Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Harder on me

Dear JJ, 

Sometimes being a dad means we have to watch out for you.  Today you took my book reader and ran into the pool. 

The reader was ruined but what bothered me was you not listening. And that made me sad. 

We talked about it and you making bad choices. We all make them. I will try to protect you as long as I can but you will make them. 

These things are hard for dads. It's not as simple as discipline - because the only discipline I have is you knowing how sad I am - 

But you will understand one day. 

Your daddy loved you and always wanted you to make a good choice. 

I love you son 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Celebrating his life

Jimmy Dec 2, 1952-Dec 7, 2006
Dear JJ,

Yesterday would have been your uncle's 62nd birthday. We all miss him, and this time of year we think about him a lot.

We were in Portland for Thanksgiving and as we were driving I told your mom, "Jimmy would have loved JJ."

Jimmy loved kids, he would spend hours playing with them, seemingly not to tire. When  Jimmy was a very young man, in his 20's, I remember there was a kid who went to the restroom and was confused as to where to go and he told him it was ok to use the stall. The kid's parents no where to be found, he smiled at Jimmy and asked if he could really use the "big boy toilet."  My brother turned to me and said, "I would like a dozen of them."

He never did have kids- but he never lost his joy in children.

And daily when you look at your mom or me, as we tell you not to do something, you give us that smile and do it- and we laugh, I am reminded of Jimmy.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another marker

Dear JJ,

We drove to Los Angeles and you had a new car seat.  The one you have had since you were just a few months old is too small for you, along with the stroller that went with it.

You are getting bigger, growing up - time is passing.  Those moments when I would look over and see your mom holding you in one arm nestled against her and I would say, "That must be an incredible feeling," are in our memories, a part of our heart.

I've been lucky to be a dad - and even more lucky that those precious days were ones that I enjoyed, savored.

You are still a happy, snuggly boy - and I hope one day you get to experience the joy I've had.



Last night, coming home after a long car trip

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Picking you up

Dear JJ,

Today we had "Dad day" in pre-school.  We made some art for mom, played in the fake kitchen, read stories, had a snack, and played in the playground.

It was a great day but two things stood out.  One is minor- I was the oldest dad there - and even the grandfather who came in was younger than I was.  That is minor but it made the other more important.

When we went to the playground, and running around you fell down and skinned your knees.  You cried and came to me to pick you up. Holding you and making you feel better is one of the best things a dad can do.

My dad, your grandpa, is 89 years old.  Recently he found out something that happened that bothered me at work. He asked me why I didn't tell him about it.  Not that there was anything he could do, but he is still a dad, and wants to be there to make his son feel comfortable.

But I realized, in ten years I may not be welcome to come to your school, and when you get hurt you may not feel comfortable coming to dad- but I hope that you do.  Because no matter what age- this dad always wants to be there for you, to comfort you.

I love you son,

Your School Photos from This week- a handsome boy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting old

Dear Son,

I noticed that all of my friends are  aging, but some are "getting old."

The other day I was in Alaska and visiting with some people who are older than I am - dinner was going to be later - not a problem.

Your grandparents:  your granddad - last year decided to go see Normandy for the 66th reunion of the invasion.  Your other grandparents still working in Hong Kong.

Then there was this friend of mine I had not seen in years. Was going to be in the same city - but even though it had been years, turned out it was too late and too much to drive at that hour.

We all age - we can't help it. But I hope I am a dad that isn't "old."


Your aging but not old dad
Your mom and I - we do what it takes to get the shot

No matter where we go- it is always with you

And we are always ready for the next adventure

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lucky Family

Dear JJ,

Perhaps it is normal for a dad to always worry - and I do. But one thing I feel lucky - you have some amazing relatives. My mom, your grandma Simpson, told me that I was lucky to have married into such a nice family.  Then I thought how lucky I was to be raised by wonderful parents - who just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary - and you were there!

As I write this you are in Atlanta visiting your mom's sister, auntie Kim, and her husband, uncle Bob - some of your favorite people (mine too).

You are lucky, son -- a lot of good people around you.  Older dads think about this, especially me - as a doctor I know mortality too well.

When you are older you will be horrified by how people treat each other - and at that moment you will probably think "Dad was right, I was lucky to have such a wonderful family around me."

