Heart

August 26th, 2008

I have a lot of admiration for my daughter Sidney, who is five years old.  I have never met a more naturally kind person — she is always looking after her little sister Riley, who can be a handful, and she makes close friendships at a young age with both other children and adults.  Sidney’s wonderful little girlfriends at her preschool — Reagan, Sammy, Kendall, others too — have been a great gang at school for the past year in Ms. Theresa’s class.  Now, they are all heading off to different schools for kindergarten.

I have been amazed at the maturity Sidney and her friends have shown through this dramatic transition.  They are leaving their friends behind and going to completely different worlds, and they really love each other, but they are handling the transition better than most adults would.  They show true friendship and an appreciation of both the friendship and the upcoming change:  For the last few weeks of school, whenever I would arrive with Sidney at preschool, her wonderful little friends would all yell “Sidney!” and they’d all run and hug each other, as a group and then one by one.  Then they’d play.  They would talk openly to me about the different schools they were going to and say they wanted to have playdates.

I thought Sidney would be distraught over this — leaving her friends, her preschool of the last two years, her teacher who she adores — but she has been an absolute champ.  I have asked her several times about her feelings about changing schools, told her I would love to talk to her about anything that might scare her about it, and leading up to school, she’s repeatedly said:  ”I’m gonna miss my friends and Miss Theresa, but I’m excited about going to kindergarten.”  And she’s totally sincere.

I am so proud of her confidence — my big girl knows that her new teacher will appreciate the person she is and that she will make friends.  She knows it.  I remember, over three years ago, when we started our first preschool in California, Sidney was very nervous and shy and serious.  Not anymore.  She’s composed and confident.  She truly inspires me to be more poised and confident in challenging situations.  She knows she can handle it, and she’s only five.  I think of her when I’m nervous about anything — which admittedly is not too often — and it makes me smile and relax.

So…  The first few weeks of elementary school have gone great.  Sidney doesn’t have super close friends there yet, but she is game to go every morning (three days a week for kindergarten).  She has had concerns about the bus that have been difficult to pin down — she likes the bus, but somehow she has seemed afraid that she’s going to miss the bus on the way home or that I don’t know where the bus goes when she’s on it.  So we solved that problem together:  I followed the bus in my car, both to school and from school one afternoon, and then we talked about everything about the trip.  Now she seems more relaxed about it — I think because I know all the places she’s gonna be — and I’m glad she told me about her concern.

Nonetheless…  Despite Sidney’s excitement, courage, and brave face, Janette and I have noticed more nervous stress indicators in Sidney over the last few weeks.  She chews on her hair.  She fidgets.  She is thinking about things and occasionally absent-minded.  We ask her if she’s okay, and she confidently says:  ”Yes.”  We ask her if she likes school, and she says “yes.”  But tonight, she did a very uncharacteristic thing for her:  She just broke down and cried and cried and cried, for almost twenty minutes, about her decision to get out of the bath a few minutes early.  (Daddy and Riley and Sidney were taking a bath in the big tub, something we do a few times a week — a joy to describe on another day in this blog.)

She regretted the decision and was crying, crying, crying about it.  She was inconsolable.  This is unlike her.  We hugged her and got mad at her and hugged her and told her to let it out and told her to stop and hugged her and got frustrated and tried to make her laugh and hugged her and finally something worked.  (As you can see, we were not altogether consistent or impressive in our response to Sidney’s extended emotional outburst, in part because we haven’t seen much like it before.)

After she calmed down, we put her right to bed.  I told her what I often tell her beaming and proud and loving face as the last thing before I leave her room:  ”Sidney, there is no one in this world I admire more than you, because you are smart, you are fun, and most of all, you are kind.  I don’t know how you do all that at such a young age.  Thank you for being my best friend and for inspiring me to try to be those things too.  I am the luckiest daddy in the world.”  And she smiled that impossibly sincere and appreciative smile — the one she gives me every night at bedtime — and said, as always:  ”I love you Daddy.  You’re the best daddy in the world.  I want you to always be my Daddy.”

