CHOC Walk – How Was Your Weekend?

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Shortly after Jax died, my great friend Sam, who was working for Disney at the time in the art department, first told me about the CHOC Walk. He has worked many special events at Disney, and worked for this event and figured my wife and I might be interested in supporting the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

I was hesitant. I was still deep into grief, and I didn’t want to walk around with a bunch of families celebrating the hospital that saved their kids. Ours died there. We can skip this.

But I told my wife about it, and because of her strength and her more optimistic outlook, we registered as a team. We figured some family members would walk with us. We didn’t recruit people to join us. But in six weeks our team went from maybe 10-15, we figured, to 80. We raised $10,000 as a team and Sam created the best logo for a t-shirt at the Walk, which we clipped capes on the back of. And Iron Jax was born.

On Sunday, Sam, his new wife and his mom, who has known me since the third grade, walked with 50 of our friends and family to remember Jax. To honor him. To celebrate his super hero spirit of life.

This is how the CHOC Walk weekend went.

Friday

Friday was wristband/t-shirt pick up night at my parents’ house. But unlike last year, only a  few people stopped by. Most packages were distributed in groups. We watched the Dodgers lose to St. Louis in extra innings in game one of the National League Championship Series. And the twins set a new record of sound decibel in that house when a couple of friends stopped by to play with them. Gray screams louder than Ellie and her 4-year-old friend combined. That’s not a good thing.

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Saturday

The early part of the day was pretty normal. Breakfast, play, lunch, play, nap. Because of my wife’s hard work and planning, we weren’t racing around working on last-minute details. She even grabbed some shut-eye.

Like last year, we booked a hotel room near Disneyland for the night before the Walk. It’s appealing to wake up, walk 15 minutes and not have to deal with the traffic of 15,000 people, many without their coffee yet, all driving to the same place.

But first we met my wife’s family at Buca di Beppo for a pre-Walk carb load. Her mom, aunt, brother and his girlfriend stayed in an adjoining room with us at the hotel, which makes for a fun time.

After dinner, we hit up the hotel to unpack. My wife and her mom went to Albertson’s to blow up balloons with a helium tank. They also brought back a six-pack of Shock Top and Lysol spray. Ever since nursing school my wife sees germs everywhere. The hotel remote. The floor. The bathroom. That couch. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BARE BUTTS HAVE SAT ON THAT COUCH? You’re disgusting for even thinking about sitting on it, Seth. (She’s never said that. It’s just what I imagine is going on in that mind of hers).

While they were out, I got the kids ready for bed. Because two pack-n-plays take up a large amount of floor space, I thought it’d be smart to get two queen-size beds and each of us could sleep with a kid. It’d be Gray and Ellie’s first time sleeping in a big bed. So after I unknowingly tossed Ellie’s long-sleeve shirt into the hotel trash (which we didn’t discover until just before check-out the next day, after a 15-minute hunt for it), I loaded the kids into the same bed. It was 9:01 p.m. I figured they’d be up a bit, then quiet down. I went next door to hang with the others.

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An hour later full of giggling, playing footsie and “Daddy” requests, my wife came back. They were too excited about this newfound freedom. Usually they just reach through the bars in their cages (cribs) to touch each other. Now they have no obstructions.

Gray finally fell asleep. Ellie, however, wanted to p-a-r-t-y. She talked to herself. Sang to herself. When my wife finally went to bed a little after 11 p.m., Ellie wanted to watch her play on the iPod Touch, or watch TV. Anything but sleep.

The whole idea of them sleeping with us was a bust. Our 5 a.m. wake-up call came far too quickly. I found a little sleep between Gray kicking me in the nuts and my fear he’d fall out of bed. My wife had similar luck. At one point, Ellie was turning herself around like the hands on a clock.

Sunday

Fortunately my wife heard her alarm go off at 5 a.m, because I didn’t. She got ready, I showered and the twins woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I found a quiet moment to explain to Gray why we do the CHOC Walk, which they’ve been looking forward to. He stood on the bed next to me. I told him it is to remember Jax. And it was the first time I let myself have any emotion about the event. To avoid walking through streaming tears, I focus on the event aspect of it. What needs to be done. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears. Gray, normally go go go go, contemplated what I told him. It was a moment.

The twins were very excited.

The twins were very excited.

With the twins loaded in the stroller and balloons, signs and posters in hand, we hurried over to Disneyland to meet the rest of the team.

