Priorities

Wait for it…

I’m going to try to paint a word picture that does justice to the outing the boys and I took to the nearby beach park the other day.

We arrived at Dash Point Park with little to no fanfare and I unloaded the boys from the van without incident.

Now, as you might or might not know (depending on if you read this blog, which I guess you do or you wouldn’t be seeing this), M likes to wear stuff on his head*, to the extent that he puts things on by himself and wears them around the house. *refer to figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

“The way I wear my hat? No, they can’t take that away from me.”

When we got to the beach, M decided that due to the bright sun, he’d probably better wear some head protection. Actually, I’m not sure if he thought that at all, but he still grabbed one of the beach pails I’d brought and plopped it down right on top of his head.

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“Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard you call…” Ladies and gentleman, Jimmy Bucket.

OK, sure, whatever. He’s worn buckets in the past, this was no different other than the fact that we were in public and that there was a little shovel on the handle of the pail. Hey, whatever floats his boat, I figured. He’s happy wearing a pail and spade on his head, I’m happy for him.

He wore the bucket through the parking lot, down the beach, and up to the water. He wore it as he picked up pebbles and handed them to me. He wore it while C ventured out into the water just a bit.

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He wore it when the first wave hit.

In this part of the Puget Sound, the waves aren’t usually much to speak of, at least not on a clear, sunny day with no wind. I’m guessing that the big-here-small-everywhere-else waves that began crashing into the shore were from the wake from a freighter or something. Wherever they came from, a series of waves started “crashing” into the shore, scaring the absolute living crap out of the boys.

By the time the second wave hit (none of them even reached far enough up the beach to touch us) I was running up the beach, a crying, panicky boy under each arm.

Once we were at the top of the beach and out of “harm’s way,” I played with the boys at the little playground there as they calmed down, then put them in swings facing the water and pushed them for quite a while so that they could see the water calm down and smooth out.

I took the boys out of the swings and did have to coax them a bit…

“No.”

They climbed over and played with some driftwood logs, and I finally got them down to the water again.

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They were calm for the most part, especially M, surprisingly. C stayed pretty tense and seemed actually mad at the water.

“Curse you, mighty Poseidon!”

“Umm…he said it, mighty Poseidon.”

It was a pretty mundane outing except for one thing: As I was trotting up the beach away from the water, the boys sobbing hysterically and holding on to me, I had to set M down to get a better grip on him. In so doing, I knocked the bucket off of his head, and it bounced about six inches away from us. Without missing a beat, M – who I hadn’t grabbed up again – stopped, turned around, took a few steps back towards the water, grabbed his bucket, slammed it down on his head, turned around and came back to me, arms out, still crying. I was obviously busy and the boys were upset and everything, so I didn’t get footage of M’s risk-life-and-limb devotion to his hat, but I’m including what I think is a pretty accurate recreation:

indy-hat-grab-o

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Grandma!

The boys’ grandma (my mom) managed to survive another year standing between a whiteboard and a kloib* of middle-schoolers (not to mention surviving Kansas, in general) to make it out here to Washington for a visit. It had been a year since she last made it out, so from the first visit till now the babies went from screaming poop beasts to screaming poop beasts that can walk. Luckily, besides pooping and screaming, they now also know how to laugh and hug and say “hi” and manipulate their environment and wave and stuff, so that’s nice.

Don't forget looking badass.

“We also know how to look badass.”

No, Skyping just isn’t the same as actually holding your grandkids or, conversely, being held by your grandma, so we were all glad she could get back out here. One of the problems with having family spread across the country is the difficulty in getting together more frequently, so we cherish the visits we receive and that we get to make.

The boys are in that awkward age (read: 0-3) where they’re too old to just kick it in the living room all day, but where it’s challenging to find things we can do with them that meet the following criteria:

  • stay in line with nap/bed times
  • don’t involve over-exertion for any parties involved
  • are affordable
  • don’t require attention spans or comprehension skills greater than those of a cicada

“Hey, that’s not very…um…ooh, a fence post!”

This can be tougher than it sounds. Luckily, for one day Grandma took us to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium as an early Father’s Day gift to me, and the boys actually had a pretty good time, considering they think every animal is a kitty.

“Meow.”

We also got some time in at a nearby “spray park,” something that was new to me when I heard of them but which are kind of a big thing around here. You know running through the sprinkler in the yard? That, but if it was at Dr. Seuss’ house.

Splooshtambulous!

Splooshtambulous!

M got blasted in the face by water the last time he was at this park, so he was a little hesitant to play in it this time, but C was all about it.

“Yeeeeeaaaaagh!”

“Peace!”

“I am AMPED, braugh! *pant pant* That was a choka macker; thought I was gonna wipe out there *pant pant*, but…oh, I gotta get back in there, those waves are choice!”

“Can we please go?”

