Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spelling Bee Blues


Our oldest was recently selected to compete in her school's spelling bee. She barely studied for the "qualifying" competition, just casually reading the words every so often. We pushed her to study a little harder, so she opted to make flash cards. And the next day we received pictures of her proudly wearing her medal around her neck at school.

Fast forward a month later (and after their holiday break) she barely studied. We even temporarily lost the sheet with the words she needed to know. The whole night before the spelling bee she kept telling us that she didn't care if she didn't win. Mostly because she was competing with 2nd and 3rd graders.

We tried to build her confidence up but not too much jus kt so she could bring in a level of competitiveness. But her attitude just seemed like she was just happy to be there with her best friend.

Every kid was dressed up in their Sunday's finest and the Monster comes rolling in wearing jeans and a Minecraft tshirt. And she didn't care one bit. The spelling bee moved quickly before the degree of difficulty picked. The Monster would casually walk up to the microphone with a smirk on her face. She held her hands behind her back and swayed back and forth, poorly concealing her nervousness.

I've only competed in the spelling bee so I never got to experience the crowd. There is a thousand times more anxiety in the crowd then with the competitors. I watched as parents mouthed the spelling of the words as their children stood up at the microphone. And with every misspelled word, came a flood of tears. There was even an official review (backed up by camera phone footage) of a child spelling their word correctly.

The Monster was eliminated on the word 'hitched' - which is a really easy word. She just didn't hear the announcer clearly - it's my fault for not going over her options. She walked off stage with a smile on her face but she was visibly upset. Despite all her pleas that she didn't think she would win and already accepting her fate - she was disappointed because she was eliminated on a word she knew how to spell but didn't know her rules.She spent the rest of the competition exclaiming at all the words she knew how to spell.

She whispered to her mother, "next year, I need to study more." I am glad she is already preparing herself. We ended up getting a celebratory dinner at her favorite restaurant - I know, we shouldn't reward for failure but she was a good sport. Some kids had to be carried out off the stage because they were so upset they can't spell.

Here's to next year and studying just a little bit more.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Little Patience Goes A Long Way

I guess it's been awhile.


My entire life as a father has consisted of two philosophies: keep my children safe and teach them everything I can. I've done a fairly good job of keeping them safe; minor exception of my youngest being attacked by a swarm of hornets or when she fell off the couch and busted her head on the fireplace - which the panicked phone call to the Wifey consisted of  "Blood. So much blood," followed by silence.


The teaching part I am still learning. There are a lot of things that I have to defer to the internet and the powers of YouTube. There are also a lot of things that I defer to their mother. Mostly because she is better at explaining things and she exudes more patience.


In my 6 years of being a dad, being patient is something I always tell my daughters to do. They need things done immediately or they want to do something at this very moment and I will always respond with a sharp "just wait!" But patience is something that instead of teaching my daughters, I should ultimately learn from them.


I should learn from my oldest daughter as she takes her time reading each and every word, ingraining the spelling into her brain. I should watch her eyes and finger trace the outline of each letter, memorizing which way the belly sticks out on the letter b or d. I need to appreciate the sloth-like reaction when I tell my youngest she needs to get out of bed as she clings onto the sheets a little tighter.


I need to take a step back and appreciate everything - I am much too quick to take away their screen time or a treat because I am not instantly gratified. Maybe it's the old Asian in me where I just have such high expectations for them to act normally and appropriately. I fail to recognize that they are acting normally and appropriately: they are just being kids. Kids scream and yell and do crazy things and speak in a weird accent. I guess I haven't realized that in the thick of things, they both just want to do right by me; it just takes them a little longer than I want.


I could learn some patience from my children. It's something I need to exercise with my wife. I am so quick to get angry or be annoyed rather than take the time to appreciate the little things that she has done for myself and for our family. She just wants to do right by me and I just need the patience to appreciate everything.


This 2017 is about taking a step back and realizing it's okay to be a little late. It's ok to be a kid and it's always okay to love a little longer.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Duck Duck Goose and 2015

This past year didn't start off the way we wanted. Asian tradition says that if you don't spend any money on the first day of the new year, you will be very prosperous for the upcoming year.

