Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day

I love baseball.

It is far and away my favorite sport and has been since I was kid.  Whereas most sports take nights off or are only played once per week, baseball is an everyday friend.  It is also the sport that best translates to radio which was a big deal in the summers.  You could strap a walkman on and listen to broadcasts while working in the garage or doing yard work.  You could enjoy being outside because baseball embraced it (except for domed stadiums which are just criminal).

There is no greater day in the baseball year than Opening Day.  It is the one time that every fan of every team can be happy because we all start at the same point.  It is spring and most parts of the country are now experiencing better weather.  It signals time to get out of the house again.  Everyone is just in a good mood on Opening Day.  It is holiday as far as I am concerned.    January 1 may be the start of the calendar, but Opening Day is the start of the year.

As a Giants fan, every Opening Day was the start of the season where I might actually see them win it all.  I went through heartbreak after heartbreak every year, but there was always a day every spring where hope was renewed.  I've wondered ever since Spring Training started if I would ever be as excited as I normally was for the start of the baseball season.  After all the Giants had finally broken through and won the World Series, so how could I be as excited and hopeful for a new season when my team made it to the mountaintop?  I worried that I would grow as cynical and overbearing as Yankee and Red Sox fans.  There is no way those fans care about Opening Day as much as fans of the 28 other teams, and I didn't want to become that just because the Giants won it all.

The thing is I am just as excited as always.  In fact I'm downright giddy.  Every time I watch a game now, it will be the DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION San Francisco Giants playing.  It actually makes me want them to win it even more than I have in the past.  I guess World Series championships are like a drug.  You always want more after that first taste.

What makes it even more special is knowing this is the very first Opening Day for my girls.  They were born the morning after the Giants won it all and will always be tied to this team.  I mean one of their middle names is Posey.  Obviously they won't appreciate this one nearly as much as I do and will, but it isn't going to stop me from sitting on the couch with them and watching the game with them at my side.  Hopefully years from now they'll be as excited as I am on the first day of the baseball season.  I hope they are fans just like I am.  Maybe it will simply be the day they get to sit with daddy and watch his favorite team.  Either way that is a win for me.  A combination of two of my favorite things.

So I'll be watching the game today.  My girls will be decked out in their Giants gear just like their dad.  We'll root for our team and hope that this will be the start of another magical year.

Also just to remind the Dodger fans that might read my blog: Giants are the defending World Series champs.  BEAT LA!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You're a natural

There are very few things I'm naturally good at and feel confident doing.  But there is nothing that gets more comments than being a natural with kids.  Why is it such a surprise to see a man that is good with kids?

I love kids and have since I was a kid myself.  When Erin and I started dating (which was over 10 years ago for all you young whipper-snappers out there) I remember playing with her cousin who was much younger.  I couldn't wait to hold her other infant cousin and rock him to sleep.  I loved all of it.  Any time a friend or family member had a kid I would chomp at the bit wanting to hold them and play with them.  And I would always hear the same things "You're a natural" or "You're so good with them" as if it were the hugest surprise.

At first I figured this was because I rarely asked to hold children and waited for the parents to offer.  I don't want to be overbearing or presumptuous.  More often than not a parent isn't going to tell you "No, you can't hold my children, you whack job" even if they aren't comfortable with it.  I know that there is a HUGE amount of trust placed in the hands of someone holding your kid.  So I wanted them to feel comfortable with me first.  Maybe people misinterpreted my respect for space as being timid because I didn't dive right and in a pick the kids up, so they thought it odd when I took to it so well.  But then I noticed that I even heard those same things after my girls were born.  How I looked so comfortable holding them or how there was no awkwardness.  Why did everyone seem to think that I wouldn't be a natural or at least feel the need to comment on it?

Then I realized the reasoning for most people: Apparently males aren't natural parents in many people's eyes.  We don't have the maternal instincts ergo we can't operate as naturally as a female.  If you asked my wife honestly, she would say that I was far more comfortable doing everything for the girls when they first arrived, yet the idea prevailed that I was some sort of oddity.  An outlier to the norm.  That isn't to say that guys who are totally awkward around children and more specifically babies don't exist.  They certainly do.  There are guys that are flat-out afraid to hold a child, and I don't really get it.  I may be biased, but how could you not want to hold my girls and play with them and try to get them to smile?  They are about as cute as anything currently in existence, but there are some that want no part of it.  But even breaking away from my obvious bias, how could you not want to hold any baby?  They're warm and smell great.  Holding a sleeping infant is more relaxing than all the ocean sounds and aroma therapy in the world.

I think I've figured out the real reason and why males get a bad rap.  Guys, dudes, boys, etc. are uncomfortable around kids because they aren't as sure of themselves as they'd like you to believe.  Their confidence stems from what they can do for themselves or what they've accomplished.  It comes from more of a selfish place.  A man on the other hand has confidence in who he is and what he has to give to others.  That confidence comes across in how you deal with children because you know you can put them first and take care of them.  In turn you come across as more natural.  A perfect example is my dad with the girls.  He is blustery with everyone about how they have to be careful with them and protect their necks and heads, but that doesn't keep him from picking them up and playing with them.  He still exudes the confidence because he knows that he can take care of them.  Unfair or not, men get the "You're such a natural" card played on them a lot more than women even though there are also a lot of women that aren't natural kid people.

This is just my hypothesis, and you can disagree with it as much as you'd like.

I'd just like people to start realizing that a natural dad isn't as surprising as you'd think.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Earth Hour

I mentioned Earth Hour in my picture post yesterday, and we definitely celebrate the "holiday".  But there is a story behind the Irish Car Bombs and sitting in the dark.

Last year around this time, I had been working on a Saturday morning when I noticed that the Google home page was completely black.  I thought it was strange and clicked on the link to learn why I wasn't seeing my normal Google screen.  I learned about the conservation effort known as Earth Hour.  Basically a time is set up on the last Saturday of March where cities are supposed to go black and turn off all non-essential lights.  Usually it is 8:30-9:30 local time.  Big cities around the world have embraced the practice.  The Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and Golden Gate Bridge sit in the dark for an hour each year at the same time.

Ignoring the fact that turning all the lights off and then turning them back on an hour later is actually more taxing on the generators than just leaving the lights on, I embraced this new holiday as something quirky and fun.  I even got my wife to buy into it.  So after learning about it, we planned to have all our lights off for an hour that night.

