Archive | April, 2011

The envelope, please…

28 Apr

Boys? Girls? Eh?Nothing smacks you between the eyes quite like the sight of that positive pregnancy test and, from what I understand, the only moment to top it is the instant  your child–or, for us, children–are born.  But, thanks to ultrasound wizardry, contemporary parents get to enjoy a very specific pre-birth moment of adrenaline about midway through the 9 month journey.  And for Carey and me, that was today:

Today we found out what our children are.

For us, it wasn’t a question of whether or not we wanted to find out ahead of time.  We both agreed immediately: we need to know.  Life is loaded with enough surprises, particularly if you’re expecting triplets.  You’ll remember we calculated the odds and collected guesses from friends and acquaintances.  We had our secret druthers, but we knew that all the prayers and predictions in the world wouldn’t change any XXs or XYs in those little ones’ chromosomal soup.

Carey had her fingers crossed for two boys and a girl.  I didn’t really have a preference, as long as a boy was somewhere in the mix.

We headed back to Magella Medical Group today for the official anatomy scan.  They asked us up front: did we want to know?

Oh, yes.  We wanted to know.

So, the ultrasound tech did her thing and told us, one at a time, what we had.  Baby A was obvious, as was Baby B.  Baby C was a little more stubborn, but the kid finally moved the offending foot out the way and gave us a look.

Anyhow, enough wind-up.  Here’s the verdict:

I guess the Bear family name gets another go ’round.  And then some.

It’s true, the news hit Carey a little hard.  It’s difficult to resist the romance of a little girl… the cute outfits and the the perfume-y, sweet little moments that most every mom-to-be fantasizes about.  It’s difficult to trade dollhouses for action figures, dresses and hair ties for fart noises and broken furniture.  And she’ll probably need to mourn the daughter we’ll never have a little bit… and, I can’t lie, so will I.

But holy cow.  Check us out.  Three boys!  Three sons!  Can you beat that?

It’s time to get to work on the names, that’s for sure.  We’ve been putting it off, but the time for procrastination is over.  Truth be told, I think we’re fairly solid on two of the three.  So far, we’ve got two legitimate first name contenders and a middle name that now may need to be promoted to first name status.  But I suppose it’s all still up for grabs.

Hah.  “The Bear Fellows.”  I can honestly say that, of all the combos, it might be the one I expected the least.  But I guess that’s par for the course at this point.  Because, brother, who knew, I’m now a modern-day Steve Douglas (the TV one, not the guy Lincoln beat).

And I can hardly wait to meet these gentlemen.

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“Asinine”

21 Apr

I was over at Al’s blog yesterday, where he’d provided a link to this video.  I watched most of it:

If you’re not able to make it through, don’t sweat it.  To save you the suspense, it culminates with a bunch of kids in faux hip-hop gear, wiggling around like they’re handicapped.  It’s, y’know, it’s cute or whatever.  I suppose they had fun making it.  Or, anyway, the kids did.

Carey and I have begun preemptive discussions about the sorts of material we do and don’t feel comfortable about in terms of the gnomes’ entertainment requirements.  As much as we want to avoid turning into a couple of squares, we’re more or less in agreement that TV really bites the big one, particularly in terms of what’s good for kids to watch.  And I’m not talking about Nurse Jackie or Private Practice or whatever people are DVRing these days… and I’m really not even talking about Tooty Ta either (at least that’s getting kids off the carpet and exercising.  Sort of).  But, rather, the Clockwork Orange barrage of rapid-cut colors and fevered images that seems to be in vogue for pre-school aged children.  The Yo Gabba Gabba, A.D.D.-inspired madness missiles that seem to be immediately addictive to every kid under 6.

Seriously, is there any hope for a child’s ability to calm down and focus if they’re being injected with visual Red Bull hours a day, every day?  Are the findings of this Baby Einstein study all that surprising?

Backing up a little, I realize I know far less about any of these matters than just about anyone reading this. I’m sure every other parent-to-be in the universe is just as idealistic as Carey and I are. Nobody plans on plopping their kids in front of TV for hours on end, but, I get it, life happens.

When I was a kid, You Can’t Do That On Television was the thing.  YouTube is a helpful reminder that the show was an inane mess, but, as an 8-year-old, I was mesmerized.  The honeymoon didn’t last, though.  Mom and Dad were not digging it and eventually told me it was BANNED from the Bear household.

I remember throwing a tantrum: “Why?? There’s no guns or fighting!  There’s no swearing!  No sex or adult situations!  It’s a show for kids, starring kids!  The most risque material in the whole program are booger references!  WHAT’S THE PROBLEM??”

