One Couple's Stumblings Through Parenthood and Marriage

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Try Me

Each of these eight lottery winners, having won the nation's largest lottery jackpot ever, is going to net over $15M when all is said and done. Statistically, each of them is going to end up miserable, as friends and family turn against them, and as they demonstrate that most people are incapable of coping with such an enormous windfall of cash.

Now, I don't play the lottery. It is a waste of money. But I am willing to participate in an experiment. Do I have what it takes to withstand the trials of becoming instantaneously and incredibly wealthy? Go ahead world, give me $15 million dollars, and let's see what I do with it. I dare you!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Breakfast of Champions

Yesterday Ryo prepared for himself quite a breakfast. At first I was dismayed at his choice, fearing that we had not provided him with enough options. But then I looked through our fridge and pantry. Had he wanted, he could have cooked up some bacon, eggs, ham, waffles, and pancakes. Or, if he was in a hurry, he could have poured a bowl of Cheerios, Kix, Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts, Honey Bunches of Oats - and on the sugary side, some Honey Comb or Fruity Pebbles (yes, we have that many cereals). Or he could have had some toast with butter or peanut butter and honey, a Nutrigrain bar, a bagel, some poptarts, or some Eggo waffles or frozen hash browns. Heck, we even had oranges, bananas, and apples. So many choices.

Instead, I watched him take out a bowl, line it with a flour tortilla, smash a single hotdog into it, dump two fistfuls of cheese on it, and then top it all off with several stripes of ketchup. 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave later, he had a steaming pile of ... stuff. I had to struggle to keep my own food down. Not only because the smell of hotdogs is so wrong in the morning, but because he was eating his food with a fork, and slurping up the stringy melted cheese like noodles - complete with the slurping sound. I had to turn away.

But the food saga doesn't end there. One we got back from church Ryo headed straight for the kitchen. Annie told him that I was planning on cooking us all some lunch. He said that he would make his own. Guess what he prepared for himself? He got out a dinner plate, tossed a tortilla on it, placed two hotdogs on it, plopped several handfuls of cheese and lettuce on top - and lots of ketchup - and after he nuked it, ate his concoction like a taco.

Oh boy, I don't know how Ryo stays so skinny. I am certain, though, that once he dies, his body will be so full of nitrates that his body won't need to be embalmed to be perfectly preserved for millennia.

Does the story end there? No! Allow me move on to Yuki's dinner. He came home late (surprise) and fired up the Foreman grill and the microwave. He labored for quite some time, so I walked over to see what he was working on. In the end, his plate was piled high with two baked potatoes, nearly a pound of ground beef (in two patties), an entire grilled yellow onion, half a cup of salsa, ketchup, and a heap of melted cheese. He had it all on his plate as one big, horrifying dish - not individual sides and entrees. Yuki ate it all in less than five minutes. It took him far longer to clean up than to eat.

We have just over a month remaining with our two students. We really enjoy having them, but we are being eaten out of house and home. I'm afraid to come home one day to see that they have eaten through my drywall and started feasting on my wall studs. Termites have nothing on these boys.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Different Tastes

Kate and Genna are fraternal twins, and demonstrate their differences everyday. Take for instance their eating habits. Kate has always been the meat and cheese eater. Genna, on the other hand, likes her bread, butter and veggies, and has a very large, gleaming sweet tooth.

Here is a picture of their plates after they had finished eating. We had pizza for dinner, and had cut the slices into manageable strips. Genna, on the left, ate only the crust - leaving the cheese and pepperoni in her plate. Kate, on the right, ate only her cheese and pepperoni, leaving the crust.

We celebrate their differences. We also give them dire consequences and time outs if they don't conform when we ask them to.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Where's Yuki?

In the spirit of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and Where's Waldo, we are continuing our investigation into where our student, Yuki, spends all of his 'library' time. Here are a couple of updates:

1) On Saturday, he came home earlier than normal, and sat down to dinner. Annie asked him where he was, and, of course, he said he was at the library. I then asked him what he was doing at the library. It took a lot of patience and questioning, but he finally let it out that he is spending all his time there working on his hobby: hiking. Evidently, he took a lot of pictures of his hikes in Colorado, and now spends his free time at the library labeling and cataloging all of them. This may account for 25% of his time there, but it was nevertheless interesting.

