Monday, May 24, 2010

Nine Months is a Long Time Until It's Over

Nine months is a long time. Sometimes, I just have to think back to some of the things that have changed in that amount of time to realize how vastly different our lives are now. Our hectic days at the hospital are but a distant memory, replaced by wonderfully monotonous days at home. Midnight feedings have been replaced with wake up chatter between the kids at about 6:45 a.m. Ninja changes, breastfeeding and playmats have all come and gone. But I do look at the kids and wonder where the time has gone, as if the long nine months were never here at all.
These days Malorie is much more of a chatterbox than she used to be. She is her little brother's shadow, following that guy wherever he may crawl. Routinely, we have to go get Micah out of trouble, like when he gets into Tyson's water bowl. No sooner do we set Micah down in a safe place do we have to run back into the kitchen because Mal was just a step behind him. She laughs at her brother all the time, which eggs him on all the more. For instance, Micah will bop a toy against the ground and Mal will giggle; so Micah will do it three or four more times to keep making her laugh. Malorie also thinks Tyson is hilarious, and loves to touch his fur. Mal can pull up on anything in the house, and then is the most careful baby I have ever seen, slowly lowering herself down from the standing position so as not to hurt herself. Our sweet princess also has grown her first two teeth, which may not sound like much, but those suckers really hurt when she uses them on my fingers. She is also a far cry from that tiny baby we plucked from the NICU; she's now taller than her brother, measuring 29 and three quarters inches and weighing in at just over 20 pounds.

An equal number of traits have changed for Micah James as have for his sister. He also stands up incessantly, but is much less fearful of falling than is Mal. He loves to let go of whatever he is holding on to and crashing to the ground in a heap. Occasionally, he will let go and just stand there for up to ten seconds, looking around wondering why he has not fallen yet. Whereas Mal crawls very delicately and femininely, Micah crawls like a steamroller, barrelling into walls, over pillows and through anything in his way. Micah is also beginning to master his baby sign language, and knows how to sign his favorite word - milk. He uses it at least two or three times a day when he wants a bottle. Micah also has fully mastered clapping, is moderately proficient at waving to people, and has learned to play his baby basketball game with me (by the way, thanks Casey, that basketball set is number one!). Although we have anticipated Micah's first tooth coming any day now since about Christmas, he still does not have any. However, we let him "brush his teeth" when Mal does it too. I guess it's never too early for good dental hygiene, right? Micah can be a bit of a bully to his sister at times, like when steals her pacifier every morning. But then he makes up for it when he chatters with her in the car, making up sounds for her to try to mimic. Micah still outweighs his sister by a few pounds, now tipping the scales at 22 pounds ten ounces, and is 29 and a half inches long.

While I am on the subject of things changing, I may as well address how things have changed for Rachel and me. Last month I submitted my letter of resignation to the Navy, and received it back as accepted this month. So, I will be trading in my flight suit for a suit and tie starting in May of next year. This is a drastic change for our way of life, and one that we did not take lightly. However, after eight years of active duty service, I simply did not want to endure another extended tour abroad without seeing my beautiful wife and babies. We hope to sell our house here in Jacksonville this fall, and then move to the Saint Louis area in the early spring of 2011. As for Rachel, she has begun teaching again, in a way. She tutors for an academically challenged third grader named Miguel twice a week. She still prepares like an absolute perfectionist, and I couldn't be more proud that she is using what little spare time she has to make a difference in Miguel's life.

Looking ahead, I truly have no idea where we will be as a family nine months from now. I mean, if this job change goes poorly, I could be writing a blog post about how filthy it is living in a sewer. But most likely by then, I'll be talking about a new house, the twins saying new words, or Rachel's new winter wardrobe. But like I said, nine months is a long time, and I plan on savoring every moment of these next nine. I'm sure they'll be gone sooner than I think.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Disturbing Behavior

Rachel and I love our kids more than anything else in this world. They are the coolest, most fantastic mini-persons we have ever met, and we do plenty of bragging about those kiddos on this little blog of ours. However, if we are to make this a true account of our daily lives with the kids, then we must spend some time talking about the naughty things they do. Let's be honest; as cute as they are, Micah and Mal simply are not angels. In fact, they're just plain rotten sometimes.

