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.