2) On Monday we all headed to the Downtown Plaza mall to buy me some shoes. We were pushing the girls in their strollers, and just turning a corner, when we literally almost ran over Yuki! There he was, a shocked expression on his face, ubiquitous backpack and all, staring at us and backpedaling. It took all of 30 seconds of awkward hellos and goodbyes until he bolted. He was clearly out of sorts. His behavior, and presence at the mall, only heightens my curiosity.

It would seem that the Yuki puzzle is slowly unraveling, but the deeper we dig, the more questions we have. Annie won't let me root through his belongings and garbage, so we're stuck with having to question him to get answers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's Been a Rough 24 Hours

It has been a rough 24 hours for me - as a man, a father, and a husband. It all began yesterday when Annie called me at work.

She asked me what I wanted to do in the evening. I volunteered that maybe we should watch American Idol and the Olympic short program of the women's figure skating. What? WHAT? I couldn't believe what I was saying. I hate reality TV, and women's figure skating isn't the most masculine of sports. Annie even picked up on it, saying, "Are there any other girlie things you want to watch?" In my defense, the only reason that I suggested watching American Idol was because Annie knows one of the contestants. But still, the fact that I wanted to see it horrifies me. I didn't feel so macho after that.

Then later that night, Annie took Genna to the store with her, leaving me to bathe Julia and Kate. It was fun being able to visit with them. But once I got Kate out of the bath, she realized that mommy and Genna were gone. She got distressed and asked where they were. I told her, and she responded by saying, "I don't want to stay home with you dad." Oh, knife in my heart. I didn't feel like # 1 dad at that moment.

This morning was the real kicker. I got up a bit late, so I had to rush into the shower. I had only just stepped into the water when I felt a tickling on my ankle. I glanced down and saw the world's largest spider climbing up my leg. Ok, it wasn't a tarantula, but it was a massive daddy-long-legs. I suffer from extreme arachnophobia, so I shrieked. I didn't bellow, or shout, or holler. No, I shrieked. I stood there, thrashing my leg to get it off, and I shrieked. It finally fell off my leg and I leapt out of the shower. I heard behind me, "Honey, what's wrong?" I turned to see Annie poking her head into the bathroom, looking very worried and sleepy. My screaming had woken her up. I realized at that moment, that standing there, trembling and naked, having to admit that it was only a spider, couldn't have been the boldest display of masculine prowess. Even my little daughters would have shown more stoicism.

I don't know what to do to shore up the erosion of my masculinity. The levees that prevent me from being feminized are obviously not holding back the flood waters of girliness and pink princesses. Last night we gave the girls pillows with Belle, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty on the pillow case. Was I a bit jealous? I think I was. Help me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Thought You Had ...

We spent the first part of our President's Day Monday running errands, which got us home a bit late to put the girls down for their naps. They were exhausted, and Annie and I were eager to put the girls to bed. We were quick about it, and by 2:00 pm all three girls were in their rooms.

Annie and I settled in front of the TV to eat a late lunch and watch the Olympics. At around 2:20 we heard the rattle of a door knob. We were sure that both of the students were gone, so we peaked down the hallway and in the garage. There was no one in sight. I even peaked into our bedroom to see if Kate had gotten out of her port-a-crib, but she was in place and sound asleep. The only noise came from Genna, who was singing in her crib. We dismissed the original noise and went back to the ice dancing.

Then at 2:45 we heard the door knob sound again. I looked down the hallway to see that Genna's bedroom door was wide open, with the lights turned on. I called Annie over and we looked into the room to see this ...

Genna had tucked herself under Julia's crib, put on her Tinkerbell skirt, and assembled her collection of stuffed animals! We were shocked (though we had the presence of mind to take a picture). She had climbed out of her crib! Wow, this was going to change things. I put Genna in her crib, and here was the ensuing conversation:

Annie: "OK, Genna, climb out of your crib. Show us how you did it."
Genna: [hooking a leg over the crib railing] "(grunt) I can't."
Annie: "Go ahead, honey. Climb out of the crib." (we had to see how she did it!)
Genna: [again hooking her leg over] "(grunts) I can't. I'm too high."
(Annie and I looked at each other in confusion)
Annie: [now looking at the pile of stuffed animals] "Justin, I usually don't put the girls down with so much stuff."
Me: "Me neither. But I didn't put her down."
Annie: "But I didn't, either. I put Julia down."
Me: "What? I put Kate down, and Genna's door was closed. I thought you had!"
Annie: "No! I put Julia down and assumed that you had taken care of Genna!"

