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Life with Junior -- Archives

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    Resisting the Rat Race

    As the days grow shorter and the leaves turn from green to gold to red (or rather, here in the Bay Area, the leaves simply yellow at the edges before falling off the trees), parents of 4 year-olds everywhere start to experience anxiety attacks and insomnia as we prepare to enter our babies into the rat race.  I don't know about where you live, but here in the Silicon Valley, when our children reach school age, we parents are overwhelmed by the pressure to get our kids into the right kindergarten to get into the right elementary school to get into the right high school to get into the right college to get into the right post-grad program to land the successful career.  As you can see, it's pretty much a straight shot from Montessori to that corner office at the Fortune 500 company, and you don't want your child to get behind.

    A perfect storm of over-achieving parents, a sucky track record for state public schools, and affluence means that parents here start groom...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on Nov 6 2009 12:16AM | 4 comments

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    Party Perfection

    A few days ago we hosted Sally’s first friend birthday party. Ten 3-year-olds from daycare and the neighborhood, along with their parents, in a park near our home. Apparently I went overboard. Again.

    The theme was Candyland. So I rented tables, including a kids’ table, and bought cute stools at IKEA for them to sit on. I created a construction paper Candyland pathway on the tables, made three gigantic lollipops, had my pastry-chef mother make fantastic and colorful cupcakes, and I put together a candy buffet. There were bright napkins and plates, containers for the kids to decorate and collect candy in, and, you know, wipes and stuff.

    To me, this sounds like . . . a kid party. It’s not like I had a bouncy house, which seems to be the standard these days. However, throughout the party (and after, when I showed colleagues the photos) I heard a lot of “you obviously only have one child” comments.


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    Posted by Ms. Summer Moore Batte on Nov 5 2009 2:53PM | 1 comments

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    Letting Go

    "Our teenager is headed to Boston?"

    How could we possibly send our 13-year-old son to a ballet program 3,000 miles away for FIVE WEEKS, to a city where he's never been, to live and work with people he's never met, when the longest he'd been away from home was a 3-night soccer camp 45 minutes away (at Stanford)?! What kind of parents are we?!

    Believe me, we thought a lot about this:

    Would he be safe in the dorms? On the college campus? Around town near the studio? During the weekend activities? Riding the "T"?

    Would he make friends? Would he be bullied? Would he be a bully?

    Would he get along with the adults?

    Would he enjoy the dance training?

    What if he didn't like his roommate?

    What if he got sick?

    What if he had a nightmare?

    What if he needed a glass of water in the middle of the night?

    What if he just needed a hug?

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Nov 3 2009 9:00AM | 0 comments

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    The Crazy World of Ballet Auditions

    A couple years ago, we learned that all of the major ballet schools around the country have what are called "summer intensives," where dancers spend anywhere from two to six weeks studying ballet. The programs, which have been around for decades, are called "intensives" because of the intensive training - they dance 4-6 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week. In addition to the dance training, they usually offer lots of non-dancing activities, such as attending ballet performances, going to a water park, having a talent show, etc. Kids from out of town stay in dorms at some nearby college.

    For the serious, career-oriented dancer, finding the right program and attending it is a must. For dancers who are not sure if a career in dance is right for them, they are a tremendous opportunity to get a feel for what life might be like as a professional dancer. They are also great for the dancer who simply loves to dance and wants to improve. Most of these programs have guest teachers ...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Oct 25 2009 7:32AM | 2 comments

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    Let's visit our college kid!

    Let's talk about visiting our kids in college.  Nice thing to do, right?  They love having us!?  They certainly want us to meet their friends; they want us to come to a class; they want to spend time with us and hear about what's going on at home, what's up with their sibs???... Wrong!  OK, maybe they want to do some of the aforementioned, but really only for a minute or two, not the entire weekend, not over several days.  They've got a life.  A new life and it doesn't include us parents.  What a game change!  

    First off, there's this unwritten assumption that college is their domain, not yours.  It doesn't matter if this is the designated parents' weekend, if you drop in on them, or if you're on campus for your college reunion, (because there was a time when this college was yours!)  You (or we parents) are infiltrating their space, they're busy!  So you traveled thousands of miles acr...

