Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not cool to trash Baby B’s city. Not cool.

This week we had our annual homeowners' association meeting. The past two years we've lived here I've been on the board and Amy and I have been very involved in the neighborhood.

One problem we've had to deal with is the land across the street from us – and the landowner. The land is unkempt, weeds rampant, trash accumulates, homeless use it as a weigh station locking up their bikes and washing up (which has decreased dramatically of late thank goodness), and the landowner just doesn't care.


We tried the diplomatic route to get him to clean it up, we hired a lawyer to try to force him to comply via the city of Santa Cruz, but to no avail either way. In fact, the city told us that since no major ordinances are being violated (although the landowner has been cited multiple times in the past), we should deal with it elsewhere because the city has too many more important issues to deal with.


Like the fact that the city budget shortfall will reduce the number of officers on the street, marijuana's been decriminalized in the city and now we have a grow house around the corner, and this kind of out of control crap is tolerated downtown (our nutty, eclectic downtown we love). Granted, the article points out that almost 200 arrests have been made downtown over the past year, but at the expense of local partiers and homeless addicts trashing corners and making it unsafe for families. And did there really need to be 200 arrests? C'mon.


I embrace diversity and am progressively tolerant – but not for those who aren't personally responsible, who aren't getting help and taking advantage of the city's services. And it's not cool to trash Baby B's city, whether it's across the street or downtown or along the beach. And it's not cool to not take care of your property.


So there.


Who you lookin' at?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daddy K remembers Hands Across America, repeated

I'm certainly not the first to comment on conservative talk show host Michael Savage's suggesting that the diagnosis of autism is a sham and calling their kids "brats" who need nothing more than a good talking-to, and I certainly won't be the last.


I don't necessarily agree that he should be fired for what he said. I just don't listen to him and have no interest in what he said or says. Freedom of speech and the power of choice.


His comments struck me as uninformed, and well, stupid. Unfortunately there are misdiagnoses every day of children and adults on a variety of ills. But to say that autistic children need a good talking-to (and I know he had more to say than that sound bite alone) is crazy.


The article I read last week stated:


Autism and other developmental disabilities now appear to affect an estimated 3.4 of every 1,000 children ages 3-10, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some affected children have high IQs, while others are unable to communicate at all. But all of the disorders are characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication, along with repetitive behaviors or interests.


Even as more and more national studies try to decipher the roots of autism, the mystery has only been deepened by its increasing prevalence. The Centers for Disease Control Web site admits it's "unclear how much of this increase is due to changes in how we identify and classify ASDs in people, and how much is due to a true increase in prevalence."


But while theories on autism's causes abound, experts dismiss Savage's suggestion that stronger parenting could straighten out many autistic kids. And they blast him for describing autism as some "diagnosis du jour," a passing pop-medical trend without scientific weight.


After my first year of college (studying psychology) I worked at a mentally handicapped summer camp as a counselor. The autistic children and teenage campers I dealt with were disabled, from low functioning to high, but no amount of discipline was going to fix them. One autistic teenager sang Hands Across America over and over and over and over again no matter what we tried to communicate to him. He was a sweet young man whose eyes were as clear and coherent as any normal child. And another younger camper would bite his hand any time he was under duress, no matter how minor the stress. He had to be restrained so he didn't permanently damage his hand.


I can't imagine what it would be like if Baby B turned out to have autism, but I know we'd do everything we could to help our child (and ourselves) adapt and live as normally as possible.


I think adults that speak before substantiating need a good talking-to.


Bad parenting doesn't lead to autism. Bad parenting leads to bad children that grow up to be bad parents.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daddy K says, Take responsibility for taking responsibility

Regardless of your politics, Senator Barack Obama delivered a compelling Father's Day speech last month about the need for responsible fathers. And although it was directed primarily toward African-America men, his words can be applied to all men and fathers. Thanks once again Wayne's Fatherhood Blog.

I've been thinking a lot about responsible fatherhood, and based on my childhood experiences, and the fact I'm having a child of my own now, I can't comment enough about it.


"Too many fathers are M.I.A, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."


Amen, Barack.


And he should know, because he was raised by a single mother. But no, he's not Muslim. Really. Stop talking about it.


Even children that are adults whose father hasn't spoken to them for decades, or vice-versa, doesn't negate the fact that some kind of amends could be made. Whether a relationship can be rekindled after years of separation and neglect is secondary to asking for forgiveness and giving it as well. That is taking responsibility for not taking responsibility and forgiving the unforgiveable.


According to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., in an article titled Fathering in America: What's a Dad Supposed to Do?, regardless of whether the father lives with his children, active participation in raising those children is good for everyone.


Amen, Dr. Marie.


She goes on to highlight practical guidelines for responsible fatherhood. Here are some of my favorites:


Embrace your responsibility. Once you are a father, you are a father for life. The knowledge of fatherhood changes a man. It can be a source of pride and maturity or a source of shame and regret. Even if you have good reasons for not being actively involved, acknowledging your paternity is a minimal gift you can provide to your child. With it come many legal, psychological, and financial benefits. If you want to be in your child's life, it also protects your rights to have time with your child should you and the child's mother have a falling out.


