Monkey Bar Challenge (6 yo division)

Alexa’s been burned up for the last two years because Christopher mastered the monkey bars first. We practiced, talked about monkey motion, and studied strategy. This week Alexa felt ready to take the Monkey Bar Challenge. Watch what happens.

alexa chris 03-25-15 01 w

The Tooth Fairy, the Oracle, and the Dad

After an exciting and tooth-drama filled couple of weeks, yesterday Grandma L. (the kindergarten teacher’s mother), helped Alexa pull out her very loose tooth. All students in the class get a little plastic treasure box to store their fallen teeth in until they get home. Alexa ran to my office (I work at the school) to show me the treasure and couldn’t contain her excitement at the chance to create a tooth envelope for the Tooth fairy.

The Tooth Fairy holds a special place in Alexa’s heart. It’s always been her favorite over the other imaginary folks who visit us. Alexa took great care to make a perfect envelope for her tooth and to keep the prize money safe after the exchange. She placed the package under her pillow and recounted all the other times that the Tooth Fairy came through with cash. With reassurances that the sun would soon appear, she eventually fell asleep.

tooth fairy 1a

Side 1 of homemade Tooth Fairy envelope. The bottom is supposed to say ‘get sleep’

Meanwhile, Dad watched TV while waiting for Alexa to fall deeply asleep. The next thing I knew, sunrise came and went, and I hadn’t moved from the sofa. I raced to get the money under her pillow before Alexa woke up disappointed, or worse, caught me in the act. I made it, patted myself on the back, and started the day.

Finally, Alexa woke up, came into the kitchen and started eating breakfast. I asked if the Tooth Fairy visited, which brought a sad look to her face. I asked what was wrong. ‘Dad, can I talk to you?’ Alexa asked with concern in her voice. She brought me to her bedroom and handed me the envelope.

‘Why didn’t the Tooth Fairy take my tooth?’ Alexa clearly felt that she’d been slighted. Ugh. How could I forget the tooth? Now I had to get into this ridiculous story.

I took a deep breath and began my lame attempt at a recovery. “Well, I’m positive that she’ll  be back for it! You know that she needs all of those kids’ teeth to build her kingdom, right? Why else would she pay so many kids for all of those teeth if she didn’t really need them? She’s going to be bummed when she realizes that she paid for a tooth and then forgot to bring it back to the kingdom! How about we write a note on the envelope and leave it for her to get tonight?”

Of course that all had to be said in one breath because I didn’t intend to let a discussion happen about anything except for getting the tooth back under the pillow.

Alexa, who is almost always a trooper, agreed as long as I was the one who would write the note, because she didn’t know how to explain all that to the Tooth Fairy. Perfect! I wrote out the note, and got it ready to stick under the pillow.

tooth fairy 2a

Side 2 of the envelope. Dad’s writing, Alexa’s drawing.

Then came the questions.

Q: When will she come back? A: Tonight. She’ll be anxious to get it as soon as possible.

Q: Why doesn’t she come in the day? A: Well…I think that she only has powers at night, because the sun takes them away somehow…kind of like a vampire, ya know? So she might die if she’s going out in the daytime. And besides all that, everyone would see her in the daytime. Night time is much easier to sneak around without being seen!

Of that whole bad answer, the only part that Alexa heard? So she might die if she’s going out in the daytime.

Q: She dies! Like really dead? So she can’t go out in the daytime at all? A: Nope!

Q: Then how did she come in the daytime that one time, a long time ago?

Ugh, again. It took a minute or two of stalling before I remembered. When Alexa lost her first tooth, a little over a year ago (10 years in parent time), I fell asleep before swapping the tooth for the cash. We had to distract Alexa while the Tooth Fairy made a late delivery–which happened during daylight. I decided to plead ignorance on the intricacies of fairy life.

A: Well, Lex, I don’t really know how it works. That does seem strange that she could go out in the daytime then and not die, but not now. Maybe there are some special rules that I don’t know about.

“Then you should go to the ‘intranets’ and find that out,” Alexa demanded. That is why I’m here now typing this story, because I’m supposed to be searching the great-source-of-all-knowledge for the reason that the Tooth Fairy defied fairy rules and came out in the daytime for Alexa’s first tooth and didn’t die. And, if that miracle happened once, why can’t it happen again?

Even though I work with kids and computers all day, it didn’t hit me until that moment, just how much faith, certainty, and power that children ascribe to concept of the internet. To Alexa, it’s a portal to an Oracle. When I was 6, the best that I could have hoped for was a promise that the next time that the library was open, someone would check out what the encyclopedia said about something. But we’d seen encyclopedias, and they may have helped with writing papers, they certainly weren’t a source for all knowledge. Besides, the chance of someone even being willing to make a trip to the library to pretend to look up the Tooth Fairy was pretty slim.

The thing is, she’s actually close to being right on. The only thing that keeps it from being the source-of-all-knowledge, is that it’s also the dump for all that is untrue. If faced with everything, both good and bad, what do you need more than anything else? Discernment. We probably don’t spend enough time time teaching and learning the most important skill to have when you’re drowning in information. That’s a tangent for another day.

