Friday, August 31, 2012

French Toast and Mousetrap

Mousetrap and Feench Toast breakfast with Dad!

I don't know how you do breakfast around your house, but today we enjoyed a board game breakfast avec Toast de Francais...Do French people eat French Toast?  Just wondering.  Anyway, despite what people may or may not do in Quebec, France, and French Polynesia, we ate French Toast and played Mousetrap.  Lately, breakfasts have been extending into mid morning, and even later, as we doddle and mess around, and as Zo continues her Cal Ripkenesque "who cares about food" streak.  Naturally, playing Mousetrap doesn't help us get away from the breakfast table any faster, but it sure is fun.

Today's awesomeness is brought to you by irresponsible fathers everywhere.

And so it begins...

Day 1 of the Inaugural Facebook Elimination Death match Tournament is underway, and after further contemplation, this might be the dumbest thing I've ever done...pretty fun though.  After the Opening Round/Play-In Round I've got my Brother-In-Law beating his own mother...cousins winning and losing...good friends from as far away as Oklahoma losing close ones to people they've never even heard of, and my good friend Tracey B getting upset by my buddy Max, simply because Max tried to get me into a fight one drunken night.   This is ridiculous.

It's all fun and games and, of course, the people who have been eliminated will be added again as soon as the Tourney's over.  It's a fun way to cull my Facebook friends down to the ones who really do give a crap about us, and who know what fun and stupidity looks like when they look you in the eye.  There are likely people I will have offended by eliminating,'s all in the name of ridiculousness so...carry on.

Here's how day 1 played out, and of course, you can follow right along with the bracket by going to this site...

2012 Facebook Elimination Death Match Tournament

Here are today's results...

Deathmatch 1 - Tricia Crowe vs. Kate Schofield-Ferichs

Tricia’s is my second cousin, which seems like an obvious downgrade in terms of Facebook relevance, but she’s always been oh-so nice and oh-so cool, and Kate, well, Kate and her husband take just about the best family photos on earth. They live in Telluride, CO and are kinda awesome.  I once threw up on the lawn outside of Kate’s rented cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, which was fairly traumatic but she still talks to me so…

Winner – Kate Schofield-Ferichs

Deathmatch 2 - Ian Partridge vs Mihoko Partridge

It just doesn’t seem fair that a mother and son have to duke it out here but who ever said anything about fair?  Mihoko’s one cool and kind Mother-In-Law but Ian counts as quite possibly one of my best friends.  I’ve watched him drive 6 hours to a Dave Matthews show while dry heaving the entire way only to get drunk again upon arrival.  That deserves some recognition.

Winner – Ian Partridge

Deathmatch 3 - Shalynn Szmeremeck vs. Tracey Taylor

I just added Shalynn a few weeks ago at her request.  She’s the daughter of my Uncle Dwayne’s girlfriend, and she’s a cool girl.  I like her.  On the flip side I’ve worked with Tracey Taylor for the better part of 6 or 7 years, and it’s been an easy 6 or 7 years.  She’s seen me melt down, get angry, act stupid, and knows my frustrated, panic faces better than almost anyone.  All that, and she always likes my sneakers.  Random fact, I know, but important.

Winner – Tracey Taylor

Deathmatch 4 - Kim Bewsky vs. Brooke Sterling

I’ve known Brooke since high school but I’ve only just added her, and haven’t exchanged even a “like” with her…Kim pees her pants when she sees me, and we talk endlessly in mall hallways or city sidewalks.

Winner – Kim Bewsky

Deathmatch 5 - Charles Lloyd vs. Mark Nossiter

I know Charles from high school…Mark is my Brother-In-Law.

Winner – Mark Nossiter

Deathmatch 6 - Jamie Begley vs. Paula Turner Verbeem

I met Paula in high school and still cross her path every now and again…She’s as nice now as she was then.  Jamie is my wife’s cousin and the second biggest smart-ass I know.  He drinks a lot of beer, and that bodes well for future run-ins.

Winner – Jamie Begley

Deathmatch 7 - Duane Punnewaert vs. Jackie Jeffs

Duane is a high school buddy, and a St. Louis Cardinals fan but I’ve known Jackie since I was about 8 years old.  That’s got to count for something.

Winner – Jackie Jeffs

Deathmatch 8 - Pete Johnston vs. Lee Bernier

Pete…good, good guy.  Lee…good, good guy, but I’ve known Pete longer.

Winner – Pete Johnston

Deathmatch 9 - Tammy Willshire-Weber vs. Kevin Thornton

Tammy is ridiculously nice but  Kevin lent us his apartment to crash in when we saw Dave Matthews at Maple Leaf Gardens way back when…Poor Tammy.  Always liking status updates, and making comments.  This one was a bit of an upset, but lending someone their apartment when they know you're coming back to it drunk, and maybe even nauseous...big points.

Winner – Kevin Thornton

Deathmatch 10 - Tylene Neary vs. Amy O’Keefe

I worked with Amy, and have known her since high school.  Tylene might win the coolest/nicest person on the planet award, though.

Winner – Tylene

Deathmatch 11 - Max Cryderman vs. Tracey Bolzon

Tracey is one of my favorite people on the planet, and she’s got good stories, an adventurous spirit, and her husband is awesome…She also hooked me up with the best seats for a Springsteen concert ever, but Max tries to get me in drunken fights at the end of the night, and things always end up in shenanigans when he’s around.  That, and he randomly stops at my house for beers. May have been a bit of an Vegas a push, at least.

Winner - Max

Deathmatch 12 - Maggie McCoy vs. Jim Bunda

Are you serious? Jimmy, you gotta get up way earlier to unseat the Mags.  Jimmy'll dust himself off.

Winner – Maggie

Deathmatch 13 - Christina Sutherland vs. Kerry Bishop

Christina is oh-so kind, but I have more history with Kerry…of course, I never see Kerry.  But wait…Kerry and her husband once let me live on their couch.

Winner – Kerry

Deathmatch 14 - Anna Shetty vs. Dana Brushette

Just met Anna but she seems so very nice, and I think we’ll be friends for awhile.  Dana is the raddest girl I know.  This was a tough one for Anna to win.  

Winner – Dana

Deathmatch 15 - Emily Wallace vs. Jacob Vandenberghe

Jacob is a cool guy but Emily is cooler.  She just is.  What d’ya do?  Cooler trumps cool every time.

Winner – Emily

Deathmatch 16 - Mike Cooper vs. Adam Lebrasceur

Adam’s nice, but in a haze of sweat and cheap beer I once saw Jeff Healey from the fourth row with Mike.

Winner – Mike

Deathmatch 17 - Sonya Fink vs. JB Forsythe

JB Forsythe is my Aunt…and a pretty awesome Aunt at that, but Sonya is something kinda awesome, and has been since I met her in 1985.

Winner – Sonya

Deathmatch 18 - Mia Harrison vs. Tom VanDeVelde

I love Mia. It’s a ridiculous kind of relationship, equal parts fun and abusive...but every time I see Tom I am overwhelmed by the urge to talk to him in Jimmy Fallon’s Boston Teen voice.  Tommy, tell me you got that!

Winner - Tommy

Day 2 officially begins tomorrow morning...September 1st.  Kind of a good reason not hate September.  With any luck, I'll have only offended a marginal number of people, and this whole farce will entertain more than just me.  I'm a cheap laugh, it seems.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

In an effort to have some really stupid fun, and simultaneously cull my Facebook account down I'll be hosting a Facebook Elimination Death Match Tournament here on the blog.  It's ridiculous, I know, but so much fun it hurts my sternum.  Why am I doing it?  Well, in the words of John Belushi, "Why not?" More accurately, I'm just looking for some fun and weeding my garden so to speak.  Wait, that sounded dirty.

There'll be prizes, and a trophy at the end, and probably a few unimaginable upsets.  I'll post the match ups, match reviews, and results here, as well as on Facebook, and then when we're all done, we'll just start over and do it again next Labor Day weekend.

The pairings were done randomly by, and the whole thing is probably rigged anyway, what with June included in the mix, but we'll run 'er as is for it's inaugural season, and make tweaks for next year.

So, if you're ready to have some fun, and quite possibly be eliminated from my Friend List as soon as tomorrow, then hunker down, grab a cold one, and rumble young man rumble. doesn't get much more stupid than this.

