After a really, really bad day, Coco got a win. He went back to school. He attended first period Latin. Sure, it is just one class. But it is a giant step forward. Demi & I are very proud of him. We hope he is proud of himself. He should be.
I drove the boys to school. Coco was even happy to be early, so that he could hangout in the lounge & see his buddies. I waited in the parking lot. I got his OK to get a quick coffee, but I was there just in case. Then I met him in the office to sign him out. Mission accomplished.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
After a really, really bad day, Coco got a win. He went back to school. He attended first period Latin. Sure, it is just one class. But it is a giant step forward. Demi & I are very proud of him. We hope he is proud of himself. He should be.
Monday, December 15, 2014
My youngest son has been struggling with intestinal issues for years now. We have been through dozens of tests. We have seen multiple doctors. Finally, this past September, we were fortunate enough to get into a specialist at Boston's Childrens' Hospital. He was able to successfully diagnose my son with IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. At the time, we were relieved. We finally could put a name to what ails our son. What we didn't realize was the problem on our horizon that would come from the IBS rider.
Like a lot of diseases, IBS doesn't come alone. It is paired with another disorder.
The doctor causally asked my son if he was generally anxious. My son shook his head. Behind my son, I nodded affirmatively. The doctor took notice and pressed my son. After some discussion, there was enough evidence to suggest that the IBS afflicting my son came with a side dose of anxiety. This magnified the issue. Just how much, we had no idea. At least we had no idea until about a month later.
This is where I debated myself about whether or not to post this. Anxiety is not the disease you usually see in these inspirational stories. It's not a rare condition. It does not have eye catching statistics. If you mention it in conversation, you receive a lot of head nodding and feigned understanding from listeners. To the causal bystander, IBS doesn't overwhelm, as it is not immediately life threatening. Anxiety gets even less of a reaction. Mental health does not get a lot of high level attention in the media unless it's attached to a tragic circumstance. Mental health still has a lot of negative stigma associated with it. So how could my son's current circumstances compare to a more highly publicized physical ailment? I think you have to live it to understand it.
What my son has been and is enduring, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My son is very smart. He loves school. He has a great set of friends. He enjoys playing and watching sports. He loves to draw. He can debate intelligently. But all of that has come to a screeching halt in the last 4-5 months.
My son hasn't been to school going on 3 months now. He missed most of his last season of youth football. Lately, he can't bring himself to leave the house. Early on, he spent hours in the bathroom. He constantly felt the urge that he had to have a bowel movement. That anxiety led him to start missing school. The doctor explained that his brain doesn't shut off pain like most people. So he really hasn't experienced a pain free day. Imagine that. Never knowing what it is like to feel good. The anxiety magnifies the pain.
The pain would wake him up at night. Lack of sleep would sap his energy. It was a vicious cycle. The sleep deprivation would make him not want to get to up. The anxiety would keep him house bound. He would hole up in the bathroom for long stretches. My wife and I would alternate working from home as much as we could to look after him.
I don't know what anxiety is like for adults. Mental health issues in general have to been vastly different for adults than for children. My son is 13, soon to be 14. He is an adolescent. His hormones are raging. Puberty is tough enough on it's own to endure. He misses school (yes, school). He misses his friends. He has missed sleepovers, Halloween parties, and pick up games. He can't even go across the street to play XBOX with best friend. He has missed his favorite new movies.
He goes through uncontrollable outbursts. For no reason he gets so angry he shakes and screams. He becomes irrational. He makes the same argument over and over. He won't listen to reason. You can't debate him. Even with my wife and I controlling our instincts to react with anger, stifling yelling and talking calmly, we can't reason with him. We can't even console him, particularly me. He is focused on my wife as his comfort zone. I tend to embody everything that is going wrong. He wants no part of me. Sure that is tough for me. But I don't have time to worry about that. I need to be there for him, for my wife and for our other son (both of whom have been amazing through the entire ordeal).
No. Maybe he is not in immediate danger. But this has immensely impacted his life. During his latest outburst he kept shouting out things like: "Why can't I just be normal?!" or "I can't do any of the things I like to do." He doesn't completely understand what is happening to him. But throughout all of this, even at his lowest, he continues on. He continues to battle. He continues to work to get better. We all take it one day at a time. Win the each small battle. Or to paraphrase Curt Schilling and the 2004 Red Sox: win each step, win each at bat, then win the inning, then the next...and so on. He did not want to go to therapy. But he did. He didn't want more medication. But he tried it. He even tried again after the first one had the opposite reaction. The first seemed to create the uncontrollable outbursts and fits of rage. He was terrified to go to group therapy. But he's done it. And. He's starting to win.
