Hello, Pets! Goodbye Gate!

1I played 18 innings of slow-pitch softball in the sweltering heat of Halawa and sweat the entire drive home despite the air conditioner on maximum in the Corolla. I bought 2 McDoubles and a large Coke for lunch and found the rest of my family at the dining room table in the middle of lunch.

3Lynnette took the kids to Ala Moana today for the 1-year anniversary of Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk. Madison, Cole, Avery, and I attended the soft opening last year. Anyway, I was told over lunch (as my body struggled to return to homeostasis an hour after the second game ended) that Madison won fish. “Like fish to eat?” I asked. “No!” Madison said. “Fish!” I was puzzled. “Like real live fish?” I asked. “Yes, live fish,”  Lynnette interjected, saving Madison and me from a ridiculous conversation. “How did she win fish?” I asked. “She won it playing a game,” Lynnette said. “What game is that?” I asked. “It’s the game where you have a net but it’s made out of paper but it dissolves and you have to catch a fish before it dissolves,” she said. “Ooookaaaay,” I said. “Yeah, Madison won two fish!” Lynnette said. “And they even give it to you if you don’t win” Madison said. “What?” I said. “You didn’t win?” Lynnette said. “No, they just gave them to me,” Mad said. I was too tired to fight. But, it should be said, this is what happens when they go out without me. So now we have two new pets, Magikarp (orange) and Gyarados (gold). Yeah. Right.

2A week ago I made the decision to open up the living room and kitchen entirely to Cole and Avery. I only blocked off the area under the dining room table and behind the couch (where are my toys are). That lasted three days before the area behind the barricade became cluttered and nearly impossible to move around in. So I took down the gate completely. I figured they’d never get used to if we didn’t let them roam free.

So now Cole and Avery get into all kinds of nonsense. Both have climbed into their high chairs before meals to make it known that they are hungry. Avery climbed on the back of chair and had it fall down on her – shades of her Uncle Matty. Cole likes to fish utensils out of the dishwasher. The silliest thing, though, is that one or both of them have been shutting down my computer by simply pressing the button at the front of the tower. The first time it happened I sat at my desk and kept clicking the mouse and pressing Enter on the keyboard like a jackass until I finally figured out what had happened.

So, with that, we’ll send Children’s Play Area Gate That I Swore I’d Never Buy for My Kids But Totally Did Anyway and Don’t Regret at All off with honor as we usually do in this blog:

Water Day at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s!

My parents hooked it up today!

1DCIM100GOPROG0196719.DCIM100GOPROG0076362.They put out two pools and a splash pad in the backyard, once again proving that they love their grandkids more than their kids. “They had just the one pool for the three of us,” I said, loud enough for my parents to hear it. “Yeah, and it wasn’t the biggest or sturdiest, either,” Paul added. Neither of my parents really argued. It’s true. The summer wonderland Al and Karen set out for Mad, Declan, Cole, and Avery was awesome.

I think sometimes Madison forgets that she’s 3 times the size of her brother, sister, and cousin. She jumped back and forth between all 3 water spots, splashing them and some of the adults. I don’t blame her, though. We still haven’t gone to the beach this summer and we’ve only been to the pool once.

We’ve known Cole is a water baby for some time now. Earlier this week he simulated swimming in the middle of a bubble bath; he brought the same technique with him to the backyard today. But, since the water level here was higher than in the tub, he drank a bunch of water before making the adjustment. There’s something hilarious about hearing Cole squeal, then choke, then blow a raspberry, then laugh all after his head slips underwater.

Avery spent the first 5 minutes mimicking Madison by blowing bubbles in the water. She always tries it in the tub, but  -maybe because of the bubble bath or because the water is never that deep – she’s never been this successful. It was as if she learned a new trick and kept going to it. I can totally relate as I have spent the last 15 years destroying my students in GoldenEye on the N64 by playing with proximity mines in the basement.

Thanks, mom and dad, for making the kids’ entire week. I know you just made some renovations, but let us know when you guys put in a proper, permanent pool into the backyard. Thanks in advance!

