June 15, 2012

Uh-Oh. Look who’s one!

You came late in the evening on a Wednesday. You had tortured your mother for days prior to making your entrance and based on the stubborn way you stayed five days past your due date and the dramatic conclusion to you arriving in this world, I had you pegged as one that was going to test me like no other.

But I was wrong.  The only thing you have tested is my capacity to love someone as much as I love you, little one.

It has only been one year and I already cannot remember what it was like before you were here.  You are such a sweet baby and your belly laughs and cute smiles melt my heart each and every day.

I love how you interact with your brother and sister.  They weren’t sure what to think of you when we first brought you home but ever since you began acknowledging them, they have loved you so, so much.  They are both vigilant watching what you put in your mouth – even if they were responsible for leaving the baby death traps on the floor in the first place.  They eagerly hold you or play with you when needed and they love teaching you the finer points of silly face making.

You are louder than your brother and sister at one year.  I chalk that up to the fact that if you want to be heard in this house, you better speak up.  And while your vocabulary is limited to a few words – Mama, Dada (infrequently!), kitt-eh – my favorite is the one that I recently taught you: “Uh-Oh.”

You drop things on the floor and I smile at the inevitable, “Uh-Oh.”  Lately, you play the “Uh-Oh” game by dropping things on the floor while Daddy fetches them for you.  I am fairly certain this is your favorite game.  But you don’t just say it when I am around.  Just this past week, I heard you over the baby monitor before you fell asleep utter aloud, “Uh-Oh.”

I’m not sure what that one was about but one thing I do know.  There was no mistake in our decision to have you in our family.  I love you with all of my heart, little one.  Happy Birthday, GirlyGirl.  May your second year be as amazing as your first.

Uh-Oh
“Uh-Oh”

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.

September 10, 2009

SeaWorld Dolphins Feel like Pancakes. And hot dogs.

When the nice people at SeaWorld San Diego invited us to be a part of the final weekend of the Dolphin Discovery show, the longest-running show in the history of SeaWorld at 13 years, I was pretty excited. I mean, how many people get to play with dolphins as part of a live show? And how many people get to do this with their young child? And how many people get to do this while also getting to have a new wife?

Yes, you heard me, a new wife. As part of the Dolphin Discovery show a dad and his child (in my case children) team up with a SeaWorld trainer that poses as the mom of the family. Halfway through the show, she falls in and the unsuspecting crowd gasps in disbelief until she’s rescued by a dolphin. So, I had a new wife this past weekend. But it didn’t last long. Apparently I’m not her type of mammal.

Anyway, we were invited to be the family that gets to interact with the dolphins and I was excited for Swee’Pea and TheMonk to get the opportunity to do so. There was only one small problem. Swee’Pea didn’t want to do it.

When we explained what she would have to do (stand up before hundreds of people and say her name and age and do what the trainers asked of her) she was not all that enthusiastic. In fact, one of her late night conversations with her brother, overheard on the baby monitor, was something like, “I don’t want to be on stage in front of all those people.” So, I did what any other good parent in my shoes what have done. I bribed her.

Swee’Pea isn’t sweet in name only. No, she has a real love for sweets that I’m sure she gets directly from her mother. So, it came as no surprise when I asked her if there was something special she wanted at SeaWorld for her to do this show that she looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want cotton candy. All to my self. That I don’t have to share.”

Deal! And because she was dead serious about the not sharing part, I offered a similar proposition to TheMonk who promptly requested a light-up sword similar to a light saber that they sell for $4.99 at SeaWorld. Deal!

But just to be sure they, I showed the clips on YouTube of the Dolphin Show and explained what they would have to do and why they would have a “pretend mommy” for the show. They seemed satisfied. I was cautiously optimistic.

When we arrived back stage to discuss our roles, I was promptly greeted by a smiling young lady who thrust waiver liability forms in front of me and asked me to sign “Here, here and… here.” Most of the forms were all, “You won’t sue us if Dolly the Dolphin decides that your kids would make a tasty snack.” I think I might have sold my kids to the circus with that last signature but I can’t be entirely sure.

