To you and yours...

Go easy on the sparkling cider, folks.

We may be spending the night elsewhere if the darned power doesn't come back. Rose just called to tell me that the wind must've knocked things loose at home. That's what blankets (and whiskey) are for, right?

Guess we won't need to refrigerate that cider. A happy and healthy new year to all.

Your friends,
Chachi Milk


Christmas in PA

We had our Christmas celebration with Mom-Mom, Grampa, Aunt Maria, Uncle Joe, Caroline, Auntie Kate and Kyle two weekends ago (I set this to post 12/23 but for some reason that didn't work out). We'll traveled to Vermont for Christmas Day so this was our Pennsylvania Christmas Explosion, 2008.
As usual, Mom-Mom and Grampa went ALL OUT and the boys had an amazing time. Peter was just getting over a little stomach virus so he was on the quieter side until his new vehicle was unveiled. He and his new best buddy Caroline were joyriding throughout most of the night. I think I actually caught Caroline whispering, "Dude - you wanna bounce outta here? Let's see what this thing can do on the driveway."
Who says Christmas fun has to all happen on the twenty-fifth day of December? If Santa can get places earlier, why not take him up on it? What you'll see below: Pete not caring about packaging when it comes to his new dashboard, Vincent making Auntie Kate pose "nonchalantly" for a photo, opening a new engineer costume with Mom-Mom, Pete drinkin' with Grampa, cruising with Caroline, and loving Mom-Mom, Prospector Vincent looking at his map with Auntie Kate and Kyle, and Caroline chatting up Elmo.
It's official, we are not buying these kids anything ever again. After this week, they will be set for life. And their kids' lives. D'aaah the holidays.


A New Holiday Favorite

You've all seen our previous holiday favorite that I revisited a couple of weeks back. Well, add this to your playlist. I can guarantee that it wasn't a setup. Mom-Mom (of course) got the boys a new holiday, dancing, animatronic...thingie and I wanted to get video of the boys with it but nothing presented itself. Until this perfect moment. It's a true microcosm of the boys and how they currently interact with each other and semi-animate objects.

Happy Holidays and enjoy!


Polar Express

Mom-Mom and Grampa and Aunt Maria, Uncle Joe and Caroline brought us along on an old-time West Chester Christmas train ride last weekend.

Yes friends, Santa himself was present. And yes, all three kids were totally cool with him. Confined quarters and all! Vincent's only stipulation was that I shake his hand (not one mention of gloves, btw).

It was a milestone. The whole thing was pretty cool to boot. Bluegrass musicians roaming through the cars playing carols, history lessons about the railroad itself, and a stop off at the Glen Mills train station "museum." I put the sarcastiquotes around that word since it was about 35 sq. feet of glass cases with old timey documents. Sexy!

Bottom line - the kids loved it and are now cool with seeing the physical embodiment of Santa. As long as there are snacks and grandparents present.

Music nerd comment: Does the photo above look kind of like the cover of Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago?

In case you're curious...

83 bags of leaves and counting.

"And counting" being the operative phrase.

With the snow and wind this weekend, we weren't super productive. Oh well - I guess we can put up lights and pick up leaves at the same time.

You guys love when I talk about leaves.


A Chachi Milk Holiday Favorite

To kickstart the holiday season, I thought I'd revisit one of our greatest hits. It's one of my all-time favorite posts and it has aged like wine.

Enjoy it here. We have to dig this little thing out again. I can only imagine what Peter will do when he sees it...



We hosted our first Thanksgiving this year. Rosalie was warrior-like in her diligence and loyalty to the food. She was up at 6 pullin' out guts. We really don't have any Chachiesque stories from the day to share. Things went really smoothly. And we were able to have both of our families together for the entire night, which was rare and great. The Italians and the Irish. And the Lithuanian. The menu? Fairly traditional with some unusual twists. Sure, I'll run it down for you. Glad you asked.