If we are to give a true list of grievances, it has to include the recent clingy phase we have entered. Both kids annoyingly hang to our legs like a pair of pants that were dried without fabric softener. If only one of us is home, the twins team up on us, synchronizing their cries, spills and poops. Micah has begun to use anything he can get his hands on to stand up - in the past twenty-four hours he has pulled up using my ear, our TV stand, and everything else below four feet in our entire house. That leads into the next troubling development - the twins ability to stand up in bed to protest their assignment to nap time. Last week, Rachel had to go into their room to lay Micah down 18 times to finally get him to go to sleep, because every time she left the room he stood up in his crib and began yelling at the top of his lungs (OK, I admit, that makes me laugh). Malorie learned how to stand up in the crib today too. Yikes.

Our little darling girl is also one dirty fighter. She bites, pinches, and smacks anything that she gets near. I nearly lost a finger the other day, and Micah is always black and blue, but I still feel most sorry for poor Tyson, whose tail simply can not be hidden from Mal's grip. The twins also have developed separation anxiety and will not eat from anyone but Rachel or me without crying until they turn purple. They constantly fuss at church, usually during the quiet, reflective moments. And I'm pretty sure they already know exactly when they are getting into something they're not supposed to. They start crawling in hyper-gear and scoot straight over to the greasy hinge of the door, dog water bowl or scrapbooking supplies as soon as they hear their name.

You may think I feel guilty for exposing Micah and Malorie's flaws for everyone to read, but you should know I don't. Even though the twins have plenty of areas that bother us, we can't stand to be away from those two little buggers for any length of time at all. They learn new things that amaze us daily. I think Micah tried to use sign language to tell us he was ready for his milk today, and Mal cracks us up by trying to mimic every noise we make. The kids eventually warm up and play nice with our friends that come over, like Tara, who visited from Los Angeles this week. It's just that they're so full of love, and life and laughter that something bitter must come out sometimes, or else they'd melt in the sun like a candy bar. Come to think of it, I wouldn't want a kid that wasn't at least a little troublesome. In fact, there is not a single thing I would change about our two dirty little rascals. They are just as sweet and just as filthy, stinking mean as I would expect any kid that came from Rachel and me to be.


I stink at golf. Bad. Can't swing the club consistently; can't remember the unspoken rules; can't seem to drive a golf cart without flooring it to see how fast it can go down the fairway. For those reasons and several others, I haven't played golf in about two years. Despite all that, I do like golf. When I get a chance to get on a course, and set aside all my frustrations, I typically enjoy myself.

Last week, The Players' Championship, a PGA Tour event, was held in Jacksonville. A bunch of professional golfers who can probably tell I'm terrible at golf just by looking at me came to town to vie for the highest purse on the tour. The squadron where I work at volunteers at the driving range for the tournament, and so in spite of all my golf related disabilities, I volunteered. My charitable side was highly influenced by the two days off work I got for volunteering, and pushed over the edge by the great benefits of being a volunteer. Besides behind the ropes access at a PGA event, I got a free polo shirt and hat, free tickets to attend a day of the tournament as a spectator, a voucher to play the same course the pros were playing, and as many free golf balls as I could carry.

My duties involved washing, drying and sorting golf balls for the driving range. Manufacturers like Nike, Calloway and Titleist sponsor pro golfers, and so the golfers only hit their sponsor's brand of ball. In addition to the tedious but apparently vital responsibility of making sure the Nike balls didn't get into a Titleist bag, I got to clean the practice putting greens, drive the golfers and their caddies around the course, and drive "The Picker," a gigantic combine type tractor that plucked the golf balls off the driving range while the pros were hitting the balls directly at me. There is a windshield on The Picker, but it still rattles the cage a little bit to get nailed by a drive from a pro golfer.

