Saturday, February 20, 2016

Part III of III: Tilly, the Barbarian

I assume that somewhere in the Irish and Finnish blood that flows through Tilly’s veins, there are remnants of DNA from a Viking or two.  For fans of the show on the History Channel (a new season begins this week,) Tilly would probably be the love child of Lagertha and Rollo if they made a baby.  

On one hand, we have a hilarious, smart, endearing, unabashed, affectionate, and adorable little peanut.  She (supposedly) behaves at her twice a week school and gets along with her classmates.  She rarely has any reluctance to speak with grown ups or kids alike.  Her facial expressions and mannerisms are more like a seventeen year-old than a four year-old pre-schooler.  She thinks and moves quickly on her feet.  And she can make anyone laugh.  The Tills loves leopard prints, sequins, kitty cats, and most any outfit with some kind of flair or pizzazz.  Her taste is like a combination of Punky Brewster, Lady Gaga, and Cyndi Lauper.  

A trend we’ve noticed lately that Tilly has taken to is a self-appointed role as the nickname creator.  She is the only one I know who calls Greta, “Gret.”  Officially, Greta dislikes it but I think she kinda digs it deep down inside.  BFF Alysha is “Aleesh.”  BFF Dillan is “Dilly.”  I am Dadoo, which Gus has adopted and calls me now, and I love it when any of the kids use it.  Nana is Nanny occasionally.  And so on.

On the other hand, we have a child occasionally possessed by Lucifer.  Her stamina for over-the-top tantrums is actually kind of impressive.  On a bad day, Matilda has a hair trigger that activates the flip sesh.  In other words, practically nothing will set her off.  Not being able to wear a certain pair of pajamas because they’re in the washing machine.  Not being allowed to go outdoors in the winter sans pants.  Not being allowed to watch a show because it’s dinner time.  No dessert.  Basically, if she just hears the word “no.”

Whatever the cause, the fuse gets lit at the initial confrontation.  She is indignant at being denied what she wants.  She pleads that we reconsider.  The more we dig in, the more inflamed she becomes.  Voices are raised.  Feet are stomped.   Sometimes THE WIFE and I maintain our cool.  Sometimes, well, we kind of lose our fucking heads too.  Next thing you know, voices are at a holler pitch.  Doors are slammed.  Ridiculous threats are issued on both sides.  (“I am going to leave this family!”  “Fine, go ahead!  Here’s some bus fare.”  Etc.)

The true sign of a complete meltdown is this crazy move that Tilly does where she is lying on the floor and basically executes what looks like a jack knife dive as she lies on her side.  Except she does it at pace that makes her look like someone trying to do ab crunches in a crossfit competition.  Or maybe a deleted scene from “The Exorcist.”  It’s weird and funny and disturbing all at the same time.

Oh Tilly.  She drives THE WIFE and me to our absolute limit and further.  I’m ashamed at how badly I can bark back at her when she has pierced my (albeit thin) layer of calm patience.  She possesses a degree of fiery insanity that I’ve never observed in another child.

And yet, when you get the happy and behaved version of Till-Tills, all you want to do is hold her in your arms to cuddle and kiss and squeeze.  She is like a pet spider monkey who can scramble over any piece of furniture to plop herself into a lap.  She also has an uncanny ability to spill any size drink no matter how many warnings you give.  I swear she could find a way to spill one of those coffee mugs for boats that are like empty upside down flood light bulbs.

I think Matilda is yet another example of how youngest siblings get the shaft in the parental effort department.  At six months old, Greta ate organic, free range, humanely raised, antibiotic-free baby carrots washed in imported Icelandic water that was hand ground into pulp and mixed with almond milk.  As a snack.  Meanwhile, Tilly was told that if she was hungry, she could go into the kitchen to pour herself some stale Fruit Loops and borderline spoiled chocolate milk.  

We have thousands of photos of Greta with first steps and first words recorded forever.  Hundreds of photos of Gus.  And maybe a few dozen of Tills.

