Monday, December 1, 2008

Twins Book: A Review

UC Irvine academic pediatrician Dr. Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin has written a new book, "Twins 101: 50 Must-Have Tips for Pregnancy through Early Childhood," in which she gives herself another title: "Doctor M.O.M." She knows of what she speaks. She, too, has joined the millions of American families who have multiples.

The book is an easy read, with wonderful tips for moms, a good dose of wit, helpful boxes of information ("Twin Facts," "Twin Hints"), and a lot of self-assurance. As the father of twins myself – they are now 11 – I remember clearly the importance of positive thought as my wife went through pregnancy. The good doctor is on point in reminding mothers-to-be to be strong.

The one fault of this book, as many like it, is the near absence in reporting the vital role of husband-father (Tip #49 covers it somewhat, but not fully). Dad is crucial to the beginning of life, as well as to the upbringing. He not only requires a chapter dedicated to what he brings, he deserves it.

"Twins 101" is published by Jossey-Bass, $16.95.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The OC and IE Fires

It is hard to comprehend the numbers of homes that have burned in Orange County, the Inland Empire and elsewhere over the past few days. How do you put into perspective what those numbers mean? You ask mom. "Every place, no matter its price, is someone's million-dollar home," she said. So true. Even this morning, I was still making calls to friends whose homes were at risk. None of them were affected (beyond evacuations), but all had a story to tell of others less fortunate.

In professional life, at the end of the day all we have is our reputation. In personal life, all we have is our family, our faith, and our homes. According to the L.A. Times, some 259 homes were lost or damaged in the Freeway Complex fires (Brea, Corona, Chino Hills, Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills); 524 in the Sylmar-Granada Hills fires; and 219 in the Montecito area. Do you have a story to tell about the fires? Write here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

"Dad, is President Obama in the newspaper?" One of the twins was trying to find a reason to get out of bed this morning, and this was it. He is an avid newspaper reader, and today, the 11-year-old deeply understood the news.

Last night, all three of my children, ages 14 to 11, watched history. My oldest asked, "Dad, did you ever think you'd see a black man elected president?" That took some thought. I told him I had never witnessed a black candidate in my adulthood who I thought would qualify....until I tuned into President-elect Obama's run about a year ago. He was talking on the radio, and I realized he understood, and that America might, as well.

The most important lesson of last night's election is that my children grasp the ongoing American theme, which is, you can follow your dreams and they will come true. It is an ethic that, frankly, is found virtually nowhere else in the world. Last night's election was perhaps the best-ever example of that theme in a country still saddled with 250 years of slavery and its shameful aftermath.

Another lesson came from John McCain, whose concession speech is a reminder of the importance of conceding with class. He proved that losers can still win – a reminder to sports teams caught in the final moment that sometimes show grace, and sometimes do not. McCain quieted the boos of a restless, perhaps bitter crowd. This was the beginning of a national unity push. He understood. Now, do we?

What lessons did your children learn from this election? Comment here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Abandoned Child

Nebraska's safe-haven law, designed for desperate mothers of newborns, has has unintended consequences – the dumping of older children. This week, a 15-year-old girl was dumped by her father. A few days ago, it was a troublesome 12-year-old boy left behind.

California's safe-haven law is typical of most other states (click HERE and click HERE for Spanish language). A parent can surrender a baby at a public or private hospital, or designated fire station, within 72 hours of birth without fear of arrest or prosecution. This allows a distraught parent, who might otherwise harm the baby, to use a safe haven.

In Nebraska, people from throughout the country as using the law's loophole to dump their children, no matter the age, without fear of prosecution.

Hard for most of us to comprehend giving up a baby; it seems unconscionable to give up on a child you have raised for years. But this is another reflection of tough times, when hope turns to despair for many. What options should parents have, and should the Nebraska law be amended? Comment here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Morning Briefing, Gone

The Los Angeles Times has tweaked its ever-slimmer paper again, and this time taken out the Morning Briefing from its sports-page Morning Briefing page. Times' reporters have for years dug up obscure, funny, and sometimes tragic sports notes that bring humanity to the spectacle. The column has been replaced by a "best of blogs" section that will be missing the enterprise reporting that marked the Times' coverage.

Blogs are nice – you are reading a nice one. But there is something to be said about the pulse of sportswriting, done well in-house. This is missing the point, and losing part of the heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


USC plays Washington State University this week, which reminds me of the high school football game that just finished at 91-0. Your children have certainly been on the end of a blowout, whether up, or down. Either way, it rarely feels like their finest hour. In competition, rational people love a close contest.

USC is facing my alma mater; Wazzu is just about as pathetic a team as exists this season in Div. I. Several years ago, I played two years for the Cougars; the second year we were 2-9, though with a few breaks, it could have been 5-6. This team is so, so bad, that I worry the Trojans could hit the century mark. And that would be a shame. It wouldn't move up USC in the rankings and it would create an afternoon of infamy. P.S.: The high school game in question was played in Florida. Final: Naples High 91, Estero 0.

Hey, Trojans, would you settle for 37-3? I would. Write in with your predictions of this Saturday's final score.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pingpong Diplomacy

A main reason I play pingpong with my oldest is to get face-to-face time. The main reason my 14-year-old plays with me is to see if he can beat me yet. I'm losing on one front and holding on, on another. While rallying the other day, he began texting with his friends. Now, that really cuts into the dad thing. And, while texting, he had me huffing for good returns.

I think the next time we play, it will be a real game. I'm too good for him to beat me on points while texting. At least so far. Any suggestions on my backhand?