Wednesday, September 28

My Son, the Cellist in Training

When asked to choose a musical instrument to learn at school, Maddy passed up on percussion and wind to choose a stringed instrument, the cello.

I would have never chosen the cello, of all instruments, for Maddy but therein lies the beauty of his selection. He chose it and after playing around with it this afternoon, he loves it and since he loves it, we do too.

Thanks to Batgran, he has a Yo-Yo Ma CD to listen to now. For starters, Maddy told us that his music teacher is planning to teach them how to play the theme song from Jaws. How cool is that?

Maddy's looking forward to Friday, when he has music class. His cello case has backpack styled straps so he'll  lug it on the bus and if I know my son, he'll love the extra attention.

Monday, August 8

Happy Bithday Batgran!

August is birthday month for the Mano'o clan and today is Batgran's turn. Happy birthday Mom! Hopefully this is the last birthday that the Washington, D.C. crew will miss. I hope you get spoiled with some nice chicken wings, rice and potato salad today. Just don't let Sachi cook and everything should turn out good!

Much alofas from all of us in D.C.

Thursday, August 4

Outsmarting His Old Man

Last week, Maddy found out that one of his bowling friends, Charles, got a dollar for every strike and 50 cents for every spare he got during league games and practice as an incentive. It didn't take him long to ask me if we could do the same because we did something similar during the basketball season.

I thought it would be a good way for him to continue to learn the value of money and earn some extra pocket money during the summer so I agreed. Maddy is a miser when it comes to his money. He has no problem spending our money though. I told him if we were going to do this, he would use his own money to buy the things he wanted, like video games, Beyblades, Pokemon cards etc. With visions of the new video games he was about to afford to buy, he quickly agreed.

There was one twist though. I told him that he would owe me 50 cents for every gutter ball he threw.

Our first outing was a practice last week where he threw 5 strikes, 1 spare and 12 gutter balls. It was an 'off' day for him and he wasn't too thrilled when I told him he owed me 50 cents.

Without missing a beat, he walked over to the table, pulled 2 quarters from my wallet and handed them to me saying, "Here you go, Dad".

Wednesday, August 3

Happy Birthday Papa!

Dear Papa,

Ia manuia tele lou aso soifua! We hope that you have a wonderful day and may the Lord provide you with many many more birthdays in the future.

If you're still in Samoa, have a koko Samoa, luau and fasi talo for us!

Much alofas from the Washington, D.C. crew

Monday, July 25

Happy 9th Birthday Maddy!

We threw a birthday party for Maddy and his friends yesterday at our local bowling center. Most of his friends that weren't away on summer vacation came to have a few games, eat pizza & cupcakes and sing one of the worst renditions of 'Happy Birthday' that I'd ever heard. We managed to sing it in 3 different octaves and with 2 different tempos.

The party was organized chaos. Rach did a great job of controlling things despite the other adult at the party (I plead the 5th Amendment for fear of incriminating myself) going off script.

We capped off the day with a Sakura Japanese restaurant dinner where we all ate too much.

Why a bowling birthday party? So he can showcase his form, of course!

These are the boys Rach and I had to chase after during the party

Horsing around with Lars

Showing his friends how to enter their names in the computer

Monday, May 16

Maddy Loves Music

 Maddy got a note from school today, congratulating him for a job well done in music class. Here's what the note said:


This is Ms Presley (
name changed for privacy), Madison’s Music teacher at Stenwood.  

I am writing to let you know that Madison had his name drawn from the Bravo Box in Music class today!  

Students put their name in the box anytime they are seen doing something great in class.  

He was recognized for being so attentive, cheerful, and helpful to other students, and I am happy to be able to recognize him for this!  

I know that you must be very proud of Madison, and wanted to let you know what a great job he is doing in Music class.


Ms Presley
Music Teacher
Stenwood Elementary
Clearly Maddy has a musical gene in him from Papa Mano'o's side. When I asked him what musical instrument he wanted to play next year he surprised us all by saying the cello.

I looked at Rach and sighed. Somehow I knew he wasn't going to say ukulele, but c'mon, a cello? Is there a stringed instrument more expensive than a cello?

Spending the Day by the Lake

We spent the majority of yesterday by Lake Burke which is about a 30 minute drive from where we live.

Most of what we do on the weekends is spontaneous in nature and for the most part, we are normally pleasantly surprised by what we find when we get there.

Lake Burke, to our surprise, had a mini golf course, amphitheater, train, play area and ice cream store. Our train ride was cancelled at the last moment due to rain and lightning so we'll have to go back again someday to see what that's like.

Maddy enjoyed the day outdoors in the sun, although he would have preferred if we had found a basketball court for him. He has a summer basketball camp in June and he wants to get some practice time in before then. Okay Mr. NBA!

