Friday, May 31, 2013

Working Girl...

Zo Sara Photoshoot

Last night I watched my little girl drive off into the distance (with her Mom) to go tackle a photo shoot for some children's educational toy catalogue thingy. I dunno.  I know I didn't expect a working girl at age 4.  I hope there's no union sh!t involved.

The photographer was Sarah Graham, and she's pretty brilliant, so we'll see a few of the shots when she has them processed, and we'll laugh about Zo tossing on a mermaid costume, or a super hero cape, and bouncing around a real and authentic photo shoot, oblivious, like it was no big thing. Sarah called earlier in the week and said that she'd like to use Zo, and then BAM...model kid.

Zo Sara Photoshoot 2

This is bad isn't it?

It is.  I just know that it is.

Two For One...

Lost and Found Mags

Little girl #2 is benefitting huge from all of the leftover trappings of little girl #1...things like clothes, and sneakers, toys, and books.  Yep, books...and although we've tried reading to Mags before she never quite seemed interested at all...until today!  Today we read Oliver Jeffers, "Lost and Found," and she was enthralled.  She sat through six or seven readings of the book with Daddy, and then another later that evening with Mom.  She's a big fan of the penguin, and of the boy receding off into the distance waving...'cause she gets to wave back.

It's the first book she's ever showed any interest in or patience with.  It was a sweet, sweet deal, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was grinning from ear to often un-utilized ear.  It was that whole "first book" thing, but it helps that she's cute as cute gets.

Lil Maggles

It's going to be quite the unique social experiment, raising these to girls...they're going to be as different as night and day, but raised with the same stuff and perspectives.  We won't employ all that much of the scientific method, but we'll take notes and sell them to science perhaps...or just write them here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

She Thinks She's Funny...


I shouldn't be this happy with her, but she's much too adorable to be angry with, even with that shirt on.  She wants to watch hockey with her Dad, so  I really could care less about what jersey she wears.  These are the Daddy-Daughter moments that I didn't anticipate.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cheers to New Friends...Really Cool Ones

Tara and Keely

Finding friends isn't as easy as it was when you were seventeen.  It takes more than just a bush party and a cooler full of beer.  We'd certainly welcome that old, easy, way of doing business, but reality reminds us that adult parent types don't usually meet at keggers.  They meet at libraries, and soccer practice, and other responsible-esque things.  That's how June met Tara, and now she and her clan of pseudo-kiwis are some of our favorite people on the planet.  We used to spend time with, well, no one. We're not from here, and would be harshly reminded of that on a pretty regular basis.  It's the kind of city that keeps it's high school allegiances and friendships, and we were from down river.  They were tough groups to crack, and then even if you could, neither June nor I was busy living a Sarnia life, and the rest were.  It was tough making friends.  We rounded up a few, and we're quite fond of them, but then we met Tara, and Bob, and Jai, and Keely, and we remembered what it was like to make new friends...real friends, that you like a lot, and don't grow weary of, and are eager to see, and agree with the things that fall out of their mouths etc...We've been spending a lot of time with that gang of Kiwi expats, so much that a guy forgets to blog.

Oh, it's not much of an excuse, but it'll have to do.  It's all I've got.

Send us your stories of new cities and new friends, and the oft cluster that it is to manage the whole shebang. It's exhausting, and often leaves you leaning on the old and worn thin, sometimes long gone.  That's no way to wander through the empty calendar days of your life.  I wish everyone could find a Tara and Bob.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Co-sleep My A#%...

First off, I call bullsh!t.  No one with multiple children sleeps brilliantly, not at first.

Second, I call bullsh!t again, because in this interview the husband seems to be getting the shaft.

Third, I don't know how anyone does it.

Co-sleeping.  I have no idea how a couple manages that philosophy-in-practice consistently, without issue, for both parents. No idea.

Did Zoey sleep with us?  Yes, occasionally, but mostly no.  Does Maggie sleep with us, well, Mom mostly, and not consistently, and not in our bed.  We have made it a priority that although our children are more than welcome in our bed, whenever, they are not allowed to colonize it.  Our bed remains unequivocally, our bed.  Mommy needs sleep, and a break from two tugging tots, and Daddy needs sleep because he rises early, and sometimes drives hours to deal with addicts, prostitutes (I'm not kidding), homeless kids, abuse, fatigue is dangerous.  He needs sleep if only to escape and to really rest a head and heart that gets overworked daily.  It's less a physical thing than a mental/emotional.  Sleep, as we know, is just about the best thing that you can do for yourself.  Co-sleeping with your children sounds remarkably like a an affront to all things peaceful.

