Category: parenting

Daylight Saving Pet Peeves

First and foremost, it is daylight saving time, and not daylight savings time as I both see and hear it referred to by so many people. There is a difference, slight at it may be. It is not a bank account into which you put your accumulated savings of daylight (and earn an utterly meaningless amount of daylight interest). You cannot withdraw daylight from your daylight savings account in the winter to get you an extra hour of sunlight. Small pet peeve, I know, but there it is nevertheless.

I actually like daylight saving time, and I like even more that it has been expanded. It is, like my birthday, yet another harbinger of spring, and spring is probably my favorite season. (And spring is always so much better after a somewhat cold and snowy winter!)

My real pet peeve regarding daylight saving time has plagued me for only a few years. Daylight saving time and parenting don’t mix well. Parenting, especially when your kids are very young, seems to be all about routine. Daylight saving time (and the eventual return to standard time) screw up those routines. It’s not so bad when your kids are infants. But when they are toddlers or preschoolers, it can wreak havoc on a well-ordered household.

Advantage: we can start taking our evening walks again as a family.

Disadvantage: the kids aren’t tired at their usual bedtime.

Advantage: it feels like we have more time to accomplish all our chores in the evening.

Disadvantage: the kids see the extra sunlight as meaning its not time to do those chores yet.

It took me an hour to get the Little Miss to fall asleep last night, this despite putting her to bed nearly an hour later to try to compensate for daylight saving time. I suspect that I would not have had this problem had we not sprung forward early Sunday morning1.

  1. Okay, who else likes to wake up at 1:59am on Sunday and watch the clock on the cable box change from 1:59 to 3:00am? Anyone? Anyone?

The Little Man and Zeno’s Paradox of Broccoli Eating

This evening at dinner, the Little Man managed to illustrate a mathematical concept I first learned of in 12th grade pre-calculus: Zeno’s Paradox. The Little Man had broccoli on his plate, which he generally enjoys. He consumed all of the crowns of broccoli, save one. For the last one he decided to do something different.

First, he tore the piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Next, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Again, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motion, consumed the other half.

This went and and on and if I tried to capture it all, this would be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts. In fact, it would be an infinitely long blog post because as the piece of broccoli grew smaller by half each time, it was never entirely gone, nor would it be. Expressed mathematically, the limit of the size of broccoli approached, but never actually reached, zero.

And for some reason, I found this completely amusing and worthy of a blog post.

The Little Miss’s Trio of Songs

Despite the fact that the Little Miss is only 18 months old, she already knows a bunch of songs. Some of these are snippets of the songs I sing to her instead of the traditional lullabies. (Think: “Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day” or “Far Away Places.”) But recently, I noticed that she knows most of the words and tune to three different songs: “ABC”, “Bah-Bah-Black Sheep”, and “Twinlke, Twinkle, Little Star,” If I start singing one of these songs, she’ll jump right in and join me, getting most of the words, and all of the tune right. And as soon as I finish singing, say, “ABC,” she’ll bounce up and down and say, “Bah-Bah Black Sheep!” and we’ll move on to that one. It really is amazing to me.

Of course, it is also a bit of a cheat. After all, the “tune” to all three songs is identical. Hum it to yourself and fit the lyrics to each of the three songs and you’ll see they are identical. Even so, the Little Miss’s voluble singing abilities continue to amaze me–and always bring a smile to my face.

Puppets and the Perils of Parenting (A Little Miss Tale)

I found a unique way of entertaining the kids today while Kelly was on the elliptical machine. The Little Man, Little Miss and I were up in the Little Man’s bedroom. The two Little Ones were happily bouncing on the bed while I sat on the floor, encased in a beanbag chair and attempting to read my book. The fun lasted about as long as you might expect and the two Little Ones were ready to move on to something else.

The Little Man happened to pick up a Yankees hand-puppet that I got for Christmas. I told him to hand it over and proceeded to do my best Edgar Bergan/Charlie McCarthy. Before long, I had the Little Man rolling in the aisles. He was not only laughing, but interacting with the hand puppet, holding a conversation with it and having a good ‘ol time.

