Archives for category: Random Thoughts

I started this blog as a way to chronicle my children’s lives in the early years. It was a tremendous undertaking considering that I had other things I’d rather be doing (like sleeping, eating, and exercising). But, I was determined to leave a trail of digital memories behind. It worked for two years or so, but the once abundant flood of monthly posts have all but dried up.

The excitement of writing about new adventures with the kids has become less than exciting. (Getting them out of the house to have said adventures is a monumental task in itself.) It’s a lot of work trying to force my children to enjoy themselves at the park, the zoo, Disneyland, etc. Then, I’m propping them up and jabbing them with a long stick so that I can capture at least one looking at the camera before they zoom off in opposite directions.

They’re also at a point in their lives where they feel like happiness comes from the simple things…that they’re NOT doing. So they cry a lot. In recent months, outings as short as a trip to the post office has the potential to leave everyone in tears. It wears me out mentally and emotionally. And I don’t get any good blog material out of the trip to the post office…unless I push the Smush down the mail chute and chronicle the event.

My stats show that I barely release two posts a month now. The hundreds of thousands of folks that months ago would sit in front of their computers anticipating the release of my next blog post are now lost in to Kim Kardashian’s buttocks. Now, the only one that stares at the computer drooling for every Me vs. Gavin blog is my dog. And I’m not quite sure if he’s drooling over my writing, the chocolate bar on my desk…or if he’s telepathically asking for a walk around the block.

Worm and Mushie are busy. No, it’s not like let’s run in circles for an hour. That’s too safe and calm. They run in circles to warm up, then:

  • climb up and down on the furniture
  • smother each other with couch pillows
  • see who can squeeze who between the front door and screen door
  • push each other in the doll stroller until someone falls out
  • play toy tug-of-war til someone has all the toys and the other is sobbing profusely
  • push each other down without a parent noticing and run away
  • go outside to the sandbox and come back inside to pour sand on the carpet
  • jump around in the bathtub screaming until someones ears start bleeding or until someone slips and falls
  • see how many sheets of toilet paper can come off the roll before mom or dad see
  • dig through the garbage bin for useful items (like a crunchy, candy wrapper) until I catch them

And that’s before breakfast. Then they do it again. It never gets old, either. For them. So, I play all-day damage control by chasing them from here to there and shooing them away from danger and demise. When I’m not saving their little lives, I’m swinging them on my various limbs like little primates in the jungle. My neck and arms ache by sundown and I get a killer workout from it. When they’re finally tucked in bed at 8:30pm, I’m not really interested in writing. I’m catching up with a missed meal or two, emailing my adoring FB friends business contacts, walking the dog, doing dishes, or falling asleep at my desk wondering what it was like when I had that precious little gem called time.

They consume so much of my day now. But, I’m determined to get back on the wagon and rejuvenate this blog! I’ve also got some reinforcements now….ha ha ha!

Kids! Hey! Wait a minute! Let's Talk About This Over Lollipops, OK?

Kids! Hey! Wait a minute! Let’s Talk About This Over Lollipops, OK?

Gavin – 38; Honeydaddy – 21 (Worm. If you and Mushie destroy my blog, then no one wins…I think.)

 

We were lucky. Our kids conformed to a great sleep schedule early.  A few months into this world, they each figured this out. When mommy and daddy looked exhausted, they needed to go to bed. When the sun peered into their bedrooms, it was time to wake up. When we pulled the blackout curtains to darken their rooms, it was nap time! A strict schedule and straightjacket swaddle were essential to their (and our) nocturnal bliss, and we enjoyed our peaceful slumber until recently.

The key word from the above paragraph is “were”. They’re no longer our children. They have become sleep deprivation devices, SDD1 and SDD2. They are small robots that effectively suck the life out of parental units within a 50 feet radius. And they do so by not allowing our adult bodies to reach REM sleep. If I am dozing off in bed, SDD1 or SDD2 will sing loudly, kick the walls, or pierce the air with high decibel shrieks. Randomly. Once we hit alpha waves, they respond accordingly. (Sorry, geek speak.) SDD1 and 2 are not usually working at the same time, as they telepathically communicate with one another so that at least one of them is sleeping (read: recharging) while the other is working to make sweet dreams a distant memory for us.

