Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Never Enough Time...

Happy to be with just mummy <3

She feels as though she never has enough time for Zoey.  I know that she gets upset that she has to seemingly deny her first daughter attention so that she can take care of the obvious and endless needs of the second daughter.  All day long she worries that she isn't giving her enough time.  It's hard, but she's pretty amazing at it...pretty adept at juggling the demands of two, and not dropping the ball on either.  She's hard on herself.  She's light years better than I'd be at the same task.  She's often too busy to notice those moments when her daughter stares at her like she's the best thing since sugar was invented...and she is.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sundays Are Made of This...

Garden Zed

I don't normally garden, but when I do...I do it with my daughter...on cloudy, cool Sundays...begrudgingly.

I don't even know what the #$%k we planted.

Scooters and Tutus...

Scooterin' at Canatara - April 2013

When I said that I wanted daughters because it would all be so new...I never imagined the intricacies of "unfamiliar," and "new," nor did I anticipate the learning curve required to understand just what it takes to deem yourself presentable when there's more estrogen pumping through your veins than testosterone.

Zoey scoots in tutus.

She plays lacrosse in tights and denim jackets.

Zo busts out a fedora to tuck her hair under on the way to swimming lessons.

It's been a living, breathing tutorial on the differences between genders...and it's been awesome.

Ten Years in a Snap...

Zed and Dad smoochin'

Gramma hates black and white photos.  "It's all we ever had growing up," she complains.  She likes color.  Me, I like both.  Who doesn't like both?  Gramma, for one.  Sometimes a photo just works sans colour (see how I spelled that a la Canadiene?  A nod to the motherland).  It's not that we're trying to be fancy and artsy...nope.  We're just rollin' with what works.

It does look pretty wicked on occasion.

Mom and Mags - Detroit Zoo - April 2013

Flash back a decade.  June and I are living in London, spending all of our waking hours at the Boys and Girls Club, with Coop and Serree, and 'Dine...Benny, and Colin, and 'Telle...Holly, and Matty, Keith, and etc...We're regulars at Joe Kools.  We flitter off to California or Paris.  We haven't the faintest idea, and certainly don't look the part, that we'll be the proudest of parents one day soon.  We don't even discuss it.  There's no names whispered in quiet, imaginative thoughts about the future.  Really, there wasn't.  We lived almost entirely in the moment.

Six years later...Four years later...married.  Six years later...Zoey.  A full decade passed...Maggie.

It all seemed so simple and white...but the colour that the past ten years has painted our lives has been pretty brilliant.

Sometimes it's okay to print in black and white, especially when it sits in contrast with the vibrant colours of your every day.  I don't know where a decade went, or how you can be so good and lucky without so much as an ounce of effort or thought, but I try not to blink just in case it's all just a dream.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Was a Fool...

Tegan and Sara's newest video is out, and now my favorite song on the new album is assured to be stolen from me and my quiet obsession, and consumed ad nauseum .  I hate that, but I love this video.

Sigh...and the completely ridiculous crush surges onward, unabated.

Just last week June finagled front row center balcony tix for the girl's show at the tiny Capitol Theatre in Chatham, ON.  Yeah, you read that right...Chatham.


Friday, April 26, 2013

You Reap What You Sow


Perhaps she'll have an unquenchable thirst to be creative?  I hope so.  Of course, she may very well not be inclined to do a single creative thing in her entire life.  Who knows how those cards get dealt, but I'll wager they don't at all unless you nurture them, or at the very least allow them to seep to the surface.   I suspect that many creative people have been born in very uncreative homes, but I might also gamble that no one raised in a stimulating, creative home has ever found themselves unable to think creatively.


Who knows how all this stuff works...nature...nurture...etc...etc...I just know that I'll be damned if paint and sketchbooks and sewing machines and simple building materials and tools aren't laying all about our home.  I hope that these girls trip over the most stimulating distractions as long as they're so incredibly malleable.  We can't make her an artist, but we can sure make her think like one.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It Doesn't Take Much To Make a Difference.

At first all I could see were the scars on her forearm from where she'd been cutting for so long, but then I saw the black Sharpie marker scribbled on her left hand, exactly where I had written on her a month earlier...


She had re-written it over and over and over again each week since we'd last talked.

Why 1%...what's so important about 1%?

It was a stupid little spur-of-the-moment idea.  I told her that all she had to do was try...was to try to get better a tiny bit at a time...just 1% every day.  It would add up.  If you think about it, if we're not getting better then we're getting worse. It's impossible to stay the same.  All she needed to do was shoot for 1% every day.  If she could just manage 1% change every day then it would add up.  Her life would change.

I guess that little spur-of-the-moment idea actually meant something to her, which means something to me.  Sometimes you just wonder if anyone is listening.  I guess they were.

I think about her all of the time.  I hope she manages.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Someone Like You

Daddy Zoey Blogging

It took someone like you to make me so vulnerable. That's all I feel these days...vulnerability.  Like all of this magic could disappear someday, and I've never been so desperate for something not to happen in my whole life.

It took someone like you to change the way that I see the look past the bad and strain my eyes for the good...because all I ever want for you is the good.

