The Lemonade Stand

Last Sunday Sempi decided he wanted to setup a lemonade stand. Yoshi and Sempi went to store to pick up a bunch of lemons and spent the morning hand squeezing them.

It was made with the finest ingredients (cane sugar and ice cold water). Yoshi said she can help make the signs and Sempi declared that he's going to give free lemonades. He insisted that he won't charge for his lemonade. 

At this time I'm beaming with pride with his decision to give away his lemonade for free.

He sat out in the scorching sun in the middle of the day calling out to passersby "Free Lemonade". When people came over his first words were "you don't have to pay, this is free lemonade". Then he diligently poured some lemonade in a cup and handed it over.

Our neighbor across the street came over for some lemonade. He not only gave him a few quarters as tips and he was also the salesman of our fine stand. Calling out to bikers and walkers to come taste the delicious free lemonade. It was a grand success.

At one point even Vian was sitting inside the little lemonade stand helping his brother. 

I'm incredibly proud of my son's decision to setup a free lemonade stand. He is the best.

A Trip to the Gorge

Nice hot day for driving to the gorge and visiting some of our favorite falls. First stop Bridal Veil falls. 

Bridal Veil falls:

After an awesome hike we have a clear view of the bridal veil falls. Sempi takes in the view and announces, "Appa I'd like to pee now". Of course, you do.

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Zinger between me and Yoshi.

Me: Do you think it is named Bridal Wails falls because it sounds like a wailing bride?

Yoshi: I can see why you would think that, but the wailing you saw at our wedding is a special spectacle, I had my reasons. No one does that.

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On our hike back from the falls, I convinced Sempi to say that the falls ran out of water. He wasn't quite convincing, but he tried his best. Unfortunately none of the hikers heard what he said. Oh well, we'll try it again next time.

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Multnomah falls:

After Bridal Veil we were trying do decide which one to visit next. The top contenders were Multnomah falls or Wahkeen falls. Multnomah falls won hands down because they have soft serve ice cream. Priorities!

Once we got our soft serve cones and started walking up, Sempi became increasingly distraught that his cone was melting. So I generously offered to switch his cone for mine. He agreed and we switched for a minute but then he realized my cone had very little left in it and promptly switched back.

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A little while later...

Sempi: Appa can you just eat the ice cream so I can eat the cone?

Me: Gladly!

But unfortunately before I could do any damage to his ice cream, he changed his mind.

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After the ice cream is done we were sitting at a bench and admiring the view. 

Sempi: Appa do they turn off the water at night when they close the gates?

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Bookworm

We're getting ready to visit the library to return the books. I'm walking around the house finding all the books and filling them up in bags.

Me: Filling up three large bags full of books to return to the library indicates a reading problem. Especially since they were checked out only a week ago.

Yoshi: These books are almost due, we checked them out two weeks ago.

Me: Oh well, that makes all the difference then. (as I'm struggling to carry three heavy bag of books). 

I'm quite proud of how many books Sempi goes through. Even though we're the ones reading it to them, he prefers books over many things, which is not all that bad.

Voice of an Angel

When Sempi was a little baby we had a hard time putting him to sleep. I would rock him for hours (yup, hours) trying to get him to sleep. During those days I would sing a Tamil song that my mom taught me in the hopes that it'll calm him down and put him to sleep. Never worked. 

With Vian we are going through a similar experience (you'd think we'd learn by now) of rocking him to sleep. But this time when I sing that Tamil song he actually calms down. He stops crying, places his head on my chest while I rock him and sometimes even falls asleep. This of course brings me tremendous joy. I was patting myself on the back congratulating for perfecting my singing technique. 

Only to find out later that he also calms down (faster) if the vacuum cleaner is in use. Yoshi found this out accidentally while vacuuming the house while wearing him in a wrap. He was passed out in under 5 minutes flat. 

My son likens my singing to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. I'm beaming with pride.

Porcupine

After a 4 week paternity leave, I'm getting ready to go back to work. 

I've taken a shower, trimmed my beard, wearing a decent button up shirt and slacks. Sempi walks by and he says: 

Sempi: Appa you look different. 

