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 2, 2005

My SAHD Experience Ends

Dear Swee’Pea and Monk,

I go back to work on Monday. I spent the last five weeks learning so much about who my little ones really are. Somehow, along the way, I learned who I really am too. Monk, you are a curious, introspective little guy who gets a little frustrated when learning new things – but you keep trying anyway. I love that about you. Swee’Pea, you love to laugh. You like to interact with others. You reach out to touch your brother whenever he’s near and you love the cat – just like your mother. How could I not love that? And for me? I learned that I love being your father in every sense of the word. I also remembered that I love being your Mommy’s husband. I love being part of this team. We do good things together.

On Monday you’ll be starting daycare for the first time. I have been thinking a lot about this new chapter in your lives and I have a story for you that I think is important for me to tell. My first job out of college was a low-paying job as the personal assistant to the publisher of a small oil and gas publication that catered to large oil companies. Ed, the publisher, was a very demanding man who wasn’t afraid to tell you that you messed up. Ed would yell at you if the mail was in the wrong place on his desk. He’d get upset if you couldn’t get him something in a timely manner. And Lord help the poor copy editor if there was a mistake in the weekly publication. Now, you’re probably wondering why I would be telling you this and what does this have to do with you going to daycare. Well, you see, in addition to being the publisher of a lucrative oil and gas publication, Ed was also the father of a son and a daughter who, by the time I started working for Ed, were both in college. My first week on the job Ed explained to me that, no matter what, if his son or daughter called I was to put them through to his office. I nodded in understanding – “No matter what.” I said. Later that same week Ed happened to be speaking to the Prince of a Middle Eastern nation. Since I was not accustomed to speaking to royalty on a regular basis, I was rather impressed that a prince would be calling my boss. Soon after, Ed’s daughter called. I didn’t put her through to Ed like he had instructed me to do. I assumed the prince was more important than speaking to his daughter. I assumed wrong. Let’s just say Ed let me know in no uncertain terms that I was never to do that again. Nothing was more important to Ed than his children.

Monday I will take you to a daycare where someone besides your mother and myself will take care of you for the first time. I am sad that I will no longer be there for you when you cry. I won’t be able to hold you close when you’re scared. I won’t be able to shower kisses on your smiling face as we celebrate your latest accomplishment. No, I won’t be there physically but, please, please, please, know that I will be there in spirit. And also, please know that, just like Ed, I will drop anything and everything if you need me.

Monk, you are MY prince. Swee’Pea, you are MY princess. If you need me, just call. The receptionist will know to put you through.

November 17, 2005

My SAHD Experience, Week 3

I cannot believe it’s been two and a half weeks since I started staying home with the kids. I’m already half-way through my paternity leave and it’s going by so quickly!

Boy, this takin’ care of babies stuff is tiring work! The worst part? Not being able to say, “I’m going out to lunch, see you in an hour!” These babies don’t nap all that long. The longest stretches I get with them both asleep (and, thank God that they still sleep at the same time) is about an hour. Most of the time, it’s 45 minutes. Then, I play with them until they get cranky so I can put them back down to nap again. I sometimes think I’m more tired than they are

Yesterday, however, was a different kind of day. My work has a mentorship program for staff and I am a mentor this year. The kick-off was yesterday and I wasn’t going to miss it. So, I packed up the kids and away we went. TheMonk showed his stranger anxiety again and clung to me for most of the morning. Swee’Pea got swept up by our HR director and I didn’t see her again until it was time to go.

It was tiring, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment! I mean, if you don’t mind me saying so, I KICKED ASS! I walked into the party like I was walking onto a yacht (sorry, Carly Simon flashback) I knew what I was doing and I seemed to convince everyone I did. I even changed TheMonk’s diaper while we were there. I did get out a bit earlier than I planned because I didn’t want to feed them there. So, we split after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

The point of this, though, is that I feel like I’m really becoming a parent. I know what my children need, when they need it and it feels good to have that connection with them. I love that they look to me for reassurance when someone else is holding them, I love that they laugh when I give them kisses and I especially love it when they give me little baby hugs and cling to me when we’re trying something new.

What a great feeling to be so close to my bundles of joy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep!

