Dad’s First May Day!

Today is the first time I’ve watched one of Madison’s May Day Programs. I’ve had 6 or 7 chances before this year, but things never worked out. Sometimes the program dates were a day or two before the AP English Literature exam, so I wanted to stay at school to get in one more review day. Some years I used up my 2 personal days on other emergencies before I ever got to May.

4Madison was great. I couldn’t see her very well but it does seem that all those dance classes are finally paying off. She was graceful and on time (two qualities she certainly did not inherit from me) and looked confident of her knowledge in the choreography. Earlier in the week she excitedly told me that hers was the only class in the school using rocks. She did a great job with those and I am absolutely thrilled that she hasn’t brought them home to continue her studies. We’ve already got a recording lying around here somewhere.

I sat in the sun for two hours before the program began in order to assure Lynnette a goods spot from which to watch. An old friend – a woman who Lynnette worked with at summer fun – was already there with one of her children. We did some rehashing and some catching up. We both marveled at how much time has passed since we were all in our early 20s and the only kids we had were those in our summer fun groups.

Mad’s already 9, four years away – she reminds me – from finally getting her own phone. Once in a while Facebook reminds Lynnette of something she’s posted years ago, and sometimes Lynnette shares those moments with me. If they feature a picture of Madison, I almost always tear up. We really were best friends. It’s been so long, we’ve argued so much that I forget. I am too critical of her. I am to hard on her. I see my own worst traits in her and I am terrified that she will grow up into a lazy procrastinator who always looks for the shortest cut across the path of least resistance. But I think maybe it’s me that has to change. She and I are going to spend all our time together this summer again.

Mad,
I’ll try very hard to be more positive. I’ll try to focus on the things that you do well instead of the things that you struggle with. You did a great job today! Let’s finish out this school year on a positive note and then have a great summer. I love you.

-Dads

Cole and Avery at 18 Months

Cole and Avery are 18 months old. This is the final monthly update in this fashion. Instead of just rambling on, I’m going to ask the others who live in my house to throw in their 2 cents (Madison) and $51.29 (Lynnette). Madison’s thoughts will be printed in her customary pink, Lynnette’s in blue (her favorite color), and I’ll make mine orange (duh).

1I think of Cole, like, energetic, maybe a little less chubby than I thought he would be. And now he gets into more trouble than he usually did. Sometimes I would catch him trying to whack the TV, going over the couch, and he’s also hitting the glass case. He loves his mom and doesn’t want to share her. Cole Boy, I thought I would be calling you “Ramona” from Ramona and Beezus but now that you’re older, you don’t tantrum too much.

He’s an awesome little boy who learns a lot quickly. He’s learning how to throw a ball cooperatively.  He’s growing too fast. He’s very loving, very affectionate. He’s learning to eat new things, he learned how to close a door and he’s trying to open doors. He recognizes me when I get home. He loves Wheel of Fortune and he’s trying to shaka. When Wheel of Fortune comes on, he claps. He tried to catch his pee when he saw himself peeing in the tub yesterday; he tried to grab it. Cole, I don’t mind sleeping with you in the bed. You’re a great snuggle buddy.

After Lynnette bathes the twins she drops Cole off in the play area wearing nothing but his hooded towel. “Diaper Boy!” I scream. Cole squeals and runs away from me. I strap a diaper on him pretty quickly while he raspberries the water still on his lips. It’s a highlight. Cole answers to his name and simple directions. If I ask him to come down from something, he generally does. If I tell him to stop what he’s doing, he usually does. Last weekend I scolded Cole in front of my parents. The very first thing he did was look at my parents who were staring back at him. He eyes watered and he started to cry. He knows shame. That’s good. His favorite thing in the entire world is waving goodbye at people. Cubby Candy, I really don’t like getting kicked in my face while trying to sleep. But I love the look on your face when I carry you downstairs. You know we’re going outside and every single time is like the first time. I hope you hold onto that wonder forever.

2Avery is a good girl, sometimes is naughty. I love that she lies down on the ottoman just babbling to herself. She sometimes laughs when Cole laughs. And when someone farts, she blows raspberries. I love that she eats a lot. I love that she eats everything from chips to toys on the floor. Avie, you make a great roommate.

