Dear Js,

I now know what it’s like… to feel like I might not make it. You know what I mean? Think about all the times you tried something hard. I’m talking about that moment your body and your brain says, “I quit.” When you’re running, your lungs are burning and you know how sweet the air will be when you stop. Or when you finally get to jump in bed after having to force yourself to stay up.

It’s just like that. That’s how every parent feels every day. It’s like a shoulder devil whispering, “Imagine how it can be if you just quit. Just quit. It will be easy.”

I can’t be the dad you want me to be.
I can’t play every time you want me to.
I can’t carry you on my shoulders all the time.
I can’t answer all your questions.
I can’t read every book you borrowed from the library.
I can’t pretend I don’t resent you when you take away my free time.
I want to run away every morning when you two wake each other up with your crying which makes Kimi howl too.
I can’t stop screaming inside every time you interrupt me. I keep my thoughts to myself more and more. I hardly talk because, what’s the point? I can’t even finish a sentence.

I hate having ideas these days, because it’s yet another idea I can’t chase. I hate opportunities, because they mock me from afar while you look at me and call Daddy Daddy Daddy.

I used to think, what kind of father could leave his wife and children? What kind of parents can put their children through a divorce? I know what it feels like to want to give up. To walk away. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Those thoughts cross my mind too.

Maybe I’m not cut out to be a dad.

Thinking is what makes me, me. But children don’t let you think. Being a parent means goodbye to doing any sort of higher-level thinking. Not that your brain doesn’t work, but that toddlers drag adults down to lizard brain. It’s hard to think when your head is battling thoughts like, “Please kill me.” Or “I want to yell ‘SHUT UP’,” then “I can’t do that, she’s just a baby.” The thinking only happens after, when the demons are asleep, and after a few glasses of wine. That’s the only time you can hope to triage your day, sort things out, stop crying and install new strategies for the next day.

Sometimes when I have a problem to solve, I try to concentrate. Sometimes I see an opportunity that calls for building something non-trivial. Then crying, talking, shouting, screaming, daddy daddy daddy… murders all hope. I am angry, I resent you sometimes. I can’t finish a conversation with mama. It hits me hardest and I notice it most after I work on something complex. Or when I’m trying to sort out a complex thought. Or when I try share my excitement with mama, hopelessly. I can’t even finish one sentence, let alone the 4 sentences needed to explain the premise. Now I just give up trying to talk. I read at the dinner table.

Every day forces me to dig deep. To not yell and explode. How do I make it through? Well, because of moments like this:

Daddy can you smile?
I will smile if you help me help you put your diaper on.
I’m helping you. Can you smile?
Okay, but I have many more things to do.
Why do you have many things to do?
Because you don’t know how to put your pants on, your shirt on, floss or brush your teeth, comb your hair, read bedtime stories, put your blanket on yourself, …
Daddy, I’m going to help you help me.
You went to get your floss. But not how you usually do it. 3 pieces fell out. Normally, you would mess with me and refuse to only keep one and put the rest back. Then you’d make me chase you around the room. You knew it made me upset, so this time you kept only one and tried hard to push the rest in AND seal the pack back. Then you fumbled with the box of eye medicine for your sty and insisted on opening it to help me put it on your eye — something you have always fought and tried to weasel out of.
Then you looked at me and said, “Daddy can you smile?”

How can I not smile?

Every day ends. And it takes with it all your troubles. Hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day.

To get good at anything, it’s important to learn to forget

I resent you for taking away my time but I love you for giving me purpose.

So anyway, I finally figured it out. This might come in handy if you ever have two-year-olds of your own…

Why twos are terrible

Now that I have a clearer head and the house is quiet, I can think. And as I often do, I get curious about why I hate you two. Strange, since I’m your father and supposedly, my biological function is to take care of you. I also wonder about what is it about toddlers that make them so annoying.

The answer I came up with is simple. Nature gives babies a small set of “rules” to follow. These rules are enforced by your senses. Fire is hot. Hot hurts. Don’t touch fire. Fall from high place, fall hurts. Animals growl. Primitive life is fairly simple. Nature has equipped you with all the tools you need to stay away from trouble you can see.

Not so in modern life. We have given ourselves many more arbitrary rules. Like… You need pants. You need to sit in a car seat. Don’t throw food. Pee in the potty. It’s time to go to school. Cover your cough. Don’t run across the street. Don’t take things without asking. Please don’t turn off the lights. Close the fridge. Please don’t spit on me. And so on.

What makes twos terrible is that’s when toddlers become independent. And they don’t know about any of your silly rules.

So every day, every new situation is a battle to tame the bull in the china shop. You can’t go there, you can’t do this, don’t break that, etc.

