The Halloween Grinch

I don’t hate many things.  Hitler, sure.  Cancer – check.  Drivers who don’t give you the little “Thank you!” wave when you let them merge in front of you.  Oh, hells yeah!  Other than that, though, I’m a pretty loving guy.

But I HAAAAAAAATE dressing up for Halloween.


I haven’t done it in decades.

Since I was about 10 years old, I have been a proud Halloween Grinch.  I don’t like all the skulls and skeletons.  I don’t like haunted houses.  I don’t like those awful “Let’s Kill Teenagers” movies that come out every late October.  I don’t like pumpkins and candy corn.  I don’t even like candy all that much.

But you know what I do like?  More than anything?  What I love with all my heart?

My kids.

(l-r) Bennett, Aunt Susie, Drew, Me, Sutton

Happy Halloween everyone!

You Gotta Have Heart Shirt

We were looking through old pictures, and when Sutton saw this one, she squealed, “Heart shirt!”

Two words that quickly changed our lives.

The last time she’d worn that shirt was months earlier, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Now, finding that shirt and putting it on was the most important thing in the world.

It barely fit her anymore, but she loved it.  She wore it all day and went back to the mirror over and over to admire it – or to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, and it was still there.  The next day, the first words out of her mouth were “Heart shirt!”  She wanted to wear it again.

Three weeks later, she was still wearing the damn heart shirt.  Drew washed it every night, because Sutton wouldn’t consider wearing anything else – and oh, we tried.

Finally, two days ago, I was tired of seeing it, and I was tired of seeing her diaper underneath it every time she raised her arms, because the heart shirt didn’t quite cover her back.

“Guys, let’s do something fun today,” I told them.  “Let’s go clothes shopping!”

They fell for it.

I told Sutton she could pick out any shirt she wanted, as long as it was long-sleeve and they had it in her size. I figured she might wear something else if she felt some ownership of it.  It was worth a shot.

She picked out five new shirts. Four of them were pink and the other one had a heart on it.  Actually, I picked the heart one out for her myself.  It was light blue, and she had no interest in it.  “That’s for Bennett!” she insisted.

Maybe it wasn’t the heart she was into after all.

She couldn’t wait to show Daddy her new clothes when he got home at night.  The next day, she didn’t even mention the heart shirt.  She wanted the “flower shirt”.  This one:

As soon as I had it on her, she asked if she could wear it during her nap, too.  She was already afraid I’d take the flower shirt away from her.

This morning, she asked for it again.

“What about all the other shirts we bought yesterday?  Let’s try one of those.”

“No!  I want my flower shirt!”

So here we go.  Day 2 of the flower shirt.  And counting.

Maybe I will put the blue heart shirt on Bennett.  At least we’ll get some use out of it.

The Birthday Party Pact

spongebob bounce houseWhen Drew and I were deciding whether to have kids, #1 in the “CON” column was birthday parties.  We imagined the next two decades would be full of the overindulgent, insufferable celebrations of our kids’ friends (and friends’ kids) every damn milestone, every damn weekend.  Ultimately, building a family together, adding love to our home and all that other crap won out, so we went for it.

Now, every Saturday and Sunday, we pay the price.

Truth be told, it’s not that bad.  Yes, we have a lot of parties to go to, but it turns out I actually like my kids’ friends and my friends’ kids – for now, at least.

Still, there are a few things that bug me about these parties, and they’re always the parents’ fault.

I know, the only thing worse than going to a kids’ birthday party is throwing one for your own kid.  It costs a fortune, it takes weeks of planning and it’s over in 30 seconds.

But we’re in this together, parents.  Birthday parties are a necessary evil, so let’s try to make them as painless as possible.  I’d like to lay out a few ground rules that I think will make this better for everyone involved.  Well, for the grownups, at least.  That’s what matters, right?

I hereby present the Birthday Party Pact:

1. Grownups get to eat, too.  Seriously, guys.  I like pizza.  I like cake.  Am I just supposed to stand there like an idiot and watch my kids stuff their faces with your wonderful junk food, then pick at their leftovers as I take their Elmo plates to the trash?  I’m starving!  I know it costs more to feed the grownups, but tough.  How ’bout this: I’m a guest at Timmy’s party, too, so if you didn’t order enough Little Caesars for everyone, then I get to raid your refrigerator. I’m not too proud to do it!

