It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas doesn't apply this year. It feels nothing like Christmas but more like spring with all of the humidity and no sun. It's so yuck. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, Christmas came and went way too fast. Does it ever slow down anymore? Probably not until all of the kids are grown up. Oh well, it's all worth it to see their faces light up when they open up their presents. During the gift exchange, I caught Andrew saying on multiple occasions, "This is totally epic!"
Every year we have the kids write their Christmas list (so us parents have a clue on what they really want). And every year, they question the existence of Santa Claus. And lately their belief of all things fake (Santa, Elf on the Shelf, the tooth fairy) is quickly fading, especially for Andrew. If there is a discrepancy of any kind, he'll question it (he got that trait from me). And there have been times when he's called us out on them.
Thanksgiving means eating to the point your pants no longer fit... and then going for seconds. It means watching football all day long as you recover from your overindulgence. It means watching the Cowboys lose once again in what seems to be an annual tradition. It means spending time with your family. It means shopping online for things you don't need during the (why is it still called) Black Friday sales. But what it really means is that you should be thankful you can do any of this at all.
Have you ever heard of the term helicopter parenting? According to dictionary.com, it is a style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother or father discourages a child's independence by being too involved in the child's life. It seems more prevalent in this generation of parents and it needs to stop.
What if I told you the Astros had a 2-1 lead in a best of 5 series and are up by 4 scores at the start of the 8th inning (6-2). They're only 6 outs away from advancing to the American League Championship Series (ALCS). The bats of the Astros have been red hot and the Royals can't seem to generate any offense. It's a done deal right? Or so I thought...
With the arrival of baby Elliot, I ended up getting 4 weeks of paternity leave. Awesome, right? I'll help out here and there with the kids but otherwise thought this would be a mini-vacation. All the boys will be at school and Lynn and I can double team a tiny human. During the day, the adults would actually outnumber the kid(s). But to my surprise, it wasn't the paradise that I had hoped.
Our first (and last) daughter has arrived! Elliot's delivery seemed like the easiest delivery, well from my perspective. We were at the hospital at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, popped a baby out at 3:13 p.m. and were going home on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. In and out. Lynn is THE expert at delivering a baby.
Baby #4 is coming sooner than later and now comes the fun part, naming this baby girl. The good thing is that it's much easier to come up with names for girls than it is for boys. But that can also be a bad thing. Which one do we choose? There were plenty of good names out there but few have that pizazz. That something that sets it apart. And as I've previously mentioned, the names should also follow a set of rules. But rules are meant to be broken.
Summer break is officially over and last week was the start of the new school year. What makes it special this year is that all three boys will be going to the same school together. Tyson starts Pre-K and joins Jacob (4th grade) and Andrew (2nd grade). Of all the kids, Tyson hates school the most. He will always ask, "Do I have school tomorrow?" And when we tell him yes, he will reply "I don't wanna go to school" or "I don't like school" and he'll get really sad and/or angry. It happens on a daily basis.
That's the question we've been asked frequently and not until recently, we didn't know either. Being that this is our last baby (no lie), why not make it a surprise? We'll find out on the day of delivery. Surprise! But the more that I thought about, the more I needed to know. What if I react negatively when the baby is born? "Ugh! Another boy??" What should we do with all the baby boy clothes? Keep it or donate it? What are we going to name this baby? I don't want to waste any more time thinking of both boy and girl names. I need time to prepare for baby #4.
After a relatively successful beach trip last summer to Alabama, it was time to "step it up". On this trip, we went somewhere nicer and further (Destin) and stayed longer (5 nights). And this time around, my in-laws came along for the ride. Those days went by way too fast and before you knew it, it was already time to go home. I'm going to miss the white sugary sand and the clear emerald water. I'm going to miss lounging around the beach house. I'm going to miss doing absolutely nothing.
I get these random urges from time to time, whether it's shopping, snowboarding or whatever. It's that itch that won't go away until you scratch it. And lately, I had an urge to go biking. So much so that I'm willing to bike in this God awful heat. But I'm not that crazy so with my friend Thu, we waited until sunset before setting off on Friday night.