And that’s when I noticed the Little Miss. She had moved away from the bed and was standing in the dead center of the room. She hadn’t moved since the puppet had come to life. And she had a strange look in her eyes. Now, the Little Man is nearly four and the Little Miss just past the 211 18-month mark. The Little Man was having a blast. And I made a mistake.

I misinterpreted the Little Miss’s nervous silence as frustration. After all, the puppet spent most of his time talking to the Little Man–who, naturally, was talking right back.

So I turned the puppet to the Little Miss, and he said to her, “Hello Little Miss! How are you today?”

In the ordinary passage of conversation, the Little Miss would have returned this interrogative with a delightful little, “Heh-loh!” She might even clap her hands together, bat her blue eyes and issue forth a smile that could brighten a looming darkness.

Instead, she eyed the puppet warily. Convinced that she hadn’t heard him, the puppet repeated, “Well hey there, Little Miss. Can I get a kiss?” He gestured with his arms.

It might have been the gesture that triggered what happened next. She took two nervous steps to her left–the direction of the bedroom door–and burst into tears. It was as that point that it occurred to me that she might be frightened of the puppet. It might seem inexplicable to her.

So I did what I could: I tossed the puppet into the closet and picked up the Little Miss. “It’s okay, sweetie,” I said, wiping away her tears. “It’s just a puppet. It’s pretend. It’s just a puppet.”

Through her sobs, she clarified at once that I was mistaken. “Scary puppet, Daddy,” she said. After that she held tight to me. I took her into our bedroom, sat down in the rocker and rocked her to sleep, feeling like the absolute worst dad in the world.

Scary puppet,” she muttered as she dozed off.

I wonder how many years of therapy that will result in?

(And for those curious, here is the scary puppet:)

Puppet

  1. I don’t know what I was thinking here. I just totally screwed up the math, okay.

The Little Man and the Time Travel Paradox

I am a fan of time-travel stories1 but there is a paradox about time travel that is rarely addressed in these stories. Sure, the stories tackle all sorts of thorny paradoxes (think Back to the Future), but with rare exception, they avoid the biggest paradox of them all: if someone in the future has invented the ability to travel into the past, why aren’t we seeing time traveler coming from the future?

Well, it may be that They Are Among Us, and it may very well be that my own little boy, the Little Man, is one of them. The Little Man is just a few months shy of four years old and recently, he has been telling us some interesting stories. It started out with vague references, like, “Daddy, when I was big, I used to go to work in a store.” When I first heard him say something like that I questioned it.

“When you were big?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“How long ago were you big.”

The Little Man pondered this for a moment and finally settled on a response. “Ummm, four–six months ago.”

He as become more specific lately. For instance, he recently announced, “When I was six, I painted the whole house.”

It seems clear from these discussions that the Little Man actually comes from the future, and furthermore, he lived his life backwards like Benjamin Button–at least until a few months ago when he started aging normally again.

Of course, I try to be encouraging. And indeed the nature of our conversations have changed lately. Instead of sitting around explaining to him all of the different years the Yankees won the World Series. (“Let’s see, the first one during my life was 1977. Then again in 1978. There was a dry spell and then 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and most recently 2009.”) I have started asking him questions. Like: “Will the Yankees win the world series this year? How about in 2015?”

The real question, of course, is: should I trust his answers? (You should hear what he has to say about the 2017 Super Bowl!)

  1. My favorites include Connie Willis; Blackout/All Clear and Doomsday Book; Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line; Jack McDevitt’s Time Traveler Never Die; Audrey Niffennegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife; Robert Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer; and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.

The Word the Little Miss Uttered on the Way Home from Dinner

Despite freezing rain and temperatures yesterday, it was 70 degrees out when I left the office this afternoon. We decided to take advantage of the weather and walk to a nearby restaurant. We had a nice dinner and then proceeded to walk home. While walking home, we saw an odd, and very minor fender-bender take place. The Little Man found it exciting, and asked why the cars crashed1. I was about to say it was because the guy was an idiot, but Kelly jumped in with her most derogatory term for this kind of situation: “Because he’s an ass.”

