Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I think our recent trip may have had an impact on our son.

When he woke up from his nap today, he just lay there pensively for at least 15 minutes.

Then out of the blue he said, "Excuse me, Dada. I have a question for you."


"Do you know where I can get a Disney map?"

I dug out a "Magic Kingdom" map from the trip. He opened it up and shouted, "There's the monorail!!!" He liked the monorail a lot.

I would tell you more, but I have to go. He needs to show me something "really interesting" on the map. Something about "Main Street USA" and a "steam train."

Assigned Reading

Another backdated entry is up: "Geek in Paradise or 'Honey, I Shrunk Your Self-Image'"

Also, I posted an entry — "Negotiations with a Preschooler"
— at Dadbloggers.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Returned from the World — Back Down to Earth

We're back from Disney World. I wrote some entries on the vacation, but chose not to go on-line there due to Disney's magically high Internet access rates. (We were fortunate to be able to stay at one of the budget Disney hotels.) What about dial-up? Well, Disney has magically turned any phone number not on their property into a long distance call from the hotel.

To fill in the gaps, I'll post these entries backdated to when I wrote them. "Disney Daze," dated May 17th, is now up.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Geek in Paradise or "Honey, I Shrunk Your Self-Image"

One of the things that contributed to my staying up much of the night before our trip was the fact that I lost my eyeglasses. Now, I've lost a contact lens before (putting one in or taking one out, cleaning one and even walking into a tree branch). I've even lost a whole pair of contact lenses in their case. But I've never before lost a pair of glasses.

It all comes of vanity and greed for comfort. These demons compelled me get new contacts and promptly lose my glasses. 1

I looked in the house, the car, called the optician's office, turned several little bags inside out and even dug through the garbage. No luck. And we were leaving the next morning.

I found an old pair of my glasses from 8 years ago (or so). The prescription is not strong enough and they are bigger and dorky-looking.

When we left, I saved my "contact time" for later. In the car, plane, bus, etc.: glasses.

By the time we got to the gate at the airport from which we departed, I'd forgotten about the glasses. So I walked into the restroom at the airport and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. With my current hair style configuration, my tired, unshaven face (that saved me 8 minutes earlier) and those hideous glasses, I did a double take. I looked like a washed-up Rick Moranis impersonator on a bender.

Why should I care? 'Tis it not dandy vanity? Well, I did care: enough to complain about it to my wife. She took a few seconds to really have the good look at me that our running around that morning had not afforded her and gave an amused snort.

Vain self-consciousness quickly deteriorated into humiliation after that when, every time my wife — who, in our 12 years of marriage, has seen me in all manner of states of disrepair — commenced to laugh  at me every time she looked at me for more than 2 seconds.

While this sad state of affairs is perhaps the culmination of the ill karma for the vanity and lust-for-comfort that began this whole thing, it has also compelled me to wear the contacts whenever possible. I'm also handling them more carefully than I would handle precious jewels.

Vanity: deadly sin. Ridicule: powerful motivator.

1 I haven't worn contacts for a year or so. (I had worn gas-permeable ones. My eyes had grown drier, so they became uncomfortable. I wore them less and less. Then that pair became the pair I lost in their case.) Lately I've been thinking that I'm ready to try some of the newer types of soft lenses.

As the trip approached, I thought about I look lots better in contacts, plus I don't like glasses constantly sliding down nose when I sweat, as I will in the Florida heat. Contacts would fix that, too.

So I made a last minute appointment. It was the day before we left. I got new contacts; they were great! I wore them home. I stored my glasses in the small shopping bag with the solutions, etc. That's the last I saw of them. Fine, but I'm not supposed to wear the contacts full-time yet. [Click to return to text where footnote link was.]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Disney Daze

We made it to Disney World! Healthy and happy! And almost awake!

We had to get up at about 4am to prepare to go catch our flight. I know, it could be a lot worse. Really, if you go to bed a little early, like Benjamin did was coaxed into doing, you're fine.

If you're a fool and you procrastinate, manage your time poorly and stay up until 2am the night before still getting ready (even though you started packing days earlier), like me, then you're not fine. You get weird symptoms like a sore throat and weird headaches and you fear you're getting sick again and it'll ruin everyone's trip. You know, though, that it's all just your own damn sleep-deprived fault.

I could just take a nap on the plane. But we flew affordably. Coach on a 717 is nothing to complain about when your destination is Disney World!!! Nevertheless, the 5 degrees that the seat reclines isn't that conducive to sweet repose.