It took someone like you to help me see your Mom for who she really is.  I used to think that she was June, and then I thought that she was my wife, and now she's your Mom, and that's something I never fathomed being so complex and completely overwhelming.

It took someone like you to put myself in perspective.  I've never felt so small, and yet so big.

It took someone like you to steer me through this silly obsessive something that I've found myself oh-so committed to for nearly five years.  I've never done anything, besides love your Mom, longer that I've written things here.

It took someone like you to help me realize what I was capable of... how good I could be at something everyone said it would be so hard to be good at.

It took someone like you to help me realize how important it is to remember being small.

It took someone like you to fill me with so much hope.

It took someone like you to make me wish that all of the hardships were mine, not yours.

It took someone like you to help me see my own parents for who they really are and what they really did.

It took someone like you to make me never, ever want to leave this place as long as you're here.

It took someone like you to make someone like me, and I know that I couldn't have done it on my own.

Sick and the Subsequent Super Mom That Rises From Said Sickness

While I've been down and out sick, and by down and out sick I mean the kind that keeps you from work, happiness, food, and smiles of any size, June was out being Super Mom...park trips, shopping, play dates, etc... I could barely manage to make it to the shower.

She snapped these while I stayed home and felt bad for myself.


Someone is getting to be all legs, and any hopes that we might have had that perhaps Zoey might inherit more of her Mom's height instead of her Dad's...gone.


People are always asking how Zoey has managed being a big sister, and like nearly everything else in her life, she's flittered through without so much as a glance at whatever issues she was "supposed" to have. Seriously, she's been a dream.


Gramma was around nearly every day for two of Zoey's first three years, and we've always felt as though it showed enormously -- in her attitude, her intelligence, her demeanor and development -- it mattered a bunch, and we were so, so lucky to have her.  I know that she misses it, and we're hoping that she can be around even just a fraction of that kind of time for Maggie.  We're absolutely convinced that giant parts of why Zoey has always done so well can be attributed to that influence. 100% certain.  June's Mom, Zoey and Maggie's Baachan, is eager to help as much as she can this Fall, and we're beyond excited at the prospect.  It really is one of the biggest reasons why we never left home for parts unknown.  You can't underestimate the role of Grandmothers on these girls, and to land them both for Maggie's early development makes us melt with appreciation and feel at times overwhelmed with our good fortune.  We want whatever recipe it is that makes our girls to be giant, heaping parts of the women that made us.


June is pretty convinced that there are little things that she'd like to do differently with Maggie.  One of them is giving her a little more independence at the dinner table.  We were pretty diligent about not being those parents who just let their kids destroy the kitchen each and every time they sat down to eat...and I'm sure there were benefits to that, and some negatives, but Maggie will grow up enjoying a different kind of freedom at the table.  This could get interesting.

Gymnastics girls

Two girls...sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the notion of a family comprised almost entirely of females. Thanks Christmas Baby Jesus that Mom likes baseball, and knows the difference between field and box lacrosse, and buys football tickets and can pack appropriately for tailgates...and thank Poseidon or Zeus or someone of such mythic ilk, that Zoey likes to play floor hockey in the living room, and that sometimes she doesn't want to go to bed because the Lakers are playing, but somewhere in that exchange of all too often gender-centric curiosities there must also be gymnastics, and My Little Pony, and Dad learning to braid hair and buy the right sized gym leotard. Who'd have ever imagined? (BTW...that IS a Michigan leotard...just saying.)


It's one of those things that you don't think about until it rears it's occasionally ugly head, but your kids are very likely going to have moments that more closely resemble yourself than you might we watch ourselves, and try to curb certain habits and reactions and whatever else we don't necessarily want to pass on, but some of that crap is genetic.  Let's just say that I wouldn't want to be the boy that crosses one of Daddy's girls...and it might not be Daddy that they'd need to worry about.

Swing set sisters

I don't like being sick.  I don't like missing a single thing, and every day there's something.  Good thing June often has a camera for a third arm.  I swear I don't know a single family with as many photos as we have.  It's insane...and awesome.  Amazing how a photo can make you forget that you were even sick.  I'll still take NyQuil over Canon, at least this week, but as a general rule, photos trump the flu.

Brian's 2013 Facebook Elimination Grand Champion - Uncle Ian

Who's Your Daddy (Ian at Homecoming 2005)

So it's mostly pointless, and it certainly alienated some people, and of course it was completely self-indulgent and irresponsible, but my God that Facebook Elimination Tournament is fun.

If we weren't Facebook friends then, of course, you had no clue what was happening...hell, even if we were.  I might very well have deleted you before things played out.  In the end it was June's brother, Ian, who won.  In fact, he cruised to the win.  He never really had anyone to slow down his buzz saw through the match-ups, at least, not until the Final Four.

He's my brother-in-law, sure, but before he was that he quickly morphed from little brother to best friend.  He's a brilliant, brilliant young dude, and it makes me smile that his nieces get one more amazing version of what a man is supposed to look like by just watching him...we just won't show them the photo above, and keep some of our favorite stories more quiet than others.

