Monday, January 30, 2012

Financial $ponsitility

This weekend, all 3 boys got to go purchase a new toy with some money they received for Chirstmas and their birthday.

Both Little Brother and Bab-E Brother found exactly what they were looking for right away at Store 1.

Big Brother, on the other hand, was on the hunt for a specific new Beyblade and initially came up empty-handed.

In days past, this could've sent him into a meltdown that would make the financial crisis look like a hangnail.

Mom-E and I could easily see him just buying a toy for the sake of buying one, rather than getting what he wanted.

In fact, this "I must spend" attitude resulted in our decision to put his allowance on the diasbled-list, because every week he wanted to spend his $1 on "junk", rather than saving his money for something desirable.

At his school, the students earn tickets for good behavior, which can be saved or "spent" at the end of the week on small items or privileges. For a long time, Big Brother had the same attitude about the tickets (i.e., "I must spend them every week.")

But this weekend, Mom-E and I were very impressed with Big Brother's maturity. Instead of "just buying something", he asked if we could look at a different store.

In between stores, we made a stop for dinner, which initially met with some resistance.

But soon enough, we were off to Store 2, to everyone's great excitement.

Store 2 didn't have the new type of Beyblade (looks like maybe they aren't in stores yet), but he found a carrying case for 10 Beyblades (and associated accotrements) that came with a new Beyblade.

And I mentioned that maybe the new Beyblade that isn't out yet might find it's way into his Easter basket.

So in the end, all of the boys ended up happy with their new toys.

And Big Brother and Little Brother also got lessons in making purchases with their own money.

At this rate, if Big Brother can do a good job with his chores, it may be time to restart his allowance.

And if he shows the same level of fiscal responsibility with that money, well, then we'll encourage him to run for Congress.

Way to go, buddy! We're proud of you!

Have a good week,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

To Pee Or Not To Pee

As noted recently, Bab-E Brother is starting to show interest in the big boy potty.

While this is wonderful, it is simultaneously exhausting to Mom-E and I, upon which I will expound in the form of Hamlet's favorite soliloquy:

To pee, or not to pee--that is the question:
Whether 'tis harder on the bladder to suffer
The pain and anguish of holding it in
Or to just let it flow henceforth
And by urinating end it. To pee, to diaper--
No more--and by a pee to say we end
The bladder distention, and the thousand cc's
That lie inside there. 'Tis a scary thing
That Mom-E and Dad-E wish for. To pee, to diaper--
To diaper--perchance to pee in the tub: ay, there's the out,
For in that pee-pee potty what (big boy) dreams may come
When we pee in this diaper no more,
Must give us big boy underwear. There's the respect
That makes a boy proud life long.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of incontinence,
The oops-I-peed-my-pants wrong, the proud boy's tantrum
The pangs of diaper changes, the storytime delay,
The insolence of toddlerhood, and the spurns
of older brothers who do this all the time,
When Bab-E Brother himself might his urinatus make
(Standing) With a bare behind? Who would be a big boy,
To scream and cry in a weary tub that you have to go
But that the dread of falling in and flushing
The undiscovered sewer pipe, from whose hollows
No pee returns, puzzles the urinator
And makes us rather bear the pain of not peeing
Than letting it fly into places we have not peed?
Thus normal childhood fears does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of clear water resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale straw yellow cast from within,
And enterprise of great stream and relief
With this regard his urinary current turns awry
And lose the name of urinary retention. -- Soft you now,
The fair Bab-E Brother! -- Toddler, in thy orisons

Until then, I gotta go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seventh Heaven

Dear Big Brother,

Happy 7th birthday, Big Brother! (Man how the time has flown.)

You had an awesome "boys only" party at the bowling alley. It was the perfect place for hyperactive 7 year-old boys on a rainy day who would've otherwise destroyed our house. Mom-E made some rich, delicious bowling ball cake pops. You got a very cool bowling pin water bottle. And a good time was had by all, including Bab-E Brother, who at one point went running down one of the lanes, only to be "rescued" by Mom-E half way to the pins. Whew!

