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."


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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Eight Years and Counting

Eight years ago on my wedding night, one of my friends came up to me towards the end of the reception and matter-of-factly stated, "I don't think you'll make it past three years but I sure had fun tonight."

And eight years after the Wifey and I both said 'I do', here we are, still going strong. So eat shit Zack. I know it was probably all the alcohol talking so I wasn't too terribly offended by the statement but in retrospect, I am surprised the Wifey hasn't left me.

Ask anybody who knows me and I can bet they will say three things: 1) I am extremely witty. So witty in fact that if wit were a superpower, I'd possess it. 2) I am extremely sarcastic. I think that has to do with my wit, which is both a blessing and a curse. 3) lastly, I am an asshole. I don't always mean to be, it's a combination of my wit and sarcasm and the fact that I have about 1% capacity for grace.

So for everyone who knows the Wifey, they know she's none of the above, although she has gotten more witty over the years. She's patient, compassionate, loving, and sensitive. She's learn to predict my mood swings, even though I will deny it, and she has an uncanny ability to think about my perspective before she makes any decisions. She knows I hate crowds. She knows I hate people. And she'll plan accordingly. I know, it's pretty selfish of me and selfless of her that she has to do those things and that's why I am surprised she hasn't packed her things and left.

But throughout all these years, if there is one thing I can be 100% certain about, it's the fact that the Wifey will love me no matter what. She has complemented me in every way imaginable and I really can't articulate how grateful and truly blessed I am.

I guess I can say it's actually me who is the luckiest.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Sick Baby

There are very few things that actually make me heartbroken - it just happens that one of those things is seeing your infant child completely helpless to illness. This past Easter weekend, starting around Thursday, the Pillow woke up with a slight fever. We've been very fortunate that both kids have been relatively healthy but when something does go wrong, it's pretty serious.

We figured the high fever was only temporary and we had a checkup with the doctor that day. The doc just said it was probably a virus that was floating around since she had no symptoms other than the fever. Come Friday morning and there wasn't any progress. Her fever was still high (104ish) but this time she wasn't as active. She just wanted to cuddle and sleep. So back to the doctor. And the doctor stood firm that it was a virus but she also hinted it could be bacterial infection. If the fever hadn't gone down by Monday, to come in and get tests done for an infection.

So we waited. Still no progress. Still the same the 104 degree temperature. The Pillow has really enjoyed Bomb Pops (which happens to be the only thing I want when I am sick) but she didn't have any interest for it. It was just cuddles and sleep. And then finally by Easter Sunday, the Wifey couldn't take it anymore so we went to an after-hours pediatrician. Pillow was so dehydrated they couldn't get any urine to test. The doctor told us we should visit the ER. And off we went. Easter Sunday and we were stuck in the isolation suite while people were feasting on my best batch of mashed potatoes I've ever made for Easter dinner.

After blood tests and IV and hours of waiting, Pillow was prescribed some antibiotics. Not much information was given. The IV really brought some liveliness back to Pillow and for a brief twenty minutes she seemed almost normal with her talking and overall curiosity.

Eventually the fever would go down and we found out that Pillow had E.Coli in her system. But for almost a full week Pillow just wasn't herself.

We have a healthier and happy Pillow and her big sister was awesome throughout the whole thing. She knew we couldn't pay as much attention to her and she didn't have any major breakdowns from it. I managed to even sneak a visit to the park. Maybe she made a wish for her sister to get better.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Five Years Later

Dear Monster:

Five years ago today you were the most anticipated event amongst all of your parents' friends and family. You see, out of our closest friends, you were going to be the first kid. And combine that with the fact that your mom is really pretty and I was just an overall cute baby, you were definitely going to be the talk of the town. And you were. In fact, you still are.

You don't how many times my friends will tell me how crazy or weird or cute you are. Maybe we've overexposed you on the internet. Maybe we've let everyone see that your life isn't just about perfectly posed moments but the times you do freak out at Target. Or the grocery store. Or the mall. Or in public. Or at home. I would like to say we're building up your humility when we tell you "everyone is looking at you" in hopes that would calm you down. But in these past five years, we've realized you just don't give an F.