And I left her room, thinking:  Even on Sidney’s worst night, when the weight of a world-changing transition is suddenly hitting her, when she doesn’t understand her own emotions of fear and anxiety, when she thinks she’s sad about the tub but she’s really sad about something so much larger — having to change her school, her circle of friends, her methods of transportation, her five year old comfort zone — even then, this extraordinary girl with a heart of pure love and courage will look up at me after pretty much her longest cry ever and tell me that she just wants me to know that I’m the greatest.

How many people will ever give you that kind of love?  I’m the luckiest man in the world.

Betrayal Of A Pink Princess

July 4th, 2008

It’s Independence Day!  That’s July 4th for those of you who are not American history scholars.  And as a father of two wonders and husband of an additional wonder, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that while independence has its merits, it is certainly not all that it was cracked up to be by our Founding Fathers.  If I was independent of my three babes, my life would be far less meaningful, far less rewarding, far less loving, and far less fun.

On the plus side, I’d get to watch more movies with either Will Ferrell or hot naked women.  But all in all, I’ll take fatherhood, husbandhood, and my lack of independence any day.  (As further clarification, by “any day,” I mean “on most days.”)

Today we are going to our city’s Independence Day parade and celebration, and then Sidney and daddy are going on a dream date to see the Colorado Rapids (the local Major League Soccer team) play in their beautiful brand new stadium.  After the game will be a giant fireworks show.  Sidney and I went to the July 4th game last year too.  Sidney’s on a soccer team now and truly shares her daddy’s love of soccer — both playing and watching it.  That is so awesome.  God I love that girl.  Riley will come to the games in future years too when she’s older.  Returning home at 11 PM is probably still a stretch for Riley.

Our love of soccer segues into a story I would like to share with you.  This is a soccer story.  It is also a “man wearing a pink princesses shirt” story.  And it is a story of betrayal.  So listen up Coach Steve:  I’m calling you out!  But don’t worry, I’ll still be your assistant coach next season.  I’m just that big a guy.

Our story starts on Sidney’s first day of soccer practice.  She has joined a team for the first time (at age five), and I have volunteered to be her assistant coach.  Once upon a time, I was quite the ambitious soccer guy.  I was a successful high school varsity boys soccer coach for three years.  Before that, I was actually on the varsity soccer roster at Stanford for a time, a distinction I enjoyed obtaining more than I actually enjoyed playing on the team, which was very time consuming and prohibited me from the proper time to chase music and girls in college.  So I retired early from college soccer.  At this point, my job as an assistant coach for the Pink Princesses consisted entirely of showing up most of the time to practices and games and doing whatever Coach Steve told me to do.  And I was very fond of that level of job responsibility.

Anyway, on Sidney’s first day of practice, Coach Steve’s wife gave every girl a pink T-Shirt that had a soccer ball and the words “Princesses” on it.  Also, the image of the soccer ball had a pink crown on it.  A nice touch.  Practice jerseys.  Cool.  The girls loved them.  Oh my god did they love them.

Then came the unexpected:  She pulled out two adult size pink princesses soccer shirts.  One for me and one for Coach Steve.  ’Okay,’ I thought, I’m dedicated enough to my girls and comfortable enough in my incredibly pronounced masculinity to take one for the team and wear a pink princesses shirt that is several sizes too big for me — thus emasculating me in just about every conceivable way — in public.  Coach Steve put his on.  Hey, I thought — if Coach Steve is gonna wear his, I’m gonna wear mine.  No problem.

So each Wednesday night for practice, and each Saturday night for games, I could be found prancing about in public in my pink princesses T-Shirt.  Coach Steve did too.  We always wore our pink princesses shirts.  I got quite used to this.  Unified in our selfless support of our girls.  Our family would often stop at the Whole Foods Market, that Lola Granola haven of grocery stores, on the way home from games on Saturday to get groceries and have lunch, where I would proudly don the pink princesses shirt I was swimming in for all to see.  No problem.  I didn’t even take it off between the game and the grocery store.  I waited until we got home.  Because I’m such a man.

