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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'll be damned. I am Dad.

That's when I knew I was Dad.

The defining moment of putting Bea's Radio Flyer tricycle together in the cold garage on Christmas Eve, listening to a sweet cheerful stream of holiday music.

I became the iconic Americana father of my youth, or The Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell covers of an even earlier time.

Along with minimal cursing reading the poorly written but thankfully heavily illustrated trike directions, there was one specific moment when I looked at all the pieces in front of me with the partially constructed trike and I thought --

I'll be damned. I am Dad.

Sure there were many other defining Dad moments for me including the births of both my darling girls, but the putting together of the trike was again iconic Americana fatherhood.

And placing the final presents and the trike under our tree on Christmas Eve night was iconic Americana parenting for both me and the Mama, as if it were the early 70's again and we were in bed awaiting Christmas morn, living in antiqued photo dreams...

However, we weren't sure if Bea would like the trike; she's still in this strange alien toddler stage.

We found out soon enough -- watching her eyes scan the presents under the tree on Christmas morning and then stare at the trike was precious. Bryce was still sleeping, which was a good thing. Otherwise there could have been fussy baby distraction that would've sent Bea over the emotional impulse edge.

Bryce did join us shortly thereafter without a crying hitch and we all played for the rest of the glorious morning. When Bea wanted me to push her around on the trike (rubber ducky in hand), my heart swelled to the size of the Pacific not more than a mile from where we live.

For any kind of family in this world today, there are moments that define you as loving caretaker and parent.

I recommend you wrap them up in colorful paper, ribbons and bows, and display them under the lighted tree in your heart for all to see.

Yep, I'm one proud daddy.

Merry Day After.

video

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The even greater Christmas miracles

It was a Christmas miracle.

No, not Santa, or the little baby Jesus, or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa (although neither would be a Christmas miracle).

And no, not the fact that both Beatrice and Bryce sat on Santa's lap for a sweet photo (that you'll find below).

No, this miracle was so much more miraculous.

Last night, Mama said goodnight to Beatrice, and then I picked her up to take her to bed.

We cruised up each stair step, ooing and awing at the colorful Christmas lights wrapped around the stairwell handhold.

Bea held tight her "fuzzy" blanket and sucked her thumb. We made it to the top of the stairs and headed for her room.

Upon entering, a faint blue light washed over us: we had put our old lava lamp in her room.

We watched the yellow wax bubble and float as if suspended in zero gravity. Bea snuggled her head into my shoulder. I smiled.

And then she threw up. All over me.

I rushed her into the bathroom and bent her over the toilet. Vomit everywhere. Chunky big girl vomit. None of the breast milk liquid pudding that Bryce spits up.

Mama joined me frantically stripping Bea naked and cleaning her up.

The Christmas miracle? Bea wasn't upset. At all. We really thought she be howling over throwing up like she did. In fact, as soon Mama had her all fresh -- while I slogged along cleaning the bathroom -- Bea ran around her room in her diaper happy as a Christmas elf high on candy cane crack.

Amen.

But the even greater Christmas miracles?

The fact that I've been able to help a lot with Bryce these first four months of her life -- and that I get to spend this Christmas with the three most beautiful, loving girls in the world.

And a 300-year-old heavily matted Calico that hacks all over the floor and pees over the edge of her cat box.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Watch me burn a path, baby

She just ran in circles. It was unabashed joy, twirling the ribbon, wings and tutu a-flutter.

There wasn't any real dancing per se; she is only 2.

At first, she was hesitant and shrieked with unabashed fear, tears streamed down her face. Mama persevered and Beatrice survived the first dance class.

After that, she didn't want to leave.

She lit herself on fire with her own joyful path, bounding through an imaginary sunlight meadow, a moonlit forest.


God bless you, Beatrice. You inspire me to keep bounding.

Watch me burn a path, baby. Daddy loves you.

The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. (Henry David Thoreau)

video

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The rock bottom perspective

Rock bottom isn't always the Leaving Las Vegas addiction death nell.

It doesn't have to be that devastating and it doesn't have to last years. Rock bottom doesn't discriminate; it's non-demonational. It can be a handful of moments in life that sicken us with heavy rain and gravity, from which most of us rise above newly adjusted and ready to give life another go.

According to BLS stats, there about 8 million men and 6 million women 20 years of age and over are unemployed as of November 2010. The overall employment rate nestled up close to 10% again. I'm now one of that 10%. Not for long, but it's always long enough when you have a family.

With over 73 million children under 18 years of age in households, imagine the percentage of those in unemployed households.

The stress and demands put on the family now that the holidays are here can be enormous. Sadly some fathers and mothers don't make it and fall into depression, addiction and/or violent behavior. Intimate partner violence escalates and women's shelters, family centers and homeless shelters all do a brisk business of help and handouts this time of the year. Anytime of the year actually.

The Walnut Avenue Women's Center I volunteer at is running an Adopt-A-Family For the Holidays campaign. I hope you and yours will give what you can to local organizations like this. I believe paying it forward provides instant karma for when you and yours are in such a situation.

Never say never. It can happen to anyone at anytime.

Whether you draw strength from your God, your family or your friends, do draw strength from them. You don't have to go it alone, and if you know of people bordering on destructive and violent behavior toward others, including their own children, do something about it.

Get off the ground and make a stand happen. Intervene somehow and help save a life. I overcame my blue genes many years ago and hope to inspire others to do the same.