We both started cracking up. Genna had been playing in her own little world, behind closed doors, for the last 45 minutes because mom and dad had a miscommunication! It was hilarious, and we were both relieved that Genna hadn't figured out how to climb out of the crib.

You know what they say when you ass-u-me ...

I'm just grateful that the outcome of our assumption was so benign and funny. Some other more messy assumptions might be, "I thought you had put a diaper on her ..." or "I thought you said it was OK to let them play with my power tools ..."

Monday, February 20, 2006


Last night - on a three-day weekend no less! - Annie and I were up multiple times with the girls. Mainly Julia, but Genna was an offender as well. We just couldn't console the baby. Her diaper was clean and dry, she wasn't hungry, and snuggling her wasn't yielding the normal results. That left us with only one option - not sleeping ourselves.

When 7:00 rolled around this morning, it was obvious that Julia wasn't going to sleep at all. As I got up to go feed her, I realized that I was coming down with a cold. Then it struck me. It always seems to happen that I get a cold the day following an abysmal night of sleep - always caused by the girls. This could only mean one thing - the girls had entered into some secret conspiracy with the cold virus to undermine their parents. I know, I know. You're probably saying that it is my lack of sleep that suppressed my immune system enough to let the virus take hold. I agree. Isn't it a coincidence, though, that it always seems to happen?

My hope now is that I can somehow profit from this. How many toddlers and infants are able to communicate, and coordinate, with viruses? Not many. If I can document this, and get it into the scientific community, then I can sell my girls off to be studied, get featured in all of the scientific journals, and Oprah, and then become rich. This isn't my delirium speaking. I have to go now. There is a pink elephant floating in the front room that I have to chase away. He smells.

Friday, February 17, 2006

What if Our Girls Were Triplets

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare our three girls at the same age. Here are Kate, Genna, and Julia (in order of birth and presentation) at roughly 7 1/2 months (Julia's photo was taken only a couple days ago). All three are in exersaucers, and they are wearing the same outfit.

What if these girls had been triplets? In addition to massive headaches, we would have had probably the cutest set ever.

Neat little time capsule, eh? They look an awful lot alike, too. The return policy on them has expired, so I guess we'll go ahead and keep them.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Have the Coolest Wife Ever

I thought that my birthday night was going to be a low-key, stay at home event. How wrong I was. Allow me to outline how cool my wife is.

First, let me say that she is very accommodating. She has agreed to let me NOT get her flowers on Valentine's Day. I do this because I buy her flowers the day after. Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped by Bel Air and picked up a huge bouquet of red roses. These flowers were going for $58 yesterday - a price I could not afford. Today, they were on sale for $20. Hello! She loves them, and she allows me to be a bit of a cheapskate. Nice, eh?

Next, I showed up at home with the flowers in hand only to find my mom and sister there. Annie had arranged to have babysitters so that she could take me out on a surprise birthday date! How cool is she? Very. We headed out and caught the matinee of Firewall, and then had a delicious dinner at Outback Steakhouse.

The ribeye was awesome and the Aussie Cheese Fries were unbelievable. We had a fun time just talking - almost entirely about our kids. Funny how even when you aren't around the little monsters that you can't stop thinking and talking about them. I imagine that once they are teenagers, we may have to ban any such conversation - the talk will no longer be pleasant.

You must all forgive me for my boasting, but I do have the best wife ever. Hopefully she will read this post so I can score some points with her. Maybe she'll let me skip mowing the lawns this weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Wonderful Evening

Last night was fantastic. For Valentine Day we stayed home. The whole evening. We didn't leave our house once. You see, our students were gone over night! We could dead bolt the door. There was no stomping around of Japanese feet up and down our wooden stairs. There was no constant racket of the microwave door slamming. There was no stench of 4 packages of ramen being boiled. There were no demands for hotdogs. It was great. We were the king and queen of the castle.

As for the princesses, they were awesome, too. All were healthy, all were in good moods. We even video taped them because they were so cute. And, when we put them to bed, they stayed there. Not a single peep, even through the night! No cries to be covered, no calls for milk, no waking up the baby, no demands for more songs, no claims of spiders in the room. Nothing but sleep.