And now for the betrayal:  picture day.  We show up on the morning of the game that team pictures are being taken.  It’s a bitterly cold Colorado winter morning; everyone’s wearing coats, hats, and mittens until the last possible moment before the pictures.  Our team gets up to the photographer.  Time for the team photo.  The jackets come off and we all rush to the team photo spot.  The girls are all wearing their game day uniforms.  I am wearing my gigantamongous pink Princesses shirt the coaches always wear to practices and games.  Last thing, Coach Steve takes off his big jacket and sits down on the other side of the picture from me beside the girls… in a very manly and perfectly fitted red collared shirt with a macho official soccer coaching logo on it.  What? my mind is thinking as the photographer tells us to look forward and smile for the picture in the frigid cold thirty degree temperature.

“Steve, where’s your pink princesses shirt?” I ask him immediately after.

“Oh, I um, forgot it,” he says with a sincere lack of conviction, after approximately ten straight appearances in the pink shirt.  The referee blows the whistle.  We start the game.

I will be bringing Coach Steve a very special scarf, necklace and flamboyant hat to wear for next season’s team picture.  Until then, please enjoy the following team photo:

http://www.corycullinan.com/Images/PrincessesSoccerTeam.jpg

It’s An Amazing World We’re Living In!

March 28th, 2008

I knew Riley had woken up from her nap one day this week because she immediately began joyously singing one of the many great songs by children’s musician Zak Morgan. Zak is one of the world’s nicest and greatest people, and Sidney and Riley watch his DVD for their “Learning TV Time” whenever they get the chance.

You can get his DVD and albums at his website, www.zakmorgan.com. Or at Wal-Mart starting in May. And you know, if it’s at Wal-Mart, it’s gotta be cheap good.

Anyway, Riley, Sidney and I love his DVD. As you will see upon watching it, Zak is very creative and almost as talented as his grandmother. (Watch it, you’ll see.) One of his albums was nominated for a children’s music Grammy in 2006. He probably would’ve won it, too, if he had thought to ask Riley to sing this song on his CD. Not to worry, though. You don’t know who won the children’s music Grammy that year and either do I. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the only person who knows who won the children’s music Grammy on any given year is the person who won it.

So, without further ado, I now invite you to click on this link to see Riley wake up to sing Zak’s great song. She actually knows all the words to the song, but as you’ll see, she’s pretty focused on this one line she really likes from the chorus at the moment. I would imbed the video into this blog directly, except I’m not smart enough to figure out how to do that, and it’s too late in the evening to call Weldon, my Apple genius geek buddy. But I’m fairly certain you won’t regret it if you click here.

Thanks to the creative genius tandem of Zak Morgan and Riley Max Cullinan for this collaboration.

Families Who Sinus Rinse Together Stay Together

March 14th, 2008

That’s right, families who sinus rinse together stay together. This is primarily because sinus rinsing is so intrinsically disgusting that nobody else wants to hang out with you when you do it. I’ve seen the babysitters faces when they see us sinus rinse. They never want to come back. So sinus rinsers stick together so we won’t be alone.

What is a sinus rinse, you say? Ah, you naive non-allergic, non-nasty-Colorado-winter-cold simpleton you — I envy you. A sinus rinse is basically a little plastic bottle of water and some salty tasting mix that you are supposed to shove up your nose and squeeze hard until the water (and all the snotty guck that’s stuck in your sinuses) comes out of the other side of your nose and your mouth. Spit, wipe your face, repeat. That’s it. It’s lovely. The doctor has commanded that we do this after our fifth — FIFTH! — cold of the winter season.

It really is nasty and it really does work. It clears you up good for a while. My girls are troopers. Let’s be honest, sinus rinsing sucks, but they do it — even my three year old. She likes it when we do it together and trade off. She doesn’t enjoy the process much, because she’s sane, but she likes trading turns and the joy of conquering a difficult task. And my five year old is quite possibly the World’s Greatest Sinus Rinser, a title she wears with great pride, which is nice, because probably nobody else would. I love her so much for this. “Daddy, look! It’s coming out the other side of my nose! Look at all the mucus I’m getting!”