It was still dark. My face was puffy – dehydrated and full of Buca di Beppo’s sodium. Our team joined up and we made our way inside.

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As opposed to last year, Disneyland had the Walk begin at Disneyland. Because of this, the Walk went much more smoothly. We didn’t get stuck in the same spot for 20 minutes listening to Phineas and Ferb‘s theme song on repeat like we did last year. Talk about a near nervous breakdown. Naw, this year was noticeably better. Kudos, Disney.

Our team weaved around Disneyland, into California Adventure and finished at Downtown Disney. Gray and Ellie jumped between family and friends after we unstrapped them from their stroller.

Gray and I.

Gray and I.

Ellie found older girls to walk with, and she went from being 2 to 12 in the matter of minutes. She ate up the attention, stuck out her hip at pictures and was in full tween mode.

Ellie with her girls.

Ellie with her girls.

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Gray, however, hung out with me a lot.

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And when we came across, Jake, his best friend in the world (or tied with Jack Sparrow), he freaked. The characters terrify him. He won’t let me stand near them even if I’m holding him. He starts to climb up my back to get away.

My nephew Liam, on the other hand, loved seeing Jake.

My nephew Liam loved seeing Jake.

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After the Walk, my wife’s friend and co-worker gave my wife the a necklace she was wearing. The Walk was over. Everything went well. And it was time for my wife to unleash some emotion.

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The day turned out as well as we could’ve hoped. We left exhausted but satisfied.

In all, our team raised $8,987. Thank you everyone that walked, sponsored a walker or donated to our team. It means so, so much to our family that you will help us to honor and remember Jax and raise money for a tremendous organization in his name.

Thank you.

On Monday, a friend of mine text me to say that my wife and I handled the day really well. She said she admired my strength. But it’s not me. I just follow my wife’s lead. She does all the heavy lifting for the event. I’m just a supporting actor to her Oscar-nominated role. And really, we don’t have much of a choice. What others see as strength, we see as our new life. We do what we have to do. For the twins. And to preserve Jax’s legacy. Our little hero.

Thank you Tim and Heather for your outstanding photos. I hope you don’t mind I used them here!

Buffalo Sucker, Ants and I Got Domesticated – How Was Your Weekend?

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I finally wrote again at Bugs & Cranks. You can find it here.

Friday

Papa John’s Pizza wants me dead. My wife worked this weekend, so I figured I’d be healthy and eat peanut butter and jelly with the kids. But then I got an email from those murderers offering a $10 large buffalo chicken pizza, and dinner was decided. It’s supposed to feature chicken poppers, ranch sauce, bacon, onions and spicy buffalo sauce. If there was any buffalo sauce on it, they were very conservative on my pie. It tasted mainly bleh. I’m a sucker for anything jalapeno or buffalo. And Papa John’s sucked me and my clogged arteries right in to disappointment.

Gray’s been on a Halloween kick (I wonder where he gets it). While flipping through Netflix to find some fun Halloween-related, kid friendly show, he noticed The Nightmare Before Christmas. So we watched that, which pushed Tangled to the side and kind of irked Ellie. She’s been asking to watch it for days, and I haven’t seen it yet.

Saturday

Gray woke up calling me Oogie Boogie and my wife, who just walked in fronm her night at the hospital, a witch. He must have dreamt about Halloween Town all night.

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Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I can see a resemblance.

While my wife slept the kids and I played some games up until lunch and then a nap.

I made last-minute plans to meet a friend for some drinks and talk about life. Life’s hard. Like, it’s a bajillion times harder than I ever expected when I was 24. Thank you mother-in-law for taking me up on my late offer to watch the kids so I could go be with a friend. We both appreciate it.

Sunday

“We go Disneyland today?” Gray asked right after I opened the door to the twins’ room to get them up. The hell? Between Disneyland and Angel Stadium, one of them asks to go to either place six of seven days.

To get them out of the house and let my wife get at least a few hours of quiet, I thought a trip to the Disneyland Hotel would be fun. It’d satisfy their thirst for Mickey and Minnie for the oh so low price of $0.

We walked around the hotel, they got their fix and we grabbed some lunch. Then we made our way over to Downtown Disney and eventually I was stupid enough to go through the bag check and towards the front of the park to tease their little hearts out. 

Disneyland Hotel rose garden. Hey, I've been there for a wedding.

Disneyland Hotel rose garden. Hey, I’ve been there for a wedding.

