Tag Archives: children

Using Your Noggin

Noggin.  My kids love it!  And I openly admit they learn gads of great things from their favorite shows.  But as for myself, I can only deal with it in small doses without looking around for a flat surface to bang my head on.

Luckily, I’ve learned to cope.  My favorite Noggin activity is to make up dirty lyrics to the songs, and singing them in my head, quietly chuckling to myself.  I feel so lucky I can be a responsible parent yet get in touch with my junior-high self.


It’s My Potty

We decided it was time to start thinking about potty training.

Believe me, I’d be ecstatic to never have to buy another box of diapers.  And by the way, has anyone else noticed how the prices of diapers went up?  A lot?  Then, while prices remained the same, they significantly decreased the number of diapers per box?  Sneaky bastards.  But I digress…

Here’s the thing.  I really want the kids to be potty trained.  But I want to BE there.  I don’t look forward to the idea of getting there.

So we brought home their potty chairs in advance of the inevitable.  We thought that if the kids got used to the idea of the chairs being in the house, it might be less of an issue when we start using them for their intended purpose.

Potty Hat

Considering they both think the potty bowls make fantastic hats, I think we’ve still got a way to go.

Some Assembly Required

Now that we’re mostly settled in our new home, and the tundra is beginning to thaw, we thought it would be a good idea to put a play gym in the back yard.  Research completed, I headed to Toys R Us.  Predictably, the one Iwanted wasn’t in stock.  Knowing it was going to be an unusually nice weekend, I had a sudden attack of IGS (Instant Gratification Syndrome).  However, I soon learned instant is sometimes a relative concept.

After 45 minutes of pacing up and down the aisles, reading descriptions and looking at price tags, I finally made a decision.  But seriously, does it take 700 pounds of sand to fill the sandbox?  I’ll save you the suspense.  The answer is yes.

The boxes were too heavy to load on top of our SUV, so I had to make room inside for them.  Sort of.  The sand fit inside without a problem.  However, once loaded, the boxes dangled precariously out the back window.  “Don’t you have access to a pickup truck?” the store manager asked.  I leveled him a look that clearly expressed, “Wouldn’t logic serve to tell you that if I’d had a pickup truck at my disposal, I would be drivivng it?”  Jackass.

Thus, I began my journey home, using every back road I could find, a white-knuckled grip on the wheel, breath held, hoping, almost-but-not-quite praying I wouldn’t have to stop traffic while I retrieved broken pieces of wood strewn nine ways from Sunday.  At long last, I arrived home safely, all boxes accounted for and intact.

Now, all that was left was to put this thing together.  No problem!  Oh wait.

I opened the boxes and retrieved the instructions.  The sheer number of parts was overwhelming.  It was at this moment I nearly taped the boxes shut and returned them to the store, resigning myself to simply take the kids to the local tot lots for the rest of the summer.

I wanted to get started, so I immediately began identifying and labeling the parts, as recommended in the instructions.  This alone took over three hours.  At almost 1:00 a.m., I called it a night and stumbled to bed.  I awoke Saturday morning, had some very strong coffee, and with fresh determination, I headed outside.

I followed the instructions, which turned out to be extremely important.  Except when the diagram was in reverse of the proper orientation, or the Engrish was unclear (i.e. “Not to be used for the other use.”).  After the subsequent disassembling, reassembling and reverse engineering necessary to find a means to an end, I now firmly believe I could put this thing together with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back.  Maybe that’s what I could do for a living.  In Hell.

Our new play gym in all it's glory!

Monday afternoon and approximately 25 long hours of cursing later, muttering under my breath that we’d better have to drag the kids inside every night kicking and screaming, I brought them out for their first look at their new play gym.  Preston stood in awe and said, “Cold!” (his personal version of Cool!).  Ava walked around it, eyeing it very closely.  Finally, she looked at me and said, “Wooooow!  Tah-tastic!  It’s beau-i-ful!”  I’ll take those as rave reviews.

They quickly conquered the rock wall, clapping and exclaiming “Ta-Dah!” at the top.  They even made their way up the rope ladder, surprising both of us.  They screamed “Weeeeeeee!” as they flew down the slide, squealing in delight as their butts bounced at the bottom.  The swings and glider were a giggle-fest and the sand was a riot to throw.

After the kids went to bed, I wandered back outside.  Grabbing a lawn chair, I sat down with an ice-cold beer and a smoke, smiling in satisfaction.  If they never use it again, it’s already been worth it.

In A Word

Has it really been three months since I posted an update?  Wow!  Life has a way, doesn’t it?

The twins have been walking and running for some time now, resulting in more doors, gates and compartmentalization than a navy vessel.  Consequently, this has also resulted in numerous stubbed toes, banged knees and near-castrations for the paternal units of the household as we continue learning to navigate the new lay of the land. 

