It is said that the apparently innocuous act of a butterfly flapping its wings can cause an unseen chain reaction of events leading to a hurricane on the other side of the world, or even a mediocre Ashton Kutcher movie that forever taints everyone’s idea of an inherently cool Chaos Theory concept.
Many doubt the validity of the Butterfly Effect, but I have always seen it as a special Effect. If you think about it, there is at least some truth to it. Every choice, every action we take on a daily basis–we can’t even begin to fathom their impact on the courses of our lives. Often I wonder how different things would be if just one occurrence in my life were even slightly altered…
. . .
As always, it had been an eventful morning in the Twiniverse, as my son had decided he was just not that into napping, stubbornly insisting on playing instead, even though every gesture and interaction with his toys pissed him right off. Apparently he preferred the baby equivalent of cussing out his Sesame Street Singing Pop-Up Pals to giving in to the slumber he obviously required.
After 45 minutes of rocking, pacing, and possibly even a little begging on my part, I had finally gotten him to sleep, and as an added bonus, my daughter was especially cooperative (or exhausted–I’ll take either), drifting off right on schedule. Two naps. At the same time. As I’ve mentioned before, this Nap Overlap is a rare occurrence worthy of its own celebratory dance.
But meanwhile, unbeknownst to me or my napping progeny, a menace had descended upon our cul-de-sac, one that would severely alter the next hour of my life…forever.
. . .
People get in and out of automobiles every day, and thus, the closing of vehicle doors has become a routine act for drivers and passengers alike, one performed without even thinking about it. However, people execute this task with varying degrees of force. This, O Loyal Reader, is the hard-hitting issue that I want to soften today, and the reason I’ve gathered you all here.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, it will still probably wake up my son and daughter. So if a car door slams loudly in my neck of the woods, I will consider slamming the neck of your body with said fallen tree.
Now, when I say “slam” I truly mean a slam. I realize that to properly close a vehicular entrance point, one must apply oomph, yielding that satisfying latch clack alerting the user of a successful close, and by no means am I complaining about a normal, human-style close. Such sound effects from fellow neighborhood dwellers are perfectly acceptable. The Twins’ rooms are equipped with white-noise Sound Machines (which I suspect to be from Miami), and their continuous, atmospheric whooshing does a stellar job at dampening the intensity of incoming sound waves such as sane-person door closing.
I don’t even mind my dog’s proficiency at notifying me that an area automobile has been shut (just in case I missed it) because I have become adept at silencing her so she does not wake the Dynamic Duo from their static state.
However, nothing could have prepared me for The Car Door Slam Heard ‘Round the Neighborhood.
. . .
Our house is situated in such a way that our living room is in the middle of the house, three rooms away from the wall facing the street. Yet, somehow, someone (or something) was able to uber-slam his/hers/its vehicle so loudly that it sounded like the Kool-Aid Man was trying to “Oh yeah” his fat glass ass through my wall, but had severely underestimated its density.
I literally jumped on impact, inspecting each room just to make sure I wasn’t crazy and nothing had fallen, rushing back into the living room every three seconds to shush my barking canine. But just as I realized this was, in fact, some psycho grizzly bear/man hybrid taking a sprinting start and throwing a double-pawed flying-kick at some poor, innocent vehicle, my exhausted son woke up in a livid inferno of streaming tears and tiny, kicking feet.
In a flash of faux-genius, I irrationally considered setting my son safely back in his crib, grabbing one of my ninja swords, and avenging his ravaged sleep pattern, but realized that whoever or whatever had created this disturbance was probably of superhuman persuasion (Vampire? X-Man? Decepticon?) and not worth messing with. After all, I’m a father now.
Picking up my son, I eased into the rocking chair and coaxed him back to sleep. For another 45 minutes.
. . .