Yesterday I sat for an hour watching the stormy ocean, in a moment of rock bottom reflection...

And then it's an early morning today and we're in bed as bookends to a baby cooing and smiling and staring straight up into the darkness as if it were the sun.

That gives new meaning to the rock bottom perspective.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Living with aliens

We live with aliens.

For the longest time we didn't live with any. It was just us and date nights and travel and leisure. Oh, and lots of movies and TV and books.

But then the first one landed on our doorstep a little over two years go, then the second just three months ago. We think they're from the same tribe, sent from afar to study how quickly human adults adapt to an ever-evolving alien culture.

First, there's the older one. The beautiful white-haired, blue-eyed, Boys from Brazil, half-baby half-toddler tantrum-ridden girl who loves tu-tu's, magic wands, balloons and umbrellas. She's learned more English of late, but still speaks in her native tongue when excited.

"Pee-bo, nee-nay!"

I have no idea what that means.

The younger one's just as beautiful, but her darker skin's already molted once, her dark birth hair is falling out lighter and she projectile vomits. She can't talk yet but she coos and drools.

A lot.

They both also don't know how to take care of their own, you know, "potty", and have to wear these protective garments called diapers, which is especially delightful since they have to be changed multiple times each day and they aren't always so protective.

And even though when they cry and shriek simultaneously the Earth's mantle cracks open like an egg squeezed in a vice, we've grown to love and care for them, and they for us.

Plus, we're getting them declawed just in time for Christmas!

Joy to the world!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The "thankful" box tradition (My family is my why)

Last Thanksgiving another daddy blogger I read, Mocha Dad, talked about his family's "thankful" box tradition.

Throughout the year he and his wife and kids write notes about something they're thankful about and put it in the box. Then at Thanksgiving, they read them to one another.

Such a lovely tradition that Mama and I decided to co-opt for our family as well. We picked out a box, cut out a bunch of images and words that had special meaning for us and covered the box with them.

Of course, our girls are too little to start writing their own thankful notes yet, but in the next few years Beatrice will followed by her little sister Bryce.

We've started reading them earlier this week and it's like listening to favorite songs that represent contextual moments of time.

It reminds us of why we live and love as family. Even under everyday fun and duress, like this week's things I'm thankful for:

  • Sharing family colds, snot and tissue gardens.
  • Family "workout" walks along the water (pushing the girls in the double stroller, otherwise knows as the "Lil' Limo".
  • Ant traps and Windex that kill the rain-driven, food-crazed ants.
  • Children's Tylenol that is stickier than maple syrup or tar. And gets everywhere. Except inside the child's mouth.
  • Swinging crying babies to sleep like sweaty irregular pendulums of doom.
  • Getting one girl to sleep while the other one won't.
  • The hi-fidelity sound of dueling girl cry-shrieks. Infinitum.
  • Watching Elmo's World. Infinitum.
  • Developing the career/business rebound after a disappointing 4th quarter.
  • Promising ourselves that this year everybody gets at least a wing and a prayer for Christmas. And a family Christmas photo card.
  • Our wonderful babysitter who allows us to get out for pre-Turkday Day beer, nachos and Harry Potter.
  • Dear friends who are having us over for Thanksgiving today. We're bringing ham and pies and little girlie cries.

In fact, what I've come to find out is that no matter what we've written and added to the box throughout the year (or experienced this short holiday week), it's the why of giving thanks, rather than the act itself, that emboldens our hearts and minds to love and grow.

My family is my why.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Watch Telling Amy's Story. Then talk about it. A lot.

"You're a writer? Wow. I've always wanted to tell my story."

"You should tell tell it," I said. "Everyone needs to hear the stories of domestic violence to help generate more awareness and encourage prevention."

She nodded. "You're right. They do."

That's part of a conversation I had with a woman who works for the Walnut Avenue Women's Center where I've started volunteering. We were picking up donated supplies for families in need.

I'm shared my family's story more than once and will keep sharing it. When I told the woman from the center a little about it, she said:

"We definitely need more positive male role models like you."

I smiled. "That's only because I had so many bad ones growing up, but I do the best I can. Once we had our first daughter, that was all she wrote."

But even after all that I've experienced and all that I've researched and know, nothing prepared me for the documentary Telling Amy's Story.

I've read about it, watched the trailers, talked about it with other domestic violence awareness champions -- but I hadn't seen it until today. I finally ordered the DVD that arrived this week (you can also check your local PBS channels for possible airings).

The trailer is below; I may have shared it on this blog before. Whether you've had to deal with domestic violence in your life or not, everyone should watch this movie.

Then talk about it. A lot.

Domestic violence is a serious problem that impacts people at home, in the workplace, and in the community. One of the first steps to end it is to talk about it.

Check out these stats:

  • According to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1/4 of all women in the U.S. report that they have experienced domestic violence.
  • On average, more than 3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.
  • Nearly 7.8 million women have been raped by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 3 women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused.
  • 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-abused peers.
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked, or otherwise physically hurt by his/her partner.

It's also not just about helping the victims post-violence, it's also about understanding why abusers abuse and how to prevent it.

Based on the latest research around emotional intelligence, and the fact that abusers have collectively lower EI than non-abusive folk, that's a place to start -- to ensure empathic awareness is more developed.

Especially when they're children and teenagers (something else I'm going to get more involved with in 2011).