While doing so, we decided that we wanted to walk to frozen yogurt to get a treat to enjoy during our Earth Hour adventure, and we called one of our friends to join us.  He just so happened to be coming from a mutual friends' house that is also obsessed with froyo, and it turned out they were planning to get froyo too.  We invited them all to come along with us on our walk.  When they got to our house they started to question if we might have been playing a prank on them since everything was completely dark, and it looked as if we weren't actually home.  We explained Earth Hour to them, and they all embraced it (especially since we were about to leave our dark house and pick up some delicious froyo).

After getting our frozen yogurt, we walked to the CVS that was in the same parking lot to get some ibuprofen.  While there we noticed that Guinness, Baileys and Jameson was all on sale.  It made sense when you consider we were just over a week removed from St. Patrick's Day, and I'm sure there were plenty of left over Irish themed items.  We decided that if we were going to sit around in the dark we may as well enjoy some Irish Car Bombs.  It was a natural progression and made perfect sense at the time.  So we lugged all the fixins back with us to our house.  We created a new term, Guinness fingers, which basically is what happens when you have to carry a six-pack of Guinness about a mile.  We also did some hardcore parkour.  Or at least we joked about it being on The Office.

Once we got home, we lit a bunch of candles so we could see (in spite of the fact that Earth HOUR had ended 20 minutes earlier).  And we got prepared to celebrate this momentous occasion.  As we were preparing, we noticed something smelled extra earthy.  Apparently one of us had stepped in dog pooped on our way back from the store.  We couldn't actually figure out who it was simply by candlelight, so we turned on one light to identify the culprit and clean the carpet.  After that it was back to the stone ages.

We poured our drinks.  Sat around our kitchen table and talked.  Erin was on the same swim team with everyone who was there, and one of her swim team friends actually went to high school with me.  So we told old stories about swim team  and high school.  We talked about life and plans and families.  We told jokes.  And we drank Irish Car Bombs.  Six each to be exact.  Which if you're keeping count, comes out to 3 full Guinness, 3 shots of Jameson and 3 shots of Baileys for each Car Bomber.  We didn't come to the realization as to how much alcohol that we really consumed until we stood up to move to the living room.  We were WAY drunk, so we sat around and watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  When we surmised that this wasn't going to sober us up enough, one of our friends decided to spend the night and the other couple (who actually had a DD) drove home.

Irish Car Bombed on Earth Hour 2011
 When anyone sleeps at our house after a night of drinking and frivolity, my wife gets up in the morning and makes waffles slathered with peanut butter and chocolate chips.  Yes, they are as healthy as they sound.  If that isn't proof that she is a keeper, I don't know what is.

This year we basically did the exact same thing with a few tweaks.  We put the girls down as per their normal nightly routine before everyone came over.  We didn't have the luxury of walking to frozen yogurt and leaving them, so we stayed in and went straight to the bombs.  We lit as many, if not more, candles.  Erin had champagne instead because she can't have the Irish cream.  We told new stories after a year filled with weddings and babies and a few stories that we forgot to tell the previous year.  A few new people stopped in to check out what we did exactly during Earth Hour.  We played cards via candlelight.  We laughed and joked and learned even more about each other.

What started as a kooky tradition to sit around with no lights on, turned into a tradition about friendship and the realization that all you really need is to be surrounded by people you care about.  It reminded us what was really important.  I hope to pass these lessons on to Ana and Grace (sans the copious amounts of alcohol).  We traded a reliance on technology for time with great friends, and I'll take that trade every time.

Next year around the end of March, any people interested in spending time with friends, telling stories and doing way too many Irish Car Bombs are always invited to  our house for another Earth Hour.  You'll definitely have a great time, and you may even get waffles in the morning.


Ana laughed for real for the first time tonight.  It was SO exciting because there was no denying it.  In fact Erin was so excited that she basically yelled which in turn scared Ana.  This led to an immediate stoppage of laughter and moved us into crying town.

I didn't see the look on her face when she laughed because Erin was holding her, but I can definitely picture it in my head.  I can see it perfectly when I close my eyes, and I can hear it playing back in my head even now.

I hope I never take these things for granted.  I want every laugh to fill my heart with joy.  I want to see them roll over all the time.  I really have no shame and will do anything to get them to smile.  Sure we use these developmental milestones as types of mile markers, but we can't forget that they are also so special.  They are the reminders that you have a happy, healthy baby which is cause for celebration in and of itself.

I wish I had video of it or at least audio.  I want to make it my ringtone.

My Little Laugher

Sunday, March 27, 2011

1000 Words

grab a beer button

We're back for another week in pictures.  They're worth 1000 words apiece.  So this post contains roughly 10,000 words.  That is just SCIENCE!

Every year my wife and I each do a March Madness bracket and go up against each other head to head.  Neither of us really follows college basketball, so really it is a lot of guess work.  I'm pretty sure she beat me last year, but I pulled out a victory this year with UConn getting to the Final Four.  As you can see with all that red strikeout font and only one team in my bracket getting to the Final Four, it isn't as if I'm actually proud of this.

Erin loves to bring the girls into the bed in the mornings.  She also likes to send me pictures while I'm at work to check in on their adventures.  This one is of Ana snuggling up with the bear that Erin gave me while we were dating that I still sleep with along with my Giants World Series Champions blanket.  Basically Ana wants to be just like her dad.

The nappers.

Basically having to work and not spend the mornings with these girls sucks beyond all compare.

Fun with a stuffed monkey

The only thing I can think of when looking at this picture is that Ana and Grace are some sort of zombies that crave stuffed monkey brains.

We do no meat on Fridays during Lent.  I've also grown quite used to eating while standing up since the girls have let it be known that they want to be held during every dinner time.  This is my first attempt at eating sushi with chop sticks while holding Grace.  And I didn't get one drop of soy sauce on her.

I've got a whole other post brewing about the fun that we have during Earth Hour that I'll post tomorrow.  Irish Car Bombs in the dark.  I'll explain more in depth tomorrow.
Car Bombs are prepared!

Drop your shots!


Hope you had as good a week as I did.  Now I have to recover from Earth Hour.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Roll Over

Grace rolled over today!  Between both the Gallawa Girls, we have two little rollie pollies.  They are getting from their stomachs to their backs with ease.  And when I say with ease, I mean that Grace screams her head off until she rolls over.

It just feels great knowing that Grace is right behind her sister in the development department.  They are growing up so fast.  Ana has teeth coming in.  That's right I said TEETH.  As in plural.  Grace will probably be getting teeth.

Then they'll start laughing.

Then walking.

Then driving.

Then dating and getting married.

See.  It goes by quickly.

Think of this as the "Before" picture

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Guilty Pleasures

We all have guilty pleasures.  Many people aren't willing to admit the little things they love that most would find embarrassing.  I'm not like that at all because really I have no shame.  I've also noticed that oftentimes it is media or media-related items that we assign as guilty pleasures.