Tilly’s crib had all of the residual bite marks of Greta and Gus-man on the gate.  She gets Greta’s hand-me-down clothes with the pre-existing stains.  Hell, this post is even a month later than the ones about her brother and sister.  As a result of the neglect, it’s easy to see how we as parents contribute to her projecting an already loud voice louder, her already big personality bigger.  

The other night, I was sitting on my bed reading the computer with my headphones on for tunes.  Tilly scaled her way into the bed and cozied up right beside me.  She asked me with her little lispy voice what I was doing as she pulled one of the phones off of my ear and onto hers.  Then she instructed me to play some Katy Perry.  Fearing the Viking and loving my cuddlebug, I queued up the “Roar” video for the umpteenth time in the last six months and just enjoyed the moment.  

I suppose this is the part of the story where I just sigh and shrug my shoulders with a smile.  My baby is one of a kind, that’s for sure.  I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  I think.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The World According to Gus

Part II of III

The five and a half year-old Gussy loves his routines.  Here is a typical day for the little man.

Almost always the first kid to wake up, Gus strolls casually into his parents’ room on a quest to locate the iPad.  With the objective accomplished, he returns to his room and closes the door.  That is a detail that cannot be left out.  He has a thing about keeping his bedroom door closed.  If someone leaves it open, he sighs, stops what he’s doing, gets up, and closes the door.  Then he returns to his iPad.

Every morning, Gus eats a bowl of dry cheerios and some mini-chocolate chip muffins.  And I mean, every morning.  Usually we get a banana and a smoothie in him as well but not always.  Two Flintstones’ vitamins go down without a fight.  As O’s drop and bounce haphazardly on the table, chair, and floor, he demands a book to be read during breakfast - often leaving the table to bring one over and jam it into your face for emphasis.

Gus has a slight obsession with books.  And he always wants to read six of them for some reason.  I don’t know why but that’s his magic number.  Gerald and Piggie are his go-to.  Pete the Cat is acceptable.  “M is for Metal” still rocks his world.  (Thank you Goldberg-Kelly family.)  He would be pretty much content to have a book read to him for an entire day if someone was willing to indulge him.

After breakfast come the clothes.  He pretty much rejects any pants nowadays that aren’t sweats or warm-ups.  (Dressing by himself is still kind of a chore but we practice every night with PJ’s.)  If it’s a school day, he inevitably complains.  And if it’s a really bad day, he spaghetti leg squats onto the floor and flounders around to thwart being handled.  

Gus is still wearing a pull-up but 99% of the time it’s only for a pee.  I’d take that option over the alternative any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  

His speech is improving every day, too.  There are occasional moments when Gus will go on an unprompted tangent such as … anything having to do with riding in my car.  (He absolutely loves cruising in the Malibubonic with the windows down and the radio on.)  He will launch into a twenty question deposition asking “ah we taking Daddy’s cah?” and “where ah we goin?”  (The Mass. accent seems to be rooting.)  When he goes on rolls like this, THE WIFE and I just look at each other and grin with unspoken pride.  Granted, those outside of his inner posse often struggle to understand what Gus says without a “translator” nearby but honestly, he’s getting there bit by bit every single day.

So eventually, one of us somehow gets Gus onto the “bus” (technically, it’s a tricked out van) with Miss Vera (the sweetest lady in Easton) when she arrives around 8.  We chat it up with the other kiddos while we buckle Gus’ seat belt.  After we exit, all family members present do this thing we call the “deet-dee-dee-deet” by sticking our thumbs in our ears and making antlers with our hands.  We nod our heads side to side and say “deet-dee-dee-deet” over and over again until the bus pulls away.  Most of the kids on the bus do it in return like a salute goodbye.  Then we blow kisses and flash “I love you” in sign language.  As McGoo-corny-Disney movie-Hallmark movie-American Girl movie-hoaky as it may sound to the curmudgeon, it’s one of the best parts of the day in my book.

(Then, Gus goes to school for six hours and we have no clue what the hell happens.  But that’s another blog for another day.)

