One Couple's Stumblings Through Parenthood and Marriage

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Disney Trivia

Everytime I post on a picture of our girls watching TV or a movie, I feel compelled to say that they really don't watch that much. And they don't, it's just that they are so cute when they do. Here they are lined up on their popcorn-eating blanket, eating ... well, popcorn.

I'll give several pieces of candy corn to the first of you who can identify what movie they are watching. Here's a clue: Kate (on the left) is wearing this particular character's skirt.

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Bathroom Features

I came home the other day to find that our family bathroom had undergone a complete redecorating. Our girls have been potty-trained for almost a year now, but I guess it was time to make the bathroom truly child-friendly. Very different from the days when we tried to make it child-proof.

The bathroom now features a permanent Dora toilet seat, a step stool to access said seat, and a side-of-tub mounted, easy-access toilet paper dispenser. To encourage proper hygiene, Annie purchased a step stool (it doubles as TP storage) to access the sink, which is now equipped with an easy-to-use pump action soap dispenser.

It is so nice! When we hear the call of "I need to go potty!" from one of our girls, we simply lift them over the Julia-gate and let them do the rest.

Below is a photo of the bathroom in action. Kate has just flushed her unmentionables, and Genna is demonstrating proper hand-washing technique. Our girls are all growed-up.

Friday, October 27, 2006

In the Bean Pool

We visited our 50th pumpkin patch not long ago. Chris, Brian, and Sophie turned us on to this one in Clayton because it has an entire play area just for the little ones. The fun includes a large hay tunnel, a bean bag toss, a tic-tac-toe game, and castles to play in. Our girls' favorite, though, were the several pools full of dried lima beans (a nightmare scenario for a Canadian I know).

This may be the only time our girls have enjoyed any bean aside from the pinto. Hey, you take what you can get. Brian had the genius idea of burying the kids in the beans. The girls were happy to participate

First we have Kate. She laid down for a while, enjoyed the opportunity to be covered in beans, and then took off.

Genna, though, was much more into it. She laid there for quite some time, through several such immersions, and just contemplated the ... I'm not sure. She sure had a pensive look about her, though. She was really into those beans (literally).

We got home late that night. As I carried Genna into her crib, she handed something to me, saying "Here, daddy." It was dark, so I couldn't see what it was. After singing her a lullaby (my dulcet voice can lull anyone to sleep), I walked out into the light and saw this. She had been carrying that bean with her all day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stupid Subconscious

My brother and I were asked by officers at my work to fight off the bears. In preparation, we practiced by jumping off diving boards into several different pools and then donned a new type of cloth-armor. We headed out to the fields by my house where we knew the beasts were. They were horrifying bears, not unlike the monsters that plague the castaways on Lost.
Our strategy was obvious: we needed to defeat them by playing soccer. And play we did. Though I had never played in my youth, my brother and I were both surprised at how good I was. We made for a great duo. In fact, such was our skill that we were challenged by a passing team of Iraqi soccer players. In the end, we defeated both the bears and the Iraqis. Not only were my employers happy, but I enjoyed telling Annie of my exploits.

Then my alarm clock woke me up.

What kind of mad dream was that? I got ready for the morning and then snuck back into room to say good-bye to Annie. She said, "You were talking in your sleep last night."
"Oh, I was? What was I saying?" I expected her to then tell of how I shouted "GGGOOOOAAAALLL," or "Take that, you foul bears!" But, no.
She said, "You said, 'Hello? Hi, honey, how are you? You want daddy to come home? Aw, mmm hmmm." Evidentally, I had had a very pleasant dream in which I was having a sweet conversation with one of the girls. Why couldn't I have remembered that dream instead? Stupid subconscious.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

There's a New Blog in Town

You've come to love her. Perhaps you know her as Uncle Chrissy, or Sophie's mom, or simply Christine. Whatever you call her, go check out her new blog. That's right, my sister-in-law has her blog up and running, and I'm very jealous of the name she chose for it ...

... drum roll ...


When she's on scene she dominates. Her zaniness always appeals. Though her humor may lean to the scatological every so often (actually, that is true with most parents who comment on their children's doings), it is guaranteed to delight.

Go there now. DO IT!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Grooming Coworkers

Kate and Genna have worked hard to develop their grooming skills. You'll recall that they first plied this new trade on goats. Well, you'll be happy to know that they have since upgraded to ponies. Yup - animals that could easily trample them, just how I like it.