SDD1 has a brand new technique. Ever since we allowed him to enter and exit his cage bedroom at will, he’s been finding it convenient to waltz into our room at all hours of the night like we’re a 7-Eleven. (I need to turn off the Honeydaddy sign between the hours of 10pm and 7am.) It’s about 5 times a night…and that doesn’t include the amount of times SDD2 wakes us up with her noisemaking antics. (It’s great that she wants to be a singer, but for the love of Tebow, she should be practicing in the daytime!)

His techniques of torture:

SDD1: “Whaaaah!” (Usually around midnight this happens…and it’s a simple way to wake just about anyone. Even the dead.)

SDD1: “Mommy (or Honeydaddy), can you cover me up?”  (as if his arms are too tired to work between 1 and 2am…)

SDD1: “I want some hugs!” (What parent will say no to that?  This is an easy one for him. It never fails any time of night. Never.)

SDD1: “I have to go poopie. I want you to watch me!” (Really? Watch? I can’t participate? Like a well-oiled machine, the poop monster rears its head between 5:35 and 5:50 daily. Take that last sentence however you want. One day, I’m going to shove a cork in him and send him back to bed.)

The other sleep deprivation techniques aren’t that bad, but the poopie one kills me. I usually can’t go back to sleep afterwards. It’s that last hour of sleep that’s so coveted, so precious, so delicious…and I can’t have it. The dogs wake up from the toilet flush. Worm is hungry from the early morning ‘effort’. And we are pretty much forced to get out of bed before 6. I’m dying from this lack of sleep…I feel it in my bones…

They've taken over my eating schedule, and now my sleeping schedule!  Argh!

They’ve taken over my eating schedule, and now my sleeping schedule! Argh!

Gavin – 37; Honeydaddy – 21 (You already eat my food. Now you take away my sleep. How else will you torment me?)

As the kids get older, I’m starting to work more. Hold on. Let me step back for a second. It’s difficult for me to work more than I do as a parent. What I mean is that I’m doing other activity besides changing diapers and cooking toddler food. Yes, I had a life and job before they came and I’m very interested in resuming some of those activities again. Very.

So this past weekend, I went off to a business event.  I left early on Friday morning and returned in time to pick up the kids from daycare the following Monday afternoon. I was missing in action for almost 4 full days.

I didn’t tell the Worm that I was leaving and I didn’t tell him when I was coming back. He’s at an age where he understands quite a bit, but the man-made concept of time doesn’t trigger much neuronal activity. So what did I do? I made the choice not to tell Worm about my trip. I mean, why would I want to stress the little guy both before I leave as well as while I’m gone, right? Right? Please tell me I’m right.

The situation didn’t pan out as well as I had hoped. It turns out that Worm arose Friday morning to find no one resembling the chiseled, dashingly handsome and debonair Honeydaddy anywhere. He missed me. Deeply. And his world fell apart every day that he didn’t find me hiding in the closet, under the couch cushions, or behind the coffee table.  (I missed him too, but I played with my cell phone all weekend to distract myself from the emotional roller coaster of reality.)

Worm and I are best friends. Every day, he tells me that he loves me. Every day, I hug him and let him know how proud I am of him. Every day, I tell him that I love him in a way that he could never question. Except for last weekend. And Worm wasn’t quite himself. Sure, his mother was there to hold him, and squeeze him, and love him.  But that’s her relationship with the Worm, not mine. She can’t take the place of me, just as I couldn’t take her’s. The human heart just doesn’t allow us to replace one another that way.

So this week when I returned to my normal daddy duties and doodies, I was reminded of how much a part of that little boy’s life I have become. I’m a fixture to the Worm.  Not like a lightswitch, but more like a TV with Curious George episodes playing on it.  I’m important.

