One Couple's Stumblings Through Parenthood and Marriage

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bird Flu Reaches USA!

Sadly, the dreaded Avian Bird Flu has reached the North American continent. Below is an image of the devestation this dreaded virus has wreaked on the native flamingo population in Florida. Be prepared, people.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Belated Easter Photos

Hey, I know these Easter photos are a month late. So sue me! They were too cute to pass up. Don't judge me. You don't know me. I pay my own bills ...

Sunday, May 28, 2006 - Featured Website

I am a bookmark addict. If I come across a website worth returning to, I hate to lose track of it. The problem with using your browser (IE, Firefox, etc.) to bookmark a site is that you can only access them from the computer on which you store them.

That is why I use Delicious. This company (recently purchased by Yahoo!) allows you to post and store all of your bookmarks on their servers. Also, you can tag/label every bookmark, cluster them, share them, and access them through a variety of different web portals - from any computer with internet access. I highly recommend it. Here are my bookmarks. Enjoy this free service.

See? See how I share? Aren't I a good boy?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Death Star Day Care

I've got a quick question for Chelsa. Having worked for years in a day care, can you tell me if this is a typical scene? Read the full write-up here.

Thanks for the photo,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shame & Pride

I'll admit that I actually watched a number of American Idol episodes this year. I usually hate shows like this, but since they did away with the drama of having the contestants live together, it is now an actual talent contest without the taint of 'reality TV.'

That said, I am still ashamed that I watched as much as I did. Annie and I began watching it because she personally knew Mandisa. But that doesn't excuse our continued interest in the schmarmy show well after her elimination.

I can say with pride, however, that we did NOT watch the season finale. Admittedly, it was because we watched Lost instead, but still. The principle remains. I can live on knowing that I demonstrated that ultimate defiance - I didn't watch the finale.

With photos like these, I am doubly proud of our decision ...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yang it!

My second round of acupuncture went very well. This time I decided to try to relax - and it helped that I knew what to expect.

I sat down as the woman who was about to jam needles into my back went over her notes. I remembered that last time she had asked me to stick out my tongue about five different times. Each time she would scrutinize my tongue and then make notes in Chinese on a piece of paper. I decided to ask her what was so interesting about my tongue.

Her answer: it has nothing to do with Western medicine - it is Chinese traditional medicine. She was looking at my tongue to determine my overall health (I let her know that I had just eaten some chocolate, so my tongue color might be tainted). I asked her what my results were. According to her (and my tongue), I have a yang imbalance - an excess of yang (I guess my yin is just fine). This means that something is out of sorts with my bones, muscle, heart, or liver, and that I have anxiety and stress from it. She said that this was most likely caused by herniated disc.

I asked her what I should do to correct this imbalance. Yes, I knew I was opening myself up to a sales pitch. To her credit, though, she said that if I wanted, down the road she could do a whole work up and perscribe me some herbs. However, she didn't want to do that until she was done fixing my neck.

I've got to find out more about the whole yin/yang thing. Any tips on where I should look?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Kate, On Religion ...

During church on Sunday, Kate actually listened attentively to the speaker for the first several minutes. I don't know why she was, but it was a first. As she listened to the speaker, she would repeat to me the last few words of each of his sentences. It was so cute that I began watching and listening to her instead. Here's how it went:

(Speaker talking about Abraham, Lot, Lehi, and Nephi and how each of them were led by God out of their respective cities, and why ...)
Kate: " ... individuals ..."
(Speaker talking ...)
Kate: " ... sensuous ..."
Me: (huh?)
(Speaker talking ...)
Kate: "... lusts of the flesh ..."

Yikes! I thought. I turned my attention back to the speaker. What in the world was he talking about to have my little almost-three-year-old say those words? I realized that he was describing the state of Sodom and Gomorrah during the days of Lot.

Sheesh. Kate's version made the topic sound very non-family-friendly. Maybe they should come with a rating?