So, as you can see, the closing of a car door is sometimes not just the closing of a car door. Every once in a while, when a grizzly bear/man hybrid pummels a Ford Galaxie with a shovel, it can cause a human monsoon devastating entire hours of a parent’s life–hours that a stay-at-home dad/Ph. D. student hybrid could have been spent figuring out that damned statistics problem he has been attempting for days, or burning one’s mouth on the scalding interior of a Hot Pocket while capitalizing on the first free moment to eat lunch, or even writing for a fine publication very much akin to the one you are reading.
My point, O Loyal Reader, is this: You can never truly know the implications of your seemingly small, insignificant actions. So next time you are entering or leaving a vehicle, please be aware of surrounding residences that could contain stay-at-home parents who are less sane than myself, and who very well could retaliate in straitjacket-inspiring fashion.
Unless, of course, you are prepared to be Rocked Like a Hurricane.
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If not, that’s fine. Just go easy on that car door on your way out.
I recently received the highest honor WordPress bestows upon its bloggers–“Freshly Pressed.” For those of you who don’t know, that means one of my posts was featured on the WordPress homepage, affording hundreds of thousands of bloggers the convenient privilege of experiencing the genius that is this fine publication.
The post, titled “Did He Just Say What I Think He Said?”, was about my son saying “Dada” for the first time, possibly because of Chuck Norris. I can only assume The Man Himself received word of this post and flexed a bicep ever so slightly, causing a chain reaction in the cosmos resulting in a WordPress employee stumbling upon Twinfamy, sharing it with colleagues, and culminating in a celebratory cheering-at-desks-and-cubicles scene akin to Jim Lovell & Co. returning to Earth’s atmosphere in Apollo 13.
The response was overwhelmingly amazing, and if you’re a new Loyal Reader as a result of this National Holiday, welcome.
But that’s not the reason I’m writing this post.
I am thrilled to announce that the tale of my son’s alleged first word has inspired the production of a movie…starring Legos.
Earlier this week I expressed my affection for Legos, and as soon as the Twins are old enough, you can bet we’ll breathe life into the finest Lego structures this world has ever seen. If there’s anyone who’s fueled this anticipation, it’s my friend John Willey, a multi-talented writer, photographer, and Lego aficionado. His blog Daddy’s in Charge? is one of my favorites, brimming with humor, reflections on being a stay-at-home dad, and highly entertaining Lego movies about his life raising his two sons.
I am ecstatically honored to be part of John’s latest Lego opus, his response to the Legend of the Chuck Norris “Dada,” which features the Twins and Yours Truly in plastic Technicolor.
I was a little apprehensive about being temporarily transformed into a Lego figure for the day we shot this, and even more concerned that the Twins would also be making this transformation.
For instance, would there be any long-term side-effects? In the event of an accidental dismantling, would all the King’s Horses and Men be on hand to remedy the situation, and if so, have they learned from the infamous Humpty-Dumptygate Scandal? In the end, though, I just couldn’t turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Lego Chuck Norris.
And believe me, everything they say about him…it’s ALL true.
Plus, who knew Chuck Norris was responsible for other children’s first words?
Well, Chuck Norris did, of course, but I didn’t. What a guy, huh? Not only does he keep the Earth spinning by trimming his beard (so it doesn’t throw off the gravitational pull) and prevent zombie apocalypses before scientists can even get out their chemistry sets–the guy still finds time to give the gift of speech to babies! Such a class act. Someone get this man a Nobel Prize, or at least some frozen yogurt.
Anyway, thanks a kajillion to John for including us in this fantastic piece of Lego cinema. You can read his own post about this video here. I urge you to check out more of his fine work on Daddy’s in Charge? and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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If not, expect a visit from Lego Chuck Norris. It will not be a friendly one.
