Bubba Lays an OVO

On Friday my parents took me and the family (minus Peanut) to see Cirque du Soleil‘s show OVO, which is currently playing in town (watch the preview above for an overview).  The show is presented in true circus style, under a the big top, and was one of the most amazing performance experiences that I have ever…experienced.  The acts, the costumes, the music, and the performers were all mesmerizing and top-notch.  We all walked away in awe.

Bubba and Sissy at OVO

But the most wonderful part of the evening wasn’t the performance.  It was watching Bubba watch the performance.  He was enthralled with every single aspect.  As each new character emerged, he would point wildly and jump up and down in his seat.  Several times I looked over to see him standing in front of his chair, as if to get just a few inches closer to the stage.  While Sissy had a hard time figuring out what bugs the various performers were supposed to represent, Bubba never even had to think about it.  He knew what each of them were based on their often abstract costumes and stylized movements, sometimes even before Wifey and I had figured them out!  During intermission he ran around just outside the tent, so excited to go back in and see some more.  For a full two hours after the show was over, he just kept going on about it, reliving every last moment.

As an artist, the fact that Bubba was so moved by this performance touched me in a way I can’t describe.  Several times my eyes filled with tears as I watched him immerse himself in the experience.  We try, as parents, to let our children find their own passions.  While we certainly are very involved in the arts, we try not to be overbearing with a push that they be invested in them as well.  We allow them to explore a variety of interests and encourage them to try their best in everything that they attempt.  Because of this, it is even more special for me that Bubba was so impacted by this performance.

If you have the chance to see OVO, I highly encourage you to DO IT!  And if you have the chance to take a child, don’t miss out on the opportunity.  You won’t regret it, and it may even be one of the most memorable moments of your life.


Glengarry Glen Rose

Daddy and the Big 3 at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Wifey has been itching to get out of town for a couple of weeks now, and today she planned an afternoon road trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.  To be honest, I’ve been dodging the road trip since she started wanting to take one, mostly because a car trip to the grocery store with our kids is a trying experience, so the idea of spending an hour or two in the car with them seemed to be a less-than-fun prospect.  With a newborn that cries without ceasing a lot of the time, a toddler who hates to be confined, a 5-year-old that can’t control THE VOLUME OF HIS VOICE, and a 6-year-old whose entire life is an Oxygen Network drama, I was sure that I would not survive such a trip.  Or at least they might not survive it.

But today my wife finally completed the sale (further securing her position at the top of the leader board, btw) when I agreed to this excursion.  It would take us 2 dreaded hours to get there, leaving us an hour or two to explore the park, after which we would stop for dinner at a local eatery before getting back in the car to make the return trip.  For those of my more math deficient friends, that is at minimum 4 HOURS in the car with the kids.  I made sure we took every possible precaution against carmageddon by feeding all 4 kids before leaving (The Baby included), taking plenty of snacks to appease any hunger that might arise, bringing the iPod loaded with our kid’s favorite tunes (and buying all the necessary adapters to plug it into our car stereo), and finally drugging the kids with Dramamine to ensure a quiet ride. 

Except I didn’t really do that last one.

The trip there was much better than I had feared.  We jammed hardcore to the sounds of Journey, The Knack, Pat Benatar, Pearl Jam, Katy Perry, and The Black Eyed Peas (video of Bubba singing Teenage Dream soon to be released).  Wifey and I enjoyed the scenery, the older 2 played car games, The Baby slept nearly the entire time, and Peanut was precious and happy.  We arrived at the park around 4 in the afternoon, leaving us about an hour and a half to explore before dark.

Dinosaur Valley State Park was fairly lame.  To be fair, we didn’t have the time or ability (with 2 babies in tow) to hike any of the trails, but the 2 scenic points were mediocre at best.  The first had quite a few dino footprint (the selling point of the park) but they were pretty hard to see and not well-marked, and we had to cross a slightly treacherous little river stepping rock to rock to get to them.  The second was supposedly a scenic overview of a valley filled with various fossils/footprints, but I can’t verify that because the overlook was barbed-wired off so we couldn’t get close enough to actually see into the valley.  This information did not appear on any of the literature by the way, nor was there any signage in the park to let visitors know that the overlook was closed.  BUT, despite the lameness of the park, we had a good time climbing rocks, crossing rivers, hiking paved-trails, and spending time together.  We ate a good dinner at Hollywood & Vine, a surf-club inspired hamburger joint that was very satisfying and reasonably priced.

Our journey home was less fun due to general exhaustion around, which led to a screaming baby, an intermittently screaming Peanut, an antagonistic Bubba and an overly sensitive Sissy (who began to cry over our cats because we gave them away…a year ago).  But Wifey and I turned up the music to drown out the chaos in the back half of the van and eventually 3 of 4 monsters fell asleep and the last 1/4 of the trip was very pleasant.

Everyone survived our first road trip as a 6-top, and we had fun and learned nothing.  It was a success of a day!  Good job Wifey!

