July 31, 2008

Sugar, Spice, Snips and Snails

It’s early and I go in to wake Swee’Pea and TheMonk to begin another day.  TheMonk, even though he chattered away for more than an hour after we put him to bed the previous night, greets me with enthusiasm and jumps up for me to lift him out of his crib.

Swee’Pea, who had to listen to a certain boy chatter away for over an hour the previous night, is not so keen on waking up.  She rolls over, her back to me, and curls up even more than before clutching her plush kitty to her face as she tries to will more sleep.

I quickly change TheMonk and turn him loose on the rest of the house.  He makes a beeline to the master suite to say good morning to Mommy while I turn my attention to Swee’Pea.  After a few failed attempts to get her to roll over so I can pick her up, I remind her that today we are going to Sea World day camp and that I need her to get up.  As soon as she gets up she looks to see the clothes that I have laid out for her and I know what is coming.  I have laid out shorts and a t-shirt, thinking this proper camp attire, but I know that Swee’Pea will want to wear a “princess dress” instead.

Sure enough, she asks for a Princess Dress and I explain that I don’t think it would be a good idea to wear a dress to Sea World camp.  Not satisfied with this answer and still foggy from only getting 10  hours of sleep rather than the 11 she’s used to, she loses her sanity and starts to scream and thrash about, all the while screaming, “I WANT A PRINCESS DRESS!! I WANT A PRINCESS DRESS!!!!”  while hardly appearing princess-like.

At that same moment that my little girl is so upset because she’s afraid her princess status will be revoked if she even goes near a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, TheMonk comes running into the room, oblivious to his sister’s screams.

“Watch Daddy! Watch me!” he says.

While pinning Swee’Pea down and wrestling a pair of shorts on her, I look over to TheMonk to see what he wants me to watch.  Realizing he has my full attention, he faces up to me, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and rips out an impressively loud fart, complete with facial contortions that make it really clear that this was a planned gas attack.  Mission accomplished, he laughs out loud and runs out of the room leaving me to finish dressing Swee’Pea.

Swee’Pea calms down when I show her that the t-shirt I want to put on her is a fairy-princess shirt (yeah, I’m smart like that).  This seems to appease her as she will still be pushing her princess status for all to see.

As I release Swee’pea to go say hi to Mommy and Nutmeg the cat, I pause for a moment to reflect on what has just transpired.  And I can’t help but wonder, just how, exactly, did I get myself into a world where Princesses and Farting Monkeys collide?

July 28, 2008

Cute Photo Overdose

Okay, because of popular demand, I have posted or linked to most of the photos that were submitted in the great Chicco Twin Stroller giveaway.  Now you can see why I had to resort to random numbers determining the winner.

The Attack by Deep End Wisdom:

I’m sure they are plotting something by All That Comes With It.

Chill Out by Life, Liberty and Vodka Tonics

Revenge by Gemini Girl

Toys submitted by Sonya

Best Buddies by Jen

Others left links to photos on their own blogs.

McCathy’s Tub submitted “Brothers”

Loving Danger submits “Who needs a crib?” (Okay, I titled it that – this photo is great)

The Campos Nelson Family submits “Wingman”

Tales of the Two Utes submitted a few photos (but I’m partial to the double time out)

Da’Gorgeouses submitted their little pearls

And Goddess in Progress submitted a few but my favorite was Queen of the mountain

And finally… the winner of our contest is Angelique:

July 27, 2008

Dedicated Duo – The Virgo and the Leo

Andrea, my beautiful wife, subscribes to Baby Center’s updates. This week she came across an astrological page that told us of our parenting style as a duo. Even if you knew us better than anyone, you couldn’t have written a more accurate description. Here’s what it says…

It would be difficult to find a pair of parents more dedicated to family than you two. You both have high ideals when it comes to childrearing, and you expect a great deal from yourselves as well as your children. You have your differences, but they are complementary rather than conflicting. The Leo mom or dad (that’s me!) thrives on activity, energy, and creative projects. Your personal warmth and dramatic personality inspire your children, and they will always feel secure in your love. You want them to feel good about expressing themselves, like you do.

The Virgo parent (that’s Andrea!) sets high standards for the children. You want them to develop the same work ethic and practical self-discipline that you have mastered. Children do respond to high expectations, but don’t make them
out of reach. Reasonable goals will help your kids build self-confidence as well as competence.

When Andrea first read this to me I couldn’t help but feel a little proud.  We DO compliment each other in our parenting skills.  And I have to give Andrea credit because she lets me be me when it comes to parenting Swee’Pea and TheMonk.  We jump on pillows while Andrea cringes.  We sing.  We dance.  We laugh really hard.  And Andrea joins us – even if it isn’t as comfortable for her as it is for me.

And I am really glad that Andrea brings that work ethic and practical self-discipline that our children need that often isn’t foremost on my mind.  She is provides the balance to me.