Ah, the beautiful words only a father would love you for. And I really do love her for them, too. She is such a good girl. Anyway, anytime your family would like to come over to our bathroom for a sinus rinse playdate, give us a buzz. We won’t stay up waiting for the phone to ring.

A Visit To Doctor Dread

January 4th, 2008

So we all got bronchitis last month! Here’s to bronchitis and all the havoc it wreaks. Sidney, my five-year-old, got it the worst. She had to go on a nebulizer machine four times a day because her air passages were so congested and blocked, and she was wheezing. Sidney is such a trooper that we didn’t really know how sick she was. I took the girls in to their pediatrician for something else — their yearly checkup — and didn’t really even mention the cold. Anyway, the doctor examined her and then scolded me for being such a bad parent that I didn’t bring her in for her cold. She especially thought I was an ass because we had all had the cold for about a month. She was like: “Dude, you’re a moron, colds don’t last for a month, it’s something worse, you gotta bring her in, you total dumbshit.”

Okay, so that’s a paraphrase and not a direct quote, but I could read between the lines, if you know what I mean. She thought I was a dumbshit parent. But we knew so many people in town who had this nasty cold for about a month that we just kinda thought everybody was doing it.

It was only after this that the weirdness happened. Apparently, this doctor decided that I was the kind of parent who would ignore all signs of illness in my children, so she had to whip out the scare tactics. (This was very ironic, because I am actually the pansy parent who usually takes his children in at the slightest trace of a medical problem.) So the pediatrician says, with my 5-year-old and 3-year-old in the room: “I’m not kidding, you have to take them in when they’re like this, they could DIE FROM THIS.”

I glance at my kids, who are taken aback. Great, thanks for sharing, doc. I say to her: “I get it, we need to come in earlier next time, we’ll do that.”

But she continues: “I’m serious, I had a young patient die just a few months ago because the seriousness of her condition wasn’t recognized and we didn’t get her on the nebulizer early enough. This is serious business, dad.”

Okay, I tell her, I got it, we heard the extreme worst case scenario, we’ll come in earlier next time, so now let’s talk about how to treat the normal manifestation of this illness, like we have here. But she obsessively continues:

“I went to the kid’s funeral.” I look at my two children, who are handling this situation much more responsibly than their pediatrician. It has suddenly become obvious that this doctor feels guilty about her patient who died, and is presently focusing more on working through her horror over that tragedy than on the situation at hand with my children. I square the pediatrician in the eye:

“We get it. Move on.”

As soon as the pediatrician leaves the room, Sidney turns to me: “Daddy, I don’t want to die right now.”

“You won’t, honey, we’ll take care of you,” is what I say. ‘FUCK that doctor’ is what I’m thinking. I give Sidney a big hug and tell her for the millionth time what a wonderful and mature girl she is. On the phone, later on, I let the doctor’s office know that I never want that ridiculous scenario to happen again — if they feel the need to scare me into taking my kids to the doctor earlier, or work out their anguish over a patient tragedy, they can talk to me about it when my kids aren’t around. What I didnt’ say is this: Better yet, maybe we’ll get a new doctor.

So Sidney’s been on the nebulizer for almost a month, and after many weeks of hard work on it, she has gotten better. She has been absolutely fantastic about it. It has been a huge drain on all of us — 20 minutes four times a day is a huge chunk of time out of our schedule. It’s been an especially weird thing because, frankly, it never seemed to be that bad of an illness. Sidney has been in good spirits the whole time, she always wanted to go out and play, she has as much energy as usual. But we played it safe and reduced our activities the last month. God, I love that girl. She is so strong and positive. Totally my idol, totally inspiring.

Something else happened in the last couple weeks. I’m trying to remember what it was… Oh yeah, Christmas. We had a beautiful white Christmas here in Colorado. Santa came and brought a big-ass Barbie dollhouse, which, frankly, was not at all what I wanted. But there is a happy ending to that misunderstanding, because my daughters really seem to love it. Or maybe it was intended for them in the first place. I’ll ask him next year if I see him when he stops by.