Day 13 of Maggie and Summer's Already Fading...Kinda

Day 13... Tiny toes

It took 13 days for Maggie to get to the beach...13 days, that's it.  It would have been sooner but we found ourselves a little pre-occupied.  It took thirteen days for it to feel like summer again, and now here it is and it's almost gone.  The Universe is a cruel, cruel, beastly place.

Today we swam, and we talked about going back to Europe, and about a half dozen other things that make you smile easier than finding Meatballs on the television late at night.  We played in the sand and generally behaved all summer-like.  Sometimes you forget that despite it not being your average summer, or our average summer, it's still summer, and you're not at work on a're at the beach.  Every once in awhile we need a smack in the face by the cold hard facts.

Beach Day - Aug 30

The coldest and hardest of facts is that we've got very little to not enjoy about a summer spent together, regardless of, well, anything.  Most people don't get to enjoy that.  We do.  There's a beach right at the end of our road...about two blocks distant.  It's small, but isolated, and often empty.  There's a sandbar, and shade, and the easiest of access.  Kinda makes summer a little easier.  It also explains why it only took thirteen days to drag Maggie to the beach.  Even when September rolls in and most people say goodbye to the beach, and start prepping for Fall, we're still two blocks away from something pretty awesome.  So in a lot of ways, summer's not hard to make any day, July or October, a beach day.  For most of the last decade we've found sand in the strangest of places.  That's a bit beyond a blessing, that is, unless you find it in those places that make you feel less than blessed.

Bring it on September.  The beach at the end of our road isn't going anywhere.

Rice Krispies and iTunes...

Spent the morning with Zed, finding new music and listening to old stuff that I tend to listen to far too much.  Rice Krispies and iTunes Genius is a good combo.

I think I've been fully converted to the cult of The Dirty Guv'nahs, and have become desperately smitten with The Benjy Davis Project as well, but it seems there's just no anecdote for Ryan Adams and Kings of Leon etc...  even more cowbell couldn't help cure that fever.

Zed insists that I sing along, even when I haven't the slightest idea what the lyrics might be to a song that I'm just hearing for the very first time.  She can't quite wrap her head around it.  She tells me to "try" because that's all you have to do, which is sweet, but completely wrong in terms of this little breakfast discussion. seems as thought we're from different planets these last 48 hours.  On hers everything is okay if you just try, and on mine I have no #$%!ing idea how to sing a song I've never heard.  Such is the gap between three and me.

Best part of breakfast, I mean aside from the pineapple jam...discovering this for the first time.  Where have I been, under a rock?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Careful What You Wish For...

Peter Pan/Fairy/Accessory princess

She's a bit dramatic, and she's most definitely conscious of what you might think about her. She's a complex waiting to happen, but we love her.  She wants to look nice, and she likes dresses, and shiny things, and pink...she definitely likes the color pink.  She likes necklaces, and shoes, oh does she like shoes.  She wants her own bra, or so she's said, and she loves those bikinis in her closet, but she likes it when the baseball game is on the television too, even if she forgot that her favorite player ever is Curtis Granderson.  Who cares.  She looks fabulous.

She's every reason why I wanted a girl, and now I've got two.

I'm f#$%ed aren't I?

They Call This Happy...

Maggie Daddy Tattoos

There are moments that I just shake my head, and I can't believe that I'm a Dad, or that there are three girls in this house who look to me with some sense of love and trust.  Three women under this roof that have an unwavering faith in me, it's such a foreign feeling thing.  I think I've spent my entire life trying way too hard to make people happy...believing that somehow I had to be something, or do something different or better, or...I don't know...I just felt this soft, subtle pressure to imagine myself up into the ether.  Now, I just have to hug someone, or answer a cry in the dark...or hold my daughter while she cries so that her Mom can shower, and breathe. That's all I have to do, and somehow that earns these giant heaping piles of soft and warm affection.

That's the difference between then and now, I think.  When you're young it's the big moments that you seek, perhaps to add context, or maybe to define yourself...but then you're jumped by the notion that it's the little moments that fill the shelves of our memory.  It's the small moments that you can cup in your hands and hold until they dissipate that tend to urge our lives on.

It's quieting your child for the very first time, and feeling her trust as her body goes loose and drifts away into sleep.

It's playing Simon Says at a friend's dinner table with a three year old holding court and the laughter pouring out into the street.

It's an easy 5am conversation with your wife when the house is still and silent.

It's her hand on your knee as she falls asleep in the passenger seat, just like her babies in the back.

It's a grown man with a bug net catching butterflies in the front yard to feed a pet Preying Mantis.

It's looking down and seeing their names on your arm.

If I thought that I knew what happiness was before this, I was wrong, or at least right just for a moment, but not forever.  This feels like forever, and it's not as scary as you think it would's soft and warm, and feels an awful lot like giving a three year old 80% of your bed after a nightmare while you limp into morning in the remaining 20%.  They call this happy and now I know why.

Defining Easy...

Easy is driving an hour and three-quarters to a friend's place on a week day afternoon with the intention of spending a couple of hours hanging out, and then not leaving with your little, tired family until well after 10pm...happy.

There's that definition and then there's the one where that girl, from that other school, who went to your prom with that kinda sketchy dude, and ended up, shamelessly, making out with two other guys before getting caught in the bathroom with a third one, and all over the span of one achingly slow Journey song, Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, and the bulk of a Making Love Out of Nothing at All, which in a way, was kinda her theme song.  That's an entirely different definition for the same word.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Best Part of Waking Up...

It's always easiest to type in the morning, before the house wakes, and before your memory jars you into whatever obligations that you forgot about overnight...but then some days, when you wake far earlier than you'd like, or than you need to, and your imagination soars before you've even opened your eyes, and you find that you've built a tent on top of your bed out of string, an old lacrosse stick and a sturdy headboard...when the giggles bounce around the room, and the dim glow from the flashlight bounces around inside your makeshift tent while you type on the floor...well, on those days it's even easier.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Flash Forward...

Flash forward 12 yrs...sleeping on the couch

June snapped this Instagram of lil' Maggie napping on the couch this morning and my mind couldn't help but flash forward thirteen or fourteen years to the exact same pose.  Hopefully we get to that day with as much luck as we've gotten to this point.  So far Maggie is a stupendous baby.  We thought that we were fortunate with Zo, but this makes twice, and Mags seems even easier still.  She sleeps in mostly giant chunks of two and three hours...wakes up, eats, and loafs all wide eyed and mostly quiet...then back asleep she goes.  She cries, so far, only when she's hungry or when she's needs changing.  Like her sister, she hates a wet or dirty diaper, and it seems as though figuring her out isn't going to take all that much effort.  She took her first long car ride yesterday, a 45 minute haul that was almost entirely silent, save for her coos and back seat gurgles.  I know, start gagging now, but it seems that we've been stupid blessed once again.  Maybe it'll all even out by the time all that couch sleeping starts, but our fingers are crossed for no.  Are we lucky, at this point, with this one, undoubtedly this point with the previous one, no.  We made ourselves look lucky.  I'm quick to call on luck to share in the responsibility for success, but on this occasion I won't be robbed of our own influence.  Zed is lovely to be around...that's right, I said lovely, because she is...and so far, so good this time around.

Sometimes living the dream looks a little different than you thought it would.

Sunday Music and Stupid Ideas That Take Root...

I wouldn't venture to guess what your Sunday mornings hold but I'd feel like a selfish dirt pile if I kept The Dirty Guv'nahsall  to myself this morning.  My day actually started with Springsteen's "Thunder Road" as I got in the car to cruise for coffee, and then quickly slipped into the Guv'nahs to roll this day off the presses with some seriously soulful energy.  I don't know about you (except for my friend Johnny Weezleteets, I definitely know about him) but new music always bunches my shorts up, in a good way, of course.  Naturally, who doesn't want their shorts all bunched up in a good way?

It's a quite day.  Zo had a sleep over at Aunt Header's with her cousin Avery, and won't be home 'til this afternoon we don't imagine.  Maggie has been mostly sleeping, and our midwife stopped by the house for a little week-later check-up.  Mags is doing great.  So is Mummy, and now we're staring into an empty Sunday with nothing to do but listen to the Dirty Guv'nahs and avoid sweating.  Sounds good.

