Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nap Stories Drenched in Leucadia Sunshine

Beacon Beach in Leaucadia, CA...where the story begins.

Putting Zo down to nap is a treat I rarely get. When she was small June tackled most of the tasks that tended to have a breast attached to them, then by the time we got home from Honolulu I had to go back to work and June got to hoard the daily endeavor of nap time. Of course there were the weekends where I could have sneaked a nap with Zo, but often enough we were gone or going and Zed slept in the car. Today were at home and so Zo can nap in her very own bed. Right around nap time Mom slipped off to grab some groceries and, I imagine, some pretty great feeling alone time, and so Dad stayed at home and talked Zo into sleep, and that's exactly how it's done...we talk.

I suppose it's a little more than just talking. We tell stories. That's right, tell, not read. We get all comfy in our chair...with any luck, the sun is pouring in through the window, and we slip into some lengthy nonsense about whatever we want. Zo watches my lips move and acknowledges my ins and outs, even answers my questions, sometimes she even helps the story along, but that's just sometimes. Today we talked about a little girl named, Lucy who lives in a cute little sunshiney house on Neptune Lane in Leucadia, California, right above the ocean. She collects rocks and shells on the beach and then brings them back up to the picnic table in her yard. She lets them dry and then inspects them again for changes in color and contour, then she keeps what she likes and trudges the rest back down the path to the beach. She has a dog named, "Friendly, who is indeed very friendly. He's a beautiful Golden Retriever and a not too shabby babysitter.

The house next to Lucy's is for sale, and we're going to move there if we win the lottery. Zoey and Lucy will be best friends and grow up like best friends do...Christmas morning phone calls, sleepovers, bike rides, boyfriends, shared classes, driving lessons, college, weddings, babies, blah be blah blah blah. It was a pretty long story. Eventually the eyes got heavy and Zo leaned her head against my shoulder. She wrapped her arms around my neck and then fell asleep. It's easy to fall asleep dreaming of a house on Neptune Lane in Leaucadia, California, so easy that I might try it myself.

There's a little cul de sac there, Cooper Court, just a few streets from the beach and Neptune Lane...just off of Jupiter St. I think I'll start dreaming right there.

The new, well, first ever, family letterhead is finished up last night while I was laying prone on the couch and the winter weather was whipping about outside, busy freezing the balls off a brass monkey and making me regret ever leaving O'ahu.

Anyway, there it is, all done and fun ( a new expression I think I'll abuse) and ready to take to the printer. Why a letterhead? Well, I really just felt like scribbling the odd letter or ten and I had stumbled upon some old letterheads that really cranked my engine (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean?), so I proceeded to feel out one for myself. Then when I got the inclination...BLAM...POP...letterhead.

You like it? I love it...I'm gonna write me some letters, buy me some stamps and get all pre-internet on you! Canada Post here I come!

Who wants a surprise in the mail, say, "I do!"

A lot more than a letter can fit in an envelope...well, not really a lot but some other things.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

3rd Friday of Film - Key Largo

It wasn't until after I watched this John Huston classic that I realized it's from 1948. Dunno why I hadn't contemplated it's decade, to me it was just Bogey and Bacall, that's it. 1948 people...that's crazy! My grandfather had only been home from France a couple of years. Neither one of my parents had been born, and my grandmother was a whole twenty-eight years old. Zoey's Baachan was just being born in Japan when Key Largo premiered amoungst some serious hype in Hollywood...a Hollywood that still looked up to see "Hollywoodland" written on the south facing side of Mount Lee high up in the Hollywood HIlls. This is a seriously old movie.

Bogey was Bogey, and I really can't see what all the fuss was about with Lauren Bacall (she was a beaut but Grace Kelly has her beat hands down). It was great to notch up another Huston classic on the belt. It's slow, and despite Claire Trevor won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance, there doesn't seem to be a stitch of Oscar worthy acting in the entire can of film, but it's still a great night in. If you subtract all of the junk food that I jammed in my face while watching it was a feel good my particular situation it wasn't.

TIP: Don't mix a fish and chips dinner washed down with Alexander Keiths Pale Ale with a bottle of Shiraz, chocolate M&M's and half a bag of potato chips...bad idea.

I had no idea that Lionel Barrymore (that's right Drew's Great-Uncle) played a prominent role. You probably remember him best in the role of Mr. Potter in Frank Capra's, "It's a Wonderful Life,"...I like Lionel Barrymore and the sheer volume of family history there is enough to interest any lover of film. It floors me just to imagine that he was born in 1878...a scant thirteen years after the American Civil War. That's nuts.

Yup...geek. I know. Anyway...Up next? Something 60's I think, and something funny...suggestions? I've been going by the AFI's 10 Year Top 100 List here but am pretty eager to take in anything that's worth my time and all that junk food.

Rounding Up an Old Classic

Zoey, just a few minutes old and hanging on tight to Dad.

Just saw this photo and was almost overwhelmed with emotion. Whoa, that's some photo! I love it. I don't even know how I took it. Camera in one hand and the other obviously occupied...maybe one of the nurses snapped the pic? I dunno. Whoever took it, I love you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Read this and sigh or go away and don't come back

Zo got Oliver Jeffers, Lost and Found for her birthday. It's a new, board book edition as opposed to the paperback one from 2006...the one that was infinitely more tearable. She loves it, and gets ridiculously excited to read it. She even squealed at the notion last night. It's so cute that you have to stop and say, "now holy s#!t that's cute," which as we all can imagine is pretty darn cute if it makes you do that. God, I love using that, anyway...LOVE it. But really, anyway, June and I were reading Zo the book for the first time last night and we flip to the page (WARNING - Spoiler) where the penguin and boy are reunited and the hig artwork made us both sigh...both of us! at the same time. It must have been nauseating to hear. The painting is even more cute, or cuter in this particular case, than Zo's squeal...maybe three or four more times cuter. So cute we stopped and said, "now holy s#!t that's cute too." And that never happens twice like that.

If you don't own any Oliver Jeffers work then punch yourself in the face and when you pick yourself up off of the floor, go out and get some...or if you live in Canada go ooout and get some. Just get some.

That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zoey's Literary DNA...

All of Zo's books stacked up and ready for ingesting just as soon as Zoey stops chewing on board books and attempting to tear every page ever glued to a book's spine.

Russell The Sheep - Rob Scotton

Hippos Go Berserk - Sandra Boynton

But Not The Hippopotamus - Sandra Boynton

The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Mrs. Tiddy Winkle - Beatrix Potter

Butterfly Kisses - Sandra Magsamen

Mary Poppins - M.L. Travers

The Dreadful Doings of Jelly Belly - Dennis Lee

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? - Bill Martin Jr.

Grumpy Bird - Jeremy Tankard

Belly Button Book - Sandra Boynton

Whooo - Charles Reasoner

Bossy Bear - David Horvath

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach - Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel - Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend - Mélanie Watt

Knuffle Bunny - Mo Willems

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed - Mo Willems

Elephant & Piggie, There is a Bird on Your Head - Mo Willems

Elephant & Piggie, My Friend is Sad - Mo Willems

Elephant & Piggie, I Love My New Toy - Mo Willems

Elephant & Piggie, Watch Me Throw the Ball - Mo Willems

Elephant & Piggie, Today I Will Fly - Mo Willems

Mix and Match Animals - Mique Moriuchi

The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh - A. A. Milne

Zen Shorts - Jon J. Muth

On The Night You Were Born - Nancy Tillman

Only in Dreams - Paul Frank

A Treasury of Curious George - H. A. Rey

Jibberwillies at Night - Rachel Vail

Pete & Pickles - Berkeley Breathed

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big - Berkeley Breathed

Goodnight Opus - Berkeley Breathed

Captain Arsenio: Inventions and (Mis)adventures in Flight - Pablo Bernasconi

Russell and The Lost Treasure - Rob Scotton

Seamore, the Very Forgetful Porpoise - Darcie Edgemon

Lost and Found - Oliver Jeffers

How to Catch a Star - Oliver Jeffers

The Way Back Home - Oliver Jeffers

The Incredible Book Eating Boy - Oliver Jeffers

Circus Carnivore - Mark Svendsen

First Look and Find, Elmo & Friends - Seasme Street

First Look and Find, What's Different - Sesame Street

G Is For One Gzonk! - Tony DiTerlizzi

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster - Mo Willems

The Tree of Knowledge, or Just Shelves...whatever

I want this tree for Zo's room. Anyone handy with a jig saw?