So after checking in, a little lunch and a little fun, a nap saves the day for the whole family. Unless the Disney Magic Express (due to postponing the trip) isn't quite as magic as could be in delivering the luggage. It was coming, no doubt, but during naptime. Did I wait for them? Are you kidding? I hit the hotel bed like Donald Duck landing on Goofy's head. Yes, I did it knowing full-well I would soon wake up going, "Wha'!? Wha'!? Wha's goin' on!!?" and proceed to open the door, throttle the caller, take the bags, leave a tip on the unconscious "cast member" and go directly back to bed. And that's what happened. Except the bellhop, she was a cute kid, so she was spared.

Oh, and in my semi-awake stupor, I . . . uh . . . forgot the tip. So Julie or Kelly or Caitlyn or Courtney or whatever your name is, if you read my blog, stop back at the room; we have a shiny Sacagawea dollar with your name on it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Life Lessons in Advance of a Florida Trip

A friend whom we will see when we go on our Disney World trip tomorrow sent me the link to this article, perhaps to get me "psyched" for the trip: Alligators

Now, I think it is part human nature and part American denial-of-death and hope-of-banishing-all-risk-of-danger to hear about tragedy and start thinking, "Now why couldn't this be me?" Or, "How could I avoid this fate?"

In that spirit, I take away the following life lessons from the aforementioned article.
  • Don't snorkel alone in an alligator-infested swamp.

  • Don't hang out with alligators while on drugs. They may impair your ability to run for your life.

  • Don't jog alone in ethnically-alligator neighborhoods.
OK that was callous. I do feel the horror and sympathy. Many of us deal with it using humor.

And I take the caution to heart as well, especially after the following exchange with a travel agent and Disney specialist.

My question:
Are there any sand beaches along any of the lakes on the Disney property that are open us as Disney guests? I'm wondering about a place we might be able to take a break and just sit on the beach, perhaps wade into the water?
... there are nice beaches at the resorts around the Magic Kingdom resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian and at Fort Wilderness) as well as Caribbean Beach. Anyone can go on those beaches, but you don't want to get in the water. First of all, it's not allowed, and secondly, it could be contaminated water (and most water in Florida contains some size of alligators). You're welcome to hang out on the beach and play in the sand.
Got it. We'll stay out of the water.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Experimental Travelers

We're ramping up — again — to go to Disney World.

But why  are we going on a full-fledged vacation when we're spending thousands on the adoption and trying to save thousands more for the same?

Practice. We plan on taking Benjamin with us to China. Because of how close the three of us are and our attachment parenting history, we're quite convinced this would be the least traumatic option. Secondly, we think going to China with us will be quite an opportunity for him to get a glimpse of another culture and his sister's ethnic heritage. Moreover, we would like all  of us to start bonding with our daughter right from the moment she joins the family.

So, yes, practice. Benjamin has never been on an airplane before. We'd like him to have that experience before he hops on a 15-hour  flight. He's a patient child, and a good traveler. He can be, however, kind of anxious. We would like to know what things will keep him calm, comfortable and occupied on a flight. Also, we'll have to wake him up very early in the morning to catch our flight. He'll experience having to get on transportation at a specific time, waiting in long lines, waiting for buses, large crowds, etc. Of course there are hundreds of things for which we won't  be able to prepare him (or ourselves for that matter), but it's a start.

We  also have to practice. Practice packing light, limiting our luggage, and staying organized during a trip. (We're . . . OK, I'm  notorious for over-packing, having extra bags, and constantly losing stuff when we're on vacation.) Other than my wife's short business trips and one long-weekend trip (all by car), we haven't really gone on vacation since 2001. So we're out of "practice" ourselves.

So, do any of you have tips about traveling with kids or traveling in general?

Blessed With a Patient Little Fella'

We are so thankful for Benjamin; he is such a good little guy. When we had to postpone the trip, he didn't complain at all. He just said, "OK," and went about his business. He's never once said he wished we would leave now, or asked how soon we will be leaving. He is very  patient.

The flip-side of that virtue is that, in dealing with him, like in dealing with his time-impaired papa, one has to be very patient or very persistent. Like when you want Benjamin to finish eating a meal in under 45 minutes.

Nonetheless, even his  patience has limits. The most recent  time we played Candy Land, he got sent way back on the track after an already long game. After that delay, he  decided to read the "magic rule" allowing us to finish the game sooner. (After he won, though, he wanted me keep going until I too got to Candy Castle.)

