Friday, October 24, 2008

Bad days get better pretty easy...

Lately it's pretty easy for bad days to get better instantly with baby talk or just the presence of June. She's all smiles and patience all the time while I'm mostly irrational and presumptuous at every turn. Somehow I can go to work and listen more than I talk, swallow situations whole and then calmly proceed, even talk intelligently about logical and rational decision making and then I leave the office and fall apart. At home I don't have the most patience, I never seem to slow down and let things come to me, and I always presume the worst. It's a strange phenomenon that neither June or I understand but that she lovingly tolerates and I embarrassingly perpetuate. I stub my toe...I freak out. I need to change my clothes three times before leaving the house...I snap. I trip on the cat...look out. Then I get to work and steer a kid who's just tested positive for HIV through the process of dealing with the matter, or find a homeless student an apartment, or any other endless and unimaginable issue and circumstance. I internalize, I carry the weight of people, and I know that I insist on a just world and equality when there can't possibly be such things. It's a bigger, broader toe stubbing but a toe stubbing no less...and then I get home and there's June all smiling and happy to be here, just hoping she can help the ball club.

"Lay down a bunt? Sure"

"Steal a base? Okay"

"Sit this one out chief. We're goin' with a different arm. No problem"

It's incredible. In June's world sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes, well sometimes it rains. Somehow I can't occupy that space when I leave work. Somehow I'm swinging for the fences and leaving my pitcher in the game too long, almost all the time, in fact. Sure, I win more than I lose but I'd prefer to be more Joe Maddon than Bobby Cox. I'm just not sure of the road map that gets me to that place. I should take a cue or two from my wife but then paying attention has never been one of my strong suits, just ask any girl that hit on me from age 14 to 26, they'll tell you that I'm largely oblivious. June's a better Manager than I ever was.

What's the point of all this you ask? Just look at that picture. That's June...ALL THE TIME...pretty incredible, isn't it? I think so. The girl's sporting an extra I don't know how many pounds, and she's got little Emi kicking her around pretty good all day, every day, and some nights she can't sleep very well and look at her. It's unbelievable. It floors me every time.

There aren't a lot of things I know in this world. There's a great deal of things I don't, and I'm happy to say that I'm more often than not aware of that fact, but one of the few things I do know for certain is that June's a better person than I am. Don't let the job or the talk fool you...I can suck at alarmingly frequent intervals whilst my wife just smiles and goes about her business day after grinning day after grinning day. A lot of times people ask me how I do what I do and work with the people and situations with which I work and I wish I could show them this picture...this is how. If June were my Manager she'd never once pull me from the game and berate me or embarrass me in front of the fans or cameras. In fact, she'd almost always give me the benefit of the doubt, leave me in for one more batter if I said I still had some gas left in the tank. She'd talk me through tough innings and let me get myself out of jams, and she'd certainly...most certainly...give me that little pat on the ass when she asked me to hand over the ball and the game. That's just the girl my wife screaming, no snapping, no oh-so negative prophetic rants...just smiles, trust and bum pats.

I hope Emi knows what she's getting into and what she's got there in her dugout. I do. Of course, it doesn't stop me from throwing the odd wild pitch once in awhile, and I've been known to clunk a batter or problem she says. Just a pat on the bum and a hand for me to set the ball into. Good game. No, great game. I hope I never, ever get traded. I love this ball club.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Welcome to Emi's's nothin' special.

G'Day...welcome to the recently re-titled "Emi Blog"...we hope you like it...well, I hope you like it. Emi really doesn't give a #$%&...she doesn't even have a set in concrete type name yet, like she gives a crap about what you think of this or any other blog...

Anyway...good to see you, hope you come back every once in awhile. Now I really need to go and finish this tasty Sapporo and then go to your unborn daughter takes a lot of energy out of you. I'm tired and according to that Japan visit clock I've only got 600 something days to get rested up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Soundtrack of Almost Ella...or Emi? Wait...what?

So I get to thinking, "If I could pick one song that was the first one Ella, I mean Emi, heard, what would it be," which is kind of half bullshit 'cause there'll be plenty of songs before she actually reaches the age where she recognizes one of 'em...but it's a fun exercise anyway. Add in iTunes new "Genius" feature and BAM it's a blog post! Easy peasy.

