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, November 26, 2011

Puddles, Phantoms and Peanuts

They wouldn't touch any of it. Not the turkey, the stuffing, the carrot casserole, the scalloped corn, the mashed potatoes or gravy. None of it.

Except Nonna's amazingly yummy pumpkin desert. Of course. It's desert.

It wasn't surprising that Beatrice wouldn't eat the Thanksgiving food; she's quite the picky eater these 3-year-old days. But Bryce, who usually eats a little bit of almost everything wouldn't touch any of it either (although the day after she did eat two bites of turkey).

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Nope, they were more interested in splashing in the rain puddles earlier in the day. A puddle is like the fun black holes of kid world -- no child escapes its gravity. Oh it's wetness, which is a bummer when you don't bring clothes for your kids to change into after they're wet.

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All afternoon while the girls napped, the turkey that this daddy proudly prepped roasted in the oven while Nonna made some side dishes and then I added a couple at the end. The delicious smells of our cooking and the many phantom family meals of Thanksgivings past mingled together in the warm air, causing a mild tryptophan-laced melancholia.

What was, that will never be again, to what is now, that becomes tomorrow, that will never be again.

Hey, there were a lot of phantoms in the air.

Then, while the Mama, Nonna and I sat playing Scrabble, we dug into our Thankful Box. Inspired by another daddy blogger last year, we started own box that gets filled with "what we're thankful for" notes throughout the year to then be read on the following Thanksgiving.

That perked me up; I'm so thankful for the lovely B-hive!

But they still wouldn't touch any of our Thanksgiving meal. Only watermelon, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pumpkin desert.

We might as well have served toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks and jelly beans.

Queue the music.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This first night away

The Mama was more worried than me about missing them.

During the two weeks leading up to our first night away, she was especially worried about the little one Bryce, although the entire B-hive would be in the capable hands of her mother (and our babysitter was on call just in case Grandma "Nonna" needed help). Plus, we had FaceTime all set up on our iPads and iPhone and double-checked before we left to ensure we could see and talk to our girls while away.

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As we sat across from one another in the bistro in the early afternoon of our first night away from the girls, I looked lovingly at the Mama and asked:

"So, do you miss them?"

She smiled and shook her head. "No, not really."

"I know," I said.

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Then we toasted our time alone together. Time needed to reconnect as lovers and friends, to relive the time before the B-hive.

Of course we love our girls, but we're not the first parents to embrace precious alone time, and certainly won't be the last.

Obviously they did fine without us, because all went well with them on their own with Nonna for one whole night.

And so it went, this first night away in the City by the Bay, experiencing another evolutionary step of parenting and children growing up.

What we didn't realize, at least until we got home the next morning, was how much we really did miss them.

And how much they missed us.

Amen. We are thankful for family.






Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stop! Or Mama and Daddy will mop the floor with you


When you're broken, all you want is to believe.

To believe that there are adults in your life who are trustworthy and will take care of, protect you and not harm you.

That's what we believed when my sister and I were children, what our mom believed. Shame, resentment and anger years later that almost led to a vengeful incident.


And then the most recent sad news: The charges against ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky include:

40 charges of sexual abuse involving at least eight alleged victims and spanning 15 years, beginning in 1994.

This from supposedly helping kids from The Second Mile organization, many from single-parent homes and in need of another adult in their lives.

When you're broken, all you want is to believe you can be safe.

Sure, the charges are alleged until proven, but we've seen similar stories over the years, all involving men and women in positions of power and beloved trust, sometimes even in the name of God, supposedly helping the broken young ones (and those who aren't even broken, yet), but then abusing that power while abusing the children.

A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. And that's only what's reported. Statistically speaking, child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

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Tragic. It hurts my heart when I hear these things. I've been there and we'll do whatever it takes to protect our girls.

The Mama's been teaching Beatrice what's appropriate and what's not with other older kids and adults -- language, touching, etc.

And then just last week, we thought Bea might have a urinary tract infection and the Mama took her our doctor. Of course the doctor had to check out her private parts, and Bea was very quiet, watching Mama the whole time.

The eye-lock trust reassured Beatrice that this was appropriate and the doctor was only seeing if she sick.

So there you go, girl:

"What do you do if someone is doing something to you they shouldn't be?"


Or Mama and Daddy will mop the floor with you and other colorful expressions you'd rather not experience first hand.

Nobody messes with the B-hive, baby. Nobody.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The guy in the clock tower


It's like random sniper fire from a clock tower. At least, that's how it feels.

The rapid-fire bullets hit me all over: the news of my dad, my mother's health, the fear of what we do wrong, global financial uncertainty, political extremism, civil unrest and incivility, domestic violence, the sudden weather change, unexpected business, unexpected bills, family colds, family cries, Daylight Savings time, choices and lack thereof --

As I lay there bleeding out hope (metaphorically mind you), I drift in and out about what to do, what to do, what to do. It's only matter of moments, an imaginary one-hour shift, but time is relative when you're riddled with emotional holes clean through.

My pulse slows and I close my eyes.





I say a prayer for us all. Tiny hands push on my chest.

"Daddy sleeping!"

I hear giggles and snickers. A snotty hot nose sideswipes my cheek. More tiny hands on my chest, then giggles.

[clear - zap]




I open my eyes. Smiling B-hive angels lay hands on me. Mama angel bends down and kisses me.

"I love you," she says.

I pull her closer and whisper in her ear:

"I'm taking out the guy in the clock tower."


Friday, November 4, 2011

Displaced and mad as hell

Once it spreads to other parts of the body beyond the skin, it is difficult to treat.

Without even knowing his complete diagnosis yet, I can't get the "once it spreads -- it's difficult to treat" out of my head.

My father has melanoma, a very serious kind of cancer, and it's metastasized into his lymphatic system. How far beyond that we don't know yet. But he's mad as hell and he's beat the devil more than once (so's my mom for that matter).

Metastasis means "displacement" in Greek and that's how he feels, to be moved out of the proper place. When you're sick, there's a palatable disconnect from the rhythm of everyday life.

About 160,000 people are diagnosed each year with melanoma, more frequently in women than men.
How many of those become displaced from family, friends, co-workers and communities? Conversely as well?

Beyond displacement, nearly 50,000 people tragically die from melanoma every year, leaving hole-ridden hearts behind.

Sure it's all in the caring now, but this morning as Oakland and the rest of the world burns, I'm displaced and mad as hell.

All I want to do is dig a shallow grave in the backyard for all the world ills and my father's cancer and bury them.