Category Archives: General

Twins read magazines and have a discussion
– a transcript

Last week our daycare was closed. My office was closed the day after Independence Day so it was my turn to stay home and look after the girls. We had tons of fun, and all things being equal they’re pretty easy to handle nowadays. Well, as long as you aren’t trying to accomplish anything or go anywhere, that is.

Anyway, they were very chatty and while I was in the kitchen I noticed them playing and talking to each other. I pulled out my phone and was able to capture the following video:

I posted that video to Youtube over the weekend, but realized that those who don’t regularly live with 2 year olds in general, or our 2 year olds specifically won’t have much clue as to what they are saying. Even Jess and I have a hard time deciphering their language at times. Actually, they seem to have rather extensive vocabularies already. I’d guess they probably know and use upwards of maybe 1000 words. Just that same Friday, we were playing with animal flashcards and Meri correctly named 63 of 72 animals, including the difference between a monkey and a gorilla. Impressive.

As you may have been able to tell, they recently have gotten big into “I don’t like X”. You name it, they say they don’t like it. Despite all evidence to the contrary. They will say they don’t like ice cream, as they’re EATING ice cream. So, we’ve learned to take their input with a grain of salt. My favorite is when they say they like and don’t like the exact same thing within the same sentence. Usually they can be distracted from “I don’t like” syndrome. I’m assuming this is a 2 year old thing.

What follows is a transcript of their entire conversation. My comments will be in italics.

Begin Scene… conversation already in progress…

Meri (Flower shirt): *something* bowls?
Alex (Yellow shirt): Yeah!… in a bowl.
M: and a pizza!
A: YUM!
M: and a pizza… and a watermelon
A: and pizza! Yum pizza!
M: Look those flowers.
A: So pretty, May (Alex has called her May or May-me forever. So much that Jess and I do it too). No me got it… You don’t… like… dinosaurs?
M: no, I won’t.
A: do you like him? (a catchall word)
M: no, I don’t like him.
A: do you like ‘matoes? (tomatoes)
M: no
A: do you like, banana? (I believe she was pointing at an onion, but whatever)
M: yeah, I do.
A: do you like… (pointing at something in the magazine)
M: no… I don’t like this.
A: oh… *unintelligible* (roughly translates to ‘let me see’)
M: I like.. this corn… I don’t like corn.
A: Oh…. so… *unintelligible*… Do you like him, eiver? (either)
M: this guy?
A: do you like him?
M: no.
A: no?
M: no. I…
A: do you like this?
M: Yeah! I do! It’s very yum…my!… I eat outside! I eat outside last night. (We had dinner on the patio the night before)
A: do you like him?
M: no.
A: do you like him?
M: no.
A: like *makes chewing motion*
M: yeah, I do like him, and eat him.
A: no… he’s not sweet.
M: look at doggy.
A: Delicious for you?
M: yeah
A: better put that away? And this away? *picking up magazines*
M: yeah.
A: that’s good… *unintelligibe*… I know.
M: and look at me.
A: I know… Do you like crackers?
M: yeah *magazine falls of table*
A: oopies… Let’s see new crackers.
M: I like those.
A: oh! I… yum!
M: at Grandma Winkles. (one of their grandmas)
A: here… there’s big one and little one… and there’s cake.
M: yeah… so don’t touch it.
A: no… only right mine put right there… it is a picture.
M: yeah… not to eat it.
A: we don’t read that? We don’t read that?
M: no
A: he’s doing a teeth too *picture of a dog chewing a toy*
M: yeah… that’s another one doggy.
A: I don’t like him.
M: you like this doggy?
A: and you like this doggy.
M: I don’t like that doggy.
A: do you like those?
M: I… like… I don’t like them.
A: oh. Do you like those? And do you like those?
M: I like pasta.
A: oh!
M: I don’t like…
A: let’s play it… I gonna cook pasta. *they retire to their toy kitchen to cook some pasta*

End scene.

It’s nothing if not entertaining around our place.

Edit… if you don’t watch the video while you read the transcript, it sounds like the most insane conversation you’ve ever heard.

Our Neighborhood Epidemic

I was browsing Google Maps/Satellite View today. You know how you do… poking around, just looking at my neighborhood. Something seemed strange. I kept noticing something. In fact, the more I looked the more I saw.

Trampolines. A lot of them.

This piqued my interest. So, I started counting them in my head. It didn’t take long before I realized I needed to take a more scientific approach. There were just too many to keep track of.

Here was my methodology.

Google Maps provides 5 different views of an area. First, the top down normal satellite view. Then, as you zoom in, you can see a 45° angle from north, south, east and west. I looked at each of them and marked any trampolines I saw. Now, sometimes a trampoline at a house is not visible in all 5 views (you can turn the 45° view on/off in the dropdown on the right of the map). I still count those, as the pictures were definitely taken at different times. For example, there are markers in places that are dirt lots in other images.  The top down shot is the newest, where the 45’s are maybe up to a year and a half old judging by the construction going on around us.

On to the shocking results.

I found 121 trampolines! Seriously. In one rather small neighborhood. You can go look for yourself here. Does anyone else find that odd?

When I was growing up, I had 2 friends who had trampolines. I enjoyed them just like every other kid did. It seemed like my friends who had them would only really jump on it when their trampoline-less friends would come over. Even then, sometimes they didn’t want to do it.

I wonder what happens when you, and every one of your friends own a trampoline. Does it cease becoming novel real quick?

I don’t know what it all means. I just found it… strange.

If you have insight and/or theories about this strange phenomenon, please leave a comment. Perhaps we live in the sweet spot between household income, number of kids, and lack of very large trees to obscure the view. I really don’t know.

Side note, a couple other interesting things I saw were a half court “Jordan logo” basketball court, and in one image, what appears to be a miniature Tennessee Volunteers football field. (bonus points will be awarded if you can spot them)

At least I know I won’t need to buy my kids a trampoline (not that I was planning on it) since at least one of their friends is pretty much guaranteed to have one.

 

Year One

Happy BirthdayTo quote Ricky Bobby, “That just happened.”

Damn right it did.

Alexandra and Meredith, and more miraculously Jess and I, have survived a whole year. I can scarcely believe it.

One year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8760 hours. Let’s break this down a little. Doing some quick calculations, I’ve come up with the following facts and figures. A glimpse into the first year with twins.

Diapers. Roughly 4,380 diaper changes averaging 6 per kid per day. However, that might be conservative. I know there were days were I changed 6 diapers by 10am. We performed 2/3 of those (the others were at day care), dividing by two of us, means we have each changed roughly 1,500 diapers. Also, we’ve probably spent about $800 on just diapers. That’s a lot of money to just shit on…

Feedings. We did finger feedings for them for the first month. Every three hours. Total of 240 times, give or take. I don’t even know how we did that that many times. Seriously. Brutal.

Breast feeding. Jess breastfed them as many times as we finger fed them. Which is even more remarkable. Sure, we switched to bottles about a  month in, but Jess was still pumping after every meal until about month 4.5. She fed and/or pumped easily 1100+ times. Filling gallons of bags.

