March 27

Four Years Strong

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Thursday marks year four of my oldest children’s survival. They continue to weather the storm day to day. From the obnoxious amount of photo taking to the random hugs and kisses.

Raising toddlers is sort of like being in a constant mini war-zone. Raising boy toddlers is like being in a constant war-zone knee deep in urine puddles. Four years into parenting, I wouldn’t necessarily say I am an expert but I am a grizzled and worn out veteran.

From potty training to being shown how big their poops are getting, the trials haven’t always been easy. Yet, I still walk through the baby clothes section. I seek out the select few preemie outfits, remembering a time when even they, the smallest size of clothing before having to revert to clothes designed for small animals, didn’t fit my boys. I look through pictures, remember feeding tubes and a fear of possible breaking the fragile little people I had been blessed with. I remember the tribulations of walking. The stand up, fall down, stand back up, fall again, up, butt, up, face-plant, up, feet moving, down on butt again, sudden sprinting through the house clearly misinterpreting what the term, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

As we jump off the porch steps, the memories flood in faster and better than any FB daily memory post. It hasn’t always been easy, and I know the future doesn’t get easier. Someday, as my children tell me about people they have crushes on, I will remember the good ol’ days. The time when we rushed to the hospital after finding out their bodies didn’t take too kindly to peanuts. Reaching for the hidden jar of peanut butter, as I hear my kids try to sneak out of the house for the first time. I know there are many trials and tribulations to come.

But, I’ve learned a lot in these four years. There were good days followed by days I wished I had left my kids in baskets at the local fire department’s front door. For every fight I have had to break up, there have been just as many, if not more, cuddles. Every tantrum we had to endure together is only remembered for the warm snuggles that came after.

I often wonder if I am doing this whole parenting thing right. I hold an innate fear my children may someday grow up to hate me. Or worse, somehow hate themselves. I have always had a loose grip on anxiety, overthinking things to the point of utter ridiculousness. In my mind, my children are four, going on fourteen, to me waking up at forty. I worry I may blink too much or too fast and miss the in-between.

I can only hope the dinosaur piñata hidden away will bring them joy on their big day. That they will love their T-ball set and play their Hungry Hungry Hippos game for hours on end. I pray they are still illiterate and don’t read my blog, because it would ruin the surprise.

I sit here, three days away from the big day, looking at twin boys who hold such a powerful bond yet are radically different from one another. I am proud Killian calls a shape a diamond where Nicolas, the more sophisticated child who I have bet money and extra kisses on to succeed, calls it a rhombus. I watch Killian write his name without any help and change my bet to him.

I see two boys who have come into their own identities. They see things different and it is one of the most beautiful things about parenting twins. They will always be twins and have each other, but they are, at the end of the day, their own people. Younger brother in tow, they race through the house, still misinterpreting what, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

There is no amount of reminiscing or looking forward equal to the now. The little moments we live life to the fullest in. My life lacked a certain level of substance before they came along.

I wish I had wisdom to impart on them on their big day. To be honest, I don’t think I know where to start. Having spent a majority of my life picking the hard road, I am still reminded of where that difficult journey took me. What it gave me.

But, If my four year old’s are suddenly reading at a mommy-ish blogger reading level, the advice I have to give you is this:

No matter what you do in life or the journey you choose, every step still takes you somewhere. If I had taken my steps differently, I wouldn’t have been blessed with you.

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January 31

White Trash Rhetoric

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Around five in the afternoon, every Friday, my children excitedly stare out the window. As the red van pulls up, they shout goodbyes at me and give quick kisses before running out the door. “Abuelo!”, they scream as they clamber into the minivan. I spend five minutes picking up before turning everything off and letting the gentle quiet settle on the house. 

The weekends are spent with Abuelo and G-ma. An easy solution to finding a babysitter when their mother and I have conflicting work schedules. They spend their next three days playing with toy trains, attending church, and seeing various family members. Tía Kathy will inevitably stop by with her dog, Chuletta, for some quality time with the boys. Shortly after attending a Spanish Mass on Sunday, they’ll return home to tell me all about their weekend. 