My Lunch Date on a Gloomy Day

I had a dentist appointment this morning (visits to the doctor and the dentist in one calendar year, Phil? Stop it!) Madison accompanied me because we had grand visions of hitting the beach afterward. Well, it rained. “It doesn’t look good, Mad,” I said. A light drizzle fell on us as we walked to the car. “But we don’t know what it looks like at the beach because we’re not there,” she replied. “We have to go there to see it.” It was a pretty strong attempt at going Heart of Darkness on me, but my stomach’s growl was louder and more urgent than any scream of an unknowable horror. “You hungry?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said.

1You may already know that I have a soft spot for the Arby’s beef and cheddar sandwich. It stems from those glorious days when Arby’s solid five of them for $5.95. Matty and I demolished those and split a drink. We didn’t talk during this ritual. The only communication between us occurred when one of us would shake the cup to hear only the sound of ice. The cup holder would then rise to refill the cup with soda.

I told Madison about this family tradition today over lunch. “Really?” she asked. “Yes, would you like to try a bite?” I asked. “Sure,” she said. She took a small bite, then shook her head “no”. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I said. I recorded the reaction and sent it to Matty. A few moments later, he replied with “What!? How dare she!” When I showed Madison, she laughed out loud.

The beach would have been nice, but in retrospect, our little lunch date was pretty great. We had a long conversation about our family and our extended family, the best parts of which are featured below.

“It’s weird,” she said.
“What is?” I asked. I lowered my sandwich.
“To be here without the twins,” she said.
“Oh, yeah. Mom and I say that all the time when we’re out without you guys,” I said.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. I put my sandwich down. “Whenever we’re out, if I hear a baby cry, I’ll look around for Cole or Avery. I don’t even think about it,” I said.
Mad laughed. She took a sip of her milkshake.
“This reminds me of summer 2014,” she said.
“Oh, yeah?” I said.
“Yeah. It was just you and me – but we actually went to the beach,” she said. She can’t always understand sarcasm, but whoa bebe, can she speak it.
“Hopefully the sun will be out on Saturday,” I said.
“Yeah, I can’t wait to go to the beach with the Higa family.” she said.
“Are you happy with your family?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“Are you happy that you’re a part of the Higa family and the Pascua family?” I said.
“Oh. Yeah. For sure,” she said. She wiped her hands on a napkin. “The thing about the Higa side is there’s lots of kids. And the funny thing about the Pascua side is sometimes Momma and Papa speak to me in Filipino even though I can’t understand it.”
“They forget?” I said.
“Yeah, but then they remember,” she said.
“That’s okay,” I said. I crumpled my wrappers into a ball of foil, Arby’s sauce, and melted cheese. “Mom speaks to us in English and we can’t understand her.”
Madison laughed. “True dat,” she said.

Father’s Day 2017

The Mets won this morning and Money in the Bank was a dumpster fire. Those two things balance each other out. Brunch was fantastic; I ate a bunch of ahi sashimi and saved just enough room for bread pudding with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. But, as you are aware, the real highlight of Father’s Day – the thing I wait all year for – is Madison’s fill-in-the-blank answers to Lynnette’s questions about me. Here are Mad’s answers. She’s 9:

2This first laugh-out-loud answer is the “always side-combed” remark about my hair. She did me a solid there considering she’s the person who sees me most frequently without any kind of product in my hair. I don’t know when the answers to the 4th and 5th questions will ever change. I suppose it’s possible, but highly unlikely.

She’s way more specific about my job, and the “Double Quarter Pounders, no pickles” answer caused me to nearly swear, because it is (cue the Metallica) SAD BUT TRUE! The real gems, of course, are the two references to grammar. I supposed it’s embarrassing to be called out for calling out people (9-year olds) on their grammar, but I know that somewhere Papa Joe is… well, he probably isn’t smiling, but he’s nodding his head.

1I didn’t get a really great picture of myself with the kids. I took a few, but no one’s looking, one or two of them are screaming, and the oldest one argues with me about her eyes being closed because Dad! My eyes are open but it’s super hard to keep them open because the sun! These are high times.

I instead opted to post this picture of my three children because of all the photos snapped today, it’s the one that most resembles our summer days together. This summer is easier than the last. The twins are a little older. We can do more things together. While many things rarely ever go as planned, there have been no real disasters – things just are what they are. We missed a week of summer because we thought Madison caught the mumps. We waited over a week for the test results, then on the 9th day we were told that the lab botched her sample in transit. As in 9 days before they called us. But, since Mad didn’t exhibit any other symptoms, her doctor thinks it was likely just a bacterial infection that resolved through antibiotics. The highlight of this 9-day quarantine was making dad joke puns at Madison’s expense about the mumps. “I can’t wait until Wednesday, because then it’ll be mump day,” I said. “Why do cars slow down on the road, Madison?” Lynnette asked. “WHY?!” Madison groaned. “Speed mumps.” It went on like this. Madison was salty. But, she hasn’t dropped any of her own terrible puns on us since, so I feel like it was worth it.

