Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ah Reckon, Pard’ner…


This weekend we were invited down to West Pueblo, CO to spend time with some of P.Pie’s relatives whom – for the sake of this post and personal enjoyment – we’ll call Aunt Callejón, Aunt Grammy, Uncle PopPop, Hot Tub Cowboy, Miss Priss, and Bush [ed. note: see below for exact familial relationship].

Personally, I wasn’t all that thrilled with going as there is always things that need to be done around the house, at work, or in an attempt to have a social life. But I always worry when the family travels alone, so I drove us all down there.


West Pueblo is, as you might imagine, west of the town of Pueblo. As it turns out, it’s quite a bit west; I was beginning to think we were in Monument Valley, Arizona. But when we finally got there – among the scrub brush, stunted cedar trees, and low mesas, plateaus and buttes – I was awestruck. The beauty of Southern Colorado is often overshadowed by the majesty of the Rockies to the northwest, but it should not be.


The property is in a ‘subdivision’ of large lots (think 40 – 400+ acres) made up of small herd cattle ranchers, equestrian ranchers, alpaca/llama ranchers and people who just like wide open spaces. The home we visited was perched on top of a small mesa looking over sparse cedar trees across a plateau and a valley beyond that. Amidst the scrub, large limestone boulders surrounded the house punctuated with sparse curves of lush St. Augustine grass.


The particular slice of heaven we were visiting belonged to Hot Tub Cowboy (so called because we set up his hot tub while we were there) and besides a gracious nature and a beautiful home, he also has three horses. So after dinner, HT Cowboy, Bush (HTC’s son), Squeak and I took a walk to feed said horses.


After a skidding fall in the dirt and the shale, resulting in dirty hands, a slightly skinned knee and a few tears, we made it to the horse stalls. Squeak sat on the top of a fence rail, in awe of the massive majestic animals. After a dumping of hay and hand feeding of corncobs, we were joined by Axe, P.Pie, and Aunt Callejón.


HTC asked who wanted a horsey ride. Have you ever seen a 3.5 year old girl turn down a pony ride? Yeah, me neither. She was in absolute heaven and Axe would not miss his turn. They both did great.


While the entire trip was great and the horse ride was probably the cherry on top, my favorite moment was after the kids had had a quick swim in the above ground pool. Squeak was naked in the kitchen, changing from wet Disney princess bathing suit to dry shorts and Axe was grabbing her from behind in a rough/tough brotherly hug, to which Squeak replied, “Axe! Don’t love me while I’m naked!”



[ed. note - here's the familial stuff]

Aunt Callejón is P.Pie’s cousin, Miss Priss is Callejón's 4 year old girl, Aunt Grammy/Uncle PopPop are Callejón’s Parents and related to P.Pie on her mother’s side while Hot Tub Cowboy is Callejón’s boyfriend and Bush is HTC’s six year old boy.

Clear? Good. Now explain it to me.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Let’s Put a Smile on That Face


How about a prequel to Batman Begins? You know, a sort of Batman Begins Begins with Batman and the Joker as kids. And Axe as The Joker, of course.

The photo above was taken just the other day while eating the frosting off of the top of a cupcake, but before he fell out of the chair and onto the tiled floor.

There were tears, but in the end no bruises, cuts or scrapes that, years from now, he would have pointed to and said, "You shoulda seen the fall that caused this!"

He and his sister both are impossibly big, improbably old; In a single breath, they will swear they know it all, yet look on the wonderment of the toy aisle as if they were Lewis & Clark, the first to ever lay eyes on them.

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post.

I regularly have dozens and dozens of ideas for posts – a trip to the mall, the first taste of raw onion, a scraped knee - but the day gets away from me and it’s filed in the idea folder in the filing cabinet that is my mind. Writing is a skill that gets better with practice; it also atrophies from lack of use. This blog is not only meant to chronicle the kids’ life, but also exercise my writing muscles.

Enough of my grousing, here is a quick update on the kids –

They both had well-toddler check ups a couple of weeks ago and the doctor says they are progressing like champs! Everybody is healthy and well-adjusted, in spite of their oddball father. The Doc was particularly impressed with Axe’s vocabulary; like The Squeaker, his tongue is tied in the middle and loose at both ends.

There will be more updates. Soon. I promise.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

As Surely as Night Follows Day

Here we are 11 days after the twins’ birthday so that can only mean one thing; the anniversary of the day we let Doss go.

An interesting thing happened a few months ago that I’ve been saving to write about on this anniversary.

As with most, if not all, companies that have computers, my work has a 60-day password policy. So every 60 days I must come up with a new password using upper & lower case letters and at least one number and one character.

I tend to move through family member names and when the “your password expires in X days” reminder popped up on my computer, I had been thinking about Doss. So I took that as a sign and used his name as part of a cryptographic password.

So for 60 days, I typed his name several times a day. Now it’s fair to say that I normally reflect on him a couple of times a week anyway, but this two month period had me doing it all the time.

I get in to the office in the morning, I type my password.

I get up from my desk to get coffee/soda/snack, I lock my computer (we have a little competition going on where if you leave your computer unattended, you wind up with a different wallpaper on your desktop), so I have to type my password.

I get back from a meeting, I type my password.

I get back from lunch, I type my password.

