Down with Daylight Saving Time

It’s a new millennium. Our culture should grow and adapt as time passes. Today is Daylight Saving. We “sprung forward” at 2 a.m. – or rather, we simply skipped over that hour and went from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. I know, it’s dumb.

I am anti-Daylight Saving. Now, before the cantankerous caterwauling at me begins, it is not specifically Daylight Savings I am against. I hold firm the belief that our country should do away with the time change altogether. I propose we pick a time and stick with it. In the spirit of compromise, perhaps we can spring forward only a half hour this year. And then never change it again.

You know who else thinks constantly changing our clocks is dumb? Babies. And dogs. And Hawaii.

Our government is slowly coming around to this realizations, but they seem to be taking the approach of closing their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears. “LALALALALA – I can’t hear you…” When I was a kid, DST was six months on and six months off. Several years ago, the powers that be decided it would be a better idea to push Standard time to a wimpy four months. (Explain to me why standard is less than non-standard…) Apparently, we’re trying to save energy because there’s less need for someone to hit the light switch if the evening stays light later.

Let’s assume that is true (despite studies showing a big fat donut in the significant results column). Wouldn’t we want to save this energy all year long?

The California Energy Commission has more information on this whole pointless exercise in futility. I’m not pretending to be even remotely open-minded about my stance on the issue – not that I’ve found an actual argument in favor, but apparently popular opinion didn’t like it back in 1918. I have no idea why. So I am interested in hearing opposing debates.

Because while commissions and committees are debating energy merits for a custom with no solid background, my son is sitting (not lying) in his crib playing with his mobile. “I don’t WANT to nap now!” Which is going to make this first full Daylight Saving Time evening even more entertaining since he didn’t WANT to sleep this morning either.


Natural Disaster

Yesterday, Japan experienced a tremor like nothing their country had ever seen before. Thousands are homeless, hundreds are missing. The official number of wounded only accounts for physical ailments, not the mental anguish of people who have lost friends, family or a feeling of security.

Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations on our planet; the majority of its buildings are constructed to withstand violent shaking. But no matter how wiry and clever man thinks they’ve become, Mother Nature merely chuckles while walloping us with her soggy backhand. It was the tsunami that did it. No structure stood a chance.

When the muppets were staying at Chez NICU, I had a constant fear that the Bay Area would experience a similar disaster. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be right there for them, or be able to instantaneously get there. I anxiously feared how well their tiny bodies could handle the trauma of evacuation or malfunctioning equipment. (Numerous people later reassured me that in the event of THE BIG ONE, our brand new Kaiser hospital is the precise location they’d like to be.) These nightmares returned as I watched news coverage of SOS broadcast across a Japanese hospital roof. How are all the tiny babies faring?

Every geographic location is in danger of some type of natural disaster. All Californians are well aware “THE BIG ONE IS COMING.” That gets shoved down our throats every few months. Recent tragedies are a frightening reminder. Already, Bay Area residents are remembering the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. For me, that event was nothing more than a pin on our current events map in my fourth grade classroom. Apparently it also canceled a baseball game. Bummer.

I experienced the 1994 Northridge earthquake instead. I’m a California girl through and through – I spent the first half of my life in Southern California, about 20 minutes from the 1994 epicenter.

I got home late that night. I had a babysitting gig the evening of Jan. 16, 1994, and the parents assured me they’d be home by 11 p.m. At 1:30 a.m., January 17, I finally collapsed into my bed. (That family was officially marked on my “naughty families to work for” list.) We also had a brand new puppy – a hyperactive yellow lab named Stryder. He would leap against the kitchen door, rattling the door frame with his frantic whimpers and whines.

At 4:31 a.m. the rattling began in earnest. Stryder must have been furious for attention. The banging was so loud, I could feel it in my bed and see my mirror closet doors vibrating. “Stop it! I’m trying to sleep!” I instructed my dancing dresser. I was exhausted; it would be another decade and a half before I was prepared to forego sleep for tiny beings.