Mr. Nick (great dude) drops off Gus around 2.  G-man rarely volunteers anything about the day’s events.  He just comes in on a mission to play with whomever is home or watch a show (usually Yo Gabba Gabba or Super Why.)  He strips off his neon New Balance kicks immediately (he much rather prefers his Crocs) and marches into the living room to roll around in weird positions on the couch cushions.  If he had a butler, he’d ring a bell for Goldfish.  And milk.  Please.  (He is very polite.)  
At dinner, Gus will eat pasta and cucumbers.  And pretty much nothing else.  And when he eats his cucumber, our Anthony Bourdain only eats the inner seedy flesh.  The uneaten outer portions sit on the plate like the remnants of a watermelon rind complete with bite marks.  

On good nights, we have a post-dinner dance party in the kitchen.  Gus’ favorite song hands down is “Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer.  He literally gets bullshit when anyone else tries to sing because it’s his song.  

G-man’s patented dance move is a rocking side to side bounce that alternates one foot in the air while patting his arms on his thighs.  Gus also has a little kick move that busts out every once in a while when he’s fired up.  We’ve recently started expanding on the choreography, so stay tuned for updates on his candidacy for “So You Think You Can Dance.”  

Next comes tubby time.  Although it’s getting tight, we still try to bathe all three of the kids at once.  They generally fight within two minutes of entry if they’re not already fighting about something.  And all of them are equally to blame.  Then brushing of teeth.  Then reading of books.

In addition to the standing order that we read six books, the reading must take place in mom’s and dad’s bed.  Once done, finally, he’s off to bed.  However, Gus’ particularities don’t end there.

First of all, Gus insists on his Monsters, Inc. sheets like a celebrity insists upon 5000-count Egyptian cotton linens.  And when he finally lays his head down on the pillow, Sully and Mike have to be right side up facing him - not Squishy and Terry/Terri who are on the other side.  If I forget to turn on his sound machine or pull down his shade, Gus will grunt with indignation and beckon me back to take care of business.  Then.  Finally.  It’s lots of kisses and squeezes, I love you’s, and the light is off.


Every once in a while, Gus and I will be out and about somewhere when we encounter a small child with his or her mom or dad.  That child, innocent as can be, might stare at Gus with wonder.  The child knows that something seems a bit different about Gus.  Some say nothing and move on, or they may say “His eyes look funny,” or something else totally innocuous and honest.  The poor mother or father nervously smiles or laughs and attempts to distract the child to avoid any awkwardness.  

Let me say right away that I totally get it.  Our feelings are not hurt whatsoever.  If I had no child with DS, I would probably react the exact same way.  I would have no idea what the right thing to do or say in that situation is either.  Just know that from our family to yours: it’s cool.  Your child is just calling it like it is.

Gus is different because he is as unique as any other kid in the universe, but also because he has DS, and also because he loves “Honey, I’m good” and cucumbers.  He is a little love but he’s not above reproach.  If he misbehaves - or makes a bad choice as we like to say around here - then he needs to be disciplined accordingly.  

There are very compassionate and caring people out there that blindly love people with DS because they are “special” or some other synonym.  Those folks are not wrong and we absolutely love that supporters like them are out there.  We welcome their encouragement without reservation and thank them for watching our backs.

But here’s the thing.  As parents, we want Gus to continue winning people over with his charisma, sense of humor, sweetness, affection, quirks, and everything else that is wonderful about him.   However, we don’t want him to get a free pass just because he has Down’s.  Make him earn your love.

Don’t get me wrong.  We love all our homies with extra chromies no doubt.  But we love anyone who is our family’s homey with or without extra chromies period.  

I hate to get all philosophical or lecture mode on you, dear reader.  Especially on a day when peeps might be going to church.  So, let me steer us back to where we started.  Andy Grammar - cue the music for our re-mix:

“Oh no, honey we’re good.  Gus loves your jam.  And he rocks it all the time.  He’s.  Got.  A family at home.  Who loves him a lot.  And..”

