Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back from the cruise, my girth and '08 reflections.

We're B-A-C-K and happy to be home bound for awhile. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise with the nice weather, shopping, relaxation, shows, kids, etc., but now it's time to wrap up '08, and look forward to '09.

Not to belabor the whole eating-thing on cruises, but I swear you don't have a chance of not packing on a few pounds. I told myself to cut down on the rolls (that they bring you before EVERY meal), and not eat red meat for dinner every night (but I did each eve with the exception of lobster night). I didn't eat any pastries except the occasional nibbling off the kids' and when I went to the 24-hour ice cream station, I only ate the frozen yogurt! I even worked out 4 days in addition to the Saturday BEFORE we left, but...........alas I gained five pounds. Perhaps the first clue should have been when I was eating those complimentary chocolate chip cookies on the way home while seated on the plane, and I dropped a couple. Instead of them rolling down into my lap (like they used to)....they only made it half-way down!

As 2008 drifts off into the sunset (I'm guessing that there will be a sunset, but I just can't see it with all the fog in the valley).....I'm (again) thinking how fortunate I've been to have such an awesome family and group of friends. It has also been quite a different year from years past both at home and in the world we share.

  1. The Rileys didn't move in 2008....we'd moved in 1992 (2X), 1993, 1994, 1996 (2x), 2000 (2x), 2002, 2004, & 2007.
  2. I didn't EARN a dime...yes the EDD kept extending the employment insurance, but I didn't do anything except to work in previous years to deserve it.
  3. I didn't do a lick of yard work...paid someone else to do it, but I DID do a ton of housework...didn't pay anyone to do that.
  4. I began '08 in tremendous back pain (could barely walk), but will end '08 pain free (until tomorrow morning of course, but it doesn't count because it will be '09).
  5. Two people I knew took their own life...a friend who had always kept in touch, and a high school classmate - both females in their 40's with alot to live for...breaks my heart.
  6. Americans elected our first African American (I consider him multi-racial), but I agree the U.S. needs to head in a different direction in so many ways. Hopefully Barack Obama will make an impact.
  7. I went to just as many concerts/events as I did sporting events...3 to 3! Uh, and NO Kings games.
  8. A year ago I didn't know what any internet terms meant like blog, wiki, html, etc....
  9. I turned 40! YIKES....won't do that again.

I wish everyone the best, safest, healthiest, and wealthiest '09 !!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brenna's Karaoke on Carnival Pride

Hi Everyone - we're back in SacTown. Brenna wanted me to upload one of her karaoke performances and put it in my blog....I believe that this is a Taylor Swift song.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Mazatlan

Hi Everyone - Merry Christmas from the Carnival Pride! It's day 5 and Christmas in sunny Mazatlan and we're having a wonderful time eating, swimming, eating, shopping, eating, reading, sleeping, relaxing, and did I mention..EATING? Ok, old joke. Sufficed to say, it has been so much fun, and we still have three days to go.

The triplets and Brenna awoke this morning to stockings hung in Grandma M's room down the hall. Mom MD & I were circling the room with camera and video camera in hand trying to capture the event. Brenna was most excited about her new little video camera. Alec loves his spiderman watch. Vivi, oh THAT Vivi put on all her bracelets and necklaces. JuJu just wanted to make sure no one took any of her candy.

Now, Reinvent Dad is typing fast and frantically as there aren't too many things more expensive than Carnival WiFi (& oh it's much slower than WiFi back in the states). So please excuse the poor grammer and spelling. Mom, Grandpa D and the Grandmas are out shopping in town. The triplets and Brenna are doing fun Camp Carnival activities. I'm going the go read that John Adams book that I started reading in June.

Here is wishing and my family, friends and whoever else might check out my blog, the safest and healthiest holiday season....I'll see you all soon with (hopefully) some pictures and video :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pet Peeves

You'll recall from a previous entry that I don't use the word "hate" anymore, but I still have my "pet peeves" described by Wikipedia as "annoyances that can instill great frustration in a small group of people, yet they are experienced by everyone."  You have yours.  I have mine, and since this is my blog, here are a few of mine....

  1. People who insist on watering their lawns year-round.  Come on when it's cold outside (especially if the temperature is below 32F), AND it has rained in the past few days...TURN YOUR SPRINKLERS OFF!  Not only is this extremely wasteful, but dangerous to people driving or taking walks (ever slipped on ice?).
  2. People who do NOT hold the door for you and/or say "Thank You, Gracias, Merci or any other verbal means of appreciation" when you hold the door for them.   In general, senior citizens,  men, and people with strollers are the best at both holding the door, and saying "Thank You" when you do the same.
  3. Interestingly enough the majority of my PP's are at the gym.  Here are a few of my least favorite things... I can't stand it when guys stand naked at the mirror (just wrong). I don't like it when the trainers are in worse condition then I am (wouldn't you think they'd practice what they preach).  Why do parents have to crowd around the sign-up area in the Kid's Zone (come on patience, where is the fire?).  Finally, can you say "personal space"at the weights, in the sauna or on the mats  (don't crowd, I don't even let my kids get that close).
  4. What about driving? How about using your turn signals? I'm tired of guessing. Also, here's a thought, how 'about slower drivers stay in the right lane?  Funny, my driving pet peeves have decreased substantially since moving back to California in 2004 as I do consider them the best drivers in the country, but then again (roads, signals and the weather are much better).

That's all for now....pretty tame really.  What are your pet peeves?  Oh, since I'm a man of lists and to keep with the current tone of this entry (a mellow bitch session)....Here are few things that let's just say IF they left forever I wouldn't be traumatized. 

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Indian Casinos
  3. Leaf blowers
  4. Kiosks at the Mall
  5. Pit Bulls
  6. Telemarketers
  7. New England Patriots.
  8. Extreme Fighting
  9. Romantic comedies.
  10. Income Taxes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cards

This week has been designated as "Get the Freakin' Christmas Letters Out" week as we soon will be going on holiday. After ordering 100 prints on Snapfish and receiving our delivery last week, we finally started the arduous process last evening with Mommy doing the majority of the work while Reinventing Dad made sure all I's were dotted and T's crossed.
Even without writing the traditional Holiday (Brag) Letter, it's time consuming and I can see why people decide to skip it some if not all years. This afternoon I decided to tackle more letters thinking that I'd make a huge dent (& the Biggest Loser Finale is on this evening). Truthfully I was also a bit concerned that the post office might have some difficulty deciphering Mommy MD's writing. Unfortunately, I'm NOT as neat as I thought I was, but I completed 13 more cards (mostly to my side of the family and friends).
This picture was up for consideration to be on our annual card, but JUST missed the final cut.............Oh, and as far as the "Brag" letter is concerned..I'm just kiddin' I truly like to hear what everyone is up to. In fact, I'm jealous as I've never been able to write a good one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Restaurant Coupons

Economists label me "price sensitive" as I have a particular "window of cost" that I intend to pay for various products and services. This is especially true when it comes to eating out. The other day I realized that my wallet was so bloated that I could no longer sit down comfortably. Unfortunately it wasn't a stack of hundreds that raised my rear, but receipts that I tend to slip in my wallet for later disposal.

Prior to tossing out, I reviewed each receipt to determine if it needed to be retained for possible returns or what not. I noticed that most were restaurant receipts, and that in all but one case did I receive a discount of one kind or another. Amy and I don't eat out much anymore. In fact, with me at home cooking my famous spaghetti, tacos, hot dogs or steaks week in and week out, we generally only order out a day or two on weekends.

After being overwhelmed with so many choices after we first moved to Roseville (both chains and one-of-a-kind mom/pop), we seem to have narrowed down our choices to a handful of eateries. Not surprisingly all but one have discounts coupons, 2 for 1's etc. If we want steak, we go to Tahoe Joe's for the rib eye which we split and order an extra salad (we use the clipper cash). If we want Mexican, it's On the Border which also has $ off coupons.

