August 20, 2013

Home is where the heart is

This is the last night in the only house I’ve ever owned.

As I sit here in the familiar silence of the evening, amongst boxes stacked high to the ceiling, I try to push the conflicting emotions from my mind as I wait for the aching in my muscles to give way to the fatigue that will bring sleep.

I try not to think of all the memories that this house holds. My mind wanders to the exciting times as we watched the house being built, still early in my marriage and my life still open to possibility and success. I remember laying the floor in the kitchen with my own hands. I remember planting the bougainvillea that now flash bright reds and pinks along the fence line outside. I remember bringing home two little ones for the first time and countless memories of first steps, first bites and first days of school. I remember little smiling faces rushing to the sliding glass door as my car pulled into the driveway each night and I remember kisses goodnight in cribs and then big boy/big girl beds.

I remember holding hands while watching tv, snuggles under the covers with temporary window coverings that eventually became permanent. I remember bike rides and morning runs, afternoon runs and evening runs.

I remember learning we were having a third child and excited to bring this wonderful new little one into our family. I remember first steps and first bites all over again. I remember laughter and tears and yes, shouting and frustration. I remember times that were so bad that I couldn’t breathe. But then, I could because this was our home.

This was our home while we lived a life. It was a home that Swee’Pea and TheMonk will remember fondly but GirlyGirl probably won’t remember much beyond what she sees in the countless photographs. It was a home we made friends in a community we loved. And while it’s easy to sit here and feel anger about the reasons why I’m leaving this home, the truth is, we needed a fresh start. A new chapter that includes a healthy bank account and credit cards with zero balances. And it will be an opportunity to mend fences and strengthen relationships.

And it will be a time to write a new chapter in our lives. And now that I’m a little older and, I think, a little wiser, I won’t take this new life for granted. I’ll be thankful for what I have and look back at the past with nothing but love and respect for the past is what made me who I am today.

And as I close the door one last time on this house and open the door for the first time in my new house, I will try and remember that houses are not what makes a home.

Home is where the heart is.

September 12, 2012

Daddy’s Girl

Hello my littlest one.

You are almost 15 months old and I cannot believe how the time has flown. In the past few months you have gone from baby to a toddler and the changes are almost too numerous to mention. But I’ll try.

You have five teeth now and four of those five appeared within a week of each other. I was certain you were going to end up looking like a baby great white shark with several rows of teeth at the rate you were popping them out. Lucky for you and for your dentist, your tooth sprouting has slowed considerably as of late.

What hasn’t slowed down is you. You have gone from the fastest crawler in the West to a daring but not-quite-graceful walker. You stagger around like a drunken sailor with a smile to match. If you go particularly far, you recognize this achievement by plopping down on the ground so that you can give yourself a hand. You clap in a way that only a 14 month old can. Your joy is contagious and, pretty soon, your brother, your sister and your dad will join in the applause.

When you’re not clapping you’re waving bye-bye. While I’m not certain, the pleasure you get from waving bye-bye to everyone you meet – including complete strangers – is that you’re saying to them “So long, suckas!” I could be wrong, but your devious smile suggests otherwise.

You are beginning to talk now. You get pleasure when we realize you are saying words. To be fair, you aren’t the most articulate person in the world so sometimes it’s hard to understand what you are saying. For example, you say “Abba” a lot. I’m fairly certain you’re not asking for me to play Dancing Queen so maybe someday you can enlighten me on what that means. What I do understand is “Dada, Mama, Nana (banana), kitteh (kitty), ball, and your sister’s name. I’m sure your brother would love it if you could say his name but he seems to be accepting the fact that you know everyone else’s name but his.

At daycare you are learning to sit in a circle, share with others (not your strong point. I’m just saying), and do art projects. You really seem to love coloring, painting and tasting the occasional crayon. You have really blossomed with your personality since you started daycare a couple of months ago. You are getting comfortable around strangers and you smile and laugh all of the time.

Your favorite games are peek-a-boo and “where’s GirlyGirl’s belly button?” Believe it or not, it’s always in the same place.

So, my littlest one. You are growing and have blossomed into such a joy and wonderful little girl. I may be biased, but you’re such a joy to be around.

I think I’ll keep you.


June 15, 2012

Uh-Oh. Look who’s one!

You came late in the evening on a Wednesday. You had tortured your mother for days prior to making your entrance and based on the stubborn way you stayed five days past your due date and the dramatic conclusion to you arriving in this world, I had you pegged as one that was going to test me like no other.

But I was wrong.  The only thing you have tested is my capacity to love someone as much as I love you, little one.

It has only been one year and I already cannot remember what it was like before you were here.  You are such a sweet baby and your belly laughs and cute smiles melt my heart each and every day.

I love how you interact with your brother and sister.  They weren’t sure what to think of you when we first brought you home but ever since you began acknowledging them, they have loved you so, so much.  They are both vigilant watching what you put in your mouth – even if they were responsible for leaving the baby death traps on the floor in the first place.  They eagerly hold you or play with you when needed and they love teaching you the finer points of silly face making.