2.  Let’s keep things quick.  Two hours is more than enough festivity to expect of your guests.  When you see grown-ups looking bored or starting to pack their diaper bags, it’s time to bust out the cake.  If I don’t see frosting in the first 90 minutes, I’m dying inside.  The cake is what we’re waiting for, so don’t hold out on us. It’s torture.  Every conversation Drew and I have after the one hour mark is about how much longer it’s going to be until the cake comes and whether we should try to sneak out before then.  If I have to leave before you’ve served me cake, then your party was too long, and I’m probably going to stop at Frosted Cupcakery on the way home to get my sugar fix.  Happy?

Pinata graveyard

Image by Horace S. Patoot via Flickr

3. Gift bags?  Pfft!  I’m always impressed at some of the things my kids receive in gift bags.  People really go overboard.  It’s very nice, but totally unnecessary.  You spent enough money feeding my kids and entertaining them for the last no-more-than-two hours.  They don’t need parting gifts.  I mean, it’s not their birthday.  Save your money on the gift bags and get a better cake instead.  Speaking of which, chocolate is the universal flavor.  It’s your kid’s birthday.  Let them live a little.

4. Thanks, but no thank yous.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love thank yous.  They’re the perfect way to make our kids feel guilty about getting so much stuff.  But until they’re old enough to write their own, I hope you don’t expect me to do it on their behalf.  I’m not going to play with the Crayola Magic Color Explosion Super Mega Wheel, so why should I be punished?  Don’t worry.  You’re off the hook, too.  When I get a card that some sad grown-up felt compelled to write to me in their kid’s “voice”, I just laugh at them.  “I really love the thoughtful whatever-piece-of-crap you picked up at Target on the way to the party.  I play with it all the time.”  Really, it was nothing.  Trust me.

5.  Let your kid have some gifts.  When I’m throwing myself a party, I add a polite “no gifts” to the invitation.  I’m a grown man.  Taking gifts from friends feels tacky.  But kids are different.  Kids love getting stuff.  I know they don’t need it.  I know you’ve personally contributed about ten tons of perfectly good toys to the local dump because you simply didn’t have enough space for them all.  But let your kids walk into their birthday party and see a mountain of boxes in Dora The Explorer wrapping paper, all for them.  It’s priceless.  Personally, I was dreading the toy tsunami that would follow my kids’ party, but I have to say, our friends got them the nicest, most thoughtful gifts.  Educational toys, toys their own kids loved, toys I’d never heard of but that my kids went crazy for.  Just take them.  And if you don’t need something, regift it.  I’ll understand.

6.  Beer.  I’m always stunned when I go to a kid’s birthday party and there are two coolers.  One inevitably has Capri Sun or Juicy Juice or something, the other Michelob.  Seriously?  It’s 10am!  And we’re at Harriet the Hen’s Happy Shack.  But sure enough, I’ll see plenty of moms and dads pounding brewskies while their kids beat the juice out of a piñata.  All right, if that’s what you want, fine.  I’ll supply beer at my kids’ parties, too, and I’ll try my hardest not to judge you for drinking it.  Now how ’bout a Pepsi for those of us who want something in between a Cherry Cooler and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade?  Thanks.

7. Face Paint?  Color me pissed!  Am I the only one who thinks kids look creeeeeepy with face paint?  Or that it’s a secret plot by the tattoo industry to condition our children extra young?  (Wouldn’t they just love it if they created a whole generation of Mike Tysons willing to ink their faces?) I know I’m not the only one who hates cleaning that crap off my kids’ cheeks when we get home (or fighting with them to let me do it).  (Full disclosure – my kids haven’t actually had their faces painted yet, but I know someday it’s a fight I’ll lose.)  I think the only reason people hire face painters for kids’ parties is that kids demand it.  And why do they demand it?  Because of that one schmuck parent who thought it was cute back when the whole craze started.  Well, I say stop the madness.  If we all resist the face paint, it’ll go away forever!