So here are a few of my guiltiest of pleasures:
  • As I've already admitted, I have a deep love for Gilmore Girls.  Most guys would get laughed at for enjoying that show.  As if a well-written show loaded with pop culture references starring attractive women that are smart and funny is a bad thing.  But the appeal of Gilmore Girls was more than just the sharp wit and perfect comedic timing.  It also showed life in a small town with crazy locals.  It was like Mayberry for a new generation.  It portrayed family issues that we can all relate to.  Your mother can frustrate and anger you to no end, but she is still your mother and you can't or don't want to escape her (although few mothers are as bad as Emily Gilmore).
  • I hate reality television with a passion and credit it with dumbing down a large portion of our society.  I think I may be the one person in America who has never watched a second of American Idol.  That being said I really can't get enough of The Biggest Loser, Top Chef and The Sing Off.  Funny that two of these shows are really polar opposites.  One is all about people struggling with weight loss and food, and the other is all about decadent and fabulous food.  I have a hard time explaining what exactly I like about the shows.  I love that the overly fat people always fall off a treadmill at some point early on during The Biggest Loser, but that isn't reason alone to watch the show.  I could watch YouTube clips for that.  It is really more about them changing their lives and transforming themselves.  That is inspiring stuff.  Regarding Top Chef, I just love food television and love watching people do something I couldn't.  As far as The Sing Off, Ben Folds being involved is an obvious plus, but I also enjoy the performances and new interpretations of popular songs.  I also love making fun of the chick from The Pussycat Dolls.
  • Music is usually what most people bring up when it comes to guilty pleasures.  Mostly because you can enjoy it with headphones on or in your car with the windows rolled up.  It can be more personal and not open to judgement.  I definitely have my musical guilty pleasures that most men who aren't as comfortable with their heterosexuality would admit to.  Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake to name a few.  They just write and perform great and catchy pop songs.  I think pop music tends to get a bad rap because of people like Katy Perry and Ke$ha.  But The Beatles were pop stars too.  There is no shame in a catchy song that is well written and conceived.  And damnit Justin Timberlake is just so damn charismatic.
  • I really don't mind supposed chick flicks.  I love the movie Ever After, A Cinderella Story.  Angelica Huston is such an awful stepmother, but you love to hate her.  I think Drew Barrymore is cute as a button in it.  I just enjoy it.  I also love Serendipity.  John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale with a little Jeremy Piven on the side?  Sign me up!  It may not count, but I have always had a soft spot for Amelie.  It is just a whimsical and magical movie.  Audrey Tautou is adorable, and it is all about enjoying the little things.  I also just love the whole storyline at the beginning about Amelie getting so excited that her father was paying attention to her that her heart would beat uncontrolably making him think she had a heart defect.  Clever and cute all at the same time.
  • Weinerschnitzel.  I can't explain it.  I know their food is terrible.  I know it is horrible for me.  I know that I shorten my lifespan with every Chili Cheese Dog I consume.  But I just can't help but derive some pleasure from it.  Their chili isn't even technically that good compared to some of the better chili in the world, but damnit I love it on their hot dogs, burgers and french fries.
Those are some of my guilty pleasures.  What are yours?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Help Out A Little, Dads

I've never been the type to help out around the house.  My wife and I went at it when we first moved in together because of that very reason.  I hate doing dishes and laundry and bathrooms, and my wife hated reminding me to do those things.  We would argue.  I would get frustrated.  We got a feel for how to live with each other.

Since the girls were born and even before while Erin was pregnant, I started helping out more around the house.  I do the dishes every night.  Mostly because I have a system that Erin doesn't follow, but I can get into that at a later time.  I try to help out with the laundry.  I pick up things around the house.  I have a yard now, and I do that work too.

I don't know what changed in me.  Maybe I started doing it because I felt sorry for my very pregnant wife carrying my two baby girls.  Maybe I wanted to set a better example for Grace and Ana, so they'll now that a clean house is a happy house.  Maybe I just stopped being lazy and actually snapped out of my malaise, and I just started to like helping out.

All I know is that my wife completely and totally appreciates this new me.  She loves that the house is cleaner.  She loves that she doesn't have to ask me to do it anymore.  And she really loves that she can get a break from working and mothering.  She definitely deserves the break.

It certainly isn't the easy way out.  I'd obviously love to just come home and relax with my girls after working all day.  I'd prefer to veg out and watch TV or a movie.  Maybe curl up with a book or hit the sack early.  But that wouldn't make my wife happy, and I learned early on that "A happy wife equals a happy life."  Plus racking up brownie points never hurts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Week in Pictures

I blog late at night, but I still wanted to share my week in pictures through Yep the Blog's linky party.  Check my and all the other pictures from this week.

grab a beer button

The beginning of my week was all about The Gallawa Girls Story.  Here are the seven songs on the playlist, or as Erin likes to call it "Her favorite section."

When Erin ordered the Big Book, I don't think she realized how big it actually was.  Luckily Grace could use it as a tent in case she wanted to have a camp out in the back yard.

I find that putting adult-sized clothes on babies is just about the most adorable thing you can do.

Grace disagrees.  No pictures.

Every day is a lovely day for a Guinness.  St. Patrick's Day is an especially lovely day.
As I said lovely day for the black stuff.

Trying to get comfy.

Success.  Good night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I Miss

I don't know how other working dads feel, but there are times when I miss things that I can't get back because I'm not there to see and experience everything.  Today was one of those days when I wished that I was independently wealthy or at least a stay-at-home dad.

One of our girls (Ana to be exact) rolled over from her stomach to her back for the first time!  It is so exciting when your kids hit those developmental milestones.  I'll always remember the first time they actually smiled at me.  I get a little too excited when they put their hands together for the first time.  I might just cry the first time they laugh.  But I'll probably have to learn about those things the same way I learned about Ana rolling onto her back today, via text message.

It's not like I'm unhappy that they are hitting these milestones.  In fact I couldn't be more happy.  But I can be selfish about it too.  I just want them to consult my schedule before doing these wonderful things.  Or how about a compromise?  You girls wait to laugh and crawl and walk and say your first words for a Saturday or Sunday, so that I can keep working.  I'm also willing to work something out for an afternoon during the week, and I'll try to leave work earlier to see it.