When with Abuelo, the children speak Spanish. Beautiful, bilingual boys, they come home and return to English, mixing words like ‘agua’ and ‘jugo’ into their sentences. Although I don’t speak Spanish, i’ve learned to understand it through the various Spanish programming I put on during the week for them. Their Guatemalan heritage is not only acknowledged, but celebrated. Their culture is embraced.


 

Being their father has taught me the importance of being open-minded. Our ideologies are formed by the collection of experiences and memories we have accumulated throughout our life.

The growing divide facing not only The United States of America but the world is impossible to ignore. You could try to cull your Facebook of opposing views, only to find them seeping in through comment sections. Complete strangers, hurling vitriol at one another. Their disdain tearing the seams of decency.

Like oil and water, our melting pot is becoming immiscible.

A video shows people in different positions of political power demanding people in America speak English. My son asks me for leche. A caller on C-SPAN asks why we don’t vet Puerto Ricans more as they move through the states. My child wants frijoles with his breakfast.

Scrolling the comments, I see the vitriol. the ‘If you don’t like this country, you can leave!’ and the  ‘This is America, you need to conform or get out!’. The ‘Get out of my country!’.

This White Trash Rhetoric, infringing on the very beliefs this country was founded upon. Instead of celebrating our differences, there is a growing movement to uniform our beliefs.

I look at my children. Will someone shout, ‘Speak English!’ in their faces? My blood boils at the thought.

As a father to multi-cultured children, it’s my duty to protect them and raise them to be proud of themselves.

I’ve grown tired of hate-filled rhetoric rooted in fear and anger. I read a comment about liberalism being a cancer that needed to be wiped out. The only disease this country has is hatred and it’s spreading.

We should be embracing and trying to understand one another. Yet, here we are.

I try to bite my tongue when it comes to these sort of things. I know there isn’t much I can say to change anyone’s mind. The lines are drawn in the sand.

I am sure some will say I am overreacting. It isn’t MY children who will be singled out for their differences. They are born and raised. If they don’t speak Spanish in public, people will never even know about their heritage.

We lock ourselves in like cowards and turn people away out of a fear. Because they are different.

Locking people out isn’t protecting us. it isn’t protecting my children. It’s turning my back on someone else’s.

This country was founded by people fleeing oppression.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The New Collosus by Emma Lazarus

As we lock the golden door, I wonder if we will pry this plaque from Lady Liberty and use it as a barricade.

I do not fear people who are different from me.

I fear White Trash Rhetoric and hate mongering.

I fear this country’s rapid movement towards socially acceptable discrimination.

Scroll any vitriol-infested comment section and you can see it’s already begun. You can find people advocating for the death of those with differing views. Vocalizing their desire to destroy. To inflict violence and fear. Dehumanizing one another.

I stare at my children and wonder not if, but when they will become the focal point of someone’s hatred. When cowards will use fear-laced-hatred to target them.

I am not some liberal ‘snowflake’. I am a father to multicultural children.

I will always celebrate their diversity.

I will always defend it. 

 

 

 

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October 25

A Case Of Mistaken Identity

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On a hot summer day when my twins were only a year and a half old, I decided to make them some cold lunches. Simple enough, right?

Three hours later we walked out of the hospital.

On that sunny day, I made my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into cute little squares. I sliced banana and put it on the side. It was the perfect meal for growing boys. Feeding them, I couldn’t help feel proud of myself for such a nice meal on such a hot day. As I was busy patting myself on the back, my son began to break out in splotchy red rashes. One trip to the hospital confirmed my worst suspicions. Peanut butter wasn’t a good choice for an afternoon meal ever again, because my child happened to be allergic to it.