In fact, we liked it so much that we are going to do it again for my birthday celebration tonight. We are going to stay home and enjoy the Olympics, Lost, peace and quiet, privacy, and our own little family unit, unimpeded by the presence of foreigners. So nice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Stuffing Faces

Our girls received their last doses of antibiotics on Friday to combat their ear infections. We were confident that everything was cleared up, but Genna began to look pale, and over the weekend ran a low-grade fever. Annie decided to take her in to the doctor's office yesterday to get her and the other girls checked to make sure the infection hadn't returned.

To cajole the twins into behaving, we promised them that we would go feed the ducks, but only after we went to see the doctor. Genna was not keen on the idea of being checked out, but the impending duck feeding kept her in decent spirits. Thankfully, the girls were all ear infection free, though Genna is fighting a mild virus.

We then headed to the arboretum at UC Davis. Here is a picture of the girls feeding themselves some Wendy's chicken nuggets, while Annie broke up some old hamburger buns for the girls to throw.

Kate loved it, even when the ducks flew on to the grass and surrounded her. Genna, however, much preferred them at a distance. We had a really fun time, with our duck-feeding stint ending with the girls seeing Belle and the Beast in the forest, and us having to go get them. Their imaginations know no bounds.

Later that evening, just after we got the girls to bed, both of our students came home - earlier than expected. They were loud and ate a ton of food for dinner. I realized that I was holding some real resentment towards them. They had eaten the country omelet leftovers that I had made for Annie, and also finished all of the ranch chicken pasta that I spent over an hour cooking. They were eating all of my food!

They are thieves. True, we invited them in, and they pay for the privilege of eating our food, but still, come on. I was so mad. Annie and I ended up having to sneak the rest of my birthday cake to our bedroom so we could have some privacy. I felt much better after that, despite the fact that we were exiles in our own home.

Stuffing ducks' faces to make the girls feel better, then stuffing our own faces to make ourselves feel better. Is that healthy? What kind of message are we sending? It can't be a good one.

Teddy Bear Holding a Heart

Saturday Night Live has done it again. Watch this commercial, called Teddy Bear Holding a Heart - it is perfect for our beloved Valentine season.

Click here to watch it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Ban on Disney

Annie and I have decided to place a temporary ban on all princess-oriented Disney movies.

Genna is enjoying them like any girl would, but they seem to be consuming Kate. Her vocabulary is changing. The color 'yellow' is no longer yellow - it is 'Belle, after the color of Belle's dress. Blue is now Cinderella, and pink is Sleeping Beauty, for the same reasons. She uses these new color names to describe even her favorite M & M flavors! That, by itself, would be cute. But Kate has now taken to pretend crying. Constantly.

It's enough having to deal with real crying, but having to deal with pretend crying as well is too much. Almost every one of her games or pretend sessions involves her burying her face in her hands and saying, "I'm crying. I'm going to run away." Sure enough, she runs from the room.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Princess Jasmine cries when she is told that Aladdin has been executed. Cinderella cries when she can't make it to the ball. Ariel cries when chastised by her father - then runs away. Oh yes, that sets a great precedence for when I have to scold Kate.

We have gone a week now with no princesses, and it has been wonderful. How can I train my girls to be world leaders, when they believe that princesses must cry all the time? They are watching more Dora instead. That's good, because Dora is a scrappy little problem-solver who has never cried once! And she has a talking monkey.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Game

Julia has created a new game. When you take her out of her bath, wrap her in her towel, and then lay her on the bed, she likes to roll over while you are getting her diaper. She thinks it is so funny because you have to flip her back over to get the diaper on.

We know its a game to her, because she starts smiling and kicking her legs as soon as she rolls. In this shot, she also had her washcloth hanging from her mouth. She loves to chew it. See that mischievious gleam in her eye? She knows she is being silly.

See, she is doing just fine. Forcing her to eat mushy peas hasn't done permanent damage. Quite the contrary, actually - if her bowel movements are any indicator of well-being.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Night of Firsts

Last night marked several milestones in our family's development.