Worm’s been afraid to take his afternoon nap, and though he hasn’t said it, I believe he’s fearful that I won’t be home when he wakes up. During what should be his nap time, he pokes his head out in the living room every 10 minutes to check on me by saying “I just want to give you a hug.” or “I want to give you a mooch.” This has been going on for over an hour a day. He fears that if he closes his eyes for too long, I’ll disappear.

Worm’s still not quite recovered from my trip. (Neither am I, by the way.) So I’m working to repair the damage I did by supplying extra hugs and kisses to him.

I don’t know where to go with this one. This is a tough spot. I know that I’ll be doing more weekend events, but I’m still not sold on telling Worm that I’ll be gone since he only understands two forms of time: right now and not right now. Maybe I’ll just give up on working and retire now.  Maybe I’ll take the Worm with me to events to run the cash register or something.  Or maybe I’ll help Worm disconnect from emotional suffering by getting him a cell phone.

Worm, That's an Interesting Sleeping Face...

Worm, That’s an Interesting Sleeping Face…

 

I loved the round belly on my baby Smush (11)

It used to be bigger to match her plump tush. (11)

But then she stretched out, and so did her tummy.

Hugs became puny, not nearly so yummy.

One thing had remained, though.  Her huge appetite

Still flourished and shined like a beacon of light.

 

The question I ask “Would it be fair for me

To stuff those sweet cheeks and grow back that belly?”

I gave her a burger today with some fries,

Believing the meal was too great for her size.

She hoisted the burger with one hand, then two.

I pitied the cow when I heard it go “Moo!”

 

“Calories!”, the reply, of the question “What

Could recapture my glee when tickling her gut?”

Bring burgers and fries, with some hotdogs and cheese

‘Til my Mushie’s a Meatball again!  Oh, please!

 

Am I nuts for wanting to squeeze baby pudge,

Before Smush grows up and gets lanky?  Don’t judge

Me for relishing and savoring this time.

She’ll mature so quickly, then show me that I’m

a silly old man holding on to memories.

 

Usually one would make that face after the first bite, not the fifth one!

Usually one would make that face after the first bite, not the fifth one!

 

 

 

 

Men are from Mars and women are from a galaxy far, far, away.  That’s common knowledge.  A man’s brain is wired for rational, linear problem solving and sheer awesomeness!  I’m hungry.  I should eat food.  I’m thirsty.  I should drink beer.  And so forth.  A man’s brain operates like a Swiss watch, accurately and efficiently!  On the other hand, a woman’s brain is a wiring nightmare.  Their thoughts usually go like this:  “Let me see if I can talk on the phone while yelling at the radio station while getting dressed while driving while filling out a checkbook while eating breakfast while thinking about whether my bedroom should be painted mauve or lilac.”  (Come on ladies.  I see you doing this on the freeway all the time!)  A woman’s brain reminds me of the internet, a potpourri of gross interconnectedness.  When I query the word “gray”, I get the answer “Flashdance and the iconic sweatshirt”.  Say what?

I didn’t think that differences could be seen so early in life, but I’ve been swayed since the Smush came along.  As a comparison (just this once for my readers, because I don’t compare my children to one another…they are each unique snowflakes), Worm and I not only speak clearly to one another, but we can relate through sign language and orca clicks.  It’s remarkable that we don’t even have to be in the same room to understand each other.  Sometimes he farts and I know what he means.  It’s beautiful.  Smushie, though, just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Her words are limited to “Hi!” and “Daddie” in various permutations and combinations, but I’m not penalizing her on that.  She’s got grunts and twisted faces that help her to get the point across.  But more than half the time, I still don’t get it.  I’ve also never been good at Charades.  But still.

Exhibit A:

The setting – 9:30am and she hasn’t eaten breakfast since she woke up at 7.  I’ve prepared a plate of strawberries and pancakes ready to feed her.  Smushel is standing in the kitchen looking at me going “Ah. Ah. Ah.”  Her mouth is wide open.

