Thursday, August 22, 2013

For June...

I'm usually never at a loss for words...except for when it comes to my wife, June. Then I get all jumbled up...still.

The Goodnight Song...

We've run through a bunch of bedtime songs in the almost five years I've been helping one of these two little girls fall asleep, but the only two constants have been Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at Forty" and this one.  I must admit, this one really illuminates the holes in my singing skills, but it's also the one that tears me in half each night when I sing it.

If you're lost you can look and you will find me...

Even with my unabashed Tegan and Sara infatutation, this might be the best version of this song.

So Many Different Kinds of Beautiful...

Zoey photoshoot 15

I don't know what photogenic is...I mean, not exactly.  Ever since I could remember I've loved so many different looks, so many different parts of a face, or a many different kinds of many different ways to turn my head.  It makes sense that my own daughters catch my eye.  It makes perfect sense that i think they're beautiful.  I just hope that they do.

As summer slips slowly towards Fall, I keep hearing from students leaving for school...the usual, keep in touch, I'll miss you, see you at Thanksgiving, thanks...and then one that tripped me up. "You reminded me that my face and body didn't matter as much as who I was, and what I stood for.  Funny, by believing that I started to see a different girl in the mirror, and now I can't believe that I ever thought I was anything but beautiful." The nature of all those text messages was emotional enough without that little bit of illumination.  She was beautiful, or at least I thought so, but it didn't strike me until long after we met.  At first I just thought she was places...she didn't see any of those things, so how could she ever have imagined that she might be beautiful on top of all that?  She couldn't.

I hope my daughters learn to find a thousand different faces beautiful, none of them the same.  I hope that my daughters do the math that adds personality and character and beliefs and demeanor together to compliment whatever they see on someone's face.  I hope that they can find beauty in a million places, but I hope most of all that they find it when they look in the mirror.

Absence, Heart, Stronger...All That Stuff.

Double hug 2

It's nice to know that you're missed.  After four full days of sick, the girls are in the sole care of their Mom.  I've been hunkered down in the basement, trying my best to beat this knock down cold before we leave for New York on Friday, and hoping that by hiding in my cave I don't infect Mom.  So far she's the only champ in the whole house.

I hear them playing upstairs, as I cough so hard I gag...and every once in awhile I show my face, or they sneak down to visit, but mostly Dad's been relegated to a blow-up mattress in the basement, sniffling, eyes watering, cursing the universe.  Four days...what is this, February?  It's bloody August and good thing...I'd have missed damn near a week's worth of work.

All I want is to feel healthy, to see my girls, and somehow manage to squeeze some life out of the end of the summer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

While You Were Sleeping...

Sisters reading

This is what amazeballs beautifulness is going on whilst I sleep away each day.  Damn you universe! I want some of this goodness!

The Cold War

sick Dad
Not quite a sleeping beauty...sleeping stinky, perhaps...sleepin grumpy, maybe. Not a sleeping beauty.

I haven't shaved in three days.  I've been huddled under a blanket in my sick cave of a basement watching a marathon of "Long Way Round" with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.  I've peeked out only to eat a little, and help with Zoey and Maggie as best as I can...baths, bedtime, sentry duty for Mag's naps...I've been half useless.  I'm not destroyed sick, just running on empty, and since we leave to head back to Brooklyn on Friday, there's no way I want to drag my arse around New York City.  This cold has to go.  So I've been sleeping a lot.  I've been wearing my best, most positive outlook, and praying to the ghost of A-Rod's career that I recover in time.

Summer colds suck.

I will feel better by tomorrow.  I will be of some damn use around this house.  I will be sure to thank June for being the absolute best version of Mom and wife that she can possibly be...which is the norm for her.  I am a pile. She is a whirlwind of energy and patience. I am sucking. I don't like being the epicenter of domestic suckage.  Now, enough of this nonsense...I'm going back to sleep.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hugs As Currency...No, Wait! A Hug Project!