How cool is this? It's abso-friggin-lutely amazing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Books, Books, Books and More Books...x 10

For a while, I’ve been paying attention to people’s bookshelves. It's really been a form of voyueristic portraiture; you know, you can actually learn a lot about people by their books, even just by their book covers. Sounds stupid but it's not. Do you know a damn thing about wine? No, but I bet a good label gets you every time. It does me. Aesthetics matter, they just do. Trust me so we don't have to get all into some weird psycho-babble crap.

Anyway, so now I’m officially starting a little side project with some some other select parents to find out what's on their children's book shelves and why. Depending on the age of your child, it's typically been you, the parent, who has chosen their literature. It certainly says something about you, as a person and as a parent, but here's the fun part...what does it say about your child, or maybe more accurately said, how might it help to define your child in the long run? Because it most certainly will.

Meg Ryan's character in the film, You've Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly, captured the notion perfectly when she spoke about the legacy that her mother left behind by being a bookseller. She said, "it wasn't that she was selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever they were going to turn out to be. When you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does." And it's true. It certainly was for me.

So take a look at your kids books. What are they reading? What are you pushing into their psyches? What do they love, and what is it that they'd rather use to prop the door open with? Does the artwork matter? Does the message matter? Is it just entertainment? What does their bookshelf (or book box if you're us at the moment) look like? We're talking about painting a portrait of you and your children in terms of literature. Like a literary bar code, or what amounts to be the equivalent of a literary stamp on your child's intellectual DNA, but with the colorful spines of his or her books (like the Jane Mount painting above).

It's important stuff, it really is.

Zo's hooked on Russell the Sheep, it's her bedtime ritual and Mom can recite it by heart now. She loves the Sandra Boynton books, like Hippos Go Beserk, and But Not The Hippopotamus, and she loves her Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?‎ book that the Bergquists sent her. She's also got these giant Sesame Street board books that she digs, and she just got Oliver Jeffers, Lost and Found for her first birthday. Her literary interests fall just short of what's chewable at the moment, but her closet is stacked high with future investments.

Despite her penchant for eating books (so we're certain she'll love the brilliance of Oliver Jeffers The Incredible Book Eating Boy that's stashed away until the pages won't serve as cud)she a fairly voracious reader. She just flips page after page, and would do so with just about anything that actually has pages...magazines, brochures, even the cardboard labels attached to new clothes...she's a freak. We're doing our best to cultivate a love of reading and so the closet collection is increasing at an alarming rate. We really should take a complete inventory and then get this kid some book shelves.

That's a good idea. Keep an eye out for a thorough inventory from the Library of Zed, and then as soon as we're done with this cumbersome chore called work we'll post Zo's literary bar code here for the entire universe, or all fifteen of you, to see. Have a nice day...mahalo.

Random Panda Photo of the Week (Why Not?)

This friggin' picture makes me laugh out loud...Good way to start a random Wednesday, don't you think? Well, I do so grab a helmet and hang on tight. Today could be fun.

The Almost Unbearable Lightness of Nice...and tired too.

Zoey would want a thoughtful and kind Dad, I'm certain, and so we're interviewing people.

"When I was young I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people."

I'm a pretty big fan of falling in love with people, or at least the idea of people. It's one of my favorite things. It probably should be yours too, everyone's in fact, but I'll settle for making it my own and leave the rest of you to fend for yourselves.

I've always had this nasty little habit of finding the best qualities of a person and shining my own little light of affection on them. Sometimes those observations can be pretty shallow -- I'm still a guy, right? -- and sometimes not. Sometimes I find a familiar kind of captivation with the way a person fills a room, or maybe how they hide beneath their desk, the way someone's hair looks or the always rumpled but perfect clothes they wear the hell out of. Some people just have a little more something than others...let's be honest...and I notice it. You do too. I know that you do. Of course, some people don't and I notice that too, and I still find a way to somehow think, "Oh, I love that thing about so-and-so..." or, "Yeah, but there's that thing that they do..." and in the end I must seem like an overly optimistic (or blind and stupid) person of questionable taste. Well, I think that my taste is just fine, thank you very much. In fact, I think that my taste is firmly intact, and if anything, it's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be eclectic, sweeping, and if not entirely forgiving, completely inclusive. I like liking people. So what?

Ever since I was small I've been helplessly attracted to kindness. Bravado, strength, influence etc...didn't move me much. Kindness sent me on errands of interest, and kindness pulled me in. It was kindness, I think, that dented me and kindness that then defined the very things I wanted to be. Today, I see no value in the wasted breath of indifference, or the vanity of self-importance. Just be, and while you're at it, just be nice. We might not be here for very long so if I like your haircut I'm probably going to tell you as much, and if you ask a favor of me I'm probably going to consider it, and will be even more likely to just do it. Someday I just might need one back. I might also get a really bad haircut one day and need the encouragement. Worse yet, I might need to talk. Just the idea of that favor sends shivers down the spines of brave men...putzes. They're just words.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be,” so I decide to be kind.

How 'bout you?

Rather than just slapping up a silly logo that says nice person of the week (a few days late...again) it makes perfect sense to slip a little acknowledgement in here. Thanks Barb...for the ubiquitous kindness...hands down winner. Honourable mention goes to Dustin Wellman for finding enough sweetness in your Joe Average "every man" persona to type a birthday message to Zo in your own Facebook status line rather than just drop something on our walls. You represent every single one of us fellas just fine, just fine indeed. Further honorable mention goes to Nikki who I walk past in the hallway all week and is just quietly and sweetly kind almost always. An seemingly random observation, sure, but it strikes me that not everyone is as consitent and not necessarily everyone inspires me to smile and say hi as often as you do. Done.

What friggin' time is it? I feel like I'm living on Chinese time lately. It's 5 am for God's sake...Jesus H. Granderson, This is crazy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Birthday Party Just Keeps Keepin' on Back at Home

I guess you only turn one once...that sounded weird, but it's no less true...When Dad got home from work we had Baachan and Grandad at the house and there were cupcakes on the go and gifts to be ripped into. It was a bit of a bummer that Grandma couldn't have come over but she's still recovering from her six million dollar man surgery. I guess that' means Zoey gets two birthday parties.

Zoey and Grandad tearing the kitchen apart with laughter and some pretty whacked out balloon antics.

There was a UPS package from Vancouver and Aunt Netta waiting for Zo, and Dad brought home an awesome balloon that in the end might as well have been her only gift, that's how much she loved it...well, that and Netta's UPS box...not the contents, mind you, just the box.

Happy Birthday to le Zed...happy birthday to la Zo...happy birthday dear Zipster...

Zo pulled in a new kokeshi doll, a wicked awesome Team Canada Olympic sweater, some fun Katie McLellan Stuffed Dudes, a crazy amazing hand made sleeper from Baachan, and a sweet Oliver Jeffers Book, Lost and Found, not to mention a wide variety of this and thats...not too much but just enough to assure her that birthdays are made for hauling in the goods. She tore into her cupcakes pretty good, and made the kind of mess that only Zo can, which means hardly anything at all. We still love her though, even if she isn't willing to trash the place on her birthday. It's reassuring to me and I hope she's still the same way on her 19th birthday.

Daddy and Zo messin' around after the cupcake debacle.

Zedder was super psyched for her little birthday shin-dig, much more than we anticipated, and everyone had a good time except poor Grandma who had to settle for a phone call and some unfortunate telephone Happy Birthday singing. We'll have to make it up to her. Baachan did her best to make up for at least one missing Grandma, maybe two or three.

Baachan helps Zo figure out the McRitchie's card. It was a pop up deal that was fairly hypnotizing for the Zed.

