Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mornings with Children | Epilogue


The last thirty days with my children have, as always, been both bizarre and beautiful.  The exercise of writing about them every single day, no matter what, come weekends or weddings, has been truly eye opening for me.  It has forced me to examine my children more closely.  It has forced me to engage in a more aggressive fashion.  That isn’t to say that I was detached before, but simply to say that there is always room to grow.

My wife and I saw a billboard today that said, “You don’t have to be a perfect person to be a perfect parent”.  My wife takes a bite of her burrito and says, “There is no such thing as a perfect parent”.  And she’s right.  You just try your best, everyday, every hour, every passing moment… because they are always getting older and those moments are forever slipping away, getting trapped in photographs and videos that you will cling to dearly.  They become the things you run to if your house ever catches on fire; your memories of The Best Times.

There have been many firsts that we’ve seen this month for both of the kids, some written about, some not.  Quinn’s two word sentence structure, “Where Mommy?”, Rory getting stuck on the sink, their very first Flaming Hot Cheeto.  But it has also made me realize that with every first, there is a last, many of which have already befallen us.  Their last bottle, their last sink bath.  For my wife, the last time she breast fed them.

These things slip in and out of our lives, monumental moments that we tend to treat with a passing fancy while devoting all of our time and energy to That Big Email or That Big Phone Call or That Big Meeting.  Finding a proper balance between being The Dad and The Husband and The Worker can be an all consuming job but it is the job that I (we) have all taken up willingly and now must (MUST) do our very best at.  There are no do-overs.  There are no try-agains.  There are no I’ll-Do-Better-Next-Times.  There is only now.  Today.  This Moment.

When your child hugs your knees, bend down and hug him back, furiously and without abandon.  Squeeze the very breath from his lungs and breathe in the scent of his hair and the softness of his skin.  When your daughter wants to sit next to you on the tub and brush her teeth with you but you’re late for work, take the grand God-given opportunity that has been presented before you and revel in it.

Rory and Quinn, now I speak directly to you.  Know that if anything ever happens to me, I tried my best.  I loved you with everything I had, I gave it all to you and I held nothing back.  I taught you how to walk and how to talk.  I put you in my lap when I backed the car down the driveway; sometimes one of you, sometimes both of you.  I bathed with you and I changed your diapers.  I ate peas for you… I hate peas… but I ate mounds and mounds of them to show you that vegetables are healthy.

I do this because I love you.

With all of my heart.  With all of my soul.  And with all of my strength.

And the only thing I ask in return… is that you pass that enthusiasm on to your own children.

As always, with love,


Mornings with Children | Day 30

DAY 30 LAST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I lie on the couch and my daughter lies on top of me, her ear against my chest.  Presumably she’s listening to my heart beat while attempting to fall asleep.  It’s well past her bedtime and her arm is still all messed up from who-knows-what-happened to it.  My wife took her to Urgent Care earlier today and the doctor “popped” her elbow back in but it’s still just dangling at her side like an al dente noodle.

She’s spent most the day sitting on the ground, staring at her feet and weeping.  The doctor says her arm is fine and she’s just “afraid” to use it but the way she wails suggests otherwise.  I pick her up and lay her on my chest and she stares up at me.  I say, “I love you” and she says, “Wuff Foo”.

Jade enters the room and says, “You wanna put them to bed?” and I know that it’s thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, sixty minutes past their bedtime but I don’t care.  It’s Saturday night and Quinn is hurt and she’s laying on my chest and I don’t want to ruin this moment.

I say, “Just a couple more minutes,” sounding like a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed rather than a husband who wants to keep his kids up.

I kiss Quinn’s forehead and will time to stop.



As I’m lying on the couch with my daughter, my son comes over.  He’s gotten hold of my iPhone and has disabled it for 8 minutes.  I use the locking feature because he knows how to slide the bar and then begins to “accidentally” (Uh-oh) delete apps.  The phone gives you ten attempts to get the 4 digit passcode correct.  If you fail, it locks you out for 1 minute.  If you fail again, 2 minutes.  If you fail again, 4 minutes… 8 minutes… 15 minutes…

Rory hops up in my lap, wedging himself between Quinn and the cushions, helping himself to the right side of my chest, and I can see the red “DISABLED” banner across my phone.  Oh, well.  At least I know that my apps are safe.  At least I know that he won’t delete Words with Friends and Flashlight and Sky View Free, which allows me to locate constellations.

He lays down on his back and snuggles in close, the disable timer going higher and higher.  He bumps Quinn’s arm and she squeals.  He sits up and stares at her with a face that looks like he’s just recognized her existence; like the face you’d have if you unexpectedly stepped on a toad.

I run my fingers through Quinn’s hair and whisper, “It’s okay.  It’s okay,” trying to work my voodoo-parent-magic on her busted elbow.  She stifles a few tears back and I kiss the back of her head, continuing, for lack of a better word, to “pet” her, although it truly feels more sentimental than that.

I look at Rory, who has dropped the phone to his side and has taken a great interest in his suddenly-present sister.  He says, “See-see,” and points at Quinn and I say, “That’s right!” and I say, “Can you rub her head?” and he reaches out and gently rubs his fingers through her hair and I say, “Can you say, ‘It’s okay’,” and he says, “O’tay… o’tay,” and sounds so much like Buckwheat that an image of Eddie Murphy from SNL is drawn to mind.

I kiss the back of Quinn’s head again and grab some of her curls in my mouth and playfully tug on them.  Rory slowly leans forward, unhinges his jaws and grabs a mouthful.