So as you can imagine, there is a lot of typing of passwords.

Then, all of a sudden, I get the “your password expires in X days” reminder again. And I’m suddenly wracked with remorse; I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tell the system to put it off for a day.

I’m horrible depressed for the entire day. And I cannot put my finger on it. So I cut out a little early and head home.

The next day my computer reminds me again that I need to change my password and again I’m hit with another wave of melancholia. And it dawns on me, losing my everyday contact with Doss’ name was just like losing him again. And while it was a little “easing” to know where the feelings were coming from, it was still a swift kick in the gut.

So there it is.

Three years later and you still bring me to tears, boy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

King of Cool, part II

If you haven't seen Steve McQueen in his final film, 'The Hunter', portraying real-life bounty hunter Ralph 'Papa' Thorsen, then stop reading this, go rent it (Netflix has it) and then come back.

It's okay, we'll wait.

Welcome back.

Saw it? Cool. While it's no 'Bullitt', the Firebird chase scene is still pretty good.

Anyhoo, this is a picture of Axe channeling all the cool that is Steve McQueen; wearing the green waist jacket with dark jeans, looking back over his shoulder, glinty look in his eyes and to top it off, a lollipop stick hanging from between pursed lips.

Too cool, Axe.

Too cool.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Squeaker at Three

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Squeaker, happy birthday to you!!!!!!

Unfortunately Axe has a mild case of RSV, so we had to do a low-keyed celebration – just the family. But that didn’t stop us from having a four-person party, replete with top-your-own English muffin pizzas and individual, create your own, single serving birthday cakes (aka cupcakes with sprinkles).

And presents, of course. What birthday party would be a birthday party without presents?

It’s worth pointing out that as the recipient of presents, I am generally not allowed to hold said presents prior to moment that they are to be opened. I have a knack for being able to guess what the present contains.

It’s a curse, really. And for many years I did it as a parlor trick. I’d turn the present over a time or two, give a gentle shake, and announce the package’s contents. I thought everybody thought it was clever.

Everyone did not.

Particularly PPie. I once made her cry for guessing a gift and, in her words, “Taking the fun out of giving me a gift.” I don’t do it anymore. In fact, I’m so out of practice, I don’t think I could do it anymore even if I wanted to.

Back to the party.

So Squeak gets a her presents – one from Mommy & Daddy and one from Axe – And picks them up, one at a time, and she says, “I got a Barbie and a baby doll!”

The Bath Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake were both still wrapped in their respective gift wrapping.

I beamed. PPie was less than pleased.

(He doesn't look sick...)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Squeaker-isms and the Return of the Muffle Bag

Long before the invention of the snack bag, my mother threw a handful of King Vitamin cereal into a thin sandwich bag to munch on during our car trips to some store or the longer rides from Ft. Worth to Dallas to visit my maternal grandparents.

For reasons unremembered by me and unknown to my mother, I labeled these travel snacks a “Muffle Bag.” Perhaps they were so-called because that was the job they accomplished – keeping my mouth busy so I was muffled. Although, quite honestly, I don’t know whether I was a jabber jaw or not. But no matter.

The Muffle Bag has made a glorious return in the Barron house and we use them when we’re going anywhere. In the morning when we’re heading to daycare, the bags are filled with cereal or cut up bite sized waffles. If it’s an afternoon trek, the snack might be crackers or Cheerios with a smattering of craisins thrown in for variety/flavor. The beauty of the Muffle Bag is that it’s snack agnostic.

The Muffle Bag is a big hit and has, in fact, been in use for a quite awhile – at least a year, maybe longer – I just haven’t written about them. I’ve been waiting to use it as lead-in for another topic, sort of a teaser for another piece. And in this case it’s the lead-in for Squeaker-isms.

Just as I had a penchant for naming things, The Squeaker has a knack for pulling new names out of the box. Here are just a few –

Mickeys – Ponytails. Not sure how this one came to be; she came home from Shell's (daycare provider) one day using it. When I ask about it, Shell assumed we called it that. Weird.

Zurt – Dessert. Pretty straight forward.

Paper Toilet – Toilet Paper. Seems to a simple transposing of words, but it's super-cute coming out of her mouth!

Water in My Eyes – Tears, Post-Crying. Also super-cute!

– of course, now that I put them down on paper I can only come up with four big ones. So that these sayings do not sink below the waves of memory into obscurity, I will make short posts with pictures and a Squeaker-ism when they come up.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Boy Explosion

Axe has been blowing the doors off of 2010!


First, as the pictures point out, we have had success on the potty! Don’t get too excited; the first time, Tuesday morning, he woke up with a dry diaper and I had the forethought to place on the throne. The second time, Saturday afternoon, he was standing in our bedroom and concentrating really hard.


“Axe,” I said. “Do you need to potty?” He looked at me, then in the direction of the bathroom and trotted that way. So scooped him up, undid his britches, and plopped him on the toilet. Shortly thereafter, we had our first poop on the potty.


A round of applause and ‘hip, hip, hurrahs’ went up throughout the house.


Of course, one peepee and one poop do not a trained potty’er make. We are not drill sergeants about potty training, but rather we like to ease into it. As a wise man one said, “The path of a thousand miles starts with the first pee.”