Cheese, crackers, grapes and assorted light hors d'oeuvres Turkey (free range), stuffing from the bird, stuffing not from the bird, candied sweet potatoes (to which Kate referred to as, "These are like delicious candy!"), onion pudding (Sounds weird, right? It's silly good), brussels sprouts, vermouth mushrooms, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (with and without turnips), pumpkin bread, homemade rolls, eggplant parmesan, baked ziti, chocolate tart w/ pomegranate, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate pecan pie & caramel cupcakes.

I know it sounds like an obscene amount for 16 people but believe me, it will all get eaten over the next week (if it didn't last night).

Notes on the videos: First we have Vincent's Thanksgiving greeting that the censorship committee almost nixed because of Uncle George's closing comment. Kate petitioned the committee to post it anyway.

And second we have Peter preparing a Thanksgiving turkey while his jabbering father encourages him.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


Photos of the Moment

I can't take credit for most of these. Aunt Ellen sent them after she and Brianna spent an afternoon with Rose, the boys and the leaves.What can I say? The kid is technologically adavanced. This isn't a prop, either. He spends long periods of time just listening to music on headphones. Just typing those words makes my heart flutter inside my chest.Fun game - spot the Brianna amongst the duvet and the infant carrier. If you can, you win...a bunch of leaves.
The cliche is true. Everything is a toy. Even an awesome leaf funnel.One child is freezing, the other about to be submerged in foliage. Which one is which?


My Leaf Harem

You might remember my discussion a couple of weeks back about the amount of leaves in our yard. As you can imagine, the amount has grown.

Let me make a brief aside here. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I love this season and I love that it represents itself thousands of times a day all over my property. Honestly. I only keep writing about this because it’s topical and kind of fun (crazy?).

With that, let’s get back to the present. Rosalie saw an ad in our community newspaper for free leaf cleanups. FREE LEAF CLEANUPS. A local university was dispatching a crew to do good deeds and hopefully solicit donations. We jumped at the chance and scheduled a time for the following weekend.

Rose had to work that Saturday so I was home alone with the boys when they arrived. And boy did they arrive. A giant blue van pulled up in front of our house filled with 15 or so college girls. All. Girls. So I walk down the driveway and an older woman shakes my hand an introduces herself as “Sister Katherine” (real name withheld to protect the innocent). It’s at this point that I remember that the University is both Catholic and almost entirely female.

So yeah. 15 girls and a nun were ready to clean up my leaves. For free.

You can imagine what this did to my as yet unformed reputation in the neighborhood (like I care. Kind of.). Getting young women and the vocationed to do my yard work for me.

And boy did they work. They filled 20 giant yard waste bags in like 20 minutes and could’ve filled 20 more. I couldn’t believe it. In reality, Vincent and I were out there helping most of the time (until Peter woke up – then it was all over) so at least we chipped in. I think I even said, “I hope this isn’t just for the elderly because I’d feel really bad to have taken your time.” Sister Katherine assured me that it was for “anyone and everyone that needed the help. And wimps like you, Jim.”
After 45 minutes, they were on their way with a donation check in their hands and the image of Vincent and Peter waving goodbye to them. Since then, more and more leaves have fallen and you can bet your ass I’m going to clean them up myself.

Unless… hey, maybe I can get Vincent’s school friends and a Franciscan monk to come over.

P.S.: We left 48 bags of leaves for the township pickup day yesterday. During this past week, Rosalie bagged 20 of them herself during the days she didn't have to go into work. So that makes 20 bags filled by the college girls + nun, 20 by Rosalie and 8 for me.

It's good to be the emasculated king.



Our man Pete is growing by the minute. He's taken to language really quickly and speaks constantly, throughout the day. Nearly every action is followed by a verbal description of that action. Some fun examples for you to translate:

"Titshyoo. Boogies."

Me: "Who did you see today, buddy?" Peter: "Elllaaah."

Me: "Do you see the bunnies out there!?" Peter: "CAR!"





"Big! Lilul."

Put yer thinkin' cap on and comment with guesses. Answers will be posted at a later date.

