Dear son, you are nine today

I have not written here in a while for various reasons but no better time to get back in the game than with my annual tradition of writing a letter to my son on his birthday. So here we go.

Dear dude

At some point, I have to stop calling you a little guy because you are starting to talk less like a little guy and atleast for the sake of this letter, call you just the “dude”. To me and your mother, you will always be that little guy. No changing that. Ever. But to get to the point, Happy Birthday my dearest dude.

You are taller. You are skinnier and just a tad, a super little tad gawky. You have the nerd glasses. The obsession with fantasy, robots, Legos, pointed objects is all there. And new for this past year, the insane number of secrets being shared with your buddies. Those hush-hush messages being exchanged while your mother and I ferry you from place to place, the incredibly funny reactions between you and your friends as we walked past Victoria’s Secret, the giggling at the back of the school chorus- all of those are new too. In a way, you are reminding us of the joys of childhood as you grow in front of us. Too quickly, I must add.

Our love affair with basketball ended just as quickly as soccer. Now we are on to volleyball and tennis. Wonder how long that will last. However long it does, I hope you find joy with it. As long as you dont pick an expensive sport, I am OK with these brief affairs. Speaking of sports, we both experienced the shared high of seeing the Patriots win the Super Bowl. Someday we will sit back and describe the experience to your kids. Cant wait to hear you talk about these memories.

I would like to remind you that we are still stuck at “Attack of the Clones”. We have 5 more after this. By the time we get to 7, it is likely that you will be a father. We are at “The Half-Blood Prince” and really need to get moving to get to Deathly Hallows. I know you have read it many times over. But the movie is quite good. Let us get on with the program, shall we.

Taekwondo is still a thing. So thats good. As is swimming. And piano. So thats all good. Carnatic Music seems to be our moment of togetherness. Although the practice of the same ends up being our regular battleground. I have to get used to the highs and the lows within the same framework of joyous music. I can see the progress you are making and it fills my heart with absolute joy- every time I hear you sing. It is an indescribable feeling. Truly.

We also share a passion for stationery which is super awesome. I cant wait to share my “cool” fountain pens with you very soon. Until then, you can use my Preppy’s and Blackwing pencils.

I would be amiss if I didn’t point out what your mother reminds me everyday- you and I have a remarkably tempestuous relationship. Of high highs and low lows. And that doesnt look to be changing anytime soon. So buckle up, buddy.

Here is to another year of new discoveries and shared experiences, of new lessons and newer wonders. Wish you a spectacular year, my boy. We cant wait for you to teach us all the new things you learn everyday.

Love you.

Appa

Dear son, you are eight today.

It is time for one more of my annual birthday letters to my son who turns eight tomorrow (or today based on where you live). Someday very soon, he will discover this blog and my series of posts on his birthdays. I will have a lot of explaining to do. I cant wait to do it- he deserves to know all this, first hand. Without further ado, here is my letter to my son on his eighth birthday.

Dear little guy

Every year around this time, your mother and I are reminded about the infinitesimally small bundle that was placed in our hands by the wonderful nurse, Amy. With every passing year, some of the finer details of those early weeks of your birth have drifted away from us. We hold on to the precious few things we remember and fill in the gaps with our photos and videos that are and were woefully inadequate (Note to parents to be- dont ever skimp on the photos and videos. Just shoot them and store them away on the cloud. You will never regret it). The one thing we can never forget is how special you were and still are to us.

Your seventh year has been as eventful, if not more than all the years before. You are up to my shoulder now. Soon, you will be as tall as me and I will have to treat you as my friend. Just so we clear, that still does not make you right when you try to argue with me. 

Your interest in reading is awesome. We just invested in a very large bookshelf, just for you. I know I insist that you finish your homework and all your daily practice sessions before diving into a book. But I cant be more thrilled about how you continue to get lost in reading. As a kid, I lived in a thrilling world populated by bows and arrows and later by spies and spells. Your world of talking mice and lightsabers and droids and Ninjas are equally awesome. 

Reading

Basketball came and went. Surprisingly, soccer is back. As is the all new interest in becoming the next Tom Brady. We will see how far that goes. Suffice to say, you have started with the right role model. Speaking of Brady, your increased understanding of all the plays continues to make watching the game with you, so much fun.

Contrary to your theory that you aren’t funny (wherever did you get that idea?), you are a hoot. Intentionally and unintentionally. Your sense of humor is so much of who you are. Never think any less of it.

