As you may have already picked up from my recent silence, I’ve been absolutely buried in both family and academic responsibilities, leaving little time for the highly elaborate stick figure drawings and desperately important fart puns you’ve come to expect from this fine publication. So while I’m digging myself out, I’m elated to present a Very Special Guest Post by a close personal friend of mine: my second grade self.
My mother recently gave me a box of my old drawings and school papers that she amassed over the years, and among them was the following epic superhero tale, which just screams “movie adaptation” (I’m awaiting a call, Joss Whedon).
Without further ado, I give you “Super John vs. Joe Judo.”
A while back I introduced you all to Ember Arts, my buddy James‘s socially proactive business. This week, Ember has launched their brand new site, including a fantastic, inspiring story penned by James about what Ember does. I’m thrilled to present that very story below, for your reading pleasure.
Civil War, Coca-Cola, and the Story of Ember Arts
Esther and her family live in a small, one-story block of grey concrete rooms in a slum outside of Uganda’s capital city. Laundry hangs in uneven lines across their little compound. When I duck into her sitting room she gives me a big, wry smile and a welcome so wholehearted I hardly know what to do with it. She serves me a Coke. Ugandan Coke, made with real cane sugar, is transcendent.
Not too many years ago, Esther was beaten with the business end of a machete by a rebel soldier. She showed me her big, raised scars. The rebellion drove her and her family from their home, making them, suddenly, poor refugees in their own country. She found shelter in the Acholi Quarters slum and found work crushing stones in a local quarry. The work is grueling, done sitting in the hot sun with a makeshift hammer, and pays, at best, $1 per day. It was all just barely enough to stay alive.
But Esther is not content to just stay alive. Esther is one of those special souls whose dreams simmer near the surface, just behind the eyes, who will keep chasing her dreams no matter what she has to overcome—civil war or otherwise. She started trying little businesses, like selling bananas and charcoal, to get money to send her kids to school. Soon she bought a little piece of the rock quarry as an investment.
These days Esther makes jewelry for Ember Arts and helps lead the other women who work with her. She is building a home for her family and running a couple small but successful side businesses. Her oldest son is in college. Some day, Esther told me a couple years ago, she’s going to buy herself a car and park it in her own driveway. I can’t wait to sit shotgun.
I’ll admit it–my wife and I have been putting off potty training. It’s not that we’re against the idea–we’re pretty psyched about not having to spend literally $100 a month on Costco-sized diapers for two little asses and are over the whole diaper-changing/alligator-wrestling ordeal. It’s just that we have a psychotically busy April and are just trying to make it through the month before we hit the potties hard. In preparation for this next chapter of parenthood, I’ve enlisted the help of Kristin Myers, a veteran mother of twins who has recently featured me on her blog and just released a new book titled Twin Turbulence. (Guess what it’s about!) In this guest post, she offers tips to aspiring parents of potty-trained twins which stand to benefit those of us about to enter the cold tile floor battlefield. Enjoy!
The Top 10 Most Unglamorous Tips for Potty Training Twins
1. Set a timer to remind yourself to put them on the potty. A potty-trained parent is a potty-trained set of twins. Be prepared: You will become very familiar with the hard surface of your bathroom floor as you will the excretory magic to happen with your parental super powers. Do not be above bribery. M & M’s are great incentives. So are Post Potty Parties – obnoxious songs and dances to appropriately celebrate Number 1 or Number 2 after they occur, of course. (A premature party can startle them mid-stream, either creating quite a mess or the need to start all over.)
2. Do not be fooled by anatomy. Both boys and girls need help learning how to squirt down! You do not want to learn this the hard way while sitting on the floor in front of them. Just saying…
3. You’ll want to be present as the action is happening. Otherwise they’ll “help” each other wipe and clean up. This rarely ends well. Imagine two 2-year-olds trying to dump the contents of the kid potty into the grown-up potty. Not good. In addition, twins can exhaust a roll of toilet paper faster than a puppy dragging the roll through the house. And when they’re done? It’s great fun to stuff it all in the toilet to see just how many flushes (or floods) it will take to make it disappear!
4. When at home, twin bare-bottoms become more commonplace than pants. You don’t mean for this to happen, but it does. Grandparents will more than likely be offended and fight the uphill battle during visits. Just ignore them.
5. If you let your boy pee on a tree even once, I guarantee your daughter will feel the need to demonstrate her vertical stream as well when you least expect it. Like in the park. On the great big tree in front of all your friends. It’s a very uncomfortable moment. Trust me. Continue reading
For a year and a half, I have shared the epic saga of raising my son and daughter. Although it is, in fact, my life, I sometimes cannot help feeling as if someday as teenagers, they will ask me to please stop reading tales of them smearing poo on their own faces and blowing baby-food bubbles out loud to their boyfriends and girlfriends. With that in mind, I thought it only fair for them to have a voice in this fine publication, and since I’m very preoccupied this week with smearing warpaint all over my face for finals, I felt it was a perfect opportunity for the Twins to allow their voices to be heard–to finally tell THEIR story, to set the record straight once and for all.