Dad’s response, I’ll never forget:

“It’s asinine.”

And that was that.  For all I knew, it was a made-up word.  My 8-year-old brain pictured some non-violent, non-sexy, insidious influence that was so sneakily corrosive, it was like ACID-TIMES-NINE. It was ACID-NINE.

Carey’s parents were even more arbitrary. In her home, daytime soaps were ok for kids, but Diff’rent Strokes and Growing Pains were too “inappropriate”. She figured out quickly that “inappropriate” was parental code for “we’d rather watch something else”.

But, you know, maybe that’s all parents do anyhow. Really, what determines what’s ok for kids to watch other than their parents’ admittedly arbitrary sensibilities? What’s the gold standard?

Growing up in the Christian bubble, I heard the answer all the time and I knew kids whose parents even framed it and hung it above the TV. Phillipians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Clears that right up. I guess.

Ultimately, it’s up to my wife and I and I’m sure it’s going to come down to a case-by-case.  I’ve never been in charge of someone else’s life before and I guess it’ll take a little getting used to.

So, what do you think?  If you have kids, what’s in and what’s out?  Where’s the line?  If you’re having kids in the future, what’s the plan?

Am I missing something important?  Is an attempt to control the viewing habits of children extremely stupid or foolish (i.e. ACID-NINE)?

Fat

19 Apr

WIFE: It’s really been hurting my feelings lately and I know you’re only kidding, but it’s very hard on me and you should know that.

ME:  What do you mean?

WIFE:  All the jokes about how fat I am. I know what I look like, it’s not funny!

ME:  Honey, I haven’t made any fat jokes about you!  What are you talking about?

WIFE:  You have!  The past week or two especially, it’s gotten really bad.  Like when you said, “too bad you can’t fit into that dress.” That’s–

ME:  Okay, hang on.  That’s not what happened.  You’ve been talking the last several weeks about having a hard time fitting into any of your clothes because of the belly.  And when you  said something about not “fitting in” with other pregnant ladies, I said, “like the skirt.”  It was a comment about the belly, just goofing around!  It wasn’t a “you’re fat” kind of thing!

WIFE:  How is that not a fat joke?!

ME:  I guess I just thought belly-specific comments were okay.  It’s not like you’re letting yourself go or becoming unattractive or something.  Look at you, you’re beautiful!  A big belly is what’s supposed to happen!  It’s good!

WIFE:  Well, it’s hurtful.  I’m thinking of telling Danielle about some of your shenanigans.

ME:  Augh god, please, don’t tell Danielle.  She’ll never let me off the hook.

WIFE:  You don’t know what this is like!  It’s not comfortable!

ME:  Okay.  Okay.  Listen: I’m sorry.  Those comments are insensitive and I apologize.

WIFE:  Yeah, but you’re going to keep making them.  You think you’re clever and you can’t help yourself.

ME:  No, I won’t.  It’s done.  Seriously.

WIFE:  Everything just keeps getting bigger and bigger and it sucks.  My belly, my face, my boobs.  And it’s only going to keep going!

ME:  I know.  I know.

WIFE:  I walk around and the insides of my legs are all chafed and sensitive!

ME:  Oh, chub rub?

Babies ‘R’ Terrifying

18 Apr

Friends, we did it.  We looked into the abyss and glimpsed the future.  And we’ve returned to tell you about it.

For you see, on Saturday, friends, we pilgrimaged to Babies ‘R’ Us.

ARBEIT MACHT FREI

Look, I have no idea what sort of reputation Babies ‘R’ Us has in the baby-parenting community.  I have no doubt whatsoever that it’s probably seen as some oasis of convenience for sleep-hungry mommies who are in desperate need of one of those bulby-squeezy things to blow wax out of their baby’s ear or whatever.  But for baby n00bz like us, it was a total sensory assault.

This is the last thing I saw before passing out.

They don’t waste time, either. As soon as you walk through the door, you’re in the middle of Grand Central Station, next stop OnesiesVille. There’s no “easing” into Babies ‘R’ Us. Like lotto, you’ve gotta be in it to win it.

Our objective was simple enough: the wife has been having a hell of a time sleeping and the experts seemed to agree that what she was missing was a “body pillow.”  Carey saw a pretty attractive one on the Babies ‘R’ Us website, and we were in the neighborhood, so we stopped in.