There you go.  A few simple guidelines that will make the birthday party circuit more bearable for all of us.  And if you have something you want to add to the Birthday Party Pact, leave me a comment below.  Let’s finalize this thing and distribute it, OK?

Oh, and happy birthday, kid.  Wow, you’re getting so big.


THE PLAN: Get the kids to clean up their own mess, then distract them so I can have a break.


“Do you guys want to watch TV?”

“Yeah!”  “Yes!  Watch TV!”

“OK, then you need to clean up all those Lego blocks in the bedroom.”

“Yeah!”  “Clean blocks!”

“Don’t come get me until all the blocks are put away.”

30 seconds later…

“Daddy!  Daddy, time to watch TV!”

“Did you put all the blocks away?”


“Then how come I can hear Bennett in the other room still putting blocks away?”

No response.

“Go help him.”

Bennett enters.

“Are all the blocks put away?”


“OK, let me see… No, guys, you barely put any blocks away.”

“Wanna watch TV!”

“No.  Not until the blocks are put away.  Get back to work.”

Silence from the bedroom.  No blocks are being put away.  Instead, the kids do this:


And this:


This goes on for half an hour.

They are quiet.  They do not fight.  They do not watch TV.

I get my break.

Then, it’s bedtime.  I clean up the blocks.


Twins – Then and Now

One of the dumbest decisions I ever made was to play the trombone, in fourth grade.  I was a short kid, and the instrument’s case was as big as I was.  On band days, I would carry my bookbag to school in one hand, the trombone in the other.  I would make it about twenty feet along the sidewalks of my suburb, then I’d have to stop, take a break and switch hands.  I did this all the way to school.  Almost two miles, each way.

A Alto Trombone

Image via Wikipedia

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the perfect preparation for raising twins.

There have been many times over the last two years I’ve thought back to that determined little boy on his way to band practice to summon some strength I wasn’t sure I had.

In fifth grade, I switched to the trumpet, which was a bit lighter and less cumbersome.  And that’s about where I am now.  Still making that endless trek to school, but with a bit of a lighter load.

Raising twins is all about adapting, to their needs and to each stage they go through.  Reading this post from MamaDeuce, I realized how much things have changed since they were younger.  Things really do go much smoother now.

So here’s a look at what my life was like back then, when my kids were 6 months old and now, when they’re 2.


THEN: I insisted on feeding my kids simultaneously.  Otherwise, by the time one finished, it’d already be time to feed the next one, and I’d never get a break.  This was back when the kids couldn’t even sit up on their own, so I had to prop them against a Boppy.  It was not easy, but eventually, I perfected the one-handed double-feed technique.

NOW: I prep their food, and then they feed themselves.  That gives me 20 minutes or so when I can wash dishes, write blog posts or just hang out with them.  When I don’t feel like “cooking” (i.e., cutting up strawberries and pulling the tops off yogurt cups), I order pizza.  On those nights, we have a pizza party, where I sit and eat with them and we talk about our day.  Pizza parties are my favorite.


THEN:  It’s impossible to keep two squirmy babies within emergency distance of you at all times, so I cheated.  I built Boppy barricades in the living room (just like MamaDeuce) to keep them penned in.  Boppies, of course, are intended for breastfeeding, but dads, I assure you you’ll find practical uses for them, too.

NOW:  There’s no barricade that can hold those two tiny steamrollers these days, but thankfully, I don’t need to watch them quite as closely.  Sometimes they’ll both play on their own quietly in the next room.  But if it gets too quiet, it’s time to check on them, pronto.


THEN: Parks are the scariest place to take young twins alone, because we all know that’s where the pervs are.  There are also streets kids can run into, dogs that can bite, jungle gyms they can fall off and a million other dangers kids don’t recognize because they’re so excited to be at a place where you let them go totally ape-poopy.  When my kids were younger, we only went to one park, which had a fenced-in toddler playground that was about twenty feet by twenty feet.  That was about as much freedom as the three of us collectively could handle.