Oh yeah - the video. He loves when we take the cushions off the couch so he can jump or put on a little show. In the video above you'll see him demonstrate dexterity with an empty flushable wipes container, a toy syringe and finally, the TV remote. My videographer duties are cut short by the pending destruction of said remote. So yeah, he still throws everything he can get his hands on. FYI.


Kids in Costumes

I'm guessing a few of you have been checking in to see what the boys were for Halloween. I'm also guessing a few of you non-Phillies fans (cough...Joe V.) could stand to see a new photo.

Well your wait is over, friends. Witness the Cowardly Lion. This is one of the few seconds he could actually stand to have the head portion on. Otherwise, it was soft and cozy. The perfect costume for a chilly night of going house to house saying, "MORE" and "DANKYOO" to the neighbors.

Vincent went complex this year and rocked dual costumes. He went with the Tin Man for his school parade...

Then the scarecrow for trick or treating.

Pretty awesome, right? It was a great night other than Rosalie's unfortunate ankle sprain. She actually tripped on a pumpkin stem. I shit you not. How's that for the ultimate trick?


Vicarious Victory

Seventeen months ago, I wrote this. Funny how things change isn't it? My beloved Phillies are now World Series Champions. It's crazy to even write that. We were all positive, deep down, that it would never, ever happen here.

Well it did. Rose and I watched it in the warmth and comfort of our home, yelling and hugging each other when it was all over with, watching the celebration until we were bleary-eyed, knowing full well I had to get up 5 1/2 hours later to catch my train. Who cares, though? This may never happen again in our lifetimes. Alas the boys are too young to appreciate it. Vincent woke up at some point during the celebration and I brought him downstairs to sit for a couple of minutes to watch. His response was a groggy, "I want to go back to bed."

My lucky-ass sister, Kate (who is a great writer), and her boyfriend, Kyle were able to secure tickets for the game and witnessed the surreality, the drama, and the glory firsthand. After it was over, I asked her to "write me a novel" so I could get as close to the real thing as possible since I couldn't be there (or at the parade for that matter).

So for the first time in Chachi Milk history, we have a contributing writer. Please enjoy Kate's wonderful retelling of the events surrounding her championship experience.


The excitement is high as we step out of the subway on Pattison Avenue. Even the guards are happy, and handing out pennants under a balloon banner - “GO PHILLIES.” This is our night!

As we walk into Citizens Bank Park, all troubles are forgotten. Economic crisis?! What’s that? There’s Phillies gear to buy! There are lines a hundred people long just to get into the stores. Fans who weren’t lucky enough to have tickets want to be as close to the action as possible, and pack McFadden’s bar. Those of us who have them enter into the promised land, and join the crowds at pretzel, hot dog, and beer lines. It’s 6pm.

We stand for a while on the first landing and watch batting practice. This is as close as we will get to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins tonight....about 200 feet... Kyle asks a policeman, “What is the verdict on rushing the field if they win?” The cop is not amused. He will be preventing that from happening, he says, as he subtly steps in our path down to the field in an unspoken gesture. We move on.

I am cold, and there is a light mist. It won’t stick around, we all say. It’s not supposed to rain that hard. It stops, and we forget about it.

We weave in and out of Phillies Fans for the next hour or so - not a Ray jersey in sight - and make stops at McFaddens to see a friend (doesn’t last, we are crushed by the crowds) and around the perimeters of the park to check out the city of Philadelphia, lit up in red.

It’s time now, to make our way to Section 309, seats 17 and 18.

The stands hum with anticipation as we patiently watch video after video of Phillies footage, waiting for Fox to be ready to broadcast us. John Oates - alas, no Darryl Hall - sings the Star Spangled Banner. Some sing along.
The lineup is announced. After almost every Ray, a scream of “SUCKS!” emanates from the stands. “Batting second, left fielder Carl Crawford....” “SUCKS!” The only exception is Evan Longoria, who is heckled with “EVA, EVA, EVA”...

The Phillies are on top, and we know it, and it feels good.

