I wanted to finish baby-proofing our house earlier. I really did. But it’s the thought that counts.
I had the best intentions when I began work in October, and have slowly made what I believe to be significant progress given the circumstances, as the project has been narrowly constrained by multiple, immovable factors:
1) My Fans
I am apparently so incredibly awesome and compelling that my pint-sized fans cannot bear the thought of me leaving the room. Not to go to the bathroom, wash dishes, get diapers, or anything else that takes longer than five seconds. The Experts call this “separation anxiety.” I call it “the reason I can’t get anything done around the house unless I want an improvisational high-pitched duet as a soundtrack.” Due to sharp drills and screwdrivers and the same hazardous cabinet contents I’m trying to bar from their tiny, inquisitive hands, I can’t have them climbing all over me while I install latchery. Keeping them in the room with me as I work necessitates restrictive holding cells such as Pack ‘n’ Plays and Exersaucers, but they are proficiently crawling their way to walking any day now, and thus assertively refuse any restraints in efforts normally attributed to Wild Horses and Freebirds and Eyes of Tigers. These factors all imply that the ideal baby-proofing window is during a Nap Overlap or Ni-Night Time. Aside from the fact that a Nap Overlap itself is rare, the slightest of sounds from a pin dropping to a grizzly bear/man hybrid slamming a car door can wake them, so firing up the drill while they’re asleep is simply ill-advised.
2) My Schedule
Two of my weekdays are spent on campus studying in preparation for world domination. I have not yet taken my program’s Building and Remotely Controlling Your Own Robot Henchman 101 class, so baby-proofing production grinds to an unfortunate halt on these days. The remaining three weekdays are dedicated to house-husbanding and twin-wrangling, which, as I just mentioned, are not conducive to accomplishing anything but avoiding tantrums and occasionally escaping for a guerrilla laundry load. This leaves the weekends, the only time we are together as a family, during which we spend quality time driving around town running errands, and every once in a while, pretending we have a social life. This aspect has recently been amplified by…
Six Sigma is a process in business management that strives to find the most efficient method for performing tasks, supported by thorough analysis and statistical findings. While it is said to work phenomenally in the business realm, I believe such critical task analysis can be just as helpful at home–after all, it’s my place of business.
As a stay-at-home parent of twins, I need to be efficient. Any way that I can streamline what I do literally makes things twice as easy and keeps me from enduring a meltdown duet, and I’m always searching for thrilling new ninja skills to apply on the domestic battlefield.
For the duration of my husbandly homemaking career, I have kept my methods under wraps, locked away in a heavily-guarded location that makes the Disney Vault look as secure as a wallet shoved all the way into the toe of a shoe on the beach. However, I have been given security clearance from the U. S. Department of Defense to share these secrets with you, as long as I do so gradually, in brief installments.
On that note, here is the first.
Six Sigma Parenting Tip #1: Snack While Peeing
Those of you Loyal Readers who are parents know that while caring for young children, a trip to the bathroom becomes less casual, leisurely, and spontaneous than in your distant past life. This is because using the facilities means putting yourself in a state where you cannot necessarily immediately respond to any urgent child matter at hand, particularly while mid-stream.
Thus, affording oneself an excretion opportunity typically involves the placing of children in cribs, Exersaucers, various harnessed baby furniture items, or simply bringing the child(ren) on a field trip to see Where the Magic Happens. It also often ends with a panicked flush and rushed hand-cleansing over a lavish score of screeches and whines, as the thirty seconds or so you’ve attempted to acquire for yourself are simply too long for your little ones to endure.
Another once-leisurely pastime that becomes a breakneck parenting dash is eating. Gone are the days of actually sitting down at a human-style table, imbibing your meal without interruption, especially during breakfast and lunch when you’re a trophy spouse like myself. Given the narrow window of both Twinfants being moderately distracted or even–*GASP*–asleep at the same time, it’s go time. I’m suddenly in college again, seeking out the food item with the smallest from-deciding-to-eat-it-to-putting-it-into-my-mouth time, and I can almost hear my fraternity brothers chanting “Chug! Chug! Chug!” as I perform near-kamikaze hydration.
