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KIDS (permalink) 04.27.2012
How I Felt
bella's class recently participated in a program called bizTown, or something of the like. for the exercise her grade (5th) got into a bus and travelled to some location where there were other grades from other schools. each kid in the class was given a job or duty to conduct. bella was the chief financial officer for her company (that morning she dressed up all business like in a long skirt and matching top - she looked quite smart got up so). when i got home from work i made dinner while bella sat at the kitchen counter with some homework. remembering about the experience i asked how her day as CFO went. she plucked a page from her folder and handed it to my as if i just requested a copy of some boorish report. below is what was on the page. i guess she got tired of answering the question, or any questions for that matter.

click to enlarge

FAMILY (permalink) 04.26.2012
that's not how mom does it.
marty was away last weekend. in preparation i made sure i got proper sleep in the days before and spent some time in the week plotting out the weekend as to keep me on the offensive. i posted the day's schedule 1 saturday morning, setting it on the kitchen counter. it looked like this:

08.00 - 11.00 computer
11.00 - 12.00 lunch
12.00 - 01.00 watch softball (girls university team)
01.00 - 03.30 play at house
03.30 - 05.00 baya indoor soccer
05.00 - 07.00 dinner
07.00 - 09.00 movie
09.00 - 09.30 books/bed

this is what really happened.
08.00 - 11.00 computer
11.00 - 12.00 lunch
12.00 - 03.30 watch softball (i wished for an hour, we ended up staying for a double-header at bella's request)
03.30 - 04.15 petting zoo (surely an unexpected find a flash-mob of baby animals on our bike ride home)
04.30 - 05.00 baya soccer (we missed half the game so bella could sit with a miniature cow)
05.00 - 06.00 dinner (kabob house, alex got to bring his friend morgan since it was mostly a bella-day thus far)
06.00 - 07.00 ted drewes (also with alex's friend morgan who somehow had never been. remarkable.)
07.00 - 09.30 movie (morgan sent home after show)
09.30 - 10.00 books
10.00 - 10.30 bed

while the kids seem to have had a great day, at the end you can still get something like this. marty told me that anthony (age 5) needs lotion rubbed on his hands in the morning and before bed. she told me with a mild bit of trepidation because she knows i hate to touch lotion or anything oily in nature. but my son needed this to be healthy and i was the only one around to do it, so i would build up some resolve and jump in. after defiling my fingertips in the tub of lotion and applying it to anthony's hand, he, in the air of a wealthy lady having her nails done, said ...

you did a smear and a wipe. mom just does a dab and a rub. that's what you should do. a dab and a rub. not a smear.

i stopped doing my smears and wipes long enough to think how bad of parenting it would be to introduce my five year old to a toilet swirlie. then he could tell mom that when dad does it, it's more of a dunk and flush and not a flush and submerge like she was doing it. a dunk and flush.

1 while on vacation last summer in colorado, i discovered the odd power a documented schedule had on our children. while before they might nudge and needle us for more of something, like computer, when we put it on the schedule, if a child would ask about it, another child would scold them saying, "it's not on the schedule." i thought to make one because on a mostly open day the kids and one of the adults (hint : her name starts with an m) were more restless and bickery than usual given the wandering and aimless nature of the day. while a free day is usually good and great, free days for multiple people with conflicting wishes seems to be rather un-relaxing. whatever the case, the schedule made the day after the listless day had a powerful influence on people's moods. fact is, it was one of the most surprising reactions to something i'd ever seen. and this last saturday was no exception.

a few notes about a family schedule. (1) like with all regiments, you, the parent, have to be flexible to change and overruns. (2) i've found it's tantalizing to put a mystery event or two on the list (so where are we going to dinner dad?). (3) i imagine, in this format, a family schedule is more powerful when used sparingly. (4) in the end, i knew i revered the power of a schedule. i'm just happily surprised at how much my kids revere the power of a schedule.

PHOTO (permalink) 04.25.2012
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
APRIL 2012

QUOTES (permalink) 04.24.2012
think it - be it
Neither the woman on the plane nor my friend Elizabeth was in denial about her feelings. Neither of them was pleased with what was going on, but neither of them had a choice about it. The only choice they had was the style they selected for passing the time. Having the ability to choose a style seems to me to be a great liberation. Perhaps it is the ultimate meaning of "freedom of choice."