All in all it was a beauty day. It would have been nice to see Pops, and Uncle Ian (who donated enough money to Zo's education savings to ensure that he doesn't eat for two weeks), and Uncle Brad and Heather and the kids but such is life on the lake. Zo made the most of her last first birthday...again, sounds weird...and we're sitting here with a sleeping Zed and smiles on our faces. It was, indeed, a good day.

Top Ten Bits & Pieces of Zed's 1st Birthday

1. $5 absolute freakfest.

2. Zo's (and Mom's) first Cabbage Patch Kid

3. UPS package all the way from Vancouver

4. Super sweet Happy Birthday song crooned by Grandma through the phone

5. Dustin's Facebook status wishing Zed a happy one...not a comment on our walls but his own status. That's a good fella.

6. Wicked cool...I mean wicked cool...Canada Olympic sweater

7. Zo's first taste of chocolate (thumbs up verdict) and the hilarious cleanliness that ensued...what a weird kid!

8. Exploring the big girl with Dad

9. Helping Barb answer the YMCA phones while simultaneously emptying out her pen holder and experimenting with every marker in the building.

10. The look on a little girl's face who we thought might have no clue that today was special, but she did.

Bonus Bits & Piece - Aunt Serree and Uncle Mike's Happy Birthday text to June's phone at nearly 11pm. That's some kind of sweet, I tell ya.

BTW...there are more photos of the day's sweet, sweet, fun over at Dad's Flickr site, you know, in case you're desperate for sappy photographs and such.

Impromptu Birthday Bash at the YMCA

Barb and Zedder chillin' out and wasting some company time...Y not?

So, one quick phone call home to check on the Zedder's day and to tell June that it was Barb's birthday too had Mom and daughter in the car and headed to the Y. They brought the gift that the McRitchie's had bought for Zo so that she could open it with Barb, and they also stopped and grabbed a card and a little potted flower for Zo's new BFF. Before we knew it there was a second rate shin-dig happening in the reception office of the YMCA Learning & Career Centre.

Zedder cracks open her newest plush friend

Zo ripped into her gift from Ron and Barb McRitchie and found a Cabbage Patch Kid named Aliya Sierra...she loves her despite the doll's stripper name, and June got to get her hands on a Cabbage Patch doll for the first time ever. She never had one as a little girl and she's been needing therapy ever since. Barb made Zo promise to share the Aliya with her Mom.

Zo gets the one gift that her Mom never got...and rubbed it in good.

It was a fun, albeit impromptu, visit and it was a nice little add-on to the Zedder's first birthday. She had a good time visiting with Barb, and saw her friends Stacey, and Randy, and even met Nikki. I work with some pretty great people and it's fun to see Zo wander around the place without a care in the world. The building is an old elementary school and it was fun to watch ehr wander. She walked up and down the halls and, I swear, she'd have just explored on her own if we didn't keep a close eye on her. Even with Mom and Dad looming I think Zo had a good time visiting her friend part was I think Barb had a better time.

Great Jumpin' Januarys! Birthday's All Around! is Zoey's BFF Barb's birthday too! I didn't know that, well, apparently I did but I had either forgotten it or didn't pay close enough attention when the info presented itself way back when. Probably part of the job description as a least that's what I'm chalking it up to.

So here's our ridiculously spontaneous birthday gift to the most illustrious hockey Mom and first rate player billet this side of...well, I don't know. I just know that she treats us and Zo first rate and loves herself some Rocket Richard (but who doesn't, really?). She could explain how to clear the zone to a room full of hockey idiots better than I could, and in the very next blink drag a half dozen Junior hockey studs to a production of Mary friggin' Poppins just to offer them some culture to go with their talent. She's one heck of a lady. Just ask half of the newfies coming off the rock to give every Ontario boy a run for his back-checking money.

I feel like a fool for missing that one rather important detail that she shares a birthday with the Zedder but I think I can make up for it with sincerity.

You're a fun and kind and exceptionally thoughtful lady who has earned a place in the ever unfolding story of Zed. Now get your ass busy birthdaying. Wait, did that expletive just counteract all that sincerity? Pffft, only enhanced it.

Happy Birthday Barb...I bet it feel good to be 28.

Speaking of birthdays...

I just realized as I'm typing this that it's Emelia Teeter's birthday too. Emelia is the daughter of my old friend John, my best friend growing up...She's a beautiful little thing who makes her Dad gush with embarrassing frequency, and we're excited at the prospect of Zo meeting her one day. It should have happened by now but we suck and haven't managed it. Apologies to both Zo and Emelia for robbing them of what could be a cool little friendship. I'm pretty sure that neither of them are interested in playing road hockey on Dora Drive, going to Helix concerts at the Sarnia Arena, or taping mid-winter hockey games so that they can watch them in July but just 'cause we did all that silly junk doesn't mean our daughters can''s doubtful, but you never know. The Helix part would probably be the most tricky.

Anyway...Happy Birthday Emelia, have yourself some serious fun, maybe something that involves stains and breaking the laws of physics.

Birthdays all around! Oh, and happy day to you too Mr. Gretzky, I suppose you've earned it.

Swimming, swimming, in a swimming pool...

Aunt Netta telling one of her swim lemmings to lengthen her stroke

This is Zoey's future swim coach. If she looks familiar that's because it's Aunt Netta. She's a coach with the West Vancouver Otters Swim Club (congrats Netta)and she's jacked to be coaching again. She'll be doubly jacked up to coach her niece.

Netta swam and coached almost her entire life and between breaks from the pool to play varsity volleyball and discover a cure for athletes foot she did a little of this, a little of that, went to Japan, jumped on a sailboat or seventeen, and is now back smelling of chlorine and moldy flip-flops to the delight of similarly smelling funsters in West Van.

The trick to this whole equation will be getting Zo in the same area code as her Aunt, an enterprise that could be entirely possible as our world changes, or could be just as easily a very silly notion as our world changes. It's a flip of the coin in karmic terms, but don't tell Aunt Netta or she'll do her best to alter the cosmic chain of events that would need to align for Zoey to be featured in the North Shore News as Canada's next great hope for summer Olympic gold. We're still working on her kicks in the bathtub and saving money for whatever comes next for Team Zedder.

Happy Birthday to the Zedder - Today you are 1

The Zedder came in the middle of a snow storm and was smiling right from the start.

Happy Birthday Zedder! You made it a whole year without hurting yourself, turning us inside out, or costing us a lot of money...well, okay, you did cost us quite a bit of money but whatever, it was worth it.

Today you are officially 1 year old, and as I type I can hear your Mom trying to teach you to hold up one finger to assert your awareness of this monumental day. I can also hear you doing your best to ignore her, so you're off to a fairly auspicious start to the next eighty or so years of your life. Now promise us to be good until we don't have to worry about you anymore, which I guess is probably never.

A two week old Zedder sleeping in Mom's arms, February 2009.

Happy Birthday Zo! You're kind of alright and we both like you quite a you even. Yeah, it's love. I can tell by the tears in my eyes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The kind of person I want to be...

Zedder and Dad, post-Tigers game backyard fun.

When Curtis Granderson got traded to the NY Yankees our family became instant Yankee fans. We love him around here. Our affection even went as far as getting a Granderson jersey tee for Zoey's first Tiger shirt. We're gonna miss him...even more after watching this video clip.

If you're not wiping away tears after watching this, Tigers fan or not, then you're not the kind of person I want to be friends with...

Zo and her Granderson tee messin' with Mom at the Father's Day Tigers game in 2009.

I was debating whether or not I'd buy a Granderson Yankees jersey this year until I watched this I'm certain of it. I think about the kind of person it takes to be as involved and caring in his community as a guy like Curtis is and it really does steer a lot of the things that I do. I've always wanted to be that kind of guy when I grew up, and I try really hard to do that, to be that. I think that being the kind of person that Curtis is really helps people to believe in other people and themselves...and that's all I ever really wanted to do. Man, oh man, I'm gonna miss Curtis Granderson, Zoey and June will too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Freckles, freckles, and more freckles

Le sigh...such lovely freckles on the face of my bestest of friends. They really are quite fetching...and by fetching I mean unbelievably beautiful...