She also managed to do on her second day here what we’d been putting off since the boys’ birthday: assemble their Radio Flyer scooter bike things.

bike

We tried them out in the driveway for the first time, and the boys did about as well as you’d expect (or maybe better) for one-year-olds on scooter bike things for the first time. Honestly, every time we get in the driveway or front yard, we spend a lot of time stopping one or both of them from running into the street, which seems to be most desirable place to be ever. They also got to wear their scooter bike thing helmets for the first time. As you may recall, M has that big old round hydrocephalus head of his and we needed to go with a helmet meant for kids twice as old, and it still fits a little awkwardly, but he seems to actually enjoy having the thing on. I think they get a little proud when they accessorize.

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“Hey girl…”

I had to work one day, so my mom and Kat went to a nearby Wiggleworks franchise. Wiggleworks gyms are basically hybrids of playgrounds and padded cells (or maybe Dr. Seuss’ home gym), and the boys absolutely love it there. The timing also worked out because the place sort of stresses me out, as the boys are little enough that you still have to chase them around, which is hard and awkward in this place.

"Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people." - me about Wiggleworks/God about Israel

“Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.” – me about Wiggleworks/God about Israel

"This Millennium Falcon is going to be epic."

“This Millennium Falcon is going to be epic.”

We all got out of town on Saturday and headed for Fort Worden State Park and Port Townsend on the peninsula in the upper-left corner of the state, a couple of hours away but worth the drive even with two toddlers. The park’s pretty interesting, a former military base that stood guard over the entrance to the Puget Sound, but which now offers great views of the Sound and mountains, has a museum, marine science center, trails, campsites, woods, “ruins” of gigantic cannon turrets and other concrete and steel kill-structures, and buildings that have been converted into everything from rentable cabins to rec centers to votech classrooms. Port Townsend, the cute little Victorian town nearby, was also having their big farmer’s market that day and the sun was shining throughout our trip.

The boys didn’t care about any of it except for the gun batteries, and only because we let them run free (more or less), so that pretty much made their day.

At a gun battery in Fort Worden State Park.

At a gun battery in Fort Worden State Park.

"I can totally make this. I just need to wait until they're not paying attention."

“I can totally make that distance. I just need to wait until they’re not paying attention.”

"In my new life I think I'll be a haberdasher."

“In my new life I think I’ll be a haberdasher.”

"Tra-lee, tra-la, I love strolling through the grass on a sunny day."

“Tra-lee, tra-la, I love strolling through the grass on a sunny day.”

"Short grass!  Short grass! I like strolling through short grass!"

“Short grass! Short grass! I like strolling through short grass!”

Between distance, scheduling, practicality, and finances, we don’t get to see family as often as we’d like, so it was really special having my mom here for a week, and even if the boys don’t remember, I’ll get to enjoy the memories of watching them squeal and laugh with their grandma.

*Science FACT: A group of middle-schoolers is called a “kloib”.

Things Are Awesome

Been a while since I got any sort of update for the family and friends and anyone else who’s paying attention. I’ll try to keep it brief yet concise and stick to a reasonable amount of pictures.

So, yeah, the boys turned 1 on the 12th of April. One. Wow. It seems like only yesterday that we were exhausted, panicky messes questioning our ability to raise two healthy, well-adjusted boys. Wait…actually, that was yesterday, but it was also a little over a year ago.

We made it, though, 365 days of ups and downs, like ships in a stormy sea of parenthood. We’ve come a long way – all of us – from those early days, when we had no clue what we were doing and sleep was a novelty. We now consider ourselves among the parenting elite, celebrating each milestone the boys reach and waving them in people’s faces like a “Good Job!” sticker on a second grade book report.

Since last we left our heroes, they’ve started waving (sometimes grunting out possible salutations), pointing at things (that’s the finger referenced in the title), getting around almost exclusively by walking, getting down steps, running toward the street the second our backs are turned, refusing to eat, showing defiance, screaming and weeping over their mother when she’s in the room as though she’s going off to war, doing things they know are bad just to get a reaction, and often producing gross giant man turds instead of gross baby slop-shit.It’s la vida dolce, at least compared to a year ago.

Anywho, I think the most judicious way to describe the goings-on here is with pictures and the boys’ own words:

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Swings are awesome.   2015-02-14 16.20.09

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Pickles are awesome.

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Chairs are awesome.

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Piggyback rides are awesome.

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Tupperware is awesome.

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Riding toys are awesome.

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Mommy’s sippy cup is awesome.

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Mommy’s awesome.

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Water tables are awesome.

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Hiking is awesome.

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Killing it at peek-a-boo is awesome.

Killing it at peek-a-boo is awesome.

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Lawn chairs are awesome.

Rocking horses are awesome.

Rocking horses are awesome.

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Tulip festivals are awesome.

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Mega Bloks are awesome.

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Sharing is awesome.

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Snack cups are awesome.

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Cupcakes are awesome.