They’re not usually allowed to use Daddy’s laptop because Daddy is familiar with their innovative flair for breaking things in new and unanticipated ways, and is certain they will someday figure out how to flush it down the toilet or fling it across the living room with a catapult fashioned from an Elmo chair, wiffle bat, and blankie. And so you can probably imagine their eyes lighting up when I sat it down in front of them on the ottoman with a blank Word document open.
“Go ahead,” I told them. “It’s okay. Write a guest post for Daddy’s blog. Daddy’s busy studying this week.”
Gleeful giggles and the pecking of keys filled the room as the Twins collaborated on their first ever written composition. You should have seen the passion they exhibited, especially when I picked up the laptop, which triggered a loud protest, as if to say, “You’re stifling our creativity, Daddy! It’s not ready yet! We’re still developing its theme, and the dialogue still doesn’t quite sound true to life yet!” However, it was bathtime, and we couldn’t take Daddy’s computer in the bathtub.
I later realized they had not yet given their work a title, so I asked them if they had any ideas. “What do you want to call your guest post, kids?”
My daughter spoke, “Jingo Bezz.”
“Baby, there’s already a song called ‘Jingle Bells.’ Do you have any other ideas, like maybe a play on words or a pun?”
“Jingo Bezz! Jingo Bezz!”
My son nodded pensively in agreement. “Jingo Bezz.”
“All right, kids. ‘Jingo Bezz’ it is. All the way.”
I do realize they had plans to edit their work further, but upon reviewing it, both Mommy and I were astounded by its complexity, its depth, and have no doubt in our minds that we are raising two future New York Times Best-Selling Authors.
And so, without further ado, Twinfamy is proud to present “Jingo Bezz,” The Pseudonymous Twins’ much-unanticipated writing debut. Enjoy:
Thanks so much for browsing in on such short notice. I know we’re in the midst of The TwinfaMaui Saga, but dire circumstances have prompted this brief interruption. I don’t have much time, so I’ll get right to the point.
Just a few days ago, scientists at the Twinfamy Research Labs unearthed a lost and long-forgotten relic from the elaborate network of catacombs beneath the Pseudonymous residence: the (tw)infamous Dead Draft Scrolls. For those who don’t know, this highly sought-after artifact is a hard drive containing sacred ancient writings of the Pseudonymous people, including drafts of compositions that really ought to be New York Times Bestsellers by now (and surely would be had yours truly realized how much free time I had before becoming a parent).
Among these legendary texts is a collection of war stories from my career as a middle school English teacher, a stint that ended in a blaze of glory as I was summoned to stay-at-home greatness. The writings are dated 5 B. T. (5 years Before Twins), placing them around the year 2006.
As you can imagine, there was much rejoicing in the Twinfamy camp, as my Prodigal Brainchildren had been found. However, it is with a heavy heart that I report one of these pieces is already missing.
Which is the reason I’ve called you all here.
I am thrilled, O Loyal Reader, to announce that the following Twincident was actually not written by me, but instead an Über-Special Guest Author. You’ve heard her thoughts on having more children, hydration and colored clutter. You’ve seen her catch vomit with her mouth, stick her chin in poo, and even put up with her husband’s suggestive innuendos while deathly ill. Now, for the first time, the floor is hers. Please welcome my wife, Bernie Pseudonymous!
(Yes, that’s right, her name is Bernie. Please withhold your Weekend at Bernie’s jokes. You may think you’re being original, but we’ve heard them all and none of them are funny. Not even yours.)
This story starts like most other stories in my life lately. “My husband and I were feeling a little adventurous, so…” we decided that a weekend getaway to San Diego (5 hours by car) was totally doable and should be in our immediate future. The main motivation behind this quest was a five-generation picture that I wanted to get with our five-and-a-half-month-old twins and their great-great grandmother who was able to come down to San Diego with my grandmother so we could capture this rare twincident (if you will) on film. Plus, getting out of the 100-plus Arizona heat sounded very appealing and I wanted to prove to myself that it COULD be done. We knew that the twins could handle this adventure if we planned it right.
So we started preparing about three weeks prior to the Fourth of July weekend, talking to friends and scouring these internets for twinfant travel tips. The plan was to leave after we fed the twins dinner and a bottle hoping the baby food coma would keep the kids asleep the whole way. To me this seemed like a solid plan but the actual car ride, not so solid.
