March 9, 2008

Sun, Sand and Sweets

Yesterday we took the kids out near the ocean. We started with a bike ride where I towed them in our little bike trailer while Beautiful Wife ran ahead of us. The trail we chose was close to the water and we could see sun, birds and sea. It was perfect weather and Swee’Pea and TheMonk did great sitting in their tight quarters with their cute bike helmets on.

After our exercise, we got in the car and proceeded down the road to the small town of Coronado where we lucked out by finding a great parking spot. Soon enough we were walking along the esplanade while the twins tried every tactic they could to go play in the sand. Eventually, we’d let them get sandy but first we had other plans. We were going to get some ice cream.

We devised a little song and dance to keep them occupied along the way to the ice cream shop tucked into the historic Hotel Del Coronado. “Ice Cream, Ice Cream, Ice Cream… JUMP!” we’d shout, while jumping up into the air. I don’t mean to brag, but I got twice as much air on my jumps as Swee’Pea and TheMonk did theirs.

Soon enough we were at the ice cream shop where Swee’Pea chose pink ice cream (strawberry) with sprinkles and TheMonk chose blue ice cream (vanilla ice cream dyed blue for kids) with sprinkles. Beautiful Wife chose Apple Pie and I chose coffee, skipping the sprinkles this time around.

We then proceeded to a table overlooking the pool and with Swee’Pea sitting on Beautiful Wife’s lap and TheMonk sitting on my lap, we ate our ice cream. Everyone was in such a good mood that we didn’t mind sharing our ice cream. TheMonk shared his blue ice cream with everyone and Swee’Pea did the same with hers. There was so much love in the air that, at one point, after sharing a bite of my ice cream with TheMonk, he turned around to look at me and then gave me a big, ice cream kiss on my cheek and then buried his head into my chest – giving me a little nuzzle before going back to his treat. I guess blue ice cream makes TheMonk a little emotional.

After eating our ice cream we made our way to the sand and Swee’Pea and TheMonk chased seagulls across the beach. “Birdy! Birrrddddyyyy!” they’d shout while chasing after the birds, watching them fly away as they approached each bird. The grins on their faces were contagious as several people along the beach stopped and smiled at two little ones chasing the dream of catching a pretty white bird.

After getting home, we fed the twins and put them to bed. They fell asleep before their heads hit the pillow. It must have really taken its toll because as I write this on a Sunday afternoon, the twins are 3 1/2 hours into a nap. Bike riding, ice cream eating and running on sand… a perfect combination for two tired little ones.

March 7, 2008

Why my wife rocks

Back when Beautiful Wife and I first co-habitated, it became apparent that we were on the opposite spectrum of the cleanliness scale. I was a tried and true bachelor who had his own apartment and could leave anything wherever I damn well pleased. I could leave my socks on the living room floor for weeks at a time (you never knew when your feet might get cold while watching Sportscenter) and no one could tell me where those socks should go.

In Beautiful Wife’s mind, everything had a place. Silverware, for example, should actually go into a drawer rather than sit in the dish drainer until ready for use. Clothes actually had to be folded and put into a receptacle called a Dresser rather than a wrinkled heap in the corner of my bedroom. There were rules. Lots of ‘em.

But gradually, Beautiful Wife trained me, much like one would train a puppy to poop on a newspaper, to clean the house. Rubbing my nose in filth really did make a difference in my behavior. In fact, I got so good at cleaning that Beautiful Wife actually began giving me unsupervised cleaning assignments that I was expected to fulfill. For some reason, cleaning toilets kept appearing on the list but I trudged on in my attempt to make the Husband Hall of Fame.

Then, one day soon after the twins were born I was given even more responsibility. I was assigned the entire downstairs to clean while my wife took the upstairs. I think she proposed this to me right in the middle of Sportscenter because I don’t remember putting up a fight. In fact, upstairs had two toilets and downstairs had only one, so perhaps I figured I was coming out ahead.

I figured wrong.

