Friday, August 31, 2012

How I didn't freak out when my kids went to pre-school

I've really fallen down on the job here.  I was writing a post about our wonderful trip to my parents' house in Oregon, when the editor dude from CNN Headline News website asked me to write something about Ann Romney's speech at the RNC.  So I dropped everything and wrote it.  Then they decided I need to expand it and they'll run it over the weekend.  Now I've got nothing.

Except for a couple things I published elsewhere.


The Urge to Purge
This would make a great companion piece to the post I haven't finished about visiting my parents.  It's about the part of the vacation where we finally clean out all the crap that we had been storing in their garage for the last eight years.  Read it on Aiming Low.


Every Neighborhood Needs a Grumpy Old Man

This just came out in San Diego Uptown News.  It's about my hands-on approach to dealing with careless motorists in my neighborhood.  Read it on SD Uptown News. 


How I Didn't Completely Freak Out about Sending my Kids to Preschool

I wrote this one for San Diego Family magazine.  Click this link for the whole column, or read the teaser and decide for yourself...

If you’re sending your youngsters to school for the first time this fall, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got mixed feelings about it.  When I thought that our three-year-old twins were going to be attending their “safety school”—not our first choice, but one we were comfortable with—in September, I had felt a mixture of anticipation, anxiety, and wonder at the fact that they were already big enough to go to school. 

But then I got a call at the end of May from our “long shot” school: the one on whose waiting list we had put our girls when they were six months old.  They told me that they had two openings starting at the beginning of June (it’s a year-round school), for two days a week, and that if we didn’t decide right away, the spots would be snapped up by someone else. 

After a return visit to the school, we loved it even more than we had when we first toured it two-and-a-half years ago.  It seemed perfect for our girls, so we decided to go for it.

At that point, my feeling-mixture shifted to something more like equal parts giddiness, dread, and existential angst.  The prospect of school in September had still seemed distant.  The idea of sending them off within a couple of weeks, however, put me into a state of mild panic.  Had we stuck to the original plan, we would have had more time to emotionally prepare the kids; and, just as importantly, I would have had time to figure out what I would do with my days when they were in school.  After almost three years of being a full-time stay-at-home dad, I suddenly needed to figure out how to make myself useful when there were no kids around.  read more...

Here are some random cute pictures...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

They Talk in Maths, They Buzz Like a Fridge, They're Like a Detuned Radio

This is all I really wanted

A few weeks ago, I went to New York for BlogHer 2012, the big blogging conference for the ladies, who, as you know, own the personal and parenting sections of the blogosphere.  Fellas are allowed to attend as well, but they generally don't.  I wrote about it on DadCentric, and if you read that post, you'll find links to other things I've written concerning the weirdness and funness of being one of the few dudes at humongous ladyblogging conferences.

Although I was at least semi-conscious for 98% of the three days and nights I spent in New York, it went by quickly and remains in my memory mostly as a smeary impression.

The part that's been haunting me in vivid detail, though, is the long, strange trip home afterward, and the two men I spent most of that Sunday with, who probably never even noticed me, and, if they did, certainly forgot I existed once we parted ways at the Chicago Midway airport.

Naturally, I had been up all Saturday night, partying with my internet-almost-famous friends, and then having a sobering conversation over breakfast with my conference-mom about the futility of being internet-almost-famous, and then sleeping for a few fitful hours before racing out the door of my hotel in a panic that I would miss my flight home.  I needn't have worried though, because New York's taxi infrastructure coddles scatterbrained tourists.

As I stood in line at the Southwest gate for a boarding pass, two men--one in his fifties and the other in his early twenties--came careening down the concourse, roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble, till they came to the place where hundreds of people milled around at their respective boarding areas.  Even in my bleary state, I knew that something was up with these guys.  Other travelers picked up on it too.  Despite the mounting chaos of what would turn out to be an epic air-traffic clusterfuck, people craned their necks to see this pair of loud, unselfconscious galoots braying at each other, spilling notebooks and binders on the floor, and, when they tried to pick them up, kicking them just out of their own reach.  I entertained the notion that it could be some kind of public performance art spectacle--the beginning of a flash mob maybe.  Whatever it was, I didn't want any part of it.   

