Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Two years ago today, I woke up knowing I was about to make the best descison of my life.  Family and friends were in town and things were getting hectic with all of the last minute activities.  I had few loose ends to tie up myself before I could attend a 6 o'clock wedding.  My wedding.

The week had been a hazy blur of last minute errands. The temps were in the 90's and the Yankees were complaining.  At around 4 o'clock I was on the way out with two of my groomsmen when the sky turned black.  A thick glop of rain pelted the windshield.  I held my breath.  The trees swayed, flashing white as the leaves turned upwards. And then it started.  A beast of a storm emptied itself as we drove.  Not good for an outdoor wedding...

But just as quick as it came it was gone.  As we turned onto the gravel driveway of the manor house, the clouds parted, revealing patches of blue sky with time to spare.  The weather had changed its mind. Tables and chairs were hauled out, we were getting married.

We exchanged vows right on time and had a party. It was a wonderful evening full of family and fiends, smiles and laughter.  Even my brother behaved.  My face hurt from all the laughing.  It was a magical evening, and love was in the air.  But I still owe her a honeymoon.  We almost had one last fall but then came a surprise.  A big surprise. 

Now two years later we have other things to celebrate. We have a son…and he’s already a half a year old and he’s cuter, smarter, and better than anything I even attempted at imagining he would be.  He’s amazing….she’s amazing…even our dog’s are amazing….in there own way. 

I’m a very fortunate man to have her in my life.  And I’ll try my best to remember every single day of our marriage instead of just one.  Because I take her for granted.  I forget what a special human being it takes to put up with all my crap.

These days our time together is limited.  We have quick snippets during a nap or while he sleeps in the back seat of the car.  Sometimes we get twenty minute chat on the porch or a quick exchange while preparing dinner in the kitchen.  I admit that sometimes I put our son ahead of her, it’s just the way it works at this stage.  But I want her to know that she is the greatest.  She’s the glue that keeps it all together.  I’m only pretending when I say otherwise…

So here’s to two years, and then three, and then 40.  Here’s to keeping this thing going, to growing old together.  Here's to looking back at our naivety. Here’s to rocking on the porch, looking back on our lives and wondering who in the hell are all of these strangers on our porch before being told that this is a Cracker Barrel.  Here’s to looking back with wonder and asking where the time went.  Here’s to—you know what?  I’ll just tell her all of this stuff at dinner tonight.  Thanks for listening.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Doing The Research...

Avacodo face
Avacodo Face...
My wife has become a quick study when it comes to all things pertaining to our son.  This is impressive considering she's not the most tech savvy person in the world.  But when it comes to the little guy, she's a research analyst, scouring the bowels of Google to find studies, theories, behavioral guidelines, or other useful tools of learning. 

This from the woman who usually has anywhere from 1200-6000 emails in her inbox. Who when we met, still had her ipod touch in the box it came in because well I don’t know how that thing works…Who, for two years never figured out her voicemail and as a result it sounded like she had attached her phone to the back of a deer and smacked it on the butt.  (I finally set it up for her after her friends complained of the 60 seconds of rustling followed by a beep).
But her knowledge of child rearing is vast, encompassing findings old and new.  For instance, just the other night while making dinner, we were discussing what foods to introduce to our son, like avacodo.
“Well, a 1988 study in Good Housekeeping magazine discovered that when…..”
I whipped around to make sure I was still talking to my wife.  Not that I didn’t think she was smart, but we usually don’t cite our sources during conversation.  If we did, my footnotes would be littered with names such as The Farrelly Brothers, The Three Stooges, The Beastie Boys, and so on. 
When did she become an information center of knowledge, backed by research and studies and clinical trials?  As she continued, I made faces at my son… 
“….but was rebuked when in 1999 by a team in…”
Now, of course I usually hang on my wife’s every word, but in this case I was having trouble staying focused.  I felt like a slouch of a parent.  While I’m You Tubing talking huskies, she’s burrowing through the archives of medical journals in search of improving our son’s quality of life.
“…so you can see the pros of going that route.  You know?”
 Crap, now she’s waiting for my input, and I’ve got that baby monkey song stuck in my head. 
“Well, yeah, it certainly stands to reason.”
Silence, only the cheerful sounds of The London Bridge Is Falling Down filled the room. She knew I was full of it.  Yet she still loves me.  She can do the research for both of us.  I’ll just try to make him laugh between meals.  Research shows that that’s good too, right?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