Then I heard my mother shout for me. As I brushed sleep out of my eyes, I felt another aftershock. “Holy crap! Earthquake!” I yelled as I bolted for the kitchen. “Did you feel that?!” My mom and brother were huddled under the kitchen table. Stryder was balled up in the center, absolutely adoring all his newfound pre-dawn attention. I’m pretty sure he thought the constant shaking and drone of the emergency radio was a bit annoying, but it was a fair trade off…

We listened to the news under that table for hours. An apartment building collapsed. Cal State Northridge was a circus (and would continue to be for years to come). Freeway pillars were bending under the pressure.

I was back at school the next day. Not many others were, though… I have a vivid memory of sitting in front of my eighth grade pre-algebra class, slumped against a wall with the proper combination of carefree and disdain appropriate for a tween. “This is one of those ‘remember where you were’ moments isn’t it?” I asked a friend.

A week later my father returned home from his San Francisco business trip. That evening, I was watching television, my brother was doing homework and my mom was in the kitchen praising Stryder for doing his business on a strategically placed wee-wee pad. The room began to rattle; it was another aftershock – less than half the original magnitude. My dad dove under the dining room table as though he had witnessed all four horsemen of the apocalypse in our living room. The rest of us continued about our business, only briefly pausing to observe my dad cowering under the table.

Based on the news reports informing the world about Japan’s current tragedy and the “ring of fire” earthquake zone, I know the muppets will experience their own “remember where you were moments” because THE BIG ONE is coming. I’m putting my faith in the U.S.’ retrofitting technologies.

And that shaking I feel right now? I’m relatively certain it’s just sugar withdrawals….


Sweet Surrender

Today is Ash Wednesday. The Easter bunny will arrive in 46 days. ‘Tis the season for sacrifice.

Just about a decade ago (good grief did time go by quickly), G.G. and I decided to tackle Lent together. We gave up chocolate. The night before Easter, I stayed up until midnight – watching the seconds tick by until the moment I could maim my milk chocolate rabbit and devour his ears.

Last year, I didn’t give up anything. I figured I’d already given up enough to comply with pregnancy rules. And that which I had not voluntarily given up because of potential danger for my unborn children, my body spent the first trimester (including Lent) rejecting in a projectile fashion.

But this year, I felt that I should honor the vast amount of prayer lists the muppets and I spent months on. My boys are home and healthy, so in the grand scheme of the universe my Lenten sacrifice is not much to give up.

But just in case, I’m posting my promise publicly. Maybe that will make it easier to stick with it throughout the next 46 days.

This season, I decided to relinquish my desserts and junk food.

Perhaps it will make me more zen-like and serene. Perhaps it will result in a number of “oh my God, I need chocolate in the way the muppets needed air!” posts. Either way, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find me at an Easter vigil mass, staring down the clock, with See’s assorted chocolates stashed in my Easter bonnet.

And in case it wasn’t clear, back slowly away from my rabbit ears…


Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

Jon is afraid of spiders. (As it turns out, he’s apparently also afraid of the zombies in Call of Duty: Black Ops, but I don’t think video game character phobias extend beyond power down, so we’ll stick with spiders.) Jon protects our fair county from the big bad guys on a daily basis, but I hold the title of regent protector from the terror of eight-legged intruders. On one occasion, Jon and I left for work but were stopped dead in our tracks by a silver dollar sized spider. She eyed us with all her eight eyes, staring us down. I sighed and turned to look for a towel or 2×4 that I could use in my offensive attack. I didn’t feel like getting cobwebs in my hair. But when I turned to assign him his assistant’s task, he was no where to be found. “Guess I’m not going to work today!” I had to prove my spider ops resulted in arachnid fatalities before he’d venture forth to face human-size villains.

I used to be terrified of needles. My quest for muppets forced me to face that fear head on. Blood tests, self-injections (which I never could get up the nerve to do on my own), more blood tests, IVs, blood tests resulting in the diagnosis that I was anemic (so stop taking my blood already) and shots. I knew I’d conquered aichmophobia when a lab technician burst into my hospital room a day before the muppets arrived and I merely rolled over, extending my arm, without departing the dream I was enjoying.

