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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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“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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My So Called Over-Complicated Life
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I ran a mile and half today and it felt great. I haven’t run in over a year. In reality, with the exception of a few weeks of poorly training for a Muddy Buddy bike/run event that I did with my best friend a little over a year ago, it’s actually been many years since I’ve hit the pavement. And the funny thing is, that as enjoyable as the run was, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again. Or maybe that’s more of a sad thing. And it’s essentially because I have no time. One of my good friends told me on several occasions that I needlessly complicate my life. He’s right.

I have a few traits that contribute to this phenomenon of self-complicating one’s life. First, I feel like my weekends are longer if I do something on Friday nights, so I generally like to plan something for those evenings. Second, my free time (like most people) primarily exists during the weekends, so my wife and I manage to schedule all the tedious tasks during that timeframe. Thirdly, I know my free time is limited, so I feel like I need to cram in visits from close friends and family in-between my many tasks. Factor in that I’m a father of two who works an average of 50-hours each week, that we just bought a house which needs lots of attention, and that I then try to relieve my wife by tending to our children when I can… and, well, you can see where this is going.

And I simply continue to pile it on. I try to plan date-nights, man-dates, visits to friends and family who have new arrivals. We have several weddings coming up, a baby shower, I want to visit my and my parent’s home towns up north, and my wife and I want to go to her mom’s house in Texas for Christmas. We had wanted to go to Greece in the next year or so, and can’t wait to get back to Paris so we can continue to explore Europe … but realistically, I’m not sure when we’ll ever finally work in those kinds of vacations. I mean, how much of what we have to do (not counting the dream vacations) will actually even happen … probably less than half. We’d be lucky if we get a third accomplished in the next two years, if they could all be spanned out that far. And I’m guessing it’ll be closer to five years before we start considering those dream vacations.

One of my closest cousins lives only an hour and a half away and I’ve not been able to visit him since before his wife was pregnant. They celebrated their daughter’s one year birthday a few months ago. And yet, none of that seems to stop me from wanting to do things like volunteer to help my old condo’s Budget Committee. I invested so much time in the Budget Committee the year before, and we made excellent progress. But it was the first of a series of steps that would need to occur over the course of a few years. And so I feel like I have an obligation to see it through. And yet, realistically, there is no time for it.

It’s almost like this is some form of masochism, except my vehicle for pain is stress; And I really don’t get off on being stressed, but I can’t seem to turn away from it and continue to want to do more; But now this stress is starting to wear me down; Not only me, but my family too. And I’ve got to stop, but I don’t know how … so I write instead … which, of course, is something else I enjoy doing, but have not time for.

But why do these things? I guess that’s the big question. Well, because they make me feel good. Because I feel needed. Because I feel like I’m contributing to some greater good. And maybe even just because I want to, and sometimes it’s just nice to do something I want to do instead of the many things I feel I have to do. This brings a song to mind. The chorus goes “You can’t always get what you want.” That’s right, “You can’t always get what you want…” which is how I feel. But is that really fair? I mean, sometimes some of the things you want end up being something that you need. I know I can’t give any justice to explaining it. But sometimes one just needs to do something to feel whole or feel like they contribute to more than just themselves or their family. I recall a little more to that song, “But if you try some time, you just might find… You get what you need.” And so I’m trying. Trying to run, trying to write, but probably not trying to participate in the Budget Committee. As much as I feel like I need to help them, I gave them a good enough start last year to keep the ball rolling. And in the end I do need to have some checks and balances. Hmmm… could this be a breakthrough. I may actually make it my cousins in the next year. Who knows, maybe I will even make it to Greece in the next year or so. Nah, who am I kidding.

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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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Extended Days: Daddy time
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Just a quick update on: recent changes coming with the shared-custody arrangements/scheduling between my son’s mother and I. For some time, I’ve been a proponent of increasing the number of days my son stays with me during the week. It’s a logical progression towards the full 50/50 shared-custody that will take place once he starts school (pre-k or kindergarten).

Soon after the divorce was finalized (almost a year in the making) I ran into some resistance whenever the topic of increasing my son’s time with me was broached. I was certain that the outcomes were due to residual enmity resulting from the circumstances which lead to our divorce (as I imagine is normal with most divorces). Only time could prove whether that was an appropriate assumption. So, here I am—a little over two years from the day she left with my son—and finding that perhaps time does heal some wounds, proving that my hopes at the time were well based.

With the communication improvements between me and my son’s mother, we’ve been able to discuss and agree upon the extending of an additional day during the time each week my son spends with me. This is being termed, “Daddy time”. At first we’ll introduce a new day every other week. Then that will bleed into an every week arrangement. I’ll have to work out some scheduling changes with work of course. And luckily I’ll be able to depend on my Fiancé and mother to help out during times that I’m at work to facilitate the additional Daddy time I’ll get to spend with my son. I am extremely excited and know I couldn’t have done this alone . . . So thank you to everyone who has been supporting me in these endeavors, and in giving me the opportunity to bond more with my son.

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