Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I would choose my little brother

It has been a busy holiday season so far with multiple dinners during Thanksgiving weekend and the upcoming Christmas holidays.  We have enjoyed our boys throughout the changing of the leaves and the unusually warm weather for December.  Since the boys are getting a little older and can settle down a little bit more during dinners, we decided to do some discussion topics during our supper time.  During one such discussion, I asked the boys, "if you could choose only one person to be on a deserted island with you, who would that be?"  Our 6 year old, thought and thought and said, "I would choose my little brother (who is 2 years old)."  That certainly came as a surprise to his mom and me.  We were certainly hoping it would be one of us.  We quickly asked him why he would choose his little 2 year old brother.  Our kindergardener sat back in his chair and said, "well you and mom are older and will die before me, so I chose my little brother so that he can spend the most time with me."  Now, that is thinking.  We were all impressed.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be Careful When You Are Tired & Stressed

I have been traveling quite a bit and work has been very busy.  I have noticed that I get more irritable much easier with the boys these days and my reactions seem to be much more severe than fits the situation.  I believe it is the added stress involved in being tired from work and all of the economic uncertainties that currently surround us.  I have started to remind myself on the way home from work, to not over react to boys being boys.  My wife and I love our boys very much and we tell them this every night.  However, when discipline is necessary, it needs to be fair, and fit the action that I am trying to correct, and always delivered with love.  This is not always easy, when you are tired and just came home from a long day of hectic work.  

I need to constantly remind myself to be gentle, even with the boys, who are usually rough with each other.  Parenting continues to be the most humbling role that I have ever had.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Got Shot By A Cow

I just remembered that I wanted to get this thought down before I forget. My two-year old was playing with plastic animals the other day. It was going really well. He lined up the farm animals against the tiger and was having a great time. I was helping him with the battle. A bit of background here before proceeding. My wife and I don't give our boys a lot of "gun" toys, not as any big political statement, but just to teach them that you can have fun without pretending to be in a shootout. This is not the easiest thing to do when you have boys. Most toys "aimed" (pun intended) at boys have something to do with shooting. Well anyway, we were having a great time playing with the plastic animals, when my two-year old picked up the horse and the cow, one in each hand, and began to shoot me with them. 

It really is an uphill battle, even if we don't buy them toy guns, I can still get shot by a cow!

Oh well.

I Can't Find My Sweatshirt!

Summer went by quickly this year. We finally moved back into our newly remodeled house after 16 months away. That was a long ordeal and too painful to recount and part of the reason I have not blogged all summer. In short, everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong....twice! The boys are settled into their new rooms and we are once again part of the great morning ritual of walking to school vs. driving 20 minutes. Aaaaaah, the joys of the simple things in life.

Three of the boys are once again at the same elementary school. This year we have a fifth grader, a third grader, and a first grader. The youngest is also starting preschool for 1 day a week. There is something to be said about routine. Summers are wonderful and chaotic in a good way, but just getting back into the rhythm of school, little league practice, piano lessons, homework has a nice ebb and flow like the ocean tides. School for us also means the start of our annual tradition of losing sweatshirts, baseball caps, lunch boxes, backpacks, library books, just about anything that is, as the saying goes, not physically grown on the child. Thankfully, our elementary school has a lost and found "cart" right at the front of the school. I have begun to call it our kids "other" closet. We go by it every morning to pick up the previous day's lost sweatshirt, hat, .....You have to love the mind of a young boy. They see something fun to do and all responsibility instantly leaves their head. Anything that is not attached is left at the playground, on the lunch bench, in the school bathroom, and at the many friend's houses. I threatened one of the boys that if he loses on more sweatshirt, I would buy him a pink one with big flowers on it, and I would make him wear it until he found his other one. So far, it has been two days and he has misplaced only one sweatshirt, but he knows where it is.

It's late and I need to get some sleep, but did I say how much I love being back home? The boys are great and even though I rant and rave sometimes, my wife and I feel so blessed to be the parents of four great boys.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Time

It is that time again and summer is upon us. I have been traveling quite a bit, so have missed some of the end of school year activities. By the time I returned from my business trip, the boys were already on summer break. My wife has signed them up for a series of summer camps and this year, the three older boys decided to swim on the local neighborhood swim club team.

My six year old started off the meet this morning with "the butterfly" stroke. I could never do the butterfly stroke when I was a kid, so it was gratifying to see him swim all the way across a 25 yard pool. There is something satisfying seeing your kids do things that you were not able to do at their age. Since this is our first summer on the swim team, the boys are not as fast as the other returning team members. It is interesting how to watch how each of the boys deals with this situation. The oldest, of course, has the most difficult time. Things are not the way they should be and therefore not very fun. The middle child takes it all in stride and looks forward to the donuts they serve. The 6 year old is going through a winning stage, so everything is not right. The water is too cold, the butterfly stroke is too difficult, "there is too much ketchup on the hamburger," "I'm hungry" he says between meals, "I'm not hungry" he says during meals and on and on...

My colleagues are always amazed that I do not even hear the baby crying next to me on the airplane during our business trips. I tell them, that with 4 boys at home, once I get on the airplane, one or two babies crying doesn't even register anymore. It's a gift.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Great Little League Coaches

With four boys, I would say that I have become somewhat of an expert on Little League baseball. This year we have 3 out of the 4 old enough to participate. One is in the kids-pitch league, one in the machine-pitch league, and one in T-ball. You have heard a lot about obnoxious parents and over-bearing coaches yelling at the players and really making the game not as fun as it could be for the kids. To tell you the truth, I have seen the opposite so far during the past 5 years that our boys have participated. I mentioned before that in Palo Alto we have an organization called "Positive Coaching Alliance." I would have to say that it has done wonders for our league.

