March 21, 2010

Learning to take the path less traveled

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to instill in my kids the fact that they don’t need to always conform to what others expect. I want them to feel like they can blaze their own path to whatever they want to achieve in their lives. And, most of all, I want them to live their life without limiting themselves because they are worried about what other people think.

At almost-five years, I worry that maybe that lesson isn’t sinking in. I worry when my kids cling to me at preschool in the morning rather than racing off to join their friends. I worry when they don’t like my idea of showing everyone their uvula when they have to bring something that starts with the letter U for show and tell. I want to shout out to them, “Don’t do what everyone else does! Be different! People will respect you for being an individual!” But then, I look into their young, innocent eyes and I acquiesce by grabbing the umbrella and stuffed unicorn. I guess, they’re not ready for uvulas quite yet.

But then, on other days, I am blown away by the paths that Swee’Pea and TheMonk choose to blaze. One day I’m encouraging them to be leaders – to do their own thing without a thought of what they look like or what others will think – and the next day, I walk into our play room and find TheMonk looking like this:

TheMonk is experiencing a severe identity crisis.

Yep. They’re gonna be just fine.

September 17, 2009

How Lou Gehrig touched my life

For my undergraduate degree, I attended Columbia University. And while Columbia has had many famous alumni (including our current President), one of the most famous is the baseball player, Lou Gehrig. As you may know, Lou Gehrig contracted a disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) which forced his early retirement from baseball and, ultimately, caused his death. ALS, also now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. Most people with ALS die within 2-5 years of their diagnosis.

Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because I have a friend, a former co-worker of mine, who suffers from ALS. What makes her story so compelling is how unfair this disease is and how she has chosen to live life to the fullest while fighting this awful disease. My friend Eryn was 31 years old when she was diagnosed. Most people with ALS aren’t diagnosed until their 50′s which, to me, seems so unfair to Eryn and her family. Did I mention that Eryn has two beautiful children? Kai and Kate are so beautiful with incredible blue eyes and freckles on their noses – just like their mom.

And did I mention that Eryn was a swimmer? According to her swim coach at the University of Miami, Eryn was “a legend.” A conference champion in 1994. I didn’t know this until recently but as I see how she’s fighting ALS and working so hard to raise money to beat this terrible disease, I can see how she has the heart of a champion. She doesn’t like to lose.

There are so many worthy causes out there in there to support with time, treasure and talent. I have asked many of you in the past to support the YMCA and you have done so in a way that leaves me amazed and humbled. But today I ask you to consider making a donation to the ALS on behalf of my friend Eryn. Eryn’s goal is to raise $4,000 this month and she has raised $3,225 as I write this. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could help her beat her goal and, God willing, help her beat ALS?

Thank you for considering this request. Eryn deserves what we all have. A chance to raise her children and live a long and happy life.

To support ALS and Eryn (and see photos of her kids and hear from Eryn in her own words), go to Erin’s ALS fundraising page here.

October 4, 2005

Parenting Tip

If you leave for work with drool stains on your shoulder thinking, “Oh, no one will notice.”

They will.

(Interestingly enough, if you leave for work with coffee stains on your shirt, people think you’re a slob. But if you leave for work with baby drool stains on your shirt, people think it’s cute.)

April 12, 2005

Things that go bump in the night

Lately, I’ve had a couple of instances that put my late-night thinking ability into doubt. First, I’m a fairly sound sleeper so it takes a bit to wake me up. Second, because I’m in such a deep sleep I’m left a bit discombobulated when being suddenly awakened.

For example, as part of my job at the Y I work for, I am the person the alarm company calls when there’s a problem at the branch. Of course, problems only occur between the hours of 2:30 and 4:30 a.m. When the alarm company tries to get a hold of me, they first call my cell phone and then, if there’s no answer, they call my home phone. Saturday night/Sunday morning I was awakened by my wife elbowing me at 2:30 in the morning. I heard her say the words, “Honey, your cell phone.” I could hear the distinct ring tone of my cell phone upon which I immediately picked up the home phone and said “Hello? Hello?” It took me a minute to realize I wasn’t answering my cell phone. Luckily the home phone rang a few seconds later.