Our favorite part of all this, aside from the additional income it brings us, is that the girls are able to work side by side with little fighting. True, they may bicker about who has the pinker brush, and sometimes they throw manure-stained hay at one another. But on the whole, they make for great coworkers. It makes us proud as parents.

Recently, though, we had a bit of a melt down. You'll see in this photo that Kate was quite distraught when she was told that the farm doesn't match her 401(k) contributions. She was really counting on that money to flesh out her retirement funds.

Here is her grandmother, consoling her with the wonderful news that the DOW had just set a new closing high of over 12,000!

Kate wiped away her tears, put on her happy face, picked up her brush, and went back to work. What a trooper.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who Is That?

I was perusing the photos Annie had taken and enjoying the shots she took at the Impossible Acres pumpkin patch. This one struck me as very cute, with Annie holding Genna and Jen holding Kate. But then I looked lower and saw the extra person. Who is that little blonde girl with blue sunglasses? What is she doing in this photo of brunettes?

Further along in the photographs I come across this photo. Someone must have fed the girls after midnight, or put them in water, because they began multiplying like mad. Such a troop of little girls, and not one of them over the age of three! That blonde girl chose center stage. I need to question Annie about these. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kate of the Many Faces, Part II

During dinner the other night I tried to get a picture of the Mrs. Potato Head earrings that Genna was wearing. She wouldn't oblige me with a good shot (as always), but Kate stepped up to the plate.

Naturally, she defaulted to her favorite - the famous Princess Pose (patent pending). She's going to make a career out of it, I'm sure.

Brace yourself, because I am going to demonstrate how feminized I have become - but isn't that such a cute outfit she's wearing? The tee over a long-sleeved white shirt is a good look. Also, the wavy hair (thanks to her braids from earlier in the day) are adorable. (Now placing my Mask of Masculinity back on).

For this second shot I asked her to be the Beast. Here's her take of what he looks like. Yep, tremendously scary.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Killing, Burning, and Forks

It began as any other night at home. But it turned sinister. As we prepared dinner, Genna said, "Daddy, I'm going to kill you."
"What?" I asked, not believing my ears.
"I'm going to kill you," she repeated.
"Genna," I said, assuming my low daddy voice, "that is not nice to say. Don't say that again. Would you like it if someone said that to you?" I picked her up, bibbed her, and placed her in the chair for dinner.
"If someone say dat to me, I would burn dem," she said.
"What?" This was getting darker and funnier.
"I would burn dem if dey say dat to me," she clarified.
"How would you burn them?"
"Daddy, I just do dat! I would push dem."
"How would you push them?" I asked. I glanced over at Annie, who was caught somewhere between amusement and calling 911.
"I would push dem like dis, with a fork," she said as she brandished her fork.

Thanks for the death threat, Genna. This photo is of her getting chastized by mommy. Genna turned her fork (still in hand) against Kate. I took this picture to create a paper trail. If I suddenly stop posting for a few days, assume that Genna has killed us and call the authorities.

All this talk of killing, burning, and pushing with forks really worked up an appetite in our bellies. The girls went on to enjoy their pasta, while I programmed our neighborhood exorcist's number into our speed dial.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kate of the Many Faces, Part 1

All familiar with Kate know her to be an exceptionally expressive girl. She has the makings of a silver screen star in her.

Unlike her twin, when the camera comes out, so does her inner actress.

In this first photo I asked her to pose like Gaston (q.v. Beauty and the Beast). "Give me Gaston, love, give me Gaston!" Her response was to make a scared/sad face. Very appropriate. She is like puddy in my hands. Easily molded and shaped - ideal for a budding starlet.

In this next pose I asked her to be a ... can you guess it? Those who answer correctly get a cookie. That's right, I said, "Now give me princess, PRINCESS!" That was a pose she was able to assume with no hesitation.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Alpha Men

As I scrolled through the photos Annie took during her time with Dr. Phil (here he is on stage, gesturing about something), I was struck by a common thread that is woven throughout the various photos she has taken over the past few years.

Annie appears to be drawn to alpha males. There is no doubting that Dr. Phil is one. Though he got his fame through Oprah, which knocks him down a peg or two on the masculinity scale, he has garnered more wealth and power than most people dream of. His waylaying his guests with questions such as "How's that working out for ya?" can only been seen as the aggression of your classic dominant male.

