The Kind of Day I Really Missed

DCIM100GOPROG0243921.Today was a fantastic day and a callback to best of those summer days before the twins stormed (OK, one of them stormed) out of Lynnette and took over our lives.

We started the day at Waikele because we desperately needed to do some clothes shopping. Lynnette revealed that Cole and Avery have been wearing 9-12 month onesies because those are the biggest we have. Lynnette also informed me that we needed to buy Madison shorts because she was still wearing size 4 and 5 shorts (she’s a rail) and they were finally getting too small. It feels so great to not be alone in the Outgrowing One’s Clothing Club.

We ended up at Ko’olina for rays and waves. Cole got bulldozed by a rogue wave at the shore about 2 second into our trip and was apprehensive the rest of the time. Avery, however, had her daredevil swimmers on. She walked right up to the water’s edge, waited for the waves to roll in, then tried to put her face in the water! Honestly, though, I think she was trying to drink the water. “Hide my belly” Lynnette said as I snapped a few pictures of her. “I’m not that good,” I said. She laughed. That’s how great today was. For my part, even though the kids are growing a little every day, they still aren’t keeping pace with my gut. I’ve put on some pounds this school year and I’ve been telling myself that I’ll lose some of it over the summer. But I’ve told myself that every summer since 2004. I blame myself.

On the way home from the beach Lynnette suggested that we stop in Waipahu for check out a new bubble tea place (S H O C K E R) called Yoloha Cafe. If the name of the place is the combination of the two words I think they are, then just wow. But Lynnette loved the milk tea and Madison loved her soft serve/cotton candy dessert, so the place can’t be all bad. It’s currently got a 4.4 star review on Yelp. I didn’t see anything on the menu I wanted so I drove down the road to Arby’s for a medium beef and cheddar, and oh my God did it hit the spot. I asked Lynnette to drive the rest of the way home so I could eat my sandwich. I finished it before we got on the freeway.

Like I said, SUCH A GREAT DAY.

Avery at 16 Months

1Avery Rio remains a peculiar little girl. She’s got a favorite space in the house now: her own bedroom. In the past we closed the door to the twins’ room because we didn’t trust them to be out of our sight. More recently we’ve opened it up to add to the space of their play area. Avery disappears into the room and we hear the songs and sound effects coming out of the toys left in the bedroom. Sometimes we hear Gravy shouting and banging against the mirror doors of the closet. Most of all, though, she stretches between the slats of her crib and reaches for her beloved burp cloths. Lynnette calls it a “rescue” but then they all end up on the floor of the living room, so…

2She’s been pickier about eating for a week-and-a-half or so. She was always the vacuum cleaner, but she’s slowed her pace and narrowed her preferences. Still, she’s eating enough for her belly to protrude from the rest of her body. Her footsteps still look so awkward and it always appears as if she’s about to trip over her own feet but she never does. When she runs around the living room after she’s just eaten, she reminds me of the Juggernaut. She would totally blow Cole up if she built up speed and ran into him.

After so very long, her hair’s starting to come in. Lynnette started doing Avery’s hair up in a whale spout/buya for a while now. It’s basically Gravy Boat’s default look. It isn’t until Avery’s fresh out of the shower and her hair’s down that I notice how much longer her hair is, how much thicker.

Gravy’s still a little slow with her speech. She says two words consistently: “da-da” and “aut”. The latter word is something she picked up from Lynnette shouting “Out, out, out!” at her. Lynnette says this when she chases the twins out of the bedroom and when she’s about to remove them from their high chairs after meals. “Aut, Aut, Aut!” Avery says when she’s finished her meal and is over her time in the tub. Sometimes I worry. Cole seems so much more responsive; he interacts with his older sister and parents in a way that seems nuanced and intentional. Avery’s not quite there yet. She responds to her name and if we ask her about her nose or where the member of her family are, she can point to us – or at the very least look in their direction. Avery’s stay in the hospital feels like it happened so long ago, but I am uneasy to think that maybe the effects are lingering. She’s not as articulate or deliberate as Cole, but she still owns him. The twins are even in terms of stealing toys from each other, but there is a significant difference. When Cole steals from Avery, she cries. I scold Cole. He knows shame. He gets teary-eyed. But Avery? When she steals a toy from Cole, Cole cries. But Avery feels no remorse in fact, she opens her mouth wide, tilts her head back, and mocks Cole with a siren-like cry of her own. It lasts exactly as long as Cole’s crying does. It’s the most Avery thing she’s come up with yet.