Miss you son,


Gigi got to spend time with you -here we are at the beach in Oregon

Sept 5, 1948 - 65 years my parents were married and you got to be with them

With your best girl - mom

Every night you say "goodnight moon, " and in a recent trip to San Francisco you got to see a lot of it

And then your best buddy, Lucky - here he is pulling you around the pool

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First day

Dear JJ, 

You won't remember today - but your mom and dad won't forget it. Your first day of pre-school. 

For three years your mom has been your constant playmate, companion, and friend. This is very hard on her. Your mom is amazing. She has loved this more than any who knew her would have imagined. 

Today you first had to go to the doctor to get your records - traumatic enough and then to school. 

It means you are growing up and that is ok - we have loved every stage of your life. 

One day you will go through this - sending your child to school- 

I love you son. Even though you will have many friends and "best friends" but we will always be our son and I hope when you get to be a young man that I will be your friend. 

Until then enjoy your time in school and know I think of you there every day



Monday, August 19, 2013

That sweet voice

Dear JJ,

You have the sweetest voice. This morning when you asked for milk, then asked to be "cozy" (your way of asking me to tuck you in) - that high little voice just makes me smile.

Your mom has taught you well, saying "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome." It just adds to your charm.

Probably when you read this your voice will have changed - but I hope one thing never changes: your sweet nature - always smiling, always happy, always polite. No matter where you go in life, people can always use a smile and being polite is always in style.



Your self-portrait. You take the camera and shoot photographs

You love being in the kitchen

And I love to help you

Monday, July 22, 2013

3rd Birthday

If you  are going to eat - or do anything in life- do it with gusto!

Dear JJ,

When I tell people that you are three, they all are amazed "where did the time go." Or they say, "Enjoy him, time goes by fast."

But it hasn't. These have been my best years, and  time has slowed down and I have enjoyed these  years more than any in my life.

Last week when you and your mom came home from Canada, as you came up the jetway and saw me you came sprinting toward me,  yelling "daddy, daddy, daddy," and jumped into my arms. There isn't any better joy a dad can have.

There will always be challenges in life, but when I come home to you and your mother (and Lucky) it is all in perspective - life begins here.  It took me a long time, and a little boy to teach me the important things in life.


Picking herbs in our garden for the pizza
Riding your tricycle down the hall - first time you were able to use pedals - the day before your third birthday

Even at the gym they knew it was your birthday.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Goodnight Moon

Dear JJ,

Tomorrow night you will be home.

Before you go to bed we will outside - where you will look up and point at the moon. Then as we go inside you will stop, turn and say, "goodnight moon."

Being a dad is the best job I ever had.



Monday, July 15, 2013

Home soon

Dear JJ,

Whenever I am away, or you are away - I miss you.

I recall this from the first Sunday I played golf after  you were born. The entire round of golf I thought of my son. The day after you were born I had a couple of operations scheduled - the patients said they had never seen me smile so much - and even though I had spent the entire night after you were born just watching you, I didn't have a tired bone in my body, and couldn't get rid of the smile on my face.

Your third birthday is coming up soon, son. I am glad you will be with me to celebrate it.

Being a dad - it is the greatest club I have ever belonged to.  Oh- and I miss your mom too - without her there would be no you, and no us - and your mom is amazing. Someday you will see that before you she had this amazing life in something called TV - being an executive producer.  But she loves being a mom - and no one of her friends or family would have believed it.

Ok, come home soon and safe - Lucky and I miss you guys.


Your dad loves  holding your hand.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy Birthday George

Dear JJ,

Today is your grandfather's 70th birthday. You get to spend it with him, and that means a lot to him.

When your mom and I knew we were pregnant with you, I had a little chat with him. He was visiting your Uncle Bob and Aunti Kim in Atlanta over Thanksgiving.  We went for a walk, sat down in the woods and I asked him about his experience as an older father.

He and Gigi adopted Peter in his early 50's.  He told me that having another child in his 50's was the last thing in the world he was thinking of, but when it happened it is the best thing in the world. Now he and Peter are best friends, and their lives are so much better.

So I waited, then told him, "Well, I wanted to know because I am going to be a father for the first time, at age 53, and that means you are going to be a grandfather. And it wasn't an accident, it was planned."