Formula. They go through about a can a week, give or take. Cans cost us $25 each. They breastfed for 3 1/2 months. Starting about 3 months in they started with formula, so, that’s 40 weeks give or take. Upwards of $1000, and we ain’t done. Not to mention having filled and mixed all of those bottles 4 or 8oz at a time.

Baby food. They average maybe 3 or 4 containers a day since month 4. We’ve bought pallets of that stuff. It is quite amusing when we go to the grocery store and Jess piles 50 or 60 containers in the cart.

Sleep. They started reliably sleeping through the night around month 9. So, that’s approximately 240 nights in a row of interrupted sleep where we got up to tend to them. Over half of those entailed getting up more than once. The first 100 days or so, neither of us slept for longer than 3 hours at any one stretch.

Rounds of teething. At least 6 separate times, they’ve simultaneously begun teething. These episodes last about a week, and really really suck.

Photographs. I’ve taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 13,000 pictures. That seems like a lot, but I think I could have easily taken more.

Daycare. Jess went back to work start of month 4. Girls have been in daycare for 9 months. $700 per kid, per month. $12,600 on day care. Excuse me while I vomit into my shoes.

The girls have been moving non stop since they were born. They were army crawling by month 5. Standing by month 7. Alex started walking before 10 months. Meri not far behind. They currently both have multiple bumps bruises on their heads from their wacking their melons into things. Looks like they were in a prize fight or something.

On Sunday we had a big shindig to get all the friends and family together to celebrate. The girls were really good all day. Jess and I were amazed. They couldn’t have been better. They had a blast digging into their cakes. Whipped cream everywhere. Then the gifts… wow… everyone was way too generous to us and the girls. They got tons of new books, new toys, new clothes. They really cleaned up. We can’t thank everyone enough. Photos will be coming. Watch this space.

Today was their actual birthday and that didn’t go quite as smoothly. After rousting them and getting them ready for the day, I was holding Alex. Just about to put her in her car seat when she proceeds to projectile vomit. Ever been puked on so much that you had to change every article of clothing you were wearing? Including socks and underwear? Yeah, that was me. We got her cleaned up, thinking maybe she just choked on something. Get them in the car to go to work and not 3 minutes down the road, Meri pukes all over herself in her car seat. That seals it. We turned the car around and came home. Clean everyone up and then put them down for a nap.

They slept for almost 2 hours, and I was able to work from home. The got up, had a little bit of bottle, played some. Seemed to be much happier. Not long after that they went back down for another 2 hour nap, which was great. When the got up, we tried a little cereal which they ate. They were really thirsty so they did drink quite a bit. All systems looked like we were good. They went down for one more 50 minute nap at 4pm and we thought we might be in the clear.

We did some bath time, since they both smelled like vomit. Half way through we saw something floating in the water. Green and stringy. Still don’t know if this was puke or poop. I didn’t see anyone yak, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Drain the tub and use the shower head to rinse them off well, which made them cry. Finally get them calmed down and Jess is rocking Alex… I’m in the other room with Meri when I hear “Um… she just puked all over me.” Re-clean her up as Jess strips off puke filled clothes. Meri is still fussing and starts to make that sound like she is going to puke. I hold her near the kitchen sink, hoping that if it comes I can angle her correctly. Despite many false alarms, she never pukes. We finally put them down after giving them a little water to drink and Alex crashes. Meri cries herself to sleep. Luckily they are both down now. Whew. Happy Birthday indeed. I thought this much puking was reserved for your twenty-first, not your first… I can’t wait to tell them about this someday. For the record, not one drop of puke landed anywhere near the hardwood floors. Every single bit was on carpet somewhere. Nice aim, girls.

Raising twin babies, you quickly become immune to things that would have horrified you previously. You think getting barfed on is as traumatic a thing as can happen. Meh… no biggie. Poop shooting out the side of a diaper? So what? Snot running down their faces? Whatever. Parents just learn to be bulletproof.

When well, the girls are infinitely more fun then they’ve ever been. Alex is into pointing at things. Everything. They love eating Cheerios. Just today, when we were in the office, Alex had a post card and Jess said, “go give that to daddy!” and she walked right over to me with it outstretched in her hand. We haven’t tried to teach her anything like that. She did it all on her own. Amazing.

I will say, that just about the highlight of my day is when we walk into day care to pick them up. They will be playing, walking, or doing whatever. Then they stop, look up at the door at us and both get the biggest smiles on their faces. Now, they will toddle over and grab our legs. Sorta makes everything else worth it.

This past year has been rough. But the payoff is incredible. I love those crazy little girls.

I’m never doing this again.

 

Twins at 10 Months and Pictures

We made it another month… Double digits, baby.

The girls are going like gangbusters now. Alex has no fear, and will let go of the couch and just recently walked like 6 steps before tumbling. It’s amazing, and frankly a little disconcerting to see a person less than 2 feet tall walking. If she wasn’t so cute, it might be something out of a horror movie. Meri, is still walking only while holding on to something. She isn’t as adventurous as her sister. However, she is generally less perturbed about things than Alex is. Meri can entertain herself more than Alex. Gets less upset when hurt than Alex, except for when mom does the nose sucker… she does NOT like that.

We’re sleeping through the nights still. Bed time is around 7pm which is awesome. It gives Jess and I some decompress time before we crash. It’s really nice. We also have a routine where while Jess is feeding them, I’m making something for she and I to eat. Usually something simple, but still… home cooking.

They both are eating well. They are getting 3 “solid” meals a day now. Jess and I take turns with who gets to get the girls up and fed in the mornings, and who gets to sleep an extra 20 minutes. Basically, one of us will roll out of bed around 6am. Get both girls changed, warm up some formula and get that in them (put them side by side on the couch while you double fist two bottles). Then, get them in their highchairs and mix up some of their oatmeal and maybe mix in a little fruit. Feeding them solids can still be a bit of a challenge as they don’t like to pay attention. Also, when the food gets on their face they like to smear that around. We gotta use strong spring clips to keep their bibs on since they like to pull theirs off (or, their sister’s depending) and wave it around. After breakfast is over and they’re cleaned up, they go in their jumperoos while we get ready for work. Usually, while they are in those, one or both of them will poop, so they’ll have to be changed again before getting dressed for the day, loaded in their seats and out the door. Somehow, we are able to leave the house around 7:20am every day. Whew.

Without further ado, let’s make with the pictures. As always, click an image to view it, or the whole set on Flickr.

Alex & Meri

Meri & Alex

Alex is walking, almost

Alex & Meri

Alex & Meri

Meri

Alex & Meri

Alex

Alex & Meri

Monster

Mom and the Girls

Concert Compare and Contrast:
U2 vs. Mötley Crüe

I have attended 2 concerts this summer. First was U2 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and the second was Mötley Crüe and Poison at the Idaho Center.

Needless to say, these were quite different experiences. Funny bit of trivia, 2011 marks the 35th year for U2, 30th year for Mötley Crüe and 25th for Poison. That is some symmetry for ya…

U2 – July 26th, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA.

