Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goodbye Michelle Smith...

“The people that I respect the most, the people who are doing great things, are people who care so much about what they do that they can barely stop.”

My boss retired today, and when it came time to say something I couldn't find the words. In fact, I'm not sure if I had any words that were good enough for her. She's simply the best person I've ever had keeping watch over my life outside of my family, and maybe even the best person I've ever known period. I'm quite sure that my affection for her would seem muted and insufficient no matter what I typed. In fact, I can feel my heart swell in my chest, literally, as I think about her, and I wonder if I ever might meet another person that impresses me with that much entirety. I'll always remember that I found myself, who I was, what I believed in, under her supportive and proud gaze, and I'll miss her blurts of laughter almost as much as her gentle voice of reason.

A long, long time ago I decided that even if I didn't know what it was that I wanted to do, I knew exactly what I wanted to be...I somehow wanted to be impressive. Because of Michelle I have a template, and because of Michelle I have the faith that I might just be able to manage it someday.

Thank you so much for everything Michelle Smith. I'll always divide my life into two parts...the time before I met you, and the time after. I hope it's never very long between those moments that I get to see you again and recharge the battery that keeps me feeling as though I might maybe make some kind of difference to someone. You showed me that I could.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Okay If Your Shoes Aren't Doing It...The Cutest Thing Ever...

I have a funny feeling that this might be Zoey one day soon.

Oh, I think that she'll be a fine athlete. I'm not worried. She's more than coordinated, and has a ridiculous amount of energy. She's much more than comfortable doing whatever we ask of her, and certainly built like the lithe looking little thing that you'd imagine something like being a ballet dancer would demand, but the problem is that she hasn't much of an attention span, and 6' 1" ballerinas are pretty rare.

My God this is the cutest video ever made. I can't wait to start making our own swimming, at gymnastics, at soccer and basketball...maybe even at ballet, but not likely. I wanted a daughter, not a clumsy Russian princess.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Holy Mother of Unique Visitors

As of this morning at 10am The Zoey Blog had officially notched 89, 405 visitors. That's right, I said 89,405. When we get to 100,000 we're throwin' down with a shindig of fairly epic carpet, gift bags, keg...the whole bit.

89, 405 people giving, at the very least, a whisper of a sh!t about Zed's comings and goings. Whoa. That's humbling.

Pay Attention Little Miss Magic

Indi Cowie

Read this article from the New York Times, and then watch this video, and then let's talk about it.

First, this girls name is Indi, and I love it. What an incredible name. Talk about being slapped with a moniker that you'd better live up to.

Second, I've always had a soft spot for a kid that committed to anything. I don't think you teach that, and I'm not sure just how often a kid learns it. I think that, if you're lucky, you just find it. Then, of course, once you find it there's an impossibility to do anything else but wade through it.

Third, what an incredible relationship with her sister. That alone made me want to have a bigger family.

Lastly, I hope Zo can find one fifth the passion, perspective, and seeming joy, that Indi extracts from her life. We're sooo excited for Zed to get started with some sports programs...swimming, gymnastics, soccer...soooo excited. She's a bundle of ridiculous, boundless energy already at age 2, and she's desperately needing some outlets. She's super coordinated, way too strong for her own good (ask Elle in Brooklyn), and wildly enthusiastic. She could run for hours, so the plan is to let her do just that.

We're excited because we know how important our commitment to those things were when we were at the pool, or the rink, or hanging around the gym long after we were finished practice...We know that those are the things that help to keep Zo surrounded with positivity, and making good choices... finding some belonging, and pouring her attention into. Both June and I are looking forward to games, and tournaments, and four nights of practice each week. We're excited to meet new people, some of which will become good friends. We're excited to have the conversations with our daughter to, and from games. We're eager for the disappointments and the encouragement, the accomplishments and ego anchoring...all of it.

What an incredible young woman that Indi Cowie is. I like her, and juggling a ball around has the least to do with it.

Here's more Indi.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hockey Night in Canada

Red Wing jersey

I remember growing up and spending Saturdays watching HNIC. Now, as a grown man, I don't watch it near enough. It feels comfortable, like home. It's a classic bit of Canadian life, but rarely as classic as it is tonight. It's the Maple Leafs vs. the Red Wings in the early game, followed by the Flames vs. the Oilers as the night wanes on. Get your popcorn and settle in.

When I was a kid I remember that Saturdays meant staying up late, or as long as we could manage to keep our eyes open. It meant treats and snacks and some pretty rowdy games of carpet hockey...falling asleep with a light sweat from an evening of kinda sorta watching hockey, but mostly playing some version of it. I'd wager that a great many Canadian boys share the same story.

It's funny what we remember from growing up. I don't have many memories that find an easy recollection but HNIC does. Makes me wonder what Zoey will remember.

