Archives for May 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Beary Good

Sisters… Friends.

Kyle and His Nor-nen.

I’ve heard for years about the special connection that twins have–eh, maybe that can be true for identical twins, but definitely not for my fraternal twins. In general, though, I don’t buy it.

Or rather, I didn’t use to buy it.

My twins happen to be fraternal–and they are boy-girl. Not the variety of twins who tend to enjoy whatever twin ESP which other sets of twins might experience. Not typically, anyway.

Last week, boy twin was fighting the good fight against pneumonia. He was admitted to the hospital for eight days, and therefore away from his twin sister for a (relatively speaking) eternity.  He ultimately recovered and was discharged in fine shape–but the topic of the week has been his I.V.

We were in the E.R. when the topic first presented itself.  The I.V. team showed up to install his first I.V., and after the dire trauma this caused finally blew over, Kyle’s first complete sentence was, “I need to tell Lauren about my I.V.”

The next day, we conferenced Lauren and big sister Jenna in via cell phone to cheer Kyle up.  All Lauren could talk about was Kyle’s I.V.  Her first sentence to him:  “Do you have an I.V., Kyle?”  “Yes, Nor-nen.  I have an I.V.!”  He was especially proud of his I.V., and Lauren was just as thrilled to ask him that same question over and over as Kyle was answering her.

A few days later, Kyle’s first I.V. went bad and we had to put a new one in on his other hand.  Despite some admirable efforts from our stellar I.V. team, Kyle was acutely upset and nothing from my Toolbox from Motherhood could soothe him.  “Be brave for Lauren,” I whispered.  “Be a big boy and we’ll get your new I.V. in and we’ll call Lauren when you’re done and tell her all about it.  Be brave, Big Boy.  Be brave for Lauren.”  Boom.  I.V. in.  (Good timing, I.V. team!  Pretty sure the timing had nothing to do with my pep talk, but I felt very “win one for the Gipper”ish and nobody can take that away from me.)

The day of discharge finally came.  Our favorite nurse finally had to take out his I.V.  He was upset at first at the sticky uncomfortableness of the medical tape which we ripped off of his skin, but he was so proud of his Band-Aid.  He was proud because he wanted to show his twin sister, “Nor-nen”, where his I.V. had been.

He was so sleepy when we finally arrived home that day.  But Lauren came home (from Grandma’s house) after his nap was over and inspected every inch of his hands while she asked about his I.V.’s.  He showed off his Band-Aids.  She was appropriately impressed with his stigmata-like wounds.  Three days later and he’s still a rock star around here.

Maybe it’s because they’re the same age and are always in each others’ space.  Or maybe there’s something to this “twin intuition” thing.

I like it.

Under Siege: The Adventures of a Stay at Home Dad

Note from the Editor: It’s Friday and that means there’s a Dad in the house! Dave is back with his ongoing Under Siege series. He’s taking a break from his usual humor and sharing with us some of the struggles his family has encountered. He does still manage to reference cargo shorts though… Chin up Dave. *hugs*

I’m ready for some funny after this not quite so funny week.

I had grand notions of writing a moving, informative, and decidedly humorous piece examining the almost criminal under-appreciation the fashion world has for cargo shorts…. personally, I believe the cargo short is the most indispensable item of clothing I own. I not only wear them, I use them. But, as awesome and rife with blog-postable funny material the cargo shorts certainly hold, I’m just not feeling as funny as I wish I were right now. I have more serious things are on my mind.

This last week has been a bit humor draining in a number of ways. The list of reasons why is kinda disparate and, taken individually, each might give one pause for thought but it’s in the short sharp manner in which each has showed up this week that has added up. It’s not been one thing alone, although the gravity of a couple of them has been pretty strong and has moved me in many different ways.