Your smile with all the gaping holes for the missing teeth continue to light up the house every day. Just make sure you brush them properly every day. Twice. 

This year, you and I discovered Star Wars together. Between Disney Infinity on the PS3, the movies and the Star Wars story books, it seems like we have a lot to talk about. I cant wait to see the seventh movie with you. Once we finish the five before that. At the rate we are going, will get to Episode 7 by the time you are writing these letters to your kid. 

This year, your teacher got you started on writing daily journal entries. Never have I see the imagination of a child in full force than when you write these daily. From your ultimate gizmo ideas to solve global warming and saving the whales to your obsession with the Millennium Falcon, every journal entry is a priceless window into your head. It has been such an awesome read every day, I cant wait for the next day and what that entry brings us.

You continue to be strongly interested in math and science. As much as your mother and I would like you to not follow our path, it looks increasingly like a losing battle. You will go far with the things you create with a simple piece of paper and lots and lots of tape. 

Science

Your passion for music- both vocal and instrumental is a constant source of joy for your mother and I. I may have abandoned my singing but the joy and peace I derive from listening to it, only grows with time. I hope you learn to not just sing and play an instrument but to appreciate it and integrate it into your life as a source of strength and pleasure.

We started martial arts for you this year with Tae Kwon Do and you have taken to it very well. Your practice sessions at home are worth the price of admission to your classes. We hope it gives you the strength to defend yourself when you need to but more importantly, develop a sense of respect for non-violence. 

It is getting harder and harder for me to lift you and plant a big kiss on your cheek without feeling the weight. But I refuse to give up, whatever my body tells me. 

And last but not in the very least, as a second grader, you continue to allow me to hug you and kiss you in public in front of your classmates when I drop you off at school every day. Yes, you did tell your mom that you are a tad embarrassed about it but continue to let me do it. The sheer joy I get out of it is hard to describe. All I can say is that I have a huge smile on my lips as I type this. 

We don’t know what this next year will bring us. More challenges, more new experiences and what not. But suffice to say- we would have it no other way. You continue to teach us a lot by just being you and we cannot wait for you to lead us on to the next leg of this wonderful journey.

Happy birthday!

Appa

#LostAndFound: Kids being Kids

Introduction

Growing up, I was ridiculously forgetful of things. So much so, my dad drove back with me to school atleast once a week if not more to pick up what I left. I have come back home with one shoe. I have come back with just the lid of my lunch box. Yes, you may wonder- how is this even possible. But it is. It is.

My wife on the other hand, does not remember losing anything as a child. While that is an exaggeration, the broader point is that she was very mindful of her possessions.

Here is the twist in the tale – I have a pretty solid memory. I rarely forget. Today, one of my biggest strengths is my memory. My wife on the other hand wishes that she had my memory. So where is this all leading to – our almost 8-year old.

 

sherlock

Subject

My son is like most other kids. Or so I think. He lives in his own world. Often times, we need to jolt him out of it to tell him to do the mundane stuff. He is cooking up the next greatest weapon in the world to attack the bad guys or a rocket to take him to Saturn. Drinking his milk and getting ready to school on time are not in his priority list. Ever.

He recently forgot his jacket in school. This is the second time this year that he has lost something in school. My wife was trying to decipher this and I told her that it was absolutely normal for his age, and almost pedestrian going by my track record. She disagreed with my definition of normal and I went the crowdsourcing route. The results were unsurprising and proved my point, strongly. So here we go.

Study and Results

This was the question I posed on Facebook and to a couple of Whatsapp groups. Remember that this is a purely unscientific poll.

A small poll for parents of kids between 5 and 15 if you will indulge me. Respond with a number based on what applies best to you.
1. My child never loses things in school.
2. My child loses things but rarely (1-2 items per school year)
3. My child loses things quite often (5-6 items per school year)
4. Don’t get me started. My child loses a lot (10 or more items per school year).
Items could be lunch bags, water bottles, sweatshirts, or similar items.
Thanks in advance.

So what did we learn? Here are the raw results, 5 hours after I asked the question.

Slide1

On an average, kids forget between 2-5 items in a school year. Boys were closer to 4 (2.5 approximating to a number between 2 (option 2) and 5 (option 3) while girls were closer to 2. Yes, boys lost twice as much as girls, going by this data set. Based on personal experiences, this can be a surprise or not. From our household’s history, this seems to be par for the course and expected.

So what does this tell us?

Here is the real deal. Kids lose stuff. This is natural. In their precious childhood, it is but most natural for them to forget about trivial things like water bottles and sweatshirts and live in their wonderful cocoon filled with imagination and boundless possibility. If I could live in one such world and in the process end up losing a thing or two, I would gladly make the trade.

My own transition from being a kid who never had his bearings to one with a strong memory and a solid habit of writing daily notes, todos and priority lists (which I learnt from my wife :)) should bear testament to the fact that what they are as kids is not necessarily what they will be as adults.

If there is one takeaway from this study- it is this. The next time your kids forgets something or loses something, think about this study. And the responses of many many parents who are in the same boat as you are. This is just your kid being a kid. Nothing more. Nothing less. Let them be. They will turn out just fine.

On Productivity: Single-tasker vs. Multi-tasker

Who is more productive – a focused single-tasker or someone who can multi-task and balance a bunch of tasks at the same time? I ask this in the context of not just our professional roles, but also our personal lives.

“Have you ever wondered how it is on the other side?”

This is a perennial discussion at home. My wife is a fantastic single-tasker. I have rarely seen someone so focused in anything they pick up and direct their energies. When she adopts an effort, she will truly see it through to completion. But there are times, both at work and home where she thinks it would help her far more if she could be a true multi-tasker- balance multiple projects at work, home and more. I think she is already multitasking quite a bit doing all of the aforementioned, admirably well but to her it seems like she always does best when focusing on one task at a time.

Hindu God Vishnu - a multi-tasker, as you can see.
Hindu God Vishnu – a multi-tasker, as you can see.

I am a multi-tasker. I thrive in balancing multiple efforts at the same time. I sign up, often times, way more than I can manage. I enjoy the ability to jump between one activity and another and back. Yet, there are times when I envy my wife’s ability to take a job from start to finish without getting distracted by other tasks. Again, not to say  I cannot focus on a task at a time. To me, the thrill has always been in doing many activities at the same time and performing equally well in all of them.

To both of us, the grass looks greener on the other side.

This got me thinking. Is there an ideal balance here? Does parenting and balancing home and work favor any one style over the other? Is there a distinct advantage to being a single-tasker in specific work roles versus others? How does it play out in a laid back society (is there one left anywhere, anymore?) versus a hyper competitive environment like the Bay Area?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you identify yourself as a single-tasker or multi-tasker and what do you feel good about your style and what would you like to change?

Dear son, you are seven today.

It is now officially an annual ritual – my open/public letter to my son on his birthday. I wrote the first one when he turned 4. I followed it up with one when he turned 5. Then one for his sixth birthday. Without much ado, here is my annual birthday letter to you, boy_who_will_always_be_my_little_one.

Dear little guy
Let us get this out of the way first and foremost. You are never too old to be kissed on your cheeks by your dad or mom. In public too. You have not protested. Yet. But I see the signs. You dare not. Not now. Not ever.

Now onto the main letter.

This past year was pretty eventful. A whole bunch of key milestones. Your first trip to the Principal’s office happened. Taking after Dad in that department, I must say. At one point, I considered maintaining an extra set of pens and notebooks in the Principal’s office. There is a teeny weeny bit of pride in seeing you follow my footsteps. But I dare not say that in public, ever again.

You lost your first couple of teeth last year. Your mom chides me that your tooth fairy is too generous. Here is what I told her. I didn’t have one. Mine was the maid in our house who gave me a cup of water and some sugar for the blood. I wanted your memories to be less colorful and more memory worthy. And so you had a rich tooth fairy who decided to be generous with you.

You inherited the one gene your mom and I didn’t want you to inherit- wearing glasses at a fairly early age. You hated the prospect of it but have surprisingly adapted quickly and I am thankful for that. With your penchant for math and science and now the glasses, you do risk the prospect of getting the “Nerd” tag. I really hope you figure out a way to deal with it at school. By the way, the glasses make you look much more like me than ever, or so they say. Your mother disagrees, of course.

Your imagination is a joy to behold, if only you have the patience to put pen on paper. We are all waiting in anticipation for the day you realize the pleasure in writing and enthrall us with your words. It will come someday. Soon, I hope. Basket!

 

Basketball seems to be a thing for you now. And that is pretty awesome. Hope this doesn’t go the way of soccer. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have better luck than me with the height gene.

For the longest time in your life now (12 months and counting), you have aspired to be a marine biologist. I really hope we take good care of the environment for you until you are ready to take care of it. I think you will do a smashing job if you choose to do it.

Your mother and I are old fashioned when it comes to reading and learning. We would prefer that you learn to read paper books (yes, I know, I know) and write with pen and paper. As much as our house is littered with laptops and tablets, we strongly believe that the right way to learn is through books and human interaction. So, if we do not allow you to have any more tablet time than the school work demands, forgive us. We think that is what is right for you and we are not willing to change our minds on this one. You will thank us later.

Then there is your music. As much as I love your willingness to sing everyday, in the car, in your bed, in the kitchen, on the phone to your grandparents, at our friends, at concerts, and yes, very much so in the bathroom, there is something I love even more. And that is your interest in listening to good Carnatic music. For your vocal chords may or may not be your friend, but the ability to listen and enjoy music is a habit that will take you far and wide in your life. It is the biggest gift my parents gave me and if there is one thing I ever hope to pass on, this would be it. So listen on!

Last but not the least, with every passing year, your mother and I are holding on to the threads of your childhood, not wanting to let them fly away from us. You have a wonderful life ahead of you. And we cannot wait to see you show the world what you are capable of. But to us, you will always be the little guy who snuggles up on weekend mornings and is willing to, in private of course, indulge us with as many kisses we want to give and receive from you. 

As the clock ticks twelve and you are officially seven years old, I wish you everything you desire and much much more. You zoom on. We are with you, always.

Happy Birthday!

Appa

P.S: More than half of your best friends (as of this evening, subject to change tomorrow morning) are girls. Yet another good gene, my boy. Yet another good gene.

P.P.S: If T.M.Krishna is reading this, I hope he will soon make a trip to the Bay Area for a concert. I promised my little guy that I will take him to his concert and convince him to sing “Manavyalakin” and “Mamava Pattabhi”.

{Read, Write, Listen, Express and Do} more

2015 is here. We are a full two weeks into the new year which allows us to commit to things rationally without the hasty decisions we take in the name of New Year resolutions. I have a mixed opinion on resolutions. I think, taken too seriously, they tend to be ineffective. But seen as a fresh start to our personal and professional life, every 365 days, they make much more sense. Especially coming off the year end holidays.

2014 was a great year – I achieved new milestones professionally, made a ton of friends in the community and spent good time with the family. My blogs had over 30,000 views for the year which might be its high water mark ever (more on this later) and I am thankful to all of you for reading all the stuff I write- good and the not so good. Now it is time to commit to goals not just for 2015 but moving forward. Maybe, just maybe, some of you might be interested in a few of the ones I highlight below. See them less as resolutions and more as ongoing experiments in personal improvement.

Read More

This one is fairly obvious. Reading makes us better. I used to be a voracious reader growing up and that slowed down during my early professional years. Over the last 2-3 years, I have been slowly but steadily increasing how much I read. I set fairly conservative goals for each year of 5 works of fiction, 5 works of non-fiction plus magazines, articles, the works. I far surpassed my goal for everything but non-fiction last year and I am out to correct that this year. My Kindle Voyage and local library are my best friends. The reading experience on the Kindle Voyage is remarkable. While the wait for good books in the library is a pain, I have gotten a good portion of fiction reading from my library. I have a whole pile of books I purchased over the past year to get to. For online articles, I favorite the ones I want to read and then use IFTTT to send them to Pocket.  I have Pocket on everything from my phone, Mac and tablets. The image below is the first batch I need to get to**.

Reading List- Q1 2015

Write More

Writing here refers to contributing more online and also to write more with pen and paper. With your support, my blogs have gotten quite popular over the years and while I am still very enthusiastic to continue writing, I would like to explore new vistas and new topics that require more research and introspection. Blog posts will be fewer but hopefully with something more to take with you.

His writing materials

My continuing obsession with fountain pens and good quality paper is the other part of the story. My writing with pen and paper has dramatically increased. This post was composed as a series of bullet points on a 80th anniversary edition of a Rhodia Classic Ice Top Staplebound Notepad with a Hero fountain pen (remember those?) using a Noodlers Ink Heart of Darkness***.This obsession will get its own post soon.

HearListen More

In my notes, I titled this section as “Hear More” but upon further thought, modified it to Listen More. There is the critical difference where I could hear but not really listen and pay attention to what is being said. My penchant for being the talker in the room prevented me for a long time from being a good listener. This is a work in progress.

The other component of “Listen More” is related to podcasts. Podcasts have enjoyed a resurgence in the recent years and thanks to Serial, many more people are jumping in. Podcasts are my daily companion during my commute and a huge source of knowledge. If you are into podcasts, drop me a note. I can recommend a few****. Some off the top of my head worth listening to- The Pen Addict (surprise, surprise), Techpinions (tech analysis), The Critical Path (tech analysis), APM Marketplace (Kai Ryssdal FTW), Accidental Tech Podcast (tech+Apple), The Web Ahead (web dev) and a whole lot more. On my Mac, I use iTunes to listen to podcasts. On iOS devices, I highly recommend Marco Arment’s Overcast app. On Android, I use Podcast Addict.

TalkExpress More

This is part of what is new for 2015. I would like to express myself better. This is through other forms of media beyond plain text online. I am looking to add more videos to my reviews. I started adding hands-on videos to my reviews in 2014. There will be more of this. I attempted adding a read-along version for my book, Mahabharata for Kids. Initial response has been good. I am contemplating more podcast type posts or maybe even an audio version to go with every post. I am open to feedback on this.

Do More

Twenty four hours is never enough. To read and write and listen and express more, 24 hours is definitely not enough. But there is an itch to do more. More local community events, alumni events, side projects for work, personal side projects, an Android and/or iOS app, finishing a full course on one of the MOOCs, and a new book. The list is long. If I can get to half of this list without spending one less minute with my family, it will be a very successful year. Onward march!

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

– Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


** On my choice of books:

I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St.Claire’s when I was younger. When I saw them during my last trip to India, I jumped on it. I have not read Haruki Murakami before. This is my first attempt. Kurzweil’s book has been on my list for a long time. Finally picked up a copy recently. Walt Isaacson’s “Innovators” came in for good praise last year as did “Asura” in Indian fiction circles.

*** The first sign of obsession on any object, fountain pen, paper or otherwise is that you start documenting specifics. Type of nib (Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad), brand and specifics about the ink and so on.

**** I listen to a ton of podcasts on a variety of topics. Let me know your interest and I can recommend some good ones.

Life at 36

Last year, for my birthday, I made a list about the milestone and what it meant to me. I love traditions and figured I would make one this year too. So without further ado, here goes my top 10 list for the completion of year 36 of my life.

36

10. 36 feels a little less awesome than 35 only because it is an even number. Even numbers IMHO get way more attention than odd numbers. Unfair advantage I’d say.

9. While twenty somethings in the Valley continue to make millions selling their startups or going IPO, I am still yet to see something like that. Maybe this will be the year or miracles. Or this would be the year I continued dreaming but did nothing about it.

8. I got more of my articles printed by India Currents (and get paid for it). You should check them out if you have not already. I continue to blog as and when I can and continue to enjoy it.

7. I continue to over promise and under deliver when it comes to cooking at home. I have run out of excuses also. But there is always the next year.

6. Work continues to be interesting and we shipped a phone this year in addition to the best e-reader ever (it is seriously that awesome). Here is to year with more interesting problems to solve and complex technical challenges to overcome.

5. I am almost entirely pen and paper at meetings these days and as a result my handwriting is so much better( a personal goal year over year) and I treated myself to a Pilot Metropolitan which writes very smoothly. This is one of those things that makes me feel younger every year. For years, my handwriting suffered due to excessive computer use and going back to pen and paper makes me feel younger by the day.

4. The little guy continues to be the center of my Universe, not surprisingly. As he grows into a fine young boy, he reminds me that I am getting older. But just as that feeling starts to overwhelm, he treats me like a friend making me feel so much younger. Everyday is special with him around.

3. I continue to hit new milestones at the gym and feel my best in years. Many thanks to the awesome folks at Lifeworx Crossfit and my 7:30 crew. You guys rock! I still have miles to go but I’d rather do it no place else.

2. My first book, Mahabharata for Kids continues to do well – selling better digitally with every passing month. It has sold well over 1600 copies and has resulted in over $1000 to charitable causes. Many thanks to everyone who has supported and continues to support this effort. I am working on some interesting ideas and hope to discuss them in public in the coming year.

