Sunday, November 29, 2009

Letter to Santa

The kids were restless this morning, and it was too cold to go outside yet (or I hadn't had enough coffee, or something) so we decided to write our first letters to Santa. So what if some of the ideas weren't entirely theirs. I assure you they gave me approval before I wrote anything down. Then we broke out the stickers and I let them have at it. I did have to insist that they not cover up any of the text.

Reader's note: Melvin is the name of our Elf On The Shelf. He watches over the twins to see if they're naughty or nice during the day, then he flies to the North Pole at night to report to Santa. When he flies back (using elfin magic) he finds a new place to perch, and the twins have to find him in the morning when they awaken.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The most endearing quality of all children is innocence. In fact, it is the precise reason that they are at all tolerable. We don't mind when they vomit on us, or draw on the walls, or poop on the carpet because they just don't know any better. But innocence is fleeting. Soon they grow up, and when they learn to understand the rules, they figure out how to bend, break, or otherwise manipulate them.

Yesterday, Ella was sick and could not go to day school. She was absolutely pitiful, until I allowed her to play "Elmo Alphabet" on the computer. I couldn't help but marvel at how well this not quite three year old could use a mouse. Her computer skills are quite sharp at such an early age. It was really fun to watch.

After a couple of hours, however, I decided she had spent enough time in front of the monitor. So I offered to read to her. "Ella?" I called out. "What baby?" she replied. "Let's read a book." Then it happened. She lied. "No. I don't like it," she said flatly. This is patently untrue. It's as if the Pope claimed to be Methodist. Nobody would believe him. Anyway, I let her stay on the computer, mostly because her will is much stronger than mine.

Another hour passed and I declared it lunchtime. I asked Ella if she would like a grilled cheese sandwich. "No. I don't like it." I offered chips. "I don't like it." Then strawberries. "I don't like it." These are perhaps some of the biggest whoppers ever told, and I had a hard time swallowing them. I forcefully removed her from the computer and we ate lunch. Funny, but she ate all of the things that she didn't like. And then we read books which she didn't seem to mind, either. Perhaps its time to introduce the little fibber to the story of Pinocchio.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to the Dollhouse

So the wife and kids had a playdate a couple of weeks ago. They went over to some friend's house for a few hours to run around and get into trouble while the grown ups discussed grown up things and did their best to ignore the little ones. Apparently these people had every toy known to man and a few others to boot. At home, the twins can make a whole afternoon out of jumping into a pile of laundry, so you can imagine their excitement.

Anyway, Ella found a dollhouse and spent most of her time playing with that. She did strap on a guitar and put on a show for a little bit, but mostly, it was the dollhouse for her. Jack never spent more than three full minutes with any one toy, kind of like a man with a remote control can't stop switching channels.

Although Jack is still in pull-ups, Ella has graduated to big girl underwear. And just when we thought she'd really gotten the hang of it all, she started to have several accidents, especially if she was doing something particularly fun and didn't want to tear herself away to go potty. So, she's playing with the dollhouse and the wife asks, "Ella? Do you need to use the potty?" Of course, Ella shakes her head no and continues playing with the dollhouse. Just a few moments later the wife sees Ella out of the corner of her eye, pants down and squatting in the middle of the living room floor. "Ella, noooooooooooo...." screams the wife as she lunges toward the child, afraid and embarrassed that Ella would just pee in the middle of the room. But then she realizes that there is something in the floor; something small that Ella seems to be hovering over. And there between her legs, she sees that Ella has placed the tiny little dollhouse potty. This was no accident. She was just challenging her aim.

45 Days

Wow. It's been forty-five days since my last blog post. It's been so long, in fact, that my Mother called me today to see why I'd been so busy. The truth is... I haven't been that busy at all. The wife has been pretty busy lately, and I've had to spend more time tending to the twin terrors, but that's not why I haven't been posting. No, the truth is, I've been obsessed. With Barbecue.

You see, I come from Memphis, Tennessee, the epicenter of the barbecue universe. There are more famous BBQ joints in Memphis than there are carjackings, or gang violence. Well, maybe that's not so true anymore, and a big reason that I would never want to raise my family there, but, anyway, Memphians know their BBQ.

Sure, others will tell you that there is good BBQ to be found in Kansas City, or Texas, or the Carolinas, and maybe they're right. Some people have compared the regional differences of BBQ to the likes of French wine. Drive a hundred miles and the taste changes. But I tell you this... there is no good BBQ within a hundred miles of where I live. And believe me, I've looked.

Funny thing about Atlanta is that nobody seems to have been born here. They come from all over the globe, usually transferred for work or to retire at a lower cost of living. And every time I meet somebody and the conversation turns to BBQ, they all agree that what we really need is a good BBQ restaurant. Sometimes people will recommend a BBQ joint, and when I ask them how the BBQ is, they always say, "The Brunswick Stew is really good". Even if it were, that's not BBQ. Brunswick Stew is what happens when small woodland creatures fall into pots of boiling water while carrying corn and tomatoes and other vegetables. BBQ is tough, fatty cuts of meat cooked for hours over low heat and blue smoke until it surrenders itself and becomes moist, juicy, and fall apart tender and makes you wonder why you would ever eat anything else.

So I've been in my back yard, tending fire and marrying spices for the last couple of months. The wife hasn't had to do as much cooking, and there's always plenty of leftovers in the fridge, so she's happy with me. And if I cook too much, I just take it to work and let the employees fight over it. I might be neglecting some of my other projects... the yard needs mowing and I need to start on my Christmas light display and my blog might die of loneliness... but who cares when you're eating this good?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Sickness

Well, we've all got colds. Every one of us. It's 2AM and I can't breathe, much less sleep. Thankfully, I am the only one having trouble in the sleep department and the house is quiet. Blissfully quiet. I'm not sure how the wife made it through the day with the twins. I can only imagine how fussy they must have been all day long. She did say that she put them down early, and I can hardly blame her for that.

Me? I was at work, wishing I could remove my head. That is, until I took the advice of some co-workers and bought two products: Zicam and Tylenol Severe Sinus.

Zicam is a nasal spray that contains, among other things, "soothing aloe vera". It's billed as a nasal decongestant, and decongest it does. It's like taking a pressure washer and shoving it up your nostril, and then having your liquefied brain drain out of your sinus cavities and down your throat. This may cause some initial discomfort and possible brain gagging, but it's all worth it just to be able to breathe again.

Tylenol Severe Sinus is my new wonder-drug. In order to get it, I had to ask the pharmacist for it and then show her my I.D. "Can you take it out of your wallet, sir? I need all of your information," she said to me disapprovingly. Apparently they have to log you into their database because if you have any knowledge of chemistry, which I don't, you can make crystal meth out of this stuff. (Interesting side note: a woman actually found crystal meth in the bathroom of my restaurant last week. When the police came to pick it up, they said, "You did the right thing to call us. Sometimes these people will come back looking for this stuff and accuse you of stealing it and make a big scene. Just call us if it happens." It didn't.)