I know that one of the biggest gifts I can give to this family and my daughters is supporting them.  I need to work, so they can have everything that they need and a few of the things that they don't.  But it is so hard knowing that they're at home rolling over and smiling while I'm missing it.  You can bet that the first thing I did when I got home was put Ana on her tummy and watch her roll over onto her back.  I have to say that you don't even realize how much these sorts of things mean to you until you see it for the first time.  Even if it was a rerun of a previously aired program (at least it was new to me).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Tracks 20-22

We've reached the final chapter in the mixtape I've made for Grace and Ana.  If you really want to know the entire story so far, go back and re-read all the previous chapters that led up to this point.  Chapter one about introductions.  Chapter two about the gifts to and from our girls.  Chapter three about using my imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery to have fun with my girls.  And chapter four about what it means to me to be a father.

Now we're on chapter five, and it's time for bed.  Songs to rock my girls to sleep every night.  Maybe they'll be the same songs that their kids will hear each night as they're rocked to sleep.

20. Golden Slumbers - The Beatles
And here is The Beatles' song that I promised.  Like I've said in earlier posts, this entire mixtape could be songs by The Beatles.  And babies LOVE their music.  I can't tell you how many times I've been singing a song by the Fab Four, and Grace and Ana will get a huge smile on their faces.  It seems like it doesn't even matter what Beatles' song it is.  That just goes to show you how universal their music is.  Golden Slumbers is probably in my top five songs by them.  It is brilliant in its simplicity.  It is simply about singing your child to sleep.  And it is so beautiful to promise them smiles when they arise from their slumbers.  I hope they keep loving The Beatles, and I they look back at this song fondly as the gateway to loving their music.  As a quick aside they'll probably also love Ben Folds' cover of the song too.

21. Lullabye - Ben Folds Five
I love this song which is no big surprise since I love Ben Folds' music so much.  And this lullabye is especially fantastic.  It is so gorgeous.  Musically it is one of my favorite songs by Ben Folds.  It was the first lullabye my girls heard their first night in the NICU.  I wanted them to know that especially on their first night that the world definitely had more for them.  I still sing this song to them all the time.  It soothes them as it should.  That opening and closing verse actually brings me back to Golden Slumbers.  Those verses are so simple and say so much.  And the middle is all about taking a trip on a flight to dreamland.  I hope that every night the moonlight takes the lid off their dreams.

22.  Lullaby (Good Night My Angel) - Billy Joel
And we close the Gallawa Girls Story out with the most beautiful song on the whole mixtape.  Grace and Ana are my little angels.  I know they'll have lots of questions for me and hopefully I can answer them all.  Hopefully they understand what I'm trying to say to them.  I'll be there to rock them to sleep like the tide in the ocean.  The lullabyes I sing will lead to dreams of a wonderful life.  And that life will always have a part of me in it whether I'm there or gone.  They'll pass along these songs to their kids and that will be me living on through them.  I hope that they look back fondly on the times that I've sung them to sleep.  I hope that these songs find a way into their hearts and stay there forever and ever.

Music lives on forever as does love, and those are the greatest gifts I can give my girls.  Someday they'll look back at these posts while they're listening to these songs and be reminded how much their dad loves them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Tracks 17-19

I took a short break on my posts about the mixtape that I made for my beautiful baby girls, but I'm back with part four.  If you're curious about the story so far, go back and read from the beginning or skip ahead to part two or even part three.

This section of the playlist is just all about love for a child.  I've always wanted to be a dad, and these songs are about the responsibilities and joy of being a dad.  So without further ado, here is part four of my series on The Gallawa Girls Story.

17.  Child of Mine - Carol King
My wife would never forgive me if I had left Carol King off this mix.  I was considering going with Where You Lead as an homage to the Gilmore Girls.  Yeah I said it or, more accurately, wrote it.  Gilmore Girls is my all-time guiltiest of guilty pleasures.  In fact I don't even feel guilty about it.  It was just a wonderful show full of pop culture references and rat-ta-tat dialogue that harkens back to Howard Hawks movies.  But I digress.  I didn't choose that song because I look at it as more of a love song.  Child of Mine is really all about how your kids change the way you look at the world.  Their presence alone can paint a new picture for you to see.  I disagree with the line about not needing direction because every child needs guidance, but you do hope that you give them enough of that guidance to strike out on their own.  And I love the message that my children may not have been born in perfect times, but they are the key to making the future better than the present.  It is a very powerful thing that you can teach your kids.  They are the keys to the doors of change.  I hope to instill this in my girls.  And I hope they always know that I'm happy and proud just being their dad.

18.  Daughter - Loudon Wainwright III
For anyone that has seen the movie Knocked Up, this is the song that plays over the end credits.  Don't get me started on that movie.  I'd believe killer robots from outer space before I'd buy that a girl that looks like Katherine Heigl would end up with that stoner schlub like Seth Rogen.  But the movie does remind me that having kids changes us (or should change us).  The song itself is just about as cute as it gets.  I just love the lyrics, and it has a way of getting stuck in your head.  It has become a definite bath time song for obvious reasons (That's my daughter in the water).  I want to do everything for my girls.  I want to teach them everything they know.  I want them to take everything I say to heart.  I'm going to catch them every time they fall.  I know that I'm going to lose every time I fight them; I just don't have a shot.  But there is also a deeper meaning that daughters really need their dads.  They need that strength and protection.  They need guidance and love.  They need me to give them everything I can.  They need me to be filled with pride for all their accomplishments.  Mostly they need me to be there for them, and I will be no matter what, every time.

19.  Father & Daughter - Paul Simon
I love this song.  I love everything about it.  Musically.  Lyrically.  Emotionally.  This is father-daughter wedding dance stuff.  This is the kind of song that should bring a tear to your eye.  If it doesn't, I don't know what to say to you.  There will always be a light that shines on these girls forever.  Its me.  I can't guarantee that there aren't things in this world that will scare them or try to hurt them, but I can be there to protect them.  And I'll never be too far away from them.  I will always stay with them until they aren't scared anymore.  I'll be their big strong protector.  I'll also be there to see them grow up and become their own shining lights.  I can give them the signs and paths to guide them.  I can help them grow and remind them that their daddy will always be there to love them.  Because there are irrevocable truths in this world.  One and one will always equal two.  I will always love Grace and Ana.  In fact there is no one in this world that has loved anyone as much as I love these two little, wonderful girls.  And I'll keep shining on them whether I'm actually with them or just in their hearts.

The fifth and final section is coming tomorrow, so look out for it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Tracks 11-16

We've gone over introductions of my girls in part one and the gifts that are given when it comes to parenting in part two.  Part three is a little more simple as far as themes go.  A big part of having kids to see the world through their eyes.  I always looked forward to the times when I could laugh and play with them.  So part three is all about having fun.

