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Time Machine

If it wasn’t for a clock’s ability to keep track of a relative path of time, I would never know where I’m standing in the universe.  Time is not like the sun’s movement in that it cannot be counted on.  Like a junkie with a speed addiction, Time seems to get the jitters and talk fast before crashing into a slow motion daydream for weeks on end.  It doesn’t move the way the sun moves.  It jerks and shakes in chaotic shifts and you never know what tide you’ll get trapped in or for how long.  Why does Time move so fast when I’m having fun?  It’s a horrible trick of existence – to make the wonderful times slide through our fingers like so much watered down gravy.

I look around me and realize everything is moving too fast.  I feel like I’m driving through the desert to Vegas and I’ve suddenly glanced down at the speedometer.  110 mph!  I wish life had a break pedal or at the very least, cops to pull me over and say, “Kids are turning three.  You done everything you need to, son?”  Everything is getting away from me.  Everyday is this intangible trinket that I can never touch or see again.  All I’m left with is a memory of what happened… or what I think happened… the way I remember it…

If Time truly does fly when you’re having fun, then I’ve been in a private jet since my two oldest kids (twins) were birthed into existence.  Two nights running I’ve broken down crying while saying prayers with them and I feel like a woman on a cheap Lifetime movie.  I just see these two children and they’re so… big.  They just look like little… I don’t know… children and this is both beautiful and sad.  They don’t look like babies… because they’re not babies.  Time, that witch, has stolen my infants.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s given me two beautiful children to replace them but… I don’t know… I want it all.  I want them both.  I want to hear Rory recite his entire bedtime prayers, ABCs, 123s, Itsy Bitsy Spider and color wheel out loud, all alone, without help… but I still want him to be a chubby baby that can’t sit up without assistance.

I want to carry him and hold him and he’s already getting to the age where I ask, “Can I hold you?” and he says, “No,” and even on those occasions where he does stretch his arms towards me, asking to be lifted up, I find that he’s nearly becoming too heavy to carry around for any reasonable length of time, his feet dangling down and kicking me in the dick while I carry him through Target.

I guess it wasn’t really so entirely noticeable until the third baby was born; Bryce has put everything into perspective; locked us all into a new view of ourselves.  Before, when it was just the twins, I had that memory, that intangible trinket; I had the memory and the rules and regulations were set by me.  I didn’t see them changing.  They just… they went to bed and they woke up and they were a little older and bigger and smarter but I never noticed a difference.

Bryce makes the intangible tangible.  She says, “This is how small they used to be.  This is how helpless.  Enjoy me while you can,” and then I’m on my knees trying to scrape those sand grains into my arms, trying to keep every moment from blowing away.  I don’t want it to leave me, I don’t want to sleep at night, I keep everyone up until the very last possible moment, knowing that sleep will rob another day from me.  I wish, momentarily, that there were Time Machines but, the truth is, Time is the Machine and it will never break and never stop, the most flawless watch to ever be created.

I want to shake Quinn and say, “Never leave!  Live with me forever!  I’ll build you a tree house in the backyard and it can all be yours!  No!  I’LL live in the tree house and you can have the front house; just never leave your Papa!”  I want to clip her wings so she can never fly but… I know that would be wrong…

My mother is in town right now, staying with us for several weeks to celebrate the birth of our new daughter, having arrived just on the coattails of my  mother-in-law, both of them from South Dakota.  I look at them and I wonder and I think and I try to imagine what it’s like to have your children living halfway across the country.  What is it like to only see them three or four times a year?  What is it like to applaud your children’s success and encourage them to chase their dreams even though you know it means breaking your own heart and sending them away into the wild where they’ll be out of reach, out of call, out of touch.

Maybe this sounds like so much hand-wringing to anyone without kids but… you’ve just got to trust me.  Children are the party that you never want to end.  They are the DJs of your life and the entertainment.  They are Fonzie.  They are your friend with the trampoline in the backyard.  They are Saturday morning cartoons and pancakes for dinner.  They are Hide-and-Go-Seek and Jim Henson and adventure and cheese quesadillas all rolled up into one.

There’s nothing we can do to stop time.  It’s not a tank we can stand in front of, it’s not a rope we can grab onto and it’s certainly not a vehicle we can drive.  Time is just a cannon we’ve been fired from and we have our arms outstretched and we’re watching the scenery pass by as sticks and bugs slap us in the face.  The trick is to not shut your eyes.  Open them wide and watch.  Watch everything as it rockets past you because this is the only trip you’re getting.  Touch the grass, smell the roses, whatever you need to do.  Just make it worthwhile because when the trip is over… when you hit the ground with a thud… that’s it.


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When you think of the word “life” or “parenting” or “family”, I wonder what images come to most people’s minds… I assume birthdays and graduations and weddings and Christmas mornings and Thanksgiving dinners and first steps and first words and, I believe that, obviously, these things are all large movements – the act breaks of life – but I don’t believe that it’s the broad sweeping strokes that make up our existence.

Like most things, the devil is in the details.