The other thing for this Rose Bowl Parade campaign is this: My son and I have a special bond that involves football. He was become a student of the game. He studies the history and traditions. He is not just a statistics guy, or a who's hot now person. He really values those that played before he was even born. He honors traditions like Texas A&M's 12 man, the Sooner Schooner, the Army/Navy game, or Harvard/Yale. We spend every New Year's Day watching bowl games. About 5 years ago I explain Bowl season to him. I talked about the big Bowls and traditions. The Rose Bowl parade happened to be on (which is a tradition for us, as we are usually taking down ornaments from the tree & watching the parade). He got really interested in how the floats were made and how long this has been going on. Since then, he watches all the Bowls, but he always asks "Who's in the Rose Bowl?" That is his must see Bowl. This year, our favorite team, FSU is in it. He knows FSU has never played in the Rose Bowl, based on the old conference tie-ins. If anyone deserves to win a trip to see the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, it is my son. I guarantee no one would appreciate the meaning more. The irony is that if he were to win, I am not sure he could go. He is working on getting better. He seems to be getting better. But by January 1st? Who knows? One day at a time.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Demand & I try to make sure the boys understand what today mean, each year. It can't just be a day off to the boys. They need to understand the sacrifice & courage associated with not only those who serve, but their families too. It takes a special person to be home while someone they love is away serving. I think our boys get it much more than most. And that's not by accident.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
We spent the weekend in Jackson, NH. We hadn't been up in the area for a few years. Too long. The boys did have some good memories of our previous visits. They were able to reminisce a bit. Coco had his weekend planned out by meals. He counted the number of possible meals we would have up there. He then listed his favorite eateries up there. Of course, I told him that some of us might want to have some input into that. I think he humored me, but summarily ignored me. We did visit some of our favorite haunts, Glen Junction and the Flatbread Company. We tried for the Shannon Door but it was too crowded due to a private party.
We did a new hike. We followed the trail to Tuckerman's Ravine. We didn't summit. But we did hike a little over an hour up and then an hour back. That was huge progress for Coco. He was fine through all of it. We saw a really amazing waterfall. It was cool but not cold. The boys and I had our Camelbaks. It has snowed a bit. Just enough to make footing a bit slippery. It was a nice walk in the woods.
I chalk this up as a win. Coco was a champ. I am very proud of him. I hope it leads to better days ahead.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
We were really excited in September when we finally got a diagnosis for Coco's troubles. It seemed like we had a definitive answer. We knew it would be a long road to recovery. But we didn't anticipate this. What seemed like the lesser of the issues, has grown exponentially. The anxiety that triggers his IBS has gone off the charts. We really don't know why. The root cause eludes us. But Coco cannot handle life as it is now. He does not want to leave the house. School is a secondary concern right now. We just need Coco to function. I feel a bit lost. I certainly was not trained for this. I don't have an answer, let alone an easy answer. We are looking everywhere for help. We are not shy. We know we are over our heads. We have a counselor on retainer. Our doctors are consulting. The recommended medication will take weeks to take hold. Time seems to be creeping along. We hope to see some results. We really need a sign that things are getting better. For all of our sakes.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
We sort of glosses over election day this year. I was a bad citizen this year. I didn't do any research in n order to cast informed votes. We did talk about the issues with the kids. Sure, we had a lot on our plates. This was not critical. But is that the example we want to set? Maybe we have done enough with this topic in years past to cover us? Hopefully.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Coco returned to school today. This is really a milestone. He is learning to cope with his ailments. It will take time. But this is a great first step. He needs to take his life back. I am so proud of him.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Coco is playing with his friends I didn't think I would be so happy to see him playing XBOX. But this is a big step. Homework can wait. He needs the social interaction. He needs to see his friends supporting him. Why you may ask? Well, that is part of the upcoming recaps. Needless to say, its been serious enough here to celebrate some good old fashioned gaming.
Friday, October 31, 2014
I am back. It's been a longer than expected hiatus. This fall has been very trying. A lot of challenges for the Chins. I will probably try to recap some of it. Not all but some during November.
Tonight is the first Halloween in 15 years where we haven't had a child out trick or treating. Crazy. Both boys are staying in. We are having a family pumpkin carving session instead. 4 Chins. 5 Pumpkins. 3 knives. 1 drummel. And...go!
We ended up with a super hero theme. Superman's logo. The Bat signal. The Avengers logo. And one Minion. I think they ended up looking good. I know we had a lot of fun. Which is the most important thing. The Griswolds at it again.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
What's more is that the kids appreciate it. I know, right? Teenagers acknowledging appreciation for anything is exceptional. My kids come home raving about the new facilities. "It's really nice" is a common phrase. It's nice to know we did the right thing.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
I figured he could use a Good Morning burger after his shift. I knew Demi and I didn't feel like cooking. Win/Win for everyone. KKatie's Burgers it was. The place really does have great burgers. Whatever was on the KKMacSmash was the perfect call. Caz got his bacon, fried egg, and cheese all in one place.