November 5, 2005

I’m screwed

Yesterday, in my post, I mentioned that the babies aren’t mobile.

Uh, yeah. I was wrong.

While crawling might be a little bit down the road, Swee’Pea discovered the joys of scooting around on her back today. TheMonk tried this once a while ago but seems to have forgotten how liberating scooting around on one’s butt can be. Somehow I don’t think Swee’Pea is going to forget.

Andrea thinks this is funny. Daddy is going to have his hands even fuller over the next month.

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November 4, 2005

You want frustration? I’ll give you @#(*&^$ frustration!

MIM, wanted to hear about some frustrations of being a Stay At Home Dad. It seems I’m getting too warm and fuzzy for her taste. Well, truth be known, I’m a pretty laid back kinda guy. I generally roll with the punches and I didn’t come into this week with a lot of preconceptions about how 100% wonderful the experience would be. Also, Andrea did an awesome job getting the twins on a schedule and I would be a total bufoon (is bufoon spelled with one “f” or two?) to mess with the schedule.

Not to say there haven’t been any frustrations. So, to honor my fellow psychology parent (she puts the psycho in psychology), here are a few moments of frustration…

Where’s &*^$#)* Juan Valdez when you need him?!
I am sooooo craving a Starbucks mocha right now. I have left the neighborhood once in the past seven days and I’m really missing my coffee. In fact, I can’t be the only person in this boat. Starbucks is on every damn street corner in the civilized world but is just a bit too far from where I live to risk a walk. What the F***? They have drive throughs and shops in grocery stores. Don’t these guys frickin’ deliver? No. They. Don’t.

It’s nice that you’re regular guys, but can’t you poop at night?

Andrea hasn’t had to change one damn poopy diaper. In the meantime I’m given an exhibition in “how many colors can poop actually be?” Yesterday, TheMonk went twice. I swear he was laughing at me when I had to change him the second time.

What am I, Dr. Huckstable?
The babies will be five months old next week. Andrea was with them all that time. Did they ever have a cold when she had them? Nooooooooooo. Guess what? Swee’Pea has a cold. She’s not diggin’ the “can’t breathe through my nose” thing. If she could speak, family blog or no family blog, she’d be cussin’ up a storm right now.

Did I mention I have TWO babies?
One’s about to fall asleep, the other squeals or shrieks (with a smile, of course). One needs a diaper change, the other is pissed that we’re not around. I start to get one baby set up to feed and the other can’t wait (I can hear Andrea now, “try that while breastfeeding.”). Anyway, there’s two of them and only one of me. Yeah, there’s some frustration sometimes – and the babies let me know about it.

So that’s a sample of the frustrations that have befallen me the past week. And while the good have far outweighed the bad I have two things going for me that many with two children do not. 1) Neither of my kids are mobile. I lay them down on the floor, they’re gonna be there when I return (and I mean, they’ll be there for hours). 2) I know I’ll be at work in 4+ weeks and they’ll be someone else’s problem.

Lucky them.

*I normally swear in real life. But family reads this so language has to be PG-13 at the most. Use your imagination.

November 3, 2005

SAHD Experience: Day 4

Some quick observations of my last few days…

“Would you like to lower your mortgage payment today?”
There should be a special place in hell for telemarketers. I always thought that those people who called precisely when we sat down to dinner were the worst. I was wrong. The people who call right when I finally get both babies to sleep are the worst. Don’t even get me started on those who want me to change my nice, 30-year fixed rate mortage for an interest-only mortagage so I can see “substantial savings.”

They don’t “just keep going and going…”
We have vibrating bouncy seats for the twins. They love the vibrations when they’re cranky. The vibrations are produced by a single “D” battery. I have gone through six “D” batteries in the past week. Of course, if I’d just remember to turn the damn things off when the babies aren’t in them, they might last a bit longer. I’m down to my last D battery and it’s only Thursday. What am I going to do? Maybe I can just get Nutmeg the cat to purr on them or something (yeah right, she still won’t go near them).

“Daddy, I have a tickle in my throat.”