Half an hour after taking the Tylenol, I was flying! I had so much energy, I was bouncing off the walls, but was completely unfocused and loopy. At one point I was literally jumping up and down in the server alley yelling, "C'mon everybody! Let's get pumped up! Whoo!" I referred to a girl named Denise as Danielle, and even though she corrected me, I argued with her over her name until she showed me her driver's license as proof. I've worked with Denise for almost four months now. Did I feel bad about calling her the wrong name? No way, baby! This stuff was good and I felt invincible.

Until the drive home. The drugs wore off, and I was nodding out. I didn't think I would make it, and almost called the wife to come pick me up. I was slapping myself in the face trying to snap out of the trance I was in. I turned the A/C on full blast and the radio up loud and tried to shake it off. I was going to die in a fiery crash and sue the makers of these medications. By the time I pulled in the driveway, I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Just before I trudged off to the bedroom to call it a day, I gave the Zicam and Tylenol Severe Sinus to the wife. "Here. You gotta try this stuff," I said. "It's great."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pictures at an Exhibition

We have primarily given up naptime these days as the twins sleep much better at night without it. Sometimes, however, it is not only necessary, but imperative. There are times when tempers flare and tantrums rage out of control, and we deem it naptime, if only to preserve our own sanity. In truth, our kids could pull an all nighter worthy of a college sophomore, but the fits of screaming and crying and wailing would be enough to put Mother Theresa's patience to the test.

And so it was the other day that we put the twins down for a nap. There were the usual signs... finger sucking, eye rubbing, and yawning galore accompanied by short fuses and ill tempers. So the wife and I laid the kids down to slumber, and we took advantage of this opportunity to catch some zzz's ourselves.

Perhaps we were more tired than the kids... a thought that never occurred to me personally. But upon our awakening, the house was silent for a few blissful moments. I took advantage of this window to check my e-mail, and the wife retired to the kitchen to set about preparing for dinner.

Jack awoke shortly thereafter and wandered into the kitchen in search of apple juice. The silence was broken by his Mother's bewildering tone... "What is that all over you? Go show Daddy."

I stepped into the kitchen to find my beloved son's epidermis riddled with strange and artistic lines, like jailhouse tattoos. Some parts were oddly yellow, but mostly just black lines racing off to dizzying ends. "Is that magic marker, or some kind of paint?" I asked naively. "We don't have markers in this house," the wife replied with a sour pucker, as if I had suggested the Pope were a Jew.

So I ventured into the twins' bedroom to find my daughter asleep in a similar predicament... although it was impossible to tell where the lines on her body stopped and the lines on her mattress began. It was as though she had exhausted herself with this artistic outburst. Her muse had sung to her so sweetly that she could not contain herself. In a fit of passion, she had decorated herself, her brother, the walls, the crib, the mattress, the dresser, the nightstand, the walls, the door, the trim, the carpet, the upholstered rocking chair, and even the curtains and the carpet. I uttered only four words: "Honey... get the camera."

So I proudly present to you Ella's first art exhibition. We will soon set up an auction with a Paypal option for those of you who appreciate the finer things in life. FYI, chunks of drywall will start considerably lower than the rocking chair, which as you can see is her masterpiece.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Bachelor

Well, the wife and kids are back, and the house is a mess again. There are puzzles scattered all over the floor, the contents of the wife's purse are strewn about the house, potty chairs dot the landscape like rusty cars in a field, the kitchen is overflowing with dirty dishes and half eaten meals the twins grew bored with, and I couldn't be happier. I must admit that I missed everybody more than I could have imagined.

I thought it would be a piece of cake. I had a sound plan. Play golf and relax without the wife and kids to bother me. Sure, the golf was fun, but when I got home to an empty house... I got bored. There was no wife for me to pester and annoy. Nobody in sight for me to pick on and aggravate. I had nothing to entertain me for four whole days but a few old episodes of the Phil Silvers Show, otherwise known as Sgt. Bilko. I watched each episode twice and fell into a deep depression, unable to remove myself from the couch.

I thought I might be more productive without having to watch out for two toddlers, but without those twins providing me with motivation, I was useless. Usually the twins will use me as a trampoline-slash-monkey bars for a couple of hours when I get up in the morning while I try to drink coffee and catch up on the news. Then I get frustrated and must remove myself from the kicking and prodding and clawing and climbing and the smashing of my private parts. There's only so much I can take, after all, so I put on Thomas and go clean the kitchen or take out the trash, just to get some peace. But here I was, all alone, enjoying nothing but peace, and I was too miserable to clean a thing. Fortunately for me, there was nobody here to make a mess, so the house looked pretty much like it did before the wife up and left me to my own devices.

I survived on the bare essentials... chips, Rotel dip, bratwurst, and buns. I had some sauteed onions and peppers with the bratwurst because I needed some vegetables in my diet. One morning I got creative and made a bratwurst, onion, and pepper omelet. It was a masterpiece of bachelor cuisine, if I do say so myself. That's not all I ate, of course. There were a few helpings of fine fast food in there also. In four days, I dirtied one skillet, three plates, two glasses, and three tupperware dishes. Not bad. I did manage to mow the yard and set off a couple of flea bombs, just so the wife couldn't say I didn't do anything. Of course, the cats have replenished the house with fleas by now, but at least the flies are dead.

I was glad to come home last night to find the wife waiting up for me. I missed her dearly. So much so that I didn't even pick on her one little bit. Then I snuck into the kids' room just to have a look at them. I got down on my hands and knees and kissed Jack on the cheek. Then my eyes adjusted to the dim light and I realized it was his butt cheek. No matter. I would have kissed Ella, too, but she was writhing and moaning and speaking in tongues as if a Pentecostal pastor were laying hands on her, casting out her demons, and I didn't want to wake her. But I sure was glad to see them this morning... and my dirty house, too.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Potty Like A Rock Star

Ella is now pooping in the potty pretty regular, and we are so proud of our big girl! She wears big girl panties with Elmo on them and she struts around the house showing them off. This is not to say that she doesn't have accidents, because she does, but she is growing up, indeed.

Of course, the downside of potty training is that everything you own will get peed upon or worse. As I laid down in my bed last night, I noticed that my right shoulder blade seemed much cooler than the rest of my body. Rolling on to my side, I could feel the moisture evaporating from it. I first placed a towel over the offending spot and changed the covers, but after a very short time, the cool sensation came back. I turned on the light and found that the wet spot had returned. The towel was not strong enough to thwart the saturated pillow top mattress, and was instead acting as a wick to draw the moisture back from below to taunt me again.

Then the wife told me a story. It seems that at some point earlier in the day, Ella had peed in the potty chair and not been interested enough to tell anybody. Later on, she rediscovered the pee and decided to redeem it for her customary "potty chocolates". She got overly excited, and ran toward her mother with the removable cup full of cold urine yelling "Mommy, mommy! Look!!". And as she thrust the cup toward her mother with great pride, the poor wife was covered in cold pee pee. But in true mommy fashion, she praised her daughter and gave her potty chocolates before going to change clothes herself. Yes, indeed. Now that's how you potty like a rock star!