Take the other day for example. You like dinosaurs, so I read you a book. On one page was dinosaurs fighting. “The Stegosaurus smacked the Tyrannosaurus with its spiked tail.” When the story was done, you went over to your sister with Stegosaurus in your hand and went “SMACK!” So I had to fix your brain and explain about why animals fight because they can’t talk. And how we are humans and we can talk to each other.

Or the other time I read Pip and Posy’s Snowy Day. Posy threw snow on Pip and Pip pushed Posy into the snow. After we read the book, I went to the kitchen and next thing I knew, Julie is crying. I ran back to the living room. You were on top of the couch smiling and Julie was on her back. You said you pushed Julie and ran away. We had to talk about pushing and running away.

Or that time we heard Boom Bang Crash WAAAAAAAAA on the stairs. We ran to you, “Are you okay?” You sniffed, “Yea…” Then you got up and tried to roll yourself down the stairs head first with my ab roller again. “Are you trying to do that again?” “Yea…” You tried to explain to mama why it didn’t work the first time. “I was just going too fast.” “No, you were rolling down the stairs.” Mama couldn’t stop laughing.

But I’m not gonna lie. Even though my brain knows all this, I’m struggling. The other day, you said to mama, “When daddy is angry I don’t know him. He is a different person.”

Tea has been helping. Having an empty energy tank makes my fuse shorter. A cup of tea buys me a few extra minutes here and there.

So let’s see. Latest developments in our bizeses. Mama did good. Newsletter is almost done. She’s waiting for the owner for the final round of revisions. It was supposed to go out in March and it’s already March. A little late but it should get better. It will be 4 pages. The idea is to re-use the 4 pages as the “evergreen” wrapper for April, as well as all new customers.

So one cool thing she found out was that this biz gets 100 new moms per month for their cloth diapering service. These are affluent households (cloth diapering is more expensive) who care about natural parenting. These moms will receive their first diaper shipment before their baby arrives. And the owner agreed to let mama introduce herself in the welcome packet. So the lesson is, be valuable. Zig Ziglar: “You can get anything you want in life if you help others get what they want.” Through this newsletter, mama unlocked the door to a steady flow of 100 moms every month for lead generation. It’s as perfect a list as you can get of her ideal clients — that no one else has access to — and she probably could not have gotten any other way.

The next golden rule: “Always follow up.” Remember the workshop mama’s starting that 1 mom signed up for? Well guess what, the mom emailed asking which date she should attend, mama replied and she went silent. This is normal. Life happens. People get distracted. Mama already wrote her off, but I said NO! Always follow up. The average person might need several touches because Life Happens. She was afraid of being a pest. So I said don’t be. Put yourself in her shoes and imagine how you can be valuable to her and her new baby. Remember, she reached out to you first. She’s interested. So mama sucked it up and emailed her.

And guess what? She emailed back. She explained that her reason for not replying was because she was busy planning her baby shower for the same day. And more importantly, she revealed that the reason she wasn’t sure was because her baby has Down’s Syndrome. Mama wanted to help. She is planning to have a special thing just for her, because her needs would be different and she didn’t want her to feel out of place in a room of moms with healthy babies. If this plays out, there might be a path to helping more special needs babies in the future. Always follow up.

Mama’s tired but happy. That’s the difference doing meaningful work. She said that’s the biggest difference between her life now and when she had a job. She feels happy and she knows she made a difference in these moms’ lives. They will never forget her.

Every now and then, she gets messages like these out of the blue:

6am. Been up for 4 hrs nursing baby through a growth spurt, and feeling absolutely ELATED. Here we are: fixed my posture, fixed his latch, found our rhythm and my breath each time he feeds– whewee! We at a whole new level of peace.

Thank you to all my sisters who texted to check in or picked up the phone when I called (sometimes crying) through this struggle in the past few weeks.

Eternally grateful to sis Melisa for using everything in your power to help see me through this. Your generous visits, follow ups, breadth of knowledge and constant laughter kept spirits up. Your believing in me kept ME believing. No way my family would have reached this place without you. For real.


It rubs off too. You were reading a book with a farmer milking a cow. You asked, “Why is cow milk coming out without a baby?” I laughed. It was a great question. I sneaked away and let mama answer it.

Nursing baby bear

Nursing baby bear

How about your old man? I have two things to report. Achilles has matured. I caused a disaster last week that halted tens of thousands and a few days’ worth of nightly jobs. They were trying to send data to my central Achilles server that was malfunctioning. I upgraded the broken part to use some industrial-grade tech and now everything is smooth as butter and faster than ever.