But anyway, before we knew it, we were standing up on stage waving to the crowd as we were introduced. And then, the moment of truth. The emcee asked Swee’Pea what her name was. I cringed. I crossed my fingers. I might even have closed my eyes, dreading the fact that Swee’Pea, my shy little girl, would freeze up and not play along. But then I heard, loud and clear over the loudspeakers, her name resonating through the stadium as she shouted her name in the littlest girl voice you can imagine. Hail the power of cotton candy.

TheMonk followed suit and then I was being introduced to Duncan the Dolphin who, I announced to the crowd, felt a bit like fluffy pancakes. The kids were then escorted to the main stage where they announced that Dolly felt a lot like hot dogs. Then, they were encouraged to have a water fight with Dolly. I would like to report to you that Dolly lost that water fight. But that would be a big, huge lie. At the end, I’m not sure who was wetter, Dolly or my kids.

But that didn’t matter. After my wife fell in the water we were escorted back to our seats of honor where we enjoyed the rest of the show. As soon as the show was done and I escorted two soaked 4 year olds out of the stadium, Swee’Pea had a burning question for me.

“Where’s my cotton candy, Daddy?!”

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October 15, 2008

Silent Night

Swee’Pea and TheMonk come from a long line of talkers.

Looking at my side of the family I can’t think of one person who would be the shy, quiet kid.  Needless to say, family reunions are pretty loud.

So it should be no surprise that our kids can be… a bit on the chatty side.  Quiet moments in our household last exactly 1.2 seconds.  The exact amount of time it takes to swallow food.  Then, with nothing preventing them from spewing forth on every topic imaginable, they unleash words at a dizzying pace.  From the moment TheMonk wakes up and calls across to Swee’Pea in her crib, “Swee’Pea! Wake up! Listen to me!” the talking runs right up until they fall asleep at night.  And this has become our problem as of late.

You see, lately they have been blabbering away deep into the night.  Sometimes they go as long as two hours of constant chattering back and forth.  Giggles often follow the chattering followed by 1.2 seconds of silence only to have it start all over again.

In an effort to control the blabber mouths we started outlining repercussions.  We started by pledging to take away stories at the next night’s story time (which is usually quite effective).  Unfortunately, we are old and senile and cannot remember 22 hours later what was threatened the night before and, inevitably, we’d forget about taking away stories.

A few nights ago I decided a new punishment.  If they didn’t go straight to sleep, they wouldn’t be able to watch Lazy Town the next morning.  (This show has been their favorite lately and they will stare blankly at the screen with drool running down their mouths for 30 minutes each morning.  Score!) The first night, they laughed at my authority.  TheMonk continued to blabber deep into the night, mocking my punishment as the empty threat he knew it was.

But he changed his tune when I stuck to my guns.  They were totally bummed the next morning when they were not allowed to turn on the TV after breakfast.  Swee’Pea even tried to disassociate herself from her troublemaking brother, exclaiming in an innocent voice, “I didn’t talk last night, Daddy. I was trying to sleep while TheMonk was talking.”  (To her credit, TheMonk DID do most of the talking but she wasn’t exactly an innocent bystander either.)

The second night, as we’re putting them to bed, I reminded them of the rules.  If they talk, they can’t watch Lazy Town and we didn’t want to go another day without watching Lazy town, right?!  They agreed to go to sleep.  TheMonk, especially, vows to go right to sleep without any talking.  He promises that he will comply with my request by doing absolutely no talking.  None whatsoever.

As I closed the door behind them, I listened for the inevitable talking.  I walked down the hall and turned up the baby monitor to listen.  And I heard nothing but silence.  I smiled and thought about how once again I had conquered this parenting thing.  This is frickin’ EASY!  I laugh at all of you parents out there who talk about how hard it is to control your children! I AM DA MAN!

But then, as I walked away, I heard a noise from the monitor.  What was that noise? It wasn’t talking but I couldn’t quite make it out.  I stood by and continued to listen.

“Haaaaawwwwww……….. Shooooooooooo….. Haaaaaawwww……… Shoooooooooo”

And then I got it.  TheMonk was pretending to snore.

I laughed out loud and realized that TheMonk was being true to his word.  He was definitely NOT talking.

Maybe this parenting thing is harder than I thought.