In October we are going to Mickey’s Halloween Party, a special event that you need to buy a separate ticket for. They kick everyone else out of the park that doesn’t have a ticket, have trick-or-treat stations, the villains walking around the park and it’s just a huge Halloween party. It’s awwwwwwwwwesome. Tickets are about $60 and include free parking, so that in itself is a deal. And all the regular rides are open. Anyway, I wanted them to see the pumpkin decorations for Halloween time at Disneyland.

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My tease turned into this pathetic shot.

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Gray was telling me we needed to get in the line behind him. I suck.

The kids were exhausted and I alternated carrying them back to the car, which never happens. When we got inside the house, Ellie said “Look at the tiny lady bugs.” I looked closer. Ants. FREAKING. EVERYWHERE. I threw the kids in their room, gave them a snack and started spraying. The trail ran from our front door, through the front room and into our living room. We’d only been gone for three or four hours. My wife woke up, I got the kids into their cribs for nap and we spent the next hour spraying, wiping, cleaning the floors. Ants suck. 

Since my wife worked we went to our first evening service at Saddleback. It was a little scaled back than the morning service. Most noticeably, Gray and Ellie were the only 2-year-olds and they had to share a room with the infants. When we picked them up, they were both jumping around in a baby walkers. And they loved it.

At night I helped my wife in her baking quest and got all domestic. Her mom works at a hospital and apparently the entire staff are diabetics. She’s on her fourth round of baking goodies to help raise money for team Iron Jax and the CHOC Walk. I helped make the pretzels. Which pretty much meant slathering them with melted chocolate and sprinkling goodies on them unevenly.

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Today is the last day to request an Iron Jax t-shirt ($10). If interested, let me know what size you want. It features this image, created by my great friend Sam Carter.

Iron Jax

Iron Jax

How was your weekend?

Nice Little Saturday, Dexter Unplugged – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

In our final Friday night Angel game of the year, the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 in 11 innings. We didn’t stick around that long.

Speaking of Angels, I have plenty of games available in our season ticket pool. The seats are in section 240, Row A, seats 3 and 4. In simple terms, it’s the first row of the outfield seats towards right-center. If Mike Trout is roaming center field, you can yell at him and stare at his butt all game. So ladies, get in on this! Here’s a view from our seats on Opening Night.

panoramaopeningnightIf interested, comment below, email me, send me a message on Facebook, send a raven – whatevs.

Saturday

We didn’t do much of anything. Really. Um…I took a nap. And it was glorious. At night we went to dinner at Macaroni Grill, along with half of every 14-17-year-old dressed up for Homecoming or whatever crappy high school dance they planned on attending. My wife hated her pasta, I loved my chicken parmigiana and Ellie and Gray dug coloring on the paper table cloth.

After a trip to Home Depot shopping for a new kitchen faucet…

(My life feels like this clip from Old School. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”

…we hit up Yogurtland before heading home. I’m feeling Halloween-y so we tried to take the kids to one of those pop-up Halloween stores, but they’d just closed.

Sunday

Rick Warren began his Habits of Happiness series, which I so desperately need to hear. Today he talked about your relationships, and how you view others is a first step in creating habits that lead to happiness. There were four main points, and I don’t do any of them. So I have lots to learn.

Gray started his period or something at lunch time, which bled (pun intended) into getting our haircuts, and then flipping out on me on our way home because I wouldn’t let him hold my phone in his car seat (which I never do). Earlier, he balled his eyes out and made me carry him throughout the house (which he never does) after my wife scolded him for not listening. It’s exhausting.

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O’Hara’s Pub, Orange Circle.

Due to my wife’s work schedule, my parents are watching the kids over night. After I dropped them off I met up with a friend at O’Hara’s in the Orange Circle for some beers, football and catching up. If I were ever to have my own Cheers, it’d be at O’Hara’s. I friggin’ love that place on Sundays. Prices are reasonable, bartenders are cool and the crowd is always pleasant. Again, this is Sundays. It seems to get pretty crazy Friday and Saturday nights.

 I must be gettin’ old

I’m at the drive-thru
And I’m making my face
All fat fat fat fat fat
A Big Salty Tears

I first heard this song from Sublime, but they covered it from The Ziggens. And every time I go through Jack In The Box at night alone this song pops in my head.

So I did that, and then watched Dexter’s series finale.