That's Wack Dad...

baby hat
Like most middle age white guys, I was busting a dope freestyle (rapping) for my son when I took notice to the less than impressed look on his face. The wrinkled brow, the curved lip, it was a look I had seen before (Breakin' Beat Street, Rappinhood). And if my memory of 80's hip hop stood correct (and it does), his reaction led me to believe that I was wack.  I stopped mid-rhyme to take a closer look, stunned by this  blatant disregard of etiquette. The protocol of the streets clearly dictates that if someone—namely me, is dropping science, you let said mc have his say before rebutting.

But as evidenced by the Pottery Barn Kids magazine on the coffee table, this wasn't the streets.  So there I stood, or knelt rather, crushed after being straight dissed and dismissed in such cold fashion by my own son. I abandoned my epic freestyle, and instead let him know that if he wished, I would be more than happy to flatten the cardboard of that Sam’s Club diaper box to show off my breakdancing skills. 

Now my son is 6 months old, far removed from the golden age of poppin’ and lockin’, and I'm not so sure I can even fit into my parachute pants anymore.  But I saw this as no excuse to let his aspersions go unchecked. My challenge hung in the silence...even the dogs cocked their heads in anticipation.  And just when I thought I had won him over he giggled, then laughed, and then broke into a slobbering uncontrolable cackle combined with a waive of the hand to let me know--in case I had misinterpreted, that I am in fact a wack mc.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Ready For Football...

July is a great time for my wife. School is out, the days are long, and she has my undistracted attention. For me, July is hot and humid. A dragging and sports-less haze of a month. The Nba finals are over. I’m not a baseball guy, and I don't watch NASCAR or pro wrestling. Maybe tennis. I’m definitely not watching golf. Last year I had the Olympics, but now I'm left stuck in sporting limbo. 
But the end is near.  In a few weeks the Hall of Fame game kicks off the NFL preseason, and college football won't be far behind.  I do however, have a feeling that my football viewing will be forever changed.  I mean, with so many new developments, who has the time?
My son screams like a pterodactyl.  It’s ear piercing, rattling the glass in the windows, and could be a form of communication with aliens. I feel for the dogs, who’ve surprisingly been excellent sports about the whole thing.  He shrieks whether he is happy or upset, it makes no difference to him.  He’s quite impressed with himself, watching his face you can see the wheels turning behind those big blue eyes of his.  Wow, I can make that sound? Cool!  Not cool.  I’m waiting for a knock on the door to find a haggard and sweaty, overworked state employee holding a clip board, informing me in a polite yet authoritative tone that he/she needs to come inside so that I can answer a couple of questions.
And then of course there's the diaper changes, which are getting increasingly difficult with all of this wiggling he does.  He used to lie there like a lump and go through the motions.  He goes through plenty of motions these days, squirming and flopping like a fish in a boat.  I cannot count the times I’ve put his diaper on backwards in the middle of the night (Don’t tell Mom!). My football viewing will take a hit due to this, along with feeding times, play time, bath time, (more like splash time), and all the other times of the day.  I’m going to need plenty of time outs. 
Also to consider is the crawling stage.  We are not too far from being mobile, which I’m told is a game changer (like the forward pass!) Yes, soon I will be following this little munchkin around the house as he crawls and scampers like a third dog. And if his crawling is anything like his bouncing, well, I’d better get in shape.
So football season could very well come and go and I may never know the difference.  Maybe I’ll catch the Super Bowl, we’ll see. Not to worry, I have my priorities (and dvr), so I don’t mind missing some football to catch these new developments.  It seems like every day he does something to make me smile or laugh, and I can’t believe how blessed we are to have such a healthy (and extremely active) little guy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

No Pressure...