I was having a hard time coming up with what I, selfishly, would want Emi/Ella to hear first...I mean, there's a lot of factors...quality, naturally, but then there's also relevance and that oh so indefinable "hip factor." You've got cultural influences and historical significance and somehow, some way to the delight of Orillia, Ontario I came up with "If you could read my mind," by Gordon Lightfoot. Not sure if that's the right one but four Stella Artois later and a whole 15 second selection process left me groovin' to Gordo circa 1970. Zoiks...I wasn't even born yet! It was Gord's first recording to appear on the American music charts, reaching #5 on the Billboard chart in January 1971. Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics. The song first appeared on Lightfoot's 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger and the rest is history. A dance remix and an iTunes Genius playlist later and there you have it...

The Emi or maybe Ella Soundtrack, Volume 1 - October 2008 - Pre-Birth

Pay attention...this thing is wicked good. If you want a copy on CD just get in touch. You too can groove to the tunes that Emi/Ella is shakin' too in all that amniotic fluid. We even ship to Japan!

1. If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot
2. Northern Sky - Nick Drake * One of the best songs ever
3. How Come - Ray LaMontagne
4. Here Comes My Baby - Cat Stevens
5. Dead Flowers - Townes Van Zandt
6. Fighting For It All - Mindy Smith
7. Kite Song - Rosie Thomas
8. Put a Penny in the Slot - Fionn Regan
9. Laugh So You Don't Cry - Andy Davis
10. Liberty Line - Griffin House
11. Sugar Blue - Jeff Finlan
12. Loneliest Girl in The World - Cary Brothers
13. Monster Ballads - Josh Ritter
14. Sourwood Mountain - Carolina Chocolate Drops
15. Brand New Love - Serena Ryder
16. Amie - Damian Rice
17. Home Once Again - Jimmy LaFave
18. True Colors - Eva Cassidy
19. Not California - Hem
20. The Way I Was Made - Griffin House
21. It's Amazing - Mindy Smith
22. California Stars - Wilco
23. Darlin' Do Not Fear - Brett Dennen
24. Variation On "Commemorative Transfiguration & Communion At Magruder Park" - Sufjan Stevens
25. Gotta Have You - The Weepies

Not a bad mix huh? That iTunes "Genius" thingy is a tune from your playlist and watch the bugger create this whole new genius-like playlist like it was right inside your head. Kinda George Orwell Big Brother-ish but kinda cool too.

Now you and Emi or Ella, whichever, can be getting your groove on at the exact same time...she's just doing it inside June and you're on your, home, car...whatever, just stay the hell away from my wife.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kumi Freaks Out!

Uh oh...Aunt Kumi back in Japan heard the name "Tsubaki" and freaked out!

"Not Tsubaki," she said, "I brought a Tsubaki flower in the house and it died in one day and it's head fell off!"

We don't want Ella's head to fall off. That would be awful (and messy), and it doesn't sound like the kind of high maintenance parenting we're interested in starting this family off with. Diaper changing isn't such a big deal...head re-attaching is pretty tricky.

So now we've got our first naming conundrum. Kumi suggested the name "Sakura," which means cherry blossom and it sounds alright to us. No one was crazy stuck on Tsubaki anyway and it's important to us that we include the whole family. Sounds crazy but we kind of like the idea of everyone helping out, even from the other side of the planet.

Now here's the tricky part...June doesn't like the sound of Ella Sakura. She says that it's the two names ending in the letter "A"...? Sure. I get it...I think. So she went rooting for another first name to go with Sakura. Interesting twist to naming your child but whatever, I'll roll with it. Mother knows best they say.

So what name falls out of June's beautiful little mouth...Emi. I LOVE the name "Emi". Right from the start I loved the name "Emi", in fact it was one of the first names I tossed around in my head. Now June likes it too. She had her reservations because friends of ours have a daughter named Emmy. She didn't like the idea of stealing the name, but since our friends live in Saudi Arabia who cares. So now the very real possibility exists that Ella is really Emi and Tsubaki is really Sakura. Confused yet? Naturally, that knackers up this entire blog but who really's a damn baby blog. No one is reading this except for Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles etc...No one gives a crap about a baby blog...especially a baby that isn't even born yet. Of all the people involved, she cares the least. All that kid cares about is food and sleep right now. She's a little worried about who will win the US Presidential election but not as much as the food and sleep stuff. She's really concerned about that junk. She definately doesn't care about the Phillies and Rays World Series. The minute the Red Sox and Matsuzaka were out she stopped caring completely.

So Emi it very well could be. We like it...her Bachan likes it...June's Bachan might like it, and most importantly, Aunt Kumi likes it, or at least she's not freaking out about it. Emi is much easier to pronounce than Ella anyway. The Japanese language doesn't much like the letter "L" let alone two of them in one little name, and as far as we know Sakura flowers don't lose their heads or die in a single day...according to Aunt Kumi that's pretty important.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Here Comes the Sun...