Well we started off the year by fixing our roof, trimming our trees, and getting a new lawnmower.

But, looking back this year has been the best yet so far. We went to DisneyWorld - although it had it's challenges with the Monster, it was a memorable experience. We also finally have a kid free bed. The girls are in their own room, sleeping through the night, although Pillow is waking up at 5AM to play every day. But the girls are in bed by 8pm every night, which is insane considering the Monster would go to bed whenever she wanted.

School for the Monster has also helped her out in so many ways. The bullying is no longer an issue and I always smile when I see her walk to the car with her friends and they hug each other goodbye, We no longer need to convince her to play with her cousins - as soon as they see each other, we won't see them again until we're ready to leave. She even made friends with some random girl at the park. The two of them played duck duck goose but that quickly ended when they realized the chances of being the goose were 100%.

The Monster has been an amazing sister - willingly (sometimes) to help her sister out, teach her new things, good and bad. Even though the jealousy is starting to come up, she does a great job. Pillow will eat anything and the only time she gets upset is when she's hungry. She loves dancing and climbing and falling off the couch.

This upcoming year we plan on taking a real vacation of just me and the Wifey to Mexico. It'll be the longest we're away from our kids but it would be a much needed vacation.

2016 is going to have a lot new experiences for us and I just hope it's just as 2015.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Practically Clones

When I go through old photos, I can't help but notice how the girls are exact replicas of each other. It's deja vu when I look at Pillow and see her being mischievous  and flash her toothy smile. But besides their looks, they truly are two incredibly different souls.

Since the beginning, the Monster has always slept with her hands acting as her pillow. It's one of the cutest things ever. She still does it. She puts her palms together as if she's praying and then lies her face on her little hands and goes to sleep. Pillow is more of an arm crosser or she'll interlock her fingers. She's also really big on cuddling and has taken a liking to her Daisy doll.


Pillow is also more affectionate. She'll hug you if you're not feeling well and always provides a kiss before she goes to bed. The Monster, not so much.  The Monster keeps it real. You're not feeling well? Take some medicine. Your back hurts? Lie down. Everyone is being too loud and crazy? Ignore it.


But Pillow has zero patience. And she's a screamer about it. The Monster would take things as they come and just chill. If Pillow wants something, she'll scream her head off. All the way home. Even if it's a 45 minute car ride.

The Monster is also a fantastic sleeper. So fantastic that I could literally jump on the bed and she wouldn't budge. Pillow, on the other hand, will sit straight up if I even think about getting up. It's like that mattress commercial where they drop the bowling ball next to the wine, except the exact opposite.

All in all I am really enjoying watching the doppelgangers grow up.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Heartbreak and Everlasting Guilt

The Monster started school a couple of weeks ago and it's been a fairly tough transition...for me. By now, you've heard about her terrible, no good, good for nothing first day of school. Luckily, children are resilient and she wanted to go back to school.


Unfortunately, there seems to be another issue that the Wifey and I figured the Monster would eventually encounter; we just didn't think it would happen in kindergarten: the bully.

Now, we don't know if the Monster is being her typical, dramatic self but it is disconcerting to know that there is some child who was raised to believe that it is okay to say mean things. This bully, who will be simply called, "V", refuses to let her play with certain people. V has also told her that she isn't pretty. I know there are two sides of every story but I don't think it's in the Monster's nature to provoke anyone to tell her she isn't pretty or bar her from any friendships. V has even gotten the Monster in trouble with a teacher by claiming she was the one that pushed a student. V is a manipulative little B. The overprotective father in me just wants to see this V character and then dropkick her in the head.


You damn well better believe that V's parents will be getting the stink-eye if I ever I see them. The Wifey has done a really good job of coaching the Monster on what to do. Basically, she just ignores her. She doesn't give into V's bullying and continues on with her life. And ever since the Monster has learned to do that, we're hearing less and less about V.