Sorry Gus just grabbed the mike and he’s running away with it.  We’ll catch up with you next time!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Greta, the Thinker

Hi world!  We have a lot of catching up to do.  I promised a new installment before Tilly's birthday.  It's long overdue.  So here comes part I of III below.

After we get you up to speed on my peanuts, I'm hoping to post on a more frequent basis.  No guarantees, but just know that I'm trying.


My parents had a small statue of Rodin’s Le Penseur in the house when I was growing up.  I never gave it much attention until an art history class in college made me realize what it was.  Anyway, I failed to give it further thought (no pun intended) until recently while observing Miss Greta Jane.  

While she seems to be flourishing in school (she loves reading, writing, and art in particular,) the “thinker” side of Greta that I love is not necessarily related solely to academics.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so proud that learning is fun for her and seems to be going well.  But there is another side to Greta’s pensive nature that I appreciate even more.

Analysis.  Greta can sit and mull over a topic, digesting it.  Marinating it.  Without any urgency.  It might be a few minutes, or it might be a few days.  Once the thought has fermented, she volunteers an opinion that is insightful, thoughtful, and smart.  I would smile and laugh out of love but that doesn’t go over very well.  (More on that below.)  In any event, her knack for reflection makes me excited for the potential depths of our future conversations to come.  I just marvel at how her brain works.

For example, a few weeks back I decided to try out a church in town.  I brought her along for the ride.  We both hated it.  But at least we tried.  Anyways, while we were driving she asked me some questions about God.  I was super stoked already because these are the kinds of parent-child conversations that get my juices flowing.  So we’re going back and forth until we encounter a pause.  A moment or two later, G suddenly pipes up.  “So God is kinda like Santa Claus?”  I wanted to jam on the brakes and hug her, I was so proud.  

Second, and probably even more important, Greta has a keen sense of vibe.  Reading people or even a room.  Actually, let me rephrase on the people part.  She doesn’t trust adults implicitly.  With kids, she seems to want to play with anyone near her age.  Great kids.  Bratty kids.  Nice kids.  Shy kids.  Grumpy kids.  Doesn’t really matter.  (I suppose that’s fine for now, but come high school, I obviously hope she stays away from d-bags and riff raff.)  But as for adults, you need to earn her comfort level first.  If you give her bad juju, Greta keeps you at an arm’s length.  If she feels the love, you know it.  She will seek your engagement in a conversation or game or art project or impromptu dance performance, etc.

As for a room’s vibe, our recent trip to Edaville is illustrative.  We had recently discussed the issue of not talking to strangers because of a failed abduction in our town.  We were taking a break in a cafeteria.  Two older guys were sitting next to us without any kids.  I didn’t take much notice of them.  Eventually, they left.  Greta mentioned how the guys seemed suspicious to her.  When I asked why, she said something like “well, two people tried to steal a kid in Easton and those were two guys at a kid park without any kids.”  Again, her brain just blows me away.

On the flip side - and I don’t mean this as an insult - she is very sensitive.  Very reminiscent of her mother.  And perhaps a bit of her father too.  Sensitivity can be a wonderful strength.  But it can also be a cruel weakness.  And this is where I start to live in fear of Greta’s transition from young child to elementary school kid.  

Here’s what I mean.  When we sit at the dinner table talking about her day, we spend very little time on ABCs or arithmetic.  Instead, the focus is almost exclusively on how a girl didn’t want to sit next to her on the bus, or how another girl ignored her at recess, or how someone wasn’t filling her bucket.  She cried at dinner a few weeks ago because her name was mentioned on the announcements but none of her friends mentioned it to her during the day.  (I swear I’ve eavesdropped on some version of this same conversation during one of THE WIFE’s telephone chats with a girlfriend.)

When these anecdotes first arose, my instinct was to say “Oh that’s too bad” and move on.  But THE WIFE - to her credit - will instantly go into therapist mode and engage in a half-hour long exercise discussing how the experience made Gigi feel.  That’s where I tune out Spaceman Spiff-style and go into Homer Simpson/singing songs inside my head mode while everyone talks.

