December 30, 2005

Hot Wheels

In 1995, after returning to the Bay Area from a 6-year stay in New York City, it became obvious that I needed a car. Since parking in New York City is one of Dante’s levels of hell, I had managed to avoid car ownership for the first 6 years of my adult life. But now things were changing and I would need reliable transportation to navigate the freeways of Northern California. After researching price, safety, fuel economy and reliability, I settled on a red, two-door, 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier. Until Wednesday, it was the only car I have ever owned.

The writing was on the wall. Once we found out we were having twins, it was obvious that having a 10-year-old car with two doors was not going to be adequate to house the plethora of baby items needed when traversing around with two babies. We definitely needed a new car – a big new car.

So, on Wednesday evening I drove my car one final time to the Nissan Dealership where we purchased a slightly used (it was a rental vehicle) 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. The drive was a nostalgic one for me. Since I am a fairly emotional guy, I have to admit I teared up a bit when I finally had to say goodbye to my little Cavalier. I thanked it for its many years of great service and I told it it was worth way more than the $250 I got from the dealership for it. I gave it one last rub and said goodbye in the parking lot.

Getting into our new Pathfinder made me forget the Cavalier pretty quick, however. It’s so awesome! For starters, it has so much power (insert Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunt here). It has so much power that I almost ran over the car in front of me while merging onto the freeway for the first time. It rides great too. The moon roof is nice and the tow package may come in handy some day but the best feature, in my opinion, is the Bose Stereo system. The speakers sound great and, best of all, the radio display screen tells you the name of the artist and song currently playing. Pretty nice.

So, now we have plenty of room, even after installing the two infant carrier bases (By the way, the Latch System on these new cars sucks. I ended up using the seatbelt again.). If you ever need a ride, just let me know. Of course, you’ll have to chip in for gas. Let’s just say it doesn’t get quite the gas mileage my little Cavalier got.

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Our New Vehicle

December 27, 2005

Christmas: Uncut

As a rookie father I rely on the wisdom of others to navigate the slippery slope of parenthood. That is what makes blogs so great – you can read about someone else’s experience and learn about how you would handle a similar situation.

But what about Christmas? As a first time parent I read many blogs that had great pictures of their kids with Santa. There were smiling photos and crying photos and everything in between. That being said, not one of you mentioned that the wait to see the fat guy in the red suit was longer than any line at Disneyland. This would have been useful information for this naive Daddy!

My first inkling that we were in trouble was when we called the mall on December 24th and asked if Santa was still there (’cause, you know, he might have already headed back to the North Pole). He was there, I was told, but if we weren’t in line by 3:00 p.m. we wouldn’t get to see him. Okaaaaaaaay. We were also told he was on lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m. (it seems to me the guy could stand to miss a lunch or two). Well, we got there a little after 12:00 and there was already a line of about 20 to 30 kids. Andrea got in line and I took the babies with their grandmother and greatgrandmother to go shopping for even more clothes. We had lunch and brought Andrea her lunch a little after 1:00 p.m. It’s a good thing Andrea waited in line because the line was about 5 times longer by the time we got there.

An hour and 10 minutes later, we finally got to see Santa. We sat them on his lap, took the picture, got a candy cane and it was done. Although Santa was concerned enough to ask how long we waited. When we told him about 2 hours, he replied with a very apologetic look, “I’m sorry.” We told him not to worry – it was worth it. And, you know what? It was.

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December 26, 2005

BIYF on Family Traditions

BIYF is possibly one of the coolest dads out there. And I’m not just saying that because he runs golf tournaments for a good cause and jets off to Vegas to throw celebrity poker tournaments. I can vouch for his coolness because he is, to date, the only blogger* I have actually spoken to on the phone. He actually sounds pretty normal – not something you’d expect after reading his blog. Anyway, I was thrilled when he said he’d be happy to write about his family traditions. So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. On December 24th, at 3:57 p.m., I got the following email. Next year, I’m asking him in July.