Two weeks ago, a good friend of ours, a young woman named Lacy, found herself in LA after a cross country road trip from New York and, as friends do, she contacted us to say, “I’m in town, I would love to see your family, let’s get together and chat and catch up and do that friend thing that we do,” so we do this thing and she shows up and she brings flowers and we all hug and she’s excited to see the kids and she says, “Oh my gosh, they’ve gotten so big and they talk and they’re like… I don’t even know… people, I guess,” and then she looks at the little baby and she says, “That’s a little baby!  That little baby is just, like, so small!  I don’t even know!  This is crazy!” and then she squeezes the baby and hugs it and says, “Rory, come here, I want to give you five!” and he looks at her with these complete dead, emotionless eyes and, instead of saying anything, he just blinks.

The silence caused by him goes on for so long that it becomes comical and I say, “I’m really glad you got to experience that Lacy.  That moment is parenting at it’s finest.  It’s like… all these little events that you can’t really tell anyone about because they have nothing to do with anything.  It’s just like these little gems or bread crumbs that the kids lay down for you and they’re just treasures that you get to enjoy and then they’re gone,” and then Quinn walks through the room with a box over her head, humming to herself.

Lacy and Jade laugh and I say, “This is it.”

And so, with that, I’ve decided to collect a few of these orphan moments into one collection and share them with you; these memories that don’t have homes or purpose anywhere else; things with no greater story arc than their pure and simple existence.  They are vignettes and I hope half of the weirdness from these moments comes across as you read and enjoy them…



Rory and I are lying on the floor, each of us taking turns pushing around a few trains on a track that we’ve built.  Rory says, “Choo!  Choo!” and I say, “Excuse me, got a load of coal coming through!” and Rory says, “Watch out, Daddy!” and I pretend that my train spirals out of control  and flips off the track and starts on fire and people are screaming and Rory is laughing and I say, “We’re going to need paramedics!  Quick!  Get the ambulance!” and Rory stands up and says, “Okay!  Where is it?” and I point and say, “There!” and he takes one step, puts his foot on top of a toy train, which slides out from underneath of him and he falls to the ground where another train gets crushed by his tail bone.


He reaches behind him, grabbing at his lower back and screams, “Owwww!!  Daddy!  Owww!” and he stands up and unbuttons his pants and pulls them down and quickly pulls down his underwear and turns around and begins backing into me and so I quickly sit up and say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, homeboy!  What’s up!?” and he says, “Kiss it!” and I say, “What’s that now?” and he says, “Kiss my owie, Daddy!” and I say, “Where, exactly, is it?” and he points and shows me and it’s just grazing his butt crack and I say, “That is  unlikely to happen, buddy,” and he shouts, “Daddy!  Kiss my butt!  Kiss my butt, Daddy!”

I kiss my fingertips and pat his butt and say, “There ya go!  All better!” and, like magic powder, he really is all better.  He pulls up his underwear, pulls up his pants, asks me to button them and then fetches the ambulance.



Jade and I are sitting on the couch together, me reading a book and Jade simultaneously playing Words with Friends on her phone and breast feeding Bryce sans cover.  Quinn approaches me  and says, “What are you doing?” and I say, “I’m reading a book.  What are you doing?” and she repeats my question back to me because I don’t think she understands, exactly, what it means.  “What you doin’?”

I pull her up onto my lap and she reaches out and says, “You readin’ a book?” and I say, “Yes,” and then I flip through the pages and say, “I’m sorry.  There are no pic–” and then Quinn’s arm shoots out, points at Jade and says, “BABY IS BITING MOMMY’S NIPPLE!!!”

This is Quinn’s introduction to breast feeding.

A few days later, Jade is at it again when Quinn wanders into the room, stops and stares.  She approaches the couch slowly and says, “Baby hungry?” and Jade says, “Yes.  Bryce is hungry,” and Quinn says, “Okay… Okay…” and then turns and exits.  When she reappears moments later she has her cabbage patch doll in tow, dangling it by one arm, it’s soft rubber body bouncing off of our wooden floor.

Quinn drops the doll, lifts up her shirt, tucking it under her chin, picks up the doll and shoves it face into her own tiny nipple.  She says, “I feeding baby.”



Bryce is lying on the bed in nothing but a diaper while I dig through her drawers trying to find a suitable outfit for her.  It seems to me that all baby clothes are just one solid color or contain patterns so intense that looking at it might give you motion sickness.  I ultimately decide on a melon colored onesie and stretchie fat kid pants that are blue with tiny white stars… and then stumble upon this really crazy looking Eskimo hat that I simply can’t say no to and then these really bizarre socks that seem to be made really poorly.  I mean, I’m really struggling to get them on and they seem to barely fit but whatever, okay, they’re finally on and I guess they’ll keep her feet warm.

In the other room I sit down next to Jade and she says, “What a cute outfit!” and I pridefully say, “Hey, thanks!” and she says, “Why is she wearing mittens on her feet?”