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Not really, no, they’re not.

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Blowy balloon cage things at Wiggleworks are awesome.

So are these things.

So are these things.

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Never mind, chairs suck.

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I’m going to sit on foot stools instead. Foot stools are awesome.

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Getting to wear dad’s hat is awesome.

Wrasslin' is awesome.

Wrasslin’ is awesome.

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Mega Blok storage bags are awesome.

Family is awesome!

Family is awesome!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changing…

…turn, and face the graffiti-covered stall door.

A problem faced by parents of multiple children (born at once or not) is juggling multiple babies when one needs to be changed in a public place. Before the boys were born, if you had asked me what I expected regarding changing them in public, I would have admitted that it sounded like a challenge, of course, but that if I could do it at home, or in a van in a rainy parking lot, or anywhere else, I could certainly manage a Safeway restroom.

gross

It’s a grocery store. They sell food there.

It's a grocery store. They sell food there. Also sold: trash bags, paper towels, and cleaning products.

 Also sold: trash bags, paper towels, and cleaning products.

I had absolutely no idea of just how challenging this can be. Any women reading this and nodding and chuckling about how true this is, slow down; I can only address this from a man’s perspective, but I promise there are different – not necessarily worse, but different – challenges. This was, again, something I wouldn’t have thought of before actually having to do it. Changing tables are changing tables, restrooms are restrooms, and changing multiples just means being able to hold on to one child with one arm and changing the other child with the other arm. Piece of cake, right?

Anyway, I wish I’d sought out or gotten more information about the hazards of changing multiples in public venues, especially by dads. That said, over the last year, this is what I’ve learned:

1. Shopping carts can’t go in.

Assuming a public restroom can physically accommodate a shopping cart, you’d be a jerk to bring one in, and if it’s full of unpaid merchandise, stores frown upon you doing so anyway. This might not sound like such a problem, but if you have both children in a shopping cart, even if only one needs changing, you are faced with the task of bringing both into the restroom by hand. Some restrooms in baby-heavy places like Babies-R-Us have special seats you can buckle the third wheel into while you take care of business, but your run-of-the-mill can will only have a changing table and an air of dread. Now, maybe your kid is to the point of standing or even walking on his own, so you might be thinking that a toddler leash is the way to go. They’re great, but…

2. …men’s rooms are obstacle courses of grossness and awkwardness.

If you aren’t familiar with the layout of a gentlemen’s  w.c., they range from very small, with nothing but a toilet, to a bit bigger with a urinal added, to large, with multiple stalls and urinals. Leash or not, your kid’s going to be able to reach something you’d rather not have her touch, which means keeping her out of toilets and urinals, from crawling under stalls, from grabbing onto the leg of some poor sap who’s trying to relieve himself, and from just getting on the floor in general. You have no idea how gross a men’s room floor can be; I’ve been doing unspeakable things to them for weeks just to drive this point home. Having all those urinals and toilets so close to the changing table is almost unavoidable because…

3. …a lot of men’s rooms had those tables installed after they were designed.

OK, this is true of a lot of women’s restrooms as well; changing tables didn’t enter on the scene until the mid-80s, so restrooms built before this (and many after) don’t make any space accommodations. This is why you find a number of them in the large handicapable stalls; there’s simply no room anywhere else. In a men’s room, odds are that you’re on the wall opposite or right next to the urinals, and given the tight spaces, you might practically be rubbing back-to-back with guys trying to do their business. Women’s rooms might be pretty tight too, but you aren’t dealing with dudes with their members in hand urinating into what your kids see as shiny white water tables. Such limited space means you could really use a hand, but…

4. …men aren’t as prone to help.

Yes, in spite of a new enlightened age of stay at home dads, mannies, and other male caregivers, a lot of guys are less patient about things like infants shrieking in their private spaces and men taking up room with toddlers and related accessories. It’s really as if Full House taught us nothing. Now, in full disclosure, I have had a guy offer to hold one baby while I changed the other. He was a twin himself, and had twins himself, so there was some camaraderie, but still; most guys are hesitant about helping. Some still look on it as “women’s work,” some might just assume that you’ve got handled or that they’re bruising your ego if they offer to help, and some are worried about coming off as a child molester. Of course, doing it by yourself is even harder when…

5. …there isn’t a changing table at all.

Now, to be clear, I have encountered exactly one men’s room that didn’t have a changing table, and after a cranky Tweet to the proprietor, they had one installed. That said, I understand from some of my fellow dads (and Ashton Kutcher, I guess) that many men’s rooms still don’t have tables, apparently assuming that the women will be changing babies while the men smoke cigars and discuss big game hunting or whatever. Again, I can’t speak much to that – maybe the Seattle area is ahead of the curve on this – but I can’t imaging having to muscle my way with multiple babies in to a restroom, only to find lavatories and stink.

