Monday, March 16, 2009


Sometimes (this week in particular) I think fatherhood is God's way of telling me I missed my calling in life and should've been a stand-up comedian.

The ability to improvise, to be able to rapidly change the plan and "make-up stuff on the spot", is a CRITICAL skill for parents and stand-ups alike.

The past 3 days have reminded me of this fact, and how sometimes I improvise well, and other times not so well--all within the same day (or hour, or 5 minutes).

I'm writing this post from our hotel room. Busy-Mom-E is giving a presentation at a conference, and we decided to bring the entire family. I was able to arrange a few days off from work, and it's nice to have some extra time to spend with the boys (and Mom-E).

Internet access is $10 per day (plus tax)--apparently the hotel doesn't cost enough per night--so this post has to count for both Monday and Wednesday of this week. I'll be back for Fatherhood Friday.

I had originally intended to start the "Big Brother Explains" series this week, but since I don't have all the pictures together for that post--and as the title of this post alludes--I'm improvising here.

The trip from home to the conference warrants it's own post, and I will say no more until Friday.

And so, below is a smattering of the attempts of Busy-Mom-E and I at improv over the last 72 hours or so:

1. GETTING KIDS TO EAT. I've outlined before the picky eating exploits of both boys. This trip has brought out the WORST eating habits in both boys. They've been subsisting entirely on milk, pop tarts, granola bars, crackers/goldfish, and smoothies. To get anything else in their bellies would require tools and/or chemical restraint. Even usual cornerstones of their diet--yogurt, pudding, fruit, and applesauce--have suddenly become repulsive.

You can imagine how "pleasant" the boys are on the above diet, mostly because they're (relatively) hungry. We finally got Big Brother to eat some pudding and mandarin oranges tonight before bed, following a major meltdown, but it's still touch-and-go. Hopefully no heads will start spinning around.

2. WATCHING TV. We don't let the boys, especially Little Brother, watch much tv. But Big Brother has come to associate staying in a hotel with getting to watch some extra tv (sometimes it's just necessary when you're on the road). We enter the room, and he says "I want to watch SpongeBob." The only problem is that the hotel doesn't have Nickelodeon. What makes it worse is that the advent of "tv on-demand" makes it even harder for Big Brother to grasp why I can't just press a button and make SpongeBob appear.

At least the hotel has the Disney channel, but the inability to make Handy Manny appear on-demand is still a source of frustration for Big Brother. And so, we resorted to watching the Disney feature film "Ice Princess." Twice. Okay, it's not Oscar-worthy, but the theme was good. (I'll be working on my essay on character development in the film when I get home.)

3. GETTING KIDS TO SLEEP. I've discussed before the challenges of staying in a hotel room as a family. In summary, staying in a hotel has a stimulant effect on kids that rivals drinking about a gallon of Coke or smoking some crack. The recent switch to Daylight savings time, coupled with the 1-hour time change during this trip (not to mention the restricted diet), has put sleep at a premium. And that goes for nap time, too.

We'd fallen asleep for a few hours tonight before I woke up to write this post. I was in one bed keeping Big Brother company. Busy-Mom-E woke up to find Little Brother next to her in the other bed and has NO MEMORY of how he got there. I certainly don't remember him fussing, or anyone getting up. Maybe the hotel room brings out his super powers to long jump from his crib to our bed?

4. "SUNSCREEN". I somehow managed to leave without packing a hat. This is a problem because we're someplace sunny and warm, and both boys had more hair at birth compared to what presently adorns my scalp. On the way to the park yesterday, I decided I'd better buy a hat, which provides the spf 100 that I desperately need. Of course, almost all of the stores were still closed. Dollar General was open, but they don't take Master Card, and Busy-Mom-E had the only non-expired Visa. That left me with $7 cash to buy a hat (note to self to remember to visit the ATM prior to travel).

And so, I ended up with a beautiful hat with the logo of a major beer company (and with a "pre-worn" bill for that authentic look), the only one in the store under $7. This is particularly funny because:

4a. I don't drink beer. (But I do need a glass of vino right about now.)
4b. I'm about to take my kids to the park, and the hat makes me look particularly qualified to do so, not to mention is great advertising for all of the kids there. "And how old is your son? Does he drink the same kind of beer that is on my hat?"

5. TRANSPORTATION. We opted not to rent a car for this trip, which is fine because there's plenty to do in the downtown area of this city, plus a pool at the hotel. We brought our stroller with us, and walking around has been good exercise. The only problem is that we use a "double-wide" stroller, with the two seats side-by-side. Although we like it (it folds up to about the same size as a regular stroller, we can slap either kid on the head easily if they misbehave (just kidding), and the boys like to ride together (for the most part)), the world was NOT designed with this type of stroller in mind. We often find that we can barely squeeze through most doors, after bumping into them at least 10 times. The boys have both learned to keep all appendages inside the stroller, lest they get sheared off. Once inside, the spacing of aisles/tables in most stores and restaurants is so narrow that navigating the stroller is like a manuverability/obstacle course. But we still manage to improvise

Alright, better get back to sleep, lest I have to improvise on being awake tomorrow.

See you on Friday (please pray that we all get home in one piece),


  1. I once went to Boston without cash and ended up wandering around the city looking for an ATM. They are harder to find than you think. I ended up borrowing from my brother.

    I don't drink beer? Are you an alien? Just kidding. I grew up in an alcohol free home. It didn't take for me though.

  2. All I can say is good luck and safe travels! I'm sure you have a nice back stock of stories to share when you return. :)

  3. Those internet charges are retarded. A hotel I stayed at in SF, CA charged $13/day! woah! However, it was free in the lobby so I just took my laptop down there. I'll be praying for your safe return today! haha Busy-Mom-E's nap next to little brother and not knowing how he got there cracks me up. The other night I woke up standing in little cousin's room wondering what I was doing! I looked in his crib and he was there soundly sleeping. I guess I sleep-walked into his room...maybe I dreamed that he was crying. Sleep deprived things will make those things happen! Aunt-E

  4. Ha ha ha...Aunt-E, there were several times (right after Big Brother was born) that I woke up in the middle of the night frantically searching under the covers worried that I fell asleep feeding him and, thus, fell asleep on top of him. I had to go into his room to be sure that he was actually in his bed, safe and sound. Sleep deprivation sure does get the best of us! :)

  5. Absolutely hilarious. Thanks Busy Dad-E and Busy Mom-E for providing a never ending source of laughter and endorphin producing opportunities! After the conversation with Mom-E last night on your way home from the airport, I can't wait to read about the trip home. I don't remember the last time I laughed so much.
    Aunt-E, I think you are right. A sleep deprived stupor must have caused that episode.

  6. @ Otter Thomas: My parents rarely had alcohol when I was growing up. I don't mind a hard cider, but I just don't care for the taste of beer. Same goes for coffee. Wine and margaritas are a different story. I'd rather spend the calories elsewhere.

    @ Isabella: Thanks for the well-wishes. We made it back (barely). I have lots of great new material.