When you were a kid freckles were practically a death sentence. They were a sure fire magnet for teasing, and you'd have wiped 'em clean off of your face if you could have. Now, as a full grown adult I think they're just about the most attractive thing Mother Nature ever slapped on a feminine face. Toss a tan into the mix, and perhaps an illusively exotic feature here or there and BLAM, you've got yourself 6'3" of paralyzed me.

When summer rolls around and June's face gets darker and darker the freckles just start to multiply. June's freckles in July are like the endless multitude of rabbits we've got running around our front yard here on the midsummer there's more than there were in April that's for sure...and I love every single one of 'em, especially the ones that weren't there the last time that I looked.

Right now Zo is a pretty pale little girl. As she gets older she gets more and more color to her skin, but now, and ever since she's been born she's had some seriously porcelain looking skin. She's got but one freckle..yup, just one...we saw it. It makes me wonder what this little girl is going to look like in a few years. I'm crossing my fingers for freckles.

Here's some kind of interesting reading if you were wondering how on earth we ended up with a blonde haired, blue eyed quarter Japanese daughter.

Zoey's favorite person is a cat...

You can't imagine the giggleshow that is Zoey and Debu's relationship. She loves him silly, and he seemingly tolerates all her love. He only gets occasionally agitated. Despite his outward appearance -- the patience and all that indifference to the abuse that Zoey plants on him -- he loves her right back, and almost as much I'd guess.

He waits outside of her door while she sleeps. He comes searching for her when she's busy ignoring him. He even greets her in first thing in the morning, before he even says, "good morning," to either of us, his keepers for the past decade.

It's a cute friendship, one that reminds me just how we lucky we are to have both this particular cat and that particular daughter. It's just a little discouraging to know that Zoey's favorite person in this house is a cat.

A Front Row Seat for the Phenomenon of Mothers & Daughters

Mom and daughter messing around as Moms and daughters must.

My Mom wasn't lucky enough to have a daughter. I think that's why she latched on to my niece, Avery, so hard, and likewise, why Avery gravitated towards the unique relationship that she found in a daughterless Grandma. The two are sweet together, and inseparable. June and Zo are the exact same way, naturally, and it's something to watch. I can't get enough of it. I sometimes catch myself standing on the sidelines of responsibilities and attention etc...because I'm fairly mesmerized by the tandem that is Mother & Daughter.

I really can't imagine having anything but a daughter. It's what I wanted. I think it's what June wanted. That's not to say that a son wouldn't have been just as special, or just as welcome, it's just that if secrets be known, we were both hoping for a girl.

As much as the Daddy/Daughter relationship is something to stand back and observe, the Mother/Daughter one might be even more curious. The only thing that I know for sure is that everything she learns about womanhood will be from the best version of it that I've ever known. June is everything that I hope Zoey grows up to be.

She is tolerant and patient, curious and accepting. She is oh-so kind, and unbelievably enthusiastic. She is equally trusting and cautious, open and as much of a mystery as anyone I've ever met. She's got perspective and a kind of gentleness that soothes even the most ardent of anxieties. She's fun. She's just stubborn enough to get the things that she wants, and thoughtful and generous enough to give everyone else what they need. She judges less than anyone I know, and bounces out of bed every morning with a smile and the kind of optimism that makes me feel hopeful. She is genuine. She works hard and laughs harder. She cries when she's supposed to and stays calm when I can't. She tells me to breathe and I listen, well, I try to listen. Zoey is going to witness all of that. She'll get to absorb every single drop of it, and with luck, put it all to good use.

Watching Zo you can already see the influence of her Mom and it makes me laugh. I've barely worried a day of this little girl's life because I know that she'll grow up to be just like her Mom. That's easy to say, here on the edge of her first birthday, and hardly a full chapter of her life passed, but I believe it, and I imagine that if anything she'll be more of her Mom than she will be of me. I just watch them together and know that over the last year my love just got doubled, not divided, and that feels pretty incredible.

Mothers and daughters...I see what my Mom missed out on all those years.

WARNING: Unsavory Canadian Family Magazine Reference

Uhmmm, it's not that I'm a regular reader of Canadian Family Magazine...stop laughing Kevin and Aimee...but this is just a cute story.

Now that I've discovered Canadian Family Magazine I might have to explore it a little, but honestly, do we really need our own magazine? Maybe it's one of those Canadian Content deals like radio has??? I'm sure that there are some things that as a family living in Canada are inherently Canadian and so, relevant to us specifically, but is there really enough to merit as much content as a magazine would need on a monthly basis. I mean, there are only so many "Hockey Mom" stories you can tell.

I did, however, just spot this teaser on the magazine's homepage and am beyond intrigued.

Is it possible to feel a kind of National awkwardness? Oh wait, that's what being Canadian is all about. Seriously though, what kind of headlines are those? Yikes, our home and native land indeed.

Zedder & Mom's Sunday Morning Dance-a-thon

Sometimes you just gotta dance, as evident by Zo and June this morning. June's taken to singing Train's, "Hey, Soul Sister," to the Zedder and she starts to cut a rug every time, well, her version of cutting a rug which mostly involves a lot of leg shaking and body gyrating. It's pretty funny.

It's usually the kitchen that gets all the dancing in this house but this morning it was the living room that bore witness to the mother and daughter Baryshnikoving (which should really be spelled Baryshnicoughing just for fun). It was the sweetest thing ever, with the exception of maybe Pixy Stix. They were spinning and laughing and messin' with the camera...well, the photobooth thingy on the laptop. I held it up to snap a few pics before I missed the moment.

Those two are like peanut butter and jelly and I love 'em almost as much...okay, more. I'm sure it's the same with mothers and daughters all over the planet, they're just the cutest thing ever when they're together. June and Zo are all over each other all the time...hugs, laughs, smiles, face eating...yeah, I'll explain that one later.

Sunday mornings are made for this crap (and by crap I mean awesomeness).

Something to chew on...What's a Dad?

Zo gets her eat on via Dad's well worn Rainbow flips.

This is where I get all controversial and kind of disrespectful...well, not really disrespectful but I thought that it sounded edgy and cool so I said it regardless of the obvious exaggeration. Sorry. I will however offend some people here and that's too damn bad. It's not really too damn bad, but whatever...

I'm a father. It's a statement that I can make with a fair amount of certainty since that's exactly what I am. It's also a statement that a simple addendum can make really super offensive. Like if I said, "I'm a father, and you can just suck it." See, that'd be fairly offensive, right? That's hardly the half of it...which is an absolutely stupid saying...What I'd like to say is that all of you people who discredit the role of a father in the nurturing of their child are, to be blunt, idiots. I'm tired of it, even if it is accidental or some not-so-silly subconscious thing...stop it. As a society we need to stop it. It's about the definitions, and ours are mostly all wrong, and they probably have been for a long, long time. It's handicapped us, as a society, for so long we don't ever stop to ponder their impact or stupidity. It's not just our definitions of father either, it's how we frame motherhood, citizenry, friendship, education, civil liberties, manhood, femininity, etc...endless etc...

Our definitions of these things are handed down from one generation to the next, like your big brothers faded old cords. They were worn out when we got them and we'll earn some of the new holes and patches, maybe even wear the wales right off of them so that they no longer even look like cords, but they are, or were. Our definitions have been similarly worn out. They were once brand new and somewhat proper looking, that's if cords are what you might call proper looking...I do. (I'm a proud member of the The Corduroy Appreciation Club so I take my corduroy seriously. That's right, this is a weighty analogy.) Our definitions are very much like those hand-me-down grey cords your brother spilled beer all over and made out with his first girlfriend in...and, I guess, out of.

