Posted by & filed under movies, parenting.

Poor Triton, he tries, he tries.

Poor Triton, he tries, he tries.

I hadn’t watched The Little Mermaid in some time, so when I put it on the other night to watch with Kaylee, I noticed that my viewing of this movie has changed. I am now watching this movie from the perspective of a dad, and from that vantage-point, the most interesting character to me is King Triton.

First of all, hats off to Triton for raising seven girls all on his own (no mom to be seen). Now being underwater royalty I am sure there were mer-nannies and mer-servants to help, but still he made time to attend their little recitals even though he was running an ocean. Dad points for that effort.

But you can tell, he is barely keeping it together, which is why when his youngest starts talking crazy about humans being good and being in love with one of them, he doesn’t have the strength to make good parenting decisions, in fact he throws the biggest tantrum and trashes her room. Negative dad points for that, and for sending the most obvious spy since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to just “hang out” with Arial and sing her fun calypso songs.

When Triton learns his crab-spy was useless and his daughter is in peril, he does what any dad hopes he would do, self-sacrifice. This is the most giving thing he can do for his thankless daughter, so many many dad points for the gesture; however, due to the questionable means of underwater succession (where whoever picks up the trident and crown is the new ruler), this choice puts the entire ocean kingdom in peril.

There is a reason we here in the United States have the 25th amendment, where the President can recuse himself of his leadership duties if he cannot make decisions that would be in the benefit of the country, in circumstances such as say, if his daughter was in peril (I had done zero research on this other than watched the Zoey-kidnapped episode of The West Wing many times). There should have been a 25th Amendment in place in the under-the-sea kingdom (although who knows if they even have a sea-Congress to pass such legislation).

Nevertheless, Triton sacrifices himself to save his daughter. Then a whole lot of nonsense happens that’s not worth editorializing, and Triton is amazingly returned to form as a merman and by picking up the trident and crown, as the King of the mer-people.

So, all is well. Happy ending, right? Wrong.

There are times when I accidentally bump Kaylee and I say “Oh, I’m sorry, Kaylee” and she gets confused and says “Sorry, daddy,” and I say “No, no, Kaylee you don’t need to say you are sorry, I’m the one that bumped you.”

That’s how I feel about Ariel and Triton at the end of this movie. Triton is like Kaylee, confused and just presuming he did something wrong here, when really it should be Ariel saying sorry. Ariel should be sorry

  • for putting her father in an impossible situation;
  • for starting a series of events that resulted in an overthrow of the mer-government;
  • for taking for granted who really loves her – her dad would have died for her.

But Ariel shows no remorse for any of these things, and just distressing over her teenage crush. Triton, confused (and no longer keeping it together at all) overcompensates and magically transforms her.

Now she can hopefully live happily ever after with the boy she’s known for three days (who tossed her aside to be with another girl just one day earlier). And if (big if) that all works out then they will live happily in a world where Triton can never visit her. This is undue self-sacrificing and not in her best interests – no bonus dad points.

Watching from the dad-perspective, I was pretty sad for poor Triton at the end of The Little Mermaid.

Posted by & filed under family.

Dean meeting Ginelle for the first time

Dean meeting Ginelle for the first time

I wish I had thought of it, but it was all Dean’s idea. Selena’s brother took leave over the Independence Day holiday week from his job as a pharmacist on a military base in Japan and flew all the way home to be able to surprise Selena on her birthday. Well, technically two days after her birthday, but I set up a series of events to make it a special day for them to share.

I wanted it to be memorable, because I know Dean has a lot of people to visit and was not sure how much more time he’d get to spend with our family while he was in town. But Dean surprised me, because even with all the other activities and commitments he kept finding time to visit with us:

  • Coming over to read Kaylee bedtime stories on one night.
  • Coming back from hiking in Shenandoah to have a picnic dinner and ice cream with the family another night.
  • Spending the day with Selena, her dad, and the girls at Port Discovery in Baltimore another day, followed by being part of the first full family dinner in more than a year.
  • Despite being exhausted, watching a movie with Selena another night.
  • About to be exhausted, sitting up with Selena until near midnight chatting in the hours before his early morning flight back.