I suppose it fitting that I should send you this long after the Elves have pulled the Sleigh out of mothballs to shine it up for the night. Hell, Santa and the Reindeer will have likely made it across several time zones before I finish typing it. You see, my biggest Holiday Tradition is to wait until the last possible moment to do anything. I am the Nation of Procrasti, the Ruler of Later, the God of Get-Around-To-It, the Pontiff of Putting It Off.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write my entry about Holiday Traditions. Oh, I would have regaled you and the internets with tales of Griswald-like decorations, kidnapped Santas, farting at midnight mass and of course presents, glorious presents. Had I only gotten my act together sooner. Hey, maybe if you make a tradition of asking other bloggers to provide their holiday traditions, I’ll get another shot at it.

Until then, I will leave you with this one little Holiday Tradition I have…. I actually call it Christmas.

You can visit Because I’m Your Father at

*[UPDATE: In my post-Christmas meal daze, I inexplicably forgot about all the phone calls to Eric at More Diapers regarding the building of this site. He answered every call too. My apologies for this brain freeze.]

Mr. & Mrs. Big Dubya on Family Traditions

Early on, as I was introducing myself to the Daddy Blogger genre, I ran across Mr. Big Dubya and his tales of Lil Dubya and immediately felt like we’d be buds if we lived near each other. Since our kids are about 2 weeks apart in age, I’m sure we’d end up hanging out watching the kids terrorize each other and playing fantasy football in the fall (I’d kick his ass, of course). Then, I started reading his wife’s blog and I was certain the wives would get along great as well. We’d be such good friends, that I could give them crap about getting me their Christmas Family Traditions post on December 24th. So, even though it is the day after Christmas, I give you The Dubya’s and their family traditions.


Mr. Big Dubya

Growing up, Christmas was, as it is for most children, an exciting and wonderful time and certain things could be counted on from year to year. However, we had “traditions” in the broadest sense of the word. Other than one aspect (which I’ll get into later) none of them have really been carried on, at least with Mrs. Big Dubya and I.

Things really got rolling a week or two after Thanksgiving. My father would head out to the garage, set up the ladder and retrieve several boxes stored in the rafters. One contained the artificial Christmas tree and the others were filled with sundry decorations. Even this part was magical as each box retained some pine-scented aroma from Christmases past, even though there wasn’t a live bit of pine anywhere to be found. Artificial=unscented. The boxes were carried to the living room where the furniture had been rearranged to accommodate the tree. Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby could be heard from the stereo console, the spindle of which was filled with six LPs.

First, the tree was unpacked and the inside post of the tree was assembled and placed in the stand. While my father did that, my brothers and I would separate the color-coded branches into piles to find them easier. Everything was done in order—God help you if you went and inserted the dark-green branch into the lowest portion of the tree while everyone else was working on the upper, pink-colored ones. Once everything was together, my father would then string the lights. (Back in the 1970s, the lights we had were multi-colored and resembled floodlights in your backyard.) Did I mention that during all this, my mother was busy elsewhere? Her job was ornaments and decorations…just ornaments and decorations. (I think she had tired of my father telling us about their first Christmas together and the search for a tree stand—it involves my mother standing in their living room, holding up the tree while my father was out. Maybe it’s just me, but it is pretty funny.)

Ornaments are then placed on the tree with an exact precision—Mrs. Big Dubya knows that I come by a lot of my neuroses honestly. Each son also placed his own ornaments on the tree—we each had several with our names on them and some were ones that we had made in school. In fact, we have an ornament on our tree in the Dubya household which was fashioned from an old Christmas card that has written on the back: “Warren 1972.” Once everything is in place, the tree was moved into the corner and the rest of the decorating was finished up: ceramic trees, plastic reindeer and, the piece de resistance, a Hummel creche (a nativity set from my grandmother) were placed in their usual spots.

