One Couple's Stumblings Through Parenthood and Marriage

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ah, The Memories

This reminded me of the twins. Spit up city. For those of you new to YouTube, press the play button in the middle of the screen and enjoy the video.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Girls Grooming Goats

San Francisco society has become so permissive that they have even let up on child labor laws. We were thrilled that we were able to enter our girls into the work force, so they could finally earn their keep and learn a thing or two about work ethic and sweat.

Annie and I figured that for their first job they might enjoy working in a barnyard. In this photo we introduced them to one of their many wards, a Dwarf Nubian Goat (such a bigoted name!). The three of them took a few minutes to get a feel for one another. In the end, the girls decided he was cute, and the goat decided that the twins didn't pose much of a threat.

Genna got her hands on one of the brushes and got to work at grooming the goats. This blonde one seemed to enjoy the attention and the presence of an energetic child that kept the flies at bay. I didn't much appreciate the close proximity of those horns.

Kate, too, put her pink-bristled brush to work. She found a different goat to ply her trade at. This particular animal was groomed by two children at once. Such luxury. I was concerned that Kate might be docked some pay because of it - worker productivity is carefully measured.

For my part, after taking these photos I moved on to Human Resources to file the W-9s for the twins and to get their direct deposit set up. What a real hassle. But, these are the sacrifices we make as parents. Our kids come first.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Put Julia On That

Babies and toddlers have to put up with a lot. One of Julia's trials, like so many her age, involves having to endure her parents placing her on things for their own amusement.

Annie and I thought it would be adorable to put Julia on this child-sized tractor. I expressed my doubts as to whether it was a functioning tractor, since it doesn't seem to be large enough to pull a combine, but we did it anyway. Annie also made sure that I got the sheep in the background, to lend a sense of authenticity to the photo. Julia was dubious the entire time and was relieved to get off. She would have relished climbing it herself, but did not appreciate being forced onto it by mommy and daddy.

The whole 'put Julia on that' fun came to a screeching hault when we placed her on this mocked-up horse and saddle. We were shocked, because she normally likes climbing on fake animals (see the tortoise post below). Maybe it was the headlessness of this equine. Whatever the reason, she burst out in tears - which made for a great photograph. That only adds to my cruelty as a parent. Our kids have so much to endure. I fear I will make their teenage years a living nightmare (though they will be required to sit atop less fake animals by that time).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Turtle, Turtle

Julia's well-known affinity for climbing everything knows no limits. This habit was more than a little disconcerting to the fauna at the zoo.

When she spotted this tortoise she raced over to it and climbed aboard. The poor thing never saw it coming. It was so frightened by the over-active toddler on its back that it remained absolutley still the entire time we were there.

Of course, Kate and Genna were not to be out done, especially their little sister. Kate waited patiently by until Julia grew tired of her reptilian mount. Then she took the saddle ... or the shell. Such a cute little smile.

Genna was next. She was a bit more shy about the whole thing. I imagine that she felt some sympathy for the tortoise. She knows what it is like to be piled on with no recourse but to sit there and wait it out. After all, that is what she does to Julia whenever mom and dad aren't looking.

I can only imagine that the tortoise went on about its merry way after we departed. No doubt he looks back on this day with a wistful, nostalgic smile on his face.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good Sisters, Part II

Here are a few more cute sister photos ...

On our mini-vacation last week we had to do a lot of loading up of children, multiple times a day. We have gotten pretty good at equipping our girls with everything they need to distract themselves from the woes of travel. Each of them has a book, as you can see. Genna is more interested in Kate's (who is wearing her crown from Max's birthday party), Kate is more interested in Julia, and only Julia is paying attention to her own stuff.

When we saw that this cutout had holes enough for each of our girls heads we had to do it. It couldn't be a more boring one, though - they are posing as the faces of three San Francisco Zoo club members. Who thought of that? At least have the cutout be of exotic animals or San Francisco politicians - something wild and zany. Not sweatshirt clad commoners. This is precisely why I need to be in charge of everything. (BTW, take a good look at Julia's face. She is really enjoying herself).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Such Good Sisters

Our girls are such good sisters to one another (Genna's eye poking not withstanding).

The first photo is of Kate and Genna at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. The cyclone fence they are clutching is the only thing separating them from a wet and painful experience with a pod of sea lions.