Dexter Season 8

It was okay. Just like the rest of the final season. Fittingly, there are no warm fuzzy feelings at the end. And they didn’t show enough of Dexter’s nanny. I’ll keep it to that. I know not everyone watched it last night, and I’m sure it’s sitting on several DVRs. Feel free to reach out directly and we can nerd it up about the ending.

How was your weekend?

Xmas Wish List Begins and My First Trojan – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

My wife was scheduled to return to work following some time off, but the NICU count is low now and the hospital is overstaffed, so she got the night off. Dinner transformed from likely peanut butter and jelly to “Let’s go to dinner!” We ended up at Claim Jumper for the first time outside of a Happy Hour in a while. Gray dug the checker board table.

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Then we stopped by Costco to grab some supplies. Crammed for time, my wife hustled through aisles on a search while I strolled through the toy section with the twins. Triggered by the Christmas decorations already out, Gray started his wish list.

“I want that,” he said, pointing at a box of cars. “And that. And that. And that and that andthatandthatandthatandthatandthat.” He wanted it all.

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I snapped photos on my phone as Ellie joined in our creating her wish list as well. She’s intrigued by Doc McStuffins. I’m still trying to figure out what the heck it is.

docmcstuffinSaturday

At dinner Friday my buddy Sam called and invited me to the USC football game. My wonderful wife put a call into her mom who awesomely agreed to watch the kids (thanks sooooo much, Judy!). For a noon game, I met Sam at his house at 8 a.m. I threw back a Jack-and-Coke before we left for pre-game festivities. So what if it wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet. JUDGERS!

I’m not a USC fan. In third grade, when I started to like sports, the UCLA Bruins caught my heart, and I’ve rooted for them ever since. But Sam is the head of the Design Studio at USC and I’ve never been to a college football game so I figured I’d go and support the Pac-12 against Boston College.

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The only time I’ve been on USC’s campus was when I covered a swim meet at the USC pool while interning for the Orange County Register. This time, I was able to take in the beauty of the place. And with Trojans fans scattered under tree-supplied shade and green patches of grass, grilling, playing catch and throwing back some brewskis, this seemed like a beautiful thing. It made me regret not going away to college. I went to a commuter school and lived at home. Our school didn’t have a football team.

I set my phone to alert me of the UCLA vs. Nebraska score (Bruins destroyed the Cornhuskers after getting down 21-3) and we found our seats to bake in the sun. I really didn’t care if USC won or not. All I wanted was to chant FIRE KIFFIN, but USC found some game and beat up on a poor Boston College team, 35-7.

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The experience as a whole was fantastic. Much love to Batchy for the tickets, Sam for the invite and his wife Rose for the company.

Sunday

Rick Warren wrapped up his series “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” with a tight bow – how to use your pain for good. At some point in the future I hope to expand on how others, and maybe myself (if I can get there), have used their loss experience to help others going through the same hell. Warren announced next week he’ll begin a four-week series “The Habbits of Happiness.” It sounds like it’s another sermon directed at me.

After a nap, Gray climbed (yes, climbed…he’s been doing this consistently lately, despite dropping his mattress to the floor) into Ellie’s crib where they gleefully played for 30 minutes. I came in to ask them to stop screaming when I found this.

They’re freaks.

How was your weekend?

Caliente Conger Cowboy – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

Friday night fireworks at Angel Stadium. Yep, we were there. Since we’re in the midst of Potty Training Boot Camp (I made this up, it’s not a real thing. Well, maybe it is. But we’re not doing anything official. And I’ll share more about how it’s going in another post), my wife brought Ellie’s Minnie Mouse potty. The twins took turns sitting on the throne in the back of our minivan in the parking lot.

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Originally posted at my Facebook page here and Instagram (sethtearz) if you want to follow me.

The Angels won. Like anyone cares anymore.

Earlier in the week, I shared Ellie’s first crush on Twitter @SethTearz:

In case you don’t know, this is Hank Conger:

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He should be the Angels starting catcher, but manager Mike Scioscia hates me and my ideas.

On the way home another minivan in the 91 Express Lane decided to make a lane change right into us. I saw the bastard, braked and honked heavily, which prompted a classic Ellie line.

“Hold on, cowboy!” she said with a tinge of excitement. I have no idea where she picked that up from.

Saturday

After holing herself up in our house with naked 2-year-olds, my wife got a well-deserved break from the twins and potty training. She shopped with her mom during the day and met up with friends at night. So I assumed the role of potty training drill sergeant. And holy crap is it tough.