He sits up, laughs and disables my phone for a full 60 minutes.

Mornings with Children | Day 29

DAY 29


I kneel down next to Rory and point at his nose.  I place my finger right against the tip of it and I say, “What is this?  What is this?”

He quickly responds, “Rory!”

I suppose, technically, he isn’t entirely wrong.



Quinn has hurt her arm; it dangles lifelessly at her side.  She strolls over to me, clutching “Baby” in her good arm, and weeping openly.  I ask, “What’s the matter?” and she sobs, “Blankie!”.

Sure enough, her little blanket rests at her feet but her useless arm makes it so she can’t pick it up.  I grab the little rag and hold it out to her but she doesn’t accept it… can’t accept it.  Can’t even lift her arm up.  We have no idea what happened to it.  She just woke up from her nap not able to move it.

I brush the corner of the blanket against her bottom lip and she bites it.  I release the blanket and she wanders off, carrying her baby in one hand and dragging her blanket in her jaws.

Mornings with Children | Day 28

DAY 28



I pull up in my driveway, home later than usual because I had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up a refill of prescription drugs.  As I approach the front door, it swings open and my wife barrels out.  She tells me she’s going to her dance / workout class.  She’s in a rush because I’m late because of the prescription.  She points to the kids and says, “Kids are already eating.  Dinner is on the counter.  I love you.  Back later,” and with that… she’s gone.

I sit down at the table with my dinner – a salad consisting of chicken, turkey bacon, apple slices and some sort of chipotle-ranch dressing – as well as a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, a treat I’d picked up for myself at the pharmacy.

At the end of the table is my daughter, eating silently.  She’s not a big fan of chicken or turkey bacon so she’s just sort of casually dipping them both in her milk and then drinking the milk until there is just soggy meat at the bottom of a tiny plastic cup.  She sees my bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos and holds her hand out for one.  I’m all about teaching through practice so I just say, “Hot.  Hot,” and hand it over.  She says, “Hot,” before shoving the bright red stalagmite-looking junk food into her mouth.

She eats it, seemingly without cause, before asking for another.  I again warn her with, “Hot.  Hot,” and she repeats the behavior.  No hesitation, just shoves it in her mouth.  After a moment, a shred of recognition seems to wash over her face and she spits the (now) sand colored crusty onto her plate and scrubs her tongue.

After dinner I bathe her.  My daughter positions herself in the “corner” of the tub and slouches down as low as she can go until the water is resting just under her chin.  It’s a funny sight and I laugh.  She laughs.  She sits up and bends over and blows bubbles in the water and I laugh.  She laughs.  She grabs a bottle of my wife’s conditioner and pretends to spray some into her hand.  She then pretends to rub it in her hair, having seen her mother do this a hundred times.

I’m as bald as an eagle and haven’t used conditioner in seven years.

After the bath we sit on the couch watching the end of the Vice Presidential Debate, something I have never done in my entire life.  Quinn sits on my lap and I feed her animal crackers one at a time.  She asks for one and I say, “Say, AH!” and she opens her mouth and says “AHHHH!” and I say, “You’re still eating one.”  A few moments later she says, “AH!” again and her mouth is empty so I say, “Say, ‘please'” and she does so I give her another.

She eats three quarters of the cracker before rubbing the final soggy nub up and down my arm, getting a substance tangled in my arm hair that can only be described as “wet play dough”.

I tell her it’s bedtime and I put on her diaper and I put on her pajamas and she immediately poops in her diaper so I change her again.  I go to throw away the diaper only to find that my cocker spaniel has also pooped… on my kitchen floor… for the second time today… and the third time this week.

Back in the nursery my daughter is hiding in the closet.  I open the door, gently take her by the wrist and say, “Okay, time for bed.”  I put her in her crib, turn on the music box that plays It’s a Small World, say her prayers and kiss her goodnight.

Back in the living room I begin writing a blog entitled, “A Bilateral Evening with Children”.



I pull up in my driveway, home later than usual because I had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up a refill of prescription drugs.  As I approach the front door, it swings open and my wife barrels out.  She tells me she’s going to her dance / workout class.  She’s in a rush because I’m late because of the prescription.  She points to the kids and says, “Kids are already eating.  Dinner is on the counter.  I love you.  Back later,” and with that… she’s gone.

I sit down at the table with my dinner – a salad consisting of chicken, turkey bacon, apple slices and some sort of chipotle-ranch dressing – as well as a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, a treat I’d picked up for myself at the pharmacy.

Sitting right next to me is my son.  He’s feverishly gobbled up all the chicken in his little bowl before I’ve even had a chance to sit down.  His cheeks stuffed like a hamster, he begins pointing at my plate and making some noise that means something.  I pick up the bacon and he says, “No”.  I pick up an apple and he says, “No”.  I pick up a chicken piece and he pulls it off my fork, drops it in his own bowl and stares at it, seeming to wait for it to “become his”.  After a few seconds he reaches in and eats the chicken.  This process continues until all of my chicken is gone.

After that he points at my Flaming Hot Cheetos and I’m all about teaching through practice so I just say, “Hot.  Hot,” and hand it over.  He says, “Hot,” before shoving the bright red stalagmite-looking junk food into his mouth.  He eats it, seemingly without cause, before asking for another.  I again warn him with, “Hot.  Hot,” and he repeats the behavior.  No hesitation, just shoves it in his mouth.  After a moment, a shred of recognition seems to wash over his face and he spits the (now) sand colored crusty onto my plate and slowly pushes it back towards me, as if to say, “Here… you may now have this back”.