Hugs for currency

Imagine hugs as currency.  I suppose, in manny ways, they already are, but I mean genuine currency.  We pay for what we want with hugs. Of course, we'd really only get what we deserve in that manner. Incredible huggers score the best stuff, while half assery gets what's coming to it.  I suppose there could be fakers...people who get really good at miming their way through all those hugs, but those people manage the very same thing in real life, don't they?  No diff.

Hugs as currency.  I love you.  I miss you.  It's been so long. I'm so excited to see you.  Wow, did I ever need to hug you.  There'd be about a million different kinds of hugs, which brings to mind the notion of becoming an expert hugger...a real connoisseur of the hug.  A hug sommelier of sorts (excuse all the Paris talk).  What a brilliant ambition.  That's it! I'm going to study the hug!  I'm going to get impossibly familiar with every nuance of the hug.

Look out unsuspecting world.  This guy has a new project.

Of course, I won't go hugging everyone, and I'll rarely solicit hugs...but I'll give them and take them when they are thrust upon me...and I'll give good ones boyo...great big meaningful son-of-a-bitches, that will be ripe with interpretation.

I'm SO happy to see you. You have no idea how much I love crossing paths. You're the best. Where have you been for the past billion years?  I'll live on this hug for a few weeks.

All kinds of hugs, and I'm gonna learn 'em all.  Maggie can keep me practicing.  She's pretty much an expert already.

Little Feet


Little feet on the floor...thump, thump, thump, thump...and then here she comes, around a corner, up the stairs, from the other room...thump, thump, thump, thump.  Maggie doesn't stop moving for much.  She's like a shark.  She's perpetually circling in your peripheral...touching, grabbing, absorbing...

Thump, thump, thump, thump...

She especially likes June's underwear...and bathing suits...and she likes putting things into other things, and, of course, taking things out of other things...she likes trying to get into the corner that Zoey calls "her store," but is really just a collection of most of the junk in the house, certainly everything you're ever missing.  She's a drone sent on a mission to mess up the house, in small, mostly inconceivable ways.  There is no preparing for her gentle, little whirlwind.  She's not some kind of impossible chore. She's just good at being one year old.

Thump, thump, thump, thump...

She's headed for the stairs...or the bathroom. We have to keep that door shut or she goes straight for the toilet, and the stairs, well, we watch her but it's impossible to keep her from them anymore.  Zoey's room is a favorite but it's pretty much Maggie proof, and guarded by a bit of a tyrant, so we barely even think about it.  She tries to crawl up and over, into the tub if we're not holding her back at bathtime, and I just dare you to keep her from following her sister.  Impossible.

Thump, thump, thump, thump...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Maggie Aoi

Happy 1st birthday To our second ;)

She's smiled her way out of trouble for a year now...she's cried us awake, and smiled the moment she saw our faces in the dark for 365 days today.  She's grabbed for nearly everything within reach, and barked like a puppy every time that she saw a dog.  She looks nothing like her sister, and she behaves similar only in the sense that she's a dream to deal with.  She has perhaps the longest eyelashes in recorded history, and just might be the only girl that could have followed her sister, Zoey.

It's so hard to describe your second child because all of the feeling that you had for the first seem so immediate, so impossible to experience again, and then...there they are again, but different.  This one is going to tear a giant hole in my heart, I know it. This little girl will wrap me up in ways that her sister couldn't, and I will be doubly damned.

This little girl is one year old today, and my chest explodes each time she reminds me that she's here and wants my attention.

This time Mom has worked much harder than I have...much harder to get to 365 days.  We divided and conquered, but somehow Mom still got the most work, the least sleep, and almost all of the really tight squeezes.  Maggie and Mom are a difficult duo to separate, but I try to steal as many of the tired head resting on shoulders as I can.  I've never seen a child light up when they saw you like this one.  I thought no one could smile wider and brighter and make an entire room swoon better than Zoey...until Maggie was born.

Two girls, I tell myself...two pretty beautiful little girls.  My heart must have been stamped at the factory with heartbreak.  Happy Birthday Maggie Aoi how fast a year can slip away.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

She Just Makes Me Feel Happy...

Zed Uno Dad Deck

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for June to watch her husband fall totally and completely in love with another girl every be undone by a female that isn't her.  Zoey creeps into my head at all hours, in any endeavor, and sometimes saves me from myself...makes me feel home, no matter where I'm at.  That's powerful business to compete with.

