December 30, 2006

Nightly Broadcast

Sleep is not on the agenda this evening. At least not for Swee’Pea as she has decided to entertain her audience of one. She is holding court in her crib while TheMonk listens in – very willing to be entertained. Her performance is also being broadcast over Baby Monitor radio to an audience of two – Mommy and Daddy.

Swee’Pea is in rare form this evening. It appears to be a variety show as Swee’Pea switches from singing to story telling to telling jokes. The jokes, it appears, are TheMonk’s favorite. However, it appears to be the same joke over and over again as the punchline is a low, gutteral bark that TheMonk thinks is hysterical. His laugh is so genuine and full of joy and Swee’Pea loves the feedback as she laughs out loud whenever she hears TheMonk’s laughter.

Mommy and Daddy love the laughter too. We sit and listen to the baby monitor and laugh out loud as our two little cuties play together in the dark of their room. After a while we look at each other and marvel at how wonderful having two is. Watching them grow together has been a joy and we feel so very fortunate to have them. We are truly lucky.

And listening to them fall asleep to each other’s voice we are reminded that if TheMonk and Swee’Pea have nothing, they have each other. And how wonderful is that?

December 26, 2006

Hmmm. Maybe they do take after us.

TheMonk and Swee’Pea sit on the floor playing with the shape sorter that every toddler must master before obtaining their toddler license. The shape sorter is a plastic cylinder with a lid that fits snugly on top. The lid has four shapes cut out that include a square, a circle, a triangle and a star. Inside the cylinder are a bunch of blocks that are shaped to fit into the shapes cut out on the lid.

I dump the blocks out onto the floor and replace the lid on the now empty container. I show TheMonk and Swee’Pea how to fit the blocks into their corresponding shapes. TheMonk selects a circle and slowly and methodically tries to fit it into one of the shapes on the lid. First he tries the star, sees that it doesn’t fit and moves onto the square. After trying the square he tries the triangle. Finally, he tries the circle and the block slips easily into the container. TheMonk is clearly pleased with himself as he lets out a small shriek of joy and claps his hands together in celebration. I join in clapping as I marvel at his patience and calculated way of finding the right shape. It is a trait that does not come easy for me and I admire his calm approach.

Next, it’s Swee’Pea’s turn. I hand her a star and she immediately tries to cram it into the same circle that TheMonk’s block slipped through so easily just a moment earlier. Upon meeting resistance, Swee’Pea doesn’t give up. She increases the force on the block. She tries harder and harder until her little hand is trembling from pure effort. I glance up at her face and see that she is gritting her teeth, her eyes are narrow and focused. Her face has turned red as she has stopped breathing – her only goal is to get that darn block into that stinking hole. I offer a suggestion that she try a different hole but she’s having none of my suggestions. Daddy can just back off while she figures out how to cram that thing into the hole that she knows will fit.

Meanwhile, her silence has given way to low, guttural grunts as she now has all twenty-two pounds of pure Swee’pea force into that little block. Again, I try and get her to see that there are other shapes to try out. I even place my hand on her block to try and force her to try another hole – perhaps the one actually shaped like a star. This is a mistake as I serve only as another frustration into GETTING THAT DAMN BLOCK IN THE DAMN HOLE!!!! She lets out a now-familiar “AAACK!!!” to let me know that I better NOT MESS WITH HER RIGHT NOW!!! Not being stupid, I back off to see what will happen.

Finally, Swee’Pea has had enough. Clearly forcing the damn block into the hole is not working. She needs to try something else. Suddenly, with a swooping motion so quick that I still cannot fully comprehend the speed, her free hand snatches the lid off the container and raises the lid about a foot into the air while her hand that is still clutching the block whips away from the lid. Now, with a clear path into the container – no pesky lid with crazy shapes to impede her – she throws the block into the container with a quick snap of her wrist while letting out a small shriek of pure frustration. The object of her frustration – a blue, plastic little star – rattles loudly inside the container and threatens to bounce out. This won’t happen, however, because she quickly slams the lid down on top of the container with a force so large a small earthquake was felt along the Southern California coastline.