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Flash forward two years. Armed with this knowledge and Epi-Pens, we have managed to keep both twins, and their little brother, alive. Peanut butter is barely, if ever, eaten in the home. As our son’s greatest protector, I look over packaging for ingredients to make sure everything he consumes is nut free. That is until a bag of cookies catches my attention at the grocery store.

The cookies were chocolate chip, with peanut butter cups baked into them. I don’t know who is in charge of coming up with crazy cookie ideas, but they need a raise because these were an amazing idea. I couldn’t resist buying a pack and bringing it home. Once you know your child has a peanut allergy, it is relatively easy to shield them from the dangerous little nut.

Let me tell you, for what it’s worth, these cookies were delicious. If they didn’t scar my family, we probably would keep them constantly in stock. Now, I knew there would come a point where my kids would catch me munching cookies and demand some. You don’t live in a house with toddlers without understanding they will always find the cookies.

When the kids came around demanding their fair share, I doled out a couple of cookies to the youngest and to his brother. The youngest we had checked when he turned one if he had an allergy by smearing peanut butter on some bread and putting 911 on speed dial. It wasn’t fair to me that one allergic kid keep his brother’s from missing out on peanut butter. So I gave some regular, non-laden with peanut butter cups, cookies to the son we took to the hospital and some peanut butter goodness cookies to his brothers.

Now, on that fateful day many years ago when we first found out about the allergy, when my son started to break out, I administered allergy meds to both children. They were twins, so I figured better safe than sorry to hit them both with the medicine on the chance they both might be going through an allergic reaction. Then, I ran to the other room to grab my phone so I could call people and get the situation under control. It should also be noted when my twins were babies, they had eczema and not the best skin. They also looked very, very, similar.

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I have always prided myself on being able to tell my sons apart. Even as babies, when they looked almost identical, I could still be counted on to differentiate who was who.

As I looked over at my now four-year old son, I first thought he was rubbing his eye because he was tired. This made me excited. Who doesn’t love an early bedtime?

“You sleepy, Buddy?” I asked, trying to contain my excitement. When he turned towards me, my stomach dropped.

This kid’s normally adorable face had transformed. He looked less like my son and more like Sloth from The Goonies.

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“Shit!”

I scooped him up and brought him to the kitchen.

“Shit. Shit. SHIT!”  I shouted as I grabbed the allergy medicine and motioned to my wife.

She looked at me confused.

“Remember when we found out Killian had the peanut allergy? Remember how it was weird how his allergy tests came back as barely any irritation to peanut butter? Well, I think I had taken the wrong kid to the hospital.” I said, turning our son in her direction.

“Shit!” she said, before grabbing him and coats. As she bundled them up for a hospital trip, I told her to hold on a moment. Pulling my phone out, I snapped a picture of my son’s splotchy mug.

“Seriously?!”

“We just gave him medication, I am sure the doctors will want to see how his reaction looked before that” I defensively said, as I uploaded the photo to social media. As my son went on his way to the hospital, I sat down next to my other two children and stared at my other twin. My phone beeped out an alert for a message. The message from my wife flashed across the screen.

“Don’t ever give me shit about mistaking the twins again.”

 

 

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May 27

What I Wish I Knew Before Having Boys

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I watch my children run around outside, playing together and laughing in the beautiful weather. My heart fills with joy, as they do “boy” things, like play in the dirt and pick up bugs they find. I feel like the luckiest man in the world, blessed with a beautiful, happy, set of sons I get the pleasure of watching grow up. I shuffle them inside, marching them to the bath to clean the fun dirt from behind their ears so we can sit down for a nice lunch together. Family, it is such a beautiful thing. Washing my son gets awkward. His little trooper stands at full attendance, as I wash around his body parts to make sure everything is clean.

No one ever told me about this. They told me about colic and how to deal with a blow-out. I learned, from the parenting books, what was best to pack, the good and bad of crying it out. I learned fun games to help my sons grow cognitively and how important balanced meals were. I must have missed a chapter.

