Sunday, March 31, 2013


baby basketball
Hangin' with Daddy...

It was a guys’ night in yesterday, as my wife went out to dinner with some friends from out of town.  The little man and I played some poker, ate some fried chicken, and lounged around the house while watching a little college hoops.  It was a great time, just the two of us, being guys and chewing the fat until bath time rolled around.   Then things went downhill rather quickly... 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Let The Good Times Roll...

These days I’m starting to feel like a real parent.  Routines are being established as we use what works and scrap the rest along with the leaky diapers. The little guy is doing his part to help out, voicing his opinion with shrieks and shrills that we have learned to interpret as yays or nays.

He’s alert and wild at times, with feet that kick like a pint sized ninja and arms that flap like wings.  And when he’s hungry, watch out, the world will hear about it.

But eating can be tricky, he gets distracted by all of the jaw-dropping things going on around him.  There’s that AMAZING picture of the dog on the wall.  And let’s take a moment to drool over that captivating lamp on the end table.  His eyes dart around the room, focusing on any and everything but the task at hand.  He’s a busy little guy and often doesn’t always have time to stare at Daddy.  But when I do grab his attention it makes for a great moment.  Like the other day when I came to rescue him from his swing he gave me a great big smile that said,

“Boy am I glad to see you!”

He’s already interacting with us on a regular basis.  He laughs when I tickle him and follows me with his eyes as I dance around the room like an idiot. He’s very much into mom’s rendition of the itsy bitsy spider song.  His face lights up as he follows along with mounting anticipation as the clouds break and the drama unfolds... 

“Out comes the sun….”

“Wow!”  His face screams, and I try to imagine what’s going through his little head, maybe something like:  “That spider sure has some resolve.  I mean to get washed out like that you would think he’d give up.  But nooo way, as sure as the sun comes out he’s back at it again!“

It’s the coolest thing he’s ever seen. He watches her with the intensity of a professional wrestler drinking a monster energy drink.  I mean, he’s really into it. It’s his watershed moment.  His moon landing, his Ali-Frazier, his Oj in the white Bronco, his Honey Boo Boo season finale. His--well you get the picture, he really likes it.

He’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun these days. Just watching our weight gaining, smiling, gurgling, laughing, kicking and flailing bundle of activity can be exhausting.  And as his personality begins to emerge I'm predicting some lively times down the road.

And I’m doing my part, being proactive as ever.  When mom’s not around, and he begins to coo and call, I help him along with the sounds of his first word: DAD-DY.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fighting it...

I think a lot about age these days.  At 37 I’m in that gray area (I refuse to say middle age) where I’m no longer a young guy, but I’m not old.  Sure, the kids at the mall (or wherever they hang out) may disagree with that statement, but still, I’m not old.    
I’m also not quite sure where all the time went, it seems like yesterday that I was in my twenties and doing things that would make older me scowl and shake my head on my morning commute.

I still have my health, but as I found out over the weekend, these days there are some limits. 

I was invited to play in a charity basketball tournament.  Four games in two days, doesn’t sound like much. Our first game would be at 10 Am on Saturday, I arrived at the gym alert and chipper.  Bouncing through lay-up drills like a kid.
After the first game (we won!), I felt good and ready to do it again. After the second (we won again!), I was still okay, but breathing heavily and sucking down water.  On the way home that evening, age set in.  Old people thoughts entered my mind.  I thought about stopping for some Bengay or Icy Hot, and was contemplating the upside of using a walker.  I took a shower and changed into pajamas and then looked at the clock.  5:30. Wow.
With a grunt, I scooped the little guy into my arms and watched the much younger college kids on television for the rest of the evening, wincing every time I stood up and my back ached or an ankle popped.
The next day, I took two aspirin, as my ankles were still hurting and my back was a bit stiff, and I’m sure my wife was tired of me whining.  Back at the gym, we won the semifinal game in dramatic fashion on a last second shot.  The championship game wasn’t for three hours, so I limped around the house in an effort to stay loose, and even managed to take the dogs for their run because well, I’m an idiot.
Our luck ran out in the championship game, as we lost in an overtime thriller--at least for the 6 people in attendance--but I left it all out on the floor, and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I fully recovered.
I fell into the car, drove home, and once again was in my pajamas before the sun went down.  No shame.
Maybe it’s stubbornness, but I will continue to fight off age for the rest of my days, running up hills and skipping stairs while I'm able to do so. And for all of the soreness and limping, as we posed for our second place trophy pictures I was asked if I was playing next year.