We’ve always known we were going to have to change the way we talked around the house.  In fact, it’s a discussion we’ve had on a fairly regular basis.  As a Navy veteran, I’ll attest that “curses like a sailor” isn’t all hype, and with the stresses of day-to-day life and the growing pains of parenthood, I’ll be the first to admit kicking the habit hasn’t been an easy task. 

Our fantastic duo has quickly been refining their coos, raspberries and nonsensical blabbering into some sort of verbal finesse.  Ava especially enjoys mimicking Daddy and Papa, picking words out of our conversations and blurting them back at us with distinct clarity to our slack-jawed amazement. 

As their vocabulary continues to grow, we’ve become more creative in our use of colorful language, resorting to spelling forbidden words, using the big ones by first letter, and simply deepening our already well-established sense of sarcasm. 

The bright side is I’m sure this S-H-I-T won’t F-up our kids, or send them running to a G-D shrink.  This MF-ing B-S is hard!  Sorry.  What I mean is, I’m certain none of this will have lasting impacts on our children nor will it ever come up in a therapy session one day.  This has been a difficult concept for us to put into practice.

My main concern now, other than sounding like complete idiots when we talk is, what the H-E-L-L are we going to do when they learn to spell?

A Man and His Uterus: How the World Went Insane

So the story that’s apparently making everyone’s head explode this week is Thomas Beatie’s pregnancy.

The blogs I’ve read have made me alternately think, chuckle, cringe and absolutely recoil.  They’ve run the gamut from unconditional support to name calling to “There outta be a law”.  What’s obvious is that this topic has struck something inside many people.  And they’re talking about it.

Some people have shouted that Thomas shouldn’t be allowed to be seen pregnant in public because it will inflict damage on children who see him.  Others have said he and his wife shouldn’t be allowed to have children and they aren’t fit parents.  Some people are throwing derogatory slurs at them and their unborn child.

I say this.  To parents with children who will see coverage or hear about the story, what upsets you most?  Are you truly upset because you fear this will cause your child irreparable harm?  Or is it because you may be forced to come face to face with a situation that you don’t fully understand; one that may make you uncomfortable, and because you may not be able to give your child an immediate, scripted answer and may actually need to think on your feet to provide your child with straight-forward, age-appropriate information on how people and families are different?

Families aren’t simple.  That’s a fact.  But maybe you could try taking a deep breath and include some of the following phrases in your chats with your kids:  “There are lots of different kinds of families…We’re not all the same, and that’s okay…Some families have a mommy and a daddy…Some families have just a mommy or a daddy…Some families have two daddies or two mommies…”.  These are just conversation starters.  The parenting is really your job.

The list goes on and on.  And that’s just for the types of families and all their possible combinations.  I didn’t even begin to account for foster families, step-parent families, adoption, extended nuclear family units, or my own family (get ready) that is a gay, trans-racial, adoptive family with two dads.  And I beg anyone to debate our qualifications as parents, or our ability to raise our children in a healthy, loving and nurturing environment.  See?  Families aren’t simple.  And that’s just family structures at their basic level.

However, the larger and hopefully simpler point is that the world is made up of many different kinds of families that are started in a number of different ways.  It truly doesn’t matter what I think about Thomas and Nancy Beatie’s pregnancy.  The fact is, assuming the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly, they’re on their way to having a healthy baby girl.  Are they fit parents?  I honestly don’t know.  I don’t know them personally.  Nancy has grown children of her own from a previous relationship.  The couple interviews well.  But who am I to judge?  And furthermore, who are you?

The sooner people accept that there are others that exist outside the confines of their own homes (or minds), the better off they, their children, and MY children will be as a result.  You don’t have to agree with everything that happens in the world, but you do have to accept the fact that the outside world, does in fact exist.

If you let your children believe it’s a perfect world out there, or worse, that the things in the world that different from your point of view are bad, evil, or must be destroyed, your children are either going to be in for a huge shock as they mature, or they will simply continue to breed hate and bigotry as a family value to future generations at your behest.  Then, after it’s too late, you can look back and see exactly who has inflicted damage onto your children.  And when you do, you’d best have a full-length mirror handy to take a good, long, hard stare.

It’s about damned time we all grow up, take responsibility for ourselves, our own actions and our own children.  The world is a big place where family, friends and neighbors can and do work together.  And yes, we’re all entitled to our beliefs and opinions.  But this world is not big enough to tolerate bigotry and hate.  Come on, people.  To hate someone you don’t know based on something you don’t understand or because someone else told you to has got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve never understood.  And never will. 

For fuck’s sake.  Let’s get real.

Then and Now

It was a year ago our twins came home.  They seemed so tiny and fragile.  Meeting them for the first time, we stared awestruck at our daughter and son, one arm around each other, choking our hellos as we each grasped one of their tiny hands.  I’m laughing at myself for the tears rolling down my face as I write this.