You are louder than your brother and sister at one year.  I chalk that up to the fact that if you want to be heard in this house, you better speak up.  And while your vocabulary is limited to a few words – Mama, Dada (infrequently!), kitt-eh – my favorite is the one that I recently taught you: “Uh-Oh.”

You drop things on the floor and I smile at the inevitable, “Uh-Oh.”  Lately, you play the “Uh-Oh” game by dropping things on the floor while Daddy fetches them for you.  I am fairly certain this is your favorite game.  But you don’t just say it when I am around.  Just this past week, I heard you over the baby monitor before you fell asleep utter aloud, “Uh-Oh.”

I’m not sure what that one was about but one thing I do know.  There was no mistake in our decision to have you in our family.  I love you with all of my heart, little one.  Happy Birthday, GirlyGirl.  May your second year be as amazing as your first.


April 29, 2012

Baby Sings the Blues

GirlyGirl is almost 10 and a half months. Time flies when you are outnumbered by kids. Milestones are flying at us at a rate that is hard for this old man to keep up with. Just this week GirlyGirl went from zero teeth to three teeth and is not too happy about it. Her refusal to nap, one would think, would leave her cranky and bitter but that seems to only have affected her parents.

It’s hard not to compare but with the twins they were napping twice a day. Nice, long naps. Naps that meant Mommy and Daddy could have a little respite from babydom for just a little while. I was the only reason we showered, I think.

This one, however, has a mind of her own. Schedule? Nap? If I damn well say so, she says. It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that we chose to have this one.

Another milestone that is creeping up on us is crawling. She has been combat crawling for a number of weeks now but is clearly ready. However “clearly ready” to me is clearly not “clearly ready” for GirlyGirl. Her personality seems to be such that she is measured in what she does and will only attempt something new if she has practiced and practiced and practiced. The girl can climb stairs but won’t crawl on hands and knees.

In spite of the speed that we are traveling down baby #3, I am aware that I’m going to miss all the things I’m complaining about. Someday, too soon, she won’t need me to give her a bottle and rock her to sleep. Someday too soon, she’ll be almost seven, complete with attitude. Someday soon, she’ll call me Daddy and the little embraces I get will be a thing of the past.

Milestones are cool but I’ll take them a slower pace, please.

March 26, 2012

Doing the Girly Shuffle

GirlyGirl has been a roller.  Much like TheMonk was as a baby, GirlyGirl’s preferred method of locomotion has been rolling herself where she wants to go.  This method of transportation can be tedious and inexact at times and it was only a matter of time before GirlyGirl began contemplating other modes of travel.  And while it has been reported that she allegedly wanted her first trip in a straight line to be in a silver 1956 Porsche 356A Speedster, reality hit hard when she realized that not only could she not drive, her old man couldn’t pay for a 1956 tricycle.

So, she did the next best thing.  Combat crawl.

That’s right. GirlyGirl is a girl on a mission.  She sees what she wants and she’s off.  Knee, knee, elbow, elbow.   Knee, knee, elbow, elbow.   All she’s missing is a combat helmet and an assault rifle.  She skims across the floor, her baby belly cleaning the floor of dust and potentially lethal antique food items.  She has no fear.

Her parents, on the other hand?  Oh, yes.  Fear. Definitely fear.

January 5, 2012

Change is hard

As I mentioned below, Swee’Pea and TheMonk are destined for their own rooms. We ordered loft-style beds for each and Swee’Pea’s came last week. This past weekend I mustered all of my furniture-assembly skills and built Swee’Pea’s princess bed.

And while Swee’Pea was clearly excited, she was also apprehensive. She has a history of being scared to try new things and this was no different. She shed a few tears and asked for her old bed back. TheMonk, also feeling vulnerable and unsure, did the same. It was heartbreaking to see the looks on their faces as they faced the great unknown that stretches before them. It was like they understood the significance of this moment – that they would be going their separate paths – and weren’t quite ready.

So we gave hugs and kisses and reassurances and on the first night in her new bed, Swee’Pea chose to sleep with TheMonk. Notice the holding of hands, even as they sleep. May they always have each other when they need it most.

Big Kids

December 20, 2011

Split decision

The voices ring through the silent night. Giggles and loud bursts of chatter followed by lower murmuring. The talking and the listening in on the baby monitor has been well documented on this blog. But this week, the conversations are bitter sweet.

In another week or so, new beds will arrive at our house. I will assemble them and, for the first time, put Swee’Pea’s bed in one room… and TheMonk’s bed in another. Even as I write this, the tears well up in my eyes at the prospect of the twins being separated at night. I knew this day would come but now I’m not so sure I want it.

I want to hold onto the love and comfort that these two give each other. i want to hold onto the innocence of youth and the love of siblings that has never been stronger. I want to hold onto the notion of Swee’Pea and TheMonk being an inseparable team, conspiring, sharing, protecting, supporting and, yes, even fighting. They’ve always had each other and now… it feels like they won’t.