Rory kneels on the floor over a loose sheaf of notebook paper, a red marker in his hand, his brow wrinkled.  I say, “What you drawin’?” and he says, “Hang on…” and then, a moment later, he lifts up his master work and says, “Look, Dad!” and I see a circular scribble that really closely resembles a circular scribble.  I say, “That’s incredible!  What is it?!” and he says, with a complete straight face, “It’s a red pig’s butt!”

I stare at the rendering and think to myself that, strangely, it actually does look a bit like a pig’s anus although I’ve no idea where he would actually have found one to base his illustration off of.  Wanting to support his passion, regardless of how bizarre, I say, “Really, really good pig anus!” and he says, “Thanks!” and then goes back to drawing.

A few moments later he lifts up the paper again and shows me another circular scribble that looks identical to the first one and I say, “Wow!  Another pig butt!?” and he looks at his drawing and says, “No… that’s you!”

Ah… a portrait.  Thank you.



We’re all sitting at the dinner table and everyone is eating except for me.  My stomach has been acting up all day and I feel like any kind of food that I try to ingest is just going to make an encore appearance.  Rory takes a bite of his chicken and says, “You not going to eat, Daddy?” and I say, “No… Daddy doesn’t feel good,” and Quinn says, “You’re sick,” and I say, “Was that a question or a statement?” and Quinn says, “Dad.  You’re sick!” and I say, “Please stop saying that,” and then she points her spoon at me like a wand and says, “You’re sick!  You’re sick!  You’re sick!” and I say, “Why are you acting like a New Orleans Black Voodoo Priestess?” and Quinn cackles.  She doesn’t laugh.  She cackles and says, “Daddy, you are sick!  You are so sick!” and I say, “Are you a witch?  Are you putting a spell on me?” and she says, “I am a witch!  You are sick!  Hee-hee-haw-haw!  I am a witch!  I am a witch!” and I feel my stomach turn over and am pretty sure I’ve just been cursed.


I suppose that there are a hundred million other moments like these that we’ve had with the children, both pleasant and bizarre; Quinn walking around the house with a guitar, playing it and shaking her hips, singing into a baseball tee for a microphone; Rory hopping off the toilet, asking me to wipe his butt, bending over and somehow getting his head stuck between the steps of a small stool, me having to fold his ears down to pull him to freedom; Bryce sitting in her electric lamb that plays music and lulls her to sleep, the batteries dying and making a horrific demonic noise, she waving her hands in the air looking as though she were conducting Hell’s orchestra; Quinn taking a nap in our room and then crawling into Bryce’s crib; Rory leaving his bedroom in the middle of the night and making a small bed for himself on the kitchen floor, pillow, blankets and all.

I love every minute of it and you’ve got to stay sharp.  The kids throw things at you so fast that you’ll miss them if you’re not paying attention.  The way they see the world and interact with the environment and people around them is incredible.

There are only 24 hours in a day and never enough time to document them all.


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The Best Recipes in Oz


Darkness is shining in through both of my bedroom windows when I finally retire for the evening.  Bryce is already in her crib, sound asleep while my wife sits in the dark manually breast pumping.  I just hear a squish-squish-squish noise as a I navigate over mounds of laundry and sharp furniture.

I set my book down with a thud, I set my phone down with a tink and I set my clothes down with a sluff, my belt latch hitting the wood with a piercing ting!  I look up and Jade is staring at me – squish, squish, squish – and says, “Could you make any more noise?  And, with completely impeccable comedic timing, I fart.


For reasons unknown to me, I’ve been nursing a Monster Energy Drink for the past two hours and now, preparing to lie down, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sleep.  I’ve  been sitting on the couch for the past hour reading The Wizard of Oz, hoping to bring on The Drowsies but to no avail.  I crawl into bed… my head hits the pillow… who am I fooling?  I dream about things both vague and nonsensical; things that make no logical reason in the waking world.  People I know play new roles in my dreams; my boss is my cousin, ex-girlfriends are my boss, South Dakota is Los Angeles.  I accept it all without question.

A shriek pierces through the dream clouds and I look towards the sky… open my eyes… I’m in bed.  The baby is crying.  Panic shoots from my brain to my heart and out my limbs.  I throw the blankets back and sit up, completely positive that something horrible is happening but completely positive that I have no idea what it is or how to remedy it.  Everything is moving slow and stupid, myself included.  Instead of turning on the light I just sit in the dark and stare at my toes trying to decide what my next move should be.


Jade says, “Are you going to get the baby?” and I say, with just a hair too much anger in my voice, “Yes.  Yes, of course I’m going to pick up the baby.  You think I’m just going to sit here and let it cry?”  and she says, “Let her cry.  She’s a girl,” and I look down at my hands, still unsure about just what is going on.  I’m stuck in that horrible, horrible, terrible place where I’m not asleep but not awake, where hallucinations are possible and everything feels like you’re floating along in a drug induced coma.

