Happy Birthday, Abby!

Abby is 7 or 49 today, depending on if you have 2 feet or 4.

123You may recall that Abby’s date of birth – 8/21 – was one of Lynnette’s goat logic reasons why we were destined to purchase the dog and make her our family pet and mascot. 8 is my favorite number and 21 was the number I’d use whenever 8 was unavailable. Honestly, this kind of reasoning on Lynnette’s part was worse than any kind of actual superstitions I attached to the numbers. She just wanted to bring Abby home and she didn’t care if she had to debase herself with voodoo magic she didn’t even believe in to do it.

Abby was fed a dinner of steak, peas, and kibble tonight. Lynnette generally frowns upon giving Abby human food, but she makes exceptions for special days (Lynnette is the Holiday Monger, remember?) After her meal, Avery gifted Avery more peas by making them rain onto the carpet from her high chair. Once again, the twins are the best things that have ever happened to Abby’s tummy. She’s gotten a little tubby. We can feel it when we lift her. It might be true that Abby gets along with Cole better, but Abby benefits from the fact that Avery loves watching her eat.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to Abby before allowing her a far too decadent dessert. The benevolent Holiday Monger stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up the celebrant’s treats. I didn’t get Abby any treats, but she gets to sleep in my bed and I don’t so I’m going to go ahead and say that we’re square.

I think I’ll start look into getting her a new dress, though. She’s got just a few articles of clothing and only two are suitable for parties and the like. I didn’t want to be that guy who dressed his dog up in her Dallas Cowboys cheer outfit on her birthday. I have some sense.

Happy 7th/49th birthday, Abby! You don’t sound a day over 4/28!

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What’s up, Gravy Boat?

For about half a year, I have tried – unsuccessfully – to write this post, or some variation of it. Pieces of it have slipped out over those months, but I found myself backspacing more than actually typing.

2We don’t know what’s up with Avery. That in itself is a euphemism, but I just can’t seem to see it in print any other way. The kids’ doctor told us to wait before jumping to conclusions. I’ve spent the time waiting and wishing for Avery to turn a corner. We’ve enrolled her in early intervention services, and perhaps that will help us understand where’s she at, and what-  if anything – we can do to help. I can’t remember if I’ve written this before – I know I have written it, but I can’t remember if I left in in a post – but it looks like not all of Avery made it home from Kapiolani. Before she got sick last summer, she was ahead of Cole in everything. She learned to roll, crawl, and walk first. When she got home from the hospital, she had to learn to eat and walk again, among other things. The doctors prepared us for this, so while parts of her recovery were frustrating for me, I knew that it was all part of the script.

Avery made it back to eating solids and walking. She can run and climb better than Cole, and she’s even shown some impressive problem-solving skills. But cognitively, it’s as if she’s stalled out. She understands verbal cues. She comes running if we ask who’s hungry; she turns to look if I call her name and ask “Do you want some?”; when asked where her family members are, she looks for them specifically, even the dog. On the other hand, though, she doesn’t seem to be learning other things. She still chews everything she finds. She can’t resist the urge to splash around in Abby’s bowl of water. She cannot sit calmly at meals, especially in restaurants. Most frustrating of all, she doesn’t listen. I know she recognizes “no” and its variations, but she disregards them or set herself on fire with a tantrum. She only wants what she wants. She is predictable in her enjoyment of chaos and noise. I would be lying if I said that I am great in regards to dealing with it. Lynnette is patient and nurturing in ways I struggle with. I am afraid.

Situations like this – prolonged bouts of uncertainty and impotence – exacerbate my worst qualities. My patience becomes razor-thin. All of that carefully bottled anger gushes out. My imagination travels at record speeds to worst-case scenarios. I let darkness in and allow it to make itself at home. I want to be a good dad. Of all the pressures in my life, that’s the biggest. I don’t want to be a bad dad. Thinking about it – all of this – keeps me up at night, even on ones like this, when I still have grading to do and I have to be awake in a few hours. I feel lost again, like I did last summer and those first three months of the twins’ lives. I don’t know what to do. Nothing I do works or matters. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, I never do, but everything else kind of has an arc to it, or at least a tinge of familiarity. But this? No.

