If a Tree Falls In the Forest…

My Kid Would Probably Hear It First

Have you ever looked at your child, and felt a twinge of jealousy?

I look down at little J and marvel at all of the opportunities that she has that I never did. This is in no way me tooting my own horn, either; really it’s about how much more is available to her in general due to the way we have grown as a society; my first camping experience, for instance, was when I was 14; I first tried sushi when I was 20. Our kids have a great deal accessibility to everything, much more than we ever did.

This isn’t always a good thing, though; more access means more ways to pass off the responsibility of being a good parent.

This is something that Mrs. J and I try to avoid. Certainly, we let the squirt watch a little TV from time to time; allowing some face-to-face time with Sid the Science Kid while we get dinner ready, for instance, is a good way to occupy her until she is ready to help out (which she actually does sometimes).

A recent camping trip really made me feel happy with how she is growing up. Other than her skittishness about certain insects (flies: freakout; arthropods:cool!), she is fearless, and endlessly curious about everything.

We took her on some relatively large hikes (for her). The first trail was essentially flat, but we taught her how to pick a trail without really disturbing the wilderness; the rule is: as long as she’s within view, and not destroying any foliage or tromping on wildlife, she’s good. She got the hang of this pretty quickly, and demonstrated this on our second hike that was mildly challenging in some places.

I can’t wait until next year!


Thinking Outside the Story Box

I let the monkey watch TV for 20 minutes or so when we come home to provide a distraction for her while I cook dinner. She sits on the couch and watches the small travel DVD player; it’s comfortable and the content is usually an educational show (go Mr. Dressup!).

Unfortunately, TV is something that she brings up frequently. She isn’t too upset if she can’t watch it and at times her mild persistence is almost cute. While the battle isn’t something huge, TV watching is not something we want her to pursue as a career. I see a lot of kids who have no real creativity because they spend too much time watching TV or playing video games, when they could be spending at least some of that time reading or drawing or pursuing something less passive than being a couch potato.

So the other day I encouraged the wee one to join me in a re-enactment of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves using her Snow White doll and the set of Seven Dwarf figures that my brother and his wife gave her for Christmas. We used other dolls and stuffed animals to represent the parts of the other players (wicked Queen, the Huntsman, the Prince, etc.), and it went over well. I led the story and she had control of some of the characters. She picked up the concept very quickly and did a very good job playing her parts.

After the first run-through, I handed the reins over to her. She was over the moon and launched into a story that had only a passing resemblance to the original: Scar the lion made an appearance; the apple that the witch gave Snow White wasn’t poisoned; the magic mirror hit Snow White on the head, and thus, became the villain of the story; some of the Dwarves went to school during the day. It was pretty awesome.

My favourite part was when the scene with the “poisoned” apple happened. The Queen and Snow White were very polite to each other during the exchange, and after, the Queen went back to her castle. Later, Snow White shows up on the Queen’s doorstep, asking if she can give the apple core to the Queen to dispose of, as the Dwarves had no garbage can at their house.

What a Difference One Year Makes

The Story of Us

A little over one year and twelve hours ago, we were speeding to the hospital going the wrong way along a one way street. In front of Police Station, no less. What followed was a whirlwind of wonderful insanity.

The whole event occurred in far less time than we had imagined, which was both a blessing and not so blessed.

Looking back now, it seems like that was a lifetime ago. Cliché? Perhaps. But it certainly is true. While a lot has remained constant, there have been an equal number of changes.

There is an unwritten law that people who are expecting children have to be told that it’s going to be a horrible experience full of sleepless nights and grated nerves. While this may be partially true, there are far more moments of pure bliss and wonder (lack of sleep may be a catalyst for this, though).

This year has been a busy one. What with Baby J, fixing up the house, grading for Black Belt, four weddings, breathing was forgotten at times. But we made it, and mostly intact!

My status in most circles of friends has changed, leading to changes in the way that people interact with me. The change was not unexpected. The interactions? Well, let’s just say that anyone who is planning on raising kids should be aware that there can be a stigma associated with being a parent.

Funny, that.

Scheduling things has also become a challenge, what with nap schedules and feedings and so on. It was bad enough before, as we tend to book things far in advance because that’s what we do. Now there are a few extra variables to consider. This doesn’t always help when it comes to last minute changes.

In any case, whatever disappointments have hit me from the outside world tend to be pushed out by the awesome light that is my family. In some ways, there is a new distance between us. Where there was once two, there is now three. And that third one is a pretty demanding one!

But then, in some ways we are also much closer. I have watched Mrs. J wear the hat labeled Mom with more finesse and style than she gives herself credit for.