After dinner I bathe him.  I place one hand behind his head and another hand on his chest and I pretend to baptize him counting down before The Big Dip.  I say, “One.  Two.  Three!” and then I lean him back until both ears are submerged.  He pulls his head into his shoulders like he’s just gotten the chills and giggles uncontrollably.  He sits back up and I say, “One” and he suddenly shouts, “TWO!” and I say, “THREE!” and I dip him back again and he laughs and I laugh.

Later, I cover my face with my hands and all I see is blackness but I know he’s staring at me.  I rip my hands away, pulling the skin of my flesh back in what I imagine is a hideous mask, shouting in a guttural moan.  He laughs and I laugh.

After the bath we sit on the couch watching the end of the Vice Presidential Debate, something I have never done in my entire life.  Rory sits on my lap and I feed him animal crackers one at a time.  He asks for one and I say, “Say, AH!” and he opens his mouth and says “AHHHH!” and I say, “You’re still eating one.”  A few moments later he says, “AH!” again and his mouth is empty so I say, “Say, ‘please'” and he does so I give him another.

He looks up at me and does the strangest, cutest thing… He places both hands, wrist to wrist, under his chin and wraps his fingers up around his cheeks… like the way you’d imagine every baby Cherub sitting in every baby Cherub painting ever.  I kiss him with one hundred little pecks all over his cheeks and he laughs and I laugh and he does the hand gesture again and he laughs and I laugh.

I tell him it’s bedtime and I put on his diaper and he kicks out of my grasp before I can get the second latch done.  After vast amounts of cardio I finally have him dressed and ready to go but he’s escaped my clutches and has run into the closet, which is pretty standard bedtime fare.  We used to wrestle him out and put him back into his bed but we’ve since come to realize that he goes to bed moments after we leave all by himself.

While he’s out of my sight, I turn on the music box that plays It’s a Small World, and say his prayers out loud.  After I say, “Amen”, I say, “Okay buddy… goodnight” and I open the closet and he’s crouched down behind a shelf in the furthest corner, peeking out at me through a pair of slats in the wood.  He giggles and I slide the door closed, feeling like I’m the father of Eddie Munster.

Back in the living room I begin writing a blog entitled, “A Bilateral Evening with Children”.

Mornings with Children | Day 27

DAY 27


My son loves to turn on the water faucet in the bathroom.  He’ll crawl up on the toilet, lean over onto the sink and turn the water on and off, on and off, on and off while his mother and I shout from the other room to stop because, “Don’t you know that the Earth’s water resources are drying up?” and “Hey, do you think money grows on trees!  I’m footin’ that bill!” and I suddenly realize that I sound just like every parent everywhere, the world over.

This morning we hear him shout, “AH!  Mommy!  AH!  AH!” and we both stroll into the bathroom to find that he’s crawled far enough onto the sink to lose his footing on the toilet but not so far as to be able to pull himself completely up.  The edge of the sink crosses his belly, his hand gripping the faucet handle, his feet dangling into open air.  “MOMMY!  DADDY!”

We stop and stare at him, neither of us making a move.  Rory turns the faucet on and off again and says, “Wah-ter”.  Jade says, “Looks like you’ve gotten yourself into a pickle this time” and I casually stroll back into the living room saying, “I’ll get the camera.”


My daughter has a fierce dedication to give the best kisses that she can.  I’ll squat down next to her in the mornings, just before I’m getting ready to head out the door and I’ll say, “Can Daddy have a kiss?” and she’ll give a quick peck on the lips and go, “MAH!”, which is the universal kissing noise.  I say, “Oh, thank you!  That was very nice of you!” and she’ll lean in again and go “MMMMMAH!” and give me a longer kiss and then giggle and I’ll say, “Okay.  Daddy has to go.  Bye bye!” but then she’ll lean in, wanting to give me just one more.

She’ll come in real slow, making the buzzing noise, “MMMMM–” and she kisses me and I sort of start to laugh while she’s doing it because she’s basically just pressing her face into mine and going, “MMMMMMM–” and then it gets to the point where it actually sort of starts getting awkward and uncomfortable so I slowly step back and she goes, “–MAH!” and laughs.

Rory will try to kiss you with his mouth open, which is just an entirely separate story altogether.

Mornings with Children | Day 26

DAY 26


Last night Jade and I were surrounded by friends, a large group of us sitting in a circle in a living room discussing and analyzing what the word “trust” meant.  Yes, we all know what it means, we all know what the definition is, but what does it mean to put complete trust in someone ie your spouse?  Why do you trust them so implicitly and without question?  How have you gotten to this point emotionally and mentally?  How could you reclaim it if it were ever lost?  Etc, etc, on and on.  Now, it should probably be stated that this was not just standard Monday evening fair over crumpets and green tea.

We’re in, what our church refers to as, a Connect Group.  It’s a weekly… meeting??… where people get together to discuss a preset curriculum.  It’s actually pretty awesome because sometimes there actually is crumpets and green tea.  Last night there was chocolate fondue.  There was chocolate fondue!  Rory stood at the kitchen table begging for fruit and I just kept thinking… maybe I could just dip this strawberry in and give him a taste… but no.  That would be unwise.  He would never look at fruit the same way again.

“Trust me.  I’m withholding this pot of bubbling dark chocolate for your own sake,” I tell him.  “Here’s a strawberry.  Go find a drum and beat it.”