Made in Hawaii Festival 2017

One of our long-standing family traditions is attendance at the Made in Hawaii Festival. Lynnette is a sucker for all expos at the Blaisdell, and would totally drag us to all of them, but she hasn’t quite figured out how to justify the Wedding Expo yet. I am sure she’s working on it, though.

2Whenever we go to the Blaisdell, Madison and I look for her friend, a Humu zipping around and doing laps along the wall closest to the event hall. We saw him/her again yesterday. Avery was in the hospital at this time last year, so this was her first Made in Hawaii Festival. When Cole, Madison, and I tried to introduce Avery to our friend, she greeted him – like she does everyone else – with a raspberry. OK. Avery had a great time, though. She (like Lynnette) is built for this. She hung out in front of Lynnette’s chest and happily gobbled up whatever sample or snack Lynnette offered her. The front of the Ergo was covered with drool and mum-mum debris, just the way Avery likes it.

1“Hey, we might be tight on money for a couple days,” I said a few days ago. “Do we have $36 in cash?” Lynnette shot back. “I guess. Why?” I asked. “So we can get three loaves of Molokai bread – one to eat and two to freeze. Hopefully you can make it to October like that,” she said. “Why October?” I asked. “BECAUSE IT’S ALREADY AUGUST AND DECEMBER IS TOO FAR TO HOPE FOR,” she said. “Dummy,” I said.

Last year the line for the hot bread was long and decided to wait on it so we could look around at other things. By the time I got back to the booth, they were out of hot bread. Since it is the single redeeming feature of the Made in Hawaii Festival for me, I was devastated. Lynnette made sure that didn’t happen this year. We got in line as soon as we got in. Cole loves it. When I gave Avery a piece, she took a bite, then tossed the rest onto the floor. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I kind of shouted as the piece lay there on the floor. “Avery!” I whisper-yelled. She raspberried me. I gave it right back. I know it was immature, but I regret nothing.

3Mama and Papa picked us up in their van because ours was still in the shop. Mama likes to explore and snack like Lynnette, but Papa would rather just avoid the crowds and lines altogether like me. We got separated a few times, in fact, because Mama and/or Lynnette got distracted by the cornucopia of samples laid out for the taking.

On our way home, Mama and Papa treated all of us to lunch at Nico’s. Avery and Cole loaded up on rice and knocked out on the ride home. All of those carbs, air conditioning, and a long way home always does it for the two of them. Thanks, Mama and Papa!

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Mad Biker

I don’t know if we’ve put anything on the backburner longer than teaching Madison how to ride a bike. She and I had all of those pre-Cole and Avery summers together to get into it, but we never did. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the pressure of a deadline motivated Lynnette (mostly) and I to finally give it a try. She’s got a bike safety class in school this year. “Are you the only one that can’t ride a bike?” Lynnette asked Mad last week. “No, there are others,”Mad replied. “How do you know? Did they make you guys raise your hands?” Lynnette asked. “Yeah,” Madison responded casually.

1Madison’s first bike was one of those Minnie Mouse deals with training wheels and tassels on at the edge of the handlebars that would tickle Mad’s thighs and eventually lead to more scratching than bike riding. We bought this pink, blue, and white bike a couple of years ago, but it was too big for Madison then. This was literally the first time she got on a trainerless bike. The first thing that Lynnette did was rip off the tassels and stuff them into the little pouch at the front of the handlebars. I assume in time Madison will fill the pouch with snacks and then the empty wrappers of those snacks. For now, though, she probably shouldn’t put anything in there, you know, so as not to disrupt her delicate balance.

2Coach Lynnette made an appearance and I’m glad Coach Phil didn’t. I mean, of course Coach Phil’s voice showed up – “KEEP PEDALING!” “IF YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR FEET, YOU’RE NOT LOOKING WHERE YOU’RE GOING!” “START TURNING!” – but it was Lynnette who did the hands-on teaching. I got to take pictures and push the twins around.

It was slow-going to start the lesson. Lynnette began by holding the back Madison’s seat to balance her, but it didn’t help much. Just like when Mad started her dance classes, she had a difficult time doing more than one thing at a time. In this case, she couldn’t pedal and steer at the same time because she couldn’t look at her hands and feet at the same time.