He looked at me, smiled and said, "So, I gather you are serious about this between you and April."

George (you call him Papa) has become a great friend of mine. He is an early bird like we are - and we get to have that time to chat and enjoy watching you.

One of my other favorite memories is when you were just home from the hospital, about six days old. Your mom was exhausted from feeding you. He and I were up in your room and you were crying. I put my finger in your mouth and your mouth was dry.  I didn't want to wake up your mom, so I found a bottle of formula from the hospital and you drank it down and went back to sleep.  I was worried that the breast feeding mafia would picket the house. But you did just fine, and your mom got sleep - and I looked at George like a fellow co-conspirator, "I guess he is going to be alright, I'll tell April when she gets up." Your mom, needless to say, was quite happy about it.

You have a lot of people in your life who are special son - and today is the day to enjoy him.


From Today- you and George at their Cottage in Cobourg 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My best all-nighter

Dear JJ,

Your daddy has had a lot of "all nighters" where I have stayed up all night.  Some because of being a doctor, some for fun. Most of the time when you are up all night - for whatever the reason, the next day is not a fun day.

The best all-nighter was the day you were born. You were born at about 4 pm, and your mom and I stayed up the entire night after just looking at you.  The next day was the best day after an all-nighter.

Thanks for making me a dad,


Our best day - our best all night - and the best keeps coming

Monday, June 10, 2013

Birthday for a friend

Dear JJ,

When you are a new dad suddenly you realize how much you have to learn.  It is a great thing when friends come by who have had kids and reassure you that - yup, that is normal, and help you realize that you don't have to be uptight.

Shortly after you came home, two good friends of ours came by - they had their son about 20 years before you were born. They were calming, reassuring and it meant a lot to this new dad.

I thought about it because today he is having a birthday.  Someday you may be faced with fatherhood - and I would love to be around to see it- but never forget, you will have a lot of friends who will have been through it, and they love to help.

Oh, and don't forget their birthdays- today is his, Evo.

Thank you Evo and Sheila - you meant a lot to this new dad - and mean a lot to JJ



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Dear JJ,

When I met your mother she was a TV producer. A lady who made it to the top in a world where almost everyone wants to be a star, on television, or have a show. She had syndicated several successful television shows, could spot talent a mile away, and had to fend off an endless supply of  people who had "an idea" or "a pitch."

Before I met your mom, if you ask anyone who worked with her they would have said the last thing she would be was a mom - even if you ask her mom.

While people don't change, son, there is one truth - in our finite capacity as human beings, there is more than can be expressed.

What was inside your mom, but not expressed -- a great mom.

Sometimes when I come home you two don't hear me walking in the door- and I see the two of you playing outside: what I see is pure joy- on you and your mom's face. Your mom loves you, loves being a mom - and feels amazingly fortunate to be so.

Seeing your mom in action, knowing how hard it is to keep up with a 2.8 year old, made me appreciate more my mom. I think back to the many times my mom would make food for the school class, play with us, help us- and now as a grandmother, sees her grandson and smiles - no doubt thinking back to those days.  When my mom first met you she held you easily, put a pacifier in your mouth - and your mom said, "like riding a bike,  you never forget how to be a mom."

You are lucky, JJ - you have a great mom. I am lucky to have a great mom - oh, and your mom's mom - Gigi - well, it is hard to describe what an amazing person she is.

To mom's everywhere - I have a great respect for them - but to your mom, JJ, and mine, and your mom's - well- you are lucky, we both are.


Your first ride on a see-saw with your Mom - in France

She taught you how to say "cheers"

She taught you to love snow

And Grandma and Grandpa Simpson's waiting patiently for dinner

Seeing new animals at the zoo

She won't toss you away, but she will toss you in the pool

You love her

She will take you for a ride in Hawaii
With Grandma and Grandpa Simpson - not always easy this life

And you can't wait for her to get back, so you try to get her
Your own Gigi - 
Playing on the beach in Alaska
And building - always building

Mother's Day Dinner - with our best

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where it Began

Dear JJ,

It all started in Tampa, an invitation to a dinner at some fellow twitter foodies, and meeting your mother.  Today we made the reservations to go back there - where you were first an idea, where we felt you first move when your mom was pregnant (it was during a the hockey when Canada won gold).