No one told me about the baby boner and now I am left to feel like a worker at a seedy massage parlor when I wash or change my son’s diapers. I think Viagra should rebrand it’s self.

“It will get you up like you were a baby!” 

I only speak of the baby stiffs because literally had no idea a baby could do that until my twins were born. Pull the diaper back and HELLO, THIS ISN’T THAT TYPE OF PARTY, YOUNG MAN!

I found out a baby boner supposedly means the kid is about to pee. Which, completely confuses me from my own personal experiences with erections. It makes me wonder why my children always are about to pee during Princess Sophia.

They don’t have to pee, they are perverts.

The twins, recently potty trained (hallelujah), have taken to pulling their underwear to the side and flicking their little boy toys while saying “Daddy, look! Pee Pee!” I have zero interest in looking at my son magically make his balloon animal grow, which I am quite vocal about.

It means they are about to pee, said the female expert. Have you ever had a boner, lady? Peeing with an erect..erm…member is like trying to convince your child to finish their vegetables. It ain’t happening, professional baby boner chick.

There is a lot you deal with when you become a parent. I didn’t sign up for dealing with hard-ons. I will wipe a butt and give a bath with a smile. I did not sign up for dicks dicks dicks all in my face.

You think they could have covered that in health class? I mean, I feel it would have deterred me from parenting.

“Let’s make a baby, baby!”

“Uh, what if we get a boy, babe?”

“We can name him after you. He can be Junior. Oh, please, my love, let’s make a baby!”

“Uh, I ain’t dealing with baby boners you better pass that box of condoms and pop your birth control or I am gonna go back to Netflix and Chilling without you.”

#Sorrynotsorry

I am here to expose this issue like my son exposes himself. Inappropriately. I can get by with school not teaching me how to file my taxes or do a mortgage but I will stand up against the lack of education about willy wonders of the toddler world.

Why didn’t anyone give me a heads up. Oh my god, I am gonna be sick.

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May 19

Am I A Mommy Blogger?

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I was super excited recently because I decided it was time for me to take down mommy blogging. Then someone beat me to it. With like, a bajillion words more than the seven hundred I probably would have dedicated to the subject. Seriously, it was like the blog equivalent to War and Peace.

Mommy blogging has provided me with an existential crisis. Unsure of what I am in the big blogosphere, I must go on a vision quest to find my true identity.

Am I *gasp* a mommy blogger?

Outward appearance would say no. I am a dad. I have this penis, making me giggle like a twelve year old for using the word penis. But, I pal around with the mommy babble crew.

Are there dad bloggers? Yes, there are. Yet, I feel I identify more so with the mommies than dads.

I will pause briefly for you to insert as many trans- jokes you can. Extra five points for a joke about Target bathrooms AND trans.

I will also briefly pause for those who feel I crossed a line. I guess you don’t read much of me.

I identify with and hang out with the mommy crew. For most of my bloggy career, I have been supported almost a hundred percent by women. During the time I was and participated in a group of dad bloggers, I still found my blog and page being supported almost entirely by women.

Now, were these just lonely housewives and I was their cabana boy?

*Wink* *fetches ice cold refreshments*

Whatever the reason, I made a lot of friends that were, for a lack of a cooler term, mommy bloggers. Is the community oversaturated with females writing about their experiences in motherhood?

Well, if I said yes, it would make a constant theme of my writing null and void. I have always held fast to the belief everyone has a voice and their voice should be heard. So, if a ton of women want to be heard, who am I to say it is saturation?

Is this industry rife with sell outs who would make Gene Simmons proud? Sure. But, who cares? The amazing thing about the internet is the ability to literally walk away from it. Literally.

You can’t see, but after the second literally, I stepped away from my laptop to prove a point. So, like, imagine that. 

Am I a mom blogger? I don’t know. 

Do I meme so hard motherfuckers want to take my word pictures and take my name off them.

Check. 

Do I get unreasonably upset about things that don’t affect me and go on long tirades about them?

Uh…Check. 

