Sunday, February 28, 2010


Friday, February 26, 2010


I awakened to the view above. Held in suspended animation high above like in a cloud, Pete curled in the crook of my elbow.

A tiny voice calling below, "Books books books..."

I awoke perfectly blissful, perfectly at peace, perfectly rested and at perfect understanding with my place in the world. It was a little after three. Elise had taken great measures to construct a sanctuary of our bedroom, a nest high above in the trees or clouds to where we could escape. I often take this haven for granted, but relished its tranquility this afternoon.

I, also, feel suspended between two places. The past few days have been calm. I've done much of what can be done in preparation for the days and months to come, knowing that much will have to wait until the last hectic days (which is fine, that's how moving happens), so Sam and I go to the indoor play gym, go to the bookstore, go bowling with Elise and Peter and go to the park.

On a side note, Elise and Peter were on the bed in our room this morning. I was trying to get Sam out of the house to go to the park. He was on the bed reading 'Curious George' intermittently bouncing. I pulled him away ("You can't jump on the bed when Peter's on the bed") which resulted in a torrent of tears. He asked, "Blenx." (blankie). I responded, "You can't bring blankie to the park." He insisted. So, I acquiesced and we went into his room and retrieved his blankie from the crib. He used it to wipe away his tears. Immediately better, he tossed blankie back into bed. I choked up. Blankie had become a magical object that could sop up sadness and return the world to balance instantaneously. I forget that in a child's world such objects exist.

They exist in an adult's world, too....

Such is the power of a good nap.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A 'Latte' Fun

Sam and I had to get out of the house yesterday afternoon so mom could get some work done and Peter could take a nap without anyone bouncing a toy motorcycle off his forehead. Unfortunately, it was raining, so Sam and I decided to head over to the indoor gym, A "Latte" Fun (you can sit in a nice cybercafe and drink coffee while your kids play in the bounce house, etc.)

Sam on is first 'date' with a mermaid.

Me and Sam on the trampoline. This was Sam's 1st trampoline. It was probably my 2nd.'s hard to take a good cellphone picture on a trampoline.

It's also hard to take a picture of Sam sitting still...especially at an indoor play gym. Here he is in the foam 'cube' pit. I encouraged him to go down the slide into the pit only after he inspected several of the foam cubes. The slide ended up being waaaaay faster than I think either of us anticipated and catapulted him into the pit up to his chest.

Sam wasn't crazy about the 'elmo' (he calls all Muppets or puppets Elmo). This foxy number kept trying to get a kiss out of him, but he wasn't interested. He's not the cheerleader-type.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Peas. Pod.

Monday, February 22, 2010


"Mlex": Water. Any type of water, water to drink, water fountains, fountains. We have no idea how you get "mlex" out of "water", but "mlex" is most certainly "water" in Samspeak.

"Blesh": Bless you. Okay what other 2-year old says bless you unprovoked. He started by saying bless you when Peter sneezed. Elise was standing in the kitchen the other day and sneezed and from the living room we hear "blesh" and wasn't sure what Sam had said, but it was definitely "bless you"!

"Mik dis": Milk, please. This is, by far, Sam's favorite phrase as he would drink an entire gallon of milk at one sitting if you let him. "Mik dis" started as "milk, please" but with so much use quickly became just "milk" so we had to make sure he understood to also say please, so now he has to add an additonal "pwease" to his order.

"Natch": Both a noun and a verb. Anything that grabs, bites or snatches (I think that is where "natch" originally came from) like alligators, sharks, crabs, lobsters at the supermarket, Elise's straightening comb, a garlic press, etc. As a verb, "Oh no birds! There's an alligator in that lake! Don't let it natch you!"

Sam also uses a variety of sounds for words. When he says "Ahh" and covers up his chest, it means naked (comes from "Eek! Im naked!"). He doesn't say some words that you would think would be easy like "dog" or "cat". Instead, he woofs or dog or says "mlow" for cat, but then, remarkably, he can say "Hippopotamus". Granted, I started teaching him "hippopotamus" when he was like a year-old, because the neighbor's little girl who is a month older than Sam was saying "hippopotamus" by age 6 months.

More to come...!

Sam's Winter Olympics

One-man bobsled:
Sam and I watched a little Olympics this afternoon. His favorite--prior to today--had been the men's short track which he simply calls "Zoom!". Today, he got a kick out of the two-man bobsled. He giggled everytime they ran and jumped into the sled and everytime they got out at the bottom of the run. I can't wait for him to see the 4-man! Above is his imitation...!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Size of a Daddy's Heart

As I write this, Peter, my 6 week-old son, is curled in my lap on the boppy pillow, a doughnut-shaped pillow you where around your waist (mostly for breast-feeding, I am told). Sam just went down for a nap, after Elise performed surgery on his new stuffed animal, also named Sam, a firefighting frog he birthed from Build-a-Bear last night courtesy of his triplet uncle and aunts. She sewed up a hole in his forearm. As Sam (the frog) was in surgery, Sam (the boy) talked him through it reassuringly and fed him strips of deli turkey from his own lunch.

