Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Giants MVP - DVR

The NFL season has only just begun, but already my MVP is the DVR. The DVR allowed me to watch today's Giants game at my own pace, which meant watching the first three series, turning on the grill, watching a series, cooking on the grill, watching a few series, eating dinner in the backyard with the family, watching the game until half time, then a short bike ride with Jess, followed by another series and a longer bike ride with Jess - you get the picture. Prior to getting a DVR, my options were to try and tape the game on the VCR and just pick it up from the beginning when it was over; usually I would turn on the game in the middle of the third quarter because I either had a) the opportunity to do so or b) I couldn't wait any longer to see what the heck was happening.

I love spending time with the girls on the weekend, and thanks to my MVP DVR, I can do so and still follow Big Blue, even if it's 45 minutes to 2 hours behind everybody else.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Car Talk

I was driving around with the girls today, and these were some of the discussions we had:

1. Shirtless men: Every time we pass a guy on the street without a shirt both girls will yell out "shirtless man." Today we passed a guy that was probably in his mid-twenties, which Stef said was "old." I replied that mid-twenties is not that old; she clarified her statement by saying he was older than most of the shirtless men she sees, but that he was young enough to still be trying to figure out what to do with his life.

2. U2: I hate the new U2 CD, despite giving it a couple listens. The girls actually laugh when the song "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" comes on. They think it's a dumb title and it doesn't make any sense. Usually I defend the music I listen to, but on this one I have to agree. How can the guy who wrote "One" write such a lame song. But they do love to talk about how dumb that song title is.

3. "Ten Minutes": The girls have yet to realize this, but any question they ask me involving time is generally answered by me with "ten minutes." Examples: How much longer until we get there? How long have we been in the car? When is this movie going to start? When is your football game going to be over? When are we going to Funtime Junction? When will mommy be home? When are you going to take us outside? Jess asked me today when we would get to my mom's house, which I replied "ten minutes", knowing full well we were about 13 minutes away.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday (afternoon) is Alright for Fighting

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and as sure as rain is wet, I was waiting for Jess to ask the inevitable..."can we go to Funtime Junction?" With no other plans, the girls and I headed out for the aptly named indoor oasis.

At this point, the girls are old enough to run around Funtime Junction by themselves, so I sit in a chair and either do work or listen to my iPod (or both), glancing up to make sure they are alright. After an hour or so, the girls ran over to me to complain about a boy pushing them. They quickly went back to playing, but after another 15 minutes or so, they came racing back complaining about the boy again. I asked Stef "how old is this kid?" She laughed and said "like seven, he's about half my size." At that point I knew this wasn't as serious as both of them had made it seem. About a half hour later as we were leaving, I asked Stef if the boy had still bothered them. "No," she said. "I told him I was twelve and Jess told him I knew Karate."

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This morning the whole family went to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey to volunteer for a few hours. We sorted cans, bottles and boxes of individual food items into different categories like canned goods and protein, put them in boxes, then loaded them on pallets for food pantries to pick up during the week. The girls had fun, and learned a little about people who are a lot less fortunate than we are.

A few hours ago, Jess and I played a round of miniature golf to make up for the miniature golf birthday party she missed a couple weeks ago because she was sick. Not surprisingly, Jess got 2 hole in ones, one on the particularly long 16th hole. She and I followed the great round with a dinner at Fridays, where we ran into one of her friends. Right after I finish typing this, Jess will be finished with Webkinz, we'll play a few games and call it a night. Not bad for a rainy Saturday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Bike Ride

Stef and I have a lot of fun riding bikes together. It gives me a chance to talk to her about her day and find out what's on her mind. So I was happy when Jessica recently got over what I like to call "The Great Training Wheel Incident of '07" (GTWI for short) and learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. For the record, GTWI was a non-injurious yet indelible incident when one of Jessica's training wheels flew off her bike just as she began descending down the hill at the top of our street. It's the first time the phrase "the wheels are flying off" could be applied literally to a situation I was involved in.

