Friday, February 28, 2014

A Week with Daddy

So due to the terrible circumstances of last week, I found myself at home with 4 kids, 2 dogs, and 0 domestic partners.  For your joy I will now recount the struggle of the week, using a random day as a template for the goodness (since they were all pretty much the same).  I will not spare you the details.

Cyndi got up at the ass crack of dawn to head to the airport.  I helped her out to the car, kissed her goodbye and went inside for breakfast.

6:00 AM the twins are already starting to get up.  I love the way they wake up.  Most of us drag ourselves from our beds and force ourselves to start our days.  The twins wake up like they are at a rave and are somewhere between their 14th and 15th redbull.  Straight out of bed and they just start banging on the walls and the door.  This is your signal that the day is about to begin whether you are ready or not.

I get the twins downstairs, find them a show, and get them started on breakfast.  Breakfast was usually a waffle and a cup of water, so the dog got half a waffle every morning.  I had about 30 mins of time with just the twins before it was time to wake up the older kids.  I tried to be gentle, and wake them slowly.  I would rub their back and tell them it was time to wake up.  I usually had to make 3 trips back to the room before Becks actually got out of bed.  It helped if I had a football or ninja shirt ready for him to wear.

At this point we are all dressed, kids are eating.  I am checking lunch boxes, backpacks, shoes and socks.  I am combing hair (not my own - sad face from bald guy), and barking at the boys to brush their teeth.  You would think the toothbrushes are made out of steel wool the way they try to get out of brushing their teeth.  Time for the last check.  OK.  Out the door.

Everybody to the van.  The twins sprint to the van like I run after the beer cart on a hot day of golfing.  They open the door and climb in, do they get in their seat? Nope! Straight to the front, the drivers seat to turn on the lights, turn signals, honk the horn, and do their very best to throw the van in drive.  Grab the twins to throw them in their seats as we are now 5 minutes off the pace to get to school on time.  But wait... what is this gift the twins have given me.  Its a double face-melter brown bomb!  AWESOME!  Sprint back in side to change diapers.  Both twins are now screaming at me.  I am elbow deep in diaper as the second twin has ran outside and is dancing in the street.  As I yell at Carson to watch his brother, he comes inside to tell me Grant is outside.  Yes... Carson... I know... Sprint back outside to load the van.  Yes Carson, you can start the engine.

Get to school, load up the twins and head for class.  At this point I get a very snarky comment from a teacher about how the twins are dressed.  If I had wanted your opinion, I would have asked!  And while I realize it is Northern California, please note that 60 degrees is not cold.

Get to class, drop off Becks, drop off Carson.  Back to the van and head to the house.  time to try to get some work done.  Getting work done with the twins running around is not the easiest task.  Every 5 minutes one of them would pull on my pants leg for "drink" or "cwackers" or "chips".  The best part of the week had to be when I was on a teleconference with the line muted of course.  Someone asked me a question, I carefully unmuted my line to answer, and right at that specific moment one of the twins lets out "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH".  I am told those in the meeting got a kick out of it.  I am sure it will be noted on my year end evaluation.  After 3 hours of struggling to answer e-mail while listening to the twins flush the toilet, it was time to get Becks.  Put the twins in the stroller and head to school.  The walk to school is just shy of a mile and goes through two parks.  Needless to say the twins have a hard time walking through a park and not stopping.

Get to school and Beck's teacher is looking for me, the kind of look like "you are failing as a parent".  She means to tell me that he needs to work a little harder in class.  Even at 37 you don't want to be on the teachers bad side.  Pick up my wounded parental pride and haul these kids to the park to burn some energy.  30 minutes of Becks riding his bike in a circle around the park and the twins climbing up and down the slide does the trick.  One would think doing the same thing over and over for 30 minutes is boring, one would be wrong.

Back at the house its time for lunch.  Here is where I flex my cooking skills and open a lunchable!  Boom!  I would have gladly cooked but they don't really care.  I tried to work again during the hour and half between Beck's pickup and Carsons' but 3 little screamers made it even harder to focus.  Especially cause Becks brings out the destructive force in the twins, like a mayhem multiplier.