I'm gearing up for a compliment. 

Sempi: You look like a porcupine. 

That's his way of noticing that I haven't combed my hair.

Me: Thanks a lot man. 

I should have known better. :P

Sibling For Sale

Sempi and I are at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, reading books and eating bagels. 

We picked up a book with a collection of funny poems. Here's one: 

“One sister for sale,
One sister for sale,
One crying and spying young sister for sale
I'm really not kidding so who'll start the bidding
Do I hear a dollar?
A nickle?
A penny?
Oh isn't there isn't there isn't there any
One person who will buy this sister for sale
This crying spying old young sister for sale.”

I asked Sempi.

Me: What would you say if someone offered a nickel for Jelly Bean (nickname for his brother Vian).

Sempi: Thank you!?

Me: Haha. So you'll give them Jelly bean for a nickel. 

Sempi: No! He's mine.

I guess he didn't really understand the poem or my question. But I was amused that his first response was "Thank you". 

Cup of Almonds

Me: I noticed that you did not eat your almonds that I packed for your lunch yesterday.

Sempi: Yes I like to look at them for lunch.

Me: Huh. So do you want me to pack it again today?

Sempi: Yeah. (in a matter of fact voice). 

Ikea Ice Cream

When I was a little kid which was about three or four years ago I used to go to IKEA with Yoshi. Whenever we went I always wanted to get their $1 ice cream. Sometimes Yoshi would indulge and other times I was too much of a wuss to ask her.

Today I went to Ikea with my son and my mom. After sending my mom to go sight see the various displays, we decided to hit the food court. Sempi said that he wanted a slice of pizza. I said sure then I crouched down next to him and asked him "Sempi I was thinking about getting you an ice cream". He thought for a moment and then said "But I was going to eat a slice of pizza". He did not realize that I was offering to buy him both a slice of pizza as well as ice cream. So I told him okay you get the slice of pizza and I will get the ice cream and I can share mine with you. He was excited about that proposition. Here's me eating the ice cream with him right before I drop the ice cream.

We manage to salvage most of it when I caught it mid air. It wasn't graceful but that never stopped us from finishing off the rest of it.

Stay at Home Dad - Week 4

TL;DR: Last week of my leave ended with some epiphanies and personal growth. I still firmly believe I'd rather be a stay at home dad than a working dad.

I'm glad to say that I bounced back from week 3 with great success. I finally broke through some mental barrier and felt a strange calm wash over me. I started controlling my emotions better. I still get angry when Sempi does something that I explicitly asked him not to do, but I don't show that anger to him. I use a calm, stable voice to express my displeasure and gently ask him not to do it. I firmly request him to apologize for what he did and it works nearly 80% of the time.

Yoshi has given this advice to me in the past "When Sempi is having a bad time, try to be calm and emotionally stable. That way he can rely on us to find his bearings". It finally clicked for me. It's a simple advice that is hard to follow. But so far keeping my cool has resulted in a reasonably well-behaved kid.

We had a couple of playdates at our place with two different kids. Sempi played well with one of the kids, the other playdate was more like the two kids played in the same room but didn't really bother interacting with each other. So I'd say it was a resounding success.

I took our neighbor's kid (Sempi's school mate) to rock climbing. She was a total champ. After about the 10th time, I had to restrict her climbing so she wouldn't end up with muscle cramps. The abundance of energy found in 3 year olds is incredible.

The strange epiphany here is that managing toddlers is easier when there is more than one of them. I could have just gotten lucky but so far the 3 afternoons with 2 toddlers have been a breeze compared to the rest of the afternoons when it's just me and Sempi. 

Adventures in cooking. I made eggplant rigatoni. I'm glad to say it wasn't a complete disaster. Yoshi liked it a lot.

Yoshi helped Sempi make truck shaped muffins. They were delicious. Sempi asked me to pack some in his lunch to give to his teachers. It was so sweet. Later I found out he ate all of those extra pieces that were packed for his teachers. I should've known better.