Do I incessantly post about my children and the little things they do all day?

Check, and brb got to hit up my Instagram with some photos from dinnertime. 

Do I review products and tell people how they must have them?

Have you seen Multiples Illuminated is available NOW on Amazon!!!!! Also, Check. 

Have I pushed a baby out of my body?

Ch—Challenging this question due to the fact that there are mommies with adopted children. Boom. 

So, if you look at it, Punk Rock Papa ain’t nothin but a sucky mom blogger too. Aw, shucks. Maybe I am not purebred mommy blogger. I am, at the very least,  like the little brother they are forced to bring to their friend’s house.

“Why is he here? I can’t believe they always make you bring him! Let’s peer pressure him into wearing makeup.”

FYI- Purple totally makes my brown eyes POP. I know this, from being the younger sibling forced along on my older niece’s hangouts with her friends.

What you write doesn’t define you. If you use your blog as a source of income, it doesn’t define you. I don’t identify as a forklift driver because I do that at my job five times a week.

What defines you is how you treat those around you. How you lift those people up along the journey. So, if I am a mommy blogger, I hope it stands for encouraging. Proud. Nurturing. Loving. Attentive. Kick ass at writing lists about what to do with your day off. A devoted parent.

That’s something I can live with.

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April 17

Look At This Photograph.

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I take a lot of pictures of my children. I don’t know if I take more than the average parent, but I constantly have the camera at the ready, snapping a good ten to fifteen photos of my children at a time.

To me, it’s important to document their growth.

Maybe it is a bit more personal than that.

You would be hard pressed to find many images of me as a child. The handful I have were uploaded online by a dear family member. The only one who seemed to treasure my childhood enough to preserve documentation of it’s existence. Besides the half dozen or so photos she uploaded online, I have zero photos of myself as a baby.

A small collection of me at a creek as a toddler. 

One of me on a small horse.

On the back of a quad. 

Some school photo. 

Me, doing homework during my first return to California after the rocky transition to living with my brother in Connecticut. 

My childhood, is largely carried on through stories told to me. I try to pretend to remember the details of summer days and toddler foibles.

The story of when I jumped in the pool without a life vest. When I was brought to the surface and asked why I went swimming without it I said, “I wasn’t swimmin’, I was drownin’!” 

The time I threw a rock straight up into the air and knocked out my front teeth. I looked up, wondering why the rock hadn’t soared over the fence. I remember looking up. 

I try to remember more than extension cords running between apartments. More than my strawberry patches being picked clean by a bully. My watermelon being knocked out of my hands by another bully.  

I don’t remember much of the good from being a child. The memories I do remember are an assortment of feelings.

The good is really good though. The pride of buying a ruby ring for a woman I loved as a mother. Watching Wallace & Gromit. I remember enjoying church. Looking forward to learning about God through Kiwanis.

I am hard pressed to find many memories of my childhood. Try as I might to search my consciousness for memories, most exist in a weird state of ‘did this really happen or did I make it up to fill in a gap?’

I am terrified of my children having to live like that. I want them to have access to their childhood as adults. To see the good, the bad and every moment in between.

I photograph nearly every moment, sometimes filling my camera roll with hundreds of photographs a day. I fill my Facebook with images of their childhood, in part due to the serious lack of my own.

They say as a parent, one of the biggest things you want is to try to give your children everything you never had.

I want my kids to have proof of their existence. Tangible proof of the moments, so they never have to second guess whether they really happened. Someday we will be able to look back together, and I won’t have to question how their childhood went, like I question my own sometimes.

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March 30

The Mandatory Birthday Wisdom Post

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My children turn three today, which means it is my civic duty to tell you about it.

All.

Day.

Long.

I mean, it IS their birthday and what sort of parent would I be to not let the world know how blessed and happy I am on this day. It became my birthright three years ago to do so. It gives me the day to tell you their miracle story of entering this world. How we found a wounded stork, nursed it back to health, before it gifted us with the two most beautiful children ever created.

