Sunday, December 30, 2012


baby in car seat
Not long ago, my youtube searches consisted of a monkey drinking his own pee, talking dogs, sneezing cats with gas, and other high brow comedy routines. This morning however, I watched a car seat instructional video.  Oh how the times have changed...

This is all part of my personal growth I guess.  We’re nearing go time, and there is still much to do.  Our lives have changed drastically over the course of the pregnancy, and I’m sure parents will tell me that it is only just beginning.

Today I installed a car seat—no easy task by the way--what will tomorrow bring?  Soon, I’ll have changed my first diaper, buttoned up a onesie, and before I know it I’ll be out on the street holding on to the backseat of a bike, reluctant to let go as my son pedals away… 

There’s still some time before any of that happens, but if this pregnancy has taught me anything, it’s that pregnant women can be quite moody.  No wait, it’s that I do have what it takes to be a dad.  After fighting with the many levers and straps of the car seat, securing it in place while mumbling a few unfit for children words, I stepped back, feeling a sense of pride and responsibility.  I can already envision the back seat, littered with runaway cheerios and juice boxes, various toys, and other products of parent cars.  Picturing my wife pulling in to the driveway, sunglasses on with our little guy in the back, listening to kid tunes.  She’ll be a pretty hot mom. 

My emotions have ranged from ecstatic, to anxious, to…well ready I guess.  At week 35, it’s time to pack the bag and watch my phone, expecting the phone call that will change my life forever. 

I’ve done a lot of growing up in the past year, and I have a lot of growing yet to do.  I look forward to what the future and what it brings as a person, husband, and really soon, a father.  But what the heck, I’ve got time to watch that monkey one more time….

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lost & Found

The other day I noticed that my wedding ring was gone.  I'm not exactly sure how I lost my wedding ring but to be honest I'm surprised I kept it this long. I knew sooner or later that I would manage.  I've notified security at work, searched the house and my truck but it hasn't turned up, and now I'm in a bit of trouble. 
As an expectant father, this has me a bit worried.  I'm really good at two things, losing stuff or breaking stuff....Hmm break the baby or lose the baby?  Not great options.  What if I lose the baby?  Well let's see, I set him down  near the produce section but then they announced that sale on beer....Seriously, if I can manage to lose a ring, that was on my finger, who’s to say I won’t lose a helpless baby?
My wife is a bit more sentimental about the whole thing.  To her, the wedding band was a symbol of our union.  It was the ring she gave to me when we said our vows and its a symbol of our love.  I plan on replacing it, my finger feels naked without it.  I keep rubbing where it used to sit.  But still, it’s just a ring, and I’ve never been fond of jewelry.  I love my wife with all my heart and cannot wait to start raising a baby boy with her; shouldn’t that be all that matters?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Past...

My childhood Christmas memories hold a special place in my heart.  I think back to them with a rosy glow of nostalgic magic that grows fonder with each passing year. I remember the gifts, the electric excitement of the season, but perhaps most of all, i remember the traditions.  

Every year on Christmas eve, our family would head to church to enjoy a quaint little dark candlelit service where we’d sing carols and rejoice over the true meaning of Christmas. We said sir and ma'am, spoke with British accents, and donated our gifts to charity. We did none of that, but that's how I envision the made for tv movie. 

On the way home, we took the scenic route, driving past the most heavily decorated houses before my favorite part, the paper bag luminaries that lined the street and continued for what seemed like miles.  Staring out the window, I felt the holiday spirit rush through me as we passed the candle lit bags on the street.

My Christmas memories have always been special and I cannot wait to enjoy magical Christmas moments with my son.  But for this last childless Christmas, with my very pregnant wife in tow, I became determined to relive my Christmas past.

The weather should have been the first indicator that things weren't going according to plan.  Starting in the morning, a steady, unrelenting rain began soaking the yard.  Next, the thermostat began clicking, unable to turn on the heat pump and leaving the house at a balmy 57 degrees. But I wasn't going to let it get me down, I didn't need heat, I was warm with the glow of Christmas.

That evening, after dinner and gifts at Mom’s house, my wife and I arrived at the church just a few minutes late.  The street was blocked off, but after following the detour, we found the parking lot filled to capacity.   Well it has been over 20 years since I attended the Christmas Eve service, I thought.  And then things got weird...