There are tons of great resources on the Telling Amy's Story website that you can download today.

But do see the movie and talk about it.

"Just save one life...just one."

--Deidri Fishel, the detective who investigated Amy's case and narrates the story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Situational gravity and the happy family bed of monkeys

One of Beatrice's favorite songs is "10 little monkeys". She always loves when I sing this part is a low booming voice:

"No more monkeys jumpin' on the bed!"

Sometimes life doesn't happen as planned and we fall off the bed.

And it hurts.

It doesn't matter what did or didn't happen, it just happens regardless, for good or ill, and you've got to adapt.

But the happy family bed? That defies situational gravity.

Last night Mama held a smiling and gurgling Bryce above her while Bea giggled and bounced on the bed and then jumped on me.

The slowing of time and increased weightlessness fuels levity and love like colliding atoms birthing happiness over and over again -- thousands of times in a matter of minutes.

Soon we were all laughing as our bodies hovered above the bed's surface.

You sure as hell can't beat that.

Playing on the happy family bed of monkeys makes it all better.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I prefer my monsters be Cookie Monsters

Although there have been two attempted sexual assaults on young women in two days, Santa Cruz police statistics indicate a falling trend in such incidents in the past 12 months.

That from a Santa Cruz Sentinel article this week.

Two attempts too many when you're a Mama and Daddy with two little girls at home. Unfortunately, the stats of broader violence against women are still staggering worldwide.

It scares me to death that too many of my gender are still so susceptible to such irrational violence (yes, there are women who fall into this category as well). Evolution and the hand of God haven't changed things much.

However, violent behavior isn't rational. It's either full of uncontrollable emotion or void of any emotion. Emotion is the variable in the equation, trapped in a subconscious cage with tiny impulsive monsters that inconsistently ignore and poke and prod.

Even with the advances in neuroscience and the science behind emotional intelligence and the fact that emotions play a big role in behavior, we still put up more of a fight against faceless villains like cancer. As we should be. I've had friends and family die from cancer and I'm sure many of you had as well.

But violence is a cancer too, and the fact is we can help prevent it and save a life. It all starts with us. It all starts with our two little girls, just as it all starts with you and yours, regardless of status or economic strata.

At some point the monsters may push emotion out of someone's cage and over the edge. Let's ensure there are enough safety lines already in place to pull us back up.

Which is why I prefer my monsters be Cookie Monsters. They satiate the pleasure center and no one gets hurt.

Except the belly.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do you see me? Do you hear me?

The crazy man walked past us, waving at the sky.

He called out, "Do you see me? Do you hear me?"

The sky didn't respond.

And neither did we. I just pushed Bea along in the stroller. She wasn't paying attention anyway, as she basked in the glow from our Natural Bridges trek where Monarchs fluttered overhead like hopeful waking dreams.

But it was the look he gave me in the split-second he passed us, as if saying, "I'm scared."

I wasn't worried about him, though. He seemed stuck in a perpetual loop of his own unfortunate fall from sanity and grace.

An empathic twinge slowed me, but I didn't stop.

He kept walking towards the sun and we kept heading home.

We crossed the street. Bea pointed to the sky and cried, "Plane!" I looked back at the crazy man and then up at the sky.

A thin white line of jet exhaust creased the otherwise flawless blue. I closed my eyes.

Do you see me? Do you hear me?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yes, a fairy princess or Piglet even.

Halloween isn't just for ghouls and goblins.

Or zombies. Ack. I hate zombies.

No, Halloween is also about becoming something you're not. It's about suspending your disbelief for one day and pretending that you could really be a rock and roll star, a movie star, a sports star, a politician (God help you), a superhero, a fairy princess or Piglet even.

Yes, a fairy princess or Piglet even. (Forget it -- no zombies. Really. I'm not going to tell you again.)

Pretend change is easy. Real change for a real live adult? That can be painful, although there is immediate relief in the believing.

And believing in my fairy princess and my Piglet give me immediate relief.

Even if Piglet can't do much yet. And the fairy princess just dances around.

(la-la-la-la...)

(Um...a little help Daddy...)


Friday, October 22, 2010

The T2's and geothermal HazMat control. Mercy.

Pulling the cat's tail wasn't what I had in mind.

But Bea had other ideas.

The usual scenario at bedtime, until last night that is, included me or Mama taking Beatrice up to her room to read a few more books and then hit the crib hay. The other one of us would handle the lil' Bryce.

My first indication that things were going to go very wrong was when she shrieked and slapped at me unhappily in her room and then ran to ours, wanting to jump on our bed, which usually happens in the mid-mornings in her princess dress and/or a cowboy hat.

Our 300-year-old cat Chelsea curled up peacefully on the bed, her old bones --

~BOUNCE~
~BOUNCE~
~BOUNCE~

-- jarred suddenly by the bouncing Bea.

Then ~PLOP~ Bea lands right next to Chelsea's tail and starts pulling on it.

Yanking actually. Yanking and giggling.

Chelsea hissed. Bea giggled.

"Stop it, Beatrice. You're hurting the kitty."

That means nothing to a 2-year-old child. Nada. She just giggled longer and louder.

More yanking and hissing and yanking and hissing.

The thing is, I didn't want to daddy-handle her and hurt her feelings and/or unintentionally hurt her period.

But she was out of friggin' control.

"Stop it, Beatrice!"