Anyway, we've gotten past GTWI, and I was looking forward to the leisurely "Daddy, there's this boy in class that I kind of like..." phase of daddy-daughter bike riding. But so far, Jessica's idea of bike riding consists of jumping out ahead of Stef and I by a hundred feet like a Tour de Family Bike Ride. I then pedal furiously to catch up to Jess to remind her to stop at the street corner, help her cross the street, then circle back to get Stef, feeling less like a dad and more like a cow herder.

I'm hoping Jess will one day slow down so we can enjoy some memorable bike rides like I have had with Stef. Unless of course, these are the memorable bike rides and we'll just be doing more of the same from here on out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fashion Accessory

Sunday at the pool club, Jessica was splashing around near the middle of the pool when I noticed she was still wearing her pink watch, which she wears 24/7. "Jess, do you want me to take that watch so it doesn't get wet?" I asked. "No thanks," she replied. "I don't know how to tell time anyway."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


When I walked in the door last night Jessica was there to greet me with an empty Tupperware container. I asked her what it was and she said, "It's for you - it's full of kisses." I opened up the Tupperware and she added, "And the good thing is it never runs out." I gave her a kiss and thanked her for making my day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Concert

Last night Jesse enjoyed her first concert - the Jonas Brothers at the Izod Center. This was Stef's second Jonas Brothers concert, although this time we had much better seats (section 110). Stef had warned Jesse that the opening act "plays for like two hours, even though you don't want them to." It didn't stop Jess from constantly asking, "When are the Jonas Brothers going on?"

The first act was a band called Honor Society (another boy band - debut album Sept. 15!), followed by one song by someone named Jesse James (?), followed by yet another non-Jonas Brothers act, Jordin Sparks, whose songs I knew because the girls listen to her music all the time in the car (a little trivia - her dad played for the Giants).

All this non-Jonas brothers activity was followed by Jess asking, "Aren't we supposed to get popcorn?" So one trip to the concession stand later, the lights dimmed, the crowd went crazy, and finally the Jonas Brothers hit the stage! This was instantly followed by the mom in front of Jessica standing up, blocking her view. But then I switched seats with Jess and she could see the Jonas Brothers on stage! I could say they played all their hits, but in the eyes of Stef and Jess every song is a hit. The girls sang along, danced, and when the boys waved their arms in the air, the girls did too. Stef and Jess also had an ongoing conversation all concert long, which I assume was over which brother is the cutest, Joe or Nick (sorry Kevin).

We got back to the car around 11:00 pm, at which point Jess was excited about trying to stay up until midnight (she almost made it). Everyone had a great time, and with all the cameras filming the show, I'm sure we will all get to relive it again in the future (maybe Christmas?)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Jonas Onus

If you look up the phrase "managing expectations" on Wikipedia, you will see a picture of me sitting with the girls at the dining room table explaining how bad our Jonas Brothers tickets are (you will see it because I put it there myself earlier today).

The concert came up again tonight and in my typical "managing expectations" fashion I threw out the "you guys remember that our seats aren't that great" spiel. It's mostly because I've lucked out in the past with concert tickets for Stef that I wanted her to know that you don't always get good seats; Jess thinks she's sitting in the front row so I've tried everything from etch a sketch renderings to IZOD center replicas made from Lincoln Logs to show her the distance from our seats to the stage. They asked to see the seats tonight so I went on the IZOD Web site and showed them the seats - way up there in section 228, where I've seen the likes of U2, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, AC/DC, John Mellencamp (I think he was still using Cougar back then) and countless others. The site happened to say "tickets available" and just for the heck of it, I put in for 3 tickets. And lo and behold I saw 3 lower level seats just to the left of the stage. Of course, just to throw a wrinkle into things, these new seats were three times what I paid for the first set of tickets.