Congratulations Uncle Ian...after two weeks of rude indulgence, and unnecessary relationship abuse, you found yourself my only Facebook friend...for about five minutes.  Nice work.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In The History of Stupid Endeavors...

Across the timeline of really, really stupid ideas that I've had in my life, the Facebook Elimination Tournament is, perhaps, the most colossally stupid of them all.  It fits all of the criteria required to make something truly stupid...

It's pointless.

It could cause irreparable damage (why do we spell irreparable without an i?).

It was born out of a ridiculous thought process.

It requires effort for no gain.

This year's tournament would be the first to be carried out to completion.  The inaugural tourney, last year, fell far short of it's final goal of leaving just one Facebook friend.  I got bored.  It was too much work.  It wasn't pointless enough.  This year, however...this year has been a cake walk of offended friends, and ridiculous reasoning.  It's been brilliant.

It all starts with random match-ups of Facebook friends, and in the end I'm learning that the computer's random placement of friends in their brackets is tantamount to success.  Get a good draw, and you go far.  Get a bad draw, and you're done.  You could even lose because I mess up and accidentally delete you...sorry Coop. Then, when it's all said and done, I go back and find all of the people I deleted and beg them to take me back.  Some will surely decline.  The tournament is practically perfect, flaws and all.

After two weeks we're down to four...

Tara Paisley vs. Keith Welch...and...Ian Partridge vs. Dusty Wellman

I can't wait for this to be over, to be honest.  Alienating your friends is a lot of work.

Holy Mother of Mad Eye

Potter Room

It's a quiet, sunny, Sunday.  I'm a little bit bored, but not in the worst sense, but rather a pleasant kind of much needed bored.  Of course, I get to Googling and meandering through a coffee soaked internet, and I find the coolest children's bedroom ever.  Now were not big on themed anything, but this job here was a full on Oscar winner for set design.  Wow.

Have you ever seen anything so pro?  Whoever tackled this space wasn't one to scrimp and cut corners.  This room rocks.  I'd sleep in the damn thing!  Which got me to thinking, if we're in charge of our own spaces, and they so much about us, or affect our moods so heavily, or inspire us, or bum us out, why on earth do we mostly just kind of limp on through that endeavor?  Why do we allow The Brick or Leons to be the dictators of our environs?  In that light, it's stupid.

Thank God The Brick has never had an ounce of influence in my home.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go make my bedroom cool.  I wonder where I can buy owl cages?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Life After Harry...

The Collection

It's been a difficult go, I must say.  Life after Harry has been, well, less interesting, less naively hopeful, and I get less excited going to bed early to read, or for long drives.  Life without Harry has been a bit of a bummer.  So I just started reading and listening all over again.

I've surprised myself with a few things...

I've got a little crush on Hermione Granger...

I like Ron better than Harry.

I think I'd be friends with Luna Lovegood.

The Weasley twins are stellar.

Of all the teachers, I like Lupin best, but Professor McGonagall is quietly pretty amazeballs.

Why don't I know a family like the Weasleys?

I like mudbloods best.

It's not the magic, or the wild tale, as much as it is the friendships and Hogwarts.  The minute Hogwarts wasn't a focal point of the stories, I was less interested.

I still don't quite get Snape, or why Harry ended up thinking he was so brave.  I mean, I get it, but I don't.  He still seemed mostly a shit.

If there were to be another book, which I suspect there never will be, it'd be nice to see Harry and Ron and Hermione finish school.  They never did.  At least, we never got to hear all about it.

J.K. Rowling's adult-centric novel, The Casual Vacancy, sucks the mustard.

Now I need something new to pre-occupy all those imagining places in my brain...and nothing yet is grabbing me by the happy parts and pulling me in.  Although I have a feeling that Trenton Lee Stewart's "Benedict Society" books just might.

Oh've left such a void.  Fortunately for me, Zoey is full on obsessed.  Thank Dumbledore for the all-or-nothing obsessions of four year olds.  She's single handedly keeping Dad from matriculating at Hogwarts before he absolutely must.

Monday, April 15, 2013

For Boston...

My head hurt badly, the ache stretching from the base of my head down through my neck and into my shoulders, but I sat next to the tub regardless and scrubbed my daughter clean after a day of pre-school and playing in the park with her friend, Alanna. We performed the usual...bum, back, and belly...but we skipped the miniscule chore of washing her hair.  I don't know why.  I just didn't feel up to it.  We washed her hair last night, so the task didn't feel urgent.  I was distracted.  She's surprisingly cooperative at any time, but particularly at bath and bedtime, and wrapping things up quickly was an easy task.  We rushed through her bath but I had to pause while drying her off.  I had to pause and steal a hug.  Something struck me hard and my eyes grew moist. Our home had never felt like more of a safe asylum, light years away from all the trauma unfolding in Boston.