Back in the room I quickly realize that I haven’t done our weekly reading.  I’m such a numbskull!  Everyone is sitting around talking about “trust this” and “trust that” and I’m like, “Trust is nice.  Trust is one of those things that… that… it’s like… nice,” and I can feel all of their eyes peering into me; all five couples.  All ten sets of irises.  All twenty-two retinas, cones and rods and all, and I’m sure the whole time my wife is like, “What on Earth is this old fool rambling on about now?  Trust is nice?  Yeah, so are olives you nincompoop.  Get to the point.”

I look into the center of the circle that we’re all creating with our chairs and I see Quinn standing alone at a short table.  She’s real tiny so it only comes up to about chest high on her.  She’s slowly perusing a box of Crayola’s, pulling out one crayon at a time, examining it’s visual flavor and then scribbling slowly and deliberately onto a piece of paper that has a dog with huge eyes drawn onto it.

She’s not staying inside the lines but I’m amazed at how delicate each movement is.  It’s clear that she doesn’t understand what the purpose of the coloring book page is.  She doesn’t understand that you’re supposed to color IN the picture, the concept escapes her… but it doesn’t matter.  She just colors and she’s probably having more fun than someone concerned with messing up the photocopied page.

She picks up Ruby Red and looks at it.  Decides against it and puts it down.  She picks up Forest Green, scribbles over the dogs eyes and nose, covering him in what looks like canine mucus dripping from his orifices.  She picks up Mellow Magenta and Serene Indigo and Foxy Gold.  She colors with Eggshell White, Midnight Black and Purgatory Grey.  She selects and discards Raw Hamburger Pink and I-Don’t-Brush-My-Teeth Brown and Jade Sea which I’m not entirely certain is actually a shade of green or a shade of blue or some hue resting in the middle.  She scrawls in huge sweeping arcs and tiny, minute pecks, creating something that Jackson Pollock would certainly call art.  It’s definitely something I would frame.

Fueled by her self loathing, she continues on, foraging new colors, blending the wax to the paper until… she is simply unsatisfied.  “This is the worst piece of work anyone has ever created!” she seems to scream as she silently throws the page from the table and grabs a new paper; this one portraying a picture of a smiling lion.  She picks up Fear Onyx – the blackest black crayon I have ever seen – and makes one single solitary mark on his mane before throwing that sheet of paper to the ground as well.  I’m sure she’s thinking something like, “Fear Onyx!?  Who would use black on a lion!  It makes no sense!  It makes all sense!  I am horrible!  I am genius!  I am nothing!  I shall start anew!” she picks up another sheet; this one a parrot that has been previously colored and abandoned by another child.  Quinn takes the tattered remnants as something of a challenge.  She picks up her box of 72 crayons, her Pallet of Creation, inhales deeply, sticks her hand in and–

–trust is… yeah.  It’s really nice.  It’s like that sometimes… you know.”  I have no idea what I’m saying.  I have no idea why I didn’t read the chapter OR beyond that, why I began talking when I hadn’t completed the homework or taken the time to simply process what I was about to say.

The truth is, adult talk is fantastic and invigorating and refreshing and enlightening but sometimes I really just want to kneel down on the floor and color with my daughter, who’s biggest concern is whether Day Old Carrot Orange is the proper choice for her latest masterpiece.



This morning my wife left the house before I did; a rare occurrence that takes place when she has her monthly Mom Group.  She and some other mothers take their kids to a park or a museum or a playground or an underground fight club and the mom’s and the children all sit around and chat and have a wonderful time out of the house, spending time in one another’s company.  It’s a pretty swell little club.

Leaving the house, she’s taking this giant plastic bucket of random items with her; it’s an enormous bright green pail that’s roughly the size of a laundry basket and it’s filled to the brim with diapers, stuffed animals, a dirty blanket, some hula hoops, snack pouches and a projector.  Sometimes I feel like Jade has this entire secret life going on that I just have absolutely no idea what it’s all about.  Sometimes she’ll leave the house with a bean bag chair, six tubes of combustible confetti, a scale from the turn of the century and a box of matches, swearing she’s going to a photo shoot but when she comes back reeking of sulphur and garbonzo beans, I always question her solitary adventures.

Regardless, her Double-Oh life is neither here nor there.  This morning she picked up The-Basket-Filled-With-Every-Bizarre-and-Random-Item-You-Could-Imagine and began heading to the door.  I’d just turned on some Weird Al (my music of choice this week for getting ready in the mornings) when I saw her trying to fumble with the front door lock and simultaneously balance this 30 pound container of odds-and-ends on her hip.

I quickly leap up and grab it from her, relieving her to lead Quinn and Rory out to the car.  My daughter follows her mother, dragging her “white” blanket through dirt and leaves and who knows what else while my son stands by my side and looks up at me.  “Yes?” I ask him.  He says nothing but only reaches both arms up straight into the air.  “I can’t carry you, buddy.  Daddy’s hands are full”.  He leaves his arms up so I lower the basket in order to kneel down and talk to him on his level, which everyone says is very important; the eye-to-eye thing.

Before I get a word out of my mouth, he grabs a handle of the container and begins trying to tug it towards the door.  He didn’t want me to pick him up.  He wanted to help me the same way I’d helped Jade, by alleviating some of the weight.  I pick up the container, walking in a very uncomfortable hunched over position, not at all unlike Quasimodo, so that Rory could place his hand on the basket and lead the way through our front porch, down the steps and out the front gate.