Tonight, I turned up the baby monitor that has never left their room (but not always turned on) and listened to them talk about computer games and canopy beds and everything that’s important to six-year-olds. I reminisced about all the great conversations I’ve heard. Singing. Arguments. Constant talking and cute comments. Wonderful memories that I hope I never forget.

And as we head towards this bittersweet milestone, I pray that they will always remember the closeness that only they can share and that this bond can survive the distance of a wall and two doors.

In the meantime, forgive me if I shed some tears.

August 8, 2011

TheMonk, Sacagawea and Tooth Fairy Fraud

I am sitting at my desk at work plotting the next great initiative at work that will propel my staff to certain greatness when I receive a text message from my wife.  It reads: “TheMonk lost another tooth at school.  He swallowed it.”

My first reaction is, “Again?!”  Because, you see, TheMonk lost a tooth just last week that he accidentally swallowed while eating.  It was then we determined that the tooth fairy knows when he loses teeth and the fact that the tooth was nestled in his belly would not prevent him from reaping the precious bounty of Tooth Fairy goodness.

My second reaction is, “He had a loose tooth?”  I seriously had no idea.  I mean, the kid has lost so many teeth that the Tooth Fairy has begun making himself a snack after every visit.  TheMonk’s lost so many teeth that if he stands just right, he whistles in the wind.  I just didn’t think the kid had any more teeth left to lose.

Upon my arrival after work, I inspect TheMonk’s mouth.  I see the big gaping hole that used to be his two front teeth that have been missing since this time last year when he had them unceremoniously pulled after a run-in with a piece of playground equipment.  What I don’t see is evidence that a tooth has recently left his mouth.  I point this out to TheMonk and he insists that he lost a tooth and that his friend Amelia confirmed there was blood in his mouth.  I am unconvinced.

The gap doesn’t seem any bigger than it did before.  The teeth on either side look symmetrical.  In a court of law I feel I could win this case.  But in a court of 6-year-olds who have told their entire class that they have lost a tooth and have taken home the “tooth bag” (a perfectly mean extra homework project that any kid gets when he or she loses a tooth in TheMonk’s class) to much acclaim, it is impossible to say otherwise.  It is clear that the Tooth Fairy will be dishing out another Sacagawea $1 coin this evening.

Maybe he did lose a tooth.  I’m no dentist and the kid loses teeth faster than I lose readers.  But I don’t think he did.  And I have this sneaking suspicion that he’s perpetrating the biggest fraud known to child-kind: Putting one over on the Tooth Fairy to make a quick buck.

I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed.

(Okay, I’m totally proud.)

July 24, 2011

The big 4 Oh man, I’m old.

The past 10 years have been fairly good to me.  I’ve gone from newlywed to veteran husband.  I’ve moved to a new town, began a new career, bought a couple of cars, bought a house and… had three beautiful kids.

Of course, I’ve aged 10 years, lost a bit more hair (okay, a lot more hair) and the hair I have left has gone from jet-black to earl-gray.  No doubt about it, I’m getting older.

This past decade – my 30′s – was the decade I figured a lot out.  I figured out who I am and what’s important to me.  I’ve established a career that I enjoy and that I’ve performed fairly well in.  I’ve experienced unprecedented joy and incredible pain and I’ve come out stronger.  I found out I love being a father, learning about leadership and writing about my kids. And, of course, I found out that loving your wife is truly a gift.

In my 20′s, I didn’t know much but got by with enthusiasm and brains.  In my 30′s, I gained experience and perspective.  Now, on the first day of my 40′s, I’m actually excited for the coming decade.  This will be the decade that I make a difference.  Swee’Pea and TheMonk will be well into their teen years by the time I turn 50.  m&m will be entering the tween years.  I’ll be 20 years into my career and have another 10 years to convince my wife she really did make a good decision when marrying me.

So, bring it on, 40′s.  I’m ready.  My 30′s made sure of that.

January 1, 2011

I like Green Eggs and Ham

For as long as I can remember we have been reading bedtime stories to Swee’Pea and TheMonk. That 15 to 20 minutes of reading might be my favorite part of the day. I genuinely miss it when I have to work late or we skip reading time because we’re late getting to bed.

In the past six months, something cool has begun to take shape. While I read, Swee’Pea and TheMonk have been following the words as I read them. A few months back they began to shout out words as they recognized them (which is kinda distracting when you’re trying to read, but I’ll let it go this time) and it has been more and more evident that they can read a lot of words.

Over the past few years, we have read quite a bit. We cheer on Madeline and Finklehopper Frog. We learn Fancy words from Nancy and worry about that hobo ant on the railroad track AND on the parking lot. We say goodnight to the moon and listen in on loving words between Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare.

But one of my favorites is good old Dr. Suess. We enjoy Cat in the Hat, The Thinks You Can Think and Wocket in My Pocket, but my absolute favorite is Green Eggs and Ham.  I can read that book over and over again.  In my mind it is one of the best books ever written.  And, it seems, TheMonk likes it a lot too.  He chose Green Eggs and Ham as the first book he ever read to Mommy and Daddy.

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