This was one of those weekends that felt like a week. I mean that in all the best of ways. On Saturday our normal weekend routine of karate lessons for the kids and managing errands was replaced by an impromptu trip the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the California Science Center. I hadn't been with the boys in what seemed like six months. Before the days of karate, we would make trips like this every week... the zoo, the art museum, the natural history museum, a botanical garden, an arboretum, a train museum, and on and on. I am one of THOSE dads that believes in regular exposure to cultural and engaging activities is a must.

Karate has been great for both boys by building confidence and finding an athletic niche beyond the traditional soccer and baseball scenes. I'm bittersweet about many of them because of the chances you take with coaches. All far too often I encountered one of THOSE dads that screamed from the sidelines and berated a 6 year old for "booting" the ball simply because it was fun. Not for me, and thankfully Liem held more interest in finding a four leaf clover than scoring goals.

I love my weekends with my boys and wouldn't trade them for anything. There are some moments, as there are in any parenting experience, when you want to trade them in for a Harley, but this was not one of THOSE weekends. Rather, this was a weekend when we reconnected through the experience of discovery and fun.

We seemed to all be on the same wavelength at the outset with Hudson declaring that he wanted to go to the Natural History Museum, which Liem immediately agreed was a capital idea. Little did they know I was actually thinking about it all week.

Annie has been working on Saturdays, so this is male bonding time, and in my case it's male GEEK bonding time. I admit it, I'm no jock, and I'm no mainstream guy. I'm into Legos just as much as my kids are and I'm riveted by the Clone Wars episodes just as well. So much of parenting is replicating the good from your childhood and avoiding the bad. Legos and Star Wars are so much of the good of my childhood, that I cannot help but pass that passion along to my boys.

I digress. The museum was simply an awesome time right from the start with us going from one exhibit to the next imagining what it was like millions of years ago, and comparing facts that we picked up along the way. I told you it was geeky. But it was FUN!

After a quick bite to eat, we headed over to the California Science Center where I hadn't been in a dog's age and the kids both had been recently on various field trips. What a treat. I hadn't seen many of the new ecosystem exhibits, and the newly relocated aerospace exhibits. But Hudson and Liem had and they were my guides. It reminded me a lot of one of the great children's books, "How to Take Your Grandmother to the Museum" by Lois Wyse and Molly Rose Goldman. It takes place in the American Museum of Natural History in New York and is the story of a young girl taking her grandmother on a tour. This was our version of that book - and yes, I played the role of the grandmother. I was amazed at how much my 7 and 4 year old knew about our world and how confident they were to let me know.

We ended our trek to the wonders of our world and the universe beyond and headed home with one of those car ride naps I always dream of, but can only observe as my role of family chauffeur.

Sunday morning, Hudson, being Hudson, once again made a declaration. We would NOT be leaving the house and we were going to stay home and play. And by golly, that's exactly what we did. We were expecting a new cleaning lady and I sacrificed my usual long workout to be home with the family and observe the much needed cleaning our house so desperately needed. It was a mellow day with time in the garden and not a lot of anything to do, except plan our July vacation. Annie and I went back and forth, but we think we've settled on the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad for a week. Just what the doctor ordered. Of course we threw in a Star Wars movie in the late afternoon, and I snuck out for a 4.2 mile run.

Monday was Memorial Day, and I woke up to the wriggling and snuggling AND sweaty body of Hudson. He has a tendency to make his way to our bed at least once a night these days. A move that we would not have tolerated with Liem, but for some reason have softened on with Hudson. Both being the youngest in our families, I think Annie and I can relate to him more that he knows - much to Liem's chagrin.

Annie and I had planned to take the boys to the early showing of The Avengers and we made good on that plan. A quick trip to Starbucks at 8 AM and breakfast out on the patio led into our get-up-and-go mode and out to the local theater. What a treat! With Hudson covering his eyes - and mouth at times - during the scary and intense parts, It was an amazing movie to watch with them. The idea of heroes could not have come on a more appropriate day.

We need heroes in our lives, be them Jedi, Marvel or DC, or even our own family. Heroes teach us selflessness and sacrifice. They teach us honor and morality, and the difference between good and bad, even when we have a little of both in us all. I often think of who my hero was growing up. Was it Han Solo? Batman? or even my dad? To this day, I think it's a combination of all of them. Han Solo for his inability to deny the hero in himself despite his villainous exterior; Batman for his passion and commitment to make his city safe from the evils that haunted him from inside; and for my dad who, despite his weakness in his desires, was the model of imagination, unending thirst for knowledge, passion for the creative and the romantic, and his love for his boys.

After the movie we headed home for a brief respite and a little landscaping project I had started earlier in the day. And it was then on to Annie's parents for a swim and dinner. Speaking of heroes I could not help but look at the way Annie chatted with her father. I realized that this was a moment we needed to replicate more. Annie has noted the declining health and general aging in her father and I thought to myself today that one of HER heroes is her dad, and we need to spend more time with her parents.

I recalled the stories of how her father lovingly made American breakfasts for her, but succumbed to her preference for a hot bowl of noodles, or how she refused to only wear red shoes, and how her parents complied. The four of us have spent some time together in NY and DC before the kids were born and those were special days. Times spent on a train listening to her parents tell their story of immigration. It's a story for another blog entry, but let's just say it's one to be proud of and every one of their grandchildren should know it and tell it to others. Come to think of it, they too are heroes of mine. For their personal sacrifices, for their selflessness in their care and love for their children, for our children, and for the hope they bring to our family for peace.

I wonder who my boys view as their hero? Is it a cartoon or iconic comic book figure? Or is it me? Fatherhood has taught me humility and the fragility of life. I can only hope that what I leave behind is as lasting as the hope and inspiration that our comic book heroes portray for us in the movies, and is more deeply meaningful like that of our parents and ancestors.

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