Monday, August 27, 2007

Younger Brothers Are Great!

Our third son will be starting Kindergarten tomorrow. Over the weekend, I took all of the boys to Target to buy school supplies. Our third son did not have a backpack, so I purchased a nice one with lots of pockets for his stuff. When we got in the car to go home, he said that he wanted a blue one instead of the nice new green one that I had just purchased. His older brother, our second, quickly jumped in and said, "I'll trade you." Our second son has an old blue backpack, of course. The younger brother was very happy to have his older brother's blue backpack. I tried to talk him out of it, but both brothers were quite satisfied with the trade and the situation.

Sometimes, as a parent, even though I think a situation may be a bit unfair, I have to remember that they think differently at their age. Who am I to question the happiness of one older brother receiving an unexpected NEW backpack, while one younger brother rejoicing in getting his older brother's much admired OLD blue backpack.

Younger brothers are great!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sleeping Bags Really Do Work

I'm happy to say that even Dads can learn from their mistakes. After the last camping trip, in which I forgot the sleeping bags and nearly froze my boys, this time I wrote a list and made sure I brought the sleeping bags. Everyone got a good night's sleep, kept warm and cozy in our sleeping bags on top of another great invention, Therm-A-Rest mattresses.

This most recent trip, I went up with two other families. One was a veteran "boy-scout-Dad" camper and the other a first-time-camping Dad. I noticed that the boy-scout-Dad had everything he needed in neat bins. He says that they keep all of the necessary camping equipment (cooking supplies, pots, pans, folding chairs, plates, stoves, lantern...) in two large bins in the garage. Whenever they go campling, they just through the bins in the back of the car and go. No need to even go through an elaborate check list to make sure they didn't forget matches for the campfire. Pretty smart idea.

One final note. My emergency flashlight, with the crank charger so that you never need to buy batteries, failed. It really destroys my confidence in emergency supplies that are supposed to work during emergencies. I guess not all emergency equipment is what it's cracked up to be. I'm not quite back to buying boxes of batteries so the boys can play flashlight tag all night, but I definitely will do more investigation before buying my next set of "never needs batteries" set of flashlights.

When Are We Going To Get There?

Any trip, any length, it doesn't matter if you are going to the neighborhood store for some milk, you know the question is coming. "When are we going to get there?" is inevitable. After having four boys, you would think that I would have a good answer, but I don't. "We'll get there, when we get there" seems to be the typical response these days, but that is not satisfying. When I am low on patience, I might respond with, "if you ask me one more time, I'm going to turn the car around and go home," but that doesn't work either.

I obviously lack a proper response or suggestion on this one. My only observation is that all of my boys, the ones old enough to talk, of course, asks this most classic of travel questions. Giving them an estimate of the time of arrival only satisfies them for about 5 minutes. I don't want to get them a handheld video game, just to keep them quiet. My wife and I feel that children should be able to find entertainment in conversation, the view out the window, reading, magnetic chess or some other thing that requires their mind other than a video game. We're old fashioned that way.

I would have to confess, that sometimes when I am alone driving one of the boys, I do give them my cellphone so they can play the one video game on it and keep entertained.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cold Night Of Camping

We have a local open-area preserve in Palo Alto, Foothill Park, which is open to the residence of Palo Alto for hiking, picnicing, and camping. I usually take the boys up for several trips during the summer; it is so convenient and the boys love camping.

My wife is the organized one between the two of us. She has lists for everything and remembers the details of any trip. I'm more free thinking and have an "on the spur of the moment"-type of mindset. An example of this is that I can pack for a trip (1 day or week long) in about 15 minutes. She will take a week to come up with a list of items that she needs and another several days to get everything ready and packed nicely.

Last Friday, I was going to take the boys for an one-night camping trip to Foothill Park. I get home at around 5 pm and planned to throw the tent into the car, pack, buy some snacks and be on our way. My wife was upset at me for not having a list and a plan. I didn't pay attention in my usual way. I get everything, including the boys, into the car and, just as planned, go to store for some fun food (smores of course) and head for the campsite. I was thinking that we were making great time as we drove into the campsite and set up the tent in no time. That is when it hit me. I forgot to pack the sleeping bags. "Not a problem," I said to myself since the previous weekend was so hot and I was convinced that we could just bundle up and weather the night.

As it turned out, I counted down the hours from 1am to 6pm as we huddled, freezing, through a night of "sleep." I did not sleep a wink. Partly because I felt so stupid and partly because the boys kept waking up and telling me how cold they were. As soon as there was an inkling of light, I pack the boys in the car, turned up the heater, and was on our way. I bought them a great pancake and waffle breakfast and quitely entered the house. Everything was going well, as I pretended not to make a big deal of my stupid mistake, until my 2nd son began coughing and starting to have a fever.

I don't know which night was more difficult. The night camping in the cold, or the first night back when I felt so guilty about getting my son sick. Suffice it to say that it was a very humbling weekend. I am going to have to rethink this "have a list and plan" thing. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kids Remember Everything

The other night was atypical in that it was even more chaotic than usual. My second son had a fever, see blog on "Cold Night of Camping," and my youngest son, who is a toddler, kept waking up and screaming. It seems that he, did not get enough of his usual baby food as we went from eating out at a restaurant for lunch to a picnic for dinner. In both circumstances we fed him pieces of adult food vs. his usual bowl of baby food and goop.

During this long unrestful night of sleep my third son came running into my bedroom with a slightly wet pair of underware and shorts. I quickly changed his underware and found him one last pair of shorts in the dresser. The rest of his shorts where in the queue for washing. He promptly stated that he did not like to wear these shorts and was clearly extending the situation beyond what I had energy for given the circumstances. I was tired and said that I would get him a "new" pair of shorts tomorrow so that he would go back to bed.

I woke up tired, got dressed and went off to work. Half way through the day, I was in a meeting with my staff and I get a call from home. Usually it is my wife and since it is during the day, she knows not to interupt me unless it is important. I answer my cellphone and it's my third son, asking "did you get my new shorts?"

Kids remember everything and they actually take you at your word.