Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Customer Dis-service

Maybe its just me, but I've noticed a disturbing drop in customer service skills lately. I'm pretty sure that this is the effect of people not caring about their jobs because for most people, their jobs are just a way to pay their zooming credit card bill. But I also believe that the companies they work for are to blame just as equally. The scripted upsell, the making a customer who wants to cancel their service wait for ungodly long wait times and to transfer them a bazillion times before they are allowed to actuallt cancel their service in the hope that they will just hang up and keep paying, and the general lack of loyalty to their employees and long standing customers has led to a mess in the arena of customer service.

But the power of the internet gives me the ability to warn my friends in the hope that they will be able to avoid what I have been through. But I will also give out kudos where it is due. We'll call this the first annual Cranium Outpost Kudos and Slugs awards (slugs because of a nasty incident we had here last summer)

Grand Prize Slug Award goes to

Cingular Wireless - (now AT&T Wireless). Just a horrible customer service experience from beginning to end. Never was I so glad when the contract came to an end

1st Runner Up Slug Award goes to
Salesguy Peter at La-Z-y Boy Gallery in Tukwilla. This guy barely let me into the door of the store before he was all over me trying sell me a couch, before I even had a chance to look at what they had. I got rid of him for 30 seconds while he ran to get flyers, then he physically directed me towards one of their displays by pushin me. Then when I started for the door, he actually got in between me and the door to stop me, and put his hand on my arm. Now he was recently in from the Ukraine, and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that personal space is a little different there, but had he not removed his hand from me pretty quick, I might have... well I faked him out with a juke move towards a chince covered ottoman and made a dash for the door.

2nd Runner Up Slug Award goes to
DirecTV for the old bait and switch. Two years ago we bought a DirecTV HD system with the promise that more HD Channels were being added all the time. After two years, we had 7, and recently they cut two of those out and said that those were only supplied as a sample of what else we could get and that program had expired, after 2 years. And yes, we had been paying full price for the HD package for 2 years, but it turned out that our receiver (which we own), was out of date, and for just $300 more we could upgrade to the latest equipment, and get the oher 30+ channels we had been paying for for the last year or so but never got. After a lot of talking, they offered to reduce the price down to $200. At which point I told them just to cancel my HD service. I didn't need it. At that point (half an hour into my 3rd call), the line went dead (not on my side). Anyway, we're quite happy with our regular TV, which I barely watch anymore anyway.

Now for some Kudos

Grand Prize Kudos Award goes to

The local Starbucks. Anyone who has been around us the last year knows how much our weekend trips to Starbucks meant to us, and how nice those baristas and the manager were to us. We did spend a small fortune there over the last year, but that was our refuge, our little trip out of the house. Our movies, our dining out, our trips to Hawaii. That was our entertainment for the past year.

1st Runner Up goes to
The guy at Circuit City last Sunday, on one of the busiest days of the year, who took about 15 minutes of his time to talk to me about televisons and home theatre systems and 1080i vs 1080P vs 720P vs standard definition. And this was after I told him that I was probably not going to buy anything that day.

2nd Runner Up goes to
I'll just give this one out to all the great waiters and waitresses we've had over the past year or so. Not that we've gotten to go out a lot, but I really respect the people who serve the food and make good, honest recommednations of what to eat and give you that look when they don't think something is up to par. I can't say every place has these people, but there were some, and I thank you!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Some pre-Christmas Video Presents

A few quick video shorts

Lorelai is destined to be a hunter - tracker.

Reece and Lorelai have invented a new language. We think it's called screamish.

The twins have caused some trouble lately. And even though we have them on tape, The clain they are innocent. Framed even.

Friday, December 21, 2007

News and Notes

I know, it's unusual that I post during the day, and no, there is nothing wrong. It's just that I'm at work, there is no one else here, and since I've been such good employee for so long that I don't have a whole lot of last minute emergencies that just must get done before I leave two weeks from today. I'm actually contemplating digging in to a couple of new projects I hadn't started yet, but they might take longer to get done than what I have time for, and that would just bother me for years. So instead, I blog, and I read.

The kids are both doing really well. They turn 11 months old tomorrow, and they are really getting around. I took some good videos last night I should be be to post tomorrow. Reece is running around the house, and doesn't fall nearly as often as he use to. We've even let him run around outside , though we're pretty careful around curbs and things. I'm not sure his depth perception is quite there yet, and curbs may be an issue for the foreseeable future. He does have a thing for chasing the neighborhood cats, and they've already learned to be afraid. Be very afraid.

Lorelai is standing and cruising (walking holding on to things), but not yet independently walking. She crawls at high speed and squawks like a truck backing up as she does so to let everyone know 'I am on the move!'

We've spent the last couple of nights trying to finish up putting a large collage of pictures into a frame that we bought about 6 months ago. Choosing your favorite pictures of your kids is really hard. What's worse is printing a picture of your kids, then finding out it doesn't fit properly into the frame, or something else was wrong with that print. Then what do you do? Destroy a picture of you child? Just throw it in the trash? Seems... wrong.

We had made up Christmas pictures to send out to everyone but we got started on it late, and then found out that they spelled my name wrong on the card. My first name. Really? Yes, really. So we had to get them reprinted. So expect your 'Happy Holidays card' to arrive just in time for Martin Luther King day.

Of course, I've been dealing with the fallout from resigning at work. Most people here are happy for me, or a little jealous. They assume that since I'm becoming a consultant, I'll be making a ton more money. That's not really true when you take into account some of the benefits I am losing because I am going to a smaller company that just doesn't have things like 401K matching and Employee Illness Leave. This wasn't really about the money. It was about the opportunity to expand my skill set and to move on to the next step of my career. 8 1/2 years in one spot in the IT industry these days is a very long time. Most jobs are 5 years or less these days. It's not that I don't appreciate the stability, but it has its price. You get comfortable. You stop training. You stop paying attention to what is going on in industry. Next thing you know, you're so far behind that you can't get caught up without taking a year off and going back to school and hoping you can get a job after that. There's no doubt that this a risk, but life without a little risk gets pretty dull after a while.

Lisa and I have been shopping for furniture for our living room and trying to decide what to do with our TV / stereo, etc. We think the TV is too big for our space, now that we have kids, so we may sell it and downsize a bit. If you know anyone who wants to buy a 2 year old Hitachi 50" Widescreen LCD Projection TV, let me know. Buying furniture when you have two young kids in the house may seem a little ridiculous, but mostly we're buying it to allow us to put things into places they can't get to, so we're justifying the expense that way. We actually took them shopping on Sunday and they did pretty well. Lorelai always does better when she is on someone's shoulders, though she tends to pull hair and chew on your head.

Our plans for this weekend include more furniture shopping (and hopefully furniture buying if we can find something we like), maybe a little yard cleanup if the weather isn't too bad, and just some relaxing time laying on the couch reading a book playing with the kids.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All things must end

Today was a pretty big day for me. I turned in my resignation to the company I had worked for for the past 8.5 years. I've accepted a new position as a consultant in downtown Seattle at a small company, and I start January 7th.

It's very hard leaving something you've been doing for so long. Jumping outside your safety zone is nerve racking and scary Hopefully everything works out okay, and I enjoy my new job and it doesn't negatively affect my home life too much. Time will tell.

One of the really good things about my new job (at least it seems good at the moment), is that I will be able to take the train to work each day, about 40 minutes each way, instead of driving 40 minutes each way. I'll count this as down time in my day, where I can read or study or write or sleep. Hopefully I'll spend the time wisely, and use it to rest to be more awake and present with the kids at night.