Basically the impetus for our taking the twins to Pittsburgh in the first place was that Jess bought U2 tickets on a whim last year while she was still pregnant. Of course, we couldn’t know just how much our lives would change with the arrival of the girls. Nevertheless, we loaded up the family and journeyed across country for 2 reasons… to see family (and show off Alex and Meri) and to go to see U2. Jess and I had had U2 tickets for the previous summer in Seattle, while she was still pregnant. However, Bono threw is back out or something and that leg of the tour was postponed. Thus, this summer rolled around and we had to adjust our plans.

This was by far the biggest concert I’d ever been to. I’d never seen an outdoor arena show (local amphitheaters excepted). Especially not an outdoor show with 70,000 other people. Jess, on the other hand is a bit of a U2 freak. This show would mark her 10th time seeing them. Double digits. Pretty impressive. Even more when you realize they’ve never been to Boise, so she’s had to travel for each and every one of those shows.

We had general admission floor tickets and had planned to eat before the show. Unfortunately for us there was exactly ONE food option for the entire floor population. We ended up standing in line some 45 minutes in order to get a cheesesteak served on a hotdog bun by some young women from an former Eastern Bloc country. Rachel, Jess’s cousin who was with us speculated they might be slave laborers. One unfortunate side effect from our food necessity was we missed being in the Gigapixel Fancam. What a bummer. The other, less unfortunate effect was we missed all but about 4 minutes of the opening act Interpol. None of us could name a song of theirs. I’m sure they must be good if you’re going to open for U2 and all, but we weren’t losing any sleep over missing them.

Eventually, we ate our food, got beers and headed into find our spot on the floor. Despite what that gigapic looks like there was actually a nice bit of space on the floor where we were. Nobody was packed together to tightly, which was nice. I hate being stuck somewhere unable to move. We settled probably 30 yards from the stage.

Showtime.

Bono and the boys just walk out on stage. All shown by their gigantic 360° screen above the stage. I found it interesting that they didn’t even dim the lights before. To be perfectly honest, they strode to the stage like it was out of a movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if they choreographed that. Maybe just because they are so practiced at it, it just looked like a music video.

Speaking of music videos, this entire concert was so smooth and polished everything felt like it was a movie or video shoot. The camera work that they displayed on their screen felt like it was pieced together over a couple of weeks by an experienced editor, not produced on the fly. Amazing work.

This massive  video screen at one point in the show expanded down to almost reach the stage. When it was in this mode, they did more designs and motion tests than pure video. Broke up the show nicely.

All told, I probably recognized a good 60% of the set list, which made things fun for me. I’m one of those fans that really enjoys familiar songs. Sue me. They played the 3 songs that I really wanted to hear, Beautiful Day (with the help from the International Space Station), Sunday Bloody Sunday (with accompanying imagery from the “Arab Spring”) and Where The Streets Have No Name in an encore. I have to say, there is something about being 30 yards from one of the most famous people in the world in Bono. If there was someone who was crafted in a lab to front one of the biggest music groups in history it is this guy. He is at turns ultimate showman, singer, humanitarian, and switches between them effortlessly. I do find it mildly amusing that I don’t believe any of the other 3 guys ever said one word during the show… happy to let Bono do it. Also, I’d like to mention guitarist The Edge. He has crafted a sound which you immediately recognize. It was really something to hear him tear into Mysterious Ways or City of Blinding Lights. Even for a non-die hard fan it can give you chills.

However, by FAR the most fun thing for me was watching Jess absolutely light up during this show. After the tough past 8 month daily grind of having and raising twins, it was worth every single bit of stress it took to get us to that show to see her love it so much. I couldn’t have wiped the smile of her face with a belt sander. She was engrossed in it. I doubt she had a care in the world for those 2 and a half hours. That alone was worth every last penny to me. I now know why she’s made it to 10 of those things. I’ll say it right now, next time they’re on tour, I’m in for another go-round. Let’s do it! You can see my iPhone’s feeble attempt to capture her during the show in that image.

Bono and the boys did play for 2 and a half solid hours. As you can see from the set list, 25 songs. Many of those contained snippets of other songs in them which stretched them out. You certainly can’t claim we didn’t get our money’s worth. If my aching feet were any indication, we most definitely did.

Seeing U2 at this point is almost a cultural touchstone. Even if you’re not a fan you probably should take in a show of theirs just to say that you’ve done it. Well worth every bit of effort it took to get there.

Mötley Crüe & Poison – August 13th – Idaho Center, Nampa ID

On the other end of the spectrum from U2 would be Motley Crue. When I was 13 I was a GIGANTIC Motley Crue fan. I have never seen them in concert for whatever reason, but this was my chance to relive my childhood. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I was probably an even bigger Poison fan when I was 14. I was young and dumb… what can I tell ya?

Ma and Pa Haberman came to watch the Habertwins for the night, so Jess and I packed up a few beers to drink in the parking lot and headed out to the Idaho Center. As we sat there drinking our beers, we watched other fans arrive. I gotta say, the people watching was OUTSTANDING at this show. You had all types. The dudes who look exactly the same as they did in 1988. The chicks all sexed-up in their miniskirts and heavy makeup. Metalheads in their denim jackets over old tour t-shirts. Bikers. People obviously in costume. Rednecks. Even boring old normal people like me. Great stuff.

We got into the arena and got us a couple more beers. After walking around a bit, we hit the merch counter to take a peek. Jess talked me into getting a Motley Crue t-shirt just for the comedy of the whole thing. It is the first bit of anything I have ever purchased at a concert. Probably worth the $25 it cost.

It wasn’t long before Poison started their opening act. I told Jess that after watching a few seasons of Rock of Love, I was pretty tired of Bret Michaels’ shtick. And he was in full “Bret Michaels” mode in this show as well. But, since they only had limited time to play, he didn’t have a lot of time to talk to the audience. Instead, they busted through all of their biggest hits. Only mixing in “We’re An American Band” originally by Grand Funk Railroad to change it up. 45 minutes of music later they were done. I have to say, I think I enjoyed Poison even more than I thought I would. Of course, I knew every word to every song they sang. It almost took me back to the days when I would put their tape into our big stereo at home, grab my headphones to listen and read the latest issue of BMX Plus magazine. Good times. They ultimately finished up with Talk Dirty To Me and Nothin’ But A Good Time. It certainly was.

Between shows, the crowd thinned considerably. Ostensibly to empty their bladders and to get more beers. Jess and I among them.

Our seats for this show were in the front row of the arena seats, just one step off the floor. Basically we had floor tickets, but saved $20 a piece. The most amusing part of our seats was that we were right next to the stairs heading up the aisle of the stands. Being that they were steps and many tipsy people walking by, we got to see a number of good stumbles from people. I love the ones who played it off like they meant to trip. Too funny.

On stage, the crew was busy swapping the stage around for Motley’s main act. From our distance, we couldn’t really see what was going on, but they were really working up there.

The way the Crue started was sorta like the way U2 started, in a bizzaro universe. House lights were still up, and people were still milling around… then BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM! Six or eight very loud pyrotechnics went off, the curtain drops, lights go out and they immediately tear into Wild Side. The crowd went nuts and hundreds of people tried rushing back to their seats in the dark without spilling their beers.