We all just returned from a morning as the neighborhood 'hippie' family. We walked to Artigras, the annual Abacoa artfest. I use the term 'hippie' loosely. In south Florida if you're not pushing your kids in a McClaren stroller or dressing them in the latest $50 tee from Crew Cuts, you're probably considered a 'hippie'. Elise carried Peter in the Baby Bjorn and I had Sam in the back pack. We stopped and let him paint his own coffee mug.

Seems like a random opening to a blog, but 6 weeks ago, I could not have predicted what Monday, February 15th, 2010 would look like.

When we went to the hospital on Wednesday, December 30th, 2009, my mind and heart felt full. I had a beautiful wife and a wonderful son. I had no job, really and lost some sense of my identity and purpose, but, on good days, knew that I was still smart and capable, a good husband and father, and on a really good day, still knew that the world could be our oyster again someday soon. (don't worry, I have lots of really good days now :)

I was torn. My life and family felt full, complete. Sam was my world. I don't think I knew what I wanted in a son or a child (besides their health) before he was born and I didn't knew what it would really be like to be a father, but now that I had Sam, I felt like I had everything. He was, to me, the best boy in the world and everything a dad could ask or want from a son. He ran with me. He went to Starbucks with me and read "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" with rapture while I read the NY Times. He went shopping for mom with me and always stayed close so I didn't have to strap him into a stroller or (God forbid) leash him like a hound. We had just celebrated his 1st 'real' Christmas and his 2nd birthday, and so I was having trouble figuring out how another child would fit into my heart or mind. I love Sam with every ounce of my being, so how could there be anything left for anyone new?

Maybe this isn't a new sensation and it is common to have felt this way, but I didn't want to have compromise my time with Sam. I know that seems selfish at the time and ridiculous in light of current events.

By now, you may have heard the story of Peter's arrival on our planet. Elise has started the medication to help speed along her labor. The nurse monitored her contractions from the nurse's station and, at one point, came in to check on Elise.

"How you holding up?" she may have asked.

"Good." I remember Elise has stood by this time and was rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet, cradling her belly. She was more comfortable this way.

The nurse commented that these were pretty serious contractions (in retrospect, Elise's tolerance for pain was much higher than either she or I had ever given her credit for). This was about 5 or 6 p.m. The nurse commented that her shift would be ending soon. She would wish us luck, suggesting that it wouldn't be much before midnight that the baby was born, though she said she would call down and see if the anaesthesiologist was available to administer the epidural to ease some of the pain. Then, she left the room.

2 or 3 contractions (maybe 10 minutes) later, Elise said the discomfort was too much and asked me to go get the nurse and see where the epidural was. I started for the door to rush the nurse's station, but thought better of leaving and pushed the call button.

The nurse returned. She said she would check to see where the anaesthesiologist was, but to call if Elise "felt like she needed to push."

One contraction later Elise felt like she needed to push.

Earlier in the day, we were talking about a friend who had recently given birth naturally, without painkillers. I told Elise, I couldn't do it. I couldn't handle seeing her in that much pain....

About halfway through, the nurse benched me. I had lost feeling in my arms from my elbows down...they were just tingling. When it was over, Elise turned to me and asked if she was okay. I lost it. I couldn't imagine her having to go to a place where she didn't know she was still okay.

But she was. Better than okay. We all were. The time was 7:01 p.m.

And now, 6 weeks later, I type with a baby curled in my lap. He smiles to me at midnight with a full belly, comfortable in my arms. We bunk together at 4 a.m. to give mom extra shut eye. He--just like Sam--grunts when he sleeps like a little piglet. Now I have two boys to run with. Two boys to climb mountains with. Two boys to read while I indulge in the NY Times and coffee. Two boys to help me shop for mom.

I completely underestimated the malleability of my heart. I had heard of the phenomenon, but didn't really understand it until I had experienced it for myself. How one's mind and heart expands as their family expands. I feel foolish to have worried that I couldn't love Peter as much as I loved Sam or Elise.

Croc Baby

Sam got new crocs.

Something about kids and crocs. He insisted on having them in his crib when Paul put him down for a nap the other day and when I went in to wake him up this is how I found him :)

In fact he wore them to bed, both nap and nighttime for the first two nights he owned them. Call it his mother's shoe obsession, but the kid loves a shoe! He begs for them immediately after getting out of the tub, the third piece of his pajama set, and walks around the house calling to them when he can't find them, 'cocs!' The best part is that he likes to wear them on the wrong feet, insists on it. A phase I'm sure we'll miss when it is gone. Until then post-nap, pantless crocs and cookies...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Amen = Handy Manny"

Sam's favorite cartoon is--arguably--Handy Manny, a peppy Hispanic mister fix-it with an anthropomorphic tool chest.