Be there throughout their childhoods. There is no time in a child's life that doesn't count. Research has shown that even infants know and respond to their fathers differently than they do to their mothers. The bond you make with a baby sets the foundation for a lifetime. As the kids get older, they'll need you in different ways but they will always need you. Insistent toddler, curious preschooler, growing child, prickly adolescent: Each age and stage will have its challenges and rewards. Kids whose parents let them know that they are worth their parents' time and attention are kids who grow up healthy and strong. Boys and girls who grow up with attention and approval from their dads as well as their moms tend to be more successful in life.


Balance discipline with fun. Some dads make the mistake of being only the disciplinarian. The kids grow up afraid of their dads and unable to see the man behind the rules. An equal and opposite mistake is being so focused on fun that you become one of the kids, leaving their mother always to be the heavy. Kids need to have fathers who know both how to set reasonable, firm limits and how to relax and have a good time. Give yourself and the kids the stability that comes with clear limits and the good memories that come with play.


Be a role model of adult manhood. Both boys and girls need you as a role model for what it means to be adult and male. Make no mistake: The kids are observing you every minute. They are taking in how you treat others, how you manage stress and frustrations, how you fulfill your obligations, and whether you carry yourself with dignity. Consciously or not, the boys will become like you. The girls will look for a man very much like you. Give them an idea of manhood (and relationships) you can be proud of.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Love that Daddy Dialectic; a line in the hot sand

One of the "Daddy" blogs I really enjoy is called Daddy Dialectic. A post from last week titled Techno Dad talked about how technological advances in communication (Internet, wireless routers, laptops, Blackberries and iPhones) have given some fathers more freedom to work from home and spend more time with their families; the attempt to restore the ever-elusive work-life balance.


Is it possible? I work a lot from home as it is now, and the line in the hot sand I've drawn, with Mama A's guiding hand (wink), moves in mirages from week to week.


While maybe the balance is never truly a balance, I agree with Jeremy that the ability to work from a virtual office – at home – will be a boon for Baby B and Mama A.


And me.

Daddy K runs the Wharf to Wharf

Well, I did it. This is the second year I've run the Wharf to Wharf and this year's 36th annual event boasted a fantastic run for me. It's a six-mile race that starts at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and ends at the Capitola Wharf.

Thanks to Andy's training guidance, and Mama A's encouragement, I increased my speed and performance to hit a personal best. There are over 14,000 people who run (and walk) this race, so the first few miles were slower than I would've liked, but I cranked up the inner reactors and melted down the asphalt the last two-plus miles, finishing at just under 56 minutes, almost 10 minutes faster than last year. Next year's goal: less than 50 minutes.


This race promotes the health and fitness of Santa Cruz County youth and it's again great to see so many families running together. Amy was going to walk it this year, but considering how far along she is and how wiped out she got the last time she challenged herself on the Yosemite hike, she decided it was a good idea not to. We'll do together next year!


At one point while I was running, a young boy watching the race had his hand out for an encouraging slap. So I obliged him. Could be B someday, although I'm going to have B out there running with me.


It feels good to be able to run like this. I grew up with severe asthma and then smoked as an adult, so to be in shape and run like this is a blessing for me, Mama A and Baby B. We will be an active family, no doubt about that.


There are many other charity 10K's that I'm going to start participating in as well, so I'd better get back to training.


But first, a nap. And then a donut.

Mama A eats poo candy. Really.

A special thank you to the ladies of HRmarketer.com for throwing us a fabulous baby shower yesterday!

I was designated picture-taker and recorder – but of course participated in the fun games as well. One of the memorable moments was the guess the melted candy bar in the newborn diaper game. Always a big hit. I played it years ago at a coed shower for an old colleague of mine and it is a gross, knee-slapping hoot.


Check out the video of it here.


We were all really hungry, but Mama A couldn't wait for the good eats everybody brought – so she ate the candy bars. Yes, the poo candy. Love that woman! She ain't afraid.


We also had a Winnie the Pooh piƱata that we beat the stuffing out of – and fun stuffing did it have. Soap bubbles and toe rings and candy and magic pads and all sorts of goodies.


Thankfully there was a guy gift I won during the afternoon festivities – a San Francisco Giants Pez dispenser, complete with the little candied soaps (ever since I was little Pez candy tasted a little soapy). Go Giants! (Yes, it's a painful season to become a fan, but those are the best kind.)


Aren't we supposed to wait and have Baby B before we have this much fun?


No way. Rock on with the fun. Rock on.

Daddy K and car care don’t mix; sticking to the laptop

One of Amy's patients gave her a sweet cut-out card with a baby that swings in a swing, congratulating us on Baby B. Yes, I'm a girl sometimes and I'm okay with that.


