Eenie, Meanie, Miney, Moe

girlsatzooWhen you have young kids, getting them to do the things you need them to do can be difficult. This isn’t earth-shattering information. All parents know this. Every stage of their lives you have to constantly adapt your methods of motivation in order to just keep things moving along enough to get through your day.

Of course, motivating twins is a special challenge since you have the whole “sissy first” issue. Neither kid wants to be the first one to do something (or stop doing something as the case may be). Who wants to be the first one to get their hair washed in the bath? No thanks. First one to go potty in the morning? Forget it. First one to get their shoes on? Pass. It’s always “Sissy First!” Eventually, they do nothing for long enough that you give up and try to put their shoes on for them… “NO! I’ll DO IT!” they shout. *sigh*… but you’re not doing it, that’s the problem.

There are methods that you try which fail miserably. One of these I call “The Winner”. I do not suggest this tactic. It consists of proclaiming the first one to do something as the winner. “The first one to get their shoes on wins!” Sounds foolproof right? Everyone likes winning. Unfortunately, 3-year-olds don’t have a nuanced approach to not winning. Yes, you have accomplished your goal in getting at least one kid moving, but the child who does not win is now throwing a fit because they “didn’t get to win too.” In attempts mitigate this, you concoct some other winning condition, but God help you if the ‘losing’ child does not win that one. You might as well go back to bed.

Thus, I recently instituted the “Eenie, Meanie, Miney, Moe” method. Everyone who was once a kid knows what this is all about. It’s so simple. Takes only a few seconds. The girls really enjoy it. I get to choose the kid I want to go first and they’re none the wiser. Hell, I was probably 14 years old before I realized that it was not, in fact, random.

Respect the Moe

Using Eenie, Meanie solves one problem… selecting who goes first. However, the remaining problem is getting them to actually agree to the outcome. If they get chosen, the first reply is often “No! Do it again!” I’ve began calling this “Respect the Moe”. Which I really really enjoy saying, even if they don’t totally get it. I think that needs to be on a T-shirt. Needs to be a trending hashtag on Twitter: #RespectTheMoe. Delivered with enough emphasis and you can defuse arguments… sometimes.

This method is so effective that often if we try to do something they don’t want they will shout “DO EENIE MINEY MOE!”.  That’s how I know I’ve accomplished something.

Chalk this up to another of the literally thousands of things I never even thought to think about before I had kids.

Toddler Bedtime Hypochondria – And Other Excuses

Some toddlers don’t like to go to bed… Wait, who am I kidding… *most* toddlers don’t like to go to bed. Ours included.

Dealing with twins, you learn very early to be on a schedule. If you get off schedule you’re going to have a bad time. One might even say, we’re schedule Nazis. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. In fact, the girls are so used to this, that if we miss bedtime by even 30 minutes, they devolve into wailing banshees that no amount of coddling, cajoling, or threatening can stop. Every parent out there knows the joy of over-tired kids.

That being said, bedtimes in our house is a constant battle. They will be perfectly fine leading up to the ultimate event. They’ll eat their dinner (sometimes), get into jammies, read books, drink milk, sing songs, all the stuff we usually do. However, when it comes time to actually put them into their beds and close the door, all bets are off.

They often become (Alex especially) what I call “bedtime hypochondriacs.” They will complain about phantom maladies that up until this very instant they didn’t even think about. What follows is a checklist of every thing I’ve heard from them in the past few months at bedtime. Most of these would be preceded by an “ummm….” and a pause while they try to come up with the best one.

Toddler Bedtime Excuse Checklist

Section 1. “My ________ hurts.”

[ ] Tummy (the big one we hear almost every night)
[ ] Bum
[ ] Eye
[ ] Cheek
[ ] Ear
[ ] Hair
[ ] Neck
[ ] Throat
[ ] Arm
[ ] Hand
[ ] Finger
[ ] Fingernail
[ ] Leg
[ ] Knee
[ ] Foot
[ ] Toe
[ ] Toenail

You could also replace “hurts” with “itches” and double that list. We get that too.