Of course I am.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Where to, Son?

I often think about the places I want to take my son, and all of the things I want teach him.  But it hadn’t occurred to me where he may take me and what I may learn from him. 

He has already significantly expanded my comfort zone, and this is only the beginning.  Two months ago I had never held a baby for longer than it takes to snap a picture, these days it's the most natural thing I know.  Every morning I hold him against my chest, lifting my head so he can nuzzle his head under my neck just the way he likes. 

As a father, I have as much to learn from this growing ball of boy as I have to teach.  Every day, he’s letting me know what I’m doing wrong, and I’ve learned by trial and error what makes him tick.  So what else will he teach me?  Just this morning I learned a new color upon opening up my son's diaper. Not sure I'll be seeing that one in a Crayola box anytime soon.  

So where to today? Or tomorrow?  I have a feeling that he will have me doing things I never thought possible. For instance, a few days after he was born I felt weird carrying a breast pump machine through the halls of the hospital.  If I only knew what was coming.

Watching him smile and wiggle and grow I know that this part of the journey that I thought would be so long and arduous is actually happening all too fast.  Today I’m holding his tiny little bottom in my arms and tomorrow I’ll be helping him learn the alphabet.  And then Spanish homework, or basketball practice, maybe I’ll even coach, who knows?

Right now, I still can’t believe that he’s here, and that I helped create him. It all seems too amazing. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hey, you’re a person!

I’m not sure when it happened, but my son is showing signs of a personality.  It's early yet, but yesterday as he was lying in his pack and play when suddenly, he looked up, his eyes wide and alert.  He smiled and gurgled something.  But it was something!
Wow, this stuff moves fast.
Only 8 short weeks ago today he was born and as March Madness has taken on a whole new meaning, I can’t imagine my life without him. I feel like I’m going to make a sandwich and turn around to find him backing out of the driveway in my car. 
So what have I learned as a father?  Well,

  • I’ve learned that hiccups get in the way of a good wail
  • I’ve learned how to hold a bottle, sort of.
  • I’ve learned that Nuks are like treats to the dog.
  • I've learned some new words to replace bad words.
  • I’ve learned to appreciate naps regardless of length or location.
  • I’ve learned that parenting is much harder than anything I have ever done.
  • I've learned that it's worth every second....most's worth it.
  • I’ve learned that there were feelings inside of me that I had no idea existed.
  • I've learned that I never get tired of watching him yawn. 
  • I’ve learned to change a diaper blindfolded in the dark like a boss.
  • I’ve learned that pee does not burn the skin
  • I’ve learned that my parents were right.
  • I've learned that infant hands are like little rooster claws.
  • I’ve learned that the sound of a breast pump can lull me to sleep.
  • I’ve learned that the sound of his breathing takes my breath away
  • I’ve learned that I like the zippers way more than the buttons
  • I've learned that I am parent material, which is good because he didn't really have a choice.
  • I’ve learned that my son is much tougher than I expected, not that I’ve dropped him or anything.
These are just a few of the things I have learned at the early stage in my son’s life, and I’m sure both he and I will be leaning many, many, more things together.  But for now, I am content to hold my little guy in my arms while I still can.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Tale Of Survival...

I’m a new dad. And as a new dad I’m a tad bit overprotective.  But as we approach the two month mark, I’m beginning to loosen up some.  Not dangle my baby over a balcony loose, but I may no longer need medication.
Over the weekend, temperatures soared into the mid seventies.  The sun was shining and it looked like the perfect day for a walk in the woods.  My wife and I hit trails behind our house.  She wore the baby carrier and I led the way with the dogs, wearing the goofy dad smile that I'm told I have when doing family activities.