I get it, for's hungry and there's no need getting up and taking care of a need that you manage simply by unleashing a boob. Got it.  That part makes sense.  I even get it from a peaceful, resting funster point of view...they feel safe and content and happy. Got it.  Where I get lost is in the seeming dependancy it builds, and in the notion that your husband gets full on shafted.  Odds are he doesn't want to co-sleep, but couldn't open his mouth for a billion dollars without the fear of looking like a giant assh*le.  Trust me ladies, a great portion of what we do for you is less about you and more about trying NOT to be a turd.  Sure, we love you, and yes, we want to do things for you, but the urge to not look like an ass is often much greater than our urge to be awesome.  It's part of the whole "we're very different" thing.  We never know what you're thinking so we lean on the side of hesitancy.  Don't judge us.  You made us that way.  We communicate grunts, over-simplifications, and presumptuous reactions.  You communicate in wildly complex ways that include guess work, past seemingly irrelevant experiences that we should have remembered despite them having nothing to do with nor resembling this new experience in any way,  and looks/stares of disapproval.  For us 1+1 = 2...for you there are square roots, theorums, and letters where there should be numbers...not always, but more often than simple math should allow.  Odds are, you're husband/partner wants nothing to do with co-sleeping.  Simply by the act of enduring it, he's saying he loves you a great deal.

We have close friends, whom we love very much, who co-sleep, or who have co-slept, and it worked for them.  We, however, seem to be a much different story.  Neither of us are deep sleepers, although a recent mattress switch has helped me sleep better, and both of us extend ourselves greatly during the day.  We work hard, and we play hard.  We spend a lot of time with our kids, and invest in them constantly during the day.  At night it's time for some re-charging, and time for them to gently gain independence. Zoey was sleeping in a big girl bed before she was two years old, and has never, not even once, been afraid of the dark.  At three and a half she could wake herself to go pee in the bathroom.  Of course we heard her, and would often escort her, or help her, but she initiated the process.  Night time independence pays huge dividends.  We understand other people's desire to co-sleep, it's just not our thing.

I might have more of an issue with the story that inspired all this, that I linked to in the first paragraph -- this one -- than I do with the actual act.  It's contents are ghastly.

An offensive summary...

The husband sleeps in a twin mattress on the floor with one of the kids while Mom sleeps in a King with the other two?  Seriously?  First, I don't like her, and second, what kind of voiceless fool is he?

She's never experienced that all-consuming sleep deprivation..really?  It's not always a restful don't say?  

The bedtime routine...they lie down as a family?  How filthy is your home, and apparently no one ever has taxes to do, school work to complete, work that you had to bring home, any adult commitments at all in the evening.  Who commits their entire family to bedtime?  Jesus.

The cons of co-cleeping...Your husband misses time with just you.  Do you think?  He's sharing his wife with three kids ALL day long and then at night he gets to sleep in a different bed.  It's not even a sexual thing.  It's an intimacy thing, and it's about having at least a small portion of time in a day when he's not last place in his own home.  Trust me, he feels like he comes in last on a regular basis, and you just robbed him of maybe sneaking up the charts a notch or two for even just an hour or three.  Thanks for that.  Oh, he won't say anything, but you've pretty much turned him into a gelding, and then later on in life you'll loathe his pathetic second class citizenry.  You'll mourn whatever boldness and strength he used to have.  He's not looking to get laid lady, he's just looking to count.

She slept in the family bed while growing up until she was seven years old!!  It's not 1878, they're not poor, it isn't tenement housing, or feudal  Wow.

All the photos in the blog post remind me of baby gorillas in the Rwandan rain forest rather than toddler siblings in 2013.

After second review I think I do have more of an issue with this woman, and this story than with the idea of co-sleeping in general.  She frightens me, and I'm mad for him, her husband.  All that, and why should I even care?  I dunno. It's early in the morning and I've got nothing else to dive into.  I should go exercise or something.