The downstairs has a kitchen. That gets used, like, ALL THE TIME! And then, to make it worse, every toy ever given to Swee’Pea and TheMonk have been placed downstairs. I know, because I spend a great deal of time putting Lightning McQueen and his buddies back to their proper receptacle.

So why tell you all of this? Well, today was the fourth day in a row one or both of the kids have been sick. Since I took the day off on day #1 and Beautiful Wife took the day off on day #2, we have split days 3 and 4 in half so we can each go into work. When I left the house this morning, the downstairs was, admittedly, kind of a mess. What can I say? Some days I’ve got the Mr. Clean touch and others I don’t. I figured I’d have to spend a good part of the evening (Friday evening, no less) cleaning the kitchen and putting things back in order.

But I figured wrong.

Today, when I arrived at 1:00 p.m. and Beautiful Wife and I tag teamed each other at the door, I walked into a very clean, very beautiful kitchen. I swear, if I showed up and Beautiful Wife was wearing nothing but an apron and a smile, I could not have been happier than I was when I saw clean counter tops this afternoon.

Even the silverware was in the correct drawer.

December 25, 2007

Christmas Memories

This post was going to detail the past few days leading up to Christmas. Friday was my last day at my old job (I start my new job in two weeks) and I planned on using that as a springboard into the Christmas homestretch. I was going to detail each day with vivid memories of Christmas goodness. But as I sit here on the couch, with a kitchen still full of dishes, I am recuperating from a holiday haze of cookies, eggnog, and good old fashioned consumerism.

But, before the memories fade away like the bells on Santa’s sleigh, I thought I’d take you through a very fragmented Christmas…

Looking For Love
It’s Sunday and we are doing some last minute shopping at chez Target. My beautiful wife and I put each kid in a shopping cart and head in to face the throng of shoppers angling for the last-minute deals on classic holiday fare like candy-caned-shaped Slim Jims.

Eventually, somewhere near the stocking-stuffer aisle, Andrea and I lose sight of each other. The flow of carts carries me down-aisle and I wind up several aisles away and I am forced to fight my way back up stream. As TheMonk and I look for Mommy and Swee’Pea, in that “head craning down every aisle” look, a concerned Target employee approaches us. “Can I help you find something?” she asks.

“My wife?” I reply amid a chorus of laughter from those around us.

TheMonk Repents
We attend an early Christmas eve mass in a tightly packed church. A nice couple doubles up their kids so we can have two seats in the cry room section of the church. TheMonk is armed with two cars that, as soon as the service starts, he begins to deliberately drop on the floor with a resounding clank. It goes downhill from there and at some point, TheMonk hits me in the face. In our house hitting someone earns you an automatic time out. As far as I’m concerned, in the House of The Lord, hitting someone earns you a timeout as well. So there we are – me standing over TheMonk in the corner of the cry room while he sits facing the corner of the room during a reading from the Book of Matthew.

Soon enough it was time to receive communion. We gathered up the kids and held them in our arms. Due to the behavior of TheMonk, we were seriously contemplating getting out of there once we ate our bland wafer. This decision was sealed once Andrea took communion, with TheMonk in her arms. He soon realized he wasn’t getting anything to eat like Mommy and, being TheMonk, he decided to voice his displeasure. Let me just say, it’s not Christmas until you hear a two-year-old scream at the top of his lungs, “I WANNA COOKIE TOO!!!!!!!” while attending church.

We’re gonna get this tradition thing down
Back from church, we get the kids in their PJ’s and climb into the SUV for a brief jaunt around the neighborhood to ooh and aah at 27 different snow men, two Santas on Harleys, and icicles hanging from eaves in 60 degree weather. Upon our return, we realized we hadn’t really prepared a Christmas Eve dinner so I whipped up a semi-homemade dinner of bow-tie pasta, buttered carrots and bruschetta on toasted baguette. We then swigged a cup of eggnog in the kitchen, laid out cookies, carrots and milk for the impending arrival of the Big Guy and his posse, and headed up to put two little ones down to sleep. If they knew what sugar plums were, visions certainly would have been dancing in their head.