Quiet Sundays are always good for the brewing of ridiculous ideas, and this morning was no exception.  It struck me today that I'd like to round up some of my more creative friends and sit around on an empty Friday night, sip beers, log onto our laptops, and suss out some adventures.  That's right, something of an Explorers Club, who throw together calendars of awesomeness by getting together, doing a little research, and laughing about the insanity of driving all the way to Mississippi just to tailgate a football game.  The loose plan is to round up four or five good buddies with bold ideas and easy attitudes, and start rooting out the coolest, most fun and random things to do...not necessarily together, just in a general sense.  My friend Dustin just got back from Bristol Tennessee where his wife and himself took in a weekend of Mumford & Sons...and another friend Scotty and his wife Lisa just got home from running The Tail of The Dragon down in North Carolina. Both experiences weren't your average idea.  They're just two creative guys with the chutzpah to get up and go.  I like that attitude.  Now think about how fun a yearly gathering of such minds might be in terms of rustling up some pretty unique ideas to get busy exploring across the span of that next year?  It's brilliant.

So as morning fades into afternoon, and I somehow deal with how frustrated I am that the newest Dirty Guv'nahs release isn't available on iTunes Canada, I am bolstered by the notion that just maybe I can round up some good fellas for some Friday night imaginings.  Who says Sunday mornings are made for  sleeping in?

The Fall of Roam

This will be an Autumn of unrivaled roaming.  Our intentions are to explore, and adventure ourselves silly before the snow flies.  It's been such an off summer, as so many people's have been.  Weird that we can collectively all have such strange and non-typical summers, but conversations seem to prove that the consensus is most of us want a do-over.

I hardly got to any Tiger games (thus not connecting with good friends).

We didn't camp.

We missed out on the usual giant summer bail out.

No New York.

Beach trips were less frequent.

Friends and company, and social interaction was nil.

No Delaware Speedway.

No random road trips.

Not one visit to not one cottage.

What kind of shaft was this summer?  We got full on gypped out of it's usual awesomeness.  Of course, we got a baby out of the deal, so we'd make the trade again, no sweat, but this Fall is now about redemption.  Sit back and watch, or join us, but whatever you do, don't try to stop us.  Just stop thinking about getting in the way of this unstoppable, rolling, experience harvester, because you'll get hurt.

Ideas anyone?

BTW...that video, that band..."The Neighborhood"...pretty awesome and you slurp rotten jelly if you think any different.  If we're one thing around here it's non-judgmental.

Photos, Photos, and More Photos From the Summer That Wasn't

I didn't feel much like typing this morning, but there are photos...there are always lots of photos that need posting.

Summer Montage 1
1. Meet Maggie Aoi DeWagner... 2. Zoey and her swim instructor, Charlotte, Tecumseh Pool... 3. Pan captured, Canatara Park... 4. A one daughter dinner... 5. Mac's calls 'em Frosters, we call 'em Slurpees... 6. Just one of many thanks to Mel Wayland...

Summer Montage 2
1. Two sleeping beauties. Three if you count the doll, Rosie... 2. Doting Zed... 3. Feeding pillow or really huge travel pillow?... 4. My three girls... 5. If Zoey and June have one, Maggie gets one... 6. The fabulous Mel Wayland...

Summer Montage 3
1. Maggie's first bit of mail, and it's from Midland... 2. Schweet paper airplanes onezie from Scott and Stace... 3. Dad's breakfast of champions... 4. Brand new swaddled Maggie... 5. Awesome cousins make the best babysitters, someday...6. Three amazing girls...

Summer Montage 4
1. Hospital cookies with Mom... 2. Happy Dad and new daughter... 3. She thinks she's a dog sometimes... 4. Awesome investment as new goggles mean entirely new attitude... 5. Her plan is to move to NYC.  She'd better be able to do this... 6. Tall girl...

Friday, August 24, 2012

I've Got You This Time Pan

I've Got You This Time Pan

Someday our Friday afternoons won't look this, but for now... "I've got you this time Pan," was the resounding yell echoing through the park, and we did have him...well, her. You wouldn't have been able to measure the width of her smile with a yard stick. That's right, we tied our daughter to a tree, in a public park, but don't worry, we didn't leave her, and we were careful not to let the rope wrap too tightly or too high...there were likely some onlookers who might have suspected us of child abuse, but they're very likely also the same people who have never read Peter Pan. Just a guess. As usual Zo woke up eager to cross swords with buccaneers, and real pirates too, and had to...had to, slip into her fairy skirt for our sojourn to the park. Of course, her trusty scabbard came with her...well, mini-scabbard...and off we went for an afternoon of Park nonsense...I don't know about you, but I like park nonsense. Someday there's not going to be any park nonsense and in the meantime I plan on tying that dastardly brat Pan up as often as I can catch him...uh, her.

Thank You Peter Pan...

Thanks to Disney's Peter Pan movie, and Zed's obsession with it, this has become Zoey's favorite least one of them.  She's also pretty deep into the process of learning all the words to Second Star to the Right, which is cute enough to make you drop dead when you hear it.

Thank you Peter've made our lives more magical by at least a factor of ten.

Good Morning Girls...

The Girls

This is what I wake up to these last few days.  It's so sweet that I'm awake at 6am waiting for it. Big sister can't wait to see little sister, and although that most likely won't always be the case, it's awfully damn sweet right now.

We've had our oh-so early challenges and, of course, there have been small stresses and whispering little worries, maybe even a few tears, but we're doing good, very good.  June is feeling strong and confident, Maggie is gaining weight and eating so good, and the sleep...the sleep is nothing like what we experienced with Zoey.  Maggie will sleep in giant three hour stretches and although our individual nightly tally is in the 5 -6 hour range for each of June and myself, it's ridiculous how touched by luck we are.  First Zed, and now Mags.  You can get busy hating us at your own leisure.

My favorite times these days aren't even Maggie moments, but instead those late night and early morning times when it's just June and I and a sleeping baby.  In those moments I'd rather not be sleeping.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Cricket and a Pinky Finger

June slipped out tonight to pick up a prescription.  She fed Maggie, wrapped her up tight, and ushered her off to sleep before heading out.  "No worries," I said, despite grave misgivings.  I wanted to be supportive, and not look or feel like a helpless %&#ing child when it comes to taking care of my own.  She was gone fifteen minutes when the crying began.  It started with a restless shift, and escalated to a whimper almost instantaneously, and then ripped into a full blown I-want-my-boob wail before I could manage a sigh.

I bounced, and I walked, and I snuck downstairs where the wails might be muffled a little and not wake her big sister (who if woken, would hardly slip back into slumber). I tried re-wrapping her, but the wail increased in intensity.  I didn't dare change her, or venture to check if she needed just that.  Anything that wasn't up-close and personal wasn't what she was interested in.  She wanted a boob, and it's of little surprise that aside from my useless male mammaries, there was none.  The one that she wanted was at the drug store.

I knew it would happen.  I had that feeling...that this-is-gonna-bite-me-in-the-ass feeling, because I remember it way too well from Zed.  It's the cruelest joke mother nature is capable of playing.  Only one of the two of us can feed her.  Dad doesn't get that privilege, or tool.  If you choose to breast-feed, as we have done on both occasions, Dad is as useful as a floor tile...maybe less.  I hate that...I mean, I hate with an urgency that makes me look mad.  Mom can fix everything.  Dad can offer up his pride, masculinity, confidence, and connection, and simply hold her while her world collapses in a tempest of thirst and anger.  Sound dramatic?  Find yourself without a tit, desperate to keep one child asleep, no concept of when any sort of rescue might occur, and unequivocally male.  Buggered.

Fortunate for me, I have a pinky finger that typically does a poor job posing as a nipple, but in this case, managed something wonderful, and also to my surprise, a cricket had snuck into the house.  Each time the cricket sang the powerful Maggie Simpson suck stopped and she listened. Oh did she listen.  I prayed for that cricket to keep on singing.  I actually prayed to a God, what one I'm not sure, that this cricket sang until those engorged breasts got home.  It worked.  Between my very likely filthy finger, and that unabashed cricket, we calmed down... her eyes drooped, and her breathing slowed.  She looked as though she might trust me.  She refused to fall asleep, however, and knew damn well that my finger was not a nipple, but it seemed good enough for the time being, and all I really wanted was to stumble through the ordeal until June got home.

We managed.

One cricket and a pinky finger. You very likely wouldn't lean your life up on those kind of odds but I snuck out unscathed because of two of the most arcane things on the planet.  The lesson here?  Don't ever underestimate even the most ridiculous plan of attack, and also, never let the source of comfort and food get too far away.  You'll regret it.

Thank you cricket...wherever you are.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


InstaGramma ;)

Instagram, although frustrating in how it makes everyone think they're Peter f#$%ing Beard, is cool...but not as cool as Instagramma!  Of course it isn't.