Fatherhood is nothing I thought it would be. Being a father of three isn’t a test of skill as much as it is a test of will, of patience. Did I think that I would be making horrible puns about my daughter potentially contracting mumps? No. Did I think I would scream “CUBBY CANDY!” and “GRAVY BOAT!” at the top of my lungs in reference to living human beings? No. Did I think I would ever in my life need to my ass and limited lateral quickness to box out two toddlers from my dog’s feces on the carpet while waiting for my wife to clean it? I can’t say that I did. But I did. Just today. Every day is the most monotonous dishwashing, diaper-changing triviality blended with the most random, ridiculous, hilarious, heart-warming nonsense I’ve ever experienced. Thank you, Madison, Cole, and Avery, for bringing an innocent joy to my life that I had not known since I was a kid myself.

An Impromptu Picnic

“Are we going to go out when I get home from work?” Lynnette asked as I was stilled shaking off sleep’s cobwebs. “I wasn’t planning to, we’ve got a full weekend,” I said. “OK,” she said. Five minutes later she came back into the room. “Because I’m not going to the gym today,” she said. “Fine, we’ll go out,” I said with my eyes stilled closed.  I was tired, but also dizzy from the roundabout questioning.

1We didn’t plan anything specific so we picked up dinner then looked for a park with picnic benches. There are many parks in Mililani, but not many with picnic benches. Ours was an odyssey that took us to Mililani District Park, across Kamehameha Highway. That’s basically the equivalent of driving into Pearl City or Aiea, but I was cool once I saw those tables. The first four parks had benches or nothing.

2Lynnette works out after work Monday through Thursday. The twins miss her a lot. They shout and scream when she gets home and they swarm her when she sits down on the couch. Avery, I think, misses Lynnette the most. Each morning she wedges herself between Lynnette and Madison as the former makes the latter’s hair. Then, Avery frog splashes onto Cole when Lynnette changes his diaper on the couch. Today at the playground Avery didn’t want to play until Lynnette finished eating and wandered over to where we were. Once Mem showed up on the rubber surface, Avery turned and ran around the area.

3Cole misses Lynnette, too, but he appears less clingy. He sat in Lynnette’s lap for 15 minutes last night as they watched TV together. He didn’t say anything, he just seemed to enjoy leaning into Lynnette for the evening. Cole’s favorite part of any playground is the bridge section. I suspect that he likes the straightaway to run on rather than having to climb something. Today a small dog joined Cole on the bridge and he thought it was the coolest thing.

4As you know, Madison is the slowest eater in the world. Lynnette and the twins ate first. When Lynnette finished, she came over to the playground and I waited another 10 minutes for Madison to finish her sandwich before I returned to the table to eat. I knew Madison would run to the playground as soon as she stuffed the last bite into her mouth. Sure enough, she galloped to the play area and gave me a thumbs up. I asked if she was finished because I wanted to see if she could speak. Nope. She raised her eyebrows twice and I left to eat. Look at this clown.

5Madison earned some play time without the twins so Lynnette and I took the twins on a walk around the park. It’s funny; neither Cole nor Avery wanted to sit in the wagon during dinner – but after 20 minutes of playground, they both decided they wanted in on the wagon and on some milk. These guys.

Pretty good start to the weekend! Now that Madison’s feeling better, we’ll be out of the house more often. Maybe we’ll finally get to the beach next week! My dad bod needs some sun.

Monet and Manet

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I brought out the small foldout table and set some scratch paper out for Cole and Avery to draw on. I had Mad bring out her colored pencils because I knew Avery would eat the crayons. Utter fiasco.

12I’ve had Cole doodle with me before so I hoped that he would take to the activity quickly. For a very brief time, it looked like he might actually sketch out some lines or scribbles, but the lure of the table proved too much for Cubby Candy. He put one of his chubby feet on the table. “No!” I said. He locked eyes with me and slowly lowered his chunky pad. But the trade-off for this obedience was a total lack of interest in the actual purpose of the colored pencil party.