You're having a wonderful year in first grade, although I know you're already looking forward to second grade.

You're skills have grown by leaps and bounds this year. You're reading books now that would've seemed impossible at the beginning of the year. We read books together every night. This affords an important life lesson - to get good at anything, you have to practice regularly. And even small amounts of practice, 15-20 minutes a night, really add up over time. I hope you can apply that wisdom to many other aspects of your life.

As your reading has progressed, you're particularly proud about reading "chapter books". In addition to the chapter books from school, we've started reading some Hardy Boys and a little Harry Potter, too.

You've been taking piano lessons for about a year now, too, and have shown some real talent here. Like many things for you, there's always a little fear of the unknown, but once you get started your ability and poise shines through. You've just recently started playing some jazz and popular pieces. I really treasure the time we share together at the piano. And while it involves some work, it's also fun, too. We won't tell Mom-E or your teacher that sometimes we make up silly songs about farts while we're playing.

You're learning to ride a 2-wheel Spider-Man bike. And while we still have to work on some "finer points", like mastering turns, you're able to balance and ride quite a good distance. No doubt, the warmer spring and summer weather will mean lots of bike riding.

You love to play with Legos and Kreo, and we build stuff all of the time. We also play a lot with Transformers and Beyblades. Oh, the Beyblades - all of them - regular, electro battlers, tornado battlers, IR spin control, rippers, launchers, string launchers. But sometimes it's hard to share with Little Brother and Bab-E Brother.

Your favorite TV shows include Beyblades (of course), Spider-Man, Phineas & Ferb, Johnny Test, and Scooby-Doo, although we do pretty well at watching a modest amount of tv. You also like going to the movies. You, Big Brother, and I have some special dates at the movie, complete with a kid's pack of snacks and 1 turn at a racing video game afterwards. I treasure these special trips together to the movies.

Oh, and GAMES. LOTS AND LOTS OF BOARDGAMES. You're a very logical guy, and hence really into games. We play a game at breakfast at least 5 days a week. Most recently it has been Stratego, but we play Gopher It, Candy Land, Busy Town, and Word Play (amongst others) quite a bit soon. I've told you before, but when we play games together I do not "take it easy" on you. You're a sharp guy and that's not fair to you. Sometimes you win and sometimes I do. We're working on being a good sport about losing. We've talked about what lessons we learn when we lose, including 1. No one wins every time, 2. Having fun and spending time together is more important than who wins, and 3. When we lose, we ask ourselves why we lost, and how can we improve upon that the next time. On a related note, you've been fascinated about how Thomas Edison first found out 2,000 ways how NOT to make a light bulb, before he got it right.

There's so much more I could say, but I'm glad that I've said much of it in other posts throughout the past year. You're a very sweet boy. You pray for others who are sick that you have never meant. You ask very thoughtful questions. Your younger brothers very much look up to you. And while sometimes your patients with them runs thin, many other times you are extremely patient and kind with them.

Mom-E and I love you very much. You make us proud - every day. And we look forward to continuing to help guide you on this journey, to help you become the best version of yourself.

Happy 7th Birthday to my favorite "oldest boy"!
I love you,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Frog, by Big Brother

Big Brother recently got a new journal, and his first effort was to write and illustrate the story below.

He did a great job, and I like how it captures many of his school-related efforts.

Have a Hoppy Week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Potty, Interrupted

A light begins to shine at the end of the diaper tunnel.

Bab-E Brother has begun to show some interest in the "big boy potty".

Oh, the thought of having no children in diapers again makes the hearts of Mom-E and I go ... well ... ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.

A few times now, Bab-E Brother has been in the bathroom and exclaimed, "Poo-poo! Poo-poo!"

(The only problem for us is that he refers to both #1 and #2 and anyone with whom he is displeased, for that matter, as poo-poo.)