Instagramma lived here during the week with us for two years!  Two years of Zoey and Gramma and a house full of womanly influence and patience and teaching...but now she can only come by every now and again.  Zo misses her, and says as much pretty regularly...and don't think that there's not a Gramma influence on how great that little girl has turned out so far, because the truth is there's been an enormous one.  Maybe with some luck Maggie gets some of the same down the road.

She raised two boys, got all of the hardships that comes with two dirty, fighting, ignorant boys...and now she's swamped with granddaughters...three out of five grandchildren are girls...and who'd have thought that she'd have had the chance to help raise them after all that boy nonsense.  Instagramma's kind of in her glory these last thirteen years.

Just Saying...

7 - Finger gripping Mags

If you're a Dad and that stereotypical tiny little hand on that big finger photo doesn't slay you, perhaps you're made of stone.  Just saying.

An Unedited Open Letter to Women...

How is it that I can feel so small around you?  Why is it that you can loom so large in front of me, I mean, I never, ever, really once felt comfortable approaching you for anything, especially if I had feelings for you...and there were feelings for more of you than you might ever realize...not always love, or let's be honest, lust, but perhaps occasionally a kind of affinity, or curiosity, for sure something akin to a crush, perhaps.  For a guy who's always been able to say whatever he felt, it rarely happened with you.

It's too bad that whatever imagery it is that tells you how to define yourself today does so oh-so strongly because to be honest I've been knocked over by all kinds of you..oh-so very many sizes, and shapes, and colors, and by so many conversations...I'm astonished at how you can allow yourself to be defined by dress size or some f#$%king catalogue or magazine.  I get it, but I'm still astonished.

I've never once known what you were thinking...not once, and I've never once imagined that you'd ever be interested in me...not once.  I always laughed at that stuff, and if you ever hit on me, or sent me a signal or a sign...if you were ever attracted to me and just couldn't figure out why I would never bridge the gap it's because I never once imagined that you might embrace even a shred of interest in a guy like me.  That's not a confidence thing, it's just a matter of me imagining that I might be more impressed with you than you with me.   I suppose that says something about how sincere my affections are, but instead all it really means is that I never actually enjoyed anything meaningful with half of the women I, perhaps, could have.

You're tough.  I don't know what I am in light of how tough you are, but it's not even the same discussion.  We're different, you and I, and you're tough.

It's funny how you're attracted to the confident, cool guys but yet it's the ones who you totally undo that give the greater sh!t, and would treat you the way that you should be treated.  Such is one of the world's greatest mysteries, I guess.

Don't ask me to articulate the intricacies of human attraction, especially that guy-girl stuff, but I know's very likely a destructive combination of a hundred things (or just one or two) that slay us.  If a guy can tell you exactly what it is that makes him attracted to you, he's not the right one.  The words should be lost on him.

My mother raised me and that makes all the difference.

I don't believe in saying things that you can't take back, and I learned that from you.

What's it feel like to be worshipped?  Because you can be, you know?  Men are almost never worshipped in the way that you are so regularly.  What's that feel like?  There are dozens of things that you get to enjoy being that we will never beautiful, what's it like to be called beautiful?  I've stumbled on the idea of being called beautiful.  Men aren't often called beautiful, I've certainly never been, not once, but yet I've enjoyed relationships with you.  I've bumbled through very genuine relationships with you and never once been called beautiful.  Is it because we mostly aren't, or because that's just not what you say to a man?  Either way it would be pretty amazing to to be referred to as that.  I don't know how many times I've acknowledged it about you, but it's not something I can ever fathom being  told, despite any kind of potential for it's truth.

If you only knew the little things that we adore about you, well, that I adore, that a J Crew catalogue or some magazine couldn't ever convince you to believe.  You know what I love, amongst a million other things...that small, ever so cute, little woman belly...that soft and subtle bump.  I love that.  Your mouth is oh-such a big deal...oh so big of a deal, so I don't understand why you sometimes bugger it up with lip stick...and when you cry your lips get so almost makes it worth the tears.  I'm gonna tell my daughter to work on her smile because you could do anything with those smiles of yours.  And what's with that whole hip thing?  I can't even dance with you, and rest my hand on your hip or lower back, and ever feel as though there is a better curve in all of nature.  Ditto on soft white skin, and your sighs.  My God, your gentle unknowing sighs.

I don't quite understand how you can twist me so inside out. I never have, but so far my biggest undoing has been watching you do this Mom thing.  It kills me. It does.  It flips me for loops I don't think physics  can even explain.  It goes light years in explaining why I feel so small around you.

It's been something to watch and make note of June.  I've been making notes for fifteen years but too often now I can't find the words.  That subtle tummy bump though...and those soft post-tears lips...that gentle curving hip...whew...head shakers.  Now watching you confidently wrestle with motherhood.  Yeah, I don't get it.  Undone, I tell you...undone.

The Whole Truth...

Here's the hard part about this brand new baby thing...

You don't know exactly what to do, and no matter how many times you've done this, or how many times anyone has ever in the history of the planet done this, it's different each new time. 

Everyone has some kind of advice. 

Sleep is important so when you don't have it, well... 

Most people's ideas of what helps, doesn't. 

People are gonna tell you that your baby is beautiful but it's bullsh!t 'cause they're just squishy and banged up milk sponges at this point.

If Vegas laid odds on what the percentage was of people who did this and then had totally skewed versions of how they managed it, I'd lay one down on the 75% and higher line because most people are better at mis-remembering than remembering. 

It's not that just feels like ?$%! more than it doesn't. 

You never like to see your partner in this crime upset and frustrated. 

As a Dad, you never get used to that instant unintentional relegation to third or fourth place. 

If you're doing this right, intimacy between you and your spouse might never be higher. 

All you ever need are small little windows of hope...tiny little breaks of silence, or acquiescence. All it takes is a chance to breathe, get your wits and dive back into the fray. Those breaks...f$%^king amazing. 

Two beers a night helps...tall-boys, trust me. It's a $5 fix. 

We will never, ever even imagine that we know what we're doing. We're just intent on figuring it out as best as we can. 

Occupying a three year old from dawn 'til long after dark is really hard. 

Attempting to manage a kitchen when you suck at all things kitchen related is harder. 

Sometimes you forget what it's like to be good at anything. 

Self-doubt is one of the only true evils. 

Moms are sexy. 

At no other point in your life will you so desperately want to talk to friends and simultaneously not want to talk to anyone, ever. 

Women are tough. Men...I dunno what we are. 

I don't like how bad a rap men take in this enterprise. 

If you gave me silence or a Rose Bowl right now I'd take silence. 

You don't wonder why you're doing it, but you do wonder how you're gonna do it. 

It feels like sh!t to not give a sh!t about how you look. 

Love kinda fixes everything.

What's Cooler Than The Park?

4 - Swinging Zed

The simple answer is not much, but I'm sure it's more complicated than that. You have to consider hunger, fatigue, heat, cold, the company, distance, the play equipment, if it's an injury-free adventure, and probably how much sleep you got the night before. It's a complicated equation, but mostly not much is better than the park. What's your vote for coolest (man-made) playground on planet earth? Mine goes to Heckscher Playground in Central Park...three acres of awesome! What's yours? I know if you're name is Elle Cowger your vote goes to whatever Ikea you happen to be lucky enough to be at, but what about the rest of you? I'd be down for a year-long playground tour...t-shirts and everything.

All Things Maize and Blue...

Maggie - Little Bitty Wolverine

This is what she came home from the hospital in...this oh-so very un-girl-like outfit...this much too big set of PJs because we forgot to pack the proper things for such a tiny newborn.  It just so happens that it was the Michigan one, and that was only because it was the smallest of what I scrambled home to find...but still, it's nice.

Maize and blue things have meant a lot to me in my life.  I guess, now there's one more.

I'm #&@!ing Tired Dude...

I'm not exhausted, of course, neither am I feeling all that chipper, and you know, it's not me feeding a baby every other hour who's very much still learning how to feed, but I'm tired.  You kinda forget about this part.

Last night at midnight I ran to the drug store and spent $100 on a pump that may or may not work for June ('cause it isn't just delivery that her body is seemingly really, really good at), and we slept in separate spots just to try to get the best out of both of us by morning...we nap, but I'm #&@!ing tired really tired, AND...this is a disgustingly good baby.

