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.

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?




Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blood clot fights prompt an eviction notice. News on August 22.

You know when you hear, "Hey, I've got some more warm goo here if you need it," while doing ultrasound after ultrasound in the emergency room for 5 hours, that things aren't working out the way you planned.

That was last Sunday.

Rewind from that to the Thursday before and that's when Mama's leg started to hurt with a specific spot all swollen and red.

And then roll forward again to early Sunday morning and we're off to the emergency room.

At first it was a supposed abscess in Mama's leg. That's what the emergency room doctor thought. Turned out not to be the case.

Sunday mornings aren't for watching your 38-week pregnant wife's leg being cut into. Nope, not by a long shot.

Then the doctor ordered more vein scans and a few hours later the OB on call came to the conclusion that we were dealing with borderline dangerous blood clots requiring heating pads and bed rest and eventual anticoagulants before birth if necessary and definitely post birth. No more midwifery or home birth.

What the -- ? You've got to be kidding.

Flip over to Monday afternoon when we got a second opinion from another OB seconded even by another specialist that everything was in much better shape than what the hospital OB told us.

Thank goodness to Godness. No prose can come close to expressing the level of distress we experienced, especially Mama.

But fast forward almost a full week from emergency room trauma and she's been feeling much better. We both are. My mother-in-law was a tremendous help as well this week keeping life as seamless and sane as possible for Beatrice and us. (How many guys can say that about their mother-in-laws?)

I had hoped for a Friday the 13th birth yesterday (even though Bryce isn't due until August 22), but no go. Mama's more than ripe and more ready than ever, though.

After all the blood clot fights, what are the legal and moral ramifications of giving your unborn child an eviction notice?*

No hate mail or phone calls, please.

*Credit for the eviction notice schtick goes to Adriana 2.0. Thank you.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Fathers with daughters must see beyond borders and take the lead.

I grew up swimming in a sea of estrogen. Between my mom and sister, I was lucky enough to keep some semblance of manhood from drowning.

No laughter or color commentary from the friendly sidelines, please.

Of course, I wouldn't trade my feminine sensitivity for anything. Those who know me know this. I witnessed enough domestic violence with my mother and severe workplace discrimination and sexual harassment with my sister early on -- where the violent side of manhood evaporates every last drop of estrogen it touches.

Thankfully, both my mom and sister persevered with a deep-welled strength I could only imagine having.

Today I have my own family: all girls, all mightily strong-willed. This includes Mama, Beatrice and Bryce (who's almost here), and a 300-year-old Calico named Chelsea.

As a husband and father in a city and country where my family is relatively safe compared to many other places around the globe, I cannot imagine what happened to Aisha happening to my girls. Aiesha is the Afghan woman that Time magazine made the cover story.

Under orders from a Taliban commander acting as a judge, Aisha's nose and ears were sliced off last year as punishment for fleeing her husband's home, according to Time's story and other accounts. She said she fled to escape her in-laws' beatings and abuse.

Now in a women's shelter, she is set to get reconstructive surgery in the U.S., with the help of Time, humanitarian organizations and others.

Did the men who did this to her look her in the eyes during the act? Again, I cannot imagine. The level of angry repulsion is beyond me.

The Pixel Project, of whom I've done some volunteer work for, is an online group that works to combat violence against women, and saw the Aisha photo and story as a call to action. Founder Regina Yau called it "a teachable moment."

It's estimated that one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

That's egregious. Too many teachable moments that aren't being taught.

Thankfully there are many organizations worldwide working to end this violence, which is no easy task.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) and Women Thrive Worldwide have begun running powerful print and banner ads in Politico to urge Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) this year.

The ad, which depicts a somber young woman, says:

"Her Eyes Will See So Much.
An aunt brutally punished for being RAPED.
A friend forced into PROSTITUTION.
A cousin SOLD INTO MARRIAGE at age 12.
A sister BURNED WITH ACID for going to school.
Don’t turn your back on her.
Pass the International Violence Against Women Act, so she can see a world free of violence against girls and women."

You can see the full ad here.

More information on the International Violence Against Women Act is available at www.PassIVAWA.org.

For me and many others, it's not a political issue. The political part of the equation is a mean's to an end to solicit positive change.

This is a women's right's issue; it's a human right's issue.

They need a voice. They need to be heard. They need to be helped.

We need to look into their eyes and tell them they have a right to live a non-violent life as we do. And then ensure it.

Fathers with daughters must see beyond borders and take the lead.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The fantastical zero-gravity lady bug hovercraft

Growing up there were two ads for make-your-own-fantastical products in the back of my comic books that I longed to have.

One was for a submarine and the other a hovercraft.

Exciting! Fun! Amazing! It really works!

Really? Well, I never got to realize those dreams. Guess that's why one of my favorite shows is Eureka, and more recently Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

Segue to here and -- now that we're 3 weeks away from Lady Bug Bryce's arrival (or 2 or 4...that all depends on her), Mama's all done.

Meaning, the baby in the belly's getting bigger and bigger and moving around in g, Earth's gravity, is getting harder and harder.

So I'm going to make her a zero-gravity lady bug hovercraft. I can do this.

Anybody have three old vacuum motors laying around?