Suddenly, all is quiet. I look at Swee’Pea. She is breathing heavily as our eyes meet for the first time. She glances at the shape sorter with her block clearly inside. She looks back at me and smiles. “I did it,” her smile seems to say.

Satisfied, she crawls away to find another toy. I look down at TheMonk who, once again, is methodically trying to find where the triangle fits. I watch as it slips into the triangle-shaped hole and falls into the bucket. Again he claps with glee and, again, I join in as well.

Watching TheMonk do this reminds me of Andrea and the way she approaches most everything – she has a plan and she follows it. I look over at Swee’Pea, now playing with something else, and as I recall her actions just a minute earlier, I think to myself. “Hmmmm. I wonder where she gets that from.”

December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays from us to you

Holiday card

Oh, and head on over to Mr. Big Dubya’s and check out one of our many attempts at christmas photos.

December 21, 2006


Swee’Pea is a talker. She picks up words quickly and is not afraid to use them. She will, for example, tell you when she’s “all done” with a meal (accompanied by an emphatic waving of the arms). She will wave and say “bye-bye” whenever she thinks you’re going somewhere. And she has recently begun to tell us when she has gone “poo-poo.” That, however is for a different story.

On this day, TheMonk and Swee’Pea are dressed in their Christmas best. They do not know it yet but they are on their way to meet THE guy to meet this time of year. One Mr. Claus. Santa Claus.

We head down to our local community center, deciding to take advantage of the proximity and smaller lines than at the local mall. It turns out to be a good choice as there is almost no wait at all and we meet neighbors with their kids all ready to meet Santa.

Now we knew going into this that Swee’Pea might have a little trouble with the big guy in the red suit. Swee’Pea, when amongst friends, is one very outgoing little girl. When we get in the presence of strangers, however, she turns shy and often becomes afraid. Knowing this, we spent the last few weeks talking up Santa in a big way while showing her photos of St. Nick. “We Looooove Santa, Swee’Pea. Santa looooves Swee’Pea.”

Hopeful that our pep talks have been successful, upon arriving we carefully show TheMonk and Swee’Pea Santa from a distance. Mrs. Claus notices us and hands Swee’Pea a candy cane, which she accepts and clutches tightly like a little old lady clutches her purse. Santa waves to us from across the room and Swee’Pea seems intrigued. We take this as a good sign and we boldly carry TheMonk and Swee’Pea over to Santa.

Remembering our success from last year, we carry them over with their backs to Santa – hoping that ignorance would, indeed, be blissful. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. TheMonk, who I was holding, handled it like a champ. He glanced up at the bearded white-haired guy and never changed expressions. He continued to be calm and collected as he accepted the lap of this stranger. Swee’Pea on the other hand chose to react… differently.

As Mommy places Swee’Pea on Santa’s left knee, Swee’Pea casually looks up to see to whom she’s being handed off. In an instant, her expression changes. Her eyes bug out of her head like some shocked cartoon character. A split second after that the shrieking begins. All these weeks of practicing her shrieking finally pay off as she is getting her money’s worth and then some. As Mommy and myself back away, the photographer snaps away. Somehow, Santa becomes distracted (I’m not sure why) and TheMonk begins to slip between Santa’s leg, being swallowed up by a red velvety black hole. Meanwhile, Swee’Pea is not pleased at all. Finally, as she realizes her panicked shrieks are getting her nowhere, she resorts to something that she has not resorted to very much as of late.

Suddenly, and emphatically, Swee’Pea shrieks “ALL DONE! ALL DONE!” while waving her hands outward as quickly as she can. Seeing as how we’d tortured her enough, Mommy swoops up Swee’Pea and soon she is clutching tightly to Mommy while looking at that awfully ugly white-haired man. “BYE-BYE! BYE-BYE” She waves, as if emphasizing the fact that she wants to get the heck outta the north pole. Mommy complies and soon we are outside. Swee’Pea recovers soon enough and goes about playing with the other boys and girls, clutching her Candy Cane all the while.

twins with santa

December 20, 2006

The Rise of TheMonk

We are all playing in the playroom. TheMonk, Swee’Pea, Mommy and Daddy are all on the floor playing with whatever toy happens to be within reach. TheMonk is playing with his cars while Swee’Pea flits around the room from toy to toy.