Friday, May 13

If You Think You Know What Your Child is Thinking, You're Probably Wrong

Most parents think they know what their child is thinking, either from experience or by judging from their facial expressions but let me tell you this; chances are, they're probably wrong.

Case in point: I was walking Maddy to the car this morning when he asked me if I thought we could get a haircut this weekend. This struck me as odd since kids don't usually ask to go for haircuts so I asked him why he wanted to get a haircut. I thought he was concerned about his personal appearance or maybe his hair was getting in his eyes.

He told me that his friend Annie liked feeling his hair when it's spiky but his hair wasn't spiky anymore.

At the bus stop yesterday, Maddy asked me if his friend Patrick could come over for an impromptu play date. Since Rach wasn't home and I was planning on some practice, I told him no. He didn't like the answer but he seemed to handle the disappointment well.

So during our 10 minute drive to the bowling center I decided to talk to him about how pleased I was about how he dealt with the disappointment and moved on. I also delved into the merits of how we don't always get what we want in life and dealing with failures and disappointments built character.

After I finished with my 10 minute monologue, I asked him what he thought and whether he understood what I told him.

He nodded yes and said, "So Dad, when we get back, can I go hang out with Patrick at his house instead?"


Thursday, May 12

New High

Maddy, Rach and Dad's scores from yesterday
Maddy took his game to new heights yesterday during practice, scoring a 190 game. His new personal best featured a 5-bagger, or for those of you who are unfamiliar with bowling jargon, 5 strikes in a row.

He was giddy from excitement to beat both mom and dad in the same game.

Unfortunately for him though, his string of luck didn't carry over to his other games. Maddy and his mom had a friendly wager going and while Maddy was up 1-zip after the first game, mommy came back and beat him in the final 2 games.

He did not handle the disappointment of losing well. He got progressively worse after each poor shot and it snowballed from there. Mom's gloating didn't help matters much either!

I told my 8 year old boy that we learn more about ourselves in defeat and that we should be gracious in defeat as well as in victory. I don't know how much he will take from practice yesterday but I think losing to mommy will only serve to make him more determined the next time.

In the meantime, I hope to teach him that the way he plays the game and conducts himself is more important than the results. 

Tuesday, May 10

Maddy the Bowler


Maddy has taken a liking to bowling, which comes as no surprise because it's kind of our family game. As far back as I can remember, the Mano'o family has bowled together since we were young. I could never beat my mom in the first game and Dad would be super competitive even if none of the rest of us were. We all enjoyed a family outing to the bowling alley, or bowling centers as they like to be called nowadays.

Since I spend more than an average amount of time in our local bowling alley, Maddy tends to tag along when he can. He has a unique technique, where he spins the ball in the wrong way for a left-hander. He spins it from right to left and despite my attempts to teach him the more accepted left to right technique he ultimately reverts back to his own way of bowling.

I don't blame him, he's had quite a bit of success with it.

We start our Father/Son league in a couple of weeks and we are both looking forward to it!

Sunday, May 8

Mother's Day

We spent part of the day touring the Pentagon Memorial

That's the memorial behind us and the world's biggest office building

September 11, 2001. Where were you on that day?

The lighter part of the Pentagon is where the plane struck

Air Force Memorial. It's supposed to represent 3 airplanes in flight

We made an impromptu visit to Great Falls Park

The Great Falls of Northern Virginia

Our little rock climber, Maddy

Wednesday, April 27

So What Happened, Son?

On our way to bowling practice yesterday, I asked Maddy my standard set of questions when I pick him up from the bus stop.
  1. How was school son?
  2. Did you get any disciplinary notes from your teacher?
  3. Did you get any homework?
  4. Did you get any tests back today?
 His reply was as follows:
  1. Good.
  2. No.
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes.
Ever the conversationalist (it's like looking into a mirror for me), Maddy thought his responses were good enough and thought our conversation was over and done with.

This is what followed.

Dad: So what test did you get back today?
Maddy: My science one, Dad.
Dad: Aha. How much did you get for it?
Maddy: I got a 5 out of 5 and a 3 out of 5.
Dad: 3 out of 5???
Maddy: I'm quite happy about the 5 out 5 Dad. That's pretty good aye?

At this point I'm thinking that I shouldn't dwell on the negatives and I should give him some positive reinforcement.

Dad: Yeah, son. I'm proud of you for getting 100% on your test.
Maddy: Smiles
Dad: Uhhh but what happened to the other test?
Maddy: Well, I got confused about 2 of the questions so I asked Ms. Peworchik to explain them to me but she said she couldn't, so I just guessed.
Dad: Ok, fair enough.

We went over the questions that he got wrong and after I explained what the questions meant, he got both answers right. He said, Dad, you're really good at breaking it down so I can understand things. Thanks!

"You're welcome, son", I said. "Next time talk less with your friends while the teacher is teaching, ok?"