1) For the first time ever, all five of us sat at the table for dinner - together. It wasn't intentional, it just happened, and we loved it. Annie was feeding Julia in one of the girl's highchairs, when it came time for us older people to eat. Kate was sitting in one of the dining room chairs, playing with some toys on the table. I picked up Genna to set her in her highchair, when she said, "No. I want to sit in big chair." I thought about it. Why not? So, Kate and Genna sat in 'big girl chairs' - that is, in the normal table chairs, no trays, just bibs. Julia remained in the highchair. Before we knew it, Annie and I sat down to our turkey chili, and the twins to their macaroni and cheese. It was so fun! The girls talked about going to Mama's house and seeing Belle and the Beast (I love their imaginations). Julia gummed some baby crackers. What a whole new phase of life!

2) As if that wasn't enough, for the first time in their lives, the twins went to bed last night diaperless! We put all of our efforts in getting them potty-trained to the test. What do you know? No messes. My girls are geniuses! They're probably the smartest, most talented 2 1/2 year-olds ever.

Our next goal is to get me to go to bed diaperless. That may take some more training, though.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Most Awkward Conversation Ever

Last night Annie and I were on the sofa, having just finished watching Lost, when Yuki came walking through the front door. This was the first time we had seen him in a long time, and I jumped on the chance to have a chat with our library-going, ever-elusive Japanese student.

He waved to us and turned to his bedroom. I waved back and motioned to our recliner. It was time to talk. I very much felt like a parent who finally caught sight of his teenager for the first time after a couple of weeks of busy schedules and late nights. Yuki played his role admirably - he was awkward and nervous, having a hard time making eye contact.

Me: "Yuki, how are you? We never get to see you."
Yuki: "Ah, um. Yes. I am good."
Me: "You have been very busy. How is school?"
Yuki: "Ah, eh, um. Yes, busy." (getting increasingly anxious)
Annie: "You have many speeches to give, don't you?"
Yuki: "Um, ah. Hm. Yes, many speeches."
Me: "You have been at the library a lot."
Yuki: [nodding] "Yes, at the library."
Me: "Is there anything you need? Any food you want more of?"
Yuki: (stares blankly)
Me: "Food. Is there anything you want more of. What food do you want for breakfast and lunch?"
Yuki: "Oh. Ah, um, uh." (pauses for a long time). "Yes, lettuce. Lettuce."
Annie: "Okay, we can get you lettuce. Anything else you want?"
Yuki: [stares at her for a moment, then gets up and walks to the fridge]

... at this point Annie and I look at each other. Yuki is so nervous! And, we don't know if he understood Annie's question, or abandoned the conversation to go eat ...

Yuki: [walks back from the fridge and sits in the recliner] "Sausage."
Me: "Sausage? What kind of sausage? Whole sausages?"
Yuki: [looks away, thinking and wringing his hands, then looks back, confused] "Ah, uh, wiener."
Me: [Annie and I give each other a quick look] "Do you mean hotdogs?"
Yuki: "Ah, um. Oh, yes, hotdog. Hotdogs."
Me: "You want more hotdogs. Okay." (Annie and I look at each other, panic stricken - we are both of the verge of bursting with laughter. I see her begin to crack. A giggle escapes her. I stand up, needing to flee the room) "Okay, I will get you more hotdogs right now." (I bolt for the refrigerator in the garage, where we keep our secret stash of food, and from where we mete out our hotdogs sparingly. My departure leaves Annie - alone - to continue the painful conversation and to fight her urge to bust up).

The conversation went on from there, awkward and cumbersome for its entirety. We talked about his classes, his homework, his trips, his English and agricultural classes. But the highlight for us was, "Ah, uh, wiener." As Annie and I got ready for bed, we kept quoting it and almost peeing our pants. How did he come up with 'sausage' and then 'wiener' of all things, instead of 'hotdog' which seems to be his favorite food?

I really like the guy, and I wouldn't mind if he were around more. But he seems so nervous around us - and he is older than us! At least he gives us plenty of opportunity for laughter, even if he doesn't intend to.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Heard Over the Phone

Annie and I always talk at least once a day while I'm at work. If she calls in the morning, I get to hear the girls playing in the background, and her having to manage their disputes and antics. Here are two such incidents:

1) We have had an ongoing problem with Genna. She is a great older sister. She adores Julia, brings her toys, plays with her, snuggles her, and sings to her. But she has been obsessed with poking Julia's eyeballs! There is a new incident almost everyday in which Genna is playing with Julia, then without warning she reaches out and pokes Julia's eye, making the baby cry. We have tried talking to Genna, giving her timeouts, taking away privileges, and everything else we can think of to make her stop. Nothing has worked.

