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Rising Up
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It finally happened. Weeks of waiting; on edge with suspense; practically biting my nails (if I had any to bite); my unwavering gazes towards my daughter expectantly… she crawled.   And I missed it!   Twice!   Perhaps “unwavering” was a little inaccurate, although I did look away for only a moment each time.

I do, however, have eye-witnesses who can attest to each occurrence: 1) my wife and son, 2) my wife and mother.   With each occurrence my wife called for my attention only for me to turn and find my daughter on her belly.

We knew it was coming and had been waiting for some time.   Her flailing arms became more coordinated.   Random swats turned into purposeful grabs.   Rolling over was now intentional and she could sit-up for periods unassisted before falling over.   Then the sitting-up turned into targeted falling on her hands and knees for a shaky moment before collapsing to her tummy.

Then, a few weeks ago, my four-year-old son—eager to teach his baby sister—began demonstrating various ways of crawling and scooting on his hands and knees.   It was as if he threw down the gauntlet.   Our daughter, the sponge, watched awe-struck and soaked in his every movement.   The next two weeks were like watching an infant version of Rocky.   She seemingly dedicated herself to a strict exercise regime:

    Maia on couch

  • Pushups – rolling over was for newborns, this infant would push up her whole body for multiple reps, resting only briefly in-between.
  • Lunges – once her push-ups became like second nature, she would follow-up with pulling her knees under as if to crawl, rock to and fro, and then lunge her whole body forward, reaching for her target.
  • Army crawl – with her lunge and reaching mastered, she worked on technique, pulling and shuffling across the floor in an army crawl.

Leading into this past weekend, her routine consisted of all the above maneuvers.   We were on pins and needles each time she pushed up into a crawl position.   One little hand and knee would shift forward.   And as we’d anticipate the same movement from her other side, she’d collapse taking with her our hopes of a first official crawl.   That is, until Saturday; and then again Monday; when I missed it each time.   Ah, but patience has its virtues.   And the silver-lining to this story is that my accomplished daughter has now demonstrated her skill for daddy this morning.   Thank you Maia!

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“Where Ya Been…”
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Brody

Sooo, I said that I would explain where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing… essentially what’s going on in the life and world of Scott.  There really isn’t a good excuse.  I’ve been trying my best to be a father of two boys, which is essentially it.  Juggling both kids, my family, and a job got the best of me for a bit; with regards to my discipline to blog weekly and well, it got away from me.  Think of it like this, you have been exercising for weeks now, and then all of a sudden you stop for a bit, and then you are totally out of it….  That is kind of it in a nut shell; but no excuses!

Colby will be 2 years old now on Sept 2, which is just around the corner; and Brody is now 3 months old.  Since my last posted (not including the recent one from the other day), I have had another baby boy.  We named him Brody and he was (is) huge!  When he was born, (natural delivery I might add) he was 10 pounds, 8 ounces and 22 & 3/4 inches long!  He was a huge baby!  Colby at the time of his birth was only 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 & 1/2 inches long.  So Brody was considerable bigger than Colby.

While he was very large, the birth and delivery was a lot easier than the first birth (Colby).  With Colby, we were scheduled to come to the hospital at 6 am and he was delivered at 7:20 pm.  We had started to push at about 4:30 pm, so it took a lot of my wife’s pushing over a while for him to come out.  With Brody, we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 6 am and he was delivered at 10:55 am.  Considerably less time pushing and waiting; as a matter of fact, there was only a few pushes and then he came right out!  So there’s the short and brief version of where I’ve been, and of Brody’s birth!

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“When Pigs Fly…”
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“When Pigs Fly…” This is what some have thought of when I have told them that I will be back blogging soon!  Well, maybe pigs can fly… hmmm… maybe just maybe, Charlotte spun herself a masterful web, and Wilber excitedly and enthusiastically ran towards that web and bounced into it, thus propelling himself into orbit (well, orbit in this case would be just a few feet off the ground) giving the illusion of a pig flying… hmmm… “H… E… double hockey sticks”!  Another popular one, when I have mentioned that the blogging will commence soon!  Who am I? I know many might ask that… well, folks… I’m am one of the two founding members of Daddy Thoughts… where have I been? Good question and one that I will answer shortly!

