A Perfect Day

They don’t happen too often but when they do they tend to be simple, just like this past Saturday.

  • Wake up at 6am to do yoga practice and prepare for morning class. Asana and seated meditation then shower and get dressed for class.
  • 7:15am take Spike-ito out for a walk.
  • 8:30am leave to teach morning yoga class. M-ito and Mom-ita are still asleep.
  • 9:15-10:45am teach class – students are back from vacations, class is packed, and life is good.
  • 11:30am back home for brunch with Mom-ita and M-ito.
  • 12:30pm take Spike-ito out for walk with M-ito. We talk about Warhammer games (our newest father son obsession), school, life in general.
  • 1:30-4:30pm lazing around on couch with M-ito, him watching Saturday afternoon TV shows, me napping on and off, Mom-ita reading, napping, cleaning.
  • 5pm head out with M-ito to the dog run for the first time. Mom-ita is napping.
  • 6-6:45pm Watch Spike-ito make friends and play at the dog run. M-ito at first watches from the bench trying to read his book. Then after five minutes of watching Spike-ito run, wrestle, crash into cement pylons, run, run, and run some more with his new pals, M-ito gets up and joins in. He chases Spike-ito then meets the other dogs, moves our stuff next to the other owners on the other bench, and starts up conversations with the other owners like, “What kind of dog is yours? How old is he? Where did you get him?” It’s hard not to smile while you’re at the dog run. It’s a pretty happy place and the happiness is infectious. I marvel at my son and how he, as an eight year old boy holds himself and interacts with adults. As the dogs start to get tired we collar Spike-ito up and walk him home. All the way home we talk about the experience, what we learned about Spike-ito (he’s a high energy dog, loves to run, is faster than the average dog, gets knocked over a lot but like the energizer bunny keeps on going, loves, loves, loves to play, and how much he needs a bath after all the slobbering from all the other dogs and the dirt and dust) and what we’d like to do when we get home.
  • 8pm our pizza from Louie’s arrives. M-ito loves their pizza.
  • 8:15-10pm we watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all three of us and sometimes four of us (Spike-ito included) seated across the couch, laughing. Ice cream included as dessert.
  • 10pm Mom-ita takes Spike-ito out for his final walk and M-ito and I head to bed. We read for a few minutes then its lights out.
  • 11pm Mom-ita joins us.

Disney in August

With M-ito 8 years old these are  some of the things we did right this time:

  • We went for 6-nights and 7 days which was just enough time, not too much and not too little (though we’d rather have stayed on vacation another week). We left on a Tuesday, early so we could go to a park in the afternoon and evening. We left in the evening on Labor Day so we had the whole day to play before we loaded up and got to the airport. Mom-ita planned everything out and it was just about perfect.
  • We slept in almost every day and didn’t get to the parks until 11 or 12 each day which was just fine with all of us. I got up and did my yoga practice as the sun rose, before Mom-ita and M-ito got up. We hit two parks almost every day but one in the afternoon and one in the evening. It didn’t feel rushed that way.
  • We spent a lot of time in EPCOT exploring the countries, the attractions, and the fireworks. There’s still plenty more to explore on future trips. I am amazed at how much there is to explore there.
  • We used fast passes only once but that was because it wasn’t too crowded and the most we waited for anything was maybe fifteen minutes. Mostly we walked on rides without a wait or a five-minute wait.
  • We came the last week of August when kids in Florida are back in school. The parks were pretty empty (as empty as I’ve ever seen them) which meant there were minimal lines.
  • We spent a lot of time at the hotel pool almost every day.
  • We went to Wilderness lodge – a good choice even if the food choices are not the greatest (Animal Kingdom lodge had the best food as far as we’re concerned). It’s beautiful and the rooms were good size – the staff very nice and helpful.
  • We found a ride we liked and went on it again and again. This trip it was Buzz Lightyear’s ride. M-ito loved it and going on the ride (with no line) meant we could actually get better and better at ray-gunning invading aliens so that by the time we finished with it all of us felt like we had some proficiency and M-ito’s confidence on rides in general was boosted.
  • Half of our trip was with a friend of M-ito’s and his mom. M-ito and K-ito played well together and were good company for each other. We all got along and had a good time together. The second half of the trip we were on our own and had some good alone family time. It was a nice balance.

