Monday, December 25, 2017

Baby on the Flo

So excited for modesty
You may be cute - but you'll
never be Cordelia's chin on her
fist cute.
Cuddling for fighting for space?
My last blog post I wrote from Tucson. I for some reason haven't had much time for blogging since. Having twins will do that to you.

I got home from my internship a week before school started. It was a good experience and I learned a lot. A couple perks were getting to see lots of cousins I don't get to see very often, earning some great experience/cash, and ultimately getting a job offer for after graduation

I'm extremely grateful for those who helped Merilee out while I was gone. It was a lot easier knowing my family was well taken care of. I felt like I had parenting pretty well mapped out when I left. At the hospital we had four days to learn how to feed, change, and care for at least Cordelia. When Bruce got home from the NICU we had two to work with but we still had my sister Jenny in town. When I came back it was just Mer and me and I was 7 weeks out of practice. I'm catching up though.

Fall quarter was tough. Luckily, I only had two classes in addition to taking thesis units. The academic load was pretty manageable, but everything together was a bit much. I was taking a graduate stats class and another orbital mechanics class.

The babes love to sit on mom on
the couch.
So sleepy.
So precious
I also taught a junior lab called "Sensors, Actuators, and Control." It's a new class that I wish was around when I was a Junior. Not really though because it'd just be another class I needed to take and a lot of it was working with arduino microcontrollers which I got experience with on my own. I'll be teaching another new lab next quarter called "Aerospace Systems Engineering and Integration." This  is more systems architecture design, but they do get to build a quad-copter at the end of it. 

I went back to my part-time software testing and apartment managing. My testing area got moved to a more boring application but oh well. I suppose they don't have much incentive to keep me interested if they know I'm looking to leave after I graduate.

Fall quarter was supposed to be the best in terms of the workload for the apartment managing. However, I had someone violate the terms of their lease and the result was that I had to find a tenant for a studio a month after school started when most people had already found housing. It's one of four instances this year where people have needed to change their lease in some way but it was the worst because the guy left his unit and decided he wasn't going to pay rent or find a replacement after he got a new job in the bay. Thanks.

I don't always have trouble finding a parking spot, but when
I do, I make sure to drive over and park on someone else's
property. #Brolife
I contemplated signing this
awesome neighbor up for a bunch
of magazines and other junk mail
after they filled one of our bins
with their crap.

You may think that the company could just go after the guy since his lease went for another year and you'd be right. However, it's a lot easier for the management company to just get me to fill the unit since I always bill 35 hours a month no matter what. Like I said, thanks! I have tons of time for that.

We also have some amazing neighbors who keep driving over our property and sometimes parking on it. I left a note, then I called the tow truck. However, the tow truck is so loud and bright that the blessed bro's just come outside and move their car before it's hooked up. I keep trying to catch them in the middle of the night now but they only have a car there while they're awake it seems. Thanks!

Some good news about the complex is that we're getting new mail boxes that are more secure (anything is more secure than what we currently have). Actually, we already got them, but I have yet to receive the keys. The place was marked months ago and they finally dug a hole for it only recently. They didn't cover it though. I thought that was weird since people are likely to walk around that area, and at night it's not lit at all, so someone could easily fall in and hurt themselves. I covered it with a rickety old table that was lying around the property- which I saw later the workers were using as a work table. You're welcome.

I should probably censor myself about my apartment managing job. The balance of costs and benefits isn't as favorable as I would like, but I do need to find (and train) a replacement before I leave.

So tender
Asleep with mouth open just like mom.
Work, school - I suppose church is next? So the two San Luis Obispo wards combined. We know people from both wards since we hopped two years ago. It will be nice to see more people around more often. Honestly I think the ward we were in just before the merge had enough people to fill callings if more people were willing/able. The youth are a lot better off though I think. We still have Melchizedek priesthood helping with the sacrament as it is.

Cordelia Leopard-Pants
I was called to be a counselor in the elder's quorum presidency. As the stake counselor and I chatted before he extended the calling, he felt the need to let me know that I could refuse it without feeling like I was obligated to serve. I hadn't been trying to talk my way out of a calling, it's just that complaining about how busy I am comes naturally to me (if you couldn't tell that already).

Reading + Cuddles = Win
Luckily he told me that I should counsel with my wife or else I would have declined right there. I knew how Merilee was, how she would never turn a calling down (I would probably still be like that but having four callings a few years ago sort of broke me), but I thought this might be different because of how much she valued my help at home. It wasn't. We prayed about it though, and as we did I felt a lot of the worries and doubts fade as they were replaced with calm feelings. 