Since these two necessary-to-life processes–eating and excreting–can become such hindrances to maintaining sweet radio silence from your babies, why not combine them?
Before you get all grossed out, just think about it.
If you’re already going to the bathroom, you’ve secured your children, and possibly any well-meaning canines that love to swallow baby socks, not because they taste good, but because it gains the ever-waning attention of their master. With your household dependents on lockdown, you plan on being occupied for a good 30 to 60 seconds anyway, so you might as well pick out a quick snack from the pantry.
I suggest granola bars. Not only are they scrumptious–they also take just about as long to eat as it does to exit bodily fluids.
NOTE: This Six Sigma Parenting Tip is designed exclusively for Waste Type #1 bathroom trips. I fully and literally subscribe to the folk notion of “not sh!tting where one eats,” so if you will be depositing a twosie, Twinfamy does NOT condone eating during the extraction. That’s just gross. (If this whole idea still makes your skin crawl, I’ve accounted for that, too. Check out Version 3 below.)
Depending on your personal preference/microbial outlook, I am providing procedures for three versions of this genius multitasking innovation.
Version 1: The Classic
Once you’re in the bathroom, assume your gender-fueled position. Whatever equipment you’re packing, you’re sure to have a free hand that you probably haven’t even used to touch anything that would make it too dirty to eat with. Use this hand to feed yourself.
Version 2: The Chug
If it is thirst-quenching you seek, this slight variation of The Classic involves any bottled beverage of your choosing (water, sports drinks, malt liquor, etc.). Simply position yourself, place the bottle in your mouth, and bottoms up. I recommend bottled versus open-lidded beverages as their narrow openings provide spill-free mouth delivery while taking care of business. This is an excellent way to stay hydrated, as you are replenishing liquids leaving your body.
Version 3: The Germaphobe
If it disgusts you to eat while performing this act, fear not! You can still rock this tip with a slight variation. Take your snack with you to the bathroom and complete all bathroom-oriented tasks first.
Then, on your way back, linger just outside the bathroom door, out of your loinfruits’ eyeshot, and chow down. In fact, if they are quiet and happy, I suggest hiding here until they are not, as it may be your only free moment of the day. If you bring your smartphone, you can even read Twinfamy from e-cover to e-cover.
Sure, you may hear the natives getting restless during any of these processes, but you, my friend, have killed two birds with one stone.
And that makes you a Six Sigma Parent.
You may also enjoy:
If not, wait here and watch Elmo for a minute. I’ll be right back.
My wife, who was valiantly driving the entire Pseudonymous clan home, pointed out the passenger-side window. I perked up from an inevitable doze and glanced in that direction, but found nothing of interest. While I was trying to make something up about how, yeah, they should really fix that pothole–think of the children!–so as to not ignore her, she elaborated. Kind of.
“No, the thing.” This is what happens when my wife gets tired. She loses the capacity to communicate verbally. She had initially opted for a completely nonverbal interaction (the pointing), and I knew that this helpful-yet-cryptic verbal qualifier took a concerted extra effort on her part, so I was thankful for that. (That may appear to be sarcasm, but it’s not. I really did appreciate it knowing how drained she was.)
It had been a grueling Sunday. We’d planned to cart our travelling circus to Grandma’s house, but did not plan on waking up at 2:30 a.m. for my son’s teething emergency, which in turn made him realize he was hungry, which in turn made him realize it was kind-of-almost-but-not-really morning and a phenomenal opportunity to hold an animated roundtable discussion with Mommy and Daddy regarding such hard-hitting issues as “Dah-gaah,” “Nn-gee,” and “Naaaaah!”