What about pizza? Well, we go take-n-back with Papa Murphy's which allow discount coupons (mailed) on EVERY pizza your purchase. If the craving is for pasta or an outstanding build your own salad, it's Pasta Village (locally owned) which until recently offered "kids eat free" on Saturday, but in talking to the owner he indicated that more special offers are coming out soon..............

The best restaurant coupons are the straight "2 fors" buy one, get one free meals. I can't stand the buy one entree + 2 drinks and then get the second entree free. This insults my intelligence and irks my turtle. I rarely order a drink anymore unless its a breakfast coffee....why pay $2.49 for a diet coke? When I want a "drink", then I'll get a "drink" (e.g. gin and tonic). Again, not ordering a soft drink (huge restaurant profit margin) automatically cuts 20% off your bill.

Forget about the dinner for two coupon as well. Black Angus simply can't get this through its thick head. I don't want to pay $42.99 for a dinner for two with appetizer, salad, entree and dessert! I'm not interested in the stamp card either in which you get a freebie on the "nth" visit.....this is another undesirable wallet fatener, and I forget...give me the deal today!

We just paid $23.99 for the entertainer booklet that contains deals on everything from Avis to the Zoo, but I was a bit disappointed in the values for my area and many of the places I had never heard of. True these places want me to sample their food, but I generally go by word of mouth. When I find a place I like, I'm loyal as H-E-L-L.

In concluding, especially with this economy I don't see any reason to patronize any eatery without receiving sometime of deal. I always check to see if a restaurant has a AAA discount. Even at mighty Starbucks, I purchased $100 worth of gift cards for $80 at Costco. I did mention that there is one exception to my discount rule...a place I NEVER see any kind of discount, but I'm addicted and can't stop. Drum roll's the Japanese restaurant Mikuni which is simply the best and worth every cent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday morning before first cup of joe.

I'm going off the cuff this a.m. before my morning coffee which is a feat in of itself.  I ran down a short time ago and starting a fresh pot.  It's a clear Saturday morning and Amy is in-house doc today after being on-call (with beeper last night).  The beeper went off quite often I might add so my fuse will be a bit short today.

Alec dressed himself socks first, then shirt, then underwear, and finally pants.  He's not happy with the green pants I chose because they don't fit "too right", so I've sent him back into his room to retrieve a new pair.  He chose the camouflage swishy pants which doesn't quite match his blue Small Paul shirt, but oh well.  

Vivi and Juju played "camp out" in their room using Alec's blue comforter as a tent, but after deciding to change the tent into a pool and jump from their beds, I ENDED the game.   They've found some clothes in their ill assorted closet, and have dressed themselves (except I did help Vivi with her tights).

Time to go downstairs and drink some coffee....I NEED it!  They've shouted that they found "Clarky" the elf somewhere in the kitchen.  We'll have breakfast.  I'm the short order chef you know.  Eventually Bren will drag herself out of bed and I'll ask her if the tooth fairy came as she lost a molar last night.  She'll then grab a bite to eat and we'll all head off to the gym.

This is our morning routine when Mommy is "Dr in the Box."  We'll try to visit "mommy's hospital" at lunch, then naps, treat, games, etc....Gotta go as they'll probably want me to sort out the dinosaurs in the Kirkland vitamin jar...they like the "long necked" ones for some reason...enjoy  your weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alec Advice

Reinventing Dad needs some help. Can someone offer some advice as to how to keep my very observant four and one-half year-old son Alec from making a (loud) comment about individuals who for lack of better words might look a bit different from his family and friends.

I mean I've heard everything from "look dad, he's little" when referring to a little person to "dad, look at his beard" when referring to a young guy with a fu manchu style moustache. Of course, in the latter story, Julia chimed in with her opinion "I don't like it."

This was mildly embarrassing when he was really little, but not when he's four (& looks older). I've tried explaining to him that he shouldn't say things about people. I've tried creating a diversion before he sees a person of "interest" like "Alec, look at the car like Mommy's." Nothing seems to work.

Perhaps, he'll grow out of this before I can come up with a solution, but I'm really dreading the first time I have to take him into the men's locker room at the gym.

Here's to a fantastic win last night by the Sacramento Kings over the Lakers....I'm sorry I missed it, but I had committed myself to watching the "Biggest Loser" - I know there is a joke in there somewhere!

A not-so-good Idea

Why is it that I come up with the best ideas for a new entry when I'm either in the shower, at the gym, or in the car? This predicament totally bums me out as I have such fascinating topics and ideas that I'd be thrilled to share with you if I could only keep them stored in my pee brain until I'm in front of a computer. I know you're rolling your eyes and I am too, but on the way home from the gym this morning I wondered why hasn't an automaker come up with a way to allow you to text message over your car's blue tooth? By the way (BTW), if your favorite texting symbol is OMG or if you use capital letters, then I've been told you're either too old or trying too hard (or both).

I had another idea that I ran by Brenna the other day that I thought was mind blowing. As some of you may already know, I like to sing in times of great happiness (or drunkenness), or when I'm stressed (home bound with the triplets). In fact, by my sixth and final year of college I was finally able to shed the "Babe" nickname from high school to one that made a tad more sense "Nickelodeon." Not that I'm a good singer, nor could I tell you the difference between a melody, minstrel or molto. What I do enjoy is switching around and making up new lyrics to various songs.

So? My idea was to create a website in which the visitor picked a song, answered a couple questions about themselves, and told me what their current mood was and I'd put together a personalized jingle. For example, say you picked "Alone" by Heart (I'm a child of the 80's), you're a mortgage underwriter (in a past life) who is overworked, tired, and frustrated. Can you remember the tune, perhaps you still have the CD.........?

"I see you submitted a not-so-good loan, I'm reviewing it but my decision is unknown"
"I'm deciding if I should approve or toss away...I don't believe the man even intends to pay"
"But the sales department is on my tush and I clearly have no directive from President Bush"
"A Loan"

You get the idea...I hope...maybe not. This is the clean version (think of a pop 2-Live Crew song of the early 90's for the other version). Anyway, as you might have guessed, Brenna shot this one down! She said no one would go for this, "think again Laundryman." Oh well, back to the shower, car or gym for another idea.......stay tuned.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How long could I go without using the internet?

I've been wondering how long I could go without hitting my big browser button and surfing the Internet.  I probably check my e-mail every couple hours, and I'm always perusing my favorite sites for latest breaking news stories.  Oh my, CNN is just reporting that President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, a Democratic source confirms.  See what I mean, now I know this tidbit before 99% of the population, but how can I use this info?  Truthfully in most situations it doesn't matter, but sufficed to say the 'net is so addictive.

Blogging as you well know has become my latest Internet addiction.  I can commiserate with others in similar situations (e.g. Sacramento Kings fans, parents of triplets, oppressed At-Home spouses).   Prior to blogging, I played fantasy baseball (a 2008 & 2007 League Champion thank you very much).  Prior to fantasy baseball, I bounced from site to site searching for info on google or visiting various forums including the triplet connection.  I remember looking to see which TV programs had "jumped the shark" or what was the real truth behind the mysterious series "Lost."

In fact, at one time I actually used the Internet for work purposes.  We had numerous "detective" sites to check out those applicants hoping to obtain the coveted 100%,  investment, stated, option arm loan.  Memories.....stories for a different day!

What's next? I still don't have a myspace, facebook or youtube account (Brenna does).  Shall I twitter?  That doesn't seem too exciting to me. Reminds me of when cell phones first came out and you'd call someone to say "right now, I'm driving down the street..oh I just passed a McDonalds.  Wow,  look the Johnsons have their Christmas decorations up now...yacky yack yack..".....until, of course your battery ran out.

Honestly with so much going long could I go without using the Internet?  I suppose the answer is similar to the 70's commercial "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?"......"The world will never know."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Harvey Milk

I enjoy going to the movie theater to take in a flick, but I hate wasting close to $10 to see a so so film that I could have just as easily ordered via Netflix. Today the Sac Bee recommended "Milk" staring Sean Penn who plays a gay man who makes an important decision to relocate (& reinvent himself) in San Francisco in the early 1970's. So, I thought I'd check it out.