How do you manage this when everything is falling apart?  When you're alone?  When you're being bombarded by other problems?  When you're fighting an addiction, or a husband, or sickness?  How do you do this when your baby needs more than you think you've got to give?   When you're tired you're a very different person, just like when you're hungry, or when you're scared, or when you're upset, or desperate, and it's in these moments that I find the clarity to sit down with other people who are struggling, and how I feel something, even just the slightest shred of kinship with them...when it's not forced or manufactured, but rather intimately understood, and felt.

How do you forget how desperately tired this parenting thing can make you?  How do you forget how frighteningly fragile you feel watching the person that you love push herself to the emotional and physical brink?  How is it even remotely possible to feel even a shred of arrogance and embrace even a sliver of assumption on this planet once you remember what you look like in your worst moments?  Strangely, the part that no one ever tells you is that your worst moments are so thinly separated from your best, and are, in fact, often the same.  You don't see the positive, or perhaps, you can't filter out the impressive goodness, but it's exactly what is making you manage in the first place.

It's not how good you are when everything is good, it's how good can you be when everything around you is not.

I'm #&@!ing tired dude, but I'm not as tired as my wife, and I'm smack in the middle of doing something pretty impressive.  That's what I try to remember as I wake up exhausted.

I'm certain that I know some girls who have done this alone, or who despite having husbands at home have somehow managed to do this, and most of what happens over the next seventeen or eighteen years, almost entirely by themselves.  I know that I know them...and when I see their husbands I am kind, but not respectful.  This is hard, and what they've chosen to ignore, diminish, or just dismiss is astonishing.  What they've missed... well, it's fairly mind boggling.  I think too, to the lost opportunity to influence, or to set in motion the ideas that make your child who they're going to be, or to inspire their versions of love, or just what a man looks like, or how you treat the people that you care about, and I stumble on the notion that your lack of all-consuming care and concern for both your partner and child, or children (regardless of how complicated you want to imagine it) is tantamount to putting your child to bed hungry, or turning the woman you love, or propose to love, away in the worst of winter storms.  How do you manage that?

It's not how good you are when everything is good, it's how good can you be when everything around you is not.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Magglio Ordonez Yankee Killer DeWagner

That's the name I wanted.  Every time I talked to my daughter I'd think of Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS at Comerica Park, but June wasn't so hot with it.  So we settled on just plain old Maggie.

It's a good name.  We like it...but Magglio Ordonez Yankee Killer is better, I think.

In Case You Were Wondering...

Zed and Maggie - Heading Home 1 Zoey and her new little sister, Maggie, getting ready to leave the hospital.

Just in case you were wondering what #$%&ing awesome looks like...this is it. Sure there are other things that are awesome, like...

- the Grand Canyon

- the first time you the see the grass infield in a major league baseball stadium

- floor seats at a Springsteen show when the whole arena sings Born to Run down on top of your head.  

- Hawaii

- a good haircut

- Central Park in the Spring

- Pearl Jam

- sleeping in

- Joshua Tree at night

- getting off a Greyhound bus after three days

- the sound of a child's giggle

- someone to comfort you when you feel bad

- sunset at Sacre Coeur

- ice cold water

- Harry Potter books

- Surf shops...real ones

- fountain pop

- Christmas

But this is definitively #$%&ing awesome. You know, in case you were wondering. We left the hospital this morning, after 30 or so hours...mostly 'cause June's a friggin' Champ, but also because our newest daughter is too. She's doing well, as well as her Mom, and she was quiet as you can imagine all the way home. Even now, as June and her sleep upstairs, there hasn't been more than a few peeps. June assures me that she can wail, but I've yet to hear it. Zoey wailed. She was good at the wailing stuff. Maggie seems not interested in any of that. This could either be amazing, or really impressive trickery. Let's keep our fingers crossed for amazing.

Wishing It All True...

Zo Mom Mags
Zoey meeting her little sister, Maggie Aoi, in Mummy's lap - August 18, 2012

Meet Maggie Aoi DeWagner...slayer of small dragons, and big monsters. She runs a lot, but maybe reads more. She never wants to leave home until she finally does, and then she does it right, and with confidence and assuredness. She's supposed to do great things because the sky said so on the day she was born. Her teachers all like her. Some adore her. She tries hard, and likes the feeling of security that comes with success. Field Day is her favorite because there's not enough room on her chest for her ribbons or her pride. She loves her sister, and thinks that she can do anything...and because her sister can do anything so can she.

She's the best at hide'n seek, and tag too...better than the boys even, but that's okay because they all have a crush on her, and because she's so nice that no one really ever notices until the game is over and she's won. She makes friends easily, and never needs scolding...well, not often. She watches people, and she pays attention. She's always paying attention.

Her swim coach says that she's a natural, but she's just as interested in the trip to McDonalds afterward than she is the medal. That might be why she wins all the medals. School is easy, but she still works hard. Her cousin Avery is one of her favorites, and she pretends to get upset but she likes how Reece teases her.

Boyfriends...who has time for boyfriends? She could get a dozen, but what's the point? She's not all that interested, not yet. What do boys have to do with school and lap times? There are a few she likes, and even fewer that make her feel all squishy, but they're just boys, and not at all ready to treat her the way that she wants to be treated so she'll just be picky, and take her time. What's the rush? She's seen better boys in Ann Arbor when she goes to the games, and who wants to date an idiot when there's a smart guy who just fell out of a magazine who just hasn't met the right girl yet?

Her sisters friends treat her nice. They're her friends too. mostly because her sister is so cool, but also because she is. Between the two of them they work hard at making their parents prouder every's a bit of a contest, but a friendly one...the kind where everyone wins.

Supper time is her favorite, when everyone is, supper time on vacation, that's her favorite. Then everyone is together and the air is full of excitement and strange smells and that amazing, weird feeling that only vacation brings. Her family takes the best vacations. Her friends come along, and so do Zed's and before you know there are five or six or seven girls, including Mom, 'cause she turns into a little bit of one when we're on vacation, and Dad. He loves it.

She tells the truth...always, even when it hurts people. She hates to hurt people. She wants to be a doctor. She doesn't know if she wants to do all that schooling, all that long, but she wants know, at least she thinks she does. She'll figure it out.

She likes going to the games with her Dad, just like her sister did. She likes the way that her Dad get s excited and the way the isn't just sports when he's people, and stories, and the colors and sounds and even the events are all different because Dad sees them differently. She realizes after awhile that it's what makes her play. She feels proud when she looks up and sees her parents. She's a good sport, and works hard, even when it doesn't look like it. She's neat, and her room is always crazy clean. When she was little she freaked when Zoey would make a mess in there, and Zoey would laugh because there isn't anything much funnier than making Maggie freak. She's not very good at "freaking" and can never stay mad long. She's the best kind of sister because she forget things easily.

She meets the right boy, not right away, but easily, and she never once has a boy problem, not once. Her sister does, but she doesn't. Maybe it's because she is watching.

She build forts, roasts marshmallows, she loves to camp, and play in the woods, and on mountains, and in oceans, and she saves all of her money to do those things. When she leaves for Europe the first time, with just her friends, she knows it's a big deal to her parents, and so she lingers and listens to their stories and she calls when she arrives, and tells them everything when she returns, and she never, ever, not in a million years ever loses her passport, money, and all of her identification because she fell asleep on a bus. Her Dad taught her that.

She believes in people, in kindness, and in helping, and she has faith and hope, and trust in, well, everything. She wants to make a "save the world," as some people say sarcastically, but why wouldn't she want to do that? Who doesn't want to do that? It doesn't take much she believes, and she knows that she's right.

She sleeps, and she dotes on her father, and she likes to watch her parents together because they're cute, and she knows that's the way it's supposed to be.

Maggie Aoi is a good girl, and although she wishes she could be more like her sister, her sister wishes the same, and two parents couldn't be any more proud of any two girls ever.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wet Eyes and Blue Skies...

A Maggie Morning 2

Jet trails. I'm always going to remember jet trails in the morning sky whenever I think of my daughter. I looked up from where June was struggling so hard to do what she knew she must...what she was told, and what she remembered was the most important to breathe, and to not push, and to stay calm...and while stroking her hair, and holding her hand, I noticed that the sky was shifting from orange to blue, the sun was on it's way up, and there were jet trails. I watched them between contractions, and I worked hard not to get too emotional. I'm good with's something I manage quite well. It's kind of in my strike zone, but I didn't want to cry, not now. I don't know why I didn't want to. I'm the most embarrassingly sensitive man on the planet, and I'm okay with that, in fact, I pray that it's a strength, but I could feel the hot tears, like I had when I was a child, when I was embarrassed maybe, or angry, only this time they were filling from an overwhelming place and I didn't want them to come. June's exhausting effort pulled me back from the sky each time, but I'll always remember the jet trails. 