Then last night, during Family Home Evening, Kate demonstrated her deep religious understanding. Annie was giving a lesson on family prayer and how we need to be nice to each other. Then Kate spoke up and offered her thoughts, in the form of a classic Socrates dialogue:

Kate: "Is it nice to push?"
Annie: "No, it isn't."
Kate: "Is it nice to hug?"
Annie: "Yes."
Kate: "And to kiss?"
Annie: "Yes."
Kate: "Is it nice to share your Cheerios with Heavenly Father?"
Annie: (suppressing a laugh) "Yes, Kate, it is very nice to share your Cheerios with Heavenly Father."

I'm glad that Kate's religious education is going so well.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A New Experience ...

I am doing everything to avoid surgery on my herniated disc. A couple of days ago I had an MRI done, and the technician said that in her 20 years, she had never seen one so big. Yay! That was so encouraging! She asked me what caused it, but I don't think she bought my bear-wrestling story.

So, this morning I went in for my first ever acupuncture session. I was really nervous and didn't know what to expect. The acupuncturist is a Chinese lady (comforting, for some reason - made it seem authentic), who is an MD and has been doing this work for 25 years.

After interviewing me, she had me lie face down and shirtless on the table. Once I was good and comfortable (ya, right), she cupped one hand under my chin and the other around the back of my head and gave a good pull. She said, "You need to relax." Ya right, lady! You're tugging on my head! That didn't work out so good for me last time!

But then came the main event. She rubbed my neck and shoulders down with alcohol and then proceded with placing needles along my spine, starting at the base of my skull and down just past the base of my neck. Then she inserted a couple along both shoulder blades. I was really tense because I was freaked out about needles being poked so close to my spine, but I could tell she was a professional.

Next, she attached electrodes to four of the needles, and turned on an electronic pulse machine. Before I new it, the muscles along the outside of my scapula, and along the base of my neck were twitching in time. Then, to top it all off, she rolled a heating lamp over me so I would stay warm. I then laid there for 45 minutes! It was crazy. I wish I could have seen myself. I wasn't sure if she was trying to cook me, convert me into a cyborg, or pull some Dr. Frankenstein trick. In the end, I almost fell asleep a couple of times - until her next patients arrived. I was distracted from sleeping because I could hear them talking in Chinese - and I was in plain sight of them. I imagine they were commenting on the foolish, pasty white boy who agreed to have a stranger stick needles in him.

I don't feel any better yet, but this is supposed to take multiple sessions. The goal is to get my muscle spasms loose enough to permit the bulging disc to retract back into place. We'll see. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nightmare Made Reality

Genna may dream of Chicken Elmo in her bed, but this picture brings to life my own nightmares. Thanks for ensuring that I won't sleep well, Ian. Oh, and also thanks to my sister Kelly for puting him up to this. At least you could have armed me with Sting and have me defending myself. Gosh!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New Milestone

Last night marked a new milestone for us. Genna got scared enough that I brought her to mommy and daddy's bed.

I was home alone with the girls and getting ready for bed. At around 10:45 Genna woke up crying and calling for mommy. I went in to see what was wrong, and saw that she was really freaked out. I brought her into the kitchen to give her a drink of water and a chance to snap out of it. After several pulls on the old sippy cup, Genna wiped her mouth and began her tale ...

"I'm scary (scared), dad."
"Oh? What are you scared of?"
"I'm scary of the monster in my crib."
"Oh. Do you want me to go look? I don't think there isn't a monster in your crib."
"Yes, there is a monster in my crib. Chicken Elmo is in my crib."

There we had it. Genna had been visited in her sleep by her arch rival, Chicken Elmo. I sang to her, got her laughing and after a while tried to put her back in her crib. She wouldn't have it - it was put up with her shrieking in fear or bring her to bed. So, for the next half hour I tried to sleep while Genna tossed and turned next to me. It wasn't until Annie got home that Genna would finally go to her own crib.

Let's have a bit of a breather before the next milestone, shall we?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Genna vs Chicken Elmo

The long-anticipated showdown between Genna and Chicken Elmo has happened. Ian was able to capture the moment.