Caz has been very responsible with his work. I think it has given him a good sense of what things cost. Teaching him the value of a dollar, right? He was broke this weekend and wanted an item for his new Nintendo DS. He couldn't afford it at the moment. But he did get his paycheck. Guess it's time to teach him about banking hours and deposits.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
My suggestion with today in mind, is take some time. Read Son of a Terrorist by Zak Ebrahim. It's short. It doesn't take long to read it. If you still don't feel you can invest the time, then watch the TED video: http://www.ted.com/talks/zak_ebrahim_i_am_the_son_of_a_terrorist_here_s_how_i_chose_peace
It's a game changer. It's one of the best talks I have ever heard. I saw most of this TEDx event. I saw the Gates - Bill & Melinda and Sting. But this was the talk of the day. By far.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Although we lost, the boys played hard. It was close. I really felt they could win this came. I don't care about winning for me. I want them to win for them. They deserve a little success. They deserve to show the teammates that decided not to play this year, that they can succeed without them. They have worked for 4 weeks and today is pay day. I told them to keep their heads high. They have a great effort. And there is always next week.....
The reason really doesn't matter. The possibility that something might happen had been keeping me up nights. I was lulled into a false sense of security. The season was going along well. Actually better than I could have hoped for with this particular coach. Then out of nowhere the tide turn. That was actually a major point. There was no warning.
Youth sports is such a circus. It's almost too mainstream now. I have railed against the system before (and I probably will again). Parents are to blame. Not all of them. But a lot of them. They take youth sports more seriously than the kids. It is not right. It's no wonder kids get burnt out on sports by high school. Someone needs to do a study. I bet there are more Marinavich stories now than there once were. I bet teen rebellion now is more quitting sports because their parents can't force them to play anymore. I bet there is an uptick in kids making poor choices into trouble making just to show mom & dad not only are they no longer an athlete but not the person they were hoping for. The stories of the Tiger Woods playing golf at 3, or Larry Bird spending hours in a basketball gym growing up, or Dustin Pedrioa playing baseball all the time. They didn't do it because someone made them do it. They were having fun. Youth sports needs to work the fun a bit more in general. It is possible to be competitive and have fun at the same time. Despite popular opinion.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Caz almost skipped down the street, while we walked to our new neighbors house. He dusted us in the driveway. "See ya!" Well, the statement was intended anyway. Hey! Good for him. Socializing is a good thing. It's all a part of growing up.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Of course Demi and I are thrilled to get them back to school. They need to have something to do. They need a routine. Mostly so that we can get back to our routine. I really miss the days when kids went outside in the morning in the summer and didn't come back until dinner. Kids in general need more motivation. They need to learn to amuse themselves without electronics. Not that they had free reign over the summer. No electronics during the day. End of story.
They go to a brand new school this year. I mean newly built. State of the art. They both got issued MacBook Airs. Just like when I was kid, right? Not! Everything on one laptop. That is pretty cool. Can't wait to see how it goes.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Well, I think this band has a rival now. The new neighbors joined us for the weekend festivities. The youngest daughter, Raquel, is in 6th grade. The little ones took to her like Santa Claus. Raquel was very excited. And she was so good with them all. When we regrouped at night, the little ones were screaming for her. They did test runs, so they could run to the door and window when she arrived. When Raquel finally did arrive, the kids ran out of the house, jumped up and down, and scream her name. It was quite a welcoming committee. My boys are going to have to up their game..
Friday, August 29, 2014
The night really went great. The kids took to each other immediately. They went right down to the play room. I could hear the banging of air hockey within seconds. Laughter was not far behind. The adults hit it off too. We all got to know each other. I was proud of our kids. They were great hosts. They included everyone in all the game. It's not easy with different age ranges and boy/girl differences. But they did it. Maybe Demi and I are doing something right after all.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Caz was great during the visit. He played cards with Grandma. He showed off his artwork from the past year. He spent a lot of time talking with her. Coco only had limited time but made the most of it. Grandma brought Caz to work. I think that was a bit of a reality check for her. One of her youngest grandchildren is now working.
It's important for the boys to connect with her. They don't get as much of an opportunity. Obviously, being located so close to my parents and family, they are very close with my side. They need to know Demi's side. This was a successful visit for that.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Many high schools only care about the success of the team. They don't care about the individual and those that might have a emphasis on sprinting. They burn those kids out. We didn't want that happening to Caz. We had a good conversation with his sprinting coach and XC coach. We came to an agreement and made out decision.
Today was the first team practice. Captains practices are over. This is the real deal.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I really had to plot out my 3 challenges. Sure. I took some liberties. But who was going to complain. It's all for charity. For research to cure an awful disease.