The tears didn't come until later, when I sat in the car, turned the ignition and couldn't stop them. Three girls. I have three girls to love and that love me back and...and I don't know what to say or how to say it. Even now the tears come, and alone in my room I needn't stop them. Three girls to take care of, who will always take care of me, and whose love is infinite.

Just breathe, I tell myself over and over.

Three girls, and I'm oh-so the luckiest guy on the face of the earth. For the rest of my life I'm going to see jet trails and I guarantee you that if there is enough silence, and if there's just a little time to think, there'll be tears. For fifty more years there'll be jet trails and tears. I think morning has just become my new favorite time and the sky my new favorite place. Three girls. I'm not even sure what to type except that I thought I had this love thing down pat until today. I didn't. It's funny how much love can feel like wet eyes and blue skies.

Meet Maggie Aoi DeWagner

Mummy kissing Maggie
June woke me at 3am with contractions, and while I packed up and splashed some water on my face, she called the midwife and prepped to go to the hospital.  We were settled in by 4am or 4:30am and by 5:30 or so we got a lot more busy.  Then at 7:30 this morning, Maggie Aoi (ah-oh-ee) DeWagner was born.  She was 8.2lbs and measured 21" long...was super healthy and strong...she fed right away and settled in quietly with a little happy grin on her tired face. Everyone is fine and Zoey is bursting at every seam.  She's a big sister! Two little girls...and a wonderful wife...that makes three, doesn't it? Three girls...and me. I like those odds. A house full of girls, and one oh-so happy guy.

Just in case a 3:30am call to the mid-wife means anything...

June woke me shortly after 3am and said that she was having contractions, and that they were about six minutes apart...about a minute in length.  So we called the mid-wife, and we called Baachan, and now we're waiting on both to come by the house.  So...if a 3:30am call to the midwives paging service means anything...

Car is loaded. I think I twisted my knee tackling the stairs in the dark...Ibuprofen popped, and our friend Jess' number is on the iPhone screen and ready in case we have to call her to slip over and wait with Zed.  Got a funny swelling of excitement and nerves inside...I'm not sure if we're having a baby or not but this is some adrenaline pushing business right here.  I think I might not make lacrosse practice know, priorities.

Friday, August 17, 2012

City Girl, Country Family...

Colelcting Eggs w Uncle Barry

We're undeniably city people, at the very least, small city, or very large town people, despite growing up in the smallest of towns, and despite myself growing up surrounded by corn and pasture, with only a dirt road to get to and from home.  Yet my entire family lived on farms, a good chunk of our collective history is rural, and how do you keep a kid away from a chicken coop?  You don't.  Visit's to Aunt Cheryl's farm are always a bit of a hit.

Zed and Kato - Aunt Cheryl's Aug. 2012

Zed rides Cato, Cheryl's kind and patient old paint...she collects eggs...and sorts through vegetables, and always leaves with her own little selection of produce.  She enjoys elbowing around with the goats, and tromping through the mud and, let's be honest, poop.  There's some farm girl in there and I don't know if that'll ever slip least not as long as we've got family making a living on a farm.

Cheryl's Farmers Market - Aug 2012

Make no mistake, Zo's a city girl.  She talks endlessly about New York, and remembers each and every time in the city.  She talks about her friend Elle and her family, and she rambles on about running down the street with her friend Julia...she talks about the subway more than we care to, and she remembers walking up Court Street in Brooklyn every day all summer and being greeted by every shop owner, handed free gelato and generally being the most popular little thing in three boroughs.  She'd gladly pick up her life here and move it to Manhattan, but there's no denying that her roots are rural.  Her Grandma grew up on a farm.  Her Dad had chores to do, and stalls to clean, and her second cousins and great Uncles and Aunts all know how quick a pitchfork can build callouses on your hands.  Her Uncle B used to shoe horses for God's sake.  That's not your average Manhattan story, but then I suppose that there is no such thing as your average Manhattan story.

Kid and kid

Since there's almost no chance, whatsoever, that we'll ever be living in New York on a full time basis...and since we've chosen to make our home here on the edge of America and the bottom of Lake Huron...since although we live in a small city, in a big country, with countless acres of corn and beans and tomatoes surrounding the outskirts of this city where we live, and since a good many of Zoey's family know their way around a halter and a harvester, odds are there will be more trips to the chicken coop, and more old farm yarns from Grandma, and more goats...I think there will always be goats. Of course, there will always be the F train too, and that one might have a more powerful hold.

Still Waiting...

I awoke on this first day of being technically overdue for our little visitor, from a night of ridiculous dreams, and tossing and turning, to a quiet morning cinnamon and raison toast with steaming coffee and, of course, the pages of a Harry Potter book.  I've become quite obsessed.  My back and shoulders still ache, and the house is quiet.  I'm thinking about favorites this favorites that go often overlooked...

Like cinnamon and raison toast with butter, and hot slow, quiet ponderous reading more than I wide open days that don't paying attention to what the universe is giving to abandoning old ideas for new...but mostly for cinnamon and raison toast with butter.

Where's this new baby?  Like her sister, she's certainly taking her time, which I suppose is good, very good.  Babies hanging on 'til term is such a strong indicator of later health and development, but I'm certain June would just as soon take a C or two on a report card every now and again to have some relief right now.  Perhaps a child that takes a little longer than most to pull of her social skills together would be welcomed in light of June's poor aching back this week?  Still, she's a champ, a genuine natural at this pregnancy thing.  Like many, she glows fairly brightly, but she maintains a proper attitude, and smile...she prefers to be busy, and she wants to be social and active.  She's happy.  It's fun to see.  If anyone was made to inspire confidence in new mothers it might be her. Still, this baby's arrival is expected and not eagerly put off 'til tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.  June wants to get rolling with this family of four.

We've got a name picked out, at least we think that we do.  The longer things take, the more ideas creep into our heads.  We're packed and prepared for a quick departure, but imagining a scheduled one.  We're trying to stay close to home and wander off only in small excursions.  Since my phone has stopped working I've been pinching June's for times when I slip out to return with things on my list and things not on my Praying Mantis'...For two busy people, this part is the hardest.

There's excitement bumbling around the air, and the anticipation is thick like fog.  No trepidation, no fear of the unknown, just enthusiasm and eagerness for this new bit of our lives to start.  Even Zoey talks endlessly about her new sister.  That will be an interesting dynamic...for her to play a part of, and for us.  Yet still, it's exciting.

And... it didn't take long before the quiet of the house was broken by a little girl squealing stories of lost boys and Captain Hook through her bedroom door, out into the hall, and bursting into her parents bedroom with a wide smile and a look of enthusiasm that few people over the age of four can muster in the morning.  Let's add that to the like list...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Praying Mantis Instead of a Baby...

Zed's new pet 2

Although there's no baby just yet, there is a new pet.  Meet Metamophasis (named by Zed, I swear), a Praying Mantis that I found rummaging through some plywood remainders at a job site.  I slipped out to grab a few things just before bedtime. I saw some scrap wood in the parking lot near a dumpster, that didn't look at all like scrap wood, and stopped to take a look...BAM...there was Metamorphasis crawling around.  I snatched him up in an old water bottle, and rushed home to show Zed before she slipped off to sleep.  She loved him.

Zed's new pet 3

I interrupted Mummy and her tummy reading Zed a story, and like only a Dad can, stirred up the whole quietude of the scene with this sinister looking gift.  She wanted to sleep with him but Mom assured her, "No bugs in bed!"  Good rule.  Write that down.

Zed's new pet 1

He's quite large, and plenty nasty looking.  He brings back instant memories of getting pinched by one when I was a child.  It was near traumatic, and even the sight of them ever since has rendered me goobered...until tonight.  I was SO excited to take him home and show Zed that I totally forgot how much I hate Praying Mantis'.  That's what your child will do to you.

Now what the hell do Praying Mantis' eat?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love Like that...

Zed Dad's vest

Sometimes she likes to wear my coat, and sometimes she wants to lay on top of me and pretend that she's a puppy.  She likes it when I tickle her, or when I jump out from doorways and scare her.  Sometimes she can't figure out which team her and Daddy are cheering for, and every once in awhile she corrects me.