After all that, things pretty much quieted down until Christmas Eve. My grandparents would usually arrive that afternoon. (They were separated so one might get there before the other.) We would then head off to the evening mass and return home for Chinese food. This is the one tradition that has carried over since Mrs. Big Dubya’s family did the same and we continue to do it now.

The highlight of the evening was an early visit from Santa Claus. For over 40 years now, the neighborhood I grew up in has celebrated the holiday with a Santa that would go from house to house where children are and drop off presents which were dropped off by parents weeks in advance. He arrives on the back of a pick-up truck decorated to look like a sleigh, complete with reindeer and Christmas music. I was lucky enough to be Santa one year—I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a good gig. I made $150 in tips and came home with six bottles of liquor.

Christmas day was like that of many other homes with children. Early wake ups and the quiet broken by shrieks and loads of “What did you get?” As Little Dub grows up, I look forward to Christmas mornings just like that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mrs. Big Dubya

Growing up in our house, the Christmas tree always provided material for a good story.

Let us begin with some background — my parents’ house is old…. built in the 1800s…. Translation: It’s a big house with a lot of rooms…. a lot of teeny, tiny, little rooms – and our living room is no exception. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my Dad would try to convince us that our living room was too small and that we didn’t really need a tree – we could just pile the presents around a poinsettia or one of the holiday plants that the neighbors sent over — and my mother would set out to prove him wrong. A couple of years she opted to go off to the tree lot and attempt to buy the smallest, skinniest tree she could find – small and skinny enough to just tuck in the corner of our teeny tiny living room and be hardly noticed. Sadly, these skinny, scrawny trees tend to have some less than desirable features…. first and foremost they are bald on top….. essentially, they have a stick that sticks out of the top.

My mother tried to downplay this problem by “trimming” the top of the tree…. Actually she chopped off the stick that pokes out of the top of the tree, thinking that this would make it look less stark…. but, if you take the top off the tree…. it’s no longer tree shaped…. it looked more like a giant Christmas shrub. Picture us kids crouched down to take photos in front of the big round shrub in our living room….. the kids can’t be taller than the tree!

Another year, our cousins were heading back to the old sod for the holidays…. and they were leaving on Christmas Eve…. so they took their tree down just before heading out to the airport – My Dad decided that a good tree shouldn’t go to waste, so he brought home their giant tree and stuffed it into our teeny tiny little living room….. thoroughly delighted that he got a tree that already had tinsel and it was free….. it didn’t matter that it took up half the room.

During another Christmas season, our cousins in New York lost some of the pieces to their artificial tree….. my parents proudly put it together and it was the talk of the neighborhood…. So much so that most people stopped by the following year to see if they’d put it up again!

There was the year that we went out to buy our tree on Christmas Eve…. the man on the lot tried to charge my Dad $8 for the tree…. Dad, the shrewd bargainer offered him $5…. The guy said no, $8…. They went back and forth, back and forth…. Finally, Dad noticed Aunt P and I shivering and desperate to get home…. he begrudgingly paid the $8….. while we were loading our tree onto the truck a fellow stopped and said, “Hey buddy, how much did you pay for your tree”…. Dad just held up 5 fingers…. Aunt P and I still laugh about that.

Whether it’s around shrub-tree, a used tree, a fake tree with missing pieces or an $8 tree…… the memories of Christmases with my crazy Irish family are among my fondest!

You can visit Mr. Big Dubya at

You can visit Mrs. Big Dubya at

December 23, 2005

The day after Christmas

A quick glance at my search engine stats shows that someone found my blog by typing in “Santa left the milk and cookies drank all of daddy’s beer.” My first reaction was, that bastard! Then, I got to thinking. What if this really happened? I think TheMonk, in particular, would be concerned about this. I’d then suggest he write a letter to Santa. This is what I imagine that letter would be like…

December 26, 2005

Mr. Santa Claus
1oo Christmas Way
The North Pole

Dear Santa Claus,
Thanks for stopping by last night
I waited up to see you
But you stayed just outta sight.