Zoey asked me what was wrong and so I told her.  She was quiet, and I'm certain, unsure of what that information meant, and how she should respond.  There were a few questions but not many.  She was just excited to jump into bed, and excited for her Dad to continue reading Harry Potter.  She grabbed her owl and pulled the sheets up over her shoulders, smiling, and waiting for her goodnight kiss, unaware that this is the world that she is inheriting...that these are the things that human beings do to one another in this twenty-first century.  Instead, she hugged a plush owl named Flitterwick, and was excited for a night of Hogwarts imagining.  It was then that it struck me.  There is still magic left in this world, and not all of it is crowding the pages of books. Some of it was in that bath tub, or that park, or pre-school...some of it, we saw, was on that street in Boston where so many people rushed to help strangers.  As I finished the chapter to the sound of gentle and exhausted sighs, and then finally muffled snoring, I kissed her on the cheek and I remembered Dr. King's soothing words, "darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."  He was right.

Funny, I don't have a headache anymore, but I do feel a dull ache stretching down to my heart.  It's not a bad world, but it's most definitely a sad one.  Someday it will be hers, if it isn't already, and it will be her job to find the magic that isn't in her books.  It's there, sometimes you just have to towel it off, and tuck it in, but it's there.

What Beezer says...

Beezer's Tweet

My nephew Brent posted this to his Twitter account tonight and it made me a little emotional.  He's a good guy, and it's a simple statement that says so much.  His generation has grown up in a world that looks unfathomably ugly, marred with human tragedy after human tragedy, and it saddens me more than what I was prepared for.

I liked his words, but I wish he never, ever had to type them.                                                                                                                            

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Scooters and Powder Blue Arse Kickers...

Scooter time - April 2013

When the sun finally broke through the clouds this afternoon Zo was ready to go scootering, which means, without question, that Daddy wanted to go scootering.  She's a hard one to keep up with though, especially with a full year of scootering under her tiny little belt. These days she chooses to race little boys on bikes (and hand 'em their helmets), and do little sideways skids, stomping on the back brake and leaning into what amounts to be a future scab maker of a slide.  We're terribly proud.

We're also terribly proud of those giant flippers!  Sheesh.

Giant Scooter Kickers

Zed's got herself some new low top Air Force Ones in sweet powder blue and grey.  She rocks the park with them, and now scooter sessions too. Pretty soon she'll be down at the skate park hittin' the rails and jumps and generally wreaking havoc.  Those are a$$kicking shoes, that's what Daddy calls 'em...but only when Zed's not listening.

This is How Life Works...


From what I've been able to glean from experience, this is how life do the things that you want to do, and you don't get around to doing the things that you care a little less about doing.  It really is that simple.  So whenever Ian and Meredith stop by for a visit we appreciate the choice.  They could be doing a lot of other things.  They've got busy lives and they're spread between all manner of patterns across half of the Great Lakes basin, and still, they find their way here and make Zoey's week. If Maggie knew what a week was then they would very likely make her week too, but of course, she hasn't got the slightest idea.


When Ian is here, I feel excited, and occupied, and engaged, and when he is not, I am bored.  He's the easiest man on the planet earth to get along with, and always eager to get busy with something...anything.  He's fun.  Ask Zoey.

Ian and and Meredith dropped by before heading North to work for the season, and it'll be much too long before we see them again.  Boo to life and how it spreads us all too thin.  My most favorite people flung in all parts of the world, and sometimes even just an hour away...but an hour isn't just next door, as I wish it were.  If you haven't figured it out yet, it's relationships that make it all so awesome, and the things that we do, and the places that we live mean much less than the people that we do those things with, and the places that we find ourselves in with them.   Without them...meh...boring.

The Weirdest Photo Followed By an Awkward Meat Cutting and Hockey Reference

Breastfeeding Weirdness

There's a giant disparity in the parenting experience that's solely based on the number of x and y chromosomes present in the caregiver.  There's some sh!t that us guys will never understand, and that's perfectly normal.  What isn't normal is the expectation that we will.

Since it's physically impossible for me to:

a/ get pregnant

b/ be pregnant

c/ have a baby

d/ be a Mom

I'll just have to do my best to try to understand.  It won't be easy, and I'll bugger it up on something no less than a billion occasions, but I'll try.  Here's the bummer about the whole thing ladies don't have to reciprocate.  Admittedly there's an imbalance of required understanding at work here...I mean no human being has ever popped it's wailing head out of any orifice of mine, nor have I been required to feed another human being using only my body.  I've also never had to sit in epsom salt baths for weeks to help heal the damage done by previously mentioned wailing baby.  Still, it gets even trickier...we know these things to be true, and we acknowledge them, and we also understand that they can never be true...we go there.  As men, we walk in that direction without a map.  We just trust that it's the proper road to take.  However, God or Mother Nature, or whoever is in charge of this sh!t, thought it was funny to make this part of the parenting/relationship map a one way street, which sucks the mustard.  It's impossible for us to experience certain things that we must from that point forward, for the rest of our lives, compensate for and attempt to balance out with...I dunno, something illusive.

How the @#$% can we attempt to bridge any of that with any kind of effort or understanding?

We can't.

I dunno what it's like to have to squeeze sustenance out of my breasts for a waling little human being.

I dunno what it's like to sacrifice giant chunks of your life to ensure the health and happiness of your offspring.  I can generate the effort to sacrifice significant chunks but always less than your donation to the cause.

I dunno what it's like to lose myself and then be required to find that person again, and piece them back together when the rules have all changed.

