My 40th Birthday Weekend Part I: WatchDOGS and Indochine

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The First Time Fawkes and Phoenix Went Anywhere Besides the Doctor

Today was the first time I did WatchDOGS while Fawkes and Phoenix we’re home. DOGS stands for Dads of Great Students. It’s a program where dads (or father figures) volunteer to spend a full day at their kid’s school. Having the flexibility of self-employment, I’ve been doing it once a month since Milly was in first grade, and I did it a couple times when she was in kindergarten too.

I’ve always happened to have Milly on the weekend of my birthday and I’ve enjoyed making sure I volunteer on the Friday of those weekends. The one year that stands out most to me was when I did that then we went to see Zootopia right after school.

Anyway, they might be a little tricky to do going forward, since I’ll have the boys at home. Torrie might be able to watch them sometimes I think. We’ll see.

Today would be been a little tough because I’d have been leaving Tristen home alone to take care of them all by herself. Fortunately, both of my parents were in town to help out. Mom went back to pick Dad up from work yesterday. They stayed at Summer Sands, but they made sure to come over to the house by the 9:00 feeding. They also washed and folded every stitch of laundry they could find and Dad put some paneling up on our not-quite-finished-on-the-inside sliding glass door project.

I still needed to help out with the 6:00 feeding though. I got up and got the bottles of milk and such. Tristen said she’d been up for a long time trying to get the boys to settle down. They’ve been so easy so far, but their sleep patterns are starting to diverge slightly.

Anyway, I fed Phoenix while she fed Fawkes, then I jumped in the shower and went off to pick Milly up from Amanda’s I had packed my lunch the night before. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. I’m pretty sure I ate something though.

When you volunteer at the school you have to sign in on a computer and take a pick tire for a sticker you wear around all day. I always pull Milly up into the picture so we can take it together. As a WatchDOG they have another name tag sticker that I always let Milly fill out. It’s usually got pictures on it, as it did today.

At 7:15 it’s time to go help with the kids being dropped off by their parents. I spent some time talking to one teacher who loves asking about the boys. I can’t remember her name, but I know she knows who Milly is. I also usually talk to TJ, the father of Milly’s friend, Braden.

Today they had two extra guys out there who are doing a program called Boosterthon. It’s a fundraiser, but these guys also hold these pep rally-style events for each grade where they get them to be active and teach them different things like how to be more self-aware. Anyway, I overheard one of them say something about going to Carolina in their game at Duke this weekend, so I threw a “Let’s go Duke,” at him. Turned out the other guy doing it is a Duke fan, so we all spent some time respectfully discussing Basketball.

They have a morning broadcast at the school each day where they announce things like the weather and what’s available in the cafeteria. When there’s a WatchDOGS dad, they give a little interview but I’ve done it so many times they have a hard time coming up with questions for me, so I’ve gotten to where I just ask them questions or lead the discussion a little. This time I mentioned that I was going on about three hours of sleep because of my new twin boys then told them my birthday is this weekend. Someone asked how old I was turning so I told them to guess. I got everything from 28 to 36, so when they were done guessing I told them we could just go with one of those numbers.

Then I mentioned the Duke-Carolina game and one of the hosts asked who I was going for. I said “Duke,” of course, and got a few sheers and a few boos, including a boo from one of the hosts. I told her that my only birthday wish was for Duke to win, and since it’s my birthday they have to go for Duke.

I always have fun with those kids.

When you volunteer, you’re assigned to three classes, including your own kid’s. Of course, they expect you to do recess and lunch with your kid too, but I’m always scheduled to be with a different class during Milly’s lunch and recess times. On top of that, I tend to get scheduled in Milly’s class during times they’re out of the room or doing tests or quizzes. I’ve taken to going around to the other scheduled classes and telling them the situation then working with the teachers to move my schedule around. A lot of the time they don’t have anything particularly planned for me, so they often tell me not to worry about it.

A lot of times though, they have me work with a kid or group of kids on things where they could use some additional attention. Sometimes it’s reading and going over questions, sometimes it’s flash cards. This time I worked with a group of kids on adding and subtracting fractions in one class, which was actually kind of fun. One of the kids was getting it pretty well, so I had him explain how he was doing it when I was having trouble explaining the concept of taking one from the whole numbers and converting it into a fraction in order to properly subtract. In another class I helped a kid go over a list of reading words.

Every time I do recess with Milly’s class, I feel a little bittersweet. She used to never leave my side when I was there, and she still sticks around me and plays with me a lot, but she wanders off with friends too, which is great because a lot of kids like my daughter and I love seeing her in her element. In previous years though, all the kids would flock to me and we’d play Duck, Duck, Goose or Red Rover (until we were told not to anymore because some kids could get hurt). Sometimes now I’m asked to do the terribly named Red Rocket, where I push kids in swings extra high, but even that hasn’t been requested in a while. It’s cool, and a lot of the kids still come talk to me and want me to play with them, but it’s a sign of how they, and by extension, Milly, are getting older.

Mom and Dad were at the house feeding Fawkes and Phoenix when we got home. We got to relax for a little bit before getting ready and heading out to Indochine for dinner. I’ve been wanting to take Mom and Dad there, plus it’s pretty much the best place to eat in Wilmington. Tristen’s whole family met us there. It was a bit cold, so we didn’t eat outside (which is the best atmosphere), but I showed it to my parents while we were waiting to be seated.

It was the first time Tristen and I had taken the boys anywhere aside from the doctor’s office and they did really well. There were two women sitting at a table at the end where they were, and they oohed and awwed when Tristen and Torrie took them out to feed them. They did great the entire time we were out; I don’t think they cried even once. They seem to like noise, which Tristen said might be because there was always noise in the NICU.

Dinner was great there as always, although Mom didn’t seem to be enthralled with anything on the menu. She was a trooper though.

Mom and Dad headed off to their room at Summer Sands and everyone else headed on to their respective homes. When we got back Milly decided to pick at her ukulele a bit and came up with a song. It was really cool to watch her sit on her futon jotting down lyrics. When she finished her song, Snow the Unicorn, I heard her clap and congratulate herself, which was adorable. She performed it for us, but she didn’t sync up the playing with the singing as well as she had done when practicing. I enjoyed it though.

 

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