Yesterday, Logan and I trooped back to the hospital for a followup with his pediatrician. As a matter of protocol, they immediately checked his PulseOx, blood pressure and temperature. I realized my phobia has morphed into something far more mundane. I am terrified of the monitor. Every muppet medical adventure involves the moment where my little guy is strapped in and the screen illuminates, scrambling green numbers in mocking fashion. The monitor taunts me with threats of incapacitation and incarceration.

When I first met the monitor, it was a harmless picture of my blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation. But then it became an integral part of the muppets daily lives. I watched the hell out of those monitors in the NICU – trying to bend their fluctuating numbers to my will. I was helpless to stop their pronouncements of desaturations when the muppets suffered an apnea attack. There was no off button that would calm a bradycardia episode. As we approached graduation, our nurses turned the monitors away. They cautioned we’d need to learn to care for our boys by watching their cues; they warned it would be hard. It was the first time I started to feel relief.

I know the muppets are big strong boys now – today we ventured forth on our first escapade in new big boy car seats. But when the babes are sick, it’s not the doctors opinion that scares me, it’s the first moment when they strap the monitor onto a little foot that sets my own heart racing and oxygen levels plummeting (good thing they don’t also check the parents).

Logan is recovering from his cold. The doctor observed, “He’s totally fine.” (We’ll continue to use the albuterol until the wheezing is totally gone, but he continues to experience “zero respiratory distress.) Yet, I found myself freaking out about the 97 the medical assistant had written on his saturation chart. The monitor was wrong, I insisted. The doctor waved me away – anything above a 96 is fine, it might not have been a perfect read.

I hate the monitor. It’s all I can do to force myself to keep breathing while I watch the results flicker out. How ironic that it’s something so literal reminding me to take a deep breath.


A+ PulseOx

I got to live my very own episode of Grey’s Anatomy last night.

On Wednesday, Logan woke up with a snorty nose. Jon and I walked into his room to say good morning and he greeted us with a grin and a sneeze. By Friday, the cold had migrated down to my little man’s chest – and the morning greeting had morphed into a grin and a cough.

By the afternoon, my muppet had begun wheezing. We experienced this once before, at the start of Cold and Flu season. So, for my own comfort of mind, I decided to call the advice nurse to perhaps schedule a quick checkup in the peds clinic the following day.

“Does he have a fever?” No.

“Are his lips or any of his other extremities turning blue or gray?” No.

“Has his appetite diminished?” I looked over at Logan; he looked up from the six ounce bottle of milk he was guzzling and smiled brightly. No.

“Is he disoriented? Is he having a hard time recognizing you?” The muppet giggled uproariously at this. “Ai!” said Logan. No.

“Is he lethargic?” As the six ounces was needed due to the non-stop rolling as he canvased the living room throughout the day, no.

“Ok,” the advice nurse seemed pretty unconcerned. “Let me just see if we can find a telephone appointment with a doctor tomorrow, just so you can confirm with him. Now, your child was typically healthy at birth, correct?”

Well, as healthy as a 27-weeker can be, I reassured her. They never needed a ventilator or anything like that…

Suddenly her attitude wasn’t so blase. “He was a preemie?” she asked sternly. Hold on please. I’m going to check with a doctor.

I had said the magic words. NICU grad. Sure enough – less than two minutes later she returned. “We’d like you to come in. How far are you from our Emergency Room?”

This is how I found myself walking into Seattle Grace…er…Kaiser at 8 p.m. with a lone muppet. Thirty minutes later, we reached the front of the line just to check-in. Poor little Logan was stripped down, weighed (20.6 lbs!) and, much to his chagrin, had his temperature taken – rectally. (He responded to this invasion of privacy by pooping on the medical assistant. But he did it with a smile.)

Then we were sent to the chairs.

