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.

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.


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)

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!