Saturday March 26th, 2011

If your name is Mihoko Partridge, click here. If it isn't, you still can, but it won't be all that thrilling.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


It's difficult to articulate a fairly profound day.

Today I sat in an elementary classroom, surrounded by children's awkward artwork, and spoke endlessly to a very young man, a very, very young man selling and using more drugs than most of the adults I've ever dealt with. He's 13. He looked me right in the eye and fell apart. I left him with a promise to come back, and my head spinning.

I met a desperate fifteen year old with no one to talk to. He asked his teacher if he could help him get in touch with "The Oh Sh!t Guy," and there I happened to be, gathering my wits in a quiet office in his school. Nice timing, and an odd recognition and awareness on his teachers behalf...very odd. Desperate doesn't begin to define what this young man was feeling, and hope was what I tried to plant so that he might harvest it later. That hour took every ounce of energy I had. As it typically is, that wasn't the end of it all.

My cell phone exploded all afternoon with confusing text and disheartening message, until finally it rang with a sobbing girl who three years ago found a special spot in my head and heart. My relationship to humanity stressed and strained, I talked her home, met with Mom, and walked away with the idea that everything will be something akin to okay until I can find them both with a new day to carve things out of tomorrow, and I limped home.

I try to remind myself every night when I drive home that what is important in life is life...not the results, not how the story ends, but the story itself. Today I wrote fifty separate stories, not one with an ending I'll ever know. Now it's time to let my wife and daughter pull me from those pages and back into my own story. It's that one that will help me sleep.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Coloring Windows in Your Tutu...


Kinda just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Leaving New York's Never Easy

sunrise manhattan

Michael Stipe was right...leaving New York's never easy, especially not for little girls enamoured with it's endless distractions. When talk in the darkness of early morning turned to heading for home, Zo started to cry. She wasn't very excited about the idea. We cheered her up quickly, but the tears were a surprise.

We'll be home just after dinner. More photos and fun after the long drive.

Bye bye Brooklyn. We'll miss you...again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh-So Happy To Be Here


Zedder was SO excited to be spending the day in Central Park...and we literally spent the WHOLE day in Central Park. It was dark when we left Columbus Circle. We snapped this pic of Zo just as Mel, Jeff and Elle were arriving to meet us at the gates of the Central Park Zoo. Zed was a little stoked.

More pics to follow...but now it's time for bed. Tired, sunburnt, sore, sad to wake up and head back home. Giant heaving le sigh...

Goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo...How about you, you, you


We're going to the Zoo today. It's going to top 70 degrees here in New York and so we're going to darken our pale skin while playing with penguins and visiting a snow leopard named Zoe. The Zedster is pretty excited to meet this cat with the same name.

Jumping on the subway at 25th and 4th in Brooklyn, and then shooting all the way up to 59th and 5th in Manhattan, and then walking up to the Zoo at 64th. Walk, walk, walk...I think we might make every effort to spoil ourselves today...maybe let Zoey run wild in the park, like an excited little puppy. She's been dying to go back to the park and cut loose. Today's your day kid.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day New York City

Lookin' good kid

Zed's learning to hit the town with style. She insisted on the sunglasses for today's adventures. It cracked 60 degrees today, so the fashion statement had some legs even if she didn't happen to look abso-frikkin-lutely rad in those shades. It was a beautiful day, and our first New York City St. Patricks Day ever. We rode the R Train with a bunch of firefighters all decked out in dress blues for the big parade. We (mostly Daddy) consumed modest amounts of Yuengling Lager. We ate lunch with Elle Camino and her Mom down at Pier 6 with a wicked view of downtown Manhattan. We forgot entirely that the NCAA Basketball Tournament was starting today, and instead just hung out and all about with nary a care in at least four boroughs. Today all was well with this messed up world.

The little girls played while the big girls talked about awful baby birthing stuff, and Daddy hung out with some illegal Hispanic immigrants further down the way so that he didn't have to talk about all that frightening baby biology womanly Mother stuff.

Rock throwin' buddies

Beside Elle our little Zoey doesn't look so very little. Mind you, Elle's no Lew Alcindor, but she's not out of the ordinary short, but standing next to one another Zo's height and slender build stick out like Elle's gut.

Nice boiler Elle

It was another nice and easy day in kinda sorta know, if your version of paradise includes impatient horn honking drivers, stinky dudes on the subway, and a tonne of people who think that they're more fashionable than they are. None, of course, could manage to be as fashionable as the Zed, but then, she works hard at it.

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes

Always the stylish one, its tough to keep her out of the stores and away from all the things that cost Mom and Dad money. She likes to shop though, and we're not kidding in the least. She eats stores up and spits out their gnawed and picked clean bones. She's a one girl wrecking crew of retail nonsense. You've got one of the World's biggest St. Patricks Day parades rolling like thunder down 5th Avenue, and Zedder wants to buy shoes. I tell myself over and over again that it was me who wanted the daughter. June was non-committal, so now it's only fair that it's me who pays the credit card bills when she's seventeen.