I'm not a Mom.  I can't be.

I can just be Dad, and sometimes, a great many times, that doesn't feel like enough.  Oft times it feels like I'm standing at a bus stop on a one way street and all I want to do is catch a lift in the other direction.  It's never going to happen.  So I'm going to have to just walk.

Most women don't need to try to understand or get in tune with, or compensate for anything that orbits around the man in their lives, post-baby. Maybe they have to learn to like baseball, and figure out how to tolerate public flatulence, but that's about it (being married to someone who is also married to their career is a glaring exception).  If we set the two parenting roles on a scale, it naturally tips toward the Mom, in everything from responsibilities to the need for a collective empathy and understanding (it's not my boobs getting dragged on like a cigarette every hour).  It's like going to the park and playing on the teeter-totter but you never get your turn pushing off the just get to stay sitting up in the air and clutching the cold metal handle so you don't fall off.  That game sucks.

It makes perfect sense that a Mom doesn't need to venture up the pot-holed street of understanding when it comes to her partner, husband, etc...because Mother Nature makes it irrelevant to do so.  What the @#$% kind of mysteries are down that road after the baby comes?  Not many, it seems, but it's a lie.  There are mine fields of unexploded ordinance down that path, and ignoring them, as Mother Nature makes it so easy to do, is a problem.  Our lives haven't gotten as emotionally and physically complex as yours, and they never will, but it's unfair to assume then that they haven't gotten a little harder to navigate.

We don't know what we're doing.  You, at least, have some sort of built in biological manual that assists you to figure this sh!t out, albeit even scared sh!tless sometimes, but still, there's some kind of natural connection to the process, in most cases.  We, on the other hand, men, have no such natural connection.  Do you know how many men I've talked to who wonder aloud when it is that they'll fall in love with their baby?  A lot.  Do you know how many men I know who feel like completely useless sacks of excrement the minute they become fathers?  Mucho, which means a #$%& of a lot in Mexican.  It is the one homo sapien endeavor that men are completely unnecessary to complete after their initial involvement.  If the population of men decreased the human race would stumble but eventually carry on.  Women would just have to be less selective about their partners.  If the number of women on the planet fell away the human race would diminish and eventually fade out of existence.  You don't need us past a certain point of evolutionary responsibility.  We are integral to the creation process but completely unnecessary in the parenting process.  Mother Nature herself, has rendered us irrelevant.  That sucks junk.

We can't understand one another completely.  It's impossible.  But we can't ignore the fact that each of us is walking a new path, and although less emotionally exhausting than your own, us Fathers have a unique challenge in trying to do the best that we can, in circumstances where we literally don't count as much as you.  It's a difficult thing.

In the earliest stages of my parenting experience it was very obvious, in just the most natural of ways, not intentionally, that I mattered less than everyone else in my home...that I was suddenly in last place, and would be for the rest of my life.  You don't play basketball for very many years if your team loses every game and you only get spare minutes to play.  You quit.  Here I was playing in the most important game of my life and I was never going to amount to anything more than a guy who came in off the bench.  Sure, I had my Spike Albrecht moments, but they were rare, and I was left to accept my 1.8 ppg fate.  Mom, however, was Kobe Bryant.  She touched the ball on every possession and scored the bulk of the points.  She was the face of the franchise.  I, seemingly, filled out a roster spot.  Dads have to either make their own shots or wait to be dumped the ball, which is difficult at best. Moms bring the ball up the floor and choose to pass or shoot. It's that simple.  If you've got a good partner, a solid teammate, she passes the ball a lot, but if you've got a bad one, good luck.  You're more likely to get called for three seconds in the key. It's potentially ugly business.

As men we'll never do what you can do, or be what you can be, and we'll never be able to wrap our heads around the weird uniqueness of what your job is.  There's not much sense in making us feel worse about it. It only drives men towards garages, rec hockey leagues and cheap American beer.  It puts distance between us.  What we might want to consider is that the attempt to understand each other is a two way street.  If anything, the answers to our puzzles are less confusing.  After all, less changed in our collective universes.  Ours are often the most simplistic of issues.  We don't know where we fit?  We don't know how much to give and how much to take?  We aren't sure if we're doing enough?  We haven't the first clue how to manage this new all consuming thing with the other things that we're still forced to focus etc... Are you resentful?  Are you frustrated?  Are you tired, 'cause we are too, less so probably, or perhaps differently, but tired nonetheless.  It's a ugly collection of simple concerns that if never acknowledged, fester and begin to rot.  We can't understand what child birth is like, but surely you can wrap your head around "tired from work, chewed out by the boss, broke, and gimme a minute to gather myself because I just got rag-dolled all day."  you can wrap your head around it because you've been there.  You've done that.  You know exactly what that feels like.  We don't know what raw and chafed nipples feel like...we don't.  We just know that it's bad.