The second shot is of Genna hugging Julia as they look out over the African savannah (in San Francisco, that is). Once again, only a fence keeps the wildlife away. The giraffes, zebras, storks, cranes, and kudu were eager to incorporate them into their herds.

The third shot is of Kate and Genna as they crawl through an oversized prairie dog burrow. See. They do get along most of the time.

The final photo is also of Kate and Genna as they frolick in the sand. The only thing better than frolicking is being chased while frolicking. In circles.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I mentioned in my last post that I don't understand why children get such a kick out of simply running around. I think I need to amend my thinking. Perhaps they are more frolicking than running.That would make more sense, though I can't remember the last time I frolicked. Maybe I'll take it back up again. Julia sure enjoyed doing it, as seen in these pictures.

Julia has only been walking for a month or two, so she isn't that stable. In fact, my brother refers to her 'walk' as 'unassisted steps'. It's true - her gait often more closely resembles that of Frankenstein's hulking monster and not that of a normal human.

It has gotten better with practice, but her new skill was put to the test on the uneven and treacherous surfaces of the sand.

She performed admirably. Whether charging down slope or back to our chairs, she only stumbled a few times. She made it seem as though each tumble to the ground was intentional. More like a break to play in the sand and taste it one more time (see the grit on her lips and cheeks?). Her antics earned her many an ooh and ahh from our fellow beach-goers as they paused to watch her. Few things are as endearing to adults as a toddler toddling.

Alas, not even one of her age and energy level can keep up the pace she was setting. Before too long, well after her normal nap time, she sought the comfort and warmth of mommy for a good snuggle.

Luckily, mommy had come prepared with a coat with room for two. This picture will no doubt end up in one of Annie's scrapbooks.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rare Form

Genna was in rare form while we were at the beach. Of my three daughters, she ate the least sand (though you can still the residue on her cheeks from an earlier sampling she did). She was also the goofiest.

An hour into our first day she discovered that she could wear her bucket as a helmet. The two were inseparable from that point on. It caused her to stumble a few times, but that was a small price to pay for the companionship.

Like most children, she spent much of her time simply running around. What is it in kids that makes them do that? Or is there something in the sand or surf that drives them into a frenzy?

Don't get me wrong - we were happy that she got some good calisthenic exercise in. I just want to understand it. Perhaps that is as fruitless an endeavor as men trying to understand women. If that is the case, then I am doomed to a world of non-comprehension and confusion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Eating Inedibles

We spent this past weekend in Dillon Beach and San Francisco. Naturally, such family outings provide plenty of photo ops and blogging material. What better place to start than with Julia's eating habits?

Our first day at the beach was beautiful. The wind was down, the sun was up, the water was ... still freezing. Nothing could stop our girls from exploring the sandy environs. Julia found particular joy in partaking of the sea weed that was strewn across the beach. The tactic we have had to take with her is, if it isn't harmful or disruptive, just let her do it, because she will anyway. So, munch away she did (you can see the strand of it in her hands).

After her first several mouthfuls of sand, though, we had to put a stop to her eating of inedibles. We knew she would taste it (heck, her older sisters still can't fight the temptation), but we didn't expect her to make a meal of it. There were thankfully enough distractions nearby that she didn't cry as we brushed the sand from her palm. I have a feeling that she was still able to sneak some, though ...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

After the Taunting

Annie and I felt bad that Julia was excluded from all of the rides at Funderland. After taunting her with a number of rides she couldn't go on, we took them all on the Merry-Go-Round. As you can see from these photos, it didn't go so well.

The twins handled the vertigo- inducing heights of the carousel just fine. They sat in eager anticipation for the ride to begin. Julia, though, would have none of it. She erupted in tears at once and clutched at Annie. She continued like this for the entire ride - maybe standing outside the fence wasn't so bad afterall, eh?

Once the carousel began turning - at break-neck speed - even Kate began to have some misqivings. I assume that it was Julia's lack of composure that most unsettled Kate. Here is Annie offering a shoulder to her oldest and youngest daughters. At least one of them is having a good time (look at Julia's face!).

Genna sat stoicly through the entire ride. I still don't know if she enjoyed it at all. I myself got a bit queasy as I spun backwards and tried to get the best angles for the photos. That was my penance.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Julia Looking In

Poor Julia. Perhaps her greatest efforts in life, aside from sending me to an early grave, are devoted to keeping up with her older sisters. She would love to participate in the same rides they can go on. But, alas, she is disadvantaged by the height requirements.