I had my team help me - Coco and Blue. My minions. I then issued my challenge. I figured it would be a good team building exercise. I called out my assistant coaches. I then called out my buddy, Dickie, who I started coaching with 9 years ago and his staff. I finished issuing the challenge to my former DHS teammates. We have a reunion next month, so there is a good tie in there. Mission accomplished.
Monday, August 11, 2014
I hope Coco's last season goes better than Caz's. I definitely have Caz's broken arm in the back of my mind. I just want it to go well. For all of us, all the kids and coaches.
One last run. Here we go.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
I definitely am not feeling well. I could not take him talking back to Demi any more. He had to be straightened out. I looked him straight in the eye and told him, "enough!" I told him it ends now, or there would be consequences. He could tell by my look that I was serious. He finally relented. Peace at last.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I think the break will do us all good. We all get our space. Time by ourselves. Each one of us. We are all due.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
The youngest one is having mood swings like a metronome. A metronome for Metallica that is. Fast and furious. His hormones must be raging. He is maniacally laughing one minute. The next, he is sobbing like he just watched the endings of Brian's Song and Old Yeller in succession. We can't keep up with him.
The older one is at least consistent. He's a PITA. He's cranky. He's surly. He's defiant. He's a smart Alec. Sure, sounds like a typical teenager. Maybe he is. But that is why there are songs about teenagers.
The battles will rage. We will endure. We must. Other parents get through it. So can we.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
We stormed Duxbury Beach on the Bay side. We had tables of food, a huge tent and grill. Our kids took it all in stride. They were by far the oldest kids. Again. They played with the young kids. Again. They really were terrific.
Caz showed some growth. He meandered about the beach on his own. He walked up to his friends house on his own. He normally doesn't do stuff like that. I had planted the seed. He did the hard work to overcome his natural tendencies to be shy and find a way to stay put. I was proud of him for taking the initiative
Friday, July 11, 2014
When I finished working, I told him to grab his shoes. When he looked at me, I told him we were taking Gizmo for a walk on the beach, then grabbing some grub at a new joint. He almost played the Tired Card but didn't. We drove out to the beach and he had Gizmo in his arms, head hanging out of the window (Gizmo, not Coco) the whole time. We walked Gizmo around the beach. Coco grabbed some little blue plastic bags, just in case. The sun was out. It was a comfortable temperature. It was a perfect night for this.
Then we drove to the Green Harbor Lobster Pound. As we did I told him how his grandfather used to buy us lobsters there, all the time growing up. I think he got a kick out of that. I let him order a fried shrimp plate. I got The Best Lobster Roll around. (That is a story for another time). I let him get some pink lemonade. He picked out a spot on a picnic table. We ate outside as the sun was starting to go down.
I read to him out on the porch when we got home. I actually took some time for me too, grabbing a beer and cigar, as I read. Two nights. Two fantastic Father/Son nights.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
On the way home, I decided to try to make it a guys night. I walked in, said hi. I told him that I was going to change and after I did, we would go get ourselves running shoes. I promised dinner too. He was very agreeable. He shut off the TV and got ready to head out.
He was really a good sport in the store. He let the store clerks watch him walk, study his movement, and see him run. They trotted out 6 different styles of shores. He tried them all on. He even chuckled when we remarked about his reserved nature, eschewing the more exotic colors and styles. He did up his game and settled on some new running shoes with some wild trim. Baby steps.
Then we went over to Windy City Dogs, for hot dogs. He got a giant corn dog, double cheeseburger and fries. We watched the end of the Sox game. A walk off win We had some great conversation. He even took the good natured ribbing, as I tried to pry some information on a girl he had his eye on, out of him. We went out for ice cream after. I let him pick his favorite place.
When we got home, we settled onto the couch. I read to him for a long time. Somewhere along the line, he fell asleep. It was just like when he was a toddler. It was really a perfect evening.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
All holy hell broke out when he got home. Actually, it could have been worse. I tried, very hard, to curtail any shouting. Caz started down his list of excuses. Demi and I were having none of it. But it was late. We all needed to go to bed. Instead of drawing it all out, we let him go to bed. Go to bed with the expectation of punishment forthcoming. That might have been worse than the actual punishment.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
I called him at his friend's house, knowing his whole crew was there. Even when he started to answer like a smart alec, I bit my tongue. I explained the things he neglected to do. He owned up to him. I told him that my first instinct was to drive over, pull him out of there, and embarrass him in front of his friends. I told him to be home by 9 and attend to everything on the list, plus some new add-ons (as punishment).