We very often can't stop our children from crying.  We certainly can't feed them if they refuse a bottle, and only want their Mom.  We won't be the ones that they wave to when the TV cameras find them...that's you.  Soldiers don't beg for their fathers when they die on battlefields. They ask for you.  We are unnecessary, but we're trying awfully hard to be otherwise. We might not get it right, and we might suck at more than a few things, but we're trying to understand and be things that we have no firm grip on. Mother Nature makes you a parent.  We have to practice, and then hope we're doing the right drills to get better. Women, well, many women, can stand on their heads and get this right.  Men, we wonder why we have to stand on our heads in the first place but then do it if our wife tells us, our child asks, or it seems like it's what we're supposed to be doing.  That's not a very graceful thing.  We're not typically very graceful creatures.

All I'm asking is that you pause and consider the ineptitude that you're dealing can be like dropping skates off in Africa.  If you don't tell us that they go on our feet we'll probably try to cut meat with them. Oh, they'll probably cut meat fine, but you won't find much hockey happening.

I don't know how I denigrated that entire post with a lame hockey reference but I just did.

Big Sister...


We had the big talk on Friday know, the one where she figures out that someone is watching, that there's a little sister learning how to do things from her big sister, and that it's a pretty big deal.  That she's gonna want to do what Zoey does, and she's gonna want to say what Zoey says. The smile on her face let me know that she got it, that she understood.  I told her that it's a big job and that we trusted her and were excited for her to help us, and the smile grew even wider.

Sisters... I imagine it's a pretty complex dynamic, and I couldn't even venture to guess the uniqueness of that connection.  I know that they outnumber me, and that as a minority in my own house it feels as though I better start recruiting allies early.  And the indoctrination begins with Zed...perhaps I can divide and conquer, you know, weaken the collective by isolating the individual?  Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can barter a kind of bi-partisanship where everyone wins, especially Dad?  Or maybe I'd better just hang on and work on being more emotionally limber?  I mean, I've got a lot of learning to do...this girl thing...I dunno what it's all about.  I barely survived the boy thing let alone venturing to harness the mysteries of another gender.  All I know is that right now, they're pretty smitten with one another, but they're also pretty smitten with Dad.  The trick will be maintaining that balance.  I'm going to play the older sister as a conduit card and hope that it works until I find a better plan.

I'm worried that I might never find a better plan.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pizza and Potter


It used to be when Friday night rolled around we were itching to get gone, to get out, to do something...anything.  These days we're happy to make pizza and watch Harry Potter. It's not so much getting older as it is knowing what we want.


We want happy, healthy girls, and a happy, healthy home, and we know that something of that value doesn't just happen, certainly not unless you're prioritizing it.  People are astonished that we have a four year old daughter, and now a nearly eight month old Maggie, and we don't have a babysitter.  We don't need one.  We've got grandparents that love them as much as we do, and our livers have long since been overworked and taken for granted.  We're happy just, well, being happy.  It sure makes Saturday mornings a lot easier.  I barely survive gymnastics now. I can't imagine being hung over.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hey, That's My Dad...

Hellooooo up there!

Maggie's got a new found affection, and it's Dad.  Across the span of two weeks Dad has gone from trusted, comfortable, nice guy that's mostly always around but who I don't really need for loved, missed, very much worth chasing and obsessing over, and yes, needed.  Yes! There's the magic time...about six or seven months along and suddenly Daddy counts for something more than just an on-deck circle while Mom's at the plate.  I love me some six and seven month action.  After seven, almost 8 months Daddy matters, and there aren't many things that amount to something better than that.

Zoey was the same.  I suspect most babies...breast fed babies...grow slowly into that five or six or seven month window where things begin to transition, and where Dad is a decoration until one day when he suddenly isn't.  That's a good time to be present and accounted for.  It matters.  Here's a quick little parenting tip, not from my own experience of parenting, that's much too limited, but from watching literally thousands of other people parent...when they genuinely come looking for you for love, acceptance, safety, guidance, there waiting.  It's huge, and not as widely understand as you'd think something so simple might be.  Triple the value of the lesson in adolescence...if they sincerely want to be with you, then you'd better be there waiting for them.  If they can't find you, they'll find somebody else.

Maggie's been learning the ropes of this crawling business for a few weeks now...she's not great, but she's quickly learning the skills, and she's getting better every day.  The importance of that being that now she can follow Dad from room to room on occasion, even up the stairs...that's months old and tackling stairs unassisted.  Does that freak us out?  A little, but then we do our best to try to translate it into some kind of future Olympic Gold and we're okay with it.  It helps if Dad's at the top of the stairs, which might be a hinderance in most Olympic events.

And now we step eagerly into the next stage of this parenting business...the one where it genuinely is two of us taking it on, not just one with an assistant.  Of course, now we need baby gates but that's a trade off worth making.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I have a complicated relationship with sports.  The video above...I love that.  I don't love the reality, which is often nothing like the video above, but I love the idea of sports.

I want Zoey to play.  I hope that she loves it.  I hope that it provides her with opportunities and new perspectives, and bucket loads of friends.  I want to watch her grow and change, and win and lose, and get angry and feel joy.  I want to talk to her about it, and encourage her, and make sense of things, and help her solve her own problems, and come to her own conclusions.  I just want to be there when it all happens.  I hope that she doesn't have to deal with half of the sh!t that I had to deal with...crazy parents,  bad coaches, perennial losing, bad teammates, the inability to invest in her efforts more deeply...I just want her to be one of those girls.  I hope that she wants to be too.