First, I would like to welcome myself back!  Haha… I have been M.I.A for soooo long and a lot has happened since my last blog post. I might have even considered myself AWOL, leaving one of my best friends and Daddy Thoughts partner and cofounder behind in the trenches of blogging warfare (blogging warfare said in an announcer type of voice that is echoing loudly throughout a stadium, it’s fun… try it!).   Never the less, I am making my comeback!  Celebrities have comebacks, musicians have comebacks, and athletes have comebacks, so why can’t a father of two have a blogging comeback? Yes, that is right folks I said father of TWO! It was not a mistype, or misprint.  No error, mistake or typo… I did indeed say father of TWO… How did this happen? (Well, unless you are under the age of 12, you probably know and understand how this happened).  What I mean is, how in the world am I now a father of two…. And how in the world have I been gone sooo long from Daddy Thoughts that I now have a 2-year-old and a 3 month old! The Details are coming. You’ll have to wait until the next blog, which I promise is just around the corner! I know, the suspense is killing you… stay tuned for next blog!

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What is right, and who is wrong?
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As a young boy, I grew up as part of a large Greek family, my father being one of six siblings.  Like most people, I imprinted from my surroundings.  I noticed that all the members of my extended family married around the age of eighteen.  Each appeared genuinely happy and, to me, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do:  make it to high school, meet a young lady, fall in love, and start your life together.

The story of how my parents met didn’t help either.  They knew each other since elementary school—my father would shoot spit balls into my mother’s hair.  He pined for her in ninth-grade, though she was uninterested and took retribution by causing him to fail French (story for another time).   Junior year of high school, she’s walking home with a friend who happens to like my father, when he pulls up in his car, offering a ride.  Naturally the friend wants to accept and convinces my mom to do so as well.  Funny enough, my dad goes out of his way to drop the friend off first so he can ask my mom out… and the rest, as they say, is history.

In high school, I never considered myself a “looker”, and by no means was I popular.  Being a bit of a loner, I focused on academics and did some sports in the latter years.  There was no high school sweetheart, although I pined after my fair share of ladies.  No girlfriends, no prom dates… in fact, it wasn’t until my early twenties that I brought my first girlfriend around family, to which my grandmother exclaimed, “Thank God, we thought you were gay.” 

I guess you could say I was a late bloomer, or at least I felt like one.  When I looked at my relatives and heard everyone’s “story”, I just didn’t fit the mold… but I wanted to, and felt like I should.  The only solace I took was in my Uncle Dave.  More of an older brother than an Uncle (we’re seven years apart), he didn’t marry until his thirties.  But, then again, he was something of a ladies’ man; so it wasn’t from a lack of prospects.

The Blink 182 song “What’s My Age Again?” came out as I was turning twenty-three and it became my theme.  As I struck out on love in the work-place (high school for your twenties), I kept repeating to myself its lyrics:  nobody likes you when you’re twenty-three.  So it was probably natural, being relatively new to intimacy with women, that I found it rewarding to sleep with those few who actually were interested in me, even though I lacked much interest in them as a person.  But the trap I laid for myself was not to be that guy—the one-night-stand.  So many relationships would drag along as I deceived myself that there was some sort of emotional attachment when, in fact, it was purely physical.

Like most men, I loved the sex.  But, more importantly, I loved the intimacy; and the way it made me feel.  Somehow I felt that, by being with someone, I was that much closer to being married, and therefore closer to being like the rest of my family.  Then along came my first wife (never thought I’d hear myself say those words).