When he came home early, I thought he was making an attempt to make amends. And I think he was. But he kept getting distracted. He still missed things on the list. We got through the night but it was not easy. I really wanted to go to bed early, after sleeping poorly last night. This whole episode kept me up longer than planned. Better luck tomorrow.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
However, when it came time to get ready for the party, the boys got ready with no hesitation. Caz even sent his friends home. He dressed up very nicely. He was probably the most dressed up of the bunch.
Coco and Caz were the stars of the show. The other kids were ecstatic when they arrived. They came running from all corners of the house to see them. Caz and Coco played outside with them the whole time, swingset, baseball, and dancing. Yes. Dancing. The girls had a dance party, once it got dark and dragged the boys onto the dance floor. The boys were hot sweaty messes by the end of the night. All the parents appreciated it. Especially, Coco and Caz's parents.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
But I digress. The boys, my boys, are by far the oldest kids attending. But they interact with the other kids. They lead the activities. The other kids take to them like magnets. At one point Coco is on all fours with a child on his back, riding him like a horse. As they run past, Demi says to Coco, "Hey Pony boy, make sure you drink water and stay hydrated."
Without missing a beat, Coco stands up and responds, "Mom....I'm a Stallion!", smiles and then runs away. Perfect.
A bit later I see Caz in the house. He's leaning up against an arm chair having a conversation. As I round the corner, I see he's chatting up the babysitter. The college age babysitter from down the street who watches my nephew and niece, and is helping the crafts station at the party. Demi had seen Coco coming out of the bathroom after having put water on his hair and was in the act of straightening it out. My boy was putting out the Vibe on an older woman. Atta boy!
Friday, June 27, 2014
I had been searching Craiglist for months. I searched Foosball tables, pool tables, air hockey tables, poker tables, arcade games, pinball machines, and bumper pool tables. Finally I found what I had in mind. A Foosball table. I am very picky about my Foosball tables. None of those tables that have pieces that look like soccer players. I like the generic, almost Rock-The only knock on this table are the handles. Wooden hexagonal handles. But those can be replaced. Especially for short dough. So I picked this beauty up 5 exits away.
While in transit I received a response on an Air Hockey table. This is formerly a $700 heavy duty bar room table. Done. Tthat is only 10 mins away. It plays beautifully.
Now, the trifecta. I saw an ad yesterday for a yard sale with a poker table. I did a drive by and it's only up the street at a neighbors the the yard sale already happened. Demi called to see if it was still available. They just want it gone and offer it up for free. Done deal. And bonus. It comes with poker chips. The boys are thrilled.
Chinnytown is now open for business. That is all I wanted. A place the boys can hang out with their friends. Sure, it means more teenage boys running around. But at least I know where they are....
Monday, June 16, 2014
Coco has been unbearable. Some of my feeling is shock. We definitely took for granted that he was very reliable and very trust worthy. In reality, he is probably still on the good side of the curve for teenage behavior. But in aggregate, it is getting hard around here. He is forgetting things. He doesn't pay attention when we are talking. It all leads to fighting. They he has a meltdown. Like Chernobyl. Tantrum extraordinaire.
Now that this rite of passage - teenagers & their parents - is impacting all four of us, the family dynamic has changed. I am sure it is normal. But it is tough. We are still adjusting. At least is it with very little school left. Like Caz, the root problem centers around electronics. XBOX is actually the least of it. There is a new PC game. The iPod Touch is problematic It is a big snowball effect. I hope I have enough patience......
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
I told Caz to invite his buddies over for hot dogs at 6 PM. I figured they would crush a bunch of dogs, so I stocked up. They wanted boiled, so boiled it was. I had a ton of different condiments out, ketchup, mustard, relish, jalapenos, sweet pepper relish, pickles, etc. The only one that got touched? Ketchup. That is just a hot dog faux pas, but that is another discussion. Coco ended up having a buddy over too. They ran around outside for hours. That was the whole point. It was old school summer nights. They play 4 square. They threw the football around. The went up and down the street with the Rip Stick. They went up into the tree house. It was fun to watch.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Caz came out so pleased with himself. He got really good feedback, along with a good indication of being hired. He is just some paperwork and a drug test away from a summer job. His first job. And his first drug test. My how times have changed.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Demi and Caz got into it like that. Caz, once again, forgot his medicine. So that exacerbated the issue. I was sick. I finally got the crud that Caz and Coco had. They passed it over to the old man. Stuffy head, slight fever, lack of energy. Really, its the minor flu. In a nice change of pace, both calmed themselves down. They proceeded to talk it out. It took a while. Caz was being pigheaded. He did show some signs of maturity. I will take it. Maybe he is growing up after all.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Monday, May 26, 2014
Sunday, May 11, 2014
The boys did a decent job with Mother's Day today. They were paying for sleep-overs and two late nights. But they took out the patio furniture. They helped set up the deck. We had a very nice late breakfast on a sunny, warm morning. We had some nice conversation. There was cooperation. Demi opened her presents. A great family way to start Mother's Day.