Axe’s vocabulary has also exploded in the first ten days of the New Year. Actually, he’s been gearing up for the last month or two, but at daycare when we came back after the weeklong break between, they were shocked at his language skills.


And frankly, so am I.


He’s become quite the Myna bird; if you repeat a word two or three times to him, he’ll say it back to you.


Repeatedly.


Axey’s favorite word is currently Elmo. Every fuzzy creature is Elmo. Most dogs are Elmo – except our dog, Beej, & Scooby Do.


Axe pronounces it Eh-moe... realllll slowwwwww. So, I taught him to say ‘brains’ right after Elmo.


So Axe walks around the house, arms outstretched saying, Eh-moe... braaaansss.


It’s like having a toddler zombie in the house. And I laugh at it.


Every.


Single.


Time.


Hopefully his pronunciation won’t improve anytime soon.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What We Aught to Do

As we leave the ‘aughts’ and embark on a new decade, I am left wondering why the term “aught” didn’t catch on.

It wasn’t for my lack of trying; I used it in everyday life.


When someone asks me when we moved to Colorado, I’d say, “The end of double aught.”


What about those great pics of Mexico on the dining room buffet? “Those were take in aught one, our first (and so far only) vacation out of the country,” I’d boast.


When did we buy our house? “Aught two,” would be the reply.


What years were the best for the HBO series ’Six Feet Under’? “Aught three and aught four,” I’d declare.


The diploma in my office? “From the University of Colorado in aught five,” I crowed.


When were the kids born? “Aught seven and aught eight, of course,” I beamed.


My all time favorite? When filling out a check a person asks about the date, “December 3rd, aught nine,” was the response.


Perhaps I am simply ahead of my time; the last time there were ‘aughts’, what did they call them while they were in it? Maybe calling them ‘aughts’ is something that is done after the fact. Maybe it’s only in retrospect that the single digit years can be called ‘aughts’.


So be it, then I am an innovator.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Very Curmudgeonly Christmas

I am not, by nature, a very Christmas-y kinda person. I am, in fact, a bit of a curmudgeon.

No, scratch that. I’m a major curmudgeon.

You may ask, what is a curmudgeon? The “according to Hoyle” (or in this case, Webster) definition is “A crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man.”

But it’s more than that. I prefer to think of a curmudgeon as a person who sees the world for what it is - trouble.

I’ve always had curmudgeonly tendencies – sort of a curmudgeon-in-training, if you will. But since I turned 40 (nearly a year ago!), I have officially hung my curmudgeon shingle outside my door; no longer an apprentice, but a full fledged journeyman with his eyes finally wide open.

My curmudgeonly ways come to me by way of a black streak of curmudgeonliness that runs in my paternal line. In fact, I dare say that even if Axe didn’t want to be a curmudgeon, he would have little ability to circumvent it.

Axe may deny that he is wired that way – heaven knows I tried. Axe may even delude himself into believing that that is the truth. But one day, he’ll be having a conversation with someone and that someone will say something so incomprehensibly ignorant that he will be force to speak out against it. And it may not even be a conversation; it could something someone on the television said. Or something he read online or in an article.

And he will be force to speak out against it.

Even if he is the only person in the room.

Curmudgeon runs deep in a Barron male. Axe, if you are reading this some twenty years from now and you still doubt me, ask your mother (or your Golly, or your Grammy) if it’s true.

The hot, tar like streak of curmudgeon sticks to a Barron male like crude oil to a pelican’s feathers.

On the bright side Squeaker should be spared, as Barron females carry nary a trace of the black streak. Go figure.

But I digress. Back to the point of the post.

This is the first Christmas we've had a Christmas tree since we've had kids.

Not for lack of money, or belief in the holiday or anything like that; it’s just been impractical – either the kids have been too young or we were Xmasing at someone else’s house (someone who had to have a tree).

But this year, we had to get a tree; if it had just been Axe, we could have pushed another year, but The Squeaker knows Christmas.

While Squeak knows Xmas, she hasn’t got the open-presents-on-a-specific-day part down. The first presents we put under the tree were savagely attacked weeks before the socially agreed upon time.

So we had to hide all presents until Christmas Eve. Until after they went to bed on Christmas Eve.

There were lots of presents for both the kids, but the big present for Squeak was a kitchen and for Axe, a ride on Mater (of Cars fame).

Both were big hits.

We did have a couple of surprise hits – A Barbie doll and Matchbox cars.

Squeak got a Barbie as a Christmas party gift and suddenly it was, “Barbie, Barbie, Barbie.”

She now wants everything Barbie. It was really weird, almost cult-ish. One day, she was oblivious to the 50 year old blonde bombshell, the next she must have it ALL. It’s like the initial doll must have a brainwashing mechanism in it… sorry, my curmudgeon-ness coming out.

Axe hasn’t gone “all things Matchbox,” but he did TOTALLY get them. He has a toy garage with a wrap around road (made for some other type of large plastic car) and he spent 10-20 minutes (an eternity for him) running the Matchbox cars around the loop.

It was a great Christmas and now that we’ve done it once, we’ll have to do it again.

At least until they're 18 or so.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Patch


Agriculture is a big part of life in Colorado.

