Monday, February 28, 2011

Same Sex Fraternal Twins

Arica and I went in for her second official ultrasound today. It is a common misconception that this ultrasound is for determining the sex of the baby. Although I will reveal that momentarily, it is not the reason any physician prescribes this scan. The ultrasound's function is actually to find about a million different anatomical blurbs on the screen to help the doctor determine how the babies are doing. Among those things are the cerebellum, stomach, kidneys, chambers of the heart, and a bunch of ABCs whose meanings I am not privy too.

On that note I am very happy to say that the doctors exact words on how things looked was, "Perfect." The twins are measuring within three days of the expected due date. Their weights are 11 and 12 ounces which is within the desired range for weight difference. Everything is cooking well which is the most important thing.

Of course I have never had a single person text, Facebook, tweet, or dial up the phone and ask me how the babies kidneys looked. The only queries I have fielded for weeks now have involved the sex of the babies.

But before I get to that let's talk a brief bit about identical and fraternal twins. Our twins have separate placentas. Although there is no one hundred percent guarantee this most likely means that we will be having fraternal twins. The odds of them being identical at this point are extremely low.

Finally, we come to the private parts. Today there was only one type of private parts shown on that black and white screen. And those parts were girl parts.

We are expecting two little girls!!!

I am really excited, but altogether lost. I have a brother and a son. I don't know anything about girls. Ask my wife.

I will certainly be making gun jokes for years to come, but that is not the true sentiment of the day. Today I am in awe that God has chosen to bless Arica and me with two beautiful baby girls. I promise to do everything in my power to be the best Dad that I can for these two angels. I will learn to like pink. I will learn to play with dolls. I will learn to love ribbons, bows, dresses, and closets full of shoes.

As I understand the father/daughter relationship I probably won't have any power to resist anyway.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Perfect Kid with a Sleep Disorder

This is the only explanation. We've lived with this person for two years and a little over three months now. I know what he is like. Braden has been one of the easiest kids to raise that anyone could hope for during the daylight hours. But after dark he can be difficult.

Braden gave up his bottle cold turkey at 12 months. No trouble at all. Not one crying fit over his bottle. His pacifier went in the same exact way shortly after that. Braden has always been a good eater. That is part of the reason he got of the bottle so quick. He likes food. He loves fruits and veggies and will never turn them down. He loves milk and water, and drinks them almost exclusively.

But his greatness does not only revolve around food. At the ripe old age of two he has 80% mastered potty training in only a few short months. His terrible twos tantrums only lasted a short while. He always says please and thank you without prompting. If he so much as bumps into you he will offer a sorry.

This is daytime Braden. He is a sweet, loving, good mannered angel.

Night time Braden is a different story. He has been difficult from the very beginning. Arica and I spent months sleeping on the couch while he slept in his swing as an infant. We both took turns sleeping on an air mattress in his room when trying to transition him to his crib. We tried to get Braden to sleep in everything in the house short of our chest of drawers. You can go back and read The Quest for Sleep if you want to see what I'm talking about.

In fact just click Sleep to find all the posts that I have written about our troubles over the past two years .

Just last night Braden was up at 2 am crying for someone to get him out of bed. It took Arica and I two trips each to discuss the merits of sleeping at night before he finally went back to sleep. He woke up again later. Then he finally got up a 5:45 to watch TV. Then he went back to sleep on the couch and didn't want to wake up and face the day.

Arica claims he is part owl.

Braden has gone through long stretches where he wakes up around two am every night. I've spent more nights than I can count on the couch with him watching cartoons in the wee hours.

He is just now trying to get over a spell where he cries for two hours when you put him to bed. No matter how you go about it he struggles to sleep more than five hours at a time. He is just wide awake at the most inconvenient times.

Let me stop everyone from suggesting we cut out his nap. We tried that already. When we cut his nap time down to one hour a couple months back he morphed into a miniature flesh colored version of the Incredible Hulk. So naps are still necessary.

This all brings me back to my original point. Braden is the perfect child. He just has a sleeping disorder. I don't need any doctors or sleep disorder experts to tell me that. I know.