It was a lovely...yeah, I said lovely, 'cause it was...St. Patrick's Day here in New York City. Makes it hard to look ahead, but we must. Tomorrow we've got more midtown, more Central Park, including the ever awesome zoo, some Madison Ave shopping, no less than 67 or 68 degree temps, a Bryant Park nap, and a Michigan tournament game to wrap up the night. When we wake up Saturday morning we'll be packing for home. Sounds like everything we sat through snow and rain dreaming about.

Happy St. Patrick's Day you drunken swines. I hope it was half as good as ours.

5:49pm, 4th and 26th, Brooklyn, New York...


June and Zoey watching a National Geographic Special on Porpoises...Dad listening intently to his girls when June says enthusiastically...

"Whoa...I wanna come back as a porpoise!"

Uhmmm, too then.

Oh-so, so random...but funny, very funny.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unanimous Vote For Coolest Place to Play in the 'Hood


After a less than harrowing excursion into the absolute wasteland of East New York ghetto, we limped back to the Brooklyn Children's Museum where the original plan was to soak up some more Cowgerbell, and absorb all of the unbelievable energy that emanates from places like this. There were dinosaurs...frikkin' dinosaurs, man. If you can't get a bit of a kick out of a place like this you were probably never a kid, maybe just skipped right on over a decade or so and went from infant straight to surly teenager. You can ride stationary Vespas here for God's sake! What can you possibly find uncool about that.


The Brooklyn Children's Museum was worth TOTALLY worth risking our lives for. It was awesome...easily one of the coolest and best kids only places I've ever seen. Zo had herself a ridiculous time. We didn't end up with many Cowger minutes because of our tragic directional disability, but what time we had was fun, fun, fun, 'til Daddy takes the Cutlass Supreme complete with spinners and thumpin' sound system away. There were play areas that shook grown ups imaginations, water, sand, play equipment, cool false storefronts to play in, like a pizza parlor and a bakery, and...and...and...endless damn ands in every direction.


Zo got wet...and baked bread...


And played audio engineer...


She tore the place up. If you have no intention of ever going to the Brooklyn Children's Museum then I just feel bad for you. You should probably bring a kid with you but it's not entirely necessary. A kid in tow would probably make it more fun, and certainly keep people from calling the cops on you.


It's Raining in Brooklyn

Raining soaked awesomeness

We woke up to rain, and there's something about rain in Brooklyn that feels more melancholy than most places. It doesn't slow things down much, but if it wasn't for the cold rain falling you might think that the sky had gone missing...stolen...misplaced maybe, but not there when you look up. There is only grey. Still, I like Brooklyn in the rain. When it rains in Carroll Gardens the umbrellas come out, and people hustle along wet sidewalks into dry coffee shops and laundrys. Down here near Prospect Park and the 278 the streets are empty, and the neighborhood seems quiet. That's New York... neighborhoods not boroughs...not as big as you think.

I like it here, but I'm glad my life is spent mostly in other places. When it rained I'd be afraid that all I'd listen to is old sad bastard music, and it's not good to listen to too much old sad bastard music. I think Brooklyn might be full of old sad bastard music that only comes out when it rains. Like this. Yeah, too much of that would be the end of me.

It's funny, New York is no different than anywhere else. When it rains you'd be happy enough to just stay inside.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fourth Favorite Photo Of All Time

Reading in FAO
Daddy reading John J. Muth's "Zen Ghosts" to Zed at FAO Schwarz

Daddy swoons easily at the notion of a quiet place to read, a lot of books, and an attentive, affectionate daughter. Have you ever been to FAO? Have you ever read any of John J. Muth's absolutely brilliantly illustrated books? Do both...but don't steal my spot in the corner of the basement. I got dibs.

WARNING: Dangerous Drunken Dumbshow in Red Hook

June drinking and driving outside of the Fairway

Just a casual heads up. If you happen to be driving around the Fairway parking lot down in Red Hook, and you see this half-Japanese freakshow driving around in circles, steering with her knees, eating Pad Thai from a tinfoil container, and chugging Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...I wouldn't park there. I probably wouldn't drive or walk or linger in any way, shape, or form there. You might want to shop somewhere else, in fact.

Ready, Aim...Click...Stupid snapshots from around town...

New York is obviously a photographers dream, but since I don't have a camera in tow like my wife usually does, a cell phone will have to suffice. There are some seriously silly things to snap here...

I saw this great sushi advertisement on the R Train today...
R Train advertisement

You get to officially celebrate Rosh Hashanah if you drink this on a regular basis...