Thank you for the presents
They weren’t too bad at all
But I guess you didn’t really listen
To what I told you at the mall

I wanted that new robot
The one that snorts and sparks and rocks
Instead you sent what Daddy wants
A brand new shiny Xbox

I do have a question for you:
When you were visiting here,
How come you left the milk and cookies
And, instead, drank Daddy’s beer?

That wasn’t very nice of you
I thought I saw Daddy shed a tear
‘Cause he never craves a glass of milk
But he sure does love his beer

Mommy told me not to worry
Daddy really isn’t mad
And sometimes this is the price you pay
To be listed as “good” instead of “bad”

So next year Santa, don’t you worry
We’ll skip the usual holiday cheer
Instead you’ll get a slice of pizza
And a big ol’ glass of beer.


December 22, 2005

Life Lesson: The Holiday Card

Okay kids, listen up. This is a serious topic. I just want to pass along my accumulated wisdom to my children who will read this someday and marvel at what a genius they had for a father. But I digress. The topic is Holiday cards. Gather ’round and learn…

To all those poor people who are actually organized enough to get their Christmas/Holiday cards mailed out the Friday after Thanksgiving, it happens every year. Inevitably, they get a card or three from someone to who they did not send a card. Now, while they may be organized and feeling smug about their ability to wish others a Happy Holidays Merry Christmas Happy Chanukah Happy Kwanza Happy Ramadan Happy Solstice Happy Festivus Happy Holidays, they are now in the situation that if they do not send a card to this person who was kind enough to send a card to them, they risk looking rude.

I have a better idea. Send Happy New Years cards. This is a great idea for many reasons. First, it allows you one less stressful thing to get done before December 25th. Second, and most importantly, it allows you to see who sends you a card so you don’t leave anyone off of your list. Now, you can address cards during the slow period between Christmas and New Years and still get your card in everyone’s mailbox by the first week of January. And you’ll even include a card to your cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s brother who sent you a card two days before Christmas.

TheMonk and Swee’Pea, remember to put your parents on your list because you won’t be getting a card from us until January 5th.

December 21, 2005

Well if you’re gonna talk like that…

It’s 5:15 in the frickin’ morning. Everyone in the house wants to sleep. I’m curled up in my covers. Andrea is doing the same. Swee’Pea, now that she can once again breathe, is sound asleep. Nutmeg the cat? Of course, asleep. Everyone is asleep – except TheMonk. I can hear him loud and clear over the monitor. He is making his monkey noises and having a grand old time doing it.

I groan to myself and silently curse the kid as I try to sleep. “AaaaaAAAAaaaaah” He says.

I start thinking of ways I can torture him as a teenager. I promise myself to show his girlfriend naked pictures of him as a kid. “OoooooheeeeeeeeOoooooo” He continues.

I start to wonder if maybe a hit of Children’s Tylenol wouldn’t put the kid out for another hour.

Then, he starts in on consonants. “BaBaBaBaMaBa” He says. “MaBaMaBaMaBa” He shouts.

Ooh, that kid. Please, just shut up. Please, I’m begging -”DaDaDaDaDaDa” I hear as he interrupts my thoughts. What was that? Could it be? After a million times of saying DaDa to the kid, is this my reward?! “DaDaDaDaDaDaDa” he repeats.

Yes! That’s my boy! Keep talking TheMonk. I mean, I’m a lazy guy who should be up making myself useful anyway. I mean, it’s 5:15 a.m. Who needs sleep when your kid wants to say “DaDaDaDaDa”? Not me. Nope. “DaDaDaDaDaDaDa” See?

December 20, 2005

New Management Style

Upon my return to work after spending five weeks on paternity leave, I have found that my communication skills have changed slightly. This, I guess, is to be expected when your main conversations are one-sided and are with two 5-month-old babies.

Here are some examples:

Praising an Employee
Pre-Paternity Leave: “Thank you for doing such a great job on that project Darlene. I appreciate the work you did.”
Post-Paternity Leave: “What a good girl you are, Darlene! Yes you are! Yes you are a good girl!”