Seeing a metal show is really unlike seeing some other type of music live. You certainly don’t go to a metal show looking for quality audio. Going in, you know it’s going to be loud. I mean like really loud. Like pushed way past distortion loud. And the Crue was definitely that. Throw in the, let’s say “sub-optimal” acoustics of the Idaho Center and you get otherwise awesome songs sounding like they are being played through crappy speakers at full volume with your head in a beat up aluminum garbage can. But, you don’t care.

The set list for Motley Crue contained exactly 1 song released after 1989, and that was their Grammy nominated song from 2008 Saints of Los Angeles. That is exactly the way I wanted this show to go. None of that “now here is a few songs from our new album!” Nobody cares. We’re there to hear the songs we know and love, and Motley Crue delivered the goods.

Also, a staple during a metal show is a few “solos” by the guitarist and drummer. Of course, the Crue obliged. Mick Mars did a wailing guitar riff that lasted a good 5 minutes… fingers flying around the strings.

The big spectacle of this show however was the apparatus that was Tommy Lee’s drum kit. “Roller Coaster” we were told. Always the innovator and a hell of a drummer, Tommy Lee really pushes the envelope with his live shows. In 1987 he broke out a spinning drum kit. At this show, his entire kit rides a giant circular rail system while he pounds out a massive drum solo. At one point, he brought a woman up on stage to go for a ride with him. He really comes across as a giant kid who is just having the time of his life.

Even lead singer Vince Neil still had his pipes available and hit all of the requisite screams when need be. Very impressive. Thinking about it, it really is incredible that all 4 original members of this band are still alive… still coherent enough to play a killer concert night after night. I read their book The Dirt and the amount of partying and drugs they did is astronomical. I would wager that if normal humans had tried to live that way, a good 50% wouldn’t survive 2 years, let alone 30. The only thing we can surmise is that they aren’t human. They are super-human metal gods put on this earth to bang the heads of the masses.

After blasting out all of my favorite Crue songs (Home Sweet Home, Same Ol’ Situation, Looks That Kill) they finish off with Kickstart My Heart, replete with huge pyrotechnics and boom, they’re done. No encore. They played fast and loud for an hour and a half and that was it. You kinda have to admire their not playing the phony leave-the-stage-but-come-back-for-the-encore-that-was-always-planned-anyway routine. They just quit, took their bows and walked off. That’s metal.

Ok, on to the comparison. I think we should break this down tale of the tape style… here goes.

U2
Motley Crue
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA Venue Idaho Center, Nampa ID
Advantage: U2
Lots of beer stands… one single food option with a 45min line for 3000 GA patrons Concessions Plenty. Easy to access, and not outrageously expensive.
Advantage: Motley Crue
70,000. Loud, but generally normal people (various continuous pot smokers excepted). Aged young to old Crowd Maybe 7,000 made a lot of noise for the size and completely packed with a plethora of kooks. Epic people watching
Advantage: Push
Interpol Opening Act Poison
Advantage: Motley Crue
Crystal clear. Beautifully mixed and very smooth. Very loud (possibly louder than the Crue, but was also outside), but so well balanced you caught no distortion Audio Quality Still very loud. Every dial pushed to 11, damn the torpedoes. Sometimes devolved into a cacophony of unrelated noises and distortion. If you didn’t know the songs, you weren’t learning them there.
Advantage: U2
Entire concert played like a movie. Flawless. Something to behold. 360 screen put to awesome use. Production Quality Rough… but with pyrotechnics. No constant video of the band in background. Did have a drum kit roller coaster.
Advantage: U2
60% – 15 of 25 songs I was pretty familiar with. Not bad for a band that I’ve never really listened to. Song Recognition 100% – granted, I’m not totally hip to Saints of Los Angeles. But knowing every lyric of every other song makes up for that, I believe.
Advantage: Motley Crue
Lugged two 8-month olds 2000 miles across the country. Ease of Attendance Mom and dad babysit
Advantage: Motley Crue
30 Years as a band 25
Advantage: U2
Current tour grossed over $700 million. Dozens of stadiums sold out around the world. One of the biggest bands in the world. Cultural Relevance Aging hair-metal band. Once huge, now playing in glorified rodeo barns. Still rock though.
Advantage: U2
Bono wore leather pants and at one point a leather jacket with red lasers sewn into it. Leather Everywhere… Band… Opening band… backup dancers/singers… audience
Advantage: Motley Crue
Wore earplugs. At one point I thought the crowd sounded pretty quiet compared to the band… then I took my plugs out and realized they were NOT quiet. Quickly put them back in. Post Show Ear Damage Level Also wore earplugs… Damn I’m getting old.
Advantage: Push
Strong. Would travel to make it happen. Desire to see again Maybe… probably wouldn’t go out of my way to.
Advantage: U2
Made Jess inordinately happy. She knew every word to every song. Danced the whole time. Attention rapt with the band. Intangibles Made me grin like a fool most of the show (especially with the spinning pentagram). Felt like 6th grade again. Knew all the lyrics.
Advantage: U2
7 — Totals — 5

There you have it. With a total of 7 to 5 (with 2 pushes) the U2 concert takes home the title of best concert I saw this summer. Motley Crue put up a good fight, but the enormity of U2 was too much to over come.

Thank you Jess for getting us there. If it was up to me, we would have DEFINITELY skipped it and would have been far worse off for it. Having toted them girls across country now makes every day seem easier by comparison. There isn’t anything we can’t do. I mean what I said about next time U2 tours… we’re going someplace fun to watch ’em. Maybe even visit some friends in Chicago.

Ride the iron horse?

As you may or may not be aware, Jess has been thinking/planning/wondering if it is possible to pack up the girls and make a trek to Pittsburgh this summer to show off the girls to family and use the U2 concert tickets she bought on a whim last year. I’m of the mind that this would be a huge undertaking and I’m not sure if I’m up for it… and that’s putting it mildly. Despite the fact that I love Pittsburgh and would truly enjoy another trip out there, my fear is the travel itself. The amount of crap we’d have to lug around with us would be immense. I fear the girls, cramped in a metal tube at 36,000 feet with no escape for 6 hours. I don’t want to be “that parent” that everyone else on the plane secretly loathes.

Anyway, just for shits and giggles, I decided to look into taking a train. I’ve never traveled on a train. I know nothing about where they run, or how much they cost. But, perhaps it could work. At least you can move around on a train. You could get a private room. The girls could get out of their seats and we could stretch our legs as we leisurely traveled cross country. Images of the golden era of train travel danced in my head. This could be fun, I thought.

So, I jumped onto amtrak.com and started poking around. This is what I found…

First off, despite the fact that we have a train station in Boise, Amtrak does not stop here anymore. The nearest stations to actually get on a train are in Spokane, Washington and Salt Lake City, Utah. Obviously picking SLC, I just went with everything Amtrak gave me (ie. I know we could drive ourselves to SLC, but that’s not the point of this exercise).

