June 29, 2006

Child’s Play

More and more, TheMonk and Swee’Pea are beginning to realize the other one is here to stay. Up until the last couple of months, they more or less tolerated each other. They acknowledged each other’s existence as much as you or I acknowledge the person next to us in the elevator. But that has begun to change.

It is one of the greatest joys of my life to see TheMonk and Swee’Pea play together. Often the play involves hysterical laughter. They don’t always let me in on the joke but they love it so that’s all that matters. For the longest time, Swee’Pea was the one who would have to initiate play between the two. But that has begun to change too. TheMonk, has decided if Swee’Pea is going to keep taking his binky, then maybe he’d better befriend this binky-stealer before she really does some damage.

I have witnessed two types of play between the two. First, is when one is in the Pack’n'play and the other is not. They can see each other but there is the mesh barrier separating them. This becomes hysterically funny as they reach out to touch hands through the mesh. Funny stuff.

The second type of play is when they are together on the floor. Inevitably they end up near each other and then the hijinks start. Just the other day, I watched as TheMonk tackled Swee’Pea to the ground as they were on their knees playing with their musical table. One second they’re playing side by side and the next they’re rolling over each other on the floor, laughing loudly.

Sadly, this type of play almost always ends up with one of them crying. But it’s a start.

June 26, 2006

Doin’ the crawl

TheMonk may have started out a bit aggravated in life but over the past several months, his real personality has begun to emerge. TheMonk is one laid back dude. Unless, of course, he’s hungry or his sister messes with him – then he’s sure to voice his displeasure. Other than that, the boy likes to chill.

Now ordinarily I would applaud these virtues in my son – seeing as how they are very similar to someone else around the house who happens to answer to the name “DaDa.” However, lately his laid back attitude has translated into not really getting into this crawling thing. But when I think about it, why should he crawl? He can combat crawl just about anywhere he wants to go and there’s always a toy fairly close. Besides, he’s not obsessed about a certain feline that his sister is intent on catching someday, so the incentive to go anywhere is just not there. It’s not uncommon to find TheMonk lounging on his side or back playing with a toy while he sucks contentedly on his binky. And up until recently, this has served him well.

But lately, TheMonk has begun to notice that there are things higher than floor level. Things that require him to get up off the floor if he’s going to have a look at them. Things that Mommy and Daddy put out of reach could be reached if only he could get up off the floor! So, this weekend TheMonk decided that he’d better get with the program.

Up on all fours he went. *Rock, Rock, Rock.* And back down.

Just testing things out but thinking it’s pretty funny that Mommy and Daddy are getting all excited about what he just did.

So, again up on all fours. *Rock, Rock, Rock.* And back down.

Again, Mommy and Daddy get excited. So, he decides to try this out one more time – but with a twist.

Up on all fours. *Rock, Rock, Shuffle, Shuffle.* And the crowd goes wild! Mommies and Daddies are high-fiving everywhere! A big grin eminates from behind the binky and *plop* he sits back down. It doesn’t matter though because TheMonk is now crawling!

Now, he’s not as nimble as his sister quite yet but Swee’Pea is in for a surprise the next time she comes over to take something from him. TheMonk’s ready to chase her down!

June 24, 2006

Married with Children

I stood nervously at the altar chatting with my brother Ben as we waited for the wedding to begin. I had not seen Andrea yet and I was anxious to see “the dress.” For weeks I had been begging to see the dress. I pleaded, I cajoled, I cried (okay, I didn’t cry but I really wanted to see the dress). The most I got out of Andrea was a crude drawing on a coctail napkin which left much to my imagination.

As I looked around the church I began to make out faces of friends and family. I smiled as I made eye contact thanking them for coming with a small nod of my head. I continued to chat with Ben as the time grew near. It was nervous chat – not much substance going on there. I mean I don’t even think we were discussing the Giant’s win the night before as they were on their way to capture first place in the NL West. No, today wasn’t about baseball. Today, my life was going to change forever.

Suddenly music began and the processional of our bridesmaids and groomsmen appeared at the top of the aisle. They slowly walked toward me and I smiled to them as they finally neared the altar. They took their places and we all turned towards the back of the church. The music suddenly changed at Andrea appeared at the top of the aisle. She looked stunning. Her tan skin contrasted with the vibrant white of her dress. “I turned to my brother and without taking my eyes off of my bride-to-be, I said, “Hey, check out the babe in the white dress. I get to marry her.”

“Yeah,” my brother replied. “Like right now.”

Andrea glided down the aisle holding the arm of my future father-in-law. Her smile lit up the room – a perfect compliment to the gown she had kept from my view for so long. And now I understood why it was important not to see that dress earlier. For moments like this. Seeing that dress on a hanger would not have been a fraction of the sight it was to see it on my bride.