Some Assembly Required

Andrea and I debated whether Santa wraps his gifts or leaves them out in the open. I was briefly on the “Wrap” side of this debate until I realized how much less work it would be to let Santa just lay them out. So we extracted all of the toys from their hermetically sealed packages, arranged them just so, and went to bed.

Christmas goodies

Jump Around. Jump Around. Jump… Jump…
We enter the twin’s bedroom on Christmas morning and they are standing in their cribs waiting for the magic that will soon unfold. TheMonk, when asked if he’s ready to see what Santa brought him, begins jumping up and down in his crib, shouting out, “Santa came!” If there’s one thing I don’t want to forget about this Christmas it’s that memory.

Squeals of Delight
I hold their hands as we descend the stairs to begin our Christmas morning. We don’t make it down the entire staircase, however, before Swee’Pea breaks free from my grasp, hurdles the last few stairs and sprints towards the cornucopia of Chinese-made mound of plastic toys. If there’s another memory I don’t want to forget, it’s this one.

Dinner with Rachel Ray
We sit down to a Christmas Dinner of pot roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy and salad. TheMonk can’t get enough of everything. He devours his salad, pot roast, potatoes and carrots in record time. Swee’Pea, on the other hand, decides she’d rather work on her presentation skills. (It should be noted that Swee’Pea is a big Rachel Ray fan. She loves to watch her show. To play off that passion she received 101 pieces of plastic food along with pots and pans from Santa) As the rest of us eat, Swee’Pea carefully loads a dollop of mashed potatoes onto several round carrot discs on her plate. Once her carrot and mashed potato “cupcakes” (her words) are done, she dutifully shares them with the rest of us. If she ever has a career in cooking, let it be known this was her first Christmas dinner.

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
After dinner, we snuggle on the couch to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas on TV. Swee’Pea, in between playing with her princess dolls she received from my Aunt Irma, looks up to see The Grinch absconding with Cindy Lou Who’s Christmas Tree. Upon seeing this, Swee’Pea exclaims, “He’s being naughty. He needs a time out.”


It’s now late on Christmas Day and a glance at the counter reminds me I still have some cleaning up to do. Let me just say that to all of you who have followed our story here, Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Christmas Card

November 17, 2007

Being an adult makes my head hurt.

For the past several weeks the lovely wife has been poring over our financial existence. Retirement funds, school loans, salaries, college funds, piggy banks, lottery tickets and anything else related to our financial future.

The goal? Well, apparently there will be a time when we’re too old to work and, according to my lovely wife, we need to be prepared for that day. While she liked my idea of raising genius, fabulously rich children that will take care of us in our senior days, she thought we can’t put all of our pennies in that basket. So, we have to spend our days talking about this type of fund and that type of fund and whether we want to eat filet mignon in our senior days or live off of cat food.

Personally, I think cat food could be quite tasty.

Seriously though, it’s really hard to decide today what kind of life you want to have 26 years from now. Will we want to travel? Hell yeah! Do we want to visit our grandkids after they have moved somewhere significantly far from where we live? You bet! Do we want to live in our current mansion or downsize to a condo that has a community center with a bingo night? It depends on whether they play for money or not.

There are so many variables and wants and only a finite amount of resources. I mean, I do work for a non-profit and while my retirement plan is probably the best you’ll see at a non-profit, it still isn’t going to allow me to jet set to Europe every year. I’d love for us to pay for our kids education entirely but, realistically, they’ll have to contribute something so they’ll need to be either awesome athletes or brainiacs to the nth degree.

So, I want to take this opportunity to thank my Honey for making sure we won’t be panhandling along the Pacific Ocean in our older years and remind Swee’Pea and TheMonk that I’ll do all that I can to ensure their success.

But if they become fabulously rich… This blog is documentation of how great a parent I’ve been.