Bri has started to use a fake cough. My sister-in-law warned us of this tactic as my nephew Tommy used the fake cough whenever he was annoyed. Swee’Pea is clearly using it to get my attention. It’s not working though. Really, it’s not. Bri, take a cough drop for cryin’ out loud! See. It’s not working.

What’s next, the building full of charcoal?

Twice in the past month a warehouse full of something extremely flammable has burned down within a a few miles of us. Last month it was a warehouse full of wooden pallets. This week it was a warehouse full of cardboard boxes. The air quality hasn’t been so hot so we haven’t been able to take that long anticipated walk (that’s my reason, and I’m sticking to it).

What do you mean Mommy doesn’t do it this way?
When it comes to play time here at the Childs Play household, we pull out all the stops. Yes, they get tummy time and we practice rolling on the rubber mats, but we also have “race around the house” time. I hold one baby out in front of me (facing outwards) and race around the house yelling “I’m on top of the wooorrrrrllllllld.” We end up collapsing on the bed in our bedroom where I shower them with kisses and tumble them around the soft covers. They love it.

Keep the Binky in your mouth, Bri.

I have looked online and I have found no tool or device that keeps a binky in a kids mouth. Not-for-profit-dad had once mentioned duct tape, but that wasn’t on this list so I don’t think I should try it. I’ll have to keep looking because Swee’Pea likes to play the “how many times will daddy keep putting the binky back in my mouth” game. Answer: As many times as it gets her to sleep.

Okay, so it’s not the greatest of milestones, but it’s a start.
We have a couple of neighbors who have babies that were born about 1 month and 2 months after ours were, respectively. Every time they mention what they’re kid is doing – something like rolling around on the floor or reciting pi to the 20th digit, I think, “Wow, your kids are advanced! Andrea pointed out to me the other day that our kids might be a bit delayed in reaching certain milestones because they’re twins and they were smaller when born. That never occured to me. It never occured to me that our kids would be delayed in any way. Oh well. Today TheMonk held his own bottle all by himself for an entire feeding session. Pretty impressive considering I can’t hold my own beer bottle to my mouth for more than a few seconds at a time. So go smoke that you pi reciting little rascals!

Hey, did you know Swee’Pea has poopy diapers?

Last night I had adult contact with people outside my house for the first time in five days. The Y I work for had it’s annual fund raising dinner and I went to help out (even though I was getting charged a vacation day). While there I found myself saying things like, “Bri was constipated yesterday and was really cranky. Then she had the biggest crap ever and it was all good after that.” What’s up with me? Is this what happens to people who spend inordinate amounts of time with babies? All we can come up with to make conversation is our children’s bowel movements? Lord help me.

Well, that’s just a few thoughts on this whole SAHD thing. Things are going well though. How come nobody told me the babies could be so much fun?

November 2, 2005

Not Quite the Major Leagues… Yet.

When professional athletes are asked the difference between the minor leagues and the major leagues, they often refer to the speed of the game. Everything moves much faster than what they are used to and they either have to adjust to that new speed or they will fail. In fact, when a player makes huge strides between one season and the next and has “a breakout year” they often mention how everything “slowed down” for them. They are no longer thinking, they just react.

Yesterday, things started to slow down for me. Am I up to major league level yet? Not quite. I forgot about making dinner until it was too late (Hello Panda Express!) and we planned to take a walk that never happened. Nevertheless, naps were taken (and at the same time, I might add), feedings were given, diapers were changed, and I didn’t feel totally rushed like I did on Monday.

So, let’s just say I’m a number one draft pick with potential. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve earned a promotion to Double A. In fact, if I can just get in a walk, I’ll be hitting a home run.

October 31, 2005

My SAHD Experience: Day 1

12:45 a.m. – TheMonk wakes up for the first time. I quickly put him back to bed.

1:45 a.m. – Swee’Pea wakes up for the first time, screaming. I comfort her and put her back to bed.

2:45 a.m. – TheMonk wakes again. Put back to bed again.

3:30 a.m. – Swee’Pea wakes screaming. Put back to bed again.

4:00 a.m. – TheMonk’s nose in clogged. Won’t go back to bed. Put him bouncy seat and he falls asleep.

5:45 a.m. – Andrea’s alarm goes off.