We are pretty sure we're spoiled with him on patience. While he does have some other traits that can be difficult, in the scope of kid challenges, we'll take 'em any day. Once number two joins the family, like with any new addition, we'll probably see just how spoiled we are.

As to any quality with a child you don't yet know, it's impossible to predict. I'm human, so I can't help but speculate. Will being adopted influence her patience or other long-standing character traits? Surely it will. But how? If she has spent her infancy in an orphanage, sadly, she may be well used to waiting. By contrast, some orphans from foster homes are rightly showered with attention and care. Further, we've heard stories of orphanage-raised babies who, once they get a feel for their lifelong mom and dad, don't want to let go of them.

We will judge none of it but just give her what she needs. I've met and heard so many stories of biological siblings who are almost polar opposites, I think the most shocking thing would be if she were just like Benjamin. We're not counting on anything except a child that we will love no matter what.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meet Bob

This morning my son was printing his name. Instead of a 'B' he wrote a 'D'. When I suggested he make the line longer and add another "hump" to turn it into a 'B', he thought of an easier route.

"No, I'm just going to change my name," he told me.

He did not, however, choose a 'D' name. "I'm just going to call myself 'Bob' now." He chuckled, "I named myself after my Uncle Bob."

This story reminds me how over a year ago he named lots of his toy characters, bears, figures, his hobby horse, etc., all "Max." One day we were out somewhere; someone new we'd met asked him his name. Without warning he grinned mischievously and told her it was "Max."

Later that day he was back to "Benjamin," which he's been since . . . until today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stuck on a Gooey Gum Drop

My son and I were playing Candy Land this morning. Now who doesn't like a good competition or game of chance for a diversion once in a while?

I didn't check the clock when we started, but I knew  it had been well over an hour. And we were almost no closer to someone winning than we had been 45 minutes earlier.

Somewhere, on the "Other Side," some guy named Milton or Bradley or Hasbro was laughing his head off every time I got sent all the way back to that gol' darn "Peppermint Stick Forest."

I couldn't take it any more. We had to do something else, so I used a variation of a trick I heard Grandma perform the other day. She "found" some "magic passes" in the refrigerator that gave her and Benjamin free passage to the "Candy Castle."

I  "found" a "magic rule" in there. It was a proclamation by "King Kandy": " … anyone who shall draw a purple card shall skip all the purple squares and proceed to the very last and shall have the privilege of entering Candy Castle!!!"

Well, you know  what happened. Draw. No purple. Draw. No purple. Draw. No purple. Draw. No purple. Draw. No purple. Draw. No purple . . . .

I had to rig it. When he was looking away — Benjamin, not King Kandy; even the King was getting bored — I slid in a purple card ripe for one of his upcoming turns.

Hurrayyyyyyy! Benjamin is victorious!! And we all win a chance to do something else.

Myself, I'm really looking forward to doing the dishes.

Two Riveting Hours of Television

My wife said to me the other night that she had seen a promotion saying David Blaine was going to attempt to hold his breath under water for 9 minutes. "Then it said," she went on, "'tune in Monday for the 2-hour special event.' That should be more like a 9-minute special event, shouldn't it?"


Personally, I would give them 5 minutes for intro', 9 minutes for the stunt, 5 minutes for the EMT's to determine a winner, and 5 minutes for post-game analysis. A few commercials. 30 minutes: bam! Done!

I didn't watch it. Actually, my only motivation to watch it would have been to see how they managed to pad the thing out that long.

How did  they fill 2 hours? (Oh, and I suppose I should ask, need I send a sympathy card to the Blaine family?)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Card-Carrying Breastfeeders"

I read on BloggingBaby about a new Kansas breastfeeding educational initiative. Nursing proponents are making cards available to breastfeeding moms. Women can then hand out the cards if harassed for breastfeeding in public. The card states that it is a woman's right and has numbers to call about the law or nursing.

See Kansas now has card-carrying breastfeeders.

As I commented on that post:

Good for Kansas!!!!!

In a park once, a teenage or young-adult daycare teacher with her group of kids once warned a breastfeeding friend of mine, "Um, I don't think you'll be able to do that here, we're bringing a bunch of kids over here." Indeed! My friend, of course, told her she had to,  had every right  to, and would continue feeding her baby right where she was. (Good for her!) I thought, "What a good thing for those kids to see — how a mom does and should feed a baby, and that it is nothing to be ashamed of!"

