Monday, July 30, 2018

American Ninja Warrior

Here's a little background on me: I used to be a gymnast when I was a kid.  I did gymnastics for years and a coach actually wanted to train me with the ultimate goal of getting into the Olympics.  (My mom said no because I had to go to Hebrew school to get a bar mitzvah so now you know why I don't have a gold medal or a Wheaties endorsement...well, that plus I'm waaaaay too tall to be a gymnast.)  In my head I think I'm a star athlete -- not a 40-something year old dad of two who doesn't sleep enough and spent the first year of fatherhood cramming cheese-covered nachos into his face at 2:00 a.m. 

I have also been addicted to American Ninja Warrior for most of the seasons it has been on the air.  I believe I saw it on a TV one day when Derek and I went out for Japanese food.  I might have been more mesmerized by the crazy athletes on the show than the handsome man in front of me.  (Notice I said "might" so this cannot be admitted into evidence as fact.) 

Fast forward to now when I have two kids who love to climb and run and jump.  A month or two ago I showed them a few minutes of American Ninja Warrior and they got hooked -- Jeff in particular.  We set up a (cough cough) ninja warrior course (cough cough) in our back yard and the kids play on it constantly even though it's just a few monkey bars and ropes and rings.  They come up with ninja obstacles for their trains and stuffed animals to do.  They clearly are fans too.

We started watching a few minutes of the show at night after dinner.  It's nice that we can watch something that doesn't make me want to claw my eyes out (yes, Thomas The Tank Engine and Umizoomi, that's what you made me want to do) and spend time together.  When I heard families watch TV together it didn't make sense to me...until now.  I get how it's nice to do something we can all enjoy and I mean actually enjoy.  You see, playing "Twenty Questions" where I get answers to yes/no questions that include "maybe", "I'm not sure" and "sorta but not really" can be excruciating  exciting, but this lazy dad is happy to enjoy TV with the kids from time to time too.

Soon they'll want to go to a friend's house to watch TV or go to the movies alone, but for now I'll take my Ninja Warrior show on the couch cuddling with my two ninja warriors.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Separation Begins

Apparently I started this entry in October and forgot about it until just now.  Everything is pretty much still true minus the dirty tushy part I talk about in my tushy blog entry.  Here is what I wrote...

I still have that "ugh" feeling when I hear "Daaaaaaaaaaaaady!"  I know that there is a dirty tushy to wipe or milk spilled on the table for me to clean or my reading will be interrupted to go on a hunt for a tiny plastic toy that will be forgotten about two minutes after it is found.  Most days I am waiting for the boys to become a little more independent.  It can be exhausting to have to do everything for them.  I recently read an article by a mom of a tween.  She talked about the benefits of having a tween who can do things for himself and even, at times, had the capacity to help her by carrying in groceries or making his own lunch.

So I know there is a lot of good to come and I'm not lamenting the old days, but...

Yep, there's the but...

When school started a month ago I still had two little boys who were nervous about going to a new school with a new teacher and new kids.  Over the first couple of weeks the goodbyes grew to be much easier much quicker.  After a couple weeks the teacher sent home a note asking that parent/child goodbyes take place outside the classroom to make things smoother.  I have followed that request but what happens now is that my boys run into the classroom and don't look back.  There is no goodbye hug and kiss or signing of "I love you airplane" which was our funny goodbye for a long time.  Some days I don't even get a "see you later" from them.

While this makes me a little sad that the hugs and kisses are going to get fewer and farther apart I have to remind myself what a great sign this is.  It means my kids feel safe in school.  It means they are excited to conquer whatever school brings. 

---------------------------

It's now July and my kids were in separate camps this week in different towns studying different subjects. The first day they were nervous.  By the second day they were excited.  It makes me proud to see them following their own interests, doing things on their own and facing challenges alone.  However, I'm also just as proud to watch them hug each other goodbye in the morning and hug each other when they are reunited in the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What Will They Be? (Part Four)

I started predicting what my children would be when they were about five months old.  Research has shown that a child's personality is very strong from a young age so it stands to reason you can see a child's interest early in life.  I have predicted my children will become everything from a pilot, a banking system reformer, an Olympian and a crossword puzzle maker. 

Now that my children are six years old the whims and passing fancies are turning into real interests.  Aaron is fascinated with music.  He started taking piano lessons a few months ago and, in my totally biased opinion, has a real gift for music.  He has always had a strong sense of pitch and rhythm as well as a love for music and dancing.  Aaron was also the child who learned to color in the lines first and he can amuse himself for 20-30 minutes by drawing.  He is clearly an artistic child and he enjoys being the big kid and taking care of younger children.

Jeff recently tried a cooking class and loved it.  He does enjoy cooking but his real interest now seems to be with building.  He is getting into Legos more and more and bought a Rube Goldberg contraption with his money.  Derek and I got him the game "Mousetrap" for his birthday because we thought he would enjoy putting it together and watching how the machine works.  And, of course, he still loves math and numbers.  

So what will they be?

My guess is Aaron will do something in the arts.  I can definitely see him performing in shows in high school.  However, I see his real passion in music so maybe he'll be a music teacher for young children.  