My head was on a swivel looking for signs that one of them had to pee or poop. I read more books this day than I had the previous two months. To steal a line from my wife, I’m tired of seeing penis and vagina.

For lunch I grabbed the Caliente Burger from Tommy’s. It came with fries and a super-sized side of shame.

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Sunday

We attended the final sermon of Saddleback’s “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” series. Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, spoke about finding treasure concealed in darkness. In short, going through life’s pile of poo and finding a diamond. Those are my words, not hers. My heart is not open to searching for that right now. Hopefully one day it will be.

We grabbed some lunch after church and then picked up Halloween costumes at Old Navy. You’ll have to wait until Halloween to find out what they are.

The NFL’s first weekend of football is in the books. And I’m already booted from my office’s pick ‘em/suicide pool because Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Bucs did this.

H8 you, Lavonte.

A Wallflower, a Bar and a Hose – How Was Your Long Weekend?

Feel free to comment about your weekend. The idea of this post was to engage community responses. 

Friday

My parents returned from a long vacation in Montana, so they had the twins spend the night. My wife and I had a much-needed date night. We braved the humidity, went to dinner and went home. I know it’s lame, but doing anything that doesn’t include the kids is a good night for us. What matters in date night is that we’re alone together. We grabbed some Yogurtland and rented The Perks of Being a Wallflower from iTunes.

perksofbeingawallflowerThe flick scored an 85 percent approval rate at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a snippet from that site:

Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life. — (C) Summit

We both really enjoyed it. It’s funny, honest and endearing and kept us interested through the end. The soundtrack is fab. If you’ve seen the movie, you remember the “tunnel song.” David Bowie recorded the track and co-wrote it with Brian Eno. It’s pretty awesome.

Saturday

We grabbed some brunch at Goodfellas. The plan was to pick up the kids and head down to the San Diego Zoo. Our annual passes expired after Saturday. That didn’t happen. The 5 freeway was slammed. Thanks to my dad for checking before we left. Instead, we left the kids at my parents to nap and my wife coerced me to go to Ikea with her.

We picked up a few things after winding through the labyrinth of the store’s layout. Her next idea was to hit up Jo-Ann, the fabric/craft store. Hellllllllllllll no.

“There’s a bar right next to the store,” she said. “I can shop and you can get a beer.”

Perfect. Except that the bar, Marty’s Cocktails on Tustin Ave in Orange, looked like the last door I’d ever enter. I made a joke about dying in there and she bursted “I KNOW!!!! You’re NOT going in there.”

So I ended up at the Red Robin bar at the Orange Mall (or whatever it’s called now). It was air conditioned. The Angels/Brewers game was on and I sat alone. It’s all I needed.

I started off with a Jack-and-Coke, added a tall beer and figured I’d be done. But my wife was having a tough time picking out material that would add some color to our living room. She wants to sew new pillow covers. So I kept telling the bartender to refill my glass with Jack until she was done. Three glasses later she finally text me that she was in the car to come pick me up. And I had a wonderful buzz.

She drove back to my parents, we picked up the kids, somehow sailed home on the 91 freeway (I guess every single person in So Cal was going to San Diego) and grabbed some dinner.

Sunday

Gray made this in Sunday school. The teachers claim they couldn’t find Ellie’s. She told us her favorite color was pink and her favorite food macaroni and cheese.

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After church we drove out to my wife’s grandpa’s house in Pico Rivera for a barbecue. G-o-o-d f-o-o-d. There’s no air conditioning in the house so we let the kids run around in the backyard with the hose. It’s the first time we’ve participated in water play with them since Jax died. They had a blast and we found some shade with a breeze to cool off under.

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After drying them off, cleaning them up and taping new diapers to their butts, we had ice cream.

As is customary, I shared my bowl with the twins. Gray sat next to me on the couch while Ellie wandered around the house trying to mooch off of everyone.

“Ice cream’s awesome,” Gray said. Yes. Yes it is.

Monday

Lazy day. We went to the movies and watched Despicable Me 2 which was a noticeable improvement over Planes.

The rest of the day the kids played. Gray’s really into wearing a backpack lately. He and Ellie have matching Paul Frank black backpacks. After their nap, he was strutting around with it strapped to his shoulders saying he was looking for the school bus.

Tomorrow my wife starts Potty Training Boot Camp. I wince just thinking about it. Two 2-year-olds, no diapers, no panties. Luckily, no carpet. She came home from Target today with a plastic tarp (she claims it’s for the couches). Totally serious. The goal is by the end of Thursday we’ll be done with daytime diapers and the Mickey and Minnie potties they have will be our new world. At least until we can get them on the big toilet with a potty seat.

