The Simple Life

30 03 2008

Again, my topic for today references something from the “I’m a man living in a house of women” refrain. This weekend, I received my fill of princess time watching the movie Enchanted with my two girls. We hadn’t seen it prior to this weekend. This is not a movie review, but rather an attempt to pull out some of the key ideas, and some feelings about those proposed in the movie. After all, these ideas are planted in our children’s minds when we let them watch the movie in the first place.

Enchanted‘s main character, Giselle, seems a bit simple minded when she first emerges from the animated fantasy world. People are always nice over there, and she is so trusting of nearly everyone. While this is fodder for a movie character, I got to wondering, what if the real world was as hospitable as this character would like it? I don’t imagine these questions because of my own desire to have “world peace”(tm), but rather, I try to think of the context of my daughters who, while they don’t understand the words now, will eventually come to ask these very same questions in the future. They will grow up. And, then, what will I tell them?

It’s a big nasty world out there, be careful

Watch out for boys, they only want one thing …

The Disney princesses are as real as Santa Clause…

These are things that I dread having to tell my kids in the future. Not because this is the cold reality we live in, but these statements will drag them down from their own private little world, a place of happiness, to the state of reality we currently occupy. That isn’t to say that it’s all bad in reality. But, if you had a choice between fantasy and reality, which would you pick?

As they grow up, I want to give my girls certain things that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. For one, I want them to know how much we care for them, no matter how upset we may seem at any one moment. And two, I want them to have the confidence and imagination to dream the dreams they choose, and to have the ability to follow up on those dreams. I want my girls to do anything they dare to achieve in this world, and to not take no as the final word.

It may seem like a huge tangent to go from a fun girlie movie (of which I will be watching more of, I’m sure) to my girl’s futures.  However, I can not help but think about what will and won’t effect the developing minds with which I have been blessed. As children, remember, than our parents had many great aspirations for us, that we were to break out of their mold, to achieve things they never could for reasons within, or beyond their control. At the same time, I don’t want to pressure my own children. It’s not about me, it’s about making sure they have everything they need.

Merry Go Round

30 03 2008

We made another recent trip to Freestone park in Gilbert. Aside from the lakes, ducks and playgrounds there is a small area with toddler rides. Eliana and Annabelle love to go on the Freestone Railroad, but they headed straight for the Merry Go Round after the train ride was done. Have fun out there!

Happy Earth Hour

30 03 2008

Last night, the city of Phoenix participated in the second annual Earth Hour. I had heard about the event last week, and I was glad to hear that more cities were participating this year. It was a little funny that our neighbors were very excited about the upcoming hour of darkness. I was sort of hoping to see a visible dimming of the nighttime glow around Phoenix. However, that did not occur, at least not from my vantage point so many miles from the center of Downtown Phoenix, where the 5 blocks of large buildings were turned off for the hour. While it this, and other events are great gestures of global awareness of global warming, I have to say that, for our household, every hour is Earth Hour.

This is a lot easier said than done as well since we are a technological family. We have three laptops running most of the time, as well as a plethora of disks for our own private networked world. Every device we have has some sort of power save mode so that our computers and networked peripherals can get along with the fewest watts possible. We also don’t watch TV that often, and only use only the minimum amount of lights necessary to see around the house at night. We don’t really light up the outside of the house, and it looks like no one lives here sometimes, but it’s energy and money saved.

Around the rest of the house, I replaced all the most frequently used light fixtures with flourescent bulb. We keep the stair lights on at night in case of an emergency trip to the bathroom. The original lights consumed 40 watts. The price of the two incandescent bulbs for the whole year was $23.36 Changing those two bulbs that are on 8 hours a night (sometimes more) for 365 days per year to CFLs (Compact Florescent Bulbs) costs $4.08 annually. Replacing only two light bulbs saved nearly $20/year of energy costs. Not only that, it saved 96 Kw of energy per year. If you spread that savings out to the whole house, the cost of the bulbs is taken care of in less than half a year. The rest is pure money and energy saved. Find out how much you can save by switching to CFLs.

So, while there are still those disbelievers in regards to the statement that man is causing global warming, they should still be cognizant of the fact that the Earth does not belong to them. If anyone, it belongs to our children, and their children. As such, everything you do now can have an impact on the type of world in which they live. The Earth’s resources seem infinite to so many who keep looking for resources like oil, but those resources will run out at some point. It’s up to us, the majority of normal people to start saving the world for our kids.

Happy Birthday, Eliana

26 03 2008

Yesterday was Eliana’s Fourth Birthday. We actually had her party over the weekend, but still, we tried to remind her that today was her real birthday, and the other day was just the party.

When I dropped off Eliana at school yesterday, I tried my best to not be in a big hurry as I usually am to get to work. Before I left the classroom, I squatted down, and gave her the usual “Popo, Kiss and Hug”, but before I let her go, I gently pulled her towards me and whispered into her ear “Happy Birthday, Eliana”. She thank you, can gave me another hug. And then, she went off to play with the rest of the class.

Looking at her today, it’s still amazing to see how big she is, both is size and personality. I think back to the things my parents said to me growing up, and find myself uttering the same words. Eliana was born four years ago to a couple of parents who didn’t know any better. After four years, it seems we are a little battle worn.

The other day, we were walking through the baby aisle, and then it stuck me: we haven’t had to go to the baby food specific section in quite a while. I guess we’ve been too busy to really notice. And, truth be told (from me, anyway) I don’t miss the baby part. I remember back then that I couldn’t wait for Eliana to grow up a little so that I could talk to her and play with her. Now, she is there, and I find myself engulfed in work so that she can have all the things she needs and a few things she wants. It’s a little tough to strike the right balance with work and family, but I will keep trying because after all, work is temporary, family is permanent.