I had 3 minutes to decide, according to the Ticketmaster countdown clock on the lower right hand corner of the screen. And then the questions started in my head. Jess is only 6; does she really need good seats? Stef is 9 and already saw them last year, does she really need to be that close? Can I unload my existing tickets? Are they even going to remember this a year from now? Then I thought back to all my bad seat experiences from my concert history and pulled the trigger. I think I'd rather sit in the good seats myself than sit in the boonies once again. Plus, I skipped the last Bruce tour and the Police reunion tour the year before so I haven't overspent on concerts. And maybe, just maybe, the Jonas Brothers will do a cover of Backstreets.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Last night was an "Up"-themed night. Stef was having a sleepover with some friends, and rather than have Jess feel left out, I wanted to take her out to dinner and a movie. There were three "Up" moments over the course of the night:

1. Grown "Up": Unlike with Steff, Jess and I rarely do things that involve just the two of us; I think it's because she always wants Stef around. So during dinner I got a chance to spend time with Jess just focusing on her. I asked her about her friends, about school, her teachers, what she wanted to do this summer, and the boy at Fridays she thought was cute. I had my first "Up" moment of the night; for a split second, I could see myself having this exact same conversation with her 20 years from now (perhaps in the same Fridays).

2. Put "Up": On our way to the movie, Jess let me in on the secret that she and Stef had made earlier that day (the one each swore not to tell anyone). Stef had promised to pay Jess 25 cents if Jess would leave any room Stef and her friends were in. Jess was so excited at the thought of getting money that I didn't have the heart to tell her that Stef was using bribery to put up with her sister.

3. Movie "Up": Jess and I saw the movie Up. It was a great movie, although Jess was a little scared at some of the scenes. As we walked to the car, she was telling me the parts that she thought was scary. As we got in the car she said, "Maybe we can see the movie with Steffi later this summer" (please refer back to bullet 1, sentence 1).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Game Face

Steffi is really into softball. She can hit, she has an arm, and on occasion, she can field a ball hit to her. In all fairness, she is brand new to the game. Her first practice she took off for third instead of first, and the other night she was the catcher but told me later that she really wanted to stand next to the pitcher in the field but forgot what the position was called. I'm trying to help her out, while also realizing that she's playing because she likes to try new things, not necessarily to try and be the next Jenny Finch. The other night I was driving her home from practice and giving her tips...which base to throw to in different situations, when to charge a ball, which way to hold the glove...I frankly could have circled the block ten times and kept talking. I looked back and she was slumped in her seat staring out the window. I asked her if everything was okay. She said, "Yeah. I just hope Jesse likes what I got her for her birthday." I think that perfectly summed up the phrase, "it's just a game."

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Allowance

This conversation took place between Stef and I in the car:

Stef: Could you pay me $20 if I don't whine for a week?

Me: What if instead you helped mom around the house?

Stef: What about $10?

Me: I'm sure if I stood by the TV when it's time for bed, I'd win the bet. I'd rather you help mom out around the house; I'll give you an allowance.

Stef: Yeah, but I'll get like 25 cents a day just to set the table; it'll take me 4 days just to get one dollar.

Me: Maybe, but when I was a kid I didn't get an allowance at all.

Stef: Yeah, I don't get one either.

Me: (silence)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Dance

Jess and I went to our first daddy-daughter dance this weekend. "Dance" is a very loose term for the night, which should more appropriately be called, "Hold my soda and chicken nuggets while I run around the dance floor with my friends," but I think that's too many words to fit on an invitation.

I was happy to go because it was all Jessica could talk about the last couple of weeks, and both she and Stef love the concept of getting all dressed up for a night out. She wore a little black dress because 1) she thought she looked grown up and 2) she is little. Accompanying the little black dress were high heels, a necklace, a bracelet and a ring.