And I’ll be damned if we aren’t raising great kids.  They give us challenges, of course, but they also are really great kids.  They are good in public.  They say “please” and “thank you”.  They listen (most of the time) when we talk to them and they give good hugs, good kisses, and laugh like no one is watching.

And to think it was all in the stars.

July 26, 2008

We have a winner!

So, you may remember that last week we had a little photo contest to give away a brand spanking new Chicco twin stroller. I received numerous submissions. I was going to post them but then realized that nobody actually gave me permission to post them (that and it’s 10:10 p.m. and it would take me forever to upload all of them) so I think I’ll just post the winner. However, if you did submit a photo and don’t mind me posting it, let me know and I’ll do a follow-up post with the very worth also-rans.

Speaking of “very worthy,” I have to explain something about this contest that occurred to me very shortly after the stroller was made available. When it comes to judging something so subjective and personal like cute kids, I am absolutely, positively… a wimp. And the fact that I oohed and aahed over every photo that was submitted only confirmed my wimpiness since I knew that I was not going to be able to pick a winner.

So, I did the next best thing… I assigned numbers to every entry and then used random.org to randomly pick a winner… with a few modifications. First, for obvious reasons, I have a bias for those who parent twins. It’s frickin’ hard, people! So, I gave each twin mom (no Dads entered this contest) one extra entry into the contest. Then, there was one person, Angelique, who entered the contest that pretty much stood out solely due to her situation. She has a two-year-old, a one-year-old and is pregnant with twins. (*shudder*) She also sent a pretty funny photo (think “Not too proud to beg using cute kids”). So, I gave her four entries – one for each kid. She deserved it.

So, I assigned random numbers (I separated the multiple entries) and then plugged my numbers into Random.org. Whose number did it call up? Well, for once, having the most entries actually worked!

Congratulations Angelique! You are the proud new owner of a Chicco Twin Stroller! And, it seems, you are really going to need it! Here is the winning photo…

twin stroller winner photo

And the stroller she won…

Chicco stroller

Thanks to all of you who participated!  I really enjoyed all the great photos!

July 24, 2008

A time to reflect

To my little ones:

Today is my birthday. Today I turned 37 years old. I am now firmly in my late 30′s and while this is the first birthday that has given me pause when I think about my age, I have come to the realization that being comfortable with your age simply means being comfortable with yourself.

And while I haven’t always been comfortable with myself (some day I’ll tell you about middle school), I really enjoy who I am today. And much of that has to do with you, my little ones. You see, since your mother and I welcomed you into our world, all fear and doubt and questions about being a good father have melted away. Over the past three years I have come to not only love being your Daddy, but to also realize (at the sake of sounding immodest) that I’m pretty darn good at being your Daddy. And THAT, above all else I have done in my life, makes me feel like I’ve done something pretty special.

In addition to today being my birthday, I had to go to a funeral for a man I did not know but who had helped your Daddy’s YMCA a lot in the past before his body broke down from old age and fun living. I didn’t know this man but hearing everyone talk about how caring he was – along with his ability to make people laugh, his ability to reach out to those he didn’t even know and make their lives better, and his ability to write funny poetry for his his six children – all made me think about how blessed this man was to have so many people stand up and say, not only what a great man he was, but also what a great father he was. It made me realize that I have my priorities straight and I hope I never forget that when it comes time for me to pass from this world, that my greatest contribution will have been the love and caring that I shared with you.

And someday, when you’re 17, 37, 57 or 87, may you find comfort in knowing who you are. And may I have had a small part in creating that comfort.

Love and kisses,


July 20, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words a twin stroller.

One of my favorite pastimes is taking pictures of Swee’Pea and TheMonk.  Even more fun is going back and looking at some photos and the joy it brings to me knowing that I survived that time how much fun that time in our lives was.

So when the nice people at Chicco, the Italian juvenile products and toy company, approached me about giving away a free twin stroller here, I thought I’d do a contest surrounding photos.  The stroller is a double stroller for sizes birth to 40 lbs.  It retails for $219 and is a good travel stroller as it folds up compactly. It looks like this:

Trevi Twin Extreme Stroller

So, here’s the contest… First, I really want the winner to put this stroller to good use. So, extra points if you have multiples or two small children close together in age. Second, I would like you to submit your favorite photo for consideration. You can present it any way you like but a caption that best describes the photo would be great (see below for examples). You can either email me with it (address is on my sidebar to the right) or you can provide a link to your blog in the comments section. If you are currently pregnant and don’t have a photo of your kids, you can provide photo evidence of said pregnancy. Everything will be considered.

The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, July 25th. Good luck!

Here’s some of my photos that would warrant consideration…

You can make your own “Motivational Poster” at FD’s Flickr Toys.