I don’t pitch petitions much, but please take a minute to sign this one asking restaurants to install changing tables, if for no other reason than to avoid parents changing their kids on the table next to yours while you eat. Don’t make us resort to that.

A Brief* Update With Photos**

*really long   **all the photos ever

It’s been a while, so I’m going to spare you the “update” and just cram a big fat sack of adorable down your throats.

Seen the boys lately? Nine-months old

Seen the boys lately? Nine-months old, almost 10 as of this writing.

C

C.

M being somber...

M. Wait for it…

There's the smile!

…there it is!

When we last left our heroes, we were wrapping up the holidays:

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The fam came by to visit me at work one day. The sign was coincidental, advantageous, and awesome.

As families go, we're the best one ever.

As families go, we’re the best one ever, so just stop deluding yourselves.

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Between mobile babies, company, and all the hullabaloo during Christmas, Jack had to get resourceful when it came to naps. He’s normally a sleep-in-designated-sleeping-areas cat.

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IMG_3807Between mobile babies, company, and all the hullabaloo during Christmas, Jack had to get resourceful when it came to naps. He's normally a sleep-in-designated-sleeping-areas cat.

ICYMI, the boys are advancing every day. Part of the reason for the delay and format of this post is because it’s hard to keep up:

We keep moving further from purees as we introduce more and more people food:

"You know how you hate that 'more of it on you than in you" joke, dad? Think it."

“You know how you hate that ‘more of it on you than in you’ joke, dad? It’s stuck in your mind like an earworm, isn’t it?”

"You've been feeding me the freshest milk ever when aged milk is so awesome???"

He likes cheese. He can stay.

Not everything's a hit.

Not everything’s a hit.

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"What about comfort food?"

“What about our comfort foods?”

Of course familiar items remain on the menu, like hoodie drawstrings...

Not to worry! Favorite and familiar items remain on the menu, like hoodie drawstrings…

...spoons...

…spoons…

...each other...

…each other…

...play mats...

…play mats…

...and can Koozies.

…and can Koozies.

Sometimes, distracting babies by pretending the spoon is a plane or car, or by dazzling them with a display of grade A daddery is necessary to get them to eat.

Sometimes a little sleight of hand is required to get them to eat. Pretending the spoon is an airplane or choo-choo, or holding a spoon in your mouth, for example.

Take a good look, pediatric psychologists; this is what killing it as a parent looks like.

Take a good look; this is some grade-A daddery.

Sometimes we bust out the heavy guns: U.S.S. Enterprise spoon. Do the nacelles light up? Uh, yeah. You don't want to look like a loser with non-lighty spoon nacelles.

Sometimes we bust out the heavy guns: U.S.S. Enterprise spoon. Do the nacelles light up? Uh, yeah. You don’t want to look like a loser with non-lighty Enterprise-spoon nacelles.

Both boys have been standing with support for a while now, and C is starting to let go and stand for a few seconds.

They've been pulling ourselves to standing for a while now, but it bears mentioning again.

They’ve been pulling ourselves to standing for a while now, but it bears mentioning again.

See "cat sleeping in duffle bag," above.

See “cat sleeping in duffle bag,” above.

As hard as we’ve tried to keep the boys contained to one room at a time, the layout of our house makes it difficult. Many of their escape attempts are at least somewhat successful.

It started with shaking the gates, smacking them, checking for weaknesses...

It started with C shaking the gates, smacking them, checking for weaknesses…

...and before we knew it, he had found gaps and sprung himself.

…and before we knew it, he found weak points and started to spring himself with some frequency.

When stronger barricades were installed, they were simply toppled.

When stronger barricades were installed, they were simply toppled.

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Adorably toppled.

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Sometimes a little teamwork is needed…

Fun babies having fun:

Of course, sometimes they're more about the production side of food.

M likes to help in the kitchen…

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She’s laughing here, but she stops when she realizes they lifted her rings and credit cards.

We discovered laundry baskets not too long ago.

They discovered laundry baskets recently.

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If making paper pirate hats and playing on the floor with infants is wrong, I don't want to be right.

If making paper pirate hats and playing on the floor with infants is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The fun of cardboard boxes was discovered around the same time...

Fun with cardboard boxes was discovered around the same time as the laundry baskets.

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I thought C was narcissistic, but turns out reflection-smooching is a thing.

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Our anniversary was pretty low-key this year. The boys picked B.J.'s, and I think we all had a pretty good time.

Our anniversary was pretty low-key this year. The boys picked B.J.’s, and I think we all had a pretty good time.

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I spent way too much time writing and deleting dialogue between these two in this pic. Let’s just say there was some disagreement about pizza toppings. Oh, and the appropriate hoppiness of IPAs.

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She: “Cheers, yes, thanks, OK, let’s go.” They: “You mentioned a frozen cheesecake pla-oh MOM, c’mon!”

