Thursday, August 29, 2013

A letter to my son on his 1st birthday

Dear Jojo,

Such a dapper looking fellow
at only a day old
Happy birthday!  Well by the time this is posted we will be a mere hour from exactly when you were born (hopefully, don't know if I will finish in time).

By now you realize your mom and I are obsessed over you.  In a healthy way, my precious!

The joy, tears, love, laughs, and pain (small baby fists in the groin region of a half asleep daddy hurt!) you have brought us has been worth what we had to go through to get here.  I look at your smiling face and see our future; in more than just grandkids one day.  I look at raising you up to be everything I wasn't and should've been and needed to be.  Instilling my lessons learned from my mistakes to enable you to avoid them, but also to empower you to learn from, and push through, the snafus and blunders you will face.  I want you to know you can face your fears head on and that your mother and I will be there to help you through them.

"Hey Mista Bun-bun!  Want to hang out?"

Watching you go from being a tiny infant who had no control over his arms, to the little soon-to-be tot that tries to scale the side of the crib to get to Mr. Bun-bun, has really put a price on time.  No one will ever pay you what you are worth, and no money could ever be earned for that matter.  But you'll always have our support to pursue what you want; whether it be sports related, business, school, or to go off and do ministry work for God's Kingdom, we will support you.

It still amazes me that you are a little person with your own personality, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and funny faces.  I love watching in my own awe and wonder at you learning, exploring, and going on our ahbenchurs (i.e. adventures) together.  Although you may not remember them I will always cherish them.  Especially when you are being a rather difficult teenager.

Every night that I am home to put you to bed I always try to tell you I am proud of you.  Every night I ask you if you treated your mom right.  That you were respectful to her and others.  That everything you did that day honored Jesus.  I will continue to do so until you are old enough to live on your own, even then I'll probably shoot you a call.  Why?  Because these are things I feel should always be at the forefront of your mind.  I want you to always know I am proud of you when you do the right thing, and proud of you when you recognize you did wrong and let me down, but are able to admit your fault and fix it.  I don't expect perfection, but I expect our love as father and son to be perfect.  There is a really good example of this loving father/son relationship in a book you and I read called the Bible.

I could get used to this "place of refuge"
I may not always be your friend, nor should I.  I am your father, first and foremost, and while I may not always want to be I will choose that role first for your benefit.  But know I will always be your refuge if you need a place to rest, talk, express your feelings, vent, cry, or just hold on to.  I hope to earn the 1st place slot in your life where you feel you can come to me and not worry about condemnation or judgement, but love.  Just like this past year of having you in our lives I know you don't judge your mom and I despite our faults and pasts.

There is such a pure love in your eyes I hope to understand and regain that full childlike love and wonder myself.  To be able to see the world through your eyes; new, fresh, exciting, and full of so many strange and unfamiliar things.  I, as I am sure many fathers, hope that you never lose your sense of adventure and awe at the vast world God has laid out before you.  That in everything you seek Him, and find Him in everything see.

"Look Daddy, no hands or teefs!"

I can only hope to protect you from the evils that prevail at times in our fallen world until you are old enough, strong enough, and equipped to handle them.  While I may not be able to fight your battles for you, I will gladly stand valiantly beside you and do battle together.

But for now the only battles we will have is with Mr. Bun-bun, knocking over towers, and not throwing your food on the floor.

Love you always,
You Dad

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Trip down memory lane

So a recently entry I did on having a little dad time brought back from memories from being a kid.  Namely racing bicycles at a parking lot and the chaos and fun that ensued.

Google Maps view of the "race track"

Kids nowadays, man that makes me sound old, seem to be only interested in the newest shoot 'em up video game that they play online.  And don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of the Halo games, I enjoy a bout with my brothers and their friends online killing each other like rabid, ravenous raccoons at summer camp.  However, the adrenaline rush is just not there, it isn't the same thing to me and the physical aspect of it is definitely missing.

But where my brother Matt and I grew up, down the alley was a large funeral home parking lot that worked perfectly as a race track.  Partly because we liked speed, and partly because the park across the street chased us out for riding too fast in the 1/4 mile loop they had there.  So all throughout the summer and weekends during the school year, we would race.