And most significant of all, somewhere in those multiple visits over a very short week, Dean got to reconnect with Kaylee and met for the first time little Ginelle.

Thanks for visiting, Dean. Hopefully we’ll see you again soon.

Posted by & filed under theatre.

The logo that Selena designed for the 2012 Delshakes production.

The logo that Selena designed for the 2012 Delshakes production.

Starting tonight and running for the next three weeks is the Delaware Shakespeare Festival production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in scenic Rockwood Park in Wilmington, Delaware.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Festival, and I still remember very clearly those days ten summers ago learning lines, finding performance space, creating flyers and postcard as well as sets and costume pieces and wearing every hat I could to put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream with nothing more than a shoestring budget and a lot of passionate individuals.

Now a decade later, the Festival is thriving and was recently called “One of the best events of the summer” by Delaware Today magazine. The new leadership team of the Festival are bringing back A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a whole new interpretation and using the space at Rockwood in a whole new way. I am excited to see the production,

I will be in attendance next Friday, July 20th. If you would like to join me, just leave a comment below and I will follow up with you to coordinate going. And of course, you don’t need to wait for me, go enjoy yourself some Shakespeare this weekend.

Posted by & filed under family.

Kaylee upset

Kaylee upset

“Boy hit me,” Kaylee ran to me saying with tears in eyes.

I calmed her down, distracted her, and she forgot all about it — I did not. As she went back to playing, I went to scanning the crowd for the boy that hit Kaylee so I could watch him with a judgmental face.

I have decided that, as a father of girls, boys are just going to be a problem for the foreseeable future. Right now it’s the ones that don’t like my daughters that are a problem, but before I know it, I’m going to have to start being concerned about the ones that do like my daughters too.

Posted by & filed under family.

You can tell by the sweater I’m wearing and the full head of hair that this video was shot a while ago. For a few months before Kaylee became our #1 helper with taking care of baby Ginelle, she was already starting to earn her keep by helping do small tasks around the house like wiping the table and making the coffee.

Because a year ago I got a single-serve Kuereg coffee maker, it is easy enough for Kaylee to use. She turns it on, and while it warms up can grab the single-serve cup of ground beans, close the lid and hit the right button for the brewing to begin.  It’s become a favorite part of her morning routine, every day Kaylee will ask if she can “make coffee?”

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Tree fallen across the yard of a home in our neighborhood.

Tree fallen across the yard of a home in our neighborhood.

Where did that storm come from?! I don’t understand how, at a time when I was focused on the weather – the unbearable heat – I heard nothing of the coming storm with it’s 70-90 mile an hour winds.

It reeked havoc all over the DC area  with more than 1.3 million homes losing power, (many are still out now four days later). Our neighborhood kept power, but was peppered with trees sliced, uprooted and snapped – a few smashing down into the homes.

But not our home, our house was fine; we had no damage, just a few leaves and twigs to sweep up. We did not loose power or cable/internet. In fact, we had such a feeling of normalcy that Saturday morning Selena ran out to take Sookie to the groomers and go to spin class and that was when we realized just how destructive that storm was and how fortunate we had been.

Posted by & filed under home.

The new Honda Pilot

The new Honda Pilot

We knew we would replace the Jeep with an even more family-ready SUV and for months Selena has known that would be a Honda Pilot. Since they are very popular (and therefore very pricey), I looked through all the comparable car types to find an alternative, but nothing seemed as complete from features to style to comfort as the Pilot. Finally we just stopped searching for anything but a 2008 Pilot SE edition in our price range.

Eventually we found exactly what we were looking for. The Pilot is so easy to get both kids in and out of their car seats. It has a ton of room in the backseat still for another passenger and legroom and enough trunk space to carry all the cargo that comes with having two kids. Or, if we want to transport more people a third row folds out of the floor so the car can seat eight. The SE edition provides a sunroof, power seats and built in backseat DVD entertainment station with remote and headphone jacks so in time, Kaylee and Ginelle can watch their movies on our long road-trips without Selena and I having to hear it.