Me – “Mushie, do you want some strawberries?” I fork the fruit from the plate and move it towards her mouth.

Smush – “Hi Daddie! Daddie!” with a smile on her face.

Me – “Here you go.” And I put the fork right in front of her mouth.

Smush – “Wahhhhh!” She gets this fearful look on her face, her eyes well up with tears, and she slowly inches backwards.

Me – “Don’t you want to eat?  Aren’t you hungry?”  I start to walk towards her.

Smush – turns and runs away to the corner of the living room.

Me – Uh, what the hell just happened?  “Oh well, more strawberries for me…”

 

Exhibit B:

The setting – 11am and she points at the TV.

Me – “Mush, do you want to watch some show?”

Smush – Nodding in agreement.

Me – I pick up the remote and turn on the TV.

Smush – drops to the ground and clutches the carpet in agony.

Me – “Uh, Worm?” as I look over to see if anyone else caught what was going on.

Worm – “Yes, Honeydaddy?”

Me – “Why is Mushie crying?” I ask, as if my height deterred me from seeing ‘eye to eye’ with my daughter.

Worm – “I think she just wants you to want to turn on the TV, but not actually do it. Or she’s crying for the killings in Gaza.  I can’t really tell.”

Me – “Worm, neither of those things you said make any sense to me.”

Worm – “Sure Daddy.”

The above two scenarios play out almost daily in some odd form.  Before the Smushmonster came, I figured there wasn’t much to understanding toddlers.  Now I find myself second guessing an 18 month old girl’s motives, especially when my incorrect action causes her to sprawl out on the floor screaming like I ripped the arms off her favorite teddy bear.  It’s like she’s speaking a different language.  I fear this may be the beginning of a long life of daddy-daughter misunderstandings.  I need to brace myself.  Or just defer to her mother for a translation…and I can stick to understanding farts.

This is Mushie's Response to Me Asking Her if She Wants to Play Legos.

This is Mushie’s Response to Me Asking if She Wants to Play Legos.

 

I almost never post twice in one week anymore, but not because I don’t want to.  With the craziness of our household and the current orbital state of Mars in retrograde, it’s tough for me to complete a meal let alone a few sentences.  But this week’s different.  Smushie Meatball is turning the big single digit, one.  Wow.  What a year!

I can’t believe that she’s lasted this long!  I mean, with the Worm and the dogs, she’s not really a top priority for me as her caretaker.  But the Smushter is scrappy and feisty, just like a second child needs to behave in order to feed herself and survive.  Sure I’ll throw her a bone, both figuratively and literally.  It doesn’t matter.  She bites in with gusto.  (It’s a disgusting habit and 100% true, unfortunately.)  The plus side of chewing everything is that she’s building immunity to every strain of microbe that lives in our house and getting some form of nutrition at the same time!

Since today’s the big day, you know what she gets?  Vaccinations!  Hooray!

She also gets plenty of kisses from mommy and daddy!  At this age, kids are cheap.  I could wrap a…hell, I could just hand her a toilet paper tube and she’d feel like she won the lottery!

Smushels, you bring a lot of laughter and joy to our lives!  I hope that it continues or you’ll be spending a lot of time in your crib.

It’s pretty neat having you with us.  You’re very different from your brother, that’s for sure.  You’re not quite walking yet, but when you’re standing, you’ve often got a toy in each hand while you’re shaking to your own rhythm.  I just keep getting these flash-forwards of you at 16 with your brand new driver’s license trying to video chat, put on makeup, and paint your toenails while driving down the freeway.  Your brain is definitely wired differently than your brother’s.  That, I know.

Your smile lights up a room and it’s infectious.  I can’t tell if you’re laughing at me sometimes, or with me.  Either way, I find it adorable.  Your tiny, slightly crooked teeth remind me of a box of mini-Chiclets.  Which makes your 5-tooth smile even more cute!  Since you do put everything in your mouth, I keep my fingers away.  You bit papa’s finger a few weeks ago and I don’t even want to imagine the bite strength you have.  Which is why I feed you with utensils and from a distance.