My mentor and friend, Graham is in town for PyCon and he brought a Lego Construction Set for Sempi. Sempi was in cloud nine while building his trucks from scratch.

During week 1, I said Sempi still prefers his mom and I have 3 more weeks to change that. I'm happy to report this hasn't really changed but I do have the following conversation to report. 

I do my usual breakfast routine where I sit him down at the breakfast table and put a bib on him while singing "I put a bib on you, 'cause you're mine...". Usually he retorts with "I don't belong to you, I belong to Amma". But today Sempi said, "I AM yours, because we sleep together". I was so moved by his reply, I didn't even have the heart to make some crude joke about it.

A little bit of context. I sleep in the bedroom with Sempi and Yoshi sleeps with the baby in the other room, so we don't disturb Sempi's sleep during night time feedings. Hence his comment about sleeping together.

I'm glad to have the paternity leave end on a positive note. Overall, it has been a very positive experience for me. I now have a better appreciation of what Yoshi goes through on a daily basis. More importantly I got a chance to bond with Sempi that wouldn't have happened without this leave. I went into this hoping to be a helping hand and came away with increased awareness and maturity.

Stay at Home Dad - Week 3

TL;DR: When life gets harder it's because you've just leveled up. I certainly hope so because this week made the first week look like a walk in the park. Novelty of a new stay at home parent has worn off, reality has set in. 

I started the week with a lot of ambition. I thought I knew how to handle Sempi. So I voluntarily decided to level up my duties as a stay at home dad.

I decided to clean the house while he was at school. Putting away the toys and vacuuming took nearly two hours. It's not my first time, but it is my first time doing it without any help. After that I had time to eat some lunch (I didn't have to prepare it, since my mom took care of that) and then it was time to go get him from school. There was no downtime, which I thought I could catch up on the next day. Five days later I've accumulated more downtime debt than I can pay off.  How do people manage to do this without help? The saving grace is that it felt amazing after I cleaned the house. It was satisfying and I felt proud of my work. This lasted a whole day before everything was back to it's disorganized mess and the floors started getting grimy. I started pondering "What's the point of all of this? Why am I doing this?". 

Around this time Sempi decided it was time to push the boundaries with me during bedtime. The bedtime routine is breaking and he tries to run to Yoshi when I start being strict. In the afternoons he insists on staying home and I can't force him to leave the house. This sometimes leads to Sempi interrupting the baby's nap. I'm unable to entice him with playtime and toys. I have run out of leverage and he can smell the desperation. 

I started inventing new ways to use the existing toys. For example, Legos/Duplos are now allowed in the bathtub. I built a submarine which I found was incredibly difficult since they raise to the top due to the air trapped between the blocks. The trick is to build it underwater and make sure you let the bubbles escape before joining two blocks.

Aside from the existential pondering, we achieved some important milestones. Sempi and I biked to a park that was 2 miles away. We both took separate bikes and I'm proud to say we made it all the way to the park. At one point while pushing up his bike through a broken sidewalk he said in a very serious tone "This job is hard work, I don't think I can do it again". I cracked up when he said it, which was met with a stern angry look. We took the bus back, since the way back is almost entirely uphill.

We went to Dozer days on the weekend which gave Yoshi and the baby a break. But waiting in long lines for a 2 min ride in a bulldozer or an excavator wasn't nearly as fun as I remembered from last year. It could be the pouring rain that soaked us wet or it could be Sempi's last minute change of mind to not go on a ride anymore after having waited in line for 20mins.

Sempi started serenading his brother with a song about garbage trucks when he was crying. It was the sweetest thing until he wanted to do it again when the baby was sleeping.

I got to bond with the baby a lot more since he decided sleeping was so last week. I got to rock him, walk him around and let him sleep on me while I sit in the couch. It was nice.

As we enter into the last week of my paternity leave, I'm hopeful that I can rebound from last week, but I'm worried for Yoshi. All this time she has been providing me with support when I needed a break and pulling in the extra load when I start to slack off. But how is she going to do it all when I'm at work? I know parents around the world have done this billion times over, but I can't help but feel a sense of panic.