We waited. Logan observed the bleeding, hacking or otherwise diseased malcontents crowding the waiting room. I did my best to huddle ourselves into a sterile corner, sprinkling Purel around us like an invisible fence. I settled in, expecting a long wait. It was a Friday night in the ER. I didn’t think a kid with the sniffles was going to be a top priority case.

By 10 p.m. Logan was lightly dozing in his carseat, seriously annoyed that I’d pulled the sunshade down over his line of observational sight. But he perked right back up at 11 p.m. when we were finally situated in an exam room. All the while young and beautiful doctors flitted about – gossiping and proclaiming medical terms, with the occasional “Code Blue” broadcast throughout the halls. I could hear the residents conferring with attendings – ordering CBC/chem 20s, chest x-rays and IV fluids STET.

Dr. Alex Karev finally came in to examine my little man. (Ok, I can’t remember his actual name, but he was a young, handsome, pediatric ER doc and his name did start with a K. So Karev fits.) Logan lit right up, bestowing a million watt smile upon his newest admirer. “He is a cutie!” exclaimed Dr. Karev.

I repeated my story, letting the doctor know that I was not simply a petrified paranoid mommy. Ok, I am. But regardless, I was in his ER because the advice nurse said we needed to be there. Karev placed his stethoscope on Logan’s chest and Logan wheezed on command, so the fine doctor attached an oxygen saturation monitor to my muppet’s foot. The monitor (oh, how familiar I am with those blasted monitors) blinked to life before it’s green numbers settled on 100 percent. And remained there. At 100 percent. The. Entire. Time. My little desatter is all grown up!

Obviously pleased with himself, Logan looked up with his wide eyes and batted his eyelashes as if to sweetly say, “See? I’m fine. May I please have the rest of my bottle?” Karev smiled. “Well, he’s experiencing zero respiratory distress. But I’d like to get him started on a breathing treatment.” He left the room mumbling “he is such a cute kid!” as he exited.

The respiratory therapist arrived as promised, along with two more doctors. Because there was not enough drama in our current segment of the medical drama series, these new doctors were there to inform me that the hospital’s computer system would be going down for the night. As the therapist administered albuterol, one of the other doctors diagnosed Logan with bronchiolitis.

Bronchiolitis is a common illness of the respiratory tract caused by an infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, that lead to the lungs. As these airways become inflamed, they swell and fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Hence the wheezing. According to the Kids Health website, baby bronchiolitis sufferers may be more likely to develop asthma later in life, but it’s unclear whether the illness causes asthma, or whether asthmatics were simply more prone to developing bronchiolitis as infants. Both of these conditions are items likely stem from the Chronic Lung Disease diagnosis that resulted from their missing three months of gestation.

We were then left to wait some more – to see how Logan reacted to the treatment. They warned me it might make him agitated. But, just like our previous adventures with albuterol, he just curled up in my arms and grinned as he inhaled the stimulant. As we hung out, I held him, I curled up with on the gurney, I rocked him, I stood and swayed with him, I tucked him into his carseat. He was calm, absolutely exhausted, and completely wide awake. “I can’t go to sleep Mom, these are my people!” Despite my cajoling, the muppet could not be persuaded to miss out on any potential excitement.

Karev arrived about an hour later with a handwritten prescription slip. “Have the pharmacy call me if they can’t figure that out. We don’t really write prescriptions anymore because we have the computer.” Which was down.

At 2 a.m. the two of us finally stumbled out of the hospital. Logan was still smiling. I thought about asking him to drive me home, but his infant inhaler instructions explicitly stated “Do not drive or drink alcoholic beverages for 8 hours or until you are sure the effects of the drugs have worn off.”

Tiny Techies

Hide the toaster.

Given my proclivity for toast flambe (topped with tiny melted marshmallows) and Caden’s intense analytical investigative skills, small appliances don’t have great odds for remaining intact in our house.