So as the twins approach, and Braden continues his all out war against sleep, I think there is only one way this all shakes out. It goes something like this. Coming this Summer to a blogging circle near you, ZOMBIE DAD! Starring me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Potty Training and Sharp Knives

I tried a few weeks back to blog more. The results of that effort were the same as any of my other attempts to be a super blogger. I get on a little roll and then the circumstances of life just push blogging aside. I've been busy and not blogging as you can plainly see. Today I'll spit out several topics that I haven't had time to flesh out into their own posts. I think I'll call it Random Tuesday Thoughts unless that is already taken. So Random Tuesday with no button. Enjoy.
  • I mentioned the review I was going to do recently. It turns out that I don't actually have to do the review on this blog so you are all saved from that excitement. I am going to tell you what I bought though. I got a nice German made knife sharpener because every parent knows the most important thing to have in a home with young children is sharp knives.
  • Braden has been a potty training wonder. He rarely has accidents of any kind. He tells Arica or me when he has to pee or poop. He wears a diaper at nap time but never pees in it. He still pees some at night but not nearly as much. I am ecstatic about how this has gone. Thank you Arica and Braden.
  • Braden does other things at night that are not so much a source of pride. For the past week he has been staying up for two hours or more past his bedtime. He never gets out of bed. He just lays in there and talks and screams and laughs. Sometimes he cries but not often. He just won't sleep. The kid is staying up past our bedtime. Yet he still needs a nap to make it through the day. We are stuck in some sort of in between stage of sleep development. It is very frustrating.
  • I put my boat up for sale Monday via the nut house they call Craigslist. That place is full of winners. Anyway I was contacted 8 times in the first 24 hours. I'm starting to think that I should have asked for more money.
  • Braden is nuts for the Scooby Doo movie. I'm not talking about any of the dozens of cartoon movies. He doesn't like the cartoons at all. He likes the live action movie with Freddie Prinze and Buffy. He laughs all the time at CGI Scooby. I have seen the movie numerous times now, and it's tolerable. I think Mathew Lillard should have got an Oscar Nomination for his portrayal of Shaggy. Either that or I've been sniffing too much glue.
  • Finally, I have to remind everyone who is interested that we will be finding out the sex of our twins on Monday. So stay tuned for that, especially if you bet money on any of the possible outcomes in Vegas.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dream Reviews

I am not reviewing dreams today, but dreaming of reviews. I have been granted the opportunity to review a product for CSN Stores. CSN has over 200 online stores selling nearly everything imaginable. You can get everything from an L Shaped Desk to 50,000 Btu Gas Forced Air Heaters to literally the kitchen sink. You can't even find variety like that at Wal Mart.

Part of the fun of this review was shopping through all the possible items for purchase. I hate shopping, but a little online shopping is tolerable, especially when the store has everything from power tools to kitchen gadgets. While shopping for all this stuff I couldn't help but think of some potential parenting dream items.  These items are not in stores, as far as I know, but they would be a welcome addition to any home with small children.

Here is my list of 10 dream items that would excite parents everywhere. Feel free to take these ideas and run with them product development people.
  1. Sleep Ray Gun - I could use this baby during those 3 am play sessions that Braden loves to have. One shot of the Sleep Ray Gun and it's back to dream land for Braden and his loving parents.
  2. Poop Vaporizer - I stole this from a movie. Bonus points for anyone who actually saw the movie. There can't be many of you.
  3. Handy Helper - I stole this one too. It comes from a certain cartoon mouse. The Handy Helper is a giant hand that comes out of the wall and helps out around the house. I could always use another hand even if it's just to slap me back into consciousness.
  4. How to be a Jedi Guide - This would work two ways. Jedi mind trick on a toddler that is prone to arguing. Picking up toys without leaving the couch.
  5. Instant Chicken Nuggets - Sometimes that 10 minute prep time is our enemy.
  6. No Preview DVDs - Much like the nugget prep time the previews on children's DVDs are a killer. And most of the time you can't skip them. Note to DVD people: This is one of my least favorite features of any product I have ever owned. Fix it!!!
  7. Monkey Renewer - Braden's best friend in the world is his Monkey. This thing has literally been loved to death. Instant Monkey Renewal Spray could zap Monkey back to his original state thus eliminating the authentic monkey odor.
  8. Infinite Toy Box - This would be a small toy box that opens up into a bottomless pit of storage. There is no limit to the amount of cars, trucks, balls, and Toy Story figures you can put in this thing.
  9. 10 year batteries - Actually this should probably be number one and in all caps. Lets make a better battery people!!!
  10. Parenting Pill - For those days when I'm just not feeling it. I could use a pill to get me back in Dad mode. They have pills for everything else so why not?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Great Outdoors