Since Friday of last week, I haven’t been able to spend much time constructing genius word sculptures for you, O Loyal Reader. However, throughout the course of my fustercluck of a Monday, I was able to slowly–and in about twenty sittings on my BlackBerry (Yes, I’m still rocking the BlackBerry. Someday I’ll have enough money to join you iPhone hipsters.)–generate the following manifesto explaining why I’ve been so busy. In the interest of time, I resorted to the “list” format overused on magazine covers, such as “859 New Looks for Fall” which is an actual “article” I saw advertised on one of my teen sister-in-law’s recent issues. While I’m admittedly using a lazy writing device, I’m also admitting it, so now you have no choice but to enjoy The Top Six Reasons This is a List:
(Pause for medieval fanfare.)
1. We just moved.
This past weekend we packed the belongings of the entire Pseudonymous entourage into a U-Haul, and now that We-Hauled them to the new Pseudonymous World Headquarters, we’re still busy reassembling furniture without the proper tools that are in a box that I swear I just saw over there and OW! This f*cking box just ripped off my toenail!
Yeah. It’s taking a while.
2. I started school last week.
Even though when last school year ended I retired from teaching middle school, the last few months have still felt pretty typical for me–as if it were just another summer vacation. Well, except for the whole becoming a parent and taking care of twin babies thing. But I did know I’d be returning to my Ph. D. program when Fall hit, so it was like a summer vacation. So as I’m still shifting gears from Summer Mist to Fall Frenzy, once my workflow is, um, flowing, my writing for this fine publication will surely follow. I just need to get myself back into “school mode.” (OMG! I had homework on the FIRST DAY! Can you believe it? My teachers are SOOO mean! I swear, the pale one is a vampire.)
3. Laundry outsourcing.
Our World Headquarters doesn’t have a washer or a dryer yet (Yeah, I know, it’s not a very good World Headquarters) so until we do, I’ve been packing up the kids and our diaper pack mule/tauntaun and heading to Grandma’s house with basketfuls of spit-up-caked clothes from all members of our family, both spitters and spittees.
4. Special guest time-suckers.
I have hosted a revolving door of essential service calls this week, including TV satellite, Internet, plumbing, and Room of Requirement installation. A few of them were creepy, and I’m not even talking about the wizard. I expected him to be eccentric. I just don’t feel the need to answer questions about my kids’ favorite baby foods or chat about how effective the new cable modem your company made me buy is, especially when I am clearly holding a crying little girl and attempting to get said little girl down for a nap. And yes, I AM bringing my son in the room with me instead of leaving him out there with you. With all due respect, your mustache is unsettling.
5. HBO Sunday Nights
Holy crap! Is anyone else watching True Blood and Curb Your Enthusiasm? Is it just me, or are they even more phenomenal than usual this season? Whether you agree or not (in which case you’d be wrong), after the weekend we had, there’s no way I was going to miss My Stories.
6. We have twins.
It’s a miracle I’m able to write at all. Gimme a friggin’ break.
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If not, might I suggest HBO Sunday Nights?
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.
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If not, wait here and watch Elmo for a minute. I’ll be right back.
singular proper noun
A compilation of terms involving twins and/or situations brought about while raising them that have been coined (or unknowingly borrowed) and used on Twinfamy, accompanied by their intended meanings, often including puns ranging in cleverness from life-changingly awesome to slightly terrible.
At first I was afraid (I was petrified) but then, after consulting the Dictwinary, I better understood Twinfamy’s terminology, and gained an even higher level of appreciation of its genius.
As I’ve been preparing more twincidents for your reading pleasure, the Grammatical Terrors of writing with gender in mind have reared their ugly heads, so I figured I’d tackle that now, in Twinfamy’s first few days, before its umbilical cord falls off.
Most babies are either male or female. This is especially helpful (and fun!) when those babies grow up and attempt to make more babies.
However, this two-party system makes it difficult to use personal pronouns when writing about a generic child (and really, all people). In the olden days, when dinosaurs and handlebar mustaches ruled the earth, a then male-dominated society would opt for pronouns with a penis (he, him, his, etc.). Nowadays, many writers exclusively use vaginal pronouns (she, her and… um…her), some overcompensating from the paranoia of being branded a male chauvinist, and others in an effort to make up for the sins of writers before them.