Friday, May 9, 2014
So the eldest son had his usual sleepover down the street. They went to a movie. Then the back to our neighbors house for poker, XBOX, and mingling with the older sister and friends. The younger son has a birthday party, sleepover. Both. Gone for the night.
Demi and I could go out to eat. In Boston, if we wanted to. We could stay out late. We could hit the night clubs. And.....we chose to watch TV and fall asleep early. Sometimes, it really is the little things.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
First stop? Carlsbad Caverns. It was a 3 hr trek from Ruidoso. This was the only time I got nervous about gas. Just after Roswell - which we planned to hit on the way back - I saw we were close to 1/4 tank of gas left and not a gas station in sight. We knew that gas stations could be scarce on this trip. Not knowing the capacity of a rental car increase today's anxiety. The GPS kept wanting to take us back to Roswell. Alien Conspiracy? Governmental spying? Who knows? But Siri found us a town 25 miles away that had a gas station. We made it with plenty of fuel to spare.
We made the Caverns around noon time. A lunch stop to Subway set up back. The place was packed. I ate my salad in the direct sunlight, experiencing our first taste of hot weather, while Demi and boys hiked up a top a cliff just inside the park entrance. We proceeded to the visitor center, picked up our passes, filled up our Camelbaks and headed for the Devil's Gate. The opening to our descent. 700 feet down into the network of caverns that stretch one for miles. Filled with stalactites and stalagmites, pits and pools, bats and guano. We stayed in the caverns, out of the daylight, for about 4 hours. We saw the Lily Pad Pond, the Devil's Gate, Devil's Tail (sense a trend?), Crystal Cavern, Big Room, Bottomless Pit, and all kinds of rock formations, cavern formations, grottoes, pools, etc. We took the self guided tour, so were given a night stick with a speaker. You hit button corresponding the a number on sign post and a narrator would provide information about that point. It was well worth the $5. I liked that we could go on our own pace. A nice couple from Texas took our picture for us. We took about 400 pictures in the Caverns. This national park is truly a national treasure. The boys really appreciate it. Caz particularly got a charge out of making a squeaking noise with his Camelbak that was a perfect bat sound. Scared the hell out of Demi.
We stopped by Roswell on the way back. It turned out to be a total Griswald stop. The UFO museum was closed. So were the other UFO/Alien themed sites. The trinket stores were open of course, but not worth the time. We packed it in and headed back to Ruidoso. Oddly enough it did not bother anyone to eat dinner at 8 PM. Demi and Coco crashed early. I took a quick soak in the hot tub. I gave Caz and early bed time, to which I got no argument. I intended to crash at 9:30. But as I flipped channels, I game across an ESPN Sports Century piece on Pat Tillman. Timing is everything. I watched it all, then called it a night.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
The boys were really great about getting up. We were up and out the door with all the luggage when the van showed up. They even beat Demi out of the house. No arguments, no crabbiness, nothing......
The plane ride went well. Both of them. We made our connections. Our luggage arrived. We even took some plane selfies, which became a "thing" for the Chinny Vacation. Bonding was off to a great start.
The condo in Ruidoso was fantastic. Our friends really hooked us up. We all had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. We all had TV's(not that there was much time for watching). And there was a hot tub on the deck. We had a great dinner at a local place that service Mexican food. Then we relaxed in the hot tub. We all turned in early and slept soundly. Off to a great beginning.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
1) Dinner with Coco, one on one. Big Kahuna Burgers. They were indeed tasty burgers. I thoroughly enjoyed when Coco asked me if he could have a soda to help wash down his tasty burger. It was also fun to see him taking in Tin Cup on the TV they had going in the seating area. He seemed interested. In a golf movie. Go figure.
2) Caz made coffee tonight. Actually he setup the coffee maker. Grounds. Cinnamon. Filter. Water. Then he set the timer for 6:30 AM. I could get used to this. I knew starting him on coffee would pay off.....
Monday, April 7, 2014
By afternoon, Coco said to me, "Dad, I feel so much better."
Those words were magic. Then I felt better. I don't know how parents with major challenges do it. The rest of the weekend went smoothly too. We even go to go out as a family on Saturday night.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Demi had some interest because of the new twist this year. Warren Buffet's offer of $1B for a perfect bracket is very intriguing. How could it not be? It was truly amazing that after day one, out of 11 million entries, only 3% were still viable. After day two? Zero. Zero percent.