Sometimes I'm tired, and sometimes I can be grumpy, and somehow she still loves me.  Somehow Daddy is still fun, and it's only me who puts the pressure on to give her as good a summer as possible.  She's just happy to be with me.  I want to learn how to love like that again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dirty Creative...Dirty, Dirty Creative

Ikea box car 1

What do you do with an empty Ikea Snöig box?  You make a car for your daughter to pull around, that's what.

Cut out some cardboard 'em onto the box with your trusty Makedo set, and then you dig out some string and weave it to make her something to pull it around with.  Lastly, you throw a pig in there as a passenger.  Easy peasy.

Ikea box car 2

It's a terribly creative household around here.  Sure buy toys, but we probably make more than we buy. It's not that we're tree hugging, recycling gurus or anything like that.  We just like cardboard a lot, and kids like old junk made into new stuff...and there you go.  It's kind of a match made in heaven.

BTW...if you don't own a Makedo one.  It'll make you happy.

It's About Not Taking What You Have For Granted...

Zo, Gramma and Daddy - Aunt Cheryl's Farm Aug 2012 Zed, Gramma, and me - Cheryl's Farm, August 2012

Sometimes I don't do a very good job of appreciating how staggeringly lucky I am.  I just don't, and it's probably because I have been so fortunate that I forget, that I have something of a skewed perspective.  I've had horseshoes falling from my posterior since the day I was born.

I wasn't expected...not as in I was an accident, but rather that my mother was planning on only one child, right up until the time my twin brother, Brad, was delivered.  "You're not done yet Catherine," the attending physician said loud enough to rattle my Mom into a state of pseudo-shock.  "There's one more in there."  The word is that my father turned pale and my grandfather sat silent in disbelief.  Two babies, despite having the room, the budget, and the diapers and plans for just one. It's like I've been crashing a really big party for forty years.

I survived a frightening car accident, that was much less accident and more realistically a really drunk dude running over a kid on a bike...on a highway...with a speed limit of 80km/hour, but he was going much faster.  I was lucky enough to have the responding EMS driver be one of my hockey teammates fathers, and without my parents available to consult he vehemently defended against the amputation of my leg, long enough for my parents to arrive and concur.  I still think of him and get choked up.  I owe him more than I might ever owe another soul that isn't my parent, sibling, wife or child.  I not only survived it all but slipped from a hospital bed in London for a month and a half, to a wheelchair, to crutches, to a walker, then cane, months of physiotherapy, and an athletic career, if you must call it something, that made me no different from any able bodied other.

I called both my mother and father, desperate to come home from school in Missouri, and woke up to my father knocking at my dorm door, telling me to get packed, withdraw, and speak to my coach, while he slept.  He must have left minutes after I hung up the telephone.

I was never once hurt, or hindered as I wandered around Europe and the Rockies and the California coast and desert...not once.  I lost everything that I had...identification, money, Germany and was helped to pull myself back together by a casual Australian friend that I had bounced intermittently around Europe with, and a strange, old Bosnian man who had left his entire family in the deadly dischord of his homeland.  He calmed me down, then he helped me find a phone to track down my things, and bought me a $20 phone card before disappearing into the crowd.  Before I turned to use the phone he had given me a tearful hug and a pat on my cheek.  "I can't help my grandson but I can help you," he uttered to me before drifting away into the ether.  I never saw him again, and never knew his name.

In Santa Barbara, California I met a girl who was traveling with her Mom.  Soon after our meeting I learned that I was broke, so I said goodbye hastily, and scurried back to the safety of free desert camping in Joshua Tree.  By the strangest of happenstance, I stumbled back into the two in the desert.  I hadn't the money to make it home so they gave me a ride to Colorado where I spent nearly every last dollar I had on a bus back to Detroit.  From there I slipped the driver my last $5 for a no-ticket ride across the border to Canadian customs.  A friend let me sleep the night at his house before I limped home in the morning.  Had I not found those two familiar faces amongst the high desert boulders in Joshua Tree National Park, I don't know how I would have gotten home.  They were just one more reminder out of many that there is still a kindness left in complete strangers.

I met my wife at camp...we became friends, went about our lives as such, and then decided we were much more than that.

The list is endless...

Bruce Madej at the University of Michigan hiring a completely undeserving, unqualified kid to intern in one of the country's largest Athletic Departments.  It changed my perspectives, if not my life.

After thirty years apart, my parents decided to be friends again.  It was a strange but important gift.

I have in-laws and a brother and sister-in-law that I care about..and another sister-in-law who I love.

I have nieces and nephews that I adore.

I have friends.

I have been so unbelievably fortunate that it's sometimes easy to lose perspective, and feel cheated, or treated unfairly in certain situations.  It's nonsense.  I have nothing that I could possibly complain about...nothing that hasn't worked out, or been exactly the way that it probably should have been...nothing.  I have good friends, a healthy family, a fulfilling job and career, and somehow some integrity still intact after forty years of testing it.

Its about not taking what you have for granted and sometimes I need reminding.

Half Gone...

Summer collage 1 Kid pack Summer collage 2

Summer is over half gone and it feels like we've never really been on our game.  Now with baby #2 almost here we're in a bit of a holding pattern but excited at the prospect of closing the summer out in awesome fashion.  It's been a difficult one.  Poor health, and some bad luck have done a number on us, and not taking a giant chunk and heading off back to Brooklyn or elsewhere was more difficult than we expected.  We've come to be a little spoiled.  Still, it was summer, and Zed, like any child, found ways to enjoy it...even if her parents were struggling a little to piece it together.  There's been lakes and dogs and farms and hot dogs...lots of hot dogs...swimming pools, and friends.  It's been hot...SO hot...and the nights have echoed with Tiger games and teasing.  Despite the universe's best efforts, it still feels like summer. Kind of ridiculously excited for Fall though.  Even Zed has began talking about the Fall.  I think it's her favorite time of year...cooler temps, leaves falling, autumn fairs, and football games.  Smart kid.  It's always been her Dad's favorite too.  This Fall we're gonna make up for a half-lost June and July.  Falling leaves and rising expectations...that's how we're gonna roll.  Any ideas?  The plan is not let a single weekend slip by without disgusting amounts of fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Family Pic - August 2012

Someday we'll look back and remember when there was just three of us.  Just three people so entwined in one another that a fourth was hard to comprehend.

3 + 1 = 4

That's easy math on paper, but like a million other parents I have a hard time understanding how my heart has the capacity for this much love and affection all over again.  It seems impossible even though I know it's not.

This is the last family photo that adds up to three, and it's such a strange notion.

Waiting For a Baby...

Due date is Thursday...June feels stranger than she's ever felt, enough to call the mid-wife Friday night at 11pm, for a quick check.  The fun news is that 1cm never seemed like such a big deal until now.  The bad news is that even that small change in physiology might not mean much.  Last time June could have run a marathon five days past her due date.  Either way, if you consider the general "ten days overdue" rule, this baby will be here no later than two weeks from now.  June is quite certain that it'll be here in the next day or two.  I'm much too ignorant to even have a reasonable guess.  I suspect that she'll come out to play when she's good and ready.

The nursery is nearly done.  It's a simple thing, but then we're not the sorts that want ornate.

Daddy just bought a changing mat for his diaper bag. You know, the all black Skip-Bo teddy bears, no pink polka dots...just black...(and $15 at TJ Maxx when Zo was born).

Stroller, playpen accessories, bouncy chair, Bumbo, foldable Ikea change table etc...all pulled out from the crawl space, and dusted off.

Our own bedroom cleaned and re-organized to make our lives less chaotic and disorganized come baby time.

Our friends down the street, TJ and Jessica, are available to take Zo if a middle of the night situation arises.

Mummy's hospital bag is packed.

We're ready...or we think that we are, which is half the damn battle.  It doesn't seem like forever ago since we did this.  I don't remember every single detail, but it doesn't matter because this one will be completely different from the last...this situation completely different, and our perspectives oh-so changed.  So many people talk about time moving so fast, and about forgetting so much, but it really seems to me that neither are true.  The time that has passed is the time that has marches on, sure, but it hasn't sped past us, I don't think.  What we've forgot is very likely for the best because this baby will teach us new things, and test us in new ways.  Besides, we've got the challenge of keeping Zoey happy, and engaged, and involved, and that's no small thing for a girl who everything has orbited around for so long.  This will all be something brand new.

Well, bags are packed...when does brand new start?  Just for fun, I'll say Tuesday or Wednesday.  Ask June and she might say later this afternoon.  Either way...we're as ready as we're ever going to be.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pants on Fire...