He does like the Elmo potty seat. And he's willing to de-diaper and sit on it for 0.01 milliseconds briefly before getting uncomfortable and wanting off the throne.

But the other day yielded our most interesting attempt to date.

We were in the bathroom brushing teeth before bed, and again Bab-E Brother exclaimed "Poo-poo!"

But he didn't want to sit on the Elmo potty seat. No, he had to pee and wanted to stand like his brothers.

Problem #1 - Too short to reach above the lip of the potty.

Solution - Step-stool! Check!

Problem #2 - Does not want to lift the lid. Instead would prefer to try to aim through both the regular and Elmo potty seats. Hey, whaddya expect, he's a boy. It's hard enough to get Big and Little Brother to lift the lid.

Solution - Big and Little Brother, who fortunately both had to go right then, demonstrate the lid lift. Check!

This elicited MAJOR curiosity from Bab-E Brother, who literally bent his head down between the two of them, almost kissing the potty, to inspect the resulting "streams". Fortunately, he was not sprayed. But it was still pretty funny.

Problem #3 - Not sure how to make the pipes flow once standing on step-stool with lid lifted.

Solution - Turn the faucet on gently. Put some water in a cup and pour it into the potty.

Unfortunately, this one back-fired, as Bab-E Brother found this to be a fun game, and became more interested in dumping water into the potty.

But at least he did stand there for a bit ... and then proceeded to sneak off into the corner and pee on the bathtub.

Nonetheless, a victory in the right direction (other than the direction of his pee) worthy of praise and high 5's.

That said, experience has taught me that while this newfound interest certainly is exciting and bodes well for future prospects, I know we still have some time to go (PUN INTENDED!)

I hope the same "holds" true for Bab-E Brother and his bladder.

Have a good weekend, GO FOR IT!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The W-word

Hello there! I hope you had a nice holiday on Monday. I was struggling for inspiration, and my sentiments on MLK Day are best described by the linked post.

Fortunately, in the land of 3 small boys, inspiration is always waiting in the wings.

For some time now, Bab-E Brother has been proficient in his use of the 2 important words for 2 year-olds: "No!" and "Mine!"

But having two older brothers also means that he's more likely to pick up other key words.

Most recently, this has been, of all things, the W-word: Why?

It baffles me to think that he's using this word correctly at times, but in emulating his brothers, he seems to have it right. He's figured out that if Mom-E or Dad-E answer some questions with "No", that sometimes you ask "Why?"

And fortunately, it has not been an antagonistic "Why? Why can't I stay up an hour past my bedtime playing with choo-choos and refusing to bathe?"

As an example, on the MLK holiday on Monday morning, Bab-E Brother heard a truck and asked "School bus coming?"



"No school for Big Brother today."

"Read truck again."



"We just read it 85 times, and it's bedtime now."

Methinks we're in trouble.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy 99th Birthday Great-Grandpa

Earlier this week, I made a whirlwind trip home (up one day, back the next) to surprise my Grandpa on his 99th (yes, ninety-ninth) birthday.

He's a truly wonderful man, and you can read more about him and his now 75+ year marriage to my Grandma if you'd like.

The stars definitely aligned for this trip. I was able to get a round trip ticket for $160 (can't remember the last time I booked a flight for under $200). Granted, I had to get up at 4 am two days in a row, but Grandpa is one of those guys you'd do that for without thinking. Especially because you only turn 99 once. And amazingly, I made it there (and back) without flight delays.

Everyone did a good job keeping this one secret (though my dad almost blew it he covered well with a colorful fib). My dad was able to take the day off, too.

I had planned to phone Grandpa from just outside his apartment to say, "I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday", and then step inside and say "but I'd rather do it in person", but when I called they didn't answer the phone.

My grandma (97) has limited mobility and didn't have a phone nearby. Turns out Grandpa was about to get in the shower.
So I first wished him Happy Birthday through a door while he was in his "Birthday Suit".

Needless to say, he was completely taken by surprise.