Dealing with these “symptoms” is a delicate issue. They will usually just tell you about it, and perhaps demand a band-aid. But sometimes if they get too worked up about them, they will scream and cry even more. So, you have to play them right. I’ve found that telling them, “I’m sorry your _____ hurts. How about we try sleeping, and if it still hurts in the morning I will fix it, ok?” works best. This can be difficult to do calmly when you’ve gone into their room 5 times in the past 20 minutes. They will often reply, “But it really really hurts.” Child, I wish you could understand the parable about crying wolf…

Section 2. “The conditional requirements”

This section is all about their particular needs in their beds.

[ ] “My cover/blankie fell off” – they have to have their blankets juuuust right on their head or they’ll cry. This is the most popular one.
[ ] “Turn my pillow over” (An Alex one)
[ ] “Where’s my doggy/bear/baby?” – the toys in their bed
[ ] “Dropped/can’t find my bink” – Yes, they still have pacifiers. Pick your battles. This one will get ugly one day. We’re not up to it yet.
[ ] “It’s too dark/I’m afraid of the dark” – since when?
[ ] “There’s a dog toy on the floor” – why this will keep them from sleeping I have no idea.
[ ] “I’m thirsty”
[ ] “I’m hungry”
[ ] “I have to go potty” – even though we went potty not 8 minutes ago before we went to bed
[ ] “Dad, sissy woke me up” – Usually by crying about one of the other things on this list.
[ ] “I have a hair in my mouth” – This is a new one. Alex’s discovery. Very difficult to disprove, and she sells it well (reaching into her mouth to find said phantom hair). Usually “it’s deep in my throat” is added.

Most of these are fairly easy to remedy (not counting the hair). However, if you give into the hungry/thirsty ones, you’re in trouble. They will keep going to that well until you shut it down. Those require setup to defuse. Before putting them down, you gotta tell them “This is your last chance for milk. You’d better drink it now. No more”. Generally however, if you go in and get one of these, you can usually fix it quickly and get out.

Section 3. General Random Questions/Statements
This is the type of questions they will ask for no apparent reason, other than to postpone bedtime as much as possible and they’ve already used one or more of the above excuses.
[ ] “When are we going to Pittsburgh?” – We’re going for a family wedding in October. Unfortunately we told them about it.
[ ] “When is ________”? (holiday). Enter any holiday. Recently I’ve gotten Easter, Halloween, Christmas, St. Patricks Day, Valentines Day, Super Bowl.
[ ] “When are we going to grandmas?” – Even if we just came back from Grandmas.
[ ] Any other question or statement about recent events

These are by far the easiest to handle. Quick answers followed by a “now go to sleep” usually works.

The really bad nights are when they are just wired. They will NOT listen to a word you say. They laugh and talk and shout and cry and generally drive you absolutely bananas. There is very little you can do to either get them to sleep and/or keep your sanity.

Other bedtime techniques.

A few months ago, Jess realized that the girls love, and I mean LOVE, mini marshmallows. They would probably invade Poland if we promised them enough marshmallows. So, she had an epiphany. Give the girls 5 marshmallows in a cup by their bed. If we have to come in, we take one out and that’s one less they get to eat in the morning. It works sometimes. A good concrete thing then can wrap their minds around. “If I have to come in again, I’m taking a marshmallow” usually quiets them down. Unfortunately, not always, and you’ll find yourself threatening to take ALL of the marshmallows away. I’m not proud, but it happens.

Much in that same vein, we remind them of things they want to do, and if they don’t go to sleep they won’t get to do it. How well this works, I don’t know. The followthrough on that those isn’t as good as it should be.

Anyway, this is our nightly battle. Sometimes we win. Mostly, they win. Occasionally, they win big, and we spend an hour and a half repeatedly going into their room and slowly losing our minds.

The worst part is by the time we get them in bed, it’s 8ish. We’re usually exhausted and in bed by 9:30ish. So, we have at most an hour and a half a day to do anything other than wrangle kids or work. That is precious time that when they cut into you really feel it.

I should say, that for the most part, they sleep through the night. *knock on wood* The nights where we gotta get out of bed to tend to them are few and far between.

All things being equal I will take this 1000% more than those first 8 months of getting up in the middle of the night to feed them. Plus, I do have to say, sometimes they can be super sweet, like when they say, “I forgot to give you a hug” or “Dad, I love you.” It doesn’t totally make up for the other nights, but it helps.

Now, if we could just work on the occasional 5:20am “I want to wake up now” episodes…

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!
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.