Ten minutes later, as we are almost home, we were reviewing the events of the evening. “And we also saw a car crash!” The Little Man said.

And from within her stroller, the Little Miss, who is not yet 18 months, said, “Ass!”

Like mother, like daughter, I guess.

  1. They really didn’t “crash” it was a fender bender, one that was based completely on road rage.

Adventures of the Little Man and Little Miss at Disney World, Day 3: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

(Read part 1 and part 2)

Everyone collapsed after the long day we had roaming the parks. We woke up at 7am and were out the door before 7:30am. Indeed we were at the Barbados bus stop walking onto a bus to the Magic Kingdom by 7:32am1. I think I was most excited for this day because it would be the kids first time going to the Magic Kingdom. Growing up in L.A., as I did, I went to Disneyland many, many times, and Disneyland is pretty much the same as the Magic Kingdom portion of Disney World. I figured they’d have a blast. They did, but the Little Man, at least, was also a little overwhelmed.

We arrived at the front gate about five minutes before opening, so we got to watch the train arrive to the Main Street train station and then listen to Mickey Mouse and everyone else countdown to the opening of the park. The Little Man was fascinated by the monorail, and made it his business to let me know every time a train zipped by on those futuristic tracks.

Once the part was officially open, we flooded in with the rest of the crowds. The weather was perfect, sunny, blue skies, and the air was rapidly warming up. We had a character breakfast scheduled for 8:40, so we decided to see if we could get on at least one ride before breakfast. We made our way along a crowded Main Street and into Adventureland, and there the crowds began to thin out. We headed for Pirates of the Caribbean, which is one of my favorite rides, and which we thought both kids would enjoy.

There was no line for the ride and we climbed into the boat and went through it and the Little Man seemed delighted. He asked all kinds of questions about the pirate throughout the ride. Neither kid seemed bothered by the small, dark drop of the ride. But I have to say I was a little disappointed. It seems to me that (a) the Pirates ride at Disneyland was better arranged; and (b) the ride has lost something with the introduction of Jack Sparrow. Perhaps that is simply because I have never seen any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but give me back the old ride. I liked it better.

After Pirates, we made our way back toward Main Street and decided we had time for one more ride, so we took the kids on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. That was a mildly amusing ride for them. I think the Little Man was already overwhelmed and it was a good think we were pausing for breakfast next. Just outside the ride was a anamatronic camel that would spit water on passersby. I don’t recall that from the last time I was here, but watching people’s reaction to that juicy beast was pretty funny.

Our breakfast took place at the Crystal Palace, just off the main circle to one side of the castle. While we waited for our buzzer to buzz, I captured this picture, which pretty much describes the quality of the day:

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Breakfast was another buffet, but once again the food was quite good. The characters were Winnie the Pooh and friends. Our server told us that it takes about 90 minutes for all four characters to circulate to each table. In truth, it took about 30 minutes. The Little Man loved it, and posed with each of the characters for pictures. The Little Miss was a different story. She admired them from afar. She especially liked Piglet. She’d point to him whenever she saw him, saying, “Pig!” But she grew nervous as they drew near, and when Eyore put out a paw to give her five, her smile melted into a shriek that nearly cracked all the crystal in that palace. I’d never seen anything quite like that from her–or anyone else, for that matter–before.

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  1. According to my Foursquare check-in.

Adventures of the Little Man and Little Miss at Disney World, Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Epcot

(Read part 1 here.)

We can be remarkably quick in getting out of the house when we want to be, even with two little kids. I think this came as a surprise to us because, before we had kids, it always seemed like our friends with kids were delayed in getting out of the house, scrambling for to keep their kids, and everything else, in order. Maybe because we are both project managers, I don’t know, but we had everything ready the night before so that, from the time we woke up until the time we were out the door, 30 minutes passed.

Once again, we made for the bus station and once again, we walked right onto a bus heading for the Animal Kingdom. It was cool and foggy when we left the hotel, but that fog quickly lifted and the air warmed up, until the coolness was no longer noticeable as we passed through the gates to Animal Kingdom. We arrived just after opening and the park seemed empty, which meant we could pack in quite a bit early on.