11. We Are Okay - Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin has become one of my absolute favorite artists.  His lyrics are so thoughtful and beautiful and he sings in hushed tones that remind me of a much more upbeat Elliot Smith.  His love songs were my first exposure to his music, and the more songs I hear from him the more I love his music.  This song is all about growing up.  It is about remembering the simpler times of make believe and playing in the back yard.  I can't wait for those times.  I plan on having lots of fun with these girls because I know those times don't last forever and certainly go by quickly.  I plan on enjoying those moments when they finally come along.

12. Upside Down - Jack Johnson
Back to our theme of having fun and playing.  This song is all about curiosity and not letting someone tell you something is impossible.  It makes sense that it would appear on the Curious George movie soundtrack.  I love the Curious George books because they were all about the fun that goes along with being inquisitive and how rewarding a sense of discovery can be.  And Jack Johnson's music only emphasizes that fun.  He seems to really get what those stories were all about.  I'm always going to foster my girls' imaginations and encourage their curiosity.  We'll read about the adventures of Curious George and hopefully have plenty of adventures of our own.

13. Baby Blue - Dave Matthews Band
This one may not be all about having fun and playing, but it is beautiful and by another artist that has meant a lot to Erin and me.  Like Ben Folds, Dave Matthews Band has been apart of the soundtrack of our lives since the very beginning of our relationship.  And like Folds, Matthews has a daughter named Grace.  Nothing wrong with that.  "The first time I saw you was like a punch right through my chest."  That may be the most beautiful lyric of all time.  There is no perfect way to describe how you feel the first time you see your children, but that line is pretty darn close.

14. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell
Just your classic children's song being performed by a contemporary artist that I happen to love.  There isn't really much more to say about this song than that.  I love Lisa Loeb.  She has a very distinct voice.  I also really enjoy when current artists put their spin on children's music.  It is a little bit of pandering, but I welcome any new interpretation of something so beloved.  I can't seem to find a video for this one, but you know the song.  We all do, and that is part of the reason I included it.

15. Little Bird, Little Bird - Elizabeth Mitchell
Erin has always referred to me as her little bird.  I'm not sure when she actually started doing it or what motivated her to do it the first time around, but its just our thing.  Because I'm constantly being called little bird, I was very excited to see this song pop up on an episode of Futurama.  After hearing it there I had to know who sang it so I could have it.  That is how I found Elizabeth Mitchell.  She is like a folk version of Raffi except her music is actually good.  This became the go-to-song each night as we played music for the girls during Erin's pregnancy.  And now we've carried on the tradition by calling Grace and Ana our little birds.  This song was probably the biggest reason why I wanted to even make this mixtape.

16. Blackbird - Sarah McClachlan
Continuing our theme of birds.  Now before you cry foul that I'm not including the original version by The Beatles, there is a Beatles' song coming up on the mixtape, and I didn't want to overdo it.  I also happen to love this version.  It is one of my all-time favorite songs by the Fab Four, and I do think that Sarah McLachlan completely does it justice.  Since our girls are little birds, they should fly.  And I want them to soar.

Only six more songs left on The Gallawa Girls story.  Check out part four and look out for the fifth and final part.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Tracks 6-10

If you haven't been reading about the mixtape for my daughters, go back and read my intro and part one that covered tracks one through five.  The first section of the mixtape was all about introductions and welcoming my girls to the world.  The second section is all about gifts.  Either gifts that Erin and I have been given or the gifts that we can pass along to our daughters.  Once again you can click on the song titles to listen to them.

6. Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
As a fan of High Fidelity (which inspires my mixtapes and top five lists), I am well aware of Jack Black's question about Stevie Wonder's top five musical crimes perpetuated in the 80s and 90s.  This song happened to appear on Songs in the Key of Life, a.k.a. his greatest work, long before he resorted to Ebony and Ivory with Sir Paul.  This is also an old standby when it comes to a new father reflecting on the gift he has just been given.  It doesn't hurt that Stevie Wonder is an all-time great that writes beautiful music in spite of his later crimes.  I ask myself all the time what I did right to be blessed with such beautiful, wonderful, precious and lovely girls.  And I think that comes back to the biggest point of the song which is that a child should be the product of love.  Ana and Grace definitely qualify.  Love is the only thing in this world that multiplies when you give it away, and my daughters will always know that they're here because of how much their mom and dad love each other. 

7. Blessed - Elton John
There is so much uncertainty when you first have children.  They can't walk or talk or even move themselves.  You don't really know what they'll look like before they are born.  Really all you can do is dream about them and anxiously wait to meet them.  But the one thing you do know is that you'll always give them the best that you can.  You'll give all of your self to them and ask for nothing in return.  It's really the only promise that you can give to your children.  And that is what I get from this song.  You will bless them with the best life you can no matter what.  This song speaks to the selflessness that is being a parent.  You give them everything you have simply because they are your children and you love them.  I want my girls to have all the blessings I can give to them.

8. Worried Shoes - Karen O and the Kids
The movie version of Where The Wild Things Are seemed to elicit either a love it or hate it reaction (a lot of that coming from how universally loved the book is).  I happen to fall into the Love It category.  It wasn't just your standard children's movie.  It dealt with themes of isolation/loneliness, being forced to grow up too fast and the expectations we have for children and how they sometimes can't emotionally comprehend these expectations.  What really worked was the perfect marriage of movie and soundtrack.  Karen O and the Kids (basically Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a bunch of children) perform all the songs on the soundtrack.  The music is beautiful and haunting and at the same time fun and frantic.  It really seems to mirror the emotions of Max, the little boy in the movie.  All Is Love is the big showstopper and a wonderful, soaring song, but Worried Shoes is a moment to catch your breath and reflect on everything.  I also love the first line "I took my lucky break and I broke it in two".  I'm sure it is supposed to be interpreted another way, but I like to think that I got this lucky break (a child) and broke it in two (twins).  It is a sad song about regret and worry, but it ends on a hopeful note of letting go of that worry because it will just take you away from enjoying life. 

9. Forever Young - Bob Dylan
First of all I love the show Parenthood.  I'm obsessed with it.  Especially the character of Adam Braverman (played perfectly by Peter Krause).  He is my fictional hero.  He is the dad/husband/son/brother that I strive to be.  I hope I'm the rock for my wife and siblings.  I look forward to being a father of children/teens and not just babies and hope to emulate some of what he does on the show.  The reason I mention Parenthood is their use of this song by the incomparable Bob Dylan in the opening credits.  And it is a wonderful song with great message by the greatest songwriter that America has ever produced.  I hope my girls have everything that Dylan mentions in this song.  Help others but don't be afraid to ask for help.  See that they are always surrounded by family.  Be strong and courageous. I hope they always keep the joy of a child in their hearts, and that they don't grow up too fast.  My biggest hope is to instill all of those qualities in them.  That they learn how to be courageous and strong from their dad.  That they see their father's generosity and give just as much.  That they learn enough humility to ask for help when they need it (something I still work on).  It is one thing to wish that they have all this; it is quite another to show them the path to get it.