When we get into the driveway, I shout, “Pivot!  Pivot!” an old joke from a Friends episode that Jade and I always reference when we’re moving things together.  I don’t know if he gets the joke but it doesn’t really matter.  He’s well on his way to becoming A Good Man and this just solidifies it all the more; They Are Always Watching.

Mornings with Children | Day 25

DAY 25


The kids have just gotten to an age in the last month, perhaps even the last couple weeks really, where they seem to be learning new words everyday.  You can say, “Say this or that” and they’ll repeat it so long as it’s no lengthier than two or three syllables.  When we ride in the car we practice all their words and sounds and noises and colors and names and numbers and I try to teach them mathematical equations but they’re just not ready for the pythagorean theorem yet.

It’s 9pm, we’ve been out of church for an hour and we’re all sitting in the drive-thru at In-N-Out.  Jade and I had just gotten baptized on a whim at service and were having a celebratory salvation burger.  While we wait in line, I turn around in my seat and start giving Rory a pop quiz.  “What’s a snake say?  What’s a donkey say?  What’s a llama say?  What’s a shark say?”  WIthout hesitation he fires back the answers at an impressive rate.  He says, “Ssss.  Ee-ah!  EEHH!  Duh-nuh”.  That third one is the noise I imagine a llama makes… sort of a growling scream and that final noise is the theme from jaws.

We sing the alphabet and I say, “Can you say A-B-C?” and he says, “Ah-Bay-EE!” and I say, “That’s right!  How old are you?” and he says “TWO!” and it’s not the right answer but it’s close enough.  I say, “Where’s your foot?  Where’s your eye?  Where’s your mouth?” and he points to all of them in order, repeating my words.

I turn around and sort of spontaneously, perhaps because I’ve got llamas on the brain, say, “TINA!” in my best Napolean Dynamite impression.  Tina, of course, being the name of Napolean’s weird pet llama and again, without hesitation, Rory drops his voice down a couple octaves, just as I did, and he says, “TEE-NAH” and I laugh and I say, “TINA!” and he drops his voice even lower and says, “TEE-NAH!” and it’s just so totally ridiculous, so out of this world bizarre that I can’t help but crack up.



I put Quinn in a time out, which means I place her back in her crib and tell her, before closing the door, that “Daddy will be back in a little bit to get you.  You need to be quiet because you were having a temper tantrum and we don’t have temper tantrums”.  I shut the door and there is a moment of silence… a very temporary moment of silence, before the ground erupts and the gates of The Abyss split open and all the noises from all the seven circles of Hell pour forth and I can hear them all screaming from the mouth of one tiny babe in one tiny room, the vibrations pounding and banging against the door and threatening to tear it down.

Rory stands by my side and I glance down at him, perhaps seeking advice and he just shrugs like, “I don’t know.  You put me in there and I just take a nap until you come back”.  I take a few hesitant steps back from the door, waiting to see if this is just a “phase” that will pass.  Understandably, she’s probably upset that I just locked her in a box in a room all by herself.  I would be too.  If it were me, I’d shout at my captives, “I know you’re out there!  I can hear you breathing!  You let me out of here right now and then you make me some macaroni and cheese with some broccoli in it but not too much broccoli because the flavor can easily overshadow the powdered cheese taste!”

I glance back down at Rory, wondering if maybe I can read something on his face, like, maybe he’s channeling his twin somehow.  He’s holding a John Deere truck his grandpa had purchased for him and he suddenly throws it down on the ground, probably testing it’s durability.  It doesn’t break.  Not bad.  Bottom line; no channeling happening.  Now, the truth is, I have no problem with letting my kids cry it out.  I am 100% fine with just walking away and listening as their screams and wails slowly die into whispers and whimpers over the following ten to fifteen minutes.  This is not a problem for me.  But man… this time it sounds like something is wrong.  It really sounds like she’s hurt.  Maybe her leg is stuck between the crib bars?  Her knee trapped and swelling up as I contemplate my next move?

I take a deep breath and then decide to just quickly… ever so quickly… poke my head in just to make sure that everything is okay.

I grab the handle, twist and push the door open.  In the crib, Quinn rests with her mouth on the bar of her bed.  She lifts her face away and snot and spit and tears make one long stringy web of mucus and liquid, connecting her to the wooden frame.  Her eyes are puffy and red, her face covered in moisture.  She looks like she’s just been hit with mace.  She stares up at me; her father, her protector, her savior, her captor, her only connection to the outside living world and, spittle streaming between her top lip and bottom lip, she wails in a broken voice, “BLAAAANNNKKEEEE!!!”

I look down at her broken and battered spirits and I can’t help but smile… just a little… and only on the inside.  Her blankie.  Her item of total and complete security.  The thing she drags with her through the dirt and through the puddles.  The thing she sleeps with and eats with.  In my haste to grab her and give her a timeout, I neglected to grab it.

Granted, timeouts aren’t a time of play or fun but there is also a distinct line between punishment and torment.  I fetched her blanket, set it inside her crib and she immediately goes silent.  I place my hand on top of her head and say, “Daddy will be back in a little bit to get you.  You need to be quiet because you were having a temper tantrum and we don’t have temper tantrums”.

I shut the door and there is silence.