More sleepy pics
My busy schedule doesn't allow for a lot of variation - so week by week it was a lot of the same, with only occasional interruptions. Merilee discovered something called Ohm hour. I love it so much (do you know me well enough to sense my sarcasm?). Basically, you try to lower your power consumption during a one or two hour period of the day (typically during peak usage times) and you get rewards. 

Sunday girls
Merilee's all about them rewards. She's a regular participant in T-Mobile Tuesdays (random free things on Tuesdays that you can claim with their app). Some things are just awesome (like free food) and other things are awesome only because they are free (like a cape that Merilee claimed at their store downtown). I only get frustrated when free things turn into a big hassle, like when there are technical difficulties claiming free online movie rentals. Panda Express' website couldn't handle when there was an offer for free food for ordering online. I was so furious I called their customer support and they sent us some vouchers (the next week they featured the same offer, but their website was working so we got double).

The Ohm hour was frustrating because I'd come home from work or school and have some things I needed to get done but we couldn't turn anything on. I didn't want to live in the dark just for some stupid points so I told Merilee she had to wear her T-Mobile cape whenever I had to participate in Ohm hour. Part of me feels like an abusive husband imposing such things on my wife, but then she just accepts it without opposition so I figure it can't be too bad.

Drying off a wet baby
So fresh and so clean.
We went to a baby shower for a nurse at the fertility clinic. She was the person who taught us how to shoot Merilee up with drugs, so we have a special bond. It was at Dr. Steinleitner's house and I was the only dude besides the doctor himself but whatever. He asked me how fatherhood was different from what I expected. Unfortunately the first thing to come to my mind wasn't the joy I received from my children's smiling faces, or the cuddliness of their tiny little bodies. I told him how I had never expected to feel so much anger. I explained my endless rage when Bruce wouldn't eat or sleep when he was fussy when he first came home and how Cordi fights going to sleep. He then asked for something positive and I realized I probably should have started with that.

Ok so obviously we are all tired here.
Merilee says the endless rage is only due to the lack of sleep, but I'm not sure. A lot of times I feel like my character is unequal to the task of being a loving father. I love these kids, but I get really tired sometimes. Not always physically, but emotionally and mentally too. I go from task to task all day and sometimes the smallest things build up and I blow up. It's probably not as bad as it sounds. For example, one time I needed something from a storage bin in our living room closet. I usually only have a drill on top of the bin so I don't have to move much before accessing the bin. There were unused Christmas tablecloths stacked on top of it and I got triggered and threw the tablecloths across the room. 

Victim of rage.
So sweet
You wanna fight?
Even in my rage I still have control, however. In this case, I was holding the tablecloths for a good three seconds trying to find a empty spot on the floor to chuck them at. In another instance, I was trying to take a large bowl out of a cupboard, but we have tons of food stored on our kitchen floor. A bag of flour blocked me from being able to take the bowl out. I was instantly filled with rage and after a moment of consideration, deliberately punished the bag by forcing the cabinet door open several times. I clean up all of my own messes after five minutes or so.

My rage was at times focused on my children (as I told Dr. Steinleitner), but that's been decreasing a lot. I heard kids at all ages can be frustrating (and they probably won't get cuter than they are now) so I'm trying to be patient and kind.

At this age, everything with the twins seems to go by in month-long phases. When they were first home, they just ate and pooped and slept all of the time (only they didn't really sleep in their co-sleeper where they were supposed to). Sometimes they were just fussy for apparently no reason except for it was like 2 AM and what else do you do at 2 AM besides fuss?

Boom, Swaddled!
I am serenity. My hands are huge.
I'm pooping.
When I got back from Tucson, they only pooped like once every day or two and that was awesome. I got some padding set up in their co-sleeper and they started sleeping there more often (they were sleeping in my spot of the bed while I was gone). It was challenging with Cordelia having reflux in the evenings. She would scream from 6PM to 11PM unless I was standing up with her in a position that gave me back aches. I was seriously doubting whether or not my thesis project could be finished in a year with all the time in the evenings it was taking to just keep her from screaming.

As if that wasn't enough, Bruce was sympathy crying anytime Cordelia was. He was also screaming anytime that he was not being fed unless he was sleeping. Eventually we met with the doctor about Cordi's reflux and he first prescribed Zantac. That didn't help so he said to try a baby probiotic. Her reflux has been a lot better since then, but is still bothering her and we might be switching her to another medication soon. Hopefully she'll grow out of it so we don't have to give her anything at all.