I want to be the best sports parent ever.  I want to have perspective and timely involvement, and I want to leave her to figure some of the important things out herself, without the need for rescuing.  She doesn't have to be an All-Star. She doesn't even have to be good.  I just want her to love it, and in her own unique way, I want her to be untouchable.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brian's 2013 Facebook Elimination Tourney

It's that time of year, and now that some of the bugs and kinks have been worked out of it, maybe we can actually start AND finish what is unfolding as The 2nd Annual Facebook Elimination Tournament, hosted by me, Idiot Mcgee.

It's a pretty simple concept.

Get a ridiculous idea.

Don't listen to reason.

Cull a few stragglers from your Facebook Friends list, rather unceremoniously I might add, to make an even 128 participants.

Find a bracket manager program on-line and punch in the names of all 128 of your Facebook friends, excluding your wife, 'cause that's just not fair.

Post that sh!% on Facebook to rouse everyone from their social media coma.

Start hacking friends and family from your profile for a wide variety of reasons, none of them being even remotely adequate, and some being completely inappropriate.

Disregard upset and disgruntled friends and family.

Blog about it.

Enjoy yourself.
It really is one of the more stupid things I've ever done in my life (and I've done some colossally stupid stuff) but it's embarrassingly fun.  We tried it out on one previous occasion, but with less of a streamlined process and too much work, and the whole damn thing just petered out like my athletic career.  This time the dance is going 'til well past curfew, and when the house lights come on there'll be just one person left standing.  I'm even going to throw in a prize, and if things get really out of hand, there'll be a t-shirt for the winner.

Rumble young man rumble.  It's on.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hail to The Victors...

We On!!  Pre-National Title Game vs. Louisville - April 8, 2013

Someone is just a little excited about tonight's National Championship game.  We haven't discussed the notion that it's entirely possible that Michigan doesn't win...I mean, Louisville is a pretty amazing basketball team.  No matter.  Zo will be asleep by the time we hear the first notes of "One Shining Moment."  We're kinda desperate around here to be celebrating a Michigan victory at night's end, but we're ridiculously happy to just have the chance to watch this basketball team do something so special.

I've never sat in the crowd and watched a potential National Champion grow and develop.  We've never had the chance.  I was a beat behind the Fab Five at Michigan.  Jalen and Chris had already left for the NBA, and I watched the '89 team rise to the illustrious occasion in my Mom's living room (there's still a fist print in the ceiling where I jumped high and accidentally slammed a clenched fist into the soft ceiling tile).  We're reluctant to even venture a hopeful word out loud around here, but our fingers are crossed in complicated knots as we oh-so painfully wait for 9:23pm to arrive.

Those who stay will be champions, Bo said, but he might never have imagined that meaning sitting high in Crisler Arena watching Brian Ellerbe and Tommy Amaker teams dismantle our capacity for hope, but in John Beilein we trust and tonight, oh if tonight could just be the night, my head and heart would be more crowded than I can remember.

Hail to the Victors those conquering heroes I grew up watching, and hopefully to these young men trying to instill hope from two decades of frustration.

Go Blue!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Morning After a Final Four Win...

Mags at Johns

The morning after a Final Four win looks an awful lot like any other Sunday morning. John's for breakfast...Zo goes for the usual, french toast and sausage, while Mags celebrates with Cheerios and a smirk.  Smiles all around.

The Big Dance...

Headed to the National Championship!!

We danced in the kitchen when it was all over.  Michigan had defeated The Orange and were headed to Monday's National Championship. We hugged, and smiled, and laughed out loud as our daughter, desperate to see the game, snored away in her bed, having fallen asleep long before halftime.

They're just games, I know, but they sure help to add some brilliant bright spots on the timelines of our lives.  Sure, you can dance in your kitchen any night, but we don't.  Most people need a reason, and last night we had a pretty good one.  It'd be nice to be swinging my wife around the room on Monday night as well.

Which reminds me of Rule #89:  You can never dance around your kitchen too much. Take every chance you get.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wild Thing...I Think I Love You

Wild Thing Mags

Mags is turning out to be the most willing participant in whatever nonsense you feel up to undertaking, so when I threw her Tiger cap on just for a look, and started snapping some pics, it didn't seem all that strange to grab hold of Zo's budget version of Harry Potter glasses, and see what the combo looked like.  The end result....a pseudo-version of Major League's Wild Charlie Sheen himself, she was down for almost anything, and she kept the gear on for what seemed like ever.  What kind of parent manipulates their child in such a way.  Us.  She looks awfully sharp though doesn't she?  Fifth rule of parenting...nothing is too stupid if it makes your kid look dangerously cute.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Chronicles of Narnia Is a Tough Read...Especially When You Can't Really Read

Narnia Reader 1

She can't read, not really.  She's starting to learn, slowly, but of course, she's only four years old...and just barely, a whole two months since her fourth birthday, and so the reading thing is a reasonable challenge, but she tries. Oh my does she try.  It makes me smile.  Watching her find a corner of the couch and sneaking a giant book onto her lap, start flipping through the pages and mouthing words that likely mean nothing to her just yet.  It's a start.  Falling in love with reading is only partly about doing the actual deciphering of letters and sentences, the best part is imagination and quiet curiosity.  Watching her give it her best go kind of illuminates the best's not always about what's on the page, it's what in your head and heart.