The Daily Press, March 16th 2031

Charlottesville, Va. Simon Fanning, the freshman phenom for the University of Virginia knows how to draw a crowd.  Leading the Cavs' basketball team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, Fanning is having one of the more memorable seasons in school history.  During last night’s route of the Duke Blue devils at John Paul Jones arena, Fanning set a freshman record with his sixth triple double this season season.

sports and books
“I’m just trying to get everyone involved.  Tonight was a team effort, just like every night.”

With all the right answers, the 6’4” combo guard is enjoying a sensational streak, leading Virginia on a late season surge towards a #1 seed as the conference tournament approaches. Fanning is averaging a whopping 28 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assist over the last 5 games, and with March madness looming, excitement is swirling over the historic grounds in Charlottesville. Uva head coach Chris Paul explained just how special his young star has been to his team.

“This kid comes to play, whether its practice or crunch time, he’s out there doing everything in his power to help the team win.”

His on court success comes after a breakout season on the football field.  The duel sport athlete threw for over 3,000 yards last season, leading Virginia to its first conference championship in over twenty five years.  His 42 touchdown passes shattered both school and conference records, as Fanning showed the poise and skill set to excite both fans and nfl scouts sitting in the stands.  One of those scouts, who wished to remain anonymous, gushed about the chance to nab the Heisman trophy winner

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never seen such a combination of foot speed and accuracy in a college quarterback.  This kid is the real deal, we’d take him 1st right now if we could.”  

Juggling two sports, most kids would have a difficult time focusing on their studies, but Fanning--a physics major, has little trouble shedding the cleats and hitting the lab, maintaining a perfect 4.0 gpa.  Whispers of a potential Rhodes scholarship have surfaced on campus as Fanning is an active member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society. Following the footsteps of notable members such as Edgar Allen Poe and Woodrow Wilson, Fanning participates in weekly sunrise sessions, reading prose and poetry or taking part in vigorous debates on matters ranging from the impending oil crisis to often humorous critiques of current President Ben Affleck’s blunders in office.

Fanning is no stranger to the limelight. Following his rousing high school graduation speech, covered by C-Span and featured on The Today Show, Fanning spent the summer participating in a highly selective internship with Nasa, where he received the Milton award for his work on the Mars water-monitoring app that will be utilized with Apple’s forthcoming Ikitchen.

Fluent in French, German, Spanish, and Zulu, Fanning says he plans to spend the upcoming offseason taking part in the construction of a maternity ward for a remote village in South Africa. 

Simon’s proud father, Pete Fanning, says he knew there was something special about his son from the very beginning.

“We came home from that there hospital and I says shoot.  That boy there, he’s gonna be a smart one.”

And a smart one he is.  Fanning attributes his success to his upbringing, praising his mother and father for their support in all of his interests, mentioning how thankful he is that his father never wrote outlandish blog posts chocked full of unattainable standards. 

With all of his first year success, Fanning says for now he just wants to enjoy college life and help others in the process.  From Rhodes scholar to future Nba star, Simon’s future looks full of promise.  And who knows? Perhaps his next venture will be to tutor his father.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thinking Time...

Okay, I’m done with this little experiment.  It was fun and all—having breakfast for dinner, wearing the same shirt for two days straight, pressing buttons on the washing machine. But I’m all done now.  I’m not cut out for this.

It’s funny because usually when things would get hectic around the house I find myself thinking how much I could get done if I had some time to think.  And now time is something I have in abundance, waaay too much time to think about things such as whether turtles have ears.  Not real productive.