In these past five years you have shown us that you're the most intelligent, caring, and aware kid we've ever met. You've also shown us you're the meanest, tortuous, and bitchiest kid we've ever met. You can be read a book once and remember the exact flow of the story. You can tell us where you left he most random ass object, even if the last time you touched it was 4 days ago. You're always quick to yell at us when we leave our shoes on in the house (because we got new carpet installed, not because I'm Asian) and you never hesitate to comfort your crying sister, even if you were the reason she is crying in the first place.

You are quick to mimic your mother or make a weird voice and say "oooh, look I'm Asian" like it's some sort of insult. Joke is on you, you're half Asian. You can tell when your mother is getting angry and with perfect comedic timing start yelling "HULK SMASH". I laugh every time I think about it because it's such an accurate portrayal but then I get really sad because you get that wit from me and it's only going to be so long before my aging mind can't keep up with my smart ass spawn.

Five years old still should mean you're our baby. I still carry you when your legs are tired, I still lug you around when you've fallen asleep on the couch, and I still squeeze your tooth paste onto your tooth brush. But at five years old, everyday you're just going to get much older than you were the day before. Historically your grandmother would spend your birthday with you but that didn't happen this year. So I took it off and showered you with events like jumping at the indoor trampoline park or going to see Cinderella and letting you eat all the popcorn and M&Ms your little belly could handle. But instead you opted to get a haircut, a pretty dress, and spend your birthday with your friends at daycare.

And just like five years ago today, I'm sitting around just watching the clock until I get hang out with you.

Happy 5th birthday Monster.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Perils of the Stomach Bug

The family has been hit with a stomach bug. At first I thought it was just food poisoning as the Wifey made other dinner plans so I was left to scavenge the freezer. The kiddos' favorite meal happens to be plain boiled pasta and since I like taste I opted for the questionable frozen Chicken Poppers from Trader Joes. A few hours later I was having repeat visits to Mr. Toilet and eventually dehydration set in and I was left to lie in bed cramping and in misery. At one point in the night I got up to get my work laptop and I opened the bedroom door and saw that my laptop was on the other side of the room. But I was so exhausted it looked like it was a mile away, like it was a never-ending hallway from Alice in Wonderland. I gave up before even leaving the room and went back to bed.

And now two days later we have the Monster barfing up a storm in the car and Pillow throwing up on everyone and the last man still standing is the Wifey. I think it's just a natural mom-thing to be immune to everything and be the caretaker. As I lied in bed paralyzed from the shitz, I could hear her still taking care of both kids as she was running on about an hour of sleep for the whole week. The only energy I could muster was a 'thank you'. She had every opportunity to say "F IT' and go sleep in the guest room but she has a heart and compassion for three sick people.

Hopefully this bug is over with soon, the Monster is having an early 5th birthday party. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Rise of the Hashtags

The Monster always seems to find a way to surprise us everyday. The most recent thing she has been doing is saying "hashtag" before whatever action she's about to do. It's like I am witnessing a human twitter account. The Monster just uses hashtag when she's talking to her sister. As I was sitting on the couch, I could over hear her saying, "hashtag, I'm going to pee on you." Or "hashtag, I am going to spank you" or "hashtag, eat you vegetables." The social media nerd in me can just see the # appear in front of me.

And that was the moment that I am losing my little monster and she's actually growing up and doing growing up (albeit annoying) things. #saddaddy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Texan Lost in King Lombardi's Court

Cool sign you have there Wisconsin
This past weekend I embarked on a trip to cross off an item off the very much cliché bucketlist: A trip to Lambeau Field. As I said before, the universe and it's stars all had to perfectly align for me to warrant a trip to Wisconsin in the dead of winter.

Everyone I spoke with expressed their sheer jealousy and complete bewilderment that someone would be willing to spontaneously go to a city where the week's high temperature was a single digit. I didn't plan on the hows of the trip, I just bought my ticket and hoped fate would help me finish my quest. I bought one single ticket, in a random section of a stadium, in a state I had never visited before. Nothing could go wrong.