Finally, Swee’Pea settles on a toy that only recently has found it’s way into the current rotation. The corn popper push toy has teased and tantalized for a couple of months since Grandmother bought it for them on one of her visits. Since they didn’t walk when we first got it, it has sat unused. Now, however, it has become more and more played with.

Swee’Pea pushes the toy around the room. Her creativity with the popper toy is something to be admired. Not just content to push the toy around the room she also pulls it. She walks forward, backward, side to side, and in circles – all while keeping the toy popping.

All of this popping has grabbed the attention of a little boy who has been quietly playing with his own toys. Having recently been on the short end of many toy “sharing” transactions with his sister, he is wary of entering into any agreement with her that will result in unpleasant shrieking. Still, the popper looks like a fun toy and, boy, would he like to play with it.

Deciding to go with the casual, non-chalant approach, he saunters over to where we are gathered. Mommy and Daddy have been admiring Swee’Pea’s popping ability and are poised perfectly to see TheMonk’s next move.

TheMonk, knowing that Swee’Pea loves a good summersault, plants his head on the floor, butt in the air, and waits for Mommy to tumble him over. After being tumbled he scampers to his feet while he watches a very predictable Swee’Pea plant her head on the ground waiting for Mommy to tumble her in her very own summersault. As Mommy engages Swee’Pea in her summersault, TheMonk swoops in, snatches up the popper and retreats with a series of pops leading the way. Swee’Pea is too busy to notice her toy has been swiped. She is too caught up with Mommy and insists Mommy keep tumbling her, by now forgetting all about her beloved toy.

And, that is just what the sneakly little Monk had in mind. His little smirk hiding his glee as he leaves with his desired toy. Payback, Sis, has been sweet.

December 17, 2006

Fair Trade

She is oblivious to what her brother is doing as she goes about playing with a bowl and spoon in the middle of the floor. There’s nothing special about this bowl and spoon – in fact it’s the same bowl and spoon that Mommy and Daddy use to feed her every day. Now, however, she is content to pretend she is eating something particularly yummy. She spoons this imaginary delectable into her waiting mouth and sighs with contentment. “Mmmmmmmmmm.” She is perfectly happy playing with this simple, yet satisfying, arrangement.

Then, suddenly, she notices TheMonk playing with a ball on the other side of the room. She doesn’t have this ball. In fact, she notices while inspecting her spoon and bowl, she doesn’t have a ball at all! This simply won’t do. No, a girl like her simply needs a ball. What was she thinking that she was happy playing with a silly old bowl and spoon?! No, she needs a ball. And she knows where to get it.

She gets up, still carrying the spoon and begins to walk towards an unsuspecting Monk across the room. On the way, her mind begins to churn. She knows what she wants. She also knows that Daddy over there will, more than likely, lecture her about sharing or some crap like that. “Blah, Blah, share. Blah, blah, your brother.” That’s all she hears nowadays. It’s enough to make her want to scream!

That being said, she knows nothing good will come of it if she just snatches the ball from TheMonk. She has to come up with a plan. Hmmm. Planning is hard for an 18-month-old. It would be so much easier if she could just take what she wants, whenever she wants. Her Daddy would probably explain that is has something to do with an underdeveloped superego or some other psychobabble. Whatever the reason, she still doesn’t know what to do but she’d better decide fast as she approaches TheMonk. Suddenly, she looks at what she’s carrying. The spoon. Of course! It’s so simple. I won’t just take the ball from TheMonk, I’ll trade him for it.

At that moment she arrives at TheMonk. TheMonk casually looks up from his play, not knowing what is about to transpire. He is oblivious to Swee’Pea’s desire for his beloved ball and his guard is clearly down.

Swee’Pea pauses for a second. She takes a breath and then executes flawlessly. With her right little hand she thrusts the little plastic spoon into TheMonk’s chest. TheMonk, momentarily distracted by what his sister is thrusting upon him, relaxes his grip on his ball. At that precise moment, Swee’Pea’s left hand, with cat-like quickness, snatches the ball from TheMonk. She does a quick pivot that would rival any NFL running back’s and retreats at great haste.