That's the prelude to what I heard over the phone yesterday. Here is how it went (bear in mind, through all of this I am sitting at my desk at work):

Annie: "Genna, be careful with Julia." (Julia starts crying). "Genna! You DO NOT poke Julia's eyes!"
Genna: (begins her mock cry because she has been chastised).
Annie: "Genna, do you want me to poke your eye?"
Genna: [in a sassy tone] "No!" (there is silence for a moment, then Genna starts crying).
Annie: "See, Genna, it hurts when someone pokes you in the eye. I'll do it again the next time you poke Julia's eye."

I could not stop laughing.

Then today ...

2) The girls are often in our room when Annie gets dressed for the day. Whenever Kate sees Annie in her bra, Kate says, "Oh, you're Tinkerbell!" Kate has developed a bit of interest in Annie's chest. Today Annie and I were on the phone, and I could hear that Kate was climbing all over her. Then:

Annie: "Ouch! Kate, that hurt."
Kate: "Let go! I want to touch it!"
Annie: "Kate, honey, no. That hurts when you pinch mommy's boob."
Kate: "But I want to touch it."
Annie: "Kate, no." (trying to suppress her laughter)
Kate: [amidst scuffling noises] "Uhh! Let go! They're Kate's hands!"
Annie: "Ok, go. Go play read your Dora book."

Once again, I could not stop laughing.

Death Calculator

I heard about the Death Calculator yesterday on the radio, and thought it was interesting. Here are the questions, though you can visit the site here. Per the calculator, I will live to a ripe old age of 86.


Start with 79 (today's average life expectancy)
1. Gender?
Female = plus 1. Male = minus 2.
2. Do you have an annual physical exam?
Yes = plus 3. No = minus 3.
3. Grandparent lived to 85-plus?
Add 2 for each long-lived grandparent.
4. Do you volunteer on a weekly basis?
Yes = plus 2. No = minus 1.
5. Do you live alone?
Yes, minus 3. No, 0 points.
6. Are you able to laugh at, and learn from, your mistakes.
Yes = plus 1. No = minus 3.
7. Do you have a confidant who listens to your problems?
Yes = plus 1. No = minus 2.
8. Do you play puzzles and games?
Yes = plus 4. No = 0.
9. Daily aerobic exercise: swimming, jogging, biking?
Yes = plus 3. No = 0.
10. Eat balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains?
Yes = plus 2. No = minus 3.
11. Do you smoke a pack of cigarettes daily?
Yes = minus 4. No = 0.
12. Live with, work with or have friends who smoke?
Yes = minus 1. No = 0.
13. Do you "yo-yo" on and off diet fads?
Yes = minus 5. No = 0 points.
14. Own an interactive pet (dog, cat)?
Yes = plus 2. Passive pet (goldfish) = plus 1.
15. Left-handed yes= minus 1. Right-handed = 0.
16. For every inch of your height that exceeds 5'8", minus six months.
17. Are you a religious person, and do you practice your faith?
Yes = plus 2. No = 0.
18. Two or more daughters?
Yes = plus 3. No = 0. (Daughters are elder caregivers).
19. Use stress management (meditation, quiet time, spa)?
Yes = plus 4. No = minus 3.
20. Walk to work? Yes = plus 2. Ride to work? Yes = plus 1. Drive to work? Yes = minus 3.
21. Cosmetic surgery?
Minus 5 for each decade you have a procedure. Minus 1 for each additional procedure per decade.
22. Do you fear the uncertainties of growing old?
Yes = minus 2. No fear = plus 1.
23. Substance abuse?
Yes = minus 6. Shared use of substances = minus 3.
24. Sexual promiscuity (multiple partners, STD risks)?
Yes = minus 6. No = 0.
25. Engaged in long-term, relationship of trust and mutual respect?
Yes = plus 5. No = 0.
26. All friends same age as you?
Yes = minus 2. No = plus 1.
27. Written specific life goals and completion timeframes?
Yes = plus 1. No = 0.
28. Family history of cardiovascular or cancer prior to age 50?
Minus 2 per occurrence.
29. Family history of obesity, diabetes, chronic depression?
Minus 2 per each occurrence. Your life expectancy is:


You may have noticed that if you really want to live to be old, you should be a right-handed, married, religious woman, who does puzzles, eats a balanced diet, exercises, has a diverse group of friends and two daughters, and good family health and longevity history.