The spreading of the Achilles ideavirus has slowed down. But that’s expected. Instead, the next level of infection is happening. Because of the workshops last month, I trained a few key people in other groups. The workshops were 3 hours long, and they were necessary because I could spend 3 hours with 10 people at once, vs 3 hours with 1 person at a time. As a result, managers who attended understood the technology. Because of that, they understood how they could use it. And so, two engineers (one from each group) so far have been assigned with developing an Achilles project. Not “play with it” or “side project”, but an official team goal for the month. They mustered enough confidence from my workshop to start, and I’m guiding them the rest of the way and sweeping away all their roadblocks. So I forsee that the next phase of Achilles spreading is when these projects go live and inspire others.

Now the other long-term unicorns I’m chasing. First, Secret Campfire. A few companies have appeared to attack the “anonymous” idea. It’s validating that I’m not alone in seeing the need. Other people are trying to create a solution to the everything is too “social” and “public” problem, and more importantly, there are people who want it, sign up and use it. It’s also interesting to see how other people are trying to solve the same problem. Almost all of them are ditching identity for anonymity. I seem to be the only one who wants to not only use pseudonymity, but multiple pseudonyms as role-playing. And I am trying to make a “story game” out of it. We’ll see.

I started a new project after learning more about the baby boutique mama is helping: a timeline marketing system for baby businesses. The idea is that creating a marketing calendar is hard. And most businesses owners are too busy to think. Even if they know what they need to do to save their biz, they won’t because they’re too busy being busy. So I wondered, how can I make it easy for a baby biz to do ethical marketing? Non-sleazy way, minimal interaction, this “set-it-and-forget-it” system tracks everything automatically, reminds you when you have to do something and automates everything else. It has to be so stupid simple that minimum-wage employees who don’t give any fucks can feed the system.

Then I thought HEY! No calendar is as dominating and unrelenting as a baby’s growth. A baby grows as she grows. There’s nothing you can do to stop her. She sleeps, pees and poos when she wants to. She wakes up after each nap bigger. She crawls, then she walks, then she talks. In any household with a baby, the baby’s schedule determines the family’s schedule. And knowing what Ogilvy said (“Life is a parade”), and demographics (peak spending comes from major family life phases), if you track a child’s age in any household, you can predict when that household will need specific goods or services.

So my idea is simple: all a business has to do is enter a customer’s contact information and baby’s birthday. Then, my system overlays a child development chart over each child’s timeline. Tracking every child in the database, my system can tell the business owner which children will transition to which stage in their development any given week, so marketing campaigns can be automatically sent out to serve their needs at each stage.

Now do you see why I have a love-hate relationship with ideas? I just have one or two hours every night which I split up to sprinkle across my projects. But that’s what your mama and I do every day after you go to sleep. We just do what we can. Just a little bit to keep the balls rolling forward.

And now, New Developments – with Montessori Mama…

At library: “Mama what’s that?” A DVD. “Mama don’t tell me things that are not books.”

“Since there’s more rain coming… We did this today and Joshua loved it! It is pretty cool and super easy to do. You only need: shaving cream, food coloring, a dropper and a mason jar or some other clear jar.”

So that's why there was shaving cream in the kitchen...

So that’s why there was shaving cream in the kitchen…

I didn’t find you did that with mama til later. Which was why I thought it was strange that you became a meteorologist one morning. I opened the car door and you stared at the sky and said, “The clouds are grey.” Then he said, “The ground is wet.” I asked why and you said, “Because the rain fell down from the grey clouds.”

Bluetangle. “This is like the step at school.” Is it the same color? “No, but it is the same shape!” This is a rectangle. “The one at school is a bluetangle.”

“As I am drowsily preparing Joshua’s school lunch a little voice asks me from the table: ‘Mama, what are magnetic fields?’ We had been talking about magnets a few days ago and I just mentioned them briefly.”

“We come to the pediatrician and Joshua tells me: “Mama, I want you to keep singing that song”. I was amazed because the song was sueño con serpientes (“I dream of serpents”). It made me smile:)”


Mama bought a jogging stroller and you girls have been going jogging almost every day. You love it. You wave to everyone and even the trees. ‘first run since being pregnant with Julia and the rain got us right after we started :(. next time more running, less walking hehe’

Your dreams shake you awake. I’d hear you cry and run to your room. Sometimes you will sit up but you aren’t really awake. I know you’re not because you’ll talk to me about things that aren’t happening. Like, “Kimi’s pushing me!” Or “You took my book!” So what I do is try to fix the problem in your dreams as I would in real life. And then you’d flop back onto your tiger pillow and be back out in seconds.

You still don’t want to sleep. The other night, you said, “I want to play.” I said you can pretend to play in your dreams. You thought, then said, “I’m pretending to play with Julie.”

Comforters are a rediscovered luxury. Mama hid them away because you sleep with us, Jules. But now that you’re more robust Mama gets to enjoy them again.

