March 13, 2012

$12.52 is the most meaningful gift ever

It started out as a simple question as TheMonk and I walked down the halls of the YMCA that I run. “Daddy, what are those bananas for?” You see, the walls are currently covered in banana trees made of paper with each banana naming a current donor to our Annual Support Campaign fundraiser.

“Those are people who donated some of their money to our YMCA so that kids who don’t have any money can play sports or go to camp or take swim lessons.” I told him.

Evidently this stuck with him because later that night, as I was tucking him into bed, he announced to me that he had been thinking of the bananas and wanted to give some of his money from his piggy bank. Touched by this, I told him I would be happy to bring his donation to work. He then pledged to give the Y $1.25.

Swee’Pea, the next day, upon hearing of this, wanted to give too. She fished out $6.26 and handed it over to me so that she could help kids go to camp. TheMonk, in a moment of extreme altruism (or sibling rivalry, it’s hard to say which) matched Swee’Pea’s pledge. This morning, I proudly brought $12.52 to the Y on behalf of Swee’Pea and TheMonk.

I then mentioned this in an email to my board and staff and, to my surprise, over a dozen people have responded saying they will match the $12.52. One very generous donor said they would pledge $1,252 in honor of Swee’Pea and TheMonk.

As I write this, I’m humbled and proud of what my kids have done. They have not only done something to help their fellow friends, but they have inspired others to do so as well.

If you are equally inspired, would you can pledge any amount you would like (but $12.52 has a nice ring to it) by going here and filling out the online form. Thank you to all of you.

February 27, 2012

We can’t shut her up

The silence doesn’t last long in this house.  Two six-year-olds and their Daddy can cause some serious noise.  So it’s no surprise that GirlyGirl has taken an interest competing for attention.  It started out with some random shrieks and lots of babbling but in the past couple of weeks she’s begun to utter some words.

Now there is some debate within the household of what her first word was.  I claim it was DaDa and she has uttered it while approximating the sign for Daddy.  But she has only said it, admittedly, a few times and doesn’t say it to me every time she sees me.

The kitties, on the other hand, she will talk every single time.  Whenever she sees the quiet Nutmeg or the bold Socks, she gets excited and will say in a loud whisper, “Kit-teh.”  It probably doesn’t hurt that whenever she says this we bring her over to pet the kitty.

The other word she is beginning to say is “done.” She will announce it while nursing, mostly.  But I’m sure we’ll be hearing that word more and more.

As for kitty chasing?  Well, kitty loving is well documented on this blog.  But, I do believe, Swee’Pea has a run for her money.


February 14, 2012

Right Beside You Is Where I Belong

Just the other night, as I folded baby clothes on the floor, I was listening to music when our wedding song came on. And while I called you into the room and we had a fleeting dance and laugh, the moment has stuck with me over the past couple of days.

So much has changed since that first dance. If you had asked me that day what 11 years later would look like, there’s no way I could have painted a picture of a family as beautiful as ours. First twins. Then another one. And when I look at the beauty in our children, I am reminded of why I love you so much. You are a wonderful mother. So much so that you make me want to be a better father. Together, we have created something so wonderful and I thank God often that you chose me to go on this journey with.

Happy Valentines, my love. From your husband and your beautiful children.

Chocolate Valentines

January 6, 2012

I believe…

Swee’Pea and TheMonk are struggling in their belief. As much as they want to believe in a higher power, they are confronted by peers who audaciously announce that to believe is to be a fool. But they want to believe. I can see it in their eyes and feel it in their hearts – they want to hold onto the notion that a higher power of benevolent good does exist. They want to believe and so they asked me, last night, over dinner, “Daddy, is Santa Claus real?”

I looked at them from across the table and a heaviness weighed on my heart as I struggled with how to answer this question. I glanced at their mother and she looked back at me with a look that said, “How are you going to answer this one?”

And so I told them the truth:

I believe.

And while I kept it short and neither confirmed or denied the existence of a fat man in a red suit, I affirmed that I believed in him and that was good enough to end the discussion. But as I sit here now, a day removed from the unexpected question, I feel the need to elaborate even further. Because no matter your age, 6 or 60, believing in something is important. So, years from now, as you read this, my little ones, I hope you still believe.

Because I do believe. I believe in a warm, genuine love that makes kids feel safe and wanted and adored. I believe in the magic of Christmas mornings and the anticipation of promises delivered. I believe in cookies with egg nog and carrots for reindeer and stockings hung by the chimney with care. I believe in fantastical stories of ’round the world trips and radar systems that track His every move. I believe in the power of Santa’s lap and the tears of terror and smiles of joy that accompany it. I believe in naughty and nice and a list that is checked twice – a list that holds such esteem that behavior is changed between Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. I believe in the North Pole, Silver Bells and Reindeer Games. And I believe in the power of a man, real or imagined, that spreads joy to countless kids across the world. Yes, my children, I believe.

And I hope you always do too.

January 5, 2012

Change is hard

As I mentioned below, Swee’Pea and TheMonk are destined for their own rooms. We ordered loft-style beds for each and Swee’Pea’s came last week. This past weekend I mustered all of my furniture-assembly skills and built Swee’Pea’s princess bed.

And while Swee’Pea was clearly excited, she was also apprehensive. She has a history of being scared to try new things and this was no different. She shed a few tears and asked for her old bed back. TheMonk, also feeling vulnerable and unsure, did the same. It was heartbreaking to see the looks on their faces as they faced the great unknown that stretches before them. It was like they understood the significance of this moment – that they would be going their separate paths – and weren’t quite ready.