Except when it comes to doing car things. Crap. I'm a guy when I need to be, but the last time I knew anything of car consequence was when I saved and bought my first car – a 1972 two-toned red and white El Camino with a whole lotta 350 under the hood.


A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.


One of my colleagues was stranded at work last week with a dead battery and I went out to jumpstart her car. It was the first time I attempted to do this in our new car; it was the first time I've actually looked at the engine of our new car.


After reviewing the owner's manual for 15 minutes, I jumpstarted her car. Although I did have it connected correctly, it still wouldn't start. Thirty minutes later AAA showed up and got her car started.


Sigh.


Does AAA offer car-guy-101 remedial courses?


Sigh.


Back to the laptop.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baby B is a vampire. Really.

Our latest midwife appointment was this week and everything is A-Okay.

Well, almost everything. I mean, the ever-expanding uterus universe is on target, Baby B's positioning is good, the heart rate continues to be a steady 140 bpm, it's regularly active and uses Mama A's bladder as a whoopee cushion. Good times.


Everything but Amy's iron level. Too low. Anemic.


Baby B is a vampire. Really.


Please note that Amy was a vegetarian for almost 10 years before she started ingesting meat again. And then it was in only small amounts and seafood and pork. No beef or chicken. No chicken whatsoever. (When she was in Ecuador with her friend Sandy, a couple years before I met Amy, they ate chicken burritos from a roadside vendor and got sick as a dog.)


She gets a lot of iron from many other non-meat sources, but because she has a vampire in her belly, it's not enough. Thank goodness she's cut back on the garlic.


Our midwife suggested we get some yellow dock root to help improve Amy's iron level, which we did. The next morning Amy asked me to Google for the best food iron sources. I turned to her and said:


"Beef, baby. There's your Google search."


She laughed to humor me and said, "Funny. Search please."


And so I did and came up with a wide range of foods that are iron-rich. What the heck is jaggery? It was on the list.


Technically, the word refers solely to sugarcane sugar. Yum. Mama gonna like that one.


But then the yellow dock root gave her a little belly ache (she thinks) and so she looked for an alternative. Someone suggested another herbal concoction that could've been arsenic for all I know and our midwife said don't do it. I concurred because, well, that's what her job is – to advise us on how to care for the unborn child.


We're going to give the yellow dock root and beef a shot first to see if that helps. Amy also read that cooking in a cast iron skillet can help. I thought it was hogwash but obviously not.


Men (and women), take care of your pregnant half make sure she eats her meat from cast iron for the baby vampires. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat? (That last one was for Pink Floyd – The Wall fans.)


Time for carne asada fajitas! Muy bueno!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mama A says, “That darn cat…”

"…is gonna die."

Not really. Maybe just get drop-kicked across the room. It's bad enough that Amy's not sleeping well with amped hormonal surges and baby-on-bladder syndrome. Now our lovely calico, Chelsea, who is 19 years old and not going anywhere anytime soon, either:

  1. Sits right in front of Amy's face and wakes her with tickling whiskers.
  2. Walks over Amy's head or belly to reach her favorite spot in between after returning from her nocturnal haunts.
  3. Launches a whiny meowing jag at 4, 5 and/or 6 a.m.
  4. All of the above or some combination thereof.

These housecat behaviors where troublesome at times prior to being pregnant (and the spray bottle full of water doesn't work as well as you'd think), but considering yesterday morning Amy could've lifted a bus to throw at the cat, and thank God she didn't, we need to get her some better sleep before we start throwing the cat at the baby.


It's a joke. Really. No worries.


I did some research on one of the sites we visit weekly, the America Pregnancy Association, because I bounce online all the time.


Whack


How can I cope with insomnia during pregnancy?

  1. Try new sleeping positions

  2. Prepare yourself for bedtime by taking a warm bath or receiving a nice massage

  3. Set up your room for a comfortable sleep setting by changing your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and playing some relaxing or natural sounds that can help make you sleepy

  4. Try relaxation techniques such as the ones you have learned in your childbirth class

  5. If you still cannot fall asleep you should get up; you might read a book, watch TV, eat a small snack or fix some warm milk

  6. Exercising during the day

  7. If you have the opportunity to sleep during the day you should take it!

But no matter what, don't throw the cat out with the disposable diapers. Landfills are too full.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The A&K Files: How Dragonflies Fall

Sitting in Robby's backyard this hot summer weekend, I noticed some beautiful burnished orange dragonflies gliding in the warm wind. I was fascinated watching them; two adjoined with another smaller one floating right behind.

I know I've been accused of being a poet, but I ain't making this stuff up.


I watched them, thinking how two halves make two wholes, then three, mindful of their moments in the sun.


And then I remembered a poem I wrote…


Dragonflies Fall


As we walked inside a favorite well lit place,

I noticed them huddled together on bar stools

like vagrants sleeping in long winter alleys,

or teenagers parked on dark summer roads,

or dragonflies joined afloat in spring winds lift.