I want to spend as much time with my girls as possible...all of them...daughters, wife...all of them, but I need to feel good, and strong, and healthy.  I need to have a good attitude, and I need to be respected and valued and invested in as much as I invest in them.  I don't want to be an afterthought, last place, or have my wants and desires not count.  I need to sleep, and I need to be able to hug my wife, and I need to know that although my children are made part and parcel of what i invest in them, that they have a father that they can look to and see an individual, and pull from that all of the same things, as well as their own, that their mother did.  I can't become them, nor can I dismiss whatever characteristics there are that make me, well, me.  I don't like it when husbands and wives colonize one another, and I sure don't like the idea of erasing yourself to raise your important part of raising them is who you are.  Co-sleep if you wish, but I'll choose the night time to be the time when I fall back into the rhythm of being myself as best as I can.  It's important that my kids discover who they are too...through something as seemingly inconsequential as sleeping and dreaming and waking up without Mom and Dad right beside them.  I'm sure there are benefits to both beliefs help steer me down this confusing parenting path.  You're on your own...especially the woman from this story.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear Aunt Netta...


Dear Aunt Netta...

Thanks for coming to the zoo with us last week.  I liked having lunch with you, and watching the peacock show.  My favorite part of the day was the penguins because they waddle, and because they always have time-outs.  It was nice to play with you, and maybe next time when we go to the zoo we can go on the carousel?  

First, it's fun when you come and visit, and second, I love you.

It was nice seeing all of my animal friends, like Zoey, the Zebra, but it was funny seeing that horse bum*.  I laughed a lot.

I hope that we can all go again.

From Zoey

*By horse bum she means horse penis.

Apples, Trees, and Horseshit

I hear it all the time, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." I hate it.  People aren't apples, and they fall where they fall.  Apples fall near the tree of their origin because they haven't a means of travel, haven't any significant hope of breaking free from their tether and landing anywhere more distant than a few feet away...that's called's physics.  People aren't necessarily defined by physics.

Your child is a criminal, but you are not.

Your son is gay, but you are not.

Your daughter has a significant learning disability, but you are wildly intelligent.

It isn't about apples falling from anything.  It's about people being conceived, born, and then developing with an astonishing number of influences, from the genetic level upwards to opportunity and random events.  It's something of a nature versus nurture discussion but waaaay more complicated.  We are not our parents, and our parents are not us.  We are unique individuals, influenced greatly by the people around us, but not shaped or carved entirely out of that same stone.

It's one of the most looming fallacies that I deal with every day.  Who these kids are, that I talk to every day, is as much of an important factor as what they are doing or have done. Who their parents are weighs only a little in the day to day interactions I have with them.  Instead, I focus on who they are...who they believe themselves to be...who they want to be.  It matters.  It's as much about identity as  origin.

I meet parents all the time that I would place directly in the equation of child + trouble, but like any equation it's important how you get the answer.  Sure, the answer is the ultimate end result, but trust me when I say that as a mathematical idiot I got the right answer using the wrong formula on a pretty regular basis.  Show your work, your teachers always tell you.  It's important.  Mathematics is as much about logical sequence as it is about final answers.  The same holds true for working your way through complicated social and emotional situations.  There are things to consider, and pathways to follow or explore, and although you can get an answer without knowing the proper equation, it might not be the right answer.  Beginning with giant assumptions is no way to start.

I always ask myself, "what if I'm wrong," because it's so easy to be.  I don't know this kid.  It might be nearly impossible for me to gather enough information to ever really know this person, but I can try.  I can make connections, and suss out important details, if they offer them.  What I can't do is pretend that I have a complete picture, or assume that what they've given me is truth.  It's too important.  This is their life unfolding before me, and who am I to interject with ego and bias?  The truth of the matter is that we are all so complex as to defy any kind of simple analysis.  Oh, we can use some degree of scientific method to extrapolate some very pertinent information, but we can't know all of the information, and it's all of the information that makes us who we are.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is about as false a statement as you might find in a world always searching for the simplest definitions, and perpetually seeking simple explanations for complex equations.  People aren't apples, and whatever tree they fall from has much less to do with where they land than where they choose to land, where they just open their eyes and find themselves, or where luck and a decent breeze takes them.  Don't sink to simple definitions and wildly unfocused snapshots of the people all around you.  It makes us less than we can be, and denigrates all of us.  We're bigger than that.

We are what we are, and it very likely took a very confusing maze of a map to bring us to whatever place is here and now.  We are not our parents, or our circumstances, or other people's assessment.  We just are.  If you can accept and understand that, well, I think you've got a lot more to offer this world than most.

Some People...


I'd like to know this guy. Cameron Lyle is exactly the kind of dude you want as a friend, or maybe as a neighbor, for sure as a bone marrow donor.  Cameron gave up the one thing he'd very likely been working at the hardest across the span of his entire life, his athletic career, for the chance to donate bone marrow and save a life.  Not too bad of a guy.