As she approached the aisle she took my hand. It was cool but slightly damp – as I’m sure mine was. My fingers entwined around hers and we locked eyes for moment. A moment in time where I knew this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The woman who I wanted to raise a family with. On this day I chose her. And, thank God, she chose me.

Six years ago today Andrea agreed to be my wife. We started a journey and each year that journey has become better and better. And now we have started a family. A family that even in my wildest dreams couldn’t have been scripted any better. I am a better man for having known Andrea and I am so very lucky to have her in my life. I’m so very fortunate to look into those gorgeous eyes each morning and see love and kindess forever and ever.

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart, I love you.


Nuzzle, Nuzzle

Time to eat

Tuxed out


June 23, 2006

Life Lesson: Changing Diapers

TheMonk and Bri,

In my continuing quest to educate you (see my other life lessons here) on all-things-important I have come to realize just how important changing diapers can be. Now, I understand that you have a long ways to go before you actually change a diaper (unless you’d like to start today. Your mother and I wouldn’t mind) but you can never be too prepared. So, here it goes.

First, you have a choice between cloth diapers and disposable diapers. In the long run, cloth diapers are cheaper and more friendly towards the environment but disposables are, well, easy. And, if you have twins (a real possibility for you Bri) then disposables are the only way to go, in my opinion, if you want to stay sane. In fact, I’m actually amazed that there are still people out there that use cloth diapers. But, hey if that’s your thing, more power to you.

So, for the sake of argument, I’m going to assume you picked disposable diapers. Now, my biggest advice when choosing diapers is not to be a cheap bastard (although you might have to fight some genetic tendencies passed down by your old man). Spend the few extra pennies on a good box of Huggies or Pampers. The generic diapers seem to have a few paper towels stuffed in the crotch and that’s about it. Huggies and Pampers actually seem to put some absorbant gel into their diapers. This is important because no baby (or adult, for that matter) looks cute with urine running down their leg. Your mommy and daddy actually use two diapers (Well, we don’t. You use them. We just buy them). We use Huggies during the day (mainly because they work and Costco sells them in bulk) and Pampers Baby Dry during the night. This is a heavy-duty diaper that seems to do a better job of absorbing the copious amounts of fluids you two seem to deposit into it each night. This is important because it’s already been well-documented how hard it is to change the sheets on a crib. Trust me, no one wants to do this at 3:00 a.m. while listening to a screaming baby.

Okay, now that we’ve settled on the diaper, we have to talk about the approach. Everyone seems to have their own way of approaching the change. Coming at the baby directly head-on is probably the best approach but when changing tables are being used, it’s often best to change from the side. This can be done with the baby pointing to your left or to your right – it’s a matter of preference (your mother is left-handed and I’m right-handed and we both point the baby to the left. Not sure why). Once you are positioned, it’s best to get all of the implements needed before you whip the soiled diaper off first. No one wants a geyser or a gusher coming at them when they’re ill-prepared. (TheMonk, I’m not admitting to anything but let’s just say boys don’t like it when they shoot themselves in the face with their own gun). This is where setup becomes extremely important. You must have the new diaper ready to go. Have your baby wipes ready to go and if you’re using a diaper cream, have that ready to go as well. It’s also helpful to have an absorbant cloth diaper nearby just in case someone decides to fire a shot off the starboard bow.

Speed is of the essence here. This is not the time to play goo-goo eyes with the baby (at least not before the exchange to a new diaper has been made). Get in and get out. If the diaper is filled with toxic waste, speed is definitely key. If you suspect that toxic waste might have eminated from your baby’s butt, having several baby wipes already pulled from their container is helpful in getting in and out. This is important because let’s just say poop has a tendency to rise up the back and the next thing you know you’re wiping the kid’s entire back wondering how anything can migrate quite like that.

And here’s what separates the pro from the amateur: Don’t gag. You will see some things that no human was ever meant to see. You will smell things that will be burned into your mind forever. Show no fear. This is not a time to be wimpy. You have a job to do so do it!

After removing soiled diaper, wrap it up quick. You might be tempted to look at consistency or color but nothing good can come of this. You’ll spend the entire night wondering how those carrots can just pass on through looking the same way coming out as they did coming in. Trust me, just wrap that baby up and dispose of it quickly into a well-sealed diaper receptacle.

Apply any ointments you might need (but not baby powder!) and then pull the new diaper on quick. The velcro straps go in the back. This might seem obvious but you too will have to switch it around – even after doing hundreds of diaper changes. Once the new diaper is securely fastened you can breathe a sigh of relief. Put clothes back on (or new clothes if the previous clothes were soiled in any way) and get ready to go about your day.

Wash your hands. Please, wash your hands. And, if you’re doing hundreds of changings, a nice hand moisturizer works wonders for overwashed hands.