February 23, 2008

Point of clarification

Early morning talk over the baby monitor…

TheMonk (Signaling to me he’s ready to get up): Daaaaaddddyyyyy….

*Pause*

TheMonk: Daaaaaaaadddddddyyyyyyyy!!!!

*Pause*

TheMonk: DAAAAAADDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

*Pause*

Swee’Pea: Daaaaaaaddddddyyyyyyyy!!!!

TheMonk (To Swee’Pea): I not Daddy, I TheMonk!

August 3, 2007

Why they’ll need separate bedrooms someday

Overheard on the baby monitor this morning as TheMonk begins to stir and talk out loud in his crib. Suddenly, someone else weighs in on the matter…

Swee’Pea: “Go to sleep.”

TheMonk: “No!”

Swee’Pea: “Go to sleep.”

TheMonk: “No!”

Swee’Pea: “Go to sleeeeeeeeep.”

TheMonk: “No!”

I had to laugh because, let’s just say, that apples don’t fall far from trees.

June 16, 2007

Happy Father’s Day to me

It’s Father’s Day eve and I sit in the living room listening to Swee’Pea and TheMonk argue over the baby monitor about who’s Daddy I am.

“MY Daddy!” says TheMonk.

“NO! MY DADDY!!” retorts Swee’Pea.

“No! MY Daddy!” Shouts back, TheMonk.

“AAAAAAHHH!!! NOOOOoooooo… MY Daddy!!” Cries Swee’Pea.

And then she bursts into tears.

Laughing, I rush upstairs to mediate this argument. I enter the room and both heads turn toward the door. “I’m BOTH of your Daddy,” I say with a smile. Swee’Pea, still not quite ready to give in, shakes her finger and head and says in a low voice, “No, MY Daddy.” I pat her on the back and roll her on her side and say, “I’m your Daddy and I’m TheMonk’s Daddy too. I love you both.”

Swee’Pea smiles. I look over at TheMonk and he smiles as well. I go over and give him a soft stroke of the cheek and hand him his stuffed Monkey. He tucks it under his arm and starts to get comfy. I smile at both of them, now content and ready for sleep.

“Good night Swee’Pea. Good Night Monk.”

“Your Daddy loves you.”

June 2, 2007

Na-Na-Naaa-Na, Hey, Hey, Hey…

TheMonk and Swee’Pea have begun showing a great interest in singing. Every now and then, one or the other will break out their own rendition of Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or the second-half of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Now I’m not the greatest singer in the world and some of these songs that we listen to tend to get a little old after a while. That is why I’ve begun introducing other songs to Swee’Pea & TheMonk over breakfast. Most of the songs that come to me are Sports Arena songs that any sports fan in America would recognize. I started with “We Will Rock You” but that one didn’t stick. I then tried out “Jump Around” but while they enjoyed watching me jump around the kitchen while singing, it didn’t create the connection I was trying to create with my little ones. Finally, I tried out the “Na, Na, Hey, Hey… Goodbye” song and that’s when magic occured.

Let me just tell you that there’s nothing cuter than two toddlers, sitting in their high chairs, singing “Na-Na-Naaaa-Na… Na-Na-Naaaa-Na… Hey! Hey! Hey!… Good-bye!”

It’s been a favorite now for the better part of the week. I even heard Swee’Pea and TheMonk over the baby monitor singing it together this morning in their cribs. They had forgotten the rhythm but it sure was cute to hear them sing “Naaaa Naaaa Naaaa” together (in harmony, I might add) and then hear the little Monk voice say softly… “Goodbye”.

Next week, we’re moving on to “Who Let the Dogs Out?!

C’mon, sing it with me… “Woof… Woof-Woof. Woof-Woof!”

January 16, 2007

Two Part Harmony

TheMonk and Swee’Pea are in bed and I get dinner ready while listening to them over the baby monitor.

Swee’Pea is in a maternal mood this evening as she harmonizes about her mama.

“Maaaaamaaaa… Maaaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaa… Maaaaaamaaaaa.”

Suddenly, I hear a soft little boy voice in the background.

“Daaaaaaaadaaaa… Daaaaaaaaaadaaaaaa… Daaaaadaaaaaaaa.”

Having twins is awesome.

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?

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