That's the slogan for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. And after watching it this past weekend, I would have to respectfully disagree. The last (and only) time I've went to the circus was when it was still held at The Summit. I had fond memories of that venue and of the event but that was decades ago so I wanted to relive that experience with my own kids.
Going on a car ride will put the boys to sleep. If we go anywhere, at anytime, there's bound to be someone sleeping. The duration of the ride doesn't really matter. Is this a kids thing? Or is it only with the boys? This can get annoying and troublesome when they arrive at a place feeling sleepy, groggy and/or grumpy. This makes for some unhappy parents. It's so ridiculous. I just had to document this phenomenon.
If you had asked me ten years ago if I wanted to do a triathlon, the answer would have been an emphatic, "Hell no." Back then I was too busy eating anything and everything, drinking recklessly and not exercising. But eventually I found the errors of my way and wanted to live a healthier lifestyle so I modified my diet and started to incorporate exercise. In the beginning, my goal was to simply run a mile without stopping. After years of persistent exercise and always looking to improve myself, my latest goal was to do a triathlon. And that happened this past weekend.
The extended July 4th weekend (Fri-Mon) was really random, but fun. It started like any other day off, with the kids playing around the house and the parents doing house work. Then all of a sudden, we decided to have an impromptu board game tournament among the boys (myself included). Of each game played, 3 points went to first, 2 points to second, 1 point to third and last place got nothing. And guess who won the whole thing. It was Andrew, the master of board games.
This weekend I finally cashed in on the muscle ups bet with my cousin Jon. The bet was for Killen's steakhouse (awesome) but I decided that I'd rather have Killen's BBQ instead (also awesome in their own way). Recently they got recognized as one of the best BBQ places in the country. Good for Killen's but bad for us. Now it's going to get even more crowded. Damn tourists! :(
I finally broke the 3 year streak of doing brunch at Empire Cafe for Father's Day. Good coffee alone isn't enough to get past the mediocre food they serve so I had to eat somewhere else. This year, we went for brunch at Dish Society. We've been there a few times before (which has always been good) but keeping with the theme of the previous Father's Days, they served mediocre food that day. [cue sad trombone sound]
Sometimes I get an itch to go somewhere. Anywhere. It's just nice to get away once in a while. And last Friday I had the day off so we decided to spend the long weekend in Austin. There was no agenda really... besides to eat, shop and eat some more. And I got the photography bug so I packed up my SLR camera, attached a 40 mm prime lens, and went nuts.
What was supposed to be a family trip to The Museum of Fine Arts turned into one on one time with Jacob since the other two boys got sick over the weekend. So instead of canceling, this was a perfect time for me to spend quality time with him alone. A rarity.
School is finally out and this was a good academic year for all. Andrew made straight A's on every nine-week period and finished with an average grade no lower than a 96. I'm actually surprised since I know how careless he is when reading/solving problems. Jacob did equally well. He also made straight A's and finished with an average grade no lower than a 97. Wow. And he also dominated the STAAR test, the state's academic standardized test. On mathematics, he got 45 out of 46 questions correct. Typical Asian. I'm quite proud of my two boys (I just had to brag).
Last weekend was the (merciful) end of the soccer season. This season went two weeks longer than scheduled since there were multiple games rescheduled due to the rain. I'm so done with these thunderstorms. Send some of this rain to California! But when the sun comes out, so does the blazin' heat and humidity and this last game was especially hot. I'm just glad it's all over.
Our Memorial Day weekend began on Friday since the kids didn't have school and I took the day off. What was already an extended weekend became even longer after the torrential rain and flooding on Tuesday (no work for me). So the normally 3 day holiday weekend became an extended 5 day weekend, albeit we couldn't do anything on that flood day. But overall the weekend was fun and relaxing. We did manage to get some swimming in. Steaks were grilled. Watched a couple of Rockets playoff games. Did a lot of shopping (sales!). And of course, we went out to eat a lot and my pseudo-diet was nonexistent.
