The Joys Of Parenting

I am titling this post, ‘The Joys Of Parenting’, because, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, has apparently already been taken. I guess this Timothy Burton fella has twin boys also.

Crazy coincidence.

It all began shortly after breakfast, when I cooked the boys pancakes and a childhood favorite of mine, eggs in the hole, or, eggs on the graph, as we called it growing up. The idea being that you cut a hole in a piece of bread and drop an egg into the void. When you’re finished, you are left with a fried egg fused to a piece of toast.

The boys had had a long day the day before, playing with other kids at the homes of some good friends of mine, and, as a result, were too exhausted for bath time that night. So, they slept with dirty feet and I settled for a baby-wipe wipe-down. Now, as any parent knows, the best way to do things is by grouping as many tasks together as possible, hereinafter to be known as multitasking. A compound word I just made up. A fact of which I am convinced because no sane person would ever come up with such a ridiculous notion. The theory of which makes perfect sense, and the application of which has about as much place in a parents vocabulary as would the phrase, that was easy. Nonetheless, the concept of washing off the previous day (and brownie a la mode) with the following morning’s egg yoke and syrup had Genius written all over it. 

(I know Sugar Nazi’s, I know. It’s the Holidays…Let this one slide, please.)

As fate would have it, however, the phrase, Best laid plans, came bubbling to the surface in much the same way as what happened next did.

The enthusiasm of my multitasking (trademark pending) was matched by enthusiastic twins, who joined in my efforts by grouping bowel movements into bath time. The first of which felt like a punishment for thinking I had gotten away with something after both boys woke up this morning with only wetness banked in their Huggies. But it began to feel personal, after taking the boys out of the water and sitting them on the tile while I dredged the murky depths below, sanitized the basin, and refilled the tub with clean water (which, for dramatic effect, I’m going to say I fetched, bucket-by-bucket, from a nearby stream…in the snow…barefoot). A process that clearly took longer than the bladder of an 18 month old could tolerate, and I suddenly realized that it hadn’t been the warm bath water I had been kneeling in for the past ten minutes.

So, the moral takeaway here is this: Do one task at a time. Multitasking (Great word for a fantasy novel) is for suckers and Windows-based operating systems, which require Adobe and system updates every time you power them on.

But bath time aside, this week has been pretty great. With the boys sleeping soundly through most nights now, we are able to get through the day with fewer naps. That gave us the time to explore the Christmas Tree farm with another buddies family, where we picked out and later decorated our first tree together. And, by, decorate, I mean the Webster’s definition: “verb; to make upright and strangle with colored lights.”

(Why are water-proofed diapers not a thing?)

And , that, my friends, is the news from Lake Wobegon (for all you Garrison Keillor fans out there).

‘Till next time…


Week 1

I wouldn’t necessarily say that this has been ‘about what I’d expected.’ I can say emphatically that it has been a steep learning curve. For starters, they are twins…identical in virtually every visual way. That alone creates a few unique challenges, and after changing the same child’s diaper twice in a row, I put a little pen mark on (we’ll call him, Chip, for the purposes of this blog) Chip’s hand to avoid this mistake for future diaper changes. In truth, the error was, in part, due to the matching pajamas only an inexperienced parent would put identical twins in, but the genetics, here, are at least partly to blame.  I’ll take that small visual trickery though, because those genetics also produced two of the cutest, happiest, and healthiest toddlers I could ever have hoped to care for.

I feel I owe it to other parents of twins to dispel the myth that twins are easier because, ‘they entertain each other.’ This is common to hear from people, presumably twin-less people, who make this seemingly reasonable statement. While it is true, at times, it is just as true that, while one is being pulled from a cabinet the other is elbows deep in a porcelain basin full of toddler-high cool water; While one is happy, the other, full tantrum; While one diaper is clean, the other is in full blow-out. Even as I write this, I’m watching one twin on the baby monitor attempting to nap, while his brother uses his body as a stepping stool to get his leg over the crib wall…Oh yeah, did I mention they can climb right out of the crib, at will? That was a fun surprise on night three, when I finally got them to bed and myself into the shower. Caught completely off-guard by (We’ll call the other one…you guessed it…Dale) Dale’s bleach blonde head, now wet to his ears, peering in around the shower curtain. The pitter-patter of Chip’s little feet stomping on the tile floor behind him.

Bath time is a whole different challenge. Fortunately, the boys love creating claims on my flood insurance policy, so there’s that, but, at the same time, they hate having the shampoo rinsed out of their hair and they fly out of the water on full tip-toe, hands clawing at my shirt like they’re being waterboarded, every rinse, which is protested, just prior, by throwing their heads in exactly the wrong way to avoid actually waterboarding my children. Somehow, I’ve managed to avoid the inhalation of soapy bath water, thus far, but it feels like a huge win for the three of us, each and every time. Their favorite part of bath-time, however, is the few minutes they get to splash around as the water slowly drains, followed by the naked run through the house as I attempt to re-diaper them both before one of them pees on the carpet (A race I have already lost twice in the first week, btw).

This experience has created a lot of personal growth as well. Not, as well…More, it has created a lot of personal growth…period. I went into this with zero parenting experience, while the two of them had a combined three years of experience being babies then toddlers together. I went from never having grocery shopped…not really, ‘shopped’, anyway, to making multiple trips to the grocery store in my first week. I’ve also turned my brand new three-year-old stove, into a thoroughly used appliance during the same time-span. A week ago I was a bachelor. My diet consisted of take-out and pizza. I didn’t cook. I bought the stove because it came in the set and there was a hole in the cabinets I needed to fill. Now, I have two boys who will eat almost everything I put in front of them, and continue eating until I stop.  They’ll eat a whole PB&J each, a whole corn dog, right off the stick, and a pound of tatter-tots between the two of them. Sadly for them, they only get those foods once in a while. Thankfully, they also eat half of a large chicken breast each and love peas. To get nutrients in them, we’ve gone to making smoothies. If I knew how to make money blogging, believe me, I would have an advertisement for the Vitamix 780 inserted right here, because that thing makes spinach and kale invisible in a frozen fruit and yogurt smoothie. Once we figured out they couldn’t get the fluid through the small holes in the tippie-cups and they weren’t reject the concoction, it’s become a favorite for the boys who have learned that the purple drink comes with the straw.