Penn's performance was impeccable. I went to YouTube and listened to the real Milk's final thoughts that he had recorded on audio tape just prior to his assassination and Penn sounded just like the man. What I found so fascinating about Milk as portrayed by the movie was that he wasn't godlike, superhuman or even incredibly charismatic. With the help of a total stranger who soon became his partner (played by James Franco), he seized the opportunity to change his life.

At the time, both in San Francisco and nationally, gay rights were being challenged, and in some cases eliminated. Milk's sexual orientation became his calling to community activism. Over time his position within his community, and support from other minority populations within the city earned him a huge victory as the first openly gay person elected to public office. Tragically, his life was taken (along with Mayor George Moscone) shortly after by another member of the county board of supervisors, but Milk's legacy remains a generation later.

One might ask, why does Reinventing Dad review this movie on his site? Isn't this a family site?The truth is until I read the review, I had never heard of Harvey Milk. Somewhat embarrassing for a native California who now lives 80 miles from San Francisco and considers himself a bit of a history buff. Like those before him seeking freedom, civil rights or even the right to vote, I respect him for attempting to educate the majority, fighting for who he was and seeking those truths as mentioned by our Four Fathers.
As an individual and a parent often times it's difficult to leave your comfort zone. In my case this would be suburbia and includes parks with playgrounds, Target and California Family Fitness. I intend to teach my children tolerance with the idea that not only should you be true to yourself, but respect the opinions of others (even if you do NOT agree with them).
I've definitely turned the corner in some respects. In closing, after the movie ended a lady made the statement that perhaps our recent controversial Prop 8 (gay marriage) might have had different results if the movie was released prior to the Nov 4 election.....we'll never know.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tripletisms II

So what are the triplets into these days you ask? My answer remains "anything and everything." Today is their unofficial four and one-half year birthday, and no I'm not getting them anything. I don't want to spoil Christmas. I have to give Clark the Elf an opportunity to do his magic (see Elf on the Shelf blog).

HMMM, let's expected, they remain extremely close, but have very different personalities.  They have their own vocabulary - "Kezert" is a dessert, "Krispie" is a frisbee. Here is the latest. 

1.  Nicknames: Bubby, Mr. Man, Man Cub, Blond Boy
2. Favorite Foods: corn dogs, fish sticks, pears, bananas, oatmeal
3. Friends: Noah, Trey, Sammy
4. Lives for: Sammy coming for a visit,  a chance to go fishing, a ride on a quad
5. Favorite places: North Dakota farm, Petsmart, McDonalds, St. Anna preschool, Cal Fit, Honey Treat Yogurt, Raley Field.
6. Dislikes: moths, loud noises, change of  plans.
7. Loves: trains, cars, his Daddy (haha), playing ball, coloring, Halloween, The Mall.
8. Recently said: "Daddy, can I hold the gun when we shoot the turkey?"
*Traits: Rules boy, great memory, inquisitive, detailed.

1. Nicknames: JuJu, Juju Fruit, Mini Me's Mini Me.
2. Favorite Foods: CANDY, CANDY & more CANDY, spaghetti w/no sauce, burritos, kids energy bars, apples, strawberries.
3. Friends: Bella, Trey and Sammy.
4. Lives for: Candy, Halloween, Mommy time, adventure, tumbling, playing w/Grandpa's dog Daisy.
5. Favorite places: North Dakota farm, Wendy's, St. Anna's,  San Francisco, Bishops Pumpkin Farm, "Mommy's Hospital"
6. Dislikes: house with no candy, being yelled at or teased, combing her hair, not being able to chose her own clothes.
7. Loves: Candy, her siblings, her scooter, dogs, snack bags.
8. Recently said: "Alec, you are a crazy old Maurice"
*Traits: Independent, nurturing, loving, athletic.

1. Nicknames: Goo, Goolish, Little One, AsIffer, Vivikins.
2. Favorite Foods: Mac & Cheese, Chicken nuggets, cheerios, watermelon.
3. Friends: Kylie, Mia, Sammy.
4. Lives for: being read to by Grandma Jan, imaginative play, games, Barbie.
5. Favorite Places: ND Farm, Las Vegas, Honey Treat Yogurt, The Fountains.
6. Dislikes: Lost glasses, bedtime and naps, getting dressed
7. Loves: Lamby, stuffed animals, books, dress-up, The Princesses, cuddling.
8. Recently did: Breast feed Lamby at the dinner table.
*Traits: Quick wit, sweet, friendly, creative.

Here's to not having to watch another Sacramento Kings loss until at least Saturday.  How can you lose 7 in a row at Arco and 10 out of the past 11? The poor Sac Bee beat writer is running out of ideas to describe near victories.  Ugh, at least the triplets aren't into basketball yet because they'd probably start rooting for the Lakers or Celtics.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December '08 *Update*

I woke up this morning thinking a lot about my original intentions to create a blog to assist in determining which direction to take my life, family and career. What had become increasingly apparent in recent months was how little I missed working in an office. Sure I missed some people, but not the politics and BS associated with corporate America.

I have had some good suggestions from friends and family. Some have mentioned going back to school to get my teaching credential, one suggested going to IT Tech, and still others said follow your passions or hobbies. I know if my Dad was still alive, he'd have given me an updated version of "What Color is Your Parachute?"

My heart was never into getting another "job" and therefore, I never devoted too much time to a job search. Most of my colleagues were able to find employment after the layoffs in 2007 for which I'm very thankful. Currently, my intention is to remain an "At Home" Dad for the foreseeable future and continue my blog and hopefully eventually start a website devoted to all fathers (young, old, at-home, working, married, divorced, gay, Democrats, etc.).

Please, let me know if you have suggestions for my new site (or for Reinventing Dad). I have a few thoughts that I've jotted down.

Thanks so much for coming to my blog and the next entry will have more to do with family then with me. I promise.
Here's to being thankful that I listened to my father's advise while going off to college to "not let school get in the way of my education"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Halloween Pictures

Well, I am way past due on my Halloween pictures, but I thought better late than never. As you can see, we had a "Puss n boots", a "Pocahontas", and a "Show White" among the triplets, and for the second time in her 10 years (& first time since 1st Grade, Brenna went as a witch.

This year we had our traditional Halloween pizza from Papa Murphy's with Mom, Gabe and Grammy Karen in attendance.

I don't believe we had quite the crowds of trick-or-treaters as in previous years which probably was attributed to Halloween on a Friday night, and/or threat of rain. We also had quite a few neighbors who were Halloween scrooges.

Brenna went out with her friend Shelby this year.

I doubt that you'd have to "Pray for mercy" from this guy, he's a pussy cat.

Here's to keeping the spirit of Halloween alive for future generations.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Elf on the Shelf"

Elf on the Shelf –- Christmas Elf  and Book with Free Shipping Available.Our dear friends who live over the Sierras and into the "Silver State" casually mentioned "The Elf on the Shelf - A Christmas Tradition" as a quality parental tool to maintain the upper hand during the holiday season.  What a brilliant idea!  

In a nutshell, the elf's job is to head back to the North Pole every night and report the day's happenings to Santa.  More specifically,  were the kids naughty or nice?  The next morning the elf returns and positions himself in a new location for the kids to find....One critical rule is that they must never touch him or he'll lose his power.

So far, the triplets are playing along.  Alec takes "Clark" a bit more seriously than Julia and Vivi, but they all like getting up and searching for him.  I don't believe the creators had multiples, but it's an interesting experiment...more to follow.


Saturday, November 29, 2008


As you may have noticed I have not added too many entries this month as I've actually been bouncing around the net reading other individuals blogs. I enjoy getting other people's take on marriage, family, kids, work, etc. Once in awhile, I'll even post a comment on their sites in hopes of creating additional dialogue. I take solace that so many people out there are going through similar experiences and challenges.