So we gave hugs and kisses and reassurances and on the first night in her new bed, Swee’Pea chose to sleep with TheMonk. Notice the holding of hands, even as they sleep. May they always have each other when they need it most.

Big Kids

December 20, 2011

Split decision

The voices ring through the silent night. Giggles and loud bursts of chatter followed by lower murmuring. The talking and the listening in on the baby monitor has been well documented on this blog. But this week, the conversations are bitter sweet.

In another week or so, new beds will arrive at our house. I will assemble them and, for the first time, put Swee’Pea’s bed in one room… and TheMonk’s bed in another. Even as I write this, the tears well up in my eyes at the prospect of the twins being separated at night. I knew this day would come but now I’m not so sure I want it.

I want to hold onto the love and comfort that these two give each other. i want to hold onto the innocence of youth and the love of siblings that has never been stronger. I want to hold onto the notion of Swee’Pea and TheMonk being an inseparable team, conspiring, sharing, protecting, supporting and, yes, even fighting. They’ve always had each other and now… it feels like they won’t.

Tonight, I turned up the baby monitor that has never left their room (but not always turned on) and listened to them talk about computer games and canopy beds and everything that’s important to six-year-olds. I reminisced about all the great conversations I’ve heard. Singing. Arguments. Constant talking and cute comments. Wonderful memories that I hope I never forget.

And as we head towards this bittersweet milestone, I pray that they will always remember the closeness that only they can share and that this bond can survive the distance of a wall and two doors.

In the meantime, forgive me if I shed some tears.

November 27, 2011

Geography Lesson

The globe sits prominently downstairs, ready for a quick reference whenever a country comes up in conversation. On this day the kids are spinning the globe and stopping it indiscriminately with an index finger.

“Jamaica!” Says, TheMonk. “It’s tiny, Daddy.”

“Yes.” I reply. “And they go around saying, ‘Jamaican me crazy, man!’”

TheMonk looks at me with a wary smile. “You’re making me crazy?” he says slowly enough to where I’m not sure if it’s a question or a statement.

The globe gets spun again and Swee’Pea stops it with her tiny finger. “Turkey?!” she shrieks as she obviously finds it hilarious that there is a country named after the bird she just ate for Thanksgiving dinner.

“Yes.” I reply. “Now, can you tell where the country called ‘Chicken’ is?” I ask.

Immediately, both Swee’Pea and TheMonk begin closely investigating the globe.

Being a dad sure is fun.

October 30, 2011

Baby by any other name is still a baby.

We’re four and a half months into baby number three. All that time and I still haven’t settled on a blog name for the little one. At first, I was certain it was going to be “m&m” but that hasn’t rolled off the tongue with me. Right now, I’m leaning towards Special K because there’s a K in the baby’s name and I find myself saying it to her from time to time. Swee’Pea has been calling the baby “May-May,” which is a nod to her real name but hasn’t really sunken in yet either.

Whatever we call her, I can’t tell you how much I love this little girl. As her personality emerges, it’s clear that she’s one happy baby. Of course she cries when she’s hungry or wet or when her very loud six-year-old brother startles her, but overall, she’s full of smiles and laughs. She loves her brother and sister and squeals in delight whenever they come give her attention. Of course, she lights up the room whenever she sees me for the first time (a move that certainly moves me to include her in my will).

Overall, this baby is a total joy. And, the best part? It’s only one frickin’ baby! Oh. My. God. For those of you who have only had your babies one at a time, you don’t know how easy you have it. Of course. She’s a girl. Easy won’t last.

"I'm not sure I like this, Daddy."

I’m usually very happy. Trust me.

October 25, 2011

A request from Swee’Pea and TheMonk

Yesterday, Swee’Pea and TheMonk came home more excited than I’ve every seen them come home from school. What where they so excited about? It turns out that they attended a school assembly that turned them into little salespeople for a fundraiser for their school. They were particularly focused on the prize list that that detailed what they could win if they sold 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75… It was here that they stopped. They learned that if they sold 75 items they could win a Runaway Alarm Clock. They needed this clock. They were determined to sell 75 items. They even conspired to sell as one student rather than split up the sales. It was decided.

But one problem. They don’t know 75 people and Grandmother was probably only good for 5 items, tops. I told them I knew where they could find a larger audience. They were intrigued. This led them to their very first contribution on this blog. I give you Swee’Pea and TheMonk:

If you would like to support their endeavors, you can visit the All American Fund Raising website. Leave a comment below and I will send the school name and TheMonk’s name to enter at the end of your order. Or, if you are FB friends with me, that information is currently on my FB page.

Items start as little as $8.00 and you can get everything from Christmas stuff to chocolates to magazines to gluten-free foods. I’d love for Swee’Pea and TheMonk to blow this out of the water. Will you help? Thank you!

September 23, 2011

She’s so not babysitting her sister

We are eating dinner and our usual “What did you do at school today” conversation is taking place. We have come a long way since the days when this question would be answered with an “I don’t know” or an “I forget.” Today, for example, set an all-time high on the interesting factor.

Swee’pea explains that her writing assignment was to write about a time when she was scared. Now most kids in her class probably wrote about being afraid of the dark or the time when their brother scared them or even the way their dad looks first thing in the morning. All of these would have been fine topics for Swee’Pea to choose. However, Swee’Pea chose to go a different route…

“Today, I wrote a story about a King who wanted a son but his wives only gave him daughters so he chopped off the heads of all the girl babies until he finally got a son.”

Um, yeah. I expect we’ll be getting a call from her teacher in the very near future.

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