When I got home from work yesterday Braden and I took advantage of the warmer weather and went outside to play. He has always loved to be outside and yesterday was no different. It's a lot of fun to watch a two year old play. Their brains come up with all kinds of things to do. That's in stark contrast to my brain which usually says sit on the couch and watch TV.

So yesterday Braden provided me with his own special brand of therapy. It's base concept is go outside and have some fun. Run. Laugh. Play.

Look at all the fun things my little buddy did yesterday while we enjoyed our time outdoors.

  • Braden raced Otter for his fetching stick yelling, "I get it!" On the rare occasion that Braden got if first he would throw the stick and say to Otter, "You get it!"
  • He hopped from one stepping stone to another saying, "Ribbit" with every hop.
  • Of course he rolled around on the ground just for the sake of getting dirty.
  • We hit a few baseballs off the tee. You know spring training has already started. It's time to start working on his swing.
  • He jumped on his mini trampoline banging into the walls as much as possible and constantly telling me to open and close the door by saying, "Zip up!"
  • He climbed on top of the dog houses a half dozen times.
  • He threw rocks through the fence.
  • And my favorite one of all, when the wind blew he would run around with his hands in the air yelling, "I blow way! I blow way!"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Men on Twins

Everything on my mind is twins, twins, twins lately. I guess that is the appropriate response for a man in my position. In 13 short days we will discover the sex of our twins. At that time we can start to make more formal plans for the things we need to purchase. If we have at least one boy then we are in good shape for toys and clothes. If we have zero boys then it's off to the second hand store to peddle our wares.

People always want to know how you felt when you found out you were having twins. Many a person has laughed at just the thought of my reaction. That reaction took place about four months ago, and now we are more entrenched in the reality portion of this endeavor.

Still people want to know your feelings. I think maybe they want you to burst into tears sobbing, "I can't do this! Why me!" Maybe it's more of an honest question. People just want to know what it is like to experience something that is not the norm.

Whatever the reason for the questions, I am here to provide the answers...from a male point of view.

Thinking about my feelings I have determined that there are three distinct feelings that come with expecting twins. A normal person experiences all these emotions. You may feel them all at once in the beginning, but it is more likely a progression. Some people may not experience them all, but it is best that the mated pair experience all these emotions as a group at the very least.

Also at any time during the nine month gestation period of the human female, the male of the species can switch from one emotion to another on an monthly, daily, or even hourly basis. There are a lot of things to process in this situation so the mind just processes at will. At least that's how it works for me.

The first emotion as you could probably all guess is shock. Holy #$!& if you will. This can last various lengths of time. I guess some people can be shocked for the entire nine months. For me it lasted just a couple days. It was very severe for the first 30 minutes during which time I did not utter a single word. After a few days the governing emotion changed.

The second feeling that I experienced was blessing. I still experience this emotion on a daily basis. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to experience the wonder of twins. I know it is a blessing to be able to have even one child, but to be blessed by two at once is indeed special. After the initial shock wore off, I was already the father of twins in my mind, and I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The final mind set that comes with having twins is the one that governs my thoughts most days. This is the practical approach. Twins changes everything. The first thing you think of is how to deal with two screaming pooping bundles of joy at once. But that soon fades into the shadows of bigger more immediate concerns.

For example: Our house is too small. We need a bigger one. Our car is too small. We need a bigger one. We need to rearrange our room to make room for the babies. We need to buy Braden another bed so the babies can have the crib that is now converted into a toddler bed. We need to sell my boat to raise a little extra cash. We need to review our finances and make the proper adjustments.

So in a month or so we will probably be trying to sell a house, car, and boat all at the same time. We will be rearranging half of our home. We will be buying one of just about everything because even though we kept all of Braden's stuff he is only one baby. We are now expecting two.