I always knew I wanted to be married.  And I felt like I missed the mark considerably when eighteen came, then went, and I wasn’t… not even close.  I know many women think about their age, when they’ll be married, and having kids (Sex in the City has to be accurate, right?).  I mean sure, their biological clock is ticking, there is an expiration date on their eggs, and they only have so many.  But here I am, a man, and I’m worried about similar things.  I wanted to be married, I wanted kids, and I didn’t want to be too old to enjoy their grand-kids.  And, for the record, let me say that I always thought I’d marry once, and would never be divorced; I believed in commitment.  But let’s face it, my track record with women leading up to this point has sucked.  I was a nice, well-meaning guy who (at the time; and probably still to a degree) was also a bit naïve.

My first wife (referred to from here on out as “the ex”) started working at my job.  The girl there who I was actually pining after, being uninterested, finally left work (or was she fired?), so my friends and coworkers thought it would be cute to try and set me up with “the ex”.  I was told the new-hire liked me (so juvenile).  When she was pointed out, I truthfully didn’t mind much of what I saw, but there was no “moment”… you know, where time slows, music plays, and everything else melts away letting you know that she’s the one (I mentioned I was naïve, right?).  What can I say, I was a hopeless romantic, had my fair share of crushes, and so I thought I knew what love was.  So how did we end up together you ask?  Essentially, I’m a glutton for punishment; that, and I later realized my perspective on love was kind of adolescent, and I convinced myself that being happy was being in love.

Over a period of a year or so she continually made her intentions known while I tried not to be rude and inevitably led her on… as she said (years later), “I look back at our courtship and I see where I forced myself into your life.”  To be honest though, I too had my fair share of blame.  Knowing my own past, I let things get physical and, although I tried to break it off a couple times, I never completely severed ties (men are horn-dogs).   After a couple years, I felt I owed it to both of us to give the relationship serious consideration.  And there was a point that I was happy, and felt that I could continue to be happy, seeing a future together.  Let me clarify, you can be in love and therefore be happy; but being happy does not necessarily mean you are in love.  I know that now, but not then since I didn’t have any personal experience I could base it off of.

To make a long story short (and not steal any thunder from my other writings), we were married for four years, had a son during the last year, and she must have realized what I’ve now learned, because she took our six-month-old son and left me.  We divorced almost a year later.

But what is right, and who is wrong in that kind of situation?  I mean, I was blind to the fact that there were issues in our relationship.  I missed the signs.  I guess I should’ve known when she wanted to take Dr. Phil surveys to inspect our relationship.  I figured he was a “quack” who couldn’t make it as a proper therapist and used his connections to get a daytime show—another Jerry Springer.  Now he’s a household name.  It took her getting verbally abusive and antagonistic, trying to provoke me physically, and then finally the “D” word (Divorce) before I realized we had problems.  We practically separated around our third year of marriage and were seeing a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  The writing should’ve been on the wall, and yet we stayed together and decided to bring a child into the mix.  I felt the issue with our relationship was in our dynamic.  She came from a previous marriage that ended due to her man’s multiple indiscretions, so she naturally had trust issues and became insecure.  When I couldn’t comprehend her concerns, it was as though she needed to become independent and therefore leave or force me to.  I, being inexperienced with marriage, felt I couldn’t live up to her extreme expectations of me and would shutdown when she exploded.  When we were apart, I would be confident and in control, and she would come to trust me again.  In this way we lulled ourselves into a false sense of security, thinking the relationship was salvageable.