We had a nice day of visiting, capped off by a "catered" dinner from Grandpa's favorite pizza place, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The folks at their assisted living facility had another cake for him, and they all sang Happy Birthday (that was his only request besides the pizza, to have everyone sing.)

When we left the dining room to go back to their apartment, someone told him, "Happy Birthday - I wish you many more!"

In his true fashion, my Grandpa looked over at me as we were walking back and said, "Many more. I'm 99 years old. I don't have a hell of a lot of birthdays left."

This coming from the guy who still does about 15 minutes of morning calesthenics, including push-ups and sit-ups (no joke). He's done that pretty much his entire natural life.

In 99 years, my Grandpa has certainly witnessed a lot - World Wars, the Great Depression, automobiles (he's bought and sold about 8,000 in his lifetime), television, space program.

I asked him about some of the most amazing events in his lifetime. Interestingly, in contrast to saying something like assassination of President Kennedy or 9/11, without much hesitation he started talking about the 1918 influenza pandemic. His father (my great-grandfather) was affected and the entire family was quarantined, my Grandpa being unable to go to school for a whole month. At the end of the quarantine, the doctor came to their house, and my Grandpa was instructed to go to the pharmacy to get something (couldn't imagine sending Big Brother to walk from home to go run and errand). On the way back, the sirens went off announcing Armistice Day, the end of WWI. Fascinating.

Let's face it, we're all really busy, myself included. But it's particularly important that we need to take a break from that bus-e-ness and "do the right thing" when certain situations present themselves. Being there for his 99th birthday was definitely the right thing for me to do. I wouldn't have missed it.

I pray that my Grandpa makes it to his 100th birthday (and a brief appearance on national television)! If so, we'll figure out a way to get my entire family there to celebrate. But no matter what, I will always carry the memories of this trip with me, and I know he will, too.

Love you, Grandpa.

Have a good weekend,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Big Brother's Christmas Watch

Okay, okay, so it's mid-January and I'm still posting about Christmas.

But hey, lots to write, and not a huge amount of time to write it, so please bear with me.

Nowadays, Big Brother does pretty well with telling time. Which means he likes to tell time all day long, and ask accompanying questions.

"Is it 7:37?"


"How long until my bus gets here?"

"23 minutes."

"Wow, that's like 100 years."

"Not exactly."

120 seconds pass.

"Is it 7:39"


"How long until my bus gets here now?"

You get the idea.

And so, to prevent small men from making a huge racket at 4:30am and waking up the house, we asked the boys - namely Big Brother as the ringleader - to please wait until the clock said 7:__am before waking up Mom-E and Dad-E on Christmas.

Big Brother has a watch that was a kid's meal prize that he loves to wear, so of course he put it on right away.

(He likes to wear it in the tightest notch, even though I would swear that it turns his hand purpule, or at least leaves a mark on his wrist like when Belzig burns the impression of the headpiece to the Staff of Ra in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.)

And so from about 8 - 8:30pm, Big Brother asked me what time it was and when Santa was coming.

"After you've been asleep for a long time!"

Finally, I was able to escape further questioning (so I thought).

But low and behold at about 9pm, Big Brother comes out of his room and said,

"Dad-E, it's 9 o'clock! How come Santa hasn't been here yet?"

"It's too early," I explained.

Admittedly, I was worried that the pattern would continue, but Big Brother fell asleep (perhaps exhausted with excitement), and all 3 boys stayed asleep all night. Even when I took his watch off to keep it from amputating his arm!

And amazingly, our "wake-up call" did not come until after 7am!

Sleep is a good thing.

I need some.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

P.S. Oh yeah, and Happy Bloggiversary to me. Just remembered that this site is now 3. (I'm glad the terrible 2's are over.) Cheers!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Santa Needs Some New Regional Helpers

Dear Santa Claus,

First of all, thank you very much for contributing to a wonderful Christmas for our boys.

We are also greatly appreciative that you took Little Brother's slippers back to the North Pole to exchange them for the proper size.

