Smart daddy for the win!

Cliff regularly sends me random photos of the kids when I’m at work. This one made me laugh out loud.

Savanna is very, um, particular. She sometimes asks for an apple to be peeled and cut into pieces. Sometimes she wants it peeled but left whole so she can sink her teeth into it. Sometimes she wants it in a bowl, and sometimes on a plate. But if you get one of her specifications wrong, then you will end up eating that apple yourself because she won’t touch it. Your error will also induce tears and possibly a tantrum.

Let’s just say she didn’t get that from me.

She asked Cliff for an apple today, peeled, but with some skin left on it. This is what Cliff came up with. It made Her Majesty very happy. Good job, Daddy!

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Monsters & farts

“I am scared of zombies because they take your brains. I run away from them.” Art work by Josh. Age 6.

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When Josh was 3 years old, one day he told me he couldn’t sleep because he was afraid of monsters. I had no idea how to respond to that, so I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “Oh don’t worry, baby, we don’t have monsters in our house. You fart so much, and the monsters stay away.”

I don’t know where that came from, and I was grasping for straws, but it worked. He took comfort in the fact that he farted constantly, and it protected our home from monsters. Over the past few years, I had to repeat that a few times, and also make sure Cliff tells the same story. I always wonder how long this story will last.

Two nights ago, while snuggling with Savanna in her bed, she said she was afraid of monsters. I said, “don’t worry, Josh’s farts keep the monsters away.” She asked if I was sure, I said absolutely. I also asked Josh to confirm that he has never seen a monster in his life. She then was happy to change topics.

Today, I saw Josh’s teacher post a blog on the kids’ drawings and writing. Josh wrote on his, “I am scared of zombies because they take your brains. I run away from them.” On one hand, I am relieved that he didn’t say he farted so much and the zombies ran away. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to the other parents how we teach our kids at home. On the other hand, I’m a little sad that he didn’t talk about using his farts to scare away the zombies. It makes me wonder if my fart-and-scare-the-monsters story is going hold up much longer.

Josh turns six

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Dear Joshie,

If I have to sum up what you are to me, it would be that you are my inspiration.

Last winter when I saw how hard you worked to learn skiing, I was inspired to learn it too and keep practicing. When I saw how much you love swimming and how comfortable you are in the water, I was inspired to re-learn swimming and face my fears. When I saw how fearless you are with trying out roller coasters, I gathered up the courage to get on the ride with you while screaming through the whole ride.

You are kind, loving, fearless, soft hearted, and always optimistic. You make me want to be better, and be like you. Your enthusiasm for life is infectious.

You love to bake. You love riding your bike. You love going to school and being with your friends. You love puzzles and building Lego. Your favorite food is cauliflower soup, noodles, tofu, mac n cheese, and chicken strips.

In the past year, you have revealed more of your personality and interests. You have grown out of the Cars (Disney Cars) phase completely, and pretty much gotten past the peak of the dinosaurs phase. Lego is still a favorite and constant go-to, and you have really taken an interest in Pokemon. Our living room is starting to be taken over by Pokemon cards, and you constantly quiz me about Pokemon characters and their powers and weaknesses. With each phase of your life, I feel like you are just going at the speed of light and I can barely catch my breath when the next phase hits.

You have also really shown an interest in science–anything related to nature, animals, insects, or plants. You often tell me tidbits about a certain fish or a plant that I have never heard of. You amaze me with the amount of information you retain in your noggin.

You can be a typical boy. You run around the playground with boundless energy. You constantly skin your knees and put whole in your pants. You knock over things at home. You step on my toes. You forget your lunch box at school.

Yet, your softer side is present in our daily lives. When you get a treat, you always ask if Savanna can have one. You cuddle up with me in the mornings and tell me you love me. This morning you didn’t want to wake up Daddy to get your birthday present, “Just in case Daddy is extra tired today.”

I love you more than anything in the world. You amaze me and inspire me. Thank you for being my baby. Happy birthday, and I wish you all the love and adventures in the world.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

Tony Horton is going to kick my butt

Being 40 has been a great ride so far. One of my resolves this year was to get healthy.

I went to try out a spin class near my place back in August. The spin studio instructor asked me if I wanted to sign up for home workout streaming videos. Since I had lots of work travel plans this fall/winter, I figured it would be a great way to keep up with my fitness goals while on the road.

The videos ranged from yoga to body building, from pilates to cardio workouts. I tried a few, and got hooked on 21 Day Fix Extreme. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed going to the gym and actually working out. I am loving just feeling stronger.

I finished the 21-day program last week. But since I still have lots of room for improvement, especially in my core strength (or the lack thereof), I decided to pick another workout series to follow.

One of the series in the video library is called P90X3, done by a trainer named Tony Horton. Apparently it’s on late night infomercials often. Anyway, I like the idea of doing an intense but short workout everyday, and following a calendar of what an expert tells me to do.

So today, November 7th, will be Day 1 of the P90X3 workout. This program goes on for 90 days, which will take me through Christmas and all the way into February. 90 days! The little devil sitting on my right shoulder is telling me I’ll never make it.

I feel like I need to put this out there so I have some accountability. I know at least some of you will ask me how the program is going. So, here I go. I am getting ready to get my butt kicked.

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Savanna is 3.99726

Dear Savanna, my monkey girl,

Tomorrow morning when you wake up, you will be four years old. You have been looking forward to being four for a long time.

