Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Few Things...


Go back to any post on this blog in 2013 and it’s easy to see my kid is my world. So what happens when a new baby comes along? Well, I’m supposed to say my world has evolved And it has. But…

It’s different.

Of course I love the new baby. Don’t be silly. But it’s like I’ve entered this strange new place where it’s now baby world and kid world. We have jibber jabbering and baby talk in one room and a boy whose whole life has changed way too much in one year in the other.

I mean, not only does my kid (and everyone) have this Covid thing endure, with school shutting down last spring and now this hybrid stuff without friends. Toss in a baby and the new dynamics of our family and well, we're off to a rocky start.   

Again, I don’t claim this problem as ours alone. It’s not original. But I don't write about everyone's experiences, I write about my own. And this is new to me and it’s no easy adjustment.

My son loves his new sister. He’s great with her. They play and he’s already deemed her a “princess warrior.”

But, well, babies cry. And they need lots of attention. Again, nothing new here but we’re talking about a seven year-old who’s emotional state isn’t always solid ground as he’s trying to navigate the world’s many problems. 

And so sometimes, when the baby is crying and it’s getting harder and harder to control our son’s downtime from technology our lives now depend on, as we work to figure out when it’s okay to play games or do schoolwork or otherwise zone out and just look at pictures he’s taken on his digital camera, it can get dicey to say the least. And I’m working from home in a laundry room, trying to work a day job, write sometimes, sell books at others while my wife is exhausted from going back to school and breastfeeding and being the bad guy who gets on our son about school work to the point I almost seems like my son and my wife’s relationship is just one more casualty of this stupid year in Covid...

It can be exhausting, you know?

So uhh… How do you fix this?

You don’t, that’s how. You realize you’re with the people you love most in the world and it’s best if you just look at the bright side because otherwise you’re not doing anyone any favors here, especially a new born baby.

So here we are, in this new, bizarre, hybrid, online, work-from-home environment. We have a baby. We have a kid who only goes to school a couple of times a week. We are so far removed from our lives only just one year ago that it’s hard to fathom.


The other night, my son and I were at the dinner table. He was moving pasta around on his plate and we were playing chess (hey, don’t knock the dinner habits, at this point it’s survival). I had the baby sitting on the table with us and he was making faces at her, trying to get her to laugh. At four months, she’ll giggle and smile occasionally, try to tell us something in baby speak.

But then…

She started laughing. Like, real, belly laughs. Simon kept on with the faces and she was hiccupping and giggling up a storm, just filling up the house with the healing power of baby.

After all the fights we’d had lately, all the family arguments and the adjustments to having this new life form in our house, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Seriously, these little moments are what it takes to keep me going. We have our health, our house, each other. I can complain about everything else but what does it matter?

For a few moments I was filled with enough joy to keep plugging along. To remember what is important. Christmas was small this year, a few yard visits with grandparents, a few neighborly hellos and a house full of warmth and cookies. Just a few of everything...

But that laugh. Simon’s face. Things may have fell off some from where we were but it’s proof we can get it all back. We can be happy together.

We can make it.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bella the Beast


The first baby napped. A little bit of playtime in the morning then boom, nap. Up for lunch then he snoozed through most of the afternoon. He napped before bed. He was regular. Life was regular.

This time around. Nothing is regular.

She’s a sweet little girl, I think. When she wakes up, she’s bright eyed and looking around, the trees really get her attention. The world is a special place, and she’s loving the view.

But after five, ten, fifteen minutes max and her brow wrinkles. Her color turns from a milky white to a deep crimson. The lip juts out and...




The beast is here.

The beast will claw out your eardrums with her seek-and-destroy screams. She will slap you into submission. She will shriek, wail, pause to fill the lungs before she roars again. You don’t want to be short a bottle or breast when this thing is hungry.

She is just beginning to coo and jabber but blink and these little moments vanish. Usually, it comes with a smile, enough to melt your heart until she destroys a diaper on your lap. And then the beast returns with a vengeance.

When she sleeps, we tip around the house like cat burglars. Any creak on the floor and we exchange wide eyed looks, scowls, everyone ready to turn on one another in an instant. In the case our seven year old forgets the little beast is sleeping and comes rushing in flushed and loud—you know, being a seven year old—my wife and I lunge for him, a single finger to our lips. Shhhh!”

She’s not quite two months old and seems to realize her absolute power over us. She can change plans on a dime. She can get what she wants. All she has to do is threaten to blow and she will be returned to Mom’s arms, ready to nurse.

I know things will change. I’ll go back to work. We’ll all go out into the world again. Maybe we’ll look back at this time together and remember the good moments. The soft coos and the rare smiles. The impromptu walks with my seven year old on my lunch breaks. This very easy morning commute down the hallway. My open window, the birds’ morning songs and the slight breeze in the fall leaves. The…

Oh, baby’s crying. Gotta run!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

This Time

I'll start with the obvious: Pregnancy is a woman’s job, through and through. It's not for guys, it looks... hard. Anyway, I'm lucky to be married to an amazing woman. Let me explain.

