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.