OK.  2:20.  Time to go get Carson.  Same as last time, load up the twins, grab Beck's scooter and hit the road for our walk.  Really tough to get through those parks now. "Down... down... slide... slide".  The park moms are noticing me.  I get the look from them where they don't know if they should smile at me or call the police or child welfare.  Yes... I am aware the twins have taken off their shoes and socks.  No... I am not going to do anything about it.

Here we are at school, last pickup for the day.  Carson's teacher gives me the opposite look.  "Such a good parent!".  Amazing the difference in opinion when one kid is good in school and the other is struggling.  Back to the parks.

An exact repeat of 2 hours ago, only with on more kid riding his scooter in a circle.  A mom approaches me and introduces herself.  In California having 4 kids is borderline cult.  I should start carrying around pamphlets full of just crazy end of the world gibberish and give them to people who ask me about 4 kids.  And Yes... I do have my hands full!  Thank you for pointing that out to me.

Back home, now to do home work and try to squeeze in a little more office work before I get fired.  If I get fired I am opening a restaurant with a gym in the back.  It will be like a positive feedback loop.  Workout, get hungry, eat, feel fat, workout, repeat...!

Sorry back to topic...

Dinner time... I really felt like I excelled at dinner.  I cooked them a meal each night (save for one trip to McD), I really cooked.  I enjoy cooking, I just don't enjoy clean up.  Anyhow.  We made pasta, pizza, pasta, bacon.  This family eats a lot of bacon.  Dinner was the messiest time of the day.  You have to cook two meals for the twins (one to eat and one to destroy).  After dinner there was a little time to play and then it was off to bath.

Bath time is 70% fun and 30% throwing water out of the bath on the floor.  The twins could have kept the Titanic from sinking they bail water so fast.

Bath is over and now its time to watch a little TV and then off to bed.  TV time is as much about me turning the TV back on when the twins turn it off and laugh as it is about actually winding down.  They take such pleasure in driving me nuts.  But after one last change of atomic doodie we can head to bed.  Bed time is getting so much easier now.  I have to make 8 trips back up stairs to tell the twins to get in their beds and to tell the boys to shut-up, but seeing as how the rest of my day went that was pretty good.

It is now 8:30, twins are in their room, the boys are watching a show in their bed.  I am left to clean up the fallout.  It looks like a bomb went off in the living room.  Toys are broken, dismantled, and strewn about, it looks more like modern art than a place to sit.  I clean, I clean, I clean.  Reset the room.  If you have ever watched 50 First Dates, there is a scene where they reset the day after Drew Barrymore's character goes to bed.  That is every day in Daddy Day Care.

It is now 9:30.  Time to watch a little Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and pass-out.  Its gonna be a long day tomorrow.

- Eric

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Our family has had a rough couple of days, with the sudden and unexpected loss of Grandma Tina.  It, along with some other stuff, is making the distance we have between us and our families feel bigger than it already is.

I have been a ridiculously fortunate person for the first thirty-seven some odd years of my life.  I have really experienced no significant loss on any level.  Even our old dogs are still poking around the house.  This moment has has led to my first discussions with the boys about loss.  When my grandmother passed away a couple of months ago, I didn't really discuss it with the boys.  While they had met Great-grandma Hazel, they had only been with her a couple of times, they didn't have an emotional bond beyond the fact we were telling them that this was a relative.

Grandma Tina of course will be different.  The boys know her, we tried talking around the subject and they led us right back to it.  So my wife jumped in and started the conversation.  My boys, like their dad, are emotional.  I am an old man, and I still can't deal with grief.  I can't watch TV shows that deal with loss logically like medical dramas, and I will NOT watch a movie where I know the protagonist dies, unless its Gladiator.  We have introduced the topic of "heaven", and then come the questions.  Where is it?  How do you get there?  How does your spirit get out?  Questions that I have no answer to.  I try to fall back on simple explanations.  As an adult, I am a science man.  My person beliefs in the hereafter are very complicated and involve the Carbon cycle.  But I do believe in a another plane of existence beyond the physical self, the Universe is too big and wondrous a place for there not to be more than meets the eye.

I don't know how I will answer their questions.  I will try to give logical answers, but answers that a 6 and 7 year old deserve to hear, answers that help them deal with the loss and give them hope.