Finally I removed the old cat from the bed and that just made Bea all the more determined to follow kitty and yank-giggle-yank.

Before Bea tried to tromp downstairs after the cat, I grabbed her arms and gently (but firmly) guided her into her room where she proceeded to dissolve into a howling and thrashing melt down.

Straight through the center of the earth, out the other side, and back again.

I had to call Mama upstairs for backup geothermal HazMat control. Mercy.

Would this be a glimpse of the T2's? The terrible unbearable tantrum 2's that can liquefy anything in its wake?

Yes, but at least I've found another calorie burner for slowing metabolisms.

Always a silver lining, you know?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Surprising the Neigh-Neigh

Watching Bea, I had an epiphany.

Not necessarily new, since I had just read a similar sentiment recently, but connecting the dots generated enough power to light me up.

The fact that when we're young, we're more likely to try the impossible, even if elder others tell us it can't be done.

Jack-ass and destructive activities aside -- I'm talking about positive game-changing activities, like creating integrated circuitry on the head of a pin or developing the neuroscience behind emotional intelligence and teaching us to lead ourselves to a less divisive promised land.

Was Bea imaging springing herself atop the wild mustang to ride away like the wind?

I don't know. Maybe. Remember, she's 2.

It doesn't matter that we as adults know she couldn't do it. She believed she could, or whatever she was imagining.

Fellow leadership Twitterer @angelabisignano tweeted the other day:

If you want great leaders raise great kids.

And one way to do that?

Keep them surprising the neigh-neigh.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

This life's screening that we live in love


When a day

at the beach

a lucky 13

years ago

spliced with

the present

family love

of two girls

pixelated

across our

star-struck eyes

with B-rolls

precious dailies

and stills each

in a moment

we hum daily

the title track

"gettin' better

as we're older"

holding hands

at this life's

screening

that we live

in love

because

we choose

all of us

always


~Happy Anniversary Sweet Mama Love



Friday, October 8, 2010

How the eyes glued to Gabba-land lead to recovery

I glanced in the rearview mirror.

"Do you like rock and roll, sweetie?"

Bea gave me a big nod and replied, "Yeah!"

Right on, baby.

We were on our way to get Bea a flu vaccination and me a pertussis (Tdap) vaccination. Mama and Bryce had already gone earlier in the day without much of a hitch except for a fussy baby (which she was all day yesterday).

We arrived at the county building (don't get me started on the cost of our private family healthcare insurance and paying for shots out-of-pocket in the doctor's office) without a hitch ourselves, but as soon as we went inside to the front desk, the trouble started.

We were at the first front desk slot nearest the automatic sliding glass doors, and because my "big daddiness" was too close to the floor sensor, the door kept opening and closing.

And freaking her out; the fearful crying started immediately.

So that led to an immediate Yo Gabba Gabba video on my iPhone, which soothed the savage Bea'st.

Thank goodness.

I filled out a little paperwork and then we had to wait for a few minutes. I sat Bea next to me one of the waiting room chairs, her eyes glued to Gabba-land.

The receptionist called me over and I went hesitantly, wondering if I should leave her sitting there, which was only five feet away.

So I did, glancing back every other second while the receptionist asked me a few questions.

In one of the seconds in between, while I was looking away, there came a collective gasp from behind me and some "Oh, no's". It's the kind of sound you hear at a sporting event when one of the players gets hurt on the field.

I turned quickly to witness Bea finish sliding off the chair onto the floor.

Smack.

Oh, shit.

I grabbed her and held her and checked her for wounds, but all seemed intact.

Including my iPhone. Hey, baby first, then gadgetry. No worries.

We went outside to get some air and then came back in. I had Bea sit on my lap. She was still shaken up but recovering, while Devo played on the Yo Gabba Gabba super music friends show.

Yes, Devo.

We had been there for no more than 10 minutes.

The slick sweat of daddy guilt broke out on my forehead and the back of my neck.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were right about the waiting. Every few minutes, Bea would let out a weepy cry.

"Kevin and Beatrice? This way please."

The actual act of receiving the vaccinations -- the flu mist for Bea and the shot for me -- was a little anti-climatic, although she still cried right before, during and right after the spray.

Three chocolate chips and a new video later, recovery. I paid the cashier and we were off to the park to play.

Thirty-two minutes in all.

Because that's how we roll.

The ball's over here, sweetie.

video

Monday, October 4, 2010

I am thankful for birthdays; I am thankful for being.

"How about unabashedly bawling your eyes out."

I did that a few times today.

Hey, my birthday. Cry if I want to. Back off.

I am fragile and irrational. I am caring and loving. I am anchor and window. I am steely resolve.

I am exquisite contradiction.

As are we all.

I came downtown to work for a few hours at my NextSpace "space", but before I did, I attended The Clothesline Project for a bit and decorated a t-shirt in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Clothesline Project breaks the silence about domestic violence by giving a voice to survivors, victims, and community members. The clothesline was chosen to honor women’s traditional information exchange over the backyard fences while hanging laundry out to dry.

The clothesline displays T‐shirts designed by survivors of abuse, those who have lost loved ones to it, and allies in our community. The designed shirts are displayed during the Day of Unity event on a clothesline which is held by staff/volunteers.

I am thankful for my true love and my little girls. They are my daily muses who inspire me to be a better man.

I am thankful for my family and friends -- here, there and everywhere.

I am thankful for everything I've seen and everything I've learned and everything yet to learn.