Right Aspiration is what develops in the mind once we understand that freedom of choice is possible. Life is going to unfold however it does: pleasant or unpleasant, disappointing or thrilling, expected or unexpected, all of the above! What a relief it would be to know that whatever wave comes along, we can ride it out with grace. If we got really good at it, we could be like surfers, delighting especially in the most complicated waves.

What Right Aspiration translates to in terms of daily action is the resolve to behave in a way that stretches the limits of conditioned response. If i want to build big biceps, I need to use every opportunity to practice lifting weights. If I want to live in a way that is loving and generous and fearless, then I need to practice overcoming any tendency to be angry or greedy or confused. Life is a terrific gym. Every situation is an opportunity to practice.
Excerpt from It's Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein

LIFE (permalink) 04.19.2012
there's more than one reason they call them scratchers
at my last job once a week the database guy at my shop walked the aisles of cubes collecting money for lottery tickets. everyone would hand him a wrinkled buck or two, he'd make a scratch on a small piece of paper, and move to the next. then at lunch or on the way home, he'd buy a block of lottery tickets with the money. routinely i was the only one who did not participate. routinely he was the one who would shake his head and tsk-tsk my decision, saying i'd be really sorry if they ever won because i'd be the only one left in the office to hold all of these systems afloat. to this i said if they all won, in a year's time i'd be the happiest one of everyone involved. that comment bought me many a debate on the merits and ills of an average person coming into an un-average flood of money.

my belief on the lottery system spread through the office and my lottery-playing co-workers would appear at my cube in twos, threes, and fours to confirm what they heard and question the source. i would confess to the row of bemused expressions that i did believe they would all be miserable if they won the lottery. when pressed on how that could possibly be i would explain. i would single out one of the gawkers asking about their family. parents still living? how many siblings? aunts? uncles? friends? after getting a sense for the inventory of friends and relations i'd ask what their plan for all of them was. they always had a plan which i imagined got drawn up in their forty plus minute commutes home. their presence would gain a beat as they excitedly stepped through the awards each tier of the family would get thinking they were the first to stagger the amounts with such acumen. i'd then move us along saying ...
ok. so you give the sister you don't like so much and her husband fifty grand just like you did for your other siblings and in nine month's they're reporting the t-shirt decal business they invested in went under because there are now printers and special paper that can make decals every bit as good as theirs. but now they have a great new idea and it can't loose but they just need another thirty grand to get it off the ground. what do you say to this? (now some people say they will give them the 30k. when that happens, i bring the bad business duo back in another five months asking for more. and again. and again. eventually everyone says they have to at some point say no.) i agree. you do have to say no. but what do you think that eventual line in the sand will do with your relationship with your sister who you previously had no significant angst with? and then how do you react when your other siblings call and express shock that you wouldn't give her more, and they just had a bad break, and you've got so much, more than you can even use, and it's not like you did anything to earn it, how could you tell your own sister no, how could you be so heartless? then your dad calls. and then your mom. and then what does the next family gathering look like? you pulling up in your fancy car while you're sister couldn't come because she and her obnoxious hubby are getting put out of their duplex because they lost their business just because you wouldn't give them another thirty grand which for anyone else under the picnic gazebo would be like dropping a dollar bill in the turned up hat of a sightless beggar. you're fully convinced it was the right choice. maybe it was the right choice. but do your friends and family agree?
while all of my arguments were based on simple conjecture which were based on scenarios i'd drawn up in my head, after more than a decade of my lottery-conviction, i heard my first bit of first-hand evidence through the aunt of a close friend of mine (and a woman i had socialized with as recently as six months back). four years ago this woman's christmas list was 225 addresses long. then her husband died and she was awarded one point five million dollars. guess how many names were on her christmas list last year, or rather, three years after she was handed one point five millions dollars? when i asked bella this question, she guessed 1,000. i had to tell her the real answer was seven. and then less than three months after the seven-name christmas she took her life with a handgun she had from earlier times.

KIDS (permalink) 04.17.2012
there's a lot of wisdom packed into that 8 year-old, fifty pound frame
alex grabbed a heavy rain-coat as we were heading out for dinner. i told him to lose the coat as it was nice out. he said he wanted to take it. shrugging my shoulders in a 'whatever' manner i ushered him out the door. after we ate and were about to walk out to the car we found it pouring rain. the only one of us who didn't groan in the doorway was alex, given the raincoat he was pulling on at the sight of the torrent. after racing through the puddled parking lot and piling into the van, marty told alex it was smart of him to bring the coat. to this he said, "well, it rained earlier in the day and when it rains once it can always rain twice. you just never know about the weather."