Anyway, it's much more than time enough to re-evaluate how we define almost everything in the world, but in this particular, unsolicited, blog post, fatherhood. I'd like to say that there's been eleven or twelve different versions of the iPod and yet we can't redefine masculinity, but that skirts my point. The iPod got it right in the first place and Apple is just making it increasingly better and better to meet ever changing desires and demands, but even that first iPod was damn incredible. Our version of masculinity, of fatherhood, version 1.0 if you will, was in my occasionally humble opinion, skewed from the start. Not that much of a worry 'cause it was like a loooong, looong time ago but do we have to perpetuate it here and now? Argue if you like but oh-so many people are willing to do so, even if it is subconsciously. More often than not, it isn't.

Fatherhood has become the most difficult thing that I do. Without a blueprint it's not as Ikea-esque as some people might lead you to believe. It's more like building fine hand-crafted oaken Amish furniture with just some sandpaper, a Swiss Army knife and a wooden mallet. It's tough. Not physically so much, but emotionally, philosophically, and probably some other things that end in "ally." It's hard, and it should be, but what makes it harder still are the poor, if not entirely wrong, definitions of it.

I'm not a bumbling fool when it comes to my child. I'm not handicapped by my emotional distance and/or trepidation. I can change a diaper. I do bath my child. I can feed her and dress her and it's nowhere near a surprising feat for me to dress her well, thank you very much. I don't need your approval, input, or help. In fact, you make my life difficult when you do those things. I can parent just fine...and here's the kicker, the offensive ingredient...if you let me.

See, I think that sometimes women don't let us. I'll be the first to admit that as a woman, your job is ridiculously hard. You're kind of expected to be everything and all at once -- Mom, wife, earner, homemaker, daughter, friend -- and it's unfathomably hard. I also think that the generations previous have left quite a subconscious expectation of just what a mother and woman is and you've been trying to re-calibrate for most of your modern lives but one that persists. Given all of your titles, Mom, is the one that is the most important and the absolute last one anyone might want to criticize. Dads have almost the complete opposite. Wrestle the motherly responsibilities from a woman, even a successful, independent, and liberal thinking woman, and you're in trouble. I get that. As far as physical, and let's face it, emotional commitments are concerned you've got us beat...hands down, but let's be honest, you gotta chuck that into the mix of whatever recipe it is that is defining fatherhood. It's an ugly list of ingredients -- historical misrepresentation, poor examples, a confusing yet still demanding society, and lastly, the very nature of mothering. Find the assertion offensive or not, there are at the very least some pretty obvious flavors in that pot that smack of truth. Women have to be willing to let Dads be Dads and their own version, provided it's a good one, not Mom's version.

I'm a lucky guy. I've got a stellar partner in crime for this whole venture, June is unique in her approach to just letting this whole thing flow along. She does her best to be like the rocks in the stream, helping to shape the flow of the water rather than be the very propulsion of it. Our daughter is going to get somewhere regardless of any input from us, that's the nature of life. She's going somewhere, it's up to us to shape that journey as best as we can until she's ready to take the bulk of that responsibility for herself. June allows me to be the Dad that I want to be, that I'm incrementally ready to be, and that I want everyone to leave me alone while I slowly become. There are a lot of women out there, and I see you so don't admonish me for
recognizing the obvious, who don't allow their partners to be the Dads that they can be. It's more than changing diapers and dressing your child, there are emotional gates that need opening and welcome mats that need laying out. It's just as important that you do it for your partner as it is that you do it for yourself.

Maybe this wasn't controversial at all, and I don't know why I typed it all out here, putting myself way out on the limb where either it holds or snaps. Whatever reason why I know that in this household the definitions are rapidly changing and I couldn't be happier. I get to be the kind of Dad I see when I close my eyes and June gets that guy too. You know why? Because she invited him in.

My version of fatherhood is all wrapped up in a new definition of what a man really is (which is too long to get into here and now) and time invested, words and smiles and respect shared, independence fostered, and sincerity. Mix in some simple things like honesty and integrity and perhaps above all else accessibility and the uber-responsibility to act as an's all twisted up in that mess of awesomeness. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to grab a coffee and watch the geese out on the lake with my wife and daughter. We'll catch up later and discuss this further. Enjoy your Sunday...Go Jets!

I love this...what a great way to say goodbye.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Party - 3rd Friday of Film

After last week's Friday Night Festival of Depression, watching Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason burn up the black and white reel of The Hustler, it was time to lighten the mood. Rather than dive into the AMC Top 100 Films of All Time we dug out an old favorite, Peter Sellers', The Party. If you haven't seen it yet, shame on you. It's only the best piece of character comedy in the last fifty years. The blend of slapstick and Sellers ability to make even the most ridiculous of characters lovable is unique to this 1968 classic. Watch it if you haven't. Watch it again if you have. I'll personally guarantee grins. YouTube it if you must.

The film is crazy was completely improvised from a 56-page outline. Each scene was shot in sequence, and built upon the previous scene. To aid in this crazy experiment, the film's producers had a video-camera tube attached to the Panavision camera and connected to an Ampex studio videotape machine, allowing the actors and crew to review what they had just filmed. BTW...I love how cutting edge something like Panavision was. One of the only bummer's about this film is that the house doesn't actually exist. Every single interior was a sound stage man, boo. I was hoping to find something cool like Wilt Chamberlain's old love pad, the lovemonger's self-dubbed Ursa Major Estate, up in the Hollywood Hills but no such luck

I can't get enough of these sixties era films. The style, the decor, the social context of it all...just hearing some of the dialogue that is obsolete or obviously insensitive these days is a bit of a cheap thrill for me. If you pay closer attention to detail the small subtleties are amazing...people smoking at the office and at the dinner table, the lesser inhibitions with regard to drinking, the representation of just about everything from law enforcement to the role of men and women. I love it. It's kind of exactly what I was mentioning in earlier posts, the discussion about definitions and how they're changing or how they've been wrong right from the start. It doesn't take much thought to compare and contrast these things. If you lit a smoke up at your desk these days people would look at you like you needed a helmet, but it was the norm in 1968. Pretty obvious that the norm was waaaay off. See what I'm sayin'...definitions. It's like you're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly Brie time, baby. I don't know why I just said that.

Anyway...blah blah blah...The Party...friggin' hilarious~! Third Friday of Film, a laughable but much needed left turn off of the awards path. Next week...hmmmm...suggestions?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three little birds...I mean words...

Check out this daughter inspired tattoo. I love it! The artwork is by calligraphist Betsy Dunlap and it's awfully unique. I've struggled with the notion of a lower arm tattoo forever but this one practically seals the's as good as done if it can look this classy and be this unbelievably sweet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Quick Question...

Here's something for you to ponder and then get back to me...and if you don't get back to me then you're a terrible, terrible person (just kidding, you're just selfish :). I'm genuinely interested in what you people have to say.

How do you define what makes a man these days...both you and perhaps how society might. Are the definitions different? Similarly, how might you define a woman? A Mom? A Dad? A friend? Etc...awesome etc...

I only ask because I've been struck by the notion of late that maybe we've been defining even the simplest of things wrong for a long, long time.

Gimme your input and I'll give you mine.

It's true...everything is going to be alright

The Museum of Contemporary Art shines over Woodward Ave. in Detroit

This week my friend Beth ran smack into a bit of an existential brick wall. She's a good person, and a smart one too so I know she'll wrap her pretty literature soaked head around the philosophical conundrum but it put me in mind of one of my favorite smile inducing places on the planet. If I'm stuck in the middle of some uncertainty I always feel better when I see the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. It's along a stretch of Woodward Ave. that serves as a sort of soundstage for the burnt out version of the city a mere one or two blocks out of sight of a main corridor like Woodward. The buildings illuminated, "everything is going to be alright," facade makes me feel just does. Especially considering the message that it delivers in a city so desperate for the kind of hope that it so boldly promises. Keep your head up Beth. The world's a better place because you so often do.

There's gotta be someone who deserves a two day late Nice Person of the Week Award...gotta be.

I'm going to say Rob Lee, an old teacher of mine who told me a story this week that gave me chills. I can't tell it here because of confidentiality but trust me when I tell you that he's exactly what I would hope every teacher is...overflowing with class and perspective, and just about the most accepting and tolerant person I know. Wow, I wish I could tell you the story. How 'bout this...if you see me, ask me. I'll tell you then. I'm still floored by his kindness.