These new scenarios scare the shit out of me because: 1) Greta has a problem; 2) it pains me to see my beautiful child unhappy or sad; 3) I am only good at proposing solutions to problems; 4) I have about a 20-second tolerance for listening to someone express their feelings about a problem rather than focusing on a solution; 5) my proposed solution in this case is “ignore her and you will find that she comes around later”; and 6) Greta hates my proposed solution.  Therefore, I am useless.  AND WE’RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT FIRST GRADE!  

What kind of complex problem will Greta disclose when she is 13 years old?  What about 17 years old?  I don’t even know how to operate Snapchat.  I’ve never seen Tinder.  I still have a hotmail e-mail address for Christ’s sake.  I’m already feeling unqualified to maintain dad credentials.  

The other day Greta told me she was looking for her “fuggs.”  I said “What are fuggs?”  She said, “Fake uggs.”  How the hell does she know what real uggs are or not?  Fortunately, she seemed fine with the knockoffs but what happens when only the name brands will do?  Not to mention the need to get a third job at that point, the prospect of a future “Mean Girls” situation involving clothes or body image makes me cringe even more.

Pause.  Deep breath.  Smell the roses.  Chill.  Relax.  Okay.  Namaste.

I’m treasuring how when Greta walks through the house, she can’t go more than 20 feet without practicing a cartwheel or a dancing twirl or the move when she puts both arms on a surface, leans forward, and kicks her legs behind her.  She sings without self-consciousness.  Hell, she still feels comfortable enough to walk around the house naked in front of her family.  That reminds me she is still a little girl.  But the transition to bigger kid is already upon us.  And I really am so excited to be along for her ride.  Even if I have to ask her to explain how Uber works.  

At least going out for ice cream still works as a plan B to make her feel better.  I have to enjoy that as a solution while it still lasts!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hoohoos and Vajayjays

Anatomy and physiology was my favorite class in high school.  While some of the ladies may have enjoyed the class more because of our teacher - rumor had it that Mr. K was easy on the eyes - I enjoyed it mostly because of the opportunity to answer questions using words (particularly when studying the reproductive system) that might otherwise be accompanied only with a stifled Beavis and Butthead giggle.  Plus, I was under the mistaken impression at the time that my future career would be sports medicine.  Even after my medical career was abandoned in college after a freshman year of mediocre science grades, I still memorize body parts (and world capitals) just in case they end up as categories when I audition for Jeopardy some day.  
Fast forwarding to our parental experiment, THE WIFE and I made a conscious decision early on to use appropriate anatomical verbiage when identifying body parts in conversation with the kids.  Rather than use the polite euphemisms of flower, vajayjay, tutu, wewe, etc., we've said vagina and penis since Greta's early days.  Proper terminology aside, it's still difficult to avoid a smirk or chuckle like junior high schoolers whenever such a chat arises.
At her current age, Tilly seems to have the most interest in discussing body parts and bodily functions. 
To understand the following, you should know that closed bathroom doors still mean nothing to her.
ME: (sitting on the bowl, perusing an almanac for the world's longest rivers by continent)
The bathroom door flies open.  Tilly marches in, satisfied that she located me.
TILLS: Oh, they you are.  Hey Dad.
ME: Hi bug.  
TILLS: (she surveys the room and strolls casually)  Are you pooping?
ME: Yeah.
ME: Can I help you with something?
TILLS: (glancing downward towards the bowl) You have a penis.
ME: Yes I do.
TILLS: Beguz you're a boy.
ME: That's right.
TILLS: And Gus has a penis beguz he's a boy.
ME: Yes he does.
TILLS: And I have a fagina.  [she mispronounces too many words so cutely, I can't correct her.]
ME: Yep.
TILLS: And Mommy and Greta have faginas.  Beguz they’re girls.  
ME: That's right.
(brief pause while TIlly tries to drink from THE WIFE's contact lens storage case)
ME: Honey, please put that down.  Can I have some privacy please?
TILLS: Where does poop and pee come from, Dad?
ME: (stalling to answer appropriately) Well, uh, after we eat and drink, our bodies take energy and vitamins and stuff from the food and water.  Then our bodies poop and pee what we don’t need.  
TILLS: But we don’t eat or touch poop or pee right?
ME: That’s right.  Never. Ever.  And you should always ask for help when you’re wiping because you get spicy bum when you don't -
TILLS: Where does poop come out?
ME: There’s a hole in your bum.
ME: (tempted to say cornhole or one of the dozens of other better nicknames) No seriously, it’s called an anus-
TILLS: And it’s naughty to say “butt,” right Dad?  That’s why we say bum.  
ME: That’s right.
TILLS: And “shut up” is naughty to say, too, right Dad?  
ME: That’s right.
TILLS: But Shrek says “shut up” to Donkey.
ME: TIlls, can I have some privacy?
TILLS: Gussie said “stupid” today and Mommy gave him a time out…
And so on.  
The trending topic of late has been “boobies” so we’ve tried to steer them towards chest and nipples instead.  THE WIFE rolls her eyes, frowns, and shakes her head at me when she thinks I’m going overboard.  I’m pretty sure that happened when I tried to explain areolas during the “boobie” discussion.  I suppose I have to pick and choose my spots.  
THE WIFE and I haven’t yet covered feces, urine, bowel movement, testicles, vulva, or perineum with the kids.  But feel free to do so if Tilly happens to barge in on you during your “private time” on the potty.  Anyway, I’m off to find a quiet place for reading the almanac.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Grizz!