It's an inspiring story, for sure, but here's what else it inspires...just why are people like Cameron so rare?  It's not that there aren't millions of them across North America, but there are 330 million people, give or take a million or two, on this continent and we only hear about the smallest fraction of them ever doing anything so selfless.  Why?  It might be a more complicated answer than we're willing to admit, and it may not even be an accurate statement.  There are people doing wondrous things all over the continent every day, and so quietly that no one ever notices.

Some people just seem to "get it."  Some people, and we all know a few, just seem to understand what's important and what isn't...what is right versus what is just plain wrong, and give of themselves so endlessly as to astonish even those of us with the widest imaginations.

Do you know anyone so selfless?  If you do, tell us. We want to acknowledge them here.  It's not like we get a billion people stopping by, but there's more than you might imagine, and after reading about Cameron it strikes me that there are dozens of people all around us who might never be acknowledged as brave, or strong, or just plain more caring than your average joe.  It'll inspire us to hear about them, and you can never have enough Cameron Lyles in your life.

Life on The Farm is Kinda Laid Back...

The Funky Farm's security team.

Our friend's Justin and Christine live on a farm just outside of town.  They were super kind enough to invite us out, along with our other good friends, Tara, Jai and Keely.  It's a funky farm indeed.  They just rent, and of course both Justin and Christine work for a living, and not on the farm, but if Christine had her way there'd be less mid-wifing and more farming.  It's totally her element.

Right now it's springtime on the farm and perfect for visiting.  It's like kid kryptonite, a farm.  To be perfectly honest, the grown ups dig it a lot too.

Farm Photo Panels 1
Tara, Jai and a new friend; Christine and Mags tickling some ivory; the bluest eyes in the world, Keely.

Ferah playing host to an excited Maggie and her first Spring farm visit.

Two smart girls having stupid fun.  Occasional besties, Ferah and Zoey have are pretty tight when they get the chance to hang out.

Farm Panels 2
Tara and Keely avec brown bunny; Mags leaning in for a better look; Ferah smouldering with a bunny.

Our Funky Farm friend, Christine, also manages a little midwifery when she's not ducking around. Both of our girls were appreciative of her primary choice in careers.

Duckling transportation expertise is a highly transferable skill.

As a Junior Proprietor, Ferah knows what she's doing around the place.  Hands dirty and imagination untethered.

Music a pretty integral part of the Funky Farm. It costs very little to plant and nothing to harvest.

It's a cool collection of funsters that gather for these impromptu visits and shenanigans.  A fun group of super brilliant kids with an abundance of happy, certainly enough to share.  Fera is home schooled and as precocious as they come. She gathers up friends like some kind of farm fed pied piper.  Both Jai and Keely are confident little Kiwis. They have passports prove it. With teachers as parents they don't miss a single beat.  They're wicked smart, and Jai is about the funnest kid ( it's my blog, I can use the word funnest) on the planet and Keely is in the running for the sweetest. Then, of course, there's our kids, and naturally we're a little biased, but Zo is as smart as they come, and a very kind and happy kid, and Mags is proving herself not much different.

I swear you'd be hard pressed to collect a group of children more audacious and bright than this one. Now take all that awesome and slap it down on a farm and you've got something serious to smile about.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Switched at Birth?

Zoey's first soccer practice - Wed May 15, 2013

I didn't play soccer.  June dabbled.  Zoey looks like a natural, which kind of confirms the notion that she just might not be our child.

I like soccer.  I have no issues with a Saturday morning spent watching Arsenal and West Ham tear one another apart, but I don't know the first thing about the game.  I know that Zo smiles when she plays so, that's good enough. I know that she looks cute as hell in those shorts and socks.  I know that she picked out the cleats that had the brightest accents, and that she has to play in piggies.  I know that when we started this parenting odyssey I wanted to spend my time around things that I was totally unfamiliar with.  We found something.

I don't even care if she's even any good at this point...I just want to be overwhelmed with cute.  Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

If I Had A Son...


If I had a son who had his heart set on marrying a girl I'd tell him this...her family matters.  It does. Her Mom matters. her sister, or sisters, matter.  There's no getting around it, or very few ways around it.  Whoever the strongest female influences were in her life make for a decent sample of just what you're hoping to spend the rest of your life with, so make sure they're good.