The highlight of my week was driving Tiger Woods to the private practice area. I drove a golf cart with him, his caddy, and three other people I can only guess were cronies, lackeys or hangers-on. OK, they were probably his sports psychologist, swing coach and security guard, but I will hereto refer to them as Tiger's posse. I was privy to their personal conversation about Tiger's practice round he had just shot, and even got a thank you from Tiger when we arrived at our destination. Tiger is just as foul mouthed as people say he is, and he is even bigger in person than he looks on TV. I'm pretty sure he could have folded me up and stuffed me into the glove compartment of the golf cart if he wanted to. He does have a pretty good sense of humor about his recent travails, though, and I guess that is good for someone under as much scrutiny as he is. This picture was taken before I drove him and his posse around. That is Tiger standing just over my right should, warming up on the driving range. Rachel also got a pretty nice highlight of the week. As part of my volunteer duty, I was given tickets to an opening ceremony concert with country music star Tim McGraw. I'm not a huge fan of Tim, but Rach is, so she and her friend Sheryl were the beneficiaries of those tickets and saw Tim's concert from about the tenth row.

On the third day of the Tournament we took the kids to watch some hard core golf action. We saw some of the biggest names in golf: Phil, Tiger, Sergio and many others. Eventually, we were forced to break from the hoity-toity crowd for our parental duties when the kids got hungry and needed to eat. Rachel and I had to find a spot on the floor of the military hospitality tent to feed them. It was crazy, messy, and probably in poor taste at a place as nice as Sawgrass Country Club, but we did it nonetheless. No one kicked us out, and after we were finished we went back out to watch more golf. The week's golf activities served to motivate me to get out on the course more often, but to the best of my knowledge, watching golf does not make one better at golf. Therefore, despite the great week at TPC, I'm 100% certain that I still stink at golf.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moms of Twins Need 8 Arms (by Rachel)

Shocker... Growing up I watched a lot of Cardinal baseball at Busch Stadium with my dad. When I was pretty little, all I was interested in was the nachos, popcorn, and when Fred Bird would come our way. My dad tried really hard to get me to pay attention to the game and not the soda vendors and cotton candy guys. He always bought the scorecard and would keep track of all the stats, while encouraging me to do the same. Eventually I got better at paying attention and actually liked to take over on the on the scorecard (usually when he would go to the bathroom). I always liked when he would come back after a lot of cheering and ask, "What happened?" Usually I could explain, but I know he always relied on the INSTANT REPLAY so that he could see for himself what really happened...

Speaking of instant replays... Something happened the other day, and I've played it over and over and over again in my head. In fact, I'm blogging about it because I can''t get it out of my head and I'm hoping that writing it out will create one final instant replay.

I went to Chuck-E-Cheese last week with the kids. I knew Chuck-E-Cheese was not the best place for almost 9 month old babies, but I thought it might be fun for them to see all the crazy lights and all the busy toddlers running around. My friends have toddlers, so they were experienced Chuck-E-Cheese-ers. When we arrived, Micah and Mal were instantly mesmerized by all the glam. We sat and ate pizza and walked around watching the kids playing and going bananas. If there were a Chuck-E-Cheese scorecard, my dad would never be able to keep up. He would need instant replays of everything.
My friends are really good about helping me with the babies when we go out because they know the difficulty of having one baby and when they see me juggling two, I usually get lent some helping hands. So, towards the end of our adventure, thanks to Kandice, Mal and I were able to test the hot cherry red convertible. She looked sweet as pie sitting and playing with the steering wheel. Then, Kandice brought Micah over because we thought it would be SO cute if we could get a picture of the two of them in the car together. Seeing as how I only have two hands, I could almost predict that this was not a good idea. Side by side the kids sat playing and laughing. Then, as quick as an Ozzie Smith backflip, Micah leaned forward to grab at the speedometer. Of course, my only two hands instantly reached for Micah... leaving poor Mal... She lost her balance and crashed into the giant pretend metal key on the car. She smacked her head right above her eye as my only two hands instantly left Micah and went to Mal. Kandice grabbed Micah as Mal and I paced the area and checked out her injury. To me, it was BAD. She was bleeding. To me, it looked like it was gushing. It was swelling. To me, it looked like a massive lump. As directed by Kandice, I applied ice as much as Mal would allow and then drove home.