I’m just sayin’…

November 1, 2007

A kitty, a puppy, and a cereal killer

Halloween has come and gone and we managed to make it through unscathed. We managed to keep the monsters at bay and even got out to do a little trick or treating. Swee’Pea was a “pink kitty” because, as she’ll tell you, pink is her favorite color. TheMonk was a puppy because – well, puppies just go so well with kitties, don’t they?

The evening got off to a rough start when we put TheMonk in his puppy costume to find it didn’t fit. In fact it was cutting off the circulation in his legs and restricting his oxygen intake up top. A few seams were ripped out to alleviate the pressure and he was good to go.

We hit a few houses on the street (note to neighbors, if you’re going to put out decorations, you should probably be home for trick or treaters) and then headed back to casa childsplay and doled out candy to all the Spidermen and Cinderellas in the neighborhood.

At the end of the evening, Swee’Pea and TheMonk even got to taste their very first Tootsie Roll. After seeing what it did to their teeth, we’ll probably just stick with Kit Kat from now on.

Oh, and to add to the spookiness of the evening, TheMonk kept telling me that we needed to give candy to “the boy upstairs.” He was very convincing. And while I just nodded to the Monk, I made sure I left a Hershey’s bar on the landing upstairs before we went to bed. Far be it from me to keep a little boy (ghost or no ghost) from some candy on Halloween.

Below are some photos of the kids (and one of me in my “cereal killer” costume). I hope your Halloween was free of real ghosts and the treats outweighed the tricks! What did your kids dress up as? What was your favorite costume you saw last night – both for adults and kids? (I need ideas for next year!)

October 28, 2007

Out of their gourd

Yesterday, we stopped by the local pumpkin patch so Swee’Pea and TheMonk could pick out their pumpkins. The patch had separated the pumpkins by size but they also had a small section where loose pumpkins, most small, were laying on the ground ready to be picked up.

We headed over to this section and turned Swee’Pea and TheMonk loose. They were very excited and ran over to pick up the first pumpkins they saw. Wanting them to get a little out of this experience, we encouraged them to roam around and look for a pumpkin to take home.

Soon enough, Swee’Pea had settled on her pumpkin and TheMonk had settled on his. Now, the more experienced pumpkin chooser might suggest that Swee’Pea and TheMonk have a ways to go when it comes to choosing the perfect pumpkin. I prefer to think of Swee’Pea and TheMonk as bucking the status quo. They are trend setters, not trend followers.

Why would they choose a boring, everyday-looking pumpkin, when they can choose a unique, one-of-a-kind pumpkin that is unlike any other pumpkin adorning the porches of American cities this week?

Perfectly orange pumpkins are so passé. Pumpkins that aren’t rotting out the bottom are too mainstream. Swee’Pea and TheMonk are taking Halloween traditions and turning them on their gourd.

But don’t take my word for it. I give you photographic proof of the pumpkin choosing ability of my kids.

TheMonk’s on the left and Swee’Pea’s is on the right.

October 24, 2007

Back to “normal”

While fires continue to rage in other parts of the county, the fire that threatened my neighborhood has been controlled and no longer poses a threat.

As we try and get back into a routine I cannot forget the fear and uncertainty that permeated our household for a day or so. I don’t want to forget because those who are still in danger or, even worse, lost their homes will have so much rebuilding to do – in both house and spirit.

For those of you who have followed my short encounter, thank you for your concern and support. It really is amazing the connection I have made with so many of you through this blog. It was nice to know that we had offers to move to both Memphis and Wisconsin if needed. That’s the kind of people there are out there and it’s very nice to know.

I hope that the other 1,000+ families who have lost their homes have people looking out for them as well. If you would like to help make a difference from afar you can donate to the American Red Cross of San Diego and those donations will help support the recovery of San Diego.