Sorry for rambling... I will do better next time.

- Eric

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Training?

I have had just a few grown-up professional jobs in my adult life.  Each time you go through the same frustrations at the start.  Trying to lean the nuances of the job, trying to learn who should not get pissed off at you, and trying to learn what you are actually going to be paid to do.  Different companies do training differently, some have been great at it, others terrible.  I won't get into the details of each different gig, but to this day the best training I ever received was at Rafferty's.  That is right, a restaurant was by far and away the best training experience of my life.  Let me explain why their training was the best:

When you start they did not assume you were a complete moron, which let me tell you can be a significant thing all on its own.  Your training was essentially broken into 5 periods, each period had progressive levels of responsibility and action of you own while your trainers did less.  You did not progress until you were ready, and most importantly they had a plan and stuck with it.  Thus far 100% of my professional roles did not have a plan and therefore had nothing to stick to.

On your first day you were basically just coasting, walking along with your trainer.  You had no responsibility, you were basically the equivalent of hat (just along for the ride).  But you were expected to listen and follow along.  To learn things that would prepare you for day two.

Day two was your first real foray into doing any work.  You only did 25% of the work and focused on the simpler tasks with trainer oversight.  You got further introduced to the work, but you were not a roadblock to progress or success.  The trainer still did the heavy lifting.

Day three you assumed a 50/50 role with your trainer.  At times you were on your own with oversight, at times you were watching and learning.  This was the first time responsibility would be put in your lap, you were no longer a hat.  You had to learn the talk, the walk, and the specifics of the job.

Day four you assumed 75% of the role, the trainer was now standing behind you, offering help and answering questions.  This was the most difficult of the training days and the most was expected of you because you still had the full support of a trainer.

Day five was the final training day.  Here you assumed full responsibility and the trainer became your hat.  The trainer stood back, off to the side, effectively allowing you to assume the full responsibility of your work but being there if the train came off the tracks (you are in fact still a brand new employee and are bound to make mistakes).

Once you cleared training you were loose upon the world, free to screw up orders and forget refills like every other server that ever lived.

Now think about your professional life.  How much smoother would your training be if you followed a program like this.  What if you spent your first 5 weeks really being trained.  You might actually be worth a damn by the end of the training period.

Monday, February 10, 2014

One Month in California

No matter how much we try, it still feels like some sort of vacation.  A crappy vacation where I have to go to work and the kids have to go to school but vacation none-the-less.  Its 1/24th of my minimal stay (that’s over 4% for those of you playing with your calculator and not spelling out the “5318008” up-side down).


There has been an absolute explosion of change with the twins.  I don’t know if they were just due (which they were) or it’s the shaking up of routine or comfort zone, but they are really developing fast.  Grant could barely speak in recognizable sounds two months ago, and now he can tell you a story.  Together they have now mastered escaping  from their cribs, the kitchen drawers, the fridge, the door locks, the toilet, and they have become our very own little portable alarm clocks.  No need to set your iPhone, when you hear the squeal of joy you know it’s 6:30 AM, and when you hear the cries you know it’s 7:00 PM.  Clockwork!


The big boys are getting along.  One minute they seem to be right as rain, the next minute they say something that makes it seem like they are miserable.  It’s hard to tell if they are struggling or it they are just being drama queens.  We need to get through this school year and find our “house” so we can settle into a neighborhood.  I have to admit the parks and beach are nice but I will gladly take a family room and a fenced in back yard over that stuff any day.  They boys keep getting invited to birthday parties, which is a big plus, outside of the fact that I don’t have much conversational Mandarin to bust out at parties.  Note to self… work on that.


The weather has finally started to head south for us, its cooler and rainy and looks like we are finally entering what these wimps call winter, we call it April.  To add insult to this little bit of injury my allergies are going bonkers here, perpetual spring (as it turns out) does have a downside.


Work is finally starting to come around, like any new job there is a period of “I have no flipping idea what I am supposed to do”.  It was a little magnified for me because of the design of the workplace here.  Everyone is very spread out, and you don’t meet people until you have already pissed them off.  Well… at least I have already pissed them off.  I have to admit the free Starbucks is pretty awesome though!  However, the gym SUCKS!  How can I be expected to get my swole on in a 1980’s looking jazzercise gym. 