Seriously, your kids might be perfect, but my kids are perfect-er. And I have two of them.

This is where I break out into a list of life lessons for my children. A list they don’t know how to read and by the time they come of age to understand the list, I will likely have forgotten about writing it.

Remember when you were three? How come you didn’t take my damn advice. You whippersnappers never listen these days! In my day if you didn’t listen to your advice on your third birthday you got yourself a whooping!

1) Believe in yourself, the way I believe in you. 

You are an amazing little hyper ball of potential. Through the years, you will learn to hone your focus in on more than cartoons and gummy bears.When you have dreams and aspirations, seize them. Grind. Put in work. While the pulse on The American Dream seems faint, it is still beating. Believe in your ability to realize the things you want in your life and put that realization into action.

2) Try new things.

you never get in this world playing it safe. Step off into the great unknown. The thing about safety nets is they stop you from that potential we just talked about. Free fall and amaze yourself by learning how to fly. The greatest rewards in life come from stepping out without a back up plan. Learn. Adapt. Evolve. Survive. Thrive.

3) Never finish your plate.

this might sound contrary to what I tell you at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stay hungry. Do not become content. Master a craft and then master another one. always leave room in your life for new things. Don’t ever get full of yourself.

 

If my advice doesn’t suit you, maybe because you can’t read or it’s “dad advice” you have to learn the hard way. I am also providing some audio advice. Calling in some of my own inspiration, to share with you in the hopes it ignites your fire too. Happy Birthday, Killian and Nicolas. Let’s eat cake.

 


 

“Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s. “

 

 

“you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.

And that’s what you have here tonight, boys.

That’s what you’ve earned here, tonight.”


 

 

 

 

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February 22

Into The Wild

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*Trigger Warning*

This post contains exercise, outdoor activity and children. 

I laid in bed. Melatonin kicked in, forcing my tired eyes to close. Gibbs would have to solve the rest of this murder without his go to Junior Netflix Agent’s assistance. My eyes closed for what would be a nice restful period of sleep, off to dream of beer and tacos.

An hour passed before the high-pitched screech of Satan awoke me. Although, it was not Beelzebub who woke me from my slumber. It turned out to be a bright-eyed little spawn of me, shrieking in delight at seeing daddy after a night of being away at grandma’s. Hands and knees found their way to sensitive areas on my body as he clambered up me and simultaneously crushed any chances of a future brother.

I tried to mask the get away from me look on my face with a giant smile and hello for my littlest. He found me. Once baby finds me, he attaches himself securely to my hip for the rest of the day. In the distance, screams of toddlers fighting over the rights to play with a toy reverberated off the walls before finding their way to my brain in the form of a headache.

Sleep was not going to happen today.

“Everybody get dressed!” I hollered from the bed. As jackets found their way on wiggly arms and shoes on even wigglier feet, we set off for an adventure. The first stop, Target, held all the necessary items to head out into the wild.

A fine woven wrap thingy I always saw a friend talking about. I wanted to wrap the baby securely to my persons, not that I needed to. Little man was born with little thighs of steel he pinched into my side fat and secured himself with. But, to be safe, I decided to wrap him to me also.

A family of five also makes getting a picture together somewhat difficult. With three small children and their grabbing hands, we hadn’t take a family photo in forever because, well, we couldn’t fit everyone in the frame. Here is my guilty admission. We are now the proud owners of a selfie stick.

With baby wrap and selfie stick in possession, we grabbed a few other things, because you can’t go to Target and not get stuff you didn’t go there for. A few DVDs made their way to the cart. A book I saw on the morning news that I swore up and down I needed and would get started on immediately. Some candy. You know, important stuff.

Packed up and prepared, we made our way out to the wild wilderness, located conveniently next to a giant casino.

The Underwood Family Hiking Experience. 