The original plan was for me to fly into Milwaukee (a two hour drive to Green Bay) and meet up with an old wrestling buddy from middle school. We were then supposed to meet up with his friend and drive to Green Bay and stay at his friend's, friend's house for the night. Well, turns out Northern Hospitality doesn't exist. The friend of the friend didn't want a stranger (or maybe a Cowboys fan?) in her house. It was then suggested I get a hotel room for the night and I could meet up with them at the game the next day. Since the game was only a few days away, the price of a hotel room was too steep for me to pay for one person. Fortunately I had a backup plan. I had a group of friends who were going to fly into Chicago and make the drive to Green Bay from there (with a stay in Milwaukee the night before the game). The only negative was that one of them happened to be a diehard Packers fan and a Wisconsin native. They gladly accepted a fourth person to their entourage and I had the logistics figured out.

What does a native Texan (who doesn't hunt) have in his closet that could withstand multiple hours in single digit temperatures? Absolutely nothing. Google "how to survive Lambeau" and you would be surprised at the countless articles written about the journey. I also sought advice from the brother in law who went to school in Colorado Springs and a co-worker who just moved from Alaska. Everyone's consensus was that no matter how well I was prepared, I was going to freeze my ass off. But if you are to prepare for winter at Lambeau, I will highly recommend wool socks, insulated waterproof boots, a ski mask/ninja mask, and lots of layers. Lambeau hands out free hand warmers and free hot chocolate. A heat wave happened to pass through Green Bay for the Sunday game, bringing the high temperature to a brisk 22 degrees. This was a major improvement from the 8 degree high the night before.

We arrived into Green Bay the morning of the game, roughly around 830AM and kick off was at noon. Lambeau Field is pretty much Green Bay. There are houses directly across the street from the front of the stadium where homeowners let fans park in their yards (for a small fee) and even have roof top decks so people can hang out. My initial impression of Green Bay is that it's pretty much a college town. Stadium parking is reserved for season ticket holders but there is $20 parking within a 5 minute walk to the stadium. Bars and businesses line the perimeter of the parking and invite anyone to drink a beer with them. A 24oz Miller Lite was only $6.50. Twenty dollar parking and two beers for less than 7 bucks at an NFL playoff game. This whole town is stuck in time.

Most of the tailgating is done indoors and the preferred spot is a place called Stadium Dive. Cheeseburger and fries will cost you about 7 bucks but the heat is free. We ventured out to see the tailgating outdoors and it was supposed to be a sight to be seen but overall it was just meh. Nothing special. There were a lot of Cowboys fans so that made me happy. We went into the stadium at 11AM and split our ways to our respective seats. Since I bought only one ticket I had no idea who I would be sitting next to. Luckily, I sat next to a family of Cowboys fans from Iowa and I knew I was going to be okay. Everywhere I looked there was a Cowboys fan within a high fives reach.

It was recommended to rent a seat for the game (only six bucks) because the seats are metal bleacher stands. Wet, cold temperatures don't make it ideal to sit directly on the benches so this was a very good recommendation. The only problem is most people stand at the games because everyone is crammed onto the benches.

The game was cold. Nothing too unbearable but if the weather has been in the single digits, I don't know how long I would have lasted.

Post game walk of shame
I am not going to go into my opinions of the game. But I will say Packer fans are by far the classiest fanbase in the league. Maybe it was their own guilt that they may have gotten away with a call but at least a hundred Packer fans came up to me after the game and thanked me for coming all the way out to Lambeau and that my team played one hell of a game. Even at the Packer bars after the game I was met with the same classiness. I was offered a blanket and hand warmers by Packer fans at the game and didn't worry about my safety for one second. The experience didn't end the way I wanted it to but I know I won't have any hesitations planning a return trip next year.

The Packer Pimp in action after the game

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dallas Observer Piece

So everyone keeps telling me I should write for the Dallas Observer. I tried a couple of years ago but they didn't like my style so I didn't care to try again. But the Wifey was a little more adamant I send something in again. I figured I would just appease her and send something in and see they come back with. This is what I submitted. It's a list because everyone loves lists.

Growing up poor, eating out was a luxury my family rarely enjoyed. But if my dad got lucky on a scratch off ticket or my mom hit it big at Bingo, you could bet your sweet ass our family was headed to the nearest all you can eat buffet. How else do you satisfy six different appetites at one sitting for a bargain of a price? Until the day John Tesar can put a cheese enchilada, fried chicken leg, salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and green jello all on one plate for 10 bucks, I will continue to pull a Meghan Trainor and be all about that buffet. But it’s not a free-for-all, there is some etiquette that needs to be observed. 