So much for month one.  Looking forward to month two and hopefully a return to some sunshine.


To bring you joy… here are some more gripes from CA.


1.       When I finally move from this part of the country, I am going to relish space!  Not outer space, but good old fashioned room. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a family in NY or Tokyo.  I am quite literally going to walk around everywhere with my arms extended out, because I can.

2.       There are these weird on ramps to the freeway system here, they have stop lights and from the GPS you can’t tell if you are supposed to exit to them or to the actual exit.  As a result I make a wrong turn every time I go anywhere on the damn thing. This is totally us…

3.       I have to walk my dogs twice a day, and they still destroy the patio.  I don’t mind the walking as much as do the doo.  I could go my life and never pick up a turd again, fine by me.  What makes the whole thing worse is that the dogs mess with me and I know that is what they are doing.  They go, I clean it up, throw it away, they go again!  AGH!  Couple this with dirty diapers and my job and I can quite truthfully say I shovel shit all day long.




Monday, February 3, 2014


5000 page views! That is pretty friggin awesome!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 4: Bayside

Greetings and Happy Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day.  While its not his birthday Carson was born on Super Bowl Sunday, so we always end up eating some extra cake and ice cream on this fine day.

Its been a good week, but a bit of a stressful week.  I think I have mentioned before, the biggest change has been the lack of control over the twins.  In our house back in KY, we had the twins on lock down.  While this was great for Mom and Dad it probably wasn't the best for the twins.  They didn't get to explore the house all that often and maybe it kept them "babies" a little longer than otherwise.  Well regardless of that, in CA its open house and on top of open house the twins have figured out how to climb out of their crib.  Cyndi captured a fantastic video of the twins going nuts in their cribs climbing in and out.  There is one shot of Gabe about half way in where he just does a face plant.  Classic.... Check out the video below (if you are not friends with Cyndi you won't be able to view it, but I will upload it to youtube soon).

To make matters one step worse the twins have also discovered the toilets and the locks.  On MULTIPLE occasions we have found the twins at the toilet, hands in the water, squealing with joy.  I proceed to freak out and scream, they proceed to laugh louder and splash toilet water.  DIS - GUS - TING.  The twins won't be potty trained until they are 17 because every time they get near the bathroom I scream at them.  To make matters worse, they have figured out how to lock their doors.  It got so bad with their bedroom, I flipped the lock around so now we can LOCK THEM IN!  Locking them in has been hugely successful at bed time, they literally just tear their room apart until they get tired and pass out (it's like college minus all the booze).

Side note: Cyndi and I went out to dinner last night and we hired a sitter.  When the sitter showed up we gave her the rundown. When we explained that the twins were locked in their bed room, she looked at us like we were maniacs!  She had to envision a dungeon with twins chained to the walls.  We told her she was welcome to go up there and check on them as often as she liked, but it was a priceless reaction.

Side Side note: We are such party animals, we went to BJs and Target to celebrate our anniversary.  Someone better schedule an intervention!

The rest of the fam is doing well.  Carson had his first drop-off  birthday party.  While he seemed to fine with the drop off part, when I picked him up he was by himself (as in not playing with others). That made me feel like a big old POS, but a stop at McDonalds seemed to cure him.  Becks has his first drop-off party today, hopefully it goes better.

While Carson was out at his party the rest of us went to try In and Out Burger and holy mother of pearl, that is the best fast food burger you are ever going to eat.  When we ordered, I was nervous, like asking a girl to prom nervous.  I finished our order and the employee asked me if we will be eating in our car (which we were going to do), I was completely freaked out for a second.  I though how did this person know we were going to eat in the car?!?! Oh... they ask that of everybody.  California is weird.

We also took a driving tour of the East Bay cities yesterday, we liked what we saw.  We saw lots of malls and Targets and places to eat and shop.  Now we just need to find a house with rent under a million a month.

We have a little Superbowl Party planned for the Stary 6.  With some snacks and cake and ice cream.  I hope yours is as delicious as ours will be.

- Eric