So, I finally did the research and found out that there really aren’t strict guidelines on the Tooth Fairy. I can make up whatever I want and be ok. The coolest thing that I learned? Vikings paid their children for teeth and then made them into necklaces for strength in battle. Is it true? I don’t really care; it’s a great story.

In the end, I’m going to tell Alexa that the Oracle said that the Tooth Fairy came in the daytime before because she was probably still in the area, visiting the mountains, or something. This time, she is over on the other side of the world, maybe near our old home in the Philippines, sneaking into houses there. I’ll have to admit that I was wrong about the Tooth Fairy dying in the daylight. I’ll lose a bit of status and the Oracle will gain a little. So goes my fall from greatness.

tooth fairy 3a

Alexa, 04-18-2015, age 6



This is the Story of a Girl

I’m trying to clean up and organize my digital life. One of the benefits of that type of work is endless tangents to go off on.

We found this video of Alexa dancing from around New Year 2012, making her 3 at the time. It’s just a few months away from their flight to the US. Alexa gets the dancing from her mom and spinning from me.

Alter Bridge–All Hope is Gone

Just putting up whatever catches my ear as I scramble to catch up on about a million other partly finished projects. Alter Bridge is a really great band, imo. With AB, Myles Kennedy is simply amazing, but for some reason, I don’t enjoy him nearly as much with Slash. It’s like the AB songs are perfect for his voice.

The end of vacation doesn’t really put me into a great state of mind.

1. Alter Bridge All Hope is Gone–Wembley 2011
2. All Hope is Gone cover by Lena Woods on harp

I’ve been here too long
I’m tired and longing for more
How long must I run
To find what I’m looking for?
All hope is gone
originally published June 25th, 2012.

Vacation Procrastination

Having two weeks off at the end of the year is undeniably awesome. Finances keep us at home instead of traveling world, but that’s ok, because I share the vacation with two kids who consider our city an international adventure. The time allows me to catch up on sleep, work, family, and every other responsibility that I’ve been shirking. I typically plan to work on about 2 or 3 times what I actually have any possibility of completing, which keeps me both marginally productive and feeling anxious for most of the break.

Available time, anxiety, and guilt held at bay by marginal productivity, combine to form perfect conditions for vacation procrastination, which happens to be one of my major talents. This vacation I’ve started creating playlists of the best music from different years. I started with 1977, a surprisingly disappointing year in music and finished the far more impressive 1993 today.

After years of nomadic wandering, I’m finally settled with Google Music, which gives me access to most of the world of music for less than $10 a month. Google stores my original collection in the cloud and gives me access to virtually everything else that I want. The only issue that I’ve run into is that to share music, I have to use Google’s version instead of my own. So far only AC/DC and Tool are in my collection but not licensed through Google. My mind is blown by the amount of music that I have access to for almost no cost. This alone makes a good deal of the shit that is wrong with the world seem tolerable .

I start by going through lists of album releases from any given year on Wikipedia and then go through a few extra best-of lists in case I missed anything. Then I play music for hours, moving all the great tracks into a list. Once I have my initial list done, I go through the playlist on random and move the songs up, down, or off the list. 150-200 songs seems like a good number for each year. There isn’t much need to worry about where a song will end up, just moving tracks up and down while flipping through the music gets everything close to the right place eventually.

The lists end up a little different from how I remember the year in music because I’m only considering releases from the actual year, when music from previous years heavily flavors my perception of a musical year. Listening to the playlists brings up all kinds of interesting forgotten and repressed memories, which I’m looking forward to exploring as part of future procrastinations. I joked about being disappointed by the 1977 list, but really, there was a lot of great music released in 1977; it’s more a matter of some years being better than others. My interest and knowledge don’t go back much before 1960, so that’s about 50 lists to go!

Of course, my lists exclude great songs that just rub me the wrong way for one reason or another. I’ve also included music that is arguably lame, but held some important significance for me at the time. Playing the year on random mode works best for me because the order isn’t too important and probably distracts from the experience without giving benefit. Without Google Music, you can still see the list and play either 0:30 or 1:30 excerpts. If you have Google Music, you should be able to play the list as your own and add it to your library for anytime access.

Next up, I’ll probably work on a year from the ’80s. I’m hoping that digging deep into all the 80s music will improve my opinion of the decade. Right now, I consider it the worst decade for music (that I like) since the ’50s.

Clicking on the links will bring you to the playlists



A winter ice cream break from a couple of weeks ago.

Alexa Chris 11-14 gif

deMotivational Messages: Consulting

This is especially spot on in the realm of education consulting today.  Check out all that has to offer.

consulting demotivator

Just Hanging Around

Just Hanging Around

We’ve been having a family argument about Christopher’s hair. Maylin has succeeded in convincing Chris that only girls have long hair. I’m doing my best to point out the vast number of hugely popular and successful people who make this position ludicrous. To keep the growth going, I agreed to the group compromise of a haircut. As with most things that we do, we found a few distractions along the way and ended up just hanging around a lot.