1. Finally I realize every day that I have been tremendously blessed to have everything that I do. I like my job, I have an awesome and supportive family that puts up with my quirks and an incredible set of friends (old and new) who are just awesome to hang out or interact with through social networks. And the community we live in seems to be coming together in a wonderful way. What more can I ask for?

36 you say? Bring it on!

Dear son, you are six today.

It is now officially an annual ritual – my open/public letter to my son on his birthday. I wrote the first one when he turned 4. I followed it up with one when he turned 5. Today, the 29th of March, my medium guy turns 6. Here is my letter to you, my little man.

Dearest dude

So you are a year older and a bit wiser. Maybe a little too much for our convenience but we will let that pass. You are starting to ask too many questions. Some of them quite complicated and a few of them uncomfortably so. Give us some time and we will catch up. Until then, let the dictionaries and encyclopedias be your friend.

Reading books

I love that you are hooked on math and science. Attaboy! I say. As much as your mother wanted you to be a creative type completely unlike the two of us, your DNA refuses to cooperate. The older you grow, the more obvious it gets that you are going to be into math and science. Like everyone else in the family. Now that we understand that part, would you be so kind enough to consider thinking about building the next great thing. I am not looking for a $19 billion buyout. Something in the millions would be fine too. If you agree, I am willing to start saving towards your rent in SFO. You will most likely need that.

Last year, we had talked about girls. Yes, the same girls. You now have your doppelgänger who happens to be a girl. We are thrilled about it. Not so much about you following her instructions to a T and getting into trouble, but all the other parts including your newfound appreciation (as you clearly put it, not love) for pink and peach. The perspective is all good. Just one note of caution. As much as you like your friend, never, never ever call her your most favorite girl in the world. Not in front of your mom. Rule No 0: The mother is always the favorite girl, lady, women in the world. Never changes. Until you get married and then, the “if…then” clause kicks in. 

V art

We have kept technology away from you as much as possible. Sometimes we wish there could be a balance but not as yet. This birthday, we got you a Chromebook so you have all the right tools at the right time. It is a great device to learn cool things. And the occasional Angry Birds.

Your continued love for music is fantastic. I love the fact that we can listen to good Carnatic music together. While you continue to love Balamurali Krishna’s singing, your newfound admiration for Abhishek Raghuram (and his Viribhoni) is admirable. As is your liking for the Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan combo. I hope to get you to meet one or all of them someday. Remember, these guys put in a lot of effort to get where they are. It is not just talent. So, there is no point in expecting music to come to you naturally. You have to put in the effort. Yes, I am talking about your complaints over repeated practice. Gotta do it. No way around it.

I love, love the fact that you run to hug me when I drop you off at school. In front of your BFF, no less. I know this is a fleeting experience that will soon disappear. Until then, I will cherish every one of those tight hugs.

The Medium Guy

Your mother and I so desperately wish to freeze things in time. As much as we would love for you to eat your food yourself without taking the entire day and clean yourself up properly, we oh so desperately miss the little guy who was knee high and wobbling around in his diapers, and babbling incessantly. We miss that little one so much and as you grow older, even more so.

We love it when you speak in Tamizh. But it is starting to get rarer and rarer. Please, please speak the language a little more like you used to. For our sake. It feels like honey in our ears when we hear it. No hyperbole whatsoever.

I am thrilled that you are not scared of lizards in the garden. I am not gung-ho about you wanting to go and touch them. But not being scared is nice. If only your mother saw our side of things. 

Finally, to me, the greatest part of my day is when I put you to bed and watch you go to sleep. Nothing, absolutely nothing feels purer and awesomer than that. In that moment, the Universe just feels right.

Happy birthday, my would-be paleontologist who also happens to be a would-be geologist.

Signed,

Appa.

P.S: Too early to be asking questions about the reproductive system from your encyclopedia. End of conversation. Finito.

A trip to Lego Kids Fest in the Bay Area

I am a big Lego fan. My son is an even bigger Lego fan. Since 1.5, he has been hooked onto them. He has continued to craft his unique visions of flying objects (he calls them planes but Einstein would argue otherwise) with a bevy of colors and everything from 5 to 50 blocks. So when I told him that we were headed to a Lego Kids Festival he was thrilled to bits.