Sometimes a bamboo wok spatula is just a bamboo wok spatula.

Sometimes a bamboo wok spatula is just a bamboo wok spatula.

Wrestling over this walker toy thing. I wish that more photos had come out...

Wrestling over this walker toy thing. I wish that more photos had come out…

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Reading/singing from/with "Frog Trouble", a sing-along book of original kids' songs by real artists.

Reading/singing from/with “Frog Trouble”, a sing-along book of original kids’ songs by real artists.

I think it speaks for itself.

Hard to believe…

Outings:

We’ve begun taking the boys to play areas that seem to be in every shopping mall these days, as well as to parks and other places where they can get exercise and play. C is very much about crawling all over, climbing, and taking other people’s stuff. M is more about finding one spot to play and chilling, which means he is often under my arm as I chase down his brother.

Upon first realizing that he is free...

Upon first realizing that he is free…

"Ima go crazy."

“Oh yeah…”

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He climbed higher (note the grown man's hip) but by then I was in a crouched baby-catching position.

He climbed higher (note the grown man’s hip) but by then I was in a crouched baby-catching position.

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They chased away another little kid so that they could play with this spinny wall thing that they didn't even know how to work. Jerks.

They chased away another little kid so that they could play with this spinny wall thing that they didn’t even know how to work. Jerks.

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Anne Geddes has really lost her touch...

Anne Geddes has really lost her touch…

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Again with the fake ferries...

Again with the fake ferries…

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mandatory "whale of a good time" joke

[mandatory “whale of a good time” joke]

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"Do I follow you around ant take pictures when you're at your job?"

“Do I follow you around ant take pictures when you’re at your job?”

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We had nice enough weather recently to take them to a nearby park for some sun and fresh air.

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Unfortunately we were there on Opposite Day, so don’t read too much into the smiles.

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Even the kitchen has been baby-proofed and opened for exercise and exploration:

The kitchen was also recently opened up for exploration, with their very own cabinet of unbreakables to not break.

They even got their own cabinets and drawers of unbreakables.

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Baby Proofing 101: Don't leave floor-level major appliances open.

Baby Proofing 101: Don’t leave floor-level major appliances open.

Coincidental: The first witnessed standing of C without pulling himself up on furniture or something.

Coincidental: The first witnessed standing of C without pulling himself up on furniture or something.

Speaking of furniture, C also started climbing on that...

Speaking of furniture, C also started climbing on that…

...and even getting himself down without falling (sometimes).

…and even getting himself down without falling (sometimes).

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Just cute babies being cute:

Some of these are repeats, but I’m not sorry.

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They’re right to look concerned; this two-seat shopping cart didn’t seem all that safe. Convenient, though!

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A moment for M:

If you look back at a lot of the posts on this blog, I talk about and/or you can see in pictures M’s bent neck and big round head, both as a result of torticollis. He’s come a long way since birth, and even though they both have, I’m very happy because he had an extra hurdle to jump. Although each boy has developed different abilities at different rates, M has mostly caught up to C on physicality and was even climbing stairs first. He’s also starting to hand things over when asked, deliberately stack and unstack (not knock over), is a proficient clapper, and I’m pretty sure I saw him flipping off someone at Target the other day.

"If my dust gets in your mouth, don't worry, it's edible."

“If my dust gets in your mouth, don’t worry, it’s edible.”

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"I'm happy. I know it. Well, I know what to do next!"

“I’m happy. I know it. Well, I know what to do next!”

Maybe you can't tell here, but this kid dropped or tried to drop each of the little wooden milk bottles back into this vintage truck when I would hand them to him. He's done the same thing with other toys. No word on when we'll stop having to pick up after him.

Maybe you can’t tell here, but this kid dropped or tried to drop each of the little wooden milk bottles back into this vintage truck when I would hand them to him. He’s done the same thing with other toys. No word on when we’ll stop having to pick up after him.

IMG_7930

“My work here is done.”

Noobs

Check out this great read from Twiniversity that pretty much perfectly sums up the early days of life with newborn twins. It still doesn’t do the stress or difficulty justice, but nothing can until you’re there.

I feel like I’m in a strange sort of limbo right now; newborn twins in the house damn near killed me (spoiler: they didn’t), but even though I remember the stress, the pain, the fights, the sleeplessness, the wondering how I could ever be a father, let alone a father of twins…I kind of miss it. I feel sad that these two wonderful little people were here and we didn’t get to fully enjoy them.

If I Knew Then…

Surprisingly, after all we went through with IVF, I was not the stereotypical “Hollywood” dad in the delivery room. I was emotional and everything, but – like I detail here – I didn’t feel like I had that instant papa-bear epiphany of new-fatherhood. I didn’t instantly become Ward Cleaver* blended with RoboCop…

Dispensing sage advice...and street justice!

Dispensing sage advice…and street justice!

…immediately fusing wisdom with a fiercely protective nature.