As I tore the woven baby wrap from box, I decided instructions weren’t needed. Turns out it is, as I did it from the instructions I made up in my mind, a lot like saran-wrap. So there I saran-wrapped a flailing and confused baby to my body, hoping this stretchy wrap worked like a trap making his thrashing only secure him tighter to my body.

And off we went up the slope, led by two toddlers with cabin fever, a dad running on an hour of sleep with a baby awkwardly tied to him and a Momma bringing up the rear rolling her eyes like a teenager being forced to hang with her family instead of going to the mall with Kristine.

As we found our way on the trail, there were two distinct markers, a red one and a blue one. In my mind red means danger. Perfect!

“We’re going this way honey!” I said enthusiastically, setting off on the red marked trail. Twenty minutes later we were navigating the side of a steep cliff with three-year old guides who found a ton of enjoyment in randomly tossing rocks off the side of the beaten path, I can only assume in hopes of starting a massive landslide. But, we made our way up the hill with smiles on our faces and fresh air in our lungs. The great outdoors, on a beautiful day I might add. The kids were loving it, as we got to difficult parts of the trail, little hands would find their way up to be held as the tiny three-year old guides encouraged us that we were doing a good job and reminding us, “We’re okay. It’s ALL good.”

The baby had grabbed a leaf and twig from a random branch and clung to my chest, content to eat nature’s wild bounty.

As we hit the summit, the view became worth the trip up. Bright faces stared out from the elevation at the beautiful sites. Off in the distance trees interspersed with what looked like a quarry, the giant casino and other random buildings. The wild outdoors. Look, son, a fuck! At Target I had picked up some granola for our outdoor adventure. We happily munched the snack and rehydrated from our juice bottles. It was a gorgeous day and the hike turned out to be really fun. Even Momma, who had been all eye rolls at the beginning, enjoyed herself on the way up and at the top.

As we made our way down, the trail split again. While climbing up the side of a cliff with toddlers determined to have us plummet to our deaths was fun, I figured the blue trail would bring us down a less steep side of the hill, making it easier for us to relax and leisurely stroll.

I giggled to myself, thinking of The Matrix. Hee-hee, took both the red and blue, Morpheus. I choose to take both! HAH!

This is when hiking really fucking went south and I don’t mean that logistically. An hour of zig zagging through the woods, up and down steep trails, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. In my mind, I wondered what actors would play my family after they found our bodies. Would we die of starvation, surviving a few days on Gatorade and granola or would wild animals eat us? Would there be a scene where one of us was sacrificed to feed the stronger of the group or would we die at the hands of deranged wilder-folk? I wasn’t sure, but hoped they cast someone dashingly handsome and fearless in my role.

Unbeknownst to me, the blue trail was not, in fact, the easier trail. It turned out the blue trail actually belonged to a longer trail than the red one called The Narragansett Trail. Online it specifically warns you to avoid the blue trail, lest you get lost in the middle of nowhere.

Our guides seemed content to be left for dead. As Momma and I mushed them along, the tired troopers continued to ask to be picked up. When their requests were denied, they simply laid down on the trail, glaring at me with a your move, old man look in their eyes. The only child wanting to navigate the trails happened to be the baby, whose abilities include crawling and eating things found on the ground.

With toddler tactical gear strapped to my body we began to backtrack to the red trail.  An hour down the blue trail meant another hour of zig zagging the hill to get back. I recalled the time before the baby, when dad had the bright idea to take two boys who just learned to walk through a corn maze. That experience ended with me carrying children through the maze and vowing to burn down the next corn maze I saw. I now understood why my wife began the excursion rolling her eyes. She most likely was on her phone getting search parties on call so we wouldn’t die in the middle of nowhere and become a box office smash.

As we made our way back I wanted to shout, “Who had this great idea?” but remembered it was my idea. Occasionally I would mumble to my exhausted family, “Before we took the blue trail it was such a lovely hike, right? Now we know for next time. The wilderness is beautiful!”

I could feel their glares and eye rolls like daggers. It was really nice before the blue trail though.