It didn’t take long before we were swimming in options.  Options for everything.  Clothing options, bedding options, baby monitors, change stations, formula warmers, car seats, play pens… they had an item called The SuperYard, which, near as I can tell, is some sort of mini Mad Max-style Thunderdome for your living room, in case you want to get the wee ones interested in cage fighting early.

It's no small feat finding the loudest baby outfit in the store. Certain garments are only appropriate for a) baby girls or b) old women at the mall experiencing dementia.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason to expand your diaper options ad infinitum, but man I don’t know.  Our eyes bulged and we felt small and alone.

An associate walked up to us and asked if we needed any help.  We mentally surfaced long enough to notice that we’d drifted into the stroller section.  Carey asked, “uh, do you have strollers for three?”

He shook his head.  “No, we have a lot of 2 seaters, but no 3s.  I know they make ’em, but that’s pretty specialized.”

“We’re having triplets this summer,” I told him.

He covered his mouth and suppressed a laugh.  “Hoh man.”

I don't know what you're selling, sneaky baby, and I don't trust your furtive side-glances. You hear me, sneaky baby? I have no business with you. So, good day then. MADAME, I SAY GOOD DAY.

The designers of this device endeavored to recreate the experience of Six Flags, reduced to a 1.5 square foot area, and baby-proofed. Congratulations, science.

Oh, you need a baby hygiene product of some sort? Let me go hit the hygiene aisle.

I'm sure I'll only be a minute.

We eventually got out of there with our body pillow (which has indeed helped), but not before signing up for a Babies ‘R’ Us rewards card.  At some point in the very near future, we’ll need to register for baby shower stuff, but, at the moment, our eyeballs haven’t stopped spinning.

The wife mentioned that she had no idea, pre-B’R’U, how much we have to learn about this whole parenting deal.  (Kids outgrow car seats?  You have to buy more than one of these things per kid as they get bigger?  At $200+ per car seat, per triplet, per growth cycle, that works out to roughly, mm, awholelottafriggindough.)  She suggested we do what our also-expecting friends Tony and Stacey are doing, which is take weekend baby classes.  After this experience, I’m not ruling it out.

Anyhow, it was our first visit of likely many to come to America’s Infant MegaMart.  Like some kind of expectant-father-former-P.O.W., I’m not looking forward to going back in, but, by god, I’ve gotta do it eventually.  After all, I’ve got buddies in there who are counting on me.

For the triplets.  THE TRIPLETS.

Ho!

The Great Birth Order Experiment [Updated]

15 Apr

We’ve been kicking around an idea since we found out we’re having triplets.  Let me hit you with it and, please, give me your honest opinion.

Growing up, my sister’s closest school friend was a girl named Dana.  I don’t remember a whole lot about her, other than the fact that she was kind of a goofball.  Very sweet and quirky.  Also, Dana was a twin.

I don’t remember her twin brother’s name, but I do remember Dana thinking he was a little obnoxious.  She’d roll her eyes and shake her head and say, “he acts like that because he’s older.”

“But aren’t you twins?  Isn’t he older by, like, 5 minutes?”

“Yeah,” she’d say, “but he thinks it’s more like 5 years.” * [Update below.]

I’m the oldest of 3 and my wife’s the youngest of 3.  We’ve discussed it over the years and wondered: what role does our birth order play in who we are?  Would I have been attracted to Carey if I’d been a middle child or a youngest?  Would I have chosen the same career?  Would I have the same adult relationship with my sisters if they’d been older than me?

Clearly, my poor little sisters would’ve had to endure far less torture at my hands if we’d all been born at the same time.  Then again, would they?  Do groups of human beings need an Alpha?  All things being equal, are all things equal?

So, our experiment: what if my wife and I keep the order in which our 3 are introduced to the world between us?

I’m not saying never tell them.  But what if we wait until they’re 16 or 18 or well-established in their life patterns?  What would happen if these three human beings really are treated as equals?  Is it possible?


It would probably take a decent amount of pre-planned subterfuge to pull it off, but we might be able to do it if we’re committed.  We’d have to hide a document or two, maybe fudge a few details if we have a particularly eventful birth (and, lets’ face it, we will).

The only thing I’m not sure about: if Birth Order Knowledge is taken from children, is that a frustrating or damaging to them?  Will they hate us for it? We’re still on the fence about it.

I don’t know.  What do you think?

* [Update]

The great thing about keeping a blog is you get to hear from people you’d never get to otherwise.  Turns out Dana Lawes (above mentioned twin from my and my sister’s childhood) discovered her name here and decided to drop a note.  Who knew!  She says:

My twin’s name is Drew (or actually Andrew). And to be honest, I was the older twin by 3 minutes. It’s funny because I always was so proud of the fact that I was older since Drew was undeniably the smarter one and taller one. So I had the “older” card. Honestly, it was a great trait to have growing up but it really doesn’t matter now – or since I was probably 12.  I think birth order is more important for non-multiples. But that’s just my opinion.