Jade says, “JOHN,” with just a hint too much anger in her voice and I say, “Lay off!  I have no idea what’s happening! and I sit up and pick up the baby, stand up, set her on the changing table.  I unwrap her swaddle, unbutton her pajamas, pull out her feet, prep the new diaper, prep the wipes and open the old diaper.  This is the part that’s always like the worst game show of all time for parents.  What’s behind door number two?!  It’s……. JUST A BUNCH OF PEE!

Not tonight.  Tonight is a smear of yellow dookie that looks like someone power sneezed it into a Kleenex.  I wipe, clean, dry, replace old diaper with new diaper, put the squirming legs back in the pajamas, button them up, set the baby in the swaddle, take the left side over the right and then the right side over the left, tying her up in some weird cloth burrito that seems to me to be a complete claustrophobic nightmare but the baby seems to love it.

I hand her to Jade, turn and head to the kitchen to throw away the diaper and then to the bathroom where I pee and wash my hands.


Back in the room I’m sitting on the edge of the bed and Jade says, “She’s asleep.  Here.  Take her.  Be gentle.  Don’t wake her,” and so I take Bryce from her and, instead of placing her back in the crib, I just hold her in my arms and bounce her and stare at her and say, “Jade… it’s absolutely incredible that your recipes are so…” and the other words I’m about to say are, “widely used in the land of Oz,” but I stop myself because I realize that this is somehow wrong and ill-timed and not meant for this world and just what is happening in my brain?

Jade says, “What?” and, me, still convinced that the first half of that sentence is a fairly factual statement and, thinking I can somehow slide by the fact that I have no idea what is happening I say, “Your recipes, babe.  Your recipes.  It’s incredible that they’re so…” and she says, “What are you talking about?  Put the baby down.  Shut up.  Go to sleep,” and I set Bryce down in her crib and then suddenly, a darkness lifts from my vision and I can see the world around me.  I say, “Jade,” and she says, “Yes?” and I say, “I’m really sorry.  I’m really tired.  I have no idea what I’m saying right now,” and she says, “Why are you so tired?” and then I get panicky because maybe my brain is still screwed up.  I say, “Because… it’s 3am.  That’s normal, isn’t it?”

Isn’t it?

I just don’t know anymore.



The Baby is sleeping.  I lie on my back and pull the covers up to the bottoms of my eyeballs.  I turn on my side, then my other side, then my stomach and Jade says, “Can you make any more noise?” and then, with impeccable comedic timing, Bryce farts so wet and loud that she wakes herself up.  She farts again and I would bet that it’s really more of a shart.  She sharts again and that diaper is full.  I shut my eyes, but not to sleep.  It’s more in that resigned way that one might do after accidentally sending an email to a person who isn’t suppose to receive it because said email is full of insults you’ve written about them.  You know it’s too late.  You know it’s futile.  You know you have to deal with the consequences.

I turn on my light and say, “Bryce, stop picking on me.”

Jade begins to snore.


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I’m filling up the sink with hot water to do some dishes when Quinn says, “Let’s go swing, Dad!  C’mon!  Let’s go swiiiiing!” and I say, “Quinnie, I really need to do these dishes,” and the final word hasn’t even left my mouth before I realize the utter absurdity of this statement.  Dishes?  Dishes?!  I have to do the dishes instead of swinging with you?

Gimme a break.

“Well…” I say sheepishly.  “Maybe for just a bit.”

Outside in the back yard, Quinn hops onto the swing and Rory jumps onto the wooden horse and I push each of them in turn until they’re both pelting back and forth at heights and speeds that are beyond reasonably safe.  Quinn shouts, “Higher!  Faster!” and so I do, her head now going totally level with the top of the swing.


I give her one final shove and she pushes away from me, reaches the precipice and the swing seems to pop and comes down with a jerk that throws her a little off balance.  It reaches its back most position, rises, rises, peaks and drops and she jolts again.  As she passes the lowest point, her feet drag on the ground and she begins to say something that sounds part “Help,” and part scream.  About three quarters of the way up, she lets go of the chains and rockets off the swing and into the air while I stand helpless.  It’s all happening so fast.

She maneuvers through the air like a clown shot from a canon and comes down hard, landing on her butt.  She shouts, “MY BUUUTTTT!!!” and I quickly pick her up and brush her off and, trying to downplay the event, I say, “Are you okay?  Sometimes that happens.  No big deal.  Can you walk?”  She says, “Yeah…” and then crawls onto the horse with Rory.

I give them a round of pushes before Rory says, “SLIDE!  SLIDE!  LET’S GO DOWN THE SLIDE!  C’MON, GUYS!”  And this is how he is at parks with strangers.  “C’mon, guys!  Follow me!  Let’s go down the slide!  C’mon!”



So I run up the slide, into the tree house and Quinn and Rory both follow suit.  Inside, Quinn spreads her hands wide open and says, “Welcome to my Little House,” and I look around and say, “I just love what you’ve done with the place,” and she says, “You want some food?” and I say, “Sure.  What have you got?”  She says, “Watermelon,” and sticks her hand into an imaginary box, pulls some out and hands it to me.  “It’s delicious!  What else have you got?” and Rory says, “MALT-O-MEAL!” and I say, “You have Malt-O-Meal up here?” and he says, “Yeah!”