As we futilely attempted to recover from our guest appearance on our son’s late-night talk show, we had also been keeping an eye on our poor, ailing daughter, whose fever—despite a steady clanging of more cowbell—had returned after what we thought was a few days of relief. With it came bonus features like labored coughing, booger mustaches, and projectile sneezing (now with 50% more slime!). Quite certain our daughter had acquired her first cold, we planned a return to the pediatrician the following day. We just needed to make it until then.
I now followed my wife’s finger more closely, and realized she was pointing at the pocket in the car door (is there a name for that thing?), inside which was our emergency stash of 5 Hour Energy. “Oh, right,” I eureka-ed. The Case of the Pointing Finger had been solved!
As I’ve mentioned before, the exhaustion of raising the Twinfants often makes the drive home worthy of such feats as self-inflicted face slapping, high-volume externalization of one’s inner monologue (“Don’t you dare fall asleep! Think of the children!”), and the occasional power-up beverage. My wife and I have massacred the drive home time and time again with 5 Hour Energy and have dubbed it the Secret Weapon, with permanent installations in both of our vehicles. While taste is not one of its virtues (“Berry” is our favored flavor), we can’t deny its effectiveness. You can literally feel the energy coursing through you after drinking it. (Find out why in this post’s 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature below.)
Of course, in the heart of the scorching Arizona summer–during which we brave 100° F-plus temperatures like nobody’s bidness–a parked car creates a microwave-like atmosphere, scalding everything in its path and tragically damaging any forgotten chocolate into feces-like masses that do taste the same, but not really. We love our coffee piping hot, but we do not feel the same way about 5 Hour Energy. It is best choked-down cold, with a remark to the effect of, “It’s not that bad, I guess.”
However, today, our automobile had greenhoused our Secret Weapon to what felt like 150° F as it radiated in my now-trembling hand.
“Um, it’s pretty hot.”
“Do you want me to stay awake or not?”
“All right,” I muttered, unsheathing it from its tamper-safe wrapper and removing the lid.
“Is it gonna burn my mouth?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Will you check?”
“How?” Yes, I actually said this. Parental exhaustion has sparked a new brand of idiot conversation for both of us. We sometimes become worse at making inferences than my former seventh grade students.
“By drinking it,” she duh-ed.
“Oh, right.” I menacingly stared down my aqueous adversary as the stereotypical whistling score of a Clint Eastwood Old West showdown came from the back seat. “Thanks, kids,” I said, remarkably unfazed by my four-month-old twins’ newfound whistling abilities and knowledge of American cinema.
Especially during my wife’s double-barreled pregnancy, more seasoned parents made a point to warn me, “Your life is no longer your own.” Although I’m fairly new at this, I feel the stereophonic nature of my status as a parent warranted me a full understanding of this early on. And as I “Eye-of-the-Tiger-ed” myself for the courage to imbibe this infernal concoction, I reminded myself that parents must often endure obstacles they would not normally expose themselves to, for the good and safety of their offspring. Think of the children! I thought.
I tipped the tiny bottle back and took a miniature, fiery swig. While its temperature was, in fact, at a tongue-worthy level, its taste was very much not.
“Oh. God. It’s… so bad…”
“No, not hot…”
She pulled the bottle from my hand. “It can’t be that bad.” In she plunged, taking in full gulps. Her hand suddenly jerked forward, yanking it from her now-grimacing mouth and staring at it as if it had b!tch-slapped her. “Okay, yeah. It’s that bad.”
Then she looked me in the eye before adding, “But I’m exhausted.” She went back for round two, tipping it completely upside-down in her mouth.
I love this woman.
She finished half of it, and handed it back. “I only need two and a half hours of energy. Then, it’s bedtime.”
I don’t know why, but sometimes when something tastes particularly unfavorable, there’s a backwards sort of allure to it. On the surface, the expression “This is terrible. Here, taste it.” does not make any sense at all, but for some reason, we still taste. That fascination—paired with the fact that I, too, needed to be operational for the next two and a half hours—culminated in a full-on chug of the remaining “Energy.”