Their inner arms are somewhat interconnected,

caressing each other's necks and backs while

opposite elbows are pinned to the mahogany bar

for fear they might slip away from each other

through the cracks in the hardwood floor to be

reabsorbed by the aged earth where moments

are measured in millennia and all stories ever told.

They hold chilled pint glasses half-full of idealistic

afterthoughts, like safety lines from a cliff edge.


We order our beers, and I look at you and say,

"Dragonflies fall through the center of the earth

like burnished amber in fading autumn sunsets,"

then I stroke your cheek and kiss your warm lips

and you wonder what they think of, watching us


fall.


And now we fall as three, mindful of our presence in the sun.

Retro K: A treasure trove of golden memories friendship has forged

Thirty years ago a young man befriended me by the name of Robin Christopher Day. We were in the 7th grade at the time and in Mr. Franks "hot hockey stick" history class together. I say hot hockey stick because Mr. Franks had a sawed-off hockey stick he used to rattle the young minds of his class. And rattle he did. If you were out of line in class – slam – right on the desk in front of you. If you didn't do your homework – slam. He made us all wet our pants from time to time, that's for sure. Can't get away with that crap anymore.

Robby made me a cassette tape of two Cheap Trick albums and our rock and roll friendship was born that year. Over the years we grew as friends, becoming the best of. In fact, our circle of friends since high school has remained more or less intact, becoming the equivalent of a straight small town all-male review Sex in the City. Oh, the stories I could tell.


But I won't. So don't ask.


High school was a particularly poignant time for Robby and me. Not just because of the standard coming of age high school antics most of us experience, but because of two events: I went a little crazy and Robby broke his neck.


These are mutually exclusive, and although my mental instability was exacerbated by Robby's accident, they were still independent of one another with their own stories.


This post isn't about my end of days anxiety or about Robby's paralysis; it's about our friendship that has stood the test of sometimes volatile and dark times.


Spring break of our senior year, a group of the "guys" went to the coast for a day. The coast being Morro Bay, since growing up in Visalia nestled deep in the southeast corner of the Central Valley under the watchful Sierra Nevada meant the ocean was almost three hours away.


We wanted Robby to come with us, but he had a swim meet that he refused to miss (Robby was a swimmer and water polo player). Nobody blamed him; I wouldn't have missed a football game for anything.


When we returned that night from Morro Bay, we learned that Robby had an accident in the pool and broke his neck.


Paralyzed from the sternum down with limited mobility in his arms and hands, Robby adapted and has lived a full life in Chico since he moved there in 1989, which is where I've been for the weekend visiting (I miss Mama A and Baby B, though!).


Every year the guys and I come to Chico at least one or two times to visit. To relive the glory days and share the treasure trove of golden memories friendship has forged since. (No, I can't tell you a thing.)


And through all the falling outs and falling downs and triumphs and laughter and tears and darkness and light – Robby and I remain the best of friends unconditionally.


I hope that Baby B will have a friend like Robby someday, and that is why I'm proud to say Robby will be the Godfather of Baby B.


Time stand still

I'm not looking back

But I want to look around me now

Time stand still

See more of the people and the places that surround me now

Freeze this moment a little bit longer

Make each sensation a little bit stronger

Experience slips away...


--Neil Peart


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Baby B Needs Some Room; Mama A Tosses and Turns

Mama A is getting a little uncomfortable now and she's tossing and turning and going to the bathroom more at night.

We're down to less than two months and Baby B's studio apartment with the California king size waterbed is getting cramped. B is between 4 and 5 pounds, upwards of 17 inches long and is such a wiggle worm.


And a thump worm. And a kick worm. And a somersault worm.


Yikes. I wish there was something I could do other than rub her back and belly and legs and whisper sweet somethings.


But I'm glad that both Mama and B are healthy furies!


I meant sweet peas. Really, I did.

Daddy K Whacks at Gophers While Jet Skiing

I read an article at Atlantic.com a couple of weeks ago by Nicholas Carr titled Is Google Making Us Stupid?.

Fascinating read. Like Nicholas and many other folk, I've been online for over 10 years, surfing the Web as they say and Googling research tidbits that otherwise would've taken days to find. I'm wired to my laptop and iPhone (Mama A does make me put them away, no worries) and am constantly jumping from e-mail, to blogs, to client projects, back to e-mail, to podcasts, to blogs, to YouTube, to online newspapers and magazines, back to e-mail – it's like the whack-the-gopher-on-the-head game at an amusement park; how many things can I touch in 5 minutes, retaining bytes of info without going too deep.


Because you can't go deep if you're jumping around on the surface.


Something has changed the way we process information, and maybe not always for the better. I recommend you read that article but this was something that totally stuck with me:


My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.


Zip along like a guy on a Jet Ski. Yikes. That's me. This rewiring of the brain that Nicholas refers to is causing us to have a new form of attention deficit disorder (and he does a great job of highlighting how other advancement changes in history like the printing press have changed the way humans consume and process information).