Cole at 16 Months

1Cole Joseph is fast becoming his own man. He has his own opinions about a lot of things, and one of those things is his stern belief that not only is clothing optional, it is wholly unnecessary. Last week he tore his diaper off and waved the defeated article of clothing in my face before running off butt naked into the twins’ room. He emerged soon after without the diaper (did he think he could hide it?) and stood defiantly near the gate. “Come here, Cole Boy!”I said sternly. He laughed, ran in place, then shook head no as his junk flopped freely. It was so damn funny I couldn’t muster anger if I wanted to.

2Cole’s transformed into a hearty eater. As recently as two weeks ago he was a slow and picky eater (like another of our children) but in the past few days he’s been fairly consistent at meal time. While there are things he doesn’t care for, he more or less eats everything we feed him. He’s also started sharing his food. Since the time he could eat solid food I would pantomime to him that I should like some of his delicious treats. At first he didn’t respond. Then, when he understood what I was asking of him, he quickly shoved his fist into his mouth to keep all of his food. Next, he would extend his arm toward my open mouth before pulling it away quickly and popping the food into his mouth. Today was the first time he ever fed me. He held out that piece of tofu and let me slurp it off his saliva-covered knuckles. It was gross but incredibly endearing.

Two nights ago I was watching a movie on my iPad and felt Cole’s big toe in my ear. I swatted it away and a few moments later I felt it again. I thought maybe he was just kind of kicking around while falling asleep, but I was wrong. I looked up and saw a massive smile behind his binky. “Are you sticking your foot in my ear on purpose?” I shouted. The guy cackled out loud. I was stunned. I immediately tossed my iPad across the bed and went in on the tickling. He laughed and screamed. When I stopped I told him that putting toes into people’s ears is impolite. He lifted his foot toward me and grunted.

The highlight of the past month, however, took place during another of Cole’s moments of naked liberation. Lynnette dropped him into the play area so she could return to the tub to grab Avery. Cole plopped down on the carpet and started… I’m going to use the word “exploring” his junk with both hands. “No-no!” I said. Lynnette and I add the Dikembe Mutombo finger-wag when we’re correcting the twins’ behavior, so I threw that in there, too. Cole looked up at me, then back down to his crotch – THEN FINGER-WAGGED HIS JUNK WHILE SHAKING HIS HEAD. I tried to call Lynnette and explain what had happened, but it was no use. I couldn’t breath or talk through all of the laughter.

Chef Madison vs. Diner Madison

Mad’s got a kid’s cookbook filled with recipes based almost entirely on cheese and pasta, and she decided she didn’t want to eat what we planned for dinner. Mad picked out a dish (cheesy bacon carbonara) she wanted to eat for dinner. Lynnette and I agreed to buy the ingredients if Madison helped make it. She did!

1Mad was a little timid about trying to break the eggs. I assured her it would be fine if she used her strength so she tapped the egg a little harder on the edge of the bowl. Then, she thumbed the shell until the contents fell into the bowl. “That was the best egg cracking I ever did in my life!” she exclaimed as all of the egg and none of the shell rained down into the bowl. She’s not wrong, and it was better than at least 20% of the eggs I crack. I don’t know what it is – I am not good at all in the kitchen. I think it comes down to a confidence thing. My palate was shaped by fast food. I don’t really know how anything’s supposed to taste; my tongue is only able to distinguish between terrible and not-terrible.

2Because of an experience she had at a very young age, Madison is wary of being burned. It took her a little while to get into the stirring of the bacon and garlic, but once she was convinced that a mighty fire demon would not rise from the fry pan and seek a horrible vengeance, she did a solid job of making sure her food didn’t burn. “Smells like bacon!” she said. “But I’m not a fan of garlic,” she also said. The “I’m not a fan of ____” is totally the result of Madison taking on the vocal idiosyncrasies of her parents. Lynnette and I use this statement to turn down suggestions. “You feel like Chili’s?” I might ask. “I’m not a fan of their entrees,” Lynnette might say. “What about pad Thai?” Lynnette might ask. “I’m not a pad Thai guy,” I might say. This is really how we talk.