I don’t think there will be a next time. 

We found our way back to the red trail and to other hikers who seemed to know better than to ever touch the blue trail. As we descended towards our parked car, the toddler tactical gear guides became alive. An hour and a half of being carried had really perked them up. Racing to the car, they raised their hands like Rocky shouting, “We did it, yay!”

With it being only the beginning of spring, I am impressed my family got all our wilderness activity out-of-the-way in one day. Three hours of thinking you will be the plot to the next Blair Witch movie can really unite a family in their hatred of whoever had the great idea to take random trails in the middle of the woods.

As I weakly reminded everyone we had fun before the blue trail, we made our way away from Lantern Hill and towards the comforts of civilization. We learned many important lessons, like don’t throw woven baby gear instructions to the side, don’t trust plans made by dad, and check to see if the blue and red markers are actually a part of the same trail.

It was a lot of fun before that blue trail though.

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February 19

Life Alert

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“He has a fever!”

I said, looking at my dog to go find a pack of sleigh dogs to lead and bring back the vital medicine my sweet child needed. His temperature hovered around 101, clearly close to death’s door.

As I bundled my man up and placed cold cloth to his head, I whispered, “Everything will be okay.” Before loading him into the car and speeding to the emergency room.

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“Meh, he is fine, a little warm.”

The thermometer under my baby’s arm beeped rapidly to alert me of his 102 temperature. I ran a cloth under cold water and placed it on his head before turning on some sing along and going to the medicine cabinet where I grabbed a syringe full of cherry Tylenol.

Laying him on the couch, I moved to the kitchen to make sure the boys hadn’t made their way into the fridge to eat all the cheese.

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With the boys, as they have always been known, we had frequent flyer miles accruing from all our trips to the hospital or to the doctor. Any slight raised temperature or bump seemed to be life threatening. Kid bumped his head? Hopefully Lifestar can make it here in time before he begins to hemorrhage.

Our third child on the other hand, HA! He hasn’t even seen the hospital since birth. Outside of a possible ear infection, the only time he’s made it out to the doctor is for check ups. Even those seem to be vaccine fly throughs. Oh my god, Becky, he vaccinates.

Okay, now I am sure some will stop there and run to the comments to post something about vaccines. I don’t usually answer comments anyways, so don’t hold your breath waiting for me to get into a discussion about vaccines. This isn’t about being for or against them anyways.

When we had the twins, every visit to the doctor included a good half hour session of me turning the check up room into a Law and Order style interrogation.

I sat the doctor down and slammed my hands on his desk, demanding answers to my questions. What was this spot on my child? Would he have the spot forever? Did we need a biopsy? Where is Dr. House and do you think he is always so ornery?

The baby though, as he too has always been known, gets his bumps, scrapes and coughs met with a, “Aw, buddy, bad day? You’re fine. Here is a popsicle.”

And it isn’t out of a lack of love for him. It isn’t because of insurmountable debt after so many healthcare visits with the twins either (I thought ten hospital visits equaled a free ambulance ride? Guess not.). You learn after the first, or in my case firsts, that, holy cow, these little guys are actually somewhat durable.

Children have an enviable ability to dust themselves off after a fall or destroy a kitchen while battling a fever. They are, as cliché as it may sound, ‘little troopers’.

I don’t request emergency evacuation after every fall from the couch now. That’s not because I don’t worry about my son’s safety, I just have learned by kid three, most of these minor injuries are, in fact, minor. We aren’t going swan diving off the couch tempting fate, but we also aren’t putting splints on his arm out of fear it might be broken from a little fall.

You learn and grow with each child, gaining a better grasp on when medical attention is needed versus the old saying, “rub some dirt in it.” I no longer feel as though my children need their own Life Alert buttons.

I lost most of you at vaccines anyways. Have you noticed yourself more relaxed as a parent after your first? Are you still hyper-vigilant and on top of everything? Does the local hospital have a reserved room for your constant visits?

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