However, I do fight back. I do take the time to absorb myself in my novels, read the news weekly instead of scanning, and write more uninterrupted. And while there's no doubt that the Web is a powerful learning tool and platform for global human interaction, it's changing the way we think.


It's hard, though, because –


Whack!


I have to check –


Whack!


Too many things –


Whack!


Check this –


Whack!


Check that –


Whack!


Phew. I'm pooped. So the question is how soon do we introduce the power of the Web to Baby B? There are different schools of thought on this and we'll have to investigate further as we zip along the surface of life.


Mindful living in the present will help us, that's for sure.

The B Rules: Read the Book First

Okay, so the kid isn't even out of the womb yet. But, reading will be a very high priority for the B-ster. I've already been reading out loud to B and Mama A, and B's responding in kind by moving excitedly in its protective uterine shell.

Or, maybe it's gas. (Mine not Mama's!)


But I don't think so. We've been playing the poke and poke back game with Mama's belly and it's definitely responding to our touch and tones.


I thank my Mom for instilling reading in me. She read to my sister and I regularly and my Mom remembers how much I coveted my books when I was little. I was a very shy, introspective child, and books were a way for me to connect with another life, another world. I'd sit in my room, or outside in my tree house when I was older, or anywhere for that matter, and read, read, read.


Fast forward to when I was 10. Somehow I came across a paperback copy of Jaws. Not an appropriate book for a 10-year-old, no, but I was quickly absorbed in it and ripped through the reading.


So of course since I was so well-versed in every aspect of the story, my imagineered vision of the shark horrifying real, I assumed that when my sister and I were taken to see the blockbuster movie version (one of the first true summer blockbusters), I would be fine.


God help me.


Within the first few minutes after the opening credits rolled, I was horrified and sick. When the woman was swimming and the great white first hit, I thought I had lost my mind (and my stomach).


Immediately I fled to the theater bathroom. I had no idea how long I was in there until Mom came and got me. I said I'd give it another go, but again within a few more minutes (I believe it was the diver part with the boat and the head), I was lost in gut-wrenching terror.


That was it. All done. I had to be taken home. But, my sister stayed, God bless her.


Within a week I was bragging to the other neighborhood kids about specific parts of the movie, parts I never saw (until years later), and I was revered for it. My sister would have none of that and cleaned up my flotsam and jetsam BS by reminding everyone that she stayed and watched the whole movie, and I went home like a scared little baby.


Good times.


The stark reality of visual images put before us can be too much, especially today with how far special effects have come. We can get into another discussion at another time of how such violent and sexual images can be detrimental for children and society at large (no, I'm fine that I saw Jaws at 10).


That's why reading it so powerful because our minds create a safety net for us, only allowing us to imagine based on what we already know and what we can handle as we teeter across the high wire of words over a sea of infinitum. When we read we are the captain of the boat and we decide exactly how horrifying the sharks are. This evolves as we get older but the rule still applies. And all of us have differing visions of what those words describe from book to book.


The problem is that once a director's vision is put to celluloid (wow, what am I, 100 years old?) or digitized in hi-res video, those images are the same for all of us indefinitely. Harry Potter is a perfect example of this.


Don't get me wrong, I love movies, whether they are original screenplays or adaptations. But dagnabbit, read the book first. Reading helps to build vocabulary and exercise the mind. Amy and I are big readers and I've become a little voracious about it again. Love it.


We missed this year's NEA Read Across America, which is an event sponsored by the National Education Association that promotes reading. But Mama A and Baby B, we'll be ready for it next year (March 2, 2009), and the year after that, and the year after…


Every day is Read Across America at our house.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Daddy K’s Behind the Art of Peace

One of my staff members, Dawn, and my man, Troy (Dog), brought to my attention that Rush will be on The Colbert Report tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 16, at 11:30 p.m. PT). It'll be the first time they've played on U.S. television in three decades.

OMG! (That's Oh My God in young hipster lingo.)


That prompted me to catch up on one of my blogs, Rush Is A Band, to then find out that Rush and many other artists will be featured on Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace (from the The Art of Peace Foundation):


...The project is the artists' expression of peace and support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama.


The album features acoustic songs recorded by the artists that are proactive celebrations of our shared humanity and common search for happiness. The songs themselves reflect the sublime beauty and vulnerabilities experienced in pursuit of happiness, peace and freedom.


The album will release August 5th, three days before the opening of the Summer Olympics...


I'm behind this one for sure and will be making that purchase.


If we burn our wings

Flying too close to the sun

If the moment of glory

Is over before it's begun

If the dream is won --

Though everything is lost

We will pay the price,

But we will not count the cost


--Neil Peart

Monday, July 14, 2008

Daddy K trashes the trashers

So last Friday we picked up trash again on our morning walk. Another bagful of crap that people felt the need to pitch out their window while they're driving along West Cliff Drive, or while parked along West Cliff, or walking along West Cliff, or passing out along West Cliff…

If I see somehow doing it, I'm going to call them out. I know I'm not saving the world per se, but c'mon.