She calms me.  She nestles into my subconscious and eases me into every situation.  If I thought I was in love when she was just a small child I've gone and fallen doubly so in recent years.  I'm full on smitten and swoony and it's probably nauseating to those of you who don't know me well enough to see it in my know that this guy is lost to this little girl. Then, I'm sure, the sighs and "sweet" comments filter in, to which I am immune because none of them are serious enough contenders to articulate what this child does to me.

Some days just a sideways smile can make me swell with emotion.  She tangles me in a dozen knots and none that I want to untie.  That's what June competes with every day...that's what Maggie will have to wiggle her way's an imposing kind of love and if any two girls are up to it it's Maggie and her mom, but for now, there's Zoey and there's Dad, and most everything else gets a little blurry.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finding the Story

I've learned that doing this blog thing is about finding the story...and this summer I've had a difficult time finding the story.  It hasn't really been a typically "me" kind of summer.  Bad weather, weak enthusiasm, busy, and half-funky half the the story's been hard to filter from the intermittent sunshine and accidental entertainment we've mostly endured...and then it struck's up to me to write the story.  I already knew that, and still...

I suppose my only issue with the responsibility of writing your own narrative is that it's sometimes not met with the kind of enthusiasm you'd like to see, or you end up standing there empty handed, or with egg on your face (why is that even a maxim?), and in those moments you wonder why you ever scribbled a line.  I try to make as much luck as I can, and ever since I was old enough to know better I understood that opportunity and hard work are usually the same thing, but this particular summer has felt, at times, like a lesson in futility.

An example...

Yesterday I woke with all of the enthusiasm in the universe safe in my pocket, so we packed up and lit out for territory, as Huck would have said, with no idea where we were going, or what we would do, we just turned the car onto the highway and started driving East.  We ended up in Six Nations, almost totally on a whim, so that I could lay my hands on what I will surely paint more poetically than others might care, a new wooden lacrosse stick. That's another great story for another great blog post.  We pulled back onto the road by literally shrugging our shoulders and turning the steering wheel reluctantly to the left, then drove on.  We followed the Lake Trail along Lake Erie all through Haldimand County on our way to Niagara Falls.  Why Niagara Falls?  Why not?

We drove in bright sunshine past the coolest, seemingly most forgotten stretch of wicked shoreline and cottage awesomeness in that part of Ontario, and were stoked to be headed to The Falls...until we got there...then the crowds, the price of hotel rooms, and the rudeness of a few locals I wished painful deaths upon, mixed with the suddenly completely overcast and grey skies, not to mention the drop in temperature of about ten degrees, steered us out of that trashy haven for malcontents and honeymooners, and towards Toronto to catch the Red Sox game.  After a few tortuous telephone calls to ascertain which tickets we would have to buy so that we could walk around a bit...sitting for nine innings with a four year old and an 11 month old is not fun...we became flustered.  We just wanted to know what tickets we needed to be on the most wide open concourse with the most space to walk around and explore and keep funsters busy.  No one could give us a straight answer, so we quietly told the Toronto Blue Jays organization to get stuffed, and turned the car towards home...thinking to ourselves:

1. How #$%ing hard is it to answer someone's simple question?

2. Thank God our home stadium is fan friendly Comerica Park.

3. We might never, ever return to Niagara Falls.  It's over the top offensive these days.

4. Why isn't this impromptu day wrapping up as awesome as it started and mostly was?

5. I wonder if Dustin and Kelly are home so we can visit and not drive seven hours for nothing?

6. If not Dustin and Kelly, there's always our friends in Guelph.

7. My God our kids are amazing!

We headed West and hoped to wrap the day up decently, and we did, stopping at our good friends house to wish Kelly a happy birthday, have some amazing dinner, and leave much too late to get home.  The day began with a stupid idea of just driving somewhere and finding some about 10am...and ended at exactly midnight back in our own driveway.  We had driven for nearly ten hours in total. That's the equivalent of Sarnia to NYC.  Finding the story sometimes looks like that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Drink Some Tea...Skip a Turn...