Mornings with Children | Day 24

DAY  24


If you’ve ever been to Disneyland and are taller than four feet and aren’t absolutely horrified of heights and / or water, you’ve probably been on Splash Mountain, arguably one of the greatest attractions there… certainly my favorite.  It’s a wonderful little ride where you sit inside of a boat shaped like a log and sail gently through an underground wonderland filled with animatronic characters from the Brer Rabbit tale.  They sing wonderful little songs to you about Zippidee-doo-dah-Zippidee-yays and bluebirds on your shoulders.  It’s a truly magnificent ride, both calming and engaging at the same time.  You can’t help but be enveloped by the attention to detail all the while being lulled into a false sense of security.

About the time you think the ride is ending, things unexpectedly take a turn for the dark side.  The lights get a little dim, the song turns from a “diddy” into something that can only be described as a “dreary” and there are suddenly haunting portrayals of rabbits tied to stakes being prepared to be cooked, singing you their sorrows.  The shadow of a great wolf dances on the wall.  Truly horrifying stuff.

Click.  Click.  Click.

Your log canoe begins it’s slow ascent towards the heavens, taller and taller and taller, higher and higher and higher until finally, you’re simply staring out over the park, watching hundreds of thousands of people gleefully eating churros and hugging Mickey Mouse.  Meanwhile you have one brief instant to tell yourself that “This is Fun This is Fun This is Fun This is FUUUUUUU–” and then the next letter that comes out of your mouth is definitely not an ‘N’ at all and some camera takes a picture of you and your mouth is agape and your eyes are squinting and everyone in the log looks like Gilbert Godfried.

You come out the other end sopping wet, looking like you’ve just peed your pants just as your’e released into the celebratory Dome of Happiness.  There are roughly 50 characters all standing about on a giant Mark Twain style party boat, singing merrily as though your life didn’t flash right before your eyes moments ago.  And just like that, you’ve forgotten everything that came before.  All that matters is this wonderful celebration you’re apart of.  You’re tapping your foot and you don’t care that there is water squishing in your heel.  You pat the knee to your soggy jeans and you laugh and hum with your family.

My afternoon with the children was not dissimilar to this.

My wife leaves the house to go on a photo shoot and I’m so grateful for the time the children that we get to spend alone together.  Obviously not because I despise my wife, but because there is something truly tangible about one on one (or one on two) time with them.  We sing songs together; we sing The ABCs and we go through all their animal noises and all the words they know (over 30!) and it’s such a pleasant and wonderful experience.

We chase each other around the house and we tickle each other and wrestle with one another and laugh and then there’s a point… it’s that click click click point.  Things suddenly and unexpectedly go dark.  The sun passes behind a cloud and my daughter quits being the cute little rabbit and becomes the shadow of the wolf, laughing and licking her chops… and when I say laughing, I really mean screaming.  I have no idea what got into her today but she just unleashed some serious wrath.  She didn’t even appear to want anything; it was like the animals in Splash Mountain; they just did as they were programmed.  There was no reason behind why they were always happy or sad, it was just the truth at that time on that day  and do it they must.

After getting a timeout that seemed less than fruitful, I fed them and eventually decided that it was simply nap time.  The click click click was getting higher and faster and I could now look down at all the people in the park and go, “You have nothing to worry about!  You’re all down there eating your churros and pooping in your diapers!  Why are you crying!  Have I not given you all I have?!” and then whoosh! I’m rushing down the hill.

I scoop Rory up in my arms and I take him to bed, giving a cursory glance behind me to see if Quinn is following… which she is.  I put Rory down in his bed and… Quinn is missing.

I call her name and step into the hallway.  I call her name.  Nothing.  I step into the living room.  I call her name.  Nothing.  I check the bathroom.  Nothing.  I check the dining room and under the table.  Nothing.  I look into the kitchen.  Still nothing.  Have I just lost my daughter for the third time this month?  I immediately check both front and back doors, my mind immediately slipping to the worst case scenario which is, of course, a neighborhood pervert breaking into my house in the middle of the day.  When I find that both doors are closed my mind goes to the second scenario, which is her hurt somewhere.  I have fears of both of them getting their necks tangled around the strings on the blinds or getting into the chemicals under the sink or somehow finding a roach trap that I’ve overlooked from months and months or even years ago.

Then my mind comes to terms with the third possible scenario.

Is she… hiding from me?

I slowly walk into the laundry room, a tiny 5x5ft square in the very back of our house that is usually full of laundry and dog food.  I slowly peek around the corner and… still nothing.  This is weird because there’s really nowhere else for her to go.  Have I been outsmarted by a toddler?  Things are getting weird and I can feel that Splash Mountain falling feeling in the pit of my stomach.  The water is splashing up onto my jeans and I’ve got a Gilbert Godfriend face on while I try to process– wait a minute.

I notice something.  On the ground, sitting right next to a dirty pile of laundry is this weird little snowball.  It’s Quinn’s blanket that she carries with her absolutely everywhere she goes.  She doesn’t leave it alone anywhere so it’s sort of strange that it’s here all by itself.  I sort of lean down and really slowly grab it, half expecting to find some kind of troll or skeleton underneath.

My heart thumping, I gently pull the blanket back… to reveal a doll.  Scary.  And then Quinn; she’s curled up in a little ball on the floor, covered in her blanket genuinely hiding from me!  As soon as we make eye contact she begins to giggle and I scoop her up and I say, “Were you hiding from Daddy?!  Were you HIDING?!” and the truth is… yes she was.  She was hiding from me and it’s so simple and cute and wonderful that I forget everything else.  I forget her throwing her food and the insanely high-pitched, non-sensical screaming.  I forget it all and I only hear the song that is her laugh as I put her down for a nap.