Pretty much every night our daughter falls asleep after dinner and stays asleep for the night. She can’t take a nap worth a damn, but at night she recoups. Our son is a little different. He goes down for naps relatively easy all day but also wakes up relatively easy and usually to the sound of our dog alerting us a car has gone by or some other annoying sound like thunder. So this applies to our car adventure because he was unable to fall asleep right away and the loud swooshing of wind flying by the car kept him awake. And unhappy. He cried for about 45 minutes, but then fell asleep until we reached a halfway mark where I could change him as the sky finally darkened, allowing his brain to recognize that sleep was in fact a good idea. (He did this on the way home, too but that time our daughter woke up, so Mom ninja-ed her way into the back seat and performed Mommy Sleep Magic on them both. Not ideal, but not terrible either.)
We arrived in San Diego at 10:30 pm at which point I had to wait 20 minutes for my sleeping mother (who goes by “Nani” instead of “Grandma”) to come down to the lobby to tell us where our room was. As an added bonus, my 14-year-old brother had fallen asleep in our room (why he was in there in the first place…?) and Nani needed to get an extra key from the front desk to open it. All this commotion woke the bambinos up and UP they were for the next two hours. Once everyone settled we all slept until 5 am, but thankfully we handed the kids off to Nani at 6:30 after they ate and Mom and Dad got to sleep until 9. It was our first time sleeping that late in months, and It. Was. Awesome.
Most of our trip was spent swapping babies between my husband, Nani, my sister, brother and me so naps could be achieved and meals could be eaten. It was not a bad system. Later that afternoon I was so excited to take my kids on a non-100-plus-degree walk that I just threw them in the stroller and we left not knowing we’d be taking a three-mile walk and not putting sunscreen on. Needless to say, the adults got burnt but the kids were unscathed and loved the walk. We performed some voodoo on the kids upon our return and got everyone to take a nap, refreshing us all.
After our nap we decided we needed to take the five-generation photos, as postponement might result in whiny twin/great-great-grandma syndrome. I can happily report that said photos turned out perfectly and I am so thrilled to be able to share these with my kids. After the pictures we ate dinner on the patio and had drinks with the whole family, great and great-great grandma included. Some fond memories were created. The kids’ great-great grandma is sharp. She was telling jokes and totally chatting us up. Definitely worth the 45 minutes of crying…both ways.
The next day came too quickly and we were off that night to return home. This was a trial vacation but I know the kids can handle longer and I can’t wait for the next time. In the end, the trip was quite a success.
Here are a few things Mom learned along the way:
- Both my parents and my husband’s parents gave us crap for the three suitcases, two travel co-pods, stroller, two diaper bags, backpack, fleet of bottles, high chairs covers and portable bath tub that we packed BUT there was only one item we didn’t use—a portable jumper—and that’s only because the door frame wouldn’t allow it.
- In a choice between a car with space and a car that is super quiet, the quiet one wins. My poor son scared himself too many times in the loud sport utility vehicle we swapped with Nani to take to San Diego, but luckily we swapped cars back and drove our own, much quieter four-door sedan home.
- Rest areas, hotels, and some fast food joints do not have diaper-changing stations in their bathrooms. They will pay someday. I don’t know how, but they will pay.
- Our car stereo has a fade option allowing us to turn down the speakers next to the kids. Had no idea. My husband thought I was crazy for not knowing this information. Guess I’ve never had to fade the sound to the front so my kids won’t wake up before.
- The second you get in the car for a long ride, your twins will poop. Mine did both ways.
- The white noise Sound Machines (that my husband believes are from Miami) are lifesavers when staying in a hotel. The constant slamming of doors is less annoying if not projected through hallways full of paper-thin walls.
- A family trip with five-month-old twins and an 88-year-old great-great grandma is actually a good idea since they are on the same nap and nighttime schedule.
- Food at a hotel is WAY too expensive, but it’s the closest spot to get some food in your belly that doesn’t require the Twin Car Shuffle, so it will do.
- Going on vacation with my husband, my mom, my grandma, my sister and brother was genius. There was always someone to help with the kids. I believe all vacations with my kids should require other family members.
- Caffeine is such a great friend. It never lets you down when you need it most. Even if you have to dump 10 packs of sugar in it to be drinkable.
- Stroller naps are just fine. So are naps anywhere else.
- My daughter is a great traveler. My son’s not.
- Mommy can and did squeeze her tush between the car seats in the backseat of our four-door sedan. When two kids are screaming like wild banshees, it can be done.
- Twins are a novelty in California as well as Arizona, as are idiots who believe they are entitled to touching our twins even though they are complete strangers.
You may also enjoy:
If not, I’ll turn this car right around and go back home. Is that what you want?