3Once we got to the basketball courts I told Lynnette to let her go. “She gotta learn,” I said. Incidentally, this single statement defines my entire teaching and parenting philosophy. There are some things people have to find out for themselves, you know?

Lynnette reluctantly released her grip on Mad’s seat and we learned that we were worried for no reason. It was a miracle! Madison was off and riding. She moved in somewhat wobbly straight lines, then figured out how to turn. I instructed her to apply the breaks, then reaccelerate. She did both on the first try.

4It’s not perfect – she still struggles in narrow spaces because she thinks she’s going to bang into a fence or wall or car or tree or the grass or some oncoming object 50 feet in front of her. She’s asked to go out agin today, and I know that we have to. She needs reps on the bike to get better, to feel comfortable. “Whoa, Madison,” Lynnette said in a slightly mocking manner. “Pretty soon you’re gonna be riding around Nohona with all your boy friends.” Madison and I both scoffed.

As I tailed Madison home I laughed; it took her 9 years, 4 months, 10 days, and 10 minutes to learn to ride a bike. But she only started in the last 10 minutes.

 

A Lynnette Appreciation Post

Lynnette and I have been together since 2003. Our relationship is a couple of years into puberty and so like sometimes when we look at each other, we can just be all “whatevers”. But Lynnette’s been feeling herself recently and when I pull my eyes away from legendary Pokemon long enough, even my eyes – stained with the lenses of familiarity –  can see that she’s straight fire right now.

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“Smile!”

“Smile,” I said at a stoplight. She turned and tossed me one of these. “So fake! I said. “What?” she said, cocking her neck back to feign shock. “That’s your fake smile,” I said. I shook my head. “That’s the smile you use for standard family photos, or if someone randomly asks you take a picture,” I said. She began to laugh wildly. “Not even!” she said through her laughter. “C’mon, mom!” Madison shouted from the back seat. She composed herself and I asked her to smile again. This is what she did instead:

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“No, for real!”

She’s got eyebrows now. She’s eating better. She’s registered herself for the Makahiki Challenge in December. “I signed up before I looked at the pictures,” she said. “So what? You bite off more than you can chew?” I asked. “Maybe,” she said. But she’s got this.

There’s a lot about Lynnette I don’t and can’t understand. Case in point: When Lynnette drives, she only uses her blinker to change lanes just as she’s about to change lanes, never to declare her intentions. Today, she was trying to get over one lane to her right. Her left hand was poised on the blinker. But she didn’t use it. “Is this guy gonna let me in or what?” she muttered as she glanced at the side view mirror. “HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO KNOW TO LET YOU IN IF YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR BLINKER ON?!” My hands hung about my head like that Jackie Chan meme. “Philip…” she said as she began to slide into the next lane, just then flashing her blinker, then turning it off.

There are other things I don’t understand either. She’s a doer and a go-getter; I am not. That’s how I know she’s going to emerge from the Makahiki Challenge victorious. Filty and sore, but victorious. Once she puts her mind to something, she just bangs it out. She carried three kids and ate ice chips for three days to birth the last two. Today, she drove me around to look for Zapdos and only rolled her eyes 40 times. She routinely does the amazing.

Lynnette,
You totally deserve that tiramisu you’re inhaling right now – that and so much more. Thank you for being the (hot) glue of our family.

Avery at 21 Months

12Avery stood atop her high chair banging at the window when I got home. She stopped momentarily to look at me. Then she resumed her pounding.

As ever, Avery remains the PITA Girl. She’s graduated to different forms of trouble recently. She pulls empty cans out of our recycling bin and walks around the house with empty Cokes hanging from her teeth. She bangs cabinet doors against each other. She’s doing it right now. It’s amazing. She learned to open the door to the washer and dryer and has programmed fake loads of laundry. She turns off my computer – while I’m using it. She’s not just a daughter, she’s an adventure.

Aside from these hobbies, she still very much enjoys eating. She’s a snacker like her mother, but also big meal hunter like her dad. She knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like just like her mom, but also eats a ton of what she likes like her dad. I really is the best and worst of both worlds.