We spend a whole day at the dealership (and Ginelle was only seven days old, so as we left the lot, she had spent nearly 14% of her life at a Honda dealership) and came away poorer but very happy. Now reflecting back a couple weeks later, Selena and I continue to tell each other when we are traveling in the Pilot, “I really like this car.”

Posted by & filed under home.

Greg's Jeep Grand Cherokee (2003-2012)

Greg’s Jeep Grand Cherokee (2003-2012)

I know it sounds silly, but I was really sad to sell my Jeep Grand Cherokee this past week. I have owned that car since 2003 and have driven it for over 150,000 miles. But it’s bigger than just that, the Jeep changed as I changed over the years:

  • First, and most key, the Jeep running smoothly kept my long-distance relationship with Selena running smoothly, cause I was able to drive down to Maryland every other weekend to see her for many years, until finally – packed to the ceiling – moving me out of Delaware to live with Selena in Rockville.
  • It then became the travel car for Selena and my many long road-trips as far north as Quebec City and as far south as Key West, and enduring temperatures from 6 degrees F to 110 degrees F, the Jeep kept rolling along.
  • Finally, as we started a family, it transitioned into the family car – the one that we could comfortably fit Kaylee and her stroller and diaper bag and everything else that needs to go with us everywhere we go.

The transmission started to go right as Ginelle was to be born. The Jeep was sold to CarMax for what may have been a fair price for a beat-up old Grand Cherokee with a bad transmission, but it sure seemed far too low for a car that’s been so valuable to me for so many years.

Posted by & filed under baby, home.

Kaylee and Ginelle

Kaylee and Ginelle

Everyone is home now and learning how to adjust to the new family structure.

Selena is home recovering and doing her best to respect the Chinese tradition of Zuo Yuezi, which is an ancient custom of the new mom staying inside and resting for a full month to recover. The mom and baby are supposed to avoid anything cold, water, wind and others – pretty much anything that could have transmitted disease and infection in olden times. The world’s changed so much that a strict following of Zuo Yuezi is probably overkill, but they broader concepts of avoiding infection and resting a lot still are the right ways to recover

Ginelle just last night finally understood that she’s not obligated to cry all night long. This has been a wonderful discovery for all of us. Beyond that, she’s just precious and amazing. I have about a thousand pictures of her now on Flickr if you haven’t seen the little one yet.

Kaylee is adjusting well, she loves having a baby around, and plus we got her a whole bunch of new accessories for her baby-doll when we brought the baby home, so she can now follow along with changing diapers or feeding, or even just letting the baby sleep in the bassinet. The only real issue we’ve had with Kaylee adjusting is that she is insistent something amazing is happening after we put her to bed that she needs to get up and be part of it. That’s led to putting her to bed 10-12 times a night; we’ll when I was putting her to bed a dozen times. Once tiger-mom Selena stepped in, it only took one more try to get up before she was down for the night. Selena’s good.

Sookie, the shih-tzu, has been surprisingly chill, not being difficult, not having accidents or stealing toys like she did when we brought Kaylee home. She knows there’s a new person in the house, but doesn’t seem to mind.

Oh and me, I’m taking full advantage of my work’s generous paternity leave to get to know my new baby girl and to be there for my big girl. Oh, and I shaved off all my hair. I wanted to give myself a visual reminder that my world has completely changed, yet again, and it’s going to be an exciting new beginning or cause I felt like I would never prioritize going to a salon and getting a haircut with so much else to focus on at home

Posted by & filed under family.

Ginelle Grace Robleto

Ginelle Grace Robleto

The new baby that adding a lot of joy and subtracting a lot of sleep from our lives is Ginelle Grace Robleto. What is the significance of that name?

Ginelle is an alternate version of the name Gina, and is a tribute to her maternal grandmother. Selena’s mom, Gina Kang, passed away 10 years ago now after a long difficult battle with MS.  She is still so missed.

Grace is a tribute to her paternal great-grandmother, my maternal grandmother Grace Danaher who passed away when I was only a kid. And Robleto, of course, is a built-in tribute to the paternal side of my family.

Only side of the family left out in the name was Selena’s dad’s side, but my hope is that they will be happy with the consolation prize of living within minutes of the baby and getting to see her anytime they want.