Avery is turning into a picky eater. She loves Donald Duck. She likes to throw herself, she likes rough and tumble play. If you say “Where’s Avery?” she covers her eyes. Her laughter is very cute and contagious. She doesn’t know how to walk – she only runs. She likes to play the drop-the-puppy game (Reader’s Note: Drop-the-puppy is a game in which Avery lifts a beanie baby puppy above her head before unceremoniously dropping it to the floor. Cole and Avery find this hilarious). She can be a very stubborn child; there’s something to be said about her persistence. Avery, my little joey, I love you. You’re my favorite – don’t tell your brother and sister.

Avery has complete contempt for boundaries and the authority of her parents. She’s recently taken to climbing over the back of the couch and grabbing items off my desk. Then, she’ll turn on the spot (atop a small shelf) and dive bomb back onto the couch. Face first. Every time. She also climbs over the arm of the couch and lands on the ottoman. Then she lowers herself onto the floor and roams the living room and kitchen, looking for non-food items to shove into her mouth. If I shout her name, she will look at me for a split-second before continuing on with whatever taboo activity she’s already started. I, for one, cannot wait for her teenage years. It’s not hear fault. She loves wide open spaces, just like her father. When she’s there she breaks out into this lumbering sprint that more resembles a boulder rolling down hill than a tiny human running. She head bobs up and down, sometimes her light hair at the front of her head gets caught in the wind as she passes. But always, just the right arm pumps while the other dangles at her side. It is a sight to behold. Gravy Boat, I am afraid that you’re legitimately crazy. You force your body to create more adrenaline in 15 minutes than I do in a week. You are fearless and man, I hope I can keep up with you.

Costco’s Guiding Us Into PEAK SUMMER

You might not be aware that Summer is rapidly approaching, but let me tell you – Costco is. I spent an hour there today waiting for Madison’s dance class to finish. I took a stroll through the seasonal section of the store and snapped a few pics of the offerings. Not only is Costco aware of summer’s arrival, but it’s only concerned with PEAK SUMMER. Costco wants you to know that (if you have a membership) you can purchase the BEST SUMMER EVER.

1Derby Duck, $49.99. Derby duck is a massive inflatable raft/warship that doubles as the mascot of PEAK SUMMER. He’s not satisfied with just being massive duck, oh no, you’re also going to have to inflate his wayfarer-styled sunglasses. I, for one, am just stunned old Derby here didn’t remember to pack the bluetooth headphones. I’m gratefull that someone decided to drop a few boxes of protein bars under Derby for scale. This thing as huge. I say this as the proud owner of an inflatable orca floatie that’s been resting comfortably on the clotheslines in the garage. Purchasing Derby Duck is likely to lead to two scenarios: A) dope drone footage of you and your friends getting drilled at Sandy’s, and B) the existential crisis of “If we inflate this at home, how are we getting it in the car, but if we inflate it at the beach, who’s going to blow it up (always dad)?”

2Fatboy Lamzac Instantly Inflatable Portable Louger, $39.99. You’ve probably seen footage of these bad boys on your preferred social media platform.

EXT. AN IDYLLIC YET IMPOSSIBLY UNCROWDED BEACH – DAY.

The family has set up all of its PEAK SUMMER supplies. The tent is pitched. The table is erect and adorned with the finest meats and cheeses. Mom generously applies sunscreen to the young daughter. An older child who has just turned the legal age to drink cracks open a Corona (possibly a Bud Light Lime, if they are willing to pay for placement) and takes a sip. Dad wipes his brow. He places his hands on his hips.

Dad
(smugly)
What a mighty fine summer day!

*Mom – still squatting – turns to face her husband*

Mom
(excitedly)
You might even call this PEAK SUMMER, dead.

*Son takes a gulp of Corona/Bud Light Lime (possibly Samuel Adams Summer Ale, if they are willing to pay for placement)*

Son
(sarcastically)
Well, somebody forgot the chairs!

Young Daughter
(despondently)
PEAK SUMMER? More like Reek Summer.

Son
(sarcastically)
What? Where did you even learn to, like, talk like that?

Young Daughter
(wistfully)
You, alright? I learned it from watching you!

Mom
(authoritatively)
Cut it out right now! I won’t have you ruin PEAK SUMMER!