6:00 a.m. – Start getting babies up to breastfeed as Andrea gets ready.

6:20 a.m. – Babies are on breast while dad makes coffee and oatmeal for the adults.

7:10 a.m. – Andrea leaves for work.

7:30 a.m. – Babies are still adjusting to end of Daylight Savings Time, take unexpected nap.

8:15 a.m. – Swee’Pea wakes up and therefore wakes J.T. up. They go in the kick-n-play to play for a while.

8:30 a.m. – Daddy realizes he has to go to the bathroom (and not the quick, stand-up variety, either). I’m in a conundrum. I think back on MIM’s experience and am thankful they’re not mobile yet. I decide to use the toilet closest to the loft and keep the door open. Fastest bowel movement ever.

8:50 a.m. – Babies get tired of kicking ‘n’ playing. I put them on their backs in front of me and take turns giving them raspberries. They seem to like this. I then lie on my back and pick them up one at a time and move them above me in the air while making airplane noises. They seem to enjoy this too.

9:10 a.m. – Everyone’s tired. I try to put J.T. into his crib to nap. Swee’Pea goes into her bouncy seat.

9:15 a.m. – After making it abundantly clear that he has no intention of sleeping in his crib, J.T. joins Swee’Pea in the loft in his bouncy chair.

9:20 a.m. – Both are asleep. I go downstairs to rummage for food. I start to look for something semi-nutritious but then I spot the overflowing bowl of Halloween candy that Andrea prepared last night. Ah, what the hell. Chocolate for breakfast it is.

10:00 a.m. – J.T. wakes up and is hungry. I try to distract him a bit longer but I give up and give him his bottle. Swee’Pea follows suit about 10 minutes later.

10:20 a.m. – Back in the kick-n-play for the twins. I suddenly realize I was supposed to start the chicken crock pot recipe by 10:00 a.m. I race downstairs to get the stuff together.

10:23 a.m. – I race back up to calm a screaming J.T.

10:25 a.m. – I race downstairs to finish preparing dinner.

10:28 a.m. – I race upstairs to calm a screaming J.T. Swee’Pea (I wasn’t sure until I entered the room)

10:35 a.m. – With J.T. in his bouncy seat, Swee’Pea and I head downstairs to finish making dinner. She watches from her feeding chair we have yet to use.

11:00 a.m. – Dinner is in the crock pot.

11:05 a.m. – After I clean up, I head upstairs.

11:05.30 a.m. – I run back downstairs to get Swee’Pea who’s still sitting in her feeding chair.

11:06 a.m. – TheMonk is asleep. I put Swee’Pea into her crib hoping she’ll rest too.

11:10 a.m. – I go get a screaming Swee’Pea and bring her out to her bouncy seat to join the sleeping J.T.

11:25 a.m. – Swee’Pea’s not yet asleep. Binky falls out of mouth and she starts to cry. TheMonk stirs, but doesn’t wake as I calm Swee’Pea down.

11:40 a.m. – Swee’Pea finally falls asleep.

11:43 a.m. – TheMonk wakes up. I get him out and we quietly play. I then take him downstairs and he watches me get the front of the house ready for the trick-or-treaters (fog machine, strobe light, caution tape, etc.).

12: 45 p.m. – TheMonk and I head back upstairs. Swee’Pea begins to wake up.

1:00 p.m. – I put them down to play on the kick-n-play once again (love that thing!) as I go get their bottles ready. It’s my job to get them use to the regular bottles (rather than the Haberman feeders they’ve been using ’til now) so I have to go dig them out. I make more formula and fill the bottles.

1:10 p.m. – TheMonk starts to fuss. He’s hungry damnit! I get him into his bouncy seat and hand him a bottle that looks like a straw with a nipple on the end. He doesn’t know what to think in his hungry state but begins sucking at the nipple. He gets it and I can see the formula makes it way from the bottle, through the tube and into the nipple. I can now turn to Swee’Pea. She has a harder time with the newer nipples and is an absolute mess down the front. We get through it, however, and I change their diapers.

1:35 p.m. – We’re now playing again. After a bit of playing, I get out the foam wedges, prop them up and let the babies have their tummy time. Both are doing very well and they extend their heads up like a prairie dog looking out of its hole. Soon, it is evident they are getting tired.