Last night I had a couple old friends over.  I called the guys, stocked the fridge with beer, and took refuge on the carport to enjoy the evening’s overcast.  My first friend arrived, an old buddy with whom I go way back.  This was the guy who once poured beer into my mouth from three stories above, and continued pouring after either not seeing the police officer approaching or figuring what was the harm in completing the task.  There are many more stories, most involving beer and bad decisions, but you get the gist of it...  

We cracked open a beer (let the decision making begin) and kicked off our weekend. Not long afterwards my second buddy arrived.  A friend of mine since high school, this guy and I once...no twice...okay a bunch of times, donned wigs and rapped through a karaoke version of Do you like Pina Coladas.  Do you like 2pac or Biggie? Because they’re not just the same… Don’t ask.

Did I mention that all of us now have kids.  God help them. 

We had a good time.  Thankfully there were no cops involved. We played music, (no karaoke) cut loose, laughed about our kids, and reminisced about the past.  But my heart wasn’t into it.  I’m a wuss these days, whatever.  After six days without my little dude it’s wearing on me. But the end is in sight. My wife will leave and should be here Monday evening.  And it’s pictures like this that are getting me through it. 

All the rain we've been getting has coincided with my gloom, although my tomatoes are looking great, red and plump and keeping me alive by the way.  

So with nothing else to do but wait maybe I'll begin to clean up.  Well, maybe tomorrow, I’m a little tired from my wild night, I was up until 11 after all...

*On a side note, I’m completely aware of just how fortunate I really am.  There are plenty of fathers who don’t have the opportunity to see their kids everyday, like our solders oversees who won’t see their children for months at a time, if not longer.  So please don't take my whining too seriously.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cracking Up...

macbook budlightI write this post from the muggy confines of my command station on the carport.  I have beer and my dogs.  My son has been ripped from my arms and carted across state lines. A few states actually. My wife has taken him up north to visit family and friends. She left yesterday and we’ve spoken several times. She says everything is fine. I told her the same on my end.  What I didn't tell her is that last night I ate watermelon and cocoa puffs for dinner, while wandering the house in a bathrobe, listening to Baby Einstein and reading My BeeBo. I'm not bitter it just reads that way...

I should be cutting loose with my freedom, taking full advantage now that my strings of responsibility are blowing in the wind. As are the smells in this house, I may need to open a window. Dinner tonight looks to be a delectable course involving peanut butter and jelly packets. The possibilities are endless. This is not the first time I've been left, but it's the first time since I've been a dad.

It’s bittersweet, a week of freedom in exchange for a week without my little guy. But don’t cry for me Argentina, or Virginia. I’ll get to play basketball and drink some beers with the fellas, and undo all of that training my wife worked so hard to accomplish. The stubble on my face is like industrial strength sandpaper...and we're only on day two.  A week without shaving, toilet seat maneuvering, and hair in the bathtub, I’m going full neanderthal here. Boom... I just smashed a bug with my fist. 

The dogs and I will hunker down and ride out the storm. They're already sighing heavily and looking up at me with sad eyes.  Weeks are like months for my little dude at this stage. What if he forgets me? I had no idea how attached I was already. I mean I did, but it was hard not holding him before work, coming home to that smile after work, and listening to him giggle in the tub, and sleeping on my chest….oh God, I'm no neanderthal, I'm a dad!  A dad who needs to wash the bug guts from his hands...  

Sunday, July 7, 2013


This may get a little mushy.  Over the weekend being a dad hit me hard, in a good way.  I’m not sure what it was, probably the fact that I won’t see my little guy for a week.  Tomorrow he’s heading to upstate New York to visit his northern grandparents.  Which is great, and it will be nice to have some freedom but at this stage in his life weeks are like months.  He better not come home with teeth.  (Actually, after all of the teething stories I’ve heard maybe he should).

blue eyed baby
Saturday was daddy time, as my wife finally got to cash in that full body massage gift certificate I gave to her back at Christmas.  After that she hit the pool while Simon and I passed the time.  Let's see, we read a book, jumped on the bed (the doctor said no more monkeys), and basically ran amuck in the house for four hours.  We laughed, we giggled, and then we crushed a bottle and crashed.  