I am thankful for failure and success.

I am thankful for birthdays; I am thankful for being.

"You see George, you've really had a wonderful life."

Thank you all.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Get on those moral reminders

We would lie, cheat, steal, call each other names and then brawl.

All while playing Monopoly.

In fact, things would get so heated that sometimes one of us would throw the money and flip the board sending homes and hotels everywhere.

I would taunt her and laugh and she'd get even angrier, face red and spitting venom. A chase would ensue and we'd come to blows.

I was eight years old and my sister six.

Of course, if our mom was around, she'd fly into the room to intervene and keep the peace, passionately sharing moral reminders of self-control and honesty and decency and respecting each other as brother and sister and human beings.

No hitting. Talk it out and love one another.

Moral reminders that included faith in God during her years of experiencing physical abuse at the hands of my birth father.

I'm sharing this because of course siblings will be siblings and occasionally beat the crud out of each other.

We did, but we loved each other too, and defended the other to the end.

I'm in no way making light of domestic violence, but the spectrum of "normal" behavior growing up is also a foreshadowing of how fragile and irrational we are as adults.

And sadly how some of us succumb to emotional instability, even hate, unhappy with our realities and/or battling addictions and/or other illness, lashing out at the ones we love and hurting them badly.

Sometimes killing them.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. We should give our children and each other moral reminders that no one deserves abuse.

No one.

My sister passed on the moral reminders to her children and we'll do the same with B².

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and my friend Kim Wells' latest post gives us 10 things we can do about DV.

Kim is the Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), the only national nonprofit organization in the US founded by the business community to address domestic violence as a workplace issue. CAEPV currently has employer members reaching over a million employees across the US with the message that domestic violence is "Everybody's Business."

As we begin October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, people have been asking me "What can I do about domestic violence? Is there something I can do to help?" Here is a short list of ideas. Certainly you can add your ideas or additions at the end:

  1. Sign the MADE petition to get dating violence curriculum in schools. Go to http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made
  2. Find out more about domestic violence. Go to http://www.clicktoempower.org/ and see the stories of survivors and what made the difference for them.
  3. Go to http://www.avon.com/ and buy the Women's Empowerment Necklace or Bracelet. Or go to http://www.etsy.com/listing/57724099/hotline-necklace orhttp://www.etsy.com/listing/57722070/hotline-earrings?ref=v1_other_2 and support the National Domestic Violence Hotline by purchasing these pieces by Sueanne Shirzay.
  4. Learn about how domestic violence impacts your workplace by visiting http://www.caepv.org/.
  5. Remember the National Domestic Violence Hotline Number: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or http://www.thehotline.org/. You can call to help others or yourself.
  6. Donate your old cell phone (any brand) at any Verizon Wireless store or use free mailing label www.verizonwireless.com/hopelinemailinglabel.
  7. Learn to talk to your kids about healthy relationships by downloading tip booklets from http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/.
  8. Try to understand what happens in DV and how it impacts people. Check out http://www.domesticviolenceworkplace.blogspot.com/. And comment!
  9. Don't ask "Why would that victim go back?" ask "Why would a person hit or abuse someone they love?"
  10. Be safe, healthy and happy in your own relationships. Because you matter. And you deserve it. And you are very, very precious.

Also, get involved and help other organizations like:

And one cool addendum I just found happening in Santa Cruz on Monday, October 4!


The Clothesline Project breaks the silence about domestic violence by giving a voice to survivors, victims, and community members. The clothesline was chosen to honor women’s traditional information exchange over the backyard fences while hanging laundry out to dry. The clothesline displays T‐shirts designed by survivors of abuse, those who have lost loved ones to it, and allies in our community. The designed shirts are displayed during the Day of Unity event on a clothesline which is held by staff/volunteers.

Get on those moral reminders. Remember, whatever happens out there is not God's will.

It's ours. Make it your business.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mercy what a difference a birthday makes.

"The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love."

~Margaret Atwood


'Twas the night before birthday,
And all through the house,
All my girls, they were crying;
There was gassy reflux everywhere.
God help us.

I got home last Tuesday night from a client meeting and there was crying carnage everywhere. Sleeplessness ensued until we all finally fell into restless slumber. (I don't know how Mama's do it.)

Such is life with two, and yet it's all still pretty brand new.

Wednesday was Beatrice's birthday, but I was away again all day seeing clients and prospects. I got home earlier this time, and mercy what a difference a birthday makes, with everyone's emotional disposition strategically aligned.

Look Ma, no crying!

It was only the four of us and we watched as Beatrice opened a few gifts, her favorite kind: books.

She's a book fiend just like Mama and Daddy. We wouldn't have it any other way. I remember my book hoarding days as a child, teen and adult -- hey, they've never really gone away.

It may take me longer to plow through the word fields with life's rapidly changing seasons, but plow away I do. Mama does too and we read to Bea multiple times per day. In fact, it's already ritual right before night-night. Bryce will hopefully take to it as well.

One of her favorites is Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle, and last night before bed I took Bea outside to see the rising but waning full moon.

She smiled.

You can take everything else away from me, but you can't take away my girls and these moments of lassoing permanence.

And love.

I'll lasso the moon for all of them if I can, my sweet buffalo gals.

Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?
Come out tonight, Come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight,
And dance by the light of the moon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Beatrice!

The big 2 baby. You're such a big girl! We love you!