I need to get one of those grabby stick trash picker scoobies to pick up the smaller bits of trash like bottle caps and butts.


Although recycling has helped extend the life of Santa Cruz County's Buena Vista landfill, it's projected to only have about 16 years left (could be more accurate research available somewhere).


We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and sadly there are visitors and locals alike that trash it.


Let's keep it clean, kids.

Daddy K is mindful of trumping nature

Last week I read in Wayne's Fatherhood Blog that "Researchers at the University of Birmingham in Great Britain have completed a study on what constitutes meaningful fatherhood."


Basically what constitutes daddy meaningfulness is being involved (mindful parenting), and not just being the biological father (genetics). Being involved should take precedence in having a say in a child's life.


Wow. Really. Who were the scientific geniuses who concluded this? In all fairness the legal system has favored biology when it comes to custody wrangling.


I haven't seen my biological father since I was 13. By choice. I remember standing in front of a judge and telling him I didn't want to see him. And over the years he has never reached out to me since (nor have I to him) or tried to have a "say" in my life since.


I've let go of that baggage decades ago, and this isn't about we did or didn't do, or what we never worked out as adults – my point is, if something had happened to my mother while I was under the age of 18, would the legal system have given my biological father the edge over my step-father, just because of biology?


I truly hope not, but I'm sure if I did some research I'd find out a whole bunch of similar father custody scenarios that played out for the chromosomes instead of a loving dad.


There are "growing fathers' rights concerns" all over the world and fortunately it looks as though nurture trumps nature more often these days in the human world.


The same should apply to mothers as well. But that's another post for another time.

Daddy K and Mama A Take a Mindful Parenting Class

We attend a mindful parenting class yesterday that the instructor calls The Art of Inner Nesting. And I have to say it's one of the best things we've done to done to prepare for the coming of our child.

The main point of the entire day was to be mindful – to be aware and actively present in the moment. You should always reflect on your past and plan for your future – but always be mindful of the present and live in your presence.


We met some other very nice parents-to-be who all share the same goals of being attentive parents focused on the now. It's hard to do, even before the children arrive. For all you parents out there, you know that life is a frantic amusement park ride with new surprises around every fall and turn.


There were meditation exercises (active listening), and communication exercises, and parenting vow exercises, and breathing exercises, and yoga exercises, and labor exercises – and some very sweet emotional moments. At one point Amy and I were doing a breathing exercise, aligning our breath as one, holding hands on her belly, Baby B rolling gently inside.


A moment of radiant light and love that no negativity could touch. (Like when the Freeling Family's bond of love warded off the evil spirits in Poltergeist. Don't make fun.)


Some would say this was all very much liberal, new age Santa Cruz, and that's true. But coming from two people who never wanted children in the first place, and are now having their first (and maybe not last), we're going to be present at every moment and embrace the love.


Considering that's how we've always tried to live since we've been together, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch.


Basic elemental instinct to survive
Stirs the higher passions
Thrill to be alive

Alternating currents in a tidewater surge
Rational resistance to an unwise urge
(anything can happen)

From the point of conception
To the moment of Truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey is not to arrive
(anything can happen)


--Neil Peart


Friday, July 11, 2008

Daddy K Fights for Wednesday’s Rights

One of Amy's old children's books I read this week was Counting Rhymes, A Little Golden Book, full of folk rhymes and fun. The version we have was published in 1960. I love reading these old books; such a different world prior to free love, disco, Reaganomics, the Clinton years, and the Internet.

Here's a taste:


Three Babes


Three babes in a basket

And hardly room for two,

And one was yellow and one was black

And one had eyes of blue.

That space was small no doubt for all,

But what should three babes do?


Be socially AND personally responsible, right Mr. Jackson? And of course, get out and vote. When they're 18, of course.


And then there's Monday's Child:

Monday's child is fair of face,

Tuesday's child is full of grace,

Wednesday's child is full of woe,

Thursday's child has far to go,

Friday's child is loving and giving –


Wait a minute. Wednesday's child is full of woe?


Why?


What did Wednesday's child do to deserve being born on such a woeful day? What's wrong with Wednesday?


Oh, Baby B, we must fight for Wednesday's rights. Wednesday can be just as loving and giving as Friday? And although Saturday's child must work hard for a living, the child born on the Sabbath Day is blithe and winsome and happy and gay. But what about Wednesday?


Yes, we will fight, B. We will be the Wednesday Winners and all the other days will cower in our hump day shadows –


Sorry, lost my head for a minute. That always happens during a week of off-balance data mismanagement.

The Mama A List: The Midwife Measureth and Checketh Up

Last night our midwife Kathe came for our latest Baby B appointment (video snippet here). Everything is going well and now we'll see her every two weeks and then every as we approach the due date.