This next photo is of the silverback gorilla who runs the compound at the San Francisco Zoo. Annie was transfixed by this specimen (she took this shot). Though the gorilla is quite a bit hairier than Dr. Phil, they share one thing in common (aside from the gesturing): they are King of the Hill, the alpha male.

This final shot seals the deal. Keeping all of this in mind, can there be any doubt as to why she chose me as her mate? She demands a strong, masculine man - and that is why she succumbed to my courting her.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


The other day I got a call from Annie. She was squealing with delight. No, she hadn't won the lottery, and she hadn't found a 75% off sale at Old Navy. Instead, she informed me that she had just seen Dr. Phil, live and in person at the Downtown Plaza! Joy! Jubilee!

I'll admit to not understanding her excitement, but I wasn't about to question it.

Dr. Phil's staff were handing out Dr. Phil masks-on-a-stick and Dr. Phil water bottles to the whole audience.

Annie kept both of hers, and I imagine they will end up in an air-tight shadow box and on our wall before too long.

In this second pose I asked Annie to look at Dr. Phil's face and express to me exactly what she felt about him. I think the look of utter adoration on her face says it all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Genna in Heaven

It was a crazy morning, with Annie rushing around to get a few things done before packing the girls up and heading out the door. So crazy, in fact, that she didn't have time to give Julia her morning bottle (her only bottle). In a stroke of brilliance, she turned to Genna, Julia's most enthusiastic, eye-pokingest fan. "Genna, do you want to feed Julia her bottle!"

"Yes!" came Genna's exuberant reply.

And so this picture was born. Annie didn't have time to feed Julia, only enough time to snap a quick shot. Genna is in heaven, and Julia is content. Can't ask for a better combination.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Humble Opinion

This is the last year to year comparison from the pumpkin patch, I promise. In fact, I've pretty well tapped this spread out.

The first photo is from last year, the second from this year. The biggest difference, aside from the lighting, is that Julia is no longer strapped to mommy. She is now a free range child. No steroids. No antibiotics. Her ingestion of Cap'n Crunch Cereal, however, prevents her from being classified as All Natural.

If I may offer my humble opinion, my girls have gotten even cuter in this past year. Actually, we all have. My only complaint is that I am still wearing the same worn-out shoes. Maybe I can convince Annie to take me to the store for another pair.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Wow, this is my 300th post. I have spent a lot of time on this blog. Too much? Only time will tell.

I thought pictures of the twins standing victorious and triumphant on top of a large stack of hay a fitting tribute to this momentous occasion. They're actually pretty high up. This shot is zoomed in and then cropped.

Julia was pretty jealous, and she was thwarted by her parents as she tried to follow them up. Yet another in a long litany of her being shut out of her sister's activities.

I was pretty photo crazy this day. I took too many, at least that was the impression I got from the girls as I kept calling for their attention and making them pose. I remember as a kid that few things were as frustrating as having your parents cajole and coerce you into posing for photos. And here I was, doing the same.

This was one of the last photos I took, and you can see that the girls have reached the end of their tolerance for, "Kate, look over here," and "Genna, smile," and "No, no, stand right there."

Like the troopers they are, however, they humored me one last time. Such good little girls. Such an obnoxious father.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pumpkin Patch Imp

This was Julia's first time in a pumpkin patch where she was able to explore it freely. We would have let her last year, but four-month-olds are ambulatory-challenged.

She was drawn to the pumpkins like a bear to honey. Naturally, she tried climbing a few, but they didn't provide enough height to maintain her interest for too long. She settled on trying to remove their stems. This activity also proved useless.

Julia then tried picking them up, but they each weighed almost as much as she. What's a little girl to do when the objects of her desire are impervious to her destructive powers?

The answer is easy. Turn to dirt. It never fails to bring joy to a toddler.

Julia's discovery of the dirt clods made for a joyous occassion. We couldn't redirect her attention back to the pumpkins no matter how we thumped them and placed her in front of them. You can see her here, with Kate in the background, as she prepares for a double toss. She could throw them a good two or three feet.

It's the simple pleasures in life, my friends, that bring us happiness. Let's take a page out of Julia's book and get back to basics.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sippin' on Jamba Juice ...

I got up nice and early this morning and was on the road, when at 5:55 am, my front passenger-side tire went flat. Feeling up to the task, I popped my trunk only to find that I didn't have my car jack's lever - thereby rendering it useless. Lame. Thankfully, Annie had just placed our GEICO roadside service card in my wallet the night before (was that perfect timing, or a jynx? You be the judge). I placed my call and they dispatched a tow truck from Johnny's Auto.

