A birthday story

Each night we read bedtime stories to Phoebe and tuck her in to bed. When the lights go out, she asks us if there’s going to be any “rain, storms or wind” overnight (She's done it every night since this happened).

Then, she asks for one more story, which Kates usually makes up based on something that happened that day, starring Princess Phoebe.

This is the story Kates told Phoebe tonight …

Once upon a time there was a princess named Phoebe, and she had a little sister, Princess Faye.

And one day it was the king’s birthday.

To get ready for the big day, Princess Phoebe helped her mommy bake a cake, and she drew a beautiful picture for the king.

And when the king came home, they ate supper together. Then, they put on their party hats, and Princess Phoebe helped the king blow out his candles.

And they lived happily ever after.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.


Missing Summerfest

I’m mourning tonight.

My beloved Summerfest kicks off tomorrow. And for the first time in nine years, I’m not attending.

This is more depressing than the night my mother prohibited me from going to see R.E.M. because there was a tornado watch for our county (It turned out to be a beautiful evening and we never saw a rain drop). And the night I missed The Shins because I was so sick I couldn’t stand up. Combined.

I’m utterly heartbroken.

This year, the Big Gig is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Worse yet, this year’s lineup is arguably the best I’ve seen in all of my years of attending Summerfest. I really, really like this year’s lineup.

Throughout this year’s version of the 11-day festival, there is only one night that doesn’t feature at least one band I’d like to see. This year, I would have set a new personal attendance record.

Let’s go down the list, shall we … And I’m not even considering the Marcus Amphitheater shows, which this year include appearances by the Beach Boys, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and Aerosmith.

Tomorrow night: Steve Miller Band

I passed on a chance to see him at Summerfest a few years ago in order to see Stevie Wonder. If I could do it over again, I likely would make the same decision. But dang, it would be good to hear Steve Miller’s book of hits live. If I was going to Summerfest this year and I was limited to seeing just three performances, this would be one of them.

Thursday night: Ben Folds Five

I’ll come back to this one.

Friday night: Mutemath & Fun.

I was hooked on Mutemath the first time I heard their debut album, and I was mesmerized by their live show later that year. I would totally see them again.

As far for Fun, they’re only one of the hottest bands on the charts this summer, and I can only imagine how sweet it would be to be in that crowd when they knock out “We Are Young.” To hear that audience singing the chorus at the top of their lungs is sure to be a memorable time. And hey, let’s not forget the rest of that album of theirs is pretty decent, too.

Saturday night: The Briggs Bluesbusters & Three Dog Night

The Bluesbusters are a super classic rock cover band and one I’ve enjoyed as a staple of each year’s festival lineup since I first saw them in 2006.

I saw Three Dog Night nearly 20 years ago with my dad – my very first concert experience – as part of a rock ‘n’ roll show that also featured The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and The Turtles. Much like Steve Miller, I’m more schooled in Three Dog Night’s catalogue now then I was then, and I’d love to see them again. Song I’d most want to hear them play: “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”

Sunday night: Chicago

These guys aren’t the band they once were – I much prefer their classic rock-jazz sound over the ballads that have defined them over the last couple decades – and some of the original members are gone. But I would relish a chance to see one of my all-time favorites just once. Not to mention hearing “Make Me Smile” live.

Tuesday, July 3: Joe Walsh

Member of the Eagles. Legendary guitarist. Three more words: “Life’s Been Good.”

Wednesday, July 4: Katie Herzig & Fountains of Wayne

One of the darlings of the indie music arena, I’ve been intrigued by Katie Herzig for awhile. This would have been a great opportunity to get to know her music a little better.

I’ve been a fan of Fountains of Wayne since long before “Stacy’s Mom” made them something of a Top 40 radio favorite, and listening to their groovy debut album always conjures memories of the fall of my freshman year of college. Fountains of Wayne is another example of a band I was thisclose to seeing before other circumstances presented themselves. Kates and I had gone to seen them at Summerfest in 2004 as they were still riding the wave of “Stacy’s Mom,” but a storm rolled in about an hour before they were due to hit the stage. Soaked, cold and miserable, we gave up our second row seats and headed home. I’ve been looking for another opportunity ever since.

Thursday, July 5: Death Cab for Cutie

I’m just going to put it out there: The night I saw Death Cab is, arguably, the worst concert experience I’ve had. But I still thoroughly enjoy their music and I’d gladly take a do-over.

Friday, July 6: OAR

Yes, I said after I saw OAR at Summerfest last year that I’d be ok if I never saw them again. But it is Summerfest, and if the opportunity knocks. …

Saturday, July 7

The only night that doesn’t feature an artist or band I’d like to see.

