Rock Fists

Rock Fists

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Timing is Everything

Let's just say, comedic timing is not Max's forte. Cute kid, pretty good at sports, very good at math, loves to create things.. But he will never, ever be a stand up comedian.  And that's ok..

However, every dog has his day..

We ended up having a bonus Hanukkah night as my parents were away over the holiday. So on Christmas Eve my family, my parents and my sister's family all got together for dinner and to celebrate.

During dinner, Mitchell leans over and says "Dada, are we getting presents tonight?"  So naturally I said "Mitchell, is getting presents the only reason for Hanukkah?"  He answers with "No?" Of course I should have responded with if he was asking me or telling me, but I'll let that go.  I did respond with "Good answer."

After a few seconds go by,  Mitchell leans in again and says "so, are we getting presents"? And as we're all laughing Max chimes in perfectly and says "Well played Mitch. Well played".

The room was in hysterics not only because of the initial laughter of the question and not only from what Max had said but the fact that his timing was impeccable and it was the first time ever he had nailed it.. We were all so proud of him!

It may not seem like much, but to see the interaction of the boys with adults and starting to use more adult phrases that we use is amazing to watch. They are only 7 and I have to keep that in mind, but the difference just between 6 and 7 has been astronomical. They are like real little people now. #ImARealLittleBoy

Monday, August 4, 2014

Experiential Parenting

Parenting is hard work.  There is no way around that. It just is and always will be. And when we take our kids to the playground or on a play date or to an indoor play space, etc we are still tired. So we use this time to relax, catch up on email, social media, etc.. If we're with friends on a play date then our kids play and we relax. Pretty standard stuff.  

However I'm doing my best, when I can to try something new.. It's called Experiential parenting - do what your kids are doing. Now obviously we can't do everything our kids are doing for various reasons. However, when I can, I like to participate. So many times we want to capture what our children are doing on video or pictures that we forget to experience.. Of course there are times we want on video like birthday parties or once in a lifetime opportunities.. But I feel like I want to experience more WITH my children if I can, when I can (and if they'll allow me). So I decided to say what the hell and have some fun.

Over the weekend I took the Twinado to Launch in Norwood. This is a place totally outfitted with trampolines everywhere. I've heard great things about it and to be honest, it looked like a lot of fun. There are so many play spaces around now with inflatable bounce houses, etc that just weren't around when I was a kid. I feel like I totally missed out on something that I would have really enjoyed. So yeah, I got a ticket for myself. And I am glad I did.

It was awesome..  We jumped, played trampoline basketball (and yes I dunked), trampolined into a foam pit, which is much harder to get out of than these kids make it out to be.. In 3 minutes I was only able to jump in twice. It's common sense that when you jump in feet first your feet are under all the foam blocks. But when you try to pick them up so you can get out the foam blocks stick to your socks and the socks fall off. So you have to then grab the sock and continue to try to get out. It was pretty discouraging really. And then we played a few games of trampoline dodge ball which is about as much fun as it sounds.. 

However I know my limitations (I'm not a huge fan of roller coasters, big drops, etc), but these kids have no fear.. Flips and all.. The boys were even jumping on to the wall, which of course was also a trampoline and it looked like they were stopping or pausing while their feet were on the wall and then they'd just jump off back onto the trampoline like they had done it a million times.. I'm pretty sure one of my kids is going to take up Parkour pretty soon.. If you don't know what that is, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihBoqdOsQOo 
And they are also obsessed with American Ninja Warrior, which is a really cool show if you've never seen it.

It was fun to watch them but also fun to be in the middle of it with them.. And when we were waiting in line they asked if I was going to jump with them. I said yes and they were overjoyed.. I love making them happy.. And it makes me happy to know they enjoy spending time with me too..

So if you are able, the next time your kids are experiencing something new or are at a place where parents can participate, do me a favor: Put down the phone and experience WITH your kids.. It's a whole new perspective.. And even though we know parenting is and always will be hard work, it doesn't mean we can't have fun too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spontaneity

The real triumph of this blog post is that I actually spelled the word spontaneity without looking it up first.. I am more than mildly impressed with myself..  And yes, that is about what my life has come to right now and yes, it is sad.. But I digress.. 

This past July 4th (well July 3rd if you want to get technical) we packed up the bag and took the boys to the nearby lake for the fireworks. Right at the beach area they had a band playing, carnival games, food trucks, etc.. A very festive atmosphere. However we learned the hard way last year that being that close to the water meant the louder the fireworks. So we decided to stake out a piece of grass on fields across the street near the high school. This area was much less crowded, the boys could run around and get out all of their energy and it was far enough away from the fire works where it shouldn't be a problem. I remembered the chairs and the blanket and the food/drinks, but forgot the football. And the cards. And the stomp rockets. All the planning I had done thinking it was going to be a few hours that we were there until the fireworks started was all for naught. Crap, now what?