Relationships come and go in a city like New York...mostly they go though...and cheaply...
Easy come, easy go in Brooklyn

I've seen better children's titles, but none quite so intriguing...
Interesting choice

Bananas goood...put 'em together, even better...
Whoa...scared or intrigued?

Gotta keep my eyes peeled for more nonsense. It's seemingly kind of culture, I guess. The stupid kind. I think I really enjoy the exercise of looking for the most ridiculous things our society can offer. It keeps me focused on the ridiculous, keeps me thinking that no matter what's bothering me, or what's on my plate...someone else is busy buggering something up good. That's refreshing. Anytime it's not me it's encouraging.

Freakshow Zo and the Impact of the Bubble Man of Central Park

Mummy and Zo, Central Park

La familia DeWagner spent the day just wandering around Manhattan. Zo was eager to get going this morning, even pointed the subway out to Mom..."Lets ride the subway Mummy." She's still got some city savvy from her summer on Clinton Street. We slipped into Manhattan on the R Train, got off at 57th and headed straight for FAO Schwarz. We managed to sneak out of Schwarz with no damage, just a promise to come back. We wandered around a little, then over to Columbus Circle for lunch at Whole Foods, and with hopes that Zed might nap we grabbed some steaming hot beans and headed up to Julliard and Lincoln Center, grabbed Zo some new shades...some seriously sweet Holly Golightly ones...and then shot straight for The Dakota and Strawberry Fields. No sleep. We wandered deeper into Central Park and Zed wanted to run, so run she did...and run...and run...and run. We only slowed her down when we found a fella building bubbles in The Mall and she stopped to ruin his day.

Curious little girl

We tipped him well, you know, for tolerating our daughter, but it turned out that she was the best thing for business. Before we knew it there were a dozen people watching Zo dismantle his hard work, and cameras were snapping, people were pointing and laughing, and the busker was a pretty solid guy. He played up to Zo, treated her like a million bucks, even did his best to convince her to step inside one of his bubbles. It was the only thing that could slow her down, and even then it didn't do much of that. It mostly just restricted her craziness to a few meters squared.

Bubble Girl

It's funny how everyone we talk to tells us how important it is that we're socializing our daughter, when social skills are the very last thing that she needs. She's quick to make friends, even scare kids away with her comfort and eagerness to connect, and she doesn't hesitate one bit to try something new, or meet someone new. She was best friends with the Bubble Man in about two hesitancy, no shyness, just full on hello nice to meet you. Of course, it helps when you bring bubbles to the relationship. Write that down. It damn good advice.

Central Park Bubbles

Zed just loves this city, which seems strange to say about a two year old, but she talks about new York at home...she laughs and runs and squeals and turns into an entirely different Zoey here. She talks about the tall buildings and she laughs at all of the yellow cabs...she gets excited going in and out of the stores, and she says hello to almost everyone that walks past. She introduces herself to doormen. She makes friends with every dog she sees, and she's quick to point out poo bombs on the sidewalk. She's damn near a New Yorker and her address say otherwise.

New sunglasses for the Zedder

Both June and I are convinced that it's New York that has helped to make Zo as audacious as she is. Last summer she blossomed like we'd never expected, and you can see the difference in both stimulation and impact with so many positive distractions, even when she's here for just a few short days. I think it's important to provide some seriously wondrous things in these early years. It's when the most development and the most learning is being done, and it's when you should be planting all these seeds of amazing. You hear time and time again about the importance of teaching language and behaviour skills in these early years but rarely do people consider the equally important idea of new and incredible environments.

The ice rink in Central Park

Were Zoey to grow up here and know nothing different than New York she may be less inclined to truly soak everything up, but she spends most of her time living in places with far less stimulation and the change of pace she finds whenever we're here, is double, quadruple stimulating. You can literally watch her filling up with it. You can see her changing right in front of your eyes. Don't believe it? Grab your funster, and slip on down here for a few weeks... get involved, do things, meet people, give your child free reign to explore and learn, and WHAM...I swear, you'll be blown away by the impact of it all.

Daddy & Zoey

New York isn't just one of the world's most incredible's one helluva lesson in the growth and development of a child. It's also a great place to find cool sunglasses and bubbles.

Queen Isabella Would Be Less Than Proud

In an alarming gesture, and of course, somewhat Christopher Columbus-esque, Zoey has just announced that she has found the bathroom...after just two days in this hotel room. Kind of like America turning out NOT to be India.

Nice work Zo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Spy With My Little Eye...Enchiladas and Cowgers

June Elle Zo at Cowgers in Brooklyn
June, Elle, and Zo doing some post dinner reading - 2nd Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

We enjoyed a fun night of Mexican food and fun (not Mexican fun, just regular fun) with the 2nd Street Cowgers tonight over in Carroll Gardens. After a day of wandering our old haunts and reminding ourselves what we loved about Brooklyn, we settled into a grin inducing night of dinner, conversation, and childish games as two families got caught up after more than a few failed attempts.