10. Princess - Matt Nathanson
I must say I don't like the whole princess culture.  What I mean to say is grown women that refer to themselves as princesses which ultimately translates to some sort of entitlement.  It has to start young and become some form of arrested development, or maybe they are just overly enamored with the Disney movies they grew up watching.  I don't want my girls thinking that everything should be handed to them, so I will try to squash the whole princess thing if I can.  I do know however that it is somewhat unavoidable since little girls love dressing up and playing the part.  So part of this song's inclusion is tongue in cheek.  I wouldn't include it without some great music and lyrics.  Especially the entire last verse "You're ready for greatness.  All edited weightless, never more alive.  And oh dear how they'll whisper your name in time."  I'll try my best to give them everything they need and not just everything they want.  I'll teach them to be strong and independent without expecting the world owes them anything.  They'll be ready for that greatness because they'll work for it.  But I don't want to take away all of their innocence just yet.  I guess they can be my princesses for a little while...

Continue on to part three in my breakdown of The Gallawa Girls Story and read all about playing and having fun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Tracks 1-5

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'll be going over the 22 songs that make up the mixtape that I made for my daughters.  I don't just throw songs on a playlist at random.  My intention is to tell a story through songs and give my daughters a gift that they can listen to and enjoy for years to come.  The theme of our first five songs is introductions.

So without further ado, here is part one of my breakdown of The Gallawa Girls Story (Click the song titles to hear them):

1. Welcome to Life - Matt Maher
I'll be the first to tell that I don't like "God rock".  I find that South Park actually did an incredible job pointing out that most of that music is just love songs where they took a girl's name out and replaced it with God.  So it took a little convincing for me to even listen to it when my wife recommended this song.  But once I listened to it, I was all about it.  It's just a great song.  Especially the chorus.  I'm welcoming my girls to the world, and my biggest hope for them is happiness and having a good life (a.k.a. enjoying and getting it right).  I'm sure some will dismiss it because it is faith-based, but the message is ultimately that life is about loving your fellow man through good and rough times.  That's a pretty good message to pass along to my little ones.

2. The Galway Girl - Sharon Shannon feat Mundy
Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to go on a trip with my wife's family to Ireland.  Describing how incredible and fun this trip was would need a post for another day, so I'll just jump ahead to one part of it.  One of our stops was in the city of Galway which in spite of overcast and rainy skies was one of the coolest cities that we saw.  It was full of music, great pubs and nice people.  While there our driver Liam told us all about the song The Galway Girl.  It was written about the city and was apparently quite popular.  In fact it was mentioned and performed in P.S. I Love You.  Don't bother with that movie because it is rubbish, but the song is phenomenal.  It just feels like Ireland (which is hard to explain).  It reminds me of how much I love my wife, and now it will always remind me of the Gallawa Girls.  FYI, my name is pronounced Gal-uh-way in case you were wondering, so it even sounds similar.  And I lost my heart to a Galway girl.  Yep that pretty much sums it up.

3. Heaven - Live
Throwing Copper was a monster hit and catapulted Live to super stardom, but since then Ed Kowalczyk has written some incredibly moving and beautiful songs that are often overlooked.  This is definitely one of them.  And all it took was that one line "I don't need no one to tell me bout heaven.  I look at my daughter and I believe" for me to love this song.  Nothing anyone could tell me about heaven could ever be a better representation than my girls.  This is all the proof I could ever need or hope for.  They are my little piece of heaven.  A little bit of perfection to remind me of God's presence, and the wonderful gifts that I've been given.

4. Gracie - Ben Folds
For as long as I've wanted kids, I've known that one of my daughters was going to be named Grace.  I find it to be an incredibly beautiful name, and there are quite a few musicians that agree with me.  One just so happens to be one of my all-time favorites.  I love Ben Folds.  He became a part of our lives at the very early stages of our relationship and has been intertwined with the story of Erin and me.  The Luckiest was our first dance song on our wedding day, and I can't listen to it without thinking of my wife and getting a little misty eyed.  While Erin and I were dating, I flew down to southern California to go to a Ben Folds show at El Rey Theatre.  It was the first time I had gotten a chance to see him live despite loving his music for years, and I was seeing him with my future wife.  Needless to say it was already very special.  It was during that show that I heard Gracie for the first time.  I just remember it bringing the biggest, goofiest grin to my face.  It's funny and cute and moving, and it expresses perfectly the relationship between a father and his daughter.  It also only hammered home my love of the name Grace and is the perfect song to sing to my Gracie every night.

5. Sweet Pea - Amos Lee
Unfortunately for Ana, there just aren't that many songs that feature her name.  Sure there are plenty of songs about Anna, but that just isn't my daughter's name and would be forcing it.  But there is a song that I do relate to her.  When she was born the first thing that one of the doctors said was "Her head is a little misshapen".  Obviously the thing you want to hear as your kid is being born, right?  It wasn't untrue though.  She really did have a head that was kind of shaped like Mr. Peanut.  So being as unoriginal as I am, I started calling her Peanut Head and then eventually Peanut.  So you can see where I'm going here.  You may know this song from the AT&T commercial where the dad is sending pictures of the monkey to his daughter.  Adorable commercial made even more adorable by this song.  This past summer we saw Amos Lee at Outside Lands, and he really is a fantastic singer-songwriter.  My wife was very pregnant at the time and was not happy by the end of the day, but she definitely was smiling during his set and especially during this song.  These girls are my biggest reason to come home every day.

That wraps up the first section of this series which focused on introducing my girls to the world and vice versa.  Give a listen to the songs, and check out part two!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Gallawa Girls Story - Mixtape Intro

Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing. - High Fidelity

My wife has mentioned on a few occasions my use of music as a way to express myself.  I don't want anyone to be confused.  I am very passionate about music, but I have no actual musical talent.

I don't have a terrible voice, so I guess you could say that is the one instrument that I can play.  In fact I sing constantly to Grace and Ana.  I'll sing them whatever song just happens to be in my head.  I'll sing them a song that relates to what we're doing whether that be changing, bath time or food time.  They seem to enjoy it.  Or they've at least learned to humor their father at a very young age.

