Posts Tagged ‘changes’

Dramatic Changes

5 June 2012

Dear J-

Photojojo has a service that takes your flickr photos from approximately one year ago and sends a few back to you in your inbox. It’s free (donation requested) so why not, right? I’ve been using it for the past few months and it’s proven to be a more reliable indicator of how the kids are growiing rather than the daily observations, as the incremental changes over a day are less revealing. I have a cousin whose husband is frequently in China for business; every time he comes back (he’s gone three or four months at a time) he says, ruefully, that his son is nearly unrecognizeable.

The biggest change to figgy it seems was changing her hair and growing out her bangs instead of trimming them. Yet that simple step seems to have taken her from a baby to a kid in the course of this past year. Likewise, she argues with some ferocity and valid points too, lost as we often are in our own leisure activities and not wanting to pay her the attention she deserves. The long days turn into long nights; she’s outgrowing a nap but they insist on having one at daycare, something that’s no doubt going to stop once she gets into kindergarten in the fall.

It’s strange that I’d ever be able to say that I’m old enough to be the parent of a kindergartener, but such is the steady accretion of years. Just like the magic of compound interest, we have gotten this far one hour at a time, one day, one year. Eventually of course I’m going to celebrate bigger milestones but for now that first day of school is circled in red and highlighted; I’m not missing that for all the work in the world. You forget how remarkable a year is until you see the changes in the kids.



Father’s Day

19 June 2011

Dear J-

I’ve been a father for all of four years but in that time I’ve had ample learning opportunities that I think I should share. Worse yet, I’ve only had two for just over six months, so my expertise is quite limited I’m sure. Plus this whole blog thing is all about oversharing, so why not?

  1. People like pictures. The more pictures the better.
  2. Family will want to hold your babies. Let them.
  3. There is a stage when babies like other people. Bring your family around this time so that they don’t stay too suspicious of other people.
  4. On the other hand you can’t force some kids to love all the attention. Make sure there’s an escape plan.
  5. They’ll be sure to let you know when enough is enough. Be able to read those signs.
  6. Rule number one: don’t get in grandma’s way. Rule number two: see rule number one.
  7. Rule number three: Grandpa is a fine person to hang from. But watch their antics, they were dads first and you know how that is.
  8. Why are we numbering rules anyway? Kids love kids.
  9. Of course, the age gap matters. There comes a point when the younger kids become only a burden to the older ones and step in when you see it.
  10. Take any offered help when it’s offered. Pride goes before a fall.
  11. Enjoy the times when the kids get along. Help them understand what it means for the future.
  12. Any opportunity for a nap should be pounced on. Immediately.
  13. Don’t forget to focus on the older kids too. Their world is suddenly much harder too.
  14. Take time out of your day to spin a little. Then spin some more.
  15. Seriously, did you think I was joking? You need the break for sanity once in a while.
  16. Set your boundaries and stick to your discipline. Make sure there aren’t loopholes as all kids are natural lawyers.
  17. Be on guard constantly. But have fun with it too.
  18. Sometimes you need to sit back and let things develop. Learning opportunities are everywhere.
  19. Sooner or later the kids will get together and plot. Don’t be too paranoid about it.
  20. After all they learn as much from each other as they might from you. And it’s probably more fun that way too.
  21. Don’t be afraid to go all the way out to the end. Someone’s got your back.
  22. There will be times when you don’t recognize your own children. That means a nap is needed in that gentle dark.
  23. Don’t be too afraid to brag! But don’t brag too much, either.


Illustrated too!

Hate for Hate

7 May 2011

Dear J-

Today we had the party so of course I get an opportunity to make it all about myself: for all the careful preparations and plans we put into place (not that lining up a fruit and veggie platter, some bags of chips, and pizza is that hard) we had our unexpected wrinkles. The cake was too big to fit comfortably into a conventional box so of course we had theVet hold it on her lap and steered carefully around the corners instead. The pizzas were ready for pickup but cash-only so I had the unsettling experience of questioning where the nearest ATM was until I realized they were charging me for five, not four. It was an opportunity for me.