Beforehand we would talk about how many laps, pick our "pit stalls" on pit lane (the line down the middle of all the cars in the image above), and then we would randomly select who would be lined up in each of the starting rows.  We always started with people side by side and then we would line up in 2's.  In order to have the person randomly selected we had a extremely scientific method of selection.  It has been passed down over the generations and always was tried, tested, and true.  Honestly you couldn't flub these results as even the world's best scientists would attest to the accuracy of the randomness of potential selection.

Our method went something like this:

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by it's toe
If it hollers let it go
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe "

And sometimes when people feel there was "cheating" in the method we would pull out the mother of all random selective methods:

"My mother told me you are it
That's Y-O-U
Not because you're dirty
Not because you're clean
Just because you kissed a dirty girl
Behind a dirty magazine
O-U-T spells out
And you are out of this entire game."

This was always done with the front tire in a circle on pit row, with any "pit crew" (usually younger siblings that couldn't safely keep pace) nearby to witness the coin toss as it were.  We were always looking out for the next generation's safety, I mean how could we let them into sanctioned races on old, steel bikes with kickstands, balloon tires, and no helmets?  We couldn't live with ourselves if something happened.....or our moms found out.

By the time this was over, we watered up, lined up, and on the "3,2,1, GO!" we were off!

This is always how we felt in turns
And of course how we looked

As we all grew older we got faster on the bikes we had, but the inevitable happened.  Someone showed up with a hot rod of a bicycle; you know the kid whose parents had a little bit more income.  Usually the spoiled only kid who didn't know what it was like to cram 4 kids into one bedroom while repairs were going on in the other bed rooms.  You know that kid who had the Talkboy BEFORE Christmas and he wasn't Jewish, but his parents had money coming out of everywhere so they just celebrated Chanukah for the spiritual experience despite being Catholic.

It was that kid who showed up on the 10 speed.  At this time, the early 90's, neon EVERYTHING was in fashion and they showed up in their Reebok Pumps with neon green laces, their multi-neon-colored bike, neon colored water bottle and non matching bottle cage, and their neon color 4 digit cable lock around the seat stem.  For some reason, despite our experience in the scientific method of random selection, that kid was always put last.  Those races went from being fast, to who can keep the "rich" kid in back.  It was literally all against one.

I can still remember hearing the kid catch up to me, hear the derailleur shift the chain into a new gear, and then watch helplessly as they moved on by while I am pedaling to beat the band.  That guy always would win, and we would stand huffing and puffing in the pits at the end while our stinkin' pit crews were by his bicycle ogling it and being general traitors.

And he held his place on the podium until the next year when someone showed up with a 12 speed, and until I showed up with my 18 speed Huffy mountain bike.  Then it was on like Donkey Kong....

A little "dad" time to himself

My wife is amazing; she doesn't complain about taking care of our son when I am at work and she is either at home or nannying for the few families she does.  And I try to get her the time she needs in the evening or on weekends when she asks for me to take the Jojo for a while.  Which means father/son time and momma gets time to regain her sanity....that means a better house for everyone too!

The getaway vehicle....
Now if I had this when we "raced" as kids, I'd be king!
One thing I am passionate about, other than my God, my family, my nation, and my freedom from traditional work (soon...soon), is cycling.  I used to ride a lot as a kid, my brother and I would go to this local parking lot that had an oval shaped parking area and a "pit lane" and we would race with the neighborhood kids.  I can tell you we had some spectacular wrecks!

Being a car nut now, and having owned a race car, I can tell you it just gets faster and more expensive.  We used to ride on single speed bikes with coaster brakes; my favorite was this red bike I got as a hand-me-down from another family that said "The Clean Machine" on the chain guard (I would love to own another).  That thing was a beast, it was heavy so in crashes it won, and with me being one of the older kids I would dominate most of the other kids.

But that memory will be another story for another time....