June's were good.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Random Awesome Photo...


On Saturday we slipped over to the Detroit Zoo with Aunt Netta, who was home visiting.  It was a nice, easy day.  With a whole zoo full of potential cute moments and stories, we found this one...

Zoey doing her best peacock impression.

It was, well...impressive.

Reading Yourself Into a Corner...

I woke up early and wanted to read...not a book, no, but something.  What?  I hadn't the slightest idea.  I flipped open the laptop and started cruising for something...the usual, then the every now and agains, but nothing.  I wanted to feel good.  I wanted to wake up slow and be pulled into the day, curious, digesting new information.  I wanted to find happy.  Instead I found, well, nothing.  In a sea of internets I found nothing.

The NY

The LA Times...nope.

Did I even want to read a newspaper?  Probably not.

I wanted to read a blog...or so I thought, but I just wasn't up for peering into someone else's life. No energy.

I found myself ready to quit, and then I decided, for some unknown reason, to complain about it here.  How is it possible to not find anything to quench my thirst for the literary equivalent of an attractive stranger's smile on the street? You know, meaningless but feels nice.  How could I not find that at 7am on a Monday?


I don't want to read about sports, the kind of work that I do, the world, parenting, travel, criticism, opinion, escapism, etc...looooong list of etc...

I want to be inspired on this Monday morning. And I want that inspiration to run deep, to be an investment.  I want it to take time.  That's the secret to this world you know, to everything...people want to feel inspired.  Manage that, and you're set.

I'm seeking some the human the the random and mundane...I want to be moved. That's all any of us ever really want, isn't it?  So I ask you, great morning emptiness...what's out there to inspire me?  This morning it's been difficult to find...near impossible.

I also find myself hoping that someone does something nice for me today.  Aside from those lovely girls here in my house, no one ever does anything overtly, shamelessly, and spontaneously nice for me. No one.  That'd make for a stellar Monday.

What say you great universe?  How 'bout some sugar?  I'll settle for something to read if you're too busy.  I'm easy.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pretty Girl...


She's a pretty girl.  I try not to tell her too often, but it's hard.  She's a beautiful little girl, who will surely grow into a pretty young woman, and then make the natural transition into a deadly attractive woman. It's not good to fill her head with compliments, to reinforce such shallow sentiments, but there's nothing dismissive about beauty.  It should be acknowledged.  It needs to be discussed, and celebrated, just not worshipped or used.

She's a pretty girl, and she should understand just what that means, and everything that it doesn't.  It has nothing to do with intelligence, or talent, or even perspective, but it will, unfortunately, have a lot to do with opportunity.  I tell her that I think she's beautiful because I think that she is. I certainly can't tell her that she's ugly, because it's just not true.

She's a pretty girl, and I want the first person to tell her that to want nothing in return, to just love her...and I do.

Happy Mother's Day...Version 2.0

Mom and daughters - St. Pete's Beach, FL Dec 2012

She lit up at the idea. In that San Clemente, California hotel room when the conversation turned to kids, and flipped to "baby or not?"  It was emphatically baby.  Before then it had always been emphatically just us.  Soon our family of two turned to three, and we wondered how we ever managed before that first little girl came.  How empty our lives must have been.  Then we waited.  We waited to see if that first baby, a girl whose name fell from the rafters, was enough to steal all of our love.  It wasn't, and so then came a second, and in a blink it was a house full of girls, and the only person who peed standing up was happy.  Not just happy because of his beautiful daughters, but because of their beautiful Mom.  She made it all so easy.  She was such a definitively good Mom, something, perhaps, that she learned from her own.  Five years distant from that first good idea in California and I wonder what we waited for?  She's been so perfect at this that it strikes me that I wish I'd been able to watch her do it sooner.  Back then I didn't think I could possibly love her any more than I already did.  I was wrong.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

You're so good at this June that it leaves me bewildered.  It so often leaves me speechless, and I'm never speechless.  As if one day is enough to acknowledge all of the awesome that you are. One day does nothing to tell you how much we love you. That task might just be impossible.

Happy Mother's Day...Version 1.0

Mom and twins camping

She didn't know that she was having twins, then ten years later one of them goes and gets hit by a car and nearly croaks. She finds herself a single Mom, a chore and a half times ten.  Her boys fight, and ask her for things that she cannot possibly provide, then they worry her sick all through high school, but their friends are pretty good, so that eases her mind some.  From the ninth grade on the back door of her home is a never ending parade of fridge raiding buddies, strangers, and girlfriends.  Then one moves away, and the other starts backpacking around the planet and neglecting to call home as much as he should.  One brother changes careers almost as much as his twin changes colleges.  All throughout she patiently waits for them to find themselves, and they do, and she's proud of them...but not as proud as they are of her.