2:20 p.m. – I put them into their cribs to nap.

2:25 p.m. – I bring them out to their bouncy seats where they both sit quietly. Aaaaaah. Peace and quiet. I realize the only food I’ve eaten is from the cocoa family so I head downstairs to fix some lunch. Leftover pork ribs and some chips and salsa.

2:35 p.m. – I bring the food upstairs and sit at the laptop and eat my ribs. The babies look like they are finally asleep. After the first crunch of my chips, however, the babies stir so I decide crunchy food can wait.

2:50 p.m. – Crunchy food or no crunchy food, Swee’Pea wakes up screaming and then so does J.T. I sit in front of them and rock them back to sleep.

3:00 p.m. – Both of the babies are asleep. I sit in the big chaise lounge and relax a bit.

3:30 p.m. – J.T. begins to stir and wakes up. He scrunches up his face as if he’s gonna cry. I rush over and soothe him before he erupts and wakes Swee’Pea. I pick him up and bring him to the chaise with me. He soon falls asleep in my arms. I smell his head. It smells like lavender. We both doze.

4:00 p.m. – Swee’Pea begins to stir. I get both of them up and wake them up a little by playing with them. I tickle and laugh with them for a while.

4:15 p.m. – Mommy comes home from work! Kisses and hugs all around.

4:30 p.m. – Babies breast feed with Mommy while I rest for a little. I take a quick shower too. I want to look my best for the ghosts goblins Darth Vaders out there.

5:15 p.m. – The babies have been fed and changed into their costumes. A flower for Swee’Pea and a Lion for TheMonk (Rooaaar!). We sit them downstairs while we wait for Trick or Treaters. TheMonk and Swee’Pea are big hits with parents and toddlers alike.

6:00 p.m. – Dinner is ready and we eat while dishing out candy.

7:00 p.m. – Trick or Treaters are winding down. It’s time for dinner and bed routine for the babies.

7:45 p.m. – Babies have been fed, cleaned and pj’d. They are finally in bed.

7:50 p.m. – A brief hug and kiss for the wife and we head downstairs to clean up.

8:20 p.m. – Kitchen is clean, Andrea’s lunch for tomorrow is packed. I come up to post this blog.

8:27 p.m. – I’m tired. It was a great, wonderful day. I’m glad it’s over.

What’s that you say? I have to do this again tomorrow? I’m going to bed.

October 30, 2005

My SAHD Experience

Starting tomorrow I will be taking five weeks off to spend time with my babies. Andrea returns to work and we didn’t want to put the twins in daycare prior to six months. So, here I am, totally psyched to start this experience.

As I write this the twins are in their bouncy seats. Swee’Pea is blabbering away with her fist stuffed halfway down her throat while TheMonk practices his new found ability to make a raspberry sound with his lips (I have no idea how he learned that. Really. No idea at all). I cannot believe how fortunate I will be to be able to spend so much quality time with them.

While imagining this experience for the past few weeks, I realize that I have it a lot easier than Andrea did. First, I don’t have to breast feed. I mean, I could try but I don’t think we’d be very productive (but don’t think Andrea hasn’t suggested it :) ). Second, they are at a stage where milestones are being met left and right. They are both so close to rolling over that I’m certain we’ll see this in the near future. Third, since I’m only bottle feeding, I can take them places for longer periods of time. They really get stimulated by being around others so hopefully we can find time to take them to places like Starbucks the zoo.

Now, I realize I’m pretty naive about how this is going to go. I’m certain that I’m not going to go around all day eating bon bons (Note to self: order bon bons next time I order groceries) and kicking back while watching soaps all day long and I’ll be kept plenty busy with play time, feeding time, diaper changes, baby laundry and all the other stuff that comes with taking care of two babies at once. But they have to sleep some time, right? I’ll have time to sneak in a quick blog post about my experiences, won’t I? You bet I will.

So stay tuned while I get to experience this side of parenthood for the first time. I’m a Stay At Home Dad with twins for the next five weeks. To borrow a phrase from The Bean’s Dad, did anyone really think this was a good idea?


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