Fast forward to last night. It’s 4:00 a.m. and I am awakened by a loud bang. The house shakes and for a split second I’m not sure if we’re experiencing an earthquake or if a car has run into our house. I jump out of bed and my wife tells me, “It’s an earthquake, Honey.” In my still clouded mind I immediately think, “Where are the babies Are they in their bassinet in our room or in their cribs down the hall´┐Ż”

Only then do I realize that the babies haven’t been born yet and they are safely inside Andrea’s belly.

For some reason, this has Andrea concerned. She’s convinced that once the babies arrive she’s going to catch me some late night petting the babies and trying to diaper the cat.

February 6, 2005

Dead Head Babies

I’m having some weird dreams about babies lately. Last night, I dreamt that I visited my brother and his wife for the first time since they had their baby. When I arrived, I was shocked to see one “Main Baby Thomas” and about 10 other “Secondary Baby Thomas’”. Well, after questioning my brother, I found out that his wife Liz, unbeknownst to me, had become pregnant with fertility drugs and there were a lot more babies than they had planned.

“Wow, Liz must be really tired breast feeding all of these babies.” I commented.

“Yes, she’s tired, but the other babies will be gone after about a year.” Ben replied.

“How so” I asked.

“Well,” Ben replied, “the babies were born with donated sperm and the donor definitely wants all of the left over babies.”

“Who would want 10 babies” I asked.

“Well,” Ben replied, “the donor is Bill Walton and he is excited about having the babies.”

“Wow”, I said, “Thomas is going to be TALL.”

“Yep.” Ben replied.

December 30, 2004


Nutmeg, our cat, is by most accounts a pretty spoiled kitty. She gets treats for scratching on her post, letting us trim her claws when they get too sharp, or just being really cute. The treats we give her are crunchy, “tartar control”, turkey flavored treats – and she has been happy to get them.

Until this week.

Our good friends Chris & Christy had dinner with us last week and brought a Christmas gift for us and for Nutmeg. She got a catnip pillow, a feather on a stick, and a bag of soft chicken and cheese flavored treats.

I first gave her some of these treats a few days ago. Nutmeg quickly learned the difference between the treats. Now, she closely inspects them to see if they are the yummy, soft chicken and cheese or the boring, crunchy turkey. It’s quite a sight to see her turn away from the crunchy ones and walk away – as if to say, “I don’t do crunchy.”

I guess once you’ve had caviar, it’s hard to go back to Cheese Whiz.

December 26, 2004

Happy Kwanzaa

Today, I attended my first Kwanzaa ceremony. The first symbol is Umoja or Unity and as I watched Patrice, our guide, discuss the history and meaning of Kwanzaa to the children gathered around her, I realized just how important it is to learn about culture and those that came before you. As I approach fatherhood, I know that I want that for my children. I want them to know where they come from. I want them to know about their black history, their Mexican history and everything in between. That way they will be one step closer to being a united world than what we have right now.

Happy Kwanzaa.

December 25, 2004

Happy Birthday Jesus

The church we attend does not yet have a facility so mass is celebrated at the local high school gymnasium.

As the end of midnight mass came near, I glanced up into the rafters of the gym and noticed a mylar balloon that had floated to the ceiling.

It read, “Happy Birthday”

Merry Christmas everyone.

December 24, 2004

Bumper Sticker Wisdom

Seen on a car this Christmas Eve…

“When God said “Love your enemies,” I’m thinking He probably meant, “Don’t Kill Them.”

December 21, 2004

So much for paying for college

I called a well-known child development center (i.e. daycare) near where we live today to inquire about infant care. I explained we are having twins and I need to know about local programs – especially cost.

After hearing about their 1:4 staff to infant ratio and their individualized curriculum for each infant, she got to the cost.

“Are you sitting down” She asked. (It’s never a good thing when someone is about to quote you a price and they are concerned whether you’re sitting or standing.)

“The cost is $245 per week per child – but you would get a 10% sibling discount on the second baby.”

I thanked her but I don’t really remember much more of our conversation. The number FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE kept running through my head. Per week. Fifty-two weeks per year. Over $24,000 a year.


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