On a random Wednesday night, we went to see the Astros play the defending World Series champion, the San Francisco Giants. It's been three years since we last went to a baseball game so I was pretty stoked to go to a game this year. Are people still saying "stoked"? And the Astros are pretty good this year (currently first place in the AL West). Let's get on the bandwagon!
This was a busy and fun weekend. On Saturday we were out literally all day. It began with the boys soccer games, which started at 9 am. After their games finished (noon), we went out to eat cafeteria food a.k.a. Luby's (kids eat free all day Saturday!). Not counting recently, I think the last I went to Luby's was when Jacob was still a baby (roughly eight years ago) but this is the second week in a row that we've been. Weird cafeteria food craving, I guess.
I've been a little busy and feeling extremely lazy so here are some random cell phone pictures from the past month. And since cell phone pictures all look like crap, I used a bunch of filters and effects to make them less crappy. Enjoy.
Last weekend we took the first swim of the new year. The two older boys, I think, can officially swim. They're not strong swimmers, i.e. I wouldn't totally trust them in the deep end, but I feel comfortable letting them play in the pool with little supervision. And that's a major step considering kids around water scare the crap out of me.
A couple weeks ago we played Monopoly for the first time. By the official rules. Did you know you don't get any money for landing on Free Parking? And if you roll more than three consecutive doubles, you go to jail. Oh, and if someone lands on a property and they don't want to buy it, then there's an auction for that property... and the person who didn't want to initially buy it can be in the auction. Yeah, the real rules. I don't remember ever playing like this so it's like a brand new game for all of us.
This is a picture of Andrew crying for the second time that morning. The first time was my fault. During his soccer game, Andrew looked spaced out. Balls would easily get past him. The opponents would out hussle him. He was constantly looking around. Very distracted. Then I yelled, "Andrew! Come on! Wake up!". And when he was subbed out, that's when he broke down and cried. "I don't want to play soccer anymore! I'm not good enough! Papa will yell at me!" Damn. I felt like total shit. #1 asshole dad right here. But I know he could play better. Just that day, he was moving half speed. Slow motion.
Yesterday we went to our first Houston Dynamo game (free tickets thanks to the donut walk). Being free, we got seats in the "nosebleed section" (as expected) but surprisingly it wasn't bad at all. Any seat in this stadium is a good seat. The weather was really nice with temps in the cool 60's. It was a perfect day. It would have been better had the Dynamo won the game but it ended in a tie. Boooooo!
During Spring Break, we spent one day camping overnight at Brazos Bend State Park. It was a trial run to see if camping was doable with the whole family. I called this faux-camping because we had an electrical outlet and water nearby. But if all goes well, I would like to visit and camp at other state parks throughout Texas.
A couple weeks ago Jacob had a robotics tournament at his school, which was composed of third, fourth and fifth graders from different schools around the area. And from talking with the teacher that organized the tournament, this was the first year they allowed third graders in the competition. That makes sense, may as well get them started early. There were 18 teams competing and the top four teams would move on to the final rounds.
On Sunday morning was the inaugural Shipley Do-Nuts' Dash which was a fun run that benefited Kids' Meals, a non-profit organization providing and delivering meals to pre-school kids living in poverty. That's a great cause. And the race participants would get Shipley's donuts (my favorite), beer from 8th Wonder (which has the Vietnamese coffee porter, another favorite) and Houston Dynamo tickets. It was a no brainer, we're in.
Happy new year! I'm not actually sure which animal it is this year (it might even be a ram) but for sure it's a four legged hoofed animal. And yes, it's official, I have no desire to gamble. Well, I take that back. I still love to make other bets, those that will cost you your pride and dignity. My bets will always involve some sort of embarrassment. But playing regular games for money, I've lost interest. So who wants to make a bet with me?
Valentine's Day landed on Saturday so I took my love out for brunch because going out for dinner on that day is for suckers (or for people who made reservations weeks in advance, i.e. not me). We went to Weights + Measures, a new restaurant/bake shop/bar in Midtown. Eventually I'll post something about our visit at The Forgetful Eater but to sum it up, it was good. Donuts and chicken is the new chicken and waffles.