Our little monkey is not short on love from either of us.

And she’s an awesome, ass-kicking little shrimp who takes my breath away every time I look at her. She’s a little dancing, singing, talking dynamo who gives me an extra big reason to smile anytime I think about her.

So yeah, there have been some ticks in the negative column. But the ticks in the positive column are so numerous that you can’t see the white of the paper anymore.

One of my new favourite phrases is Hi Dada!


Happy Birthday Kiddo! Who knew that the best present today would be the one that you gave to us?

Valentine’s Props

A Valentine’s Tale

This story was originally told to me by one of my psychology profs at University. It is about an exchange between her and her young son, and the result of that exchange. I’m embelleshing the story a little, by fooling around with the format (third person vs. first person).

Some small details might have changed slightly, as I am getting old and my memory is failing, but the bulk of it is spot-on. For the ease of the story we’ll call my prof Mrs. BF and we’ll call her son Danny

Mrs. BF and her husband had friends over every Valentine’s Day. It was an annual ritual that they looked forward to. She was in the kitchen, preparing dinner when her son walked in.

” Hey mom, ” he said.

” Hello, sweetie, ” she replied, ” Is there something I can do for you? “

” Not really, ” smiled the six-year-old tyke.

” Really? ” She looked dubious.

” Well, ” he scuffed his feet together, shy about what he was about to say, ” I was wondering if I could help with stuff? “

Mrs. BF looked surprised. Her eyes softened, and she tousled his hair, ” That’s very sweet, Danny. “

Danny blushed and hugged his mom’s leg.

Mrs. BF looked around the kitchen for something her son could do. She still needed to take care of dinner and set the table. He was too small to handle hot cookware, and a little too clumsy to handle the china, so she decided that she would let him have a very special job.

” Danny, ” she reached over and grabbed the cake that she had baked and iced earlier that afternoon, ” I have a big job for you. “

” Really? ” he looked excited.

” Yes, ” she winked, walking over to the kitchen table and placing the cake down on it. She grabbed a tube of red frosting and helped him up onto the chair, ” I would like you to decorate the cake. “

” Really? ” he looked stunned, ” REALLY, Mom? “

” Yes, ” she smiled, foldly remembering him watching her decorate a birthday cake earlier that year, ” Your writing is much neater now than it used to be, and I think it’s time for you to do some grown-up stuff. “

” That’s so cool! ” he beamed.

” Here you go, ” she gave him the tube.

” Um, ” he scratched his head with his free hand, ” What should I do? “

” Why don’t you write Happy Valentine’s Day? ” she went to the refrigerator and removed one of the cards she had received, placing it on the table next to the cake, ” You can use that as a guide. “

” Wow! Thanks, mom! ” Danny kissed her, and looked at the cake, sizing it up.

Mrs. BF was too busy to supervise the tyke, but she would steal glances as she walked by. She took note of how careful he was writing each letter.

A fair amount of time had gone by, and she saw the word Happy in surprisingly neat, large letters on the cake.

After that, she paid him no mind, allowing him to do his special job, allowing herself to trust him complete his task.

The guests were about to arrive, and she was straightening out the dining room table when she heard him call out from the kitchen.

” Mom, I’m done! ” he sounded very proud, ” Did you want to check it? “

She had her hands full, and didn’t really have time to spare to see his handiwork. She figured she’d enjoy it later.

” No, it’s okay Danny, ” she called, back, ” Just put the lid on it, and we’ll serve it later! “

” Okay, ” he replied.

A few minutes later he came out of the kitchen, all smiles. He ran up to his mom and hugged her.

Just then, the doorbell rang. Company had arrived.

A sumptuous dinner came and went, and Mrs. BF went to the kitchen to fetch the cake that she made and her son decorated.

She brought it out in its container with the opaque lid still on, aiming to maximize her pride in her son by making it a big presentation, and placed it on the table in front of everyone.

” I now present to you the great work of Danny the cake decorator, ” she then lifted the lid off of the cake with a flourish.

There was stunned silence, and then good-natured laughter followed by clapping all around the table.

It seems that Danny had not budgeted his space properly, and the latter part of the message had to be abbreviated…



I don’t normally give into the commercialism of Valentine’s Day.

I think it’s important to share well-wishes with your loved ones often, and not just on special days.

To that end, here are three haiku for three people I mentioned recently…

To the Blife
You make blogging fun
Keep DC warm for our gang
Don’t hog the blossoms

To the Mife
You rock all kinds, dude
Thanks for your support and your
Eternal friendship

To My Wife
What else can I say?
The world is a better place
With you living here

Love to all,