Toddler (mis)Communication

Life with toddlers learning to talk is just one of those things. Sometimes it’s terrific and sometimes it’s not. More so of both when there are two of them spewing words at you non-stop.

For example, months ago they adopted the word “milp” which meant “milk”. Simple enough. Jess and I even found ourselves asking them if they wanted “milp”. Fun to say.

Well, somehow, a few weeks ago they completely changed it up on us. They no longer say “milp”. Now the word they use for milk sounds way more like “nap”.  Those were a difficult couple days while we tried to figure out what in the hell they were saying. I still don’t know how they both were able to change the word at the same time. I picture them laying in their cribs at night conspiring to confuse he hell out of mom and dad.

Last week I was with Alex and Meri while Jess was out. Alex walked up to me and said a word that sounded like “cut”. It was obvious she was asking for something, it wasn’t just a statement. She had nothing in her hands, we weren’t eating or anything. No context clues whatsoever. Just out of the blue. Being 2, she didn’t just say “cut”… it was more like “cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, CUT, CUT, CUT…”

I literally had no idea what she was saying. So I start fishing, “cut?” I ask.

“Yeah”, she replied.

Shit… that doesn’t help me any.

“Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut…”

“Something to eat? A toy? Can you help Daddy out?”

“Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut…”

Amazingly, hearing the word 75 times hasn’t helped me understand what she wanted. In desperation I turned to Meri to see if she could possibly act like a UN language translator.

“Hey Meri, do you know what sissy wants? Do you know what she’s saying?”

Meri replied, “cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut…”


Luckily for me, 2 year olds are easily distracted and we moved on to something else. To this day, I still have no idea what she was saying. Jess has heard it as well, and similarly doesn’t have a clue.

Some other word adventures…

The word “more” has been said roughly 7 million times in our house since they first learned it a year ago. However, now it sounds like “moy” instead.

The word “uh-oh” is also used contsantly. Unfortunately they do not understand the difference between an actual accident and something they are doing on purpose. Meri will be standing there unzipping her pajamas all the while saying “uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh…”. Sweetie, that is not an uh-oh, you’re just being naughty.

Alex’s big thing lately is “hot”. Everything is hot. If it’s not stone cold, it must then be hot. We have to constantly reassure her that her that nothing is hot.

They are addicted to the movie Monsters Inc. Specifically, the very first scene of the movie where the monster screams and then falls down in the simulator. They let us know they want to watch this by repeating the words “guy fall” over and over and over again.

“peas” = please
“doot do” = thank you
“kak-kah” = cracker
“coo” or “coo coo” = cookie

They’ll pick up their toy purses they got for Christmas from grandma, sling them over their shoulder and say, “bye-bye… seelater”.

Must to Jess’s chagrin, Alex will occasionally just call her “mom”. She gave me a “dad” the other day.

Alex has had a rash on her rear, and she’ll say “bum hurt”. Sad and funny at the same time.

They love to talk about toots and poo poo. They must be my kids after all.

Still, the most uttered word by sheer volume is “uhh”. This is the catch-all word that is repeated ad nauseum. Any time they don’t fell like using their words and/or don’t know what words they want, they just say “uh uh uh uh uh uh…” it is quite aggravating. That is one bit of this journey I won’t miss when we pass by.

There is certainly never a dull moment in the Habertwin household.




Twin Pix – March and April 2012

Meri & AlexThe Habertwins just keep growing. Well, not that much, since at our last doctor appointment they are still in the 5th and 8th percentiles for weight and all. Let’s say they are “advancing” at a rapid pace.

They can probably identify easily over 100 different items by name. If we say go get “xyz” toy, they can find it in the pile. Reading their picture books, we can ask them “which one is the cow?” and they can point it out. Verbally the aren’t as advanced yet but are improving almost daily. The words they do say (da da, momma, bye-bye, night-night, cheese, shoes, etc.) they are starting to put them together to form thoughts. Just yesterday, I went into our bedroom while Jess was playing with them. Alex turned to Jess and said “da da bye-bye”. Mind boggling that is happening already.  We are also working on them saying their names. Alex does pretty good with her “Allllll-cexs”. Meri falls back something close to “momma” but is working on it.