That’s mostly cattle, but we do have a fair share of agro-soil stuffs. Here are a few facts about Colorado crops that I bet you didn’t know (& neither did I until I decide to write this post!)

Colorado is the biggest producer of proso millet (a grass that's grown as a grain crop for livestock) in the country.

We’re number five in the country for the production of sunflowers (which, by the way, is P.Pie’s favorite flower).

The highest alpine valley that produces crops is the San Luis Valley in SW Colorado. They grow 60,000 acres if potatoes there.

Our leading veggie crop is onions and our leading fruit is peaches.

We even manage to grow a few pumpkins.

And at this time of year, they open their doors, give hayrides, have corn mazes, and sell fresh grown pumpkins that you get to pick yourself. All this comes at a fee, of course. $10 per adult, $5 for kids under 12 and kids under 3 are free.

So for $20, the four of us got the opportunity to ride a flatbed trailer pulled by a tractor, pick a pumpkin and pay a premium price for a fresh pumpkin.

Yes, I’m a little upset that I paid money to get it, had to harvest the pumpkin myself and then pay more for it than I would at my local grocers. But, I’m a fan of the free market system and if they can make a go at it, then so be it. There was a line of cars to get in every weekend leading up to Halloween, so apparently I am the only one who feels shorted.

To be fair, they did have a plethora of things to see and do, not the least of which is a corn maze, and all of that costs them money t set up and maintain.

And finally, the kids had a blast so that makes it all worthwhile (and I even managed to eke out some enjoyment watching the kids have so much fun).

Enjoy the pics.

Jo & the farm animals
Yes, there were animals in the pen...

Jo & Axecon the cart
Look! Our holiday card!

Jo on the cartII
"Daddy, Where do splinters come from?"

Jo on the cart
"Do we get all these pumpkins?"

Jo in the Maze
"I know the way!"

Axe & Jo - Snack Break
Lunch break!

Smilin' Ax
"Check out my Baby GQ pose!"

Jo & Pumpkins
"Do I have to pose?"

Bongo Pumpkin
"It's a bongo, right?"

Axe & Pumpkins
"These are MINE!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boys vs. Girls - The Axe Man

This post is an Axe update post, but I want to start with a Squeaker story… in a round about sort of way.

When Squeak was young and we’d change her diaper (a distant memory now with potty training pretty much complete), she’d generally stretch out in repose on the changing table, contemplating whatever infant/toddlers contemplate, and let us change her diaper with minimal hassle or complaint.

By comparison, her boy cousins, Gunslinger & O-Pickle, would thrash around, catch hands full of poop, jump up, run around naked and just generally be pains in the arses. I wrote it up to… well… not poor parenting, but poor planning. That is, when at home, we always changed Squeak on her changing table. Whereas, her cousin counterparts were change where ever was convenient – floors, couches, beds… anywhere.

I assumed – incorrectly – that’s why they behaved the way they did. Secretly I was patting myself on the back for proper example setting.

That is, until we had Axe.

Since there is only 16 months between brother & sister, we did diaper duty for the former as we did the latter. Only, Axe doesn’t lie in repose; he throws himself around, grabbing at his junk and the diaper and squealing like a wounded monkey.

Honestly, it DOUBLES the time it takes to change a single diaper; and talking with other parents of boys and girls, this is standard for boys.

And that’s only the beginning.

Squeak is a bit of shrinking violet when it comes to many things, including being thrown about, roughhousing, and even walking (here’s a previous post about it).

Not Axe - he has no fear (which gives me great fear). Crawling is a thing of the past; he walks everywhere now. He loves to be tossed in the air, to jump, to crawl up and stand on everything (including the kitchen table)! He’ll probably be an X Gamer or the next Johnny Knoxville.

He’s also not the talker that Squeak is/was… at least not yet. He has picked a new word that he’s been bandying about a lot lately - dog. But it sounds like dag… much the way Brad Pitt’s character Mickey O’Neil says "dog" in Snatch. He could also be saying his grandfather Cappy’s name, Doug, but he’s looking at Beej when he says it, so I’m pretty sure it’s dog.

And BIG; he’ll easily outpace his sister in the growth department any day now. He’s already started standing up to her (both literally and figuratively) and swinging back at her when she takes a poke at him or takes a toy he had.

Like his sister, Axe loves to laugh. And their laughs sound alike. His face usually sports a sly grin, like he's got the inside scoop on a funny story. Or a better description might be that he's got a joke he's dying to tell.

Blue eyes, a big grin and a dimpled cheek… I may have to change his nickname to Killer.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

She’s a Big Girl Now

Back in October, I mentioned that we were “easing” The Squeaker into potty training. I made it sound like we ordered her pre-potty trained from the factory.

Had that been a choice, we certainly would have taken it… but such was not the case.

During the intervening nine months, it seemed that with every two steps forward there was at least one step back. Fortunately, that still leaves a net gain of one step forward.

Today, all those single steps finally paid off; Squeak spent the day in real big girl undies! Well, not a real BIG girl’s undies rather, real panties like a grown up girl!

We’ve been at the Princess Pull-Up stage for a number of months, and it’s been sort of hit & miss – dry days, wet nights; wet days, dry nights. No real rhyme or reason, but we didn’t want to give her a complex about it. We simply praised her when she succeeded and poo-poo’d (no pun intended) the accidents.