Another discussion about math. Probabilities. Possibilities. Isn't it interesting how such a variety of topics can spawn a family discussion. It's not an accident you know. You have to work at this stuff. I am just saying that there are all kinds of conversation starters available to you. Pick one and start a family discussion. Ask everyone for their opinion. It will pay off.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
The important parts of the interview for me were Bill's graph and their latest effort at philanthropy. Bill's graph illustrated the downward trend of child deaths (under the age of 5) since 1960. In 1960, the annual number was 20M. Last year, that number was under 6M. But the end game, is just on the horizon. We may see that number go all the way down, in our lifetime.
The other piece of the interview started with child raising philosophy. The Gates had read an article by Warren Buffet advising the extremely wealth against giving their children everything and leaving all their money to be inherited. Buffet said that by doing so, it didn't do the kids any favors and didn't do the world any favors. The Gates planned to educate their children well. But they would not hand them anything. The would not provide enough for the kids to do nothing. 95% of their wealth will be given away through the Gates foundation. Then Warren Buffet pledged 80% of his wealth to the Gates foundation. The Gates are now on a mission to get other wealthy folks to do likewise. So far they have over 120 commitments.
Both my boys listed earnestly. They asked some good questions. They didn't even flinch about not getting much to inherit. They were amazed that some many had committed to divesting their assets. It was a really great dinner conversation.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
I actually brought home a pie for Coco. It is his new national holiday. He was so excited leading up to today. He is actually already excited for next year. It will be 3/14/15. The next sequence in the Pi extended factor. 3.1415.
I love that he knows that. I love the it excites him. I love the amount of thought he gives it. It is really amazing, as a parent to see it.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Other times it is some kind of trivia or factoid. We talked about the Big Bang theory for a while tonight. And no, not the TV show. Although we have talked about that too. I like that the kids are interested in learning. I also enjoy the fact that they are the ones initiating the conversations. They start these conversations with such enthusiasm. It is really contagious. The whole family gets involved and each member has something to say. Everyone contributes. Isn't that what dinner time is all about?
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Bug was excited for this all week. She told her entire preschool class. Repeatedly. Each day. She was even more excited when Coco joined us for her skating lesson in the AM.
Coco passed with flying colors. He had his to do list. This included specific orders not to call his Aunt, but to call us, if there were any issues. He knew we were at his Aunt's for my brother's 40th birthday celebration. He understood it was a big deal. Coco called at 8:45 to report that the Bug was sound asleep. He was tucked into bed when we got home too. The house was in good order. I am very proud of him. He was so responsible.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
My first instinct was to put him in the slim fit jeans. Wrong! He couldn't pull them past his knees. Regular fit it was. He tried on a pair and we hit pay dirt. So we got two pair. Then he saw a shirt he liked. No question asked. I got it for him. I mean, he actually took an interest in his clothes. And they weren't sweat pants or a t-shirt. I wanted to encourage more of that. Maybe now he will want to go again. One can hope, right?
Coco has not taken his off since. He sits around the house without a shirt, wearing just the sweatshirt. "I don't want anything between me and the fuzzy lining." At school, he doesn't take it off, except for gym. I am thrilled that he loves the sweatshirt. But I think we are going to have to wash it more....
Saturday, March 1, 2014
I guess that is why we make a whole weekend of it in the off years. She deserves it.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I now have a house full of teenagers. Am I ready for this? I guess I have to be. Demi too.
More hormones. More body changes. More rebellion. I guess that makes Demi and me the Empire. Well, Empire Strikes Back was the best movie of the trilogy. So we got that going for us....which is nice...
Monday, February 24, 2014
My advantage is that I know this to be true. Caz has to take my word for it. Or not. I doesn't seem like it from his perspective. I do recall being in his shoes. It feels like your world is coming to an end. Love as a teenager knows it is limited. Of course it is. Experience is a huge part of all of our feelings. With such a small sample size, it feels as if your soul has been ripped out and you will never recover. It is why tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet resonate with audiences so much. I think we all recall our first loves. It leaves an impression. It is an important milestone on our way to adulthood.
I offered to share my own experience with Caz. He didn't have much interest at the time. That is OK. I won't push him. I want him to know that he can talk to me. But it is up to him to do so, only when he is ready. I hope he's comfortable talking to me. I guess reaching out is the first step, right? That is all I can do for now.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
It was actually a great day for it. How many days in a normal February in New England do you get over 50 degree weather? Sure, there was still a lot of snow on the ground. But the kids adapted. The insulated themselves so they could lay down in the snow. They are really great kids. Very nice. Very polite. It was really no work to have them all here. Our kids have done a good job in general picking their friends. I guess we have taught them pretty well. It's good reinforcement for Demi and me.
It's hard to believe we have another teenager. How did that happen? And so quickly? Where did all the time go?