However, since then, the resulting chaos has, on several occasions, brought Busy-Mom-E close to rupturing an aneurysm.

And while she could provide more precise details regarding the details of this monstrosity, suffice it to say that in the interest of her health her doctor has advised her against doing so.

So I will try.

We were pleased to receive an email that you had outsourced the slipper exchange to your Regional Retail Elves at

We were even more pleased to receive a package in the mail with the replacement slippers.

Until we opened find another pair of slippers in the WRONG size.

Mom-E checked our email records, and confirmed that you had indeed ordered size 9-10, however the Regional Retail Elves at shipped size 7-8.

We tried to help your busy workload by calling on your behalf, which met with great frustration.

At least one elf spoke an ancient form of elvish that Mom-E did not understand, leaving Mom-E to just hang up and call back, hoping she'd reach a different elf.

Another elf was mostly pleasant but had a hard time understanding the nature of the problem, and instead focused too much on "Did you have a nice Christmas? Are you traveling anywhere soon?"

Umm, the right size slippers would've made things nicer, and if you don't get this fixed, we might have to come visit you and we won't be happy.

We did speak to an assistant manager elf who put in a new order.

However, when we received a confirmation email, despite the assistant manager elf clearly voicing back "size 9-10", the message stated they would ship "size 7-8".

This resulted in another series of phone calls, including another elf who who spoke the same elvish uttered in the depths of Mordor. We were not able to reach the same assistant manager elf. But another elf explained that there appeared to be a computer glitch where it was shipping the "next size down". We have assurances that the THIRD order was placed correctly.

Of course, we have now received 2 pairs of the wrong size slippers - that we must take back to the store. Although we did appreciate the small gift card for all of the hassel.

But if this third order does not have the correct size, Mom-E is either going to go gray, bald, or rupture that aneurysm.

We strongly suggest that you outsource elsewhere next year.

Signed, two concerned parents,
Busy-Dad-E and Busy-Mom-E

Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Say the Word "Girl"

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

Long-time readers may remember that Little Brother has a very peculiar way of mispronouncing the word "girl" that admittedly makes Mom-E and I smile and chuckle.

For quite some time, I've typed his pronounciation as "grirl".

But recently I decided that this doesn't quite do justice to the number of syllables he seems to work into this word (think Annie Lennox singing "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This", where This comes out something like Thy - e - e - is)

And so with quite a bit of practice (and lip contortion) I figured out what I believe to be the best attempt to replicate him.

Just say these words - out loud, quickly - in order, and by the end you'll have it.




GWARREL ("girl")


Speaking of "gwarrels", Big Brother treated us to this instant classic comment the other day.

His music teacher played some songs and asked the students to listen and guess if the singer was male or female, adult or child.

He said, "There was one I thought was a girl, but the teacher said it was Justin Bieber."

Have a good weekend,
Be good boys and gwarrels,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Eve Church 500

So I know that Christmas was "ages ago", but this is a funny story I wanted to be sure to write about.

One of the challenges about going to church on Christmas Eve, especially with young kids, is that you have to get there about 5 hours beforehand in order to secure seats, otherwise you're trapped by a sea of hats, coats, programs, and annoying people who say, "Sorry, that seat is saved."

Not unless it's got yo name on it

Which pretty much guarantees that regardless of start time, it's going to "conflict" with at least one child's nap/sleep schedule, or children will have to sit through a long service without a nap.

The voices in my head are saying, "Heads I win, tails you lose."

Such was our predicament again this year.

And because nature loves irony, we couldn't get Bab-E Brother to go down for his nap until about 30 minutes before we needed to leave.

The other voice in my head is saying something about, "Never wake a sleeping Bab-E."

So we opted for "Plan B", which was Mom-E goes to church by herself first and morphs into one of the "annoying seat-saving people", and Dad-E lets Bab-E Brother sleep until the very last minute, and then brings all 3 boys.