But as a parent it's hard to hear the struggles that she goes through with her new school. She comes from a daycare where "Daycare Nana" would prepare a separate lunch than the other kids because the Monster wanted to eat something else. She is spoiled. But she is one of the sweetest girls I've ever met, if she can get past her timidity and shyness.

She told me that one time she went to recess and she couldn't find her friends, so she just went up and down the slide by herself until recess was finished.

In the mornings, I drop her off at school and have to watch her little body trudge to the door, with a backpack that's a little too big, and her hair in her mouth, her telltale sign that she is scared.


We've had to change our schedules around because the Monster despises her after school daycare at the local YMCA. We don't think anything bad has happened or she is being bullied; she seems to have made a lot of friends, she just doesn't like being there. When we asked her why she doesn't like the Y, she simply responded, "because I miss my sister."

Heart.break.

Luckily, the Monster still wants to go to school. She's still excited to go everyday. I know things will get better and she won't even remember any of these events but for me and the Wifey, we just have to hope that Pillow fares better.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

School is Around the Corner

It just a few short weeks the Monster will be starting kindergarten. We opted not to go with public schooling, even though the Wifey and I are by-products of the public institution, but we went with a charter school. We did our research and just felt the Monster would get the best experience and education.


The Charter school is one that she will have to go through until she graduates - I worry that she won't get the social exposure that she might have gotten in a public school setting. There won't be the Friday night football games or the cheerleaders. Or the over the top homecoming dances and cheerleaders. Or cheerleaders. The Wifey says they still have sports but what's the fun in watching a team beat up on Sunnyvale Home School or Prime Prep (RIP). Luckily the Monster won't know any difference.


I remember when I started kindergarten and my mom just walked me to my desk in Mrs. Taylor's class (that bitch) and that was it. No emotional good byes or my mom peering through the window as she makes sure I am okay. I just sat down and that was it. I just remember my brother telling me if I don't know how to spell my name, then the teachers won't know who I am and I will be able to come home because they wouldn't know who I belonged to.


I can already see the Wifey crying the night before and the morning of and crying when she picks her up. The Monster is excited for school or I should say she's excited about the idea of school. She has already mentioned how she can't watch her YouTube videos at night because she's going to be busy doing homework. She'll soon realize that she can't get up and go to the bathroom whenever she wants or raid the pantry when she's hungry or sleep until 10AM. It's going to be an adjustment for her. But just like everything she's done so far, she'll probably surprise us and be the most well-behaved kid ever.


It'll be the first time that Pillow is separated from her sister. Although Pillow is more inclined just to annoy the hell out of Monster, she follows her everywhere. And steals her food and takes her iPad. And Monster takes it all in stride. She really is the best big sister.


So in just a few short weeks I'll be learning how to do basic math so I can help the Monster with her homework.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Year Goes By

Dear Pillow:




It's been a year since you made your rather quick debut. I was worried  you were going to screw up our routine but you've done a good job of fitting in.




You already have the ability to piss off your sister by kicking her with your chunky legs or taking her food when she isn't looking but you'll realize that you have one of the best sisters ever. The other day y'all were playing in her room and she came out to the living room to look for electrical outlet plugs because you kept on sticking your fingers in one. It was a little scary that she left you unattended in her room all by yourself while she looked for those plugs but at least she is looking at for you.




Food seems to be your favorite thing as you'll double fist snacks while you have your mom's boob in your mouth. You throw a fit if you don't have your milk as soon as you wake up but as soon as you're full, all is well with the world.




This past year has shown how resilient you are - the sickness every other weekend is a gentle reminder to us on how fragile you can be. You've already been to the emergency room and you've already had an IV put in your arm. I've never had an IV before.


You're not a fan of staying asleep, which kinda wears everybody down. But at least you're a happy, cute baby. It definitely helps that you aren't a grouchy kid.




It may seem like you're an afterthought sometimes; we finally purchased your first toy a couple days ago. But you seem content with playing with anything you can find around the house. Who knows what your personality will be like when you finally begin to talk.


Happy 1st birthday you little stinkpot.