In between the inevitable running around and the DJ getting frustrated at his broken bubble machine, she tried to teach me to dance to Cotton Eyed Joe and I tried to teach her how to slow dance. By the time the Miley Cyrus and Cheetah Girls sing-alongs by five year-olds gave way to 30-and-40 something men singing along to "Livin' on a Prayer" both Jess and I knew it was time to go. In the end, we both had a great time. And I get to relive the experience again in 2 weeks with Stef.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pure and Easy

There's a great Who song called "Pure and Easy" that Pete Townshend said was the centerpiece of an entire concept album that never was (Lifehouse), which ultimately became Who's Next, which actually never included the song Pure and Easy anyway. (I know, it doesn't make sense to me either.) The concept was that the meaning of life could be found in a single musical note. I was thinking of that song tonight after watching Steffi perform in the school talent show.

Steffi's been in the talent show for a few years now, but always in a group. This year she decided to do a solo, singing This is Me from Camp Rock. When the subject of singing a solo first came up a couple months back, I told her I thought it was great and offered her encouragement. Meanwhile, back on planet worried parent, I'd have sidebar conversations with me wife. Sample conversation: (Me)"Is Steffi really going to do a solo?" (My wife) "Yes." It's not that she can't sing, it's just that she'd be standing alone in front of 300 or so neighbors, strangers, classmates, etc. You know how these things can go - kids freeze, music skips, words are forgotten, curtains don't fully close, crowds laugh and then turn angry,tomatoes are thrown.

Anyway, as the weeks passed, Steffi practiced, the sidebar conversations stopped, and we all looked forward to the show. At Thursday's rehearsal Steffi said she was so nervous she was shaking, but she sounded good and remembered all the words. At today's show, she and her Brownie troop did an act together, which was shortly followed by Jessica's Daisy troop doing a number called "Snuggle Puppy" that was as cute as it sounds. Then there was an intermission and a lots of acts before Steffi returned to the stage.

When it was her turn, Steffi walked up to the microphone, the spotlight shone, the karaoke music started, and she started singing. Then all of a sudden the music got really low. Steffi paused for a split second. It seems her mic was turned low so the sound guy turned her music lower. She quickly resumed singing as if the sound people really didn't just turn down her music several decibels while she was standing on stage alone for the first time in her life. She sang great, the crowd gave her a big cheer, and we all went out to celebrate afterward. She told us that she could have been better, and that she missed a cue later in the song and compensated by singing a little faster to catch up. She wasn't upset, and she explained everything very matter of factly. Three hours later she was flipping through a teen magazine looking for songs that she could sing at next year's talent show.

Stef's first solo performance. Pure and Easy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Toy Bucket List

I don't have a "bucket list". I know that was a big topic when the movie of the same name came out a few years ago, but occasionally you still hear people reference it. I did ask God to let me see the Giants win one more Super Bowl, and he already made that happen in 2007 (I should have said 3 Super Bowls, but I didn't want to be greedy). My other bucket list-type-goal would be to have the health, time, and money to play golf regularly when I retire. But if there was such a thing as a toy bucket list, meaning things you should do as a kid before you become an adult, today would have been taylor made for the list.

Today I took the girls to see Miley Cyrus and her dad play at the Hard Rock Cafe, which aired live on Good Morning America. My friend John got us passes for the event, which was "invitation only", meaning all of the couple hundred people waiting outside "knew someone who knew someone" in order to get a wristband that got us in. The girls and I got up at 4:00 am, got in the car by 4:45 and were walking in Times Square by 5:45 am. it was so early that Jessica said the only people up at that time of day are robbers.

The girls wound up about 20 feet from the pre-teen pop star Miley Cyrus, who sang three songs, including one with her dad Billy Ray. He also sang a couple of songs before thanking the crowd for coming out. Steffi swore that Miley looked at her and waved, and we were close enough that I believe it really happened.

In terms of Steffi's toy bucket list, this is the latest in a list that includes seeing the Jonas Brothers at Madison Square Garden and seeing The High School Musical concert at the Izod Center (floor seats, no less). Both she and Jessica have also been to Disney World, Hershey's, Sesame Place, Crayola, and The Harlem Globetrotters, all of which are toy bucket worthy in my book.