To maximize my life expectancy, I have signed up for a daily Jazzercise class, and I now do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. I was going to fly to Europe for gender reassignment surgery, but then I saw that being a woman would only yield me one extra year, while the 'cosmetic' surgery would take away five years. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Woe Is Julia

Julia's road to eating solid food has been a rough one. Last night's trip turned out to be quite bumpy. We (mainly Annie) have learned through trial and error that Julia has no interest in mushy oatmeal or rice cereal. She wants the real stuff. So, she snacks on crackers, pretzels, fruit, and bread. Her favorite is the Gerber fruit-flavored, star-shaped snacks.

Annie was using these Gerber snacks last night as a decoy to make Julia open her mouth. Once Julia would open her mouth, Annie would sneak a bite of mashed green peas instead. This tactic had two results. 1) Julia getting over half a jar of peas on her, 2) a very sad Julia.

Just look at that face! Oh the misery. Has anyone ever looked at peas with such dismay? She has learned that if she starts waving her hands in front of her face that she can hinder our attempts at cramming food into her mouth.

What she has failed to remember, though, is that mommy is the mother of twins. She has well-honed reflexes and knows all the tricks to get the food in, regardless of the fits thrown and the food thrown back up.

Such sadness! She can't believe that her mother would be so cruel. She also can't believe that her mother tricked her so many times, and managed to get such a large quantity of gross veggies down her throat. Luckily, daddy, displaying tender sensitivity to his daugher's suffering, was on hand to document the entire event, including photographs and a blog post.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Talents and Skills

With twins it is very easy to - and pretty much impossible to avoid - comparing their developmental skills. From an early age, we could discern differences in their abilities. As they have developed, these differences have become both endearing and potential problems.

Genna learned early on how a door knob works. She can both close and open doors. Kate has perfected the door closing skill, but still can't open doors. To this day, all Genna has to do is lure Kate into a bedroom, and then shut the door behind her as she leaves. This happened yesterday. I saw Genna running down the hallway, away from her bedroom. Kate's cries followed her. Kate had been trapped in her own room.

On the other hand, Kate has excelled at singing and being able to memorize lyrics and melodies. She can carry a tune very well, sings on pitch (as well as a two-and-a-half-year-old can, at least) and picks up the lyrics amazingly fast. She is always singing - though she usually shouts the words. Genna also likes to sing, but she has so far proven herself to be a tone-deaf baritone (but cute, mind you!). We had pretty much decided that Kate was the musical genius, and that Genna would have her talents elsewhere.

But then we put them to bed the other night.

We were singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to them. I was holding Genna and Annie was holding Julia - Kate was already in her crib and singing with us. Halfway through the song, we realized that Genna was shaking her doll - that has a bell inside - to the tune perfectly! True, 'Twinkle' (as they call the song) isn't a rhythmically challenging song, but we were nevertheless impressed. Both our daughters are musical geniuses! One with vocals and one with percussion!

I am already working on creating a family band, Partridge or Van Trappe style. Annie can sing, play the piano, guitar, and ukelele (not all at once). Kate can sing back up, and Genna can be on drums and tambourine. Julia, so far, is only good at cooing and squealing, but we can make that work. I'm working on a new River Dance routine that will make Michael Flatley weep.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It Didn't Last

So, it turns out that I was far too optimistic about our girl's recovery. The good sleep lasted for one night, and then we were back to square one - getting up multiple times throughout the sleeping hours.

In a not so wise move, I went back to the bullfighting arena the next day, this time as a matador (the recortadors don't use swords or capes). My reflexes were slowed, and I ... spent some time in the hospital that night.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Our girls are getting better. For the first time in almost a week, our girls - all three of them - slept through the night! They didn't wake up once to coughing fits or infected ear canals. HURRAY!

My energy and vigor has been so restored after an uninterrupted night's sleep, that I agreed to fill in at our local bull fighting arena when their recortador called in sick.

I did pretty good for my first time. See my expression? I wasn't even fazed by the fact that I was diving over a charging bull. Thankfully, Ian was on hand to photograph my prowess.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Church of Disney

I had a very interesting conversation with Kate. I love that the twins are getting older, because I can actually talk with them, and get inside their heads.