His personality is beginning to show through as the type who will revel in divesting objects of their inner bits. Caden will sit among his toys – after dragging them all toward him – surrounding himself with his favorites. (Proud Mommy moment: the muppets favorite toy is their soft book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”)

With great aplomb, he’ll pick one up and turn it around and around in his hands – investigating every angle. Then, seemingly without warning, he’ll fling it aside.

“Done with that one!”

And as we continue to work on mobility, Caden is displaying the true meaning of being a child born in 2010. What is the only object that intrigues Caden enough to immediately prop himself up on hands and knees and, with a look of intense determination, propel himself forward (even if it’s not exactly “crawling” yet)? The iPhone.

Hold the sexy smart phone out in front of him and Caden immediately starts to motivate himself. Focused on all-fours, he’ll begin to rock back and forth. He’ll lunge forward, face plant, pull himself slightly forward in a twist and roll movement and army crawl a few inches. Then he’ll collapse onto the ground, give his thumb several powerful sucks and repeat the entire process.

Every time he propelled himself forward within reach of the glowing gizmo. Every. Time. Jon observed, “Now THAT is true intent and determination.” Even the muppet’s Caterpillar book doesn’t illicit such an intrigued reaction.

“Awww, he wants to talk on the phone,” cooed GrammaJ (who thinks everything her “cutiepies” do is adorable and brilliant – I think that’s rule No. 1 in the grandparents handbook). Talking/chewing – simply semantics, right?

Logan is the muppet spending his days chattering away. While his conversations don’t often make much more sense than some of GrampaStavo’s Englalian language creations, he’s clearly communicating. “Ai!” he’ll squeal when someone walks into a room.

He might actually be saying “hi.” The greeting is always followed by his trademark infectious grin.

Today we were working on sitting – Logan is getting quite good at remaining upright. Holding his beloved Caterpillar book, he looked up. “Ai!” Then he fell straight backwards with a cry of, “Ai!”


He hit the carpeting, head on the ground and legs sticking straight up in the air – his body stubbornly remaining in the (vertically) seated position. The smile never wavered.

“Hi” and “Goodbye.”

Read Across America

What should we do today?
Could we read, run or play?
Do I even need to say?
It’s Read Across America Day!

Haven’t you heard?
It’s all about the word.

We have a need to read, to help our brain’s exceed and lead. Agreed?
Proceed – let your mind be freed. Just pick a book and take a look.

Imagination. An educational donation of narration elation.

Because today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, we’ll have a celebration.
I’ll cook up a dinner in honor of the award winner.
Green Eggs and Ham? You do not like them? Damn.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Wouldn’t that be an awkward dish?

A Grinch, Yertle, the Lorax and Horton. The Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop.
We’re just getting started. Did you really think I’d stop?

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! But only if you’re in the know.

We’re off for now. The Hungry Caterpillar awaits.
Followed by an evening full of other literary dates.

My dear Dr. Seuss: Happy Birthday!
And to the rest: It’s Read Across America Day!


Wriggle, Wiggle, Squiggle and Squirm

Toys are haphazardly strewn about my living in room – they lay where they fell in the aftermath of Hurricane Muppet.

Both muppets are sitting on their own. They can’t get upright by themselves – but they look adorable when you prop them up. Logan isn’t as good at maintaining the posture. Caden will lean and catch himself. Logan? “Well, guess we’re going down now.” Thunk.

They’re far more interested in the continued discovery of each and every toy. The can reach out and drag objects toward them. (Deemed “advanced skills” on the milestone growth chart timeline.)

Caden spent the morning scootching his little legs up underneath himself and rocking back and forth on his knees. He is so close to crawling. He’ll scoot backwards a few inches, growing increasingly frustrated that the object of his current attention is seemingly moving farther and farther out of his reach. Then after several attempts, he lurched himself forward. He completely faceplanted – but hey, we’re making mobility progress here.

Logan’s big boy carseats arrived today. The UPS man rang the doorbell, surrounded by four giant Britax boxes. “Four, huh?” he deadpanned. (To be fair, we went ahead and ordered Caden’s at the same time.) Jon set about putting the seats together and we strapped the muppets into the land-yacht stroller – forward facing – for the first time. The muppets were giddy with glee. Freedom!