And cranking out little RoboBeavers.

And cranking out little RoboBeavers.

Between the stress, exhaustion, and other variables, it took me some time to bond with the twins. That may sound heartless, and in a way it sometimes feels that way to me. I feel a lot of guilt over not receiving the babies, cutting the cords, sobbing, handing out cigars, and arriving home to a begin a series of wacky, new-father shenanigans.

One of the great things I’ve found since becoming a dad is the existence online of an educational, helpful, and supportive community of fathers (and mothers) of every stripe. Linking in with other parents around the world – reading their stories and sharing mine – has been indescribably helpful to me.

One of the sites I discovered was dads.co, a relatively new site that saw fit to publish my thoughts/concerns/stress/relief during my early days of fatherhood; I’m looking forward to some follow-up content between us.

Spoiler alert: Being with and doing things for my boys is all I want now.

And a crossbow. I also want a crossbow.

*I was originally going to use Heathcliff Huxtable. I hate this new world.

Job Sitch

In order to accommodate the two little bundles of inconvenience we brought into our home nearly four months ago, we are changing our respective work schedules. Kat will be working in town two days a week and will be off on alternating Wednesdays. I will be off the other Wednesdays and will also be taking Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays off. This way we’ll maximize our time with the boys as much as possible, “save” money on a nanny, and – in my case – gain a little more time to hunt for local jobs and work on writing and my transcription job.

Nothing much will change for Kat, but for me limiting my availability is a pretty big move. I’ll be stepping down from my current leadership role at some point and will be turning in paperwork stating that I am waiving my rights to seniority and that I understand that I am not guaranteed any number of hours and that they can force me to go back to the hours I agreed to when I was hired (full time, any shifts). I’ll probably also be looking at a pay decrease, which is swell.

That said, I have no idea how this will play out in the long run. There is a delicate pas de deux  between my employer and I: do I need them more, or do they need me more?

This question isn’t out of aggression towards them or arrogance towards me; I just know that I do a lot at my job and am a valuable team member, and I’ve been told that my pay (etc.) would be stretched out as long as possible until H.R. figured it out. The last time a situation regarding me and loss of benefits (due to budget reasons) occurred, it got stretched out more than a year before H.R. caught on, so we’ll see. That said, they know I can’t up and quit (utter employment disasters not withstanding), so I’m at their mercy as well.

One way or another, I’ll be taking a pay cut by working fewer days. Granted, we’ll save some money on daycare, and maybe it’ll balance out considering our commutes and my taxes. Either way, it means an end to reckless spending, which is good, but reckless spending has now changed to mean things like “wine” and “brand name anything”.

The belt-tightening has been more or less successful so far, but has room to improve. I’d say our hardest issue is food; it takes time to shop for ingredients and cook them into healthful meals at home, and time is something we don’t have a lot of these days. Again, me being home more often should help, but if the boys decide they want to be up all day and night playing or crying or otherwise deliberately sabotaging my efforts to be productive – which they totally do on purpose – we might find ourselves ordering pizza yet again.

The money stuff is pretty much panicking me, and I suppose Kat to a degree. I just see us in a few months loading our crap into a storage locker and moving into an apartment, only to realize that the two things combined cost more than rent at our current house, and finally needing to move in with relatives and oh my god how can this ever work??? I guess we’ll make it work…

Although the income might be minimal, especially at first, I will also be bringing in a few bucks with a new transcription job. Rev.com, the company I’ll be working for, hired me a while back but only recently squeezed me in to start taking jobs.

After checking out some of the transcription jobs (they’re emailed to me multiple times throughout the day), it seems like an interesting and fun way to earn a few dollars. As a rookie, I’ll earn a little less, but upon listening to some of the audio files available to transcribe, I think I’ll be good at this job and that it will keep me interested. You are allowed to preview each job, and I was listening to pieces that were interviews with Korean War vets. Very interesting, very clear (read: easy to transcribe) and at the rookie prices, I could make roughly $27.00/hour on average depending on my typing speed. All pieces won’t be as interesting, and I won’t be able to crank out as many as my “counting unhatched chickens” mind is imagining, but still; a paycheck is a paycheck. I have the added benefit of working a job I’ll enjoy, that offers hours based on my desires, that is centered around the English language, and – most importantly – isn’t in the retail/food industry. It’s a foot in the door of a bigger world, one where I can report to work and not expect to try to up-sell a customer by offering gravy.

We have no idea where we’ll land with regards to jobs and pay. What we do know is that we are making the best moves we can for our sons at this point in time. We are also fortunate enough to know that if it all really hits the fan (heaven forbid), we have friends and family that will make sure the four of us have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

That’s more than some people have, and we’re thankful for it. This is sort of one of those situations that will work itself out; we’ll just need to have faith that it will work itself out for the best.

Because we’re awesome, we’ve paid our dues, and we deserve it.