The other day I was at my 10 year old's game and the opposing pitcher was really having a hard time. He had walked about 7 players in a row, allowing my son's team to score the maximum 5 runs per inning (NEW rule). He was very dejected as he walked to the dug out, obviously. I watched, as the coach of the other team stooped down and looked the little boy in the eye and seemed to say "you did great! you should feel really good about the inning and just keep on pitching." He held his hand up high for a high-five and the little boy gave him a big high-five and a smile. That was a great moment. It was a great lesson for me as a parent and a coach.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Let's Play Ball!

It is that time of year once again. Daylight savings has sprung forward, cherry trees have blossomed and thousands of little leaguers hit the field. This year three of my boys are in Little League. This makes for a rather nightmarish scheduling problem. Forget about simulating a nuclear explosion. Try scheduling and arranging 3 practices and 6 games/week, drop offs, snacks, uniforms, batting gloves, baseball mitts, athletic cups (yes, the passage from T-ball to hardball) and pick ups. And that only includes the baseball activities. The boys still need to eat, go to school, practice piano, do homework, take baths, and hopefully get some sleep.

In our city of Palo Alto, we have a program called "Positive Coaching Alliance." It was initiated many years ago, after parents started becoming a danger to each other and the umpires. I think it is a really good thing, since it teaches parents and kids to respect the game of baseball and basically to "chill out." Most parents get it, but a handful long for the days of yelling and swearing from the stands. So far after two games, everyone is still enjoying the season.

I try as best as I can to get off of work early enough to catch some portion of their games. This year our oldest got to be the starting pitcher for the first game. He did a good job and, yes, made dad very proud. If any dad ever tells you that he just wants his kids to have fun playing sports - he's lying.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Science Fair Projects!

I recently joined a startup, so I have been swamped and this is the first time I was able to sit down in a hotel and write a blog piece. I am in Washington D.C. working with lobbyist for Clean Solar Energy, but that is a whole different blog.

Last week, my wife and I decided to sign 3 of our boys up for the school science fair this year. It is always a great thing right? You get your kids to learn about science early and they do experiments and everyone is supposed to have a great time learning.

My oldest child, the 10 year old, and I decided to do a tough subject this year - "Which lighting technology is most efficient: Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent, or LED?" Long story short, after several days of research and teaching my son, it was decided that we were getting into lessons in Physics that were way beyond his schooling. We are heading towards plan B; stay tuned.

Second son, 8 years old, wanted to know "What ball will go the farthest when hit with a bat: baseball, whiffle ball, or tennis ball?" This we actually could handle. I took my three youngest boys out to the baseball park with a bucket of baseballs, tennis balls and whiffle balls. And after about an hour of ducking balls (we didn't hit any of the younger brothers once, I'll have you note) we finally finished. My second son was very tired and didn't want to see another ball of any kind for awhile.

My third son, 6 years old, wanted to know "How temperature affects the growth of seeds." I went to Target and bought a bag of string bean seeds and we planted them in small cups. One cup was put in the freezer, one in the refrigerator, and the last one in the room. So far so good, no one has spilled the dirt in the refrigerator or freezer and no one has tried to eat any of the potted plants as well. You never know with boys. The week is still young, but we are making scientific progress.

More later...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Two Days of Summer

Something about our family.

We are a family of four boys and a male dog named “Einstein.” My wife tells everyone that she lives in a fraternity. It must seem that way with so much “male-ness” around her. We had our fourth boy in April, so this summer our adventures were limited to places we could drive to by car.

I was not looking forward to flying with 4 car seats in tow (our boys are 8, 6, 4 years and the baby is 6 months old). We live in Northern California and spent some time in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Oxnard exploring the beautiful Pacific coast. Having been raised in California, we are a family that enjoys our days spent building sandcastles and digging for sand-crabs at the beach. Summer seemed to have been especially short this year, because our school district decided to move the start date up a whole week into August. All of the boys, including myself, had a very difficult time getting up and ready for school after a summer of sleeping in. That first week was nearly impossible, but we finally made it to Friday. I was walking my boys to school when my oldest son said “it’s too bad that summer had to end.” I understood what he meant and replied, “well at least it’s Friday!” His next reply was one of those special insights that we parents get from talking to our children. My oldest son turned to me and said, “you know something dad, weekends are like two days of summer.”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Maybe Next Christmas I'll Send Out Letters

Every year around the beginning of December, we start getting Christmas cards and letters from our friends and family. Two things always amaze me - how do these people stay so organized and where do they find the time to write such a nice Christmas letter? My wife is the organized one in our family. This year she uploaded a picture of the family during our Santa Barbara summer vacation and a picture of the four boys unto the Costco website. A few days later, voila! - a stack of personalized Christmas cards ready for me to pick up. I don't keep any of the addresses of our friends, but my wife has them all somewhere and she personally hand writes the address on the envelops and sends them on their way.

My contribution you ask? I use to write a "year-in-review" letter, which was quite reflective of all the wonderful things that had transpired during the previous year. Somehow in the midst of raising children and having children that tradition got lost. Every year I get motivated to start up the year-in-review letter, as I am reading other people's letters. However, as you can see, it is now well into January and my wife has long since sent out our Christmas cards. She is wonderful and I would not have any friends, at least any friends that would send us Christmas cards, if she wasn't so diligent to get ours out each year.

Maybe next Christmas I'll send out letters.