Spontaneity, that's what. Instead of playing cards or throwing around the football, we had the boys do wind sprints and burpees. Then, they went over to the blocking sled used by the town football team (I think) and tried to move it. That was classic. Clearly these two activities did not take up too much time so we went over to the beach area for some games and fun. But there was a lot of time left to kill.

Soon enough, more families started settling in. And before I knew it, the boys were off playing with kids they didn't know on a dirty, dusty baseball diamond. Within 5 minutes they had made up their own game and played it non stop for about an hour and a half. Not only did this entertain the boys for the majority of the time we had before the fireworks, but they had fun, got a lot of energy out as 6 year old boys often have and they met some new friends.

So, what I learned is that all the planning in the world sometimes can't make up for spontaneity. Sometimes you need to just let them explore, meet new kids and make friends, create their own games and have fun. It worked out better than I could have imagined.

Oh, and in case you were wondering the fireworks hadn't been going for more than 3 minutes before they were crying they were too loud so we left.  Hey, at least we beat the traffic home.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Reading Is Fun

I've been telling my kids since I felt they could comprehend it, "If you can read, you can do anything". It's true. Think about it. Back during slavery, they wouldn't allow the slaves to have access to books or learn to read for fear they would become educated. It was a way of keeping control. So I explain to them, "if you can read, you can do anything".

Well they are six now and while we've been working hard with them, reading to them forever as well as working with them on spelling, sounding out words, etc, you can't push it. If you push it, they can become frustrated and shut down. Then they'll see it as more of a chore and not learn to enjoy reading. As a parent or as anyone who is teaching someone something, you really have to walk that fine line of knowing when to push someone and when to back off.

Well, it turns out that Mitch can read. We'd be walking in a store and he would just point to a sign and read it. Or we'd be at the kitchen table and he would point to a magazine and read a few words. Turns out, that while at parent teacher conferences a little ways back, his teacher gave us a list of words each Kindergartner should know by the end of the school year. He knows them all. I'm not saying he's reading novels or anything, but this is a child who hasn't exactly done things on what we would call the "normal" timetable. He never crawled. He didn't walk until he was 19 months old. He was about 6 before being fully potty-trained. Granted the kid has had it a little rough, so we were thinking more often than not he would do whatever it was at his own pace.  Well, I'm glad if something was relatively accelerated, it was this.

And he's excited about it too. A new book from school every week and he's excited to read it at night. We get them both new books all the time and they make it part of their routine before going to sleep to make sure we read at least 1 book. And, now that Mitch is doing well reading and how much praise he's getting, Max is starting to step up his game.

So hopefully, perhaps by the end of the calendar year they'll be reading books to us instead of the other way around. And once that happens, it's a whole new world.

Update: I wrote this awhile ago and never posted it. Since then, Max is definitely better at reading, but just shy about reading out loud. Mitch however will read out loud to himself or to anyone. He'll read anything including magazines, shopping circulars, it doesn't matter. He actually calms down at night but taking out his flashlight and reading a book to himself, out loud before going to bed. I couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Got This..

It's a simple phrase really..  I got this.. It could mean many things..  It could mean someone taking care of a meal.. It could mean someone grabbing a round of beers.. Or it could mean that you'll handle something and don't worry about it..  All relatively common uses for the phrase, but when it comes out of your six year old, time to step on the brakes and pull a George Costanza:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d0uUFw5ggM

So recently we had another common occurrence, a separated birthday party..  Meaning, one twin was invited because it was a classmate of his and the other was not invited because more than likely the birthday girl doesn't even know he has a brother, much less a twin. And we're totally fine with this. In fact, we even like it. The reason is because it gives us a rare opportunity to have some one on one time.

It's at the movies and is a drop off birthday party (a whole new world for us). Mitch is the only boy out of about 10 girls. As my wife relayed the story to me, his parting words were "Don't worry mom; I got this".

Oh crap..

My 6 year old is telling my wife "I got this"? I'm not ready for this..  Granted this is the child that is much more independent. Although he still doesn't like to go upstairs when no one is up there, he's much more apt to play alone than need someone to play with him. And he's getting better..

But if at 6 he feels no fear heading into a birthday party full of 10 girls, what else will he feel no fear about?

First day of Junior High, the beginning of potentially the most awkward 2 years of any boys' life?  Don't worry, I got this.

First day of High School?  Don't worry, I got this.

That big game?  Don't worry coach, I got this.

First day of college?  Don't worry, I got this.

First big presentation at work? Don't worry boss, I got this.