I was playing with Kate when she pretended to cry and said, "I have to go find father." She then covered her face with her hands and collapsed on me. What she was doing here was pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I was intrigued to find out who she thought 'father' was. Here is how our conversation went:

Me: "Kate, who is father?"
Kate: "I have to go find father" (still 'crying')
Me: "Kate, am I your father?"
Kate: [laughing] "No, you're daddy-father."
Me: [trying a new approach] "Okay. What is father's name?" (I expected her to say 'King Triton' from The Little Mermaid)
Kate: [looking around wide-eyed] "His name is Jesus!"
Me: [now very intrigued] "Oh, it is? What does Jesus look like?"
Kate [standing and reaching her hands high] "He's so tall!"
Me: [thinking that all of our Sundays at church had not been in vain] "What else does he look like?"
Kate: "Then the queen gave Snow White an apple! Her dress is so sparkley!" (Kate proceeds to twirl, so her Tinkerbell skirt fans out).

What? My hopes were dashed. I could see that in her prodigious imagination, religious concepts and Disney story lines were horribly intertwined. I guess only time and more instruction can help her differentiate the two. In the meantime, I have considered paying tithing to Disney, Inc., since they seem to have formed a new religion in my house. But perhaps all of our purchases of Disney paraphernalia will suffice.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Explaining the Misery

We now know why our girls have been so miserable. This ain't no average cold. No, indeed. Snot, leaking eyes, and coughing is one thing. Fevers, irritability among otherwise very happy girls, and constant crying are something more.

Annie took all three of the girls, with my mom riding shotgun, down to the doctor's office today. Guess what? All three have raging ear infections! Genna and Julia have ear infections in both ears! Hurray!

Now we have our answers, and now we can get our girls better. And now we can look forward to administering the multiple medications, multiple times each day to multiple children...

There Will Be No Sleeping Here!

On Monday Yuki called Annie from a payphone to tell her that he had a very busy week, and that he would be home late every night - again. She asked if he would be at the library (yes, she is a brat), and he confirmed that he would be.

Last night Annie and I put the girls to bed (a blessed relief, as you will come to see in a few moments) just as Ryo came home. The three of us sat down to a nice tasty bowl of one-point chili and some small talk. Finally the pressure got to me. I turned to Ryo and said, "I want to know what Yuki is doing at the library." I know it's not fair - Ryo isn't Yuki's keeper. But I had to know.

Ryo's only response was to laugh! It turns out that Ryo doesn't have a clue what Yuki is up to, but he thinks it is very funny that Yuki is always at 'the library.' We all ended up laughing because of the absurdity of it. Why is our curiosity so piqued? I am almost obsessed about it. Annie is concerned that maybe the guy doesn't like us, or something worse. All three of us agree that Yuki isn't being forthright about his evening activities, though.

Yuki finally showed up at around 10:30 last night, which is the earliest he has come home in almost two weeks (last Friday he and Ryo didn't come home until 5 in the morning). We asked him how his day was - it was fine. We asked him how the library was - it was fine. The guy is so secretive! He then disappeared into this room.

Annie and I tried to get some decent sleep last night, but our house has never been so sick. Annie and I are sick, and all three girls are completely miserable. Kate and Genna are both running fevers, and Julia is oozing and leaking constantly from every conceivable opening. Since I began teaching Seminary this week (I will be doing that for the rest of the school year, 6 am Monday through Friday), Annie has taken it upon herself to be the main person to get up with the girls - bless her. This has made for a very tired and immune-system-suppressed Annie. On Sunday night she got up 8 times with the girls. Last night, she was up from 12:30 to 3:30 with a crying Julia. Things got so rough that she finally had to tag me in to the ring.

There I was, at 2 am last night, dog-tired and stumbling around the house trying to find a pacifier for the baby when I hear a noise in Yuki's room as I pass by the door. The guy is snoring! He is actually able to sleep through the racket Julia and Genna are making. Oh, how I wanted to burst into his room and shout, "There will be no sleeping here, young man! That kind of activity is reserved for the library!"

It was so aggravating that the same guy who is being so sneaky (he is still very pleasant, and we don't mind him not being home - we just wonder why he isn't being honest) wasn't sharing our misery. I just take comfort in the fact that at the beginning of each month we get a nice fat check paying for his homestay. The money can make me overlook the deceit. My morals can be bought. Yes, that is very comforting.