The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: March 2013

dinner party retroEver since we’ve become parents, it has become, as expected, a lot more difficult to get together with friends and family, especially in the frequency that we used to.

Before, it was fairly easy to set up a coffee meeting with our friends or go grab dinner with some family without much challenge. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot more to take into consideration these days with our little guy – his feeding schedule, his mood, his bedtime routine and keeping it routine, as well as our own exhaustion by day and week’s end.

However, we’ve recently started trying something. Something so simple, so novel and timeless, that it’s hard to come up with any sort of legitimate excuse as to why we hadn’t thought of it before  – having people over.

Years ago, it was not uncommon to have guests over at a particular night of the week; each person bringing a dish or a dessert. People got together and just socialized. Yes, before Facebook and text messaging, people actually got together in person at their homes and caught up on what was going on in their lives.

So, we’ve decided to start implementing this into our lives a bit more. Not only is it less expensive than meeting up at some restaurant with friends, as we make dinner here at home, think of how much more freedom you have to sit around, chat, let the baby be a baby and not worry about those around you or a waiter or waitress who you’re keeping from filling that table with other guests.

vintage dinner party 01On top of that, my wife and I have discovered a fun little side effects of these social Friday night dinners at home – having guests over and socializing on a Friday night makes the weekend seem longer than it actually is. Since we’re actually doing something with that evening, it never feels like it does when you get together on a Saturday night, which is that feeling of ‘ugh. tomorrow’s Sunday and then it’s back to work.” You almost feel like you’re getting extra time out of your weekend.

Not only that, but with a somewhat regular gathering at the home, it helps us stay on top of keeping the house cleaner than we had been otherwise.

Save a little money. See good friends and family. Enjoy good, homemade food, and get a little extra time to your weekend.

How can you go wrong?

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationPlease indulge and bear with my reflection as I post this, scribbled down on a loose piece of paper the night before the start of Spring:

The large white flakes fell outside the dining room windows a day before the official start of Spring, leaving the backyard, the neighborhood, and many across the northeast blanketed in a fresh coat of snow.

Bob Dylan’s gravely voice sang that “Times, They are a Changin’,” as my son sat, propping himself up on all fours atop a white quilted blanket made by one of his grandmothers.

Before Dylan was Paul Simon with “Kathy’s Song,” both making me lose myself in the sight of this little man now getting prepped for bath time.

Times, they are a changin’ indeed, and I don’t quite know why I can’t shake it. My entire life, I’ve thought so much about the passage of time, not necessarily living in the moment nearly as much as I think I should have.

When I was a very little kid, I took a field trip to a museum. There, even at an elementary age, I was fascinated by a series of paintings by Thomas Cole called “The Voyage of Life,” displaying the various stages we each go through, up against the backdrop of an ever darkening sky as our life continues. I’m not saying that’s what it did it, but it was certainly a series of images that have stayed with me to this day. 

How did my parents do it? How do they handle even now, having children who are once these little cherub-faced angels, only to have them grow up to become people?

As bath time progresses and Dylan switches over to Billy Joel bellowing out the lament of a Piano Man, the snow continues to blanket the yard, like it has years before and will for years to come.

I don’t know where any of us will be as I look out to that fallen snow and think of the years that will follow, but I know I’ll look back and feel that they went by too fast.

Will I see my reflection in the glass against the sheet of white and see a life lived or a life spent philosophizing on how quickly it all changes?

Maybe a little of both. Who knows?

I hope it’s a life that found a balance between the two, savoring the moments to their fullest because of an awareness that they won’t last forever. I truly hope so.

Only time will tell.

Thomas Cole - The Voyage of Life - Childhood

Thomas Cole – The Voyage of Life – Childhood

Thomas Cole - The Voyage of Life - Youth

Thomas Cole – The Voyage of Life – Youth

Thomas Cole - The Voyage of Life - Manhood

Thomas Cole – The Voyage of Life – Manhood

Thomas Cole - The Voyage of Life - Old Age

Thomas Cole – The Voyage of Life – Old Age

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationThere is something that I find incredibly relaxing and peaceful about listening to an old radio program.

It could be the earlier (some clichés would say simpler) times evoked by radio, or maybe it’s the ‘theatre of the mind’ that I find so much more creative than having someone spell it out for us in a film or TV program.

Whatever it may be, it transports me to a time before every minute of our day was accounted for, before everyone was constantly ‘plugged in,’ when families would sit around the radio together for their news and their entertainment.

Yet, it is modern technology that allows me to take this step back in time. I downloaded two apps to my smartphone recently, one called Radio Spirits and the other, Vintage Radio Lite. Both were absolutely free.

Each day, Radio Spirits has two radio programs, sometimes a comedy, sometimes a mystery, you never know, from the Golden Age of radio. I love that randomness. It’s like when audiences tuned in and what was on that night was on. Some nights you’ll want to listen, some nights, it’s a show you’re just not interested in.

Vintage Radio Lite is more of an on-demand service. You can search through their catalog of hundreds, if not thousands of programs in a myriad of genres, cue one up, and listen away, complete with original commercials.