Clean Car

As the wife prepares for a trip to her Mother's with the kids to learn how to can vegetables and such, I am preparing for a few days of bachelorhood and golf. But before I can start scratching myself where it itches without being chastised, I must make sure the car is safe and ready for travel. So I took the car in for an oil change and then decided to clean it out for the first time since our vacation five weeks ago.

Every time I clean the wife's car, I am amazed at just how disgusting it is. And each time it always seems worse than the last. I usually start filling up the trash can with the contents of the front seats and floorboards. This go 'round began with a few Chic-Fil-A bags followed by a six month old copy of "Gourmet" magazine and several bad directions courtesy of our friends at Mapquest. I wonder who has the worst track record, Mapquest, or your local meteorologist. Even the guy at the carnival guesses my age/weight/birth date more than 60% of the time, and he doesn't even have teeth. Anyway, back to the car...

As I open the back door to survey the damage, I say a little prayer that I don't get lost in the flotsam and jetsam collected therein, check my cell phone to ensure the batteries are charged, and tuck a couple of granola bars into my socks just in case. One day that Survivorman guy is going to shoot an entire episode inside our Nissan Murano, I'm sure of it. So here's a partial list of what I found...

Nine socks, thirteen books, four and a half pairs of shoes, three blueberries, twenty six stickers drowning in pools of melted petroleum that once held them fast to leather seats (thank god for leather), six Chic-Fil-A waffle fries without the first sign of decay, three battery operated toys (the most annoying one with dead batteries... lucky me), one soiled pull-up (number one, again, very lucky), an unopened package of pop-tarts, seven Capri Sun packages (none of which were totally empty), two shirts, one skirt, my baseball cap that has been missing for weeks, two sippy cups full of fermented apple juice, three toy cars, one toy dump truck, a baker's dozen melted crayons, seven grams by weight of unidentified crumbs, and enough raisins to choke a baboon.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mommy Immitation

So as I'm strapping Jack into his car seat on the back of the golf cart the other day, Ella climbs in the front seat and begins to jump around like a little frog. She's having a great time, smiling and laughing and making frog noises, when Jack furrows his brow and says, "No bouncing! Do you understand me? No Bouncing.". Apparently he can now channel his mother at whim. It's only a matter of time before he starts asking me to take out the garbage.

Daddy's Dirty Day Out

The wife had a wedding to shoot today, leaving me alone to rear the children however I saw fit. Too lazy to clean, I decided we would be dining out today and drove them to work for a free lunch. Yes, the restaurant business has it's perks sometimes. Besides, after recently being transferred to a different location, I wanted to show them off a little bit to my new staff.

But the twins would have none of it. They were in no mood to perform. They would sing no songs and recite not a single letter of the alphabet for anyone. Once we were seated, Jack spotted a picture of a locomotive which sent him into full blown autistic train mode. Ask him any question and he would respond by pointing at the picture and exclaiming, "Diesel engine! No trouble. Thomas." Then he would shove an entire roll into his mouth, muffling his tirade and rendering his ramblings unintelligible for a moment or two while continuing to shake his finger at the picture. Then he would clap twice and say, "Come on, diesel!". Ella was too busy eating chicken and kicking her daddy in the knees to notice.

Then we went for ice cream cones at Bruster's, where there is no indoor seating and also nothing to provide shade of any kind. Jack and Ella took their ice cream and sat on the bench while daddy paid the ice cream lady. I'm not sure if they were having trouble with their coolers or if it was just really hot outside, but before I even got my debit card back my ice cream started to melt. One look at the twins and I asked for extra napkins. There seemed to be a constant stream of chocolate pouring down upon them, as though they had been served a never ending dribble cone. Had the ice cream lady played a cruel joke on me? But the twins were happy and seemed to be enjoying the ice cream bath as though it were some exotic spa treatment. They made no effort to stay clean, and Jack was so focused on devouring the ice cream cone that he even ate the napkin that was wrapped around it.

After naptime, I took the kids to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I was a little self conscious that I hadn't bothered to change their clothes or clean them up before taking them out again. It looked like I had bathed them in one of those chocolate fountains you're supposed to dip strawberries in. But then, a lapful of salsa and multiple drippings of cheese dip later, I congratulated myself on not ruining two more outfits in one day. Thank goodness there was a big napkin dispenser on the table, and thank goodness the wife wasn't with us. We stopped by the park on the way home to slide and swing and throw rocks into the pond.

Then it was off to Wal Mart where Ella decided it was time to throw a fit. As soon as her butt hit the basket, she started crying and yelling, "Stuck! Want Daddy! Stuck!" over and over again. I paused to look at some video games, and spent about five minutes completely ignoring my screaming daughter when two blue vested employees came over in my direction. "Can you help me with a game?" I asked, pointing at the locked display case. They walked right past me a few feet, one of them holding a yellow pad with some numbers written on it. I tried again. "Excuse me, can you help me with a game?" Still no response. Maybe they couldn't hear me because of Ella. All of a sudden, the guy behind the photo booth jumps in front of the two guys, waves his hand in front of their eyes and says, "Hey! Are you two gonna help this guy or what?". I'm not sure if he was being nice to me or if he just wanted me to remove my screaming child from his immediate vicinity. Either way, it worked, and we were on our way back home for bath time.

The kids were clean, their teeth were brushed, and they were sent to their room for bedtime. The house was still a wreck, and I'm pretty sure I dozed off to sleep before they did, but I had made it through the day alive, and they had, too. And I had learned a thing or two. Ice cream deteriorates rapidly in the sun, dirty kids are happy kids, and a screaming toddler can actually improve your level of service in big box retail stores. Interesting...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I lost a good friend yesterday, and a small part of me with him. His name was Jody Duncan, but I knew him affectionately as Jod. (Not to be confused with Jode, which rhymes with toad, but rather Jod which rhymes with God.) Although I never met his family and probably never mentioned him to mine, I considered him like a brother, and I will miss him in ways I can't imagine just yet.

We first met in Memphis, at Newby's on the Highland strip, moments after my little ragtag garage band opened for our heroes, the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet. It was the greatest night of my life up to that point, and it was about to get better. After exiting the stage and making my way to the bathroom, I found myself standing beside this character with little round glasses squeezed between rosy cheeks and a pork pie hat, wearing a thriftstore tweed blazer over a well worn t-shirt. I must admit that I felt a little uncomfortable trying to handle my business with a complete stranger staring and grinning at me.

"You guys were great! Best opening band I've seen, except for Bill Kirchen, who opened for the Q last week!". This was the highest compliment anyone has ever given me (still is to this day), and it was completely undeserved. We were never in the same league as Bill Kirchen or NRBQ, but we did do a pretty good cover of "I Got A Little Secret", so Jod knew we were Q fans, and that was enough for him to overlook our imperfections, which were many. I was caught offguard by his genuine kindness and was unsure how to respond, but I never forgot this brief exchange.