You can tell Meri, “Let’s go change your diaper” and she will drop whatever she is doing and start heading to her room. Pretty funny to watch. She gets so excited about it for some reason.

We survived another round of sickness/simultaneous teething. The progression is like this… they start teething, so their gums hurt. They chew on their fingers constantly to make their gums feel better. Fingers in the mouth end up getting them sick. Thus, we have 2 children who are teething, uncomfortable, in pain, and can’t breathe because they have colds. Wow. Not good times.

We have reached a point where the following is completely true. If we have one of something, we have zero of something. Because, if there is just one, they will battle over it. As an addendum to that, if we have 2 of something, but it is something they can carry in one hand, then we’re still screwed because one kid will end up with both of them with the other kid screaming. In those cases, we need at least 5. One for each of their hands, and a “floater” to assuage any additional problems. I can see this getting out of control rapidly.

On the positive side, 2 days in a row last week we had 100% cry free afternoon commutes. 45 minutes of total silence from the back seat. No crying. No screaming. No nothing. I can probably count the total number of times that has happened in 14 months on one hand. So, you know, rare. About two thirds of the way home, Jess and I were looking at each other afraid to say anything that would screw it up. It was like a pitcher with a no-hitter going and nobody wanting to break his concentration. Alas, the string only lasted 2 days, but those were 2 glorious days… We are hoping to have turned a corner on this, but it is too early to tell.

With the weather finally getting nicer, the girls absolutely love being outside. They have been exploring the backyard, picking up rocks and digging in dirt. Good times.

They love eating bites of pizza. They must really be my kids after all.

All in all, every day that passes they are becoming more and more fun to be around. Their personalities are really coming out. The days that they are both in good moods are like gold. I wouldn’t trade those for anything.

Without further ado, here are some pictures. As always, go to Flickr to see all of the photos.

Twins – March 2012

Meri & Alex


Alex & Meri





Alex & Meri


Twins – April 2012



Hop on Pop





Twin Pics – December & February

Damn. How time flies anymore…

Alex and Meri are growing like crazy. Granted, they don’t seem to be getting a ton bigger just yet, but they are running now. Usually in a direction away from us when we call them. They think that is hilarious. They both have crazy fascination with their coats and want to wear them all the time. They absolutely LOVE zippers. Can’t keep their hands off them. Want to move them up and down. Alex will grunt at you to zip up her jacket so she can play with it more.

We’ve upgraded from their old “bucket” style car seats to their new big-kid type seats. They adjusted to them pretty well. Jess and I had a little more work to do, since we now have to wrangle the kids in and out of the car, rather than just grabbing the whole seat. We’re getting it figured out.

They are both learning more words. They don’t know what all of them mean and they are just mimicking Jess and I, but they do know somethings like “banana”, “duck”, “night night” (nap/bed time) and others. Some of the recent additions are “sissy” (what we call each of them), “boom”, “go go go”, “done”, “yeah”. It is quite fascinating. Although, the still don’t like to perform on command. Go figure. The do know what the sound of the bathtub being filled and will come running and attempting to strip off their clothes. Yeah, they love baths.

Meal times are still trying. Alex, for the most part will eat without much complaint. Meri, on the other hand wants nothing to do with us feeding her most times. She only wants to feed herself finger type foods. All well and good, unless you’re trying to feed them some bananas and yogurt in the morning and still get out the door at a reasonable time. Yesterday, Jess and I spent about 4 hours preparing 10 different recipes of baby food and filling our freezer with stuff to feed them. All fresh veggies and meat. Provided they eat it, they will definitely be eating better than their parents do.

Anyway, without further ado, here are more pictures of these crazy kids. As always, more available on than are posted here. Enjoy!

Habertwins Christmastime

Christmas Decorating


Alex Opening Presents

Meri - New Sippy


Helping Mom with her stocking

Alex & Meri

Habertwins February ’12




Meri & Alex



Mom & Meri


Meri & Alex

Meri & Alex

National Letter of Intent Day

Kellen Moore throws deepSo, today is football National Letter of Intent Day. In layman’s terms, it’s the day when all those high school seniors can officially sign with the college team of their choice. It’s the culmination of the long and arduous recruiting process.