All magic comes at a cost.

For example, there is something bordering on the realm of fantastical about having your child in bed with you.  Waking up in the middle of the night and rolling over, forgetting that they’re there and then bumping into them, finding their tiny hands or tiny toes and then just going back to sleep touching their skin.  It’s hard to say who it’s more soothing to; you or them.

Two mornings ago I opened my eyes and found Quinn’s face staring back at me.  Well, staring isn’t quite correct as she was still asleep, but facing me in any regard.  I shifted around a little and got to actually watch her wake up.  Her little eyes popped open very slowly and I watched, unblinking, as her vision came into focus.  You could tell she sort of saw me… or at least saw something and then realized it was me.  A huge smile broke across her face and the first words out of her mouth were, “HI!”  She just wakes up that way, ready to greet the day.

Conversely, last night Rory slept with in our bed.  I feel as though he has a slightly more overt tendency to cuddle up with us at night than Quinn does, which is strange because their personalities are the exact opposite during the daytime.  I’ll wake up and he’ll have his head resting on my shoulder or in the crook of my elbow or he’ll be draped across my stomach so our bodies are forming a lower case ‘t’.  I’ll wake up and he’ll have his foot across my neck or he’ll have stretched himself along the top of the pillows, connecting his mother and I in a shape that resembles the pi symbol.

You can grab him easier than Quinn and shift him around, cuddle up with him like a teddy bear.  Quinn wants to find her own spot and claim it while Rory will be content with giggling while you pretend to bite his neck and growl in his ear and it’s all very magical.

But all magic comes at a cost.

In the mornings when the sun shines through the windows, my wife and I are awoken not by a gentle and cheerful, “HI!” but by someone poking us in the eyes or jumping on our chests or pinching us or kicking us in the stomach while screaming.  Sometimes we awake to find that he’s slithered off the bed, has found our iPhones and has begun to delete apps.  Sometimes he gets off the bed and wants to get back on but is too lazy to climb so he just yells at your face until you lift him up.

As I write this it is nearing 11pm and I have to stop and wonder which, if any, of the kids we’ll grab tonight.  I know it’s a terrible habit, teaching your children to sleep in bed with you, but it’s FUN and I LOVE THEM and they’ll have plenty of time to ignore me when they’re older.

Until then, I will pay whatever blood price I must for the magic that I love.

Mornings with Children | Day 23

DAY 23  HAPPY 21 MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!


There are a series of events that play out in our lives that will blow open our minds, leaving our skulls with smoking holes where our borders of reality used to lie.  Some of those events are… the first time you fall in love, the first time you see your children, the first time you have a near-death experience, the first time you are served pepperoni pizza by a mechanical singing coyote on a tricycle at a children’s arcade.

There is a *wow* factor as your brain readjusts itself to time and space.  What is seen cannot be unseen.  What once was, will never be again.  I have stood on the mountain top… and it was good.

This morning while my wife was at a meditation class (ie shopping at Target), Rory experienced his mind crumble and then piece back together directly before my eyes.  I actually had the opportunity to watch it happen, all of it, as though in slow motion.

The boy loves milk.  Loves the stuff.  I’m sure if it weren’t socially unacceptable, he’d be sucking on the teet during half time at his big senior game.  “More!  More!  Please!  Please!  Please!” is his mantra at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I’m sure that, in his brain, he’s thinking something to the effect of, “Milk good!  Milk best!  Nothing better than milk!  MILK!”

But then there’s this other side of him.  There’s this side of him that loves M&Ms.  After he’s gone “potty” – a phrase I’ve grown weirdly comfortable using – he gets an M&M.  He hops off the toilet and goes running through the house screaming, “Chocky!  Chocky!”  (Chocky = Chocolate = M&M).  We place one in his hand and he savagely shoves the bright morsel in his mouth and runs off gleefully on tiptoes.  Again, I’m sure he’s thinking something to the effect of, “Chocky good!  Chocky best!  Nothing better than chocky!  CHOCKY!”

But wait… Rory, I’m about to open your mind to a dimension of such flavor sensations that you’ll believe you are eating in 4-D.

I ask both kids, “Do you want breakfast?” and they respond, “Yeah!” so I put them in their respective chairs.  I ask them, “Do you want… MILK?!” and they both say, “MILK!” and I can already tell that Rory is more excited than Quinn.  Sure, my daughter wants to eat breakfast but Rory is about to get a fix.  I pull out three glasses, one for each of us, and I fill them each half full of milk.

Rory leaps onto the counter and tries to grab it but I say, “No, we’re not done yet.  We’re not… done yet,” and the truth is I’m just as excited as he is.  I’m so excited to see what’s about to happen.

I pull out some chocolate syrup and I slowly drizzle some into each glass.  Both kids look at me, seemingly disgusted by the thin brown strands I’m pouring into their pristine dairy drink.  I’ve tainted perfection with… grossness.  They both squeal their displeasures and I say, “Just wait.  One more minute,” as I begin to stir, stir, stir.  Eventually, I can take it no longer and I slowly slide two of the three cups over to the kids.  Rory stares down into the dark, muddy milk and sort of pushes it away, completely unsure.

I look at Quinn and she’s dipping her fingers into it and tasting her fingers; interesting technique but it appears to be working.  I pick up my cup and lift it to my lips.  I say, “Look.  It’s good.  Try some,” and I take a deep drink.  Rory pulls his close to him again and looks into it, still questioning.  I take another drink and say, “Drink.  Chocolate milk,” and he slowly lifts the cup to his mouth.