  1. Get on a bus and travel 7 hours 25 minutes to Salt Lake City
  2. Have a layover in SLC from 5:50pm to 3:30am (10 hours)
  3. Board train for Chicago, total duration to get there: 34 hr 20 min. Yes. 34 hours.
  4. Luckily the layover in Chicago is only 3 hours
  5. Take train to Pittsburgh, 9 hr 25 min.

We would leave Boise at 10:25am on Sunday and arrive in Pittsburgh at 4:35am on Wednesday. Total travel time: 64 hours. Oh wait, round trip… The schedule says only 57 total hours to make the return trip… Let me get out my calculator… Just a short 121 hours total for the round trip. Just travel time. For comparison, we could fly round trip, from Boise to Sydney, Australia THREE times in that amount of time.

Ooooookay…

Now, the price. The cost for the privilege to give up more than 5 whole days of our lives? Over 1,300 bucks. Yes, you read that right. And that is just for 2 seats and the girls riding on our laps, apparently. If we were interested in a private room, say for one of those 34 hour legs, the cheapest/smallest one they have (still just 2 seats) would add $600 to the total. If we wanted a private room for both of those 34 hour stretches, that bangs the total price up to just north of $2,500. Not to mention the 15 meals we’d need to buy ourselves along the journey. I’m going to go ahead and assume that food prices on a train are probably a lot like those in a movie theater or sports stadium… you know, super reasonably priced. On the plus side, some trains now have WiFi!… however, not any of the ones we’d be on.

Or, we could fly. Direct from Boise, 1 stop, 7 hours each way, round trip of 14 hours and a total cost of $825.

Needless to say, the train is much less attractive an option than I was prepared for. Maybe to those of you more familiar with train travel this isn’t as shocking to you as it was to me. But I was kinda blown away. So, you’re telling me it takes 8.5 times longer and is more expensive to boot? Gee, where do I sign up?

Anyway, back to square 1. We will continue to weigh the pro’s and con’s and see where we end up.

Pittsburgh family, maybe we’ll see ya in July… or maybe we won’t.

What’s new with the Habertwins?

After BathHere is a sampling of what’s new and interesting (or not) in the lives of Meri and Alex (and those of us sequestered to care for them).

Day Care

As of the first of March, Jess is back to work. Which means that the girls were now spending their days at day care. Jess was anxious to get back to work as well as anxious to leave the girls. I was just ready to begin the next phase. Luckily, the lady who we have watching the girls is outstanding. She only watches infants and has help in the form of some Boise State nursing students. She is a twin and had twins, so she knows exactly what we’re going through. “Grandma Pam” we call her. Grandma Pam has scrubbed their cradle cap off. She feeds and holds and generally loves on them. The girls couldn’t be happier.

Of course, they weren’t there 4 days before we get a call that a few other kids there were diagnosed with RSV. Luckily, we dodged that bullet… for now. However, that very next week both of the girls got colds which they then gave to me. Weak sauce. You can just call her “Typhoid Meri” since she was the first to get it and infect us. You know, the only thing worse than getting up at all hours of the night to deal with sick twins?  Doing it while sick yourself. I think I have permanent brain damage from the experience. In fact, in the past month, I’ve been sick 2 separate times. I think my body is finally disintegrating.

In fact, there was a time a couple weeks ago when our entire house was sick. Both twins and both parents. We shoulda just napalmed our whole house to keep the disease from spreading.

Feeding Time… and I mean NOW!

We were on a good track here. Notice the past tense “were” there. A couple weeks ago, the girls were pushing 5 or 5½ hours between feedings at night. Well, then some sort of switch was flipped and the girls turned into bottomless pits which we could not keep full. Overnight we went from 5 back down to 2½ or 3 hours between feedings. That first night Meri ate 7 ounces of milk at one feeding. We had to refill her bottle 3 times. For reference, on the day care sheet for the previous Monday, it said she ate a total of 8oz over the 8 hours she was there. So, yeah, a drastic increase.

After 2 days of their new “schedule” Jess was running out of breastmilk. She just couldn’t keep up with their demand. We had already made the switch to full time bottles (no actual breast time for the girls) in an effort to streamline things.  We were getting dangerously low on our breastmilk stores since they were now eating 2 or 3 times what they were just a few short days previous. Coupled with Meri’s dairy intolerance we had to talk to the doc to come up with a plan. The doctor put us onto a soy based formula which should work for them. So, for a few days we were mixing formula with breastmilk in an effort to make it a bit more palatable for them. I’m guessing this step was unnecessary since they were eating like a 500lb. guy at an all you can eat buffet.  Judging by how they suck it down, they like the formula just fine.

For the record, I’d like to debunk a popular myth that I’ve had repeated to me. “Formula helps keep babies full and they sleep longer than on breastmilk.” Yeah… um… not really. We are now giving the girls formula at night, and it makes no bit of difference in how long they sleep. They are just as hungry at 3 hours on formula as they were on breastmilk. Thanks conventional wisdom for getting my hopes up that I might get to sleep a little more. Screw you.

At least the stress we had with worrying about how much milk we had and how much they were eating is mostly gone. We just stick food in their face until the stop eating.

Unfortunately there have been nights where we end up feeding all night long. Since we don’t do a big formal feeding if we can help it, we just try to top them off individually. Mainly so we don’t have to wake a sleeping baby. Just don’t do it. They’re sleeping. Leave ’em alone. Well, this gets us into the occasional situation where you top one off for 20 minutes, put her down and 10 minutes later the other one is starving and has to eat RIGHT NOW! So, you pull her out and feed her. Put her down and some 30 minutes later the first one is hungry again. Repeat until you want to stab yourself in the neck.

Digestion

Speaking of which, just a quick mention here. Hey, did you know what soy formula looks like coming out the other end? Neither did I. Now I wish I didn’t. The girls are still on their new “every couple days” pooping schedule, however now when it arrives it’s even scarier. We’re talking a nice sage/olive green. Thick and pasty. And HORRIBLE smelling. In fact, just the other day I was holding Alex after a feeding. We were doing some standing on dad’s lap just for fun. Well, she went from happy smiling to a rather darker expression. She then started to poop and actually started to cry. This all happened in about 20 seconds.  I’m assuming the poop was thick enough to cause her bum a bit of discomfort on the way out. Now that is good times.

And for the record, other parents, save your “oh, you don’t know nothing yet… wait til they get to solid food” comments. Yes. Thank you. I get it. The poop will get worse. Quit reminding me… Sorry, I’m cranky.

Growing

Big news in the Haberman household, the girls are almost out of newborn sized clothes. They are mostly fitting in the baggy 0-3 month size. Just ignore the fact that they are actually 4 months old…

Outtings

Due to the fact that we’ve gotten a lot of practice getting the girls out the door every morning heading to day care, we have actually voluntarily ventured out from the house on occasion. A couple of weekends ago, we took them on their first Costco run. They were just fine. They liked looking at the lights overhead and the large stack of colorful merch on the shelves.  Of course it was one of our quickest Costco trips on record. Not a lot of time was spent perusing things. Get what we’re getting and get out before all hell breaks loose.