My biggest musical talent (if you can call it that) would have to be putting together a mix tape (or CD or playlist or whatever).  Maybe Nick Hornby and John Cusack have a little more influence in my life than I'd like to admit because I look at compiling a mix tape as very seriousness business.  Months before the girls were born, I started compiling all the songs that could possibly tell the story of me and my girls.  You have to understand that when I am putting together a mix tape I start with more songs than I know what to do with.  But it takes more than a good song to make the cut with me.  It has to fit within the framework of the story that I'm trying to tell.  I'm not just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks (especially when linguine might be a better choice).

And to hammer home the point of how seriously I take these sorts of things, I didn't really complete it until after they came home from the hospital.  It needed to be perfect for them, and I was able to finally work it out as they were being released.

Over the next few days I'll be going over the 22 songs that make up The Gallawa Girls Story.  I'll tell you why I chose the songs I did.  What they mean to me and what I want them to mean to my girls.  I'll discuss separate sections in separate posts because: 1. I'm a tease and 2. I don't want to ramble on and on in one post.  So click here to read about tracks 1 through 5.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Busy Day

Today was a very hectic and busy day.

I got up early to go to work like I always do, but that was only the first portion of my long day.

I left work early because we had the mass and rosary for my great grandma.  There were family members there that I hadn't seen in quite some time which was a nice distraction from the somber parts.  Say what you will about the sadness of a funeral but at least they bring families together.  At least we hear stories from the good ole days.  At least some family and friends got a chance to see the girls for the first time.  It was a great juxtaposition the end of one life and the start of two new ones.

Following that theme of new life, we attended a class at our church to go over Baptism with my sister Lauren and our friend Kevin (who are going to be two of the girls' Godparents).  It was an interesting class.  Erin didn't hesitate to point out that she could have taught it even better.  She wasn't taking anything away from what the very nice couple that taught the class had done, but she did teach a class on Sacraments while she was at Loretto.  You could tell she was holding back her desire to answer every question that they asked.

We got to meet some very nice people that at least have two things in common with us (newborns and religion).  We discussed hopes and dreams for our kids.  We were told to discuss special talents.  I love my girls, but even I think that discussing talents of a four-month old is a little ridiculous.  Um, she is smiling now.  She is a great pooper.  They like to fly like Superman.  Come on!  They're newborns.

One thing that I loved about the night was a guided meditation that we sat through.  I really tried to embrace it, but it was very hard to do.  Instead of the couple guiding the meditation, it was pre-recorded.  I had no problem with that part of it, but it was more the voice.  Imagine if Kip from Napoleon Dynamite was talking you through a meditation about Jesus holding your child.  It took everything in my power not to completely crack up during something that was supposed to be so serious.  In fact its earnestness only made it worse.  It was nice to find that levity after such a long day.

Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with Jesus all day.  Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a meditation guide.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Five Generations

My wife and I talked the other day about how the girls kind of got robbed of their first Christmas.  They were just seven and half weeks old at the time and only been home for about five of those.  So we were lucky to have even had a tree and our decorations up by the time Christmas rolled around.  Erin did order them personalized stockings and we bought two or three "Baby's First Christmas" outfits for the different visits to the grandparent's houses.

But it wasn't as big as a production as it could have been.  Sure everyone was excited to see them on Christmas, but the majority of people had already visited at one time or another in the weeks leading up to the holiday.  This gave the whole weekend an anticlimactic feel.  It was just one more day of family seeing the girls except there was too much food and too many presents involved.

The whole process of taking the girls on the road and up to the in-laws and then to my parents was the big deal.  This was the first time we were taking them a distance further than a few miles.  But we now know how efficiently we can pack the car, so we're definitely thankful for that.

The biggest reason for us to get out of the house and make the long trek to Sutter Creek to see my family was the potential of taking a very special photograph.  With the birth of my girls, we now had five living generations in my family.  And we didn't want to miss the opportunity to have those five generations (My Great Grandma Helen, my Grandpa Dave, my mom, me and Grace and Ana) in a picture together.

It was something special to have my girls spend time with my Great Grandma (GG).  Someone who had seen and experienced so much in her life was holding my girls.  She had lived through the Depression, a World War, a moon landing and so much more, but she couldn't imagine anything better than seeing these little things staring up at her.  She was tough as nails and wouldn't hesitate to keep you in line, but Grace and Ana were perfect in her eyes.  She was married to a clown (no kidding my Great Grandpa George was actually a clown), but her smile was never so big as when she was holding those girls.  And she wanted nothing more than to have all of us in the same room together, sharing stories and passing it all along to the next generation.

Their Great, Great Grandma passed away this weekend, so Grace and Ana won't remember meeting her. 
I was so thankful to have that time, and I'm sure my girls will look at the pictures from that weekend.  They'll ask about all the people in the pictures we took.  And I'll tell them about their Great, Great Grandma Helen.  How if they have any piss and vinegar in them that it came from her.  That she was one of the strongest women their dad had ever known, and that all the women in this family had learned from that strength.

She'll be missed but never forgotten.
Five Generations

Thursday, March 3, 2011

That's What She Said

Maybe it is just me, but I've noticed that having kids has opened the door to me being incredibly juvenile.  Not that I wasn't juvenile before I had my girls.  Inappropriate comments and laughing at the lowest forms of humor has always been a part of me.  I pride myself in being very un-PC.

I've never been above dropping a "Your mom" joke.  Even to the point of saying it to someone right in front of his or her mom.  And I know it isn't some high brow, intellectually savvy form of humor.  But there is something very liberating about saying or doing something that taps into primal, almost idiotic levels.

The reason I bring this up: Having children (newborns especially) really opens up the opportunities for "That's what she said" jokes.  When it comes to babies, you find yourself verbalizing almost everything that comes to your mind.  If you have a baby, just take a second to really hear what you say to him or her (especially while feeding).  You will say so many things that would delight Michael Scott, and you won't even realize it.

I've started to notice this more and more because I really want to start using more appropriate language around my girls.  I want to set an example for them.  I don't want them to be that kid who teaches all the other kids curse words.  And I have to be extra mindful of it because I really do have a potty mouth.  There are few things as satisfying as dropping an F-bomb every so often.  But you can't do that around your kids because they are little sponges that want to be just like their parents.  Kids are losing their innocence so quickly, and they don't need the nudge from dear old dad.

Trying to cut out the swears only accentuates the times when things we thought were innocent all of a sudden become dirty.  My puerile mind needs to find an inappropriate joke.  It needs to take something as simple as "Let's get your clothes off" or "You need to open your mouth" or "Are you going to just play with it or are you going to eat it?" or "You need to swallow" and twist it.