Tuesday, April 26

The Next Generation

Maddy's new high score of 171

Maddy and I went for some bowling practice this afternoon. He said he was a little tired from school but decided to throw a few with his old man anyway.

He ended up playing 5 games, 2 more than me.

After his first 3 games (141, 124, 171) he was so pumped from besting his previous high of 142 that he wanted to bowl 2 more. His last 2 games were 148 and 103, giving him a 5 game average of 137.4. If you discount the last game where he was clearly tired, it adds up to a 4 game average of 146!

A little history before I go on; 4 months ago Maddy's PB was 86. I told him that if he ever broke 100 I would buy him his own bowling ball. Not long after that he shot a 104 so off to the pro shop we went. He got a cheap 8 lb plastic ball with a conventional grip. After playing with it for a month or so he declared that it was too light so he used his own money to buy himself a 10 lb hook ball with fingertip grips.

Almost immediately his scores improved. His personal bests went from 104 to 108 to 124 to 142 and now it stands at 171. He was happy about the new high score but even happier that he finally beat his daddy in a game.

I didn't expect Maddy to improve this fast but if he keeps this up we might have to put him on our  league team next season. We have signed up for a Adult/Youth league that starts next month so hopefully he will stay interested.

Mommy watch out, Maddy is coming up fast!

Friday, April 22

At Work With Mommy

I also had to take Madison to work with me one day of this week. We spent the first day of Spring break with Annie, then the second and third day with Dillon.

We did a lot of fun things including movies 2x, games, swimming, walks, parks but the most interesting time the boys had was when we went to the gym. They have a kiddies play area which Maddy absolutely loves. Not only does he get to run around and play, he gets to make new friends too!!

Star Wars X-Wing Fighter

He completed this in less than an hour - a total of 437 peices

Doesn't it look awesome?!? :)

At Work With Dad

Maddy is spending his final spring break day with me at work today.

He has been well behaved and quiet, which comes as no surprise.

Last time he was here, he drew me several nice pictures, which I have hanging in my cubical. But this time he has been too busy on the computer to break out the drawing tools.

We have stocked up on all the necessary tools for a successful day at work, namely, Oreos, graham crackers, Sprite Zero and Mentos.

We'll be heading home soon, perhaps stopping by the bowling center for a few practice games to get the weekend started right.

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, April 20

Hanging With Dillon

Maddy has the entire week off school thanks to Spring Break. Lucky for him, he gets to spend it with his good friend Dillon, who is staying with us for most of the week. Dillon (9) is a friend that Maddy met during his swimming classes a few years ago.

Horseplay with Dillon

At the play center at Golds Gym

Enjoying the pasta at Noodles & Co.

Time warp: Space Invaders at the movie theater

More arcade fun

At the fish pond
Today, Mommy took the boys to see a movie and afterward they will make their way to the local rec center for a swim in the pools.

Why, oh why, am I stuck at work on a nice sunny spring day like today?

Monday, April 18

If you're reading about the tornadoes in Virginia in the news...

This is just to let our family overseas know that we are all fine and that we were unaffected by the storms that raged across the southern part of the state.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families that were affected and lost loved ones.

Sunday, April 17

Maddy, The Gentle Giant

4 feet, 11 inches at 8 years old
Our Maddy is a growing boy, he is almost 5 feet tall at only 8 years of age. To put it into perspective, it took my mom 16 years to get to that height.

He towers over the kids in his age group at school and I can tell that he takes a measure of pride being the tallest.

I keep telling him that it's better to be the smartest but I have a feeling that kids value height more at his age than they do smarts, so my sermons largely fall on deaf ears.

We get weird "are you sure?" looks when we get asked how old he is and we answer "8". Especially in those all-you-can-eat buffets that charge according to how old your child is.

His feet are huge, which means he's got more growing ahead but it also means he is heavy footed and has not quite grown accustomed to them yet.

The next time we see the crew in NZ, he should be taller than his paternal grandparents and seeing eye to eye with a couple of his aunties.

Testing posting from phone via email

This is a test.

Tuesday, March 8

Life Without Mommy

Last night was Maddy's first night without his Mommy. 

Mommy is away on vacation in Hawaii and this marks the first time the two of them have been separated.

Maddy took it in stride. He doesn't like admitting it but I can tell he misses having her around.

I picked him up from school yesterday and the first thing he asked me was, "So what are we doing today, Dad?", as if the fact that Mommy wasn't around meant that we were going to be able to do stuff we couldn't normally do.

He didn't seem too disappointed to find out that doing some grocery shopping, followed by homework and dinner was on the agenda.

We managed to squeeze some bowling practice in there too.

Maddy did his homework while I cooked dinner and we did his spelling homework together while we watched a movie on tv.

One day down, 9 days to go. We're going to be fine.