Thursday, March 18, 2010

4 Days and Counting...

As I write this I am drinking red wine out of a tumbler because I gave away our crummy wine glasses and I won't feel like washing a Reidel tomorrow....oh, and we're out of beer....

I am simultaneously feeling like the best and worst dad in the world tonight. The best because it took every parenting trick I have learned over the last 2 years and 3 months to get both boys in bed by 9:30....the worst because neither of them took baths, Sam ate only noodle wheels and milk for dinner and nothing else (no veg, no protein, just white carbs) and Sam went to bed in the same shirt he wore all afternoon and no pjs. Best or worst? You decide... The best because Sam hasn't thrown up yet and I thought for sure he was going to when he got a boogie in his mouth 5 minutes before bedtime. If he had, there was no way I was going to get up in time and it would have gone all over himself, his blankie, me, Peter and the leather chair we read books in. It would have been a disaster, but with his head on my shoulder, me stroking his hair, patting his back, sopping up his tears with blankie we somehow avoided catastrophe. Best or worst dad? You vote... :)

We pack-out in 4 days and it doesn't seem possible that we will get all that we need to do done in time. But I know somehow we will. I can't wait to get on the road. To be pulled over on 95 in a rest stop with our only worry making sure Peter is fed and Sam can run and it not mattering what time we check into the hotel room. One would think that the actual travel would be the hard part, but the actual travel will seem tame in comparison to the preparation to travel and will be welcomed.

And I'm not even the one who still has four photo shoots to edit.

I've started talking to Sam more in the last few days. Not that I don't talk to him, but I talk to him about what's happening and what will happen...Elise and I both, probably less for Sam and more for ourselves. We talk to him about Easter and Jesus and the Easter Bunny, something to look to beyond everything else. I found Fisher Price roller blades on an 11:00 p.m. run to Walmart and I can't wait to get them for him for Easter. His favorite sport during the Olympics was short track ice skating (Apolo Anton Ohno's sport) and he calls it (and all winter sports, really, bobsled and snow skiing included) "Zoom!".

I don't exactly know what to tell him about Jesus yet. Elise laughed when I started my Easter talk by telling Sam Jesus was a nice guy and the Easter Bunny brings us one present because of this (I'm paraphrasing). I didn't feel it necessary, at the time, to delve into dying on the cross for our sins, reincarnation, rolling back rocks, etc. I think it is enough to know, for now, that he was a nice guy and that if he is a nice guy too he gets to have one present on Easter morning along with a basketful of astro grass and jellybeans and if he is a really nice guy (or boy) that present will be roller blades with plastic wheels and wheel locks. I was already joking that Sam was going to be rocketing up and down the halls of our new apartment building.

4 days left and we had one of our most seminal moments yet as a family when we locked the keys in the car after having our fanily pictures taken. The park had closed and the ranger had come by to let us know he was closing the gate. There were the four of us, huddled in blankets and jackets to keep the mosquitos away, waiting for our savior in a white Mini Cooper to bring the spare car key. Peacocks (yes, peacocks!) were crying in the dark. There was nothing we could do, but hunker down and be a family.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sunmaid Raisin Lady

Elise thought I was crazy when I told her growing up we thought the lady on the box of raisins looked like my mom.....until a raisin commercial came on and Sam pointed at the TV and said, "Nanny!"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stay-At-Home Dad

I'm starting a new job at the end of the month. My old job offered incredible freedom, very lax hours and the ability to leave for any reason at any time, even work from home (which, honestly, didn't work very well unless Sam and I were walking around the neighborhood, in which case I could very easily negotiate multimillion dollar commercial real estate transactions over the phone or email in baseball cap and shorts while chasing a soccer ball around a putting green).

Unfortunately, starting eighteen months ago, there were no multimillion dollar commercial real estate transactions to negotiate any longer. And stepping away from my desk forced me to assess the big picture and come to a cruel realization...the job I had for the last 10 years simply vanished and may never return (at least to the S. Florida marketplace). You might think I would mourn this loss, but I didn't. It was liberating (I wasn't that crazy about the job in the first place and I really wasn't very good at it). Just wish the epiphany could have come with a severance package.