Stef was very appreciative of the day, realizing that she was lucky to be able to get to see Miley so close (I struck out trying to get concert tickets a year or so ago, and couldn't even get tickets to her 3D movie because the theaters were sold out, so this was a big score). Jessica was excited because usually I just bring Steffi to the concerts, but now that Jess is a mature five years old I figured she could handle the crowd and the noise.

Later on we'll watch GMA on DVR and re-live the latest toy bucket entry.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are You Ready to Rock?!!?

I'm very excited about what's shaping up as my summer concert series. No, I won't be going to see Bruce. I was really hoping to see him, but I was denied by ticketmaster. And no, I won't be seeing U2, even though I've been a fan for 25 years and think they put on an incredible show. The ticketmaster gods were just not with me on that one either. But I did manage to score some very hard to get tickets - to the Jonas Brothers.

Saturday morning I told the girls I had to stay home from taking them to their Y classes so I could try and get U2 tickets, when really I was trying to get Jonas Brothers tickets. I used the complete concert buying playbook - two phones, two computers, calling every ticketmaster number I could find. And then, when all hope seemed lost, good 'ol Nick, Kevin and Joe decided to add more dates to their tri-state area tour stop, and I managed to get tickets for the girls and I.

I kept it quiet for the weekend, but honestly, how long could I stare at the puppy dog eyes of Stef and Jessica while I sat on the biggest news of the year - no - the decade - no wait - EVER!

Jessica immediately asked if we were sitting in the front row, which would technically be true if the Jonas Brothers were playing from the roof of the IZOD Center. I warned the girls that the seats were really not that great, but that I'd get them binoculars and part of the fun is just being in the arena. And besides, they would be in the same arena AS THE JONAS BROTHERS!!!!

This will be my second Jonas Brothers concert, which equals the number of times I've seen Bruce, who has played 700 concerts in NJ and is nearly twice the combined age of the Joni (I'm assuming that's the plural of Jonas). When Stef and I went last summer to the "Burning Up" tour, she was convinced that we could get their autographs after the show because she saw the Globetrotters and they let her down on the court for autographs. Needless to say, I spent the summer gently reminding her that we would not be getting autographs. But she did get to sign their tour bus as we walked out of MSG. The girls and I have already talked about how many t-shirts we'll buy (lots), what time we'll leave for the concert (WAY early), and if we really are sitting in the front row (I'm going to have to work with Jess on this).

As a dad, if I had to choose between getting Bruce, U2 or Jonas Brothers tickets, I'd choose the latter because the girls will have so much fun together, and they will both scream their heads off for an hour and a half straight and talk about the concert the rest of the summer. But if you happen to be going to see Bruce, please don't tell me he played Backstreets and The River during a 3 1/2 hour set, or that U2 put on a better show than Zoo TV. The only thing I could top that with is another special appearance by Big Rob, and as a rock fan, you and I both know that your Bruce bests my Joni.

Editors Note: Since this posting, I was able to scour 2 tickets to U2 in the mezzanine section of Giants Stadium. I chalk it up to Nick Jonas, who has taught me to always keep the faith no matter the odds. Rock on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

That's great

A few months back Stef was on her scooter when a car drove by us. "That's great," she said dejectedly. "That boy is in my class and he just saw me on a scooter." Sunday she found a branch on the ground, picked it up and started to use it as a walking stick. We were having a whole discussion on why a walking stick is even necessary when a car drove by. "That's great," she said. "That boy is in my class and he just saw me holding a walking stick."

So far I haven't said anything to her about these comments. I'm hoping her self esteem can't simply be broken with a stick. But I intend to talk to her before I hear, "That's great, that boy is in my class and he just saw me standing next to my dad."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm Spent

This blog is generally all "kumbaya" about the stuff I do with my kids, but there's something I've got to mention, and it's about them indirectly anyway.

If one more person tells me that President Obama is hurting our children's future with his spending, I may spontaneously combust. It's not that I'm for trillion dollar deficits, it's that most of our nation's 220 year debt can be attributed to two men. And I can explain it all in two short paragraphs.