Here she stands outside the fence of one such ride, clutching the iron bars and railing against the injustice of it all. Can't you see her sorrow and despair? Trust me - it's there. But the day just got harder and harder for her. Kate and Genna went on a lot of rides (thanks to the extra tickets we got through my parent's entertainment guide).

Here's another fence separating her from the fun her sisters were having. Come to think of it, our photographing her trials probably didn't help at all. Thinking back, Annie and I may have even laughed.

Again, poor Julia.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We Relented

After our vocational testing at Funderland, we finally relented and let the girls play on some of the rides. They were eager to ride the fish.

Here is Genna giving her patented coy look. She has gotten pretty good at it (without any practice, unlike her sister), which keeps me up at night as I dread her teenage years. My NRA membership card should be arriving in the mail any day now.

Kate, of course, opted for the pink fish. Genna would have wanted it, too, but I forestalled the argument by describing how Tinkerbell-green the fish was. That sealed the deal.

You'll notice that both of them have wavy hair. That is Annie's doing - she had them sleep in braids. My contribution to their appearance amounts only to the genetic material I supplied and the paychecks I bring home. (well, and my parenting, but let's not quibble).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Vocational Explorations

Annie and I are very attentive parents, and seek to provide our children with every available opportunity. Their future is very important to us.

It was with that mindset that we took them to Funderland this past weekend. We didn't go there to enjoy the rides so much as to explore what vocations our daughters would most likely excel at.

First we tried them on the Buggy Ride. They seemed quite adept at driving the automobile. They stayed on the track and maintained a constant speed the entire time. Very impressive. But, as you can see in this photograph, they were being a bit silly. We just didn't feel that they were taking their future occupation seriously. Being a professional driver is no laughing matter. After a stern talking to, we took them to the next ride. The airplanes.

They finally got it into their heads that they had to be sober-minded about this. They were still enjoying themselves, but now they understood the profundity of the moment.

They tried their hand at the airplane and, like in the Buggy, did very well. Kate had masterful control of her aircraft. As a team, they were able to make multiple passes overhead, changing their elevation but always keeping their speed and horizon even.
Here they are at the end of their airborne explorations. We may have the next set of crop dusters, fighter pilots, or airline captains on our hands. We'll see. They still have at least five years to make up their minds.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Annie is a relatively new member of a long-established San Francisco-based Hawaiian band named Kapalakiko (which is Hawaiian for 'San Francisco'). Here's a picture of her (center - of course) and a few of the other band members after they played at the Kaleo Cafe in the city (you'll see Sam Kaii on Annie's right). This is just one of the many ways to showcase my wife's amazing musical talents and beautiful voice.

The band is growing in popularity and plays at a number of venues during any given week. If you are looking to book them, let me know. I am as of now dubbing myself their unofficial, unauthorized scheduler. True, assuming this role will lead to confusion, frustration, and shattered dreams, but it's my prerogative. Don't judge me.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I was working from home on the morning of 9/11 and sitting at the computer in our bedroom. Annie, who was attending Sacramento State at the time, was getting ready for classes. She flipped on the TV in our room and after a few moments, said, "Justin, look." I turned around to see smoke billowing from the New York City skyline.

We spent the morning in shock, watching ABC and Peter Jennings share the horrific events as they unfolded. I'll never forget the sadness, the fear, and the outrage of that day. We feared with each passing moment that reports of another attack, perhaps closer to home, would happen. We knew the world would never be the same.

It's five years later, and I feel some of those same feelings as I remember that day. But pictures like this make me proud to be an American. This is an artist's rendering of some potential designs for replacing the WTC buildings.

There had been some discussion of filling the gaping hole of ground zero with a solemn memorial, but that's not how American's do it. We come back bigger and stronger. I love that the WTC is going to be replaced with even larger, grander buildings. That is the American spirit.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just One More

This photo of Julia is from the same time as the last post, but I couldn't pass it by. Her love of pizza makes her undeniably both her mother's and her father's daughter. Also, her adorability factor is a dead give away.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Treacherous Pit

I hesitated in posting this photo because my lawn looks so bad. Just trust me - this is the one patch of yard that my sprinklers can't reach. Everything else is a verdant paradise. We don't call it Eden for nothing. But I digress - back to my girls.