I love to ride, sometimes it is an early morning thing where I get up at 6 and get out for an hour or so; a weekend ride for 50+ miles.  Sometimes it is just commuting to work and home; I will say there is no better feeling than getting the chance to move through traffic that is sitting still and shaving 10 minutes off my commute.  Plus the physical fitness aspect of it really helps too, I have lost 35 lbs just to eating a little better, taking organic supplements, and riding more.

Interesting sights, like this fine
gentleman taking an eternal nap.

I ride mostly my old Schwinn Continental I got off Craigslist a year ago, but sometimes I jump on my old Trek 800 for local runs.  I bought the Schwinn to just ride to and from work to avoid the parking hassle that has become the norm in the little industrial park the company I work for is situated in.  But I found myself going out on weekends, or riding in the evenings versus driving.  I even did my first Century ride last year (that's a 100 mile organized event).

This year, 2013, I have put around 1300 mile on my bicycle so far and want to top 3000 by years end.  I will bike anywhere I can, and if my wife is going there to I will cycle out, bring the car rack, and drive home.  It has taken me to some really cool places, as well as not so cool, neat sights, and allowed me a little "dad time".

Why no money?
Because racecar.
Currently I work 40+ hours a week at a good company and my wife takes care of our son and nannies part-time.  This has afforded us what we currently have, but I feel all fathers (and mothers crying) should have something that they can be absorbed into for a little bit that isn't unhealthy or super expensive (relative to income of course).  My wife might slightly disagree on the money I have spent on my bicycles, but at least it isn't a race car.....just sayin'.

Riding allows me to "get away" from it all, but not really.  I think about my family and our future mostly as I ride.

That "get away" allows me some alone time, and time with God.  I find that I can recharge my batteries both emotionally, physically, and spiritually on a bicycle.  Sometimes I get a chance to hang out and ride with others who have the same passion.  Mainly it allows me to clear my head and refocus on what I need to do for my family.  It also allows me time to reflect on where we are at, the blessings in our life, or sometimes that pain on my calf from it cramping again....dang it!  Sometimes I ride with music or some sort of audio playing, sometimes it is just the wind, car noises, and life around me.

Although Joseph is a bit too small to go for a ride, I was graciously given a kid trailer that he will be able to use next year when he is big enough.  Hopefully it will become a complete family affair we can all partake in and enjoy the world around us and some time out together.  I hope to one day get Joseph (or a future kid) interested in cycling and something we can do together, just the 2 of us.  I will be excited for the day that instead of my kids trying to keep up with their dad and me razzing them about it, they pass me and I struggle to keep up.  All the while they toss a slew of, "Hey old man, need a rest?"

Then training for The Tour begins.

But first to find that hereditary noggin a helmet.....Hmmmmm

Are you pondering what I'm pondering father?
Where do we buy me a helmet?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My sous chef

I love to cook and fiddle around in the kitchen.  It's a pseudo passion of mine and would one day like to expand into something more, but for now friends and family get to enjoy my cooking.  We purchased a highchair for Jojo recently and he has been joining my in the kitchen.  We don't like to plop him down in front of a TV or a laptop or anything electronic.  We try our best to interact with him, and what a better way then being locked in his chair and watching daddy cook!

Usually we plop him down with some toys and he talks to us, or drools all over his toys.  Then there is the throwing of things on the floor and looking blankly at us as if it happened all by itself and just disappeared.

And dis widdle piggy went over da mauw-ten...

DAD!  The piggy dissah-peer!

Every young boy dreams of fighting kitchen robots,
just not with underdeveloped motor skills.

 But one thing he really likes is when daddy busts out the toys.  Usually he is slightly startled at first, especially when the stand mixer gets going.....

But he watches very intently as I cook, mix things, beat eggs, grab spices and so on.  I try to leave things out so he can see them, especially since cans of food and spices are colorful, and he thoroughly enjoys colors.

Anyone with kitchen appliances want to give them to me,
I promise to pose this kid in the picture and you will see sales
The benefit for me is I have someone to listen to me as I cook and he is enthralled by my abilities and sits there listening with every ounce of himself. I will stop and talk to him, hand his toys back to him and usually he just grins.  But still acts like he knows what is going on and could easily do it himself.  He is my silent admirer and I am excited for him to be able to partake in dinner with mom and dad.