Reprimanding an Employee
Pre-Paternity Leave: “I know you didn’t mean to make a mistake and I appreciate your effort but please don’t let that happen again. If this problem continues you will be disciplined accordingly. Do you understand?”
Post-Paternity Leave: “Ah, Ah, Aaaaah. Nooooo. Stop that please. Ohh, stop your crying. There’s no need to cry! Here, have your binky.”

Greeting a co-worker
Pre-Paternity Leave: “Hi Jim. How ya doin’?”
Post-Paternity Leave: “Hey Chunky Monk! How’s my Chunky Monkey?”

Reacting to Bodily Functions
Pre-Paternity Leave: Be slightly embarrased for co-worker but say nothing
Post-Paternity Leave: “Who farted?! Did you lay a froggy?! Was that you, ‘Lil Stinker?!”

Perhaps this style will catch on. I can see it now. I’ll write my book based on “Nurture-based Management” and tour the country giving speeches to Fortune 500 companies. Email me if you’d like to book me in advance.

December 16, 2005

The Holiday Letter I wish I wrote

We got our first Holiday Letter yesterday in the mail. In this spirit, I decided to write my own.

December 2005

Dear Family, Friends, and People We Never Talk To But Get This Letter Every Year,

This was a banner year in the Childsplay household. It was particularly productive for Andrea. Not only was she nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her stellar work with disabled children, she also managed to produce a litter of kids for us! And just recently she was voted Working Mother of the Year by AMAWMM (All Mothers Are Working Mothers, Moron) for her dedication to pumping breast milk while co-workers on the other side of the door know exactly what she’s doing.

Yes you read that right. We have kids now! Someone actually thought it was a good idea for us to procreate. On June 12th of 2005, Andrea produced TheMonk and Swee’Pea. TheMonk came out speaking in full sentences and can already do complex math equations with one hand while popping his binky in and out of his mouth with the other. He also has a fantastically large head (75th percentile!) to house that massive brain of his. Swee’Pea is quite the singer and is getting ready to produce her first album. It’s working title is “Bri: As Loud As I Wanna Be.” It should hit stores sometime in the spring. And, in a sign of things to come, her latest trick is to shake her head side to side whenever I ask her a question (I told her to remember this when boys start to become interested in her).

Nutmeg the cat continues to produce memorable moments for all of us. Who can forget the time she laid in the same spot for 14 straight hours?! How about the time she deposited a hairball on the living room rug? Her latest talent is to sprawl out on the exact chair that you were planning to sit on and look so cute you find another chair. She also likes to sit in window sills and look out onto the street. It was doing this that lead her to be “discovered” by a high-ranking advertising executive who happened to be driving by. I’m proud to announce that Nutmeg will be the new face of “Sugar Frosted Flakes” as, sadly, it seems Tony the Tiger was caught taking steroids to fill out his aging frame and was quietly forced into retirement. I hear he’s planning a tell-all book about the steroid use of other cartoon ad salesmen (I mean, c’mon, did you think the Jolly Green Giant got that big by eating vegetables?).

As for me? Well, I’ve been employed in one job for over 3 years now! I know, it’s a record for me but if you know my mother (Hi Mom!) she wasn’t exactly the role model for staying with one career. In another first, I did not receive one single indictment this year! However, I am contemplating a political career in the future so I might need to work on that to fit in here in beautiful San Diego. On a personal note, my blog (some of you may read it, but judging from my comments, I’d never actually know if you did) was voted the Best Darn Daddy Blog that Features Two Baby Rhinos at the Annual Bloggies. It was a close vote as there were many deserving blogs in my category (as I’m sure you can imagine). But that’s what having access to a computer lab with multiple IP addresses can do for you! And finally, dear family, friends and people we never talk to but get this letter every year, my health has been good – unless you count the flu bug I got this year. Boy, I thought I coughed up a lung! But the doctor assures me that my lung would be pinkish-red and that the huge yellowy mass I did cough up was just a lot of mucus. I’m not so convinced.