Thanks for everything Mom.  For someone who never knew how to juggle you juggled a lot.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Days Go By...

It's the job...I know it's the job that does it, but days pass so fast.  I don't eat lunch. I barely eat breakfast.  I slip from one crisis to the next, from one phone call with one lawyer to another on hold with a crying parent, as I juggle my bag and courage on my way into a violence, threat and risk assessment meeting. The range of emotions in my days begin with anxiety and flip through fear, and frustration, anger and angst, uselessness, incapable, proud and strong, redeemed, justified, and back to scared and confused, and then indignant.  It's not just a roller coaster, it's a Navy Seal training for the emotions, and the days just sneak away, but not at home...

At home the days crawl, like Maggie, and bend from one beautiful sunset to another fun lacrosse practice, and then dusk settles on baths and books, and Harry Potter and Peter Pan, and every time someone says to me, "it goes by so fast," I disagree.  Maybe it's because compared with the frenetic speed of my days my evenings, nights and weekends are, by comparison, tortoise-esque.  The blog helps, and having a wife as wonderful as mine, who feels the same way about all this parenting business, and who invests as much as anyone in the process, perhaps more.  It makes this whole mind numbing experience feel so immediate and never ending.

Our nights don't become our own until well after 9pm, and we don't begrudge the loss of "our time."  It truly is "our time"...all of ours.  We're in this together...the four of us. It makes sense that we work as a team.  It's not Mom and Dad with a Maggie and Zo sideshow,'s one push towards something special, not a patchwork collection of moments...we're becoming, constantly, with no intention of actually ending up anywhere except still trying and laughing and working...together.  Zoey can make my night, as I can make hers, and the look on Maggie's face when Mummy walks in the room is rivaled only by the look on Mummy's face too.  It's us vs. everything, and that's how it should be.

The days go by, sure, but not at light the speed with which we allow them to.  I don't want this to end, so I stretch each day as though it were my last.  Is it all gone too fast? Only if what's behind you was better than what's ahead, and I don't think it is.

Holy Mother of Ashbury Park

Basia Bulat covers Bruce Springsteen

Thanks to my good friend Johnny Teeteranski (not his real name to protect the innocent) I've got this beauty Basia Bulat cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days."  I'm a giant sucker for Springsteen covers...giant.  Chuck in a baseball tune and I'm sunk.

Aimee Bergquist...enjoy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Every Morning for the Rest of My Life...

Good Morning

The sun is shining, and I can feel the cool morning air slipping through the bedroom window, the kind of air that will surely be begging shorts by noon.  I got up to get ready for work, to shower, and shave, and swoon on my way out the door.

They returned to the room early this morning, a team, often taking on the night together, not always, but often.  I'll reach over and pull the covers back so that they can crawl in, and then draw them back over two of my three girls.  Zoey is very likely conked out cold still, her covers half askew.  I'll slip into her room before my shower and pull her blankets back over her.

This morning I couldn't slip out with snapping an awkward Photobooth shot with my well balance laptop.  I wish every morning for the rest of my life was like this.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Medicine Game...

1st Lacrosse Practice - May 6, 2013, Sarnia, ON

Native North Americans used to call it Baggataway, and the Mohawk's called it Teewaarathon.  It was the little brother of war, and a healing game.  The sport was medicine.  It's always felt that way.

Tonight Zo had her first lacrosse practice ever.  There were a lot of boys, in fact, I saw only one other girl, but Zo made up for the gender imbalance by running circles around kids, and scoring in her first scrimmage.  She was all legs and confidence, and Daddy didn't stop smiling the entire hour.  Mummy was watching intently and laughed about the smile on my face.  Apparently I was a pretty proud guy, at least the look on my face said as much.

1st Lacrosse Practice - May 6, 2013, Sarnia, ON

She was good, and had gobs of fun, heaping piles of it, and it always feels good to fill kids with stoke, and help them find themselves in a game.  Zo listened, and tried hard. I caught her giggling on a few occasions, and she ran, ran, ran.  Boy, did that little kid run.  It seems that long legs will carry you great distances, quickly.