Fresh air, that's what this kid needs.  We thought, proud of ourselves for getting out and exposing our young child to nature.
The first sign of danger lurked in the menacing dark clouds overhead.
“Should we turn around?” I asked my wife.
“No, we’re fine.”
Obviously I wouldn’t be writing this post if we had been fine.  We should have turned around, but this blog is not a vehicle for I told you so’s and I was rights.  We continued on, climbing further into the woods as our son slept, unaware of the danger looming above his fragile little head.
Thunder boomed from within the thick black clouds, shaking the rains free from their grasp as pellets of ice and hail dumped from the sky. I started to panic, debating whether I should strap the baby on to my chest and make a run for it.  The wind slapped our backs, swirling as my wife and I yelled in efforts to hear each other over the trees falling around us.  We held onto each other, shielding the baby from the debris until, in the distance, we watched as a funnel came ripping through the tree line.
Let me take a breath. It appears that I may have watched too much of The Bible on the history channel yesterday.  There was some thunder, and perhaps a drop of rain, but I may have slightly embellished the intensity of the storm. There was no twister.  My wife used her scarf to cover our baby, and we made it back to the house before child services got wind of our exploits.
But it was terrifying, feeling helpless out there exposed to whatever mother nature decided to throw our way.  Thankfully, she was gentle, and now I know that babies don't melt.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hoop Dreams

I'm not going to be the dad who pushes sports on his son. He'll be free to pursue what makes him happy, unless it's one of those trends I'm too old to understand.  Like milking, or planking, or owling, or whatever bewildering trend is looming. With that being said, there's an old basketball goal at the end of our street. The pole shows some rust and the plastic backboard is weathered and faded, but when I was a kid a hoop was a hoop, (until your dad comes down with a tomahawk jam that rips the rim off of the backboard, but that's for another post).  When we moved into our house a few years ago I tightened up the rim and replaced the dry rotted net that had been blowing in the wind since the Reagan administration.  

basketball goal
The goal may not look like much, but I can already envision a little Simon bouncing the ball down the street to join dad for a game. I know, it may be a few months.  It’s an adjustable goal so I will lower it for him.  I don’t expect anything spectacular, nothing youtube worthy anyway, just some good old father-son bonding time.  Who knows, maybe we’ll let Mom join us.

As much as I want him to like basketball, I won't force it on him. If it's not his thing, no big deal, there are plenty of other hobbies out there. So down the road if I end up at a chess match or a debate, or even...gulp, a soccer match, I’ll be just as proud (and maybe as loud) as I would cheering him on the court. 

Whatever he decides to do I'll support it, even if it's hockey. I'm game for whatever the journey brings. But one thing is for certain; the kid will have to get outside.  Whether it's riding his bike, playing in the creek, or even reading a book, I want him to come home dirty.  Just like dad.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Being Productive With A Newborn In The House

Baby chaosAfter 7 weeks of being a dad, I'm pretty sure I've got this thing licked. Some sacrifices have been made and a few hobbies curtailed, but I've found a way to balance writing and parenting by way of scheduling and multi tasking.  Changing diapers while brainstorming isn't easy, but I can assure you, it hasn’t affected my creative juices. Not in the least.

For example, let’s take a look at a sonnet I wrote last night as the baby slept.  I don't claim to be a poet, but as my son rocked gently in his swing--blissfully content in his slumber, I picked up the pen and let the verses flow. The result was this beauty:
The stormy nigh
He wasn't content for long, and my poem appears to be more of a haiku of sorts.  Oh well, poetry has never been my strong suit, I’ll work on that one.  Moving on.
I’ve also been polishing up my prose.  Writing short stories is something I've always enjoyed and hoped to continue to write in my spare time.  Just before my son was born I was struck with an idea for story.  It's a timeless tale of love and heartbreak with a dark twist, read for yourself:
As the days forge ahea-
The dog barked, the baby screamed, and I spilled a lukewarm bottle of breast milk on the keyboard just as I got cranking, so that one may need some work. And words. Okay, so maybe my writing has taken a hit, but I’ve managed to keep up with my reading.  Over the weekend, I read the same paragraph no less than eight times.  How’s that for being thorough?  It was about a um, well most of it involved, I think it had something to do with. Hang on,
Sorry, I had to change a diaper.  Don’t worry, I washed my hands.  Where was I, oh yeah.  Hold on. Okay, I’m going to cut this short as the little one needs attention and I only have one jand to finish thyping jhis post.. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hard Work