It was months later, this time in Nashville at The Exit Inn, that he made a formal introduction. Just before the Q took the stage, up walks the same blazer, hat, and glasses shouting "Dude! I saw you open for the Q in Memphis! Remember me?". As if I could have ever forgotten him. From his breast pocket he produced the pen and little notebook he carried with him to jot down the setlist of every NRBQ show he ever attended, scrawled his name and number across a page and then tore it out and thrust it at me. "Next time you go to see the Q, call me!", he said. And I did exactly that.

For the next few years, we travelled to Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and anywhere else we could afford to go to see our favorite band play and bring us together. Long roadtrips were filled with music and conversation and fueled by alcohol and other unmentionable pastimes. We crashed on each others couches, plundered each other's records, and made each other laugh. We were on the road, we were free of our dead end jobs, and we were making memories to last a lifetime. It was great.

Somewhere in there, I started to grow up. My job got more serious, I moved further south, and we lost touch. The Q wasn't touring as much, and the shows were fewer and farther between. Still, every time we got back together at a show, it was just like picking up where we left off, like we had only spoken yesterday. And then we drifted apart again. But I always knew he was out there, and all it would take was a phone call and an NRBQ show to get that freedom back, that unexplainable joy.

Just last year, I dragged my wife to see what was left of the Q, namely Terry Adams and his marvelous Rock and Roll Quartet in Charleston. Just as the band came out and the first notes of "Sunny Side Of The Street" were tickling my eardrums, I was struck with the urge to record the setlist for my old friend Jod. Scrambling for a bar napkin and a pen, my wife was making fun of me, calling me a "geek", but I didn't care. This was for Jod. (By the way, she loved the show... an instant disciple, and told me, "I haven't seen you that happy since our wedding". Sweet, isn't she?) I couldn't wait to get to a computer so that I could post the setlist for Jod and everyone else on the NRBQ list. It wasn't long before I got an email from my old friend, and we picked right back up again.

We spoke on the phone like the old days, and made plans to go to Connecticut, but, alas, I couldn't make it. I called him when he got back, and he gave me all the juicy details of the show, making me jealous and sorrowful and envious and delighted for about forty-five minutes or so. The next day I heard through friends that he had been admitted to the hospital in Evansville, after suffering a series of heart attacks. He was 41 years old. I called him, and we spoke briefly, but I could tell how tired he was, and I felt him fading. It was just a matter of days before he was gone.

I'm no doctor, but I suspect that his heart was just too big to be bound inside that body any longer. He had so much love for his friends and the music they shared together that his heart had grown too big, constricted by spine and ribcage, until it could no longer stand it. Anyone who knew him could hardly argue my theory. The guy never met a stranger, and if he liked you, you couldn't help but like him back. He was kind and caring and outgoing to a fault. He was genuine and intelligent and those of us who knew him were better off for it. He was a fountain of musical knowledge, and a supernova of spirit. But, a star that bright can't burn forever, and when it burns out, it leaves a void, a vaccum in space that can never be filled. Jod is gone, and the world is a little bit darker because of it. There is no longer a light at the end of the roadtrip, and I will never know freedom like we once shared again. Miss you, Jod. You'll have to travel the spaceways without me for awhile.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rights of Passage

Ella finally did it. She pooped in the potty this morning, thereby earning the right to wear her Elmo underwear, like a big girl. We couldn't have been more proud of this milestone in our little girl's life; you'd have thought she had graduated at the top of her class and gotten a full scholarship to Yale. She was proud, too, and ate up the attention (and the potty cookies) with the biggest smile I have ever seen on a toddler. The corners of her mouth actually touched her ears for a second or two, and I think I counted sixty-one teeth, which is amazing.

Of course the wife is convinced that this is the beginning of a new era for Ella. She's planning a pull-up burning ceremony to mark this right of passage. We'll call it a Pot-Mitzvah, for lack of a better word, and we'll all sing songs from "Go Potty, Go" and recite lengthy passages from "Potty Time With Elmo." Then we'll roast marshmallows over the flaming pull-ups and pray that the fumes aren't too very toxic.

I myself am a little more skeptical, and can't help but wonder whether this was just a happy accident. One poop, for me, does not make a toddler potty trained. Perhaps a re-poop, or even a three-poop would put my mind at ease and allow me to dream of cutting the diaper bill in half. Still, I must tell you that she managed to keep her big girl underwear clean and dry until lunchtime, which is no small feat in itself. And, we were out in public.

Another thing we established today is Ella's fear of public restrooms. She does not like to sit upon a public toilet, and turns into a writhing, slithering toddler snake when placed within a three foot radius of one. She probably would have run away had her pants not been around her ankles. I was thankful that the restroom was empty, because we did have a small amount of success going potty in the sink. Just a number one, mind you, and I did rinse thoroughly afterward. Isn't daddy resourceful?

So, hat's off to the big girl in the Elmo underwear. She's another step closer to breaking my heart. Each of these milestones reminds me that she will not always be my little girl, and that someday, I will have to let her go. But, until then, we will celebrate each day together and make memories that will last a lifetime. Hopefully, they will be less smelly memories from here on out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Those People

In the many years I have worked in the restaurant business, I have seen plenty of poorly behaved children. You know the ones. They dump the sugar packets all over the tables. They drool in the salt shakers. They throw everything within their grasp all over the floor. They shriek and howl and run about while their parents seem oblivious to their horrible behavior. And while some people would say that these are bad children, I would argue that these were bad parents. But I think we would all agree that nobody likes "those people."

So when we went to our favorite local pizza joint tonight for dinner, I never dreamed it would have gone so badly. The wife grabbed a booth with Jack, while Ella and I stood in line to order. Tired and overstimulated from the Renaissance Festival, Ella soon began crying for her mother, who was all the way back at the last booth, the farthest distance she could possibly get from the counter. Being tired, and not wanting to lose my place in line, I foolishly put Ella down and said, "Mommy's right there. Go get her." I watched as she ran, not in a straight line, but serpentine through the restaurant, laughing and making a scene the whole way. Then Jack decided to run to daddy, stopping to linger a little too long in front of the front door, ignoring his father who was repeatedly calling his name, each time with more volume than the last, drawing too much attention to himself.

After we ordered, we took turns playing a racing video game. That went badly as well, resulting in fits of temper when each one was required to give the other a turn at the steering wheel. Next we washed hands, and Ella became upset when I refused to let her wash up in the urinal. Then we went back to the booth and managed to get the salt, pepper, and parmesan shakers out of harm's way just before the pizza arrived.

Jack refused to eat. In fact, he refused to do anything but jump up and down in the seat of the booth. Ella was a little more sly. She acted like she was eating, then while our guards were down, she began smearing her pizza all over the plate glass window, creating a pizza Pollack. They both banged their forks on the table for awhile, until Ella dropped hers on the floor. Jack went after it, spending an unnecessary amount of time under the table doing who knows what. I was too afraid to look. Then, Ella made a break for it, running from her mother who was suddenly calling for a box and spanking Ella's butt simultaneously in true mother multitasking fashion.