I'm looking forward to starting the new job, but at the same time, I will miss some of the old one, mainly the people I have known for so long. It's also because of this job (which brought me to Seattle from Colorado), that I went to Italy where I bought a T-Shirt. I was wearing that TShirt when I met my wife for the first time, and we talked about Italy for hours while dancing at a country bar. So, overall, this job has had benefits far beyond the monetary kind.

Anyway, my last day at my old job is January 4th. Just 12 more working days. Time is already flying by.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Serious Danger!

For the last few weeks, I have been going to Occupational Therapy to try to resolve an issue with my right thumb. No big deal, but today, while I was in therapy, a man came into the therapy clinic with his 21 year old daughter, who was confined to a wheel chair, and looked to be suffering from cerebral palsy. At least that was my assumption. But there was something different about her. Her eyes were bright, she was quite attractive, and seemed to be very quiet yet expressive, very intelligent. Yet she was unable to move her arms or legs, hold her head up on her own, or redirect her eyes. She was only able to talk at a whisper.

Anyway, after a few minutes the therapists began to recount her trials and tribulations. It turns out that she had only been in this condition for about 11 months. Back in January, she had taken some Ambien CR to help her sleep. This is over the counter medicine you can buy without a prescription, and it nearly killed her, and has left her wheelchair bound for probably the rest of her life. I didn't hear her whole story, but at one point, her parents were told to prepare for the worst. She was in the ICU, and they were told to say goodbye.

After her father told the story, she made it very clear who was to blame.

"Ambien. Horrible drug." she said.

I'm not a big believer in frivolous lawsuits, but this is definitely one of those times where I'd be lawyering up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Our flickr site

Okay, I've been remiss in posting this, but here is our flickr site. Permanent link on the side bar

Tale of 2

Christmas Pictures

We took a trip to the local photography studio last weekend. Here are the proofs. You can order photos from the site if you want to. The pictures will be up for 2 weeks, then they'll be gone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Videos of recent days

Okay, some recent happenings

Reece has really got his walking down as evidenced by this and this

At Halloween, our kids decided they wanted to be a pumpkin and a pirate.

Reece might try rowing his way to fame and fortune.

And Reece always must be the star of the show

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Boo!






Some Halloween shots and others

The teeth doth cometh

After many months of constant drool, fingers in the mouth, grumpy behavior and sleepless nights, I've finally figured out that it's the kids that should be constantly drooling, putting their fingers in their mouths, being grumpy and not sleeping through the night, not me.

Yes, the first teeth have arrived. Reece popped one on Sunday, and a second one on Monday, both on the lower jaw. And not to be outdone by her brother, Lorelai seems to have popped one today. I don't know if that is normal for siblings (twins) to do it at around the same time, but it seems a little surprising.

They're both doing fairly well with the whole thing, more fascinated by the new sharp thing in their mouth than pained by it. Both are waking up more during the night and needing a little more comfort, but it's not full on wail all night long like I've heard other kids go through. Of course, these are tiny little teeth, not molars or anything, so we're not throwing away the Oragel just yet.

Reece suddenly started clapping his hands yesterday too, and finds it quite amusing to do when he is already happy. He becomes quite ecstatic after a few little claps.

Lorelai has really picked up her crawling pace, and Reece is able to walk around the room, maybe 15 steps at a time without falling if he doesn't get too excited. They're pulling themselves up on anything they can so watch where you lay down around here, or you may end up a baby supporter for an hour or so. Of course standing a lot means falling a lot, and there have been bumps and bruises and scrapes already, but they're learning how to fall better all the time.

We've started taking more walks outside without the stroller when we are both available, with a baby on our shoulders or in our arms, or walking with them as they hold our hands. They love to laugh and giggle as they feel the wind and see leaves moving on the sidewalk. Everything they see is new to them, and amazing to them, and it's wonderful and depressing at the same time. I would love to be able to go back to see all these things for the first time, and to remember it more clearly. We're trying to take pictures and videos when we can, but it's hard when no one has a free hand.

However, they are starting to play together more. Yesterday (Veteran's Day here), we spent the day at home after a quick trip to Target, watching the rain pour down and the wind howl. At one point, Lisa and I were both ready books, and the kids were playing for almost 45 minutes. It dawned on me later that night that they're starting to become more independent and from now on, they'll need us less and less every day. As liberating as that sounds, it also made me kind of sad, in a nostaligic kind of way. That feeling lasted until about 3:00 this morning when I was trying to find a way to get Reece back to sleep without handing him back to Lisa. After 45 minutes, she took pity on me, and probably figured she'd get more sleep if she just stuck the boob back in his mouth, and I went back to sleep. Nostalgia. Bleah!

The additional free time has allowed us to get more projects done, like hanging pictures of the babies up, and organizing and cleaning up the office, and putting together picture collections for the baby books. Projects don't always get done the same day (week) we start them, but they are getting done, and that's what counts. I imagine I'll have even more time if the Hollywood writer's strike goes on much longer and the few shows I watch go into reruns. The only ones we watch anymore are Heroes, House, My Name is Earl, and CSI (Vegas). I try to keep my TV watching to a minimum except for football on Sundays and sometimes the history channel on Saturdays. Sooner or later I'll get back to writing again. Does this count?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Digitized Life

It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed by technology that is supposed to make your life easier. If I was to really spend some time with my cell phone, I'm sure I would find out that it does a lot more than make / receive phone calls. Sure, it takes pictures, but I have absolutely no idea how to get those photos off the phone.

These days, my pet project is getting a grip on al the photos and videos which have accumulated over the past few years. I'm in the process of putting together a DVD of the videos of the kids' first year, and I'd like to go through all the photos and negatives I have from the last 36 years of my life, digitize them and put together an archive.

But, again, when it comes to technology, I'm pretty ignorant. Don't assume that because I write software for a living means I know anything about technology. To me, software is just logic and a language and it's easy, just like some people can learn French, Italian and German in a summer. I could too if I worked with them every day for a few weeks.

Anyway, I have 3 major projects, and if anyone has any advice on the best ways to do the following, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts:

1) How do I go about digitizing the collection of photo negatives I have accumulated? Would a camera shop be able to do it pretty cheaply, or would it be better to buy my own equipment. I'm pretty sure it's the former, because I also don't have much time to do these projects, but I thought I'd check.

2) Can you recommend photo and video editing software that isn't too expensive, is easy to learn and helps to make good looking, high quality images and videos?

3) I've burned picture collections to DVDs and CD's. What are the advantages of each?

Anyway, I'm playing with this stuff a bit tonight. I'll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

An entry with no pictures?

Yes, an entire entry on my blog with nary a picture. I decided to go with the a thousand words builds a picture theory. As in a picture of what's going on in my life these days.

I can't go back to the last blog entry I did and recap every moment, but here's a few high / low lights

First of all, I'm on call this week for work, which makes me instantly grumpy beyond all belief. I've been on call in some way, shape or form for the last 13 years. Not continuously, mind you, just one week on, and right now, about 8 weeks off. But when I'm on, it's 24 hours a day, call me anytime someone sneezes, for no extra pay, no overtime, no comp time, zippo, zilch, notta, nothing. I hate being on call with every fibre of my being. It's an invasion of my time, a disruption of my family's life and my sleep. Tonight, while waiting for my wife to get home from work, the on-call phone rings, and in the two minutes it takes me to decide that the issue they are calling about is not worth looking into till tomorrow, the babies go from moderately happy, to wide mouthed, inconsolable screaming. Doesn't make it easy to talk on the phone, but it sure makes it easy to hang up and say they'll have to call someone else. Of course, just because you hang up the phone, doesn't mean the babies stop crying.

