Category Archives: Children

Youtube Tuesday- Dancing with the Binh

Sorry it has been so long… again.  Last week I had to learn about “translating” a ship on land.  To explain, clearly we must start building ships on dry land but once they are between 70 and 75% complete we must float them to continue.  This is primarily so the major sea water systems (A/C, fire pumps, radar cooling skids) and propulsion systems can be tested similar to the way they will be operated.  A 75% complete ship looks close to a completed ship on the outside and weighs about 6700 long tons.  I will try to post some pics of this later in the week with some float off pictures.  In short, we translate (or roll) the ship on rails using about 75 little cars onto a sinking dock.  Then we incrementally sink the dock to float the ship.  As you can imagine there are many steps to this process and this is my first rodeo so I am learning a great deal. 

Char and the kids were watching Dancing with the Stars for the first time while I was gone to DC and found out that Binh really loves the show.  So tonight I tried to get a little video of him watching a routine.  From what I understand he was not as in to it as he was in previous weeks but you can get the picture.  BTW:  the fall at the end looks worse than it was.  


A Child’s Honesty and Comedy

Ava has developed a pretty good command of the English language and can articulate what she means most of the time.  At the same time, she also has started to make judgements about her environment.  This combination has resulted in what I might call “absolute honesty.”  I learned in a comical way that child-like honesty can be a two edged sword. 

Ava said that she needed to potty so she and I made the trip to the kid’s bathroom (“the monkey bathroom” ).  I popped her up on the potty and began to wait with her.  She began to push on my nose and rather hard.  It felt like she was trying to push it back into my face.  Finally I said, “Ava, what are you doing?”  She got a serious look and said “I want you to be pretty!”  But hey, at least I honestly know how she feels about dad’s honker.

ava_a_emailLast night Ava made us laugh again.  Just before leaving work I checked my favorite web page and noticed that the Dow had dropped another 250 points or so.  I came home and Char had dinner ready so the family was all seated at the table.  Just after we started eating I mentioned the fact that the Dow had dropped again.  And Ava responded “drop it like its hot daddy!”  I’m not sure if she meant it was time to drop our mutual funds like they were hot or if she simply was making a joke.  Those that know us well know that she is familiar with a Snoop Dogg song by a similar name.  Does the fact that my daughter knows a song by Snoop make me a bad father?  Regardless, I still need a nose job.

Binh’s Growth

As we approach the point Binh has been with us longer than he was in Vietnam, I have been thinking about his development.  Binh’s first doctor visit in the US revealed he was below the 3rd percentile for vietnamese children.  This was obviously very alarming.  Our pediatrician in Boston referred us to the international adoption pediatrician Dr. Lori Miller at Tufts international adoption clinic.  She explained the importance of getting him back on track and some suggestions how.  As a small kid in grade school, Binh’s growth is something I have been watching.  We don’t really have much data about Binh until he was about 6 months of age, but beyond that we have monthly data points.  I decided to see how Binh was tracking with respect to other South East Asian Boys.  I found he most relevant height and weight data for Vietnamese children here.  I used the height data in the chart below.  The weight data actually lags the height data, which makes sence considering you usually grow in height before you add mass.  Using the growth charts located at the link above, I made an excel spreadsheet to plot the 3rd percentile and 50th percentile lines.  Then I simply added Binh’s line to the chart and the results are heart warming and encouraging.  The horizontal axis (X) represents time in months and the vertical axis (Y) represents height in inches.  A polynomial data fit was used to smooth the line so that it would be more representative of his actual growthbinh_height_inches The cool thing is that you can probably guess when we adopted him.  Just in case there is any question, we adopted him just days before his first birthday.  It appears that he began to grow just before the 12 month point but that is actually a function of the polynomial fit.  In reality his growth start just about the day we got him.  There are many opinions about why many adopted kids make the big leap shortly after adoption.  I found this really cool handout by Dr. Julian Davies and the center for adoption at the University of Washington.  It talks about the immediate post adoption growth spurt as well and most of the other big pre and post adoption issues.  Regardless, I like to think that it’s half better nutrition and half love!  I think the second little bump in the chart at the 21 month point is where we started giving him Pediasure daily.


He has become such a joy in our lives.  I could not imagine our family without him.