And as we were leaving, some of us sobbing, and all of us exhausted, I could not deny the fact that we had become, "those people." I was a bit embarrassed to say the least. But, in my defense, I must point out that our twins are not bad children, and neither are the wife and I bad parents. We were just your average happy family, having a bad day.

Woah, Mule!

Today, the wife and I took the twins to the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Twice. The first time, we got rained out after about twenty minutes. So we went home to dry out, eat lunch, and put the kids down for a quick nap. After a couple of hours, the rain let up, so we ventured out again, this time with much better results, albeit with muddier shoes.

The festival is a sprawling village of period dressed merrymakers and merchants that want to separate you from your money. It's kind of like a 16th century mall, run by carnies. They have nothing you need, and they're screaming at you to come and have a look at their wares. Either we have less money than most, or we have more willpower, because we managed to make it out of there without a single corset, sword, wooden axe, pirate hat, lotion candle, or dragon portrait.

The shows were free and held the children's interest for awhile. They had a pretty good playground and petting zoo which were free also. The jousting was impressive, and the acting not that bad. Keanu Reeves would have been proud. And the people were friendly, although their period dialect was a little annoying after awhile. But they did offer me a new insight into the parent/toddler relationship.

Everywhere we went, the period players would address the twins as "beautiful princess", or "handsome prince", while referring to the wife and me as their "humble servants." This was a revelation, and quite true, too. We do, after all, wait on them hand and foot; they don't have to do anything for themselves. They cry, and we play the jester to make them laugh. They demand juice, and we rush to get it for them. The don't even wipe their own behinds! They live like royalty, while we live only to serve them.

And then I realized that Ella had refused to walk the whole day. Not only was I carrying all of her necessities in a backpack, like a pack animal weighed down with heavy saddlebags, but she had also been riding me around all day. It's a sobering moment when you realize your two year old has spent an entire afternoon literally making an ass out of you.

Still it was fun. Jack gathered rocks, ate dirt, and laughed out loud at jugglers and acrobats. Ella hugged a goose, almost joined a Shakespearean comedy troupe, and adopted an overweight grandfather in an attempt to steal his beer. And the best part? They were both so worn out that they went to sleep almost as soon as their royal heads hit their pillows. "Thank thee, lords and ladies of the Renaissance Festival, for thy gift of tired toddlers! Fare thee well, until next year."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Although I consider myself to be a pretty good father and husband, I have to be honest with myself and admit that I am still, at heart, a flawed human being, just like everybody else. I have always struggled with living in the present, enjoying the moment, and being content with the blessings bestowed upon me. I am, like most Americans, a consumer, and assume that a bigger house, or a nicer car, or a better vacation will bring more joy and happiness to me and my family. Perhaps this is primarily a male trait, but, for me, the thrill of the hunt is always more satisfying than the kill itself.

This poses a unique dilemma upon my marriage, for there is nothing left for me to conquer there. The hunt is over, and although my trophy fills me with pride, I tend to take her for granted, and I seldom let her know just how much she means to me anymore. And to make matters worse, I flaunt my love for my daughter in her face, in an effort to prevent Ella from ever suffering from low self esteem, hoping that she will never settle for less than she is worth. I have moved on from making sure my wife feels appreciated, shifting that focus instead upon my daughter. This is, perhaps, my deepest regret.

The truth is that my wife is a wonderful mother. She has lived up to my every expectation in that regard. I knew watching her with my nieces and nephews that she would make an ideal parent. And this is no easy task. She is consumed with guilt that she spends all of her time yelling at our children. "No, don't touch that. It's hot!". "Don't jump on your sister!". "Do you want to go to time out?". But children need parents to teach them their boundaries. And compared to the kids I see at the restaurant on a regular basis, our kids are very well behaved, indeed. She deserves all of the credit for our wonderful children. I was just the guy in the room at the time of conception. How lucky was that?

We entered into parenthood knowing that this would not be an easy task. But I don't think that either of us knew just how hard it would be. So on the heels of Mother's Day, I need to tell my wife just how much she means to me. Sure, we say "I love you" every day, but that's just as insignificant as "How was your day?", or "Can you take out the trash?". So the following is an open love letter to my wife. I don't care who reads it. I only hope you can find a fraction of the love that she gives to me on a regular basis.

My dearest Jodie,

Happy late Mother's Day. I can't help but feel like the gifts I gave you don't do you justice. I could never repay you for the gifts you have given me in the form of our beautiful twins, Jack and Ella. They are the embodiment of our love for each other, and they are perfect in each and every way, and I have you to thank for that.

I am well aware of the sacrifices that you have made for our family, and they will not go unappreciated. Even in hard times, and raising children without the help of our families is hard, indeed, you have been there to guide all of us. Although I could never repay you for what you have given me, I can assure you that I will always be there beside you. Even when raising twins brings out the worst in us, I have never entertained the thought of leaving you. You provide me with unparalleled comfort and stability when I need it most. You are the backbone of this family, and I am eternally grateful to you for all of your contributions.

I could never imagine my life without you in it. You have changed me for the better, and I am a better man because of you. I say these words proudly, and for all to see. And if pride is a sin, well then, I am a sinner of great magnitude. I want the world to know that I love you more than I love myself, and I never thought that was possible, because I am pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Please be at my side always...


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Potty Training

We've been potty training the twins with varying degrees of success. Ella will pee on the potty almost every time she sits on one, but Jack just wants to play with his doober whenever his pull-ups are removed. And although neither of them will poop on the potty, Jack will almost always remove his pull-ups immediately after a bowel movement, usually making a terrible mess in the process, while Ella seems to be ashamed of her accidents, and refuses to acknowledge the mess under her dress.

There are certain aspects of this rigorous process that I expected to find disgusting, but as it turns out, these incidents aren't as gross as I would have imagined. Getting peed on three times in one hour isn't nearly as painful as spending the same amount of time in a doctor's waiting room, for instance. And the smell of poop is now just an affirmation that I'm home at last, my workday finished.

But it's the blending of activities that I find to be truly unsettling. We spend so much time in the bathroom trying to potty, that all of our daily rituals must now take place there. We read on the potty. We play on the potty. We sing on the potty. We learn on the potty. But I find that my morning coffee doesn't taste the same in the claustrophobic confines of our hallway bathroom. And the sight of sippy cups and bananas abandoned on the bathroom floor is just too much for me. What's that old saying that even a dog knows better than to poop where it eats? I guess my children will never run the Iditarod.