Just like in a normal pregnancy the time before the baby allows the parents to get their lives in order. It is a good plan. Thank you God. Babies just arriving on the door step unannounced would be a huge problem. We all need time to prepare. So even though we have a kid already, everything is new this time. And we are going to spend the next four months weaving in and out of shock, blessing, and practicality while transforming our lives into Twin Mode.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Control of the House

I've been snowed in for the past two days. On top of that everyone in the house has been sick. Unfortunately no one had a vividly insane fever dream that warranted a post. Instead you are all left to what little coherent thought my meager brain could muster.

The mid term elections last year were much talked about because of the possible change in control of Congress. The results would determine who ruled the House and Senate and thus the government. Essentially it was a question of whether Obama would continue to get free rein or if he would face some opposition. Well I hate politics, so lets end this little analogy here.

Control of the Life of a New Dad house is up for grabs this year in much the same way. We aren't having elections. In fact the outcome has already been determined. We just don't yet have the results. If you want to keep the political analogy going you could say that the results have yet to be verified by the proper authorities. When we find out the sex of our twins in about two weeks it will reveal much more than the type of clothes we should buy or what names are appropriate. The verdict will set the power balance of our house for the next 18 years or so.

Normally a couple on their second pregnancy can still possibly come out with a divided house where the estrogen and testosterone are balanced. It is far from certain, but indeed a possibility.

When that pregnancy is discovered to be a twin pregnancy then you skip the possibility of nice even numbers. You go from three to five. The house balance of power can lean towards either girl or boy. The stakes are very high. For us the possible outcomes are as follows.
  1. Four boys, 1 Girl - SportsCenter House
  2. Three boys, 2 Girls - Even Steven House
  3. Three girls, 2 Boys - Reality TV House
I know I am making broad gender specific generalizations here. I am assuming the boys will tend to be like me and the girls will tend to be like their mother. I think this is the safest assumption to use, although I am fully aware that reality could possibly be 180 degrees from this. I still feel like there is a very small chance of that.

I made a judgement call on the three to two house. I call that even steven because let's face it, Arica rules the house and she is on that team. I need three other boys on my side to assert male dominance. Any guys out there who are laughing at me obviously aren't married, or they won't be for long.

So that's what is on my mind. How will this shake out? If you read the last post you know I'll be happy with any verdict, but the reality of what life will be like changes dramatically from one alignment to another.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stop Telling Me You Don't Want Girls

Time is flying by during this pregnancy for both me and Arica. She is now 17 weeks pregnant which is hard to believe. That puts us smack dab in the middle of the wondering about our babies sex period. We can't wait to know.

And with twins it is a much bigger deal. At least it feels that way to me. There are three possibilities sex wise rather than only two. There is also the fraternal/identical thing. This pregnancy could shake out any number of ways. We are really excited to find out, but rather than talk about that today I have some frustrations to vent.

I keep hearing pregnant friends say that they don't want to have girls. Even worse we have people saying that they don't want US to have girls, as if it is really any of their business. Some folks have even gone as far as joking if they are girls we should just send them back.

I will be honest and say that like most men I wanted a boy the first time. I was excited when we first saw Braden's boy parts. But I would never joke that I would send a baby back based on sex. To me that is just stupid, and frankly it's starting to get on my nerves big time.

Having kids is not like going to McDonald's and picking out a value meal. You don't get to make a choice. If you are able to have kids then you should just be thankful to be so blessed. People should just take what God gives them and be happy about it because there are plenty of people out there who would love to have kids but can't.

Sure I've made all the jokes about having girls and buying shotguns. I don't mind those. They are in good fun and somewhat realistic if you know me. Those jokes are good fun, but they don't in any way insinuate that I would rather give the girls back than protect them from teenage boys with raging hormones.

I also heard a story recently about another couple that found out they were having twins, and they just lost it. They didn't want twins. That would interfere with their lives. It was too hard. It wasn't fair.

Let me assure you that I understand how if feels to get that shocking news. It was overwhelming for me, but I would never suggest that I didn't want those babies. Having twins I feel doubly blessed even though I am aware that I will be doubly tired and doubly insane.