Honor the Sneeze Guard

The quarter inch piece of plexi-glass separating your face from my dinner is my reassurance that you aren’t breathing germs all over everything. I know, the sneeze guard’s protection against foreign agents is about as safe as Presby’s safeguards for their nurses against Ebola. That sneeze guard satisfies my peace of mind when you aren’t maneuvering your body under the sneeze guard like you’re escaping from Shawshank just to get one piece of chicken. Get busy living or get busy dying but do both above the sneeze guard.

Don’t Be a Vulture 

I see you hanging out at the fried shrimp, pretending to text on your phone, just waiting for the next trough of over battered shrimp to come out of the kitchen. That’s fine, just don’t take all of the freaking shrimp. It’s like fried shrimp just became currency and you plan on diving head first into your pile of fried shrimp like Scrooge McDuck. Grab enough to hold you over and then let everyone else have a turn. And if there are still some left when people have dispersed, treat yo self.

Follow the Flow 

Just like reading a book, buffets should move left to right. Don’t think you are entitled to immediately go after the macaroni cheese just because you don’t care for vegetables. Get in line, wait your turn, and then scoop your food. Also, don’t take your sweet ass time putting the food on your plate. It holds up the line and chances are you aren’t going to eat everything. This holds especially true if there’s a carving station. I am eyeing that ham just as much as you are - it’s not an exit off of 635, you don’t get to drive all the way to the front and hope someone lets you in.

Take What You Want But Eat All You Take 

Ah yes, Confucius’s Golden Rule. This benefits the restaurant and the consumer. Not wasting food means more food for everyone else which means lower prices. You know what happens when you load up your plate only to push it to the side because you suddenly realized the extra 6500 calories wasn’t worth it? Golden Corral starts a ridiculous promotion where you get to take home six yeast rolls after buying two adult dinner buffets. They are trying to entice people to buy two adult dinners just to bring home rolls. I’m sorry but after eating at Golden Corral, the only thing I am bringing home is shame and guilt.

There are no rules at the dessert bar 

Congratulations, you saved enough room in your stomach to warrant a trip to the dessert bar, now you might as well go all out. Do you want soft serve in a cone? Pull the lever and make yourself a two foot cone. Pack that ice cream into the cone like you’re trying to avoid the luggage fees at the airport. Ice cream getting too tall? Flip it and throw it into a bowl and then top it with that burnt bread pudding. Enjoy your masterpiece and don’t forget to tip your server, they are cleaning up that mess after you.


I get a response and basically I was told that "buffets are not in their wheelhouse." I tried and didn't get picked. There goes my chance for a Pulitzer.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cowboys Playoffs

The Wifey will probably get irritated that I am digressing from the Monster and Pillow to discuss this but I am super excited about what's going to happen.

I'm a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. I've mentioned it a few times; the Wifey does a great job of scheduling around the game. She doesn't mind, she gets to nap during the games and I get to focus on what's going on.

But anyways, the perfect conditions came up that if the Cowboys were to advance in the playoffs they would play Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Cowboys against the Packers in the playoffs? There is nothing more iconic than that. Since we have the ability to fly anywhere in the country for free and I happened to have a friend who's a Cowboys fan and lives in Milwakuee, there is no better opportunity. Not to be a pessimist but this scenario could probably never happen again. The last time the Cowboys played the Packers at Lambeau for the playoffs was in 1967. So I asked the Wifey if I could go. She didn't even hesitate to say yes.

I am not passionate about many things but the Wifey is well aware of my love for the Cowboys. I wanted to buy the tickets early last week when I saw how affordable they were compared to the tickets at AT&T Stadium but not to jinx any chances the Cowboys had, I waited. I missed on an opportunity to get a seat in the same section and row as the Lambeau Leap; it would have been amazing to have Tony Romo jump in the stands and I grab the sweet butt of his but I didn't want to leave anything to chance.

As soon as the Cowboys recovered the fumble to seal the game, I was already half way finished to booking my ticket. And so I will be in Green Bay on Sunday with a kickoff temperature of 9 degrees cheering on my Dallas Cowboys. It wouldn't be at all possible without my awesome wife. Thanks love.