Seven Hours Later…
“I don’t understand. If it’s 5 Hour Energy and we split it, how are we still awake?”
“Shh! I think they heard you!”
Additional Twinformation About 5 Hour Energy
(Amaze Your Friends!)
A 500-Disc DVD Special Edition Bonus Feature
It should first be noted, O Loyal Reader, that in no way is this post intended to knock the 5 Hour Energy product. While its taste is not the most stellar in the caffeinated beverage family, its efficacy is indisputable, and we depend on it for that reason. We just don’t recommend serving it scalding unless absolutely necessary, as demonstrated here. We also do not recommend it for daily guzzling, or, for that matter (again) unless absolutely necessary. Here’s why.
While my wife and I laid awake that night, we whispered sweet nothings in each other’s ear wondering what the hell makes it so effective. I crept to the kitchen in ninja mode–hurdling every couch and Exersaucer in my path–to get a bottle, and here’s what we found on the back:
Then, we did the math. If my wife and I split a bottle, we shared an impressive 8333% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin B12, or 4166.5% each. This means that, having drank it on Sunday, June 5, we technically do not need to worry about our B12 intake again until 41.665 days from then, which will be July 17. We found this dosage just a little excessive, and are glad we usually only drink a few gulps, versus the whole frickin’ thing.
That being said, the verdict: way better Secret Weapon than daily wake-up agent.
You heard it here first.
Unless you already knew it.
But I heard it here first.
Having ensured the vessel to be seaworthy for months, today we officially ventured into the uncharted waters of stay-at-home-dad-ness, or, if you will, The Voyage of the Water Treader. The School Year That Refused To End finally gave in after a heated thumb-wrestling match, and after the long Memorial Day Weekend, the Winds of Change solemnly whispered that today would be my first day reporting for duty as the new Captwin, while Her Royal Momness, who is commissioning this expedition, returned to work full-time. Just before setting sail, we gathered on the poop deck to bid her adieu, standing at attention in a line for her inspection. The affair was promptly interrupted by the necessity to swab said poop deck, for my son was commemorating the occasion with his own diaper-made fireworks.
Finally, it was time to say our goodbyes. “The hour has arrived,” I murmured to my two First Mates, their faces gleefully jubilant. Oh, to be so young and oblivious again, I thought. Have they any idea what’s to come? But let’s face it, neither do I.
Her Momness surveyed the craft one last time, glanced at the amber horizon, and drew in a deep breath. I shushed the crew. “Quiet, lads! Her Majesty wishes to speak!” I just knew she was preparing to impart a gilded nugget of wisdom, gained from four turbulent months at sea with this very crew.
She raised an eyebrow. “Lads?”
“Oh, was that out loud?”
“Stop being weird.”
“Sorry. What were you gonna say?”
“I turned on the Crock-Pot, so dinner should be ready by the time I get back.”
I grinned, now detecting the faint essence of spice in the salty sea air, which could only mean one thing—when we returned to port that evening, we would not have to settle for hardtack, but would instead feast on the glory that is Pulled Pork Night.
Just minutes ago, in the privacy of the Captwin’s Quarters, I had briefed my crew—both Twinfants and our canine defender/mascot—to look as mind-numbingly cute as possible, and as our Matriarch bade us each a farewell kiss (I think I got a little tongue…Yes, I’m quite certain), the children did me proud, cooing and smiling from ear to ear. Unfortunately, our canine kind of dropped the proverbial ball, promptly falling asleep under the ship’s wheel soon after inspection.
Her Momjesty stepped off port-side onto the pier, but lingered, taking in a final gaze. I waved dorkily. “We’ll be fine,” I assured her.
Putting her best foot forward, my wife bravely and suddenly declared, “I don’t wanna go!”
Eventually, after promising to document every millisecond of our journey in HD for her review and insisting we would be ready for a Skype or FaceTime call at the drop of a teething ring, we were off.