It really all started last Friday, when I got word from a close friend, who, like myself, is also a parent of twins (and a fellow contributor to Everyday Childhood), had admitted her little guy, one of her twins, into the hospital with pneumonia. A serious matter for sure, only made much more so because he has a disease that already places great strain on his respiratory system…so, I was instantly and seriously worried about his well being…

…Meanwhile, my wife and I have been hip-deep in a search for a new home…definitely NOT something that holds the same serious grip as the concern that I had for my friend and her son does, but still, a frustrating and stressful process.

We live, now, in a small house in a historic neighborhood in central Phoenix. Living in a small, old house with 4 females, 1 male (me) and 1 bathroom isn’t really working for us anymore, or for that spot in the backyard I have had to go to a few times when the bathroom was occupied by one of the girls at the worst moment. Being a guy does have its conveniences, but, it’s not very becoming to be a 43 year old guy who occasionally is forced to go outside and whiz in his backyard. No “just like a dog” references, please.

So, the stress we’re feeling as a family continues to grow as the littlest of us, our 1 ½ year old twins Emma & Maddie, continue to grow. The funny thing about this search, for every house we go take a look at but doesn’t quite match exactly what we’re looking for, our present home seems to shrinks by about 50 square feet… Nothing makes your house feel smaller than spending some time in a house, imagining it could possibly be your next home, and that it’s twice the size. The shrinking house does nothing to eliminate the stress of the process. And I’m starting to see the frustration build in myself and in the girls as we go through this hunt for our new home.

So, the week rolled along….Great news arrived about the little guy beating pneumonia, but was tempered by the news that a surgical procedure that had been planned for later in the summer, was going to be done the next day instead, which became another worry for his parents, and for those that care about him.

…and soon after, on that same day, I find a notice from my daughter Sydney’s school hidden among all the spent coloring book pages and art that she brought home from school and left on the dining room table the day before, detailing how counselors will be on her campus to speak with teachers and students who may find the need to discuss or have problems handling the recent death of an unnamed student in her school over the weekend.

When picking her up from school Wednesday, we have a very serious conversation about her classmate who, she would tell me, had died over the weekend by drowning in a swimming pool. Horrible words to hear coming from your child who has already been concerned about death and such heavy matters a few times over this last year: the neighbor that we’d been close to who took his own life back in January or how her grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s raises questions from her about Grandma’s condition. These, among other events, have all raised concerns for her about life, death and what that means in regards to her, her Mommy, Daddy and her little sisters. Tough moments.

It’s heart wrenching to think of what that little 5yr old boy’s parents must be going through today. It’s equally saddening to imagine that the End of School Year Pizza Party that had been a thing Sydney’s been excited about and looking forward to for the last week or so was probably something he had been excited about too.

I’m not whining about what a terrible week it’s been for me, because, really, I know that my week was nothing compared to the week many others out there experienced. Nothing compared to what surely my friend experienced while watching her little boy fight off pneumonia, or the week that the parents of that little boy from Sydney’s class had. I appreciate being able to feel the weight, even from afar, of those things that happened over the course of this last week. That’s what writing does for me.

So, maybe next time, I’ll write about all the awesome things I can think of about cargo shorts, and how, while being Under Siege by 3 little girls, how those shorts have changed and/or saved my life…we’ll see. But, for right now, my mind is still on these other things.

Wordless Tuesday

Because I don’t have many words these days, and Tuesday is my assigned day to contribute something around here.  Now see, that’s too many words already. I have a hard time with rules. And young ‘uns hospitalized with pneumonia.

Store Brands vs. Name Brands

There’s been quite a controversy lately about store brand vs. name brand products in grocery stores. Name brands contest that their product is superior to the store brand labels. The store brands say that their product is equal in quality… if not more so… than name brands. And they save consumers money.

Parent’s Choice baby formula took this debate head on in a recent court case. They were challenged by name brand formula company Mead Johnson in a false advertising case. The court found in favor of Parent’s Choice formula and upheld that ruling again when Mead Johnson appealed.