The invitation was to Barry and Debbie Frangipane's home for a dinner. And on June 15th  - she will open a restaurant, and you will be there. Somehow, it seems fitting.  This will be your first trip to Tampa, hard to believe- but its almost four years ago that your mom and I met there, and almost three years since you were born.

There are a lot of people who are looking forward to seeing you - a lot of aunties and uncles - and your dad will be there smiling the entire time. I can't wait to bring you there .



Packing the salmon I would bring to Tampa in 2009. 

A short while later your mom and I decided, in Seattle, that we were going to do this

A photo taken by your mom the night we met. It became the cover for one of  my books

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Dear JJ,

Nature continues to attract your attention. This last week the stingrays were more interesting than the dolphins- although every morning we got up you looked outside the window and said, "Look at the dolphins, daddy."

You are getting bigger, learning more words - sadly, you have learned "no," but we expected that. But you have quite a sense of humor. When you find something that makes someone laugh you repeat it and then giggle.

Travel with you is easy, son. I am just happy that I get this time to see you travel around the world and watch the world see what a wonderful young man you are.



Swimming is still one of your favorite activities

Noodles your favorite dishes

Nothing like mom on the beach

You are ready to surf- what are these people taking so long
The Captain is ready to go

Finding a toy store in LAX on our way home- priceless

Monday, April 8, 2013


Dear JJ,

While you are away for a few days your mom sent me this video.  Apparently you love this new game where you can see the ball magically appear, and then toss it down the alley again.

You are way too much fun to watch- your enthusiasm for life reminds me to keep that wonder. To always keep that wonder.

I miss you son, look forward to seeing you in a couple of days,



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kids: better travelers than adults

With grandparents in China, and a dad that one day said lets go to Europe, our son has had a lot of travel
Dear JJ,
You changed how we think about traveling - and how we travel. Here is a bit from a blog post I wrote  about traveling with kids instead of adults.

Sitting on a plane you see a lot of families traveling with children, and somewhere there are whispers from some adults "oh I hope they don't sit close to me," or " why can't they have a special compartment just for kids." One airline refuses to allow children to sit in first class.
The inspiration for this post came from such travels, and a conversation with our good friend on twitter.  It started with an interaction my wife had with a US Airways representative who was getting ready to help load passengers. My wife, and our 2 year old in his stroller were at the front of the line. Around my wife were the typical business travelers saying, "doesn't she know that kids go on the plane after adults."
The ticket agent said to my wife, "Oh, we load children after group one. You will have to wait."
My wife said, "No, he goes with me." She showed him that our son had a first class ticket, was in group one, and was a frequent flyer with status on the airline. '
"Wow" he said.
She, and my son went on the airline first. As a result my wife tweeted this - and here is the response by our good friend.

    1. Love how people automatically assume bc u have a kid, u have never traveled before. My 2 yr old has Gold status on @USAirways#businessmen

    2. @producergirl As a former frequent traveler it's because 99 times out of 100 a small child means things are about to get snarled.

    3. @jmoriarty @producergirl perception and not scientific. Confirmation bias.

    @terrysimpson @producergirl Oh, I might put this one up for scientific scrutiny. Younger the child, the less experience most parents...
    @terrysimpson @producergirl ..have taking them places. Kid upset, parents stressed, lots of kid gear to wrangle, etc. Lots to go wrong.


Putting this in context: my wife and I had JJ late in our lives (I was 53 when he was born, my wife was 36). Neither one of us had anticipated having children, and both of us had careers that required lots of travel. So we were far from "kid-friendly" when it came to airline travel.
Our decision to have a child was done with the thought that we would continue to travel as much and as often as we could. JJ's first trip was when he was six weeks old to meet his grandparents.
We were pretty nervous travelling with JJ. Before he was born we scrutinized parents who travelled with children. Our most notable couple was getting on a plane from Anchorage to Seattle with two kids, one who wasn't happy. The mom laughed and said, "You just have to wait til you get on board for your bloody Mary," to her three year old daughter.  They were relaxed, in control, laughing, and the trip was not a big deal.  We have probably talked more about that encounter since it showed us that there was a whole side of travel with children we had not seen. Every trip was a chance to watch parents. We talked to them all, we asked lots of questions, we helped, we observed.
Since our son was born we have travelled over 115,000 air miles with him, several hundred miles by ship, on three continents.  Some of those miles were in our lap, when he was less than two years old, but since then he has had his own seat on the plane. This time gave us a new perspective about travel, and lots of observation time about kids and travel. 