I was amazed at how many people showed up. Look at the arena seats - they are packed! Also, Chicken Elmo was much larger than I expected. However, I was most impressed by Genna's fearlessness, and her skill at fighting with sword and shield. Such was her courage, that she disdained the use of even the simplest of armor. Instead, she donned her princess outfit and squared off with her nemesis.

I'll give you two guesses as to who one.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Way Too Tired

I am suffering from severe sleep deprivation. Late to bed, early to rise, crying children in the night. It all adds up to a very sleepy set of parents.

This morning I had my first dentist appointment in several years. I was so sleepy, that my eyes were rolling even while the dental hygienist picked away at my teeth with a Cavitron (water pick). It seems that the moment my body goes prone, it starts gearing up for sleep - even if there is some stranger scraping and poking at my mouth. At one point during her poking around looking for signs of gum disease, I was really fighting it. She would poke around a few times, taking her measurements, and then turn to a chart of my mouth to record her findings. After about 2 minutes of this, she turned once again, and in the intervening 10 seconds, I literally fell asleep. Only the sensation of a finger tugging at my lips and opening my jaw brought me to my senses.

I really need to get more sleep.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Keeping the Tradition Alive

This is why I gave up bullfighting last year. Way too many close calls. We plan on having more children, and if this horn had been an inch higher ... well, our aspirations for more progeny may have been dashed.

We do want to keep the bullfighting tradition alive in our family, however. So, I am training Genna to assume the matador-mantle from me. Her first opponent: Chicken Elmo.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

HA! Just Kidding!

Of course there are more Disneyland photos. You fools! HAHAHA!

Here are the girls in Downtown Disney, enjoying the various Disney paraphernalia. Genna especially liked the Dumbo ears (as demonstrated by her elephant impersonation).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Final Disney Photos ... ?

We just took too many photos at Disneyland. Too much good content! Here are the ladies on day one, proudly posing beneath Walt Disney himself (why they bronzed him there I'll never know - seems macabre).

Here is me on the Dumbo's Flying Circus ride. It was so wild that I got nauseous. The camera caught me just before I hurled all over the crowd watching their children from below. I have a very delicate system. It was disgusting.

Disney Corp produced millions of golden Minnie Mouse ears (complete with bow) to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the park. I donned a pair and stood transfixed as I pondered the many mysteries of Disneyland. My dad is in the background, looking on in horror at his son's shamelessness. Have you ever seen such a proud father? I think not.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Suggestion Box

I've been receiving complaints lately that I am not posting enough about my daughters - that maybe I'm posting too much about odd stories out of the Orient. FINE! You win! You think you can use comments as a suggestion box? Well here goes.

Our girls had the busiest and longest days of their lives in Disneyland. I went ahead and documented their sleepiness. These were taken after their first night in the park.

Monday, May 08, 2006

China's Finest

Yahoo reported last week on China's 'golden week' - a week-long holiday in which such festivities as squirting milk out of your eye is performed.

The next time we have exchange students, I am going to insist that they be Chinese. Hopefully they will know this trick and can teach us. Since our children seem to squirt from every other opening, why not this?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sumo Wrestlers & Crying Babies

I wish we still had our Japanese students still living with us. Evidently, there is an annual event at the Sensoji temple in Tokyo - it is a baby-crying contest. It is part of a larger event in which the health of the babies are prayed for.

I guess the sumo wrestlers are on hand to help keep the babies crying? Wait, if you are praying for their health, why make them cry? This baby doesn't seem to appreciate the prayers.

If they really wanted a run for their money, they should have come to our house last night (this morning). Julia would have taken the prize - and that was without a sumo wrestler!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Our celebration of Cinco de Mayo will not include the imbibing of alcohol. Instead, we are going to be performing a reenactment of the Battle of Puebla.

I'll be playing the part of General Ignacio Zaragoza, fearless leader of the Mexican troops, assigned by President Benito Juarez (played by Annie) to stop the French troops at all costs. My daughters will be dressed in traditional Mexican peasant garb, with Kate and Genna armed with rifles, and baby Julia with a machete.