Over the years the mystique that my teachers once had has disappeared...they're people, just like you and me. I stopped looking up to them a long time ago, especially since now we look directly into one another's eyes, but Mr. Lee still has me looking up. I'll wager that you won't find a better person anywhere, let's just be thankful that you can find this particular person in a school where we need him most.

A Post -Season Celebration with Avery & Reece

Zo opens her post-season gifts with Reece and Avery long after the Holidays are over.

Since Brad, Heather, and the kids were gone over Christmas, Zoey had to hold out for a post-season celebration with her cousins, long after the holidays and, in a way, nicely removed from all the hullaballoo of the Christmas season. They hung out, they tore open gifts, and they made a good solid mess of the place.

Avery helping Zo figure out the whole wrapping paper thing.

The kids were insanely excited to give Zo her Christmas goods. It's their first Christmas with a cousin and it was pretty obvious that Zo is going to get spoiled every Christmas from now on. Reece was grinning from ear to ear and tried hard to be a more gentle version of his hurricane self, and Avery bought Zo's gift with her own money...a pretty sweet gesture from her uber-sweet future babysitter.

Avery and Zedder get ready to blow out the candle on Zo's very first birthday cake

Avery even baked a cake for Zo since the kids wouldn't be able to see her on her first birthday...a Tuesday this year...and she helped Zedder blow out the candle. It was all a pretty wild whirlwind of a day, a good four hours or so of craziness. We didn't stay too long since Zo needed to get a nap in and there was no way it was happening in the presence of her cousins. We drove back to the lake in a fog, wondering what just hit us. I suppose it was the post-season, and the genuine excitement of a cousin's first Christmas.

Be Nice to Strangers...especially those born unto White Panthers

In 2001 I was wasting some of my not-so valuable time in San Francisco, crashing South of Market on the edge of the Mission, not all that far from a very interesting and often intimidating Castro. My friend Colin and I full of fear and loathing, as the saying goes, and didn't spend a lot of daylight hours wandering around the city. We spent most of our time across the Bay in Berkeley. In the evening we would slip down to a little laundry/cafe called Brain Wash on Folsom Street, between 7th and 8th to hang out. We could wash our clothes, eat some food, drink a beer or two and on most nights, watch some really great musicians. On one particular night we struck up a friendship with one of the musicians. His name was Ethan Daniel Davidson and he had some stories to tell. He was a scruffy and funny young guy who was wandering around the country in his beat up old van, playing coffee houses and giving away CDs...that's right, giving away his CDs. We joked about the University of Michigan since both of us had spent some time there and both of us had stumbled away from Ann Arbor with other things on our mind. He was a decent guy and we stayed in touch for years afterward. Ethan would send me CDs in the mail and for awhile I was even spreading the vibe by taking in stacks of his recordings and doling 'em out to friends etc...He was a pretty talented guy, and cool enough to just strike up a friendship on some random city street and then keep it going on years and years later.

The memory is always a good one for me and I pull out some of Ethan's CDs every now and again and soak 'em up, eyes shut and dreaming of Folsom Street again. Up until 6 AM this morning that was all just a fun memory...until I read this article. Now I'm floored. For nearly 10 years I've been friends with a billionaire, or at least the heir to one.

Be nice to strangers. I just learned a very important lesson in how absolutely small the world is.

Condolences Ethan. Your Dad was one helluva guy, even if I had no idea all these years...Keep well fella. Ring them bells.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Typing where I shouldn't be typing...

I'm sitting here (using the Principal's computer because I've been sitting here so damn long) waiting for the police to come and steal away a perfectly good, but misguided, young man. He's not going anywhere. He's smart enough to know that he's in trouble up to his future self's forehead and there's no sense in bailing on the situation because these kinds of situations find you. To be perfectly honest he's thankful, or I keep hinting that he should be thankful, that the police got to him first. People who ride motorcycles don't like people who take things from them, especially things that amount to several thousand dollars...well, several thousand dollars times a number greater than three. He's going to meet some people who can help him, not hurt him, and in the end I think he gets that. He either gets that fairly illusive notion or he's just scared silly at the consequences otherwise. I'd be.

Anyway, it got me to thinking, "I'm going to use this principal's computer since he/she (being ambiguous here for confidentiality) has strangely, but serendipitously, left for previous engagements and left me holding the bag, or in this case, the felon/potential victim of future not-so random drug related gang violence. I think I'll make a blog post from what seems to be your suspicious student surveillance station." I don't know why I thought I'd do that. Rebelliousness, perhaps, or maybe just to say that I did, or to prove to myself that I'm cooler than he/she is? I'm not entirely sure, but I know that I'm not supposed to be doing this and that it feels pretty good. I feel a little like Ferris Bueller if he had the chance to sit at Mr. Rooney's desk, which of course, he didn't so I'm kinda forging ahead into unchartered waters. Whatever it is I'm doing it's probably half as larcenous as I suspect, and of no interest to anyone other than me and my overactive imagination. He/she is not coming back today, my anxiety laden friend is relatively quiet considering his fate, and the police aren't here yet. Type away young man...okay, young-ish man.

What this situation really got me thinking was how much I love the word "insouciant." It's a great word isn't it? It's a fabulous word. It fits more comfortably when it's used to describe a quirky, insouciant French gamine living in Paris, a la Audrey Tautou in the film, Amelie, or perhaps to describe the way a mid-week, mid-afternoon lake or oceanside hammock feels, but in this particular situation it scoops me up and takes me to places other than here, where a young man is about to grow up awfully quick. I'd like each and every one of my days to feel insouciant. It's quickly becoming my highest priority.

Insouciant...the word just makes me feel good when I'm staring smack into the face of bad. This poor friggin' kid doesn't have a clue what his future holds, and it's easy enough to say, "He should have known better," or the standard, "Well, you play with fire and you get burned," crap, but the reality is this young guy never stood much of a chance. If you have any idea what he's lived with and through, well, you'd change your mind awfully quick. It slips me right back into thinking about Zoey and how she'll grow up and what choices she'll make and what scenarios she'll find herself in. I think she'll be okay. I mean, if you can hope for luck with all of the intangibles, but as far as looking around her and learning I think she'll be just fine. I think I'm going to try to teach her the meaning of the word, "insouciant," right away so that maybe she'll gun for it all along. Quirky and insouciant...I'll take that for her future. I'll take that for her future any day. The tricky part is to get her to take it.

Alright, I've typed plenty on this borrowed computer and I see a police cruiser pulling into the parking lot. Good luck kid. There'll be no talk of insouciant things from this point on. Man, oh long 'til I'm done work? Sometimes this job sucks.

Grandma's to the rescue...

Zedder and Grandma are playing in the other's 6;15 AM, and I'm laughing my weary face off. The two have gotten along like long lost friends all last week, June's first one back to work, and have started this week off no different. It's cute, but more importantly it's saving our lives. I can't imagine sending this little girl to daycare and the damage that would render to our somewhat normal lives. Grandma comes to our house to watch Zedder...she sleeps over four nights of the week and we wake up and get ready for work, maybe play with Zo, maybe sneak out, grateful she's still sleeping and comfortable that Grandma is ten feet away. We get countless benefits that we wouldn't otherwise (a la daycare).

We wake up a little later.

We walk out the front door a lot easier.

We avoid all early morning drama and any afternoon issues.

We watch Zedder and her Grandma become buddies.

The whole enterprise will extend to include Baachan too. Baachan is coming over today to cover for Grandma for a few weeks while she gets some eye work done, and then she'll be in and out of most weeks with a day here and a day there, a couple of Friday night sleepovers each month, and assorted etc....