We now have a pretty good routine going around here. Lisa works Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, during which time we have the nanny take care of the kids until I get home around 3:30, then I take care of them until Mommy gets home around 5:15-5:30. Sometimes this involves going on a walk, or just playing on the floor, or maybe going outside and watching the neighborhood kids play 4-Square in the driveway. Reece and Lorelai are fascinated by kids playing. Strange adults generally make them cry if they get too close, but kids are a whole differnet story. They both love being carried around outside and just laughing at evrything they see. It's so much better to them than being couped up in the stroller.

Some weeks, Lisa works four days, and I stay home for a day and take care of the kids. A full weekday by myself with the kids is definitely tiring, but oddly enough, it's easier than when both of us are home with them on the weekends because you don't try to get any projects done. You might make a few phone calls, and maybe a load of laundry, but anything you get done is a bonus, whereas on the weekends, failure to get all your tasks done is cause for depression.

Reece is working on his walking, and Lorelai is crawling quite well. Their talking is limited to Da Da Da and Ba ba ba and Daaad deee, and sometimes Mum mum mum.

We think they're both getting ready to pop some teeth, but we've been saying that for quite a while.

We have been getting more time to ourselves lately, including last Saturday where we left the kids with Courtney and went out on a date. We had lunch on the Tacoma waterfront (Dukes Chowder hourse, very good food, but a bit over priced), then hit Half Price Books, REI and Borders Books.

Speaking (writing?) of books, I just finished one of the best books I've read in years. "Dies the Fire" by S M Stirling. Its a little bit of science fiction, mixed with a little life in a post apocalyptic world, mixed with boyish adventure. If you liked "The Last Canadian" (Mom, this means you), you will like this book. It's the first book in a series, and while I've got most of the series now in my possession, thanks to Half Price Books and Borders, I'm holding off reading the next one until I get a few things done around here. It's one of those books I couldn't put down, and I ended up spending a whole weekend on it. By the time I finished reading it, I was ready to move to the Willamette Valley in Oregon (where the book takes place), build myself a little place in the hills, and wait for the "Change" to come.

While I haven't been writing on this blog, I have done some other writing, which I am hoping to get published in a magazine sometime, as soon as I do some editing, and find a magazine that would be willing to publish it. I would so love to quit my job and write full time, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Anyway, this post is getting a bit long now, so I'll sign off, and promise to write more frequently. And yes, I'll keep posting pictures and videos.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some videos to make your day

Lorelai has learned to crawl too.

The two of them are now learning to get into trouble together.

And if you catch them in the act, they'll get you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

A conversation

As Lisa was finishing up nursing Lorelai and Reece before bedtime tonight, I was standing in the middle of the living room, ready to take them up to bed. Lorelai turns her head, looks directly at me, and says,

"Da Da Da"

Okay, they've both been saying "Ma Ma Ma and Ba Ba Ba and Da Da Da" for quite a while now, but that was just indiscriminate babbling. This was directed talking, with intent.

Reece then looks up from his boob, and says

"Da Da Da"

Lisa and I exchange glances, and I say, "Did you see that?"

"Holy Cow!"

"Lorelai, can you say Da Da?" I ask.

Her mouth moves as if she is saying it, but no sound comes out. She stops briefly, and tries again. "Da Da Da"

"Yay!" said both parents in unison. Reece returns to his boob, apparently unimpressed.

I pick Lorelai up and give her a big hug. "I love you so much, little girl!" I say to her as I squeeze her tight.

And with the impecable timing that is a sure sign of a sense of humor she must have learned from me, she turns to me, and in her final words of the night, says...

"Thhhhhhhbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttt." Right on my cheek.

We can thank Grandpa Tony for teaching her that one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

More Movies

Soon I write something. I swear. For now, enjoy these

Reece and Lorelai enjoying a joke (we think it was about us)

Lorelai and Reece experience fish for the first time

Reece is getting mobile.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Triplets!

Yes, we decided twins wasn't quite enough for us, so we decided to try our hands at triplets.





Actually, the extra belongs to Lisa's brother Greg, and his wife Ruth. Lilly is almost 5 months old (just 3 months younger than our two), and has a great smile and a wonderful little laugh.

Time changes a lot of things



For the last few months, Reece has been primarily a momma's boy, and Lorelai liked to hang out with Daddy. Well taking a really long weekend at Labor Day, Reece and I did a little bonding, and now, he seems to like going to sleep with Daddy, just as much as Mommy. Well, maybe not as much, since Daddy doesn't have boobs, but at least Daddy's chest is flat enough to get some good shut eye. Thank god I don't have real pecs.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More than meets the eye

On my first day off, I ran a bunch of errands, and stopped to take in a movie that I had heard was amazing, and had to be seen on the big screen... Transformers. Now, the original Transformers cartoon series came along after I had graduated from toy cars to real ones, but I knew the basic idea of the movie. The word I could best use to describe this movie would be "Intense", with a capital 'I'.

If you go into the theatre with any thought that this is going to be some deep movie, that will add meaning to your life, or leave you with a life long message like 'Earn this.', you will be disappointed. But if you go in with an open mind, and just let the movie entertain you, it will blow you away. The graphics are amazing, the action is non-stop, and the dialogue is not horrible. The camera work is typical of Michael Bay. I kept imagining will Smith from 'Bad Boys'. The same slow motion camera focused on the face as a bead of sweat rolling down the forehead as the hero decides 'Not here, not now, not this way!' But the camera work fit the movie, so we won't nitpick.

The biggest downside to the movie was the product placement, which I have never seen in such an obvious way before. I use to work at a General Motors site, and I've owned two General Motors cars, and will never, ever buy another piece of crap GM product again, but I gotta say, I was really wanting a Chevy Camaro after watching that movie.

So if you are willing to suspend your disbelief for a while, and just want to get out of the house, and see what can really be done with computer generated images these days, this is the movie to see. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5, for just sheer fun.

Saturday Morning Quote

"Okay you little terrorists, we'll capitulate to your demands this one last time."
-- Me to the babies after they were both throwing a hissy fit demanding boob after a really bad meltdown from Reece during breakfast.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Videos

Here are a couple of quick videos to brighten your day

Lorelai vs her socks

Reece trying to crawl

Latest Images






Yes, i am getting caught up on all kinds of stuff while I am on vacation, including uploading these.

Eclecta's Flikr Site

So for all of you who come here just to see pictures of babies, and not to hear me rant and rave about life in the the business world, here is a set of pictures of the babies, taken by my sister, aka Eclecta on her visit last month.

By the way, this is my fist blog post written on my bitchin new 22 inch widescreen LCD monitor.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Downtime

I don't take a lot of time off work for personal downtime. I'm always saving it up for a rainy day, or some trip I've dreamt of taking, or just to have a bunch of time to cash out should I ever move on to another job. But this week is going to be different. I'm taking Wednesday-Thursday-Friday off, and I'm just going to putter around. Maybe I'll run a few errands, do a little yard work, take a little drive. Of course I'll spend time with the kids, but the nanny will be here, and they'll be in good hands.

I think I just need some time to step back and relax after a really bad couple of weeks at work. Any week on call is a bad week, but this has been the worst in three or four years. The phone has not stopped ringing, going off at all hours of the day and night. I nearly chucked it today. It 'fell' from my grasp a couple of times, but the damn thing still works but luckily it still works.