But in the last week or so, Squeak had dry days and nights. The clincher happened at a friend’s July 4th party; Squeaker stopped us in mid-revelry and said, “I need to potty.”

This is a huge step. Normally when we’re out, she tells us she just went potty. In her pants.

But given the fact that the previous few days had been relatively dry, we decided a day of real panties was in order. In the interest of full disclosure, we did have an accident early on in the day in the backyard. But it taught her a valuable lesson – peeing down your leg is NO FUN. We stripped her down, cleaned her up and put her in a fresh pair of panties.

And I’m proud to say that we didn’t have a single accident the rest of the day.

We drove multiple miles and went to several stores and had no “accidents”. More than once we did have to RUN to a bathroom a time or two, but every time The Squeaker warned us of the impending event.

With a successful day of dryness in real panties, Squeak is sleeping in Princess Pull Ups tonight and tomorrow we’ll try for another day of dryness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Next Stop, The Why Zone



There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.

It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And, it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Why Zone.

“Dinner This Evening”

Daddy: “Tonight’s dinner is mac ‘n cheese with li’l smokies and green beans.

Squeaker: “Why?”

Daddy: “Because you love mac ‘n cheese.”

Squeaker: “Why?”

Daddy: “Because it’s good for you.”

Squeaker: “Why?”

Axe: “Eeeee-aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!”

Squeak has been pretty easy on the “Why”s for the last two years. In fact, if she had a why and you answered it, that was it. Done deal, question answered. On to the next thing.

Last Saturday, Squeak entered the Why Zone when she woke up.

And.

It.

Hasn’t.

Stopped.

I’m afraid this is a long term issue….

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

HowAboutTwo.com Picked Up for Another Season

I know it seems like we may have been cancelled*, but it was just an extended break.

I’d love to use the burglary as the excuse for a three month hiatus, but that would be a cop out. While it took nearly four weeks to settle up with the insurance company (they lowballed us the first time and we had to fight to get the write $ amounts) and another two to three weeks to get replacement items, I did have the use of my work laptop.

No, there is no good excuse. All I can say is that life got in the way of writing about life.

Funny how that works out; but we’re back with tons of things to blog about. So here’s a quick rundown…

The Squeaker is in full terrible two toddlerism. I know, I know… A few posts back I wrote that being two was no big deal for Squeak. I was mistaken – she’s developed quite the tantrum skills.

TV has become Squeaker’s friend… Good? Bad? Only time will tell.

In 2+ months, Axe has gone from carpet shark to crawler to furniture walker; can full-on walking be far behind?

Axe has also moved from mushed foods to self-directed feedings of pasta, veggie/fruit slices, Cheerios, and the occasional pieces of kibble snatched from Beej’s bowl.

We had some pictures taken for Mother’s Day.

We took our first family car trip! (I’ll actually post about that later)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… more to come. I am going to try to get back on the once a week schedule of posting. No promises, but I am going to try.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We’ve Been Robbed…

According to the Associated Press style guide, the proper term is “burgled”. The according to Hoyle difference is as follows:

Robbery is the taking or attempting to take something of value from another person by use of force, threats or intimidation. And Burglary is the unlawful entry of a ‘structure’ to commit a felony or a theft. Burglary is commonly known as a "break in," or, "breaking and entering." A ‘structure’ is usually in reference to physical buildings but not cars. Car break-ins or thefts are considered larcenies.

So, by definition, we were burgled.

Last Monday afternoon, a sneak-thief – or more likely thieves – broke into our house and stripped it of nearly everything electronic. Most definitely every piece of valuable electronica.

To add insult to injury, they thrashed the house, emptying every drawer, disturbing every piece of furniture in their larcenous lust for loot.

I was finishing up a five-day business trip to Oregon when PPie called me frantically, crying that we had been robbed, everything taken.

I grabbed my bags and headed for the airport, in hopes of catching an early flight home. Instead, I got to sit in the terminal an extra four hours. Yea.

In my absence, the cops came, took photos, asked questions, and before leaving, said the CSI would be by to take prints. PPie went to stay at her sister’s house with the kids and to wait for me.

My flight arrived at nearly midnight and I headed to our violated home, in hopes of making some sense of it, or at least putting out of my mind the idea that it was just some terrible dream or a horrible joke.

The house looked like a tornado had hit it. Rather than answering any questions, it simply opened up a whole new crop of them – why make a jelly sandwich, only to smear it on the carpet in the bedroom? Why take video games and not the DVDs? Why steal $100 in Jorja's birthday/Xmas money piggy bank, but not the $75 in silver change on my dresser? Why drink two beers, but leave two others?

Why, why, why????

I am not the type of person to say, “Well, I hope they can make use of it.” Or, “If they’d just asked, I would have helped them out.” Colorado has a “Make My Day” law; had I caught them in the act, I would have exercised that right.

As it stands, this is probably one of those crimes where the criminals are not caught, at least not for this crime. But, if there is one iota of justice they will go to jail for a crime they did not commit.

Finally, here is the partial list of missing items wrap up, SportsCenter-style:

Our 46” HiDef, flat panel TV? Gone

My XBOX360 and 20+ games? No longer in the house.