So here we where, at the end of this baby making process. We had a due by date and everything was sort of on standby. My in-laws drove down to hang with our seven year old and the plan was to play the waiting game.

We didn’t wait long.

While I’m working from home, my wife was still going to school to teach online. (Read that again if you have to, it’s the subject for an entirely different blog post)

Anyway, the day after my in-laws arrived, my wife went to work and I logged on. At lunch, I took for a quick dog walk. I returned to find my mother in-law waiting outside. She said something like, “Two things…First…”

She leads with the news of the Fed Ex man, something about a damaged package. And then, “Oh, and Anne is coming home. She’s having contractions.”

I look up. “Um, what.”

Sure, I knew we were at the any-day-now stage, but that day is today?

Yep, my wife pulls into the driveway, and this time, unlike the other time, she’s struggling.

The first time she was all, no lets’ wait. Now she’s ready. Our seven year old watches on as his mother, hunched over and wincing, takes deep breaths. You know, contractions.

There’s no time to wait. We get in the car. We say a tearful goodbye. It’s all too weird, this second time around. The first time I was a mess, worried. This time I was a mess worried, but also leaving one kid to go have another. I know, people do it all the time, but we’ve been seven years as an only child family. It’s going to take some shifting.

And shift I did. We drove to the hospital, did the whole Covid check in thing, and whisked right up the elevator to the birthing center.

Bits and pieces come back to me. Of last time. While my wife is deep breathing, my mind is roaming, The little wooden stork’s the same, the floors are a bit more scuffed. No one in the waiting room. Oh look they redid the windows…

“Honey, focus.”


We ring the bell. We wait. I offer my wife a seat but she can’t sit. Honestly she's not doing so hot standing up, either. The last time—yep, everything will get compared to last time—she seemed far more comfortable as we waited in one room, then after a while moved to another. This time we're going to be lucky to make it through the doors.

We ring the bell again.

A nurse comes out. "Hi yes. Um, can you wait a minute. Yeah, we’re getting the room ready."

Seems it’s a busy day in the maternity ward.

We don't wait long. Something in my wife's pale, pallid face must have gotten the point across, because soon the nurse returns and we get in the room as they’re still mopping. My wife doesn’t notice. She locks herself in the bathroom, long enough to where I’m kind of listening for baby wails.

Then, she comes out. They help her into a gown. They ask if she wants an epidural. She nods, her head spinning exorcist style.

More nurses. A doctor. Seven, eight people, including the nice lady still mopping. My wife mentions the epidural again. They do some prodding.

“No time, girl. You’re having this baby.”

“Oh,” I perk up. If there’s ever a time for a man to feel helpless, it’s in the delivery room. Last time it was slower. Or maybe time smoothed the edges so it seemed that way. But last time I hung out, watched it happen. This time my wife is sweating, writhing around, looking for a shot of whiskey. We might as well be in a covered wagon because this baby is coming right now.

“That’s it. Push.”

And then, forty-five minutes after we walk through the doors. Baby.

A baby girl arrives in the world. She’s purple and messy and connected by a cord that supplies everything she’s needed up until right…now. It’s one of those all too surreal moments in life where you realize just how much matters and how little control you have over anything.

And people might say things are a mess right now. But it’s a good time to have a baby. We’re together, all of us. One, bigger, happy family. Stay tuned. This ought to be fun...

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Getting Closer

Well, here we go. In a month, give or take, a little girl is coming into our lives. Well, my son’s life, my life, pretty sure she’s been in my wife’s life, bouncing around all this time now.

But as the baby room comes along and I find myself hanging flowery things, and the baby seat is ready and waiting, it’s clear this is getting real—fast. We bought a minivan. A minivan. Us, although I will say it’s plenty roomy and with the seats down I can get my bike in there pretty easily. But, where was I. Oh yes.

A girl.

My life is a blur of Nerf darts and tree forts. And yes, who is to say a girl can’t partake in all of that, but for a while this thing is going to be a baby. Meaning nap times and lullabies, and "Please don’t shoot me in the ear while I’m working!”


This chaotic 2020 has been one for the ages. But it hasn’t been all bad. I mean, I’m fortunate enough to hang onto my job and work from home. We’re having a baby! I’ve had two books published this year. And while those dreams of book signings and brick and mortar stores have gone the way of handshakes and hugs, who’s to say it won’t happen down the road.

My son is ready to go back to school, but that will have to wait. As the Covid-19 cases continue to climb, he’ll be remote for a while. Sure, he’s bummed, but it’s for the best. We’ll all be here, under one roof, all day, all night, living the dream.