We were greeted by ushers standing outside the sanctuary, who informed us that the church was filled to capacity.  I thanked the nice man, who leaned in close--for a split second I think he was going to offer us scalped tickets to the service--informing us that there is a screening room, where we were welcomed to watch with other slackers who arrived late.  We're shown to a room where, sure enough, there are around 15-20 folks watching church on tvThis is also where got the third or fourth "I told you to leave earlier."

Desperate to stick to the plan, I dragged my wife inside and began watching what had to be the lowest definition broadcast in television history. I’ve seen reel to reel footage of Civil War veterans that was of better quality than the picture on the screen.  But that isn’t the point…what was the point?  Oh yeah, it's Christmas, and I was looking forward to the luminaries on the way home, still determined to relive the magic of the past.

We made it through the sermon (which is the most important part, right?), and decide to make our exit.  After whispering one last, I told you we should have come earlier, we walked up the aisle of the small room and made our escape. 

On the way home we approached the hill and I looked for the candles.  All was dark.  The road that lit the way home from Christmas Eve church so many years ago had been turned off, perhaps due to the rain, but maybe due to time.  I took a deep breath, trying to keep my spirits up.  My wife looked at me, a smile full of pity on her face, and said:

“Honey, it has been over twenty years.”

And she’s right, it was a long time ago.  Things change, they come to an end and that's part of life.  I’ll always have those special Christmas memories from my childhood to cherish—they’re a part of me and who I am.  And now I look forward to forging new traditions with my wife and son.  Hopefully we will provide him with great memories that one day he will look back upon and think....those were the days.

Monday, December 24, 2012


There are few things I enjoy more than shopping on the last Saturday before Christmas, a few meaning anything.

Nevertheless, my wife and I went out to spend a little Christmas money.  I remember when Christmas money was meant to be wasted, maybe not wasted but spent without thought to the future.  This is no longer the case.  Christmas money—as in Christmas bonuses, gifts, money found on the street, or however else it comes into my possession will quickly be spent on baby stuff.  Not baby stuff as in fun stuff like say, a stuffed monkey or a basketball.  No, baby stuff as in a changing pads, or a glider chair, or even worse...much worse.

I found myself in Target looking at breast pumps.  Yes, the events that have transpired in my life have taken me to the aisle in the store featuring devices with suction cups that look like air horns.  While my wife looked at the various makes and models (low speed, fast speed?), I slowly began taking a few steps back mumbling something about a sale on shoelaces before turning and sprinting, running away like I was being chased. He’s very mature for his age—said not one of my teachers ever.

I wasted what I thought was a suitable amount of time for any reasonable person to pick out a breast milk pumping apparatus, before heading back to the baby section, catching a scowl from some guy wearing an ill fitting cap on his head and a XXXXL shirt.  Look, why do you have to be a tough guy in the maternity section of target?  I get it, you’re cool. 

Moving on, I arrive back to find my wife being assisted by a guy with his daughter.  One of his daughter’s actually, and this guy seemed to know a thing or two about breast pumps.  Helpful and pleasant, the man explained that he has three daughters and recommended the pump my wife was holding.  I stood towards the back, snickering like an adult when the topic of leak pads arose, prompting my wife to thank the nice man as we put the most expensive breast pump in our cart.

On the way home, I started thinking, was there a time when breast pumps made him feel uncomfortable?  Was he ever scared? Does Target place “Dads” in the aisles to recommend the most expensive breast pumps? 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The View Has Changed...

Train trestle at riverside park
When I was a kid, I’d sit here for hours looking at this train trestle from an overlook at our local park. As teenagers, it was a much visited place for kids drinking beer and smoking cigarettes (and still is, as evidenced by some poorly drawn graffiti). 

It seems that little has changed since the days of my youth, or for that matter my father's. My dad and his friends would go out on the trestle, some even deciding to test their fate and cross it.

Recently I took a trip down to the park.  Making my way down the old familiar path, the trestle seemed farther away, the overlook much higher.  I took a few steps back and watched a wayward pebble roll off the cliff and plunge downwards, bouncing off of the rocks below.  They really need to fence this off, I actually thought to myself, not unlike a worried grandmother. When did this happen?