Happy New Year!

Unplanned Vacation

December 14th, 2007

I am on an unplanned vacation this week due to girls with bronchitis and wheezing and the 527 doctor’s appointments and trips to the pharmacy associated with said bronchitis and wheezing. So I am taking a week off from the blogs. I’ll be back next week — hopefully with tales of vanquishing bronchitis and wheezing. Wish me luck!

Feelin’ Chicken

December 7th, 2007

Hello Earthlings,

Just a quick post of gratitude this week to say: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mother Nature, God, and The Tooth Fairy that Riley does not have chicken pox.

Apparently some kids at school had it, and Riley’s teacher said Riley seemed to be in the initial rash stages of chicken pox when we picked her up from preschool on Wednesday. So we said to Riley, “It’s okay honey, if you get chicken pox, we’ll take care of you, no problem, we love you.” And after Riley went to bed, we said to each other: “Shit, shit shit shit shit.” (This is the adult translation of the previous kid-friendly quote.)

I am chicken of chicken pox for the following reasons:

(1) We really cannot afford taking the time off work that would be required to look after a Chicken Pox Child this month (we’re already taking a week and a half off work for Christmas and New Year’s).
(2) I have never had chicken pox and don’t want to get it.
(3) I am unsure if I have had the chicken pox vaccine, and can’t immediately find out because I still haven’t transferred my health records to my new doctor in Colorado. (One of those things on my big list of things to do.)
(4) Chicken pox sucks.

Anyway, Riley woke up the next day and the rash marks were gone, and it’s two days later and she’s fine, so it looks like it was a false alarm.

Now that I’ve posted this blog entry, raise your hand if you think I will be punished for it by waking up to not one, but two girls with chicken pox…

Put those hands down! Really, positive thinking, please people, positive thinking.

See you next week.

Goodbye Garrett

December 3rd, 2007

Sidney has decided who she is going to marry. Again.

Now, granted, I know there are a few red flags in the above paragraph. First of all, Sidney is only five years old. And I think most experts think you should be at least six or seven before you settle on a choice of husband. (Six or seven, incidentally, is the emotional age most husbands remain for perpetuity.) And secondly, her decision to leave one fiancée for another — without even a break between fiancées — appears, on the surface at least, to suggest a certain lack of commitment.

Let me address the second point first: The notion that Sidney is unable to commit and remain committed is absolutely false. Sidney was planning to marry a very nice young man named Garrett for the past year and a half. Now, a year and a half may not seem like a long time until you place it into perspective with two very significant facts:

(1) Sidney is only five years old. Thus, a year and a half constitutes 30% of her life (I know this because I did the math in my head, then double checked it on the Mac Calculator application). When taken into further context — that only three of those five years were spent with the ability to effectively use language to communicate — one could reasonably argue that she spent 50% of her socially cognizant life engaged to Garrett. And that’s not slouching.

(2) Sidney only spent 6 of the 18 months of her engagement to Garrett living in the same state as her fiancée. That’s right — she decided to marry Garrett just about six months before we moved from California to Colorado. Then, for her entire first year in Colorado — more than that, actually — her heart remained true to Garrett. There have been other nice boys in her life, and other boys who obviously had affection for her, but she stuck with Garrett, even though she didn’t see him for almost a year after we moved. (For those who are eagerly tracking the details, we saw him six weeks ago at Chevy’s in South San Francisco. They were shy with each other for about ten minutes, then it was like the good old days after that, with lots of laughing and playing.) And I think #2 here is really the decisive point — what 30 year old woman would remain steadfastly devoted to a man she didn’t see for a year, let alone a four/five year old?

So let’s give it up for Sidney and her big heart of gold. Sidney has good taste too — Garrett is a very nice boy with a very sweet and kind streak, especially for a five year old boy. Okay, fine, especially for any boy. Okay, fine, especially for any male of any age of most species.

And now, on with her surprisingly unpainful decision to move on, given her previous steadfast devotion to said Garrett. On Friday, after picking Sidney up from preschool (where she goes three times a week) Sidney let us know that she’s going to marry Harrison. Harrison? Janette and I had never even heard of Harrison. But my first question was not about Harrison. My first question was:

“What about Garrett?”

