I took the week off of work but made no definitive plans.  In thinking about how I wanted to spend the week it came to me that I should spend some one on one time with my kids.  It was Lilli’s tenth birthday on the 27th and I’ve been repeatedly stunned with how fast that time has gone.  I can recall the event of her birth with almost perfect clarity.  At least, it feels that way – I’m sure my mind has coloured in the details but it makes a lovely picture nonetheless.

We had peas with dinner that evening.  The first contraction brought Lisa to her knees a couple days before her scheduled c-section.  I don’t recall the drive to the hospital but I do remember the nurses hooking her up to the machine to measure the intensity of her contractions.  I took Kirsten to my sisters home for the evening while Lisa settled in to wait her turn for an “emergency” c-section.  It was May 26th.  Lilli was… extracted… born at 12:03am on May 27th.

They would not let me in the operating room while the anaesthesia was administered and Lisa was prepped for surgery.  When I was allowed in I tried to look reassuring as I walked toward the sterile dissection table Lisa was splayed across.  She was looking the other way.  As I approached she turned her head toward me and I smiled.  She proceeded to projectile vomit the dinner peas.  A doctor handed me a metal banana shaped dish and commanded that I catch.  To my credit I did.

There was really nothing for me to do, obviously.  Just stand around and watch the surgeons bisect my wife.  Yet, I was strangely afraid that in these early moments of parenthood I would somehow screw up.  True to form I was sure to do something to mess this moment up.

I had convinced myself early on, for a variety of reasons, that this child would be a boy.  The doctors didn’t help as they pulled Lilli free from the womb, “look at the shoulders on this little guy.”  I was primed.  They clamped off the umbilical cord and severed it then one of them lifted the newly minted baby’s bottom toward my face and held it there.  I looked but something was wrong.  I tilted my head a little, bent my knees and tried to puzzle out what I was seeing.

“Arn’t you going to tell your wife what it is?” a nurse asked.  I squinted then wondered aloud, “Well, where is his penis?”  I was suddenly the best friend of every female in the room!  “Oh, a girl! Thats wonderful!” and it was.

As I walked with Lilli hand in hand today in the mall I could not help but recall her when she was 6 pounds rather than 60. She used to sleep soundly curled up on my chest. She has always been perpetually happy, full of music and smiles.  Today was no different.  This week I took each of the kids on a Father-daughter, Father-son outing.  Lilli and I went to Magic Planet at Mirdif City Center in Dubai.  It is a big arcade with half a dozen carnival rides.  It has video games but most of the games are those sudo slot machine types with flashing lights and annoying music when you win tickets that can later be redeemed for ultra cheap toys.

I wonder whether playing these games is not simply priming my kids for later gambling addictions?  Regardless, we had fun. The big moment came when trying to extract a stuffed animal from one of those claw machines.  I watched as Lilli maneuvered the claw and pressed the button in the wrong spot I thought.  To our surprise it picked up two stuffed animals!  Lilli was thrilled. After a couple hours of whack-a-mole and sinking mini basket balls we stopped at the food court for dinner.

Jaron and I had nearly an identical day just yesterday.  We also went to Magic Planet and to the food court for dinner. He spent more time on the rides though.  Our food court meal was Chinese food – Jaron’s favourite.  I’m not sure why but Jaron is oddly attracted to China.  If you ask him where he will be sent on his mission he’ll tell you China.  Maybe he’ll marry a beautiful Chinese girl.  If he wants to find someone his height that may be a good place to look 🙂

Kirsten is too old now for Magic Planet.  On Sunday Kirsten and I ate at the California Pizza Kitchen – bowls of their excellent chicken corn soup. About 8 months ago we had the same meal at the California Pizza Kitchen in the Mall of the Emirates together – I guess it is kind of our thing now. We followed our meal up with a movie, Iron Man 3.  I had already seen it with Lisa but I didn’t mind watching it again with my little girl.

Little really isn’t the word to best describe Kirsten anymore.  A month away from 13 she is all arms and legs but still incredibly entertaining to be around.  I would not mind being there when Tim and Julie see Kirsten in July.  I think they’ll be blown away with how she has grown and her maturity.  I’m not sure how we’ll live without her for 2 months…  that time will go so slowly.

Kirsten spent all of her money that night on a new waterproof point and shoot camera.  Not a moment too soon as the next day the entire family celebrated Lilli’s birthday at Wild Wadi water park in Dubai.  Of the 3 parks we’ve visited (Dreamland, Yas Water World, Wild Wadi) thus far this is my favourite.  The slides were great, plenty of shade for the lineups and something for everyone.

No grand adventures this vacation, no trekking through the back country or flying to distant lands, just time spent one on one with my kids and family.  I could not ask for a better vacation!  Maybe to top it off a night out with Lisa.  That would round off the perfect week.

Here are a few pictures of our Wild Wadi fun – taken with Kirsten’s new camera.