Still, we celebrate the small victories and draw encouragement where we can find it. Recently, we found the twins awakening in the nude, their pajamas and pull-ups discarded in the night, scattered among the half eaten books and broken toys, and shrouded in the foul stench of baby poop. We searched the room, but found only a sock that Jack had turned into toilet paper. After more searching, we decided on the direct approach. "Jack? Where's the poop?" we asked. Beaming with pride, he pointed to the top of the dresser and proclaimed, "There it is!". And behold, there it was. Reminds me of the Polish fellow who said "Look what I almost stepped in!".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sibling Smackdown

I awoke from a dream this morning, and thought I was having a nightmare. I was in my bed, in my room, but my room had been placed in the middle of war torn Bosnia. I could clearly hear children screaming and crying for their mothers as the village burned down all around them, incoming mortar shells exploding like the bass drum of some rag tag brass band at a drunken jazz funeral. Turns out it was just the twins fighting over a particular toy train, and the loud banging of said toy against TV stand.

Watching this aggression manifest itself from deep inside the monkey parts of my children's brains is oddly entertaining. It's the same thing as boxing or Ultimate Fighting, although it more closely resembles midget wrestling. Little people, large disproportionate heads, and rudimentary motor skills on glorious display. We never let it go unpunished, but part of me wonders what would happen if we did. Jack is the clear favorite with his size and reach marking quite an advantage over his sister. And his take down move is very effective. But I can't help root for the underdog, and if Ella's red hair is any indication of her temperament, Jack would never know what hit him if she ever blew a fuse.

I was hatching plans of building a cage in the backyard and surrounding it with bleachers to charge admission and make a little extra cash when I remembered the fate of Michael Vick. And those were just dogs. Perhaps the world just isn't ready to witness Jack's inhumanity to Ella. It's a shame, too, because I was ready to tattoo his face and train him to go for the ears. Instead of hiring Don King to promote the "Sibling Smackdown" and retiring on the pay-per-view profits, we'll just sentence Jack to another five minutes of time out, then force him to say "Sorry" and hug and kiss his darling little sister. I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy ending.

Friday, April 3, 2009

To Blog Or Not To Blog

The in-laws were in town last week to pick up some muscadine vines for their vineyard. No, they're not the snooty California wine types, just good old fashioned, down to earth kinfolk who happen to own and operate their own winery in middle Tennessee. If you don't believe me, then see for yourself here.

Anywho... the nursery we were getting the vines from was only about an hour from us, according to Google Maps, which is a filthy rotten liar. We ended up lost for over an hour without cell phone service with Ella in tears screaming over and over, "I want Daddy!". Jack, on the other hand, would occasionally wake up from his slumber and announce, "This is fun!", pull out a fist full of Ella's red hair, and then doze back off.

And then something wonderful happened. We happened across the oldest covered bridge in Georgia. Built across the red oak creek in 1840 and held together by wooden pegs, it is still open to traffic to this day. And it is covered in graffiti. Bad graffiti. Misspelled graffiti. It's such a shame that people with nothing to say would defile such a landmark. Why not just start a blog, like me?

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Twice a year, the Southside Mothers Of Multiples club holds their consignment sale. It is a unique opportunity for us to unload some of the trappings that the twins have outgrown, and re-equip them with what we can only hope will preoccupy their imaginations for the forthcoming months, at greatly discounted prices. We have been able to sell most of our big ticket items and provide them with clothing and toys for the months to come, while eeking out a small profit in the bargain, for the last year or so. And, although I am grateful for the savings we enjoy, it does not come without it's drawbacks for me, personally.

In order for the wife to get first dibs on the goodies, she must work the sale, leaving me at home with the twins in the early hours of the morning. We contracted a babysitter to watch them Friday night, while the wife helped with the setup, and then enjoyed shopping while I was at work late into the evening. When I awoke from my four hours of sleep, I was greeted by a stunning display of Thomas the Train and Elmo toys laid out for our toddlers to enjoy, and the wife scampering out the door to perform her duties at the sale.

This, of course, left a sleep deprived Daddy and two hyper-excited toddlers to plunder the bounty laid out before us. Subsequently, diaper changes were met with resistance and tears, arched backs and flailing limbs, as if the hand me down toys would somehow disappear if not immediately played with. Already exhausted, I laid on the couch and closed my eyes as they fell upon the new found treasures scattered about the living room.

Twenty minutes must have passed in what seemed like a second before I was being whacked on the head with train tracks torn apart by innocent hands and a soundtrack of angelic voices with an upward inflection lilting toward the heavens repeating, "mmm...Fix? mmm...Fix? mmm...Broken. mmm...Fix??". I did my best to piece the toys back together with at least a third of the parts already missing, lost, perhaps never to be found again in final resting places that I can only surmise.

And then they found the books. The next few hours were a blur of Fox in Socks, Berenstain Bears, Who Are You Sue Snue, and Curious George classics. There were pop-ups, lift-a-flaps, and sliders to explore. There were farmyard animals, and rhymes, and opposites. And there was no interest in lunch whatsoever. And when I finally decreed it naptime, they shrieked and howled as if it was the end of the world and I was the Antichrist. And that left me with just enough time to shower and iron my clothes and go to work, babysitting grown adults with even worse behavior and far less charisma, and no blood relation, either. But, hey! It's a living!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quiz Kid

If you come to my house, you had better be prepared to answer some tough questions. Although the twins have yet to ponder existentialism or the nature of man, they are armed with a little bit of knowledge, and that's a dangerous thing, indeed. You see, being an expert in a particular field often brings the temptation to flaunt your knowledge in front of others, leaving them to sink into the sea of inferiority. It's the Alex Trebek syndrome, and Jack's got the bug.

Jack has taken on the role of quiz master, and there is only one category: Thomas the Train. The questions start out pretty easy. "Color's Thomas?". Blue. Everyone knows that. Then they get a little bit harder. "Color's James?". Mmmmm..... Oh yeah, red. "Color's Percy?". Green, maybe? I'm starting to feel the pressure. Jack is relentless and presses on. "Color's Emily?". They have girl trains on Thomas? "Color's Toby?". Jack senses weakness. "Color's Cranky?". Isn't that one of the Seven Dwarfs? Sweat begins to bead upon my brow. "Color's Skarloey?". How can you even pronounce that name? You're barely two! "Color's Diesel?". I should probably know this one, but I don't. I only put Thomas on when I want to clean the kitchen, or write this blog without interruption. "Color's Henry?". I give up. "Color's Molly?". You win! "Color's Duck?". My eye starts to twitch. Stop taunting me! "Color's Stepney?". Just leave me alone! My lip begins to tremble. And then comes the breaking point. "Color's Bullstrode?". I can take it no longer, and retreat to my bedroom to sob quietly, bearing the shame of intellectual defeat at the hands of a toddler.

Perhaps one day, Jack will grow a mustache and attain perfect pronounciation of the Spanish language, rolling R's off his tongue like water off a duck's back. And perhaps he will have a game show of his own, preferably with more than one category. But until then, he will just have to be content with that smug air of superiority that accompanies the asking of questions that you already know the answers to, and the satisfaction of finding that other people don't.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Reader

Ella loves to read. She loves books and everything about them. She loves the flow of iambic pentameter as well as the strange and wonderful rhythms and rhymes of a certain Dr. Suess. She loves pop up books, and lift a flap books, and books that hold no physical surprises equally. She used to love the taste of books and the sound of pages being torn apart, but, thankfully, she has outgrown this curiously destructive stage of reading. She now prefers her books to remain intact so that they keep their stories straight.