We started in DinoLand, U.S.A., because the Little Man loves dinosaurs and the Little Miss gleefully enjoys anything the Little Man likes. Their very first Disney ride of their lives was the Tricera Top Spin, which was like a dinosaur version of the Dumbo ride, and they both seemed to enjoy it. There is a giant dinosaur loomed over DinoLand, under which you can walk and I think the Little Man, in particular, liked walking underneath that great beast.

Next, we headed for Africa and the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition. The Little Man was very enthusiastic about riding in a jeep–more so than seeing the animals. Since it was early and still relatively cool, we managed to see a lot of animals roaming about. I was trying my best to enjoy the moments and watch the kids enjoy them as well, so I didn’t take many pictures, but because of that, I had more time to observe. I found it incredible just how many pictures were taken during the ride. It was enlightening, really. People are so possessed with capturing the moment for posterity that they miss the living moment itself. That said, I did snap a few photos, and this one, of the baby rhino, I particularly liked:

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The Internet has plenty of cat pictures, but how about baby rhinos?

The safari was different than I recalled from four years ago. It seems to me there used to be a subplot involving poachers and you–as the audience in the jeep–were indirectly involved in this subplot. No such plot existed on this morning. It was just a straight-forward tour of the animal park.

After the safari, we split up so that I could take the Little Man on his first grown-up ride, the Kali River rapids. We ran through a very long and elaborate line that had everything but people in it, and walked onto the ride. The Little Man was “captain” and had a special seat in the raft and we were the only two people on our raft. Off we went, swept away by the rapids and up, up, up a big climb. Atop the climb was a gushing fountain of water that was somehow quashed just in the nick of time. We remained dry–so far.

Then we were tossed into the rapids. We passed by loggers and a stuck struck and then, behind us, I could see a drop. I warned the Little Man, “Okay, buddy, here comes a cliff!” As we dropped down, I watched his face tighten into an anxious expression and finally break into laughter as we hit the bottom and were both drenched. We zipped around through the rest of the ride, coming out completely soaked. We passed under a pedestrian bridge and there was Kelly, taking our picture. When we stepped off the ride, the Little Man was shivering.

“Daddy, let’s do it again,” he said.

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Adventures of the Little Man and Little Miss at Disney World, Day 1: Downtown Disney

First, the preface. We usually head down to Florida each December to spend Christmas with my in-laws. Usually we fly down. This year, for various reasons, we decided to drive. We also decided to take the Little Man and Little Miss to Disney World. Those who follow along probably know that the Little Man is 3-1/2 and the Little Miss just turned 16 months. We did the Disney trip with some trepidation. We had friends who had rough experiencing bringing their young ones. Would we have the same? I managed to keep detailed records of everything we did with the kids while on our Disney adventures. But rather than slam you with one massively long post, I’ll spread them out a bit, and give them to you in smaller, bite-sized chunks, one post for each day we spent at the resort.

Kelly found a great deal. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort for 3 nights and our packaging included the Disney dining plan, basically for free. We planned our drive so that the first day, we’d drive for 6 hours, the second day, we’d drive for 4 hours, and the last day, we’d drive 3 hours. As it turned out, we ended up arriving at Disney World around 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

About the only confusing thing was where to go to check in. The GPS took us to the Caribbean Beach Resort, but not to the Custom House, which is where you check in. We had to ask around a bit, but after a little while, we found the Custom House. I went and checked us in and despite being there early, our room was ready. We headed over to our room, in the Barbados section of the resort, unloaded the car, and then headed back out. Kelly’s plan was to spend our first afternoon and evening at Downtown Disney. She had arranged for us to have dinner at Planet Hollywood so we decided to grab a shuttle from the hotel to Downtown Disney.

We walked to the bus stop and pretty much walked right onto a bus to Downtown Disney. That was our experience for our entire stay. Whether heading for a park, or leaving a park, I don’t think we ever waited more than five minutes for a bus. We brought two umbrella strollers with us, but only took one to Downtown Disney. We thought we’d see how the Little Man did walking.