So hey. People are fighting for their lives out there. People are getting sick. People are losing their minds. But people are also out there well, having babies.

You can’t make this stuff up. All you can do is enjoy it.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Oh Boy, Oh Boy. It's a Girl!

Well, here go again. Older, wiser, armed with a vast arsenal of parenting knowledge. 

Okay, maybe just older. 

Back in January, when my wife first mentioned she might be pregnant, I was working on edits and I’ll admit, my mind wasn’t completely in the conversation. Hey, it wasn’t my fault. Things were finally taking off. 2020 was looking to be the year. I’d signed a book contract. I was finally getting published. Something I've been dreaming about for nearly a decade.

So… baby? My mind was miles away. A book baby. Yeah, I've been writing and rewriting then editing... after all that rejection, then rewriting and editing all over again, well,it is almost like carrying a baby. Pretty much the same thing...

A few weeks later she said it again. Only, by then she'd scheduled an appointment and was chucking out cash for the early learning center to hold a spot for the fall. Now she had my attention. "Wait, do you mean to tell me...? You're pregnant? Like a… with a human?" I made a rocking motion with my arms. “You mean like a baby baby?”

Really, it's amazing my wife is still with me. 

Anyway, so the day before my novel came out, you know, the big dream and all, we took a trip to the women’s center, where I sat back, sort of looking at my wife like, this is cute. 

"Remember doing this?" I said, thinking back to my wide-eyed self. So terrified about the prospect of fathering human life. What I didn’t say was, Remember doing this when you were really pregnant? Because I’m not going to lie, she’d refused to by a store-bought pregnancy test so I really didn’t believe this was actually happening. But dumb as I am, and I’m dumb, like, brew-decaffeinated-coffee-in-the-morning-by-mistake kind of dumb, I’m still smart enough to know when to keep my mouth shut.  

So anyway, there we were, heading down the halls we walked nearly eight years ago, back when I started this blog. I took my seat, set my hands behind my head and got comfortable, hoping the nice lady would let her down easy.

Lights out. Show time. The lady wiped the gunk on my wife’s tummy and I turned to the screen and what’s that? That little peanut is moving.

So fast forward. The book came out, there’s a major pandemic going on. I got a little spot on my face and turns out, I had to go to the doctor’s to have it removed (2020 is still my year, dammit, but it’s kind of kicking my tail). And it just so happened this was on the same day my wife went to find out if this little surprise baby is a boy or a girl. So my son went with her, which was kind of cool. 

And t’s a girl. A girl. And considering my son filled up the bathtub with sticks the other day, I’m really okay with that.

Sure, I’m hitting my mid-forties, and I’m okay with that too.If anything, being a parent has taught me patience above all else. And what else to I have to do besides raise kids who make me feel like a kid again? To laugh at silly jokes, tell silly stories and watch silly movies? Of course, parenthood comes with battles and issues and all sorts of problems I could never dream up all by myself, but you know what, 2020 is proof that nothing is guaranteed, the world has a way of throwing you for a loop, so when things happen, like Covid-19, skin cancer, global instability, and mass confusion, you take the surprise news of a surprise little girl coming into your life for exactly what it is: a gift.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Hey I wrote a book!

You’ve probably wondered where I’ve been. No? Well, anyway, I’ve been working on some novels, and now one of them has been released into the wild.

It’s hard to believe the day has come. For years I’ve been writing and editing and writing more. But now, it’s here, on Tuesday my debut novel, JUSTICE IN A BOTTLE was released and it’s a dream come true.

This is shaping up to be quite a crazy year for sure. More on that later, but for now, I can sit back and enjoy all my success. No again? You mean, I have to like, market this thing? Release parties and book signings and bask in the spotlight? Ugh. Not my style. It’s so much easier to sit behind a desk and write stories.

But it’s happening. As an indie author, it’s up to me to spread the word, so I’m trying to do that, here, like right now to you. Check out my book, if you want to, you don’t have to, but here are some links just in case.


Amazon -

Barnes & Noble -

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Coach

I walk into the gym at 5:29, having changed clothes in my car after a long day at work then the slog of a commute to the local Y. Not for the first time I second guess my decision to coach youth basketball—I’ve been skittish since Meet the Coach pizza night a few weeks ago.

Now, as I walk in, clutching a clipboard of all things, the freshly opened Walmart whistle around my neck, I take inventory of the group.

Fourteen of them. All between the ages of 5-7. Everyone with a basketball, launching it at the goal, balls ricocheting every direction. I realize the clipboard will come in handy for banging against my head.

“Hey guys,” I start. No one looks. I have grand plans for these guys. I have a speech, somewhere, in the recesses of my head, about hard work and discipline. Fundamentals and the results of drills and routines. But that will have to wait, because two kids are licking the floor.