When did I become mortal?  Is it age catching up with me, just the normal progression of growing older and, ahem, wiser?  Was it when I found out I was becoming a dad, my protective instincts fine tuning themselves?  Maybe it's a little bit of both.  In the many months since finding out my wife is pregnant, I've noticed that the world seems like a much more dangerous place.  Its edges much sharper, its peaks much steeper.  At times people can seem so harsh and cold.  Tragic stories seem to stay with me longer, and I begin to worry for the future.  I pay more attention to the little things these days, and as I've gotten older I've learned just how small of a piece of this enormous puzzle that I am.

My youthful exploits seem so far away, the wild nights used to bring with them excitement and thrill now seem so silly and stupid, not to mention a complete waste of time.  I'm by no means enlightened, but I look forward to mornings, enjoying a cup of coffee and a clear mind.  

Down the road, when I'm even older,the time may come when my son asks me about my younger years.  Perhaps he'll ask if I've ever broken curfew, skipped school, or maybe run from campus police through a bowling alley and spent the night in the drunk tank. I'll give him the wise and father look that I've already begun to practice, take a slow sip of coffee while I ponder his question, and say,

 "Son, have you seen your mother's tattoo?"  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Small & Mighty...

All small & mighty detergent
With all of the big changes happening in my life, it’s the little things I’ve been noticing lately.  For instance, last night I was doing laundry (doing laundry as in I got the clothes into the washing machine before getting sidetracked), when I noticed a small white bottle of detergent claiming to be “Small & Mighty”. 
The bottle was labeled Simon’s.  Well isn’t that just the cutest thing? (Yes, this is how I talk now) I thought, staring at the bottle, a goofy grin on my face as I was still holding pair of dirty boxer shorts in my hand. 

Suddenly I was holding a small and mighty little guy in my arms, reading him our favorite book before rocking him to sleep.  I could feel is soft little baby skin and smell his little baby head--oh wait, those are my boxer shorts…which quickly brought me back to reality.
But it’s things like this that make everything so real.  Sure, my wife’s large belly is a constant reminder of our son’s impending arrival; over time I’ve grown accustomed to it, maneuvering out of its way when we pass in the hallways, constantly touching it and talking to it when I see her.  But this, a little bottle of detergent, is tangible proof that we will soon be doing laundry for three. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dear Simon,

writing a letter
I've dreamed about meeting you since the moment I learned of your existence.  And as the date draws near, I'm counting down the days until I can hold you in my arms. But for the time being, if you don’t mind, could you try to take it easy on your mother?
If you're anything like me, and your mother says you are, I’m sure you’re getting a tad bit restless as you hear all of the commotion going on the outside.  Not to mention how claustrophobic it must be getting in there.  But Mom is having quite the time with you and the number you've done on her feet, back, wrists, and pretty much everything else.  She misses her body and wants it back (I of course love her body just the way it is).
I know it’s not your fault, trust me, your mother has made it quite clear where the blame lies.  I’m glad you’re growing and active as you prepare to make your grand entrance, but maybe you could ease up on her bladder just a bit.  She’s not getting much sleep these nights, and when she does it can be a bit terrifying.  She snores and moans, sometimes speaking in tongues that frighten your father.  But this isn't about me, I usually just head down to the other room and fall into a deep, uninterrupted sleep until morning, often times receiving a cold stare from your very tired mother as I wake up refreshed and chipper.
Anyways, she’s lugged you around for so long now, and both you and her have done so well.  Soon enough, it will be my turn to share the load.  We’ll have to work together when you get home, maybe we can figure out some sort of schedule.  I'll make you a deal, if you take it easy on us, I will see to it you never have to wear some of the more hideous clothes your mother wants to dress you in.  Yeah, they're that bad...
But I’m jumping ahead; what I really wanted to address is this whole labor thing.  Let's play a game, the goal is to make this process as smooth as possible.  For your mother’s sake let's try to set some sort of smooth birthing record.  I'm sure you must have some concerns about the whole thing yourself--which you will no doubt voice once you're out--but I think if the two of you remain calm during the delivery, we will all be fine.   After all, Dad will be doing enough freaking out for everybody.
So enjoy the warm and cozy confines of the womb for the next few weeks.  I’ll enjoy these last few weeks of sleep and try to deal with your mother as the nesting stage has arrived.  I’m looking forward to our face to face in the near future, and just remember, remain calm and head for the light.  Safe travels and I’ll see you soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

John Denver and The Muppets

John Denver and The Muppets - A Christmas TogetherThe sounds of the season make Christmas all the more enjoyble, and it seems everyone and anyone has put out a Christmas album at some point.  Elvis, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nsync have all made Christmases more enjoyable over the years. Well, three out of four anyway.