Uno & Tea

Tonight, before bedtime, I played UNO and drank imaginary tea. Shut the hell up. I won...twice...and the tea was fantastic.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Hassle Free Life.

SUP buddies

Drop me off of the face of the earth, with nothing to manage but my whims, and I'd be a happy, happy guy.  Who wouldn't? Of course, we all would be ecstatic, but no, not all of us.  Some of us would go insane without the crushing infringements of work, or the reassuring company of friends and strangers alike.  Some of us need the freight train of society.  Not me, at least, not in perpetuity...not consistently...I'll take a break from the mainstream and the chance to build my own schedule and routine, unfettered by others.  I'd take a parcel of land on Hollister Ranch, and some good, like-minded friends close by. I'll take my own slow, but deliberate pace of life...sunsets, blue skies, aloe on sunburns, and campfire smoke with the smell and sound of the ocean in the air.  I'll take sun freckles on June's face year round, and soft, dull tan lines on my babies even in the dead of winter, which really doesn't exist because we live in paradise.  I'll take a small, forward thinking school and education for my girls, and a vibrant, creative, and purposeful life for June and I.  I'll drive an old truck, and wear flip flops out.  I'll smile ALL the time, and for no reason.  You can come and visit, and stay. That's okay.  You can even move here, but not too close...maybe a mile or two away, and don't come knockin' every morning unless it's to go out into the ocean.  It's not that I'm anti-social, it's just...I think hassle free is probably a reality if you can just wrestle it to the ground and hold on tight.

What would you do if you could do anything?  Where would you be?  How would you fill your days? Ours would be like a Patagonia catalog exploded and got all over your pants.  What would yours look like?

We Did It Our Way


Once again, we live here for a reason.

On a typical beautiful day, we wake up, get ready for the day, and pack up the girls for the beach.  We paddle around, explore a little, dig holes in the sand, swim, do nothing in particular but soak up son and ourselves, and then we go home, rest, and do it again the next day.

Perfect day

We live here for a reason, but...

I swear, if we ever won the lottery we'd be bigger bums than you might imagine.  Perhaps we'd buy a place in Hawaii, and spend every day at the beach...or maybe we'd own a giant roving motor home and cruise the coastlines and wherever for years at a stretch?  One thing is for certain, our clock would run slow, and our emphasis would be on the best parts of our lives...each other, and awareness, and doing good things while we're here. We'd work on being better every single day, only every single day would most likely involve water and sand.

We've learned a long time ago that there are better ways to spend your time than investing in things that don't matter.  I could make more money, but I wouldn't be home at 3pm every day to play with the girls. We could live in a dozen other spots, but we wouldn't have a beach damn near in our backyard, and why would we want something else?  It's fair to say that we could have made more ambitious choices with our lives but we feel, very strongly, that we've made the right ones. Our daughters are fantastic, beautiful, intelligent, and happy girls.  They have manners and consciences, and are overflowing with love and curiosity.  We did that.  We made them that way...June and I did.  We created these little blue eyed funsters, and we nurtured them and their ideas and interests...we did that.  I think our priorities are straight.

One of those priorities is snatching up every day of summer and wrestling it to the sandy ground, then washing our feet off in the lake. do it your way and we'll do it ours.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Listen. Love.

There's probably not much more that I can type here that could better articulate what Macklemore and Tegan and Sara already did. Do we really need to still be having this conversation about equality and sexuality? You know what I want on the planet...good people...that's it...I just want good people all around me and everywhere.

Love is love.

We are all the same.

There is no argument that can make denying another human being of their right to happiness.

W.H. Auden said it best..."we must love one another or die," but Macklemore says it pretty damn good too. If there is one truth that has found a restful place in my head and heart across the span of my life it's that love is the only way, the absolute only way. Acceptance and understanding are close behind, but it's love that keeps u s all human. We must love one another or die.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Something Pretty Special


We drove all the way up to Whitby to watch one game.  June's a gamer 97% of the time, and Zoey loves being at the games, so why not?  Me? I love it too, and Maggie?  She doesn't count until she can tell us, "no."  So we packed up and left home before our nephews lacrosse team had even won their semi-final match-up, hoping that we didn't get two hours into the trip and need to turn around.  We didn't, and they won.

The 2013 Ontario Peewee Lacrosse "B" Division Champions are the Wallaceburg Griffins.


Giggles and his gang of gongshow buddies did it. It's no easy feat, as most championships aren't, but these young boys were as calm and confident a bunch as I've ever seen in my life.  They were having fun, and enjoying themselves...the coaches were doing the same...the parents were behaving themselves and having a blast.  It was worth the three and a half hour drive. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

IMG_7268I can't speak for June, although the smile on her face typically tells you all that you need to know, but being here and being a part of our nephews and niece's lives was an important thing to us.  It's what kept us in Ontario, and certainly what kept us close to home.  There have been plenty of assurances that we had our heads on straight when we were making that deal...watching Beezer grow up and win back to back SWOSSA Football Championships...being there as Avery slipped from cute little girl to an Ontario Basketball Champion...and now watching Reece hoist his first Ontario Lacrosse Championship trophy.  It makes you proud, and deliriously happy, and connected to their lives and experiences in a much bigger way than we ever could have been living so far away.


It's cute to watch the girls so enraptured by the whole thing...the action, the noise, the excitement, and of course, the happiness... Zoey especially, but even Maggie managed smiles and squeals and clapped throughout the final game against Owen Sound.  She was pretty excited herself.  Zoey soaks it up, although on this particular day she spent the better half of the game invested in an iPhone.  She's quick to re-engage, and eager to join in the shenanigans when the shenanigans get going.  She was on the floor clutching her Aunt Heather's hand as the boys celebrated, and she was full of laughs and skipping about as the trophy made it's way around from player to player, and photos were being snapped.  I instantly flashed forward to imagining what it would be like to watch her, or Maggie, or both, do the same, and I was floored by the emotion of it.  It such a very cool thing...such a very big deal to those kids, and their parents...and when I think about the confidence it gives them, the swagger with which they'll now walk, and perhaps even a new level of love for something that consumes so much of their time, I swoon.  It really is such a very big deal, and in so many ways completely separately from the arena in which they won it.  Putting medals around each of their necks we were watching them grow up a lot in just one day.  It was pretty brilliant.  Then to see my little girls with so much growing still ahead of them...laughing and smiling...soaking it all in like sponges.  Curious, and malleable, and probably more than a little influenced.  I didn't anticipate the impact the boys winning would have on my girls.  It was obvious.  They were excited and proud, and as caught up as anyone.


As caught up as anyone except perhaps the coaches, who gave up so much of their own lives to help these kids improve theirs...and the players, who worked so hard all year, and in every year previous...and their parents, who spent thousands of dollars and traveled thousands of miles between indoor and outdoor seasons...there are a dozen photos that say as much, and in the end we can all see a little bit of our own reflection in the shining silver of that trophy...everyone there on Sunday, and then a lot more, have left a mark on it.  The team name gets engraved on it, but everyone who ever supported these sixteen young boys and their families should feel their stomach flip with excitement.  You just got to see something special happen, not just on Sunday, but all year long...and both in the arena and without a stick in their hands.  You just watched little boys grow big, and I wouldn't have missed that for the world.

Dog Days of Summer

Butterfly free to fly

I should be blogging but I'm's summer, and I'm working really hard at getting in a groove that's just this side of sleepwalking.





More beach...

Some lacrosse...

More swimming...


Dave Matthews Band shows...

More beach...

Zoo again...

It's been a rough month so far, but as we stretch in the last month of summer we're a bit aflutter around here just trying to figure out how we're going to make this summer more memorable than the last, or the one before that, etc... Oh, we'll still BBQ, and the beach is a near daily enterprise, as is swimming, but it's time to buckle down and come up with some shenanigans that can last us 'til Christmas, at which point we plan to tell everyone on the planet to get stuffed and run away to someplace awesome.  Until then, we have to survive on summer memories and right now, although it's been relaxing, we need to shift things into another gear.