Obviously, since college football is such an obsession with many fans, yours truly included, a great amount of attention is paid to recruiting. Stands to reason that if you don’t get the best players possible, your team won’t be as good as it can be in the coming years… or something like that. Fans buy magazines devoted to recruiting. They pay for websites that track potential recruits and learn what other schools players are considering. At this point, recruiting information is big business, and is just getting bigger.

All sorts of media outlets have their own rankings of high school players. Every player is given a star rank, from 1 to 5 stars. The 5 star kids are the biggies. The golden boys. What everyone is chasing. ESPN has their “Top 150” list of the top 150 players in the country, and lists what schools they’ve committed to.,, and and many others all devote huge amounts of coverage to college recruiting. If you google “college football recruiting” you’ll get 18,700,000 hits. Arguably there is maybe more interest in college recruiting than there is in hockey at this point. Every one of these outlets will ultimately give each school a rank from 1-119 as to how well they did with this year’s recruiting class. The fans of the school with the number 1 recruiting class will get all giddy and dream of the 3 national championships that class is certainly going to win in the coming years. Fans of the teams that don’t get a high ranked class will worry about the direction of their program and why their coaching staff couldn’t recruit better. Coaches have literally lost jobs over perceived poor recruiting rankings.

And you know what? It’s all bullshit.

Oh sure, your team has to have good players in order to win. Nobody is disputing that. But if you actually believe that any 1 media outlet has the means to accurately scout, evaluate and rank every high school football player out there, you’re deluded. For the record, I am no insider. I have never been through the process. I’m just a fan, and this is what I observe. Allow me to provide you with some statistics.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, in 2010/11 some form of organized football (from 6-man through traditional 11-man) was played at 15,513 high schools in the US. At those schools, 1,134,347 boys played football. If we divide that number by 3 to get only the seniors (that number is an estimate, since not all schools/players play 4 years of football, but this is just rough calculations anyway), we get 378,115 recruitable athletes, if we assume that a kid who has the body and ability to play college football could come from any of those schools, which doesn’t sound like that much of a stretch. Further, if we say that maybe 10% of those players could even be considered skilled and/or big and fast enough to play at the highest levels of college football, that still leaves us with almost thirty-eight THOUSAND possible athletes.

Don’t you suppose that the resources required to accurately rate every one of those kids is WELL beyond what anyone is currently capable of? Oh sure, they could easily scout the biggest football-factory type high schools out there. Which is generally what they do. But I’m going to guess that some very good players could EASILY slip through the recruiting media’s nets. Just for reference, Kellen Moore was 2 or 3 star recruit coming out of high school.

Ok. Say that doesn’t convince you. That’s fine. Even if you believe that it is possible for the recruiting media to see every single possible athlete out there, what about their actual evaluations? You know, those handy dandy star ratings stuck on every player to which everyone pays so much attention. Think they’re always 100% accurate?

Sure, they can measure how big and tall someone is. They can measure how much they can bench press. They can measure how fast they run 40 yards. They can even watch film from the games they’ve played. That may give them an idea. But these boys are 18 years old. They haven’t even become what they’re going to become yet. I would argue that a LOT more goes into making a successful football player than just “measurables”.  What about work ethic? A kid will have to juggle football, workouts and classes all at the same time. What about maturity? That kid may well be away from home for the first time in his life. What about desire to get better? Drive? Coachability? How do they measure those? What about smarts? Sure they could look at his GPA, but how well a kid does on his history exam doesn’t exactly reflect how well he can read a defense.

If you need any more evidence into just how much of an inexact science football evaluation is, just look at the NFL. Yeah, they do quite a little bit of evaluating of players leading into the draft. They have a MUCH smaller group of players to look at. Players who are older, more mature. More tape to watch of players against top talent. There is the combine where the top players gather in one place and show EXACTLY what they can do. There are hours of interviews. More tape. Teams literally have millions of dollars riding on every evaluation. You know what? Even THEY wiff on players. It happens every single year. Jamarcus Russell anyone? If an NFL team can’t even properly evaluate the #1 pick in the draft, I totally believe that can totally accurately rate a 17 year old pimple-faced kid from Paducah, Kentucky. Sure.