We overtly want our children to be independent so they do not have to rely on us for everything.. However, we covertly wish they would stay young and innocent forever. Maybe that way we wouldn't have to hear the words "Don't worry, I got this". As Dr. Seuss so aptly put it, "Kid, you'll move mountains!"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Well, technically it was Saturday, Saturday, Saturday.. A seemingly innocuous ritual for little kids is going to see the monster trucks.. Somehow this ritual seemed to have eluded me in my childhood, but not to fear, I have 2 boys!  So off we went to see the Monster Trucks on Saturday.

Our seats were great, however it was so loud! Of course the boys had noise canceling headphones, but it was still loud.. I wish I had a pair! It was cool for the boys to see the monster trucks they  had essentially come to life, but I think the better response was with the Motocross bikers doing tricks, flips, etc..

Overall, it was very cool and a lot of fun, especially when a marriage proposal on the jumbotron captured the Kraken and me sitting right next to them (across the aisle)! http://instagram.com/p/kc4ruCj_Ww/

But the Kraken had had enough towards the end.. It was just too loud for him.. So we went out to the concourse where while it wasn't as loud, it was still pretty loud.. Loud enough that he kept his headphones on. While on the concourse I ran in to my friend Josh Hoch who was with his two little ones and his brother in law. We talked for a bit and both commented on how loud it was. I said I couldn't believe how many kids in there, especially little ones that didn't have ear protection. And he said it should be mandatory. Hmm..

With the roads as they were Saturday night, I did not think about it during our 3 hour trip back from Worcester that should have normally taken about 1 hour. However for the rest of the weekend I did think about it. I'm not a big "mandatory" or "force things on people" kind of person, but when you think about how children are still developing everything at this young age, ear protection at an event like this would be the intelligent thing to do. It can't be up to the child as they are not old enough know for the most part. If it is within their control, it is the parent's responsibility to ensure their child is protected.

I recently took the Twinado ice skating for the first time. Now I grew up in the 80s where not only did we not wear bike helmets, but our parents had no idea where the hell we were for a good 10 hours during the day. They said go play outside and I'll yell for you to come home for dinner. If we came home for lunch then we came home for lunch.. Otherwise, when you heard your mom's very distinctive yell or saw the street lights come on, you knew it was time to go home.. And you went home. If you fell off your bike and skinned your knee, elbow, etc you could go home for some treatment. Then it was right back out there. I also had very large backyard when I was growing up and part of it was woods, so in the winter we would go skating. Lots of downed trees and ponds on the property. We never wore helmets and we didn't even wear skates. Just sneakers. Did we fall down sometimes?  Yup. And did we even fall in sometimes? Yup.

All of that aside however, I did not hesitate one second to make sure I put their bike helmets in the car so I wouldn't forget to bring them skating. They had no issues wearing them as they just think this is what you do. And man am I glad they had them on. Within 5 minutes of skating, the Kraken took a spill and hit his head on the ice. With the helmet, he's back up and skating within 30 seconds.. Without the helmet, we're more than likely at the ER facing a concussion, possible stitches and who knows what else. And later, this little shit thinking he's the next NHL star (which he won't be because he fell more than we did) totally takes us out as we're all holding hands skating.. So again, the helmet saved them. For those curious, no I did not fall.  :)

I am curious though what people think about this topic. What do people think about helmets in general? Should they be mandatory for everyone riding a bike, ice skating, etc or just kids?  If just kids, for what ages?  Under 18? 13? What would be the cut off? What about the headphones or at the very least something to cover their ears while at an event such as the Monster Trucks? Should those be mandatory for everyone? Just kids? Should they be maybe included in the price of the ticket and given out at the event?

Let me know your thoughts. Post them on my FaceBook at www.facebook.com/ben.thaler.9 and on Twitter @bdthaler or @TwinsOfAnarchy


Thursday, February 13, 2014

I keep forgetting..

You started to sing that Michael McDonald song, didn't you?  Go on, admit it.. Sorry about that..

Anyway, remember in Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery where Austin sleeps with the Italian bird Alotta, Alotta Fagina?  And when he tells Vanessa she explains to him he's going to be very lonely. Austin then spends the entire night drinking Tab so he can stay awake and tries to figure out everything he's missed in the last 30 years.. He's missed a lot including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid and the US putting a man on the moon.

Well, that's where this post comes in. One of the boys is keeping a Night Sky Journal and at the end of the month each child will compare their Night Sky Journal to what they see in the sky during the day. Cool idea. I just wish it was the fall or spring so it wasn't so damn cold out when we're standing out there looking at the sky..  But I digress..

We're charting the phases of the moon so he can see how they change as the month progresses.. And we look at some of the constellations and talk about what he sees. Currently the most notable fascination is with Orion the Hunter and his infamous belt. So we go back in and draw, color and write down what we see.