Don’t feel like you have to update your blog with the correction (not like you would but just saying).  At least your memory of me wasn’t that I was the obnoxious girl that loved being older! And you need to be ready for people asking if your triplets are identical (even if you have 2 boys/1 girl). About 80% of people that know that I have a twin brother ask if we are identical. I mean really.

Mea culpa, Dana.  Memory, she’s fickle.  Thanks for writing, though, and for the thoughts on birth order.

(And, sister, you’d better believe I’m updating with a correction.  We’re all about integrity here at T.O.T. Central.)

Baby People

11 Apr

Come on, you’ve seen her.

Every family reunion, she has somebody’s baby on her lap.  She corners pregnant women at the grocery store and asks them how far along they are and if they’ve picked out names yet. She loves talking to anyone 24 months or younger and when she does, she dwops her Rs because evewyfing is so fweaking pwecious.

Who's precious? Hm? Who's a precious sweetie? Who's a sweetie-peetie punkin berry? Is it you? IS IT YOU?

She isn’t necessarily an extrovert, but when she sees a baby, she just can’t help it.  She goes into a weird, maternal crack fit and her fix is baby smell.  She needs to hold babies. She lives in their world, man; she thinks their thoughts.

She’s a Baby Person.

And if you think she’s going to let a baby slip under her radar?  Dude, you’re out of your mind.

Don’t misunderstand me, by the way.  This isn’t a complaint.  We need our Baby People.  They remind us of a time when the world wasn’t so bleak and cynical.  Eventually, babies turn into brooding, tortured teens and we should probably thank the Baby People for stopping it from happening even earlier in life.  We should cherish them for who they are, for doing what they do.

Since discovering our newfound triplet fortune, we’ve become acquainted with a few Baby People.  We’ve found they’re often incognito, waiting to pounce, like undercover FBI.  Fact is, they’re everywhere.  You know plenty of them.

My wife and I, on the other hand?  Well, there’s no other way to say it: we’re not Baby People.

So, listen, you're looking great. I trust all your needs are being met and things are going well for you. If not, seriously, give me a shout. We'll get together or something.

Now, we don’t hate babies; we don’t even dislike them.  We just can’t relate.  We’re happy to smile at your baby and congratulate you on such attractive offspring.  We say things like “aww” and “look how sweet”.  We’ll shake your hand and pat the little nipper’s head and there’s a really good chance that, later on, we’ll remark to each other, “wasn’t that a cute baby?”  But we probably won’t grab your baby out of your hands without an invitation.  We won’t do that thing where we pull up your baby’s shirt and blow mouth farts into his belly.  Nothing personal, we’re just not in the Baby Business.  That’s the exclusive province of the Baby People.

And soon we’ll have triplets.

My wife is a little panicked.  If you’ve never met her, you’ll need to take my word for it: she really is an interesting, stylish lady.  She works at a high-end salon and, in her spare time, she cooks vegan and campaigns on behalf of the environment and animal rights.  She’s a fan of all things mod.  She’s colorful, quirky, offbeat and multi-layered.  But she’s worried all that is slipping away.  She’s going to have to be The Lady With The Triplets, end of story.

Me, I don’t know.  I’m sure healthy, highly functional human beings can be raised by two parents who aren’t necessarily Baby People.  And fact is, we’re going to need the help of lots of Baby People to get through these initial months.  We don’t know what we’re doing.  Hearing from other triplet parents has helped enormously, but it certainly hasn’t begun to transform us into a couple who emails pictures of baby outfits to each other with the subject “OMG CUTEST EVER”.

Baby People, are you born or are you made?  Can a non-BP transform into a BP?  Is it inevitable?  Can we hang onto our identities as arty intellectuals or are we destined to be the human zoo?

Help us, Baby People!  Teach us!

KEEP BEING BABY PEOPLE SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!

Sketch: Flowering Triplets

7 Apr

Sketches of babies have started infiltrating my notebooks for several weeks, which I guess is no surprise.  Half the time, I really don’t know exactly what I’m going to draw when I start and I’m almost as surprised as anyone by the end result.

Anyhow, this was doodled today at the office and, for some reason, it felt appropriate to post.  Not a great likeness of my wife, but I was drawing without a reference, so I guess that’s the way it goes.  Hope you like it: