Saturday, January 06, 2007

Liam turns 4...

Liam's official birthday was last Saturday. And as Jen noted, "Can you believe we've been parents for four years?" Uh, nope.

Because Liam's birthday falls on New Year's Eve Eve (dec. 30), we decided to have the actual party today, when more folks were likely to be around and back from the holidays. As I noted in a previous post, we've taken Liam Candlepin bowling a couple times in recent weeks. And so when asked what the wanted to do for his birthday, he said, "Bowling."

So we booked several lanes at Sacco's Bowl Haven in Somerville. We were delighted that so many folks were able to make it, and that they truly seemed to have a great time. Sacco's is a total throwback, an old family owned place where just about everything is made of wood, and you keep score on paper scratch sheets. The old timers hanging around looked like they've been sitting on the stools since 1950.

Liam immediately took charge, reminding his friends that they needed "special shoes" to bowl. He was bouncing from lane to lane explaining to the other kids how to push the reset button. It was great to see him truly having a great time.

My cousin Tom came down from New Hampshire, and besides being great to see him and his little boy, he was a huge help, as experienced bowler. Here are Liam and Kalian with Tommy, Jr.:

It had been a bit crazy for us putting it together at the last minute, as Jen is back in classes. I was up the night before making quesadilla's and putting together our "gift bag," which in this case was a narcissus bulb in a pot with planting rocks. But it was worth it, of course.

Given that Liam's pre-school room was set for kids who were older threes and young fours, the past four months have been a kind of birthday-palooza for us. I'd have a hard time even listing the number, location and details of all of them, just because there have been so many. While we strive not to get into a competitive mode over these things, it's tough not to want to impress. I think just about every party offered a gift bag, and so we did, too. And while none were overly ostentatious, or lavish, it's tough not to let yourself start comparing and mentally tallying what this or that must have cost.

One thing I'm glad we did: Ask folks not to bring presents. Of course, a couple folks did, and that's fine. But a little goes a long way with Liam. Which is great. My aunt got him an electric helicopter, which he won't let out of his site. And someone got him "The Little Engine That Could" which he refers to as "my present" and has insisted on bringing to bed with him.

Oh well. In any case, I think all but one birthday is behind us. And because it's been such a big part of my social scene on weekends -- one parent joked that he'd see me soon on the "birthday circuit" that means I'll have more open weekends this coming semester.

And for those who care, the full set of pics from the party are here at Snapfish.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stay At Home Dad = MBA

Little did I know that my year as a Stay At Home Dad is quietly preparing me to run a Fortune 500 Company. Or so says the New York Times. And who am I to quibble? At this point, I need the money.

From the NY Times on New Year's Eve:

Under New Management
Among Your Qualifications, an M.B.A. at Household U.

Published: December 31, 2006

AS many a Kodak commercial makes clear, child-rearing involves plenty of cuddles, angelic smiles and moments of treacly sweetness. But parents know that raising children also involves those other times — when the bowl of oatmeal overflows in the microwave while you resolve a sibling quarrel, when your knuckles whiten as you grip the dashboard for your teenager’s first highway drive, when you try yet again to encourage a child who is struggling with the intractable mazes of geometry.

It is all very different from business school, or even from an office. But many parents — including famous ones like Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House speaker, and Ann Crittenden, the author of “If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything” — know that the experience of raising children and managing a household is not just maddening and delicious: it can also serve to develop skills that are central to successful management.

Apparently Home Depot is looking for a new CEO. And the last one got fired AND got a $210 million severance package. That would be a slight increase from my previous job.

The story continues:

Parents need to master various skills, including quick decision- making in a changing environment (what to serve in two minutes once oatmeal is no longer an option), negotiating (coaxing a young child into snow boots in time for the school bus), and synthesizing information (if a daughter goes to gymnastics, her brother has to be dropped off early for soccer so the grocery shopping can be done).

They also learn to motivate teams (let’s have a playroom cleanup game!) and to multitask (doing laundry while the chicken roasts and soccer practices are coordinated). And they praise real effort at any level, whether it’s a toddler’s painstakingly balanced tower of blocks or a preteen’s carefully drawn poster for a school election. Communication, time management and analytical skills can also be honed at home.

Raising children is “a developmental experience and you gain workplace skills from it,” said Marian N. Ruderman of the Center for Creative Leadership, a research and training organization based in Greensboro, N.C. “If you can negotiate between two kids when you’re driving, you can negotiate at work,” she added. “There’s no question in my mind about that.”

So there you have it, I just need to figure out how to blend that into my resume or my next annual evaluation and demand a hefty raise. Wish me luck.

By the way, the full story is here.