Once you choose to respond in anger there’s only two two choices for the person you’ve exploded on: respond in-kind or shrug and wander away. You realize that the best you hope for is that no one punches you in the face? Returning hate for hate is (acknowledging the possibility that it makes me sound like some wide-eyed Pollyanna) just going to increase the negative energy quotient in the world. This very morning, in fact, with theVet and I sniping at each other over some minor annoyance — trading anger for anger, ratcheting up into heights unnecessary and overly complex — figgy jumped in and told us that we just needed to stop yelling and just get along. She is tzhe birthday girl, and we must accede.


Last Day

16 October 2010

Dear J-

We have all had a full day; I got to luxuriate in a semi-nap* while theVet played with figgy at various activities. figgy got to make a mask at our local branch library, which was a nice surprise when we got there (the design was reasonably simple — a jack’o lantern based on an orange paper plate), and she toted that around the rest of the day. But of all of us theVet had the biggest day: her last day of work.

This is the clinic she started at nine years ago as her first real job out of school — there was a time four years ago when she quit to go work for someone else, but that didn’t last long, and she was soon back after figgy’s birth, doing the part-time shifts she’s worked now for the past three years. I noted earlier in the week that we’ll now have Saturdays together again, but I didn’t mention that it’s really been since 2001 that we’ve had both weekend days together. We’ve developed ritual Saturday mornings to be followed loosely and now that’s about to change.

I can’t say what might be going on in her head tonight, whether relief or nostalgia, fear or acceptance. We’re entering a time of change and it’s going to he unsettling for a while; I’d forgotten that I shifted to a Sunday-Thursday schedule for a few months after figgy was born so that I could babysit on Fridays and Saturdays to allow theVet to work, for instance. No doubt I’ll look back on the quiet evenings and wonder where this time went too; I’m still catching my breath now that summer’s past.


* Semi-nap because most of those activities involved bringing stuff to daddy, whether it was a blanket to keep me warm or some Play-Doh treat. I’m not proud; I’ll take sleep where I can.

Crash Land

3 September 2010

Dear J-

Late again and my head keeps swirling with the various rumors that reach my ears secondhand: the big boss onsite has apparently been ousted and replaced by a retired ex-head of another nuclear plant. Sometimes when I write of sports metaphors and general managers firing head coaches I don’t expect to be talking about them in real life. There are those who say that they have to know everything about everything and doubtless they’re nit happy to be the last to know right now.

I suppose it comes as not a huge shock — we always seem to be slipping back when it comes to peer-reviewed performance — and so this must have been in the works for weeks. At the same time, though, I can’t imagine how hard it was to work as a lame duck, knowing that you’re getting the rug pulled out from under you at the end of the month. Or, apparently, Thursday.

It means more changes, and more excitement to go along with heading into our fall outage. The drama continues at our site; changes bring renewed interest but also new scrutiny and it’s already getting hot under the magnifying glass.


Delta Three

20 June 2010

Dear J-

As long as the birthdates of Olympians and sports players were older than mine, I could rest easy: these were folks to look up to and set goals by, not to feel threatened by. Well, I’ve passed that point a while ago, and now the next measure is politicians, who, so long as they’re older, still get a measure of repect by default. Now that they’re starting to be younger, though, they’re starting resemble the stupid bunch of morons I’ve always suspected them to be.

I’ve been trying to reflect on what a father does through the day today, cheesy Hallmark holiday or not, and I’ve come up with a few answers (besides being the unreasonable screaming one): chauffeur, porter, photographer, chronicler, journalist, judge, attorney, advocate, prosecutor, investigator, policeman, president, janitor, teacher, student, builder, artist, demolition, buyer, briber, publicist, agent, mediator, logician, strategist, confessor, stylist (usually, if you’re anything like me, with laughable results), cheerleader, principal, disciplinarian, bodyguard, lifter, chef, medic, nurse, carpenter, poolboy. Well, in a typical day, I suppose.