Well that’s it from out here in Sunny California (where, by the way, it’s been in the low 70′s this Christmas Season). I hope you’re keeping warm and dry wherever you are!

Happy Holidays and have a fantastically stupendous 2006!

The Childsplayx2 Family (Andrea, Matthew, TheMonk and Bri).

Blog Housekeeping

Okay, Friday is a day to catch up on stuff. So, first, I wanted you all to pop over to Mr. Big Dubya’s place. He’s volunteered to be the blogosphere’s regrigerator door and will post anyone’s Holiday photo on his blog. I sent one (not the one that will be on our holiday card) over and you should too!

Second, I’ve been tagged by a couple of blogging buddies. Becky and Kemp both tagged me for this one so I figured that was a sign.

Here it goes…

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
1. Hanuman
2. Running2Ks
3. Queen of Spain
4. Becky
5. childsplayx2

Then you get to select five people to pass the love on to. This is in no way mandatory.

1) Baby Astrid’s mom
2) Savage Stories
3) Mrs. Aginoth
4) Weirdgirl
5) Prolly all the Time

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was just wrapping up my first semester in graduate school. After spending two years hanging out in NYC after graduating from undergrad, I bolted back to the West Coast to pursue my Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. I rented a little apartment in Walnut Creek, CA and settled in nicely. It was the first (and only) time I lived completely on my own – no family, no roommates, no spouse. It was a great, liberating time and I learned a lot about myself – both good and bad.

What were you doing one year ago?

One year ago, I was walking around in a daze still trying to cope with the fact that we were going to have two babies, instead of the one that usually comes with the package. It was also our first Christmas in our newly built home. I was doing a million projects (including laying a wood laminate floor in our kitchen and dining area) while tending to my very nauseous wife all in preparation for our bundles of joy.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1) Ranch Flavored sunflower seeds
2) Cheez-Its
3) Krispy Kreme donuts
4) Popsicles after exercising (I haven’t had a popsicle in a long time)
5) I’m not too picky as long as it’s bad for me.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

This is hard, only because I know the lyrics to a lot of songs. It’s a gift that I have. I pick up the lyrics pretty easily – even if I’ve only listened to it a few times (I have to like the song, though). But here is what comes to mind right now…
1) The Hoppity Song – John Ondrasik (from Five for Fighting). Great song to sing to kids!
2) Hotel California – The Eagles
3) Paul Revere – Beastie Boys
4) The 15-year anniversary McDonald’s Big Mac Commercial.
5) Theme song to Dukes of Hazzard

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
I’m changing this to multi-millionaire because, really, a million doesn’t get you much nowadays.
1) Set up a foundation to help disadvantaged families.
2) Donate money to my Y to rebuild because the community deserves the best.
3) Buy a home overlooking the ocean in Hawaii
4) Dress better
5) Live as if we weren’t multi-millionaires.

Five bad habits:
1) I bite the cuticles of my fingernails.
2) I have a sweet tooth and very little will power
3) I put things off that I really don’t want to do
4) I call drivers of other cars names while driving
5) I often forget to close the refrigerator door when cooking

Five things you like doing:
1) Playing with children (especially my children)
2) Watching a live baseball game
3) Writing about my kids
4) Helping others
5) Sleeping (Another thing I haven’t done in a while)

Five things you would never wear or buy again:
1) I’d have to go with Kemp and say Parachute Pants
2) Athletic socks pulled up to my knees
3) Bottle Warmers
4) A pink Izod shirt, Acid Wash jeans pegged at leg, and dock shoes with no socks.
5) Z. Cavaricci pants

Five favorite toys:
1) My Treo phone
2) My laptop
3) TheMonk
4) Bri
5) C’mon, I’m a father of twins. I don’t have any of my own toys!

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