Instead, he treated the pencils like anti-pick-up sticks. He gathered as many as he could in his hands, then dropped them onto the table because – I think – he liked the way they sounded when hitting the surface. He’s a boy. He likes making noise and using things to make noise. This went on for some time. He even pulled the yellow pencil right out of Madison’s hand as she was drawing with it, then hurled it onto the pink blanket.

At some point, though, he calmed himself and began pressing the tip of the pencil against the paper and came up with some lines. “Yay, Cole!” Madison said. I clapped for moral support. Cole got so excited that he threw the pencils in his hands to clap with me. Sigh.

34Oh, Avery. I wish I could have taken a picture of Avery’s face break out into a full glow when she saw me slide the table out from behind the entertainment unit. She knew it was back there and from time to time has tried to pat it, pull it, push it, and of course, eat it. When I started to prop the legs out, she walked through my legs to get to the table. As soon as I placed the table down in the middle of the living room, Avery scaled the table. I pulled her down and gave her the same “No!” that I gave Cole. Avery reacted poorly. She threw her arms up and head back. She screamed for a few moments before rolling over and disappearing into her bedroom where she continued her screaming tantrum. Not much later, she stomped out of the bedroom like the Juggernaut while crying. I looked at her and shook my head. She turned around and ran back into the bedroom. I caught this picture on her second trip out of the room.

I put her on my lap and gave her a few pencils. She immediately put one in her mouth. I took it out, then took her chubby fist in my own chubby fist and drew circles, hoping to inspire her. Nope. She sat there for a few minutes collecting as many pencils as she could, then banging them down against the table. But Avery was just working me. At one point Cole started to run with the pencils in hand so I got up to stop him. I sat Avery down at the table and before I even got to Cole she had mounted the table. This kid.

5Thank goodness I had the one kid who followed directions (this time). She was great about trying to include Cole and Avery even though it was obvious neither of them cared about the magical properties of the colored pencils. She didn’t even snap at Cole when he yanked the yellow pencil out of her hand mid-stroke. I would have snapped.

Today’s art activity was an unmitigated disaster, but man, how else are we gonna find out, you know? I can kind of, sort of remember my summers with Madison. I tried different stuff all the time just to see if she was ready. It was just so much easier with just the one of her, though. Every time I try something new and it falls apart in the first few minutes… it’s a bummer, honestly. Part of me just wants Cole and Avery to be 5 so we can go to the beach, already. But when that time comes, I know I’ll miss these times. Time is (at least) a double-edge sword.

Lines on Lynnette, the Love of My Life

In three stanzas.

4My love works out,
but not this weekend;
for her precious time
with us did she spend.
She treated herself
with tasty treats
since at the gym she
did earn what she eats.
She tried to do yoga
with her daughter, Mad.
It didn’t go too well,
in fact, it was bad.
Cole Boy stretched, too,
he had his own mat –
a tri-fold diaper pad –
how clever is that?
Cole Boy sat on her throat
and pinched her nose
when she was trying to hit
the low boat pose.
She ended the session
as a sweaty mess
with 20-plus pounds
of Cubby Candy on her chest.

3In an attempt to cool down
her son and daughter
she shot them both with
streams of cold water.
Cole and Avery shivered
as they were hit,
but Lynnette didn’t stop,
she didn’t give a… care.
Once Cole and Avery
were done in the pool
Mom gave both baths
because she’s super-cool!
I was downstairs cleaning
and Mad was in the shower
The twins were done in 5,
but Mad took half an hour.
A few moments later
she put Avery to sleep,
and soon thereafter
Cole fell without a peep.
It was at this moment
my love was finally free
to spread out on the couch
and play with her Galaxy.

2And boy! Did she ever
kick up her feet
at her husband sitting
near in his computer seat.
Lynnette browsed IG
to see if she could find
new restaurants with
new food she could grind.
“Ooh, that looks delicious!”
she’d say with a sigh.
She’d smack her lips
and quickly pat her thigh.
Or maybe she was checking
out some new Fighting Eel
for her to wear out,
so sexy does she feel.
“Look at this top!”
she’ll say with a shove.
She tells me if I pick it up
(in a small) it’s true love.
I hope you enjoyed
your three-day weekend,
I can’t wait for Friday
so we can do it all again.