Actually, this part worked out better than expected. Bab-E Brother did much better with an hour versus a 7 minute nap. The boys cooperated (maybe that had to do with the fact that I loaded up a bag with fruit snacks, granola bars, and goldfish for each of them), and we left more or less on time.

When we were just a few miles from church, Mom-E called to tell me that they made an announcement to the effect of, "Move inward away from the aisles. If the people you're saving seats for don't show up soon, you're about to lose them."

Mild panic attack over the thought of standing for 2 hours with the boys.

"Don't worry, Mom-E, we'll be there in 3 minutes."

I explained the predicament to the boys, and I needed them to get out of the minivan quickly when we parked.

We're traveling down a 2 lane road (at the speed limit). The car in front of us is going to make a left turn, at which point there is also an extra turn lane to the right that goes into a residential neighborhood.

As there was no other traffic, I did a "dinky" and passed the car ahead of me by going around him on the right, so I didn't have to slow down.

At which point, Little Brother casually asks me, "Dad-E, are you going to drive like a maniac now?"

Thanks for the vote of confidence, little buddy.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Bab-E Brother

Dear Bab-E Brother,

We're about to celebrate your 2nd birthday! And while the "terrible 2's" are officially upon us you've been hurling stuff from the dinner table for a while now the past 2 years have been anything but terrible.

Many people say that you look more like me than either of your brothers good luck with that, although at least in pictures your hair has a reddish tint. Coupled with your blue eyes, neither Mom-E nor I are sure where your good looks came from. It also looks like you have a better than average shot at being left-handed, which will please Big Brother to no end. Recessive traits, we guess.

You bring unsurpassed joy and wonder to our lives (albeit equal to Big Brother and Little Brother). And that's been the theme this past year. We have 3 boys now, not 2 boys and a baby boy. We might as well go ahead and buy 3 of EVERYTHING!

And man are Mom-E and I tired. I think this year has been even bus-e-er than last.

You've mastered walking and running this year, and Mom-E and I have been chasing small men like decapitated chickens ever since. (By the way, we LOVE your little run - one arm at your side while the other swings madly as you pound those feet along.) More "running hugs", please.

Despite the many highlights of the past year - your shoe-throwing, voice-immodulating, chants of "Pupp-E Guy" among my favorites - perhaps my favorite highlight in recent weeks has been the explosion in your vocabulary.

The excitement of Christmas helped you learn "open" and "track (track-a)" and "build", and while Santa does say "Ho Ho Ho!" he also says "Santa cookies!"

I guess it must be all of the playing with (and lining up of) trains and race cars (which you would play with for hours on end, even if left alone in the dark), and this cute little way you have of pointing at something and saying "what's my name?", but you're picking up names and words left and right. "Percy. Henry. Emily. Duck. James. Cranky." Oh, and "blue Thomas choo-choo."

And "bag". We can't go anywhere now without you requesting to load up a bag with your favorite trains and cars. Pardon me, while I experience some "Car Bag" deja-vu.

"Trains and Race cars" are to "Inside" as "Bikes" (specifically a Lightning McQueen tricycle you 'claimed' as your own) are to "Outside". Again, if left to your own devices, you would ride that bike all day and night.

Oh, and by the way, you're a daredevil. I hope I'm wrong, but according to Las Vegas, you're the odds-on favorite amongst your siblings to break a bone during childhood. You were an easy pick, as evidence by standing up and jumping on your booster seat, head-first dives on the kitchen table, and coasting backwards on the tricycle down a decline while exclaiming "whee".

You're a sweet loving boy, Bab-E Brother. Big Brother and Little Brother adore you, and you certainly look up to them. (Most) mornings you pop up out of your crib with a happiness and zest for life that's contagious. I'll admit that I love it when you cling to me (I'm sure Mom-E feels the same), and I certainly love your tired whispers of "nite-nite" (aka stop holding me and put me to bed).

No doubt it will be an exciting year with many new milestones. Thank you for being you, and thank you for all of the love that you bring to our famil-e.

I love you,