Still others attempt to write in a completely gender-neutral fashion. This can be done by always using the plural form (e.g. they/them) and occasionally crafting sentences that are either grammatically incorrect or slightly awkward, as well as using other generic terms (child, baby, youngster, progeny, offspring, loinfruit, etc.), but this often is just a pacifier’s throw away from referring to a baby as an “it,” which is just offensive. It makes you sound like a Terminator seeking your target and attempting to destroy “it.” Some writers even employ clumsy, multiple-choice eyesores like s/he, him/her, and my personal least favorite, him/herself.
Simply put, writing about singular, hypothetical babies can be a pain in the diaper.
I care about you, O Loyal Reader, and I don’t want you to stumble over such madness. It would anger me if that got in the way of you consuming my genius, in the same way that Mel Gibson would be a half-blue-faced, kilted savage if some dufus in a ten-gallon hat were blocking your view of Lethal Weapon 5.
However, I don’t know which public restroom your child will be using when HE OR SHE grows up (see how lame that is?). You might even have one of each like me, or dare I say some combination involving three or more (and if you do, God bless you). No matter what, I can’t always write in such a way that is pronounically relevant to your exact situation. I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I can wrap you up in your blankie if it’ll make you feel better.
The best way I’ve seen it executed in other parenting texts is by alternating between masculine and feminine forms every other chapter or post, so I’ll do the same here, with the exception of gender-relevant topics, like how to avoid a golden shower while changing your son’s diaper.
Since I have both a girl and boy, I’m already tuned into that balancing act, as evidenced by the equal number of pink and light blue items that have taken over my house. So if it happens that you have a son and I use “she” in a post, I’ll ask you to not assume I’m calling him a sissy, nor am I calling your stunningly beautiful daughter mannish when I use “he.” I’m just trying to keep it even, as I do with my love for my own son and daughter—tied at 100%.
(Yes, I do realize that allocating 100% to each would actually equal 200% of my love, which is technically impossible. Don’t be that guy…or girl.)
I slapped myself in the face repeatedly, forcing my dozing eyes open so as not to veer off the freeway, t-bone a concrete slab, and send my weary head through shards of broken windshield, thus widowing my poor wife and newborn fraternal twins, never to be able to tell my great grandchildren tales riddled with outrageous claims about how many New York Times bestsellers I wrote back in the day. When you’re a new parent, you suddenly grow an incredible appreciation for as many moments of sleep you can get, as well as beverages containing enough caffeine to wake the dead. Unfortunately, the Coke I’d drank during my last period class had gotten me through the lesson, but had conveniently tapered off just as I’d gotten on the road.
At the time, we were getting about three hours of sleep on a good night. It’s difficult enough to get rest when you have one newborn, as I’ve been told, anyway. I wouldn’t know because these are our first two, and I don’t have the experience of only one baby with which to compare it. I will say that it’s a rare, triumphant event during the first few weeks when both twins are asleep at the same time. They do not come with a synchronization feature, and tech support has stated that there are no current upgrades in the works.
This means that any time one wakes up, you are on red alert because any noise whatsoever from the first could wake the other. However, you are also faced with the possible decision of intentionally waking the other in an effort to create your own synchronization system. All the books suggest it, but was the chapter you fell asleep reading relevant in this exact situation? Maybe you and your spouse should just stand there, staring at each other, waiting for the other to make an executive decision. Maybe you can pretend you’re sleepwalking, so she’ll have to make the call. But wait, is she actually sleepwalking? The silent deliberation is then broken by the sound of your poor, as-of-late neglected canine, who insists on letting the thug with the thumping bass in his hot rod know that she can hear him and does not like it. She’s more of an indie rock fan.
And so twin number two is up, startle reflex triggered, causing what looks like a breakneck rendition of Swan Lake and culminating in an inventive new blood-curdling shriek, finding octaves you did not realize were in a newborn’s register. We need to get her a voice coach. I should write that down.