I appreciated every smile I earned just a little bit more, and I found myself staring into those big blue eyes with wonder. I peeked in on him during naptime, watching his little back rise and fall with each small breath.  How did I ever get so lucky?

I will try my best not to fail him.  Ever.  No matter what the coming years bring I will lead him through it.  This job is harder than I expected, and much, much better than I expected, because after everything I prepared for I didn’t prepare for this.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Welcome Back!

After spending 21 years in the heart of Texas, we officially welcomed my dad and stepmom back to Virginia on Wednesday with smiling faces and open arms....arms that were quickly filled with boxes. My dad had driven up two weeks ago to get a head start on the house, and by head start I mean ripping out the carpet, hanging drywall, taking out car-sized bushes of the front yard, painting, and getting to know the neighbors, mailman, town mayor, and the entire staff at Lowes.  My stepmom tied up the loose ends and came in over the weekend, followed by, at long last, the trailer of their belongings that showed up two nights ago.  

The rain fell heavy in the morning as my nephew and I pulled up--a little late because well, he's a teenager and was asleep when I arrived to pick him up--to unpack a trailer loaded (quite clumsily) with more than a few antiques.  But not to worry, an expert crew of three movers was already on the truck. Nice guys who told stories of moving while moving.  I’m not calling them fibbers, but some of their tales faltered under further scrutiny.  I Googled lead sleep sofa Larry, it’s impractical…But they would need a hand with this job…

If there’s a worst-case scenario for moving, it’s moving the belongings of a lifetime DJ and author.  Box after box of books were carted from the depths of that endless trailer, and then a few boxes of books.  There were enough books to fill a couple of boxes of kindles.  Between the boxes of books we found cases of albums.  Perhaps a few books on tape, I can’t say.  At times I felt like we were in fact relocating the national archives and records administration.

After the books came the furniture, a welcomed change.  The rain began to let up and we got in a rhythm…but there were some casualties.  I don’t know who loaded this truck, but they were not on good terms with the word fragile.  Antiques were mere obstacles, used to hold up, well, boxes of books.  It was painful to see tables and chairs I grew up with unwrapped only to reveal splintered, cracked, or broken pieces.  But my parents took it in stride.

With the boxes piled and the truck finally emptied, the movers said goodbye and we were left amongst the scattered belongings of two very special people.  It was then I realized that while it may be aggravating and unfortunate that some things were damaged in the trip, the important stuff had already arrived safe and sound.  Because whether they live in Texas, Virginia, or somewhere in between, they're just happy to have each other.

And we couldn’t be happier to have them back.  Simon’s grandparents have cut the distance between them and him by a couple thousand miles, and it still seems unreal. Just a few months ago they surprised us with the news of their moving back and yesterday, as we sat at their table to have lunch in their dining room, it was hard to believe.  Facetime can now be actual face time. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reading is fun

Reading is fun. At least my son thinks so. As soon as we crack a book his eyes light up and his arms and legs start kicking like one of those pull string dancing puppets.  Okay, okay, he probably just enjoys the large colorful pictures (as do I), but still, he’s enjoying it.
This makes his mother very happy.  Currently, his favorite book is probably The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  (Margins of Philosophy running a close second).  It’s really a lot of fun to watch him interact.  He can sit up, kinda, and his tongue gets going while his eyes follow the turning pages.  He’s just a lot of fun to be around these days. 
This is the part of fatherhood I’m enjoying the most, watching him as he learns the world around him.  Everything is the coolest thing that he’s ever come across.  Ooh look a ceiling fan!  He’s reaching and grabbing for everything in sight, including me.  And there is nothing in the world quite like his little hugs, nothing at all.