We’ve also been out to family and friends parties with them. It was funny this past weekend we were at some friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. There were a lot of people we didn’t know there. A few offered to hold babies so we could eat. Jess and I didn’t even hesitate to hand them over. Ahh, what twin exhaustion will do to you. “Sure… you can take ’em for a while… no I don’t know you, but at this point I don’t really care.” But, apart from the guacamole that Alex gave me while we were there, they were totally fine and slept well when we got home.

Attitudes

Life is easier in other respects. The girls really do like to smile a lot. They laugh now (sorta). We’re still waiting on the big belly laughs, but that can’t be far away. Alex is a total chatterbox. She will lay there just talking up a storm. I think she likes the sound of her own voice, which probably doesn’t bode well for me in the coming years… Meri will do it from time to time, but Alex does it all the time. She’s a nutcase. Meri, on the other hand has learned to blow raspberries. She loves to spit everywhere and giggle about it. I call her “Rasp-Meri” when she’s doing it.

It’s tough to remember that they used to cry every time we put them on the changing table. They used to cry every time we pulled a shirt on or off of their big ol’ heads. None of that fazes them any more. They even seem to mostly enjoy bath times. It is funny to see them slouched in their bath chair with their big old bellies hanging out. Enjoying the warm water poured over them.

Routine

This is what our average weekday is like.

Morning: rousting, feeding, changing, feeding more, clothing, entertaining, dressing ourselves, grooming, packing and heading out the door. Commute in, drop them off at day care, drop Jess off at work, go to work.

Work the day away with the help of 4 or 5 cups of coffee.

Afternoon. Pick up Jess at work and head over to the day care. Get the rundown from Pam on how the girls were today, how much the ate, slept and pooped. Pack them up and hit the road with thousands of other commuters all going the same direction. We’ll usually get home between 5:30 and 6. Then the real work begins. Unpack the girls and all their gear. Get some grub going for them. Feed the dog and start feeding the girls. We get to play with them during and after feedings, however this is usually their witching hour where they are pretty much crabs. At some point in there decide if there is going to be dinner for us or not and act accordingly. Come 8ish the girls finally start slowing down. They get swaddled and lay down to sleep. About then, Jess will sleep as well. Personally, I’m the most awake I am for the entire day at 7-10pm so I don’t go to bed. Plus, the worst part of my day is every time I get out of bed, so I have to limit the number of times I do this. I think every time I wake up, it shaves 90 minutes off my life expectancy, although I can’t prove that.  I use this time to shower or watch tv, or play on the xbox for a little while. Roust the girls again sometime between 10-11pm to do another feeding, then finally go to bed. They usually sleep pretty well from 12-3am (usually) but it’s after 3 that we have our issues. We just then try to survive and get as much sleep as possible before 6am rolls around and we do it all over again.

Such is life. Each day greatly resembles the day previous and will probably greatly resemble the day following.

So, there ya go. Our lives in a nutshell.  Stay tuned for more updates.

I do have a lot of pictures to post and hopefully I’ll get around to that in the next day or 2. But, like I’ve said, we don’t have a lot of spare time or energy at the moment.

Things I miss since having twins

Two Months OldI’m just going to say it… Having newborn twins is a gargantuan pain in the ass.  There. It’s out there. I’m not going to sugar coat this thing by saying how magical everything is and how rainbows and moonbeams flow from our household like unrestrained rivers of milk and honey. No, it’s more like stress and poop and sleep deprivation.

That being said, we do love the little twerps, even if we don’t like them all the time. They are lucky they are cute, otherwise we’d have already sold them to the gypsies long ago.

What follows is a list of all the stuff I want to bitch about these past 3 months. So, if you have an idealized vision of what having twins is like and don’t want to ruin that with reality, I suggest you stop reading now. Oh, and Alex and Meri… if you’re reading this at some point in the future, know this. Payback is coming…

Sleep

Let’s get the big one out of the way. Obviously, everyone knows that with any kid your sleeping goes straight into the toilet.  Intellectually, I knew this was coming. However, there is no way to really prepare yourself for just what happens once they arrive. When you’re pregnant, other parents always say, “be sure to stock up on extra sleep… you’re gonna need it! Har har har, ” they chuckle. You know what I say? Screw that. If you are having twins my advice is this. About a month before they are born start weaning yourself OFF of sleep. Seriously. Get yourself down to 5-6 hours max… preferably with an hour break in the middle somewhere. That way you’ll be able to function for that first month. It took me at least a full month of serious pain before I reached a place where I could be trusted to even look at heavy machinery. At least I’ve reached a place after 3 months where I’m functional, but I’m still not enjoying myself.

It’s like this. You don’t have an option with twins. Conceivably, if you just had one kid parents could maybe switch off nights and let the other sleep.  With twins you are both up every time. No if’s, and’s or but’s. I kinda equate it to this scene in the movie Goodfellas (caution, rough language). “You’re really tired? F*-you… feed me.  You’ve got a wicked cold? F*-you… feed me. You honestly think you might die if you don’t sleep? F*-you… feed me.” These twin girls are like little mob bosses. No flexibility. You do it their way or you’re in for a LOT more pain.

People always ask us, “Do you have family in the area to help?” Of course, we have a lot of family in the area and they have helped us out. But you know what? Not one of them has ever been there at 3am when we could really really really use the help. You know why? BECAUSE BEING UP AT 3AM, ESPECIALLY FOR EVERY NIGHT FOR MONTHS, TOTALLY SUCKS. This may just be the deprivation talking, but I don’t like any of my family members enough to go to their houses in the middle of the night, either. Ya know… no offense…

You’re probably thinking, “hey asshole… why don’t you just nap?” Like it’s that simple. Jess, being home with the girls alone all day, considers it a major win if she can get 20 minutes of sleep during the day when one or both girls aren’t squaking. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to know just when the other one is falling asleep that it is then your turn to crank it up. It never fails. Last weekend Jess’s sister was in town and I was able to sneak away for a 2 hour nap. I would have thought that would be worth a mint. However, when I woke up I was WAY more tired than when I fell asleep. I was seriously groggy and stumbling around the house for 3 hours after that nap. I was a danger to myself and others. Note to self… just keep going. Naps will just hurt you more in the long run.

I’ll just throw feedings in general in here. They are brutal. It is really tough living in a world where every 4 hours something is going to happen that you dread. Normally, you may think that 4 hours is a long time, but let me tell you. When another feeding is staring you in the face, it feels like 15 minutes. The stress of getting them to eat sometimes can be overwhelming. It’s really fun when they wake up and cry that they’re hungry… then DON’T eat for 45 minutes.

I’ve decided that I liked the first morning feeding the best. Mainly because even though I was getting up for the day and there was no more sleep, but at least the sun started to come up. I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t have to worry about trying to get any more sleep. It was just time to go to work. Which, at least, gave me a break from the girls.

There are times… like every 4am… where you honestly wonder if it will ever end. You are so delirious that you can’t imagine a time when this will all be just another faded horrible memory. I long for those days.

For the record, the lack of sleep is a major factor in each and every one of the other list items to follow.