3The recipe called for real ingredients like white wine, and this was the only issue Madison had. Apparently she learned about the dangers of alcohol from school or some PSA on tv, and so she is adamant and vigilant about her parents’ consumption of alcohol. Though my own history with alcohol might be described as “somewhat reckless” or “utterly ridiculous”, Madison has never known that version of me. I rarely drink. Lynnette on the other hand, still enjoys a drink or 3. On our long drive out to Kailua Saturday morning I tried to explain to Lynnette what it feels like when I have even just one drink (it’s not fun anymore). And Lynnette expressed something about it helping her unwind. She made some other positive comments about drinking, and I guess Madison was listening the entire time because at some point she shouted “Mom! How dare you try to get dad involved in alcohol!” I laughed, died, and my soul ascended into a state of transcendence. Lynnette was stunned. “Wooooooooooooooooooooooooow!” she said. “The ultimate of ironies!” I said once I regained the ability to speak. “Seriously,” Lynnette said, not laughing.

4Success! Madison enjoyed her dinner and so did the twins (who will eat noodles as long as the noodles are trimmed short). I also thought the dish was great. I mean, it’s got bacon, garlic, and cheese; it’s basically fast food. “It’s super-cheesy!” Madison said after her first few bites. “Just like all your jokes,” I said. “C’mon!” she replied. But it’s true.

Despite Madison’s open praise of the dish, it was still not good enough as candy, because it still took Madison way too long to eat her dinner. I wish I had some Professor Xavier super power that would allow me to trick Madison to see candy when she looks at a bowl or plate of breakfast, lunch or dinner. Good job, Chef Madison! Bad Job, Diner Madison.

“I’ll Even Let You Hold the Remote Control”

Sometime last week our remote control – yes, that bastion of convenience – began responding slowly to commands and eventually quit completely. I changed the batteries and cleaned out the battery area and got it to work sluggishly again, but not before I had placed a call to Oceanic/Time Warner/Spectrum/Whatever it is they’re calling themselves these days to request a new remote. That bad boy came in yesterday.

1The remote on the left is the OG. It has been the only remote we’ve used for our cable since we moved into our place, and while I have to strong emotional attachment to it, I am pretty sure Madison does because that’s what she does. I am positive that she’s already scheming ways to make sure the remote winds up in the glass case Hall of Fame in the living room beside all her favorite pieces of soap.

I am thrilled that the buttons on the new remote are almost all in exactly the same place as the old one. It’s one of those things – if you ask me where certain buttons are on the remote, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But, if I had it in my hand, I could complete the function without looking it. Muscle memory or something. Perhaps the remote has become an extension of my being. But that’s a sci-fi story for another day. The new remote’s going to take some getting used to as the buttons are so responsive. Our old remote had a kind of delay, so I had learned a slower cadence. Last night when I used the new one, I couldn’t get to the channel I wanted to immediately because my fingers kept punching in the right numbers, but at the wrong time.

2I wiped down the old remote and tossed it into the play area. Within second, Avery descended upon it and began pressing buttons. I think she was curious as to why:

A) There was no noticeable consequence occurring on the television.

and

B) No adult in the room immediately swooped in to take the remote away from her.

As you can see in the picture, she eventually gave up on trying to change the channel and began using the remote as a flute. You can also see Cole’s jealousy in the background. Maybe you will think less of me as a human being, but I know how this works. I’ve already decided to take the OG remote away from them from time to time, just to maintain the illusion that it does not belong to them. This is totally necessary. As you parents out there know, the second the kids know they can have it, they don’t want it.

Some of the Twins’ New Fascinations

The twins are still at an age at which their choices are both unpredictable and inexplicable. During the past two weeks, Cole and Avery have picked up some new habits that I am thrilled to relay to you.

12Cole’s favorite toy is a plastic hashbrown. Its shape leads me to believe it came from a McDonald’s set of faux food. Sure, Cole is distracted by other toys like the new kazoo and by things that make noise, but he always seems to find his way back to the hashbrown. His relationship with his favorite hashbrown mirrors that of that most high school perspective on relationships: if you let something go and it comes back to you, it was meant to be. By that logic, Cole – at an improbably young age – has already participated in a decidedly more off-and-on relationship than I did, and believe me – that really is saying something.

Cole’s favorite television show is Wheel of Fortune. He doesn’t actually like to watch the show, though. His favorite part of the show is the introduction with the PA announcer building up to introduce Pat and Vanna. At some point, the live audience (or canned applause) hits, and Cole just can’t help himself. He claps along feverishly, as if he believes he must participate with the studio audience, as if this is the best thing he’s seen in his life, as if he’s compelled from on high to behave in exactly this manner. Who knows? All three might be true.