NOW:  We go to a slightly larger park, but this one’s fenced, too.  When Bennett and Sutton go in different directions, I stand in the middle and keep one eye on each of them, then dart into action if somebody’s about to get clocked by a swing.  We have strict rules about never leaving the playground when some yahoo parent leaves the gate open… because, let’s face it, parents of singletons just don’t get it.


THEN: At six months old, their attention span, at its best, was about 30 seconds.  That’s how long they could listen to a book or play with a toy before they’d get distracted or cranky.  That meant that every day, I was programming roughly 1,200 activities.  Or at least it felt that way.  Thankfully, they napped a lot.

NOW: An activity can last a whopping 15 minutes, and at a good stretch, 30.  It’s Heaven.

The exception, at both 6 months and 2 years, has been TV.  I know the experts say it causes ADD, but so far, it’s only had the opposite effect.  My kids can maintain interest in TV for about ten times longer than any other activity.   I try not to take advantage of this, but if I need to do some real cooking (i.e., making brownies) or make a phone call, I flip on the magic box and I can have up to an hour if I need it.


THEN: They took two naps a day, each about 1 1/2 – 2 hours long.  I also took two naps a day, each about 1 1/2 – 2 hours long.  Drew and I synchronized their sleep schedules as soon as we could, and that remains the best decision we have yet made as parents.  If you have twins, MAKE SURE THEY SLEEP AT THE SAME TIME.  Trust me.  You can do it, and it’s worth it.

NOW: They nap once a day, for about 2 hours, but on rare occasions as long as 3.  I’m no longer so exhausted that I need to take my own nap, so I actually use their snooze time to get some writing done.


THEN:  We bathed the kids together and propped them up in bath rings.  That helped keep them safe and minimize squirming.  Bathing was always a two-man job, with Drew standing inside the tub washing one tushie and me sitting on the rim, washing the other.

NOW: We used those bath rings until the kids were 2 years old, which I’m pretty sure is the world record.  That’s around when bathing finally became a one-Daddy job.  Thankfully, Drew usually ends up being that Daddy.  That’s my reward for making it through the day.


THEN: Parents of singletons, it must be nice using shopping carts.  There are very few two-seater carts out there, so I would take my kids in the double stroller to Target or Trader Joe’s, then load up the stroller canopy with groceries.  I’d watch it sag down over their soft, tiny heads as I added more stuff, and when it seemed like an avalanche was imminent, I headed for the cashier – fast.

NOW: It’s pretty much the same, although usually, Drew goes to Ralph’s on his way home.


THEN: Snap N Go car seats are supposed to be a convenience for the new mom.  But for a parent of twins, they’re a workout.  I used to carry those two seats down to my garage, with a diaper bag slung over my shoulder.  It was almost exactly like the trombone/bookbag scenario. I kept a spare t-shirt in the car at all times for days when I was just too sweaty to carry on.

NOW: I announce, “Time to go!  Grab your pacifier and your lovey and meet me at the door!”  And with some prodding, they actually do it.  We hold hands in the garage so everyone stays close, and when we climb into the car, Bennett jumps into the front seat and fiddles with the CD player and the hazard lights, giving me time to strap Sutton in.

So to new parents of twins, know that the job is manageable and that, to borrow a phrase from Dan Savage, it gets better.  Sometimes I meet a pregnant woman who’s expecting twins and who is terrified.  She asks me how I’ve managed to handle mine without having a nervous breakdown.

For them – and for all of you out there wondering, my advice is simple: Do what you can do, and when you need to, just take a break and switch hands.

Big Changes Ahead

J. Crew Construction Sign #3

Image by ikrichter via Flickr

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on my Facebook page about the blog’s title. I really appreciate your feedback. As much as I love Where Do Gaybies Come From, I’ve decided to change it.

I had a little concern that “gaybies” might be off-putting or confusing to people, that it makes it sound like the kids are gay rather than the parents.  But ultimately, I just decided that WDGCF was too backward-looking. While my memoir is going to be about the events leading up to the kids’ birth, the blog is more about our life today. Not so much where they came from, but where we’re going. Plus, they’re not babies any more. (Sniff, sniff.)

Most of all, though, I came up with a new, more appropriate title that I like even better.