 

A Quarter of a Year: Gone!

The 12th of July marked the three-month birthday of C & M, and what an insane three months they’ve been. From induction to c-section to homecoming to lactation consultants to families to jobs to pediatricians to nannies…it’s a lot of “real life” to cram into 13 weeks. Looking back, it’s a combination of feeling like things only happened a few days ago to feeling like we’ve been doing this forever.

One of our biggest milestones was reached last week; Kat went back to work, meaning that both of us are working full time and that the boys spent their first time since birth with someone other than family. Although we really like the nanny we hired, it was hard for both of us to leave the boys at home in someone else’s care. We survived the first week without too much heartache, but I think we’ll both be relieved when I work fewer hours and Kat begins working fewer, longer days and are both able to be with the twins more.

Our nanny will probably be leaving at the end of this month, as our new schedules won’t provide her with the hours she needs, so the hunt is on again for a very part-time sitter. I don’t mind saying I am entirely happy to let Kat man the helm on this task.

This first week of dual income earning also marked the first significant amount of time I spent as the solo caretaker of the boys, as I’m in charge from the time Kat leaves around 6:00 a.m. until the nanny gets in around 12:00 p.m. This typically involves me getting up to feed them around 8:30, changing and playing with them until 9:30 or so, and putting them back to bed for a nap while I attempt to shower, dress, eat, and do anything else I need to do before work. This part has only been partially successful; C, in particular, likes to get up earlier than he “should”, which sees me trying to get him back to sleep or entertain him until the nanny arrives. Still, we all survived, and I admit I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’m looking forward to the upcoming weeks and months and years of care-giving.

Both boys continue to enjoy good health, and although we still haven’t made it off of the wait list to get an appointment with a physical therapist for M’s torticollis, his neck control and strength have been improving day by day. That said, he is still the first to smile, will probably be the first to laugh, and is working on mastering reaching for and grabbing onto specific objects. Today’s item of focus was daddy’s beard.

C is far ahead in the mobility department, lifting his head high and rolling over during tummy time and making the motions (if unsuccessfully) of crawling. He seems to be a bit ahead of the curve as far as three-month-old babies go, and we’ve been told that his knuckle-gnawing and sudden persistent drooling might even be signs of teething. It would be a bit early, but our kids are the beneficiaries of some awesome genes, so why not?

In case you missed it, Washington State is in the midst of its annual early summer heat wave, where temperatures usually reach the mid-nineties at most. In some parts of the country this isn’t that bad, but since we only get about a week of these temps, very few people have air conditioners, meaning our houses – designed to catch as much light as possible the rest of the year – can become sweltering boxes of misery. Our second floor hit the upper eighties the other day, and temperatures are expected to go higher. With twin babies needing their comfort level to stay somewhat steady, I spent time setting up an intricate network of fans to optimize airflow into and out of various areas as deemed appropriate. I even went so far as to tape aluminum foil over the “skylight” windows in certain rooms that let the sunlight come streaming in. I’m also in the final stages of a DIY “air conditioner”, the idea of which has become all the rage around here.

Our dilemmas on how to incorporate our desires (both personal and familial) and needs (both personal and familial) into our daily routine continue. New jobs for either or both of us would be a tremendous help, but who has time to apply? It helps my emotional well-being if I can get some writing/blogging in, but during the day when I have to choose between writing and errands/chores/baby care/meals/work/commuting/etc., the writing takes a back seat. Personally, I’d love to start working on getting healthier, but I don’t have time to work out and we both find that we run out of time to cook and prepare healthy foods, so we wind up with takeout or food from boxes or cans.

A quarter of the way through the boys’ first year. Wow.

Three months old!

Three months old!

Updates, Week 10-11.5

In some ways, I’m shocked by how little our babies have changed in 2+ months. They’re still small, they still communicate by crying, they still can’t read and astrophysics is just outside of their comprehension.

That said, I’m amazed at how much they’ve changed since birth. C has filled out, no longer looks perpetually pissed off, has grown a good swath of hair, and can hold his head up (for a bit) and roll over (once, as of today).

M (who, BTW, retained his glorious patch of spiked-up birth hair) is holding his head up for longer than ever (as of today), is cooing and beeping, reaches out for us (though he doesn’t seem to know what to do when he grabs us), and has a vice-like grip. C managed a roll-over at just past 10 weeks, can hold his head up for longer and longer increments, and is making a mockery of the ages listed inside his clothes.

Both boys are following us with their eyes and heads, kicking their legs, and – best of all – smiling. C is the quickest to smile, especially when mommy is singing him the Alphabet Song. M is a bit more reserved, saving smiles for when you least suspect it, but unleashing them with a genuine glee that blows me away each time. (I’ve also discovered that tousling his hair usually elicits a smile.) Either way, damned if those smiles aren’t cuter than a hamster climbing into a fleece mitten while wearing a little bunny costume and nibbling on a candy heart that says “Hmstr Luv”.