Okay, that’s it. Now, go change the world!


June 22, 2006

Good to the last drop

Dear TheMonk and Bri,

Today marks a large milestone in your evolution from helpless little beings to growing little boy and girl. Today, little ones, you had your last nursing session. Now, truth be told, Swee’Pea you pretty much gave up nursing a couple of weeks ago, just as Mommy was beginning to wean. But we’ve been lying you down next to Mommy while TheMonk fed so Mommy could savor the bonding moments you have shared since the beginning.

Ah, the beginning. You probably don’t remember this but you didn’t feed very well when you were first born. We had to feed you with a syringe and a small tube we stuck into your mouth. This, to put it mildly, sucked (no pun intended). After consulting with a Lactation Consultant, we began to make some headway and your mother lead the charge in getting you to breast feed.

In fact, I’m not exagerating one bit when I tell you that you have the best Mommy in the world. If you only knew what that woman has gone through while nursing two babies at once. For the first several months of your life, just about every feeding you had was through your Mommy. Six to eight times a day you would be placed on the ever-present twin nursing pillow and Mommy would get you to eat. Sometimes, sessions would last over one hour – just to make sure you got enough. As you can imagine, having ravenous little ones sucking constantly, is bound to cause some problems. Your mother has endured pain so bad that I’m pretty sure tears were involved. Yet she continued. Even when she went back to work, she would feed you before work, pump twice while at work and then feed you two more times before you went to bed for the evening. Your mother rocks.

Not that this whole thing has been an awful experience. On the contrary, your mother has come to love the time she gets to spend with you – just the two of you (We learned early on that I was too much of a distraction so I couldn’t be in the room when you fed). Over the past year I’ve often peeked into the room where you feed with Mommy to see you playing “Patty Cake” or “Where’s Mommy’s nose?” Your mother’s smile as she interacted with you is something I’ve never seen anywhere else. This was her moment to be with you and she cherished it – even while enduring so much.

So, the year has come and gone. While your mother will certainly miss some of that quiet two-on-one time, we are also looking forward to having more flexibility to do more with you guys outside of the house. We’re no longer bound to a nursing schedule and we’ll take advantage of that. Your mother will also be able to do some things for her now – going for a run, going out with friends after work, or just going shopping at night while Daddy feeds you. Whatever she decides to do, after all she’s done this past year, she deserves it.

So don’t forget how much your mother loves you and how much she has done for you. Because if she can nurse twins for over a year, just for the benefit of you two, she’d do anything for you.

June 21, 2006

Sir Lance-is-late

My sister-in-law Kate and her husband Ken are the proud parents of little Lance who was born this afternoon. Details are sketchy but he weighed 9 pounds 6 ounces. Or about the size of TheMonk and Swee’Pea when they were six weeks old.

He was originally due on June 12th – TheMonk and Swee’Pea’s birthday. He decided he really didn’t want to share a birthdate with his cousins so he waited, and waited, and waited. He probably would still be in there if he wasn’t induced this afternoon.

Welcome to the world, Big Guy. And congratulations to the Mama and Papa. If you need any advice, ask Andrea. I have no idea what I’m doing.

June 19, 2006

Bri: Part Angel

TheMonk and Swee’Pea are playing quietly on the floor – each enthralled with their own particular toy. That is, until Swee’Pea decides that she has had enough of her toy and, instead, looks around for something else to entertain her. She scans the room and settles on something that looks promising. She crawls nonchalantly over to the desired object and grabs it with a quick snap of her little hands.

Having his toy snatched from his hand, TheMonk cries out. He looks to me to settle this great injustice and Swee’Pea turns to see what my reaction will be. Seeing me get up to intervene, Swee’Pea decides her best bet is to get rid of the evidence. Unfortunately, in her haste to rid herself of the incriminating object, she bonks TheMonk on the head with the toy.

TheMonk begins to cry.

As I descend on them both to remove Swee’Pea and comfort TheMonk, Swee’Pea crawls over to her crying brother. What now? Is she looking to inflict even more punishment? No. Instead she crawls over and plants a kiss on TheMonk’s forehead. This momentarily quiets TheMonk and I rub his belly as he sucks furiously on this binky to help calm himself. This works momentarily but soon he starts to cry again. Again, Swee’Pea leans over and plants a wet kiss on the top of TheMonk’s head. I smile at this sweet sight and I praise them both as I remove Swee’Pea, reminding her that she has many other toys to play with and that TheMonk was playing with that toy.

TheMonk stops crying and goes back to playing with his toy. Swee’Pea plays with some blocks nearby. As I remove myself I watch as Swee’Pea goes back over to TheMonk. I’m thinking she’s going to give him another kiss. I smile in anticipation of this very sweet moment.