This week in pictures

Julie climbing stairs and failing:

It’s fun to scream:



“I jumped”

Can you use your imagination? You are still merciless with your WHY interrogations. I have been trying a new strategy. I’m trying to get you to think about the problem, instead of just using me to dish you answers:

Violet the Pilot

Violet the Pilot

What is happening to the boy?
Violet put a lawnmower engine on his tricycle.
Why is he crying?
Maybe he’s going too fast.
Why is he going too fast?
Because violet put a lawnmower engine on his tricycle.
Why are his feet up?
Maybe because he’s going too fast, look his parents are worried.
Why are they worried?
Because he’s going too fast.
What will happen to him?
I don’t know, I cannot see on the page.
Can you tell me what will happen to him?
I don’t know, you have to use your imagination.
Daddy, can you use you imagination and tell me?
I imagine that maybe he will roll into the street and bump into a car.
What else? Can you use your imagination and tell me what else?
I already did. now’s your turn…

Cannon ball:


Falling asleep together

Napping together

At the Discovery Museum

At the Discovery Museum

Mama laughed but I don't see the problem with the bow

Mama laughed but I don’t see what the problem with the bow is

"Is that our train?"

“Is that our train?”

Back from the farmer's market with Fox

Back from the farmer’s market with Fox

Downforce ears

Downforce ears

Reading in cart

Reading in cart

"After he peed on himself twice, I had nothing else to put on him... Julia's onesie to the rescue, lol"

“After he peed on himself twice, I had nothing else to put on him… Julia’s onesie to the rescue, lol”

It's taller!

It’s taller!

Nutella Challah mama braided about to go into the oven. The best bits are where the oven turns the Nutella on the outside into crusty flakes.

Nutella Challah mama braided about to go into the oven. The best bits are where the oven crisps the Nutella on the outside into crusty flakes.

You didn't nap all day. We went for an evening walk and you fell asleep. You were wearing undies but we didn't want to wake you. So, yup... all wet when I transferred you to bed.

You didn’t nap all day. We went for an evening walk and you fell asleep. You were wearing undies but we didn’t want to wake you. So, yup… all wet when I transferred you to bed. On the bright side, we had the most peaceful dinner in a long time. I actually had a conversation with mama. And Julie you tried to make me laugh.

I’m so happy to finish that Demographic Cliff book by Harry Dent. Not because it was good. But because I was starting to drown in BS and logical fallacies. I powered through the rest of it so I could buy the next books on my list. I’m thinking of: Act Now!: How I Turn Ideas into Million-Dollar Products by Kevin Harrington, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone and Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American … by Bob Lutz.

We had a tough drop-off at school today 🙁

He didn’t want to let go of me. Even as they marched to jump bunch.

He was crying the whole time, saying “I don’t want to be alone.” I kept saying I can’t stay. And that if he doesn’t want to go to jump bunch, I can take him back to Starfish.

But he said “I want to go to Jump Bunch” and kept crying. I got him to walk, but then he’d come back to climb on to me. So that’s what we did, carry, walk, carry, walk, from Starfish to Dolphin to the back alley to the play area where they do Jump Bunch.

Finally, they started, and we were watching outside. He hugged me and said, “I want to hug for a long time.” I said okay we can hug for a long time. When you are ready you can run over there and join them. Then he started crying “I don’t want to be alone.” So back and forth back and forth and next thing I know I was inside with all the kids at Jump Bunch. He was crying and hugging me and the other kids were running and dancing.

Somehow he let me go a little and I said bye, and he started crying again. He smashed his back against the fence and I walked back, waving each time he looked.

Then he cried louder and louder “DADDY!” Don’t go! Daddy! So I came back. His face was red and he cried through the fence. He said, “I like to stay with you.” He was stuck in a loop and nothing I could say would calm him down. I said if he doesn’t want to go to Jump Bunch, I can take him back to Starfish. WAAAAAAAAAA he cried louder and he said he wanted to stay.

Thankfully, the lady teacher came. She peeled his fingers from the fence and worked with him to redirect his attention. She led him to the soccer balls and he stopped crying. I said thanks and left, and I kept looking back but J seemed okay with the teacher.

I ran into Marisa the recruitment coordinator as she was giving two parents a tour. She said, “Tough day huh?” and I resisted pushing her over the fence.

I hope Bing says yes. You’re getting bored at school.



P.S. Remember “uncle” Jardy whom I’ve been working with to launch his DVD/online-classes? It turns out his tutorials are great for babysitting too:

P.P.S. – So we skyped with grandma/grandpa last week. Grandpa started trying to teach you the song, “God is good to me.” I hung up on them. It’s too early to introduce you to magic.