1st Lacrosse Practice - May 6, 2013, Sarnia, ON

When she decided it was more prudent to run than just chill in one spot she turned on the jets.  She ran out ahead of the pack on offense, and she ran back ahead of the group on defense, and she often ran in circles, and away from the ball, and hooting and hollering in random directions, but mostly she just ran and ran and ran, and it was impressive.  I'd have been proud no matter how she responded to this brand new thing she was taking a bold crack at, but since she took to the game like it was running through her veins, and was as good as four year olds can be, I was extra proud.  Oh, and it just happened to be the most ridiculous kind of cute ever.  All the kids. Every single one...even the crying little confused babies. Zo was impossibly unaffected, and supremely confident.

1st Lacrosse Practice - May 6, 2013, Sarnia, ON

While other kids cried, and quit, and still more wailed when they were knocked down, this kid did not...this kid ran like a goddamned gazelle and when she stopped, even for just a moment, she talked to kids, helped them join the play, and comforted them.  She was like a dangerously quick little Mom...a constantly grinning little Mom who bulge the twine of the net on her first shot.

It was weird to see her in a Pacers shirt, but that's what she is now...a Sarnia Pacer.  I hated the Sarnia Pacers when I was a kid. Now I'm helping nurture little ones to become big ones who will inevitably hate my hometown...probably punch my friend's kids in the faces, and always, always, look down their nose at little old Wallaceburg down river.  Now Zed's a Pacer.  Wow, life works funny.  Just like how Zoey left her fancy little La Senza shopping bag and stuffed animals in the car so that she could go inside and drop a goal or two, and run teammates and opponents alike into the ground.  Her legs are long, gangly menaces....dangerous, but she's still a kid that likes pretty things.

I can tell you, whatever was ailing me, if there was anything at all, was quickly erased tonight.  The evening was pure medicine...powerful medicine.  I haven't smiled that much in months.                                                                        

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Someone doesn't want to nap...and she's finally figured out standing up.

The other day we had this conversation about how we'd do it all again...the baby thing...except we definitely won't be doing it all again.  We might be smitten but we're not stupid.  Are you kidding me?  That would round off to a decade in diapers, and approximately three different mortgage payments.

Get real.

But...if we were just counting priceless moments and those times where your heart bursts with affection...yeah, then we'd do it all again.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Disgustingly Happy...and Different

Prune Juice Mags

She gets a little slowpy when she's sick, and of course, being tired does not suit her, but aside from the obvious calamities that can befall a baby, she's impressively happy.  It strikes us how differently she's being raised so far...not vastly different from her sister, but differently, nonetheless...and how must even the slightest difference alter her personality, her learning and development, her perspectives.  It seems obvious that a recipe that's even the slightest bit different will taste the slightest bit different as well.

It's a strange thing to think of...strange terms to organize your thoughts with.  If we do "this" then perhaps "that" will happen, and what if we handle that in this way?  Everything will be different...everything.  We've got two different girls, very different.  I suspect that they won't even look like sisters, but the most noticeable difference might be their personalities.  Of course, time must play out to fully measure that assertion, but I can't imagine it not being so.   Naturally, there are many common traits, happiness being one of them, but even now, at this age, they seem so vastly different.

We see the uniqueness every day...Zo was deliberate and analytical, almost cautious.  Maggie is not.  Zed was clean...curious, but clean.  Maggie is not.  Zoey played strange with no one.  Maggie is something of a discerning customer when it comes to who she allows the privilege of her presence.  Different already, both of them.  That will either be the basis of their affection, or the source of their derision.  Different is good, unless, of course, you're sharing a room, then maybe not so much.  We'll find out much sooner than we're ready, I suspect.

Us vs. The Planet

Mom Dad Mags - April 2013

We won't be the first people who need to adjust their lifestyle to a new reality, in fact, we might be one of the few remaining.  As June's Mat Leave slowly winds down towards late August, and my own job morphs and changes, for the better but at a cost, we realize that we could live quite a bit more consciously...quite a bit more deliberately...with greater awareness, and well, something resembling a greater attention to detail.  We've got friends who must do the same, and others who casually do the opposite, and all we really know is that these are not indifferent times.