We're spoiled, right? Let's just say we're discerning and reaping the benefits of luck and love.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

6 AM, You Suck

Why is it that when you have a perfectly good opportunity on a Saturday to sleep past the usual Monday to Friday demand to rise and somewhat shine, you can't, or don't? It's six-something in the AM and I'm typing away because sleep is more illusive than Tiger Woods these days. I don't feel bad about it. I'm not necessarily frustrated. I just don't get the bad luck of it. It's conditioning, sure, but then so should be the grimacing I normally do Monday to Friday somewhere between 5:30am and 6:30am. At least the alarm is silent. That alone is a gift from some greater power. Someday, in my version of heaven or afterlife, or even of reincarnation, there are no alarm clocks.

Wait, there's another 6 AM philosophical quandary to be dealt with, aside from the 30 lb cat at the foot of my bed licking his junk...Just once in my life I want to wake up like the people on TV do, you know, not looking as though death has you out on loan? That might even become a life goal of mine, to achieve one of those mornings. You know the mornings that I'm talking about, where you look great and refreshed, ready to go at don't have a mouthful of awful and there isn't a cobweb in sight. It might be an impossible dream but so was ravioli at one point, right? Somebody managed it.

Zo's still sleeping, barely I think, slumber is hanging on by a thread in the room next door but for these few lonely and quiet moments there is still a little girl sleeping next door. Last night I came home with flowers for June, she'd earned them with a week of no tears and an entirely new definition of her role as Mom. I grabbed a bottle of wine too, and we settled into a depressing night of Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. Luckily for us even The Hustler and all of it's darkened pool room melancholy couldn't ruin a quiet night of celebrating the end of the week, and not just any week, June's first week back to work. We're not so wild or crazy these days but we're as happy as that cat at the end of the bed licking his parts, that's for sure, and he looks pretty damn happy, wouldn't you?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Hustler - 2nd Friday of Film

Jesus H. Valverde, is "The Hustler" a slow, low-volume, depressing film or what? Good, sure, but nowhere near the kind of thing you want to cuddle up with your girl to and enjoy the night. Paul Newman is great, and Gleason, well, Gleason is just Gleason always, but now I need to go and find some smiles and heart warming something or other. It's official, the second Friday of film is in the books, and I think I need some Adafan.

Rich, Rich, Rich...That's Me...Almost

Daddy's buying a lottery ticket today and if we win we're moving into one of these houses. I'm not sure which one but deciding will be fun.

Don't can come and visit.

I'm not even sure what I'd do. Get gone would be my number one priority. Then I'd make sure that the people I loved and maybe even liked a little were taken care of or thrown a bone respectively. I'd have to find something to do too.

Hmmm....what to do when I'm nauseatingly wealthy? I'll get back to you on that one.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Niece, the Great Antagonizer...and Asker of Awesome Questions

Avery and the Zedder hanging out at Grandma's place, December 2009

My niece, Avery, is eleven years old and a thinker of curious and questionable thoughts. Her latest, and quite possibly greatest, awkward academic accident occurred this past week when she brought up the subject of "The Big Bang Theory" at her school...a Catholic School. Needless to say, she's not the most popular little girl with her teacher. She is, however, in my books one of the brightest lights I can see on the horizon.

Good for her for questioning things. Don't misunderstand me, that's not to say that anyone is right or wrong in this scenario but it does support the notion that everyone has the right to their own opinion. In case her super sensitive teacher wasn't paying attention that was a monumental teachable moment that she missed while she was busy admonishing my niece for using her brain to ask a few legitimate questions about the world that she lives in. Avery's a smart kid, as is evident, and if Zo can grow up half as kind, sensitive, and inquisitive...maybe a few other "tives"...I'll be as proud as you can imagine.

4 out of 5 kids that question the accuracy of the information that their elementary school teacher's give them earn, on average $50, 000 more per year than their stupid counterparts. It's true. I have several graphs and a wikipedia entry to prove it. I'd footnote it but it's tough to cite your own imagination.

Nice work Avery. Now we just have to work on standing up for yourself without earning detentions. That one's a waaay harder skill to master but essential if you ever want to grow up, be super successful, return to our hometown, find your old teacher and rub your astonishing wealth, happiness and success in her tired old face. It's the sweetest fruit on the vine and you can't miss out on the taste of that. Talk about teachable moment...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parenting Schmarenting...Like Nike Says, Just Do It

Parenting attracts whack-jobs. I’m not kidding. Has there ever been an enterprise where people make up more names for stuff, or actually just make sh!t up, ever in the history of the planet? Is there anything, aside from drugs, that can market itself so completely effectively without having to do hardly a logical or rational thing? Drugs sell drugs, not people…same with parenting/baby crap…have a baby and then you are surrounded with parenting/baby crap. There’s no getting around it. Sell weed and you don’t need a marketing budget. Have a baby and you can count on someone buying you sh!t you don’t need, talking sh!t you don’t want to hear, and naming / labeling things that wouldn’t have names or labels otherwise. That’s a fact. Just like how one in every four country music fans is a racist. They are. That’s a true statistic I just made up for this story.

I get so damn tired of hearing about methodology and terminology and at least a half dozen other “ologies” and almost no one stands up and says, “enough” Dr. Ferber…tough beans Dr. Spock…eat it Dr. Sears. Here’s something strange and exotic for all of you parents…We’ve been doing this stuff for thousands upon thousands of years, right? I think that parents and babies can naturally figure things out if they’re being attentive to one another without the intervention of PhD’s and guys (‘cause there seem to be an awful lot of “guy” baby/parenting experts) who don’t have vaginas telling women who do, how to do things.

Here’s some groundbreaking stuff…

Your kid is just a tiny version of you…there’s food they like and food they don’t like. Sometimes they’re tired and sometimes they’re not, and sometimes, just sometimes, they’re tired but aren’t going to bed until Letterman is over. They learn to walk on their own…there’s some biology and physiology wrestling around on the floor with regard to that tricky one and outside influences take a back seat to Mother Nature. They will sleep when they sleep, and they will and simultaneously won’t respond to the insanely inconsistent cues that you give them on a regular, borderline, abusive basis. EVERYTHING that you do is going to have an impact and start the dominoes tumbling…let them cry, don’t let them cry, etc…painful etc…Do this and they fail third grade math, don’t do that and they never have a healthy relationship with anyone ever again. Don’t you see…in the end nature wins and we lose. That’s why vaginas stretch out beyond Steven Spielberg’s imagination and then bounce back. It’s called elasticity and Mother Nature invented it way before produce salesmen, broccoli producers, and gym sock manufacturers. That’s why women have both a pain threshold and decibel tolerance at least 1000 times that of men. There’s some nurturing obligations that childbirth takes nine months to prepare you for and that general ecology across a few thousand years and several similar species allows your body to adapt to as long as you own ovaries. The natural world is an incredible place and I’ve got my money with a backstreet bookie in Vegas (Carlos is his name) that Mother frikkin’ Nature wins every time.

When is your baby going to walk…ahmmm, more to do with DNA than any brand of exersaucer you can find on sale at Wal-Mart.

When will my baby wean itself off of my breast milk…When the combination of you trying to get them to and when they actually want to intersects.

When will my baby sleep through the night…when the perfect balance of comfort, room temperature, anxieties, relief from hunger, sound, and perhaps darkness all collide to create the perfect storm, and even then the next night will differ.

Etc…endless and glorious etc…

I’m grinning at the nonsense of it all. It’s a very vain endeavor this parenting thing is. It’s all about you pretending that it’s all about the baby until you realize that it’s suddenly and strangely not all about you. Then things start to fall into place. Obi Wan Kenobi could have given a lesson or two in parenting when he suggested to Luke Skywalker to, “let go and let the Force guide you.” That old, druid-lookin’ cat was right. Stop reading Dr. Sears and start reading to your child. Stop questioning your baby and start questioning yourself. Pay attention ‘cause I can assure you that they are.

If I hear one more person use the term ”night weaned” or ”attachment parenting” or ”intellectual security” I’m going to throw a Graco travel system at someone’s head. Just be, just do, and work on you. That’s my mantra…

Just be…Just do…Work on you…

I tell myself that I create my own problems…that this is just a blank slate that I’m charged with painting on and I’d better not mess it up. I also tell myself that if I ever catch myself using any of that pseudo-intellectual, bullsh!t gobbly-gook that I keep hearing parents use you’re allowed to tie me to a hockey net nude and shoot gravel at me.