“I’m not going to marry Garrett anymore, Dad. I’m going to marry Harrison.”

Very decisive. Very bold. Very empowered. And with that, the long and storied Garrett era was apparently over. This was confirmed by our three year old, Riley, who said very authoritatively to me on Sunday:

“Daddy?”

“Yes Riley?”

“Sidney’s not going to marry Garrett anymore. She’s going to marry Harrison.”

But getting back to Friday’s announcement in the car… So my wife was immediately, instinctively shocked and nervous by all this. “I didn’t have boyfriends when I was five,” she said. I calmly reminded her that we’re not talking about a boyfriend here; we’re talking about a fiancée. For some reason that did not ease her discomfort. Then I asked Sidney what had made her switch to the heretofore never mentioned Harrison. Is he in her class at school? Yes. Why are you going to marry him?

“Because he asked me if I would be his girlfriend.”

(You see what I say about commitment? This girl doesn’t do anything half-assed.)

“And what did you say?”

“I said yes.”

“And what else did you talk about?”

“He asked if he could sit beside me at lunch the next school day.”

“And what did you say?”

“I said yes.”

“And he asked if he could sit beside me in art the next day.”

“And what did you say?”

“I said yes.”

“And why do like Harrison?”

“Because he can spell, like me.” (For the record, Sidney really cannot spell. Maybe a few words, like her name. But it’s a very good sign that she’s looking for a fine intellect in a fiancée, not just a pretty face.)

“Is Harrison nice to you?” I asked.

“Yes. He’s always nice to me,” Sidney said.

So I turned to my wife and said: “Well, he’s always nice to her, and he can spell. That’s more than most women get in a fiancée.”

So there you have it. Case closed. I hope I get to meet Harrison before they marry. Oh, and one more thing. Ladies, this one’s for you. Today (Monday), in the car on the way home from school, I asked what happened at school. I can see my wife tensing up out of the corner of my eye, getting ready for more Harrison love stories. A few happy, trivial items were casually reported, nothing about Harrison, which I believe put Janette at ease. And then, as if Sidney had recited this harmless set of details only to set her mother up for the shock of her final comment, was this nugget:

“And Harrison asked if he could sleep next to me.”

I looked to the passenger seat at Janette beside me. She had not passed out, which was encouraging. So I tried to soften the blow a little bit:

“You mean at naptime, right?” (The school has an afternoon naptime, although the five year olds usually get to blow it off.)

“Yes, at naptime,” Sidney happily said.

“Right,” I said. I looked over at Janette again. She was still breathing.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2007

It is Thanksgiving weekend. I would like to give thanks for my two beautiful daughters and our extended family today.

We went to see our relatives in Utah for Thanksgiving. Janette is from a big wonderful Mormon family that was raised in Sunnyvale, California — the heart of Silicon Valley. She is the only member of the family who is no longer a church goer. But even though all four of her siblings were raised in California, they all live in the Salt Lake city metro now. This is because, for the most part, they all went to college in Utah, met spouses, had kids, and settled down there. The seemingly inevitable return to the mother ship of the Salt Lake metro for college age Mormons is something to behold — a natural, instinctive journey much like salmon swimming back upstream to spawn. I am sure they will love me very much for comparing them to salmon.

In any event, we sure love them very much. They are a lot of fun. My two girls had an absolute blast running around with all their cousins (and there are a lot of them…) for five days. We stayed at Grandma’s house. (Janette’s mom moved to the Salt Lake metro after her husband died, because all but one of her children lived out there.) We even visited Great Grandma (almost 90 years old and still kicking ass, although again, she probably wouldn’t word it that way). The girls’ great grandmother has lived in the same little house for almost 70 years. I’m not kidding. It’s pretty amazing. It’s a little brick house, about 1,200 square feet, right in Salt Lake City. Can you imagine the memories your home would conjure — not to mention the sense of home and security — if you had lived in it for 70 years? You would have memories of being in your twenties and being in your eighties, all at the same address. Amazing.