The two kids would disappear for minutes at a time together today and reappear with smiles, announce something they’d need, and then disappear again amid mysterious giggles and excited shrieks. The power of the peer is a strange and magical thing to lead and be led, we are powerless before it. I watched figgy, who’s never held still during a word I’d read, sit fascinated for a good fifteen minutes as her cousin read to her. We’re already being pushed aside in the pantheon, but it’s hard to be everything, isn’t it? The strange feeling is change tonight, served three ways.


Revision History

10 May 2010

Dear J-

I like to see V1.0 on something — it’s telling me that they’ve gone through some beta testing and believe that now, some important niche in my life has been filled, whether it’s something as prosaic as putting zombies to a final rest or as profound as giving my words license to take flight (although to be honest the Internet is full of self-published cranks like me). There’s real innovation here, and they’ve reached a point where sufficient stabilitiy means that you can get real work done here. The sandbox is open for play, and there’s all kinds of new tools and goodies (or new ways to get things done) that you might not have guessed at before.

I also like seeing V2.0. That’s telling me there’s a major overhaul in the interface or toolset and the capabilities are greater — like early Stephen King, too, it’s not such an obnoxiously high number that the feature/prose set has gotten too bloated (c.f. The Drawing of the Three, still easily the best in The Gunslinger series, to the original The Gunslinger, or the ultimate disappointment that awaits in book seven, The Dark Tower). They believe they’ve wrought useful changes, or implemented their initial-concept wishlists that may not have had time to make it into the first release, this before they’ve had a chance to overthink it to death. I’d almost argue that this is what their vision of perfect would be, the right balance between needs and wants, true to the founding principles.

Where are we at in our lives? At eighteen you’re supposed to be a fully-formed V1.0, at least according to some definitions: ready to make life-changing decisions on your own. It’s a frightening and exciting time, stepping out of the nest and watching yourself change your world. When do we get to 2.0? There’s no specific age, and no definite criteria (no, getting your first Porsche doesn’t count, unless you count it as selling out), and it’s not like we wear our version history on our sleeves. I suspect that many of us muddle through at a 1.x level, incomplete bugfixes based on reaction to stimuli without taking a long-term approach to improvement. But you start by outlining a vision and committment, right?


P.S. There is no version 42. Don’t even go there.

Zoo Little

26 April 2009

Dear J-

If you come up to me and told me, three years ago, not to worry about getting your money’s worth out of the Zoo pass because you’d end up there at least once a week, I’d have assumed you were crazy. It’s usually not a question of can’t or won’t; after breakfast, we’re generally at loose ends, so we end up at either the aquarium or the zoo, which we both have passes for now.

Three years ago, we wouldn’t have expected to lug a backpack to the zoo; I now spend half the time with figgy on my back. I’ve said before that the photo opportunities are turning into watching figgy interact with the exhibits — part of that is because optimal photo technique doesn’t necessarily ask for a wiggly passenger on your back, part of it is that taking the Nth picture of some fuzzy animal isn’t the most unique thing in the world. It’s part of the reason that video games are starting to lose some luster; although the individual experience may be unique, there’s only a certain amount of plot you can run through, and if you’re going to be interacting with people, it’s much nicer to be actually interacting instead of through some idealized avatar.


She’s at the point where the very effort of walking and staying vertical isn’t consuming all her attention, and so every time she goes to the zoo, there’s something unique. Last time we found an alternate route to the gorillas, detouring past the bonobos; this time, we detoured through the pond on the way over to see the baby giraffe (ten days old). If her height didn’t preclude her from viewing most of the animals, we could almost turn her loose to wander down the disused paths to discover some forgotten animal hidden in the corners of the zoo.