My father celebrated his 65th birthday with our extended family at a nice dinner party a few weeks ago.  Greta tagged along, which was great to have her with us.  Unfortunately, we had to hit the road early because it was a "school night."  The following was a toast I wanted to share at the post-party we never attended, which I e-mailed to the family later.  Figured it was worthy of a blog post!

When I was applying to colleges, I fell in love with UVM the minute I first visited there.  But money being money, it was going to be a challenge to finance the tuition as an out-of-state student.  Since 1993 was essentially a pre-Internet age, I borrowed a library book about scholarships and started hammering out applications on our electric typewriter.  

During this process, Dad told me how there was a scholarship offered at work.  Immediately, because it was his idea and I already knew everything I needed to know as a wise 17 year-old, I was skeptical and poo-poo'd his suggestion.  Undeterred, Dad told me to just "do it" and see what happens.  After much arm twisting, I filled out the application and away it went.

Months went by and the deadline to enroll in school was getting closer.  By spring, I was working part-time at the mini-golf and batting cage place behind the Brick House ice cream shack in Hooksett.  I was either dispensing tokens or raking up baseballs when I looked up and saw Dad walking over.  He had a big shit-eating grin on his face.  I noticed he was carrying some kind of oversized UPS envelope.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  
Sure enough, our ship had come in.  I got the scholarship and we (me and the bank of Mom and Dad) were able to afford UVM.  He was right.  I was wrong.  As usual.  

Growing up, I had a few shining moments in sports or school or other stuff where he had witnessed whatever the occasion was.  He was subtle in his praise, always encouraging me but also making sure that I not let my head get too big.  

But when the AIG scholarship came through, Dad seemed genuinely proud.  Now part of his satisfaction was probably due to his being right and me being wrong (see above) but I think part of it was also that he was proud of me.   And that felt really good.

Fast forward nine years later to 2002.  I was in my last year of law school and working during the day.  I was living at 83 Westland.  Late one Sunday night, Dad showed up after a hasty phone call an hour earlier to make sure I was around.  When Dad arrived, he was carrying another letter.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  

Sadly, the letter was from Roshaun's mother telling me that he had passed away.  To be honest, the remainder of that night is kind of a blur looking back.  All I know is that we grieved the loss of our beloved friend together.  I am tearing up now just thinking about it.  I'm glad I only have to write this story rather than tell it out loud to all of you because I would probably be a chin quivering mess.

My point is that in really good times, my father has been there for me to celebrate and enjoy the afterglow.  He has also been there for me in the tough times, as well.  Not only was Dad there metaphorically - he was literally present to deliver the news, both good and not.  