Some things that didn’t work out:

  • As great as it was to have empty parks and few lines for most of the time we were there it is HOT HOT HOT in August. So we sweat alot and we found ourselves doing the it’s-ninety-plus-and-we’re-sweating-shuffle. It’s a slow walk from shade spot to shade spot, cooling station to cooling station. M-ito had a little trouble with the heat on our second to last day, needing to sit down, drink, and cool off. Mom-ita bought him a canvas hat. I soaked it in a vendors ice water and put it on his head. Then I had him put his hands up to his wrists into the water. Along with drinking lots of water these things brought him back to himself.
  • The middle restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge was okay but not something we looked forward to eating at so that left us with the fast food area (crowded and an okay selection but again not something I looked forward to every day). Note, we did find the expensive restaurant to be excellent and had our last evening meal there – well worth it but not feasible for every day because of the price.
  • Bus to Animal Kingdom took an hour each time – way too long.
  • We never made it to Disney Studios – M-ito just didn’t feel like it so we skipped it this time.
  • We never made it to Harry Potter at Universal – different park experience, and needs its own trip to do. Also we heard it was packed and the lines were too too long.

Some things we did that were either new or just fun:

  • We took small two person motor boats out onto the lake for an hour. Very cool.
  • We could take ferries to Magic Kingdom and back. Very cool.
  • Pin trading again was a blast.
  • We did two Kim Possibles (Japan and Mexico – both were excellent and lots of fun) at EPCOT.
  • M-ito went on his first official roller coaster – Goofy’s Barnstorming – which looked very slow but once you got on was really a good ride and a good one for him to go on first. We went on once and that was all but M-ito said he really liked it. This was the same roller coaster we tried to get on in April and left after one look at the coaster roaring by. Good confidence builder for M-ito. Plus I had fun.
  • We spent an hour in Dino Land at Animal Kingdom in the Boneyard playground playing hide and seek then digging for fossils. Some things never get old.
  • We went on the Animal Safari at Animal Kingdom 2x and it was just as good as all the other times we’ve been on it over the years even if the “poacher” chatter is getting a little old.
  • Pangani Jungle Walk was a great experience and the gorillas were awesome. This trip M-ito seemed to want to see all the animals in Animal Kingdom – which was great, if tiring for Mom-ita nd Dad-dito.
  • Buzz Light Year at Magic Kingdom was a great surprise. A large shooting video game with a real skill factor that we all enjoyed about eight times (I think).
  • We also went on Soaring at EPCOT which was great. M-ito loved it and it was also a great confidence builder as it dealt with heights (even if imaginary), movement, and the feeling of flying.
  • We went on an hour guided tour with a naturalist/botanist behind the scenes at The Land in EPCOT that was really great. They showed us their hydroponics gardens and fishery. Great for ideas about future science projects even if it was hot in the hot-house.

School tomorrow. First day of Third Grade. So it goes. We’re all breathing big sighs and preparing ourselves for the fall. We’re going to pick up Spike today also! Dog in the house again!

Snack Bar Chatter

Baseball Camp Snack Bar Break:

“Can I get candy?” – M-ito

“No.” – me

“Can I get a blowpop?” – M-to

“No.” – me

“Can I get popcorn?” – M-ito

“No.” – me

“What can I get?” – M-ito

“Gatorade and an italian ice.” – me

“Can I have an extra dollar?” – M-ito

Batter Up!

Second week of sports camp – baseball is in and lacrosse is out. I watched the lacrosse players, much fewer this week, maybe two-thirds of the number they had the week before, maybe half. They’re in one group and not two anymore but they still have three coaches.

On the other side of the field, where M-ito, Momita and I went was filled with kids from 6 years old to 14. There were four age groups and M-ito was with two friends and about 18 other 8-year olds. He had three coaches. They warmed up. The coaches coached and kept discipline. One kid pushed another and the head coach for the group pulled him aside and, within my hearing (I had to listen carefully) told the kid the two rules of play. 1) Don’t push anyone ever again. 2) If a kids calls you a name you come to him (the coach) and he’ll take care of it. Then the head coach pulled the other kid aside and told him the same thing. There were no more problems the whole day. They broke up into three groups, one with each coach and they did 8 minute drills moving from one station to the next every 8 minutes. They learned how to throw a ball, how to pick off a runner, how to do a “4” slide, and then went to the batting cage for practice hitting. It looked like so much fun I wanted to join in. After another cycle of drills and the snack station where nutritious snacks like seventeen kinds of candy and popcorn in addition to Gatorade and ices were served – they played a game for the last hour putting all that they learned into practice. The coaches said, “good try” to every kid who made a mistake and there was a ton of individual attention.