The thing is, every one of these recruiting services has absolutely zero incentive to be accurate. Follow me here. They have incentive to make money. Sell subscriptions. Drive ad traffic. That’s it. If you look at the rankings every year, you’ll always see the same bunch of teams at the top. They are the Texases, the Ohio States, the Alabamas. You know, those teams that have huge, rabid followings. Sure, they all get good players, but if you want to attract that traffic to your publication how do you do that? It’s not by giving them rankings in the 30’s or 40’s that’s for sure. Why is it that Notre Dame has had a top 25 recruiting class every year but hasn’t been relevant in college football since the early ’90s? Couldn’t be that their player rankings could have been skewed, huh?

Where is the incentive for them to be accurate? There is none. Nobody is going to go back to in 4 years and say “well, you gave Michigan a top #3 recruiting class but that team finished 6-6 three years in a row. You’re fired”. In the NFL front offices get fired for poor decisions. Yet everyone just gives these recruiting services a pass. You see articles like this from a very respected college football writer wondering why Boise State doesn’t recruit better. He looks at a number of supposed reasons except the one that is shouting from the back of my head… THE RANKING SYSTEM IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT.  I’m going to go ahead and trust Coach Petersen to get the kids he wants to get. He’s got actual skin in the game, so to speak. He has said repeatedly that he doesn’t pay attention to star rankings, because he knows what he is looking for. He is certainly not looking at what everyone else thinks of his recruits. Plain and simple. Obviously, he is getting good players despite what the rankings say. He can’t go 50-3 in 4 years by recruiting one-legged hobos and escaped mental patients, which is what the national press seems to think we’re doing.

However, I will say there is one positive aspect of this entire industry for us here at Boise State. Every one of the type of kids we get feels slighted by the rankings. They know the 2 stars they got isn’t accurate. Coach Pete looks for those kids with a chip on their shoulder and looking to prove someone wrong. And that is exactly what they do.

So, later today when you hear about how well, or how poorly your favorite school did in recruiting this year take heart. None of it is by itself indicative of how your team will do in the coming years, good or bad. Just relax. Spring football starts in a few weeks anyway.


Solo Dadventure

The HabertwinsIt was bound to happen sooner or later. Last week, it was my time to shine.

With Jess going back to work after Christmas and my office being closed for the holiday (as well as our daycare being closed), it fell upon me to man up and maintain the Habertwins for 4 straight days all by my lonesome. To say it was an adventure would be an understatement.

These girls are high energy and completely mobile. They just don’t stay in one place for more than 37 seconds at a time and are usually heading in opposite directions. Actually, that is probably a good thing since Alex has a penchant for horse collar tackles of Meri and mashing their heads together. Anyway, the best we can do in our house to keep them corralled is to close all the doors to bedrooms and bathrooms. However, the main living area of our house is one big open room of kitchen, living & dining rooms. It is impossible to keep them in a small contained area. One day, as I was feeding Alex a bottle, Meri was occupying herself by dunking a book in the dog’s water bowl. Needless to say, I spent a good deal of time chasing them down. If I had a dollar bill for every time I said either of their names, “come here” or “no” we could retire early and hire a live in nanny.

Here is a visual representation of what went on in our house. This first picture is all of their old toys and new Christmas stuff semi-neatly piled up out of the way:

Toys - before

After 2 hours:

Toys - After 2 hours

And after 4 hours:

Toys - after 4 hours

You might notice that the density of toys seems lower in the last picture… that is because many of the toys have since migrated out of the living room area and are now in the kitchen, dining room and elsewhere.

One thing I learned fast was to break the day down into more digestible chunks.

First chunk was getting them out of bed, diapers changed, bottles fed, breakfast fed, another diaper change (poopies this time), play time, then down for their first nap, sometime between 9:30am and 10am. Yeah, they’re weird. For some reason, they can sleep 12 hours, wake up for 2 and be tired again.

During that nap, I can finally relax, maybe take a pee, and polish off the coffee without having to keep little hands out of the mug. The thing is with these girls, you can’t set anything down where they might reach it. Because they WILL reach it and dump/poor/spill/wreck anything they can. However, one benefit of being the only one home watching them is that I get to drink the entire pot of coffee myself. The caffeine jolt helps quite a bit. About an hour after they go down, you start watching the clock, just knowing they are going to start hollering soon. The first day I got them up when they only napped for 45 minutes. That was dumb. By Friday when they squaked at an hour in, I let them spend 10 minutes crying when they fell back asleep for another hour. It’s all a learning process.