Maybe I need to lighten up a bit. I don't know.

Personally I just feel like having a baby is way too awesome of an experience to cheapen it by insinuating that if you don't get the kind of child you want you will be disappointed. What's next? People who will send their kids back if they aren't athletes or musicians? What about eye and hair color?

Everyone should rejoice in the miracle of life no matter what. I know I will.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Potty Training: Shower Poop

We are still trudging along the uphill slope that is potty training. There are wins. There are losses. The wins are a lot of fun. But the losses are messy and smell really bad.

Arica is doing all the heavy lifting on this one. She is the stay at home Mom tasked with sending Braden to the toilet time and time again. She is responsible for arguing, pleading, bribing, and ultimately making all the potty training rules.

Braden is still wearing underwear every day. He almost never pees in them. In fact he pretty much never pees during his nap either. Arica always puts a diaper on him just in case, but it has been weeks since that diaper has soaked up any of the little man's pee.

Pooping is another story, which brings us to the title of today's post. For a long while Braden's favorite plan for evading toilet pooping was to wait until his Mother took her morning shower. At that time Braden would hang out in the bathroom and do his business. He didn't poop in the shower, or the toiler for that matter, but he did his pooping while the shower was in use.

Arica, being the super mom that she is, started putting him on the toilet when she took a shower. She would make him stay there until he did his business. He would stay too. He learned much faster than I did that his Mom means business. Just another indication that he is already smarter than me.

We still have accidents like any other potty training family, but Braden is really doing a great job. Yesterday he used the toilet twice. I'm really proud of him for being such a fast  learner and doing this at such a young age. Underwear, persistence, patience, and a great wife seem to be the keys to this potty training stuff, as far as I can tell.

Operation avoid three kids in diapers at one time still has hope as long as the trend line keeps moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monster Jam

Are you familiar with the term "He's all boy" that people use to describe certain little boys?

My understanding of this term is it means a boy that has very manly traits. The phrase is used to describe little boys that are rough and loud. It is meant for boys that like to wrestle, play outdoors, and get dirty. Boys that are "all boy" love to play with cars, trucks, footballs, and baseballs. You get the idea.

We hear this phrase all the time referring to Braden. While it sometimes seems like a strange descriptive, it still makes me quite proud. I've mentioned here many times that I consider myself somewhat of a manly man. I like hunting, fishing, sports, and the like. I am capable of repairing some things. I don't wear pink. I don't use loofahs. I don't like lovable descriptive words. So needless to say I beam with pride each time I hear that Braden is all boy.

Our little man went above and beyond to live up to this description on Saturday.

Some friends of ours asked us late in the day if we wanted to go with them and their son to Little Rock. The destination was Monster Jam. For those of you non redneck types, Monster Jam is a monster truck rally. We were hesitant because we just weren't sure how Braden would handle the noise, even with ear plugs, and the assigned seat concept. Taking him to any type of 2 or 3 hour performance has disaster written all over it. But we really like this couple and wanted to spend some time with them so we took a chance.

It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable nights I have ever spent with Braden. There is no way that anyone in that building (and it was packed by the way. Remember this is Arkansas) had more fun than Braden.
He sat on my lap without moving for nearly three hours. He was so intently focused on the trucks that you couldn't even get his attention. He leaned from side to side to follow the action around the guys bald spot in front of us. Braden would point at the trucks and say thing when they were in action. I couldn't hear what he was saying but it looked really intense.

He clapped on his own at times when he really liked something.

The first time all night that a truck approached the tall van to jump it Braden was pointing in anticipation.

My favorite part of the night came during a donut session. You wouldn't believe how fast one monster truck, Predator, could do donuts. It actually made me cheer. During one donut Braden just started pumping his fists and bouncing up and down. He was fired up. It was awesome!

After the show while we were trying to get out Braden even enjoyed watching the fork lift remove the smashed cars from the arena. I told him they were cleaning up the cars. Braden said, "Clean up cars" all the way home.

He loved the show so much that Sunday morning he was turned around in his seat at church telling the lady behind us, "Big Trucks! Clean up cars!" over and over again right in the middle of the sermon.

He's all boy.