As she runs away, TheMonk has realized the inequity of this transaction and let’s out a cry of protest. Daddy, having witnessed the entire thing moves quickly to intervene and restore a sense of justice. Swee’Pea attempts to outrun Daddy but he’s too quick for her little legs. He pries the ball out of her tightly clutched hand and returns it to her brother. “Blah, Blah, share. Blah, blah, your brother” Daddy says.

AAAAAAAHHH! The little girl cries back. What does he mean “share”!? I traded a perfectly good plastic spoon for that ball. She slumps to the floor in disgust and while clearly upset, slowly regains her composure. She sits pouting, quietly planning her next strategy to get what she wants, whenever she wants.

Man, being 18 months is hard!

December 13, 2006

Look alike

I descend the stairs, freshly showered and ready for work. Your mother heads upstairs to finish getting ready herself and I lower myself to the floor to play with you and your sister. At this moment, Swee’Pea is busy pushing her toys around the room, oblivious to you and I.

You approach me as I puff my cheeks out – knowing you love it when I do this because you know you’re going to get a big raspberry kiss on your cheek. In fact you dive into my arms and I blow my kisses onto your cheek in rapid succession as you squeal in delight. I hold you tight for a second longer and release you.

Once again you and I lock eyes. We look at each other for what seems like an eternity. You tilt your head slightly and I focus on the beauty of your little face. I notice that your face is looking slimmer and your dark eyes contrast with your light complexion. I also notice something that I have not seen before. As I gaze at you, my little boy, for the very first time, I see me. My heart skips a beat and tears well up in my eyes as I see myself as a little boy. Photographs of me run through my head as I gaze at your perfect little face.

I am so moved because since you were born, it has been generally agreed upon that neither you, nor your sister, looked much like me. I accepted that as an insignificant fact that had nothing to do with how much I love you. And that is still true. But I love seeing me in you. You are my little man and I am your Daddy. I cannot tell you how much that means to me – how much YOU mean to me.

I am so proud, Monk, to be your Daddy. And the fact that you look like me is just icing on the cake.

December 11, 2006

Family Traditions: Issa’s World

There was a time when Melissa didn’t have a blog. She would leave comments on this blog at such regularity that she probably had a year’s worth of posts on my blog alone. Now, even though she has joined us in the blogging world I still look forward to her comments as she drops by to say hi. It is because of this long history with Melissa that I was thrilled that she agreed to participate in my annual Family Traditions guest blog series. Please welcome the lovely and talented, Melissa.


Last year, before I was even blogging (well I was lurking and sometimes commenting), I remember coming to Matthew’s place and seeing all the stories of miscellaneous people’s holiday traditions that he’d pried out of people. It was so cool to see it as a person who was so new to this. When he asked me to write up one of mine I was honored….and then three weeks went by and I hadn’t done a darn thing. I figured since Matthew is such nice guy and one of the reason’s I am a blogger, I’d do my best not to disappoint him. So let’s see…..a holiday tradition.

My parents have quite a few things that they each did when I was growing up. The problem was that I lived at both houses and their traditions were so different and holidays were spent going back and forth and generally filled with some form of drama, so my favorite holiday tradition may be a little different.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is when we’d get our tree with our mom and step-dad. She waited until that weekend, because she knew we’d have the time and she wouldn’t have to fight my dad for kid dibs. Every year we’d go Sunday, the weekend after the holiday weekend to pick out our tree. She’d tell us that was what we were doing, but you knew when you got up in the morning because she’d pulled out the boxes of holiday stuff. She’d also make breakfast, or brunch depending on our ages and willingness to wake up before 11am on a Sunday. Then we get ready and go get a tree. Not just any tree, the best tree. She liked the spruce ones or the fur ones, I forget which, but the most expensive ones. Not that she wouldn’t every year complain about the price and think it was less the previous year, but she still wanted the best one. So she’d show us the section and the kind she wanted and then let us pick the most perfect tree. One of us would inevitably choose the 9 foot one, which would get vetoed, but we’d eventually find the one we wanted. To this day it still amazes me that she’d let us decide. Have you ever tried to get three kids to agree on anything? Or a set of identical boy twins who are polar opposites? Yeah…not so easy.