34Avery’s new deal is climbing over the back of the couch and reaching into the bookshelf to retrieve her books. She’s actually made it all the way over – there’s an ottoman with blankets atop it back there – when no was was watching her closely enough. Avery, of course, can’t read yet, but reading doesn’t really seem to be the point of her activity. No, as near as I can tell, her objective is simply to pull as many books as possible and cover the couch with them, assuring that someone will have to put them all back at the end of the night. “Why don’t we put these where she can’t reach them?” I asked aloud. [Side Question: If a husband asks her wife a question, but she does not acknowledge him at all, did he really as a question?] Perhaps due to Avery’s recent frequency atop the couch, Lynnette’s taken to referring to her as “Abby” whenever calling her name out loud. Just now, Avery was gnawing on the tv stand and Lynnette shouted “Abby! Abby! Avery!” To be fair, the third try is perfectly acceptable. Honestly, though, at this point Lynnette should just adopt my father’s foolproof method of calling his sons. He simply walked into a room and uttered “Hey.” We all looked and he pointed at the one or two or three he needed to address. No confusion at all.

Cole loved being tossed into the air from the very first time I did it. Avery always wore an expression of concern. It’s the same face Madison made on the way down riding the Pharaoh’s Fury. Anyway, I’ve discovered that while Avery doesn’t care for being tossed up in the air, she gets a huge kick out of being tilted upside down. If she’s really into it, she starts laughing as soon as she I start leaning her backwards. She cackles with glee when upside down, then jerks her head back when I lift her right-side up. She might grow up to be a daredevil like Madison was before she fell off those monkeybars  in Manoa.

Cole Boy’s 1st (professional, non-mommy) Haircut

You might remember Cole’s first haircut at the hands of his mother. We were understandably worried how he would react to his first professional haircut, but our concerns were overblown.

1Cole totally bought the chair-disguised-as-a-car bit because he didn’t fight being placed into the chair at all. He began turn the steering wheel almost immediately and I patronized him in an incredibly exaggerated manner, excitedly belting out rhetorical questions like “You driving, buddy?” and “Whoa, that’s a dope ride, yeah, Cole Boy!” I don’t  know who I am anymore.

I let Cole keep the binky in for the beginning of the haircut for the sake of comfort. I suppose it was the parenting equivalent of an athletic superstition like getting dressed exactly the same way, or some pre-at-bat ritual. I knew it probably wouldn’t matter, but it couldn’t hurt, either, you know?

23Cole didn’t cry at all! He was fussy initially as the clippers touched his head for the first time. I don’t think he was ready for the buzzing and the vibration, but it didn’t matter because a few feet away at television was playing Mickey and the Roadster Racers. That’s what his eyes are locked on in this picture. His barber was quick around the sides of his head (Will we never see Cole’s wings again?) and that alone seemed to make Cole look so fresh. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since I let Lynnette buzz the sides of my head between haircuts for 3 years or something like that.

The only time Cole seemed dismayed by the process was when hair got onto his binky. He popped it out of his mouth and started licking his lips repeatedly, the way a dog eating peanut butter might. I took his binky and his barber took a wet napkin and wiped his mouth and tongue until Cole seemed satisfied. Lynnette, Madison, Avery, and I sat on a couch directly in front of Cole and cheered him on, but he didn’t really need it. I am sure Avery was curious as to why she didn’t get to drive around town in one of those fantastic fake cars, but she simply doesn’t have enough hair to warrant a haircut. She’s a cutie now, but whenever I look back at old pictures of her it’s stunning how little hair she was born with and how long it took for it to fill in. She really was Murray.

5At the end of the cut, Cole’s barber applied some gel onto a comb and ran it through  his bangs. I had never seen this technique before, so I was curious to see what the results would be. Well, the results were that he looks even more like me. I couldn’t be happier. I’m sure the fact that he’s wearing a blue and orange shirt contributes to the likeness somehow, but still. He looks like such a big boy in his collared shirt, jeans, and his side comb. I kept looking at his face as I carried him back to the van. I know this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but nearly 16 months later I still catch myself looking at Cole and whispering “I have a son…” to myself. Today when we got back to the van I stood facing the van and pointed into its dark tint. “Who’s that?” I said. Cole locked eyes on his reflection and smiled widely. Lynnette and I miss Cole’s little wings. He doesn’t seem to at all.