Cole Hamels takes the mound. The decibel level is one previously unreached. We are going to win tonight.
Hamels holds off the Rays for the first inning, and Rollins starts the Phils off strong. At the bottom of the first we are leading 2-0. Even the most skeptical and defeat-beaten amongst us begin to hope that this may happen.
A misty rain has resumed - we’re not sure when it came back, we didn’t notice. But now it’s driving, and gusting, and as we look at the screen we can see our fielders being pummeled by drops. We realize that we too, are wet. Those amongst us with trash bags and parkas protect themselves as best they can. Kyle and I, lucky again, are under an overhang, which protects us for a while. But by the bottom of the fifth, no one is dry and no one is warm.

In the driving rain, the Rays tie the score. Fans are angry and screaming that it’s time to suspend the game. When batters hit the ball, no one in the stands can see where it goes. When Rollins can’t catch a pop up, we know that this rain is getting to our players. This is the moment when Bud Selig earns his reviled status.

The tarp comes out, and they finally call it. Masses of freezing humanity clog all the ways out. We shuffle and slog our way to the subway. This is the disappointment that Phillies fans have learned to expect. It’s familiar. But the ray of hope remains - this game is not over. Once home, we try to shake off the cold from our clothes and hearts, and go to sleep knowing that, at least, the Phillies didn’t lose tonight.

Driving rain, strong winds...even the most impatient amongst us are relieved when the game is postponed one more day. Wednesday night. 8:37pm. We will be there.

We have learned our lesson from Monday night, and bulk up in as many layers of warmth as we can fit under our Phillies jerseys, tees, and sweatshirts. We must look like swollen red ticks from the view of all the helicopters circling above us.

The excitement tonight is more resigned. Monday reminded us that we are still Philly fans. We can’t take anything for granted, as there has always been something that got us. But we continue to hope. The superstitious are buoyed by the fact that a tiny 2 foot statue of William Penn rests atop the Comcast Building. Once again, no building stands higher than Billy. Perhaps the curse is broken. Perhaps we can get ready to win?

We take our now-familiar seats in section 309. The people who never sit are in front of us, in different clothes. The girl who left after the 2nd inning on Monday has come back. People bring the same signs we saw on Monday. This is what it must be like to have season tickets. We feel special.

The bottom of the 6th starts out as we all hoped, with a run. Jenkins is our hero, for now.

It seems like every time one team gets a run, so does the other. We are not thrilled with Ryan Madson, but give him a cheer as he exits. JC Romero comes next. As the count rises in balls and not strikes, the crowd senses that he needs help. We all begin cheering...”JayCee, JayCee, JayCee....” It works. He begins to throw strikes.

Pat Burrell, unlikely postseason hero (as all of our postseason heroes turned out to be) whacks a double. Bruntlett runs for him. A seed from Feliz sends Bruntlett home. The fans go wild. If we can keep this lead we will win. We will win the World Series.

Brad Lidge comes out. Everyone in this ball park trusts him.

We are tense. The Philadelphia Fan in all of us wonders, “what is going to happen now to ruin this?” The Phillies are leading in the top of the ninth. We have 2 outs, and 2 strikes on the batter. Is this really possible? Lidge throws a strike.

The crowd erupts with screams, jumps, high-fives, handshakes, and tears. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Some have seen it in their lifetime. Kyle and I, and many of the Phillies players, have not. THIS is what it feels like. Wow.

We cannot see what is happening on the field, except a pile of players on the pitchers mound. They celebrate with us, taking a victory lap around the field with the 2008 flag. Ryan Howard carries it, appropriately. Before we know it, a red car is driven onto the field and a stage is set up.

Bud Selig gives remarks. We can’t hear what he says. The booing is too loud. When the Phillies owner congratulates the Rays on a great series, the crowd boos again. You can see that he doesn’t mind too much. They announce Charlie Manuel, and the screaming turns positive. Here is the man who gave this to us.
Cole Hamels is MVP. He will give the car that he won, tonight, his wife’s birthday, to her. We could not love these players any more.