Now I believe it is always the best approach to stay the course and work at being together as a family unit; but not just because you hope it’ll benefit the children.  It must also take into consideration the parents and their interaction.  A healthy relationship is a healthy environment for the children.  In my opinion, an unhealthy relationship can many times do more damage to our children in the long run.  And sometimes it requires work to make a relationship healthy again.  Could we have tried more to make it work and stay together?  Possibly.  Would we have been happy, and would it have been a healthy environment?  I think not.  We teach our children by example, which includes our relationships.  That also means in the way that a relationship is dissolved.   There is a “right way” and a “wrong way” for a relationship to end.  I’ll go even further by saying that my circumstance would probably lend more towards a “right way”.  We went through mediation and sought the expertise of a Licensed Psychologist who specialized in divorces with children.  We tried not to involve our own lawyers; but I believe, although costly, we both could have benefited more from their involvement towards the end.  In contrast, I believe that deliberately destructing one’s relationship by being physically abusive, emotionally abusive, viciously attacking one another through lawyers, cheating on one’s spouse, or worse; are prime examples of the “wrong way” to end a relationship.  There were definitely minor “wrong way” elements in the dissolution of my previous marriage.  And some tend to still occur through interactions I have with “the ex”.  But those are stories for another time.

So I have since remarried and have been with my current wife for almost three years.  We have a beautiful three-month-old baby girl.  I am truly in love, and therefore very happy.  I do have joint custody of my son, Iain, from my previous marriage to “the ex”.   And when we finally did separate, I tried to reconcile and do whatever it took, but by that time it had become too late; which was for the better in the end.  Although, I must say, I didn’t think so at the time.  She had already determined to be apart, and knew that to be the best course of action for our son.   It has been a difficult situation, but I honestly think it has been for the best and therefore the healthiest approach for Iain.

So what is right, and who is wrong?  Well I’m right in the end, for doing everything I could to try and save my marriage.  And, then again, so is she for knowing we would never really be happy.  So who is wrong?

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Fathers for our Brides
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Albin Polasek Museum—currently host to a playful 1950s underwater photography exhibit taken in Florida’s Silver Springs—has a beautiful Sculpture Garden which served as the venue for my sister’s wedding this past Saturday on March 5th. Amidst the vibrant flowers and remarkable sculptures, I took video of a bride’s procession, accompanied by a string duo, to her friend and now husband. And I watched in awe as his unwavering vows to my sister overcame the blaring air siren (testing for tornado warnings?), thunderous low flying jets, and obnoxious boats looking on from the neighboring lake. And what was an otherwise beautiful ceremony, will no doubt be a memorable experience in their prosperous marriage as resounding applauds followed his performance.

This momentous occasion was also marked as the official debut of our new daughter amongst my family at large. As many parents of newborns observe, my wife and I kept our preemie daughter close to home for the first two months of her life. Born five weeks early, her progress was monitored by our Pediatrician who stated our daughter officially caught up developmentally at her two-month visit. And it was at this point that she was cleared for general exposure to large crowds. Not to say that our daughter had any complications or couldn’t leave our home and be around throngs of people, but it was in her best interest to minimize risk since she was more susceptible to contagions as a preemie. And being that my father is one of six children, our gatherings tend to be quite a crowd.

Now my wife Megan is a planner. And even though she carefully timed the feedings, our daughter determined that she would not only be hungry just before the ceremony, but inconsolable for a time after her feeding. So Megan unfortunately distanced herself from the ceremony to prevent a crying baby from interrupting it, unknowing that other events would inevitably perform the same task. At least with my videoing the wedding, she was able to later enjoy watching it; although that’s not always quite the same.

But what was most interesting to me was what I noticed during the reception following the ceremony. Like many wedding receptions, we had our cast of friends and relatives that clumped around tables and loosely mingled with new faces of extended family that they scarcely recognized. There were the unexpected visiting cousins, the dedicated aunt traveling across the country, and the otherwise reclusive family members. And yet, the general theme I noticed about the families of newborns and toddlers was the role of the dedicated fathers for their committed brides. These men (myself included) held their children, chased after them, and attended to their needs much to the relief of their wives. It was clearly the mom’s day off, or at least the best attempt of it that we could muster under the circumstances. I know my own wife sometimes considers my involvement with the kids a blessing since there are many men who shy away from taking part with their children, especially during their early years. But this undoubtedly was a testament, at least of the men in attendance at my sister’s wedding, that we are indeed doing our part and being involved as fathers for our brides.

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