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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Oct 22 2009 11:59AM | 0 comments

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    Life Lessons

    As with any type of parent, being a gay dad has its trying moments. Being two men raising a little girl, we certainly have had our share of these moments as we interact with the world.


    When our daughter was just born and one of us would be out and about with her, invariably someone would come up to us and say, “Oh! It’s Mom’s day off, huh? You taking the little one out for a while so Mom can rest?” People at the supermarket checkout would compliment us on how nice we were to be giving Mom a break.  People would ask us if she looked like Mom or Dad.


    When our ...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Oct 21 2009 6:16PM | 2 comments

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    The Cupcake Victory

    My son has been allergic to the American diet for most of his four years of life.  When he was one, I gave him a piece of my bagel at breakfast, and when he woke up from his nap, his eyes had swelled shut and his face and body were covered with giant, puffy, red splotches.  After a call to the urgent care clinic, a prompt appointment with both his pediatrician and an allergist, two skin tests, and a blood test, we learned that he was allergic to:

    • Wheat
    • Dairy
    • Eggs
    • Peanuts
    • Fish
    Basically, the foundation of most American childhood comfort foods.  My son has never had pizza.  Or mac and cheese.  Or a peanut butter sandwich.  At birthday parties, he gets gummy bears and fruit when everyone else has cake and ice cream.

    When I first put him in pre-school, I had anxiety attacks at the thought that he might innocently trade his potato chips for someone else's Oreo cookies and end u...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on Oct 20 2009 12:30AM | 0 comments

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    I Don't Know How She Does It...

    For those of you who've read Allison Pearson's 2002 comic novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, what follows in this blog will sound familiar.  Eerily familiar.  And, I might add, that's entirely coincidental and came as a huge surprise when most of it happened to me.

    For those of you who've not yet had the pleasure, Pearson's novel depicts the hectic life of Kate Reddy, a thirty-something hedge fund manager at one of London's biggest investment banks, who is desperately trying -- and failing -- to juggle a job requiring ridiculously long hours, a crumbling marriage, and act like a "proper" mummy to her two small children whilst facing down the disapproving stares of her nanny and the local stay-at-home mummy contingent, the "Muffia."  The opening scene finds Kate in her kitchen at 1:30 am, fresh off yet another job-related transatlantic flight, attempting to shake off the "toxic shimmer" of jet lag long enough to ...

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    Posted by Kaarin Leigh Michaelsen, Ph.D. on Oct 18 2009 7:14PM | 0 comments

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    More About the Ballet Lifestyle

    In my introductory blog entry that I wrote last week, I promised more on the whole ballet world - OK, not the whole ballet world, but at least the ballet world for a dad with a teenage son who is pretty good at it. Let's be honest here: Cameron's not some kind of ballet prodigy, but is more or less on par with the girls his age in the ballet school where he studies. I'm certainly incredibly impressed with what he can do, and, given the extreme shortage of men in the ballet world, it's something he can legitimately consider as a potential career option. He did get a full scholarship to the summer program he attended with Boston Ballet, and, yes, San Francisco Ballet School did call and invite him to join their school after his audition for their summer program. So he's no slouch, I guess. But what do I know?

    Part of my perspective is that I started out as a complete ignoramus with respect to ballet. I was involved in music for almost two decades, but didn...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Oct 18 2009 3:15PM | 0 comments

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    First comes graduation, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage

    Unlike ANY of my pals from Stanford, I got married two years after finishing undergrad and was pregnant with my first child within months of being betrothed.  To further alienate myself, I moved to Texas.  Yes, these were crazy times for me.  I couldn't even bring myself to tell my friends that I was pregnant until I was close to giving birth.  They were still recovering from the fact that I was actually married already.  Somehow this thrust me into the life of a "grown-up" in the "real world" which sharply contrasted the innocence of living in the bubble that was Stanford. 


    I admit it was a jolt to my system as well.  I had spent the greater part of my senior year concocting ways in which I could be gainfully employed in Spain for the next year of my life-at least.  Then one day at BOB House, while watching the Grammy's (aghast at J Lo's green pseudo dress very carefully glued in all the right places), my phone rang....