Someone has had an inclination to lie to us lately and today was a bit of the last straw.  Eating has often been a problem of late too, and the two are almost always linked together.  We've been a little easy on our usual rules this summer, with a pregnant Mom, a typically half-himself Dad, and it being summer and all that...but that's all about to abruptly end thanks to a little girl who has been given too much rope of late.

No more eating away from the kitchen table...period.  

No more lunches out if she can't manage them at home.

No more snacks if she's not eating her meals.

And lies are instant tickets to her bedroom with hesitant reprieves.

She's not a liar...never really has been, and we're certainly not looking for opportunities to cultivate the skill, so we'll tighten up the ship, and see what comes of it.

We must also break the newest habit of tears followed by, "I didn't mean it."  She
s been using it a lot and somehow needs to learn that there's an enormous difference between intention and apology.  In the past we've linked the statement with lying but it hasn't seemed to work.  It's more prevalent than ever, and we need a new tack.  She's not getting it.  Mean it or not, you are still responsible for what you do.  That's a difficult thing to articulate to a three year old.  We'll find a way.  We always have, and she's a pretty good kid...a very good kid.

I feel like Wyle E. Coyote hatching a plan.  I wonder if there's an ACME Co. for parenting tools?  That sh!t never worked anyway, did it?

Good Morning Friday. Let's Start With This...

It's Friday...and it's my wife's last official day at work before a baby delivers itself (not literally) into our lives.  It's also raining, and two days trapped inside with a very vibrant three year old is, well, difficult.  It is Friday though, and I did get to start my day off watching men throw rocks with their other hand, which is quite funny.  I have a feeling about today.  I think it's gonna be alright.

I've decided that I don't pay enough attention to the little bits of brilliance that drift in and out of my life on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis, and I damn well should.  Those are the things that keep you from setting a gun in your mouth or buying a mini-van.  Those are the things that keep you happy.

Like spending the day last weekend with amazing people who know me, and who I love, and whom I had somehow drifted away from...and like finding two beautifully smile inducing comments on the blog from two beautifully smile inducing women I would have had no idea even gave a sh!t about this nonsense here...and like watching my wife walk into the last days of this dance with an inner-uteran guest like a champ, with a dignity that would make most women hate her...or like knowing that my friend Dustin and his own pregnant beauty are in Bristol, TN watching Mumford & Sons this weekend.  WHo does that?  They do.  It's like me checking my lottery ticket earlier this week and winning $5...I've never won anything.  Like watching the baby's room slowly transform from spare bedroom to nursery with paint and effort.  There's watching Jungle Book and Peter Pan on the couch with my daughter while it poured rain outside, and there's drifting about lazily in a pool with our good friend Anne, while our children splashed about happily.  There's waking up to read that Dwight Howard might be an LA Laker, and discovering that old coat that actually fits me now.  It's like pulling out that Springsteen box set and devouring it all night while the TV stayed quiet, or grocery shopping like goddamned expert and dropping a measly $87 on five or six bags of awesomeness.

Little things like answering the call from a youth expedition headed for Africa in need of some serious problem solving and then slaying them with perspective.  Like having June home every day and just feeling her presence in the house.  Like scoring NHL Winter Classic tickets, and catching the first episode of Go On...and it was actually good.  There are a billion little things every day that remind us why our lives are perfectly amazing, and if you're not paying attention...well, just trust me, pay attention.  It doesn't get much better than men throwing rocks with their other hand.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What Do You Do With a Daughter on a Rainy Day?

Cody Simpson Zo

You take her shopping, that's what you do.  It's the Ace I've got up my sleeve in this Daddy business.  I really like shopping...I do.  My wife isn't about to dress me, and it's the only way to see what you want, and to find things that don't cost you two thousand dollars.  I shop, and so my daughters will always have someone with a credit card that doesn't mind schlepping them to the mall.  Of course, eventually they won't want to be seen within fifteen feet of their Dad, but then they'll come back around and everything will be all consumerrific again.

Today we bought a rain coat...and, of course, almost bought these glasses ('cause why on earth wouldn't you?), and then most definitely didn't buy the Cody Simpson backpack.  She's three, not thirteen.

This Dad could spend an entire day walking, talking, and gasping at the cost of things that will be on the sale rack in two months for one third of the price.  I've always liked it.  I never understood those men who didn't, and then complained about the pleated khakis that their wife bought them and the sweater they'll never wear (but do, because their wife makes them).  Who the hell would want to wear pleated khakis?  Guys that are ridiculously thin, or whose wives bought their clothes, that's who.  I'm a big guy, so it's not like I can grab stuff off the rack at The GAP and walk away a happy customer, but I can find the things that I want if I look...and there's the rub.  I have to look.  There's a reason why I don't own a single pair of Dockers, and can dress myself for a wedding.  I shop.  I don't buy Cody Simpson backpacks though.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Have You Seen Me Lately?

This is the Dad she gets, both of them, and it sometimes strikes me that it will very likely be a very different one than some of their friends.  Some of their friends won't have Dads around, at least not every night...not every day to tell stories to, and some of those same friends will have Dads that only see their children every now and again.  This girl, excuse me, these girls, will have something very different.  They have this Dad who feels very certain that we are doing things right, that we are, indeed, good parents...not doting, and not ignorant, just attentive, and involved.  These girls have a Dad who has an embarrassingly large collection of books from his childhood...not saved from his childhood, no, but rather, bought once again, and set on a shelf for his daughters (and himself).  He reads them when he's feeling anxious, or upset...they almost always calm him.  He finds that same solace in movies and on TV...if Dad is watching The Outsiders, or The Breakfast Club, Magnum PI, or YouTubing Return to Witch Mountain, he's most assuredly upset about something, and reaching back for some comfort.  He needs that sometimes.  These girl's Dad gets rattled some days, and feels weak and about half the man that others might think that he is.  He reminds himself that what he does is crazy...that how he earns his living is by doing things that other people don't want to do, perhaps don't know how to do, and certainly hope never happen twice.  For him they happen all day, every day, and he's good at it.  He feels competent and caring all at the same time.  He helps people that no one else wants to help.  That shakes a guys footing sometimes, perhaps especially a Dad.

These girls have a Dad who doubts himself, and always has...but not debilitatingly so, but rather just cautiously, perhaps prudently.  He knows that things just happen, and that none of us are in as much control as we think we are.  Once you figure that out something inside of you just flips.  These girls have a Dad who believes in things, in people, and ideas, and so much so that he's willing to lose, or to fall flat, or come up short, just so that he can rest all of his faith on what he believes to be true.  He needs people, friendships and conversations.  Not all that unlike anyone else he needs acceptance and approval.  A long time ago he decided that he needed to be somebody, that he wasn't cut from the kind of cloth that allowed him to be just like everyone else, even though he probably is.  He wanted to be somebody worth knowing, and that was about all that he knew that he wanted to be.

Zoey and her sister have a Dad that forgets to eat, and does things that he doesn't want to because someone else asked.  He forgets to take care of himself.  He sleeps too little, and he reads a lot. These girls have a Dad that talks a lot, and doesn't worry about what anyone might think about that.  He dreams, pretty big.  He builds things out of cardboard, big things, and he washes his mouth out with Listerine if he's had a beer or two and his daughter calls for him from her darkened room.  No need to breathe that on her.  He takes his daughter, and soon daughters for bundled up wagon rides in the snow...with sleeping bags and heated bean bags.  They looks for the best Christmas lights and the warmest and most welcoming looking houses, and they tell stories about who lives in those houses.  The girl's Dad sings in the car, and he's learning to braid hair.  He can cook a little, better than he thinks, but a simple hot dog might still be best.

These girls have a Dad that wants his daughters to know strong, confident, kind, and amazing women.  He wants them to grow up knowing them, and understanding that it's not something that other people are, but that she can be without hardly even trying.  Their Dad wants other people to love his girls as much as he does.  He wants them to love the people back.  He wants them to be the kind of people that can't help but love, and light up rooms, and just feel different.  He wants them to be different.

These two girls that pull on his pant legs should know that their Dad is a proud man, but not of his accomplishments or his possessions but of the perspectives he's been given or found.  He's proud of them, and of their Mom, and of his family and friends.  He's happy.  That's important.  These girls should know that happy is everything.  There's a lot more that they should know, about their Dad, about the world, about themselves, but happy is the start.  Happy is the big one.  If they can get a good grip on that one, Dad will sleep easy.