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!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Twins Invade St. Louis

The twins are coming! The twins are coming!

It all started about three months ago. I called my mom and asked her what she thought of me flying home to St. Louis BY MYSELF for what Aunt Chris would call a "me weekend". Sorry Micah and Mal, but at that time I was in desperate need of a break. Judy had trouble answering the question. The mom in her was saying, "yes of course, I would love to see you", but the grandma in her was saying, "I want to see those babies!" After much indecisiveness on my part, my weekend away turned into 10 days in St. Louis with the twins... without daddy. What was I getting myself into?

When I called my mom to discuss preparation, everything was taken care of. Toys, pack and plays, high chairs, strollers, car seats, food, diapers, baby gates... she was ready!!! When her friends would ask her what was new, she responded with "The twins are coming, the twins are coming!"

Anyone who knows me, knows the teacher in me comes out quite often. Sometimes it's the teacher look I give to the kids doing something sneaky in church, and others its my innate ability to be overly prepared and organized. After all the thought and preparation that went into this trip, I was bound and determined to make the most of it. The teacher in me came out and I went as far as to make an itinerary. This itinerary was legitimately typed and mailed to members of my family by my mother (thanks mom). The twins and I were booked solid for 10 days.! Here's the quick run down...

Wednesday -Late arrival. Got the twins set up for bed in the second guest room. Mal began the night in an older borrowed pack and play that gave me nightmares. I had visions of her collapsing thorough the middle because it was missing a bar. So, she ended the night next two Billy and kicked me out of bed. Needless to say Grandma went to get a new pack and play the next day.

Thursday - "Day at the Finck's". Grandma Judy filled her family room to the brim with toys to entertain Micah and Mal. They LOVED all the new and exciting equipment and music. Little did we know all she needed to do was go though her costume jewelry (see next Wednesday).

Friday - "Day at the Nelson's". Micah and Mal got to reunite with Layna and we all got to meet little baby Claire-Z for the first time! Mal thoroughly enjoyed learning all about princesses from Layna and Micah just loved being able to romp around in a new house climbing through tunnels and up stairs. Micah and Mal also got to meet Jess for the first time!

Saturday - "Day with Grandma Klug". Micah and Mal were so grateful that Grandma Klug made the effort to come and spend time with them. We went to Riverchase Pool and absolutely had a blast! Mal grinned from ear to ear when her feet hit the water and Micah, true to form, giggled and splashed the entire time.

Sunday - Church and BBQ. It's gotten rather difficult to keep Micah and Malorie still during church. We made it about 10 minutes before checking out the Webster Gardens cry room, then moving to the nursery. I finally got enough courage to leave them in the nursery only to walk back to church and hear the closing hymn. Then, the BBQ that Aunt Chris "held in our honor" was amazing! She really knows how to throw a good party!

Monday - Day with Aunt Chris at the Pool. We all had such a good time at the pool, we decided to go back. But this time we spent most of our time in the outside area because Aunt Chis was with us and she is obsessed with getting good tan lines. Mal had a lot of fun crawling through the baby wading pool and Micah loved the lazy river.

Tuesday - Back to the Nelson's. Packing up the babies was getting old at this point but I kept at it for a chance to spend another day with Jenna and her girls. Layna taught us all how to pray at church, drive a car, line up princesses for a party, and do laundry. Jenna loved watching the craziness of my life. I truly believe we all entertained each other in different ways.

Wednesday - Lunch with Nana. Packing up yet again and off for a lunch at Parkside. I would image as an outsider this was quite comical... one blanket, two boppy pillows, two travel high chairs, two diapers bags, lunch for the babies and lunch for the adults... only to find Micah's bottle spilling all over all of it as we walked inside... ahhhhhhh!!! Once we were finally settled the twins had a BLAST playing with Grandpa in the hallway and playing with Nana and her bracelets. Nana has definitely been there done that. She knew exactly what would entertain those babies!

Thursday - Day with Aunt Carol. Finally a day to relax at home with one of the BEST Aunt's in the world. Aunt Caorl swooped in just in the nick of time. We were all a little burned out and needed the new energy from our beloved Aunt Carol. She played, bathed, and fed like a champ all with with a smile.

Friday - Home Sweet Home... I think? Uncle Tommy took the train in to help get us to home and then spend time in Jax. We had it all worked out, or so I thought... his train broke and was delayed an hour and a half only to get to the house and find out that our flight was delayed with just enough time to miss our connection. After re-booking so that we wouldn't have to spend the night in the Birmingham airport, Micah had a little accident (10 minutes before we were leaving) that actually brought an ambulance to the house. He is COMPLETELY fine now, I think we were just all a little scared and wanted to make sure flying home was ok for him. The flight was just as crazy as the first one with an extra long connection and very tried babies. We found a play area at the Nashville airport, and uncle Tom was a trooper. However, he wouldn't let go of his cell phone for anything.

Saturday - Home and in bed by 1:30am... WOW! What an adventure! I think when we walked though the garage door I could hear Tyson saying, "the twins are coming! the twins are coming!" I'm not sure if he was as excited as Grandma Judy or not, but we were home.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting Bored

Travelling without babies is easy. And boring. I should know, I've travelled quite often in my life. But only now, after having flown from St. Louis to Jacksonville earlier this week do I realize how easy most travellers have it. One day earlier than my most boring of travels, Rachel and I had the pleasure of taking the kids on a plane from Florida to St. Louis by route of Baltimore. And when I say pleasure, I mean adventure.