I've often considered the question 'What else am I good at?'. Could I do anything else that would allow me to support the family in the style we've become accustomed to, and to be happy at the same time? My view on happiness has sure changed in the past few years. I use to measure my success solely on the basis of my career. Then my health took a turn for the worse as I consistently went through the push and crash so inherent in the software industry. Meaningless release cycles, driven by arbitrary due dates made up by some asshole sales and marketing dweeb who just wanted to make sure he got his yearly golf trip to the Cayman Islands in on schedule while he embezzled thousands of dollars hidden in corporate expense accounts, while the axe fell on hundreds of hard working employees just trying to make ends meet. I use to sleep on my office floor, work 60-80 hours a week for no ovetime and the only recognition was a little plaque saying 'Department Employee of the Month.' Not hard in a department of 5 people.

These days, I pretty much stick to the 40 hours a week required to make my salary, and it drives me absolutely bonkers when work intrudes into my personal time, especially since we are not paid for our on call. In the last 4 years, I've been on call for over 35 weeks. That's 35 weeks of 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, never supposed to be more than 15 minutes from a computer on which I can log in to work. And I haven't received one dime of overtime or special bonus for keeping the company on its feet.

So when I wonder, what else am I good at? I just stop, look around me, at my beautiful wife, our two incredible kids, neighbors I like and trust and talk to almost daily. And I think, it's so much better to be lucky than good.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The End of the Spear

We watched a pretty good movie last night, called The End of the Spear, about missionaries in Ecuador during the 1950's and 1960s, and the tribe of warriors they worked with. Very, very well done. Don't watch it if you don't like subtitles or violence, as it has both, though the violence is never gorey, just true to the story. My wife and I were still talking about it today. I used the word riveting to describe it to her. It took her a while to agree, but that seemed to be the perfect word for it. That and fascinating. And stick around for the credits at the end, because there are some funny stories told by the real life man behind the story.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Twins For Daddies: They're Here!

Okay, you've got all the big ticket items. You've made all the arrangements, the babies have been born (I'll cover that in another entry), and now you're coming home. What the heck have you gotten yourself into? Here are some of the lessons I learned.

Your time is no longer your own. Face it, accept it, get over it. Even if you've had a kid before, twins are not the same. Not that I'd know what having a single is like, but we can imagine that it must be pretty sweet. As my brother in law, Eric, said, before our twins arrived, 'Don't worry, having twins is actually only two thirds harder than having one baby.' And he should know, since he and his wife had three singles before their twins.

Forget everything you know about being tired. Forget everything you used to do on the weekends, like golf, play video games, watch movies. For the next 6 months, every spare moment you have (and there won't be many), will be spent sleeping. And that's only after your wife has gotten her nap. Because no matter how hard you think you've been working, your wife has done more. It may not seem that way, because she's always sitting on the couch, looking at the babies, maybe watching a little TV, but if you look behind those glassed over eyes, you'll see a woman who has been up for four straight weeks. Not hours or days, but weeks. If she has gotten more than 2 hours of sleep in a row, it's only because you had help from someone else keeping the babies from waking her up. You may be the father, and in months and years to come, there will be that special bond between dad and babies, but for now, you are just the person holding them until momma feeds them. And they want to eat, ALL THE TIME.

I can't emphasize enough how important having help is. You need someone else living with you, doing everything you do. Changing babies, doing laundry, doing dishes, holding baby, taking out the garbage. You will wear them out. They too will be walking zombies, tired, cranky, and needing their space as well. Rotate people through if you can, a week at a time. The longer the better. We had constant help for the first 6 or 8 weeks, then frequent visits for a couple of nights here and there, and some for as long as a week ever since. At some point, you'll be ready to handle it on your own, but as long as people are offering, take them up on it.

One thing I read frequently in books on multiples, was to make a list of things that needed doing around the house, and if someone asks if you need any help, show them the list and let them choose. Well, I have a little caveat to that. What most people mean, is, 'Do you need help holding/feeding a baby?' What they don't mean is 'Would you like me to re-stain your fence?' I got lots of offers on the former, but not a single one on the latter, despite it being on our list of things that has needed to be done for the past year or so. It can't hurt to try, but don't bet the house on it.

Okay, now that I've scared the bejesus out of you, you're wondering, how am I ever going to survive?

First, get the babies on a schedule as soon as you can. This is usually around the 3-4 month mark. Start with a bed time, and work from there to make sleep time a little longer. We noticed that the babies were usually getting really tired around 10:30 PM, so we started developing a routine leading up to 10:30 that included bath time (every other night), feeding, walking / bouncing on the ball of shame and rocking. Once we had them down 3 nights in a row by 10:30, we started the ritual 15 minutes earlier until they were down at 10:15PM. This usually takes 3-4 nights. Don't adjust it by more than 15 minutes per night, and use those 3-4 nights even though it seems like it worked on the first night. Within a few weeks, we had their bedtime back to 8:00pm, then finally 7:45, and months later, they are rarely up past 8:15 PM unless something has broken our routine. We stick to the routine religiously. We leave parties early, and make sure our walks happen about the same time each night.

Night time wake ups: Once you have the bed time set, you'll want to start reducing the night time wake ups. Reece would wake up at 11:30, 1:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30. After a little bit of work, we've eliminated all but the 4:30 wakeup for him, and Lorelai sleeps up to 12 hours at a time. The trick is to make a pre-emptive attack. We waited to go to bed till 10:30 PM,and Lisa picked up Reece, woke him up a bit, and fed him, and put him back down. He basically ate in his sleep, never fully woke up, and went back down really quickly. Within a few days, the 11:30 wake up was gone.

Dealing with the 1:30 wake up involved a little more effort on my part. The babies had to learn that they wouldn't get fed every time they woke up, and mom's presence just woke them up too much. So, for a couple of weeks, I got up and walked them back to sleep. I handled any wake ups before 2:00 AM, and Lisa got everything after that. Eventually, they just stopped waking up at 1:30, and stayed down until 4-4:30.

The other key is to figure out what is their best sleep position. You'll hear a lot about "Back to Sleep" and SIDS, and the idea of letting your kid go to sleep on their tummies is truly frightening at first, but once they are able to lift their head up with ease (around the 4th month), it's doable, especially if that is their position. Reece is a side sleeper. Lorelai is a tummy sleeper. We all sleep better when we put them down in those positions to begin the night.

Another key to keeping your sanity in those first few months is to go for frequent walks. Our babies just loved being outside, and loved the Baby Bjorns. Once we were past the first month or so, we walked a couple of times a day. The folks down at the local Starbucks know us by our first names, and have watched the babies grow up. Even when the weather was a little chilly (just not pouring rain), we walked.

You will also come to realize that if you are not organized with twins, you will regret it. Getting out of the door in the morning with two babies takes a couple of hours, by the time they are fed, changed, you're showered, they're fed again and changed again, the diaper bag is put together, the car loaded up and ready to go. Keep the diaper bag stocked, and remember when they grow out of a diaper size, to upgrade the diapers in the bag.

Do laundry whenever you can. Don't let it stack up until you find yourself without clean onesies. The washing machine is the chokepoint for the family routine. If the babies clothes get behind, then they will take priority over yours, and the next thing you know, you're asking yourself, is it easier to just go and buy another pack of underwear, or is it really okay to wear them two days in a row if you just turn them inside out? That decision is greatly impacted by how much sleep you have been getting up to that point. If you decide the latter, that's a sign that you need more help (and maybe not just around the house).