We also--just this week--implemented a blessing before dinner.

Do you see where this is going...?

When Sam asks to watch Handy Manny, I'm not sure he isn't praising the Lord and after we have given thanks for our food, various loved ones and fire trucks I don't know if Sam isn't thanking Handy Manny.

On a side note, who needs a sidewalk art festival...? Witness Handy Manny in all his sidewalk chalk glory. Photo taken from the sidewalk in front of our residence earlier this evening.

Brotherhood of the Pantless Nap

We have a couple of rules in our house.

1. Mom is always right :)
2. Pants are just not required when napping, and in fact should be uncomfortable.
3. Don't poke Peter in the eyeball, you wouldn't like it, neither does he.
4. Wake up happy or go back to sleep until you are (which is always a good excuse for me to stay in bed! ha)

Sam however, rules aside, is not always the happiest camper when he wakes up from a nap. He does always want me to bring Peter in and put him 'dowen' in his crib, though. Yesterday he read his favorite Halloween book to Peter, while Peter watched his every move and listened as if he was learning the secrets of brotherhood.

What Adventure Means

It is easy to forget the precarious nature of life. When I get caught up in the daily grind and loose sight of the forest for the many stressors in life hidden among the trees (like howler monkeys), it is easy to forget that there is only one minute that is this minute and only one day that is this day and there is only one cup of this coffee that I share with Elise and only one way Sam will tap his cheek just so in precocious contemplation.

I unequivocally do not live every day to its fullest. What fun would that be? Rainy Sunday mornings were made for lounging around doing nothing. They were also made for a face-full of rooster tail on the Sunday bike ride. But I don’t think I would appreciate either as much without having experienced them both.

To me, adventure means never having regrets. I don't want to wake up one morning when I'm eighty-nine, groping in the dark for my glasses and walker, wondering, “What if…?” I'd rather wake up, groping in the dark for my glasses and walker and leaning toward Elise's hearing aid and muttering, "Remember when....??"

I know it sounds trite, but I don’t want to live a life too boring. With a wife and two boys, I don’t care for it to be too exciting, either. But I want to be the one who took the road less traveled. We sometimes make decisions that meet with resistance. It is easy to cast stones from beyond the perfectly-manicured hedges of one’s gated community. From there, it is easy to picture what one’s life would be like in 2 years, 5, 20.

The path that Elise and I have chosen—for now—gives us no such assurances…except to assure that we will keep leaning on one another. And I don’t believe we would have it any other way.

When I first met Elise, I could not have imagined finding a truer, more honest and passionate companion. We have faced enormous challenges. But we have always faced them together and we have always triumphed. I knew we would make a good team when we tackled our first major challenge together. The Guggenheim.

For a school project, I helped Elise construct a model replica of the Guggenheim museum in New York. I found an architectural elevation online and did all the math, creating new, smaller dimensions from the actual dimensions with what Elise calls my 'nerdulator' (financial calculator). As I calculated, Elise cut foamboard late into the night, certainly not starting until a few days or hours before it was due and certainly not starting until after we had both worked a Sunday night shift at the restaurant where we met and certainly not starting until well-oiled at Rooney’s. Nevertheless, we made a good team.

This served as the first of several challenges. Not the least of which has been raising Peter and Sam on 4 hours of sleep a night for the past 6 weeks. But it has convinced me that there is nothing that could possibly rear its ugly head that we—together—could not stare down.

The adventure will be challenging. There will be logistical challenges. There may be lost luggage, lost shipments, long flights, sleepless children, bad coffee, warm beer, generic boxes of mac n cheese. Yes, if we had stayed sequestered in our perfectly-manicured world, navigating life behind the dash of our perfectly-polished, paneled dashboard (in reality, our dashboard is cracked and peeling...really, do we even have a car?) perhaps we would not lose furniture in the Indian Ocean (not to say we will) but we will not have seen the world, either, nor bartered for earrings to mail home, begged for a ride on the back of a rickshaw in a monsoon or binged on seal meat (…we’ll see…)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Pete (as Sam calls him) with his new "ugly doll" Ox right after he rolled from his stomach to his back for the first time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


An anonymous text from the Tradition say that, in life, each person can take one of two attitudes: to build or to plant.The builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they're doing. They they find they're hemmed in by their own walls. Life loses meaning when the building stops.There there are those who plant. They endure storms and all the many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. But, unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. And while it requires the gardener's constant attention, it also allows life for the gardener to be a great adventure. Gardeners always recognize one another, because they know that in the history of each plant lies the growth of the whole World.

Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, February 3, 2010