Now, on a more positive note…Zoey has managed three whole days of managing her Mom’s daytime absence without the slightest hint of issue or concern. More importantly, her Mom has done the same. I’m beyond proud of those two. Grandma deserves some serious credit for the transition as well ‘cause she just slipped in and held her hand out for the ball. June handed it to her like some savvy old Major League Manager and turned away trusting that she’d get the job done. She has. She hardly even threw any warm up pitches. Nice job Grandma. You still got the juice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

And The Prodigal Mum Returns...

June Zedder - Home from work
Giant hugs for Mom when she got home from work, her first day back.

June wasn't in the door two minutes and Zo was all over her. She had a great day with worries or concerns at all, but she was much more than excited to see Mom at the end of the day. Mom had an equally successful day. Aside from the kick to the guts that car repairs are (getting the car prepped for the commute again), she slipped through her first day back at work with no concerns...called home twice, but didn't really need to. She did it to see if Grandma was making out alright...or so she says.

ありがとうございます さえちゃん!

Zoey opening her gifts from June's Aunt Saeko in Japan

Zedder got a nice gift yesterday from her Great Aunt in Japan, June's Aunt Saeko. She sent an awesome package full of Hello Kitty stuff for the Zedder. Zo was thoroughly impressed and now just needs to get back over to Baachan's to learn more Japanese so that she can say thank you in person. We'll get working on that. She's really only got a year and a half to get her Japanese down before she has to use it.

Zoey hard at work on some of the gifts that Saechan sent.

June was ruefully talking about the days when she was small and package used to come from Japan. Back then she was the only little girl to have some of the things drifting into North America from Japan. You certainly couldn't find Hello Kitty at your suburban shopping mall, or in the corner variety store. June recalls stationary and clothes and toys that we much more than one a kind here in Canada...they were impossible to get unless you had friends or family in Japan. She's happy that Zoey will receive the same but bummed that it just won't be the same for her as it was for her Mom. Either way, it was sweet of Saechan to send stuff in 1983 and it's sweet of Saechan to send stuff in 2010. That's one awesome Aunt!

Thanks Saechan! ありがとうございます!

I may very well have missed a Monday and thereby shafted someone out a perfectly justified "Nice Person of The Week prize. Oops.

There's really no way to make up for it except, perhaps, to make this Monday's recipient extra worthy and to shower down ridiculous amounts of praise on them. So we will.

The past week's nicest person ever was...

Greg Nemchek, who will never ever in a million years read this blog. He's a Vice-Principal at a local high school who is also just about one of the nicest guys on the planet. We took turns dumping our stresses on one another the other day and talking to him is like some kind of pure, unfiltered reassurance that you can be a guy and still be open, honest, and sensitive without selling the testosterone farm. He's as close to a definitive real man as any I've ever met and a guy could do worse than find Greg in their orbit regularly. He asks about my family and is genuinely interested in my answers almost every time I see him. When I grow up I want to be just like him...wait, I'm already pretty damn grown up...maybe I'll take having him as a friend as something close enough. I wish you knew him too!

A heartfelt honorable mention goes to Debu, our cat, for being uber-tolerant of Zoey's shenanigans, and also because he loves us so... but mostly for not eating my daughter.

There is no such thing as “nine in the afternoon."

Johnny Teebag painting his future perfectly,'cept with words not paint

My good friend John, a self-described audiophile and Canadian Music Scenester, has scored himself some seriously grown up gigs weilding his substantial wit and making good use of his high school typing class...that's right, I said typing, not keyboarding, to which you will surely respond, "Are you that old, dude," to which I then reply, "#$%^off I'm listening to Wang Chung @#$%hole." Of course, you have no idea what I'm talking about so you chuck out that stupid tilted head quizzical puppy dog look, and so I feel compelled to educate you on the sheer genius of the lyric, "Let me brush your rock 'n roll hair." It would all be so much easier if your fingers had just graced the keys of a Smith Corona.

Anyway...John scored a paying gig (which is the key part of this sentence) with CBC as the CBC Examiner, to which I summarily tipped my hat to him from a distance of no less than 115 kms. I would have high fived him but I have absolutely no interest in being the guy that still high fives. I also have really dry hands and need to get some Sabon manly scented lotion stuff on my skin before I painfully crack them with some overly enthusiastic nonsense like an undisciplined and errant high five. Either way I've been singing, "Go Johnny Go, for what seems like days now. Nice one, Johnny Teetumcramps. Proud of you for sticking out that typing class back in '87 and watching it come full circle to pay off in the end...well, for that and your impressive knowledge of music and your attending commitment to writing about it.

I prefer to use it solely as a tool to drown out the crying of my eleven month old. ..that and to make random, obscure musical references in the titles of my blog posts.

An Empty Day of Random Tom Brady References

I arrived at work this morning, opened up my planner and saw nothing scheduled. I nearly passed out. Not a damn thing penned on that ominously time and task divided page of obligation and angst. What a Godsend. 5 am seems like no big thing now. There was only one message on my telephone, a message that informed me that one of my favorite disasters of a kid didn’t go to jail following his court appt. last Thursday. He’s as good as out of the shelter and into his own apartment as well, AND he’s starting at the college in a few weeks. BLAM, SMACK, WHAM-O, KERPLOOOM… 2010 is still truckin’ along as one helluva year. All that and the newspapers this morning say that Pete Carroll has resigned as head football coach at the University of Southern California as of Sunday evening!? What a day. Oh yeah, and there’s that little thing of June starting back at work today after 365 days of gentle affection and connection with the tiny little Zedder (who, BTW is the longest leanest little girl I think I’ve ever seen…She looks like Giselle Bundchen sans the hair, height, glamor, and that 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Entry Draft that’s perpetually attached to her hip..Giselle’s hip, not Zoey’s). I’m telling you, 2010 is going to be a fantastic year. I’m also telling you to keep an eye on that Zedder, she’s going to be tall and adept at heartbreaking if things keep progressing the way that they are.

I’m in great big gobs of trouble aren’t I?

This is the part of my life I call "tired"

June woke up at 5:30 am to get herself set to go to work for the first time in a year. In a moment of incidental misfortune I too awoke, despite the fact that I didn't have to go to work for three more hours. It's tough to sleep when you're anticipating a sleeping infant to make it her regular routine to rouse you while Mom gets ready and then goes to work. I suppose this is where a new part of my life begins, that part I'll call the "tired" part.

Zo's Grandma/Nanny arrived last night and will surely be starting that same part of her life (for the second time), the "tired" part, this morning as well. She'll render loving and attentive services here all week and into the middle of next when Baachan arrives and takes over for three weeks while Grandma goes to get her eyes fixed. It's no good to be blind and "tired."

I hope June has a good day and can manage to see the road through the tears on her way into work. This is going to take some getting used to. My part is easy...'tired," no problem. I can do that in my sleep, figuratively speaking. I don't want June's task. Commuting emotional wreck doesn't sound like a job I'd like to have. She's a tough cookie and she'll manage it all just fine. I, on the other hand, manage things terribly and will adjust poorly at best. It's how I roll...old dog, new tricks.

What bloody time is it? 6:28 God.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A shirtless Jiichan and a happy Baachan with Netta and June way back when

Happy birthday to June's Baachan, Zoey's Hi-Obaachan...She's turning 18 years old for the third or fourth time today. Hopefully she gets this message before she goes out and finds some birthday trouble. She's a Yamaya after all, by marriage, sure, but still...Hi-Jiichan wasn't the only one who could paint the town. His wife always knew her way around some fun too.

Happy Birthday Hi-Obaachan! If we're lucky, we'll see you next summer!

North By Northwest...First Friday of Film

Cary Grant Indiana 41

That was fun...Cary Grant was great, but then so was the bottle of Malbec that accompanied the 1959 classic. I think I'm gonna like this Friday night thing. Try it for yourself, or even better, get in touch and we'll make this a regular occasion.