From the time George Washington became President in 1789 until Jimmy Carter's Presidency ended in 1980, 39 Presidents rang up $900 billion in debt. What was it spent on? Well, to breeze through it - the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, the Great Society, Vietnam, and putting a man on the moon. In eight short years, Ronald Reagan managed to increase the nation’s debt from $900 billion to $2.6 trillion. It took him only 8 years to nearly triple a debt that it took 39 Presidents 191 years to accumulate. Quite a nifty feat, until you consider that George W. Bush managed to double a $5 trillion debt to $10 trillion in 8 short years himself. How?

Despite being the party of fiscal responsibility, sound budgets and smaller government, the modern Reagan Republicans have no intention of cutting the size of the government. They've never shrunk the size of government, despite 28 years of telling us government is the problem. When you add tax cuts to massive increases in government spending, you get...massive debt.

Whew, 220 years in two paragraphs. I wonder if I could cut it down and Twitter this.

But, you may say, Presidents don’t make the laws, Congress does. Right. In that case, no one should be criticizing Obama. However, Presidents do set the tone, provide the vision, and have veto power to send back a bill with massive debt attached to it. Reagan and Bush set the tone for increasing federal spending while also cutting revenues (taxes) coming into the government.

So please spare me the “Obama is hurting our children’s future with all his spending” line. If I need to look at my kid’s future, I need look no further than my own past, when I was a kid, when Reagan decided that deficits don’t matter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The World's Strongest Man

One of the things I love about being a dad is the questions I get. Sunday I'm walking towards the garage to open it for the kids and Jess asks, "Daddy, did the world's strongest man fix my bike?" Before this question even registered in my brain, Stef came up to me and whispered, "Just say yes Daddy." It was one of those situations where I wish I'd heard the previous five minutes of discussion.

Anyway, I rolled with the punches. I said "Yes, the world's strongest man did fix the bike. Me!" (they're young enough to believe that Dad could be the strongest man in the world).

Jess asked because about a year ago one of her training wheels fell off while she was at the top of the hill on our street. She didn't fall, but she's been afraid of riding her bike ever since, even though she'll ride her two wheel scooter faster than most kids can ride a bike.

So, Jess, Stef and the World's Strongest Man got on their bikes for the first ride of the spring. We went about ten feet when Jess said she felt her wheel was wobbly. That's when the World's Most Rationale Man piped in and said, "It's fine Jess, the wheels are supposed to have a little give in them." She went another couple feet and the training wheel fell off. She cried, ran inside, all the time yelling, "I told you it was loose!" The World's Most Remorseful Man grabbed her scooter and everyone proceeded on the bike/scooter ride.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Art of the Misdirect

One of the techniques I've tried to use to overcome escalating disagreements with my kids is "the misdirect." Anyone with children knows that once your child focuses on wanting something or wanting to do something, they will repeatedly ask for it until you either cave or boil over in rage or frustration (sometimes you have to laugh and think - how did I just waste so much time and energy fighting over a blowpop?)

The misdirect is simply an attempt to turn your child's attention away from the subject matter - staying up an extra hour, watching another TV show, having "just one treat" - to something else entirely, with the hope that they will magically forget what they were asking for, or, more likely, to de-escalate what could turn into a never ending verbal tug of war. Even though my kids are way past the "terrible twos" these situations still occasionally pop up.

But last night the tables were turned - Jessica used the technique on me. The last 45 minutes or so before bed she got into a case of "the askies" - she needed water (no problem), she wanted a treat (popsicle after much hesitation), she was "hungry" (grapes when she really wanted something else). As I was taking her upstairs, she asked for a cookie. I gave her my best stern Dad look and told her that she couldn't have a cookie, which was quickly followed by a whiny counter argument. I joked that maybe she could dream about them, which was followed by what I swear was a cricket noise. Finally, as this minor disagreement began to escalate, Jess pointed to her recent artwork and said, "Daddy, didn't you see all the artwork I did?" We spent the next several minutes talking about her artwork, but I was just as impressed with her first time use of the art of the misdirect. Not bad for a five year old.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hootin' and Hollerin'

Last night Jess wanted to show me some of the hats she has in her dress up box. One of them was a cowboy hat. For roughly the next 45 minutes, she walked around the house saying "Howdy partner" and making up stories about milking cows, something about cats on the farm, and how people out west do things differently. Amazingly she kept this accent going the whole time.

