel

Plus, if you act now, you'll get a bonus disk of Daddy rattling off a bunch of Raffi and Jack Johnson songs he's heard so many times he could sing in his sleep. All the standards you've come to know and be annoyed by countless times, including:

Peanut Butter Sandwich
Upside Down
The Alphabet
If You're Happy
Down By the Bay
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
The Sharing Song
It's a Jungle Gym
Mr. Sun

That's right, two great CDs for one low, low price Just $19.99 for all the great memories and terrible key changes that two CDs can capture. Don't delay, act now!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let's See if We Can Ruin a Wedding

Love was in the air as two of my favorite friends were about to get married. Sarah looked stunning in her gown and Marc was the picture of sophistication in his Seersucker suit. Friends and family members were gently shielding their eyes from the sun and wiping away the tears as the soon to be married couple read their self-written vows to each other in the fading afternoon sun. Then Micah snatched Malorie's pacifier and she let out a squawk. Micah began to wail when I took the paci back from him and returned it to Mal. Rachel cut her eyes at me as she attempted to calm Micah, but it was far less hurtful than the ice cold glares I was getting from the people around us in the pews. Mal, discontent from missing her afternoon nap, squirmed onto the lap of the man sitting next to me, wildly clawing at his expensive pants with hands soiled from eating a cookie, as he looked back in bewilderment. Micah instinctively sensed his best opportunity to escape and broke free from Rachel's clutches, crawling down the aisle toward the altar leaving Rachel grasping as she crawled after him in her formerly pristine dress.

I do not often have nightmares, but if I did, my kids ruining a wedding could easily keep me up at night. That is why we asked my parents to come to Jacksonville to watch the twins instead of taking them with us to Virginia for Marc and Sarah's wedding. Luckily for us, my nightmare scenario outlined above never happened, as the kids stayed home and bonded with their Grandma and Grandpa Klug, as well as their Great-Grandpa. The wedding was our first overnight endeavor without the kids instead of a struggle to contain them in a foreign environment, a dream instead of a nightmare.

Rachel was far less comfortable leaving than I was but I attribute that to the fact that I leave the kids all the time, heading to Gainesville or work. Rach had some serious separation anxiety when we left for the airport, but she was lulled back into a comfortable state by the near constant updates streaming into her phone from my mom. Grandma sent about one hundred thousand status updates throughout the weekend that convinced Rachel that the twins were doing just fine without her. In fact, from all accounts, Micah and Mal had a great time with their babysitters. Micah got to skip a nap on Friday (although he ended up falling asleep during dinner) and Mal learned how to ride the toy horse in the living room. Both received major snuggle time with their grandpa and plenty of bonding with grandma.

In reality, Marc and Sarah had the picturesque wedding that people dream about. No kids disrupted the ceremony. Rachel and I had a great time with friends that we had not seen in far too long, like Matt and Jaclyn and Paul and Nicole, who got footloose. We truly enjoyed our weekend without parental responsibility. We even got to close out a bar on Saturday night. OK, fine, it was a California Pizza Kitchen, and they closed at 10 pm, but in our defense they did have a bar. Then, after the wedding reception, I slept like a baby knowing that my babies did not mess up any weddings this weekend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Out of Nowhere

For weeks now we have been hyping up Micah's walking. He has taken about three steps at a time, and done it four or five times. He is constantly standing, but the last few says his walking has hit a standstill. Now, when he wants to walk he twists at the waist and his feet don't move. During this whole time, Mal has lagged far behind. She doesn't stand very much on her own, and she has never seemed eager to walk, much less do it on her own.

That all changed in the course of a few hours today. When I got home from work, Rachel said, "Mal has been standing up on her own a bunch today. I think she's going to walk soon." Judging by Micah's definition of soon, I figured she meant within the next few weeks, so I went to change out of my uniform. By the time I got back into the room, I had to grab the camera because this was happening. Way to go baby girl, now it's your turn Micah James.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What We Do When Mom's Away

This past weekend marked Rachel and my fifth wedding anniversary. Traditionally this is the wooden anniversary, so we marked it with tokens of our love that are made of wood. Rachel sent me on a scavenger hunt around the house, searching for clues and prizes having to do with wood. I found some baseball cards of one of my favorite players, Kerry Wood , some Woodbridge brand wine and an invitation to share some wood-oven-grilled pizza at one of our favorite local restaurants, Bistro Aix. In return, I gave Rachel a trip to the spa. OK, I know, that has nothing to do with wood. I actually gave Rachel a wooden picture frame and an appointment to get our family picture taken. However, Rachel had yet to redeem her Mother's Day gift, which was a trip to the spa. Therefore, by default, I can regift it and also include it in my anniversary gift to her, right?