Every morning I packed a cooler for M-ito with ice, water, cut oranges, and a snack. By the end of the week both of his friends were sending their water bottles home with the cooler and I had to put extra money in the side pocket for them too. Cold water and ice was at a premium.

It was like night and day compared to the lacrosse.

Don’t get me wrong there were some low points.

  • The hardest part was watching M-ito strike out each time he was up at bat. I know he hit the ball the day before but it was hard to watch him walk off with his head down. The coaches all gave him “good trys” and I have to say he did a good job of shaking it off.
  • On the last day a kid on the other team threw his helmet onto the ground after striking out every time also and the coaches only told him to stop it one time (I thinnk they didn’t see the other times – perhaps because of the heat haze). I would have benched him (even if that would have left them with only 6 players).
  • A really good player on M-ito’s team kept playing M-it’s position for him. M-ito was playing third and the boy was at second. He kept wandering the field because he was good and he knew where to go – but this didn’t help M-ito to learn what to do or get him the ball. The coaches missed that.
  • I’m ashamed to say this but it’s true. The same good player is a great hitter who had a home run and a double and single. The last time he got up he struck out and the other team cheered. The boy laughed it off – his ego strong enough to survive with ease. He took it as a compliment. Me, I gave him a silent cheer. I was glad he struck out. I told M-ito later, “You see, even the kid who was really good – he struck out too at the end!” It was all I could come up with.

M-ito gave it a 10 – both the coaches and the playing.

I watched him play most of the first morning and all of the fourth and last.

His team won the last game on the last day – billed as the world series of the games and like the kid he is, he jumped up and down with the rest of his teammates, happy to have been a part of the game and winning regardless of how big or small a part he’d played.

Final outcome – I didn’t have to coach. I just watched.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I took out my camera and took some pictures. What else is a Dad-dito to do?

M-ito said he wants to play on both a lacrosse and baseball team. But… he’s had enough of sport camp for a while and is glad to be done for the summer. We think he lost five pounds sweating in the polyester baseball pants. He also has a wicked tan from all that time in the sun, even with sunscreen. When he got home he picked up the first of the Harry Potter books and started to read.

8th Birthday: A Save-the-World Party

I find my son’s birthday to be a number of things: sad, anxiety provoking, challenging, tiring, and at some point, hopefully just a little happy. This year we did a home party again. Mom-ita took care of all the arrangements like, food, who was coming, invitations, speaking to M-ito about everything, and helping him to make his birthday list. At 8, my son is still very much into birthdays. I hope he stays that way for a while.

My job as the Dad-dito was, as it has been in the past, to take care of the entertainment (I have been the entertainment the last three years as the yoga teacher for a personalized class two years in a row, and this year as the designer of the save-the-world from Ratzo treasure hunt), pick up the food the morning of the party, order the cake from Cupcake bakery, then pick it up, call my family and make sure they know the date and can come, buy the gifts on M-ito’s list, and help out the day of the party as opposed to getting in the way.

This year my father came with Jocelita, Max’s grandmother (my father’s girlfriend who has taken on the role of a grandmother – it’s a long story but that’s how it works some days) and they arrived with her in tears and him in a grouchy, angry mood. They were the first to arrive. Mom-ita was stressed. I was stressed. Four out of five people in the apartment were stressed. Oh joy. People were coming over, and M-ito was hanging out waiting, playing and already enjoying being the birthday boy even with this madness in the background. I think he didn’t notice what was going on and as his friends arrived (six in all – a small group this year and that was a blessing) he got wrapped up in them. I got wrapped up in occupying my father and listening to Jocelyn and cutting up the fruit salad and regular salad. I put my father to work on drawing characters for the save-the-world game and hoped, hoped, hoped, he would be nice to Max, whom I also asked to draw some characters for the game. My father tends to critique rather than help when it comes to drawing and M-ito is a good artist in his own right but needs to be encouraged not critiqued.