I'm not sure where she figured out the accent; the only time I've mentioned cowboys is in reference to George Dubya not being a cowboy because he was never seen near a horse (that and he didn't buy the Crawford ranch until he decided to run for President).

I just thought it was funny that a five year old would put together a 45 minute skit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who's the D-Sider?

This morning Jessica looked at me very seriously and asked, "Daddy, was it you or Mommy that decided that Steffi could have a DS for Christmas?" I looked out the living room window for a moment, trying to remember if Santa was responsible for the DS gift, and wondering if this was some sort of Santa-related "gotcha" question. "Why?" I asked, stalling for time.

"I just want to know who decided that she could get a DS?" she continued. Remembering that the DS was from us, not Jolly St. Nick, I said that both Mommy and Daddy talked about it, and that we agreed to get her one. "Well," she said, "could you please get me one for my birthday?"

I suppose if I told her it was Mommy's decision I never would have gotten the follow-up question

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Their Heart is in the Right Place

I was hoping to actually sleep late Saturday morning. But I didn't realize that Valentine's Day makes the girls as excited as Christmas (and Easter, and their birthdays, and Halloween...)

Both were up at 6:40 am and scampering around the house. We got them a couple of small gifts. The girls made us Valentine's, and Jessica continued her recent tradition of making 20 cards for each family member. All week long she asked Loren and I what we liked. Then she'd run upstairs and write it down on a card. When I told her I liked the Giants and Eli Manning, she told me she didn't know how to spell either word. But she did give me a card that had Eli written on it, so Steffi must have helped her out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Write Stuff

The scene: I'm minding my own business, enjoying a bowl of cereal for dinner at 9:00 pm after a pretty lengthy work day. Steffi and Loren are in the hallway talking, followed by Steffi coming into the dining room and reaching across the table for a pencil.

"Fine, I'll erase it," she says. She grabs the pencil, returns to the hallway and starts erasing something from the wall.

I get up from the table, fully satisfied from my breakfast/dinner. "What's on the wall?" I ask in typical I'm-not-really-sure-what's-going-on-but-just-trying-to-be-helpful mode. "It's a heart," says Steffi. "Who drew a heart on the wall?" I asked, more out of curiosity than a aren't-we-past-the-writing-on-the-wall stage mindset. "I don't know," Steffi answered unconvincingly.

"Okay, I drew the heart. I wanted to see if a pencil could write on the wall," she admitted, as I noted in my internal voice only that "if I could write on the wall with pencil" would have been the grammatically correct way to explain it. Of course, if I truly wanted to correct her, I could have also gotten into a much larger discussion over why a wall was better suited for the task than say, a piece of lined paper, colored construction paper, or a notebook. But in the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal.

"Stef, now you know, you can write on the wall with pencil," I replied.

"Well, I was really trying to get Jesse in trouble. See, I drew the heart just like she does," Stef continued. Apparently she would not hold up well under cross examination. I asked one question and the confessions just started pouring out.

"You don't have to get your sister in trouble, she can do that just fine all by herself," I said. I felt bad for Jess, but glad that Steffi didn't lie to us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Theory of Rela-tim-ity

Einstein's theory of relativity is basically about the relation between time, space, and gravity (or at least that's what the googles tell me).

This past weekend I had a thought I'll call the Theory of Rela-tim-ity (it's a working title). It started at the YMCA pool, where the girls and I were splashing around having a good old time. Both girls were yelling "daddy! daddy!" over and over in order to get my attention. A guy who was probably in his mid 60s was close by, and told me to enjoy my kids trying to get my attention, because before you know it they will be grown up (his kids were in their 20s, and he mumbled something about how they can't even give him a call even though they have cell phones).