Rough waters rocked the craft in the early morning, triggering even rougher waters to emanate from my son’s mouth, necessitating a record three wardrobe changes on the day, but he wore it well, mirthfully logging hours on ship apparatus including the Jumping Station and a Wellness Inner Tube (known more commonly to lubbers as an Exersaucer). A chipper lad, that one.
Sometime around noon, one of my crew actually made some waves of her own. I did not expect this so early in our journey, but my spirited female First Mate seemed to be flirting with mutinous thoughts. She would not heed the Crew Naptime Schedule (CNS) as posted. (I never verbalized this, but suspected her loyalty was only to Her Momness, and not to this cheap imitation with no milk-bearing knockers.) Our debate over the issue was heated and even escalated to such a commotion on the main deck that her shipmate was awoken several times in his own quarters—the racket slicing like a cutlass through even the white noise of a stand-up fan and our (Miami?) Sound Machine. It seems that as of late, during daytime hours, she prefers to be vigilant for all that life has to offer rather than whiling daylight away unconsciously, something she and I actually have in common. Having realized this, we ultimately resolved the matter when she agreed to adhere to the CNS from our ship’s mechanical, swinging Crow’s Nest. That way, she would be able to keep watch at her leisure while the gentle rocking motion of the waves and the soothing calls of the plush electronic seagulls flying overhead assisted her into slumber.
As trying as the day was, I did manage to steer the ship clear of the alluring siren song of social networking, a feat of which I am particularly prideful.
Some hours later, emotions ran high as the entire crew was faced with braving our greatest challenge yet—the drab, five-note-only, on-hold music of the customer service line for our broken baby monitor, the malfunction of which has absolutely nothing to do with the sexual advances on my wife it has transmitted in weeks prior.
Having collected the day’s findings, we retired back to port with mouths agape and watering for the tender, tangy goodness that is pulled pork (or possibly from teething—hard to say). Upon arrival, we were reunited with Her Momness, who promptly asked me if I was still man enough to be Captwin.
I answered with a resounding “Aye!” and at that, a disguised band of nomadic minstrels flash-mobbed into stirring rendition of Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance” as the Festival of Pulled Pork Night began.
Which brings me to where I am now, recounting the day’s events before retiring to the Captwin’s Quarters, but tomorrow the voyage continues. All things considered, it was a successful first outing. We know not what lies before us in these waters, but in attempting to speculate what is to come, one must concede that only time will tell.
This past week was utterly exhausting. My wife and I have gotten into what we think to be a phenomenal rhythm given the fact that we’re simultaneously raising twice the children most do, but it was derailed by several unavoidable circumstances, and we have literally spent every scarce free moment sleeping. Among these disturbances in The Force were: childcare conflicts, altered work schedules (including me taking 2.5 days off work for a preseason exhibition of the stay-at-home fathering bidness), a visit from the Teething Fairy, and a raging deathmatch with an uncommon—possibly zombified—housefly.
So please forgive me, O Loyal Reader, for neglecting you. I know our relationship is still new and exciting, and you may even still feel those first-date jitters as you savor this page. Fear not, for as a result of the past half-fortnight, multiple twincidents are in gestation. I’ve just really gotten into this Rip Van Winkle impression. (I have the week-long beard to prove it.) In fact, in attempting to report these late-breaking developments, I even found myself a victim of the trite, unrealistic, melodramatic Hollywood cliché of literally falling asleep at my keyboard.
While mind-blowing twincidents exploring the aforementioned topics are forthcoming, in the spirit of the week, I thought I’d offer a portrait of its haze—my Sunday afternoon nap.
I’ve never been a napper, or even a sleeper for that matter. While I recognize that as a human I need sleep, I’d prefer not to. There are so many amazing things to experience in the world, and to me, sleep has always felt so…idle. My parents could tell you that even when I was a strapping young whippersnapper, they’d find me with my light on at 3 a.m. (even—*GASP*—on a school night!), reading such literary classics as the Choose Your Own Adventure Series and The Uncanny X-Men. “I wasn’t tired,” I’d say. Even with the arrival of the Twins and occasional sleepless nights, my body rarely needs a break aside from normal nighttime sleep.