Happy Fourth Birthday, Eliana

Oh, So Cute

16 03 2008

It’s not easy being the only male in a household dominated by females. Even if two of them aren’t even in school yet. When my first daughter was born, I was constantly asked the question “Don’t you want a boy?”. I was pretty astonished by the fact that it was the 21st century, and I still got this question. Still, gender bias aside, I can understand that some people do prefer one gender over the other. I maintained that as long as the baby has 10 fingers, 10 toes and he or she will call me “Dad”, I’m ok with that.  Even when our second was born, I still heard the occasional “Ok, now you guys need to try for a boy.” I was still shocked. I was having so much fun with the older sister, despite her girlie-ness, that I just figured another would be twice the fun (and twice as many diapers, I suppose). Either way, over the past 2 and 4 years,my daughters have grown to show me that there is one thing that I cherish the most: our quality time together.

Despite my lack of gender preference, I found myself in a few awkward situations this past week. The other day, while I was on a business trip to Oregon, I managed to find my way into a Gymboree store.  Gymboree is a child’s clothing store with styles that their mom and I both like. As I was alone without kids accompanying me. I found myself looking at the baby girls clothes thinking to myself

“gosh, that’s a cute dress. But, it wouldn’t match with Annabelle’s leggings.

Wait, you’re a…Man, make sure you don’t say that out loud”

While I’m not really one to be macho, I still have some semblance of male identity. Needless to say, having two girls has had a little toll on that piece of my identity. But, I do find myself appreciating all the pink and girlie things that have come may way, and look forward to the slew of new girlie adventures I’ll be experiencing in the future as my girls grow.

And, I just wanted to reiterate that even after this little visit to my feminine side, it doesn’t matter that my children are boys or girls. They’re both so young, that gender isn’t a huge issue…yet. After all, I’m their dad, and I am the foundation of their world (I guess their mom has some foothold into that too…) Times will change, but for now, I’m just going to revel in the fact they know they can count on my, and that they are healthy and smart children.

Has it been that long?

10 03 2008

Wow, it’s been nearly a month since my last post of random thoughts about my kids. I’m trying to remember what I’ve been doing that whole time. Sadly, I think most of that time has been spent on work trying to get my latest project completed. This brings me to my topic for the day: time, and more specifically, the passage of time.

Annabelle had her 2nd birthday about a month ago. Eliana’s birthday is a mere 3 weeks away. She will be four years old. It has seriously been four whole years since Eliana was born, and changed my life. (Kids are a life-changing experience, no doubt about it.) But, looking and talking with Eliana everyday now, it still boggles my mind how she grows right before our eyes, and yet we only notice when we stop for a moment and take a quick look back.

It’s this quick passage of time that drives me to take so many pictures and videos of my children. It’s important for us, and them to have these records for their future to remember where they came from, and things we have done together. Its important for me to look back on all the things we do with fondness. I enjoy creating the media we all love to watch, and enjoy sharing those moments with the world.

Having children will very quickly make you realize how fast time can pass. It seems that lately, time has passed at lightning speed as I still vividly remember things from past October, but some things from the other day are more of a blur…

This blog was meant to help log that passage of time so that we all can share in the thoughts and events of now when everyone involved has a different perspective on things. I can only imagine what my parent’s blog might have looked like. We all had so many life changing experiences, and to be able to talk about those now, adult to adult, is a connection I fear I lack with my parents. I hope my kids will read these posts and understand the problems of life we face on a daily basis. I also hope they can look fondly on some of the things we did together. This should help to jog their memory of all the family memories yet to come.

Quality Time

8 03 2008

A funny thing happened this past Friday evening…

I had ridden my bike to work because it’s the right time of year for this type of activity. About a quarter mile from the office, I notice the rear tire had become a bit soft. Just my luck, I had a flat. I usually have a spare, but this time I was out of supplies. This meant I had to arrange for a ride home. So it was that my wife picked me up at work, after she had dropped Eliana off for her Friday evening Korean class.

The local Korean church has it’s Korean school on Friday evenings. A tough time for sure, but well worth the time for Eliana to learn a part of her culture that I can never teach her myself. (She’ll be plenty of coding tips, and math lessons.)   But, the resulting group was one that doesn’t occur too often: Myself, My Wife, and Annabelle. It was somewhat like a flashback to two years prior. With only one child to watch after, we decided it would be OK to go out for some sushi.

While we were on the way, Annabelle was very quiet. She was just enjoying the scenery, listening to her music on the car stereo, and listening to  us blab on about parent stuff. When we got to the restaurant, she was very excited. By now, she is usually running around causing some sort of mischief with a fork. Annabelle has definitely entered her terrible-two stage. However, she was being very polite, gentle and of course, cute. She was simling. We had no arguments with her. There was no screaming for a fork or chopstick. The staff sent some extra tempura because she was cute.

In all, it was a very interesting time to spend with Annabelle. This was one of the only times I can remember being with Annabelle and her older sister not being present. I’m pretty sure this lead directly to her sudden lack of screaming and tantrums. While they usually get along, it seems that the mere fact that they both want our undivided attention whenever they feel like it seems to cause both of them to get a little crazy from time to time. But with the competition out of the picture for the time being, it was smooth sailing for a few hours, anyway.

This has me wondering if we should try this more often. Eliana did have a whole two years with us as our primary focus. It seems only fair to give Annabelle that chance, even if only for a few hours a week. On the same token, Eliana still deserves some undivided quality time from both of us, without the burden of competing for her sister.  I think it would do everyone some good if we could have some kind of way to pull this off from time to time. No one likes it when we all start arguing. And just the suddenly different feeling of having one less person around to have to compete with for attention should make for more level heads when spending time together.