Zo was a freakshow, tearing the place apart in between loving, if not entirely too aggressive and occasionally indifferent interactions with Elle, and sweet little Elle became my best friend on planet earth with a rousing game of "Eye Spy. We had a blast, and while Elle, Zo, Jeff and myself tore the living room apart, June and Mel got some valuable undistracted Mom time together, which was nice. We kept everyone up far too late, and as I type this I'm sitting in a hotel lobby watching the Lakers and Orlando Magic while June does her best to whisk an excited Zo off to sleep. I'm sure Jeff and Mel are having just as much fun escorting Elle into a deep, overdue sleep.

It was a great night, and served to remind us how infrequently we get to just hang out with people that we really, really like. Our lives back home are so isolated at times, whereas here in Brooklyn we feel part of a much bigger community...connected, if you will, and it helps that we had Mel and Jeff to introduce us to it all.

Tonight was a riot of somewhat subdued Elle insisting that her own family was called Brian, June, and Zoey, thus dubbing herself and her parents, Brian 2, June 2, and Zoey 2...she was content to perpetuate that illusion for the night...or there was Elle's unexpected attempts to give me a kiss on the lips. I suggested that she lay one on my cheek but she was awfully insistent that her affection find a place on my lips. That got a little awkward. She's just about the cutest kid alive...Sorry Zo, she's indeed that cute.

There's not much more fun to be had on planet earth than what fun you can rouse up with a simple game of Eye Spy and some tasty enchiladas. You can throw some Cowgers in for good measure, and you've got yourself a stellar night.

In Case You Were Wondering...

This is what audacious looks like...

Drive to NYC - March 13, 2011

And this is what humility looks like...

Navigator - Brooklyn bound

Zoey was a pretty hilarious little girl on our trip down to the city. She insisted on navigating for a chunk of the way, and never quite managed to get the hang of it...kind of like her Mom.

Whoa!!! see that? You see what I just did? I'm like an insult ninja...only less agile and somewhat unskilled.

Early Morning Smiles and Crimes...Oh, Good Morning Brooklyn

good morning

For at least the last half of our drive to New York, Zoey kept casually reminding us that we were headed, "home," which in a way, is kinda right. This past summer the only home Zo knew was the corner of Clinton and 3rd. We try to correct her but it's no use. She's two years old and she believes what she believes. I suppose for one brief period her address was indeed a Carroll Gardens one.

These days we're just dropping by. We arrived after 10 or so hours of easy driving. Zo didn't stop talking for no less than seven of them, and Daddy forgot to eat, so as I type this people in Manhattan can hear my stomach growling. Zed was the ultimate passenger. Aside from kicking the hell out of Dad's left shoulder, playing the rhyming game horribly, and losing her best friend, Woody, on one occasion for not listening, she had an absolutely impressive ride down to the city. We're awfully proud. Perhaps the best part of the trip was Zoey deciding that Poopy and DeWagner rhymed, which of course, they don't...pretty awesome name though.

There's probably infinite more tales to tell but I'm starving, and this boroughs gastro-intestinal delights are calling my name.

It's time to get up and get going.

Hello Brooklyn. Were back!

Hey, I just heard a car accident outside my window. Whoa, hit and run. God, I love this place.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Finding My Inner Canuck

flannel 2

I think my goal for the remainder of 2011 is to be a better Canadian. I'm starting it off by leaving for Brooklyn.

I dunno what made me want to make a more concentrated effort, but the glaring lights of my so called life illuminate a less than stellar Canadian. I need to play more hockey, brew my own beer, visit a cottage more often, maybe fish...listen to CBC. I dunno, I just think that I could be remarkably better, and in turn, make Zoey a better version of a little Canadian kid.

I can start with finishing that David Suzuki book I started. I'd like to read Grant Lawrence's "Adventures in Soltitude," and it's the truth, I've never read a single Robertson Davies book. I will stick my chest out proudly and boast my affinity for Morley Callaghan, however. That's a start.

I'm going to listen to more Canadian music (except Celine Dion, Anne Murray, Great Big Sea, Loverboy, Rita McNeil, and quite possibly The Guess Who even) and so I'd better get back in touch with my childhood best boyo, Johnny Teetantric, and see about taking his class on Canadian music. It's delivered via an ancient iPod and copious shared files so it's more than manageable. I'll have to write that one on my hand. I think we've been planning it for two years with almost no commitment, and minimal enthusiasm.

I should visit Montreal, and Ottawa. I should see Algonquin Park, and take in a show at Massey Hall.