This means that when I do decide I need a nap, you’d better let me. My wife knows this, and heeds this commandment religiously. This afternoon, however, there was some red tape involved in securing said nap.
I had just returned from the grocery store, finished putting our bounty away, and collapsed onto the couch. “So I think I do want to take that nap.”
She had noticed my fatigue earlier in the day and gently suggested that my less-than-chipper demeanor might necessitate a siesta. I had decided that since we had no food, I’d rather get groceries done first because I’m even more fun when I’m hungry. “I feel myself starting to get annoyed about stupid things. Like, at the store, I almost flipped out when the lady in front of me in the dairy aisle couldn’t figure out which yogurt defined her as a person.”
My wife, who was holding my son, smiled sweetly, sensing the impending doom if I stayed awake. “Well, she (our daughter) is down for a nap in our room, so I don’t think you should go in there.” This is because I am a champion snorer. I was even up for a Grammy in the “Snoring—Short Form” category last year. My snoring would undoubtedly wake my daughter who, unfortunately, has inherited her father’s sleeping habits. Her thirst for stimulation makes any interruptions in her sleep particularly traumatic—for us, not her.
Straightening up my wriggling son, his frog legs kicking spastically, she continued. “He just woke up a half hour ago, so it probably won’t be quiet out here. You can crash on the couch out here if you want, but I can’t promise he won’t scream his head off.” My son is proficient at this, especially in extremely short, unexpected bursts. There’s already Grammy buzz for when he’s eligible. He’s his father’s son.
“I guess I could try,” I replied, really attempting to convince myself it would work.
“We need another bed,” she mused, looking around the room, as if hoping for one to appear, like in a terrible, low-budget mattress commercial.
“What about the air mattress?”
“Where would we put it?”
“Maybe in the Cluster Room.” The Cluster Room is our only spare room, which has become more of a closet. Home to our towering bookshelves, furniture dethroned by baby paraphernalia, and a Rock Band drum controller, it’s quite the clusterf**k. (Hence the name.)
“No,” I realized. “The pump would wake her up anyway. Maybe I could take the crib in the kids’ room,” I snarked.
She chuckled. “Or their floor.”
“Can you think of a better idea?”
“Not really,” I sighed.
With that, I took the best available pillow, a five-dollar gem we let guests sleep on and have more recently been placing on the floor under our Exersaucer and jumper as a booster for our kids’ dangling feet so they can actually use them. I scoured it for poopy-diaper-blowout debris, and turned to my wife. “So are you coming?”
“Well, aren’t you gonna swaddle me and sing me a song?”
“Go to sleep.”
“I’m turning the monitor on. If you don’t hear me, just make sure I’m not suffocating under the blanket.”
When I opened the door, I heard the kids’ Sound Machine (we have been unable to confirm whether or not it is from Miami) still hissing white noise from my son’s last nap, and switched it to the “Womb” setting. Just for funsies.
Emptying my pockets, I camped out on the floor, and then decided, of course, to outline the whole occurrence for this very blog entry on my phone before actually attempting sleep. Even when I’m beat, I fight it.
As I finally closed my eyes, the Sunday-afternoon dread flooded in. I realized that I had still not figured out what the hell I’d be teaching all week; that the stack of neglected grading on my desk would be growing another story if I didn’t tackle it soon; that I have extra work projects to which I probably shouldn’t have committed waiting for me, and thus little desire to do them.
But then I realized that even if I wanted to put a dent in any of this, I couldn’t handle any of it as exhausted as I was. So sleep would have to come first. Plus, I remembered that I am trained in improvisational comedy, reaffirming my self-awesomeness at making stuff up as I go–at finishing sentences I’ve started without knowing how they’ll end. And that’s when I drifted off…
Two glorious hours later, I woke up with a stiff neck to the sound of my daughter throwing a hissy.