You are fearless.  Nothing scares you, except your stuffed animals.  I love your tenacity and your boldness.  You go after things, even if you need to jump off your high chair to get them.  I’ve been your parachute and safety net for the past year, but I’m getting older and my eyesight isn’t as sharp as it used to be.  I hope that I may teach you to use thought before action before real bodily damage can occur.  For now, you’re pretty pliable, but when those bones fuse, the hard knocks of life may break appendages.  Enjoy it now.

Happy birthday littlest one!  You’ve taken us on a roller coaster ride thus far!  If there’s one characteristic our family could use, it’s someone to think and jump outside the box.  I believe that person is you.  I love you Smushie Mushie Meatball!

She's Either Going to Be a Professional Eater or Professional Fighter...

She’s Either Going to Be a Professional Eater or Professional Fighter…

 

I love the holidays.  Spending time with the family, sharing laughter, eating great food, and the most memorable part: getting help taking care of the children.  Almost everything is wonderful.  Almost.

We do our best to make it a happy holiday season, but with small children, that happiness comes at a price.   (I often pay in sanity and the black of my hair…)

Travel.  Ugh.

I hate travelling.  We live on the left coast.  Both sets of grandparents are on the wrong coast.  Air travel is a must and becomes part of our holiday planning.  Before children, I loved flying days.  Years ago, I’d fill my backpack with magazines (yes, the paper ones), music headphones, and arrive at the airport early just so I could hang out and putz around (what people without kids call ‘living’).  I didn’t have to do anything, save for getting on the plane before it left the gate.  After having spawned a pair of mini-me’s, air travel officially sucks.

Nowadays, before we leave for a trip, I fill my backpack with my son’s dvd player, his headphones, his movies, forty-seven of his favorite toys all piled on top of my trusty laptop and camera (neither of which I’ll get to use during the flight).  My backpack isn’t quite large enough to hold the essentials, of course.  So, I also carry a diaper bag (or my purse, as Worm calls it) with food, drink and diapers to manage a full day of bodily functions for dos pequeños niños.  This 40 lbs of stuff must stay close (read: under the seat in front of us) to prevent our children from spontaneously gushing fluids, suddenly starving, or imploding from stimulus deprivation.  (Translation:  I can’t stretch out my legs without crushing gummy bunnies and teething crackers.)

Then for the entire trip, I’m basically shushing, wiping, grabbing, restraining, carrying, feeding, smelling, changing, holding, pushing, dragging, or cleaning someone.  Sure the kids nap.  But once either of them senses my guard dropping, he or she wakes up to put me back on duty.  (They work in shifts, I swear.)

Sure travelling with small children is awful, but it’s not really what’s eating at me.  Steph and I eventually want to build our own family traditions.  We want to bake cookies, decorate gingerbread men, sing Christmas songs, play games, drink hot cocoa, make snowmen (yes, there’s snow nearby), draw holiday decorations, read the Night Before Christmas on the night before Christmas, and all of the other fun things to do while waiting for Santa to come down our fireplace on Taiwan’s Constitution Day.  The pandemonium of going across the country with two small children doesn’t provide us with quite the opportunity to instill those things on our children.  We’re too focused on all the trip details, schedules, and logistics planning.  And these next few years for our children are the ones that can be molded into those magical memories that they will cherish.  We want it to be exciting for them and (to be a little selfish, here) fun for us, too.  I don’t want Worm and Smushie to remember the inside of the car and the airport when they recall the holidays.  I wish we weren’t so far away from the grandparents, but we have to work with what we’ve got at the moment.  In an ideal world, our holiday would be more like Christmas Vacation (maybe minus Cousin Eddie) and less like  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  I just don’t know how to work it all out so that everyone gets what they want for Christmas.

Come on Worm, Put a Smile on Your Face!  We'll See the Nanas and Papas Soon!

Come on Worm, Put a Smile on Your Face! We’ll See the Nanas and Papas Soon!

 

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