So mad I could laugh

A couple of days cago Char was gone with a friend so it was just the kids and I.  We were back in Binh’s room playing on the floor having a good time.  Then all the sudden… Wham!!!  Something hit me in the head so hard I didn’t know where I was for a minute.  The only thing that cued me in to what happened was the fact that the toy that struck me was a battery powered Curious George and was laughing.  Well, I had been playing with Binh so I turned an grabbed Ava by the arms and said No! you don’t throw toys!  That hurts people, blah, blah, blah.  Well the whole time she was making faces similar to the one in the picture below.  She would methodically go from the “Oh” face to the “who0s” to the “Eek.” dsc_0474 As I really tried to drive home the point that you should never throw things at people I realized that she was just being silly.  It became harder and harder to keep a straight face.  Finally, I gave up and just laughed.  Wow, that hurt.  I can appreciate her skill for getting out of trouble.

Busy and Growing

It’s been busy at work.  At least twice a year, each ship program undergoes a review during which the program managers provide the contractor feedback on how they see things.  Half of those reviews usually involve monetary adjustments reflecting the contractors fulfillment of the contract.  Next week is one such review so everyone is busy preparing to defend their positions.  Everyone in shipbuilding is trying to get better and sometimes adjustments are painful but in the end will produce savings.


Meanwhile, Ava and Binh have been growing.  As you may have read on Metaphase, Binh is now on the growth chart.  At last measurement he was in the 5th percentile.  After that milestone I began measuring him using a yardstick and making marks with dates.  We measured him in early December and then again about 25 days later and he had grown a hair over half an inch.  He has gone from 2 teeth in April to a full mouth now.  We are pretty exited about that. 


Ava’s imagination is really growing.  She makes up big stories with incredible detail.  She makes up new names for her dolls and parents depending on her mood.  For example, if she calls Char “Mini” then you must respond, “Yes, Daisy.”  I think that is because in a cartoon over Christmas, Mini and Daisy are ice skaters and Daisy is wearing a crown.  Of course, Ava must be the one that wears the crown.  She may pretend to be Larry of veggie tales by calling you Bob or  call you baby meaning she is the mommy.  Gotta stay on your toes around her.  Don’t make a mistake!  She is not shy getting you straightened out.  Her new big words of the week are hillarious, connected and painful.  

Most of all the pictures we have been taking around here have been with Char’s new camera.  I think she has a great eye for photography.  I am pretty exited about what having a new camera will do for both capturing our special moments and some of the macro photography she is working on.  I will post some pics next go around.

Christmas Cooking

We had a very Merry Christmas.  Let’s just say that Char and the kids were very good this year.  Ava woke multiple times in the night in anticipation.  We all got up around 6:30 (normal time) this morning.  The kids rounded the christ_giftcorner to see the gifts Santa left (the unwrapped ones).  Char said, “look at what Santa brought!” and Ava added, “from Target!”  Their big gift was the Step 2 Retro Diner pictured.  It is a big hit, the kids can take turns serving each other and pretend cooking.

Today marked the second traditional Daddy Christmas meal.  Luckily, this year I had some help with the ham from Honey Baked Hams .  Just a little word of advise, let them do it, they are really good at it.  I fixed yams, green beans, corn, and rolls to go along with it.  Char fixed a pecan pie and cookies last night for the feast today.  Everything was delicious.  So what makes holiday cooking better? Real butter, cream, and sugar!  During the holidays everyone has a free pass to forgetchrist_cooking1 about what the health nuts say, no chemical substituted flavor.  Granted we are finding out more and more that the natural stuff is still better for you in the long run anyway.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

You’re still never too busy to see Santa

Sorry it has been so long.  The last couple of weeks have been busy for all of us.  At work the crew is moving aboard their new ship.  That time period is always a little hairy.  While the ship is new, it still must be aligned and tailored for the new crew.  It is not uncommon to find small piping leaks, incomplete connections, and equipment that does not operate as expected.  One of my jobs is to look at the issues that arise and determine how to correct the problems, no matter how big or small.  Many times the responsibility for a specific issue is not well defined and requires a compromise between the shipbuilder, the Navy shipbuilding oversight (contract manager), and the crew.  I help shape that compromise using technical details and balancing cost, schedule, and quality. 

At home we have been hanging the Christmas lights and making sure the children have a good first Christmas together. bg_christmas1 Binh may not understand it right away but Ava surely will.  Last night we took a trip to a lighted wonderland.  What an amazing place that was.  We met up with another family and had a blast.  Ava has always been a little scared of Santa but each time we see a Santa set up for pictures we “test” Ava to see if this will be the time she is receptive.  Well, last night was it, she hopped up in Santa’s lap and asked for a soccar ball.  I guess I should also mention that we forced Ava to try once each year.  Well because Ava was receptive, this was the time we felt we should push Binh a little.  The results were expected.  bg2

He was there about 10 seconds so I hope we don’t get a psychology lecture about how bad this was.  I promise it will not happen again… until next year.  Hope you enjoy Binh and Ava’s first picture together with Santa as much as I do.