I stopped going to the office after Peter was born. My paternity leave turned into an extended vacation which turned into a sabbatical. As I've written here before, Elise wondered aloud when I was going to go back to my office, but I knew then there was no reason to and I decided, for better or worse, to stay at home to be with her and Pete and Sam, figuring as long as I wasn't making any money I might as well be around my family and be of some use. It was like the scene out of 'Office Space' where Jennifer Aniston asks Ron Livingstone if he quit and he replys, "No, I just stopped going." If I couldn't be a good commercial real estate broker, I could at least be a good husband and dad.

Now, I am one of the fortunate few who found a new job. As I still hear tales on NPR of how bad some have it, I feel incredibly lucky. The only thing is my new job doesn't offer incredible freedom, very lax hours or, I doubt, the ability to leave the office for any reason at any time without having to answer to anyone. Sigh. I guess this is how the rest of the world works, huh?

The past two days, Elise has been running a hundred errands in preparation for our big move. I find myself at home a lot with the 2 guys. I love it, though I won't pretend it's easy to stay patient as Sam maneuvers into reading position simultaneously kicking Pete in the head as Pete is trying to take a nap nor is it easy to do dishes, wash sippy cups, make breakfast, read stories (I make them up when I have my hands full which seems to mollify Sam), get myself a cup of coffee and pay bills all at the same time. I have a real appreciation for what Elise deals with on a daily basis. I find, though, that I could totally be a stay-at-home dad. I just now realized I haven't left the house in almost 3 days.

We are committed to our current trajectory and still believe it offers our family the best opportunity to, not only survive, but thrive. But having to take a step away from all the paperwork, research and prep gives me a chance to ponder the what-ifs. What-if we did stay here? What if I stayed home and let Elise work? (not that she isn't already booking two shoots a week and staying up past midnight editing photos) Grow EHP? (Though I don't doubt it will continue to sprout regardless of where it is planted) Maybe I would wait tables at night for extra cash? Could I...would I have been happy? I know the answer. Yes. Would I make money? I don't know. We'd find a way.

I don't doubt that we made the right decision....or that I would be a GREAT stay-at-home dad. Who knows....maybe when Elise is famous one day, her prints hanging in a gallery in the West Village, her work on the cover of Marie Claire, I will get to find out! (ps we would need a maid, though. I still don't like to clean)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reeeading Books....

This is how I found Sam when I went upstairs to wake him from his nap....You think the kid likes books? :) I was surprised to find his stuffed animals still in the crib. Usually, the very first thing he does when you put him down for bed or a nap is chuck every single one of them across the room. As you are closing the door, you can hear little bean bag-filled grenades thumping onto the floor. I wish he would continue this practice. Otherwise, we will have to get him a bigger bed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Puppers McGoozles

Yesterday was Peter's smiliest day by far. He woke early, in the pre-dawn deep blue. I was still very, very groggy, but Elise said he woke beaming, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Later, he and I practiced 'baby owl' hooting while I folded laundry, quietly watching and cooing. He's become my nap-buddy. Again, he slept in the crook of my elbow when I crashed.

Just in the last few days, he has come into his own.

This morning, I was strapping him into his car seat and the bright green hat I had put on him had pulled down to one side by the fabric of the car seat and one of his little pointy ears was sticking out. I started teasing him, asking him, "Do I tell you what I want for Christmas or Santa Claus?" abd "Hey, where are all your cookies?" (Keebler elf). And Peter laughed out loud for the first time!

I find it somewhat of a relief that he is turning into such a smiley boy. I shouldn't be surprised. He comes from a very smiley family who has a lot to smile about and smiles often, but it seems--in light of everything going on and the frantic pace that goes along with it--he could have very easily absorbed some of the unintentional anxiety we are all producing. Instead, it seems as though someone was looking out for us and sent to us exactly what we needed at a time like this, a smiley little puppers who beams at just the right moment to fill the entire room with light and disperse immediately any darkness or tension.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reflections | Goodbye no. 1

For those of you that have not heard, Paul has accepted a job with the Foreign Service. There is a lot to learn, much of which I don't yet know and much to share. For now, here are a few things I do know:

In just two short weeks we will be met by a moving company, who will kindly pack 30 + 37 + 2 + .2 years of our lives in to one large truck. It will then drive northward. Embarking just one day later, the Hanna Dream Team will load up our most valuable of possessions; babies, shoes, matchbox cars, stuffed bunny rabbits, pictures of birds, mobiles of delicate empty white paper frames, waiting to be filled with snapshots from our dreams. We too will drive north.