Cue alternate reality.

He lowers the cup, a brown mustache painted thinly across his lip.  He looks at me like, “Could it be true?” before raising the cup back to his mouth and gobbling it down like a turkey in a rainstorm.  He slams the cup down on the counter and victoriously screams, “CHOCKY MILK!”

Life will never be the same.



There are blueberries everywhere!  And not the good kind of blueberries either, the kind of blueberries that are sexual predators.  Yeah, I’ve been on the website, I’ve seen the dots; little blue circles that flag the map of my town, making my neighborhood look like an alien with pockmarks.  Oh my goodness, perhaps some things are just better left unsaid and unseen.  I’ve got a blueberry living a few doors down, I’ve got a couple of them living across the street, I’ve got an entire blueberry bush living in the complex next door to me.

My kids walk around in the front yard and every time someone walks by I have to stop and wonder if they’re some kind of total pervert out on parole.  Obviously we try to not leave our kids unsupervised but once in a great while we’ll leave the back doors open and the dogs will somehow open the gates and the kids will, one way or another, end up meandering around our back yard, exposed to every blueberry in a 1,000 foot radius.

Today my daughter tried to make a break for it, casually sneaking through the house with a “Don’t Mind Me” sort of attitude when… she was suddenly gone… this is actually the second time I’ve lost her this month.  Father of the Year Strikes Again!  When she doesn’t answer my call, I walk into the kitchen and find the back door open.  DANGIT!  My heart jumps into my throat.

Now, the truth is, we have a three and a half foot tall fence that runs the perimeter of our yard but, in my brain, all pervos actually have these really long ape arms so their reach is really fantastic (“The better to wrestle you into my white van, my pretty).

I shout Quinn’s name outside, quickly reminiscing of when my mom would shout my name from our back porch on summer nights, “John Lowell!  John Looo-weeellll!”.  I shout, “Quinn!  Quinn!” and then I let out one of those piercing whistles.  The kids will usually come running to the whistle but there’s no answer.  I jump off the back steps and I’m already freaking out.  Regardless of the fence, my cocker spaniel has figured out three different ways to escape from the yard.  Now, I’m no brainiac but I’d like to think my daughter has more common sense than a dog that repeatedly throws herself in poop.

Halfway across the patio, Rory comes around the side of the house, from our blocked-in drive way.  He says, “Hi!” and I say “Hi, buddy” and sort of push him aside.  Looking down the driveway I see Quinn at the very end, right at our sidewalk, being separated from The Blueberry Patch by nothing more than our front gate.  I whistle again and she looks at me and laughs.

I vow to myself that she’s going to get a spanking when she gets near.  Today’s forecast; a heavy thwapping with a chance of shouting.  She knows better than to be in the driveway.  They both know that they’re not supposed to be in the driveway without us.  These are the horrible and painful things about being a parent.  I don’t want to spank her but I don’t want to see her get hurt.  I don’t want some Blueberry from The Farmer’s Market to grab her and run away down the street.  This idea horrifies me and I have a strong feeling that it will absolutely never, ever go away.

I call her name again and she slowly begins the long walk back to me, knowing, I’m sure, full well what is coming.  She walks right up to me and smiles and it’s so cute and it melts my heart and I don’t want to do what I have to do but I want to make sure that smile stays safe.  I grab her by the wrist, yank it up over her head, say, “You do NOT go in the driveway alone” and thwack! slam my hand into the bare skin on her thigh.

Quinn, who is often times our stubborn child when it comes to spankings, has the proper way of it.  She drops to the hard cement and wails, grabbing at her bottom.

She played outside for the rest of the day and didn’t go into the driveway.

Blueberries beware; I carry a knife with me at all times.

Mornings with Children | Day 22

DAY 22

I hope she can teach them all the beautiful things that I cannot.  She was/is an incredible mother and an even more amazing grandmother.


EVENT 1 & 2 – BOY & GIRL

Anyone that knows my son, knows that’s he sort of this monstrous being; a tall heavyweight looking for a challenge.  My daughter on the other hand is dainty and slim, concerned more about reading and details than about climbing and testing the durability of all objects within her grasp.

That said, these differences extend beyond their personality traits and well into their eating habits.  A standard evening in the Brookbank home looks something like this…

We place a bowl in front of Rory and a bowl in front of Quinn.  Each bowl contains the same food selection; tonight was salmon, sweet potatoes, cooked peaches, feta cheese and asparagus.  Another evening might be chicken tostadas with corn, black beans, cilantro, tomatoes and avocado.  If ti’s breakfast it might be french toast with eggs and bacon or turkey patties with blueberries.

Regardless what the meal is, the outcome is typically always the same.  Rory stares down into his bowl and begins eating the meat; classic caveman mentality.  Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, it makes no matter.  He systematically hand selects each piece until every morsel is gone save for the vegetables.

Quinn, on the other hand, does the exact opposite.  She delicately chooses each carrot, green bean, peanut and broccoli crown until nothing is left in her bowl save for a carnivore’s delight.

My wife and I ask them both the same question, “Are you done?  Are you done?  Are you sure you’re done?”  They both nod their heads ‘yes’ but just to make sure we rotate their bowls.  Quinn’s leftover meat goes in front of The Tyrannosaurus Carnivore and the fruits and veggies get tossed in front of the diplomat from the Herbivore colony.

They both take an additional ten to fifteen minutes to finish off the other’s plates before getting down to start the process of burning calories.