Everyone, whether they have kids or not, has heard that "kids grow up soooo fast". Either you know it yourself, your parents told you, a friend has told you, or if you work with me, you've heard me say it. But I think there's a Theory of Rela-tim-ity at play here. It's about time, space, and the gravity of the situation. I don't want to get all technical about the complex mathmatical equations that went into the theory, so I'll simply boil it down to this - time flies when you're having fun.

For example, if I look back at 8 years with Stef - wow that just flew by. But if I look at the last 8 years with the Bush administration - what a long, slow, tortureous time it was (and I literally mean tortureous). The gravity of the two situations is quite different, which affects the whole time/space continuum.

Spending a half hour watching Colbert - feels like ten minutes tops. A half-hour getting my teeth cleaned - I feel like I have more teeth than an alligator. When the Giants have the ball and the lead with 4 minutes left, I swear each second takes at least ten. But if the Giants are down by 7 with four minutes get the point.

So I will no longer bemoan the fact that my children are growing up too fast. I will chalk it up to having way too much fun with them, which is how it should be. There will be other things in life that throw the whole time/space continuum the other way, and will do my best not to get dragged down by the gravity of the situation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Letter

I was home a little early today and got the chance to help Steffi with her homework. Steffi’s teacher has asked the class to write a letter to Barack Obama. The letters are meant to be a response to the letter the new President wrote to his daughters.

There is one particular paragraph that mirrors my feelings about my own family, and what I believe our nation needs to refocus on. He writes:

“I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential—schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college—even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.”

What a difference from our most recent ex-President, who spent the last several weeks doing a media tour, press conference and address to the nation reminding us of the themes and images he’s focused on during his administration, namely fear, terror, evildoers, threats, enemies…(sweet dreams children!)

We live in the greatest country in the world. We all strive to do our best, to be our best, and achieve success, which can be defined not by the riches in our bank account but the richness in our lives. To get my children there, I’d rather focus on the themes found in Obama’s message to his daughters than the message W. reminded us of as he ended his term.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I dropped Steffi off at school this morning, which I very rarely do. I do know that she likes to be left off at the sidewalk, and then she'll walk by herself the extra 50 yards or so to her line. Just as I was saying goodbye, I remembered that she also doesn't like public displays of affection, particularly with a parent, especially around school. When I said goodbye I tried to do it quickly and efficiently - sort of like Kramer ordering soup from the Soup Nazi - just say goodbye, turn and walk slowly back to the car.

So I was pleasantly surprised when she gave me both a hug and kiss goodbye, along with the requisite, "I love you Daddy."

Thanks Stef!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pierce de Resistance

After the extensive lobbying campaign for a Nintendo DS (a wish granted by Santa) Steffi has evidently turned her focus on her New Year's resolution - getting her ears pierced.

I say evidently because I haven't heard this from her directly. She has talked to my wife, who passed along the request to me. She was told to gather my response, which in turn would be relayed back to Steffi. It's like a familial peace, I mean pierce, process.

There are mixed feelings about this request in my household, and by that I mean everyone is for it except me. My first reaction when my wife brought it up was, "Ears pierced? She's just a kid!" When she reminded me that Steffi would be 9 this year and is currently in the third grade, I came up with what I thought was a thoughtful response. I pretended my cell phone was vibrating and it was probably someone from the office calling.

You know the feeling when you put on a little weight? At first you don't really notice. So a few weeks go by, you know you're not eating right or exercising, but your mind is telling you that things are in control. Then one day you wake up, you can't button your pants, and you look in the mirror in amazement and say, "Wow I'm fat."

That feeling is sort of like what happens with kids. One day you're trying to swaddle them to get them to sleep, but before you even realize it they're asking for pierced ears, cell phones and iPods. It really makes you start to think.

Hold on, I think my cell phone is ringing...