baby tux
Air Guitar!
You know, this parenting thing is hard.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible too.  It’s a blur of amazing, exhausting, demanding, and rewarding all at the same time.
One minute I’m holding a sleeping ball of love in my arms, feeling good about myself and the whole daddy thing, while the next moment I’m cringing as the ear piercing screams resume and I come under attack by tiny hands with sharp little claws.  What happened to my life?
The past seven weeks have been a challenge that has tested our levels of endurance beyond anything I imagined, and I have found patience and strength that I didn't know existed.  But I can’t take the credit, it’s Mom that’s been amazing.  She has held this operation together through it all with a mixture that is one part motherly instinct, one part gritty determination, and two part boobs.  It hasn’t exactly been a couple’s retreat at our house for the past two months, but words cannot describe the love and respect I feel for my wife. 
We were warned of the late nights, the diaper changes, the crying, the zombie-like nighttime wandering, and the feeling of waking up exhausted in the mornings.  But it cannot be fully understood until experienced firsthand.
The last couple of nights have been especially trying. As my wife put it, it seemed our baby was abducted by aliens. He’s doing much better today, and I’m sure there will be many more rough patches in the future, but we’ll get through it, we don't have a choice...  
On a high note, Daddy did get his first smile yesterday.  A real smile too, I’ve learned the difference between a I’m just crapping my pants and a hey dad smile. It makes it all worthwhile.
But one thing is for certain, this little guy is going to be an only child!

baby sleeping
Worth it All...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Family Outing

For most of my son's six weeks of life, I've managed to shield him from the world in which he lives.  A few doctor visits, a couple walks, and whatever mom has managed to sneak behind my back notwithstanding.  My wife has been itching for weeks to get us out of the house, and with blue skies and spring like temperatures pervading our weekend, I knew that the time had come. We were hitting the road.

Ready for a big day...
After checking the car seat base no less than 17 times, we crept out of the driveway, the car moving at the pace of a parade float as we were off for our first official family outing.

The day was full of first, which for me meant it was full of stress.  Sure, I joke about being an overprotective dad, but much of it is no joke, I can’t help it.

The first sign of danger came by way of the gas station.  As I filled up, I stared at the little lugnut, blissfully asleep in the car when a Volkswagon bus pulled in to the other side of the pump, its engine struggling to idle as the exhaust fumes filled the air. I dashed into the car, startling my wife as I turned the key and closed the sunroof.  Not on my watch Carbon monoxide, the first hazard had been adverted.

I finished pumping gas without incident, sending a Walt Kowalski-like scowl to drivers of loud vehicles and those with inappropriate language until we got back on the road.

Our destination was Charlottesville, Trader Joe’s more specifically, because driving an hour each way for cheap wine and cookie butter is practical, and our marriage is based on practicality.

I drove like a man on a mission, but a mission without time restraints. Arriving at the shopping center the panicking began.  There were horns, sirens, buses, and, gasp, other human beings.  I pulled the stroller of the trunk and to my surprise, was able to unfold it. I looked around, Sniff, that's right, I'm a dad.  I felt parental as we navigated our way through the foot traffic, me and the little guy hanging outside while mom peeked into a few stores.

My senses seemed sharper, and I was on high alert, taking precautions that would put Secret Service to shame. Craning my neck, I glanced in all directions for potential threats.  Who knew the world could be so dirty?  I tried to remind myself that when I was a kid I used to eat bugs and drink creek water.  I may or may not have eaten a scab.

Stopping for lunch at Chili's, I inquired as to whether breast milk was on the menu.  No such luck, we found a booth tucked away and commenced to be that couple.  Being removed from civilization for so long, I worried my wife would walk out of the bathroom with her boob hanging out of her shirt, ready to feed. 

Once again our son was well behaved, and when the waitress approached while I was burping him on my shoulder as if I had been doing it for years.  I whispered politely for the check.  That's right, I got this...

Finally, we arrived at Trader Joe's. I unpacked, and with my confidence growing I took the reigns of the stroller to let my wife do the shopping. But once inside of the crowded store, as the carts whizzed by us and we became lost in the shuffle of reusable bags, ironic t-shirts, and yuppie indifference, my confidence faded. I struggled up and down a couple aisles, the crowd more than I could bear.  Nope, I whipped around and back outside as my son and I escaped to the parking lot for some sunshine.

trader joes
Perhaps he (I) was overwhelmed, or maybe he(I) was just tired.  After all, for him (me), we may as well have travelled to the moon.  He started to fuss as we waited for mom outside, watching the throng of Priuses (Prii?) cruise through the lot.

Eventually Mom resurfaced, and our son was hungry. So, right there in the parking lot, she nursed our son in the back seat as I munched on the groceries in the trunk. We were only a drum circle short of looking like a tailgate party at a Phish show.

By this point I was done. I had had enough firsts for the day.  We drove home, exhausted from our adventure. My son and I anyway, I think mom was fine. And so we made it, unharmed and unscathed after exploring a small part of the world. Maybe we'll do it again next year...