Since it was still dark out, I left my headlights on so the driver could spot me on the side of the freeway. About 10 minutes later, my radio died, followed by my dashboard clock, and then my headlights. Dead battery. Nice. I sat in the dark until the driver could arrive. He changed out my flat with my spare, after having to snap off one of the lug nut studs, and jumped my battery. I had been back on the road for less than a 1/2 mile when 'splat', my spare went out.

I called Johnny's to get the same tow truck driver to pick me up, but their dispatch said I had to call GEICO back and set up a new service ticket. I was just calling them when the driver passed by, saw me, and pulled over. He ended up not being able to help me, due to a doctor's appointment he had, but he saw another driver passing by us in the other direction. He got on his radio, told the guy where I was (he had already spotted me), and then took off. I called GEICO, but they said it would be 30 minutes before Johnny's could come back. What? I had just seen the guy's truck!

After a half an hour, he came by and picked me up. Once we were inside the cab of his truck and on the road I saw that he was sucking on a brand new Jamba Juice! Instead of coming straight over to pick me up, he had grabbed a Jamba! Now that is customer service.

I can't complain, though. In the end, the towing to Les Schwab was free, and my new front tires cost only $77. It turns out that the one was so badly balded that you could stick your fingers though the tread!

As I sat in the Les Schwab lobby, eating popcorn and watching CNBC, I was reminded by the talking head that today is Columbus Day. I was struck at once at how much the explorer and I have in common:

1) He sailed on the Santa Maria.
I drive the Corolla.
2) He had to deal with unruly Spaniards, hostile natives, and the high seas.
I had to deal with Johnny's Auto, GEICO, Les Schwab, and balding tires.
3) He was exploring uncharted waters and lands unknown to Europe.
I was on my way to work.

The parallels are staggering. I expect to be called 'Admiral' from now on.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pumpkin Patch Galore

Our first trip to the pumpkin patch provided us with many a photo. Be prepared for high doses of pumpkin and child oriented adorability.

This year was a good year for pumpkins. The heat allowed for the growing of monster, child-proof beasts. We tested their durability by placing our girls on top of them. Sure enough, their structural integrity was high enough to support the weight of 30 lbs girls. Well done, science.

But the growing of huge pumpkins didn't deter our agricultural sector from producing the time- honored mini pumpkins. The girls were entranced by the many vats full of these little guys.

They were only $0.25 each! I almost felt bad buying them. So cheap - how do they make a profit? Certainly not off of overseas manufacturing in China (so I know my former foreign exchange students aren't being exploited). I can't understand it. It must be a Halloween miracle.

I admit it. We staged this last one. We wanted a photo of all three girls running towards the camera, so we had to give Julia a head start. It turned out pretty cute, so I don't mind the pretense.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So Much Change

Our little family is growing. Two years ago, we were a one wagon family (courtesy John Deere) at Bobby Dazzler's Pumpkin Patch.

The twins were so small that we could even squeeze in a couple of pumpkins without displacing the girls.

But two years bring a lot of change. Not for the pumpkin patch necessarily, but certainly for our burgeoning clan.

The addition of Julia has made the possibility of navigating the rows of pumpkins in a single wagon a thing of the past. There is simply no room for pumpkins. In fact, this second photo was staged simply to recreate the first photo. Immediately following taking the shot, we transferred the twins to a larger wagon.

I wonder what the photo in two years will look llike. I wonder how long Annie will tolerate my blogging. The future is so uncertain.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Paying Homage

Save for the occassional Disney flick that we all watch as a family, our girls don't get in much more than 2 hours of TV viewing a week. It's important to us that they don't come to enjoy paying homage to the glass idol too much.

However, that said, some shows and DVDs we have seem to be manna sent straight from heaven - possibly even worthy of worship.

The girls love the Baby Einstein series, especially Baby Noah, which features animals and classical music. Not only are these pleasant to listen to and even watch, but they keep our children entertained and out from underfoot (and in each other's hair).

The quality and educational value of these productions are good enough to stave off waves of guilt we might otherwise feel. Plus, its fun just to watch them watch it. With each new animal Kate and Genna shout its name. I love the part when they shout, "Wombat!" Oooh. Warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Essential Personalities

I thought these two photos (taken in front of that same fire engine) displayed the essential personality of our twins. Mind you, I know full well that they are only three years old and that they've got plenty o' growin' to do. But that's too complicated. It's much more fun to project their current selves into the future and see what they might become.

