The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: writing

Little Lamp booksSo, this is a pretty important week for me.

Not because I’ll be one step closer to forty by the time the week is through, but because a tale that’s been floating in my mind for many years is finally seeing the light of day.

This week marks the release of my first children’s picture book, The Little Lamp. It’s the story of a small table lamp who shines his love on a family for many years. But as their lives change, so does his, and as the years pass, he finds himself old, dusty, and eventually at the curb. And it’s with that he starts to re-think what these changes mean for him and what purpose he might still serve in life – as he has so much more love light to give.

Available in hardcover, paperback and e-book, it’s a story I hope offers some inspiration, some hope, and some, all pun intended, bright light to anyone of any age, going through a life change, doubt, and just wondering how they fit in. It’s beautifully illustrated by artist Ada Konewki, with whom I loved working with and hope to one day get the chance to do so again.

It also holds quite a lot of meaning because The Little Lamp has been with me since I was about nine years old, a doodle inspired by the small table lamp my parents bought for my bedroom, which then became crudely-drawn, xeroxed stories passed around to my elementary school friends.

And now, thirty years later, here he is, for anyone to enjoy.

It really means so very much.


tumbleweedThe silence is palpable as a tumbleweed spins across your path. This place seems like it’s been dead for quite some time. It’s nothing but a ghost town.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but I haven’t exactly been pounding out the pieces as of late, making this place a virtual deserted city.

I’ve meant to. Truly. I can’t tell you how many times the phrase “blog posts” or sometimes “blog posts!!!!” has been scrawled out on my daily planner, never to be crossed out, left out of the reindeer games of the day like poor little Rudolph. Even those four extra exclamation points haven’t been able to add extra time to the day, even if they have increased the amount of guilt for it.

I at first thought that the greatest challenge in having a second child would be remembering or re-learning how to care for a baby again. I was surprised to find that this came back pretty easily. What I hadn’t really understood was that the greatest challenge to a second child is juggling the care a baby needs alongside the growing needs of a three year old.

From the moment we wake around 5:30 or 5:45 (or earlier if the cats are feeling particularly saucy that morning), it feels like a whirlwind begins, feeding cats, showering, dressing, cleaning litter boxes, prepping lunches, waking kids, getting the little guy on the potty, dressing kids, out the door, a full workday, and then back again around 6 for the nightly responsibilities of dinner, bathtime, storytime, bedtime, and a little bit of playtime or family time squeezed in the moments between.

If both my wife and I are in the same room at the same time, that often means a divide and conquer strategy, with one of us handling the baby while the other plays with, talks with, keeps engaged, our three year old son.

And that has left very little time for much else. Yes, yes, I’ve heard the “just work on it when the kids are asleep” or “get up earlier” suggestions before, and I admit, it certainly was more doable with a growing little boy who eventually had a bedtime, and went to sleep. But with a new baby in the mix, his bedtime doesn’t mean free-time, just the two of us to handle the baby at once instead of the divide and conquer of earlier in the evening.

I truly don’t know how some folks do it, and to those of you who do, I commend you. I really, really do. Bravo. But I have to ask, how? How does one balance a full day of work, kid pickups and drop offs, home life and responsibilities, and still find the time to write and blog on such a regular basis? Are you all wearing chrono-belts that let you slow down the time-stream? Tell me your secrets!!!! 🙂

collar grabSorry. Didn’t mean to grab your collar like that. I got a little carried away.

It has, admittedly, been tough to find time to do anything.

That’s not bad. First, it won’t always be this way. Before we know it, that three year old boy will be a six year old boy, 12 year old boy, 18 year old boy, and off into adulthood. That little baby girl will shortly after be doing the same. There are moments where sure, we think to ourselves that we’d like the time to do things we want, but let’s be honest – it never outweighs what we don’t want – for this time to go by in a blink, for these moments to blow past us like a drag race.

No, no, no.

These are the times to savor, to enjoy, to live.

Having the memories written to reflect upon one day might be nice, but they’re only half a memory if they aren’t truly lived.

Yes, we all get down on ourselves for not always accomplishing the things on our to-do list, whether it be a room clean-up or repair around the house, or a blog post to be written.

But no, it’s not terrible, and I think we all need little reminders of that when we start to feel that we don’t always have the luxury of time we once had for such things.

It’s not bad. It just means that we’re too busy being parents and living life with our children to actually always write about it.

I’d rather take take the moments as fully as they can be than to forsake them or short change them for the sake of writing them down.


© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationAs years have passed and I’ve moved from high school student to college student, part-time worker to full-time worker, then full-time worker in the news business (which is a 24/7 business), becoming a parent (another 24/7 job), I have found my window of free time shrinking more and more. That has meant less time for family, fr friends, and for bring creative.

When you are drowned in your work from the moment you open your eyes, with emails, texts, calls, etc. until you go to bed at night, there is little time left for bonding, let alone to let your mind travel to that creative place it visited so much in the past.

I think that’s why I get so sad when I see old work or writings by my younger self.

I’ll be so proud at how imaginative it is. Then, I’ll realize how I haven’t been that creative in so long and I wonder if I’m doomed to a day-to-day hamster wheel that leaves my imagination outside of the cage.

WP_000088That’s why I leapt at the chance to take a workshop with writer J.M. DeMatteis back in May. With my wife’s encouragement, I headed out-of-town for a few days of creativity, writing and a re-awakening of something inside me thought to be long gone.

Called Imagination 101, I was among a small group of very talented individuals, spending our days, brainstorming, creating, encouraging and feeding off of each other’s energy. It was wonderful and it reminded me that if you don’t flex your imagination like a muscle, it will become just as flabby.

Even if it’s a little bit of time each day, it can make all the difference in the world. I admit it’s very hard to do, but I continue to try. I usually write after the little guy has gone to sleep or if I wake up on a weekend before he and my wife do.

What had happened over time was that, due to the lack of time, I would begin to look at a writing project that I once was so excited about as just one more thing on my to-do list. When that happens, it becomes drudgery, it became work.

If there is one thing for me to have walked away from the Imagination 101 workshop with, it’s that writing should be like play. If you can get back in touch with your nine-year old self and make whatever you’re writing the same kind of fun it was then, to make it like play, then your pilot light of creativity will never go out.

WP_000090

I thank J.M. so much for his inspiration and the encouragement of those in the workshop with me – Noah, Raymond, Nicole and David – you all helped me go back to the ‘real world’ with a recharged battery and a rejuvenated sense of confidence in my creativity.

Like Golden Age superhero Johnny Quick and his magical formula for super-speed, J.M. gave us a formula to keep that fire of imagination going:

Imagination + Creativity = Play


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. 🙂



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