The Wii? Departed along with a half-a-dozen games.

Not one or two laptops, but all THREE laptops are history.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t doubt that three months from now I’m going to look for a specific doohickey and realize that I haven’t seen it since the EVENT.

For now, we have cleaned up and are back in the house, sans-electronica. We’ve made a claim to our homeowner’s insurance and I’m sure that is going to be another battle.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Another Year Past

Here we are, two years past and it’s still fresh. It still hurts.


I thought that pouring my heart out to you, for you, last year would help. But it was only a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.


I talked to your brother about you tonight. Yes, I know he’s only 9 months old. We share a maturity level… that and he’s a good listener. He has started crawling, army style. His legs want to get involved but they’re a bit spastic yet. I’m sure he’ll the hang of it in a week or two.


I am occasionally concerned that he might feel shorted – that I love him less or I love you more or something along those lines. But I don’t. No more than I love your sister more than I love you or your brother.


Speaking of your sister, she’s doing great. We did the 24 month well-baby (really well-toddler) visit, and she got straight As. She’s very much like your mother; a constant talker that wants it all. She can string four and five words together into simple sentences, stringing those sentences together into day-long diatribes about the life of a two year-old. She's got her tongue tied in the middle and loose at both ends.


Your mom talks about you all the time. She points out that you are a constant thread that runs through our lives… never seen but always felt. Always acknowledged.


My thoughts are sort of all over the place; one moment I want to rant and yell and curse at the stars for your loss, and the next I just want to cry.


But neither does anyone any good. So I will keep on keeping on, care for your family, and keep your spirit alive.


Anyway, we’re here and missing you.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sickness, Birthdays & a New Favorite Toy

The Squeaker is back and better than ever! We spent two nights in the hospital and then week at home breathing oxygen when she slept. But she is now off the O2 and just being Squeak.


For those of you who are regular readers, you may have noticed that the twins’ birthday was several days ago and I wrote nothing about it. Due to The Squeaker’s illness, we decided to cancel our party plans (a party at a children’s habitrail place) and just do a small family thing at Auntie & Uncle’s house.


Auntie made a FABULOUS cake, fit for a princess, and Squeak opened a bunch of presents.


Squeak got socks, a couple of puzzles, some Lego Duplex, a few outfits, and a magic drawing board (you write on it and then pull a lever and it wipes it clean). But her favorite present – and new favorite toy – was a child sized umbrella stroller.


The little pink stroller has held all of her babies, including Elmo and Cookie Monster, and has served as a napping place as well as a feeding station for the aforementioned toys.


She pushes it in her room.


She pushes it in the kitchen.


She pushes it in the living room.


She pushes it in the front yard and in the back yard.


Sometimes she even pulls the stroller, dragging it on its side, babies still safely buckled in.


I suspect this toy will be with us for some time to come. Good gift giving, Auntie.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day… Let’s Visit the ER!



Squeaker woke with a miserable cry so early on Friday morning that at one point in my life I would have called it Thursday night.

Long story short, she had a 101.5 fever. A shot of Tylenol later, her fever was down but she was sleeping restlessly.

Go past calling in sick and spending the day with kids, collect $200 and land on Saturday. She just can’t quite kick the fever, but she’s responded to the Tylenol, so we’re not overly concerned.

That is, until late Saturday afternoon. She became listless and her breathing was rapid. After a quick consult with “The Mothers”, we decided to visit the local Quik Stop Docs (it’s not really called that, but you know what I mean).

15 minutes after that, we were on the way to the emergency room.

Fortunately, the Quik Stop Docs called ahead for us (kinda like call ahead seating) and got the ball rolling so that when we walked in the door, we were shown to a table for four a exam room.

A short wait later, Squeaker was diagnosed with viral pneumonia. A few shots of liquid steroids, a dose of ibuprofen and a round with the weights, she was feeling more herself. We played a rousing game of “can’t get out the ER exam room door” while the ER Doc called Squeak’s regular pediatrician.

After a consult, the ER Doc recommended that Squeak stay overnight to keep an eye on her O2 level (which had been low when we came in). So she & P.Pie checked into Hotel Hospital while I went back home to relieve the sitter.

Fast forward to now (Sunday night) and Squeaker & P.Pie are still in the Hotel Hospital ‘cause her sleeping O2 level drops below 90.

When I know more, you’ll know more.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Life on the (Sesame) Street

The Squeaker has discovered Sesame Street.

Specifically, she has found that lovable red haired, googly-eyed, mop topped monster affectionately know as Elmo. And while it’s better than a certain purple annoyasaurus, I am a little concerned with her zealousness for Elmo.

Whenever a muppet comes on the TV – any muppet (including most Star Wars characters) – she begins to chant “Ehmo! Ehmo! Ehmo!” and pirouettes around the room.

And then there’s the toy issue.

Every Elmo toy in her collection is hers.

Everyone else’s Elmo toy is hers.

Elmo is hers. If she could get to Sesame Street, she’d hang around on Sesame Street corners, frequenting Hooper’s store and writing a barrage of multicolored crayon scribbles professing her undying love.

And if that was all, hoarding Elmo toys and daydreams of living in a one room NYC-style walkup with Elmo, we’d be a-okay.