On the first leg of the flight, Micah and Mal were due for their naps. Malorie passed out and laid as still as a bag of rocks for the vast majority of the flight. Micah, on the other hand, fought like a heavyweight champion defending his title from the challenger - Mr. Dream. He struggled to play with the man seated next to me, even though that man clearly had no interest in interacting with a baby. Micah grabbed at the pages of his book, tried to climb into his lap, and kicked him upwards of 18 thousand times. The man remained annoyed despite Micah's most endearing of pleas. Then, when Micah's tiny frame could no longer muster the energy to fight, he relented to sleep. Unfortunately for me, the break lasted only twenty blissful minutes, followed by twenty excruciating minutes of Micah screaming his lungs out. Finally, Rachel and I figured out that we could hush him by giving him food, and so we allowed Micah to feed himself as the plane landed.

Our first flight complete, Rachel and I boarded the second leg from Baltimore to Saint Louis. This was the more challenging leg of the sojourn, as we had to feed the kids dinner and their night time bottle during the flight. Also, this flight was not during a nap time, so we pretty much knew they'd be awake for the entire flight. Fortunately for us, the flight was not full, and Rachel and I got to sit next to each other with an empty seat between us. This empty seat entertained the kids for the duration of the flight, as they chewed, climbed, rolled and played all over it. Also, the people seated in the row behind us were gracious enough to play with the kids when they peeked through the seats. They were parents, and so they knew peek-a-boo and to make silly faces at all the right times. At the end of the flight, an elderly man actually approached Rachel and me and told us that we had made the flight very enjoyable for him, as he got to watch us play and love our babies for several hours.

The next morning I had to head back to Jacksonville all by myself. Oddly enough, the entire time I sat peacefully and silently on the aircraft, I kept thinking about the kids. My mind diverted to what objects they would be playing with. For entertainment I spotted debris on the floor that the twins would likely try to eat if they were there with me. For the next week Rachel and the babies will enjoy family back in the Midwest. Meanwhile, I will be home making preparations to put the house on the market, taking care of my responsibilities for school and working. It is the longest I will have been away from the kids since their birth, and although I try to think of all the productive things I will get done, and all the attention I can heap on Tyson, and all the peace and quiet I will have this week, my mind keeps reminding me of how bored I will be.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Play Time

My favorite memories from playing as a child always involve being with someone else. I remember somersault races with my sisters, Katie and Judy. I played Frisbee with my dad and checkers with my mom a lot. Once I got a bit older, I was attached at the hip with Cliff, playing G.I. Joe and any sport we could figure out. That's why I was so excited when I found out Rach and I were having twins. She was nervous, but I knew that those two would forge some of the best memories of their childhood with their "instant best friend."

Micah and Malorie have definitely created a fun bond with one another lately. They are at an age now where they are acutely aware of what is going on around them and of each other, and so that makes for some fun interaction. Every once in a while Rachel or I will just leave the two of them together on the carpet to see what happens. Today we watched from the kitchen as they sat side by side, grabbed books and then proceeded to try to read to each other. One would make some sort of ridiculous noise and then turn a page, followed by the other one doing the same. They even smile like one another now, both scrunching their noses and grinning like they smell something rotten and like it.

They do spend some time playing by themselves or with mom and dad, though. My favorite game to play with Micah is basketball on his baby hoop. He crawls over to a ball, picks it up and then brings it over and places it in the hoop. Once he drops it we begin clapping, and then he rebounds the ball and does it again. Occasionally, when he tires of this, he will pass the ball to me and watch as I make a few slam dunks, still clapping all the while. With his mom Micah enjoys a game in which she stands up holding him against her chest, and then drops his head over backwards. He laughs uncontrollably until she pulls him back right side up, and then he tosses his head back to do it again.

As for Mal, she and I play a game I like to call "No." Malorie only knows how to shake her head in the horizontal direction, as if to say no. So, no matter what question you ask her, she will respond with "no." I play the game by asking her proceeding ludicrous questions for a nine-month-old baby to handle, and allow her to answer them the only way she knows how. It usually starts out with something like, "Mal, do you want another bite of cereal?" She will smile and shake her head no, even though I know she does want one. Then I will get a bit tougher. "Mal, if a boy asks you to go to Lookout Mountain and kiss him, what do you say?" Mal grins and shakes no. "What if a cool girl tries to get you to smoke a cigarette with her, will you do it?" Mal grins and shakes no. We proceed like this until I have exhausted all my peer pressure, dating, and college calculus questions and then I let her stop and eat in peace.

Mal and her mom have a great time together too. Rachel likes to break out all the stuffed animals and prop them up on top of a bucket. Mal watches intently until mom finishes, and then knocks all the animals off the bucket and laughs. Usually though, you can't separate Micah from Mal for long, and he busts in and joins in on the fun. I caught this video tonight as the two of them wrestled around next to mom and Tyson. It is exactly the kind of memories I want my kids to have when they get older and reminisce like me.