Sugar Rush, Nemo and Pirates – How Was Your Weekend?


We returned to Yogurtland with the twins after a night out at one of the most charming, unique and culinary creative restaurants in our area – Chili’s. There’s something about my boys and ice cream that just don’t jive. And I know, it’s not Ice Creamland, but for our 2-year-olds, it’s all the same.

Jax wasn’t much of a sweets kid. To be fair, we didn’t push sugar on him at all, and when he did taste it, he was indifferent. The only time he really cared about candy was just after Halloween when he was 3. Rather than napping he raided his Halloween bucket. When I found him, blue Pixy Stix dust led me to him hiding in the corner of the front room. Paper straws circled him. He was whistling Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

Similarly, Gray isn’t in to processed sweets. He prefers fruits and Teddy Grahams. Ellie, however, would eat donuts and pancakes for every meal if she could. So when we told her we were going for ice cream, her face lit up.

“Ice CREAM?” She emphasized the cream. We hunkered down with two buckets of yogurt to shovel into our mouths. Meanwhile, Gray’s anti-sugar protest led him to people watch, one of his favorite past times. He turned down multiple offers of whatever menage of flavors I mixed. Can’t blame him. The coconut was a tad off.


The t-ball class ended, mercifully. Ellie came out with her best focus of the “season”. She ran the bases with determination, rarely sat down and never asked to be carried. I mean, that’s a good day even for Hanley Ramirez. Gray, however, asked to be benched. Or car-seated for a 2-year-old.

After his first at-bat I had to restrain him from sitting with his teammates. He ran the bases with my hand clasped around his wrist. I yanked him off the ground a couple of times, too. In the field, he refused to get off his toosh, and instead chose to leave. I walked him to the van, strapped him in his seat and drove closer to the field. I rolled the windows down in the van and watched the rest of the game under a shaded tree about 50 feet from Gray.

Between innings I checked on Gray. Softly, he asked to get up. I explained he could only get up if he was going to play. He agreed. I unbuckled him, he requested his glove and we walked back to the field. He finished the game at first base. He paid attention, only laid down once and didn’t fight when I demanded he get up.

Ellie and her medal

Ellie and her medal

Their coach distributed participatory medals, I snapped some photos and let each of them hit off the tee once more.

We hiked up the hill towards the parking lot. I looked back and Gray waived “Bye, t-ball.” Ellie did the same. The field was now empty. Just us on the hill with the twins waiving good-bye.

Gray, Coach and Ellie

Gray, Coach and Ellie.

My wife worked so the twins and I rocked movie night. Finding Nemo was the feature flick, which they hadn’t seen before. Some highlights:

  • Gray asked what happened to Nemo’s mom. “She died and went to heaven,” I explained. He stared a bit, but the answer sufficed.
  • I kept having to explain the difference between Nemo and his dad. You see, my twins are racists against ichthyoids. They all look the same. (Ichthyoids are fish, save your complaints)
  • We almost watched The Fox And The Hound but my wife thought older Disney movies would be too slow for 2-year-olds. Gray and Ellie hung in there all the way through, but were definitely more restless compared to watching Toy Story. A 6.5 jolt on the Richter Scale doesn’t stand a chance against Buzzy and Woody.
  • Mommy called during the movie to say good night. Before she hung up, frustrated from button smashing and toddlers screaming on speaker phone, I caught a glimpse of 13-year-old Ellie.
Ellie chatting with Mom

Ellie chatting with Mom


Gray is suddenly obsessed with Jake and The Never Land Pirates. Saturday morning he and Ellie complained about watching baseball (again) so I found one of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks on HBO. I don’t think he took a bite for ten minutes, he was so enthralled. He started yapping about Captain Hook, wanting a pirate boat and a hat. He also wanted to go to Disneyland.

I enjoy feeding my kids’ interests so while my wife napped after a night at work we went on a shopping spree. We need to find a church before summer ends because if this keeps up I’ll be selling the Camry and biking it to work.

We returned with Bucky the pirate ship and a Jake costume. Ellie scored yet another Minnie Mouse doll. This one came with velcro bows to decorate her with.

Gray will pillage your shit.

Gray will pillage your shit.

At night we were to go to my parents for a joint birthday celebration (mine, my wife’s and my sister’s). My nephew, Liam, is also 2 and would be there. After his nap, Gray carried that sword around the house hollering “LET’S GO!” (Jake’s catch phrase is Yo Ho, Let’s Go.) My wife styled his hair before we left and Gray prepped for a confrontation he expected later that evening.

“No, Liam. Stop. No sword. Stop, Liam.” Apparently Gray was a tad anxious Liam would try to plunder his beloved new toy.

We coaxed Gray to leave the sword in the minivan at my parents. During pajama time I caved and delivered the sword to him. He sipped his milk on the couch with my mom when Liam hopped up next to him. Please don’t stab him in the eye, I thought. If he was a cat, Gray would’ve hissed. He had some mumbling words for Liam, the sword clenched in his red-fisted grip. Liam just wanted to sit next to his cousin and watch television. The lad’s swag would be safe this night.