Meals

One thing that Jess and I enjoyed pre-kids was cooking. Spending a little quality time in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, eating it, then cleaning up and closing the dishes.  Since the girls were born?  Fuggedaboutit. Let’s break this down piece by piece. First off, you’re so wore out that the very idea of expending the energy to create a whole meal sounds like someone asking, “Hey… you wanna go rock climbing right now?”  The answer is no. You really don’t want to break out everything you need to cook, the ingredients and pots & pans.  Which, doesn’t matter because you won’t have time to eat what you prepare anyway because at least one kid will lose their shit before you can get a single bite into your mouth. Finally, the only thing you want to do LESS than get everything out to cook is washing everything and putting it away. That’s like asking “wanna go rockclimbing while I repeatedly punch you in the face?”.  Again… answer = no.

Early on after the girls were born, we had lots of good friends and family bringing us meals. That was tremendous. We could just pull something from the fridge or freezer, pop it in the oven and even though we didn’t have time to eat, we could at least have something good and homemade to cram into our faces in 30 seconds flat.

However, that couldn’t last forever. We have reached a point now where a good 3 or 4 times a week, we’ll finally finish a feeding at 7:30pm or something and look at each other like “oh god… now we have to figure out food.” You know what happens more often than not? We decide we’ll just “snack” for dinner, where “snack” is a euphemism for “maybe we’ll eat something or more likely not.”

The few times that we do actually manage to make something resembling a meal, say like tacos or something, you are still forced to eat at mach 2. Why? Well, for me I know one of the girls will not sit quietly for the 15 minutes it would take for both of us to eat together. Jess usually volunteers first watch, so I wolf mine down mainly so her’s won’t be stone cold when she gets to eat. Plus, the other one could lose it any second. Life is better with free hands.

Plus side? I’m losing weight. Stress and not eating will do that to ya, I suppose.

Leaving the House

Having any kid will create a massive amount of crap you need to take along with you whenever you decide to leave the house. Twins? That amount is exponentially raised. When we bought our mid-size SUV last summer I never imagined that we could run out of space. Well… yeah. Even collapsed, a double stroller is giant. And it’s not just the amount of stuff you have to remember to take with you. Honestly, it is the stress of wondering if a meltdown of epic proportions is going to happen upon your arriving at your destination. Nothing in the world is worse than spending the 45 minutes of assembling the crap and prepping the girls to go out only to get there and they both freak out inconsolably. Not good times. Life right now is about doing what you can to make things simpler… and that ain’t it.

Not to mention that it has been winter. Jess especially has been cooped up in the house for so long. At least I’ve been able to go to work. We have taken them for a few walks around the neighborhood on the couple of warmish days we’ve had, but not enough to feel like you have done anything but sit around the house and watch Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives for the 409th time.

Reading

I love to read. In fact, Jess just bought me a new Amazon Kindle for my birthday in November and I love that thing. However, nowadays if I attempt to read anything longer than a paragraph or 2, chances are I’m going to pass out. I haven’t hardly touched my Kindle in the past 3 months. It’s kinda like in college when you would attempt to read a text book… You could end up “reading” 3 or 4 pages only to realize you have no idea what the hell you just read. That’s me. In fact, before that 2 hour nap I was reading. Got 2 Kindle page-turns down before I passed out. And we know how that turned out.

Reading is just not enough stimulation to keep my brain going. Maybe someday that ability will return. I sure hope so.

Traveling

Yes, I know that the girls have only been around for 12 weeks and that we had no vacations planned in that time anyway, but this is a “looking forward” sorta thing. It is more a feeling that the chances of us going anywhere farther than an hour away from our house for at least the next 2 or 3 years is pretty slim.

There are a few factors at play in this one. First, the logistics of packing everything we would need for even a weekend away is WAY too much for us to handle in our current states. For example, Jess, on a whim last fall, bought tickets for the U2 show in Pittsburgh this summer. Her thought was, maybe we could fly with the girls and have the tons of family we have there to watch them. Umm… yeah… this was before the girls actually arrived and reality set in. That’s just not going to happen. I can’t even fathom flying with 2 five-month olds. I’d rather light my own hair on fire. So, I seriously doubt we’re gonna make that show. On the plus side though, who needs 4 tickets?

Secondly, even with all the family help we have in the area, dumping off 2 needy babies on someone for any extended period of time is a very tall order. No offense, but I wouldn’t volunteer to do that for anyone else either.

Watching TV doesn’t help either, since there are shows about traveling and eating all over the place. I’ve been craving a Las Vegas trip badly, however I’m sure I’m waaay too tired to enjoy such a thing right now.  I can remember asking Jess one middle of the night a couple months ago if there was a place similar in function to Camp Bow Wow (animal boarding) but for babies. You know… for those couples who need to get away from their kids for a weekend or something. She assured me that their wasn’t.  Damn…

TiredIntelligent Conversation and Cognitive Thought

Again, you can probably chalk this one up to the whole sleep thing again. I was home from work for that first painful month and Jess and I spent nearly every waking moment together. We definitely reached a point where there was really nothing more to say to each other. Neither of us had done anything that the other didn’t already know about. Neither of us had seen any TV, read any article, or had any other thought pop into our heads that we hadn’t already shared.  So, what did we talk about? The girls, of course. On the couple of occasions when our parents would come by and watch the girls so we could go out to eat together, what did we talk about? You guessed it. The twins. Really, the only interesting thing that happens for that first month is poop. So, that’s what you discuss. Such is life.

Since that first month, there still isn’t much else to talk about. Especially with other people. Twins are our major story line. People see us and ask, “how are the girls?”. Which is fine, but that is basically all we talk about. Plus, since forming thoughts about anything we aren’t immediately experiencing is difficult at best, it’s all we can think to talk about. I’m sure we’ve bored the hell out of some folks out there on Facebook. Oh well. That’s all we have to offer right now.

I’ve tried to keep watching Jeopardy! just to try to keep some of my mental faculties about me. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t. Also, during the morning feeding we would watch the Today show, and I would just spend the whole time ripping on what I was seeing. The hosts, the guests, the dumbass stories, and even dumber commercials. I think Jess secretly enjoyed that and I know it felt good for me to vent a little. Don’t get me started on the Realtor they have on there from time to time…

Self Maintenace

You know what the first thing to go is when you have no time and no energy? Keeping up on yourself. I was one of those type of guys who wouldn’t leave the house in just a t-shirt or sweatpants. I just didn’t. Those days are long gone. There are days where you feel like you should shower, but you just can’t drag yourself to do it. Sometimes 2 days. Sometimes 3 days. Meh. How about fixing your hair, feel like doing that?  Um, no. I don’t. Shaving? Pass… Wanna wear some item of clothing that doesn’t have spit-up on it? Maybe, but I don’t actually wanna do anything about it.  Laundry? Thank god Jess stayed on top of that otherwise I would be wearing pajama pants and old T-shirts 2 sizes too small right now.