Chunk 2 is getting them up from the nap, doing more bottles, more diapers, then some lunch. Feeding them is probably one of the most stressful parts of this whole deal. They keep you on your toes. You just never know what they’re going to want. Sometimes, they HAVE to feed themselves, and will do the tight-seal-mouth-turn-the-head method of spoon refusal. Other times, you’ll get out some pieces of cheese or banana or whatever on their tray and they won’t touch it. One time, Alex would pick up a piece of food from her tray, look me square in the face and drop it right on the floor with disdain. *sigh* Or, food they loved yesterday and couldn’t get enough of, today they will spit out the second it touches their tongue. I don’t even want to think about what this bodes for the future. One thing they always seem to like is Cheerios. Which is a good thing, unless the dog is at doggy day care to stay out of dad’s hair for the day. Tuesday, there were roughly 4,739 cheerios spread across the floor.

The afternoons are not as structured as the mornings. It is a lot of play time. The thing with 1 year olds, is that at least as far as I know, they aren’t really into organized activities. Which makes killing time so difficult. On Wednesday, the Grandparents took the girls for 3 hours which was like a mini vacation. I came home and napped. Thursday and Friday the weather was so nice (in the 40’s) that we were able to take LONG walks around the neighborhood. Friday afternoon in particular, we went almost 4 miles in an hour and a half. They slept a little in the Bob stroller. I put on my headphones and could zone out for a while. That was nice.

Hopefully, they’ll take an afternoon nap somewhere in there. Afternoon naps are iffy though. Most often, they’re pretty short. Then it’s just killing time until mommy comes home to help out. I can remember one day looking at the clock on the wall and thinking, “Ok… just 5 hours and 10 minutes until Jess gets home”. Then looking at the clock again at what felt like 40 minutes later… 5 hours and 5 minutes until she gets home. Ooof.

One day, Alex pooped 4 times. Throw in 2 for Meri, it made for a stinky day.

I admit, shortcuts were taken as well. They stayed in pajamas all day. Life was just easier that way. Besides, we weren’t in public anyway. In fact, Dad stayed in pajama pants and a t-shirt as well. Funny how everything else goes right out the window. I didn’t get dressed. I didn’t shower. I only put actual clothes on when I took them for a walk. Only one of the 4 days did I even remember to eat lunch. I didn’t accomplish a single other thing than tending to the Habertwinadoes. I’m guessing that it probably takes a month or 2 before you reach a point where one could watch kids and still accomplish other things like cleaning up or doing laundry. I’m certainly not there yet.

All of that being said, it was probably a good thing for me to have done this. If anything, I figure if I can do that I can do just about anything. Plus they did get some quality Dad time. Not that they don’t get a good amount of that on a regular basis, but with mom nowhere to be found, they couldn’t be dependent on her. I think by Friday, the girls were getting used to Dad’s program as well. Having one less set of hands makes putting them down for a nap different. Instead of them each getting one on one rocking and bottle time, they got to share Dad’s lap. I held a bottle and a baby in each arm and rocked them. Tuesday, they didn’t like this much and cried for 20 minutes after I put them in their cribs. By Friday, they went right down for their nap with nary a peep. No muss, no fuss.

And, all of the work aside, they can be a lot of fun when they’re in good moods. And even when they’re choosing to not eat, sometimes they can be pretty funny. I also was able to spend some time teaching them where their noses and ears are. It is pretty cute to see them point to their noses when I ask where they are. However, Meri will often stick her finger IN her nose… which I suppose is still correct. Unfortunately, they don’t like to perform in front of others. So, it’s a pretty tough skill to show off.

I’m pretty interested to see what 2012 has in store. I can almost see these girls getting bigger every day. Each day they get better balance. They learn something new. They are sleeping in now, if you can believe it. During the break, they slept til 7, 7:30 and once til almost 8am. That is a far cry from the 5:45am days. In fact, this morning when heading back to work we had to set an alarm, get ourselves up and ready at 6:40, before waking them up. I never thought I’d see the day. It was the first alarm I have set in 13 months. Crazy.

I’m really trying my best to soak in the things I enjoy before they’re gone. Probably my all time favorite is the few times a day when they’ll nestle their heads on my shoulder when holding them. If they only knew that was the perfect way to keep dad from ever putting them down…


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.