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    Posted by Ms. Pilar Nicole Camarillo on Oct 18 2009 1:38PM | 0 comments

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    Only, not Lonely

    "I'm here as an intervention," she said as she made very intense eye contact.

    I've been through many of these interventions. None have worked. I'm not a drug addict or shopaholic. (I may be a control freak but we'll get to that later.) I've simply chosen not to have any more kids.

    "REALLY, just one?" they say. "She'll be spoiled." "She'll be weird." "You're depriving her." "You're leaving just her to take care of you when you're old?" "She'll be lonely."

    First of all, she's already weird. So are her dad and I--she didn't have a prayer. I'm the mom. "D" is the dad (and my husband, and not a Stanford grad--a fault I only occasionally hold against him). "Sally" is our daughter. She'll be three in just a few days. She is the absolute center of my world. I love her more than life itself. She cracks me up, she's crazy smart, she gives the best hugs on earth and she's as cute as they come.

    And I don't want to go through this again.

    I k...

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    Posted by Ms. Summer Moore Batte on Oct 13 2009 3:18PM | 1 comments

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    Having It All (and Other Myths of the Modern Woman)

    Back in my Stanford days, I had this vision of myself having it all: successful career, loving husband, beautiful home, travel, continuing education, time for myself and my friends, etc.  Notice that "children" was not on the list.

    Fast forward five years after graduation, and I had the career on the rise, the loving husband, the beautiful home, some travel, a little bit of time for myself.  Not bad.  Things can only get better, right?

    Fast forward to today, 15 years after graduation (hey, all you class of '94ers, will you be at the reunion this year?), and somehow that loving husband convinced me that kids needed to be on that list.  There they are at the top of the list now, ages 4 and 2, definitely two of my proudest achievements. 

    But, what is this - a bunch of other stuff fell off the list and I didn't even notice!  Bye-bye, career on the rise.  So long, travel.  Husband is still loving but a lot more tir...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on Oct 11 2009 11:36PM | 0 comments

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    My "Modern Family"

    I’ve always been the uptight guy: I follow the rules. I worry too much about the small stuff. I’m not good at giving up control.  I’m too concerned about what other people think of me.


    All of this makes me a LOT of fun at parties. 


    Fortunately for me, though, opposites attract. My laid back, go-with-the-flow partner and I have been together for almost 15 years now, and we have built a rich life full of family, friends, travel, and fun.


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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Oct 9 2009 4:42PM | 1 comments

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    Parenting.... It's Life Long!

    I'm the mom of four fabo kids, ranging in age from 19-25.  They call this generation, Gen Y.  Our eldest is a girl and then 3 boys!  I know, I know, four kids in 6 years?  What were we thinking?  Certainly not about college back then and having more than one kid in college at a time (currently 2 in, one @ Stanford, one @ Colo. College and 2 out, one from Princeton, one from CU Boulder)!

    One thing I'm learning about being a mom is, "once a mom, always a mom!" My mom used to say that to me, but I didn't really get it.  But now that she's gone, I totally get it.  I used to speak to her just about daily since I had our first child, and it continued all along the way:  toddling > nursery schools > high schools > colleges >  and now the 'real world.'  I was the kid, she was my mom.  I'm just sorry she's not around to consult with on kids getting married, grandchildren, inlaws....


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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Oct 9 2009 12:37PM | 0 comments

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    Dad and Ballet (and other stuff)

    Our son is a ballet dancer.

    That sentence is one that my wife and I have spoken often, and it always gets a reaction. Positive reactions so far, as people we tend to meet are sophisticated enough to know that dancing involves a lot of hard work combined with artistic expression - not an easy thing for a teenage boy (or girl!) to do.

    Oh, sure, Cameron does the usual teenage boy stuff, too, and would justifiably object to being pigeonholed as "only" a dancer. As I'm writing this, I'm looking ahead to his next high school cross country meet - he's a freshman on his high school's team. He will have to practice piano before we go, and might take along a book to catch up on some homework. He played soccer for eight or nine years in the local Class IV league, as well as youth baseball for six years. Blah, blah, blah.... Yes, all those years of youth sports give me fodder for future blog entries (both good and bad).

    This whole ballet thing has been interesting - n...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Oct 9 2009 7:27AM | 0 comments

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