Last weekend I'm laying on a hammock soaking up sunshine and this weekend I'm snuggling up to my microwave wife and yet to be sun deprived child. It's cold out. What happened to summer? I know it's mid-October but I don't recall mid-September, or mid-August for that matter. Somehow it feels as though it went from sun and sand to pumpkins in a heartbeat and none of us 'round here are very cool with that. In fact we all agree in this household, by a showing of hands, that this kind of sucks the mustard. You should never really get rooked out of two months without some kind of compensation. Sure, if the Red Sox can win Game #7 of the ALCS and stumble into the World Series and then quite possibly smash the Philadelphia Phillies in the mouth on the way to their third World Series Championship this decade that'll be plenty of compensation, but if they don't, well, let's just say we'll be pretty bummed with both Mother Nature and the Baseball Gods. There's no place in a just world for a Tampa and Philadelphia Fall Classic, none.

On a more relevant note considering the nature and intention of this blog (have we really demonstrated any kind of intention here, I mean, in any clear sense?) we've been watching Ella's little womb party from the cheap seats, uninvited I suppose you could say, although who really wants to party down in the wet and humid confines of June's womb? Not any of us. That's one party that Ella is required to host on her own. Lately you can see her kick and it's almost exclusively the weirdest thing I've ever seen, aside from that time Brittany kissed Madonna smack on the lips, that cruised the upper stratosphere of weird too. June's taught belly skin does this little rippling thingy that at first made me giddy, then settled into making me curious, and now almost completely occupies an uncomfortable place. That's little Ella in there beating the drum. It's like that little girl wants out just in time for Game #7 (and who wouldn't, really?) but we're oh so Guantanamo-esque in keeping her in there, as if we've sent her to her room before she even has a room to get sent to. I know there's a lot of development happening in there, and I understand via Sammy Davis Gamgee Junior the third and his "through the ringer" parents that those last few months are pretty darn crucial. I mean, who wants to show up at the party the day before it even begins? There's respectful punctuality and then there's the problematic...little Sammy Shepherd Elliott Adams Cooper the fifteenth can attest to the problems you cause by showing up for dinner at breakfast and so we know it's best for Ella to cheer on the Sox from her own little piece of occupied her very own solitary and sovereign state of babydom. Someday we'll liberate her, our own selfish bit of Manifest Destiny occurring right there in June's uterus, but for now we'll just have to watch her beat the edges of her world with little clenched baby fists and feet and remind ourselves that as long as she's in there we're safe out here. Very Guantanamo-esque indeed, you know, except without the torture and turmoil stuff...that comes when she's fifteen and brings boys home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pack Lightly Ella Says (in a kind of mumbly gurgle)

So here's the thing, I'm rendered hopelessly optimistic by the impending birth of one Ella Tsubaki DeWagner. I'm at often times speechless (a staggeringly difficult task if you knew me), and other times I need reminding to breath between giant gulps of words and endless run on sentences and ideas (much easier to imagine even at first introduction). I smile a lot. I can't stop thinking and planning and believing that our life will be so much different from all of those around us even if I know and understand that the concept is absurd. It feels different already. I wake up early and fall asleep late and, the one all consuming, recurring thing in my endlessly annoying know-it-all diatribe through days and nights and friendships and fresh endeavours doesn't quite seem so important anymore. Saving the world (or thinking I was) used to be my subtle but obsessive vanity, now it's my distraction. I'd like to lend a hand to problem practice but I sure as hell don't want to coach the team anymore. I'm alarmingly un-distressed at a lot of things I should be very distressed about. Now it seems I shrug more than I grimace. I'm endlessly curious and staggeringly creative and I want to draw pictures and write stories and take photos and buy things I would have never bought before and all of it, every crazed and illogical part of it feels soooo good...especially the shrugging.

Ella is changing things and she's not even here yet.

She makes California feel more urgent than ever and those season tickets more about memories than Major League Baseball or Big Ten whatever it is they're trying to play down there on that court. She makes me want to read more and write more and laugh and run and smile even when smiling is the last thing I can imagine doing. She makes me better and there's still three months before we're actually introduced. She has me looking for apartments in Oceanside even though we don't know if we'll even need one?

I'm knackered.

But the best part? I can't stop hugging my wife. I can't stop kissing her and touching her and talking to her and I really can't find any reason or need to be apart from her for any fraction of any second of any day in any week. I just don't want to and it was frightening how much I didn't want to before Ella started making her body a home. Now it must be sickening to everyone around us. Her hugs feel better than hot showers and I loves me some hot showers. How's that for nauseating affection? Pretty pukey huh? For sure.