Now, help us take care of your sister.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Like birthday balloons in the fog.

They're like multi-colored balloons loosely tied together coming in and out of focus through the coastal morning fog...

Bea's words. We're almost to her second birthday as the fog lifts from those balloons a little more each day. It's clear we're on the cusp of bunches floating around her as she rips around the living room.

Crystal clear.

Today we were all down walking along the ocean, pushing Bryce in the stroller, when Bea tripped and fell, hitting her knee. She cried for a few and favored it, and when we asked where the "owie" was she pointed and said:

"Knee."

Brilliant. Don't you think?

We do.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Guys can be Gal Pals too to help end domestic violence.

I've been writing a lot on my new work blog (Leaders. Better. Brighter.™) about how emotional intelligence makes for a more engaged workforce and transformational leadership.

Of course that includes personal leadership and the family as well.

Having developed emotional intelligence (as opposed to our standard definition of IQ) means you have:

  • An awareness of your own emotions
  • An awareness of emotions in others
  • An understanding of emotions
  • And the ability to manage one's own emotions and the emotions of others

For many it's no easy feat, but it can be assessed and developed over time.

One striking component of being emotionally intelligent is the high degree of impulse control.

And without it, the lack thereof.

Like those who hurt others in domestic violence.

Conversely, those who are aware, understand and can manage their emotions are more likely to reach out, educate and help victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

Men and women, mommies and daddies alike can get their Em-tel™ on and make a difference. (Em-tel™ is just my “emotional intelligence” word play on the term “intel”, or intelligence information.)

According to The Allstate Foundation Research, more than seven out of 10 Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence, yet it still remains a taboo subject.

Domestic violence is an issue that does not discriminate - it impacts all genders, races and ages. The Tell a Gal Pal movement asks everyone to face domestic violence together by:

  • Talking openly about domestic violence to break the taboo. Tell your Gal Pals - whether it's your best friend, sister, mother, daughter, niece, cousin or neighbor - to face domestic violence by discussing the issue, educating one another and showing support for survivors.
  • Visiting ClicktoEmpower.org for easy ways to start the conversation, learn more about the resources available for those in need or read inspirational survivor stories.
  • Speaking out against domestic violence when you see it. Call the police or National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) to report domestic violence - you could help save a life.
  • Volunteering at or donating items to a local domestic violence program. Contact your state domestic violence coalition for more information.

The Allstate Foundation is also encouraging Americans to join the conversation on Facebook to help support domestic violence survivors. For each person who visits the Click to Empower! Facebook page and pledges to Tell a Gal Pal about domestic violence, The Allstate Foundation will donate $1 to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (up to $20,000).

Guys can be Gal Pals too to help end domestic violence.

I've got three ladies in the house counting on that.

By the way, Domestic Violence Awareness Month starts in October, but please make it every month.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bea, a little help.

As soon as Mama goes out to the garage to workout, Bryce wakes up.

Hungry.

Beatrice and I are hanging out listening to Toddler Tunes on one of the cable music channels.

No fear -- Daddy's here.

I can do this. Mama has started pumping her milk for these moments. We wanted to get Bryce on the bottle sooner than Bea ever did. Which, in retrospect, she never really did...

Focus.

Bea's mellow yellow sucking her thumb and listening to music, so I run upstairs to get Bryce.

I bring her downstairs and she wails in my ears, I pop the bottle of breast milk in the microwave (no calls, please) and get the rubber nipple read for placement.

Bea hasn't moved. Just gently rocking to the music. Bruce Springsteen is singing "Chicken Lips And Lizard Hips".

Ping.

Bottle out, nipple on, secure baby in my arms with the boppy pillow in my lap -- it's magic time.

Bryce is drinking contentedly.

*sigh*

I smile. Give myself a confident nod with a lower-lip raise.

But wait. I'm forgetting something.

The burp rag!

Bryce is much more of an "urper" than Bea ever was. Not abnormal reflux, but definitely more milk coming up than any parent would want.

Where is it?!?

I scan the living room. There! On the couch above where Bea is laying.

"Beatrice, can you bring me the burp rag please?"

Nothing.

"Bea, please bring daddy that rag above you."

Crickets chirping.

"Please, sweetie, bring me it to me. It's right there. Look up."

Dust motes float by.

"Bea."

Bryce finishes her milk.

"A little help."


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I too dream.

"Dream of a peaceable kingdom

Dream of a time without war

The ones we wish would hear us

Have heard it all before



A wave toward the clearing sky

A wave toward the clearing sky..."

~Neil Peart, "Peaceable Kingdom"

Happy Birthday Neil (9/12/52)


Thursday, September 9, 2010

No worries. Daddy's here.

She's crying, standing in her crib, lit only by the streetlamp from outside our house.

"What's the matter, sweetie? Did you have a bad dream?"

She collapses in her crib, thrashes, wails louder.

I move towards her crib. "I know, sweetie. I'm sorry. Daddy's here."

"Mommy!"

"Mommy's sleeping, Beatrice. Daddy's here."

Bea thrashes some more and then settles, stroking her fuzzy blanket. She sucks her thumb.

"I love you, sweetie. It's okay. You can go back to sleep now."

She raises her right arm, wants me to stroke it lightly. Mommy usually does that, but sometimes she lets me.

She yawns. "Yes, you can go back to sleep, Bea."

Because no matter what, I'll never fail you or Bryce as a father. I'll make mistakes for sure; fail at this and that and the other. Already had plenty of it before you ever arrived.