As a father and a friend, how could you ask for anything more than that?  As a father myself now, I will always appreciate and treasure those two moments as a lesson in parenthood and friendship.   

Thank you Dad for all of your love and support these past 40 years.  I love you for always being you.  I hope I can measure up some day.

Love always,

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Weekender

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... there was a couple.  Who were simply just dating.  Who were without children.  Who dared to have serious conversations, uninterrupted, while enjoying a meal that dared to be warm at the time of consumption.  Who slept - on a whim - for ten uninterrupted hours at night.  Who spontaneously ... did things without having to book a babysitter three months in advance.  Who ... went out to brunch on Sunday mornings and ordered Bloody Mary's instead of firing up the minivan to go to soccer practice, then to wiffle ball, then to swim lessons, then to a birthday party, etc.   Who debated about whether to eat dinner at Rainbow Dragon or Farragut House, instead of whose night it was to make pasta again and pack lunch boxes.

Then the couple got married.  And had kids.  The end.

(dramatic pause)

However, there is that once a year opportunity for THE WIFE and I to turn back the clock.  You know that trip I'm talking about.  The re-connector.  The "just the two of us" getaway.  The "oh yeah, this is why we love each other" weekend.  The two or three days when you ditch the kids with grandparents and possibly come home with a new addition to the family, assuming you were procrastinating on that vasectomy.  This much coveted, temporary, time travel away from reality is also know as ... the Weekender.

THE WIFE and I have our annual sojourn coming up soon.  And it got me thinking.  I need to prepare accordingly.

There are some classic do's and don'ts I follow when getting ready for a Weekender.  Here is a sample of the refresher course I read to myself in the mirror during the countdown to escape...

In the days leading up to a Weekender, it's important to maintain health at all costs.  Specifically, in the week before the trip, boost up the immune system.  DO take Vitamin C supplements and echinacea.  DO drink plenty of fluids.  DO get some extra rest.  In other words, DO wear a hazmat suit, if possible, when interacting with your kids and especially when conducting any pick up or drop off at day care or schools.  Then disinfect said child(ren) thoroughly upon returning home.  If outright quarantine is possible, by all means take advantage.

[I unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way shortly after arriving at the Chatham Bars Inn a few years ago.  A 24-hour stomach bug struck me just as we got settled into our hotel room.  All I remember from that weekend is watching Inception on demand while wrapped beneath a comforter as THE WIFE ordered room service.  Good times!]

DO avoid engaging in athletic or outdoor activities that you do not typically perform.  Sustaining a lower back injury during a first time cross-fit workout or pulling a groin during bikram yoga can severely impede late night - or God willing maybe even afternoon - activities.

DO make a little extra effort in your appearance for the weekend away.  Wax that back or nair the shoulder hair.  Manscaping is a good way to show your lady that she's not married to Wolverine.

DO NOT consume foods that cause chronic flatulence.  The rest of the year may be filled with unrestrained, spontaneous gas triggering dirty looks or wide eyed facial expressions, but the Weekender calls for impromptu morning cuddle sessions that DO NOT include Dutch ovens.

DO limit  conversation about the kids and child rearing during meals to ensure that there are other topics about which the two of you may focus.  For example, one's favorite Yo Gabba Gabba episode or whether Tilly is ready to sleep without a pacifier, are discussion pieces to be avoided.  Instead, focus on fun topics like "did you read anything interesting in Us Weekly today when we sat by the pool?"  Or perhaps, "Should we have red wine tonight or bubbles?  Or both?"  Then reminisce about the wine we drank during our honeymoon as we stared out towards the caldera.

DO NOT get jealous when THE WIFE begins to speak about how talented Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake are.  Although the seemingly innocuous statement is easily misunderstood code for "I would definitely swap you out for said performer and seven seconds of heaven," you must recognize that the observation could also mean "I want you to dance with me if we hear one of their songs when we go to a bar later this evening."

I would write more but I can't because one child is swinging from light fixtures and the other two are entangled in WWE techniques.  Get here soon Weekender.