The misadventures of a first time father

Giving Thanks

Holding HandsI have tried to write this post several times throughout the week, but every time I did, I ended up deleting whatever I wrote.

It was either too wordy, dragged on, tried to encompass too many things. My wife, my son, my family, my friends, our cats, four seasons, etc, etc, etc. You see what I mean. This could take days.

Then today, I realized I could sum it up (fairly) briefly.

What I’m most thankful for is this life.

We can sit around and think about ‘what if’ we had made this choice or decided to that. You can wish for fame and/or fortune. If you look for it, you can always find something to feel negative about, envious about, angry about – whether it’s something that didn’t go a certain way, something you don’t have, or just the way life is.

But really, I’m thankful for everything. Just thankful for this life I have. There were great times, rough times, but each and every segment of this life has been and will continue to be a puzzle-piece that makes up the bigger picture of me and my life.

And I’m incredibly thankful for that. All of that.

No matter who you are, where you are, I hope that not just today, but every day, there is an opportunity available to find even the smallest of positivity, of light, and find happiness and hope in that light.

To those who celebrate, a very Happy Thanksgiving.

“For Pete’s Sake”

PeteI honestly have no idea where he comes up with these things some times.

The snow was falling for the first time this season, a cold chill in the air, and the heat rising from my car as SiriusXm’s Holiday Traditions played some classics out of the radio (Yes, I’m one of those people listening to holiday music already. It puts me in a good mood as the snow falls, so I make no apologies).

Making our way through some of our usual routes, the little guy pipes up from the back seat, navigating.

“Turn here, dada.”

“This way, dada.”

“You got it, buddy.”

Then, some time later, as I’m waiting at a stop sign, I hear something I’ve never heard before.

“For Pete’s sake, let’s go. Come on, dada.”

He’s two but some days I feel like I’m chauffeuring a teenager around.

(sighs)

I suppose in many ways a toddler is very much like having all the emotional volatility of a teenager and no filter or way to fully communicate it.

Okay. So it’s not that I’m totally unaware of where it comes from. He’s been very, very, very into watching Mickey Mouse Christmas specials as of late and in one of the vignettes, a Goofy one about waiting for Santa to arrive, neighbor Pete hears something out his window and shouts “what in the name of Pete is goin’ on out here, for Pete’s sake?!”

As for the “come on,” well, Meg’s caught herself saying a few times, only to have it repeated back to her by our little human tape recorder.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere, that toddlers are sponges. They are true mimics. And whether it is what they see from the characters they watch, or what you say or what you do, they will look to you for their words and actions.

So make sure they’re the best ones you can muster.

Ghost stories

GhostWhen your child’s vocabulary and speech begins to grow, you, as a parent, are constantly bombarded with new words, phrases and sounds each and every day. At times, they can cause a few moments of strange looks on your face as you try to decipher just what it is they are trying to say. Other times it’s clear as day.

And there are some times when it is so clear and so bizarre that you’re sure you understood it, but question if you heard that right.

One night, for example, our little guy was casually playing in the living room, per usual, with nothing out of the ordinary, when he started telling us about “the little ghost” that he says “hides” from him. My wife and I immediately looked at each other and asked our son, “what did you say, buddy?” and he repeated it, the same as before, clear as day.

A separate afternoon found he and I in his room, playing with some toys, when he suddenly said to me, “Geno’s coming!” This, once again, caused a double-take and a request for repeating, which he gladly, and exuberantly obliged. Yep. He said it. You see, Geno was one of our two older neighbors who passed away this past year. When I asked questions to see if we were talking about the same Geno, yep, we were.

“Does Geno sometimes visit you, buddy?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay.”

I’m sure some people will think I’m looking too much into it, but as I’ve detailed here in the past when one of my parents’ dogs passed away, I suddenly started thinking about children and whether or not they can see things that we adults can’t. Trying to find reference on the internet leads me down a rabbit hole of websites both supporting and debunking the entire thought, so I won’t even bother sending you across the world wide webs for it.

As I’ve said before, I’m not really a religious person these days. Spiritual, probably, but not religious. And I think that’s why I’m always so torn when faced with encounters or incidents like this.

But I certainly think it’s possible.

As we get older, we often become more cynical and hardened to the world around us, losing the open-minded nature and open-eyes that we had as children. Through our young eyes, we saw the world in a much more spectacular, much more magical place than we do as grown-ups. And because of that, I think it’s certainly possible for young ones to somehow be more attuned to what’s out there that we just don’t see or feel.

It gives me some hope that maybe there is something else…something beyond all this. While I, many times, find it hard to believe that, there is a part of me that really wants to.

And whether I am right, wrong, or off-base at all in regard to this life and whatever, if anything, is after, I will say that our little guy is certainly opening my own eyes and mind to the thought that there is much more out there than my jaded, cynical, adult mind has shut out.

He’s quite the teacher.

More tales from the backseat

I can’t help but share the tidbits and conversations that come out of our little guy during our drives in the car.

Recently, we were driving along, some classical music playing on the radio, just the smallest amount of heat coming out of the car on a crisp, Fall day, when I heard coughing from the backseat.