But never as a father.

No worries. Daddy's here.

She sucks her thumb, closes her eyes, exhales.

"I love you."

I can't go back to sleep.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hey, that's the way me and Mama roll, Labor Day style.

This Labor Day Weekend is exponentially profound.

Two girls almost two years apart born bookends to two Labor Days, Bea a few weeks after and Bryce a few weeks before.

I witnessed the labor and birth of each. I held Mama's hand with love and conviction, unable to do anything more than that.

Oh, and then there's the little labor of my own, moving from my seven-year span with HRmarketer.com into a new endeavor of leadership development with Glowan.

All in an uncertain world. Hey, that's the way me and Mama roll, Labor Day style. I'm sure there are many others doing the same if not similar leaps of faith.

Good luck and Godspeed to us all.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Domestic Violence Awareness: B² means to make it your business.

In the midst of B² baby poop and pee bliss, I can't help but think about how my daughters will grow up, how physically and mentally healthy they'll be, how well they'll do in school, how they'll fair the workplace and will they be influential leaders, how emotionally intelligent and spiritually intelligent they will be, how sound their relationships will be especially with significant others...

How sound their relationships will be. If they are sound, they will be, but that doesn't mean they won't run into others' instability. For those of you who know me and follow my blog you know I periodically write about domestic violence and violence against women awareness and prevention.

Having two daughters, and growing up with domestic violence, makes it very much my business in a world that has a difficult time making it its business.

Last week on the Domestic violence and the Workplace blog, my friend Kim Wells posted Why Is Domestic Violence "Everybody's Business"?.

They had recently posted a story on their Facebook page about a person who heard her neighbors having a heated argument "screaming at each other" -- she had her window opened and listened to the whole dispute that night but never called 911.

Her neighbor was killed. Her alleged murderer was her boyfriend and a man with a history of domestic violence. The woman who did not call said, "I feel bad now that I didn't call 911. I could have prevented this."

Maybe. Maybe not. She should've called, though. It's everyone's business when it comes to preventing violence and death.

Because it could be you or yours someday.

I remember watching an ABC movie of the week when I was 11 or 12, called "The Girl Who Cried Murder" or something like that, based on real events of a girl murdered on a New York street with multiple witnesses, and yet no one called the police.

That one stayed with me.

Every year there are stories of people witnessing horrific acts who never call the authorities.

I wonder how many of our neighbors heard the physical violence in our house when I was little and yet never called the police.

Kim writes in her blog:

But at the end of the day, we all have a decision to make. Will I make this "my business" or not?

I hope you do.

Mama and I hope you do, too. So will my daughters.

By the way, Domestic Violence Awareness Month starts next month, but please make it every month.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

I was the good parent-cart samaritan.

I loved story problems when I was in school. No matter how many times I read through a problem, I knew with salient comfort that there was only one correct answer to the problem.

Or was there?

Academics and test developers would tell me, "Yes, there is always only one answer to each story problem unless otherwise specified."

All right, here's my ethical daddy dilemma story problem...

Before Bryce was born, we had a weekly family routine of going grocery shopping together, all three of us.

But now? Now it's all different and we're figuring everything out again for the second time and from the B² perspective.

So I took Beatrice to the grocery store with me today. Trader Joe's actually (there's a fantastic article in Fortune about the retailer). Don't worry, I'm a good shopper (with a list) and Trader Joe's is easily traversed with a toddler in shopping cart tow. Bea usually gets an organic Fuji apple to munch on while we shop, and today was no exception.

We shopped, Bea munched and then we checked out.

I pushed the shopping cart back out into the parking lot to our car, strapped Bea into the car seat, loaded the full reusable grocery bags into the car, and then pushed the cart--

Wait a minute. What was I supposed to do?

  • A) Leave Bea in the car and push the cart back to the cart rack 20 yards away?
  • B) Leave the cart in between the cars around me for someone else to deal with?
  • C) Take Bea back out of the car seat, hold her while I push the cart back to the cart rack and then skip back to the car to strap Bea back in?

No, mommies and daddies, I did not leave Bea in the car. I know every parent has there fudge-factor-risk time of doing just that, but this time I did not.

I picked C. I was the good parent-cart samaritan.

But maybe next time I'll just have Bea get the car and pull up front so I can load it.


Friday, August 27, 2010

The B² Perspective

It's exponential.

One B is one.

Two B's are squared -- B².

There's much more depth and breadth to the love and care; it's the B² perspective.

Meaning it's only week one and it's a lot more friggin' work. I've been home all week for the baby-cation, and although everything's been going pretty well, the focal strength needed to help care for a toddler and a newborn is unprecedented in our world.

Between doing all the usual day-to-day with twice the child, interrupted sleep and an ever-increasing volume of poop and goop and --

Those of you who know what I mean, know what I mean. I don't know how all the Mamas manage. How the heck do people have a gaggle of kids?

Although there are universal reactions when it comes to how older toddler siblings assimilate their newborn rivals, every child is unique, and the subtleties can be lost on tired parents.

But the big unfavorable reactions were clear: earlier in the week Bea struggled with a) not having sole immediate access to Mama, and b) having a crying pink thing disrupting her world.

Wait, what the heck is that?!?

The other day she woke up early from nap and was not happy.

At all.