In this past year, your vocabulary expanded. Your weight hasn’t changed much, but you grew taller. You have grown to love Brussels sprouts and broccoli. You also love a good rib eye steak grilled to medium rare. But you still would prefer to live off of apples, grapes, and mangoes, or icing on a cupcake.

You are starting to use your words more to express your sadness or frustration. I want you to know that I am so proud of you for expressing your thoughts and being vulnerable. I know it’s not easy.

This year is the first time you and I went traveling together. I don’t know about you, but Morocco was a life changing trip for me. I got to spend some quality time with just you. I got to know you better, and learn about how your thought process works. And the more I got to know you, the more I appreciate you. You are a tough little nut who can walk almost 10 kilometers a day without a peep, but you are also soft hearted on the inside to fuss over kitty cats. You can also be super hilarious. When you had a chance to pick just one toy at Disney World, you skipped over all the “normal” stuffed animals and picked a naked mole-rat as your purchase.

You started skiing this past winter between my legs. I was so worried about what you would think of that first ride down the hill. But as soon as we started going, you had a smile on your face. When we stopped, you kept saying, “I wanna do it again!” Eventually, as we skied, you would tell me, “Go faster, Mommy!”

When we were at Disney World, you bravely tried all the rides you could. We did a roller coaster, and even though you were unsure and a bit scared, you tried it. You also went on the splash ride and had fun getting splashed. You were so upset when I took Josh on a big roller coaster ride you weren’t tall enough for. Your courage inspires me. I want to be brave and trusting like you.

You still don’t enjoy swimming. I can see you in the water tensing up. But I appreciate that you keep trying, and keep at it even when it got hard. When I took you into the pool, you wouldn’t let go of your arms around my neck. Guess what, I don’t enjoy swimming either. It’s a good life skill to have, so we will just both keep trying, ok?

You would play with any toys you get your hands on, whether they are dolls, stuffed animals, dinosaurs, cars, Transformers, or even just some rocks at the beach. But without fail, you always turn them into a family depending on their size. The big ones are always mommy or daddy, there is always a smaller one that is the baby. It is so interesting to me that you always act out relationships and interactions.

I love it when you pucker up your little lips and demand kisses. I love it when you wrap your arms around my neck and put your head on my shoulder. I love it when you ask me to lay down with you at bedtime, and put your blanket over me to make sure I stayed. I love it when you ask to come to the office to work with me and promise you would be quiet all day. I know one day I’ll look back on this and wish this time lasted longer.

Today, just for one last day, you are three, or 3.99726 to be exact. For just one more day, you are my little baby.

I love you, Savanna. I wish you all the love and joy and adventures in the world.

Love,

Mommy

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Money sense

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Counting up his money

When I was little, I had a piggy bank. I loved hearing coins clinking each other when I put money in it. I remember my parents calling me an “iron chicken”–you can’t pluck a feather off of me. I have hidden all my money and gave none away.

Josh has a piggy bank too. He is a lot more generous than me. He has offered all of his money to me so we can buy a backyard. Too bad that we still can’t afford a backyard in Vancouver with all of his savings.

Anyway, Josh is in Grade 1 now. We figured it’s time to give him an allowance and teach him about money. We broke open his piggy bank that had just over $97 in it, and set up 4 jars for him:

  • Save
  • Spend
  • Give away
  • Invest

We explained that “save” is to save up for something big like a motorcycle. (Did you see how I slipped that in there? Yeah, teach them while they’re young that bikes are cool.)  “Spend” is money he gets to spend on anything he wanted, “give away” is to give away or buy food someone who doesn’t have food, and “invest” is putting money away and mommy+daddy gives you 10% interest on anything in that jar. I can’t take credit for this idea. It was stolen off the internet from some genius dad.

There is one rule: Something always has to go in the “give away” jar.

He will get $5 a week allowance to split up among his jars. It’s completely up to him how he wants to split up the money and how he wants to use it.

Then, I held my breath.

I was afraid he’s going to realize how many Pokemon cards he can get for $97 and head straight down to London Drugs to lose himself in aisle 12.

To my pleasant surprise, he put some money in each jar. When he put money in the “invest” jar, we added the equivalent of 10% in that jar for him. His eyes lit up. He realized that his money grows. He allocated more money in that jar than any other jar. He found a quarter under his bed and quickly threw that into the “invest” jar too.

The next day, Cliff took the kids to London Drugs. Josh used his money from the “spend” jar to buy some Pokemon cards, and also bought Savanna a toy. He was so happy with his new Pokemon cards. I was so happy that he felt independent, and didn’t forget to share his fortune with Savanna.

 

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Josh also worked (taking the recycling bin to the garbage room and sorting through stuff to recycle) to make a quarter. FYI: The black and blue stuff on his face is face paint that he applied to himself. We did not beat him and make him work.

Camping with a transformer

Camping at the Paradise Valley Campground has long been a summer tradition since Cliff and I were still university students. This year is the 20th year that we’ve been camping here. The place holds a lot of great memories of hanging out with friends in the summer, even when it rained.

Since Josh was a baby, we’ve been taking him camping here. I also used to take him here a couple of times a year, and the two of us would camp. This weekend, the weather and my schedule finally cooperated together so we were able to go again.

We built a couple of awesome fires, burnt some sausage over the fire, ate junk food, and played by the river.

I loved my one-on-one time with Josh. He is naturally a positive kid with a kind heart. I can’t say I am looking forward to him growing any bigger, but he informs me that he can’t help it.

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