*Dad reaches behind back and whips out Fatboy Lazmac Instantly Inflatable Portable Lounger*

Dad
(confidently)
I’ve got your PEAK SUMMER right here!

SWV’s “Right Here” plays in softly in the background. Dad begins to run across the beach to catch air inside of Fatboy Lazmac Instantly Inflatable Portable Lounger. A mix of close-up and tracking shots of Dad in slow-motion. Cut to ecstatic faces of family members. Cut to entire family sitting on Fatboy Lazmac Instantly Inflatable Portable Lounger as if riding a very long horse, laughing.

END SCENE.

3Chillax Travel Hammock, $29.99. Somebody’s getting sued. Look, I can’t be the only local guy who came of age in the 1990s who used “Chillax” as a combo of “chill out” and “relax” as a way of telling my friends (but not my parents, obviously) to calm down. If I remember correctly, the “take a chill pill” had already fallen out favor with the cool kids, just like the shaved head/long bangs hair style and Guns N’ Roses. Still, I feel upset that some company profited from something a bunch of dumb kids came up with 20 years ago. Mostly, though, I simply don’t have enough athleticism left to confidently operate a hammock. The Chillax Travel Hammock might cost $29.99 retail, but it comes with the additional cost of your dignity. Ok, my dignity.

4California Innovations Titan 60 Can Rolling Collapsible Cooler, $39.99; California Innovations 16 Can Cooler, $16.99 (on sale). This is the true test. Are you down for summer? Or are you down for PEAK SUMMER? If you are interested in just the run-of-mill summer, then California Innovations has the cooler for you! This nifty cooler comes with a foam-padded shoulder strap, is zipperless so as to promote easy access, can hold up to 16 cans plus ice, and can keep that ice cold for up to two days! But. If you are a legit summerer concerned only with PEAK SUMMER, then California Innovations would like you to ignore that practical and perfectly fine bag and witness the BROCK LESNAR of coolers! It does everything that the baby cooler does but WHO NEEDS A FOAM-PADDED SHOULDER STRAP WHEN YOU’VE GOT WHEELS, BABY? NOBODY. YOU KNOW WHAT’S BETTER THAN HOLDING ICE FOR 2 DAYS, BABY? HOLDING ICE FOR 3 DAYS, BRUH! WHAT KIND OF SUMMERER ARE YOU. BOI? But it’s totally up to you. No pressure.

Young and Restless

It has been trending this way for a while, but it seems like the Era of Convenience – when both Cole and Avery would peacefully sit in their stroller during our outings – is drawing to a close.

12Lynnette’s been toting Avery around in the Ergo for a while now, and she always fights us when when we try to put her in a stroller or even a high chair. Lynnette’s been feeding herself and Avery with the PITA Girl seated on her lap. In fact, the only thing she’s let me put her in without argument is the basket of the wagon at Target. But even then, I’ve got to put a bunch of items in there for her to play with (and then I have to wipe them all down with one of her honeys before we check out. I swear, this kid is only going to be able to tell me if a book is good after she’s taken a few bites of it.).

Cole’s not too bad. He’ll sit in the stroller. If he gets fussy, then all we have to do is feed him some snacks and he’s happy to make a mess of himself and his side of the stroller, but even then this kind of bribery distraction only lasts for so long. Eventually, he will want out. And the second Avery sees him roaming free, she wants out, too.

We’re trying to figure out a system. Yesterday we found an area which was mostly boxed in by walls, fences, and benches near Neiman Marcus at Ala Moana. Once we let Cole and Avery out, Lynnette, Madison, and I play zone defense – blocking exit areas and other undesirable zones – until we have to shift to man if one or both of the twins looks like they’re going to get into and/or start trouble. This can mean approaching stairs or examining a trash can. Honestly, it can mean anything. I wish I had saved some of my athleticism for this period in my life, but no.

Cole and Avery just want to run. Madison knows best; she always says they’re exploring new places and new things. Mad’s always quick to point out things that she thinks Cole and Avery might like – the leaves of trees, special lighting, large images, and pictures of food. It might just be my perception of things, but it looks like Cole listens to her when he’s free. Avery doesn’t, but that’s because she doesn’t listen to anyone.