Thanksgiving came and to follow. Amy's turkey was tender, juicy and delicious. Her table ornament appeared to be a page out of Martha freakin' Stewart's book. Attendees included her Dad (Grandpa Gave as the triplets call him) with his wife Karen and her son Garrett. My Mother came with her delicious bean casserole, and da only regret is that I didn't take the opportunity to reflect and list all that I'm thankful for.

Brenna and I went to see "Bolt" on Wednesday, and all I can say is that it's Disney's best movie since "Lilo and Stitch" back in 2002. Good lessons learned, entertaining for adults and nothing sesUal as Brenna would say. Cute, made me want to go out and get a dog......a cat...AND a hamster. Enough said for now. Go see it!

I'm trying so hard not to be negative and say the word "hate" as my mother-in-law says "there is no room for that word in your life." Very true. I remember making lists (I'm big into lists) of what I loved and hated as a child (well even through the college years). I loved the Dodgers and I hated the Giants. Perhaps I'm not as passionate about sports, politics or other topics as I once was, and that may be a function of maturity or lack of time to devote these issues. I still love lists, however, as much as Brenna loved quizzes (she must have inherited that from me), but now I'll call them "Favorite" and "Least Favorite."

Along that same topic for are my Top 5 favorite TV shows (of all time, no less). Let's count 'em down...5. "Home Improvement" - yeah even though it ended in 1997, the year BEFORE I had my first child, the follies of Tim the "Tool Man" Taylor at work (& at home) kept me in stitches...4. "Family Ties" - liked young conservative APK, but LOVED his sister Mallory even more (hey I was 17 when show was in its prime)...3. "ER" - old "ER" meaning the first 7 seasons. If you have the opportunity watch the older episodes on TNT weekday mornings (8A on the west coast), it's quite a treat...2. "24" - speaking of a action show ever made. GO Jack!......and #1....drum roll please...hands down..."Seinfeld" - suffice to say, the show about nothing was truly the most entertaining. We still get into conversations about various episodes and topics...yadda yadda yadda! Honorable mention "Friends", "CSI", "Cheers" and "American Idol."

In concluding and if you're still reading....I'm going to start my "Here's Wishing" feature......

Here's Wishing Carly Smithson will head on up to Northern California and sing "Bring me to Life" at my 41st B-day party.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Laundry Ok, I'll say it.....of all my weekly (in this case bi-weekly) chores, the laundry really isn't so bad. Why do I say this? After all, I'm averaging about 10 loads per week which includes a plethora of clothes shuffling, sorting and folding. Every three to four days I'm looking at my typical four loads (triplet load, white load, mom & dad dirty load (scrubs, gym clothes), and an assorted cold dark load). Brenna's clothes are shuffled into the above loads depending on the closest match. Throw in the towels, sheets, rugs, etc. and it's easy to reach double digit laundered loads each week.

Wow, so you haven't figured out why I prefer doing the wash over other mundane chores. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping are B-O-R-I-N-G.. back and forth, side to side, up and down. Nothing every changes except that day every couple months when I have the privilege of changing that dusty vacuum bag. Dyson anyone? Yep, I wish (better talk to the boss about upgrading dust suction machines). Gee, I emptied the waste baskets, and took out the trash when I was a kid for I believe a shiny nickel. So unless I can have some fun and burn the trash in the backyard like they do at the farm, this chore won't crack my Top 10. HMMM, how about cleaning bathrooms? Uh, no try again. Have you ever looked underneath the toilet seat?

Laundry isn't that gross, and not nearly as painful as paying the bills. Gotta love writing the monthly check for the house payment or worse the AMEX bill. What else? Shopping for groceries isn't nearly as mind blowing as it once was (no double coupons), and it's a constant shift from Costco (bulk) to Safeway (produce, small stuff) to BevMo (adult beverages), and throw in Trader Joes, Raley's, Total Wine and Spirit, and now Whole Foods into the mix.

Cooking is alright I guess, but dirtying up the kitchen while cooking leads to piles of dishes, loading-unloading the dishwasher and a filthy kitchen table. Speaking of reinvent dad's cooking, I'm hearing chatter that the natives are about to revolt against my weekly spaghetti, burritos, chicken nuggets and fish sticks.

So, why NOT laundry? I have the sorting down. I know the minimum temperature requirements. I know to not mix reds with whites or put bras in the dryer. I know what to hang dry and what to dry to a crisp. I'm still trying to figure out when to use permanent press. Perhaps someone can help me understand this one.

What's cool too is that unlike most chores, laundry may be done 24/7 while doing almost any activity from A to Z. You can't say that about mopping the floor. With all this "washing" experience, I'm truly ready for laundry's next challenge like a massive ketchup fight. In closing I have just one request.........please someone invent an easier, faster way to pair socks!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Life is Good

What a difference a day makes. Cliche, but true as yesterday was Presidential Election Day 2008 which represented the culmination of almost two years of intense campaigning characterized by mudslinging, deep American polarization, and the media feeding frenzy typical of this period in our history. Regardless of your personal beliefs and how you voted, President-Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President in United States' history on January 20th, 2009.

As you know with a tad more time on my hands in recent months, I've had the luxury of taking my time to go places and do my daily tasks. I'm able to observe my fellow Californians as they zip from here to there. The 21st century "rat race" as my Mom might say. In moving around town yesterday I observed excitement, anticipation, but with a hint of relief on tired faces. I suppose this would be analogous to Mom and Dad's collective exhale on Christmas morning after grabbing that first cup of Joe and waiting for the kids to come down the stairs to see what Santa had left under the tree.

Yesterday's sunny, cheerful and still has given way to cloudy, cool and breezy. I am not just referring to Sacramento weather. Today feels like the day after Christmas. Way too much of a good thing like democracy and patriotism have given way to sobering reality if you will. Democrats on the shoulders of Barack Obama face the cool reality of trying to turn around an economy in shambles and a deeply divided country in almost every political and social category including the war in Iraq, immigration, and energy. The ball is now in their corner. Republicans overwhelmed and humbled are vowing to rebuild their conservative platform and to rise again with enthusiasm and vigor.

Regardless of where you stand, left, right or some point in between.....LIFE IS GOOD. What you do on a daily basis will not change dramatically. Maybe, you'll have more taxes and perhaps someone might come one morning and build a solar plant across the street from your home, but your family is still your family, and unless you went crazy during the political campaign and dissed your buddy's momma, you should still have friends. If you attend church, you still have the option of keeping your spiritual self intact. If you go to a gym, you still have the ability to keep your physical self intact.

For those who are still concerned.....OK, on the soap box.....let's keep in mind that the United States of America is still the greatest country in the world. We have freedoms and opportunity that others only dream about. We have the luxury to worry about how our hair looks today or a yellow spot that appears to be getting bigger in our lawn. Keep in mind that a billion people, about 1/6 of the plant, do NOT even have safe drinking water! Millions live in fear of genocide, hunger and disease. I'm not saying we shouldn't be vigilant, but please take a deep breath and know that times may be tough (even tougher if you buy into the media hype), but never ever doubt America. LIFE IS GOOD! the soap box.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Amy makes the Sacramento Bee!

Hey everyone - I know that it's Election Day '08, but don't forget to check out Amy in today's Sacramento Bee ( in the "Living Here Family" section. Andrea Creamer did a good job tying in the lives of three ob/gyns who have had multiples, and Julia gets the first word!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You are absolutely kidding me, right?

One of the funniest movies that won't ever be made would be a film of yourself in the future trying to parent your young children. Say at age 21 or so, you're hanging out with your buddies drinking beer and instead of hitting the bars that evening, you decide to order in and watch a glimpse of your life 10, 15 or 20 years into the future.

Some assumptions to watch the still will be alive (survived college) and you did decide to get married (maybe you know her/maybe you don't), and you promise to not only have a rug rat or two, but be a strong contributor to his/her upbringing. Fine, now please hit the "Play" button on the VCR (no DVD, for me this would have been in 1989).