As I discovered just 10 days before the Festival, Lego does this touring festival thing across the country. This year, the Bay area was one of its stops. The festival happened over the Labor Day weekend. I was thankfully fast enough to pick up tickets because they sold out a few days in advance of the event. The show was held in the San Jose Convention Center in downtown San Jose.

My son and I had a Sunday 3pm slot and we arrived just on time for the gates to open. The organizers had two sessions every day and each session lasted for a 4:30 hour window. We stood on the line to enter the place and soon we were ushered in. What we saw was a couple of huge convention areas filled with all things Lego. To my son (and to me) it was paradise. There is much that I can write about what we saw but it would mean nothing. Instead, I will present a bunch of photos in a gallery here. That should tell you everything about it really.

We flitted and jumped between all the sections the show had to offer. We could not get enough of anything and everything. Be it Lego Ninjago section where we played a game as a team or the Lego Chima section where I cheered him go for a big goal, it was just a lot of fun together. We then battled each other in a section where Lego’s were rigged to be controlled via a controller. I then faded in the background to watch him play with other kids in various sections including Lego City, Lego Factory and what not.

In two separate areas there were just a vast swath of Lego blocks scattered for kids to go crazy. The free play is what makes Legos so fantastic and this was no different. We chose to skip a tutorial from a Lego Master Builder for aspiring kids due to lack of time. We also skipped a Lego Friends section for girls- my son refused to have anything to do with it. We could not wait long enough in the queue for Lego mindstorms. Lego Star wars was everywhere. And before I forget, there were life sized Lego renditions of everyone from Captain Jack Sparrow to Lightning McQueen to R2D2 to Superman and Hulk. My superhero obsessed kid went bonkers.

There were couple of stalls selling Lego stuff and DK had a stall for Lego themed books. They also had a nice section for kids and adults to relax and read some of these books. There were a couple of snack booths that were most welcome.

In all, we had a ball. I cant wait to do this again, whenever we get a chance. It was a fun experience and a great time to bond with my son.

Goodbye, preschool. We will miss you.

Today, our little guy graduated from his preschool. In a few hours, he will step out of the place he has called his second home for over 3 years. A place he preferred often times than our home on weekends. Over the last few weeks culminating with today, he has said goodbye’s to friends he cherishes. Friends he has known for the last 3.5 years at his daycare/preschool. In a sense, his first real set of friends. Some he will cross paths in the coming years. Others, maybe never. And for all the wonderful memories we have made here, we will ever be thankful to Happy Days, his daycare.

A couple of months before he turned two, we hesitantly enrolled him at Happy Days not sure how they would feed him, how he would sleep and how he would make friends. Today, I cant be prouder of my son and what the school has done with him. He could not better prepared for elementary school.

Goodbye, preschool.
Goodbye, preschool.

The last couple of years, the transition has been remarkable. In the first few rooms, he needed and got all the hugs and love from his teachers. In the last two classrooms, in addition to those wonderful hugs and kisses, he has learnt to read, write, count and express himself. His interest in art and music has been great to watch. His skills from handling the scissors to making collages to drawing to coloring have been a revelation. And his confidence in what he knows is refreshing. And to all this, I am thankful to his teachers. Most recently and most importantly, Ms.Jen.

Ms.Jen has been his teacher for the last year and she has done wonders with him. His reading, writing and math skills have grown significantly, thanks to her. And her passion for animals and arts and music has been infectious. Be it the incubation of eggs to full grown hens and roosters in his own classroom or the surprise visit of her pet snake to meet the kids, she has done it the right way. The best part about what she has done with the little guy is that he wants and likes to do math and science. It is not what he has to do but what he wants to do. For a teacher to have made something fun for a child to learn is remarkable. And for that, I will be forever indebted to her.

My wife calls me too sentimental and caught up in what is otherwise a phase of my son’s life. Maybe so. But as I say goodbye to his pre-school, I am also saying goodbye to a part of our lives that will forever be something I think back with very fond memories. From his toddler room to the preK class, I have seen my son grow. He may not truly grasp the nature of what he has enjoyed and will miss- but as an adult, I do. To me, every room in Happy Days represents a wonderful phase of my child’s early years. Memories made between the four walls of the school. Something that my wife and I will cherish and miss. And for providing a warm and nourishing environment for my son to thrive and grow, I am very thankful. To all his teachers, we will forever be indebted.

Goodbye Happy Days, we will miss you.