When Rachel set out for the Ponte Vedra Day Spa and Inn early Saturday morning, she left me with a mild hangover from the wine, a stomach ache from eating too much at dinner the night before, and some cool baseball cards that Micah and Mal didn't think were very cool. The kids and I had about eight hours to kill until Mom got back home, so we sought out to find things to do together around the house. Here is an illustrated timeline of what we did together while we waited for Mom to come home:

We spent just over one hour eating. Micah, Mal and I spent one hour doing breakfast and lunch together. I also spent a few minutes wrestling with each child after Micah tried to eat a bug he found on the floor and Mal ate the real pine cone on the fake tree in the office.

I spent at least twenty solid minutes trying to shake Mal off my legs after she realized I was eating a piece of toast. I finally relented and gave her some of my toast, and then Tyson shunned me for the rest of the day for my preferential treatment of the kids.

Micah, Mal and I spent about 20 minutes playing cars in the hallway. During that 20 minutes, I said "Micah, Cars... Vroom Vroom" 37,000 times. Even I was groaning by the end.
We spent about two hours staring out the front window waiting for Mom to come home. The only reason you can't see me in this picture, nuzzled up waiting for Rach too, is because Tyson refused to take the picture. He was still mad at me because he didn't get toast.

Micah and Mal took some awesome naps too - probably because they knew if they woke up they'd have to be bored hanging out with me again. No picture is available of the naps, because I was also napping. All in all, the day was a great success. I got to spend some wonderful alone time with the twins, Rachel got pampered like she deserved to be, and Tyson eventually forgave me later in the day when I dropped some cereal on the floor. As for the sixth anniversary, I plan on trying to convincce Rachel that next year is the Aramis Ramirez anniversary, because I'd like some cool baseball cards of him too.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Good Old Fashioned Land Grab

I have vowed to defend our nation, and am proud to my core to do so. However, I have to concede that the USA I have grown to love and serve has done some rather nasty things over the years. Land grabs are one such thing. Some of the land that was occupied by Native Americans was pocketed by the American government and then doled out to the Caucasian settlers on a first come-first serve basis. The displacing of Native Americans was viewed as a good thing at the time, but has come to be reviled as part of our misguided colonial past.

As much as I acknowledge that we, Americans, were wrong in stealing land from the Native American tribes that inhabited it, I can not fight my ancestry. For that reason, as wrong as it may have been, Rachel and I partook in a good old fashioned land grab over the weekend. We began claiming territory around the house that belonged to other inhabitants and made it our own. We are not sorry.

For starters, Rachel cleared the kitchen counter space of most of the bottle making materials. Where once sat a faded, pink maternity ward bucket that served as our bottle deposit throughout the day, there is now just glorious, open space. The counter that was our formula depot, holding powder, scoops, rubber nipples and towels now holds a coffee maker. Our lust for land didn't stop there though. Rachel then cleared out closets, ridding ourselves of the outgrown, unloved clothes of yesteryear.

Even poor, innocent Tyson was not immune from our greedy grasps. Rachel decided to do something that should have been done ages ago: She cleaned out Tyson's overflowing, unsightly toy box. She originally had a huge pile of ripped, stained chew toys that were to be disposed of, but then she couldn't do it. It seems my habit of naming all of Tyson's toys came back to hurt us, as her conscience got the best of her. She simply could not evict Black the Cat, Chicago the Bear, Pizza the Octopus or Loompha the Loofah Dog. However, Spider the Turtle and several other unnamed toys got the boot.

Our territorial takeover was not for naught, though. We did clear out a good amount of space and beautified some others in the goal of making the house more appealing to potential buyers when it goes on the market next month. And, bonus, aside from Spider the Turtle, we didn't even have to usurp anyone's legitimate claim of land in the process. I guess not all land grabs have to be bad after all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eleven is Heaven

There's a lot of things that are great about eleven. It's... Well, it's... OK, so off the top of my head, there is not much to say about eleven. In fact, eleven is pretty nondescript. It's made up of two ones, which everyone knows is the loneliest number. Eleven is half of Seven-Eleven, which I used to hit up for Slurpees when I was a kid back in Chicago, but they don't have Seven-Elevens here in Jacksonville.