Just don't let them be on my flight, I begged the universe.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living with Art Prodigies

This post is brought to you by gooey, creamy, delicious KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese. Start making digital macaroni art at


Disclosure: I did not write the disclosure statement above, but rather cut and pasted it from an email.

When it became clear that Twin A (aka Cobra) was a prodigy in the visual arts, I was elated.  At first.

I mean, who wouldn't be?  The first 300 or so hippos that she drew immediately transported me to a watering hole on the Serengeti (or wherever hippos live).  I could practically hear the grunts of the noble beasts and smell the hippo-butt-scented water.  Then the next 750 hippo drawings spoke to me on a whole new level.  I was moved to tears, and beyond.  The series captured the whole range of hippo emotions in ways that mere words could never express.

Wistful Hippo

Forlorn Hippo

Horrified Hippo

Unhinged Bearded Hippo

Besotted Hippo With Duck Feet

It seemed that art was her true calling.  And with a portfolio like hers at the tender age of three, was there an art school anywhere that wouldn't clamor to nurture her talent?   

But then I started to become uneasy. What kind of life could she look forward to as an artist?  Laboring over her etchings in some squalid garret, too proud to take on any commercial illustration work to pay her bills?  Knowing that she was a genius, but that neither fickle art critics nor the dead-eyed hoi polloi would understand her oeuvre?  Going through life only hoping that she would be appreciated hundreds of years from now?

No.  I couldn't let that happen.  As much as it tore me apart, I stopped encouraging her hippo drawings.  When she drew one on her own and tugged my shirttails until I acknowledged it, my praise was faint at best: 'snice, honey.  Then, once out of her view, I would bite the heel of my own hand to keep from shouting, "Brava! It's a masterpiece!" and grabbing her and swinging her around and around.

As much as I failed to encourage her at home, her teachers at preschool allowed her to go on unfettered, even introducing her to new media: fingerpaints, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, and sparkle-glue.  Not only did she thrive, but her sister, Butterbean, started showing an aptitude for certain techniques as well.  So now I had two children whose dreams I would have to quash for their own good.

When I was offered an opportunity to write about Kraft's "DinnerNotArt" app, I figured the universe was reaching out to me.  Surely, my kids would be discouraged by the difficulty of making art digitally, and perhaps lose interest in any other creative pursuits that could only break their parents' hearts.

So I downloaded the app, the idea behind which is to save real Kraft macaroni noodles that might become objets d'art for eating, and use the digital noodles to create art.  After completing a project, the artist saves it and hangs it on a virtual fridge, and all of the real noodles he or she has saved by using virtual pasta are donated by Kraft to the Feed America charity.  Creative and goody-goody too.   I messed around with it for a while, shaping some rudimentary animals and faces by "gluing" the "macaroni" to the "paper" and "painting" it.  Then I let the kids take over.

Within minutes, they had created two stunning abstract pieces.



So now I have a new problem.  A fun, creative app that the kids love to play with, and that will add new dimensions to their artistic range.  And part of the rub is that it solves the age-old problem of what to do with kids' art.  My kids fill up books and tablets and rolls of drawing paper, and it breaks my heart to throw it in the recycling bin.  With this app, you just store the creations on the iPad or computer.  Aside from wanting to discourage my kids from leading destitute lives as artists, there's really no reason not to play with this app.

Should you download the DinnerNotArt app?  Of course.  I recommend this to other families without reservation.  Because it's highly unlikely that your children are art prodigies.  Don't get me wrong--your kids are fine.  But seriously: Did you see what mine made?


As part of the DailyBuzz Moms Featured Publisher Program, I received a stipend from KRAFT in exchange for my participation in this program.


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