Birthday Ramen!

Did you know that today is Momofuku Ando’s birthday? He’s the guy who invented instant ramen, and he would be 105 if he was alive today. You might have learned all this if you’d clicked on the Google doodle that most people saw today:


I didn’t see that.  Since I share Momofuku’s birthday, I saw this:


The alt text – “Happy Birthday, Jim!” – confirmed that this was for me. It’s no mystery how Google found out – I’ve probably volunteered the information dozens of times given all the Google products I use. It was still the creepiest happy birthday I got today.

45 Days, 45 Lessons

It’s been about 45 days since my last post. It’s okay, I have an excuse – two excuses, in fact, in the form of two brand new beautiful twin baby daughters. It is, as you might expect, an extremely happy time for me.

A few years back, I turned 30, and took the opportunity to look back on the lessons I’d learned in three decades of life. In 45 days of being a Dad, I’ve learned even more:

  1. There’s no such thing as normal.
  2. If you want God to laugh, tell Him your plans.
  3. There is no equality among the sexes. Women are far superior.
  4. Guardian angels are not only real, but apparently transferable.
  5. You may think you know what’s going on. But you have no idea. Just do your best, hustle, take care of your family the best way you can, and things have a way of working out.
  6. Sleep is less necessary than you would think, and underrated.
  7. Moms are incredibly strong. Dads just pretend to be, but they’re really softies. (That includes Granddads.)
  8. It is surprisingly easy to fall asleep in a chair, even if the chair isn’t all that comfortable.
  9. All that complaining pregnant women do about babies kicking in the womb? It’s legit. Babies’ legs are strong, and they kick with fury.
  10. If you are up all night, the best options for TV viewing are old sitcoms or cartoons. Movies make you think too much.
  11. The occasional McDonald’s run can do wonders for morale.
  12. There is no such thing as a small milestone.
  13. Mom can make everything better.
  14. One look from your kid and or kids will completely reorient your to-do list.
  15. For being so small and fragile, babies are surprisingly tough.
  16. Personalities traits start earlier than you think. Sometimes, they are prenatal.
  17. Songs that you would normally not like can become favorites if they happen to come on the radio at the right time to remind you of your children.
  18. There’s always plenty of work waiting for you at work, so don’t try to get it all done at once.
  19. Remember the way you feel when you change that first diaper. You’ll be excited, and think it isn’t so bad. That wears off quickly.
  20. People tend to have lots of questions about your kids. And a lot of times, it is fun to answer those questions.
  21. Although it is good to learn from and study others, the most important role models are Mom and Dad.
  22. Sometimes doing what’s right for your kids requires small sacrifice on your part – not something that’s big like not getting a new car or staying in more than you go out, but something small like not holding them when you’re sick. These small sacrifices are hard to prepare for and are tougher than one might think.
  23. Life is a lot like playing the infield. You won’t field every situation cleanly all the time, so just try to keep it in front of you.
  24. When dealing with doctors and nurses, there are no stupid questions.
  25. A Dad can do a lot for his kids by maintaining his love affair with their Mom. Being a good Dad starts with being a good husband.
  26. Hospital food isn’t bad if you order the right stuff and you are ravenously hungry.
  27. The seconds between the moment you first see your child and when you hear her cry feel like years.
  28. No matter how big they get, you will always see your children in the most helpless vulnerable state they were in as a newborn.
  29. Mobile phones and social networks are there for your convenience in communicating with others. You don’t always have to pick up, and in fact sometimes you shouldn’t.
  30. It’s tough to read out loud and make a story sound interesting.
  31. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” – Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
  32. The Beatles were full of crap. In addition to love you need patience, humility, faith, and occasionally a short memory.
  33. Being a Dad isn’t about having all the answers all the time. Sometimes, it’s all about looking like you have all the answers.
  34. There is nothing wrong with taking candy from a baby, as long as it’s your baby. They can’t eat it, anyway.
  35. Sometimes it isn’t what you do, but how you do it that counts.
  36. Trust your gut.
  37. Get ready to never be ready.
  38. Time does funny things when there’s a baby in your arms. An hour goes by in a minute.
  39. When you say prayers for your kids, all you can really ask for is the strength and wisdom to be the best parent possible. But really, what more could you want?
  40. It really does take a village to raise a child. Remember to thank the villagers who help you out.
  41. There’s always something to worry about.
  42. Don’t get so distracted by where you would like to be that you forget to appreciate where you have gotten to.
  43. Keep laughing, no matter what.
  44. At times, life happens the way it’s going to happen, and you can’t get overwhelmed or excited. Just enjoy the toboggan ride.
  45. When you’re faced with a day that’s gray and lonely, the sun really will come out tomorrow.

31 and forever young

Last year, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a list of 30 lessons I had learned in 30 years on the planet, which I got a lot of good feedback for.  For 31, I only have one thing to share.

One advantage of having an early March birthday is that if you are a baseball fan, the Spring Training games are starting right now.  I am something of a baseball fan, so I’ve been reading up about the Yankees in Florida.  But a piece of news from the San Francisco Giants camp made me smile this week, when pitcher Tim Lincecum met the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr.:

It happened in the visitor’s clubhouse at Peoria Stadium, as Lincecum discussed his one-inning start against the Mariners. Griffey budged into a group of reporters and extended his hand.

“Lincy, what’s up?” Griffey said. “Just wanted to say hi.”

Then, as soon as he appeared, Griffey was gone, skipping out of enemy territory. “Nice meeting you!” Lincecum called out to him. He looked dazed and awed.

“Wow, he just came over here,” Lincecum said. “What were we talking about?”

The most obvious part of the story is Lincecum’s reaction.  Tim Lincecum has won the last two Cy Young awards and is among the best pitchers in baseball, if not the very best.  He signed a $23 million contract this winter and, when he becomes a free agent in a few years, will sign much bigger contract (if he stays healthy).  And when he met one of the players he grew up idolizing, he became 10 again.  Lincecum unwittingly reminds us that we shouldn’t let the responsibilities that we take on as we grow older keep us from enjoying the things that make us feel like a kid again.

But there’s another side to this.

By making the short trip from one clubhouse to another – a miniscule effort – Griffey made Lincecum’s day.  And as he shook the pitcher’s hand, surely a part of Griffey flashed back to the mid-90’s as well, when he was a skinny young kid himself with a sweet lefty swing saving the Seattle Mariners franchise.

The point is that being young at heart isn’t something you have to wait for – opportunities are created, not made.  Just make sure to grab ’em when you see ’em.