Eleven months, though, is way better than eleven the number. There are tons of mind-blowingly awesome things about eleven months. Micah and Malorie are both on the precipice of walking. Micah has actually taken one or two steps a few times. The first time he took a step, I was in Gainesville for MBA classes. Rachel sent me a text message informing me, and that was rotten, but when I got home the next day he did it again for me to see. Micah stands up on his own without holding on to anything all the time too. Malorie's a bit slower with the standing and walking on her own, but she loves to walk about the house holding my hand, which is just as fun for me.

Another great development happening at eleven months is the rapid learning. Micah and Malorie have started truly mimicking each other. For instance, if Mal hears a song and starts dancing, Micah joins in. If Micah snarls and makes a snorting noise, Malorie does it back. They have begun to elicit us to play games with them too. Micah will come up to me with a basketball when he wants to play. And both kids will go straight to the off limits area of the living room and start shaking their heads before Rachel can even tell them "No." Both kids have also become very proficient at sticking their tongues out. Unfortunately they have not yet learned not to do it at church during communion.

By far my favorite thing about eleven months is communicating with the twins. Micah has learned new signs like "bath" and Mal signs more and more each day. Malorie said her first word too. She loves chasing her brother, and as she does it, she now yells out, "Cah. Cah," until she catches Micah. Then, she either pats him or knocks him over, depending on why she was chasing him in the first place, but either way she keeps saying his name as she does it.

As cute as it is that Malorie's first word was her brother's name, Micah is simply not into cute. His first word was not Mal's name... we don't think. I put video of Micah and his first word below, because we simply can't figure it out. Our best interpretation is "Duka," which we are aware is not a real word. But he says it so convincingly and repeats it so much that we think he is trying to tell us something. We have tried everything reasonable: book, look, duck, do good, dog, and I even tried Ditka (Just in case he takes after his father, who once started a chant of "Ditka, Ditka" for Da Coach at a Monday Night Football game he was announcing). However, he has not responded to us like we've understood him correctly yet, so we just keep trying. He has been telling us "duka," for about a week and a half now.
So, as you can see, even if eleven the number is pretty lame, eleven the month is cool as all get out. Now, is there any way I can get a Slurpee around here? Hey, maybe that's what Micah's been trying to tell me...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth a JOO-lie

I consider myself a relatively educated man, but there are many things I am ignorant of. One of those things was the difference in the pronunciation of the date of our nations independence - that was of course, until I moved to the south seven years ago. That was the first time I heard The Fourth of July referred to as the "Fourth a JOO-lie." It turns out that here in the south, people are required to put the accent on the first syllable of the month's name and drop "of" from the saying. I reminded Rachel about seventy-eight times yesterday about the correct way to say the holiday here, which led her to tell me how silly I was an equal amount of times. However, a rule is a rule, and since we are in the south we must buy into their traditions. Good thing pretty much everything else about the holiday is the same.

For the kids first Fourth a JOO-lie, we wanted to give them a true slice of Americana since this was their last major holiday that they had not yet experienced. For that reason, the Fourth a JOO-lie was a night of firsts for the kids. They both got to taste every kids favorite meat, hot dogs, for the first time. We didn't expect much, but at the end of dinner we realized that Micah and Mal had plowed through an entire Oscar Meyer Wiener without a complaint. I even sang the Armour Hot Dog song my mom used to sing to me to the kids.

After dinner, we took the kids out to the front yard and let them explore. It was the first time we turned them loose to roam in the yard. We have Saint Augustine grass, which is the most prickly, nasty grass in the history of the world. The kids decided to do bear crawls through it and then crawl on the pavement rather than be in the grass. Like always, Mal was in hot pursuit of her brother most of the time, but she had a blast doing it around the yard. Micah and I even took a little stroll around the front of the house to admire the landscaping.

Finally, the last treat of the Fourth a JOO-lie was the best; the kids got to have ice cream for the first time. Although Micah didn't trust it at first, the pictures don't do it justice, they both could not get enough of it. Once we finished the treat, Mal licked the bowl. As soon as Micah realized she was getting some more ice cream by doing that, he took the bowl away from her, and then scooted it across the sidewalk, preventing anyone from licking any more ice cream from the bowl. Mal chased, but to no avail.