“Are you okay, Buddy?”

“Me no sick, dada. Me BRAVE!”

A few moments later, his arm goes up in the air in a fist, like he’s about to fly.

“Me SUPER!!!”

“You certainly are, buddy.”

“Trick or Treat” OR “Put down that snickers bar and pick up this comic”

I’ve always wondered how dentists feel about Halloween.

Back when I was anchoring the news, we would occasionally have dentists on-set once a month, and when it came to this time of year they’d often have candy-returns that they would plug, where their offices would collect candy and ship it overseas to people in the armed services. In return, kids would be put into the running for contests.

But I can’t help but think that, despite pushing for moderation, there’s got to be some dentist offices filling up with kids who just go overboard with the stuff.

Anyway, that was a bit of a stream of consciousness.

My mind was on candy because this year, we’re trying something a little different. In years past, we’ve always given the option of candy or a comic book, culled from stacks I would accumulate throughout the year to give away. However, as time has gone on, those kiddie comics of the past that used to be so easy to find in “6 for a $1″ bins, have disappeared.

So, this year, imagine my delightful surprise when I walked into my local comic shop (where I’ve been going regularly since the age of about 7, when I had to stand on a footstool to peer into the back issue boxes) and found pre-packaged stacks of mini-comic books, ready to hand out and completely kid-appropriate.

I was thrilled!

Halloween ComicsComing 20 per pack, they had varying titles and topics, but all were labeled ‘all ages,” meaning, it’s okay for little ones to get them. And, I admit, I love the slogan on the package “lasts longer than candy!” You’re darn tootin’ it does. I would have went nuts with glee as a kid if I had gone to a house on Halloween and gotten a comic book instead of a mini Snickers, and in the years past when I’ve given out comics, I’ve smiled ear to ear at having some kids genuinely feel the same way, running feverishly down our sidewalk to their parents yelling “Comics!! They gave me comics!!!” It’s been pretty darn cool.

So, this year, I’m keeping up the tradition, thanks to these Halloween Comicfest comic packets, and Meg has also ordered some Halloween toys (glow in the dark vampire fangs and spider-rings) as an option as well.

So, it’s a candy-free Halloween this year for us, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. I like the idea of finding something that’s still fun, but a little bit different for the kids. They are items that can be enjoyed long after the wrapper is taken off and at the same time, safe for everyone, even kids with allergies or diabetes, as has been very popular with the Teal pumpkin initiative as of late.

And I mean, it’s not like we’re handing out toothbrushes. :)

A pumpkin-carving time-saver with a toddler

With Halloween fast-approaching, we carved a pumpkin this weekend. While it may not be rocket science, I want to offer one bit of advice that I found made our whole process incredibly easier - if your child is taking an afternoon nap, use that nap-time to get all the gutting of your pumpkin out of the way.

It may not seem like much, because it’s such a small, simple thing, but it can make a world of difference if you’re little one is not quite at the age of carving themselves, but still wants to take part.

I’ve heard a lot lately about how pumpkin’s last longer if you carve them from the bottom, but I went for the traditional method of cutting around the stem and pulling it out to make my way inside.

carving 01

Then, using the carving knife and an ice cream scoops, I gutted all of those seeds and pumpkin-innards until we were left with one big, hollow pumpkin.

carving 02

This made things so incredibly easy when the little guy woke up from his nap and wanted to carve his pumpkin after dinner. We weren’t trying to juggle the circus of a 2-year-old wanting to pull everything out himself, getting it everywhere, or just losing interest.

carving 03

carving 04

With just the hollow pumpkin, ready to go, we simply put him at the table (with his little step stool) and he guided us through the process of what he wanted his pumpkin to look like, from the eyes, to the shape of the nose and what kind of mouth he wanted. (“Happy pumpkin!” was pretty much the description he gave us to work from for the mouth).

carving 05

carving 06

So, here we have it – our Little Carving Supervisor’s Pumpkin, made all the easier by getting the prep out-of-the-way during nap-time.

I totally recommend it.

carving 07

Happy Halloween!

Dreaming in the dark

House at NightMy eyes opened to darkness.

Outside our window, the street lights brought some illumination to the pavement and yards below, but the thick, black darkness filled our home.

I moved my head to the left, seeing the glowing red numbers of my alarm clock. Not quite 5 a.m. I was curled in an odd, not very comfortable S-Shape, my body wrapped around the slumbering cats curled up in our bed throughout the night.

Then, I heard it. A tiny little voice from the other room.

Our son, talking in his sleep.

He called out the name of one of my parents’ dogs, the same playful way he does when he wants them to chase him around their house.

A few minutes later, I heard “Ernie! Elmo! Help me with...(a slew of words that were unintelligible).”

Shortly after that giggles and laughter.

Some time later, I heard “Dada, me take binky outside, peeaassse?” (we’re still working on weaning him off that binky. It only shows up at night for sleep currently as we try to lessen his dependence on it)

I just laid there in bed, smiling, trying to stifle my laughter at these wonderful adventures, laughs and lives he’s living in his sleepy little head.

It was wonderful.


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