Reach out to her if you think about it. Email, text, Facebook message, whatevs. I’m sure she’ll need all the support she can get.

Unemployed, Ellie Knows My Name and Rick Warren Comes to Corona – How Was Your Weekend?

Friday

Need.a.Job..Green

I’m officially laid off. Those of us left in the office spent our last hours clearing out our desks, turning in keys and idling around while we waited for our flexible time off checks to arrive. I didn’t notice any tears, except for the customer service rep from sales that seemed to take it really hard. Their jobs are safe, for now. She wept for us while we wore our “it ain’t no thang” faces. I think we were all more focused on getting our drank on.

Down to the parking lot we moved, where one festive co-worker brought a flavored Malibu Rum bottle. Another grabbed a Coke from the vending machine and plastic cups from the kitchen. We stood in a circle sipping on a taste of summer. In essence, this was our collaborative sigh. All the stuff that we’ve endured for the past five months, five years or decades, for some, is behind us. We’re free to move on. To what, we don’t know. And that part’s scary. But we’ll all find our paths. And we’ll look back on this as a forced blessing.

A yard of Bud Light, from the Yard House.

A yard of Bud Light, from the Yard House.

We moved the party from the parking lot to the Yard House where I got the small beer pictured above. Remember the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally? I think the lady in the background is planning a remake.

My wife worked so the twins and I hung out with the family of one of her co-worker’s. On the way there, I flipped the radio to the Angel game to catch the final frames. During a commercial break I switched back to music, and Gray was not pleased. He’s really good at whining, so that started as he moaned “More Angels.” I tuned it back and as the game returned, Gray began a “Let’s go Angels” chant. This was new. He kept repeating it to the point of annoyance. I tried to mix in some clapping for him, and showed him how.

“LET’S GO ANGELS!” clap clap clapclapclap. He told me that was silly. A few minutes later he slapped his leg in a display of “Okay, I’ll clap, but I’m just using one hand, and it’s still silly, Dad.”

At the house our friend made us and his five kids a breakfast dinner. Ellie loves her some pancakes and Gray, while pretty picky, can’t deny him some sizzled bacon, so it was a good fit. We chowed. The kids played. And it was an uneventful night at the hospital for our wives. It was a good night.

Saturday

“Are you Seth?” Ellie asked me during breakfast. I stared at her blankly.

“Huh?” I replied.

“Are you Seth?” she repeated.

“Yes,” I answered. She shouldn’t know my name. The hell?

“I’m Ellie,” she said. “That’s Gray.” She tilted her head to her right. That was the whole conversation. Twilight Zone shit.

My wife's party favors.

My wife’s party favors.

We celebrated my brother-in-law’s success in school and a recent job working in the field of environmental science. My wife and her mom, never the ones to simply blow up some balloons and order a pizza, threw together a school-themed party featuring brown-bag covered books, globes, lined brown paper (found only in elementary schools) as place mats and a photo booth filled with props.

Sunday

I was getting Ellie dressed to head off to our second trip to Saddleback Church. As I pulled a summer dress over her head and straightened it out, I saw too much exposure up top. Since my wife didn’t like my idea to tape the top like the celebs do on Oscar night, we switched dresses. Which is increasingly becoming a problem.

“I no want to where that dress from Target” Ellie scowled. She’s 2. Almost 2-and-a-half. Her grammar blows but she sure knows her fashion. I don’t even know where the dress came from. Somehow I got it on her and we got out of the house.

Rick Warren, Saddleback’s lead pastor, decided to attend the Corona campus today. And he brought a whole mess of other people with him. Last week there were 500 attendees between two services. This week that number catapulted to 1,200. He jumped on stage to worship, spoke to us before the video sermon aired and dawned some board shorts after the service for baptism. It was cool and all, but it’ll be nice not to have to hunt for a seat next week.

After naps the twins and I met my sister, her husband and my nephew at Tom’s Farms to let the kids explore and munch on some tasty burgers. We found them finishing up a train ride which was right next to a raised stage. Gray and Ellie feel super at home on stage and spent most of the night running, jumping and dancing on the platform.

My wife’s grandpa built them a stage last Christmas to feed into their love of performing The Lumineers songs. Enjoy this video from Christmas night.

Man, they look little.