For me, nothing reminds me of early childhood Christmases like The Muppets.  That’s right, the Muppets.  In 1979, the stars aligned as John Denver, along with Kermit, Mrs Piggy and the rest of the Muppet gang collaborated on a Christmas album that has stood the test of time.

The album takes me back to a special place, to a small house where a Kerosene heater warmed the living room, a rotary telephone was fastened to the wall in the kitchen, and music was played by setting a needle onto the grooves of a record as it turned at 33 revolutions per minute.

My sister and I would sing along to this record as we bounced around the room with spirited excitement, feeling the Christmas magic in the air (it may have been the fumes from the kerosene).   Family and friends would stop by and we would welcome them in from the cold, inviting them to sing along as we decorated the tree.

Money was tight and times were tough, but our troubles were forgotten--if only for a night--as we sang along to our favorite Christmas album.  We played it over and over again, as Mom would flip the record when the needle began its rhythmic bumping on the label.  A little bit of heat, The Muppets album, a few neighbors, and we had ourselves a party.

I'd help my mother with the decorations, as she would always save her Christmas cards and use them to decorate the house, I still remember looking through the cards that felt like a lifetime ago in my four year old mind.

Later, as I lay in my bed, too wound to sleep, my sister and I would listen for Santa’s sled up on the roof, singing the songs from the album that were still fresh in our head.  Did you hear that?  My sister would say, and I would try my best to hear the sound of the sleigh on the roof.

Not long ago, at an estate sale just down the street from my house, I was flipping through a crate of dusty albums when sure enough, I came across the familiar cover.  I opened the sleeve, and for a moment I was back in that small house from my childhood, singing songs and decorating the tree.  I held onto the album, unashamed as I walked through the house with my childhood treasure tucked under my arm. I ended up paying two bucks for the record, and as I walked out with the record I couldn't help but wonder if its previous owner enjoyed it as much as I had.

As an expectant father, I can't wait for my son to experience this album, the full experience.  From the crackling sound of a real record, to the timeless songs that I loved as a child. Not to mention the great singing voices of The Muppets. I look forward to enjoying this classic with my son, and hopefully it can spread its magic all over again.  But I'll have to make it clear, if he makes fun of The Muppets he's grounded.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Helping The Families

I’m not really sure what I can write that hasn’t been said already about the horrible act committed by yesterday’s murderer.  He is a thief, who has stolen the futures of his innocent victims, many of them small children. Nothing I can possible write or do will change that.  As an expectant father, yesterday's news of the school shooting in Connecticut left me feeling weak and powerless.  The older I get the less I understand about the world in which I live.  My heart and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The wonderful group of bloggers of which fortunate to be a part of have set up a donation to raise money for funeral costs for one particular family who lost their son to this terrible act.  Please go to any of the sites listed below if you would like to contribute.  

A Star for Ben

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Toy Tester...

My Dad and Stepmother recently bought a bike for a young boy through a Christmas gift program in their area.  Now my dad isn't going to give this boy a bike that doesn't work, he had to test it out to make sure it worked properly.  

My Dad On a bike

As you can see, I'm sure Grandpa is very excited about testing all of Simon's future gifts to make sure they aren't defective, and I hope to carry the torch of toy tester in the coming years. But one thing is for sure, I hope that my wife and I have this much fun when we become Grandparents!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The In-Laws

meet the parents
My wife and I have come a long ways in the four years since I was able to talk her into a first date.  I am forever grateful that our chance encounter led to such life-changing events.  I've managed to convince her I was worth keeping, and together we’ve bought a house, gotten married, and are now preparing to bring a child into our lives.  And family has played a large role in each of these endeavors.
But back to the dating. Things were getting serious between us when she asked me to accompany her to Northern Virginia, as her parents were coming down from upstate New York and wanted to meet the guy that their daughter had told them about (and if there was time, me).  With many miles between us I had managed to delay the encounter, but now the time had come, I was going to meet the parents. 
I've never been a charming conversationalist, so I was just a bit intimidated before the meeting.  What I learned about my girlfriend's father on our 3 hour trip did not help matters. He’s not only a marine but also an avid gun collector.  Oh, that makes me feel very comfortable, is there anything else you want to tell me?  Does he have a portable water boarding device as well?  This has been great; just slow down here and I'll jump out.
She managed to keep me in the car and we arrived as scheduled in Alexandria, Va, to head up the Potomac River for a tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. My worrying was unfounded as they quickly made me feel like part of the family. My future mother-in-law was (and is) warm and genuine, and I immediately felt comfortable.  Meanwhile my future father-in-law, like me, enjoyed American History, which made the conversation, the meeting, and the trip all the more enjoyable. To top things off,  I saw no evidence of a torture device...