One of the first thing we did upon arriving at Downtown Disney was take family picture in front of a Christmas scene they had. Next, we went to locate some food. The Little Man and I located a good place to eat while Kelly and the Little Miss started investigating shops. After I finished my snack, we went into Once Upon a Toy, which the Little Man loved, but not as much as he loved the Lego Store. That was a pretty cool store, with all kinds of gigantic Lego sculptures outside and places for kids to build and create inside.

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Life-sized Lego 7-Dwarves

 

I wanted the kids to have a blast. Wandering through shops usually isn’t my thing, but I actually enjoyed myself. I let the Little Man build things in the Lego store until he grew bored, and then we moved on. We found a candy shop and we each got some candy, making use of our first dining plan snacks. I got some delicious chocolate fudge. Kelly got a rice crispy treat, and the Little Man got some candy as well.

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“Look, Ma! I Can Read!” Or More Adventures of the Little Man and Little Miss

It has been a while since I’ve posted an update on the Little Man–now 3-1/2–and the Little Miss–now 15 months. This is probably a relief to some and a sin to others and exemplifies the adage, “you can’t please everyone all the time.” But since it is my blog and I am in charge around here, I ask your indulgence. After all, it’s not like I’m showing you pictures of cats.

Back in October, the Little Man had some minor surgery to remove a mole from his forehead, right between his eyes. The mole wasn’t cancerous, but the doctors agrees that for a variety of reasons, he’d be better off without it. The Little Man did very well and the scar is healing nicely. It will still be a few months for the scar to fade, but already I can tell the difference. He asks every once in a while to see the scar in the mirror and I think he is started to notice the difference as well.

He has entered that whiny phase of childhood, where every question comes out in a long, drawn out whine. And often not in the form of a question: “I waaaant some juuuuuuuuice!” Kelly and I have taken to telling him that we can’t understand him when he talks that way. He caught on pretty quickly and will repeat, in a much more cheerful voice, “Can I have some juice, please?”

The Little Man has been slow to learn his colors–to the point where we thought he might be color-blind. But from a little experiment at his school’s open house last night, we discovered that wasn’t the case. He had two sets of colors blocks. He would try to name the colors on one set (getting them right about 50% of the time) and hen lay them out on the floor. Next, he’d match the colors in the second set to the first. He matched the colors perfectly, meaning he can see and recognize the differences in color, he’s just slow on putting names to them.

On the other hand, he blew me away with a talent I had no idea he had yet. I walk over to his school every afternoon to pick him up. On the walk home, I ask him about his day and what he did. Usually his answer is, “Played toys, did lessons.” So I’ll follow up with, “What kind of lessons?” He never really answers this in any meaningful way. Well!

Last night at the open house, his teacher sat down with him, took out a card with a picture of a bathtub and the word TUB next to the picture. She covered up the picture and pointed to the first letter. The Little Man said, “Tuh.” She pointed to the next letter. “Uh.” And the last letter: “Buh.” She repeated her pointing again, this time faster: “tuh-uh-buh,” he said–and half a second later: “Tub!” He did this with six different words and I was totally blown away by this. I had no idea that he’d been learning to sound out letters to make words. Even now, after a full night’s sleep, I am still astounded. Watching my kids learn how to read was something I was very excited about when they were first born and now I’m finally seeing it happen.

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Grown-Up Night

Last night Kelly and I had a babysitter over and we went out and had ourselves a grownup night. First, we headed over to Guapo’s in Shirlington to meet some friends for dinner. And it was a very nice, grown-up dinner. I had an exaggeratedly large Margarita and some excellent camerones brochette. (What is really is: large shrimp stuffed with pepper and wrapped in bacon and with a steaming hot butter sauce in which to dip. The conversation was fun and lively and we didn’t have to worry about stray requests from children.

After dinner, we headed over to a grown-up party at another friends house. There we chatted with various people and I managed to talk a lot of baseball. I also, somehow, managed to engage in some karaoke, singing a duet of “Summer Nights” with another party-goer. I sang another song, too, but I can’t remember what it was at the moment. We were home by 10:30, which is late for us even by grown-up standards, but it was so nice to get out of the house for a few hours and experiences this grown-up time. It reminds me that I am, despite volumes of evidence to the contrary, still a grown up.