On another note, this experience really teaches you what’s important in life. My wife and I spent so much time and energy purchasing and moving into this home. We’ve filled it with memories but we ‘ve also filled it with furniture, electronics, knick knacks and a lot of toys. Stuff. But in the end the only things we packed into that car were things that had sentimental value. Old track medals. First locks of hair. Photos.

So, my friends, take some time out today to think about what is most important. We often spend so much time acquiring things or working to acquire things. In the end, that stuff is not the important stuff. It’s easy to forget that. So, I leave you with a homework assignment. You can leave your answers in my comment section or you can just file it away in your heart but I ask you to consider this…

If you had to pack up on a moment’s notice, what would you take with you?

September 11, 2007

Six years later

It has been six years since the terrorist attacks changed our lives forever. Since that time I’ve become a father which has changed the way I see the world and the way I see myself. Six years ago I was angry. Six years ago I wanted to hunt down the scum of the earth responsible for these horrendous acts and make them feel the pain that was inflicted on our country.

Today, I’m not sure what I feel. I guess I still feel a sense of loss. A loss of freedom. A loss of innocence. That day six years ago changed us and there is no going back. I read somewhere that 9/11 is our generation’s JFK assassination or Pearl Harbor. We all remember where we were that fateful day and we all remember how our lives used to be.

This morning, I snuggled with my two beautiful children while scanning some of my favorite blogs. The smell of lavender shampoo was strong as Swee’Pea and TheMonk rested their heads on my chest while they watched The Wiggles. I visited my friend MetroDad and was reminded again how my loss of innocence does not compare to his loss of his best friend.

How lucky am I to have all that I do.

And then I thought of someone else. About a year or two ago a co-worker of mine named Eryn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. These nerve cells die and eventually the person afflicted with ALS becomes paralyzed. After that comes death. There is no cure.

Eryn was not a close friend. We did not even work at the same location. But I knew her casually and we would chat about her beautiful small children. She would light up when talking about them and I knew that we shared a love for parenting our children.

Erin moved to another state to seek treatment and recently I received an email asking for me to consider helping raise money to fight ALS through Eryn. I thought of her two small girls growing up without their mother and I cried. And then I made a donation.

Many tears are being shed today. I weep as I write this very sentence. I weep for people like Pierre who have lost their best friend in a senseless act of violence. I weep for Eryn who must be so afraid inside yet is courageously fighting the only way she knows how. I weep for my children as I realize how impossible it is to protect them from all harm and disease in this world.

May we weep together, my friends. May we stand tall and unite to make others lives a little better. We cannot undo the awful things that happened six years ago. But we can help others in their name.

If you feel so inclined today, I ask you to consider making a contribution, small or large, to one, or both, of the following places…

The Andrew Golkin Memorial Fund in honor of MetroDad’s best friend. This fund goes to give scholarships to underprivileged kids in New York City.


The 2007 Walk to D’feet ALS that my friend Eryn is participating in. If you do give, please put in honor of Eryn Baird.

Thank you for anything you can give.

August 21, 2007

Welcome to MightyTwins

Hi all of you visiting from Maggie.

Please feel free to stay awhile. I don’t bite. Often.

Oh, and for my small but dedicated readership, send some love Maggie’s way as she has put up some very adorable photos of Swee’Pea and TheMonk when we visited The Mighty Family last month.

July 25, 2007

Vacation Photos

A couple of weeks ago we packed up the twins and drove 500 or so miles up to the Bay Area for a whirlwind tour of family. We started with Grandmother in my hometown of Santa Cruz. We took the kids to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a local amusement park where I spent much of my youth, which also happened to be where I took Andrea on our first date – 10 years ago. Talk about coming full circle.

Next on the tour was the Mighty family of Maggie, Bryan and baby Hank. He was a tired little dude but we got to see his beautiful self up close and that was totally worth it. As you can see Bryan and Maggie were big hits with Swee’Pea and TheMonk.

Finally, we saw my brother’s family – which included my nephew Thomas and the newest addition to the family – little baby Caroline whose squeaks were just way too cute.

Enjoy the photos.

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