The entire drive home was one instant replay after another. Each replay was followed with the same thoughts... how did I allow this to happen? Why can't I have 8 hands? Mom's with twins DO NOT need to go to Chuck-E-Cheese without dads.
It turns out Mal was fine. I was not, but thankfully Mal was fine. She wanted to play and let her brother steal her toys as usual. She went down for her nap and slept like a baby. I checked on her breathing probably a million times.

That night when I had finally calmed down and the babies were in bed I realized this was the first of many accidents. So much is changing now and I know there will be more and probably a lot worse spills. But for now, the scorecard reads, Mal 1, Micah-0. Dad, don't ask, there will be no more instant replays. Go Cards!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rapid Fire Update

OK, so it's been ages since I've posted anything on the blog. I truly apologize for the absence, but as I'm sure you'll find, we are in the midst of a very busy time right now. So, I will write very brief entries over the best stories from the past few weeks to tide everyone over until a proper blog post can be constructed.

Does Not Compute
At the root of our blogging break has been the lack of a computer in the house for a few days. Rach and I have been slogging through with two six year old computers for a while now, and lately it became unbearable. The desktop was slower than a Tim Wakefield knuckleball and the laptop randomly shut itself off. Anyway, we took them to a computer repair shop, and it turns out that it would cost more to fix the laptop than to buy a new one, so they sent it back. The desktop is still in the shop, but due back tomorrow with significant changes and upgrades meant to make it quick as a Kerry Wood heater. Here's to hoping this old laptop can make it until the end of this post.

Over, Around or Through
In the past two weeks our kids have gone from scooting slowly across the carpet to tearing through the house at breakneck speeds on their hands and knees. So, to curtail the crawling in opposite directions, which happens just as often as you probably think it does, we installed three baby gates to enclose the living room. Micah is not a big fan of the gates, as you can see. However, these baby proof gates are apparently also Rachel proof, as she has tripped and tumbled over the gates a few times already. One time, as she was attempting to enter the living room from the kitchen, she caught her back foot on the gate and went down hard... while carrying Malorie. I tried to grab her to keep her up, but it was no use. Luckily, Rachel contorted her body to protect Mal when they hit the floor and nothing was hurt. Mal crawled away unscathed and Rachel was unharmed as well, except for a nasty welt on her ankle and a bruise on her ego.

What Goes Up
Micah and Mal, never satisfied to just have one point of progress at a time, have decided that crawling is not enough of a development for the week. So, in the span of three days, they have begun pulling themselves into the standing position on whatever they can get their hands on. Baby gates, sliding glass doors, parents, tables, dogs and an inflatable ball have all been used with varying margins of success. Micah is a pro at standing and then letting go, and he has gotten to the point where he does not cry unless he smacks into something during his fall. Sweet Malorie still cries after every tumble.

Are We Really That Old?
Tyson celebrated his sixth birthday this week, which cracked him into the forties in dog years. He has really taken to the children well, and seems content to be around them, especially when they've just eaten and have cheese bits on their shirts. The Wolfman did growl and snap at Micah once, when Micah snuck up on him and grabbed his tail unexpectedly, but all in all, we could not be happier with the interaction between the kids and the dog. I have a feeling that they will be attached at the hip for quite some time to come.

Good Morning
Every morning, Rachel wakes up at about 6:30 and turns on the baby monitor and listens for the kids to be ready to begin their day. Most mornings, the kids are awake in their room when she gets up, and are chattering back and forth quietly and contently. Rachel will allow them to do this for about a half hour, or until someone gets upset, so that their wake up time stays at about 7 a.m. Well, this morning, Rachel said that when she went into the room after listening to the kids exchange baby talk like "Ba" and "Nee Nee" for a few minutes, she found that Micah had pulled down his crib bumper and was looking at Malorie's crib. Mal, for her part, was up on her hands and knees, looking right back at her brother as they held the conversation.

The Hoedown
Recently, Micah has been mimicking our swaying when we sing. I never really noticed we did it until he started doing it back, but it turns out that every time Rachel or I sing to him, we rock back and forth. Well, Rachel caught him doing this the other morning to his Baby Einstein video. All I can say is, "E-I-E-I-oh my!"