Unfortunately, her demeanor deteriorates rapidly when Elmo doesn’t appear on the screen - the chants become questions and the pirouettes turn into lumbering stomps, each thud of her tiny foot punctuated by angry denials.

Ehmo…?
The lower lip quivers.

Ehmo!
Sadness turns to anger which quickly becomes tears of rage if we don’t divert her attention quickly with some bright, shiny object. It is a small window of opportunity and once the window closes, Katy bar the door.

Wailing and gnashing of the teeth ensues. Crying is certainly expected. Objects being thrown are not out of the question. Neither are wild arm swings.

I will say we are working on the ‘tude…

Two months ago, I mentioned that the terrible twos weren’t an issue for us. I may be rethinking that position… at least until the Sesame Street Police Department show up at my door with a restraining order for my daughter, the Elmo stalker.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

XL

No, the title of the post is not my waist size… well, actually it is; but that’s not the point.

Today (the 14th) is my birthday – my 40th birthday.

Four-Oh.

Cuarenta.

Vierzig.

Cорок.

Yonjuu.

It doesn’t matter how you say it or in what language, it’s still old. And I know what you’re thinking…

40 is the new 20


No it isn’t. It’s not even close.

First, there are the minor aches and stiff joints; when I was 20, I could lift cinder blocks all day, drink all night and feel fine the next day. Now my back goes out more often than I do.

Second, where’d all this extra weight around my midsection come from? The spare tire I’m carrying around could fit on a Mack truck.

Third, what’s with hair in my ears? That’s just weird. At least my hair hasn’t started turning loose from my head. Yet.

And my memory… well, I can’t remember what bothers me about that, but it’ll come to me.

And I have a number of typical middle-age self-disappointments – like what the hell am I doing with my life?

If life was all parenting/family, I’d be the best. I am one-half of a parenting duo that is raising a pair of the most beautiful children in the world.

And I’m also told I’m not a half bad husband.

But my work life is, well… lacking. I have the skills to do better than my current position, but am I getting to a point in my life where I have to settle for the position I've got?

Perhaps I’ll spend 2009 working on that.

Being 40 isn’t all bad; there is wisdom in the intervening 20 years. I am much less apt to open my mouth before engaging my brain. While not completely cured of chronic dumbassedness, the chances of me looking like a fool are diminished, however slightly.

And I have not lost my ability to imagine; some people feel the need to put away the toys of youth and focus on being an adult, on being mature. I have kept my toys in arm’s reach, which allows me to keep thinking young.

So all is not lost, nor is life full of woe.

And to prove it, we’re having a party where we can all act like 20 year-olds and we mix mirth with equal parts boozing and carousing to create a little good-natured debauchery.

Of course, we’ll still have to pay the physical price for it in the morning.

So, if you’re in Denver this weekend let me know and I’ll get you direction to the party. Be sure to bring your drinking hat.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Axe Files

It’s been a bit since I’ve written an "all Axe" post. As you might imagine, things are changing rapidly… in fact, he borrowed the car this weekend for his first date!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

We’ve had a number of firsts in the past month (fortunately driving and dating aren’t among them), including sitting up and man-handling the bottle by himself.

But by my estimation the most important first his was the move to his own room.

Yes, at six months he was still sleeping in our room.

And not sleeping through the night.

When your baby is not sleeping through the night AND in your bedroom, you tend to do whatever it takes to get them back to sleep. In Axe’s case, we would bring him to bed, feed him, and let him sleep with us.

As you might imagine, this quickly became a habit. A bad habit.

From the get-go, Axe would wake up once or twice a night. The first time, we’d feed him and put him back in the co-sleeper. He’d wake up a second time, we’d bring him to bed and sometimes he’d sleep, usually with me. Sometimes on my chest, other times curled up against me.

If he didn’t sleep – which was as often as not – Axe had a one man party. And I was the chaperone.

I’d love to say that we kept him in our room because we wanted to. But that’s not the truth. The truth is I was lazy about setting up his room. We realized spoiling the boy was not doing him any favors.

So last month I finished his room and he moved in. In the movies, this is the point where we all lived happily ever after, sleeping comfortably through the night. But such was not the case.

He continued to complain and we continued to answer to his beck and call. So we decided on a plan.

The plan was to stop being at his beckon. He was fed, warm, clean, and safe. Axe was complaining just to get attention.

So here we are at week two of “The Plan” and already we’ve noticed a big improvement. When Axe gets up, we feed him in his room, in the dark. And he usually falls right back asleep. If he doesn’t, he cries it out.

So here’s the plan – we put him down for the evening at a specific time. If he cries, he cries for 10 minutes the first time. At the end of 10 minutes, one of us goes into his room, comforts him (no more than five minutes) and puts him back in his crib. If he cries again, we wait 15 minutes and repeat the process.

So far we haven’t had to go beyond the second 15 minutes. And he’s getting used to his crib/room. I’m sure we’ll have him on the same schedule as his sister in no time – in bed by 7pm, awake no later than 6:30am.

At least that's the movie ending.

video

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Holiday Leftovers

Santa came and was good to all, despite the occasionally questionable behavior - paricularly from me.

Squeaker received several new toys and an assortment of coloring books and new princess colors. The big hit of the gift season for her was an Elmo laptop; she carries it everywhere and when it’s not in her possession, Squeak asks, “where ‘Lmo?