The Family - April 2007

When we got The Call, we didn’t have so much as a bottle in the house.  Our “two week pregnancy” was surreal.  We shopped, redecorated the nursery, shopped some more, finished up projects at work to prepare for family leave, did some more shopping, spent countless hours on the phone with the adoption agency, our attorney, our pediatrician, signed, notarized, faxed and FedExed more documents than I’d seen at our mortgage closing.  Amazingly, by the time placement day arrived, we had everything in place. 

Everything happened so fast, we never had a moment to let it all soak in.  Suddenly it was here.  We were Daddies.  Right here, right now.  It was one of the most incredible days of my life.  It took a long time for me to stop waking up every day feeling completely shocked, saying, “Oh my god.  We’re fathers.  We have babies.  We have TWO babies. We have twins!  Oh my god!”  I still do that sometimes, but not as often.

Preston - March 2008

Our twins were born severely premature.  Other than being born at an extremely low birth weight, they’ve not experienced any complications or developmental delays outside their adjusted birth date.  We realize prematurity is a long road of watch and see, but we are thankful every day for their health.

Ava - March 2008

Now they’re both well over 20 pounds, growing out of all their clothes, laughing, loving, fighting like brother and sister and eating us out of house and home.  When Preston shrieks breathlessly from laughter, or Ava bolts across the room to throw her arms around my neck, it’s difficult to picture those tiny babies with Preemie diapers up to their armpits who ate two ounces of formula every 2 hours.

One Phone Call

It was a day like any other day.  I climbed out of bed, sleepily sipped my coffee while I watched the morning news.  I hopped in the shower and headed to work.  I greeted co-workers, checked my email, shared jokes with my team and went to meetings.  I went home.  It was a day like any other day.  I hadn’t the slightest inkling, in one moment, life as I knew it would change forever.

I looked at CallerID to see if I could should take it or ignore it.  It was our adoption agency.  My heart flip-flopped in my chest.  Be calm.  We’ve been through this before.


“Hi, Bryan!  I have a case to chat with you about.  Are you sitting down?”

“I can be.  Should I be?”

“Well, this one’s a bit different.  It’s twins.  It’s a boy and a girl.”

Silence.  We’d always dreamed of two children.  And in our perfect little make-believe world, we would have a boy and a girl.  And in our grand, pipe-dream kingdom they would be twins, and they would grow up together, always having each other by their side.  But this just doesn’t happen.  The adoption agency even told us this when we said we would be open to accepting twins.  In the entire history of the agency’s existence, they had only ever placed three sets of twins.  But we all have fantasies, right?  Not to mention, we’d just finished our home study two months ago.

“Bryan?  Are you still there?”

I struggled to get my mind in check.  I scrambled to scrawl legible bullet points as our adoption counselor fired off details about these two tiny babies.  They were premature and still in the hospital, but doing great!  They were due to be released from the hospital at any time.  They were referred by another agency who, after reviewing the available profiles, were specifically interested in interviewing us.  Were we interested in pursuing a placement?

I fought to find my voice.  I managed to find the word “Yes” and hung up the phone.  I sat in stunned silence until Neal came home from work.

We’d had two other phone calls that hadn’t gone anywhere.  The first call had come in just two days after our home study was completed.  It was so unexpected, it took us off guard and we weren’t prepared for the emotional toll that the disappointment brought when it didn’t work out.  While not devastating, it put us on a rollercoaster of emotions for several days, and taught us to be more prepared next time.

We tried to be very guarded about this phone call and what it could mean.  At that moment, it was simply information and nothing more.  We were interested.  Period.  Nothing had happened.  But we both felt there was something very different about this phone call.  Was it just our imagination?  Did we simply want it to work out?  Minutes seemed like hours and we knew this was going to be a difficult time until it was resolved.

The following days blurred into a whirlwind of interviews, medical specialist and legal consults and various other phone calls.  At one point we had a lucid moment where we simply looked at each other and said, “OH, MY GOD!  This is really happening.  We’re going to be Daddies!” and went right back to work on what needed to be done next. 

Then, “Oh shit!  We’re having twins!  Do you understand the magnitude of this?  There are two of them!  Boy!  Girl!  TWO!  We’re having twins!  Get dressed!  We need to go shopping!  We don’t even have a bottle in this house!   We have crazy, crazy damage to do at the mall.”

Surreal as it could be.  And nothing, nothing, nothing would ever be the same again. 

Daddy and Ava take a nap 

Daddy and Preston - Yes I do cherish naps where I can get them.  And cuddles are the best!

That was a year ago today.  Fast forward to the present.  The house is a wreck.  I won’t let the closest of friends in the front door without wearing a blindfold.  There are dishes in the sink.  There are piles of laundry in the basement.  We need to hire a housekeeper.  I can’t remember the last time I dusted.  If I manage to get in the shower before Neal gets home from work, I’m going to call it a fantastic accomplishment.  Dinner will be delivered tonight because I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with it today.  And if we’re not the luckiest people on the face of the earth, I don’t know who is.  Life is grand.