OK, I watched my "Future Father of Little Kids" movie back in the day and my initial thought was that today's Reinvent Dad is C-R-A-Z-Y! Damon, you are absolutely kidding me, right? (I used more appropriate language for this discussion than I would have back in the 80's). First of all, why don't you have a job? (UMMM, I'm figuring that one out). Secondly, you married Amy - good job! (You saw the potential...yes indeedy and absolutely!). Thirdly, why are you writing a blog? (What the heck IS a Blog or the Internet for that matter?).

Regarding the kids? Four? Triplets? That older daughter is most certainly a bit quirky like her dad! Yes, for sure I know, I know. After the incredible unexplainable immediate shock wore off I fast forwarded to 2008 because THIS was the year I turned 40 (and of course I had to know who our '08 President would turn out to, SHHHH, I can't say a word. I neglected to mention that any use of my film for financial or political gain is strictly forbidden!).

OMGD (oh my gosh darn). Who are these wild kids? What am I doing? Do you remember seeing "Parenthood" and the scene where Steve Martin's neurotic character and his wife dig through the garbage out back of the pizza joint looking for his 9-year old son's retainers? I've had a few scenes just like this.

I actually bleached one of Alec's favorite toys (a plastic cookie monster play needle for his doctor's kit). Why? Well, one night he dropped it in the toilet, and of course flushed it. He was remorseful which was sweet and Amy said these things happen to us I dealt with it. I did try any and every possible way to "fish" the toy out short of TNT. But heck with the economy the way it is in 2008, at least I've made the plumbers happy (& Alec did get his toy back).

What else is crazy? Each night as a bedtime ritual, Julia gets her back scratched and Vivi gets her tummy tickled? Why? Who knows? Desperate times go for desperate measures. I just want to get them to sleep. Alec doesn't like to be touched, he prefers conversation and asks questions like "Daddy, where is China?" "Alec it's on the other side of the world". "Daddy?" "Yes, Alec?" "Is it in a hole? Can you dig your way there?" "No, Alec it's NOT possible - don't you remember the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth?" "Yes Daddy." "Then obviously you know that it's too far to dig and there are weird plants and dinosaurs in the way!"

Other scenes from 2008 include turning the house upside down to find "Mr Mantis" who is Vivi's tiny little green plastic preying mantis that she sleeps with (I believe he's a character from Miss Spider) or Alec always asking me to draw a flower for him to color in. What about my occasional attempt to teach Brenna to ride a bike? Wouldn't you have thought in the 21st century someone would come up with driver's ed to teach kids how to ride their bikes?

As 4-year old Julia says after telling me earlier today that she has to throw-up..."JUST KIDDING"...not even Michael Moore with permission from God would dare broach such a subject let alone produce a movie capable of an immediate and drastic reduction of Earth's population.  OK, perhaps this wouldn't be too funny after all (unless you're watching your roommate's movie).  Maybe it's just better that young people continue to live for the now and just hit the bars on weekends.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dad, How tall will I be?

I swear I can NEVER anticipate what Brenna will be into from one week to another...absolutely impossible. Back when she was four and more predictable, like most girls she loved the Disney Princesses. Fast forward to age 10 1/2 and her interests include The Jonas Bros, Harry Potter, her scooter, dancing and Miley's World.

I suppose like most 'tweens in anticipation of those not so distant teen years she's wondering just when and how much her body will grow. Typical of inquisitive Brenna seeking more definitive answers to all of life's questions beyond the "I'm not sure" of her parents, she runs to Yahoo Answers or Google for help.

This weekend she received news that caught her completely off guard which quite frankly made her Mom and I laugh hysterically. At just a tad below 5', Brenna decided that she wanted to know how tall she would be when she grew up, and of course she found a "Height Predictor" site (attached) that calculated a child's adult height given current height, weight, age, parents' height, etc.

Even though she is somewhere in between the 80th and 90th percentile for 10-year old girls (another day of research), Brenna was stunned to learn that she would be the shortest person in our family at only 5'7" even looking up someday at little Vivian (estimated final height at 5' 9"- equaling Mom). Right now our "Little One" is three inches shorter than Julia (46", 49 lbs), and two inches less than Alec (45", 47 lbs).

Wow, what a turn of events! Perhaps Brenna will decide to be a tad more respectful to the "little" triplets who might someday stare down at her. On second thought, probably not, I am 6'5" and can only dream about receiving more respect from my first born as a result of my vertical presence.

By the way, if you're wondering about Julia and Alec. Julia who currently is about the height of an average six-year old would be about 6 feet tall when all is said and done. Believe it or not, Alec might end up at 6' 6" and Reinvent Dad's dream would be for an accurate jump shot and athleticism. Unfortunately, no one has developed a "Good Basketball Player Predictor."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sacramento Kings and Family

Please do NOT laugh....promise? Ok, I'll tell you a secret. I'm a huge Sacramento Kings fan which means I'm deeply troubled one week before the 2008-2009 NBA season begins. I truly hope I'm mistaken, but I do not think so. I'm predicting the Kings will win no more than 25 games (that's a record of 25-57). Yikes!

Again, please tell me if you think I'm way off base, but sans Ron Artest, with only K-Mart as a proven scorer...they simply don't come close to matching up with the vast majority of NBA teams. Why do some teams have THREE legitimate stars? After Kevin Martin we have Brad Miller (suspended for the first five games for smoking doobage), John Salmons (scoring option #2, but never been a starter for an entire season), and Beno Udrih (yeah who?, and he's usually injured anyway). Welcome back Bobby J!

I have to admit I so badly wanted to build a case with Amy for season tickets. Why not, the Kings sales office presented so many packages for purchase with some good perks. In the end, however, why pay anything for an inferior product or service? Even if you get a deal why put yourself through the agony of defeat after defeat. I'd rather go watch high school b-ball.

I suppose you're asking why am I discussing sports on a family blog? The answer is that sports (and my teams) are an escape from the craziness of daily living. I'm very curious to see which (if any) of the triplets will share the sports addiction. I've already come to the realization that short of hypnosis or a miraculous turnaround, dearest Brenna will not see the inside of a gymnasium, stadium or arena unless Miley Cyrus is in the house.

I hope I'm wrong about the Kings. In fact should they win the championship this season, I'll create and wear a custom t-shirt to the victory parade stating what a big idiot I am and I'm not worthy of a $10 Arco beer for doubting their abilities. HMMM, perhaps for kicks I'll begin designing THAT shirt tomorrow!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brenna's Braces, Baseball and Beyond

Brenna is so excited! Her orthodontist gave her the most incredible news this A.M. that her braces would be coming off in 8 weeks (target date is December 15th).

No more rubber bands. No more tongue restrainer. No more reluctance to smile!

Now, she may finally have her favorite snack back >>>>>> popcorn. I just ask that she stop bugging me about putting braces back on my teeth.

I've been there, done that as a youth. Unfortunately, the extraction of my wisdom teeth caused some teeth to shift a bit. Oh well, if Freddie Mercury could belt out "Under Pressure" and Stephen King can write scary novels without the benefit of straight teeth, reinventing Dad can quietly live his life with a few dental imperfections.

Speaking of the "King of Horror".....I would have loved to have had his seat the past couple games at Fenway. Just watching the Rays and the league's second lowest payroll with a cast of unknowns crush the ball "wicked hawd" over the Green Monster over and over again would have put a huge smile on my face.........this time, however, the smile belongs to Brenna as she is about to complete one of those not-so-exciting obstacles of childhood.

Bishop's Pumpkin Farm

Hello, to help break the monotony of my blogs I decided to include a few photos from our first trip to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm which is about 45 minutes north in Wheatland, CA.
Brenna and the triplets enjoyed picking their own pumpkins, a hayride, feeding the goats, and of course the food (ice cream cones and Carmel apples). One activity that we missed but vowed to do next time was the train ride.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The "Wow Factor"

Did you ever notice how kids' lives revolve around the "Wow" factor?  No, I don't mean "Hey, you played a great soccer game young lady, let's take the whole family out for ice cream sundaes and I'll kick in for extra whip cream!"  No way man, those days are a generation or two in the rear view mirror.  Kids are always seeking their next great roller coasting, mind numbing thrill ride.