So I ask for a bowl… and how about some sugar?  And some butter?  And some milk?  May I have a spoon to stir it?  Thank you very much.  And then I blow on it and taste it and it is just like my imaginary mother used to make.  I ask Rory if he wants a bite and he says, “Yes, please,” and so I tell him it’s hot and to blow on it first.  He does and eats off the invisible spoon and says, “Mmmmm…”

I ask Quinn if she wants a bite and she says, “Yes, please,” blows on the spoon and then bites my thumb.  “OW! YOU BIT ME!” and she smiles.



Rory asks if I want to go down the slide and I tell him we should put the Malt-O-Meal in the fridge and clean up first (the irony being that I’m more concerned about cleaning up imaginary food before play instead of actual, real life dirty dishes).  He says, “Okay,” and takes it from me and, while he’s storing it, says, “It’s gonna be cold.”  When he turns around, he seems to have forgotten about the slide and says, “I’m still hungry.  You want a jelly sandwich?” and I say, “Sure, if you’ve got jelly,” and he says, “Yeah!  I do!”

He hands me bread and he hands me jelly, which I have him open, and then he hands me a knife and I slather the bread good and then cut it into three individual pieces so we can share.  I hand one to Rory and he goes to eat it but I say, “Wait!” and he freezes.  I hand one to Quinn and she cups it in two hands, staring at it.  Finally, I pick up my own slice, so thin it’s nearly invisible, and say, “Let’s clink them.”  This exercise essentially amounts to “Cheers,” or the clinking of glasses.  I taught them the cup thing a few weeks ago and now they like to clink everything from celery to chicken.  We’ve had to instill a rule at the dinner table that there’s only one clink per meal because two clinks is considered bad luck.

I say, “Ready, set–” and we all three say, “CLINK!” and knock our sandwiches together and eat.

“That was fantastic,” I say, “But not very filling.  Do you guys want to go inside and make some mac and cheese?” and they both scream, “YEEEAAHHH!” and we all disappear down the slide, Rory first and then Quinn sitting on my lap.

Man cannot live on imaginary bread alone.

I go inside and, wouldn’t you know it, the dishes I need are dirty.


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Nap time.

The word rolls off your tongue like honey.

And, just like honey, getting the children to sleep can be a sticky situation.

Jade leaves the house to get the mini-van / family van / mom mobile / chick magnet mucked out and I whistle for the kids’ attention.  They both slam on the brakes of their tricycles and Rory holds up his hand as though he’s about to strike a bargain… the same bargain that he tries to strike every day, every night, everything, everywhere, “Five more minutes.”

It’s a decent grace period and it works out well for all of us so, before he can speak a word, I say, “Five more minutes.”  Now it’s a gift from me to him and not something that he weaseled away.

Both kids turn and place their feet back on the pedals, spending the following 360 seconds spinning in circles.  I finish the load of dishes I’m doing by hand (what year is this??!) and shout, “NAP TIME!” and Rory says, “NO!” and I say, “Yep,” and then walk away.  Twenty seconds later they both come tearing into their bedroom and, so they don’t try to pull this one over on me once they’ve been tucked in, I say, “Do you have to go potty?” and, strangely, no part of me cringes using that ‘P’ word.  It’s become part of my vernacular.  In fact, I even use it when talking about myself from time to time in social settings.

Quinn goes to the bathroom but Rory skips out, instead using his additional half a minute to meticulously line his trains up, back to back to back, which he must do before beginning his next task, whatever it be; bed, dinner, breathing.  Quinn flushes the toilet and I follow her into the bedroom where I find Rory standing on the humidifier.  I tell him to get down and, “Don’t stand on that; it’s not a toy,” and he says, “I was standing on that,” and I say, “I know.  Don’t,” and he jumps into bed under the covers.

I tuck them both in, give them their kisses and say, “If you stay in bed and don’t get up and DO go to sleep – then when you wake up, you’ll get a piece of candy AND we’ll go to the park, okay?” and they both say, “Okay,” so I give them one more kiss, ruffle their hair and walk away… and I’m not even at the end of the hall when I hear them both jumping on the bed and laughing.


So I turn around and walk back down the hallway and just before I open the door, I suspect they hear my boots on the floor because I hear them both DROP onto the bed and I hear the quick SWISH of covers and when I open the door they both have their eyes closed, feigning sleep.


Quinn slowly opens her and says, “We sleepin'” and I say, “Yeah, I heard you sleepin’.  Go to sleep,” and then I shut the door and walk away.  I sit down in front of the computer and do the first thing that every parent does when their kids go to sleep… I get on Facebook.  Three posts into my social media binge, I hear the baby gate (which is worthless because they can now open it) swing on its’ hinges and Rory says, “Daddy… I have to go pee,” and, since he’s potty trained and doesn’t wear diapers anymore and only wears pull-ups at night, I get up and take him to the toilet and say, “I asked you, do you remember?” and he says, “I’m peein’!