We will follow along the same road I drove into Florida on, just shy of ten years ago. And just like I arrived, in a cold lonely truck, bound for an unfamiliar place, I will leave. Only my possessions are heaps more bountiful and precious on my exit. I arrived here just my dreams, a notebook of ideas and a thirst for adventure. I leave with all these things and pockets filled with fairy tales.

I will not say that the adventure was always good, in fact it started out quite roughly, I had lost my way, wind blown in what I thought sure was the wrong direction. I'd wake up after storms with my sails quite tattered and wondered if I'd ever find my way. Then I did what I always do, what I was taught to do, 'press on'. I landed a great job in a little beach side restaurant, Kee Grill. I gained a few friends. I lost a few friends. I moved out on my own. I regained sight of my dreams, I took a chance on my gifts and my passion, I enrolled in college over an hours drive from home. I excelled on few hours of sleep, a lot of crummy tips and an accommodating boss. I worked late nights, and woke up just hours later for a 5am commute to class, I wondered how I'd ever make it through to graduation....

Then on a perfectly normal, perfectly rainy day at work, something happened. Someone sent me a gift. Wrapped in a hooded orange pullover, with little round specs, and hiking boots. Paul arrived. His first day on the job. My last day alone.

The rest as they say, 'is history'. A tale you all know. A diploma, a wedding, a house and babies. Just the way I had always imagined it. Perfect and dreamlike. But, now for the first time in 10 years I celebrate the road. From the time I arrived here on September 10th ,2001 I clawed tirelessly at the humid air and sweltering asphalt to escape. Even once I met Paul, my partner in crime, we plotted together our adventures beyond Florida. Desperate to see the past 10 years, the people, the bulging barometer blurred by dust and distance in the rear view mirror.

But, today I have begun to say the first of many goodbyes and through tears, to many friends, I will secretly wish that I'd soaked it all in a little more, appreciated the journey, not so fixed on the destination. Many people I've spent time with during my stay have gone in different directions. I am not a fool to realize that they were all meaningful parts of my time here.

. . .

Today I said goodbye to my mom-group. A group I leave as a part of the leadership team, that I swore I'd never join. I room filled with ladies that I thought I'd never have anything in common with. Walls torn down, hands held, prayers prayed, tears shed, lessons learned, a whole lot of laughter, spit up stained shirts and broken bread, they wished me well. I cried in my cake, and hugged them farewell. At last I realize I am a part of something, or was I all along....


Monday, March 1, 2010

We're on Skype!

Check out the view from our new webcam!


This morning Elise was trying to coax Sam into making a poop in his big boy potty. He's good at peeing in it, but he's only pooped in it once.

The usual carrot is a lollipop, and, this occasion, too, the promise of a lollipop was dangled in front of Sam. He sat and tried, but seemed content to pee when we both felt that he had a poop in there dying to come out (don't ask how we knew...), so I decided to up the ante and told Sam, "If you poop, I'll get you a whole cake."

Sam looked up at us and said incredulously, "Whaaaaaaat?!?!"

With the perfect amount of disbelief in his voice. Needless to say, he tried to make a poop for several more minutes. Elise even brought him some reading material.

How the Oldest Child Comes Down with Oldest-Child Syndrome

So Elise, Sam, Pete and I were headed over to Michaels to pick up some art supplies for Elise's photo shoot last night. We stopped--as we usually do--at Starbucks for some quick liquid energy.

I hopped out of the car to run in and grab a few cups of brew. Elise and the boys were going to wait in the car. I told everyone I'd be right back. Sam burst into tears.

Elise just nodded her head knowingly and stated simply, "...This is how it starts." I knew it, too. I would never (nor would I really want to) be able to run into pick up coffee's, run into the store for milk, check into a hotel, leave our name at the hostess stand of restaurant or do any other kind of advance reconnaisance without Sam supervising.