Bea thrashed and flailed and kicked and cried and screamed in her crib. I was afraid to put my hands in there, as if she were a human-powered wood chipper.

Shortly thereafter though she was calling out "Baby!" and smiling. (Maybe she still thinks that the baby is just visiting.)

We have weeks yet of Baby Bryce's system booting up, firing and rewiring, before there's any semblance of normalcy, and even after that there will be many a wakeful night for months to come.

However, the elasticity of Mama and Daddy can be pretty resilient. That's the good news.

The bad news? Do not taunt the Mama four days after giving birth. Just don't. Really. No matter how much you want to snap back at the hormonal fallout -- stop.

Ah yes, the the B² perspective kind of puts it all in perspective. I am but a semi-inflated Y chromosome afloat in a sea of estrogen...and I am full of love.

Let's see how week two treats us.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Once again, Daddy K tells a birth story.

That Bryce Canyon sunset, when rustic hoodoo spires fired slow in burnished twilight, and her unborn spirit swept across our hearts' expanse. ~In reference to our May 2007 Southwest road trip

Do you remember watching one of those farm birth documentaries on PBS when you were younger, and the miracle of the foal being born was so amazing and crazy strange?

Well, it's got nothing on a live human birth. At home. In your own bed. With your own Mama wife and newborn.

After getting second and third opinions on the blood clot fights, the plan was to stay home and not go to the hospital. (We had researched and planned all this the first time as well.)

As my dad says, "God willin' and the creek don't rise."

This time God was and the creek didn't rise.

Saturday, August 21, 2010, 2:15 a.m.

I'm standing over the crib stroking Bea's arms to soothe here and I know I have to go.

Beatrice had been up since 1:00, primarily because of her cold and snotty nose, but also because she knew something was up.

Because our midwives had everything under control with Mama, it was up to me to tend to Bea if she needed it.

She did. Lots of it. She just couldn't go back to sleep and I had to stay in there so she wouldn't wail. She couldn't hear anything coming from our room; we keep a fan going in their for white noise and have been doing it since before she was born. (We dig it too.)

But she was obviously unsettled and aware of what's coming.

Mama had been in active labor since around 12:30 and the motion of the womb ocean was climaxing to a category 5 hurricane.

Things were moving fast and I was missing it.

I stroke Bea's arm one more time and whisper:

"I love you, baby, but I have to go help Mama."

As soon as I'm in our room, Bryce is entering the earth's atmosphere for the first time.

Of course I can't share the intimate details, but I can tell you that earlier she found her baby Zen center as contraction after contraction rolled through her.

Now I'm standing behind Mama on the side of the bed. She grabs my hand with the power of a 10,000 volts, pulls me down towards her on the bed and shrieks:

"Get it out of me!"

That's the final reality of birth, my friends. Guys, we have no idea. Nada. Zip. Imagine passing a hot bowling ball through your urethra.

Mother Mary of God, I think. There's a Bryce coming out of my wife.

You see, the first time with Bea I didn't see. That plan was to be at home as well. If you're interested you can relive Bea's birth story here.

But this one I am seeing, the visual annealing that softens my Y chromosome for an ultimately stronger bond.

Saturday, August 21, 2010, 2:24 a.m.

And then it's done. We're in the moment of tearful Mama holding wet newborn to her breast, the universe expanding the heart and soul ad infinitum.

All 7 pounds, 8 1/2 ounces, and 20.5 inches of her.

Welcome to the world, Baby Bryce.

No one gets to their heaven without a fight. ~Neil Peart

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Limited Engagement: Rock and Roll Tissue Garden Dance Party

I can't imagine stepping out for smoke. Not anymore. Not with a new family and future in the making.

Too much to miss. Life's a limited engagement and I must celebrate the magic of every moment's encore.

Even when the reviews are bad, and even when you've got a new summer cold, which I do, shared generously from my lovely little daughter Beatrice. (With Bryce on the way the cold sharing moments have only just begun...)

Unfortunately I used to imagine smoking a lot after I quit. Before that, I used to smoke a lot and imagined smoking less the impact on my health.

Before that, I just smoked unabashedly, missing a lot of moments, fueling the pleasure centers in my brain with nicotine, while blackening my lungs with smoke.

Before that, I just didn't smoke. A long time ago

I saw Rush in concert last week and so many people my age (and younger and older) still smoke. Crazy.

I know, I know. I wasn't going to go but went at the last minute once we heard the second opinion about the blood clot fights. Plus, Mama forced me to go. Really. She did.

I got to see old friends from back in the day (when I did smoke) and they brought two of their teenage kids to the show. I imagined one day when we take Bea and Bryce to concerts and how I'm so glad I'm smoke free.

Will I take the girls to a Rush show you ask? Man, if they're still playing then I will thank the Lord our Father who art in heaven -- and Disney animitronics.

Yesterday I cleaned out my wallet and found the "reasons I want to quit smoking" I wrote back before September 22, 2002, my official quit date (Bea came on September 22; the synchronicity isn't lost on me.)

Here are the top four:

  • Because I don't want to die a horrible death -- lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, etc.
  • Because it's extremely dangerous.
  • Because I want to be healthy.
  • Because I want to be in control of what I put inside my body -- not addicted to a substance.

Addiction is a bitch, and anyone who's been addicted to anything knows what I'm talking about.

The only choice you have is not to do it.

And why the heck would I want to miss out on a rock and roll tissue garden dance party with my Beatrice?