Our biggest challenge these days (now that the reflux has lessened) is getting the babies to sleep at a decent hour. Currently, they will not stay in bed until around midnight. They get really tired, we get them to fall asleep (which they usually only will do when they're both piled on Merilee, which led to her being called the "Bed and Breakfast"), we put them in bed, and 10 minutes later they are up again asking us how we could ever abandon them. It's a little ridiculous because they are sooooo tired when we put them down. At least they stay in bed for 6 or more hours once they're down. Count your blessings I suppose.

Mer is the whole package. Bed AND Breakfast
Hanging out
Despite all of the work involved tending to the babes until midnight, I've been making some progress on my thesis project. Hopefully I'll still be able to finish in June. I accepted a full-time offer back in Tucson, and I hope to start in July. The start date won't be set until around April, at which point I'll know if I'll need to start in July or September.

We haven't done too much, but we have started planning for our life after school. My offer was really good, but we probably will need a little time before buying a house or anything. I think we could stay in Tucson long-term, but we'll have to see after being there a while. I'm so ready to be done with school though. Having twins AND school AND work is not an ideal situation. I also have been in school way too long.


For Christmas we were invited to Houston to stay with Merilee's sister and her family again. We were here for our first Christmas after we were married. Since we were traveling, we opened our gifts that were sent to us before we left. We got some mirrors for our car so we could see our babies on long road trips. For our visit to Orange County over Thanksgiving we had a long car ride that was pretty rough on everyone. Hopefully the mirrors will help with that. We also got an echo dot and had some fun talking to it and making sure it worked before we left. Thanks Neal!

Traveling with twin infants went well but we did face a few obstacles. We were dropped off at the sidewalk and had to spend $5 to rent a cart just so we could get all of our stuff to the service desk. Stroller with babes, suitcases, carry-ons, and then two huge car seats. Once we got the car seats dropped off, we were only delayed through security because we chose the wrong line. Basically southwest had some "cleared" personnel who skipped to the front of the line over and over and over so we literally showed the guy our ID's and passes then didn't move for 30 minutes. We had to wait for all of our baby stuff to be screened which wouldn't have taken too long were it not for the person screening our stuff taking a 15 minute break after only screening one of our bags (she didn't get a replacement until she came back).

I can't take pictures of Mer with the babies in bed since the
flash would wake them up. They're still pretty adorable
through the monitor though.
We've been stockpiling formula since we get it for free from
their doctor and the lactation consultant. We obviously don't
use it very much. Only occasionally when we run out of the
good stuff.

Houston so far has been an adventure. Merilee and I saw Star Wars and we've been to the ER twice. It was great (Star Wars was). Our flight came in late Monday night, then Tuesday night was the first rough night with both babies being unusually fussy. When we got back from the movies on Wednesday, Cordi was still in distress. She was having a lot of reflux and we started calling her doctor's office to see if we could get a new medication. They had us try giving her more Zantac before considering another option (we'll be calling them again on Tuesday since it doesn't seem to be helping).

I'm always this chill (not really).

Is also not always this chill.
She started to be in so much distress that she couldn't be set down, could only be calmed by being carried, wasn't drinking a lot, and started to get a temperature. The temporal thermometer Mer's sister had was faulty so we got a normal one on Thursday. She had a temperature so we called the doctor again and they said it sounded like an ear infection. We have poor-people insurance and when I called they said we had to go to an ER since we were traveling out of the state. We gave Cordi some Tylenol and headed to the hospital where they cleared out some earwax and revealed an ear infection. 

Mr. Giraffe, who is very tasty, also is great for cuddles.
We left Bruce at home since he was happy and didn't have a temperature, but the next morning he did so we left Cordi and took Bruce in. His ear did look red, but they also swabbed his nose for the flu and he tested positive. So we didn't bring Cordi back in to be tested, but we're assuming that she got the flu first (possibly from the airport?) along with an ear infection. Then, she gave it to Bruce. We are blessed that they didn't have any vomiting, and no one else at the house seems to be affected. I mean, we're all kind of tired and don't feel the best, but we are also all eating more junk food than usual so that's probably the reason.

The babes are already TV addicts so we have to put up a
barricade whenever we want to watch a movie

They're on Tamiflu and Amoxicillin. They're not really on Tylenol anymore since their fevers aren't coming back. Cordi's also taking her Zantac even though it doesn't seem to do much. It will be nice one day when they can communicate what's bothering them since at any given moment we don't really know what's hurting her (reflux, teething, flu, ear infection, or the usual hunger, diaper, sleep, or boredom?). We also had a visit on Thursday from our good friends the Himes who we did laundry with while they lived in SLO. They got a job in the DFW area when they graduated a year ago and we've missed them a lot. We're hoping they avoided the flu during their visit.