I clear my throat. “Over here, Suns.”

The Suns, our team name. It seems fitting because this whole thing is about to crash and burn. Even my own kid isn’t paying attention. In fact, he may just be the worst of the lot because unlike the others, he knows my true colors. He knows I'm not, ahem, exactly Mr. Disciplinarian.

I reintroduce myself, trying not to stare because some of the kids are almost rabid. One monster is eating Skittles by the handful, a rainbow of color around the lips, a glittering, Apocalypse Now sort of craze in his eyes. Two twins—because of course I’d get twins—are tumbling around the court with cones on their heads. Cones my wife brought for dribbling drills. The only dribbling is the line of spit flowing from Skittle Kid’s mouth.

“Okay, um. Let’s run some layups. Or better yet, just run.”

I line them up. Or, I try to line them up but that would take four men on horseback and a couple of Australian Shepard’s. But eventually I get them to one side of the gym. All have a basketball and no intention of dribbling it. In fact, they look like foot soldiers about to charge a battlefield.

I get out my whistle, give it a little spurt, and they erupt.

They come in waves, screaming, laughing, shouting, tripping and pouting. I’m pulled one way because Will took my ball, then the other because, Is it time to shoot yet? Someone unties my shoe, I’m kicked in the leg then spun around. I yank my arms free from all the little reaching hands because I’ve only just finished the two-hour Appropriate Touching video and there are some clear violations taking place.

I blow the whistle again, then again, desperately, like a traffic cop in Times Square until for the most part they get lined up again, minus the kid licking the wall.

I check the clock. It’s 5:34.

There’s no way. I can’t survive this. Practices. Games. Team pictures. A quick glance at my wife, a second grade teacher, who either cannot or refuses to hide her smirking.

“Let’s take a water break.”

Only they don’t want water. These kids are out for blood.

We regroup. Mia, the only girl on our team makes a layup. I tell her that was great and try to coax her back to the line. “Who’s nex—"

She’s crying. Head down and sobbing. I rush over to her. I’m not used to little girls, but this one is devastated. I look over to her mother, who’s on the phone and making the most of her reprieve.

“Would you like, would you like another turn?”

In a blink Mia breaks free and skips to the front of the line, where she grabs the ball and winks—I swear she winks—then flits to the goal.

A teaching moment for Mia. She's learned the coach is a sucker.

Eventually I corral them. I teach proper form, the bounce pass. A basketball hits my head. We practice dribbling. We take another water break. We huddle up, and I look over the panting faces. This is my team, huddled and squirming, reeking of sugar and feet, looking to me to lead them through the season. And so I set my hand out and they set their little hands out.

“Suns on three. Ready?”

They all nod.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Elf on the Shelf ... Still

We all know how it works. A few weeks before Christmas, a cute little elf shows up at the house. He sits on the shelf, lounges by the windowsill, keeping an eye on things. Then, at night, while everyone sleeps, he flies back to the North Pole, gives a full report to the big guy, then gets back to the house to assume a new position.  

We’ve had some elves for the past three years, only not the store-bought kind, some old guys who belonged to my father-in-law when he was a kid.It's fun, stashing them in different places, all the shenanigans and mischief as we build up to the big day. But then, later, after all the presents are opened, the elf heads home. 

And that's what happened, until...

This past Christmas, we were out shopping a few days after the holiday, spending some of that gift card goodness when Simon spotted an Elf on the Shelf near the counter. A um, name brand one, in the box, with the book. It was on sale, half off. So we figured, why not?

Let me tell you why not. 

This elf—the one my son named Triskit—was declared a pet elf. Wanna know a fun little secret about pet elves? They never go away. Nope, they stick around all jolly year 'round, just a bouncing through the house night after night. You never know where old Triskit might be hiding, so your kid has to leap out of bed everyday—and I mean e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y, at six thirty or seven, even on a Sunday and hunt him down.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing cuter than watching him wander through the house in pajamas, donning his punkrock bedhead hair, searching for this elf. What's not cute, is remembering to get out of bed in the middle of the night to hide the little freeloader. Every. Single. Night. 

Old Triskit is living it up. He's got his own pajamas, a sleeping bag. I’ve even put in a little shelf in my kid’s closet. Believe me when I tell you Triskit has it good for an elf.

I’m not sure how long it will go on. Valentines Day? St. Patty's Day? Halloween? 

In all seriousness, it's not that bad. And I can tell he's not fully buying this elf business, I think he just like’s to pretend. Sometimes he’ll come out of the bathroom, eyes wide, arms out, and say, “Dad, look where Triskit is hiding.”

And I do. I want to know. Because even as I joke, it’s fine with me. One day my kid will grow out of all this stuff. Or maybe he won’t and things will be downright weird. 

I'll keep you posted.