Then, amidst the chaos, one of the little people in question rests a tiny hand on your arm or shoots you a rare bashful smile, and you are reminded that this is all totally and completely worth it.
These were our nights.
A few more whacks to the face and I was good to go, with the added bonus of rosy cheeks. I had returned to my job as a middle school English teacher two weeks ago and this, paired with sleepless nights, made the drive home one of the day’s most daunting tasks. At the same time, it gave me a phenomenal excuse to roll every window down and crank obnoxious punk rock up to 11 as if I were still in high school, which is always great fun. I especially appreciate this as a new reason to justify the purchase of such sonic greatness to my wife, who finds snotty old-school hardcore to be a particularly challenging listen.
My attempt to cross the threshold of the Central Twintelligence Agency (my home) was thwarted. After a few attempts at opening the door (and a few WTFs), I realized the culprit: the open door of our front-loading dryer. This is a feature of our house that I will surely employ in the event of a zombie apocalypse. “Babe, I can’t get in again!”
“Okay, hold on! I need to put them both down!”
After wading through the pink-and-light-blue rubble and changing out of the clothes that had God-knows-what all over them from tween sneezes and coughs, I gave my hands a good scrub, and kissed my bleary-eyed wife, who was on the couch with my son and daughter in each arm. My children perked up and kicked with wide-eyed excitement at the sound of Daddy’s voice, and my dog, who was gated in the kitchen/dog lounge, performed the “welcome home” ritual I’ve come to expect, the old I’m-so-excited-you’re-home-that-if-you-don’t-get-me-outside-in-five-seconds-I-will-urinate-on-the-floor gag.
I finally plopped down on the couch with my son in my lap, and smiled at my wife, happy to be home again. “So, how was today?”
“Pretty good. So…I think you should quit your job and stay home with the kids starting in the fall.”
I laughed. “Yeah, okay. What do you want to do for dinner? I’m starving.”
“No, I’m serious. You should stay home with the kids. I thought about it and I think it’s a great idea. Plus, you could start taking classes again and finish your Ph.D. sooner.”
I was dumbstruck. And, of course, the only logical response was, “How about Taco Bell?”
Suffice it to say that after some processing time (and two Beefy Crunch Burritos), I realized my wife—as always—had an excellent point, and after further discussion, we decided that when the school year ended this May, I would start my brand new position: trophy husband.
Luckily, I was the only applicant.
And thus began preparations for a new chapter in my life, a date which will live in twinfamy.
This blog will chronicle my adventures as a new, stay-at-home father of twins. Since there are comparatively fewer stay-at-home dads and even fewer who have twins, I’m hoping that other dads in my situation will especially benefit from reading this. At the same time, it isn’t exclusively for them.
I’m a brand new parent, and I’ll never claim to be an expert, but I do plan on sharing what I’ve found to work well with my kids, as well as what hasn’t. Because my wife and I are experiencing boy and girl newborns simultaneously, we have the unique opportunity to offer—for lack of a better term—two different “case studies” to other new parents. Also, out of necessity, we’re constantly searching for new ways and products that make caring for two babies at the same time more efficient, and in that way, I feel all new parents—and especially new parents of multiples—will find it helpful.
When we get right down to it, though, this blog is really for anyone and everyone. As a soon-to-be-former middle school English teacher who has needed to hold uninterested young minds’ attention for a living, I believe learning is amplified and enhanced by things that are awesome. For that reason (and, admittedly, my own enjoyment) I’m going to make this as entertaining as I can. I’m going to tell stories instead of making lame, boring lists that sound like a robot crapped them out. So this is also going to be a sort of sitcom-y memoir, which could be enjoyed by anyone with amazing taste and who knows sheer genius when they see it. (That’s you!)
I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I do know it will be incredible because I’ll have the privilege of spending most of my time with my little boy and girl, who make life absolutely beautiful (along, of course, with my wife—love you, babe!).
I hope you stay tuned, and enjoy.