Friday, February 14, 2014
I am glad the boys have a good circle of friends. Coco had been at his buddy's since after school. Caz too, for that matter. I really wonder if Caz got his girlfriend a card. Of if he called her. Or if he did anything to commemorate the day. I may have to quiz him later.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
It started the same as most of them do. Generally, it starts over a little thing. Then another little thing gets added. And another. It snowballs. It escalates. Then you have a full blown storm.
This one started just like the others. But as Caz started his hissy fit at the dinner table, I ordered him out of the house. It was close to zero degrees out. I tried to bundle him up. He choose to be stubborn. I told him to grab a shovel and to clean the deck. He did it. Not well. But not poorly. He did it quickly and efficiently.
When he came back in, he was much calmer. Demi and I were much calmer. Demi more so. I was still steaming a bit. Caz apologized. Demi led the discussion. After a long talk, things got much better. He wasn't happy but he followed the rules. We finished in a much better place than where we had been. I didn't need to put up the wall after all.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Yesterday, I took Coco out on the trails for some snow-shoeing. We had a nice little trek around Beaver Creek. It is nice to have this little preserve and it's trails, so close by. It is easy to take it for granted. I try not to do that. I try to take advantage of what is here and impress upon the boys, how lucky we are to live where we do. Coco had a good time with it. He suited up with his snow-pants, winter coat, hat, gloves, gaiter, and goggles. I let him lead the way, so that I could follow behind with the camera. We had a nice little chat while we were out there. It was a good way to spend some father/son time. It also got him moving, doing something physical. I am pretty sly like that. Multi-tasking. A good trait to have, right?
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Sunday, February 2, 2014
It should have been obvious that a ground hog seeing his shadow today would be a sign of things to come. Bad things to come. Today didn't seem that way initially. Spin class was great. But after that? A lot of unexpected curve balls. I didn't get half of what I wanted to accomplish done. Even the Super Bowl was lousy. So were the commercials overall. Sure a few were amusing but on the whole they were disappointing. Then there was the weather forecast. Snow. Didn't see that coming.
The highlight of the day was the fare for the Super Bowl. I made a beer cheese soup from scratch. Coco, Demi and I thought it was a hit. The garlic knots turned out very well. Lots of garlic butter. No vampires would dare come anywhere near the place tonight. The hero sandwiches were great. Coco chowed down. He put on a display. The put down the hero, 5 garlic knots, 8-10 jalapeno poppers, and a bowl of beer cheese soup.
The Super Bowl was truly about the family tonight. Even though Caz was not here for the first half, it was a great family night. I got Caz a very special root beer in a cool bottle. I got orange cream soda for Coco. We wrote up some prop bets and everyone had a guess. We had to time the performance of the national anthem. We had to wait for the temperature. We had to wait until the 4th quarter to see which sideline report would be shown first. Oh, Erin Andrews.....Definitely, the prop bets were the most entertainment of the night.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Coco actually had a hiccup. He made honor roll but he came down in couple of classes. One was due to homework. Demi and I took responsibility for part of that. We take him for granted, that he is so motivated and self sufficient. But we talked and will be checking on him, the same as Caz. A learning opportunity for us all.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
I put the seed of an idea into the kids heads. I had seen a really cool snowman/snow sculpture of Jabba the Hutt. I showed the picture to the kids.
"We could do that!"
So we geared up. Hats. Gloves. Boots. Snow pants. We grabbed the shovels. Coco found the perfect spot. There is a rock in our front yard that served as the base. It was right on the corner of the lot, by both streets. So this had better been good. We piled up the snow. Then we shaped. Coco started the head. Then Caz had a turn. After that it was up to yours truly. I was really hoping that the boys would run with that. Ah, well.
Coco and I were out there for 2 and half hours. Gizmo and Demi came out to admire it after we were done. I had thought it came out well. Gizmo wasn't as much as a fan. She peed on it.....
Saturday, January 18, 2014
The boys are lethargic. They don't want to do much of anything. They sleep in, Caz much more so than Coco. They don't want to go out. They don't want to call their friends. They need some motivation. Sure you can be a lump once in a while. But it's getting to be a weekend routine. Enough. Time to light a fire under their butts. Plenty of shoveling to do.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Now imagine that with some whine and a pretty good acting job. I am sure he was very sore, but Coco was playing it up.
"I can't move!" with the ooooohhhh in move really extended. Like a ghost haunting a house.
Coco had done some squats the previous day during his strength and conditioning program. It's really the only exercise he is getting these days. I don't think he even has gym this semester. He tries to spend his free time watching SportsCenter. He will read with it on, while he lies on the couch. Demi and I both remarked that his muscles were likely reacting to having been close to atrophy. Just like Costanza.
Instead of caving or coddling, we gave him stretching exercises. We gave him Epsom salts for a bath. And we gave him instructions on using The Stick and the roller. All self serving help.