But as I cook I taste and tell Jojo how good things are, what extra spices it needs or doesn't.  I tell him how we are making a roux for a homemade, adult shells and cheese dish; he gets to smell the smells and see the sights of a crazy father cooking.  And then there are times when I taste things and say, "MMmmmm, Jojo, I am excited for you to taste this when you are older" and he gives me a face like the one below....

Dad, I am excited to for you to smell this when you change me!

I know that one day he will need a step-stool to join me at the stove, and we will have to get him a black chefs jacket so Jojo and dad can match.  I am sure there will be cute pictures to be taken, and maybe we could start our own YouTube cooking show?  Who knows.  But for now my little sous chef will be my semi-silent observer, but in the near future when he is helping, maybe he will have learned something about how to more appropriately measure flour for a cheese roux and have some input into helping me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Neptune's fist - a.k.a. Bath farts

As a parent, especially a father, there is no greater joy to be had then your baby, especially if it is a boy, letting one loose.  I can't explain it, and my wife fully doesn't understand, but passing gas, breaking wind, tooting, flatulence, farting, or whatever you call it, is a total guy thing.  Yes I know girls fart too, especially when pregnant, but guys take a certain pride in the stenches brewed in their bowels.  When  someone lets a home grown nasal decongestant go, guys may grimace, say rude things, cough, fake vomit and so on, but they will always try to outdo each other when the time for a ripe reckoning comes about.

A few days ago it was bath time for Jojo.  This is becoming an interesting process as he gets chunkier and the tub gets smaller....could be a relationship, but Nah!

This must be old....he fits!

As a parent of an infant you NEVER leave the baby by his/herself, even if in a tub within a tub (insert dramatic music here, preferably by Zach Hemsey).  In fact, start over reading this blog while playing this.....

While the music is blaring imagine yourself kneeling in a bathroom within an apartment (whoa....mind blown) and your baby is splashing around, giggling and getting rinsed off.  You're enjoying having a clean baby, your baby is enjoying the bath toys and warm water when all of a sudden you hear a noise.  You at first mistake this noise for the sound of wet baby skin being dragged across a wet surface while underwater.  You heed it not, unwisely.

As you commence leaning over the tub to rinse the toes it hits you.  This isn't a hit like a great idea, you forgot the roast in the oven and it might be slightly overcooked, or you just remembered to celebrate your cat's 15th birthday.  No, no.  This hits you like an I.B.S. attack brought on by the mighty fist of Neptune as it penetrates your nostrils and travels mightily through your intestines.

Baby bath farts.  Many have experienced them, but few live to tell the tales.  I am actually typing this from a body cast in a hospital.  They had to sew me up and then seal it all together in plaster of Paris in hopes my body doesn't go through a recurrence of the impact of Poseidon's power punch to the face.

My son Jojo threw a whopper of a butt bellow at me that night.  So bad that I cringed and almost left him in the tub alone.  Only my stalwart love for my son kept me by his side.....that the lack of oxygen in the air, and the fact that my heart stopped beating....but all that happened in love.  He has let out some stank bombs before but I was both amazed and humbled by this olfactory onslaught.

His mother would blame me, but I blame a combined genetic issue.  To bath time we return....

Big Game Baby Puke dip

There are things in life that belong together, some of those are: fatherhood, football, food and farts.  Since I have talked about poop plenty of times so far, and this blog revolves around being a father, I will now talk about football and food.  I feel these last 2 are the glue that holds many red-blooded American men together, especially during the Big Game.

I consider myself a bit of an amateur cook.  I usually stumble into things and just try to remember what I did that made it taste good.  And I have found that if in doubt….blame it on the baby (both bad food AND farts).  Besides that I enjoy a game of football, whether watching or playing with friends.  And this past Sunday was the 49ers VS the Ravens, granted the team I liked didn’t win but the food was good. 

Why am I talking all about this on a blog about being a dad?  Well every guy needs their place, or Nirvana, and mine is in the kitchen.  I just skip the barefoot and pregnant thing, not my cup of tea.