Bri reaches out and takes TheMonk’s binky from his mouth. She quickly pops it into her mouth and crawls away leaving a crying TheMonk in her wake.

*Sigh.* Here we go again. “Bri! That’s TheMonk’s binky!”

June 18, 2006

Happy Father’s Day… to me!

Andrea, my beautiful, wonderful, special wife presented me with her Father’s Day gift early this morning. Go and check it out. You probably won’t cry and you might not have the patience to watch the whole thing – but it’s my gift and not yours so that’s okay.

Thanks Honey!

(Oh, and if you’re here via the New York Daily News article, welcome! Feel free to look around.)

June 17, 2006


I have been a father for 1 year and one week. This will be my second father’s day, but the first one I’ll really remember because I was so sleep-deprived last year that I really have very little recollection of that day. As I approach this Father’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on the past year and how I have done in helping raise my children.

First, I would not be half the father I am today were it not for my wife. She is a constant rock in the storm of parenthood. She tackles problems head on. She never settles for what is easy over what is best. She is pragmatic in her approach and unwavering in her will to do what’s best for our kids. I need to be more like her.

Growing up, I didn’t have the benefit of seeing what a good parenting partnership should be. Since my father died when I was young, my mother was all I knew. There was no give and take between parents. There wasn’t a balance of two individual’s strengths and weaknesses balancing each other in an attempt to raise a child. I only saw one perspective.

The hardest part for me being a father is trying to balance my need to father a certain way with my wife’s need to mother a certain way. This past year has taught me how important it is to communicate with my spouse. We need to be on the same page now more than ever. It has been the greatest learning experience of my life.

What a gift I can give to my children. I can be the role model that I never had. I can show them what being in a solid relationship that revolves around mutual respect and communication should be like. I can admit mistakes and move to correct them. I can be a father.

I love my kids. I love my wife. Tomorrow on Father’s Day, I will be thinking of how I can be an even better father. How I can be an even better husband. How I can give my children the gift of how to be equal teammates in a relationship and respect and love those around us always. Tomorrow I will be celebrating being a father – something that I love so much – but I will also be reminding myself what a great father is and how I can be the best father I can be.

This was a part of the “bloggect” by Kara at Cape Buffalo.

June 16, 2006

Dear Dad

Note: I wrote this post earlier in the week for The Blogfathers. I am reposting it here on my personal blog so my own children can read it in the future.


Hi Dad.

This August it will have been 29 years since that fateful day. The day your life ended and my life changed forever. I’m not sure if I’ve told you this since you left, but I miss you so much sometimes. I was only six when you died and I was just beginning to get to really know you. Now, when I close my eyes and try real hard, I think I remember you but I can’t really be sure. I see your face and I remember bits and pieces – like your smile or the way you smelled. The rest, I’m afraid, just might be figments of my imagination fueled by old photographs and stories culled from family members.

I don’t remember your voice. I don’t remember your touch. I don’t remember you ever telling me you loved me. But I do remember some things. I remember you playing with my little brother and calling him your “little bear.” You rolled on the floor with him and blew raspberries on his belly. It is the one memory I have where you are acting like the father I so want to be. Everytime I blow raspberries on my son and daughter’s belly, I think of you.

That’s right, you’re a grandfather now. It’s something I’m sure you would have been good at. TheMonk and Swee’Pea would have loved you so much. Now that I’m a father, more than ever, I have come to realize how much I missed by not having you around. I missed playing catch, going camping, having someone to talk to about girl stuff and how to be a man. I had to figure that out almost on my own.

I hope you’re proud of the man I’ve turned out to be, Dad. I’ve tried so hard to always do what’s right. I’ve tried even harder to be a good Dad myself. Everytime I hold those beautiful babies of mine somewhere, in the back of my mind, I think will this be the last time I hold them? If nothing, you leaving me has taught me to take nothing for granted – especially being a father. I love those little ones so much – as much as, I imagine, you loved me.

And that is the real reason I’m talking to you today. For so long I was angry at you for leaving me. I would sob myself to sleep as every fiber of my being ached for you to be with me again. For so long I pretended that you leaving me didn’t matter – in fact, I’m embarrassed to say, I sometimes told myself that I was better off. I know now, how untrue that is. I know now, how much you must have hated leaving me that day. I know now how much you must have loved me. I know all of that now because I’m a father too.

So, thank you Dad for loving me – even if you could only be with me on this earth for a short time. Even though I’m about to turn 35 years old, in many ways I’m still a little boy reaching out for his father. And I know now, as I look into the eyes of my own son, that you are still within arms reach. And in that thought, I feel comfort.

In a few days, Father’s Day will be upon us. It will be my second Father’s Day. And while I’m playing with TheMonk and Swee’Pea, I will be thinking of you too and hoping that you know how much you still mean to me after all of these years.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you.

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