The celebrating dies down as we make our way out of Citizens Bank Park and onto the streets. People are going crazy on Pattison, on Broad, fireworks explode in the sky in every direction. Philadelphia will not waste this win.

We head home, on a subway car full of happy screams. Everyone we meet wants to high-five us. We are somehow winners too.

Philadelphia wins.

Philadelphia wins????



Dr. Strangeleaf or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Autumn.

You've heard me make mention of the multiple giant trees on our property. At first, I was pretty concerned about them, but after a few bad thunderstorms back in the summer and little to no damage, I learned to be ok with them. In fact, I kind of love them. They give our yard a nice woodsy feel. That's right, I said "woodsy."

But then - fall arrived. And along with fall came the leaves.

Oh how they came.

And these were taken before they got really bad. It's pretty amazing. I was talking with a neighbor who said, "I saw you out there raking last weekend and thought, 'I don't think he knows what he's in for.'" What she meant was that I was bringing a knife (my puny rake) to a gunfight (a monumentally large residential covering of leaves). I needed about 15 friends with rakes to make a dent (or Uncle John and a leaf blower).

Another neighbor with a mind boggling amount of leaves on his property said he would go halfsies on a leaf cleanup service but we'd have to wait for "all of them to fall." ALL OF THEM?! They'll be up the 2nd floor windows! How will we get in and out?!

On top of that, the photos included were taken a couple of weeks ago. Since then, with the championship hopes & dreams-postponing storms blowing things around, the piles are even larger.

Oh well, at least they're fun to jump in. D'aaah fall.


Fun with cake

How do you make a Willy Wonka cake when there are no mass-marketed cake toppers or accoutrements? Improvise.
Would you just look at that thing? Rosalie did a pretty awesome job. You've got your chocolate river, your fake Wonka-esque grass, giant lollipops - all the sugar Vincent and his friends needed to go home all hopped up.

*Note Aunt Amy off to the right daydreaming about her piece.


I'm 4!

vincent is 4!

He typed that sentence above. All I did was tell him what letters to type and he did it. Yep, he's the man alright.


Posting just to post.

Sorry dear readers. I started a new job this week (and quit my last one last week, gave my two weeks prior to that, etc. etc.) so things have been kind of crazy. I get home and just want to hang with my kids, put 'em to bed, hang with my wife, watch the PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES BASEBALL CLUB ADVANCE DEEP INTO THE PLAYOFFS and go to bed.

That being said, let me give you what you want - cute-ass photos of our offspring.

BTW - Vincent turns 4 on Saturday. You know I'll be posting some kind of nostalgic something or other to commemorate because we can't even deal with the fact that he's 4.

Here you go. Photos.


Caught on Tape!

This particular piece of video evidence captures a routine (albeit minor) throwing violation. It doesn't take long for the perp to grow agitated toward the videographer. Note the very last word he says - "Paaaaa!" Our crack team of analysts have deciphered this word to be crime-speak for "GIVE ME MY PACIFIER OR IT'S CURTAINS FOR YOU BUB! AND GET THAT CAMERA OUTTA MY FACE!"


How to discipline a 17 month old...

At the risk of comparing our sons to one another (we kind of have to, you know?), we've got to divulge something:

As joyful and beautiful and amazing as Peter is, the kid is mischievious. More so than Vincent ever was. Want some examples? Here you go:

Hitting: Peter smacks all of us (especially Vincent). A lot. On the head, arms, legs, you name it. It's apparent that he doesn't do it out of anger. It's most likely for attention however, he even hits when he's the center of attention. He just does it. More often than not, he'll immediately kiss or hug the victim because he's been told so many times not to do it.

Up to this point, we've had trouble disciplining this action because he's so young. If we raise our voices, he thinks we're funny and imitates us ("HEY! DAAADDEEEE!!!!") which forces us to conceal our mouths in laughter, rendering us useless.