I need to renew my fishing license and camp more. There should be far more campfires in my memory.

Maybe I'll start curling? No, probably not, but I should, and I know it.

I have enough Roots clothing, but then, that's not even a Canadian brand...close enough.

I need to own a Hudson's Bay blanket.

I'll go to more Blue Jays games.

I'll see Gordon Lightfoot one more time, and choke down another Tragically Hip show to add to the pile.

I'll eat more bacon.

I'll buy more flannel...I like flannel.

I'll apologize more.

Of course, I'll have to stop buying beer in Michigan, which will be difficult, and a poor financial decision, but...

Mostly I think I'll take it slow 'n easy and start with listening to more Canadian music, reading Grant Lawrence's awesome looking book, and wearing more flannel. I'll very likely camp more frequently too.

It's a start.

Bright Lights, Big City, Easy Peasy

March Break started off with some serious concern for June's family in Sendai, and then transitioned selfishly into a stellar Red Wings game with our good friends, Dustin and Kelly, they finally spiraled into frustration in trying to find something fun and affordable to do for a week of forced vacation. We found it. We're going back to New York.

When in doubt...Brooklyn. Back to what is unremarkably familiar. I wanna rest these six or seven days, so who needed a 20 hour drive south, or airport shenanigans? Not I. We're just gonna get in the car, drive casually in the direction of the George Washington Bridge, and then walk, walk, walk, walk. We're gonna surprise Team Cowger, and we're gonna get in touch with Betz, and we're gonna track down Mia, and we're gonna walk, walk, walk. Maybe once all that is done we'll walk some more?

A beach would have been nice, but the distractions that New York offer are kinda incomparable. I have full intention of leaving my stress and frustrations somewhere between here and Binghamton.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Humility, even when you didn't order it...

Tonight I got frustrated while bathing Zo. I was taking the shower head down and ended up soaking myself. When I decided to quit digging myself a hole, little Zoey was busy staring up at Daddy and wondering, or perhaps, worrying, that he was upset. She doesn't like it when Daddy is upset.

Tonight, while putting Zo to bed, Mummy left a wide awake Zo to cry and cry, but the cry was more desperate than most, and Zo wasn't very tired. Mummy felt bad shortly after because when Zo cries like that she's not faking it.

Funny how both of us experienced our own little 'bouts with humility tonight, and it's amazing what a two year old...a smart one...can do to you. June felt as though she needed to leave her daughter more prepared for what is an inevitable goodnight, and I felt as though I could better manage my frustrations. Humility inspired by the unconscious efforts of a little girl.

I promise that I'll work on weaving a longer fuse, on cultivating more patience, and June is still trying to come up with her own specific plan of attack, whatever it is, I'm sure it will leave both her and Zo feeling better about these nights. It brings to mind the question of how people are so careless with how their children see them? I can watch Zoey follow her Mom around the room with just her eyes...and June always points out how Zo will just watch her Daddy, all the time. We pay pretty good attention to ourselves, and what we show her, but maybe we should pay even more?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eyes on Sendai

What was a busy few weeks of significant blog absence has maybe become more busy with the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Sendai. June's family is, in large part, located in Sendai and Aomori in Northern Japan, directly at the epicenter of this Japanese disaster, and so people are busy trying to make contact via email, Facebook, etc...most of the Miyagi prefecture is without power but it seems as though some cell phone data transmissions are still working. Mihoko, June, and Anette are busy women trying to track down as much info as they can. Both June and Anette lived in Sendai while they were Japan, and of course, Mihoko grew up in Aomori.

I'm at work while June and Zo are at home, and of course, all of this occured very early in the morning in Vancouver so Netta awoke to the news. Mihoko is at home in Wallaceburg trying her best to find out any news. A world event has never quite reassured us of just what a small world it is as much as this.

We're hoping everyone is okay.

Update: Mihoko finally reached her sister, Saechan, and it seems everyone is okay. It's night there now and they are trying to keep warm with waterbottles in their beds, but the word is that everyone is safe and reasonably sound.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Aunt Netta

Zo Netta

Today is Aunt Netta's birthday! She's exactly two years older than she was when she first met her lovely little niece, Zoey. Happy Birthday Netta. Hope you had a good day!

Bathtub Anatomy and Regret

Today's bath discussion was an attempt to clarify that Zoey's bum didn't encompass the entirety of her nether regions. It was difficult work explaining the female anatomy to an inquisitive but fairly ambivalent two year old. Sure she wanted to know what else she might refer to her bottom parts as, but only so for about a minute and a half, then she was distracted by slipping under the no-slip mat in the bathtub.

First I tried telling her that there was her bum and her "gyma" down there, but thought better of it almost as soon as I said it. "Your vagina is right there in the front and your bum is there in the back," I said from a safe distance. I wondered for a moment why Dad was having this conversation with her.