Where was I…?

Oh, right, updates. Aside from those above, we’ve had a few things going on since my last post. (Author’s note: I’ve been trying to get this post written for about two weeks now, but, you know, busy with babies.)

I’m almost definitely going to go part-time at my job. I’m still looking for another local and/or WAH job, but until then, I am stuck where I’m at. After crunching some numbers though, and considering the cost of child care and commuting, it looks like we can (barely) cover expenses with me working PT. I’m looking at working three days every other week and four days the other weeks. This is still unconfirmed (technicalities at work need to get hammered out), but it’s looking like I’ll be a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) three or four days a week.

On our two-month pediatrician appointment, the boys were both in pretty good shape. The only concerns were M’s reflux and constant head-tilting to the right. Rice cereal was suggested to increase the viscosity of his formula, but we’ve reached an impasse as to whether or not to use it. The Internet seems to be pretty much split down the middle when it comes to using cereal at this age, and we’re erring on the side of caution. As for his neck, he was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Torticollis, known in laymen’s terms as “scrunched neck from being crowded in the womb”. We’ll be seeing a physical therapist soon to straighten him out before he looks like he’s perpetually shrugging.

Vaccines were given, and C had a slight fever afterwards. Some people have concerns about vaccines causing autism or other problems, but we felt pretty comfortable both in getting vaccinations and in broadly labeling anti-vaxxers as total mass-hysteria suckers.

The question I get most at work is “Are they sleeping through the night yet?”. The answer is “no,” but they’re doing better than they were. They’re getting up less frequently, and when they do, a quick diaper change and or short feeding at the breast is usually enough to get them back to sleep without much fuss. They barely wake up to eat (if at all), and don’t start getting truly fussy until five-ish in the morning. We’ll see how this goes when Kat goes back to work and has to feed them early and get them back to sleep until I get up to take over their care before leaving them to the sitter or staying home myself. We had a practice run this past week, and it went mostly smoothly. Kat is all about schedules, and I’m all about letting them eat when hungry and sleep when tired, since they seem to do what they want anyway.

Speaking of Kat going back to work, yesterday (Monday, June 30) was her first day back, sort of a practice run before returning full time next week. I was in charge of the boys for a whole day, and I’m happy to say we all survived unscathed, if off schedule. Our bachelors’ day out took us to the mall, a sandwich shop, and a park for a bit of fresh air before ending at home where we waited for mommy to arrive. Considering it was her first day away since the boys were born, I think she did pretty well. I’m proud, in fact, that she wasn’t panicky, texting or calling every half hour, or sending me constant reminders of how she’d do things.

Once she goes back to work, we’ll have a sitter/nanny who we found on Care.com, a site for finding…well…sitters and nannies. Kat interviewed a few women, and after the first pick was unable to meet our scheduling needs, we called our (close) second pick, and she was able to work with us…at first. This was about the time we decided that I would be going to part time at my job. Add to that K’s new schedule which will allow her a day off and two days working in town each week, and we didn’t have the hours she was looking for. She’ll be taking care of the boys for the next month or so, but when I switch to part time, we’ll need to renegotiate or find someone new.

Today (Tuesday, July 1), Kat took the boys to Poma Fertility, the fertility clinic where we had our successful IVF to show them what a success their painful intrusions into our nethers had netted. I’m mentioning this mainly as an opportunity to plug Poma; you won’t find a nicer, more caring, more dedicated team of outstanding fertility experts anywhere. We felt then and feel now like part of a family, and if you’re in the greater Seattle area (or anywhere else; what’s the cost of a plane ticket at this point?) I couldn’t recommend any place more.

This also brought the fam within a few miles of my work, so they dropped in, causing an hour-long cessation of any sort of productivity. In perfect stereotypical fashion, a few men came by and nodded approvingly and mentioning that C looks like me before wandering off again, and every woman available crowded around to behold the fruit of our loins.

To be filed under “cherish every moment”, I offer the first (almost) two months of our babies’ lives. We’ve been elated, exhausted, happy, angry, sad, optimistic, drained, and more. We’ve cooed over our boys one minute and sobbed when they wouldn’t stop crying the next. We’ve bonded tighter than ever but also had fights. I’ve been more focused from the stress and more discombobulated from lack of sleep (and also that same stress). In this short time, every single aspect of our lives has changed. Long story short: HOLY CRAP!!! OUR BOYS ARE ALMOST TWO MONTHS OLD ALREADY!!! WHERE DID THE TIME GO??? Kat is going back to work in a few days, and someone we found on the Internet will be taking care of them. We won’t be spending as much time with them, and suddenly the last several weeks seem gone just like that. A portion of this time loss can be blamed on lack of sleep and the flurry of doctors, family, and periods of adjustment, but the bottom line is the warnings were true: it goes by so fast.