Amy's weight and measurements are all on target and the baby's heart rate continues to be a steady 140 bpm. Rock on, Baby B! (I'm going to try to capture some alien video of Amy's tummy roiling.)


We're now in the final planning stages, including making lists of supplies – smelling salts for me and a birthing tub with beach balls for Amy. Lots to do before the baby comes.


YouTube has a new fun feature (thanks Adriana!) that allows you to embed pop-up thought bubbles and such in videos.


Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daddy K wishes a colleague well; the most precious gift of all

One of my colleagues is having a baby today; his wife is having a scheduled C-section and all lights are green to having a healthy baby girl. This will be three kids total for them.

When I asked where they were registered or what we could get them, he said their gift is their new baby girl.


And I said that is the most precious gift of all! We wish them a happy and healthy birth today!


And then I thought, but we still want gifts. And then I felt guilty.


And then I got over it.


Yeah, gifts. Tons. Keepin' it real.


Congratulations on the new born!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Empire of Mama A Pokes Back

We’re two months and change out from Baby B’s grand entrance, and man is he/she getting pushing. Really. And pokey. And proddy (is that even a word?).

Baby B’s pushing up on Mama A’s stomach and that’s causing a bit of heartburn. Not much, but enough to be noticed and enough for some calcium-rich Tums (shameless product placement).


Amy’s been very fortunate to date with limited problems during pregnancy. I’m quite happy about that as well. (Pssst – I’ll tell you a hormonal story or two sometime.)


When Baby B is in an awkward position (which will get worse, we know), pushing hard on either side, bladder or ribs, Mama A pokes back!


In a very loving way, of course. I like talking into the belly and poking as well.


Tomorrow night, the next midwife appointment transpires…more on that later.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Daddy K’s peace of mind

Sometimes working in marketing and PR and the software as a service space can be mind-numbing (that's SaaS-sy for those of you keeping score at home). I'm strapped to my laptop a lot longer than I'd like every day, and a lot longer than Mama A would like as well. Stress for less always costs more.

It's not physically demanding, other than feeling spent at the end of the day/night. Too much information ingestion, regurgitation, dissemination, reiteration, manipulation, exacerbation, client negotiation – oh mi Dios!


My outlets have been reading, writing, drumming, exercise and more recently, gardening. When we landscaped our backyard starting two years ago, we did it all ourselves with the exception of the sprinklers. Amy always knew more than me when it came to plants and gardening. Still does. But, I'm learning and I love it.


I dig and plant and weed and sweat and move and plant and weed and sweat and dig some more. The yard is never done; it's my Winchester mystery garden. It's a place where I can let my mind wander through false doorways and down incomplete stairways and into warm, dark places, focusing on limb-numbing physical work instead.


Our backyard ain't going to be featured in Sunset Magazine anytime soon, but it's our piece of paradise and my peace of mind.


I can't wait for Baby B to lay in the hammock with me and nap away on a warm summer's day.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The B file: We can get back on

It's a far cry from the world we thought we'd inherit

It's a far cry from the way we thought we'd share it

You can almost feel the current flowing

You can almost see the circuits blowing


One day I feel I'm on top of the world

And the next it's falling in on me

I can get back on

I can get back on

One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel,

And the next it's rolling over me

I can get back on

I can get back on…


--Neil Peart


Yes, we can get back on, we can get back on. No matter what happens growing up, I finally learned years ago that the alternative isn't one. That goes in the B file.


But what's the real ulterior motive of this post? As Mama A and Baby B roll their eyes, kick and squirm, I revel in my unadulterated plug for my boys in Rush who were finally given their just deserts in the latest issue of Rolling Stone (that includes a great article on Senator Obama as well).


Living in the limelight the universal dream

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The letter K: Democra-huh?

Dear Daddy,

I have no idea what you're talking about. By the way, it's getting really crowded in here. Either I'm getting bigger or this water world is getting smaller. Any ideas on how to get out? Mama keeps poking at me to move around and I got no where to go.

Throw me a bone here, would you? You can babble all you want, just get me outta here. Where's my manifest destiny, huh?


Love you,

Baby B

The letter B: Our dichotomous democracy and the alien shore

Dear Baby B,


Yesterday was our country's birthday – Independence Day – the 4th of July. Mama A and I had a great day together kicking it all off with a mind-clearing and life-affirming hike in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.


We're proud Americans, B, and although we've been labeled Gen Xers and the "me" generation (are we really any more selfish than other generations?), we embrace our rights, freedoms and civil liberties as personally responsible Americans and are grateful.


Sadly those civil liberties have been put to the test in the 21st century in the endless wake of 9/11 (and as can only be explained in cartoons). It's important to understand how America came to be, where it's gone and where we're going.


I'm in the middle of reading 1776 and I hope someday for you to read it, to understand the origins of our country without Disneyfication or censorship. Some of the same tyrannous elements our founding fathers (and mothers and children) declared independence from the British, we've dealt with of late from our own government.