Free Time or Leisurely Anything

Duh. You have no free time.  That concept has ceased to exist in your world. Gone are the days of a needed 20 minute shower. Want to do a little video gaming? Dream on.  Hey the new ESPN Magazine came… Well, tough shit cause you don’t have time to look at it. One good thing about it being winter is there isn’t currently any yard work to be done. I can’t imagine what my lawn would have looked like if these girls had been born in July. We did actually watch a movie on HBO the other night. Of course, there was a 30 minute break in the middle where we had to attend to other things, but we finished it. And neither of us fell asleep. That’s a plus.

Now… all that being said, there are some positives. When they smile at you, it can sorta mask all the other shit they put you through. However, when they’d rather smile at 4 in the morning than eat, it’s not quite as cute. But really, when stuff really sucks, it certainly gives you something to look forward to. So that’s nice.

Another great thing is that Jess and I have probably only grown closer together throughout this. You hear about how kids often times puts strain on marriages. Well, I’d say we’re going in the opposite direction. It’s us against the world and we’re gonna win. I love you baby.

Someday all of these things will return and we’ll laugh about it… Someday.

Remember how I said I would get revenge on these girls when the time came? Well, I’m going to take extreme glee in waking them up when they are teenagers, at ungodly times in the morning, for absolutely no good reason… all while I cackle in delight. Man, I can’t wait.

Day 29 of Captivity

Their main torture method is sleep deprivation. And they excel in it’s application.

Our captors know how to push us. How to break us. They know the times and methods to force us to our limits and beyond.

Day 29 of our captivity. We were snatched up just as we were headed to a holiday party. Little did we know that we would never make it. Instead, we were seemingly sold into a state of bondage by our two miniature captors. We knew it was coming, but I don’t think we fully understood just what they would do to us… or the glee they would seem to take while doing it. Nothing can prepare you to have your freedom ripped from you in such a way.

Early on, you seem ok with it. There is a newness… a novelty to the whole situation. Maybe you’ll even enjoy the captivity. Unfortunately, this feeling wears off. It wears off and all you are left with are memories of how life used to be. How easy things were and how you didn’t fully appreciate what you had. But, that’s life isn’t it? You’re told that your captive situation will improve, but it is difficult to picture that happening.

The demands of our captors are certainly unique. In addition to the aforementioned sleep deprivation they have many other torture methods. We are forced to feed them at very strict schedules. Normal food is not good enough. Oh no… they will only eat a very specific diet, of which I decline to mention how it is obtained. After said feedings, it is up to us to make sure their seemingly delicate systems are not burdened by excess gas. Who knew that such evil masterminds could have such an Achilles heel? If this gas is not expunged from their system, you will pay for it. The howls can be maddening. Following, we are then coerced into cleaning our captors from their bodily functions. Apparently, these kidnappers wish to do nothing for themselves and we are forced to pick up the slack. Sometimes, just to show you they are still in charge, they will forcibly expel some bodily effluence at an inopportune time, forcing you to clean them again. Such is their madness.

While we are required to tend to their every need, our own needs go unmet. You start to realize that any desire to live a clean and orderly existence goes right out the window. Part of your coping mechanism is to let things go. Laundry? Dishes? Who cares? Our captors certainly don’t. Their needs become your needs and you’d better get used to that.

Oh sure, they sometimes allow us visitors. Family and friends are allowed visitation rights, but only for so long. You wouldn’t want to risk their wrath if our captors are disturbed for too long. Trust me on this.

Luckily, our captors have not seemed fit to curtail our outward communication channels. They seem oblivious to all forms of written and verbal communication to the outside world. I think this will be their downfall… eventually. We are able to seek advice and well-wishes from family and former captives who have since escaped and/or were able to alter the terms of their captivity. We hope to do the same eventually, but it is a slow process. It certainly keeps our spirits up.

Our abductors have begun to allow some unsupervised excursions, trusting we will return on our own. Not many and not frequently, but they have happened. Interesting strategy on their part I must admit. We’re hoping this is the beginning of a trend.

One positive aspect to our captivity is we have seemed to be deeply affected by the Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages begin to feel very positive feelings towards their captors. Despite all the demands on us, we can’t seem to get enough of our little tormentors. I hesitate to say it, but it is perhaps even evolving into love…

And so, we survive. Day by day we survive. Perhaps, if we do survive, we can look back on this time and laugh.

We hope.

A True Suburban Mystery

Life in the suburbs is generally boring.

Ok, perhaps that’s a bit strong. Maybe I should go with “sedate”. In fact, I’d argue that is one of the main draws of the burbs is that you know what life is going to be like. It’s a calm, quiet existence perfect for raising a family, which is why we moved to one. You get to avoid a lot of the kooks who inhabit more urban areas, which is a-ok with me.

However, life in the suburbs isn’t always as it seems. I’m going to tell you of a minor suburban mystery that happened at our house that has yet to be solved. I wish I had more answers for you, but unfortunately I don’t. Someone get Robert Stack on the phone.

The story happened a couple months ago.

Jess was traveling for business to Seattle for the day and left the house before 6am. I had my usual morning before work.  It was just like any other day… Until I got home from work late that afternoon.

I walked out the front door to go get the mail, and as soon as I opened the door I saw something strange on the doorstep right next to the door.

A pair of women’s shoes.

I know what you’re thinking… “Big deal. You do know that you LIVE with a woman, right?”.  Of course, you are correct. However, these were shoes I’ve never seen before. In fact, they are a much smaller size and totally different style than Jess wears. I stood there for a second just looking at them. Wondering why in the hell they were there. I did a cursory glance around our street, but obviously there was nothing there. I mean, this is a dead-end street in a subdivision bordered by farmland.

Jess called to check in not long after I’d found them and I asked her, “Um… did you leave some strange shoes on the porch?”

“Why would I leave shoes on the porch? No, I didn’t.”

Oooookay… So this leaves me full of questions with no answers.

From the position of the shoes, it really looks like someone was being a good guest and slipped them off before going into the house. However, the door was fully locked when I opened it to go out. There was no way someone who didn’t have a key could open the door. And nobody that we know who has a key came over that day.

So the question becomes, why would someone visit my front door, take off their shoes and leave them there? I mean, leaving your shoes somewhere isn’t exactly like dropping your wallet or cell phone. You’ll know immediately that you don’t have them the second you take a step. “Hey, I have little rocks poking me in my feet… that’s odd… oh wait, I think I might be missing my shoes…”

I was so baffled by the whole thing, that I left the shoes on the porch for a couple weeks with the thought that the woman who left them there might remember that she did and come get them.  But no dice. They just sat there. Mocking me with unanswerable questions every time I went out my front door.

I’ve spent the last couple months trying to come up with plausible theories as to why these shoes were there, and I’m coming up dry. I could come up with no logical scenario where a woman would come to the door, find nobody home, then remove her shoes there before leaving. The only thing that would make sense to my mind is that someone was playing a joke on me, and specifically left the shoes there simply to confound me. The worse theory is that this is the first sign of some sort of Haitian voodoo curse and that my feet are going to end up rotting off the bottoms of my legs or something. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Having been stumped, I open the floor to other theories. I appeal to the collective wisdom of the internet (which in and of itself might not be the smartest idea) to help me figure this one out.

Postscript: Murphy was just as confused as I was…