Every morning around nine o'clock, I am awakened by Jack's crying. He inevitably does something he's not supposed to do, earns a stern and loud matronly scolding, and finds himself in time out. The crying gets louder. (And the time out spot is right by my bedroom door. I don't think that this is intentional on the part of the wife, it's just a convenient corner. Or is it?) It is precisely this moment every morning that Ella decides it's time for Daddy to get up.

She is a very helpful little girl. And polite. She toddles up to my night table, grabs my glasses and thrusts them at me while saying, "Glasses, Daddy. Thank you, your welcome." Then she hands me a shirt from the dirty pile of laundry beside my bed. Then she hands me another shirt. And usually another one for good measure. I guess she wants me to have options. Then come the shoes, and I know it's time to excavate myself from underneath the mound of dirty laundry and search for a cup of coffee. (Ella never gives me pants or socks. The twins hate pants and socks for reasons unknown to me, and remove them as frequently as possible. Half of our day is spent putting them in pants and socks. In their toddler Utopia, pants and socks would not exist. Underwear would come with pockets, I suppose.)

Landing on the couch, I try to drink as much coffee as possible while Ella roots through her cache of books. When she finds just the right one, she plods over toward me, all red hair and grinning teeth, and shoves the book directly into my hand before climbing into my lap. As I read to her, I like to let her finish the sentences for me. It's irresistibly cute. No sooner than I pronounce, "The End", Ella is off again, digging through her stacks for another favorite read, while I slam more coffee down my gullet. She's back again, and if my hands aren't free, then, no matter, she thrusts the book underneath my chin and climbs back into position. She's an improviser, that one. This routine continues for four or five books, until Daddy decides to eat something, or Mommy decides that Daddy should take out the garbage or perform some other decidedly adult activity.

Throughout the day, Ella will lay on the floor for hours, turning page after page, reciting the rhythms and the words she can pronounce. When checking on them during naptime, Jack is usually in bed and Ella is usually on the floor with a book over her face. And lately at bedtime, we have to put the baby gate up, because Ella will open the door to let some light in, bring all of her books up to the doorway, and read in that small patch of light until she falls asleep and we can move her to her bed.

Other girls love dolls, or dressing up. Some love horses and rainbows. Some are Tomboys, and love to do little boy things and get dirty. But Ella desires none of these things. For my little girl, there is nothing like Daddy's lap and the sound of his voice reading stories about Elmo's blanket. And I secretly wish that this could go on forever, that she will always be this little girl who loves her Daddy. And loves to read.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The restaurant business is filled with people from all walks of life. It is a melting pot of nationalities, personalities, and sexual orientations. We are very tolerant of each others differences, and that is a wonderful thing. If only the rest of the world were so forgiving. The following story shall illustrate that coincidence is the mother of all comedy...

Imagine that there is a male server of alternate sexual orientation. He has a cold. He is seated with two like minded males, and decides that he doesn't want to wait on them. For whatever reason, he asks a brand new server to trade tables. She agrees. After she takes their order, she is at the computer ringing in their check.

The male server is waiting behind the new server to use the computer. He can't help but notice that at the top of her check, written in all capitols is the word FAGS. Feigning disgust, he questions whether it is appropriate to label her table in such an obvious way. Wouldn't it be just as effective to put the table number at the top of the check? Does she have to point out their sexual orientation? Does she have to label them as FAGS?

Quite innocently, she replies, "That's just an abbreviation." Incredulously, the alternatively oriented male server says, "An abbreviation? For what?"

Again, with absolute innocence, she replies, "He ordered the Fresh Atlantic Grilled Salmon."

And that is why I love the restaurant business. Just when you think you've seen it all, you haven't.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


We took the twins for their first visit to Chuck E. Cheese this afternoon. For thirty bucks, we got two soft drinks, mediocre pizza, twenty game tokens, and priceless people watching. Granted, the food is not the number one draw of this particular establishment, rather it's the twenty-five cent video games and the allure of winning tickets and then redeeming them for utterly worthless prizes that you would never allow your children to buy with real money.

Although the concept remains the same, today's modern Chuck E. Cheese is not what I remember from my youth. It's too slick and technologically advanced. Gone are the stage and animatronic animal band, replaced by a wall of flat screen TV's playing MTV-like videos of the new incarnation of Chuck E. Cheese. I remember waiting with nervous anticipation for the curtain to open and Chuck's band to rock the stage. Sure, their moves were limited and they only knew a few songs, but those cats had soul. Now, the soul is gone, and Chuck is limited to two dimensional status. It's a shame, really.

The only thing better than watching the kids enjoy all of the games and flashing lights was profiling the parents. You can learn alot about a person inside a Chuck E. Cheese. For instance, there is the dad playing arcade basketball. He's the competitive type, the kind every carny on the midway looks for. He'll spend every cent he has until he has won the prize, even if it means his poor kid has to stand by and watch until he is bored to tears. There is the loving mother who tries to make sure her child enjoys the experience, trying to teach him the joys of SkeeBall even though he can barely roll the ball. She knows it's not about winning, it's about spending time with your children.

And then there is the lottery mom. She's my favorite. She's thirty pounds overweight, smells like tobacco, and her kid is nowhere in sight. You can't miss her. She's the one standing at the Wheel of Fortune yelling, "Lee! I hit the jackpot! Two hundred and fifty tokens!". What she won was actually two hundred and fifty tickets, not tokens. Two hundred and fifty tokens is worth about sixty-two dollars. In this economy, I might get excited about that, too. But two hundred and fifty tickets at Chuck E.Cheese doesn't go that far. Best case scenario, you get eight stickers, four temporary tattoos, a giant plastic cockroach, and a pair of chineese fingercuffs. Not a bad haul, but go to any dollar store and buy those items, and you'll save about fifty-eight bucks.

Nevertheless, the twins had a great time. There were buttons to push and games to play and lots of room to run around in. They weren't really interested in lunch as there was way too much stuff to distract their attention. Although there wasn't much stuff for kids their age, it was still fun trying to teach them how to play classic games like Whack-A-Mole. And the best part? They took a two and a half hour nap when we got home. That alone was worth the thirty bucks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Mother's Day Out has done wonderful things for both my wife and the twins. It provides a much needed break for the wife every week and allows her some time to decompress. Ella has really come out of her shell and is not nearly as clingy as she used to be. And Jack has been exposed to every germ and virus on the planet.