But I think we’ll prolong their childhood (in infant seats) a few weeks more; Logan has a good two pounds left…And Caden doesn’t quite fit. Although, it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere in his seat; he gave a rousing Houdini effort, but stayed firmly ensconced in his seat.

Today the muppets are nine months old.

The same amount of time has passed in their young lives that they should have remained with me in utero. From two pounds to 20 – why dwell on the beginnings when we’ve come so far. Our days now involve the mundane dealings of infants growing up. (And rantings in the blogosphere from their slightly neurotic mother.)

The wiggles, squiggles, giggles and grins.

(Un)Domestic Goddess

Domesticity is not my strong suit. I blame genetics.

You’ve heard about the failed pudding production experiment. I have set several microwaves and toasters on fire. (Side note: if one sets a toaster oven ablaze with a bag of mini-marshmallows atop the appliance, you will forever after be able to read the nutritional contents of the aforementioned mallows as they will be branded on your extra-toasty toaster oven.)

One of the muppets’ favorite foods is oatmeal. This is good stuff that they cannot get enough of – mouths wide open before I can refill the spoon. (Ok, who am I kidding – they seem to love all foods, but I digress.) After utilizing some rudimentary mathematical measurement skills, we determined that two oatmeal servings was equal to one-half cup. (The other foods come in single serve jars.) I pulled our measuring cup out and set about preparing dinner.

“You know that’s for liquid measurements right?” Jon queried.

You mean they’re not the same thing? Apparently stylistic design choices are not the sole reason for liquid measuring cups and the cups for measuring solid foods. Well, we’re never too old to learn something new!

During our Southern California adventure, I asked GrammaJ if I could borrow a measuring cup. She looked at me quizzically as she reminded me that she’d already given me one. “But I need one for the oatmeal; this one is for water,” I replied.

“Whatever,” she brushed me off. “They’re the same thing.”

Granted, this sage advice was proffered by a woman who is infamous for her culinary substitutions. Don’t have the specific spice called for in a recipe? No problem – there’s sure to be another spice on the rack that’s the same color and consistency, that’s what AllSpice is for, right? Casserole calls for cream of chicken soup? Chicken noodle has the same main ingredient, right? Hmmm, no olive oil for the brownies I’m making. A ha! The baby’s applesauce is easily at the ready.

(To be fair, that applesauce trick does work. And Jon conducted a little experiment while we were gone: those liquid and solid measuring cups are, in fact, pretty much the same thing.)

Overall, the women in my family get around this kitchen aversion by just not cooking. GrammaJ brags that she will cook twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. But now that she’s handed the hosting reigns over to the next generation, she doesn’t do those holidays anymore. The prime example of our familial edibility ineptitude is AuntJ helping her future mother-in-law prepare a holiday feast.

“How can I help?” the eager soon-to-be-wed offered. Her beloved’s mother suggested she could best assist by preparing the mashed potatoes. “Sure!” AuntJ exclaimed. “Where’s the box?”

The reason the measuring cup inquiries initially came about is because GrammaJ and GrampaStavo recently remodeled the kitchen (so now I don’t know where anything is in my childhood home). A reasonable question here would be why a non-cook would redo the kitchen. “Well, if it’s never used, it won’t get dirty!” is GrammaJ’s logical response. (Worth mentioning: GrampaStavo is quite the cook, so the kitchen does actually participate in the creation of meals.)

During the recent remodel, all household items were packed up. The iron was lost in the aftermath. “Oh well,” mused GrammaJ. “Nothing’s going to get ironed. I’m not buying a new one.” Then, over the past weekend, I opened the cabinet below the bathroom sink to grab a hairdryer. Like the Farmer in the Dell’s cheese, the iron stood alone.

“Mom, I found your iron!” I called. I wasn’t expecting a hero’s cheer given my mother’s equal enthusiasm for housework as for cooking, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for her response.

“I know. I put it there. That way I’ll remember where it is now.”