As for the other big Fourth a JOO-lie tradition, firecrackers will have to wait for next year. As with everything else here on Eastern time, they start late. We decided it would not be cool to keep the kids up for over three hours just to let them be scared of the explosions in the sky, so we put them to bed only an hour later than normal. However, that gives the kids something to look forward to next year. Maybe by then, since we'll be living back in a Northern state, I'll let Rachel pronounce the holiday as the Fourth of July.

Epilogue: For those of you worried that Mal didn't get to catch Micah and the ice cream dish, I just wanted to show what does happen when she actually gets her mitts on Micah. He has a good reason to run; Mal takes whatever he is playing with whenever she gets to him. It usually turns out like this, as when Mal commandeered the walker earlier in the day, when Rachel was trying to get a nice picture of the kids in their church clothes: no such luck.

Happy Fourth a JOO-lie y'all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bill Cosby Is No Longer Welcome In My Home

I blame you Bill Cosby. I think you caused Jello pudding to be so irresistible to kids. I believe your actions led to my kitchen being an unrecognizable mess. I know your endorsement of pudding surreptitiously pulled me to plant the product in my pantry. I bet you revel in my misery. Sitting secure in your pudding pop palace, muttering hilarious one-liners and wearing your knitted sweaters, you could care less that my kids first masterpiece is covered in ants while rotting in a dumpster. Well, for what it's worth, if I ever see Theo Huckstable on the street, I will probably punch him in the back of the head as a result of your actions.

OK, fine, it was not the Coz's idea to turn Rachel's recent playgroup into a pudding painting party, it was Rachel's idea. Everyone must forgive my anger, as I have to admit, the art party looks like it was a great time. I am mostly mad because I had to work and couldn't be a part of it. For her play date, Rach wanted something that the twins could put in their mouths, but that the older kids, Tessa and Ryan, could use to paint. Thus, Micah and Mal's first finger painting experience was born, aided of course, by the Bill Cosby endorsed product.
My little Pudding Picasso and Messy Monet honed their craft on the kitchen floor atop a huge washable tablecloth. A bit (wink, wink) of pudding ended up on the walls, and a little more on Micah's tummy, but all in all the works of art were immaculate. Malorie told me she made a painting of Tyson playing with his toy, and Micah said he painted me a picture of the Cubs winning a baseball game. Then he laughed, because we both know the Cubs can't win anything this year. The Louvre called and wanted to buy one of the paintings to hang in their museum, but by then the flies were all over them, so we just threw them away.

Anyway, Mr. Cosby I apologize for my remarks that began this post. I regret my anger, and recant my threat to punch your fictitious kid in the back of the head. In fact, if you want to send us more paint, I mean pudding, you are welcome to do so. Or, better yet, can you tell me where I can find some Jello Pudding Pops - the vanilla and chocolate swirl kind. Those are the best, and no stores around here carry them.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Viva La Revolucion

Revolution can be tricky. Figure skaters and soccer analysts often use the term, but invariably mean something to do with the completion of a three-hundred-and-sixty degree rotation. My mom used to reference the song by The Beatles. But on the lips of a dyed hair teenager or a goateed social outsider, revolution often means something a bit more sinister. Their revolution is meant to be an abrupt and often violent upheaval in the current acceptable standards. This type of revolution scares parents, including me. People cry "Revolution" for differing reasons of importance too. The Revolutionary War toppled the corrupt British government. The Industrial Revolution ushered in a new era of production. In my dreams, the forthcoming Noise Reduction Revolution will stop radio stations from playing terrible Nickleback songs every fifteen minutes. Micah and Mal have recently embraced their anti-establishment tendencies and cried "Revolution" as well. There has been great and dramatic upheaval in the home lately, and the innocent faced babies have been front and center for the changes while Rachel and I hold on for our lives.

Micah has learned to rebel against foods that don't fit his current whim. This can be tricky for us, since Micah changes his mind as to what he wants in mere seconds. One minute he loves toast. The next he will clinch his mouth shut, smack his hands over his lips, and clamp down, refusing to eat any more toast as he violently shakes his head and whines. As soon as the toast is lowered from his face, Micah will return to his normally jubilant self: laughing, dancing and smiling until another piece of toast is offered. Micah's antics aren't limited to crusty bread; he has alternately rebuked fruit, cheese, meats, cereal and drinks. Basically, we have no idea what he wants until he actually eats something, then we shove as much as possible towards him until he changes his mind. After being turned away, we begin our search again.