The Anatomy of a Smile...

She's a very happy girl...a very smiley girl, if that's an actual adjective.  We're almost always bombarded with the observation.

"Oh my, is she ever a happy baby."

"Wow. Look at that smile."

"I can't believe how much she smiles."

She does smile...a lot...and they take over her face like a wave rolling toward the beach, a watery bump building and heaving, then craning up toward sky, cresting, and finally falling and collapsing on the shore.  It sneaks up slowly across her face and then consumes it.


From the moment we brought her home from the hospital there were smiles.  Early on I'm sure it was just gas, but as the weeks passed it became obvious that whenever her cheeks bulged and her eyes disappeared we were in the presence of a smile.


What once was subtle and creeping quickly grew wider and all consuming, and before long we were seeing the beginnings of something much too terribly sweet. We started worrying about what kind of damage that smile was going to be capable of, and we're starting to think that we're in for a lot of trouble.


I imagine that every baby smiles, but no, it's not true.  Most do, and many do a lot, but Maggie never stops.  It really is one of her most defining characteristics.  She's a happy baby, and has been through new teeth, long road trips, days without poop, colds, and at least a dozen other random scenarios that would wipe the smile off of your average face.  I'm pretty sure that if it took a week for me to rid myself of waste there'd be no smiles. Don't underestimate the power of a smile.


Consider a happy home versus anything other than that, and it's no stretch to imagine the stream of health and humor and comfort and stability that flows along with it.  Money can't do that for a child. They have no concept.  Material objects might manage to inspire a smile for a short time, but take the objects away and so goes the smile.  A truly happy child, and an undeniably happy home change a child.  Love and nurturing and respect and space and support and investment and an assortment of all of those other seemingly simple things can be the difference, I'm certain, between the healthiest and happiest child, and every other one.  I'd bet my life on it.


Read all the books you want.  Spend as much money as you can.  Give your child whatever their heart desires, but spend every moment of every day ensuring that they are happy and safe and comfortable, and watch them blossom into something impressive.  Make your child happy and then stand back and watch them brighten the planet with a glow that you can't manufacture.  Smile factories these girls might be, but there's no outsourcing of raw materials.  Everything is made right here, in-house.  It makes a difference.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Harry Potter...and Tears

It was a double Harry Potter feature this afternoon and evening at our house, and during the first film we watched as tears streamed down Zoey's face when Harry saw his parents in the Mirror of Erised.  June explained the scene to Zo, but of course she had already figured out that it was a sad one.  Upon the explanation that Harry's parents were dead and he, himself, was sad to have seen their reflection, out the tears poured.

She's a sweet girl, and we like her.

Pink Rubber Boots...

Little farm girl - Cheryl's, Easter 2013

She wears pink rubber the mud...on the farm...through puddles and snow banks...She wears pink rubber boots because, let's be honest, when you're a four year old girl, they're kind of the height of fashion.

She wears pink rubber boots, and makes them look good, and of course, we dress her, but she's even taken to dressing herself on occasion and her efforts land remarkably close to those of her parents.  She's got style, for a four year old, that is.  I always wanted a girl with style.

Who'd have ever thought that so much affection, no, infatuation, could stem from pink rubber boots?  I guess I did.  I wanted a girl so badly, so I suppose I could have seen it coming, but I never anticipated the accessories. Wait, do boots count as accessories?  No, of course not, they're boots.  See what a Dad learns when he's got daughters to dote over.  I speak in accessories now, and that nonsense makes me smile.

Pink boots and ponytails...buns, braids, berets, hair bands, leave-in conditioner and tangle free brushes...socks that she has to pick out, of course.  Sparkly things and tutus...all sorts of tights, and those pink rubber boots.

Oh those pink rubber boots. What they do to me is nauseatingly sweet...embarrassing almost.  And I take too many photos, and I can write entire glowing blog posts about pinking f@#$ing footwear, but it's not really about the boots though, is it?  No, it's about the girl.

Call It Stupid, or Be Astonished With My Capacity For Wonder

Surfers Journal

I love this magazine.  I've never stood on a surfboard in my life, and I don't rank the act high on my priority list, but the culture it embodies...amazing, and The Surfer's Journal is the National Geographic of the sport.  It's chalk full of history and art and stories and some of the best photo work on planet earth.  It's a quarterly vacation to a world I'll never live in.

June got me a subscription for Christmas this year.

It's an expensive little muse at $15 an issue, but well worth it, I mean provided you supply ample more quantities of  imagination and romance.  I pick the magazine up and instantly it's 1967, or I'm following along on some 1977 road trip through Central America...its brilliant. It's beyond brilliant. It's transformative...times ten.

It was maybe the best Christmas gift I've ever gotten, at least in the last twenty years.  I just got my second issue last week, and I snuck off to relax and imagine a different universe.  Geek?  Maybe.  A fool capable of immense and grandiose imaginings?  Definitely.