Sunday, July 8: Hanson

Not only is “Mmmbop” one of funnest songs of the ‘90s – yes, I said that – the Hanson boys have sustained themselves as a good-sounding little rock band. (See: “Give a Little.”) I’ve been chasing chances to see them ever since those “Mmmbop” days and I missed a number of them in Milwaukee. It was my good friend Tom who saw them play on a whim in a mall parking lot in Kansas City years ago and reported that they really could play.

So there it is. Sigh.

In a previous life, I would have done whatever I needed to do to be at Summerfest this year. But with a new baby and the work on my master’s degree intensifying, it's not happening. Now, Summerfest is an eight hour drive for us and no longer just one hour up the road.

Especially as I’ve grown older the last few years and we’ve started our family, I always left the hallowed Summerfest grounds thinking, Take it all in and enjoy it. This may be the last time you get to do this. The thought was especially present during our memorable night with Sheryl Crow, the night before our big move. But we made it again last year and made a glorious vacation out of it.

I’ve accepted the circumstances. And I’ll get over it.

* * *

The killer is what I’ll be missing Thursday night.

Ben Folds Five. One of my favorite bands. Period.

After a 12-year hiatus and a run of solo albums, Ben Folds, Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge have reunited to record a new album. They’re playing a short run of reunion shows at festivals this summer, one of which is Summerfest.

Kates and I briefly discussed a road trip for a one-night stand in Milwaukee to see them before submitting to all the reasons we shouldn’t do it.

I nearly exploded in a dance around my office a few months ago when I saw a Facebook post announcing the reunion. I’ve hung on every Ben Folds Five-related posting since then, and I nearly cried earlier this month when I caught this video …

The images and memories of those golden shows come rushing back. Summer shows in Kansas City. A school night road trip to Lawrence.

Another to Omaha that proved to be the best of all. They were at the height of their game then with the Reinhold Messner album, and the memory of wild fans hanging over the balcony railing, whaling and pumping their fists as we all sang “Battle of Who Could Care Less” is etched in my memory bank. (A new band called Train put on a pretty great show that night, too. They played an acoustic set because their instruments were lost on their way to the show.)

Ben Folds Five was a diversion from those chaotic times of my youth. Their three albums spanned my high school years to a major family move after my freshman year of college. Everything was right when they were playing on my stereo or discman. I'm crazy but I get the job done was my philosophy. The band’s breakup was the beginning of the end of my adolescence.

Once Kates and I were together, I turned her into a fan and she saw a few more shows with me. But Ben Folds was a solo pianist then, and it wasn’t quite the same. We saw him during my first-ever trip to Summerfest in 2003, although “saw” is the operative word because our view of the stage was completely blocked. Rather, my fondest memories of the solo Folds stem from our second trek to Summerfest in ’04. The crowd’s singing nearly drowned out Ben all the way through that night as he played a healthy dose of Ben Folds Five favorites as well as his newer solo stuff, like the goodie, “There's Always Someone Cooler Than You.”

We saw him twice in ’05. At Summerfest and then at the Chicago Theater. We last saw him in 2007, at Summerfest. And it was good.

A couple weeks ago, this video appeared of Ben Folds Five performing at Bonnaroo. They’re aged now and hardly look like the kids they were the first time I saw them during the summer of 1997. But “Battle of Who Could Care Less” has never sounded so good. The reviews say it all.

In the words of Ben Folds: It sucks to grow up.

My trade-off -- for what it's worth -- is getting to experience the Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend next month in Kansas City. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sure, and the excitement will build, I’m sure, as those days draw closer.

But I’m not feeling it tonight.

Presidents approve seeded four-team college football playoff

I have just one thing to say: It's about time. ...  

Presidents approve seeded four-team college football playoff



The word stuck in my head to describe this weekend: Quintessential.

As in, we’ve had a quintessential summer weekend.

We kicked it off with the annual tractor cruise Friday night. Nearly 200 farmers and tractor enthusiasts drove their vintage machines into The ‘Ville for the night and parked them in a lot on the university campus. This year, I thought it would be fun to take Phoebe.

We walked to see the tractors, and Kates and Faye joined us later. As we walked through the lot, Phoebe, of course, wanted to climb aboard every tractor.

She also grabbed my camera from me and proceeded to snap a picture of nearly every single tractor in the lot. Row by row.

Here's a slideshow of her work. ...

Eventually, a colleague of mine, Leslie, spotted us. The proud owner of a vintage tractor herself, she led us to her Farmall. … I had seen her earlier in the day and we discussed the possibility of Phoebe taking a ride but decided it was probably a bit too soon for her.

Forget about that conversation.

Phoebe eagerly accepted Leslie’s invitation to sit in the driver’s seat.