Opposite us will be my siblings, playing the French, of course. My brother will fill the role of the foolish French commander, General Laurencez. My sister Shannon will play the roll of the French cavalry (she requested it, since she loves horses), and Kelly will be the French infantrymen - she has been perfecting her 'drop-your-rifle-and-run' technique for quite some time.

It should be a lot of fun. My only concern is that we might not have enough victory sombreros and French surrender flags ...

Don't Tell My Wife

A study was done recently that revealed that if you were to add up all the hours a typical stay at home mother spends on being mommy, she would earn a salary of $134,121.00.

Don't tell my wife about this. She'll demand more. I already don't ever see my paychecks. I'll have to get a second job just to pay her a salary.

Let's just keep this between you and me.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Will Kill You

Yesterday Annie, the girls, and I were all outside enjoying the warm afternoon weather. I was holding Julia while Annie fed her crackers. In the midst of this wholesome family scene, Kate climbed to the top of the slide and said, "I will kill you guys." - looking at Annie and I.

Annie and I looked at each other in shock, suppressing a laugh. "What did you say, Kate?" Annie asked, assuming she had misheard her.
"I'm going to kill you," Kate said, with a slight smile.
What?" I asked. Annie and I no longer thought it was very funny.
"I'm going to kill you." At this point it was getting creepy and eerie.
"Kate, that's not nice to say," Annie said.
"I'm going to kill you." At this point I looked Kate over to make sure she hadn't sprouted horns or hooves. Nope, still the same cute Kate. Just evil.
"Kate," I said, "honey, that isn't nice to say. Don't say that."
Now smiling big, Kate says, "I'm going to kill you."
"Kate, who says that?" Annie asks, switching up her tactics.
"Gaston," Kate said. Oooooh. It all made sense. Gaston is the villain from Beauty and the Beast - he says that he is going to kill the beast. In fact, it is part of the song they sing as the torch-wielding mob heads to the beast's castle.
She finally stopped threatening us with death, but boy was it creepy.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Don't Like Chicken Elmo

A while ago we got this dancing Elmo, known to our twins as Chicken Elmo. When you press his palm, he starts singing and dancing, shuffling forward to the beat of the Chicken Dance song. It is pretty loud, and Genna is deathly afraid of it. Every so often, though, she asks to see it. She has a love/hate relationship with him.

Yesterday I was holding Genna and sitting in the recliner. Annie was in the play room with Kate and Julia. Chicken Elmo was also there. Annie was keeping Elmo out of Genna's view, but was having him dance since Julia likes chewing on him. During one of the lulls in Elmo's singing and dancing performances, Genna broke out with a song of her own. She adapted a song that Annie sings to her (imagine her little almost-three-year-old voice singing quietly):

I love mommy, she loves me
I don't like Chicken Elmo, No Siree
I don't like Chicken Elmo, Yes Siree
I love Daddy, so you see
We are a happy family

Hey, Genna, do what you gotta do to cope with Chicken Elmo. You have my full support.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Julia the Destroyer

Yesterday afternoon Annie and I were so busy that we lost track of the now highly mobile Julia. "It's too quiet," Annie said. We both knew that she must be in the bathroom. She always seems to make a bee-line there whenever she realizes she isn't being properly monitored. Here was the scene I came across when I found the little escape artist:

She found our stash of Kirkland brand toilet paper! Using her teeth, she had already unwrapped one, done damage to a second, and was working on a third. See that smug look on her face? She knows she's bad, and she's proud of it! Her cousin, Carter, is behind her, looking on in horror at the wanton waste of precious paper products (say that 10 times fast!).

From now on, we are keeping all of the doors in the hallway closed. Hopefully Genna won't teach her the whole door-knob trick too soon.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Their Royal Highnesses

At the request of my sister, Kelly, here is a shot of the girls trying on their princess dresses at the store in Disneyland. Kate is in the yellow Belle dress, and Genna has donned the pink Sleeping Beauty dress.

They got the idea to sit down and fan out their dresses by watching the actual princesses earlier that day. Darn cute. I am on a role here ...