In fact the "Wow Factor" requires incrementally more zip and zing as kids get older.  Perhaps, it's simply the development of a better memory. We can excite the 4-year old triplets by stating that we're going to a nice park WITH swings.  Now, the ten-year old needs a heavier jolt like a trip to an amusement park followed by a nice dinner (of her choice)  then and a movie with buttered popcorn, and finally the day is followed by "what are we doing tomorrow?" The whole sequence starts fresh the next day....

Well speaking of an amusement park and dinner.  One notable example of how the "Wow Factor" has changed in the past thirty years is John's Incredible Pizza.   Originally a cozy pizza parlor located in my tiny desert California hometown (gasp, should I mention where I'm from or not..........NO),  John's Pizza WAS the destination for lunch, dinner, little league teams, company meetings, and after sporting event treats.  Parents understood the please "keep 'em coming" quarter requirement to feed those "new" towering video machines like "Space Invaders" and "Donkey Kong."

I was no different, and of course when John's Pizza began serving home made ice cream, I was certainly near the front of the line.  As time went by, the quaint pizza parlor expanded to include more video games, and eventually even a small game area (think diet Chuck E. Cheese).
John Parlett, the entrepreneur and pizza baron sold his original business, but soon realized an opportunity to build on the "Wow Factor" where kids (& families) could consume pizza and then play. He went beyond the Chuck E. Cheese model adding roller coasters, bumper cars and fun rides to target and thrill older children.  Last time I checked, John had nine locations throughout California.

I've always admired John and respect his business acumen to see a need (or want) and develop a successful business model.  He understood the "Wow Factor" and spun it into the ultimate family fun center. He knows kids in 2008 require more to thrill and excite than us simple folks in the 70's, 60's, 50's, and before.

Of course, one might argue that the "Thrill Factor" applies to grown-ups as well.  No, I disagree.  I tell my kids that an IPOD, satellite radio and cell phone with Internet access are simply out of necessity, not toys.  A late model car might look sharp and ride well, but its main purpose is safety and reliability. Finally, a childless trip to Hawaii  simply serves to temporarily relieve the burden of thinking of new ways to wow the kids.  Yeah, and the older the child, the less likely she buys off on this bull sh#$%$t either!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reinventing Dad: Frugal...or......Cheap?

Amy says that I'm cheap.  Perhaps someday she might build a compelling case.  At present, however, I'm calling myself "frugal" as it implies that I've embraced "smart living."  After re-reading a previous post a few dozen times in which I discussed the conserving of resources and the quest to be "Green", I theorized that perhaps I'm heading in this direction as a result of #1 "Too much time on my hands" and #2 "That I'm a tad frugal..or cheap?"

I can not refute item #1, but how about #2?  Sure everyone wants to save cash on daily expenditures, reduce waste, and recycle, but am I taking it a bit too far?  I had some feedback that I was a tad "preachy" on the previous article, so I'll step down off the soapbox and present a run down of recent frugal/cheap moments during the few weeks. You be the judge....

Coupons - How about the buy one entree / get one entree for free deal? I search high and low for such discounts in Sunday's paper, online or via mailed ads.  Yesterday, Amy and I enjoyed such a bargain at a local restaurant named MAS.  What made the deal most exciting (& very uncommon nowadays) was the fact that we didn't have to purchase 2 beverages which in truth add about 40% to the bill (soft drinks, not spirits).....Bonus = Free chips/salsa....frugal or cheap?

Grocery Store - One of our local grocery stores, Safeway, was giving flu shots and providing 10% off that day's purchases.  After discovering that my insurance covered 100%, I went ahead and got my shot....Bonus = I saved about $6 off the bill, and also qualified for 20 cents per gallon discount on my next fill-up at a Safeway gas station (any purchase over $50 at the time)....frugal or cheap?

Laundry - I've been washing traditionally hot loads in warm,  warm in cold, and cold in cold + reducing the running time for the washing machine. As far as drying...hanging up everything except triplet clothes, socks and underwear. I tried putting towels outside, but was told that they dried "too stiff." Bonus = Unknown, just using less energy....frugal or cheap?

HMMMM, after re-reading this article...perhaps I should add "weird" or "strange" as a choice...more to follow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Conservation, Going Green, etc.

This past Sunday at the gym locker room I noticed an older man standing at the mirror applying shaving cream to his mug in preparation for what I presumed was his daily shaving ritual.  Fine, no problem....well, yes...P-R-O-B-L-E-M!  The sink water was running at full blast! Doesn't he know faucets potentially spew 3 gallons of H20 per minute, California is in a desert, and we're in a drought!

For fear that I would say "what the heck are you doing?", I quickly concluded my business and left.  After my first close call in which I seriously thought about getting into some one's face about wasting water, I immediately began a Q&A in my mind. Why did I care so much? When did I become so environmentally-conscious? Further, in an election year with a crumbling economy and a troubled world order, does making the attempt to conserve our resources make any difference?

The answer is absolutely!  For me, water conservation is a first step towards a "Green" lifestyle.  I understand that my efforts are quite meager and only begin to scratch the tip of the melting iceberg, but we all need to do our part as this affects the world our children and future generations inherit. The environmental policies of our next president in accord with the the rest of humanity at the dawn of the 21st century WILL determine how hospitable Mother Earth will be in a very short period of time.

Even if you don't believe Al Gore and Co. about global warming, why not THINK about the "Three R's" reuse, reduce and recycle? It can't hurt you, and will only make you feel better and give you a sense of pride that YOU are making an effort to help our planet.  There is no need to run out and buy a Prius or put solar panels on your roof.

Recycling is the most simple. In fact, in most towns across America, the majority of the recycling of cans, bottles, newspaper, tins, etc. is done for you. Some towns, like mine say to just put everything in the SAME container and they separate the rubbish from the recyclables. Yucky job, but OK.  Taking the process a bit further, I've started putting batteries, CFL bulbs, and electronic items (cell phones, etc.) in cardboard boxes for future local recycling events.

As far as reusable items, plastic bags came in very handy during the triplets' early years when we had to dispose of the diapers.  Now, I just bring my reusable tote to the grocery store or Costco. When the clerk says "Paper or Plastic" - I just say "No thank you." Of course, so many objects more complex than plastic bags at the end of their useful lives are transformed into very useful items. Playground surfaces are shredded tires.  Here is one such website I found that creates artwork, clothing and jewelry from materials that used to be headed to the local landfill  www.

Reduction is my favorite and the most challenging.  Something I absolutely can not stand or tolerate is all those catalogs sent in the mail. What a waste! If I choose to order something from say...Fabulous Furs...I'll go online, shop and order the item.  A few months ago someone pointed out an awesome website called  For free, this site will contact any/all companies and request that you be removed from their mailing lists. Now, my mailman thanks me and all I receive in the mail is the penny saver, coupons, my magazines, and of course, bills (which by the way can be sent and paid for electronically).

So many more examples. So many more milestones to achieve. One more with respect to water is showering time. I used to take 10-15 minute showers referred to as the "Hour of Shower." I realized that this was on the wasteful side and my initial attempt was quite drastic. I tried the "navy shower" which was explained to me as turning off the water while putting on shampoo and soap. No can do, I was too cold. My next idea was to sing one song and when the song was over, I'd be done.  This also didn't work as I'd just repeat the chorus over and over - endless song. Finally, I said why not listen to music.  I'd climb into the shower at the beginning of a song and would be done when the song was over. You know this actually worked the very first time!

In concluding, I'd like to hear what you think about conservation, being "Green", etc...Have you had any success stories or perhaps have something you've always done, but just didn't realize that you were helping Mother Earth until just recently? By the way, in the previous paragraph I didn't mention that the song I was listening to was "Stairway to Heaven."

