Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why the Wheels on the Bus Are Empathic

Let's take the city bus!

Granted, it's not glamorous global travel, to see the world through the eyes of locals from other cultures, but then again...

The Mama and Beatrice have already taken the Santa Cruz city bus around town, but have not as a family. I know, I know -- we drive all over town and don't usually use alternate forms of transportation, including walking, all of which are better for the environment (and the pocketbook, even with gas prices dipping like they've done).

We actually do walk a lot in and around our neighborhoods, especially back and forth to Natural Bridges State Park, and even sometimes to the girls' school. We're not a bicycling family, but we are a walking and hiking family, and we proudly push the girls to partake wherever and whenever we go.

The caveat to the "push" is that we literally have to push them in the sit-and-stand stroller still once in a while, Bryce especially, and the second year at Disney was no exception. But hey, we're still getting out and going, going, going!

We've been doing that with the girls since a very early age -- planes, trains and automobiles -- to various locales near and far in the states. No where international yet, but definitely on our travel radar.

The Mama shared a great Atlantic article titled Traveling Teaches Students in a Way Schools Can't and this quote really sticks with me:

It’s a very powerful Eureka! moment when you’re traveling: to realize that people don’t have the American dream. They’ve got their own dream. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.

Indeed it is. The Mama introduced this good thing to me when we met and we've never looked back. But this quote's just as applicable inside America than out, which is why we want the girls to be comfortable and confident going anywhere, meeting new people, embracing new experiences across the spectrum of life (good and bad, but preferably not life-threatening), and learning a humane cultural awareness, empathy and perseverance to carry them through the good times and the bad (thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).

So we took the city bus downtown to eat breakfast, riding along with locals, hipsters and UCSC students, and then we walked (and pushed) back home nearly three miles. A bit much, but worth the extra "umph" for me and the Mama. Plus, we stopped at parks along the way home for the girls to play, play, play.

Right on. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Be Coming Next And What Becoming's Like

We smuggled the girls into the boat. More accurately -- we smuggled their fears into the boat. We knew the journey wasn't for the faint of heart, but it's an experience we wanted to share as a family. We left under the faux of night, fireflies pierced the darkness around us as the river carried us towards underground caverns that eventually led to the open sea. We passed a ramshackle river shack with an old man rocking slowly on his porch. He didn't say a word, just watched us float on by.

We'd debated it off and on all morning, whether or not we should make them take the journey into pirate infested waters and the visceral booty beyond. We knew it might be quite overwhelming for them, maybe leaving a mental scar or two, and yet we figured it was time to take the trip from our port of call to New Orleans to the Caribbean and back again.

To Anaheim, that is.

"There will be a few drops down the river, girls," the Mama told Beatrice and Bryce. "But only a few."

Bea huddled closely to me in the boat and pressed her ear muffs tightly to her ears.

"When's it going to be over?" she asked, before we even got to the first fall.

Although Bryce wore her ear muffs as well, she sat up straight and took it all in, a huge smile lighting up the darkness.

After the boat trip was over, "yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me" still ringing in our ears, Bea was happy to be done with it.

"What did you think?" we asked.

"It was a little scary, but maybe we can go on again next year," Bea said.

"Did you like it, Bryce?"

"Yes!"

And so ended the first B-hive family ride through the Pirates of the Caribbean. Mercy, what a difference a year makes. Last year we took the girls for the first time to Disneyland and we definitely thought that was a win. But this year? Wow. Much bigger win.

Disneyland really isn't for the faint of heart (or easy on the pocketbook), especially when you have children easily startled and especially sensitive to auditory and visual stimuli. Lots and lots of auditory and visual stimuli. And lots and lots of people. Tens of thousands every day, and those are the slow days.

But the girls stepped up their game this year, that's for sure, experiencing exponentially more than the last. And that meant that the Mama and Daddy had to step up their "endurance" game as well. Even with the stimuli and the crowds, their collective imaginations negated any and all adulthood demons projected along their paths. Instead, they looked ahead with brave anticipation on wanting to know what be coming next and what becoming's like, willing to take risks for the greater good of personal discovery and confidence building. That's something the Mama and I really want them to embrace now and never let go of.

And to see their very souls light up with sheer joy when they met their favorite characters, especially those super-charged with positive girl power, and especially the sisters Elsa and Anna from Frozen, that made every moment the most happiest place on earth.