Shut the lid, wash the hands, pull up the pants and, “Daddy,  my pants are wet,” and I ask, “Did you wet your pants?” and he says, “No,” and I say, “Why are your pants wet?” and, like he does when he either doesn’t understand the question or simply doesn’t want to answer it, he just repeats his original statement but with a little more emphasis.  “My paaants are weeeet,” and then he makes a noise that sounds like an owl coughing and I assume this is his version of a whine.

Take off the pants, take off the underwear, put them in the laundry, get him back to the room and find Quinn standing on top of the humidifier.  “Don’t stand on that!  Get down!  Get in bed!”  My demands are coming in quick, staccato bursts.  “Bed!  Covers!  Sleep!”



They both crawl into bed and something glistening on the floor catches my eye.  “What is that?” and Rory looks at the puddle of clear whatever-it-is and says, “Rory took this and drank it!” and he points to the humidifier and it’s only now that I notice that the water jug that attaches to it has been placed back in upside down.

I squat by the device and say, “Did you… did you… drink out of this?” and he says, “Yeah, Rory drink out of that and make mess,” and I say, “Ah… oh-kay.  I’m going to go get a towel.  You get in bed,” and I leave and when I return Rory is playing with his trains and I say, “You need to go to sleep,” and he says, “I need to play with trains.”



I mop up the water, flip the jug around, turn the humidifier on, get Rory in bed with his trains, tuck Quinn in, kiss them both, ruffle their hair, dim the lights, mumble something about the park, shut the door and walk away and then I hear a thunk-thunk-thunk but, instead of going back, I decide to take things to The Next Level.

I don’t like going here but it’s necessary when the little ones simply won’t listen to reason.

We have a baby monitor that hangs near their ceiling and looks down on them, sort of resembling a giant black eye and, since it looks so weird and scary, they are, understandably, afraid of it.  Also, it’s remote controlled so I can move it around, which they really don’t like.  Also, it has a voice feature so I can talk through it, which they really, really hate.

I walk into our bedroom, pick up the monitor and watch them for a minute or two, giving them, what I feel, is a fair amount of grace period to do as I’ve asked them three times.

I watch as Rory stands on the humidifier and uses it as a step to get into bed, where he leaps from his mattress, onto the floor.  Thunk!  And then Quinn follows suit.  Thunk!  And then Rory stands back on the humidifier and jumps.  Thunk.  Quinn stands on the humidifier, preparing for her second jump.

I lean forward and press my finger against the key with the microphone picture on it and say, “Get. Off. That.”  And Rory lunges under his blanket like a rabbit into its hole, covering his head and toes and Quinn drops like the Rapture has hit her and lies completely still, staring at the eye of Sauron without blinking.

I say, “Go. To. Sleep.” and she shuts her eyes and rolls over and pulls the blanket over her head.

I haven’t heard a noise since.

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In 14 days, my wife and I will be experiencing a major shift in our family.  A major shift.  Tectonic-Plates-Glacial-Sliding-Landslide type shift.

We’re having a child.

And not just A child, but our THIRD child, which means two things.  First and foremost, it means that we are socially irresponsible by having created more people than will replace us when we “pass“.  BUT… in my defense…you should see the “next generation” of kids growing up around my block.  Trust me when I say that my over population is nothing more than my most desperate and valiant effort to help the human race not dip into The Darkest Abyss.

Secondly, and more importantly, it means that my wife and I are now outnumbered in our own home.  The child-to-parent ratio is all screwed up and there could, for all intents and purposes, be some sort of uprising; an overthrow of government if you will; a Coup.  I’ve read Treasure Island, I’ve read Mutiny on the Bounty, I know how these things work!

I’ve got my eye on you Little Baby Boy or Girl… Papa will be watching you from Day 1…

Now, backstory out of the way, I’d like you to take a journey with me.  For the next 14 days, I’m going to document the final two weeks leading up to The Great Shift.  We are, as most parents are, eternally thankful for our Little Nugget and excited to see if she actually ends up being a she or if he ends up coming out male-wise.  In any event, there is an element of bittersweet aroma in the air because, as all parents know, there is a family dynamic that is in play and whenever you add something to it, the previous dynamic is lost forever and a new one takes its place.  We currently have a set of twins that are, obviously, the same age and we have routines and inside jokes with them (and about them) and we have those quiet, special family moments and those public outings and adventures and these things won’t be gone, but our dynamic, our Everyday that we’ve gotten used to over the last two years, will be transformed.



I had this really fantastic couch in college.  I bought it at a Goodwill and paid eleven bucks for it.  I loved that couch and, often times I actually just slept on it.  I even named it.  Couchy.  It stayed with me in the dorms, into my first apartment and then into the duplex my wife and I eventually moved into and then into the first house we rented.  It was well worn and soft and I knew just what to expect.  But one day we had to buy a new couch and we took ‘ol Couchy and set it out on the curb and a garbage truck came and stuck two giant steel poles through it’s back, lifted it into the air and then slowly lowered it into a series of spinning blades that spit stray wood chips out into the street, leaving me behind with only my memories and tears and this awful final image.