The north-most portion of my yard consists of a wooden ledge and a three-foot drop off, which all of my girls have been fascinated by, as shown here. The fact that each of them has fallen into this treacherous pit has done nothing to lessen their curiosity. If anything, it has increased its allure.

Annie captured this particular sequence on film (or in 1s and 0s). Kate, as always, has kicked off her shoes and has donned her princess crown. Genna, as always, is furthest into the pit. Not even the presence of an over-grown fig tree will keep her away. And last but not least, we have Julia stuffing her face with some left-over pizza and looking surprised that mommy caught her about to launch herself over the side.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Djinn, Djinni, and Genies in a Bottle

This post is dedicated to you, Joe.

Toward the end of Majda's stay with us I asked her about Djinn. The funny thing was that she called them 'genies' which brought to mind this:

But of course, that isn't what she meant. You see, she is afraid of them - and Robin William's genie just doesn't strike fear into the heart of many (unless you have phobias in regards to blue people or cabaret).

Majda described them as beings who were evil, who sought to hurt you, break up marriages, possess your body, and commit a wide variety of nefarious acts. "But," I said, still thinking of Disney's genie, "there are good ones right?"

She said there were good ones, but she dismissed them. She said that at times they frighten her, and that she reads the qu'ran to feel better, but she can still feel them over her shoulder. Yikes. She spoke of them as if they were very real beings of fire. Probably more like this image:

Now, this is quite a bit more frightening. According to Majda, there are many magicians in Oman who specialize in being able to control djinni, and people come from all over the Persian Gulf and from Africa to use their services. Ms. Cleo has missed her calling!

I guess we all have our fears. Mine involve spiders and giant poodles. In my defense, though, I am more likely to encounter a spider than a genie ... or am I?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sacramento Temple Dedication

On Sunday the Sacramento Temple was dedicated. It was a wonderful event, and it made me think on how nice it was to be able to tour it with some of you.

Here is a photo we had taken of us when we took just our little family. It was hard to get the Moroni statue at the top of the Temple in the photo, especially with us grappling our children. You can see from Genna, at our feet, that they were feeling a bit ... restive ... after the one and a half hour tour. It was worth it, though. If for no other reason than to be able to quote Kate when she first saw the celestial room: "Beautiful! Look at the princess chairs!"

That's right Kate, look at those princess chairs. I intend to see you sitting in one of them in about eighteen or twenty years - either after getting married to a nice young man, or serving a mission. That goes for all three of you (and any others that have not yet arrived).

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fairie Princesses & Parenting

With our students gone, we have been able to reclaim the play room for playing. Cute girls playing leads to photographs, which then leads to blog content. So here you go.

First we have Kate decked out in a tutu and fairie wings. She is also wearing her now famous 'princess face.' She even has her feet planted saucily. She loves posing for the camera.

Genna took a bit more convincing, though she finally did come into the room for the not-so-spontaneous photo shoot. She opted for the fairie version of 'sagging': her wing straps are hooked around her elbows, not her shoulders. Kids and fashon these days ...

Fairie-time continued for a while, though they refused to look the camera in the lens. I didn't know fairie princesses could be so ill-behaved. The only way to discipline them is to take away their wings, but then that is the makings of a fairie quest (to reclaim her wings) and we can't have that. It is a qanundrum. Parenting has never been so difficult.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Acquired Taste

Majda, in her last week with us, prepared an Arabian dinner. It made for a pretty display so I had to snap a shot. The upper food, in order from left to right, is: baba ganouche (eggplant paste) with dried pomegranate powder, grapeleaf and rice dolmas, and hummus with olive oil. The bottom row is Mediterranean flat bread and rotisserie chicken (prepared per the standards of halad in Islam) and roasted potatoes.

I liked the food, though the side dishes all require an acquired taste to fully enjoy. You can see in the corner that we didn't bother trying the new food on the girls. They enjoyed their good old red-blooded Yankee (GORBY, for you Canadians) macaroni and cheese.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I had to include this photo because, man, I look good! Look at that tux. I am slick. I put the 'ick' in slick. Hmm, no, I mean, I put the 'lick' in slick. Uh. Er. That doesn't work either. I just look crazy good, OK?

(the womenfolk look nice, too)