Cordi loves doing crafts with mom
She doesn't know how weird her dad is (yet).

Trying to use Cordi as a straw.

Just chattin'

Chasing stars

One last exhausted pic


Sunday, August 27, 2017


To my sweet Merilee,

Happy 4th anniversary! Can you believe that it's been four years? As we head into our second of what will be many presidential terms, I reflect on our beginnings. Recall when I asked you out for the first time:

"Hey Merilee, can I ask you a question?"
"Do you like babies?"

You didn't know how weird I was. Though you definitely have a better idea now, you probably still don't know how weird I am. I had been observing you - not in a creepy way. I just knew you'd appreciate an awkward situation. To prove my point, aren't you writing a book about these kinds of things?

You took a step back.

I took a step forward to close the distance you had created.

"Well then I have a proposition for you."

At this point, I'd accomplished my primary objective of giving you a weird story to tell your family (and of being obnoxious). My secondary objective was to ask you out on a date. I wasn't nervous because I was having so much fun.

"Do you want to help me babysit my niece and nephew? I'll take you out for ice cream after to make it worth your time."

You said yes, and I'm so grateful that you did. I don't remember much of what we did with the kids. What I do remember about that summer night is sitting for who knows how long out in front of the movie theater eating froyo and talking. You were so easy to talk to (you still are).

Thanks for loving babies.
Thanks for eating ice cream
at an incredibly slow rate. It
gives us plenty of time to talk
after I've already slammed
mine down.
Fast forward five years, and you still love babies. Seeing who we are today, it's hard for me to believe that I didn't always know. I didn't know while shoving cookie dough and cheesecake bites into my mouth that I was sitting with my future wife, or talking with the mother of my children. I didn't know then that you would make me this happy. I didn't know I could be this happy.

But I guess things rarely turn out how you expect or want them to - which is a good thing in many cases. My idea of dating when I was younger was based on what always seemed to happen in movies and shows which depicted friends falling in love after knowing each other for a long time. The result was that I never liked the idea of trying to find a partner through the "normal" dating process, and was too terrified to even ask any girls out until I got setup on a blind date after my mission.
Thanks for calling her Cordelia
I also try to remember what I imagined or dreamed my future wife and family would look or be like, but I can't. That's partly because they didn't exist, but I also know that, whatever I had imagined, I couldn't have imagined or expected anything more perfect for me than what I now have. 

Does that make any sense? I've become convinced that we ourselves often don't know what we need (or even want) in life until God shows us his plan or it just happens. I didn't start putting things together regarding you and me until I became your home teacher and started spending more time with you. Even then, if we hadn't broken up for a month, I don't know if I ever would have had the courage to get married. It took a lot of pain to realize how much I wanted a life with you. Isn't that crazy to think about now?

Four years and we've had what I'm sure we feel is more than our fair share of trials. But I would argue that we could say the same about our blessings. Thank you for being my partner through the good and the bad. Whenever I need to look around and count my blessings, I never have to look far. Thank you for loving me through our journey of infertility. You and I both know that not everyone is so accepting of mutants and I'm sure if that had ever worked out, I would be a divorcee right now. Thank you for bearing and nurturing our two children. You did an amazing job and they are so precious and I'm so excited to raise them with you. I could go on and on until the interwebs ran out of space, but let me finally just say: thank you for being my new dream.

Happy four years to us! I love you to the moon and back (but don't worry, I won't ever actually go to space).
Thanks for holding my hands during this

Thanks for crying because
of how cute our babies are.

Thanks for holding all of
this inside of you for
8 months.

Thanks for being such a
great mother to our babes.
Thanks for embracing my dreams.
Thanks for letting me kiss you.

Thanks for being so cute

Thanks for letting me bury you in foliage  
Thanks for not letting me wear this
shirt with my plaid shorts.

Thanks for climbing in and out of my lowered car
while we were dating.

Thanks for letting me be myself with you.

Thanks for laughing with me and
making me smile all of the time.

Thanks for having long beautiful hair forever.

Thanks for being addicted to Boston Cream Pie.
Thanks for being so excited to be
married to me.

Thanks for making me grow a
mustache that one time then making
fun of me for it so I never
do it again.

Thanks for appreciating my attempt at making
turtles even though they kind of ended up being
enormous fistfuls of chocolate.

Thanks for being so fancy.

Thanks for being my Bengal Tiger
Thank you for giving me the rest
of your life and eternity.