I won’t be unveiling the new name just yet. I’m planning a big site redesign in a few weeks, and the new name will take effect then. Don’t worry, though. You won’t need to update your bookmarks or subscriptions, since both and will still direct you to this page.

I’m so grateful to all my friends and friends of friends who support this site, and nothing makes me happier than seeing a complete stranger leave a comment or “like” my Facebook page. I hope you’ll all stick around as I make a few adjustments around here.

5 Easy and Awesome Ways You Can Help Me Spread the Word About This Blog

Here’s the deal. I’m not doing this to make money. I won’t be putting any ads on this site or asking for donations or anything like that. I’m doing this because I enjoy writing about myself and my life…

… OK, you caught me… and to promote the book I’m writing.

It’s a memoir, a funnyish look at the wacky, unpredictable path Drew and I took to parenthood. It may or may not end up being called Where Do Gaybies Come From? I have an awesome literary agent, and I’m hoping to have a manuscript she can shop around by next spring. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also the most gratifying and fun thing I’ve ever written.

But here’s the thing. Unless you’re someone big and important, like Snooki, it’s hard to get publishers to notice you. All they know of you is what they can find online. The best way to get published is to build up an online following. Twitter, Facebook, blog hits. They really look at those things.

So it’s not just out of pure narcissism that I’m asking you, if you like my blog, to help spread the word. You don’t even have to do much. As many of the following things as you’re comfortable doing, I would be extremely grateful for.

1. Like the Where Do Gaybies Come From? page on Facebook, if you haven’t already.  There’s a button right here on this page.  Over there, at the top right corner.  See it?  Please click it.  Then you’ll hear about new posts in your Facebook timeline.  There, that was easy, right?

2. Follow my Twitter account, Why Jerry Why.  (90% fresh snark, 10% blog promotion!)

Free twitter badge
Image via Wikipedia


3. Comment on my posts.  I’ll read everything anyone writes, I’ll try to respond, and other people will be more likely to join in the conversation when they see your comments.

4. If you read something here you really like, please share it on Facebook.  If it makes you laugh or you think your friends will appreciate it, then pass it on.  This is the easiest and most effective way for me to get exposed to new people.  If you haven’t seen something here yet that you like enough to share, then just you wait. Your favorite post will be coming soon.

5. Subscribe to the blog by entering your email address under where it says “Follow Blog Via Email”.  You won’t get spammed, I promise.  You will just be notified automatically via email every time I post something new here.

Many of you probably know more about the internet than I do, so if you’re on other social networking sites, then feel free to +1 me or Digg me or whatever, too.  Go for it.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone coming here and checking the site out, and if that’s all you feel comfortable doing, then I thank you for that.   Believe me, I feel as awkward writing this post as you might feel reading it.  Just consider it like an NPR pledge drive, only nothing costs you money and I’m not giving out tote bags.


The Minivan Manifesto

Primary caregivers of the world, unite!

OK, I’m not going to carry the “manifesto” thing that far, but it’s about time nature’s most maligned car got a little respect.  When the subject of minivans comes up, even among parents, it’s always a matter of shame and fear.  Ugh, minivans!  Here are some actual things that people have sort-of said to me, kind of:

“I hate minivans.”

“God hates minivans.”

“God, if I ever buy a minivan, please shoot me.”

Well, first of all, God doesn’t need to shoot you.  If he ever wants to kill you for buying the wrong kind of automobile, he’ll find a more interesting way to do it – probably by having you run over by a minivan.  In fact, that would be awesome.  Maybe I’d actually believe in God if he made such effective use of irony.  That’s how Sedaris won me over.

But let’s not talk religion.  I’m writing this post so I can come out of the closet.  I own a minivan, and I love it.  You hear me, world?  I LOVE MY MINIVAN!  And I don’t care who knows it.  Why do I love my minivan?  I’ll tell you why… It’s nice.  When we were growing up, things were different.  Other than the Partridge Family, did you know anyone in the 70s or 80s whose family car wasn’t hideous and humiliating?  If your parents owned a station wagon, you have my sympathy.  No destination is so important to get to that it’s worth driving around in a wood-paneled weinermobile.  Station wagons should’ve been our punchbuggies, but when you saw one, it should’ve been a free pass to punch the driver.