Jeff really loves math and building so my prediction is that he'll go into engineering.  I can imagine him crunching numbers for NASA or designing bridges and skyscrapers.

Of course when you think your child will zig he will surprise you with a zag.  So while these predictions are fun, the most important thing is that my children figure out what they really want to do, not follow their six year old hearts.  New careers will pop up in 20 years that I can't even imagine.  So maybe my children will be a musician and an engineer, but I'm not ruling out the possibility they could be a Martian deep sea diver and a volcano muralist.  


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tushies

I recently realized that I haven't wiped a tushy in months. 

Now that's progress.


Monday, March 19, 2018

The Letter

At my kids' school each child takes a turn at being the "Star of the Week."  It is a way for each child to share a little about his or her family, interests, special skills, etc.  The kids make a poster with their favorite things, do a show and tell, and a family member can come in to read a book.  Also, the parents write a letter to explain why their child is a shining star.

I have to admit that when I first heard I had to write this letter I wasn't looking forward to it.  I thought it was a pretty silly and cheesy idea.  I didn't want to have to gush over my children in a cloying way.

Derek and I wrote the letters together and it turned out to be a really nice experience.  Writing them made me really see what the strengths are in each of my kids.  While it's very easy for me to get overwhelmed and aggravated at the day to day stresses of raising kids and the monotony of making lunches, driving them to school and picking them up on the never ending drive line, I realized I sometimes overlook all the good that has happened in the last six years.  My kids have turned into people who excel at music and math.  They are compassionate and good at sharing.  They play and joke and stand up for themselves.  They are separating from each other to explore their interests in Legos, acting, French, cooking, music, and science.  I feel like it was good to take a moment to reflect on who my kids have become and where they are going.

So while I'm still a little scared at some of the future school projects that will come home (I'm looking at you, physics class), hopefully some more of these school projects will wind up being a positive experience that bonds our family.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Triplets

When I was going through surrogacy I met a lot of people online through my blog.  They became my online family because I became so attached to their stories at the same time they intensely followed mine.  I am friends with a few of them on Facebook and maybe one day I'll get to meet some of these fantastic surrogates and parents in person.  I think of many of them often but, unfortunately, many of them stopped blogging once their children were born.  I wish I knew if the Cinderella story blog ever had a happy ending or how Bernadette is doing after her life altering story of strength, love and heartbreak.

Recently I thought about the two blogs I followed about triplets.  After making it almost six years with twins I can't imagine life with triplets.  The reason they popped into my head was because we recently went swimming at the Y and am ice skating party.

My kids have been taking swimming classes for a while now and although one is starting to actually swim and they other is pretty close to the "I think he can flop his way to the wall" stage, I still wouldn't really trust either one of them to swim alone.  The Y had a rule that the kids had to be within an arm's length of the adult.  Luckily we had two adults to be with two kids.  I'm not sure how I would have handled it if the dads were outnumbered.

Two weeks later we went to an ice skating party.  This was the second time my kids have been on skates and they looked like this...




Derek and I each had a kid to "teach" (a.k.a. carry around the ice and pick up after falling).  I was exhausted by the end of the party.  How on earth could we have handled three???

I am amazed by parents who have large families.  I feel I barely have the energy, money, time and patience to parent two let alone three or four or more.  People are amazed that I have survived almost six years of twin parenthood but, as I always say, I don't know any other kind of family to parent.  As life dumps more on your plate the only thing you can do is deal with it.  So I commend those parents of triplets who just do what they have to do.  I hope to hear from them to see how they're doing, and my heart goes out to the dad who has to ride alone on the teacup ride because it only fits four people or doesn't get chocolate pudding for dessert because a box only makes four servings.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

When Did I Become A Parent?

A couple years ago Derek and I had a bottle of champagne in our fridge in December.  Because going out on New Year's Eve is so hard when you have young kids we decided that we were going to throw a mimosa brunch New Year's Day party.  We invited over some friends and had a great time.

Last year we did the same thing.

This year we did it yet again.  We bought the champagne, prepped the food, baked some goodies and had about 20 people over to our home.

At one point the 11 kids in the house (yes, ELEVEN!) were all running around yelling and laughing and chasing each other and having a good time.  All of a sudden I had that feeling of "Oh, this could be a memory for the kids.  They might grow up thinking of all the New Year's Day parties we threw."

I had a flashback to the New Year's parties (and other parties) that my parents threw when I was young.  I remember helping my mom make the punch (it was sherbet, ginger ale and probably some other stuff and we would add a huge ring of ice to the ginormous punch bowl) and being told I wasn't allowed to throw anything into the bathroom garbage can after it had been emptied.  I remember setting out hors d'oeuvres in the rarely used living room and playing in the basement with other kids from the neighborhood.

Somehow, without me realizing it, I became a parent.  I became the person who helps give my kids experiences that make memories.  At almost 6 years old they may actually remember these days.

The big secret in parenthood is that children think their parents know how to do everything but, after becoming a parent, you realize that parents have no idea what they are doing.  My parents gave me so much and made it look effortless.  Now it's my turn.  I want to keep in mind that all the stress, anxiety, lack of confidence and confusion I feel won't be remembered -- what will be remembered are the experiences we shared as a family.