13 July 2013

time to play

About two months ago, my wife got me the Lego Millennium Falcon as a birthday present. Now, it's my strong-held belief that you should always get a toy for any and all special gift-giving occasions. Toys are important -- what a toy is, is not. It could be made by Lego or Apple, a new gardening tool by John Deere or a new camera lens. As long as it's something that engages you in creativity, not just a new tie to wear to work (I don't wear ties), then it's a toy.

But where is the line in time when we got older and stopped playing with imagination toys? And I don't mean the new iPad or the new garden tool -- I mean Legos, action figures and dolls, play sets and crayons. (Btw, have you drawn with crayons lately? It's seriously a ton of fun coloring in and outside the lines.) Why is it weird to see a 40 year old playing with toys, but not a 4 year old? (Ok, because it is weird.) Part of it is that there's seemingly no time to play as you get older. You get focused on work, on getting to the bar or gym on time, making payments, making babies, back to making payments... there's no time. But I think as we get older we discover other pursuits that fulfill the "playing" we did as a child. Whether it's video games or photography, blogging or even working out, it's a "hobby" -- which is a term for grownups playing. But I think imaginative play is important, too, and I don't do it enough, if at all anymore.

So that brings me back to the Lego Millennium Falcon. When I got it, I was pretty stoked -- even just thinking about finding the time to set aside to put the model together made me feel more relaxed. My in-laws joked that between work and having a 2-year old at the house, putting it together would take me a long time. (Then they sent me pictures of their grandson's 2 completed Falcons...)

Took me a month and a half of random 30 minute or 15 minutes opportunities. Probably 3 hours total time. And boy, it was fun. The best part was imagining the ship was in the process of being built by a shipyard, and I was watching it all come together.

When I finished the Falcon, placing the characters inside gave me the opportunity to find the small vignettes that seemed to just automatically happen.

I'm not sure why, but Luke Skywalker looks really pissed.
Sure, Aunt Veru and Uncle Owen got roasted, but the dude just seems really annoyed.

Wise words...
Cosmic diva takes no crap.
After I positioned the figures I realized that those vignettes are "play." I was playing. And that was pretty cool. Maybe I'm only discovering what parents around the world already know -- one of the best parts of parenting is getting to play with your kids' toys. I look forward to watching my darling daughter get older and explore the world... and get cool toys for us to play with.

Here's all the pictures from the Lego Millennium Falcon (or view the set on Flickr):

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04 July 2013

here's to the traitors

237 years ago, our forefathers all went out on a limb, threw their John Hancock on a piece of parchment and became traitors.  Happy July 4th, my fellow Americans!

My area of DC gets very ebullient on July 4th. I live far enough away from downtown to avoid the season's tourists, but close enough to see the the National Mall's explosively patriotic evening events (ok, I mean I can from my roof and if I stand on my toes and peek over the tops of the trees... there, to the left, see that? No, my left... yeah, that's the fireworks on the Mall).

Of course, for the new to DC, the "required at least once" viewing is down at the mall and experiencing the full effect of the bands, symphony and B-list stars. Oh, you can't forget the subsequent learning opportunity upon trying to then metro home from the national fireworks. Enjoy that crowded metro full of hot humid air and sweaty Marylanders and Virginians.

After that, I think the best view is from a friend's (or your own) high roof. Any place above Meridian Hill and U Street will work. From a roof you can see the downtown national fireworks, Takoma, Rosslyn, Bethesda... all at once. With some creative playlists, you can even time the different fireworks to some patriotic music (or Lady Gaga, whatever works).

The highlight of the night's viewing activities, the best part of being in DC that night, is the orgy of fireworks fired off by residents all night long. The maelstrom will generally start about 30 mins after sundown and go on for hours of non-stop viewing from all sides. No matter where you stand on a roof, there's bound to be someone sending hundreds of dollars worth of explosives into the air. You'll see everything from Roman candles, whistlers, buzzers and single-pop black cats to professional-looking palm-shells, kamuros, spiders, willows and chrysanthemums. And that's just in a 2 block radius. We're talking some professional-looking projectiles here. 

With a 2 year old in the house now... our night is probably going to be rough with the constant pop pop pop and bang! Not really conducive to toddler sleep. Ah, the joys of DC.

Here's a video I shot back in 2010 from my rooftop.

We're all another year older, another year of BBQs and hanging out with family and friends. Another year to celebrate our separation from tyrannical rule and watch big explosions with oohs and aahs and the smell of gunpowder in the air.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
It's a good opportunity to reflect on the state of affairs in our country today, the various whistle-blowers (or traitors, depending upon your perspective) and the level of intrusiveness and the potential growth of the security state. It's always an interesting time to be an American, as our country is always changing, for good and for bad. It's a balancing act, and right now it's kind of a circus clown show between Congress, the Administration, Snowden, NSA, TSA, police powers, blah blah. I wonder if Americans are taking for granted the liberties that our forefathers risked their life and limbs on 237 years ago. That which gets ignored slowly rots away... we must be vigilant to protect the fragile freedoms that we hope to enjoy, or before we know it, they won't be there.

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

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01 July 2013


My cute little daughter is now a few months past 2 years old.

Our dream, as parents, is to sleep late. You know. Like to 6 or something.

Our daughter wakes up at 5am every day. Except for those days when it's 4am.

I'm lucky that my wife gets up with our daughter and often lets me sleep in -- to 7ish. You'd think she was being altruistic, but I think she just really enjoys the one-on-one Mommy time, and I can't begrudge that in the least. Our daughter is a joy in the morning ... that is, assuming she got a good night's sleep and a good nap during the afternoon on the day before. If not, look out!

She definitely is like me -- a terror when tired. I have a very understanding wife.

A few months ago, a really good (and childless) friend of mine was asking us about being parents and kids sleeping habits. We told him about how our daughter gets up early, so we end up going to bed early just to try to get sleep. The days of seeing 1 or 2am roll around while we stay up and watch TV / watch movies / play games / drink / get lucky or come strolling in from a night on the town are greatly diminished. It's more like "Wow, it's 10 (yawn) ... can't believe we stayed up so late!" Shuffle off to bed.

My friend looked at us and said "But you get to sleep in on the weekends, right?"

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27 June 2013

thinking of others

And brownies. Gosh I really like brownies.

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