Friday, October 3, 2008


"Isms" as defined by American Heritage Dictionary represent a "distinctive doctrine, system or theory." Our triplets although monumentally different in thought, word and deed, probably like many multiples, have a distinctive bond that differs from those of typical siblings. Perhaps, not a stronger bond, but an aura....a feeling that part of you is missing when the others are not around.

"Sick Julia" home today with dad has already inquired about the whereabouts of Alec and Vivi and wants to pick them up early today from preschool. As much as we'd like to pull them apart for individual mommy and daddy time, and as much as they think it's pretty cool, they resist. Why? I guess their relationship began earlier than most. Maybe "the love" began the first time in utero when Baby B (Julia) or Baby C, (Vivi) kicked upside down Baby A (Alec). Hence an approximate origin in the line of communication, albeit of the non-verbal (& not the kindest) variety......

In their early years outside the "friendly confines" of the womb, in a slightly larger space in the same bedroom, the triplets co-habitated in cribs. They cried, cooed and grunted. Alec even uttered a "huh huh" sound on occasion. One purpose was to let each other know that they were all still there and safe....sort of a perpetual "role call."

Fast forward to the present and the world of speech. Sometimes they just want to say "I'm here, and I am ok" or make a statement about their environment. Other times, talk leads to debate, and debate to a disagreement. My preference would be for them to just agree to disagree, but of course that's unrealistic in the world of four-year-olds.

Vivian is the queen of "one-liners." During Alec's spitting faze a few months back, we were all upstairs one morning and he asked if spitting was allowed inside the house. I said "NO." His retort was "how about outside?" I then said yes, but ONLY if you are outside all by yourself. Vivian chimed in and said "then NO Alec."

Another exchange between Vivi and Alec came at the dinner table. Vivian began to sing a song she learned in preschool. Alec decided he wanted to sing along. Unfortunately, Vivi favored a solo over a duet, and said "NO Alec, you can't sing with me." Alec then cried out to me "Daddy, Vivi isn't sharing songs."

Exchanges between Julia and other two is less frequent as she tends to be more independent, but she is always listening and "on call" if she's needed. She's the "mommy" of the three...definitely the sheepherder, nurturer, and leader. Alec is well......a boy.

The triplets interactions are exciting to watch at this age. They are extremely close and each has a distinct role within the trio. What I see is a powerful bond that will not allow itself to be compromised.

Now, I suppose when they're beating each other up over the bathroom in few years, it may be interesting to watch the exchange between the three if one were a fly on the wall, but not quite as cute..................stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Motivation for my new blog

After several entries I believe it is time to take a couple much needed steps backward (in a good way) to introduce my wife, mother of four, and motivation for my new blog...Amy.

My identity in recent years has been defined as the spouse of a physician, and father of triplets. Since the triplets were born in June 2004, most conversations with new acquaintances had (or should had) begun with "yes my wife is a doctor, and yes we have let's please discuss something else like the weather, sports, politics, etc."

As I've discussed in previous entries...2008 has presented me with an opportunity to reinvent myself. Part of this process is taking inventory to not only find out what is missing, but more importantly what is already present. A comprehensive count often requires one to move objects, to get down on all fours, to climb ladders, and to get dirty. Metophoricaly speaking, the treasures of my life I have or have rediscovered are remarkable and I feel extremely blessed......

Thoughts of why has evolved into why not. Why not embrace what is central to your life that which makes you....well you, right? I'm proud of my family. They are an everchanging reflection of me. True, they define me and my role within the family has evolved and my daily duties are radically different, but now that's O-K with me. Amy has taught me that.

Amy's example has forever changed my outlook on life, who I am and where I may be going. Her determination and positive mental outlook have helped her through numerous life challenges including getting into and through medical school. Once she's decided on a course of action, she never waivers or gives up. She is dedicated to family, friends and her profession and from what I hear, she's a good surgeon....that's one aspect of her life that I'm not able to witness.

Future entries will discuss Amy's interactions with the lovely Brenna, and the lively four-year olds but I wanted to provide a bit of background on who has inspired me to start my blog.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's Important to our Future.........the children!

I've always accused myself of living in the past.  I still think about high school sporting events, parties and some crazy antics that my friends & I pulled off in our small desert hometown. In recent years as Amy and I have frequently moved throughout the country changing addresses, employers and bringing children into the clan, I've often found myself living in the present, not for the present.  To be cliche, I take it "one day at a time" with little eye for my future except perhaps I would retire young, live long, and have lots of time and money. 

OK,  now fast forward to the present...September 29th 2008.  I'm now not only thinking about the future, I'm dreaming about it!  I suppose this was the result of so many events coming together in such a short period of time including becoming unemployed, back surgery, changing routines, and turning 40.  With a family, though, I've totally changed what I understand is my focus for the future. It is NOT only about me....I want what is best for my kids.

Sure, I want them to respect themselves and others. I'd be tickled if they graduate from the finest universities (on scholarship, of course), and are hired by the best American corporations (hopefully, there will be a few remaining in 20 years).  The 700 billion dollar question, however, is what can I do to give them a chance for a better future? 

Beyond giving constant love, guidance and setting a good example, and at present helping Alec make sure his shirt and pants face the right direction...what else do I need to do?  What about current events affecting the country? Does the presidential candidate who I vote for make a difference?   Will either Obama or McCain make good on any of their campaign promises?

Truthfully, as of late both parties get my blood boiling, but which candidate will be best for my children (& for ALL children in our country)?  My answer is both...or neither. It does not really matter. I'm tired of hearing that Obama wants more programs and McCain wants to cut taxes. I want one of them to stand up and say "everything I'm doing is for our children and grandchildren...not for me...I've lived a good life...time to think of future generations."

Obviously, this would include fixing the healthcare system to provide quality preventative medicine for all children, a sound educational model from pre-school through college, and eliminating the gigantic national debt. While we're at it, let's solve the rampant drug problem, obesity and lack of personal responsibility and integrity that has been diminished in recent years.  Of course, it almost goes without saying.....we all need to be much more G-R-E-E-N!

Wishful thinking...YES!  However, if I do my absolute best to raise them to be upstanding citizens and teach them to plan and prepare for their future....I know that is all I can dream (& hope) for as we move into the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jog-a-thon volunteer

Wow, parental involvement in your child's elementary school has changed dramatically over the years. With dwindling tax revenue, school districts are strapped for cash and now rely heavily on parents for assistance, both to donate cash, and volunteer time. So with some extra time this year I decided to throw my name into the volunteer pool at Brenna's elementary school. I would make myself available both in the classroom and to assist in various school activities.

The annual Jog-a-thon was my first assignment. My initial thoughts were that this would be a piece of cake. Kids would run around a track for twenty minutes, count their own laps...end of story. A few days prior to the event, however, I received a volunteer instruction notice from the event organizer (our school's PTC treasurer) detailing the general time lines, the important rules and the various job titles with description of duties. My previous life in corporate America had never been this organized!

My first impulse after reading the "Jog-a-thon 2008 Volunteer Instructions" was to step aside, fake an illness or just admit that I was not worthy of such a marvelously constructed fundraiser created by the PTC, administered by parent volunteers, and participated in by sweating K thru 6 graders for the benefit of our school. Well the truth be told, I did not understand the instructions. My wife Amy suggested that I just go and everything would be much clearer once I arrived at the "main volunteer check-in station."

Of course rules and procedures were explained to me upon my arrival that morning and I was assigned the job of "Tally Marker" which initially didn't sound too appealing. But I then quickly realized that I was responsible for marking up the tally cards as the kiddos ran each lap which actually was the most important job of all! The students took pride in the number of laps they finished which was tied to how much cash they would receive from the donations.....

I'm already looking forward to next year's Jog-a-thon.... if they'll have me. Hopefully I didn't mess up any lap cards causing huge controversy or costing the school big dollars. By the way, Brenna ran 28 laps which made me very proud (and no I wasn't her tally marker).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mortgage Meltdown and the Underwriter

Oh boy! Let's step aside from discussion of life with family, and take a look at why I'm where I am now (mid-life career purgatory).  The housing crisis like a drowning elephant threatens to pull under everything and everyone it can grab as it gasps and finally slips beneath the surface.  Let's make an attempt at honesty.  Anyone in the mortgage industry or any individual who was remotely paying attention knew that the double-digit annual increase in home values could not be sustained.  NO way!