She loves spinning in quick circles until she makes herself dizzy. One of her favorite pastimes is running into a room until she slaps her hands against a wall. Then, she’ll turn around and run into another room until she slaps another wall. She can go on like that. It’s really funny when her sprints get Cole rile up and he starts running around, too. But he never runs nearly as long as Avery. She loves wide open spaces. Last Sunday morning we took the kids to the new play area at Ala Moana. Rather than explore or climb, Avery took off jogging toward the front doors of the soon-to-be Target. The day before she jogged throughout the water park. She could spend all day going up and down flights of stairs.

DCIM101GOPROG0744265.All the time we spent together this summer seems to have brought Avery and I closer. Lynnette is still far and away Avery’s favorite – don’t get me wrong – but Avery seeks me out more often. She enjoys when I tote her around the house and open the pantry so she can get a good look at all the snacks on the top shelf. She cackles when tossed into the air. She and I have wrestling matches; I hit her with the AA, muscle buster, powerbomb, German suplex, and the Pefect-plex. She squeals the entire time. She laughs so hard that she drools all over me. If I put her down to catch my breath, she yells, runs into my legs, and shoves herself into me in order to get me going again. I’m her favorite so long as Lynnette isn’t around. I can live with that. Lynnette’s my favorite, too.

Cole at 21 Months

12I put my toes back into the try-to-do-work-at-home waters, but a little shark came swimming up to me almost immediately.

Cole Joseph, the sun god, Cubby Candy, is 21 months old today and is curious as ever. He climbed the chair next to me as soon he saw the laptop screen glow with life. He played it cool at first, but eventually made a move at what he came for. The little index finger of his right hand moved slowly toward the keyboard. On another night, I think, I might have been less tolerant of his interference. But tonight, I just plopped him in my lap and let him drive the cursor with the track pad. He was so excited to watch the tiny hand move around that he lost his binky.

He loves getting into things. He enjoys looking at picture books with images he recognizes. He loves screaming and pointing at things he recognizes when we are out. He still only has about 5 words in his vocabulary, but the one he uses the most is “doo-doo”. Madison and I tried to take the twins out every day during the summer. There was always a high likelihood of an Abby turd on the pad waiting for us when we got home. It began innocently enough; Madison and/or I would block the twins from the turd while saying “No, no, doo-doo,” as they saw said turd, grew curious about its existence, and approached it. This became a routine. So, now, as soon as we pull into the driveway, Cole starts saying “doo-doo!” over and over. It intensifies if there actually is a turd in the living room. He points at it, too. I hope he somehow shames Abby into stopping her malicious turdiness. How serious is Cole about this situation? A few days ago Lynnette and watched as he pulled a dryer sheet out of the laundry, then proceeded to walk around the living room, stopping only to bend over and pantomime picking up an imaginary turd while saying “doo-doo!” over and over. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. It’s the only way to make sure I still have ab muscles under there.

DCIM101GOPROG0523631.But for all his recognition, the one that makes me happiest is his reaction to learning we’ve arrived at my parents’ house. I can’t know for sure why he loves the place. I assume it has something to do with the space and new toys. But I know for sure that my mom is a major reason. Last Sunday we pulled up to the H and Cole’s eyes opened from a nap. He sleepily looked at me first, then turned his head and saw the house. He squealed. When I carried him toward the house and my mom popped through the front door, he perked up, pointed at her, and went through his list of excitable noises.

He leans into her. He doesn’t mind being held, carried around by my mom. When it’s time to leave, he cries and tries to make it back to her. Two weeks ago at the beach, she followed him around the sand and water the entire time. It might have started then. I don’t know. I just hope it never ends. My mom and I never got along. We were polar opposites in all the ways that matter, too alike in the worst possible ways, but most significantly, she needs control and I have always needed space and freedom. There were times in my adolescence and young adulthood when she was the most prominent antagonist in my life. I viewed her with contempt and anger, rage even. We never worked until I moved out and had a family of my own. Perhaps she needed to know I’d be okay on without her; maybe I had to become a parent to understand why she held on so damn tightly. But that’s all in the past. In the future, I hope that Cole can have the relationship with my mom that I never had.