JJ Loves to travel
We have seen single moms traveling with multiple kids on planes, somehow being part-Sherpa and parent. We have seen every gadget imaginable with kids. We have watched kids get sick and vomit on their parents. Lending a hand, and wipes, and clothes, to those who needed it. We learned the airline rules with formula, milk, and which airline terminals have milk. We learned that if you put snacks in one ounce containers and they spill them it is a lot easier than carrying a box of Cheerios that is tossed on the floor of the plane. We learned that if you travel with an infant, you need extra clothes, extra wipes, extra bottles, extra pacifiers - and sometimes they are for a fellow parent. We also learned that if you travel overseas be certain to have diapers (as our 14 hour flight from Beijing to Seattle with two diapers - for that see here). We are believers in less is more, but anticipate. We plan travel to suit our needs, but we love the airports in Seattle and Portland that have kid areas and allow our son to get his wiggles out. We will sometimes favor evening travel, hoping he will sleep, but never assume he will, and always anticipate he won't. We are thankful for the kindness of others- the lady who gave us her carton of milk, because she overheard us fretting that we didn't have any for our son.  We are thankful to the fellow passenger who helped my wife, when she was traveling with JJ, by bringing the child seat on the plane. We parents also love the many kid-friendly flight attendants, pilots, and staff who would go out of their way to waive, say hi, and engage our son.
We also see who  NOT friendly to kids on the plane.  Before JJ, I was one of the "not kid friendly" people on the plane. Someone would have a child, I would ignore them, pretending they didn't exist. We see those people now. But we have evolved- those who love kids, who smile at them, engage them, and love to waive and laugh at them.

Who is a better traveler - a child or an adult?

Give me kids every single time. Sometimes they cry, and yet, a child crying is a lot easier dealing with than a rude adult who insists on making a scene with a flight attendant.
A child never muscled their way around me to get a better seat on Southwest Airlines.
A child never got drunk on a plane, became loud and obnoxious.
The adult sitting next to you could be a serial killer, the child won't be.
The adult could be obese, taking up room, the child won't be (some exceptions, obviously).
I have heard more adults with illness, coughing or hacking on a plane, than kids. And as a physician, I've been asked over 20 times to attend to plane passengers who were ill -- never once a child.
If the plane is delayed or late, the child won't grumble, they just keep on. When you get there is a mystery to them- it is just more time on the plane. More walks up and down the aisle, more of a chance to see other kids and smile and chat.  But delay a plane, get a few upset adults and one thinks the plane is named Bounty and they will mutiny.
In the last 115,000 miles we have heard babies cry, but have had more interactions with rude adults, than unpleansant interaction with a child .
As for first time parents - there are a few of those, they are nervous, and every parent on the plane is there to give advice, lend a hand (or a wipe) and share a toy or blanket. The majority of parents, are not first time. We all, however do something that adults don't do on a plane:
we think about our fellow passengers, we don't want our child causing you concern. We want our child to be polite, respectful, and kind. 
The lessons that we teach our children, about how to behave on a plane, seems to have been lost to many adults, who somehow feel it is their "entitlement" to have the perfect trip, with perfect service, and be territorial about their "space." Adults, it appears, have no trouble being rude, no trouble being loners, and lots of trouble smiling.
Smile at a child the next time you are on a plane- and watch them smile at you. Afraid to smile at the obese man with a surly attitude sitting in your middle seat? Hmm.
Perhaps, your thoughts about kids on a plane have changed. Perhaps you had what we call "confirmation bias" where every time you heard a child cry or there was an incident you remembered it, but never the adult.
So, after thinking about it - what are your thoughts about traveling with kids?

And, indeed, JJ - you changed us. For the better. You opened our eyes to a world we saw, but didn't know existed. You expanded our universe - and with you we see the world in a whole new way,

Love Dad
JJ and jets
JJ loves airports, jets, and planes. When we have not travelled in a bit he asks us when we are "going on a jet."