Watching Sidney and Riley connect with their cousins — who they hadn’t seen in almost two years — was the absolute best part of the trip. Their cousins are all boys except one girl — eight kids in all. They are really nice kids. Sidney absolutely astounds me in her ability to make good close friendships. Her kindness and love knows no bounds, and people pick up on this right away, even little boys. With apologies for sounding like a lovestruck daddy, it really is true. Sidney loves to roughhouse and run and play with little boys — she definitely has a tomboy streak in her. But she also always ends up getting the big boys to happily hold hands with her when we’re walking down the street at night in the cold — she runs around and plays with them in the boys’ world, then gets ‘em to soften up and be sweet to her and join her in the girls’ world every once in a while. I see her accomplish this feat all the time. It’s just amazing to me, especially considering that Sidney can also be rather shy. She does not immediately go up to people like her extroverted father and just grab them into her world immediately. She takes her time at first, but everyone — boys, girls, adults — always ends up wanting to be her friend. I am quite certain that Sidney will be a girl who creates lasting, close lifelong friendships, and I’m really grateful for that.

Riley is our little firecracker. She’s just turned three and she’s at pretty much the cutest age imaginable. Riley is our little rebel, our flirt, our Little Miss Contrary (she thinks it’s funny to disagree with everything with a little twinkle in her eye, and everyone else thinks it’s funny too). Riley easily becomes the life of the party — she is more of a ham than Sidney. She “scared” her big cousins all the week long by sneaking up on them and saying “Boo!” I saw this happen hundreds of time, and her big cousins never got tired of it, always feigning great terror, which elicited a big boisterous giggle from Riley. Riley is so cute, and so full of boundless positive energy, that she can pretty much get anyone to do anything, and they’re happy to do it. Riley pretty much believes the world exists for her amusement. She is full of love, but less caring and sensitive than Sidney. Sidney wants to make sure everything and everyone is all right with things before she does something; Riley says “what the hell,” jumps in, and assumes everyone will follow. As Janette says, Sidney is our “Why?” girl, while Riley is our “Why not?” girl.

And the fact that these two little girls, so different yet so similar, consider each other best friends is the ultimate icing on the cake.

Anyway, we loved our vacation, Janette’s family is big and warm and fun and great, and it reminded me how fantastic it is to have a big extended family full of kids. We have always made sure to visit Janette’s family in Utah at least once a year; now that I see how enriching it is to the lives of my kids, I am even more committed to seeing them on a regular basis. It makes me a little sad to think that the kids have no cousins on my side of the family (my brother died when we were in high school), but we do have second cousins on my side, and some fantastic uncles and aunts, and it made me want to make sure we stay connected with them too, to give my kids the feeling of a big family on my side too. They are already asking when we’ll go back to Grandma’s to see their cousins. They just loved it. And I just love them.

The end of the Thanksgiving blog.

More About Barfing

November 16th, 2007

It seems like I’ve done an awful lot of writing about barfing in this blog. I swear it’s not because I have a fondness for yakking. It’s simply because I have a three year old and a five year old, and everybody who has young kids knows that, with kids of that age, barfing will be a part of your life.

Why do kids barf when they get sick more often than adults do? This is something I want to know. Is it because they haven’t gotten all the stuff yet, so they get it worse? Or maybe it’s because they run around at preschool with other kids who are sick, and they all pick their noses and grab each other and stuff. I have never visited my girls’ preschool when at least one child’s face was not covered in a delightful concoction of snot and slobber. And the kids don’t even seem to notice it. They are delightfully and disgustingly not self conscious. All I know is that, if there is ever a cure for the common cold and flu, parenting will be a very different experience.

So here is that experience: When your child gets the flu, they throw up. They might say their tummy hurts first — maybe — but they go around running and eating and playing anyway until they throw up all over your nice carpet. It’s almost never over the hardwood or tile. It’s always over the carpet. Or the car carpet. Then, after they throw up, and you clean it up — this is one of the coolest things about kids — they play and run around again and do pursue their interests until they throw up again. Adults who throw up bitch about it and lie low and feel sorry for ourselves and make sure we focus on how horrible we feel. (We also make sure everyone else knows how horrible we feel.) Not kids. They get up and do their thing until it’s time to barf again. So, as a parent, after a child yaks, you try to herd them toward the hardwood and tile for the next few hours.