My favorite part of the Elmo laptop is the computing noise Elmo makes. When you insert a 3x5” plastic card (punch card?) with a picture of a Sesame Street party and pull the lever on the side, Elmo’s eyes at the top of the laptop go left/right/left/right and, in Elmo’s voice, says beep-boop-beep-boop-beep-boop-beep.

Well, reading it doesn’t do it justice, but trust me, it’s funny.

All of Axe’s toys were opened by Squeak, which I think was a bad precedent. Of course, I guess it wasn’t that bad of an idea since The Squeaker thinks that everything is hers (mine, mine, MINE).

We also had family in town for the week between Christmas and New Year – one of P.Pie’s brothers (Eeyore) and his two daughters (Glitter Barbie 2 & Moon Unit), as well as P.Pie’s mother.

Nana gave all three of the families a Wii for Christmas. I don’t mind saying, I love the Wii, but as I write this, P.Pie is down with a bad back… strenuous Wii play (specifically, bowling) is thought to be the culprit.

The family visit went well, with one minor exception - Nana had a cold and Moon Unit caught a raging case of pink eye; both of which The Squeaker caught. Truthfully, I’m surprised everyone didn’t get the pink eye since the kids touched all the toys… especially the Wiimotes.

New Year’s Eve was spent at P.Pie’s sister’s house and ended around 8:30 (the New Year comes earlier when you have kids).

But we did get lots of pics, so here’s a little something for everyone -









Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Spoken Word and the Terrible Twos

According to the National Institute of Health, there are several points every 18-23 month-olds must reach in their speech and language development.


Here is the U.S. Government’s official list –

  • Enjoys being read to
  • Follows simple commands without gestures
  • Points to simple body parts such as "nose"
  • Understands simple verbs such as "eat," "sleep"
  • Says 8 to 10 words (pronunciation may still be unclear)
  • Asks for common foods by name
  • Makes animal sounds such as "moo"
  • Starting to combine words such as "more milk"
  • Begins to use pronouns such as "mine"


At 22 months, The Squeaker has hit all of them out of the park. Especially the “Says 8-10 words” part. 8 to 10?! 8 to 10!? Squeak has, at a minimum, 40-50 words. And I think that’s a conservative estimate.


Squeaker can string together up to four words in a simple sentence and understands complex sentences like “put the doll in the bucket,” or “don’t hit your brother,” or “pick a book and let’s go get ready for bed.” and even, “I can’t understand you with the ‘fire in your mouth, take it out and tell me again.”


Maybe I should compare her to the two year old bracket. More after the photo jump.


Does the “terrible twos” also include goofiness?


Don’t get me wrong, The Squeaker is definitely feeling her oats; she’s refusing a number of things…


“Do you want to take a bath?”

“NO!”


“Do you want to eat dinner?”

“NO!”


“Let's put our jacket on.”

“NO!”


…and the list of NOs goes on.


And don’t even get me started on her sideways looks at things she doesn’t want to do and the frequent stare-offs we have in our battle of wills.


But she’s also developed a goofy streak; long, maniacal laughs at simple daddy jokes (Why is 10 afraid? Because 7, 8, 9). Also, she spins herself in circles until she falls down, dizzy with the giggles.


So the twos are not so terrible. In fact, dare I say, I love the “terrible twos”.




Of course, we're still two months away from two...


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Arlo Guthrie Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Our Thanksgiving Day started when the alarm clock went off at 3:30am, so we could shower, dress, get the kids up and get to the airport for a 7am flight. By 10am, we were firmly ensconced at my sister’s house in Houston, Tx.

The whole weekend was a blur of cousins, siblings and at least one first (Axe started solids!), all of which are better expressed in pictures.

I will tell you one quick story; The Squeaker had a problem understanding that Uncle Esquire & Aunt Tintin were different than Uncle Picasso & Aunt VP, but still Uncle & Auntie.

But by day two, she was onboard with the concept of multiple Aunties & Uncles and enjoyed herself thoroughly.

So, without further adieu, here is the Arlo Guthrie Thanksgiving Wrap Up (you know, an eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one… get it?):

My boy, myself, & my dad... straight off the plane and all of four hours sleep (just Axe & I, Cappy drove in).

Cousins 'round the table - Chunkalicious, Prince of Wails, & The Squeaker - enjoying a pre-Thanksgiving snack.

Day after Thanksgiving - cousins playing in the sand box of what is possibly Houston's best Mexican food restaurant, Lupe Tortilla's.

Axe's first solids! Well, as solid as rice cereal can be...

This started as a blanket for Axe and turned into a Cousin scrum... Axe is obviously getting the better of the group.

By Saturday's bathtime, the girls were BFFs.

My sister and her husband took us to their favorite Italian restaurant - Collena's - where it's BYOB... we took three bottles of red wine & wished we'd taken a fourth. Mom (Golly to you regular readers) watched the kids and Axe wouldn't sleep for her... why should he be different for her?!

My sister's family is a big fan of Christmas, so the tree goes up right after Thanksgiving... so on our last day, we trimmed the tree and exchanged presents with the cousins.

It was a wonderful visit that we have sworn to do more often and I certainly hope we do!