As a mortgage underwriter who was entrusted to review and to decision residential loans for my employer, I was expected to go the extra mile to find a way to "make the deal."  I didn't want to disappoint my company, the investors, the account executives (sales), or our broker (client). GASP!  Not too many excuses for loan denials were accepted  given the plethora of loan programs available with the exception of fraud (this will be discussed at another time).

The poster-child loan program for this housing mess, the option arm/pick-a-pay was absolutely abused!  In a nutshell, the program allowed for borrowers to pay less than the standard interest requirement during the initial period of the loan which actually ADDED interest to the original principal...a term labeled "negative amortization." Scary... and to top it off, IF the borrower needed to payoff the loan early, he was slapped with a huge pre-payment penalty. This product was rarely applied as intended by the authors of the program, and often only was successful if/when housing values were increasing rapidly.

In essence, marginal borrowers were being qualified at rates lower than the current market rents to qualify for larger loans so they could outbid others for limited inventory (property). Consequently, strong borrowers in the traditional sense with excellent credit, high and stable income, and good asset position were actually forced to pay more than they should have. These borrowers, understanding their financial limits, often stepped aside.

To further layer the risk of the option arm product was the use of limited documentation which included the stated income product. Originally intended for the self-employed borrower whose income would fluctuate from year to year, stated income did not require an applicant to prove how much he truly earned via pay stub or federal tax return.  In fact, the program was widely used to include teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. HMMM.  We quickly named these deals "liar loans." I could see the long time business owner making $10,000/month, but not the young elementary school teacher.  If the application "stated" $10,000/month, this is what was used to qualify with few questions asked.

Wow, I could go in many directions from here. I could mention that often times I was told that the $10,000 included a spouse's, parent's or sibling's unverifiable income that wasn't included because that individual's credit was poor. I could stand up proudly and state that over time our company and other companies within the industry decided to require further documentation to support that "stated" monthly income through the use of or internet websites or "adda-boy" letters from independent parties who had some business relationship with the borrower.

Of course, in the end the lending business was fighting a losing battle.  All the parties involved from the unqualified borrower to the greedy investor fell in love with the high risk loan products, the limited documentation loans, and the no down payment programs.  Sadly when given the opportunity to stretch the truth for financial gain, some individuals will not think twice about doing just that.  

The trouble snowballed industrywide. Honesty, integrity and accountability were crushed by profits and greed. I couldn't stop what was happening and neither could anyone else. Why would a housing industry in which so many were making so much decide to slow down?  I suppose in retrospect, the only entity that could have made an impact was the federal government which obviously was too excited about how well the economy was growing and all the new jobs that were being created. 

My wife and I went to see "Burn After Reading" last weekend.  J.K. Simmons played a CIA supervisor whose final line seems appropriate to the current housing meltdown when he asks "what have we learned from this?"

Friday, September 19, 2008

10 year old girl....who you might want to meet? *by Brenna Riley*

Hi I'm 10 years old and I'm the daughter of "reinventing dad". You might of heard about me from his article, "technology and the 10 year old girl". My dad's a really cool guy. We've always had a really special bond.
Since my mom worked a lot, (and still does) I didn't see her that much. So I was with my dad a lot. He's the perfect dad. He is a very strong man. About eight months ago, my dad had a seriously injured back and couldn't even get out of bed. He was so strong and brave, it amazed me. I had terrible dreams that he was going to die. but luckily, the surgery went well and he is a lot better now. His back rarely hurts anymore, and if it does, it's only mild pain. I love him so much. I look up to him
I know everyone thinks parents are just here to make your life miserble, but they're not. I can't imagine life without my dad. He's a big part of my life. I now try not to say, I hate you, or get out of my life, or your stupid to him when we argue. Because I don't hate him. He's my big fluffy teddy bear when times are tough. He's my jester when times are dreary. He's my favorite boy in the whole world. I'll always love him. I know that will never change. I love my dad!!! He's my best friend!!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Technology and the 10-year old girl.

OMG....TSNF! Such is the language of the next generation where text messaging and instant messaging have replaced the "archaic e-mail" of my generation. Forget "snail mail" - only to be used in desperation (when the internet is down) or during the holidays. This is the life of my daughter Brenna who happens to be a 10-year old 5th Grader, not a high schooler or college student.

Her interest in computers began when she was six on my old Gateway. A sandwich shop back in West Hartford, CT named D'Angelo gave away computer games with kids meals. Her love for the meatball sandwiches were eventually surpassed by her desire for more games which lead to the internet and various children's sites.

The latest destination on the web for young girls or "tweens" is "Miley's World" - you know the almost 16-year old star of "Hannah Montana" the one parents can't get away from whose continuous barrage of products on TV and EVERY store make you want to find the nearest tall building and JUMP! She chats with presumably other young gals and they perform make believe plays and discuss "girly" issues.

When I mentioned to Bren that I was going to start a blog because this is the latest on-line craze, she said "oh I started one a couple years ago." But after checking out my blog, she actually thought it was pretty cool and will start one of her own soon. Lucky break for me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wonderful thing about Triplets!

Didn't someone once say "The Wonderful thing about triplets is triplets are wonderful things?" No, I'm mistaken. This was used to describe Disney's Tigger. I'm not the greatest Disney fan on Earth or even in California, but I've always had an affinity for the bouncing friend of Pooh, Christopher Robin, and company.

Tigger often reminds me of our triplets. He's outgoing, cheerful and confident (sometimes to his own detriment), but remains a loyal friend and ally. Alec, Julia and Vivian have such a bond. They consistently "stick up" for one another even though the other triplet might be in the wrong.

A, J & V entered the world on June 3, 2004 via C-Section. Born in the evening at 7:10, 7:11 and 7:12, mommy had held them off as long as she could! If they had been a singleton, they would have simply been six weeks early, but as multiples at 34 weeks and change with birth weights all above 4 lbs, one could not ask for anything more. We counted our blessings.

Well, I suppose I could re-hash the early infant/baby months where we made 12 bottles every morning. I recently calculated via that the trips used approximately 18,000 diapers the first three years at a cost of almost $3,000.  Wow, thank heavens the $500 trips to Costco are over!

Fast forward to age 4. The trips are typical and appropriate for their age. Sure they argue, fight and throw an occasional punch, but they truly care about each other.  Unfortunately, we're to the point of feeling guilty when we separate them. How will we handle Kindergarten next year? Will our school want to split them up or keep them together?

Right now I'm just enjoying watching them explore their world.....bouncing about happily, thoughtfully and with confidence much like Tigger.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What to do with the 2nd Half of My Life

All right, let's get this web log started. For me, this marks my very first journal entry ever (after what was required in elementary school, of course).

I have a few reasons to begin this forum. First of all, I love to write. I was a journalism major for a couple semesters in college (in between accounting and management), but mostly I enjoy creative writing. I want to discuss those issues that I hold dear including family, and being the father of triplets + 1 quirky 10-year old girl. Speaking of that "big sister", I will ask for her input for this blog as she is more net savvy than I.

Most of all I want to learn more about myself. I'm soliciting the advice of strangers (& perhaps someday friends) who might provide suggestions as to which course a (gasp) 40-year man should take after being laid off from the shrinking housing industry. I'm fortunate that my wife is gainfully employed, and I have the luxury of time to sort out the dilemma.

So, stay-at-home dad or back to corporate America? In 2008, a dad staying home with his kids is still quite uncommon. Businesses target "mom" as the decision maker for purchases both big and small. Websites like aren't too inviting to dads seeking advice on parenting or hoping to form neighborhood play groups. On the other hand, corporate America is cut throat and job opportunities are disappearing. The mortgage business has imploded and won't recover anytime in the near future. HMMM, what about door #3?