I have a confession to make: On the morning of Riley’s third birthday party, she threw up. She was feeling great, and then bingo! She threw up. Then she said she felt fine after, and got back to playing. Let me tell you, my Riley’s nobody’s pansy. We didn’t know if she was sick, or had eaten some bad food, or what.

So this presented an interesting dilemma. We had already invested several hundred dollars to reserve time at one of the beloved bounce house warehouse heavens that can be found in every suburban district of the fine state of Colorado. We’d invited her friends. They’d bought her gifts. We paid good money for a rather freakish Barbie cake (featuring a real Barbie in the middle of the cake, and the cake as her dress — there’s something uncomfortably erotic about that, isn’t there?). Riley had been paying homage to this particular Barbie cake every grocery trip to Super Target Greatland for the better part of the year. She was totally committed to it. Now, two hours before her party, she throws up. What to do?

So we hastily assembled a crack team of experts to determine our course of action: A good friend and pediatrician (mother of three) who lives in another state who will remain nameless; a local mom; and a family of four (two young sons) to whom I randomly posed the question in the check-out aisle at target that morning (admittedly, I was fairly desperate for a third consultant to get an adequate sampling of opinion). The question: Cancel the party, keep Riley home but let her friends go to the party, or just forget the yakking and go for it? The answer was surprisingly and vociferously unanimous: Go for it. So, no longer feeling responsible for our own actions due to the firmly stated opinions of these unpaid and unaccountable consultants, we went for it.

Now I know what you’re thinking: You’re getting ready for a painful and hilarious Barforama At Sir Bouncealots story. That is certainly what would happen in the film version of this tale. In that version, nobody would escape dry. But in reality, the results were more subtle, more inconclusive. Riley did not throw up. She was rather low energy as compared to her usual self, but did not yak. Not even once. Nobody seemed to notice that Riley was not allowed to eat her own Barbie cake, a major accomplishment on her mother’s part. The party was a success.

Then, that afternoon, Riley and Sidney both barfed. And then, of course, they went back to playing. But in truth, they didn’t feel well for several days after that. So the mystery was resolved: It was an illness of some sort, and we were probably socially irresponsible by taking our girls to the party. (Remember, it was not our fault — our crack team of consultants are totally and completely to blame.) I have laid low for a while from checking in with our friends over the last few weeks, for fear that I would find that everyone was barfing and learn that it was all our fault for being selfish and holding the party anyway. If you or your child has recently barfed on account of our family’s decision making prowess or lack thereof, please send a complaint to our customer service department at barfing@pictoriarecords.com, “attn: Cory.”

The presents were nice, though. (Sorry, I had to put that in, just to bask in as much irresponsibility as possible.)

In any event, God, nature, and the tooth fairy have punished us for our sins: Janette had a nasty and unrelenting yakfest on Monday night that just barely kept her out of the hospital, so she got hers. Then she left on a business trip 36 hours later, leaving me with the kids and no babysitter for 48 hours… at which point I, of course, got nasty sick to my stomach for the second of those days, with no reinforcements and two kids to take care of. So I got mine. But, and I say this with great pride, it is now almost 48 hours after my stomach fell sick, and even though I have felt like crap for most of it — I haven’t yakked. Not even once. And, while I can’t explain this intellectually, I can tell you that, emotionally, I feel great pride in this accomplishment, as if I have somehow partially defeated the yak monster. I will let you know next week if my victory sustains over the entire course of my flu. And I will boldly and arrogantly predict right now that I will defeat the monster.

As a direct challenge to the yak monster, and with a groaning stomach, I am now going to fearlessly eat a burrito my wife made for dinner. You never know what will inspire a man to challenge himself and assert his manliness. This is this week’s challenge.

Wish me luck.