Take lots of pictures and lots of videos, and post them on your blog. It helps everyone stay in touch and keeps the phone from ringing in the middle of the babies' naps.

Most of all, enjoy the time with the twins, and with your wife. In all likelihood, you will never have another experience like it, and you will be able to share that experience with only those who have aso had twins. You'll smile and nod when another new parent of a single starts complaining about having no time, and you'll tell your wife about their complaints, and she'll smile too. You'll answer the question 'Do twins run in your family?' a bajillion times, and regardless you it happened, you're best response is almost always 'Well, I guess it does now'. You'll hear people say 'I always wanted to have twins.', and you'll think, they're are completely insane.

But then, there will be that moment, when you wife has one baby asleep in her arms, and the other is curled up in yours. And you'll think to yourself, it really doesn't get any better than this. And it doesn't.

Unless you didn't get the housekeeper.

Out on the town!

This week saw some rather momentous firsts. Our new nanny, Courtney, started this week, and after a few hours of guidance with Lisa, we took the training wheels off and Lisa went shopping! While she was out in the free world for the first time in nearly 7 months, she stopped off at my work, and we went out to lunch. Together. To a real restaurant . For real Thai food. Mmmmm, yumminy! What odd is that because we go for walks together most nights, and talk so frequently, that we didn't really have that much new to talk about. We just enjoyed not having to wolf down our food, and didn't have to worry about a constant demand for Baby Mum-Mums (little rice crackers that our kids just can't get enough of.)

Yesterday, I got home from work fairly early, and we decided to go for a walk to this little Italian bistro a few blocks from here. We'd never been there before, but we had heard the rumor that they served Gelato there, and we were both up for that.

During the walk there, Lorelai fell asleep, and Reece was in a great mood, so we decided to grab a table on the patio of the restaurant and have dinner. It was the first dinner out with the kids. The food was excellent, and the Gelato was perfect. We forgot to bring Mum-Mums for the kids, but Reece did okay, just sitting there in the stroller. He lasted about 25 minutes before he got fussy, and then Lorelai woke up, and it was time to hit the road. Hopefully, we can do that again soon.

We've also started the kids on real human food, i.e. something besides baby food, oatmeal and ground up rice. Last night, they each got pieces of frozen Whole Wheat bagels, and we're going to try potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes in the next few days as well. It seems like they are getting pretty bored with the current selection of pureed peas, apples, pears, green beans, squash, carrots, peaches and sweet potatoes, and often make a huge mess in retaliation for us feeding them rather evil mixtures of the above fruits an veggies. Peaches, pears and peas all start with 'pea', but that doesn't mean they mix well.

The only down side to the week is the fact that I have been on call since Tuesday for work, and it's been one of the worst weeks in a couple of years. We've lost out production database (twice), one of our production servers (twice) and had a rollout of a major application go really wrong. All these events would have been prevented with a little common sense over the past few years, but that would be a little too much to expect. From joelonsoftware.com, in a review of the book In Search of Stupidity by Richard Chapman, "... success in software is a matter of just not doing stupid things.". We haven't had much success lately, and now we know why.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Twins for Daddies, Part Two

Okay, here are the things we found we couldn't live without

1. DoubleBlessings EZ-2-Nurse Twins Nursing Pillow. http://www.doubleblessings.com/Detail.bok?no=280

2. Britax Companion Carseat. It's expensive, but it's the best rated one we found, and we loved it. http://www.britaxusa.net/products/browse.aspx It's also the only carseat rated for babies under 5 lbs, and since ours were around 4lb 8 oz when we brought them home, the hospital was okay with it. They won't let you leave if the babies don't fit properly in the seat.

3. Baby Trend Double Snap and Go Stroller. This thing is a god-send. It's light, compact and easy to use. However, the instructions we got directly from the company for using it with the Britax Car Seats are completely wrong. I played with it for a while before I came up with a setup I thought safer, and that worked much better. We used this stroller until the babies could sit up and look around for themselves. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2265435&cp=2255983.2256189.2256200&parentPage=family

4. Once the babies could sit up on their own, we bought a Combi Twin LX, which we love. It fits through doors very easily, and is very light. Some strollers weigh in at 45-55 lbs. This one is 21 lbs, and folds up really small to fit in the back of our Camry and leaves plenty of room for other stuff. http://www.combistrollers.com/ProductDetails.aspx?CategoryID=1&selection=11&Children=0&productID=609

5. Bright Starts Rrroaring Fun Play Gym. The one in this ad isn't quite the same as the one we bought, but it is really close. The kids still play with it every day, and the song the lion plays is kind of addictive, and not annoying like most toys. The kids played with it so much that the batteries on the lion died after about 5.5 months, and we actually shed tears and considered buying the set again just to replace the lion. http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_7/602-0735333-4490236?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000FTPNH6

6. Arm's Reach co-sleeper. We bought a crib, but the babies spent very little time in there until they were about 5 months old. They slept on the side of the bed in this sleeper, and Lorelai still sleeps in it now since Reece is a crib hog and we haven't bought a second crib yet, since this still works. It was so easy just to reach over and pick up the fussing baby and pull them into bed to feed instead of getting up and having to go to the crib. Totally worth the money. http://armsreach.com/original_cosleeper.php

7. Baby Bjorns x2. We absolutely loved our Bjorns, and were very sad that we couldn't use them once the babies hit about 15 lbs, because we're weenies, and the babies just got too heavy to lug around. But it was great to carry the babies up front, and we always got compliments on how cute our kids were, and the that's the whole point of having kids, right? http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2267522&cp=2255983.2256186.2256191&parentPage=family

8. Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair. We didn't buy these until the kids were eating solid food, but we have a small dining area in our kitchen, and it was nice to not have it all taken up by more chairs. They're a lot cheaper than free standing chairs as well, and very easy to clean up. http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2002&e=product&pid=35541

9. Diaper Champ diaper pail (x2). So much cheaper than buying a Diaper Genie. It uses regular kitchen trash bags, and the piston in the mechanism pretty much keeps the odor inside the can. We have one upstairs and one downstairs. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2373422&cp

10. Baby swing. This one is optional, because some babies won't have anything to do with it. But luckily ours took to it after a months or so, and it's a really big help when you are home by yourself and have two grumpy and tired babies. We only have one, and have occasionally thought we could have used a second one, but they are rather large and take up a lot of floor space. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2265268&cp=2255975.2256080.2256086&parentPage=family

11. Baby Bouncers. Buy two of the ones listed below. Our kids don't sit much in them any more, but they do love to stand in front of them and dance and watch the lights. It's a good way to calm a grumpy baby http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2265154&cp=2255975.2256080.2256084&parentPage=family

12. Baby Jumper. Reece absolutely loves his jumper. Lorelai enjoys it too. This one is free standing and doesn't take up a doorway, but it does take up a lot of floor space, and because it's for a baby, it looks absolutely garish. http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2002&e=product&pid=38839

13. We highly recommend breast feeding, but there will be times where your wife will need to pump. Get a really good electric dual pump, http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_1/602-0735333-4490236?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B00065H55W

14. You'll need 2 rockers, or one rocker for your bedroom and one at least one in the room you send the most time.

15. Crib. You'll need one of these, though the only thing you'll use it for in the first 4 months will be for collecting the piles of clean laundry. We haven't decided whether or not we are getting a second one yet, or if there is a way to go straight to a toddler bed. We'll see once they hit that toddler stage I guess.