So, what’s changed in the past seven days? I now know that I love these boys like they were my own flesh and blood, both as twins and as individuals. I can now tell them apart by their facial expressions and personalities, their laughs and cries, and by which area of the house they return to for mischief. Dale calls me Dada and chip calls me Mamma, and technically, at least for now, they’re both right. I get to wrestle around and sword fight with paper towel rolls, but I also have to kiss the booboos and sing to them at 3 AM when they wake up scared. They deserve a mom and dad. They got me, and I will do my best to fill both of those roles as best I can.

This first week has been challenging in ways I never imagined and, at the same time, has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I look forward to the little breaks during naps, but can’t imagine going back to a quiet house all to myself.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this next week goes as I begin to reincorporate my work schedule into the mix. It’s been hard while I was with them 24 hours a day. It’s going to be much more difficult moving forward, but these boys are not my only responsibility. I still owe it to my employer and to my devoted crew to give them 100% of my attention during the hours I’m there. My employer, boss, and crew have been wonderful in allowing me the time to focus solely on these boys. Now, I owe it to them to move back into working full time, devoted to their success and our success as a team as well.



As is sometime the case in life, things fall into place in a way which oddly mirrors your version of “Best Case Scenario”. Far more rare, are the instances where circumstance exceed your wildest expectations. As it so happens, my best case scenario (as anyone who has been following my blog can attest) was to be licensed by Thanksgiving and have a placement before Christmas. For me, the idea of seeing the excitement on a youngster’s face Christmas morning — rubbing the sleep from his eyes, the cautious first few steps toward the living room in Santa-red footie pajamas and a wide-toothed grin as he approaches a lit Christmas tree towering over top gifts, his name in big bold letters. The excitement building as he spies an empty cookie plate and milk-stained glass, proving that Santa found him, even in his new home — is the greatest Christmas gift a new parent (or foster parent, in my case) could ever hope to receive.

But, as it would happen, my wildest expectations were exceeded when, ahead of the issuance of my license, I received a call from Social Services stating that two 18 month old boys had just entered the system and they were wondering if I would be interested in having them placed with me.

That’s right…Twins!

If you remember from an earlier post, I asked to be licensed for up to three children, in case there were siblings also needing placement. Twins are rare and I’d never even considered the possibility that I would be offered such an wonderful opportunity, especially for a first placement. But suddenly, I couldn’t imagine having anything else, and as soon as I enthusiastically accepted, I began ordering duplicates of everything. Cribs, car seats, high-chairs, pajamas, matching Jellycat stuffed animals, etc. The realization settling in that I had spent the past three months getting half prepared. Fortunately, there exists a perfect universe where my excitement fueled anxiety can stretch it’s legs:

This was far and away the most exciting phone call I can recall ever having received! Dwarfing past calls that said things like, “Escrow has closed on your new home”, and, “Congratulations! You’ve passed the California Real Estate Broker’s Exam.” It seems like only yesterday that, “You have my blessing to marry my daughter,” was the pinnacle of good news I’d received over the phone. Now a distant and fading memory of what, after this call, suddenly felt like a lifetime ago. So much of life has been this way for me: One chapter ends, the next begins. All to often, the people that occupied the pages of my story remain locked away, left behind for one reason or another in the story of my past. Separation may be the most difficult part of life for me, and my current choices suggest the future will likely hold more of the same, given the temporary nature of foster care in most cases. Adoption is less common and, until final, exists only in the form of hopeful expectation.

But with loss comes gain; with endings, new beginnings. And, these boys will be my life, at least for awhile, and that feels pretty great to say.

Within a half an hour, I had already begun making the transition from one kid to two, and by the end of the weekend, everything was in place. A complete top to bottom transformation in less than 72 hours.

A short few days later, I received a long awaited message. “You’re Official! Your license was signed today.” This was a huge milestone for me, but seemed somehow underwhelming in light of the news about the twins. Truth be told, I really like the Social Worker I’ve been working with for licensing, and am disappointed that we will not be in touch as often now. She has been a huge advocate for me, and has made this process far more enjoyable, not to mention, manageable, than I’d ever imagined it could be. Whether she knows it or not, she will be receiving updates on the kids from me from now on, and I hope we will continue to stay in touch. We’re friends now. Both she and her co-worker have been supportive of this journey since day one, and I hope they both know how much I appreciate the job they did. I wish I could acknowledge them by name, but that, unfortunately, would not be prudent. I am, after all, responsible for keeping the children’s lives as private as humanly possible. That includes the team of people responsible for bringing the boys into my life.

Today, I was shown pictures of the boys. They are beautiful, with the blondest hair I’ve ever seen. Identical twins. Both of them grinning from ear to ear. The pictures were taken by the family they were temporarily placed with. Two of the nicest people I’ve met; both of whom seem to genuinely care about the twins. It was a privilege to meet them and get a little insight into what the boys are like. I am anxious to have them with me, but could not feel better about where they are between now and then. Tomorrow, I get to meet the boys in person and spend the day getting to know them. This isn’t always the case. In fact, I would guess that this is rare. I leaped at the opportunity to meet them and hope I can sleep tonight, despite my excitement.

A few days from now, the boys will be placed in my home.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it!