As we're looking up at the sky the other night, I hear "I'm going go to the moon one day". I said ok, you can become an astronaut. Did you know we've actually walked on the moon? They must have gotten whiplash with how quickly their heads spun around and like a minion asked "whaaaaaat?" I said yeah, on July 20th, 1969 (and no I did not have to look that up; Mr. Macini, my Space and Astronomy teacher in 9th grade did a really good job) Neil Armstrong became the first human being ever to walk on the moon. And after him there were 11 other people who walked on the moon. They thought that was the coolest thing ever. (Another cool fun fact is that my uncle was one of the engineers who worked on the guidance system of the Saturn V rocket that took Apollo 11 to the moon. True story)

But as parents we need to remember that our kids don't know everything we know (contrary to what they think). There are the obvious things like walking, feeding themselves, potty training, etc that we clearly need to teach them (see previous blog called Blank Slate)..  But the other cool stuff like we've walked on the moon that we take that knowledge for granted, they have no idea. You just never know what information about which subject is going to pique their interest. And then you never know where that may lead. Information is power.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f_DPrSEOEo

Friday, January 10, 2014

Müzik, Μουσική, Musiikki

It doesn't matter what language you say it in, whether it be Turkish, Greek or Finnish, I truly believe that music has magical properties.. The type of music is also irrelevant, it just needs to be the type of music that appeals to you. Whether it's listening to Enya while you have a migraine (I know someone who does that) or listening to heavy metal while you study (I know people who did that too) there's something about music that resonates with everyone.

Think about your life. When a song comes on the radio many people have an association with an event, a person or something in their life that is traced back to that song. It could have been that first dance at your middle school dance or the popular song that summer you lived in the city or your wedding song or even that time on that college road trip when.. hmm, better leave that one out..

But you get the point. Music has that ability to somehow transcend the aural and manages to connect directly to your emotions. And that is what I am hoping happens with boys. At a very early age we wanted to make sure they listened to music. (You can listen to Jimi, but you can't hear him- White Men Can't Jump, anyone?) Ok, moving on..

They had the mobiles in their cribs when they were babies, until one of them tore it down and that was the end of that one. But we then discovered Rock A Bye Baby, which is rock music of all different bands (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Green Day, U2, Zeppelin, Beatles, etc) all played like lullaby's. It is very cool, very soothing and they liked it a lot as did we. They still listen to it to this day.

But we also said to ourselves that we will not be beholden to the kids music when we're driving. I'll admit, we had the 40th Anniversary CD's of Sesame Street and we would listen to them in the car. The boys liked it and calmed them down on long road trips. It was also nostalgic for us hearing the songs that we remember from watching Sesame Street as kids. (See, it all comes back to music association) But when they were old enough, we started making them listen to our music. Hey, if we were going to be in the car with them for a while and they could keep themselves busy by looking out the window and playing games, we were going to listen to what we wanted. So they started enjoying some of our music.

I go old school and make them mix CD's. I have an ipod which I could create playlists, but it's not connecting in my car for some reason so it's just easier this way.. Plus, the boys look forward to when daddy creates a new CD..

I've made 4 or 5 of them. While there are still a few of the artists below that they haven't heard yet, here is a list of the artists that have been on these mix CD's:

Green Day, Foo Fighters, Dropkick Murphy's, John Cougar, AFI, Incubus, Dazz Band, Dave Matthews Band, Big & Rich, Of Monsters & Men, The Police, Beastie Boys, Airborne Toxic Event, The Beatles, Elvis, Cheap Trick, Fratellis, The Libertines, Imagine Dragons, Zeppelin, Toby Keith, The Black Crowes, Ben E. King, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Run DMC, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tears For Fears, Clapton, The Lumineers, Metallica, Van Halen, Neon Trees, Puscifer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Twisted Sister, Queen, Black Keys, MGMT, ACDC, Nirvana, KISS, The Ramones, Bruno Mars, Blues Traveler, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REM, Talking Heads, Blur.

Now obviously some of these artists have a particular popular song that is more than likely the song I put on the CD. But others are not what you may think. It was not always the popular song for a well known band we played for them. We want them to appreciate the band/artist for their music and not just have them know the "popular, mainstream" song for which the band may be known. But the goal here, as you can see is to broaden their musical horizons with old, new, blues, rock, alternative, rap, 80s, punk and everything in between. Just giving them a taste of whatever we can find and see what they like and don't like. They are really taking it all in and want more. They're kind of like Neo with the training simulation in The Matrix.

My ultimate goal with this project? That "a-ha" moment. We've all seen those Top 100 "Fill in the Blank" shows on VH1 or some network that counts down the top 100 greatest rock songs or guitar riffs, etc. There's invariably one critic or artist that says "I remember the first time I heard _____. I said to myself, what the hell is that?" I want at least one, if not both of my kids to have that kind of moment when they hear something.. Whether it be a guitar riff, a song or drum solo, it doesn't matter.. It will make it all worthwhile.

PS - It happened. With the Kraken. And Metallica. Is anyone really that surprised?