Our latest strategy involves sitting him in his booster seat, strapping him in and having him sit in the kitchen while we stay in the next room (he's in full view of us - we're not that cruel). We even say, "If you hit, you have to sit in your seat." Still - he gets out and does it again.

Can we ignore it? Sure but Vincent will be battered and bruised or he'll lash out and start a full scale civil war. Can a kid this young even be disciplined?

Throwing: As bad as the hitting is, this one is worse. The. kid. throws. everything. ever. Books, toys, wallets, keys... He's done with his lunch and boom - it's on the floor. Mommy's oatmeal bowl too close to the edge of the table? He reaches up (in less than 1 second's time) and pulls the thing down. That basket of bills and random paperwork we thought was out of his reach? It's not.

So far, the extent of our discipline in this matter has been "NO PETER! NO THROWING! Put your bowl on the taaaable. Can you put it on the taaable? (he does it) VERY GOOD!!! WHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (clapping like crazy). Uhhh...noooooo floor Peter....taaaable....."

At some point, it's got to sink in, right? Everything is fun and games to him at this point - even the discipline. That's what we're gathering since this is our first experience with a kid that's a bit...wayward.


Let's Go Sillies

I was 3 years old when the Phillies last won a championship.

Guess how old Vincent is?*

You guessed it.
Go Phils.
*For 14 more days.


Vincent's Recent Works

Check these out. Vincent's most recent chalk drawings.

This first one depicts myself (in the middle - the big one with kind of a mustache), Vincent (right) and Peter. Pretty great, right? What's that? Where's Rose? Good question. Vincent explained that he didn't have enough time to finish because it was snack time. He started drawing her above us but had to stop. You can't miss snack time.

So this week, he was back at it for family portrait #2. This time he got everybody.He compensated for not including Mommy in portrait #1 by making her the centerpiece. That's her on the left. The big one with the lashes. Peter is to her right, with the hair. He doesn't have a lot of it but what he has is really light, so I can totally see it. Next we have Vincent - the tall one. Then me. Guess snack time hit just as he was planning out Daddy.

Rosalie and I are amazed by these.


Kids as stress relief?

Parenting comes with its set of stereotypes that are both true and exaggerated. We're seen as stressed-out, haggard, sleep-deprived, puke-covered zombies in countless movies and TV shows. Is there truth to that image? Sure. We've resembled all four of those adjectives over the past four years. What I think is less represented however, is when your kids help you blow off steam.

My workdays are frequently stress-filled, as most of ours are. My hour-plus commute doesn't help much and by the time I get home, I'm not in the best mood. I've exhausted my share of expletives. My eyes are bloodshot. The whole bit. Mr. Cliched Commuter.

The cool thing is, I've got instant therapy waiting for me. I get to walk in the door, drop my shit and do any of a hundred ridiculous things that both entertain my kids and help me forget about work. I can hang from the monkey bars outside. I can let Peter jump on my stomach. I can let Vincent jump on my back (looks and sounds more painful than it is). I can pretend I'm a dog. I can pretend to have "sick-ups" on Vincent. I can walk right into the bathtub in my work clothes as the boys are taking a bath (anything for a laugh). I can make up a whole box set worth of kids songs. I can try to do a somersault (or not so much).

By the time bedtime rolls around, work is a distant memory and we're all ready to collapse. There's gotta be science out there proving this. Kids as medication. Hell - some of you have probably read studies you smarty pants. I'm just calling 'em like I see 'em. I may be a zombie by 8:30, but at least I'm a happy zombie.


Photo of the Moment

Vincent is totally into costumes these days. This is his "Prince Charming" that Mom-Mom bought him. It's cool too because he totally inhabits his characters, striking sword poses he's never struck before and vanquishing dragons we had no idea existed in Pennsylvania. You should see the pile of imaginary dragon heads in our family room (Sorry, Puff.).

He's a method actor.


Chachi Nature Watch

These little things have been dropping from the trees in our front yard at an exponential rate. We sweep them up and 2 hours later, the driveway is full of them again. We're kind of new to this whole trees-in-our-yard-that-aren't-dead thing so can any of our arborist/nature-loving friends help us out? Uncle John? Kate? Julie?