The new baby is sort of like that… only without the spinning blades and steel spikes and tears.



Let’s get started, shall we?

DAY 14

This morning I was awakened by a loud banging on my bedroom door.  The handle jiggles and I blurt out some incoherent sentence about grapefruits that I’m sure made sense to whatever dream I was having.  The door knob wiggles again and I hear someone shout at me, “Hey!  Hey!  Door’s locked!” and I say, “I know.  I did that to keep people out,” and then I twist the knob and standing there is my son, Rory and my daughter Quinn, both of them holding onto their favorite blankets.  I don’t want to call them security blankets because, well, there’s really nothing secure about them; in the event of a fire, you can’t crawl under them.  In fact, they’re stuffed with cotton so they’d probably be the first thing to just go up like a magician’s flash paper.  POOF!

Quinn shouts, with an energy that should be outlawed at 7:15 in the morning, “I’m ah-WAAAKE!” and then Rory echoes her with, “Mornin’!”  He has this built in drawl that he throws into that word and that word alone so that he sounds like a legitimate cowboy of yesteryear.  I imagine him tipping his hat to me and rolling a piece of wheat in his teeth as I flop back into bed and cover myself up, hoping that they’ll just crawl in behind me and go back to sleep but instead Quinn puts her foot on my cheek and says, “Daddy, I want to snuggle,” and I understand that this is less of a request and more of a threat.



I pull the blankets back and she crawls under the covers and I shut my eyes and think, “I’ve done it!” but then Quinn is poking my eyelids and laughing and saying, “Daaa-dee,” and I say, “Whaaaaat?” and she says, “Daaaa-deeee?” and I say, “I’m sleeeeeeping,” and she says, “No, you’re not.”

Rory begins jumping on the end of the bed and screaming and then he’s dropping onto his knees and landing on my shins and I’m saying to him, “Uck – ouch – eek – oh,” and he’s laughing and I’m wondering if anyone has ever considered building a sort of king sized coffin that adults can sleep in; something with a lid…

I roll over and grab my book from the nightstand, a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac and try to read a few pages in order to transition into the day.  “Oh, we readin’?” Quinn asks me and takes a look inside my book.  No pictures.  She jumps off the bed, runs into the living room and returns with a small handful from her own private library, wherein she crawls next to me, props herself up on a pillow and begins to examine each page with such silent intensity that I’m positive that she is legitimately reading.  Time passes, pages turn, Jade makes a couple pig-ish snoring noises and Rory shoves a toy cow in my face and says, “THAT’S A PIG!” and I say, “That’s not a pig,” and he says, “THAT’S A COW!” and then he arranges each of his animals onto one corner of the night table and doesn’t touch them again.  He’s a very meticulous little boy, similar both to my sister Theresa and my brother-in-law, Jordan, a man who used to iron his money when he was younger.



I grab my phone to check the time and realize… “Dang, it’s just after 10am.”  At some point in the last three hours when I thought I wasn’t sleeping, I must have dozed off and the kids just laid there (lied there??) and we all slept in until late and, now that I think about it, I do feel pretty refreshed.

Jade sits up and says, “Should we eat french toast for breakfast?” and my kids love french toast (who doesn’t?) and so they scream and say, “YES!  FRENCH TOAST!” and then they’re gone and then my wife is gone and I’m left lying in bed with my book, thinking about standing up.  I look over at the empty bassonet we have in the room and I realize that soon…..

…soon the idea of sleeping in until 10am will be a luxury reserved for bachelors, rich people and the homeless.

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Dinner Table Stock Exchange


My wife, being 4 weeks away from dropping calf on our third child, has, surprisingly, not had any pregnancy cravings, strange or otherwise.  No pickled pig snouts.  No watermelon sushi.  No salmon au gratin.  Nothing.  She enjoys one small bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios every evening before bed, but, I believe, this is only to curb her cravings for red wine and hard liquor.

My sister, who recently had a baby, hates bacon… or rather, hated bacon… until she got pregnant.  In her entire life, she claims to have eaten only four or five slices, a statistic that, frankly, baffles me.  As a constant purveyor of turkey bacon, which is supposed to be healthier, even I enjoy some thick slices of pork candy from time to time.

During her second trimester she called to tell me that she couldn’t stop eating it.  She told me she was eating bacon every day, sometimes more than once a day.  She and her husband (but mostly just She) were going through packages and packages and packages of this product that, three months prior, she detested and couldn’t even stand the smell of.

Nevertheless, it was somewhere during this phone call wherein she told me that she’d just read an article about pregnancy cravings and that, truly, I should be properly warned.  “Cigarette butts,” she says, “Soap,” she says, “Dirt,” she says.  “Women are eating these things.”