Kisses for Swee'Pea
Tug at the heart strings

Helping Hands
A Gentleman and a Lady

Of course, your ingenuity might be way better than mine. Good luck!

July 18, 2008

Monk’s Big Boy

“I a Big Boy!”

TheMonk has a burning desire to be a “big boy.”  It was probably the single most effective method in getting him potty trained.  All we had to do is remind him that “big boys go pee pee in the potty.”  Really?  Done.

But now this “Big Boy” stuff is starting to get a little old.  The main problem is that while, yes, he has made great strides in becoming a “Big Boy,” he’s still more “Little Boy” than “Big Boy.”  But that doesn’t stop  him from wanting to do everything all by himself.  He wants to climb into his car seat, put on his shoes, run the water in the bath, open his own beer bottle… You get the idea.  While he may be on the verge of doing many of these things, it takes him a LOT longer than it would take me.  I mean, geez, do you have any idea how long it takes a 3-year-old to open a bottle of beer?

But all of that is minor compared to what transpired today.

As TheMonk and I cuddled on the couch this morning watching Curious George, I reached over and tried to kiss his chubby little cheek.  He turned away from me and said, “No Daddy! No kissing me! I a big boy. Kiss me like this [he kissed the palm of his hand and blew me a kiss].”  Thinking he had made his point, he went back to watching Curious George.

I stared at him, contemplating how to respond to this directive that we would only blow kisses to each other from now on.  I could only think of one way to respond…

I grabbed him, wrapped my arms around him and smothered him with tons of kisses while he squirmed and squealed in my arms.

“You may be a Big Boy, Monk.” I said, “But you aren’t too big for kisses from Daddy.”

As I finally let him go, he sat on the couch, breathing heavily from the squealing and glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes.  His smile told me that perhaps he really didn’t want to be that big of a boy just yet either.

July 16, 2008

And so it begins

Swee’Pea and TheMonk are sitting at the table enjoying their breakfast. TheMonk is eating his bowl of oatmeal, lightly seasoned with brown sugar and cinnamon. Swee’Pea is eating her Cream of Wheat, lightly seasoned with brown sugar.

I am over at the counter, wiping up spilled brown sugar.

I am not paying close attention to the conversation that Swee’Pea and TheMonk are engaged in. When I left the table I think Swee’Pea was challenging TheMonk’s theory that the downturn in the economy was somehow related to all that acid the Baby Boomer’s took in the 70′s. She insisted that it was Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s fault (and, frankly, I’m more apt to agree with her).

But then, as I absentmindedly wiped brown sugar onto the floor, I heard Swee’Pea yell at TheMonk, “STOP COPYING ME, MONK!”

I quickly looked over and tried to see what TheMonk was doing. It didn’t appear to me that he was doing much of anything. TheMonk must have agreed because he yelled back, “I NOT COPYING YOU! YOU STOP COPYING ME!”

And then he looked over at me and gave me a look that said, “Can you believe the craziness coming out of my sister’s mouth?!”

“STOP COPYING ME!” continues Swee’Pea.

“STOP COPYING ME! counters TheMonk.

At this point, I’m annoyed because now the only thing they are copying is the yelling of “STOP COPYING ME!” and if I have to keep hearing this, I’m going to start shoving copious amounts of brown sugar into my ears.

“Stop yelling, guys.” I say. “No one is copying anyone. Let’s just eat.”

Reluctantly, they listen and turn to their food. Swee’Pea takes a bite of her Cream of Wheat while watching TheMonk suspiciously. TheMonk, while watching Swee’Pea, takes a bite of his oatmeal.

At which Swee’Pea immediately yells, “STOP COPYING ME!”

July 15, 2008

Checking in

I’ve been away at a conference this week. The highlights? I got to see both Obama and McCain speak this week. The low lights? My blog reader is seriously out of control. Someone give me the Readers Digest version of the blog world.

Blogher is this week, right? Meaning my stat counter will get quite a rest this week. If you’re not going, we can just hang out together and make fun of those who went. Who’s bringing the junk food?

And, just because, I thought I’d leave you with some up-to-date photos of Swee’Pea and TheMonk. Can you believe how old they are?! Me neither.

July 10, 2008

Oh, of course. What was I thinking?

We are reading our nightly bedtime stories. This particular book we are reading has Dora examining different occupations she could have when she grows up. After reading about archaeologists, astronauts, Animal Rescuers and crack dealers we get to the page where Dora could be a cowgirl. The illustration shows a small pen with a horse, a cow, Dora, Boots, Benny the Bull and lots of cowgirl stuff.

None of the other stuff matters, however, as Swee’Pea becomes fixated with the horse. She loves the horse. She lets it be known that whatever she does, it has to involve the horse.

“So, Swee’Pea, do you want to be a cowgirl?” I ask.

“No.” Swee’Pea replies, shaking her head emphatically.

“I want to be a horse girl.”

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