He currently has strep throat accompanied by a rash over his entire body which he brought home from Mother's Day Out. People say that it is helpful to expose your children to illness in order to strengthen their immune systems. Well, at this rate, the twins should be approaching total germ immunity in a couple of years. Here's a partial list of illnesses the twins have contracted and beaten off since starting Mother's Day Out:

Colds, Flu, Strep Throat, Pneumonia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Polio, Whooping Cough, Smallpox, Consumption, and Syphilis. OK, so I made a couple of those things up. But seriously, it seems like a new illness every week. I think they should change the name from Mother's Day Out to something more honest, like, Festering Cesspool of Germs and Viruses for Children.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Desperate Housewife

The twins went to bed early tonight. Not by choice, but by necessity. You see, they were very fussy and the wife was at the end of her tether. Her sanity was eroding like a beach in a hurricane, and the only evacuation route was an early story time followed by the brushing of baby teeth and the safety and comfort of a bottle of wine.

But she was out of wine. Or was she? She remembered that she had bought a cheap bottle of red wine for cooking purposes which somehow still remained unopened. How cheap? How does two dollars and ninety-seven cents sound? Yes, amazingly enough, for less than a dollar a glass, Bay Bridge Vineyards produces a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon which they would have you believe is fit for human consumption. It was a chance she would have to take. After all, she was desperate.

She was three glasses deep when I came home and trying to convince me that this swill wasn't as bad as one might expect. So, reluctantly, I took her glass and decided to see for myself. The following is the first and only wine review I shall ever attempt...

The first thing that struck me about Bay Bridge's Cabernet Sauvignon is that there was no vintage printed on the label. I can't be sure, but I think this wine was bottled at least three to four weeks ago, and has aged like a two pack a day coal miner with tuberculosis ever since. It's color is anemic yet has an almost blood blister quality to it which is hard to describe in words. It has a nose like Jimmy Durante and legs like 40 weight Valvoline after three thousand miles at redline RPM. And the taste? Hints of Dogwood and Crabapple with a pronounced BermaShave note. Or is that Brylcreem? And it finishes like the Mojave desert only slightly more dry. It's a wonder how they can put all of this in a bottle at so little cost. Pairs nicely with a bologna sandwich, if the sandwich doesn't take too much offense.

So, before I go to bed tonight, I'll be a dear and lay out four aspirin, three Tums, and a gallon of water on her bedside table. And when I get up in the morning, maybe I'll drive down to the liquor store and buy her something nice to drink before the next toddler meltdown. God forbid she should have to drink the Listerine, although, quite frankly, it might be an improvement.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


So the wife is on her fourth attempt at potty training Ella. She has decided to tackle the girl and not the boy this go 'round, as if this will somehow make it easier. She thinks that Jack isn't ready yet, and perhaps she's right. Ella has been doing pretty good earning cookies for pee, which is a job I would like to apply for myself.

Jack, on the other hand, has become very enamored with personal hygiene. The kid loves to wash his hands. He loves to watch the wet soap fly out of his hands like a lively speckled trout and flop around in the sink. He loves to feel the water and report back to headquarters "hot" or "cold". And he loves to splash around in the water. The other day, Ella peed in the potty seat, and as we were celebrating and doling out cookies, Jack walked over, stuck his finger in the pee, and said very excitedly, "Wash hands!". Yes, son. It is now time to wash your hands. Of course on the way to the sink, he stuck the offending finger right in his mouth without a care in the world. Jack lives on the edge. You can't stop that kid.

Just last night, Jack and I had a breakthrough. I was in the bathroom with the twins doing a little potty training. Being manly, I had both of them sitting on the potty at the same time... none of this girl first stuff for me, thank you. After reading a few books, Jack stood up and peed like a man. All over the floor. And on "The Belly Button Book" by Sandra Boynton. You can imagine just how proud I was of my son's first book review! Although I suggested that he provide a little more constructive criticism next time, I found his review to be accurate as the book's plot moves very slowly and the character development is a bit amateurish. Boy, I hope he never reads his Dad's blog!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I knew the honeymoon wouldn't last forever. I knew the dynamic would change. My friends all told me that once the kids came, it would never be the same. Apparently, romance fades with the introduction of offspring quicker than a pair of blue jeans soaking in a puddle of bleach. And I'm OK with that, really, I am. Our love for each other is still strong and I wouldn't give up those beautiful twins of mine for all the romance in the world. But the wife has gone and done something I never expected. She has replaced me with a machine.

She knows it's wrong. She must. That's why she hides it from view. She never leaves it lying around for the kids or the neighbors to find. Oh, no. She closes the door and draws the curtains before she succumbs to it's rhythmic undulations, it's small but powerful motor pulsating with variable speed underneath that sleek ultra-white exterior. The machine can go for hours on end without tiring, sustaining her pleasure for as long as she likes while I, on the other hand, can't seem to please her for more than five minutes at a stretch. But what really irks me is that the machine was a gift from her mother.

You've probably guessed by now that the machine in question is her Pfaff 260 Automatic sewing machine. And she takes better care of it than she does me. But that's OK, too, because she's actually been making money with it. And she likes to sew, she really does. So check out her stuff here. And cross your fingers and hope that one day, she remembers that she still has a husband, and he's sitting on the couch trying to figure out how to compete with that infernal machine.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


When I was a kid, I loved video games. I used to steal quarters from my mother's purse and sneak off to the country store to play classic arcade games like "Defender", and "Donkey Kong", and "Missile Command." But when all of the quarters were gone, I had to go home and play with my friends. Usually outside. Hide and seek, endless variations of "Tag", and football were a few of our favorite games. Gather up all of the neighborhood kids, any age will do. We just needed bodies to form teams.

Nowadays, ask any kid if he wants to play football and he'll likely answer, "Sure. I have Madden '08 or I just got NCAA '09." These pre-teen couch jockeys have no idea what they're missing. They may never know the joy of executing the perfect Statue of Liberty play against those snot nosed kids from the other side of the block. Kids that age are supposed to be outside getting dirty, getting exercise, getting into trouble. The only thing they exercise now is their thumbs, which is why you should never thumb-wrestle a twelve year old.

And what's with the cell phones? Seems like every kid in double digits has a cell phone, so his or her parents can call them home for supper. My Dad could step out of the house and whistle, and I could hear it from as far away as three city blocks. And I knew if I didn't get home quick, I'd be forced to attend a meeting between his hand and my butt. And none of that cost $30 a month.

We were never allowed to watch TV at dinner, either. Parents today don't seem to leave home without their portable DVD players so that junior can watch his favorite cartoon characters while stuffing his face with chicken nuggets and french fries. I didn't know what McDonald's was until I was about eleven and my friend's family took me there. I didn't know what ethnic food was either. I can remember my first egg roll. I must have been fourteen. Mom did all of the cooking and you ate what was on your plate or went hungry.

Where did it all go so terribly wrong? When did technology take over our lives and leave us crippled, sedentary zombies? And, yes, I do realize the irony of typing these words into cyberspace for all of you to read at your leisure, but my Gutenberg movable type printing press is in the shop and my rotary phone dial won't turn past the three so I can't call the repairman and I'd send him a cable, but they don't do that anymore, either and I'm ashamed to say that I never learned how to whistle.