I’m sorry? You put it there? On purpose?

I regaled G.G. with this amusing quirk of my mother’s during our drive down to the beach. She chuckled, mentioning that she has never been a big fan of ironing either. Perhaps that is because her iron does not have any steaming capabilities – to press a garment, one needs to iron over the item with a damp cloth.

I bet you’re wondering, “Do they even make irons without steaming options these days?” The answer to that would be a resounding, “No.” G.G.’s iron was a wedding gift. In 1949. She still has the same one. Why would you need to replace an appliance that never gets used. “Wrinkled or wash-and-wear,” G.G. proudly announced.

I understand the thought process. Years ago, before we were married, Jon and I had a “crucial conversation” about household chores – I wasn’t pulling my fair share. I couldn’t really argue this…I don’t do bathrooms. But I was willing to make an effort to equally distribute the chores.

I hired a housekeeper.

Given my new status as housewife, this familial history could present a problem.

Beach Boys

On Sunday, we caravanned down to Manhattan Beach to visit Uncle Paul and Aunt Steph. In preparation for the muppets first beach vacation, Mother Nature decided to play along and the weather was a picture-perfect, sunshiny, 70 degree day.

G.G. had not yet seen Uncle Paul’s new digs either. Paul has spent the past five years living in the ultimate bachelor pad. Four blocks from the beach, bachelor Paul lived in the downstairs “apartment” of a four-bedroom townhouse. In reality, this “apartment” was the townhouse’s mother-in-law unit with an external lock put on its door.

While the 900 sq. ft. room would have been quite spacious as a guest area, it made for some tight  permanent living quarters. The bedroom consisted of…a bed – the queen size mattress filled the entire space. His closet consisted of a divot in the wall the height of his waist. (Even 4’10” Steph had to squeeze into the closet.) The bathroom door did not fully open, as the sink was in the way, so one had to scoot around the plumbing for any desired cleansing. True to form for a bachelor pad, a black leather couch graced the living room. In front of the stereotypical settee was the state of the art, all encompassing entertainment system. A lone tiny plastic plant languished in the corner.

But now that Paul is marrying his better half, the two of them now reside in a gorgeous (full-sized) home with panoramic Pacific views. There is still no living greenery in their home, but the palm trees bordering the Strand more than make up for that particular omission.

Manhattan Beach is not known for its stellar parking situation. So we played a Rubik’s Cube game of fitting the whole family into the Pilot. Ultimately, the stroller was banished and the third row got its inaugural passenger. GrammaJ kicked off her shoes and climbed over the muppets row, gracefully tumbling into her seat. GrampaStavo planted himself in between the boys where he could commence cooing over his grandsons. (We are not sure who babbled more during this trip – Grampa or the muppets.) G.G. rode shotgun.

After the circus-like attempts to get the whole gang together in one vehicle and an Abbott and Costello themed performance on directional navigation, we turned down a narrow alley (allegedly a street in MB) and parked in front of his garage. The six of us piled out of the SUV in clown car style only to revise the seating arrangements shortly thereafter so we could walk the Strand. (We drove to the beach because the stroller was left behind; muppets had to be carried.)

The muppets were giggling away in their carseats when Steph decided to climb in. One moment she was standing beside us, the next she had ducked beneath the carseat – crawling through the minuscule leg space – reappearing between the muppets. This inspired GrampaStavo to attempt to hurl himself from the back of the car into the third row. He was luckily thwarted in this endeavor, and sent with Paul and GrammaJ to walk instead. GrampaStavo is a lot larger than the pocket-size carseat crawler Steph.

Speaking size, both muppets are now officially chunky. Without the stroller, our family took turns acting as human strollers – carrying the boys along the beach. Caden was in his element, enjoying every moment of the ocean air. The rest of us admired the multi-million dollar homes adorning the beach front, making fun of some of the more eccentric architectural choices.

On Monday it was gloomy again. Even Mother Nature was sad we weren’t still at the beach. I bet the muppets will absolutely love Maui too…