However, that's why will live in democracy; this is a presidential election year and we have the power to elect one another president. I hope the next administration can put the "we" back in we the people. And that as "we the people" – we have a responsibility as well to ensure we remain thriving and free democracy. We may not always get along, and we don't, but we are the power behind the curtain; we can be the unifiers and the healers. No matter who reviles us around the world, there are just as many who look to America with hope and clamor for our alien shore.


Along those lines I read a great piece in our local Santa Cruz Sentinel yesterday by Wallace Baine about the importance Independence Day and the values of our founding fathers:


Still, as far as 18th-century elites go, these were pretty enlightened dudes. And that means all of us "from the treasurer of the Daughters of the American Revolution to the newly green-carded Korean business owner" benefit every day from the audacious gamble these cats made back in 1776. By throwing off monarchy, declaring religious freedom and enshrining that phrase "All men are created equal" in the new nation's first charter, these dead white guys on your money set in motion a dynamic that would, in time, destroy their own privilege. And they knew that's what they were doing.


Though the Founders were united in their determination for independence, that was about all that united them. They were a volatile lot, those Founders. They all nursed their resentments of each other. Hamilton and Jefferson detested each other. The priggish Adams looked down on the licentious Ben Franklin. They were not diverse in a demographic sense, but as personalities and ideologues, they were as different as they could be. They brawled and argued and pursued political dirty tricks against each other with zest. They were bound by their American-ness, and almost nothing more.


That presents the rest of us with a pretty good model on how to live together, don't you think? We too often lament how divided this country is, but the Founders showed us the paradoxical nature of a functioning democracy, united and divided at the same time.


Good advice, don't you think, B?


You and I, we reject these narrow attitudes

We add to each other, like a coral reef

Building bridges on the ocean floor

Reaching for the alien shore


For you and me -- We hold these truths to be self-evident

For you and me -- We'd elect each other president

For you and me -- We might agree

But that's just us


Reaching for the alien shore…


Just wanted to leave you with a little Rush ditty written by Neil. You'll understand the importance of that influence soon enough!


Love you,

Daddy K

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Retro K: Zip around like sweaty specters until our bellies ached

The neighborhood I grew up in used to have huge block parties on the 4th of July. No matter the feuds or dysfunction the adults on the street experienced throughout the year, and second only to Christmastime, America's birthday was the grand celebration unification forgiveness melting pot of the year.

And it was a melting pot because growing up in Visalia, California was hot. Triple digits. But man, did the sprinklers, cola, lemonade, watermelon and homemade ice cream cool us kids off (while the adults were heating up with alcoholic beverages).


Throw in the grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, the potato salad, the corn on the cob, the fresh baked pies and cakes and God stop me now. My sister and I and the other neighborhood kids would zip around like sweaty specters until our bellies ached, only visible to the naked eye when we stopped to breathe and hold our sides and of course once it was dark enough to light the sparklers and shoot off the fireworks (this was the Central Valley over three decades ago mind you, not the tinder box the mountainous areas of California have become this year – please be careful and don't shoot off illegal fireworks).


Then we grew up. I haven't experienced a block party like the old days since.


The neighborhood we live now, the one where Baby B will grow up until who knows what age, is wonderful and our neighbors are good folk and many have young children. We've been involved in our homeowners association, doing what we can to keep it a nice neighborhood for everyone. (I prefer the brick and mortar approach to making the world a better place – start by healing the heart and making it happy, then the home, then the neighborhood, the city, the state, the country…and you can figure out where it goes from there.)


Unfortunately there haven't been any block parties the past two years we've lived here (except for the annual homeowners meeting). We've proposed them, but no one is interested. We get it as well though: everyone is busy enough with their lives and their families.


I have hope though that maybe next year we'll put together one of those old-school block parties, so the kids can zip around like sweaty specters until their bellies ache and it's dark enough to not light illegal fireworks on our street. Good times.


Maybe.


Happy 4th of July, America. God bless you all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daddy K wonders, if it’s a girl…

Father's Song

By Gregory Orr


Yesterday, against admonishment,

my daughter balanced on the couch back,

fell and cut her mouth.


Because I saw it happen I knew

she was not hurt, and yet

a child's blood so red

it stops a father's heart.


My daughter cried her tears;

I held some ice

against her lip.

That was the end of it.


Round and round: bow and kiss.

I try to teach her caution;

she tried to teach me risk.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Daddy K wonders, if it’s a boy…

Been reading my hand dandy The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart – Poems for Men. Good times.


Changing Diapers

By Gary Snyder


How intelligent he looks!

on his back

both feet caught in my one hand

his glance set sideways,

on a giant poster of Geronimo

with a Sharp's repeating rifle by this knee.


I open, wipe, he doesn't even notice

nor do I.

Baby legs and knees

toes like little peas

little wrinkles, good-to-eat,

eyes bright, shiny ears,

chest swelling drawing are,


No trouble, friend,

you and me and Geronimo

are men.