First we have Kate. She is always willing and able to smile for the camera. In fact, she seeks it out. When I pull the camera out, she demands that photos be taken of her, and then she is eager to see the result in the LCD. She loves attention, crowds (if they are watching her), and performing. She was made for the stage.

Then we have Genna. She won't smile for the camera unless I offer her Princess snacks or some other sweet. It's a good day when I can even get her to acknowledge the camera's presence. But when she does, it is worth it. Check out her sassy stance and enigmatic expression. Her eyes and smile hint at mysteries and deep understandings - or plans to torture her little sister. What that might become as she enters adulthood, I don't know. Something very good or something very bad.

Both of them know how to pose, when properly inspired, and this may lead them down the path towards modeling (my unbiased opinion is that they have the looks for it). I contacted Tyra Banks to get Genna and Kate on next year's America's Next Top Model. Her staff began some spiel about 'age of majority' and 'child protective services' and 'I hope you have legal counsel.' Whatever, Tyra, just get my girls on that show of yours.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Playing With Fire (Engines)

It's important to Annie and I that our girls have a healthy respect and admiration for our civil servants, and for those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. At least, that is the excuse I give for leaping at any chance to play with a fire engine.

The other day when we came across a parked engine on display for the community, we were quick to toss our girls inside and snap a few pictures. Here are Kate and Genna, dressed as twins, and smiling for the camera (a rarity from Genna). They were vaguely aware that they were on a fire engine, though their previous experience with these trucks is confined to their playing with a smaller 'weeble' version.

Julia was up next (not dressed like a twin). Naturally, she enjoyed being up high. She was so distracted that I couldn't get her to look at the camera, no matter how I hooted and shouted and jumped. I was afraid that the firefighters on hand might subdue me and start administering some sort of first aid.

In the end it was worth it. I now have pictures of my girls sitting on a fire engine. I have no idea what I'll do with these photos, aside from using them on my blog, but I have them. Yep, I sure do.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Genna The Bird Whisperer

As a parent I am always watching my kids, looking for new emerging skills and abilities. Imagine my surprise as I began to understand Genna's nascent talent as a Bird Whisperer.

It all began at the Zoo. You can see in this photo that she was quite taken by the chicks on display in the nursery at the Family Farm. Though their incubator labeled them as 'domestic chickens', I believe they should have been labeled 'Genna's minions'. She stood there for quite some time, communing with them.

What was said between them I will never know. It is one of those mysteries that may never be solved.

Genna's communication with the Canadian geese (hi, Chelsa) at the UCD arboretum was much more straight forward, however. As we fed the birds (tuppence a bag) some bread, Genna would steal away and talk to these large (dangerous?) water fowl.

I walked over to her to see what she was saying. I could just barely hear her saying, "Go in the water, goose. Go in the water." And sure enough, there they were, lining up to go into the water. I could dismiss their compliance as being motivated more by there desire to escape a too-close human being, but I believe they could understand her, Dr. Doolittle-style.

This second photo shows that she followed this same poor gaggle of geese for quite some time. It's no surprise that they are all walking away from her. Her bird-whispering soon devolved into bird-chasing-while-screaming, which is a much more readily understood behavior.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Julia Looking In, Part II

Julia, as the youngest, is often found on the outside of some activities that her sisters can participate in. She finds herself outside the gates, able only to watch what her sisters are able to enjoy. She was very sad to find out that the Zoo is rife with gates, corrals, and fences. Though these barricades applied to mommy, daddy, and her sisters every bit as much as to herself, that distinction did little to assuage her feeling of being left out.

Here she stands outside the fence that keeps small kids from the dangers of a duck pond. Not only is the water a drowning hazard (and an insurance/PR liability for the Zoo), but she must also be kept from the enormous and ill-tempered geese that cruise its waters. Her pensive expression belies a melancholy that only a good tractor ride can fix.

I was happy to have this particular iron fence in place. Though Julia was eager to climb over it and join the kitty cats inside for some quality play time, I prefered keeping her away from the pride of lions that would have enjoyed having a small child to play with.

Dear Julia, not all fences are simply there to keep you from the fun. Often they are there to keep the danger from you.