KIDS, HEALTH (permalink) 04.13.2012
i can't wait until he starts hitting me with reverse psychology
i have a spring cold. i caught this one from anthony. upon getting up in the morning and realizing i was fully sick, i said bye to the kids and then let my office know i'd be out for the day. i then fell back into bed and didn't wake until 2pm when marty and anthony came home. it was a beautiful day so i moved out to the porch to get some fresh air. in time, marty had to go get bella and alex from school. anthony didn't want to go so stayed with me. as soon as marty biked away anthony came up to me and asked if i would read to him. i said not today. he asked if i would play with him. i said no again. he asked why not. i told him it was because i wasn't feeling well and needed to rest. i said he'd have to go find something he could do by himself like play in the backyard or ride his bike. he proceeded to make a booby trap for robbers in front of our house with a ball of twine while i sat on the front porch with my eyes closed, occasionally coughing. after one of the rounds of coughing, anthony came up on the porch.

i just heard you cough and then suck snot in your nose. that is what i do so do we have the same kind of sick?

yes. i think we do. i think i caught my cold from you.

then i don't understand why we can't play together if we have the same kind of sick.

because i still don't feel well.

but i'm still sick.
(here he makes a fake cough followed by a tiny snort of his nose)
see. and i'm playin'.

i have a couple of friends who give me nudges like this to coerce me into things i'm not up for. i'm far from thrilled to see my children (esp my five year old) prodding me similarly. i now don't know if the problem lies with me or them.

KIDS (permalink) 04.12.2012
red is nervous. green is active. purple is stop your grinnin' and drop your linen.
saturday at a family easter celebration, one of alex's found eggs had a mood ring inside. on sunday morning he and i were sitting on the steps in front of our house. we were mostly just sitting there. alex was focused on a captured caterpillar crawling up his arm. i was leaned back enjoying the quiet morning. an older couple walking a dog approached us. just as they got even with us alex, after glancing at his mood ring, said to me, "i'm feeling romantic right now dad."

it has been awhile since DFS has been by. it should be nice to catch up.

LIFE (permalink) 04.11.2012
speaking of thankfuls.
yesterday was my six year anniversary in my current job. as i told someone recently, i suffer from the dire problem of having found my dream position about thirty years too soon (as i fear it may change before i'm ready for it to). but i will say of all the problems one can have, this surely ranks as one of the best to call your own. upon arriving at work yesterday, i had an email from my boss waiting for me. it was a generous and thoughtful email, the kind anyone who ever worked for anyone else would be grateful to receive. then later in the morning, i received an email from a former student who noticed (via my archive viewer) that it was my anniversary and sent me a lovely note saying he was thankful circumstance had us cross paths. as i told a colleague over lunch, marty, through her love and support, helped me to flourish as an individual and my present job and superiors, through their respect and support, helped me to thrive professionally.

now if i could just find someone who could help me dress better ...

PHOTO (permalink) 04.10.2012
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
MARCH 2012

BOOKS, QUOTES (permalink) 04.06.2012
and how.
a friend of mine who is a university philosophy professor recently asked me to pre-read a book he wrote on happiness. i think i came to mind because i've probably read more books on positive psychology and happiness than most. of all the great points he illustrated in his book, my favorite line was, "One should not be an asshole in the pursuit of happiness." while it might seem overly obvious, i reckon we've all bumped into a soul or two who would benefit from such counsel.

KIDS (permalink) 04.05.2012
new sherrif
the five house rule changes anthony, age 5, would make were he given the power.
  1. three hours of computer every day.
  2. eat more unhealthy things.
  3. kids can be grownups.
  4. go to ted drewes (custard) everyday.
  5. everyday is my birthday.
i know more than a few adults who would answer similarly.

QUOTES (permalink) 04.04.2012
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.

KIDS (permalink) 04.03.2012
mad skillz
alex was making paper airplanes. excited about a new design he found he ran up to a shelf we keep loaded with scrap paper. alex grabbed a corner of a sheet that was poking out (the paper is stacked very haphazardly) and tugged it loose. as he turned to walk away, an avalanche of pages slid off the shelf and spilled into a large mound on the floor. alex looked at me and said with a deflecting shrug, "i just took one sheet" and continued to walk away.

they say the ability to frame a situation, even a suspect one, in a positive light is a powerful skill to possess in preparation for the bumps life is sure to send your way. having this gift allows you to weather these trials with your head up and eyes forward. given the early prowess alex has shown in this regard, i'm confident he has some happy and blissful days ahead.

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