They're about the size of grapes and have little bristles on their shells.

What are they? When will they stop? Should we plant them? Eat them? Smoke them?

By the way - they hurt like hell when you step on them. That being said, it's kind of cool being amongst nature. Seriously. Sarcasm unintended.

First Day of School, Year 2

Here we are again. The first day of school. No matter how old you are, it always seems to sneak up on you. Vincent was totally ready for it this year, though. 2nd year of preschool? Bring it on, bitches.

Despite the fact that his favorite teacher and his best school friend have moved on (one to kindergarten, one to...who knows where), he was raring to go.

We still can't get him to tell us what he does for 2 and a half hours a day other than, "It was good."

Hey - as long as he's happy, we're happy. He's an old pro now. Check out last year's photo here. What's with us and plaid shorts for school?
Oh and yeah - Peter wanted to go too...


Is it really September?

A couple of images of the boys enjoying their swingset. This itself would've probably made for its own interesting post but alas. Let's just say it involved Mennonites hugging my wife. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The bottom photo is from an impromptu concert Vincent put on in the "house" part of the swingset. What made it even better was that when he finished with his set, he pulled a Pete Townsend/Keith Moon and heaved all of his instruments down into the grass below.

It's now September. Happy(?) end of summer to all.


Our Descent into Chaos or Bedtime!

Tonight was a doozy.

I've got bedtime duty for both boys on Monday and Wednesday nights so Rose can work. Most nights, it works out great. I set Vincent up with his Nick Jr. or Playhouse Disney computer games, which occupy him unfailingly for the 10 minutes it takes for me to put Pete to bed.

It didn't work out so well tonight. Vincent was incredibly tired after a long afternoon with Mom-Mom so he wanted to go to bed when Peter did. I told him that would be fine if he laid in his bed quietly while I gave Peter his bottle and held him briefly, per his routine. It was clear from the start that this wasn't going to fly. Vincent wanted full attention and asked if it would take "longer than one minute" to put Pete down.

Well, we tried and after a minute or so (hey - at least he's true to his word) he hopped out of bed and buzzed around the rocking chair, trying to get me to put Peter down as I got increasingly upset. I tried everything from, "Mommy will be so mad when she hears about this," to "I'm going to count to three. One. Two. Two and a half..." You know - the techniques you hear your parents say that you don't ever think you'll use...until the desperation is so intense you can't think of anything else. It's all just rote.

No luck. So you can see where this is headed.

That's right. I yelled. And it wasn't your standard yell. It was more like a roar. I don't even remember what I said. Probably something to the effect of "GO. TO. BED!!!" OR "STOP IT!" but to Vincent and poor innocent Peter, it sounded like, "BLAAARRGGAAAAHHHHHHAAARRRRR!!!!!"

And that did it. Vincent erupted into tears saying, "You're scaring me!" Peter erupted into tears, in my arms, in a complete state of shock as if to say, "What the hell did I do to deserve this?! I'm just trying to go to sleep!"

And I felt like complete shit. Everything broke down into chaos. The bedtime process was a failure. We all went downstairs and sat on the couch for a minute to regroup. Vincent all puffy eyed and questioning. Peter all puffy eyed and 75% asleep/terrified. Me sweating bullets planning my next move. After a minute or two I just thought to myself, "Just embrace this moment, go with the flow and we'll see what happens. Try to be zen."

Cut ahead 45 seconds to the rocking chair, me holding Peter, with Vincent sitting on my other arm, hovering over us, like a silent eagle waiting for the moment when I'd put Peter in his crib, giving him his father to himself so he could go to bed.

It's failures like this that show me what I still have to learn and that parenting is an ongoing process. Just when you've got it all figured out something changes, rendering you reliant on your instincts, both good and bad.

I can sum it up with the one line Vincent said while we were taking our brief respite downstairs, "I want Mommy to put us to bed."