We’d find our tree and take it home and wait impatiently while my step-dad Jack would put the lights on. He’s a little anal about the lights, but it always looked great when he was done. While he did the lights, we’d open the boxes and start unwrapping the ornaments and scattering other decorations around the house. Candy bowls, angel figurines and singing snowmen all found a place some where in the house. Then we’d decorate the tree. It may not seem that exciting to any of you but it was, still is in fact, for us. See my mom started collecting ornaments the year she found out she was pregnant with me. She gave each of us an ornament every single year. And each one has a story which she’d remind us of as we hung the ornaments. The stories were generally something that she thought was funny throughout the year, so she found an ornament to always remember it. Like the pistachio ornament for Alex the year he was ten and had eaten jalapeno pistachios and then thought he’d rub his eye. I swear his eyes watered for a week. Or the pair of lady bugs she gave to Justin the year he was eight and had learned about the birds and the bees by finding a pair of lady bugs going at it on his coke can. My favorite ornament is the peppermint baby she bought for me my first year of life, with it’s vivid blue eyes and wild red curls, she bought it because it reminded her of me. When my brothers and I became teens, we started buying them for her and our step-dad Jack too. It’s our tradition and it’s the best childhood memories I’ve got.

We’re all adults now and she still buys us each an ornament every year, even though we’re not always able to be with her on Christmas. She also buys my kids each one too. Five years ago, when my daughter Maya was born, my mom tried to give me all the ornaments she’d bought for me. I wouldn’t let her, I just couldn’t imagine them being anywhere else but at her house on her tree. While my kids and I did help my mom decorate her tree this year, we also did our own tree too. There are stories to go with each ornament I’ve bought for them too. My greatest hope is this continues for generations.

I hope you all have a great holiday, which ever ones you celebrate.

December 10, 2006

Dear Santa,

Hey, Big Guy, it’s TheMonk here. My sister Swee’Pea is here too. I’m sure you remember us from last year. Anyway, I’m writing because I have this fear that once we get to sit on your lap, Swee’Pea’s going to freak out or something and I won’t get a chance to say what I gotta say.

So let’s get to it, okay. I’ve been a VERY good boy. My daddy tells me that all the time. I give kisses to anyone that asks, I don’t get nearly as cranky now than I did in my youth, and I even recently learned to share. As you can see, I deserve some Santa-love. You know what I’m sayin’? Anyway, Daddy’s been telling me and sis that you’re the man to talk to if we want something so I’m going to give it a shot.

First, Swee’Pea wants me to make sure that you know she’s working hard on this sharing thing (although she could work a little harder if you ask me). She also hopes that you won’t hold all those temper tantrums against her because being one is hard! She must realize that she’s on the fence when it comes to your naughty and nice list because yesterday she gave me her graham cracker! She didn’t have to do that because I had my own (I took it, though. I’m not dumb.) but it was a nice thing to do. Anyway, the reason we’re stating her case is Swee’Pea really wants a pony. Now, our back yard is so small that Mommy and Daddy won’t let me play back there because if I trip going out the back door, I might hit my head on the back wall – so I don’t know how we could possibly fit a pony back there – but who am I to kill a girl’s dream?

Okay, now that we have Swee’Pea’s pipe dream request out of the way, let’s get down to business. I want electronics. Anything that beeps or turns on and off, that’s for me. But none of this Fisher Price fake electronic crap, okay? I want the real thing. You tell the elves not to skimp on the bells and whistles, okay? In fact, I heard Daddy say he wanted a 42″ flat screen t.v. I’m assuming one of those things oomes with a remote so I’m down for that.

Oh, and while were at it, I heard Daddy say that we’re supposed to leave milk and graham crackers for you and a carrot for Rudolph. Now, I’m perfectly okay with giving up a carrot but if you don’t give me what I want and I have to give up a graham cracker, there’s going to be some serious tantrums being thrown here.

Well, that’s all I can think of. I hear we’re going to be seeing you next week but if Swee’Pea freaks out and I don’t get my face time, then consider yourself notified of my desires.

Give a big sloppy kiss to the Mrs. for me. And Swee’Pea says a big hug to Rudolph and the gang.

Peace Out,

Note to New Parents

When your child reaches toddler age, check your shoes before putting them on.

Trust me on this one.

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