Times have changed.  My minivan is roughly as opulent as Saddam’s palace – though I doubt his place had nearly as many cupholders.  Sucka!  The saleslady at the Honda dealership told me, “The Odyssey is like flying first class.”  Well, I say it’s better than that.  My Odyssey is so cool and futuristic, I call it my spaceship.  It’s the closest I’ll ever come to riding on Virgin Galactic, and you don’t have to be Lance Bass to score a seat in my ride.  Hop on in, lesser boyband members!  This is a motorcar for the masses.

It’s empowering.  I’m not a fan of the word “queer”, but I get why some gay people use it.  It’s a giant middle finger to the haters.  Well, I say we take back the minivan the way we took back “queer”.  My minivan lets people know instantly that I take the whole parenting thing seriously.  I’m not some clueless weekend dad fumbling around with his kids on the wife’s day off, putting their diapers on backwards and letting them tie plastic bags over their heads for fun.  I’m a professional, thank you very much.

You know what minivan drivers think of you when they see you squeezing your offspring into the backseat of a VW Passat?  We’re not saying to ourselves, “Wow, I really envy how they managed to hold onto their identity even after having kids.  Bravo for them!”  We’re thinking, “Hmph, amateurs!”  Seriously, parenthood is a lifestyle choice.  Commit or quit!

It’s built with parents in mind.  People always ask me how I can handle twins on my own all day while Drew’s at work.  Well, a big part of it is two little words: “automatic doors”.  It doesn’t matter that my arms are full of diaper bags, sippy cups, blankies, storybooks and the latest package to arrive from  My car doors open and close with the push of a button.  And even if  my kids just stand there like doofuses while the doors are shutting, they won’t get crushed, because those suckers automatically retract, too.  There’s even a mirror above the rear-view mirror specifically for keeping an eye on back-seat shenanigans.  I’m the first one to say my kids are geniuses, but I’ll also admit that my car is smarter than all of us.  Speaking of which…

It’s good for the kids. The doorways are low so the kids can climb up easily.  The seats are fitted with car seat anchors to make attaching the restraints a little less frustrating.  And there’s plenty of space for all their junk, spare pacifiers, sweatshirts and copies of Yo Gabba Gabba books to read so they keep their yakking down while I’m driving.  It has a DVD player, too, but I haven’t had to resort to that yet.  Seriously, if the kids knew about that thing, they’d never leave the car.

The way I see it, it’s simple.  Certain cars are made for certain people.  If you’re a douchebag, you drive a BMW.  If you’re a serial killer, you drive a plain, windowless van.  And if you’re a parent, you drive a minivan.  It’s the vehicle that was made with you in mind.

And it’s queer as hell!

I see you behind me!


Me: “OK, guys, we’re going to try something new.  I think you guys are big enough to clean your own messes, so Bennett, because you flung your yogurt on the floor, I’m going to give you a paper towel, and you’re going to wipe it up yourself.”

Sutton: “I want a paper towel!”

Me: “No, you don’t understand.  It’s a punishment.  Bennett made a mess, so he has to clean the floor.”

Sutton: “I want to clean the floor!”

Me: “Honey…”


Me: “Um… well, can you say please?”

Sutton: “Please have paper towel and clean floor?”

Me: “OK, nice job.”

Me: “Wow, you’re even going to throw the paper towel away?  What a good girl!  Bennett, can you say thank you to your sister?”

Bennett: “Paper towel!”

Me: “Yes, you can still have your paper towel, too.”

Me: “Remember, guys.  Don’t throw food on the floor, or you’re going to get punished!”


As we’re driving past a Harry Potter billboard, I hear Sutton from the back seat…

Sutton: “He looks like Daddy.”

Me: “Um… which one looks like Daddy, Honey?”

Sutton: “Him.”

Me: “With the glasses?  Is that why he looks like Daddy?  Sutton?  Which Daddy did you mean?  Me?  Are you saying I look like Harry Potter?  Hello?”

Sutton: “La la la… baby you’re a firework…”

Me: “Sutton?  Please tell me I don’t look like Voldemort.  Sutton…?”