That's about it for the big products, but here are some other products to get

1. Diaper rash Ointment: Boutreax's is the stuff we put on the really tough rashes. It usually works overnight

2. Quilted Multiuse Pads http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2267020&cp=2255976.2256089.2256097&parentPage=family So much easier that washing the whole changing pad. Get about 10

3. Contoured Changing Pad, one for each changing area. Stops the little ones from rolling around with a poopy diaper. We changed the babies on the floor with this under them so we never had to worry about them rolling off a dresser, but still, the pad helps contain the mess. Get about 6 soft covers as well, as you will have have them in the laundry, especially if you have a boy. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2574731&cp=2255976.2256089.2256097&pg=2&parentPage=family

4. Dad Gear Sport Diaper bag. So far, it's worked great. It's not huge, and is only good for day trips, but pack a duffel bag if you're going for longer than that. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2674920&cp=2255976.2256089.2255980.2256158&pg=4&parentPage=family

5. White Cloth Diapers. About 40 of them. Not to use as diapers. Use them as burp rags. They're soft, durable and washable. When the babies sleep in bed with us, we always put a burp rag down under their heads, just in case. With twins, we go through about 6-10 a day

6. Electric bottle warmer. We tried to do the warm bottle via tap water for a while, and couldn't believe how much easier life was once we bought a couple of warmers. One for upstairs next to our bed, and one for downstairs. http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_3/602-0735333-4490236?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B00005BXKM

7. Bottle sterilizer. This is great for that added peace of mind, and it's fast and easy too. You'll stop using this once you see your kids start chewing on the carpet. http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=/qid=/ref=br_1_1/602-0735333-4490236?ie=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000056OUH

8. 65cm exercise ball. aka, the Ball of Shame. If you make the baby cry, you get to hold him/her and bounce on the ball of shame, sometimes for hours. Great workout too.

Twins for Daddies: Pregnancy Tips

My sister asked me to put together a Twins for Dummies, er... Twins for Daddies.. post to help out some of her friends who are about to experience the joy of deux et newborns. So in no particular order, here are the things we found to be really helpful. Prior to the arrival of your two bundles of joy, do the following, if you can afford to.

a) Hire a house cleaner to do the bathrooms and the floors and a deep clean on the kitchen every 2 weeks. Get them started by the time your wife reaches the 7th month, because by then, you'll already think you are overworked and you'll think that your wife is just saying she can't get down on her hands and knees to clean the bathroom floor, even if she's already down there routinely, puking her guts out. Not that this ever happened in our house, but you'll find that you won't even want to make a joke like that by the seventh month. Either way, you'll have enough on your mind once the babies come that cleaning the bathrooms and the floor will be the last thing you'll have energy to do on your Saturday mornings.

b) Line up help for as long as you possibly can for after the babies arrive, and make sure every one knows what they are getting into. They are there to help, to do dishes, laundry, middle of the night baby holding, grocery store trips, phone call interceptor, anything that will give you and / or your wife even 10 more minutes of sleep. Make sure the people who are there to help are people you and your wife are comfortable being around 24 hours a day for days at a time. Your wife needs to be able to be fully exposed during feeding times, and she needs to be completely free to be able to do it, anywhere in the house. Have just one person there at a time if you can, and make sure that you limit visits for others to an hour here or there, and reserve the right to change the date and time at your whim and desire. Avoid having any other children that aren't your own in the house until the babies are 3 months old, especially if your babies are preemies, as many twins are. The first few months are all about the babies, the mom, and you (in that order), keeping everyone healthy, happy and sleeping as much as possible. It is your job as daddy to keep the external stresses and pressures during the last few months of pregnancy and the first few months after the birth to a bare minimum. We found that you need to have n+1 people in the house for baby care, when n is the number of babies due to arrive.

c) Make sure you always have at least a half full tank of gas, every day. I went to lunch one day, and had about an eighth of a tank left, and thought I'd be able to fill up on the way home. 45 minutes later, I was on the way to the hospital to meet my wife, and I had to pull off the interstate to fill up with gas so I didn't run out. Luckily I knew the area pretty well from my days hanging out at country bars, so I knew shortcuts to the hospital once I got off the highway.

d) Read the book "What to Expect when you're Expecting", but skip the really scary stuff in there. If the scary stuff does happen, nothing you read is going to prepare you for it. If the scary stuff doesn't happen, be happy you didn't worry about it.

e) Talk to your babies before they are born. It's an amazing thing to do, and it does help. Greet them with the same phrase every time you do it. Mine was "Hi , it's Daddy". When my daughter, Lorelai was born, and she was crying and screaming in the hall while her brother was on his way out, I was able to go up to her bassinet, and say 'Hi Lorelai, it's Daddy', and she looked up at me, grabbed my finger with her little fingers and stopped crying. The nurses just went 'Wow.' It was a pretty amazing moment, and something I'll never forget.

f) Go to all the ultrasounds you can. It's just amazing to see the development, and just makes the whole pregnancy thing more real for you.

g) Go out to dinner / movies / hang out with friends as much as you can possibly stand. Our twins are now six months old, and the only 'restaurant' my wife and I have gone to together since the birth is Starbucks. We now have long conversations about going out to our favorite Italian place, or reminisce about the crab wontons and plum sauce we had on our honeymoon in Hawaii, or the Bao we had in Chicago. It sorta-kinda gets us through the baby dinners of rice cereal with peas and pears mixed in. But not really.

h) Get a DVR to 'time-shift' your favorite TV shows. If the babies go down at 9:04 PM, your ass should be in bed by 9:12 PM, no later. It is totally not worth it to stay up even 20 minutes longer to watch the end of 'Lost' when you could be sleeping

i) Find someone who is 3-12 months ahead of you in the pregnancy/baby thing, and see if you can be the target of their hand me downs. It will save you a small fortune, and you'll get past the whole 'it's not new' thing really quickly when you see just how fast they grow out of stuff.

j) Get a digital video camera and a good still digital camera.

k) Start up a blog to share news with friends and family, and get used to posting. It makes it a lot easier to communicate with everyone, far and near.

l) Buy a freezer and stock it with meals, like casseroles, pasta like ravioli and home-made pasta sauce, ice cream bars, and whatever else you can fit in it. We really didn't start to dig into it until after our help started to leave, but it's a real saviour when you've already had your fill of pizza, teriyaki and sanwiches. Our favorites included: Souper Skillet Pasta (a family recipe I'll try to post here someday), Easy Chicken Chili, Red Beans and Rice, the aforementioned pasta sauce and store bought ravioli, tuna noodle casserole, and various soups.

m) Stock up your time off from work to take a t least 3 weeks after the kids are born. Now, if you live in a country/state where they insist you take time off for kids, or work for a reasonable company that says 'Having twins is not considered a vacation', then more power to you, but I had to fight and scream bloody murder to get my time off qualified under our Employee Illness Leave policy because I didn't give enough notice. Well forgive the fuck out of me for them being born 5 freaking weeks early. We didn't get enough freaking notice either. And yes, this is a bitter point of contention for me to this day, and the main reason I can't stand the business world in general these days.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Recent News and Thoughts

We've kind of settled into a rhythm these last few weeks. The babies generally sleep through the nights, with maybe one wakeup each after 4:00 AM. Last night we had a couple of wakeups, but the good nights far outnumber the bad nights now.

Reece is rolling with reckless abandon and is constantly trying to reprogram our DVD player. He's close to crawling and is bound and determined to figure it our soon. Lorelai is learning at her own pace, and generally cheats by watching Reece struggle with something, and then doing it herself once he figures it out. She has taken a sudden liking to standing, much like Reece had done a couple of months ago, but she's not yet walking like he does, but it doesn't seem very far away.