The save-the-world treasure hunt had the evil Ratzo trying to rule the world through the kid’s parents with hand sanitizer – vaporizing spray. I’d hidden  clues around the apartment and throughout the building (laundry, garden, mailbox bulletin board) all written in code with tricks and traps everywhere (every other step of the stairs to the garden was poison to the touch, green paper was poison and some clues were written on green paper, a puzzle of paper pieces was inside a green paper folder). I gave them antidote cards for when they were poisoned so they could keep playing the game, broke then into two teams, girls and boys, code books to be able to crack my code, a storyline to work from and 30 minutes to find Ratzo’s switch that would turn all parents armed with hand sanitizer into child vaporizing machines. I was up until 1:30am the night before setting it all up.

It’s easy to understand the feelings of anxiety, challenge, exhaustion and a little happiness. But why would I be sad? Well, my son is getting older and so am I. It is both wonderful and sad at the same time. I want him to grow up and be a man but I also want him to stay my little boy. Such a simple statement and filled with, for me so much emotion. But that is the nature of birthdays. They make me review life, both my son’s and my own and many times that is painful. So, given that, I try to find some happiness in the story of my son’s birthday, day. The smile on his face as his friends race across the apartment building trying to outrun the clock to find Ratzo’s switch that’s in the refrigerator, of course, dodging parents trying to sanitize their hands (I gave everybody hand sanitizer and they kept asking the kids if they wanted to clean their hands – the kids all ran away screaming NOONONONONONONO!). And watching him open his gifts, blow out the candles on his cake. All the things that make up a birthday celebration of turning a year older and a year wiser. And my son is both. Birthdays need to be celebrated as small rites of passage along the way of life. I need to remember how wonderful it is that he is growing up and learning about this wonderful and challenging world that we live in as human beings.

And also remember, that I  now have a full year to go before I have to do it all again. Whew.

Aparigraha Lessons

It (aparigraha) means non-possessiveness or non-hoarding and it’s a yogic concept right out of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Last year at parent teacher conferences in First Grade I took a look at the interior of M-ito’s desk and found it filled with papers, old homework, half-finished drawings, used and new tissues, and all the way at the back there was a sandwich of some sort, wrapped in sarran wrap. I don’t know how old it was and neither did M-ito. Neither of us wanted to see what it looked like so it just got thrown out.

“In case I was hungry,” M-ito said, when asked,”Why?”

Last week at parent teacher conferences in Second Grade, at a new school (which we are amazingly still happy about) we found that our son was hoarding pencils. He picked them up whenever he found them during the day and put them in his desk. He had quite a few of them from 3/4’s of a year’s tidying up of pencils. He told us, “I’m hoarding pencils,” with a big smile on his face. One of his friends was hoarding scissors, the same way. I’m glad M-ito was only hoarding pencils. The kids at M-ito’s school all have pencils, scissors, notebooks, folders, and pens (when they get to them) given to them by the school. There’s no competition over styles and designs, no extra cash to lay out for these kinds of utensils of student work. It’s all in the tuition. Gulp. So M-ito’s collection of pencils is not differentiated by these things. Instead each is differentiated by whether a pencil is sharpened or not, how many times it has been sharpened which determines its length, and finally how much of an eraser is left – maybe he also codes them by the size of the bite marks left on them – I don’t know. My son collects pennies too – wheat pennies only. It’s a hold-over from my grandfather who was a trainman, and myself who collected in his footsteps.

I believe he’s going to give all the pencils back to his teacher at some point. At least that’s what he said when I asked him. At least he’s helping to keep the floor clean. Gotta give that to him.

Breakfast Talk

My son’s writing poetry and it’s beautiful. I know, I’m his Dad-dito so I’m biased but this is the greatest.

Breakfast

By M-ito

sizzle! ding! I get out of bed.

what’s all the noise? I go to the

kitchen and… whistle! bump! crack! my mom

made everything! I race to the table.

gulp, gulp, gulp. I am out the door.

Mom-ita told M-ito – after she told him how much she loved the poem – “But that’s not the truth. Dad-dito makes breakfast.”

M-ito replied, “No, Mom-ita, you don’t have to tell the truth in a poem.”

Momita: “And you don’t have any capital letters either.”

M-ito: “Poetry is about breaking the rules, Mommy.”

If only I could use the same rules at work.