She differentiated between the two regions quickly, but butchered the terminology. Here was Daddy trying not to throw out euphemisms, and being overly concerned about using the right language, and there's Zo bastardizing "vagina" and making it beegyma" without even blinking. When she finally figured it all out she looked like this...

Bath time - March 6, 2011

It didn't strike me until afterward that she might be telling everyone on the planet that she's rockin' both a bum and a "beegyma." That'll very likely be her introductory line...not hello...not hi...just "I have a beegyma AND a bum." Nice timing Dad. I guess it had to happen sometime, so it might as well be happening now when she's cute as hell and almost anything she says can be immediately forgiven or chalked up to precociousness.

What I still can't fathom is how I found myself in this discussion in the first place?

Poor Woody...


Zoey throwing her Woody doll around the kitchen until he lay in a twisted pile in the middle of the floor:

"Is Woody hurt?" I said.

"No," she replied, as Woody lie lifeless at her feet, "He's dead."

1 and 1/4 Japanese people playing in the snow...


If you add up the shared ethnicity between Mihoko (Baachan) and Zoey, you'd have one and one-quarter Japanese people. It's simple math really. Where it gets complicated is trying to explain to friends and family, Hii-Obaachan (ひいおばあちゃん) specifically, how this little girl of Japanese-Canadian heritage has blonde hair and blue eyes. Her smiling Baachan doesn't worry about the details too much. There's Yamaya blood coursing through the veins of this grinning little funster, at least some, and Baachan is quite partial of the blonde hair and blue eyes anyway.

Just for the record, that snowman's heritage consists mostly of H2O with the odd mineral and perhaps even chemical compound thrown in. It's a rather small and remarkably less than diverse family tree.

The World We Live In = The World We Make

I just read this on the internets...

Based on surveys collected, the top five worries of parents are, in order:

1. Kidnapping
2. School violence
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous strangers
5. Drugs

But how do children really get hurt or killed?

1. Car accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
3. Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

So it would seem to me that the more time we spend teaching our kids to swim, and ensuring their proper mental health, as opposed to warding them off of strangers, the better off we are. Sure, have the stranger talk, and yes, pound it home, but a good couple of hours spent learning how to doggy paddle and tread water might be more useful.

I also decided today that Zoey will learn how to play with dangerous things, safely...sticks, rocks, scissors, fire, you know, all the good stuff. No, I'm not getting started this very second. She's two! I am going to start fostering a larger sense of adventure though, and trust in her own abilities and knowledge...discretion, judgement, you know, all those things that the kids I too often deal with have been robbed of.

I think someone is needing swim lessons, a tool set, and some campfire time. We can manage that.

Sunday Morning Geology

"Daddy, this is a diamond here on my tutu," Zoey said, pointing to the waistband of her favorite garment.

"Where did you get that diamond," I asked. "Did that diamond come from the store?"

"Actually," Zoey added with confidence, "it came from a cave Daddy."

Actually!? Where did that come from? Probably the same place that "stupendous" came from yesterday. This little girl's verbal voracity is much more than impressible, it's daunting. It means that she's undoubtedly a smart girl, which also means that it's our frightening obligation to help keep her that way. Daunting indeed.

Here Comes The Sun...

Brown noser face

"Oh, my poo is coming out," Zoey said first thing this morning.

"That's good Zoey," Mom said, "we want your poo to come out."

"My poo is coming out," she repeated, "just like the sun. It's the same."

Hmmm, well, not quite Zo, but you're getting the idea.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

She Remembered It Wrong, That's All

My brother Brad is watching the UNC - Duke game tonight. He just texted me to tell me that his wife, Header, asked him what was going on with the Super Sixteen and Enormous Eight.

She's my favorite, you know, outside of the Freaky Four and March Mayhem in general.

Awesome...just awesome! I love it.

Days Are Getting Shorter

“You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can’t put things off thinking you’ll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I’m very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it.”

Nora Ephron
Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Novelist

Despicable Me...Adorable You


We're starting to find more top to bottom joy in soaking up weekend evenings with Zed than we ever could on our own. When we settle in as a family and watch a movie, or dance on the kitchen floor it feels the way it's supposed to be, not as though we're searching for's the most natural fun we ever have. I'm surprised by the number of parents who just have to sneak away from their funsters to find fun. I mean, I get it...we like to sneak off to a Red Wings game or a Pistons game etc...but then we always end up feeling a little empty. It's important to find that time for ourselves, we know, but it always feels as though we're missing something when we leave Zed behind.

Tonight we started watching Despicable Me and although Zo managed about half of the movie, it wasn't long before she was fast asleep in Mom's arms. Kinda makes going out without her seem nowhere near as good as this...