Personally, I breastfed both of my children. My firstborn however… I did end up having to supplement with some baby formula. When she was 9 months old, I found out I was 3 months pregnant. My doctor recommended that I stop breastfeeding immediately because I had a history of miscarriage and pre-term labor. Breastfeeding causes a contraction in the uterus.

I decided that I had a good long run at breastfeeding and for the safety of the unborn baby, I’d stop nursing and make the switch to formula for a few months until I could move to whole milk. I soon discovered that formula was expensive for a single income household. Store brands were much less expensive… but were they as quality a product as the store brand?

Checking the labels, I noticed that the key ingredients recommended for brain development and those most like mother’s milk were identical. You’ve probably noticed the price difference on your own. Switching to a store brand from a name brand formula can save consumers up to 50%! Parent’s Choice has a price savings calculator now. I wish I had that then!

Of course nothing is better than a mother’s milk… but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about whether store brands can stack up to name brands. I feel that they can. Parent’s Choice was proven to be nutritionally equal to the bigger, pricier name brand formulas.

I wrote this informative post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mommy Brain Reports on behalf of Parent’s Choice Infant Formula. I did receive compensation for my time and efforts in writing this post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. But you already knew that.

What are your experiences with store brands vs. name brands?

Raising The Karate Kid

*Editor’s Note: I love Alan’s writing. It’s entertaining. It resonates (especially if you love all things 80’s). This post is no different. Read as Alan channel’s his inner Mr. Miyagi and teaches his son Jack about character.

I think most people have one movie that, no matter when it’s on, they’ll sit down and watch it. It’s like a surprise when you’re flicking channels and stumble on it, one that settles you back into the couch even if it’s half over.

Mine is The Karate Kid. (The one with Ralph Macchio, not the Will Smith Junior remake.)

I don’t know what it is about this movie, still, that speaks to me. Maybe it’s that, growing up, I was small for my age and had skipped a grade to boot, so until my sophomore year in high school, I felt like everyone’s little brother. The little brother who could get his ass handed to him by pretty much everyone.

Last Saturday afternoon, I watched it again. If you want to really analyze it, it’s kind of a weird movie. What are the odds that you’d move to a neighborhood lorded over by a bunch of motorcycle-riding, skeleton-costume-wearing, karate-kicking teenagers? Or that your handyman could teach you karate by getting you to wash cars, paint fences or sand decks?

Jack woke up from his nap just as Daniel-san was about to start competing in the dreaded All Valley Karate Tournament.

“Whuzzat?” he’d point.

“They’re doing karate.”

He’d watch, then try to mimic them. Jab. Jab. Jab. Front kick. An occasional, “Oh!”

He walked around our bedroom doing karate and I love this kid so much, watching him writhe around on the ground, just like Daniel was after Kreese gave the order for that little bastard Johnny to sweep the leg.

“Ow. Foot. Foot.” Jack says, holding his own.

Daniel wins the tournament and gets his trophy. Then the synthesizer kicks on and Survivor’s “Moment of Truth” starts and Jack is transfixed.

I am too, watching him bob back and forth, listening to the words in a way I don’t know that I have before. Take the 80s cheese out it. These are things I want to instill in my son.

It’s the moment of truth
You’re giving it all
Standing alone, willing to fall.
If you can do it
Get up and prove it.
Get up and show them who you are.

The song ended and he turned to me. “More karate song.” I went to my computer and found the track on Rhapsody and played it for him. More than once. And I’ve done the same every morning this week, because he’s asked.

Jack is at that age where he shows interests, but we have no idea if any of them will stick. Right now, he’s into superheroes and cars and shooting basketballs. Right now he’s into an 80’s power pop ballad.

I don’t know that he always will be. But I hope he always hears these lyrics when he needs to. I hope I teach him to believe that they’re true, that if he works and believes and tries, what he wants will happen.

And I hope that he knows that even when he is standing alone, that I am still there with him, no matter what.

Read more of Alan’s writing on his blog Always Jacked. Follow him on Twitter @alankercinik.