All of this ought to lead to an interesting summer to say the least. Other than the playground at Windward Mall, I don’t know many enclosed places where Madison and I could handle Cole and Avery. I trust them less than Chris Pratt trusted his raptors in Jurassic World.

Lynnette is Too Sweet

In the ’90s, WCW and WWE were the two dominant wrestling promotions. Some of the most popular acts at the top both companies were members of the Kliq,  a group of influential, rebellious wrestlers who gave themselves this name:

5HHH and Michaels rauled WWE as D-X, and Hall, Nash, and Sean Waltman ran the WCW as the NWO. The latter group often incorporated the “two sweet” hand gesture as pictured above. Though they inspired many imitators then, I suppose it wasn’t until enough time had passed for younger wrestlers to create an homage to the Kliq. This happened a few years ago in the New Japan promotion, and the group called itself Bullet Club:

6You will notice the “too sweet”, crotch chop pose, and gun hand gesture all rolled up in one picture. When I first learned of Bullet Club, I wondered how it could possibly be an homage. Then I found out that all of the members are roughly my age and actually uttered “Oh. Well, then,” aloud.

Why am I telling you this? Because my wife is the best and worst person in my life. The two men at the ends in the front row of the second picture are the Young Bucks. They sell merchandise online, including these pair of leggings. The purchase of this item led to a text conversation that more or less defines our relationship.

1234Lynnette loves me and also loves to troll me. Unlike her daughters Avery and Madison, however, Lynnette picks her spots. She only chafes me about the things she knows I really care about.

We used her paypal to buy the leggings and she didn’t recognize the charge. Simple enough. I reminded her and just wanted her to too sweet me. But no. That would have been too easy. I thought it was a simple request, but nah, not in the capable hands of my wife.

Look at the smugness on the face of that piece of feces. I could feel Lynnette taunting me as soon as she sent it. You can see that I made the transition into ALL CAPS so as to let her know I was serious about getting too sweeted. And then she throws up the ear emoji to insinuate that she couldn’t hear me, but also to remind me that she never, ever listens to me in the first place, even if she’s not listening, but reading words of a frickin’ text message.

Then she decided to go all Edvard Munch on me with the mock shock/fear face. I countered this by calling her by her full first name, no babe, no baby, no Senster, no Sens, no Mom, no Mem, no Sexy Beast, no Hotness Everdeen, nope. But that didn’t stop her. She threw out the devil face – which I could only interpret to mean that she was being obtuse on purpose. Then, she confirmed by analysis by sending another popular hand gesture – which, by the way – may as well have just been a middle finger emoji at this point because, I mean, look at what she’s done! The smirk just pushed everything over the edge. She doesn’t just troll, she goes for total ownership of my soul.

I can’t quite remember how or why Lynnette came up with “Clown Dog”, but it is a term she uses to refer to Madison and me. Maybe she can explain it in this space later. Eventually, though, she threw up the too sweet. But then of course, even over text she had to roll her eyes at me. That’s just how she… rolls.

Lynnette knows me so well. She knows those precious few buttons to press that will set me off. It’s why she continues to assert that Abby’s favorite football team is the Giants, that her favorite player is Eli Manning. It’s why she hasn’t followed the Mets for years, but can still name Lastings Milledge and other Mets prospects who busted. It’s why she once made a Troy Aikman concussion joke that made me so upset (and was so good) I had to leave the room. It’s why she pretends she can’t find her Mets and Cowboys shirts on game days.

She really is the worst. But she’s also the best because eventually, she’s going to wear these leggings, and it is going to be glorious. And I am going to too sweet her cheeks all day. ALL DAY.

Musical Beds

Cole and Avery shifted the seating dynamics so dramatically that we bought a van. Now, they’ve done the same to our sleep assignments.

3Madison moved in with Avery weeks ago because her room was “too hot”. To be fair, Madison’s is generally the warmest in the house and the twins’ room is the coolest. As it stands, Avery sleeps in her crib and Madison sleeps on the futon next to her. Cole crib is filled with all sorts of things – toys, blankets, Madison’s bedding when it’s not in use – but not the boy himself. On the one hand, it’s kind of cool because the twins’ room has remained clean this way; everything gets tossed into the crib instead of loitering on the floor. On the other hand, however, these are the exact conditions that led me to being exiled from my own bed.