I’ve always been a fan of old radio shows, listening to radio dramas on my radio Walkman on public broadcasting Sunday night in elementary school, having stumbled upon them by accident. As a teen, I discovered old cassette tapes of The Shadow radio programs, and in recent years, I’ve often been found with a CD of The Shadow or old Superman broadcasts in my car for a dark, rainy car drive.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationWith these apps now on my phone, it’s actively created a new type of family time in our house. It’s not an everyday thing, but there’s plenty of times where we don’t feel like watching television, but would like something on in the background. So, we ‘tune in’ via the app, and as we eat our dinner, listen to the phone/radio and chuckle to the likes of Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, or the Alan Young Show. I’m also quite partial to the Jack Benny Show, and, as I said, any time Orson Welles played The Shadow.

My sister-in-law sometimes jokes with us that our son will be confused as to what era he grew up in with our love of old movies and radio, etc, etc. While I don’t think it’ll be that bad, Meg and I hope that growing up around these things will give him an appreciation for what’s come before, and make him realize just how far things have come. It’s important to us not to lose the past, but preserve it and honor it, as we move forward to the future. We hope he will do the same.

A little modern technology, letting us appreciate and preserve the past. Pretty neat.

chick magnet-001At eight months old, my son is an absolute flirt.

Sure, he likes to smile and laugh at me, and will break out a smile for a nice guy who starts up a conversation with him while we’re out in a store or a restaurant.

But when it comes to the ladies, boy oh boy, does this kid put on a show! The legs start kicking, the eyes light up, and the smiles, laughter and noises just don’t stop. He LOVES the ladies and he makes no bones about it wherever we go.

My wife brought him up to my work a few weeks ago, where he got to see many of my co-workers, giving the guys I work with a curious stare and maybe a smirk. When my female co-workers came into the room and began talking to him, though, I didn’t think we were ever going to be able to drag him out of there.

Last night we went to dinner, where two very nice women from Ireland were seated behind us and came over to talk to him upon sight. He was, ironically enough, wearing an Ireland onesie for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and when they began talking to him, I thought he was going to leap out of his carrier and do a little Irish jig on the table.

My wife says even a small trip for her to the store ends with him “chatting up” the female cashiers.


Andy Hardy and his many loves

It’s really a sight to behold, but it definitely makes me wonder if this star-struck-for-the-ladies trait will carry on through his youth, will it peter out, or will I have my own, girl-crazy Andy Hardy on my hands with many a man-to-man talk in the future?

Either way, it’s another adventure I look forward to in the years ahead.

singing in the rainI love rainy days.

Call me crazy, call me weird, but there’s just something about them that just gets me in a completely, ready-to-create type of mood.

It could be the whole subconscious notion that rain means ‘staying indoors’ or maybe it’s just harder to sit down and do something when it’s bright and sunny out.

Give me a good rainy day, though, and I’ll pontificate, I’ll think, I’ll generate ideas and just make a full productive day out of it.

When I was in college there were so many days spent sitting by the window of the cafe, the sound of raindrops tapping against the glass, cup of coffee or tea in hand, just scrawling story after story out onto paper.

I reflect, I self-motivate, I create, I cross things off that to-do list and I just feel good about myself and the world.

Hand me an umbrella, a hat and a trench coat, and who knows, maybe I’ll swing around the lamp post and belt you out a Gene Kelly tune while I’m at it. 🙂

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation“Lord, what fools these mortals be!” – Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2

I had a very jarring moment recently that out of nowhere caused me to start thinking about mortality. Notably, my own.

Throughout the course of my life, I’ve rarely given it thought, or if I did, only in dark hours of sadness I’d care not to revisit. For the most part, though, I’ve been susceptible to what many youth are – that feeling that you will go on forever; that there’s always tomorrow; always next month; always a few years down the road.

It allowed me to cultivate an ongoing sense of forward vision, always looking to what project, what script, what new story, what task, was coming down the line that could be tackled or scheduled in.

There was always time.

Then, on a recent weekend, I was sitting with my son on my lap, now almost eight months old. He smiled at me and I looked into his eyes and realized, this moment I’m experiencing was one my father and me no doubt had, and his father before him and so on and so forth.

It was in that simple moment of a smile that I realized this is the circle of life at work. This little guy is the next generation. He will follow me as I followed my father, etc.  But in that moment, staring into his beautiful eyes and having him smile back at me, I suddenly realized, truly, for the first time, I am not going to live forever. That someday, he might be bouncing a baby upon his knee and I may be older, and eventually as that circle continues, I may no longer be here.

It was an eye opener. I wish I had something quite profound to wrap this all in a bow with, but I don’t. In fact, I’m still processing the feelings it brought about.

What I do know, though, is that it just proved as one more example to me to get up and live life. There are things we can’t always control. Unless we’re independently wealthy, you know what, we have to get up and go to work each day. We have to do housework, we have to do grocery shopping, we have to repair things when they’re broken.

But that makes the time in between all the more precious. Whether it’s getting out, going for a walk and experiencing the world around you, whether it’s sitting under a tree with a good book, or whether it’s just telling your parents or your child you love them and spending time with them, DO IT.

Despite what you think, you won’t have the chances forever.

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