The best part is Jojo loves to chill in his newly acquired highchair, play with toys, drool, and let out his Pterodactyl screeches.  I enjoy it because I can cook and watch him, and mama does too because she can be “productive” (I still don’t know what that means but stuff gets done). 

For the Big Game I wanted to make a “wow” dip, not some run of the mill dump-n-go dip, but something that has flavor, spice, texture and cheese.  Oh glorious cheese….

So I came up with this hodgepodge of other recipes and voila - Big Game Baby Puke dip.  Why the name?  Because when I posted a picture on Facebook a friend commented it looked like baby vomit.  Thanks for the name inspiration Angel!  So here is the recipe for a great father and son/daughter experience…..oh and for the dip.

So chunky and so delicious.


  • 3-4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 stick (½ cup) of butter
  • ½ cup of flour
  • 4 cups of milk (I used 2% but any should work)
  • 1/3 cup of sour cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 - 15 oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 2 - 10 oz cans to diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used the Ro-Tel brand) – lightly drained
  • 1 small can of green chilies
  • Minced garlic
  • Red pepper infused olive oil (not necessary but Mmmmm….so good)
  • Apple vinegar to taste
  • Seasonings of your choice (I used some ground dried Poblano peppers, onion powder, cumin, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, and  smoked paprika/black pepper/Himalayan pink salt in a grinder)
  • Taco seasoning (I made my own mixture)
  • Side ingredient – I had a random vegan “taco filling” that I added in just to use it up


  1. Boil the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil (ensure you hit 165 degrees)
  2. Remove and shred chicken (I use a dough blade on my Kitchen Aide stand mixer, so money when it comes to shredding)
    1. While shredding add in the red pepper olive oil, apple vinegar, sour cream, and some of the taco seasoning
  3. Take the butter, flour and milk and make a roux
    1. Simmer it to get it real thick since the oil in the cheese will loosen it up (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn and whisk constantly)
  4. Once the roux is where you want it, add in the cheese at about a cup a time and let it melt completely.  Simmer to thicken.
  5. Add the sauce to a slow cooker (preferably a well used Crock-Pot from the 70’s/80’s)
  6. Mix in everything else really well
  7. Let it chill on low for at least 2 hours to heat/reheat everything thoroughly (mine was on for about 4 hours)
  8. Stir once it is heated through.

Use with chips, crusty bread, tortillas or whatever!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Paternal P.O.V.

So as a father you get to witness the things that the "other guys" don't get to see happen with women.  That is the growing a baby procedure, the ultrasounds, the gaseous nature of a woman with child, the weird things hormones do, and the nesting instinct.  Oh those glorious adventures that are had on the journey to parentdom.  But post baby there is also a myriad of weird, and at times painful looking, events that need to take place.

There is a device out there that by the looks of it would make water boarding sound like a fun event on a family vacation with the in-laws, if in fact your in-laws were the former Commie leader Kim Jung Ill.

Oh reerry.

This contraption is called a breast pump.  No that isn't some new thing that they do on the Jersey Shore for foreplay, it is a device designed to drain the ducts and glands of Das Boobies.  As a guy who grimaced at the pump action penial extender return scene in Austin Powers, I saw this torture machine sitting silently next to our bed.  It's quiet reciprocating arm and humming electrical motor belay it's ability to suck the soul of a woman out through her teat.

But women find the need to congregate in places, which I loving call "Pumping Stations", to drain the breasts of their nurturing golden dew when the child is not around to do so for them.  That is understandable, but what bemuses me is they must perform the act at (what seems like) all times possible.  The idea is to increase their supply, freeze some for later, and relieve the pressure or any clogs.

The wild thing is women have been doing this for a LOOONNGGG time.  I stumbled upon this thing on a Google serach:

Dude, grandma's bong gets you legit high!
Ummmm, that's not a bong brah.

You can put that thing next to dentist cleaning tools as pieces of weaponry meant to be disguised as "safe" when in reality is they will bring a Navy SEAL to his knees in agony and have him admitting to every secret they know in minutes.