We've been waiting for the kind of Zed that falls asleep on us. She never really has, aside from when she was a baby. We've been waiting for this Zo for a long time. Much more than glad that we stayed in tonight rather than sneak off visiting, and although Baachan was disappointed that she didn't get to steal Zo for a night, we got the absolute lame-o parental joy of snapping a pic or two of this pretty big moment. Zedder asleep on doesn't happen all that often, in fact barely ever. Kinda worth disappointing Baachan.

Swimming Alone

This is kinda the saddest thing I've ever heard. It reminds me of what you go through if you're choosing to use your own voice. Lately I've rediscovered myself, and it's like a fog has lifted. Once you find your swing it's pretty easy to send pitch after pitch out of the ballpark (think Bobby Abreu in Round 1 of the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park). It's a lot happier story than this one, but I was quick to illuminate the parallels, perhaps inappropriately. The truth is, it's not always necessarily about choosing to walk a certain path in life. Sometimes, if you finally get around to being yourself, you'll find that your own voice is one that either echoes across empty spaces or that rings true with a lot of people...sometimes both at the same time. Choosing your voice is one thing, discovering it's uniqueness is another.

Lately I've stumbled into something of a belief system that finds me with less and less company but more and more support, which I reassure myself means that I'm entirely on the right path. I'm sleeping less, working harder, discovering myself and smiling far more frequently...all that and I've scantly got a minute of the day to breathe. After Wednesday's presentation I've been swamped with requests for new presentations, bombarded with requests to help or get involved, and no less than four or five really, really fun opportunities to step into classrooms and talk more intimately with smaller groups of kids, from elementary schools through to senior level social studies classes. Kinda makes me wonder why I never spoke up earlier? I suppose we find our voice no sooner than we choose to use it.

I went from bumbling along, "following the energy", as a friend called my propensity for change, to tripping into some experiences that illuminated light on those places I hadn't seen before because of the shadows. Aside from some sincerely profound experiences I had nothing to lean on in terms of what qualified me to be doling out help in such heaping quantities, but by summer's end I'll have completed my addictions studies, found myself working as a certified Grief Recovery Counselor, and attaching the label of Crisis and Trauma Counselor and School Specialist to my name. That's kind of messed up... that all of that could happen so fast. Strangely enough, I sought almost none of it. I like to think that it found me. I've certainly been courting it's favor for a long time, but it seems particularly odd to find myself being all of those things. Most importantly, it seems particularly odd that my experiences preceded my certifications. I believe very strongly that such a sequence was vital to finding my own voice, and to distancing myself from the pack of people with diplomas and degrees strung proudly from their walls.

The kids I find so generously lighting my way don't give two shits about what's hanging from your wall, or how your resume reads. Very much like joining the Marines, I think on most occasions those individuals making such a commitment were already Marines, certainly long before basic training. The uniform didn't make them a Marine as much as their belief system did. The uniform and name followed the perspectives and the character. I like that model of development. It leans heavily on the notion of walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. I've learned, quite convincingly, that learning who you are should always precede becoming something more than what you are.

Finding your voice feels a lot like breathing for the very first time. I've certainly learned that we've got more than one set of first steps in our lives, and it's a shame that we pay most attention to the ones we take as a baby. It took a lifetime to learn that sometimes swimming alone is better than swimming with the wrong company in the wrong direction.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Gonna Do Some School Work With Daddy


It's becoming a near nightly thing. Daddy breaks out his homework. Zoey decides that she wants to help. It mostly involves drawing pictures of Lions, and usually means that Daddy is delayed getting down to the deed by fifteen minutes or so, but she gets excited about it. Over the past week I've been the worst Dad/husband ever, preparing for a presentation to approximately 200 educators, wrapping up a course, staggering through some all day workshops, and then finding myself glued to cell phones all night (once the text messages from kids in need start they tend not to stop)...I've had to excuse myself from baths three of four nights, and I've said my goodnights in the living room. June's been an expert in managing Daddyless evenings, and the whole thing leaves me baffled at our friend Jeff, back in Brooklyn, who is wrapping up med school, working away at whatever hospital shifts he's committed to, skipping across the country for residency interviews, and being a Dad and Husband at the same time. Jesus H. Jeter...that's one heavy dude, and I feel shame at my own pathetic version of stress and strain.

All is forgotten, however, when Zed climbs up into my lap, gets giggly for school work, and slaps a giant smooch on my cheek before slipping off to bed with Mom. Life is hard, but it's made soft in spots by some pretty awesome things. Write that down.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's a Small World...


Today I came home with a present for Zo...when she saw it she screamed, "Oh thank you Daddy. It's a planet earth."

Where did she learn that? I got $50 on Grandad owning that little bit of influence. I asked her if she knew where she lived on that little planet earth and she pointed to New Zealand. I suppose she is only two...