Two weeks ago, my parents came out for a visit for a few days, and had a very good time,
holding babies, going for walks and occasionally just sitting quietly and enjoying time with the little ones. Both babies loved all the attention, and went into a bit of withdrawal after Nana and Grandpa left. They were a little grumpy for a couple of days, and kept looking at the door to see if someone else was coming through it.

Last weekend, we took it pretty easy, and both Lisa and I found time to finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, without staying up till the wee hours of the morning. Great book, well ended, and as one who still has dreams about telling the business world 'goodbye', and writing for a living, it was very inspiring. Now I just need to find time to write.

Since Lisa is going back to work this month, we had to find suitable childcare for the babies. We decided to hire a nanny instead of trying daycare, since it works out to close to same amount of money, and it's nearly impossible to get 2 babies out the door in a reasonable amount of time each morning. We hired a nanny agency to help us find someone, and to do all the background checks, and signed the contract with our new nanny Courtney last night. Courtney will be starting on August 16th and will be with us on days Lisa is at work, and will also allow us to have an occasional date night for ourselves, which we really look forward to. Gino's Bistro, here we come!

My sister, Cindy, is due to arrive tomorrow night for a few days to get her niece and nephew fix. The weather should be good, so we've got a full weekend planned of oil changes on both vehicles, pulling weeds in the flower beds, adding more brick edging to the flower beds, spraying weeds and just getting stuff done. So once she's done all that, she may have some time to hold babies. Just kidding, Cindy. You can hold the babies while you're doing all that.

We're trying to get better at taking pictures, and I did post some tonight, but we usually think of the camera right after they are doing something cute. With twins, it's really hard to have a free set of hands, and the camera is never where you need it.

Finally, NFL training camps are now open, and the football season is a month away. It's time to start planning for my fantasy football draft so I can defend my title. Lisa is pumped for the pick'em pool at my work, and we're finding ourselves tuning in to the NFL Network more frequently all the time. The only issue is trying to figure out how to get the kids to sleep through all of the games every Sunday for the next 20 odd weeks! Any ideas?

Pictures




Monday, July 09, 2007

A full night's sleep!

Last night, for the first time, both babies slept through the night! Reece and I had a little argument before he went to sleep about how Daddy wasn't carrying him around enough. Mr. Grumpy Pants turned into Mr Temper Tantrum pajamas, and Daddy wasn't putting up with that either. If he was going to howl and wail like someone had just stolen his lolly pop (or maybe his kidneys), then he was going to howl in a room by himself while Daddy did dishes. After about 40 minutes of howling at the top of his lungs, he broke, and went from mad to sad. Sad is fixable. Mad is not. So daddy fixed the sad, got him pretty much to sleep, and mommy finished the job.

That was at 8:00 pm. The next sound we heard from both was at 4:30 AM, when they both woke simultaneously, even though they were in different rooms. For Mom and Dad, that was 8.5 hours of solid rest and relaxation. Niether of us is used to that anymore. We were both kinda waiting for them to wake up in the middle of the night to justify getting up to use the facilities. Let the record show that Lisa broke first.

Impossumable!

If you have read the Purple is a Fruit blog at all, you know that a really fun game to play with kids is to hang them upside down by their feet and yell "POSSSUUMM!". The key thing to remember is that there are times when you shouldn't do it. Immediately after they suck down a belly full of milk, and you have them suspended over your face, and your wife is feeding the other baby, and so engrossed in a book that she doesn't even hear your cries for help... that's pretty much the situation described by the term: Impossumable.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Videos of Giggles and Eating

Reece will eat just about anything... fast.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1960606257488994374&hl=en

Sometimes eating is more about art... as in Sweet Potato face painting
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7704661433507463407&hl=en

Lorelai likes gourmet food better. Is that Grey Poupon, Why yes, it is Grey Poupon!
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5162951258323069748&hl=en

After watching this, can you doubt that babies do communicate with each other. And they're laughing at us, no doubt.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5200263781092797650&hl=en

Back Aches and Strawberries

I hear that blog s are supposed to be a daily thing. At least some people think that. But around here, weekly is about all I can manage to do. I could probably do it daily, but my wife got me addicted to Spider Solitaire on the computer, and it's my mental wind down every night after the babies go to sleep. As soon as I win a 4 suite game (without cheating), I'll stop, I promise.

What's worse than parents not getting sleep? Babies not getting sleep. Reece went a couple of nights with long periods of being awake in the middle of the night. Yesterday was a disaster. He was grumpy from about 11:00 AM on, wouldn't nap, and by 1:00 PM we were counting the minutes to bed time. Even walking him around, letting him dance by the keyboard, activities which usually result in happy (or at least sedate) baby, didn't work. It is kind of funny to watch a screaming baby do the Salsa, but not really. Yes, he can be in temper tantrum of epic proportions, but he still dances.

So we made some changes to the bed time routine last night. Lorelai slept in our room last night in the co-sleeper. She's become a pretty good sleeper now that we've started putting her to bed on her tummy, despite all the warnings in the books. She can really raise her head up any time she wants, and will roll over from time to time anyway, so we're not worried about that anymore. She usually sleeps for 7-8 hours at a stretch.

Reece slept in the babies' room last night in the crib. The babies have been sleeping there for the last week or so, so that wasn't a big deal, but last night we decided to wake him up when Lisa went to bed to get one more feeding in, then we put him back down, with the hope that he wouldn't wake up for at least four hours. He had been getting up at 11, 1, 3, 5 and 6, with the 3 AM one lasting for an hour or so. Last night he skipped the 11, woke up for a quick feed at 1:30, skipped the 3 and was up at 4:30. That's a huge change for us, and we actually feel like we got sleep.

The next step is to get him to skip the 1:30, and to do that, we're going to walk him back to sleep instead of feeding him, and if that doesn't work, we'll have to do the dastardly deed of letting him cry it out for a few hours. I hear it takes about 3 nights to break an infant of any bad bedtime habit. I think I'll wait to do this step until my parents are here next week, sleeping in the room next to the babies, so they can enjoy the experience too.

After yesterday's hauling of Reece around all day, my back is killing me. I've had a history of problems with my sciatic nerve, but it's been a couple of years since it really flared up. Apparently lifting a 16lb baby a thousand times a day is a recipe for disaster. I've got an ice pack on now, Ibuprofen at the ready, and a hot bath available if things get desperate.

We did get to enjoy the first fruit of our garden this week. A single, nickle sized strawberry. It really wasn't that good, compared the bunch we bought the weekend before from the farmer's market. It was kinda puny and dry. But hey, we're on our way to being self-sufficient!

As to why we are home, and not in Eastern Washington this weekend? The cough and fever the twins had, morphed into a rash that covered their entire bodies, caused Lorelai's face to become puffy, and generally made them uncomfortable. It was pretty much gone by yesterday morning, but there was no way we were driving 4 hours with 2 sick kids, into 100 degree temps in Eastern Washington, and then turning around and driving back the next day. We may be insane, but we're not masochists.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fireworks

Okay, I know this is un-American, and probably just anti-fun, but I hate fireworks. Let me clarify. I hate fireworks in the hands of ordinary people. In the US, the 4th of July traditional fireworks last about 2 weeks, starting in late June, and going until the budget of every idiot that hasn't lost all their fingers is blown. Everything from sparkler's to 1/4 sticks of TNT goes up in smoke. All day, and all night. It doesn't matter whether it's bright and sunny, there are fireworks being set off.