Typical of her dainty existence, Mal's a bit more passive in her revolt. Nevertheless, the times they are a changing for her as well. If she wakes up in the early morning, she now requires a snuggle to get back to sleep. Additionally, she and her brother have begun taking one serving of formula from a sippie-cup instead of a bottle every afternoon. Mal has done very well with the cups, drinking the entire thing two out of the three days we have offered cups in lieu of bottles. She is even staying up later (past seven p.m.) about four days a week.

The revolutionary ripples will continue throughout the next month, as the twins enter their eleventh month. Their daily bottles will gradually shift from warm formula to cold whole milk. Those bottles will disappear and be replaced exclusively with sippie cups. The first word is coming any day now, and both babies are beginning to let go of their holds on tables and legs, getting ready to walk at a moments notice. These changes may seem too fast and too drastic for us now, but as The Fab Four once melodically mused, "You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world." I no longer want to change the world, though. The only thing I hope to do as I witness this time in our lives is to hold on for my life, ride out Micah and Mal's revolution, and then hope that someone embraces the Anti-Nickleback movement soon, because I can't take it much longer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beach Bums and The Rain King

Me: "Hi, this is Billy, Micah and Malorie's father. I actually was calling because I had a question."

Pediatrician: "Go ahead."

Me: "How much sand is too much sand for a baby to eat?"

Pediatrician: "Well, it would be best if you didn't feed your child any sand."

Me: "Yeah, that is no longer an option. I think they each took down quite a bit of sand at the beach today..."

Pediatrician: "Quite a bit?"

Me: "Yeah, like, roughly equivalent to the size of a quarter-pounder hamburger. I mean, many handfuls of the stuff."

Pediatrician: "OK, well that is probably not good."

All right, fine, that is not a real conversation. But several times I have replayed in my head how this chat would turn out since we took the kids to the beach for the first time on Monday. Both kids had a good time at the beach, but I would say that Mal had a better time than Micah. That's because Micah spent quite a bit of time crying and trying to fish sand out of his mouth. He cried every time we tried to stop him from eating the sand, and then cried as soon as he got his hand to his mouth. Eventually the sand would dissipate and he would cheer up, but then he would shovel another handful of grit into his mouth. Malorie also ate her fair share of sand, but eventually we figured out that if we gave her the pacifier she would keep that in her mouth instead of eating sand. After that, she kept happy and busy playing in the sand, surf and sun.

The trip to the beach was prompted by my brother Tom's visit to Jacksonville, his first while I have been here. Unfortunately for Tommy, most of his trip reminded me of a late nineties song by the British band Travis called, "Why Does It Always Rain on Me?" Tommy attended a toddler birthday party with us, but it was pouring buckets outside so about thirty two-year-old and younger kids packed into a crowded living room. Tommy was thrilled and terrified simultaneously. We went to the pool once, but it rained on us. Then on Sunday, Tommy and I went to a local bar to watch a Cubs game. This was my Father's Day present from Rachel, and was a very thoughtful gift. Tommy and I were having a great time until a rain storm knocked out the television at the bar, and we had to come home without seeing the last two innings of the game. We went to the beach on Monday morning because it rained all afternoon. On his final day in Florida, I took Tommy to do a P-3 flight simulator at work. Unbelievably, in the simulation it was raining and windy, and I could not figure out how to modify the weather. Luckily for Tommy, though, the actual weather that night was fine, and The Rain King and I spent a nice evening at the NAS Jacksonville T-Bar, watching the sun set over the St. John's River and watching planes and helicopters land at the field.

Back at the beach, Micah and Mal spent that morning lathered up in the highest SPF lotion we could find while Tommy laid out and got some sun. Micah and Mal got to eat at the beach, and also definitely ate some of the beach too. We know this because they both pooped sand that night. I didn't feel too bad for Micah, because he fed me two handfuls of sand at the beach too. It didn't taste good. In all honesty, eating sand is not good for kids (probably not good for me either). The Internet tells me that they could get strep throat, staph infections or internal parasites from eating it, but so far Micah and Mal seem fine.

All in all, the kids made some great new friends, were vastly intrigued by the seagulls, and kept me and Rachel on our toes the whole time. The experience was trying but fun, and made me wonder why people don't just wear helmets with face masks covering their mouths while they are at the beach. I mean, it would stop the kids from eating their body weight in sand, prevent them from feeding sand to their parents, and would also keep Tommy's hair from getting messed up when it rains. It's a win-win if you ask me!