Memo to The Boy: Jacque Cousteau you are NOT

Jax’s memorial service took place in our packed church at Christian Life Fellowship on Saturday June 30, 2012. So many people came that the church had to air a live stream in an adjacent multipurpose room to accommodate the crowd.

Several people spoke, including a friend who asked if it was okay to read a post I wrote about Jax on April 16, 2011. Since the censored version was well received, I figured I’d re-post it here. I want you to know my boy. And this story encapsulates Jax’s personality quite well.

Jax gazes in awe at the Long Beach Aquarium

Jax gazes in awe at the Long Beach Aquarium

The Boy, my 3-year-old, is easily influenced by what he sees on television. If something catches his interest, he commits every atom in his being to that one thing. It started with Toy Story and culminated with us buying him a Jessie hat, which thankfully he’s stopped prancing around the house in.

Then came Cars, and that obsession is still rocking. In fact, he’s sitting on an office chair next to me, watching YouTube on my iPhone. I don’t know what the video is, but I hear an adult male speaking with a slight accent describing a new Cars toy he recently purchased. He’s reading the box, extracting said toy from its container and describing it in detail…and it’s creeping me out.

Sometime after The Babies were born my mother-in-law brought over Finding Nemo to keep The Boy out of our hair while we figured out what to do with two freaking babies at the same time. We popped the DVD into the XBox, tossed a couple of Red Vines at him and hoped he’d be interested. And whether it’s because Pixar has a hypnotizing strangle hold on children across America after its pact with the Devil – or they’re just very talented – The Boy’s latest obsession was born after viewing the tale of a neurotic clown fish father that pushed his son to rebellion only to have an Aussie dentist capture the son, Nemo, to give to his ADD-ridden niece as a gift and the father’s quest across the ocean with his lesbian pal Dory to find Nemo.

So now The Boy is fascinated by anything from the ocean, though he’d prefer they talk and have names like the oxygen-challenged characters from the flick. He also has two interactive point-and-play Finding Nemo books which he reads about 11 times a day that fill his head with oceanic terms and names of the creatures in the world of Nemo.

A week ago I figured it’d be fun for him to see some of these Nemo fish up close. With a plastic blue whale he is borrowing from my dad (and sleeps with every night) clutched in his arm and his shark backpack loaded on his shoulders, we made our way out to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.

Immediately The Boy found Dory and Gill from Nemo, walked under a giant blue whale hanging from the ceiling of the aquarium and watched seals bark and play.

Then came the shark tank, and out came his fucking marine biologist hat. Now the shark tank isn’t very impressive if you’ve been to Sea World or larger aquariums, but sharks are sharks and young children don’t care. There were about five different species of shark in the tank. The Boy proceeded to identify the sharks in the tank that looked anything like the sharks from his Nemo books, name them, and then educate anyone fortunate enough to stand next to him at the front of the viewing glass.

This went on for at least 20 minutes.

“Mako shark,” The Boy would announce to the three children that just walked up. Except there’s no mako shark in the tank. This aquarium isn’t that cool.

“Bruce! Here comes Bruce!” The Boy shouted every time the largest shark completed its path in front of the viewing glass. Bruce is the great white shark from Nemo. I’m sure the 25-year-old emo dude and cutter girlfriend next to The Boy haven’t the slightest idea who the hell Bruce is. But The Boy doesn’t give a fuck.

Now, The Boy is generally shy and reserved in public. But not this day. This day he was like Regis Philbin after an all night coke binge. He was loud, he was excited, and he wanted everyone else to share in his experience. Everyone.

I talked The Boy into checking out some other sections of the aquarium as I figured he had made enough face prints on the viewing glass. We came up on a tall cylinder of a tank that had orange and white striped fish. They weren’t clown fish, yet I let him call them Nemo since I wasn’t sure if they had any real clown fish at this aquarium. A girl, about 7, noticed the charm of The Boy and ventured off from her family to watch the fish with him.

“Nemo,” he said. Of course, it wasn’t.

Finding Nemo,” she replied with a dash of bitch. Apparently she thought he was missing the beginning of the title of the movie, rather than just pointing out, incorrectly, that Nemo was in the tank.

“Nemo,” he answered and pointed at the tank.

Findingggggg Nemo,” she repeated as she ratched up the bitch meter.

This went on for another couple of minutes. Now the girl had her back to the exhibit, facing The Boy, and shifted her feet left and right to keep him from having a clear view to the tank. Her mom finally noticed and scolded her for being a brat.

We made our way around the rest of the aquarium, spotted jelly fish, eels and starfish – all of which he identified thanks to his interactive books. We came across a large tank with a couple of hammer head sharks, which he made sure everyone knew, darting around reefs and coral with other fish, and large sting rays.

“Manta rays!” The Boy cursed at me. Like, how DARE I call those things sting rays.

Another dad stood next to The Boy with his two tween sons and pointed out the sting rays.

“Manta rays!” he yelled at them. Now I’m standing behind him to allow other children to get close to the glass. I’m hoping that they can’t hear this little troll yelling at them.

I had to explain to The Boy that he shouldn’t sweat it if people called them sting rays. He didn’t care; he was fired up and there was no excuse for ignorance among the patrons of this fine aquarium.

A few days later I looked up the difference between the two, and you know what? He was fucking right.