If you thought I was naively optimistic before I suppose my newest state of the union perspective looks downright dumb, idiotic even. In the face of world wide economic crisis and turmoil I've decided that I like buying stuffed elephants for my soon to be similarly carefree and careless daughter. I enjoy children's books very much and kind of like the idea of running through life clueless for awhile. It beats the hell out of navigating the overwhelming array of grown-up shenanigans we so regularly assume as our own.

Ella has taught me that the only baggage I need to be lugging around with me is the stuff that I packed myself. That's good advice and happens to meet all Federal Aviation guidelines which is awfully nice. Never leave your bags unattended they say or if you want to avoid the whole hassle don't pack a thing. It turns out we don't need much at all, hardly a thing in fact, which frees up an awful lot of room for all those stuffed elephants and baseball tickets.

Of course it's easy for me to type in pleasant metaphors about packing lightly when I'm not carrying around a few pounds of daughter front and center. I can still tie my shoes and lie on my stomach...makes hot shower analogies pretty easy to lob about when June's the one bearing all the burden at present. Shrug...hey, the sun's out!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to Ella's Almost Mom sans Hullaballoo

It's June's birthday...well, was June's birthday...yesterday, but we're only just getting to it today. We won't let slip her stunning new age and we won't harp on the coming and going of a birthday without hullaballoo etc...but we will say that she looks better now than she did then (and she looked pretty damn good then) and that ten plus years have fell by leaving me wishing I had every minute of them back. Ella's mom is a pretty incredible lady and I kinda like her a little, maybe even a lot.

Happy birthday Ella-Mom...growing older but not up, just the way we like it around here. Closer to perfection every three and half seconds or so.

Why three and a half seconds? Why not? What were you doing three and half seconds ago? While you were questioning my turn of phrase June was quietly improving...kinda makes you feel a little lazy doesn't it?

Ella Enjoys My Morning Jacket @ The Fillmore

Ella's a busy kid for not having been born yet. She's been to Fenway Park in Boston, Shea Stadium in NY and countless Detroit Tiger games down at Comerica. She's been to see Pearl Jam, and Dave Matthews. She's been courtside at Madison Square Garden and she's seen Augustana and Counting Crows, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Chris Isaak. She's been to a Stanley Cup game and on airplanes and sail boats...this almost little kid has done a crap load of fun stuff already and she's not even sucking her own oxygen yet!

Tonight she heard My Morning Jacket at The Fillmore in Detroit. She digs Jim James pretty good, and loves the drummer, Patrick Hallahan, as far as we can tell, but she got a little upset with all that reverb and heavy bass. She might be inclined to take in more shows but we, as aspiring parents of decent values and relatively admirable intentions, should really ground her from the whole Rock 'n Roll thing until she drags her bottom out of the womb and gets some sunlight in her eyes. Right now she's enjoying her rock adventures through ounces upon ounces of amniotic fluid and considering the conduction properties of liquids all these loud noises might sound alright but they certainly feel a little rough.

Looks like the show ends here, at least for now. We considered grabbing "WHO" tickets but seeing what was at one time the loudest band on the planet might not be something that Ella enjoys all that much. Townsend and Daltry would rattle that little girl pretty good I think...ruin her for life perhaps. I guess it's iTunes and DVD concerts until sometime this winter. Poor little Ella...I feel her pain.

On the positive side of things Ella got to hang out with Aunt Netta and Uncle Ian tonight, and that seems to be something she always enjoys...even if Uncle Ian does tease her with Jack and Gingers and pokes the living bejesus out of her just for kicks. It's all part of Uncle Ians learning curve in how he plans to interact with a little girl and not a filthy little monster boy. He's used to tossing little men around and will have to adjust to a little lady. Boyo'll be wearing make-up and pouring fake tea before he can say "Okonokos."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ella Schmella

What's a baby without a blog? Just a baby, I guess, but obviously one with nothing to say. That's an impossibility in this particular case.

Curious Blabberhappy Dad + Smiling Sweet Sincere Mom = Couldn't shut the heck up if she tried baby.

It's not a stretch to imagine this baby speaking her first words at three weeks old. My bet is on "Esteban was eaten!" but I could be wrong. There's always "pass the chips," or "Wow, this rug really ties the room together." It's really kinda anybody's guess but if I was a betting man I'd go with "Esteban was eaten."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time seemed as good of a way to start as any other...