2As a way to maintain our sanity, we split the twins up in their first month of life. We didn’t want one to wake the other and lead to a never-ending cascade of babies waking up babies waking up babies. There’s a play pen in our room that’s supposed to be Cole’s bed, but without fail at some point every night, Cole wakes and realizes he’s not in a bed. He cries until Lynnette scoops him up and plants him between us. Now, I love my son, but I don’t like him fussing 4-5 times a night right into my ear. I don’t particularly care for his trademarked finisher, the Stupor Kick. It’s that thing where he somehow rolls up to the top of the bed, but lays perpendicular to Lynnette and I, then kicks me in the face with both heels. It sucks. Two nights ago I was struck by the memory that Madison didn’t get out of our bed until she was 5. This saddened me greatly.

1And so last night I took my pillow into Madison’s room and turned the fan on high, pointing it directly at the bed. I pulled the mattress of the wall so I could plug my phone charger into the outlet. I’ve learned the hard way that our couch is great for naps, but not extended periods of sleep.

I sighed before trying to fall asleep. I wondered when I would be able to cuddle with the uber-cuddlable Lynnette again. I thought about a 5-year old Cole kneeing me in the crotch and elbowing me in the eye orbital, just like Madison did. It seems intolerable.

Then again, who knows? Maybe Cole will decide much earlier than Madison that sleeping in our bed isn’t such a great idea. A guy can dream (from his daughter’s room), can’t he?

 

Blow Up All My Plans

When I was a much younger man, I was fond of glibly saying “Plans never work out, so why make plans?” Obviously, even then I knew that answer (Because you kind of have to if you’re going to interact with other humans), but my logic then was based on true experience. How many times have your plans worked out perfectly? Exactly.

1A while back Lynnette’s cousin offered us a small plastic playground set for Cole and Avery. His son has outgrown it. It’s been rainy recently so we finally took the family up on their offer. Madison and I picked the set up today, and if you look closely at the picture on the left, you will notice the half-smile of a person thinking:

Nah, can get one indoor playground for the twins but not for me, ah?

Well, the short answer is “Yes.” Madison knows she’s too big for this set but she wants so desperately to play on it that she’s willing to do it vicariously through Cole and Avery. She’s been forcing them to play on the set all afternoon. Lynnette and I have had to remind her – somewhere between 4 and 500 times – that it’s OK if the twins don’t want to play. So that’s the first snag. The twins aren’t as enthralled by the majesty of the Little Tikes slide/swing set.

3Avery’s been was warm all morning and she’s got a fever. Lynnette’s been treating her with Motrin and Avery moves in and out of two general attitudes: pleasant and stoned.

Rather than get pushed in the swing or fly down the slide, Avery seemed to prefer sticking her fingers into her ears so as to make her own eyes roll back into her head. Sure.

So Avery hasn’t really been interested in the set at all. Right now, she’s making Cole laugh by throwing a Beanie Baby puppy on the living room floor over and over again. This turn of events is startling to me because I thought Avery was making a full transition into her wrestling gimmick of Gravy Abunai, a superstar who has no real mic skills but impresses the crowd with high-risk moves that range from “unsafe” to “PHILIP, I TOLD YOU TO WATCH AVERY!” Maybe she’s just sick.

2Ironically, it’s Cole who’s been trying to destroy himself with the playground set. He climbed up the stairs in the back, slowly lowered himself on the platform, then slid. When he settled on the floor, he stood and clapped. I was assured that Cole understood how the slide worked. Nope.

I suppose I’ll forgive Cole because he doesn’t yet understand the concept of gravity, but a few moments later, he decided he was going to try to walk down the slide. He face planted onto the carpet and started screaming. He patted his forehead, then rubbed his nose. He got an icepack from Lynnette. It was a few minutes before he stopped crying. By sunset, he figured out how to climb up the slide and learned his lesson to remain seated while descending. But then Lynnette put him in full-body pajamas. Cole thought he could simply climb up the slide as easily as he had been doing while barefoot. He was wrong. He took one step, slipped, then banged his head against the slide. He cried again. Madison scooped Cole up and it again took him a few minutes to settle down.

I don’t know why I thought this playground would bring joy to my family. But I do know that I’m going to catch Madison trying to sneak a few slides in when she thinks no one is looking.