The crazier part is my wife will talk to herself about Jojo, watch our son on the baby monitor, or look at pictures of him to assist in getting the milk to drop. I never realized my wife's breasts and Dubstep had so much in common. Bass drops and milk drops create a fun, glow-stick twirling environment for everyone (under the age of 1).

As a man I don't entirely understand why they need to be hooked up to these things but I can tell you my son has no qualms about it since it just goes to ensure the juice is there when itch comes around.

I have a feeling the Paternal POV might be a regular occurrence since there is so much out there we were never, as men, meant to understand.

Dr. Diaper, we can't stop the flow....

...Said the ER nurse, Mrs. Elastic.

I don't know who reads this, I am assuming friends and family, a few random people that either come across it clicking around the blogger website, and anyone that has clicked a link I left where I might have left comments.  I do know that if you have a kid, are about to, or been around them, crap does happen.  And never in a controllable, cute "oh my, look at that little solid turd" kind of way.

If the SAW movies were to use poop instead of blood, it would be THAT kind of way.

This guy'd tap out first round of this game
Every parent, nanny, babysitter, older sibling, grandparent, priest, Scout leader, and the Virgin Mary herself have dealt with the dreaded blowout.  Sometimes it is a simple up the back, or leg leak.  But then sometimes poop ends up in places you'd never expect it to be, and how it journeyed the way it did marvels even the brightest nuclear scientists in the world.  Especially an infant, breastfed baby's poop.

First off an infant's poop is a mustard, dingy yellow.  Remember in the box of Crayola crayons there was, as many a young lad has referred to it, the "poop brown" and "puke green" crayons that were never used but always pulled out to "smell" it and see if it smelled like it looked?  Yeah, take those and with the fire of Mount Doom in the land of Mordor of Middle Earth, combine then into one color.  It would become the color known as 'The Brown Eye of Sauron'.  That's the color of a baby's poop, with the all-controlling powers of the One Ring.

Secondly, a baby's poop is something to the consistency of road tar, molten magma, and used motor oil.  It's very viscous, usually hot to the touch, and becomes super sticky shortly after emission and full of shavings.  What that creates is a slurry that looks and feels like it could pass as Indian food but in actuality is a biological hazard that the UN has sanctions against countries that produce it.  So basically it is like a poisonous Slimer from the Ghostbusters.

Well on one unfortunate day the diaper was unable to hold the onslaught of the Turd Titan as it was bequeathed from my son's body.  But only on one side, and despite the colossal mess that was created, it came silently in the night like the last plaque came upon the Egyptians.  And mighty was the wailing in the streets afterwards.

Jojo demonstrates the many faces made that day.

So as good parents, and trying to prep ourselves for what was to come, we decided to change Jojo.  I had the misfortune to have the first contact made with the enemy, but the contact wasn't made when the pants were removed.  Nay, nay.  The first contact came upon the removal of the left sock.  While the term "uncorking" brings about images of people at a party opening wine or a bottle of bubbly, this uncorking brought about sheer despair.

The Tunnel of Turd.
After removing the outer layers we found ourselves in a perilous situation.  The onesie was still on the baby, and when you have a baby who inherits his father's head size, you create a scenario that will only end up with poop in the little bit of hair on the baby's head.  So after consulting a rule book that doesn't exist, my wife and I performed a procedure that I saw several times on one of my favorite childhood shows, Rescue 911.


Pinkies up for safety.

Dad, I think they need to make onesies to handle my manliness, I ripped out of this one poop in the fuzzies.

After the trimming came the cleansing.  Because we all know that unclean feeling that we get after we defecate down our leg.  Oh you don't know that feeling?  Try experiencing it....

Hey mom, what's that on your face?
Luckily for us this was during the Thanksgiving weekend and Nana and Papa were in town with us, so they got to relish the occurrence, if one could relish a mustard gas attack with nothing more than a paper bag and sweaty gym sock for a respirator.  So we moved on in our evening with a clean, albeit completely empty, Jojo and we all slept peacefully in a post a-poop-alyptic house.

I bite my thumb at you poopy diaper.
Until we meet again.