The young daycare teacher was surely just ignorant, but probably didn't believe my friend. What a great educational opportunity a card like the Kansas one would have been!

We Should Be at Disney World: A Close Call

We are supposed to be at Disney World right now. We postponed our first substantial vacation in many years, and thank God we did.

It all started last Saturday afternoon when Benjamin told us in a tired voice, "I have a terrible  headache." Now, this could have meant a lot of things (as my discussion of kid symptoms explores). It turned out to mean 'I'm going to be miserable for three days and puke a lot.' The poor little guy!! Fortunately, we were at home when learned. Less fortunately, we were scheduled to leave for DisneyWorld in three days.

To Convalesce At 38,000 Feet Or Not To ...
We quickly looked into what costly consequences we might be up against if we rebooked for a later date. Meanwhile, Benjamin got pretty  much better, and we considered going. We took into our minds, however, enough of his Dr. Jeckyll-Mr. Hyde convalescing behavior. We thought about it and imagined having Ben's first plane ride begin with us carrying him on board, terrified, balling and saying, "I won't go! I won't go! I do  want to go! I do  want to go! I won't go! I won't go!" Nausea or not, we would have had to use the complimentary sanitary bags located on the back of the seat in front of us before the jet even began to move.

That experience would have forged lovely memories and associations to prepare Benjamin for his third flight — probably later this year — when he will be cooped up on the plane with us for a relaxing 18-hour jaunt to China.

Further, our clean-up-puke time had severely restricted our get-enough-rest-so-you-enjoy-the-trip time and our neatly-packing-suitcases time. Had we gone, we would have had to run out the door with a house in shambles to return to.

Though it doesn't sound like a good thing, my wife luckily began to feel queasy just when we had  to make a decision. That clinched it.

Thankfully, the cost of delaying the trip was quite reasonable, all things considered. We'll be going a little later in May.

Providential Decision Affirmed: The Crud Hits Me Mid-Week
Incidentally, the virus hit me mid-week, fast but hard. Benjamin was not  kidding when he said "terrible headache." Man alive !!! (I've never had  a dagger stuck through my head, but I feel like I now know what it feels like.) I'm so glad I wasn't paying $100's/day in 88-degree Florida to lie in a hotel bed, moaning, aching, with a 103-degree fever, praying I wouldn't vomit, not having the energy to convince my wife that she must take Benjamin to the park herself and try to get him to go on rides he's afraid of because he's tired and moody, only to hear later how he refused; to force my wife to alternately listen to my feverish babbling and Ben's crying about how he really did  want to go on the Dumbo ride now. I was quite able to moan and enjoy my delirium in my own bedroom much more affordably, thank you very much.

I obviously have no idea what our vacation will hold. Nonetheless, I just know  it will be better than the one that almost was.

New Old Posts

So I was writing the other day about Benjamin and me tagging along on my wife's business trip to a conference.

I have now posted the entry about the benefits of not acting like "the help" (or those around us in different jobs in general) is invisible: "All From a 'xiang jiao' [banana]" (I backdated it.)

Even though we often end up plopped down amidst interstate exits and mini-mall sprawl, I always enjoy these trips. I tried to explain why in this entry—

"Business Trips: In which Benjamin Meets an Orange Moose and is Awarded His Very Own Shoehorn"

—that I wrote for DadBloggers.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"I'm Sick": Choosing Wrong

As the other day's sudden onset of Pool-Time Deficiency Syndrome demonstrated, my son's "symptoms" can indicate unmet needs wants. Once in a while they can mean he's bored or doesn't like what we were doing.

Sometimes, several of a child's physical complaints in row are on the safe side of the reality-fantasy divide (which divide toddlers and preschoolers find virtually undetectable). Then, just when you think it's safe to assume the next symptom is more mind than body, the following — an old incident that recent events recalled — happens.

I was with Benjamin at a café, and he started saying his stomach hurt. Given his then-recent history, his mood, and other factors, I was fairly certain he just wanted to go home. With that certainty, I chose to finish my conversation with a friend before leaving. I chose wrong.

There is a high price to be paid for making a wrong judgment on this front. That day I learned that this price can be as high as a father and son, stained (shirt and pants) with vomit (out in public where people are eating) and with no clothes to change into.

The upside of this tale is that most of the consequences fell (literally) on me that day, not on the heart (or the person) of Mrs. OccupationDad. Therefore, there were was no marital peace lost.

And the moral of the story: "The boy who cried 'wolf!' he may be, but if he has a full stomach, take heed!