I'm glad to know that having kids hasn't forced me to grow up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Scoop on Poop

As I said in my last post, I had literally never changed a diaper in my entire life before the day that my girls were born.  When you don't know how to do something and you're learning how to do it with a delicate, wiggly little girl, it is more than a little nerve-racking.  And you can't put it off.  You cannot escape changing a diaper as a dad.

Death, taxes and diaper changes.  Inevitabilities.

Since that first day in the NICU I have jumped at the chance to change as many diapers as I possibly could.  In fact I make an effort to change every single diaper when I'm home.  Twins have given me plenty of practice in the diaper changing department.  It has also helped me learn quite a few things about changing diapers:
  • You will never be more excited to see poop in your life.  It's almost unnatural when you think about how happy poop makes you, but it is most certainly a relief when you've gone a few days without a poopy diaper.
  • Your kid will seem stronger than you would ever think; breaking away from your grip like he or she is a wrestler and the state championship is on the line.  Or maybe its just an irrational fear that you're going to break them, so you let them wriggle away.
  • This will always lead to a foot in a dirty diaper.  Take off any socks before you start changing and the wiggling and squiggling begins.
  • Always put the clean diaper at the ready underneath the dirty one in case he or she isn't done.  Trust me.  This is something you'll blow off and learn the hard way.
  • If your wife/significant other/baby mama is breastfeeding your kid or kids, your child's diapers won't smell nearly as bad formula-fed babies.  Another nice bonus of breastfeeding.
  • Blow-outs aren't nearly as bad as you'd think, and I've seen some diapers that looked like a war zone.
  • Your wife or significant other will be incredibly thankful and think you are the best dad ever since you are helping her out by taking a job off her plate.  Volunteer and be enthusiastic.  There a worse things than having to change a diaper.
  • You will always go from uncomfortable baby to happy baby which means they will always associate you with making them happy.  I feel like this is the way I can catch up with Erin in her breastfeeding bonding.  Sure she can make them happy with food, but I can make them happy with cleanliness.  And the saying ain't fullness is next to godliness.
  • I've connected with my girls while changing their diapers more than at any other time.  It's when I get to spend one on one time with them without any other distractions.  I get to smile and sing to them.  They get to see me and only me for a few moments.  It is beyond awesome.
Erin gives me a hard time because of how long I take to change diapers, but it has nothing to do with me being inefficient or bad at doing it.  In fact I'd consider myself an expert-level diaper changer.  I would definitely be a black belt in diaper changing, but I'm pretty sure the Cobra Kai didn't give out belts for that.  I just love spending time with my girls, and the good of diaper changing definitely outweighs any bad.  I make the most of it and take my sweet time.  Can you blame me?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Best 24 Hours of My Life

Normally stories like this start with the same cliche: It started out like any other day.  Well November 1st most certainly was not supposed to be any other day.  This was the day that the San Francisco Giants were sending out their best pitcher to clinch a World Series win.  The first in the team's history since moving to San Francisco 52 years ago and most certainly the first in my lifetime.

I was on edge that morning.  The Giants were my first love.  This was something I made very clear to my wife when we had started dating.  I told her that I would love her more, but they would always be first.  The Giants also had broken my heart far too many times to count, so I expected the worst and hoped for the best as I got ready and headed to work that morning.

Then came the call from my wife that changed everything, "Brandon, my water just broke."

My heart started beating harder than it had at any point in my life.  Was this the day that I would become a daddy?  How quickly could I get to the hospital?  If I got pulled over, could I talk myself into a police escort like they get in the movies?  Would the girls be okay coming 6 weeks early?  What would they look like?  Would they like me?

We were told by the triage staff that Erin's water had in fact broken, but they were going to try to put off the labor for as long as they could.  They didn't want the girls coming early if they could avoid it.  So Erin was admitted with the rule that she would stay in bed while they held off the inevitable.  So we sat and waited for hopefully nothing to happen.

So it was in Labor and Delivery that we sat and watched Game 5 of the World Series.  I sat on the edge of my hospital chair agonizing over every pitch.  I watched my favorite pitcher (Tim Lincecum) put together a masterful performance.  For the people on the floor beneath our room, I'd like to apologize for jumping up and down and yelling when Edgar Renteria hit what would become the biggest Giants' home run since Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard Round the World.  I hugged my wife when Brian Wilson got the last out and fielded calls for the next hour to share in the joy.

My wife said she was feeling comfortable and tried to talk to me into going back home to sleep in my own bed while she stayed in the hospital.  That wasn't going to happen.  She may as well have asked me to put on a Dodgers jersey at that point.  I would much rather sleep on the uncomfortable hospital couch knowing that she was only 10 feet away from me.

And she actually let me sleep for a few hours and toughed it out as the contractions got worse through the night.  She needed me to use the skills I learned in our classes.  I tried to support her the best I could.  We were told over and over that they would keep trying to hold it off with medication.  It wasn't until the shifts changed the following morning that the on-call doctor finally decided to go through with the C-Section.

I put on my scrubs and sat with my mother-in-law waiting for the doctors to come in get me.  It seemed like hours.  And that was before a code was called.  I started freaking out that something must be wrong with my wife or my girls.  When the nurse finally came and got me, I couldn't have been more thankful.  I was led to the Operation Room and saw my wife laying on the operating table.  She looked as relieved as I felt.

At 8:20am the doctor asked me to stand up so I could see the girls being born.  When I saw my first baby girl, I couldn't stop the tears from welling up.  She came into the world screaming.  They asked for her name: "Grace Posey" I blubbered.  And those tears were nothing compared to the ones that came when I got to hold her and bring her to Erin.  Two minutes later Ana Cristina was new to the world.  She wasn't breathing as well as her sister, but she was just as beautiful.  She got to say "Hello" to her mom too.

They had to say "Goodbye" within five minutes to be taken down to the NICU.  I spent the next few hours by their side.  I had never changed a diaper in my life until that morning.  It was more than a little intimidating doing it with all the wires and monitors.  But the nurses were so incredible and helped me through that and so many aspects of being a new dad.

I hated walking away from them, but I had to go check on Erin and let the family know how the girls were doing.  Erin was still in the recovery room with her parents.  She looked relieved but was very anxious because she wasn't going to be able to see the girls while she was recovering.  I still feel bad about not spending time with her, but my job those next few hours was to escort and endless supply of family and friends to go see the newest additions to the family.

I was a very proud papa, but it didn't become real until that night when Erin was finally able to come down and see them for the first time since they were born.  You could feel the love fill the room as she saw them.  She was never more beautiful, and I never felt more lucky than that moment when our brand new family was reunited.

When it was all said and done, I couldn't have scripted a better 24-hour period in my life.  I'll certainly never forget that day, and it may never be topped.