In Washington State, there are 2 types of fireworks: legal, and illegal. Technically, it is illegal to buy, possess, or shoot off anything the goes up or goes boom. What's left are sparklers and whizz bangs. But yet, every night, things go up, and go boom.

How is this possible, you ask? Thank the goddamm 'First Nations'. i.e. the Native Americans, who can pretty much do what they want, and sell what they want because American state laws don't apply to them. So they set up shop on their reservations, next to their casinos, and sell every Tom, Dick and Harry enough explosive power to take out the Russians. Their shop fronts are nothing but plywood counters painted with catchy slogans like 'Il-Eagle Fireworks', or 'Smokin John's Hole in the Ground'. When the sales are done, they leave the ground covered with cardboard, plastic and beer bottles, and wait for the city to come in and clean it up. Obviously they're the stewards of the land, just like their ancestors. What a crock of shit.

So the locals drive out to the reservations, load up their SUV's with things that go boom, set them up on the streets in front of their house and hand a lighter to their kids. The police watch and say ooh, and ahh, and doing nothing until someone gets hurt. Last year, an entire elementary school in Kent, WA burnt to the ground while a crowd of onlookers cheered for the show.

Why does all of this piss me off so much?

1. Last year, after the 4th, I found a spent 18inch rocket on the roof of my house. No the chance that this could have set my house on fire is small, but I'm sure that's what the people in Kent thought about the ones they were aiming at the school.

2. This year, before dusk, I found another 18inch rocket in my driveway. Not sure where this came from, since my driveway is in the back of my house, and to get there, the rocket would have had to fly all the way over either my house or the house behind mine.

3. I now have 2 kids in the house who go to bed around 8:00 PM. So far, we've had one very cranky wakeup, which probably isn't the last for the night. Both Reece and Lorelai have been pretty sick the last 24 hours, with rashes that cover their entire bodies, and a few bouts of puking, usually projectile vomit onto either Lisa or the carpet. Needless to say, with the fireworks, and the sick babies, the last few nights have not included pleasant dreams.

Anyway, I'm hoping that people start wrapping it up pretty soon so I can get some sleep. It's just amazing how normally really nice people can become such idiots because of tradition. Damn Paul Revere and the freakin horse he rode in on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A hectic week

It's been wildly crazy the last couple of weeks. Lisa's brother Mark, his wife Judy, and their daughters Allison (8) and Amy (11 months) stayed with us for a bit last week while Mark and I attended one of the Lisa's family traditions, Nerdfest, in Ephrata. Lisa's mother Marcia came out to help with the kids here while I was gone, but I only lasted about 9 hours at Nerdfest before I headed back. Still, with 4 kids, and 4 adults in the house, we were kept very busy. Our house is not yet childproof, since our kids aren't crawling yet, and certainly isn't 8 year old proof, but I was given a sneak preview of what it's going to take to do both. Bye Bye 50 inch TV. Hello cabinet locks, stair gates and a formal playroom.

The babies have both not been feeling so well this week, and their schedule is a bit off. Which means we had one good night of sleep in the last 3 weeks. Most disturbingly, they are tending to both be up at the same time now, so we're both up most of the night. I thought the days of 3 hours of sleep were long gone. They're backkk! And, no, I don't want to hear about anyone getting 20 hours of sleep in a two day period. That's a week's worth for me.

This weekend, we're headed to Eastern Washington to Lisa's Family's annual ho-down. We're only going to go for one night, and hope to god the babies sleep a little bit in the car each way. I totally understand why people put DVD players and TV's in their vehicles for the kids to watch. I'm dreading the drive, and I usually like long car rides.

I'll let you know how the trip goes when we get back, after I regain my sanity that is.

My Son, the Party Animal


Since we're heading out to Eastern Washington this weekend, we thought it would be a good idea to get the kids sunglasses. Of course, we had to test whther or not they would stand having them on their heads. As you can see, no problemo.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Garden




Okay, there is a little more to our lives than just the babies. Okay, not much more, but here is what I've been working on in the back yard.
We've got Strawberries, Tomatos, Squash, Pumpkins and Marigolds.
It's really turning out pretty well. The kids liek going outside at night to take a look, and the little break each night where I pull some weeds and water the plants is really relaxing.
We've got lots of other beds around the house to fill with plants, but we're doing just a little at a time.


More videos

Here are some videos we recorded the last week or so. I know people are going to think that Reece dancing is just me moving him, but he's moving me. Honest.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=559157237557234465&hl=en

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6342640306508537174&hl=en

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4495417430429612870&hl=en

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9202304928028423502&hl=en

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=323343702606886542&hl=en

Of Sleep and Solid Food

The focus of the last couple of weeks since I last blogged has been sleep. Both ours and the twins. A few weeks ago, we had 4 really good nights in a row with them both nearly sleeping through the night, then presto, whamo, two really bad weeks in a row with them both being up half the night, or up every other hour. We tried changing bedtime routines, changing who was putting them to bed, when they were eating, what they were eating, who picked them up during the night. Nothing was working.

Then Thursday night, as I was putting Lorelai down for the 3rd time before midnight, she slipped a little in my hands and twisted, so she was face down over the co-sleeper. But she stayed asleep. I couldn't roll her back over without waking her up, so I gently set her down in the bed on her tummy, tilted her head to the side, and she still slept. I watched here for a few minutes, just to make sure she was still breathing, and everything was fine. Reece woke up a couple of minutes later, and started to kick the side of the co-sleeper, but Lorelai slept right through it. I had to wake Lisa up to feed Reece, and we were both very nervous about letting Lorelai sleep on her stomach, as we have been relentlessly informed about the dangers of SIDS from everyone, and every publication we read. They basically say: "If you let your baby sleep on their stomach even once, they will DIE!". Yikes. What kind of a parent would do that? The answer: the sleep deprived ones.

Well, for the last three nights now, if Lorelai wakes up before midnight, I walk her back to sleep, and then put her down on her tummy. The first night it worked for 3 hours. The second night for 4 hours, and last night for 5 hours. She is a little grumpier when she does wake up because she can't see what's going on and won't wait there patiently, but we had some luck last night, and between the two of them, we only had to get up once before 3:30 AM, and then again around 6:00AM. It's like we've achieved peace on Earth or something. The angels are singing, birds are chirping, and Joe is blogging (since they're still asleep as I write this).

The other big news for the week is the introduction of food beyond Rice Cereal. They got their first taste of CARROTS! The reaction was a little subdued to the first dose (which we just added some water to), but they seemed to like it a little better yesterday when we mixed in the rice cereal with water and carrots. They'll get another couple of meals of carrots and rice today, and then we'll try sweet potatoes Monday and Tuesday, then Squash, and then Peas. we try to give them a couple of days on each one by itself so that if they have a reaction to something, it's easy to figure out what it is. If it were up to the babies, they'd be eating off our plates now. Adult dinner time is an exercise in eating one handed and watching for baby hands reaching for your plate. And if they can't get the plate, they'll try for the placemat. They're very quick.

I'm uploading more videos today, so get the popcorn ready.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thinking Putty

A few months ago, one of my coworkers bought this stuff called Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty. it an industrialized version of SillyPutty, and it's great for strengthening your hands, or just working out frustration. I bought 3 cans of the stuff. Two for at home, and one for the office. You can get it at http://puttyworld.com I highly recommend it, and had no shipping issues. I use it every day, sometimes for hours.

Graduation

I know it's a small thing, but yesterday the babies graduated from size 1 diapers to size 2. While we could physically still get them into size ones, it was more a matter of what we couldn't keep in the diapers that required the upgrade.