A Year later....

I was nervous again (I'm a little neurotic), anxiously preparing for another meeting with my future In-laws.  Only this time they were at my house after making the 13 hour trip down to visit their first born daughter.  I was searching for the right time (and words) to ask my future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Deep breaths.
My wife and her mother went shopping, leaving the two of us on the couch watching a football game.  I waited for the perfect segue to begin my dialogue....And with that the Giants take the lead! Pete, what do you think of marriage? 
The moment never came.  I took a breath, cleared my throat and stammered into the lines that I had practiced, my voice unsteady and shaky as I powered through….your daughter means the world to me….I was hoping to uh……that you would uh…. It was truly a forgettable performance. (Or memorable for all the wrong reasons).
When I was finished, he shifted slightly while gently scratching our dog on his head (the dog never left his side when he was at the house) before saying,

“If she’ll have you then I’ll have you.”
A wave of relief rushed over me, and I was about to say something stupid or ruin our talk gushing over the moment when, with his eyes still on the game, he continued:
“That was a great catch.”
I nodded knowingly, as if to say, I hear ya, let’s not get all emotional here! Meanwhile I was smiling like an idiot. 
I'm lucky, I won the in-law lottery.  Today, geography limits our visits, but technology will keep us connected.  As the baby arrives we will be sure to Skype, facetime, and send way too many pictures via facebook and email.  I look forward to bringing our son up to the North Country to visit with his northern counterparts as well as visits from grandparents to see their daughter and grandson.  As for me, I'm just glad I didn't jump out of the car before that first meeting!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Last Childless Christmas

christmas tree lotOver the weekend, my wife and I headed out in search of a Christmas tree.  In recent years we settled on the convenience of The Home Depot, grabbing a tree on the way out of the store and hoping it would make it until Christmas day.

But this year, both of us were feeling a bit more in the spirit of things. So with temps nearing the 60 degree mark, we headed to Dave's Maine Christmas trees and wreaths, a roadside lot with a large selection of fresh Frazer Fir trees

Under the string of light bulbs we began our search for the perfect Christmas tree.  And I got all sentimental, (when did this happen?), realizing that this would be the last Christmas with just the two of us at home.   As a matter of fact, this year has been full of lasts.  The last childless birthday, the last childless father’s day, the last childless anniversary, the last childless everything.  

But something happened that I'm sure will not be a last.  I managed to lodge my foot squarely in my mouth.  Searching for that perfect tree, my wife rejected my choices, calling them scrawny or scrimpy, shaking her head with every candidate I presented.

She pointed to her choice, a full tree that was $10 more than the ones I had selected.  And then it happened, I called the tree fat and out of shape.  But I didn’t stop there. In a complete lapse of judgment and an absence of sanity, I continued, calling the tree pregnant.

She shot me a disparaging look, her eyebrow raised as she put together my sentences.

“Is that what you think of me, fat and out of shape?”

Oh boy.

“No honey, I didn’t mean it like that….it must have been my angle, or the lighting….I actually think this tree is beautiful, it’s radiant…..a fine looking tree….it glows really, if you ask me....I’m going to go run out into traffic….”

After letting me suffer for a moment, she laughed it off, as she is an excellent sport.  But still, I have to be more careful.  (And for the record I don’t think my wife is fat and would never, ever say so if I did.) 

Eventually we picked the perfect tree.  We loaded it up into the truck and brought it to our home to decorate, playing Christmas songs and kicking off our last childless Christmas together.  

Afterwards, we sat back and enjoyed our beautiful tree, the colorful lights sparkling as they reflected off of our childhood ornaments. And I must say, the tree is a stunning, a glowing tree that lights up our house and warms my heart, just like my pregnant--but not by any means fat--wife.