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.