“Luke, I Am Your Father…er, well, You Are MY Father Actually…I Mean…Ah, Forget It”

For the past three years, my co-teacher and I have been our school’s representatives at our district’s annual Chili Cook-off.  The event raises money for an organization that provides grants to local educators as well as scholarships to our graduating seniors.  Besides the chili competition (my part, I’m the chef), the event is also a contest for who can create the most rawk-your-face-off booth (my co-teacher’s domain), and we have won the booth contest for the last 2 years.  Last year we won with the booth theme The Fellowship of the Chili featuring a mural of Mount Doom created by one of our students.  This year, we won with the theme Star Wars: The Chilogy (did I mention we’re theatre teachers, aka DORKS), and we went all out.  We created a scale, chili-shaped Death Star and a life-sized R2D2, had teachers dressed as Princess Leia and Han Solo (I was the Emperor), and our tent was a giant AT-AT.  The crown jewel of our display was a huge X-Wing Fighter poised as if rocketing straight out of our booth.  It was awesome.

Now Bubba is already a huge Star Wars geek, so he was unbelievably excited about our project.  And somewhere along the way he decided that he was going to get R2D2 when the event was over.  Unfortunately, R2 was the only part of the display that was small enough and sturdy enough to be displayed in our classroom, so our students claimed him, much to Bubba’s dismay.  We finally calmed him down with the promise that he could choose something else from the booth for him to keep in his room.  So what did he choose?  The giant X-Wing of course!  And he insisted it was to be hung from his ceiling, as well!

Normally, I would have put the kibosh on a notion as insane as this, but I didn’t want to go back on my word and also felt guilty because I had my final dress rehearsal for my fall show on the night of his birthday the following week, so I caved and brought home the X-Wing.  The thing was HUGE, not to mention heavy, and also HUGE.  Plus, it was built by theatre folk, meaning it looked good at a distance in the precise position that it was designed for, but up close it looked pretty crappy and unfinished.  It was also damaged when we took down our booth (we weren’t planning to keep it) and then sustained further injury during transport back to the school.

So it sat, in pieces, in Bubba’s room for 3 months because it was too heavy to hang, too big to allow for any movement in his room for anyone older than 5, and was unfinished on the bottom…the part that most people would see.  And every other week or so he would ask “When are you going to put up my X-Wing, Daddy?” to which I would have to respond “I don’t know if I’ll be able to, bud” which inevitably led to tears.

Finally, as we were putting his Christmas presents away and trying to reorganize his room to accommodate, I broached the subject of tossing the X-Monstrocity.


I explained, I got tough, I begged, I bribed. “What if I bought you a scale model of the Millennium Falcon that we could make together and then hang from your ceiling.”

“I want to get a giant solar system that I can hang from my ceiling.”


“I think they make big ones that would fill my whole room. I want one of those because the X-Wing is really big but I have to throw it away.”


Now I could have created a solar system to meet his specifications, but I didn’t really have the budget for that, so instead to end our boys outing last Saturday, I took him to a hobby store and let him pick out a much smaller, pre-packaged and painted model made out of styrofoam balls and dowel rods.  For the kit and the styrofoam glue needed to complete the project, I spent 15 bucks.  He was elated, and we spent about an hour of QT together this afternoon assembling it.  Success!

What’s the lesson to be learned from all of this? The force is strong with Bubba, and he knows how to use it.  But Luke still has his fair share of force as well.

Bubba and Daddy’s Dinosaur Outing!

For Christmas, Wifey and I each gave our older kids punch cards good for a one-on-one date with us each month.  Today, I took Bubba on his January Daddy/Son Outing.  I took him to the Heard Museum, which is a pretty small nature museum in a town nearby, but they usually have a pretty cool exhibition or two that is fun for the kids, and it’s not crazy expensive.  For the past few months, they have had an exhibit called “Dinosaurs Live!”, featuring an outdoor walking tour populated by animatronic dinosaurs. 

 Before you become too impressed, I should mention that this exhibit is nothing like the huge Walking with the Dinosaurs show that tours the country (which I would love to go to but I just can’t sacrifice the kidney needed to pay for it).  These dinos keep their feet in one place, but move their arms, heads, and some even their torsos and make fairly canned roaring noises.  BUT, we had a great time.  And despite knowing that the dinos were robots, Bubba still ran away in fear several times (watch the video below to see it!) so they must have been convincing enough for him.  My only other complaint is that I wish that there had been a few more dinosaurs that people have actually heard of.  Bubba is a pretty severe dino-dork, and he hadn’t seen or heard of 7 of the 10 bots displayed, and neither had I.  But we learned about them and were frightened of them just the same.

As an added bonus, the other major exhibit at the Heard was about bugs, so we got to see quite a few tarantulas, Giant and Madagascar cockroaches, scorpions, beetles, and a wide variety of stickbugs. 

The coolest bug, in my opinion, was the katydid, which blended in so completely with its habitat, that I couldn’t find it.  After I had given up, Bubba shouted “There it is!” and pointed right at it…directly where I had been looking.  It was super-cool.

So, our first daddy/son outing of the year was a great success!  We laughed, no one cried, and there were no regrets.  I was a good dad today!