In my mind I try to imagine being pregnant and sitting alone at some kitchen table, an ashtray in front of me with a few stale cigarettes resting inside of it.  I try to imagine what it would take to eat one.  Not just the taste.  Not just the texture.  What would it TAKE for you to overcome every human nature and instinct and pick up an old cigarette butt and eat it?  I imagine glancing suspiciously over my shoulders just to make sure no one is home.  I mean, I know no one is home but still… I’m feeling a little guilty about getting ready to eat this ashy wand.

I pick it up in my hand and smell it, running it under my nose like a fine cigar or piece of garlic bread.  Yum.  I lift the cigarette to my lips and bite down on it.  It doesn’t crunch but rather just goes limp in the middle where my teeth hit.  I have to tear it in half like a piece of over cooked beef jerky.  The filter is in my mouth and I’m chewing like a yak and the door opens and my husband (because in my imagination, in this specific scenario, I am a woman) says to me, “What are you doing?” and I say, “I don’t know,” and then I weep and fall into his arms and he holds me and strokes my hair and caresses my cheek and — never mind.

The point is, we all have things we love to eat that may appear strange to others.  Personally, I like to take chocolate cake, put it in a bowl, pour milk over it, mash it up and eat it like a freaking gruel.  However, conversely, I can’t stand peas.  Overcooked, undercooked, raw, fresh, canned.  My wife asks what I don’t like about them and I say, “Taste and texture,” which pretty much covers every quality there is about a pea, what with them lacking proper personalities and all.

But, being the dad that I am, when my wife prepares dinners and she uses peas, I choke them down my tightened gullet, fighting every gag reflex inside of me just to be a good example to my children.  I figure that they’ll develop their own complexes soon enough and they don’t need me to help them along.  But today, at this lunch, something is different.  I just… can’t do it.  I’m staring at the macaroni and cheese with peas mixed in on my plate and it seems like the ratio is all screwed up.  It’s not a fair 80/20 split of noodles to peas, instead it seems closer to a 50/50 mix and… I close my eyes and take a bite.  I try to smile but imagine I look more like a rapist trying to pass as a human in Christmas photos.  My wife says, “What’s wrong?” And I open my eyes and she’s just staring at me.  She puts her fork down and says, “Why do you look like a rapist?” and I say, “Uh… the peas.  There’s just… so many,” and she says, “Well, I just want you to know that I wasn’t even going to make you lunch.  You… were an afterthought.”


I mumble something to myself about “…afterthought you and pillow over your face while you sleep,” and she says, “What?” and I say, “I shall try my best to feast upon these peas.  Long live the pea.  God Bless You!”  I ask my son if I can have a drink of his water and he says, “Nope.  This is my water,” and, while I don’t agree with that statement or his decision, I do respect it.  I encourage the children to share but don’t force them to.  I say, “But I’m really thirsty,” and Rory says, “That’s your coffee,” and he points and he’s correct.  Coffee with peas.  Gross.  I sound like a pregnant lady.

I take a bite and cringe again.  Bugs are popping in my mouth, little beetles exploding.  I gag and swallow and then begin to mechanically separate my food, peas from noodles, into two separate piles.  “Are you… are you kidding me?” my wife asks, like I would think this is a very clever joke.  I say, “No.”  She says, “You’re setting a bad example,” and I say, “I know… I know… but I just… I just can’t.  This,” and I wave my hand over my plate, “Is not happening.”

Jade turns to the kids and says, “You’re eating so good.  You’re eating your peas so good!” and I echo her and the kids echo both of us and then, like lightning, an evil plot hatches in my tiny brain.

I turn to Rory and I say, “Rory… Rory, would you like to have some of daddies peas?!” and his eyes get really big because he loves eating anything that comes from my plate.  “Do you want Daddy’s peas!?” and he says, “Yeah!  Peas!” and I start shoveling them into his bowl, ladle after ladle, load after load.  Jade raises her eyebrow to me, questioning my motives.

I say, “Good job, eat all those peas!” and he’s so excited to be getting all these little green gifts showered down upon him.  His lunch goes from a fair 50/50 split to mostly just a mound of peas with a few scattered noodles…  And then, like a snake in the grass, I slither in for the kill, “Daddy loves you so much!  Daddy loves you so much that he wants to share his delicious peas with you!  Daddy loves to share!  Sharing is so nice!” and Rory says, “Sharing is nice!  Daddy’s being a good boy!” and I say, “That’s right!” and my wife says, “Hmmmm….”

bowl of peas

I finish emptying all of the peas into his bowl and I gently say, “Rory… Daddy has given you all of his delicious peas,” and he says, “Thank you, Daddy,” and I say, “You’re welcome… And all I ask in return, all I ask, is for a drink of your water.”  And this boy that just moments before covetously gripped his cup to his chest in blatant refusal to commune with me, now eagerly grabs his chalice of life giving drink and thrusts it at me.

“I will share, Daddy!  Rory a good boy!”

“That’s right,” I say, “You are a good boy.”  And then I turn to Jade and I say, “And you were right as well.  I am setting an example for the children.”

She raises another eyebrow and sort of half smiles while I wash the disgusting taste from my mouth and finish my noodles.

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