In the school in which I work there were 32 teachers laid off...and two alternative programs completely cut, letting loose both staffs and rattling the landscape with uncertainty.  I was fine, in fact, my role was the inspiration for more emphasis on front line, ground level help.  Another position, like mine, was created, and crisis nurses added, mental health help secured, and a new direction a cost.  The environment will look different, and what I've learned over the past decade or so is that I don't manage change as well as I'd like.  It's something like chaos everywhere I go, and uncertainty painted positive, and no one feels stable or sturdy, but they're putting on a good show.  Friends have become unemployed and are nursing fragile stomachs and bruised egos.  That's never a comforting thing.  Other people's suffering always sucks junk.

What's your world look like?  When's the last time everything felt sturdy and unflinching?  When did you last know a time of absolute certainty, when everyone around you was winning...when no one was adapting to change?  It's been a while, and I've grown so tired of it.  There are generations of good fortune being lost, and perspectives forever shifting, and we'll look back on this time one day and shake our heads at what we've lost...confidence...freedom...hope.

I'd give just about anything to see the people all around me happy again.  We're fine, but friends are not, and we're just never as good as we are when we're all feeling strong.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

That Fickle B!tch...

Daddy Daughter Lacrosse

It's Spring...finally, and we've spent the last three days at the park each night, playing, eating dinner, hanging out, absorbing what amounts to all that awesomeness oh so overdue.  Why would we stay at home?  The parks are full.  There is laughter floating through the air...there are kids squealing and playing everywhere...bikes passing...line-ups outside the ice cream shops...I could live this way every day.  Damn you LA.

If I lived in a warmer climate I might have no need for a television, or a dinner table.  Nearly everything, aside from sleep, showers, and all those curious bathroom habits, would be sun soaked and grass stained.  It's about a thirty billion times more healthy atmosphere, and each year when the sun finally comes out we're reminded that Canada really should have made concessions for those of us that want this year round.  The seasons...who needs the seasons?  

Bridge girls

We're not meant to spend our lives inside.  It's unhealthy.  We need water, and sun, and fresh air.  With any luck we build a couple of genuine fresh air fiends in these girls, where picnics in the park are the norm, not the exception. So far this Spring, we're on a roll.  Mother Nature's fickle, but we love her anyway.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There's Trying Too Hard, and There's Just Being Yourself...

It struck me of late, sometimes a guy can reach a little...can stretch too far to get a decent grip on a fleeting thing.  There's just being yourself, and then there's constructing something else. I don't need a hard hat to get to work on building a cool life, or an Instagram collection of those so-called cooler moments.  I need to be happy, and I need to be me. That's it.

In a lot of ways I'm no different than a fifteen year old version of myself...I still want to be something other than what I am sometimes...I still look at things and think, "wow, that's cool"...and sometimes I discard things that help to define me in search of things that I think I might want to define me more.  We all do it.  Well, most of us do it.  These days it strikes me as stupid.  I am who I am, and I do whatever it is that I do, value whatever it is that I value, chase whatever it is that I chase, and it doesn't need a status update or a tumblr following.  I blog, here, but as much for myself and the need to express a half dozen emotions a day, than for any approval or attention.  The blog has twelve people that subscribe to updates...twelve, in nearly five years. I'm not soliciting a lot of attention.  The photos aren't tagged on random Tumblr sites...the posts aren't Google + fodder, at least, not all that often, and I hope that I'm honest here.  In this lovely place I hope there isn't any trying to be, there's just being. Yeah, I said lovely, 'cause it is.

It's a fine line, you know, 'cause sometimes the whole "trying too hard" thing is exactly what someone's personality is, and they could no more avoid that than be someone else...but I'd like to think that somewhere along this path that we travel through a life much too rapidly receding in the rear view, there's a point we pass where we say, "I don't know, I kinda just like being this way.  That other stuff is exhausting."  I like to think that a point like that on our own personal timelines exists.  I guess for some of us it doesn't, and yet for others, who remain remarkably unique and inspiringly genuine, I suspect that there was never a point outside of adolescence where they were ever trying too hard.  They just are.  I think immediately of my friends, Andrew and Ally and Heather, and I'm inspired by the notion that sometimes just being yourself is all a person needs to do.

What inspired such early morning pre-shower introspection?  Nothing crazy...just a few days of forty-something year old Instagram inspired Tom Foolery and posturing, mixed up in a bowl with a mild  narcissism, and then baked at 350 degrees with the oven light on and far too many people watching those cupcakes rise.  There's trying too hard, and there's just being yourself.  Sometimes, I'm quite sure, some of us aren't all that certain who we even are.  Kind of makes authenticity a little illusive.

Someone promise me that you'll tell me if I ever I stray too far from something genuine.