As Phoebe got comfortable, Leslie decided to start up the tractor. We thought that might do it for Phoebe, and she’d reach for me to climb down. But when the engine started rumbling, Phoebe didn’t flinch.

Then, Leslie looked at me for approval to take her for a ride. I nodded and eventually they were backing out the tractor …

* * *

Earlier in the week, Phoebe proudly built a nest of blankets on our living room. That bout of creativity that led to her begging us to have a “family sleepover.”

So after we returned from the tractor cruise, we ordered a pizza and popped in Phoebe’s “Cars” DVD.

When the movie was over, I tucked Phoebe into her nest on the floor and set up one of my own using our couch cushions and some blankets. Kates claimed her spot on another couch.

And we had our family sleepover in the living room.

Now, Phoebe wants to make it a Friday night tradition.

* * *

Saturday morning we woke up to rain, which turned into a good old-fashioned thunderstorm as the morning continued.

That was a good thing because we desperately needed the rain. Plus, deep down I was more interested in spending the day working on some inside projects and didn’t want to feel as though I had to be outside doing yard work and taking advantage of sunny weather.

Phoebe actually slept until 9. And when she was ready to get out of her pajamas, she donned a ballet outfit that she barely fits into.

With her recent discovery of “Annie,” I realized I have the soundtrack on vinyl. I put it on the turntable, and Phoebe was delighted. So much that we played it all afternoon. Over and over and over.

* * *

We capped our weekend this afternoon by joining our friend Matt and company for a birthday party at the country club.

Most of the guys went golfing, but I don't golf. So I hung out by the pool and watched Phoebe and the other kids splash around.

Kids laughing and having a ball. The hot sun beating down on us. At the country club pool. Quintessential.

As the party was ending, we headed inside the clubhouse to say our goodbyes. Phoebe sweetly negotiated with the hosts for an extra snack and some balloons, too.

Unfortunately, it all ended with a meltdown in the middle of the parking lot when one of Phoebe's balloons popped.



My softball team’s regular season ended tonight. With another win.

I contributed with a 3-for-3 night at the plate, including a double. I notched an RBI on each of my hits and eventually scored all three times.

We ended our season with a record of 9-3 and clinched at least a tie for the league championship. In the games we lost, our defense was awful and our powerful offense couldn’t make up the difference. … But in the games we won, we played nearly flawless. In fact, every game we won was cut short by our team by mounting the maximum 15-run lead.

Now we wait for the rest of the teams in the league to finish their seasons so we can see how the standings shake out and get our seeding for the playoffs.

To celebrate, I brought home Mocha Moo-Lates for Kates and I and a dish of vanilla ice cream -- with sprinkles -- for Phoebe.

We proceeded to have one of our epic dance parties in the kitchen, brought to you tonight by The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica.” … Phoebe giggled as she copied my dancing -- stomping feet, waving hands, shaking head and all. She also danced while holding onto the 14 balloons that came home with us from a baby shower for Faye yesterday with my work colleagues.

It was a classic scene I hope I won't soon forget. If only I had video of it.



The university showed “Moneyball” tonight as part of its Summer Movie Series. I waited for months to see this film, and there’s not a lot of things that would have kept me from going.

Kates joined me. And we took Faye with us, too; it was officially her first movie. … We left Phoebe home with a sitter. After a mighty tantrum, I might add, because she refused to try an out-of-this-world chicken and rice dinner that a friend prepared for us tonight.

Anyway …

“Moneyball” is a brilliant film. It’s no wonder it was nominated for Best Picture this year. And that’s not only because the movie depicts the brilliance of Billy Beane.

Much of the film's greatness is delivered in its slow pace and dialogue. From scenes depicting scouting meetings to the clubhouse to the front offices. It’s not so much about the baseball being played on the field as it is about the planning and strategizing that goes on behind the scenes. It has Aaron Sorkin's handprints all over it.

Even better to witness is the chemistry between Brad Pitt, as the brash and snarky Billy Beane, and Jonah Hill, as Beane’s brainy assistant Peter Brand.

Being the baseball fan I am, it was fascinating to me. Even more so because I remember the real life story playing out.

But you don’t have to be a baseball fan or know the story to enjoy “Moneyball.” Ask Kates.

The only beef I have about the film is the portrayal of Beane's daughter as an aspring songwriter who wrote "The Show." The facts are that it's a popular pop song by Lenka, released in 2008, six years after the action in “Moneyball” took place.

Not that I believe for a second that everything in the movie is factual. Peter Brand is, after all, a fictional character loosely based on Beane's real-life assistants. ... For the record, I haven't read the book. Yet.

Either way, “Moneyball” is a baseball movie I'd be pleased to add to my collection some day.

Here’s the trailer … I just got chills watching it again.

Good reads …
aThrowing a Digital-Age Curveball
a 'Moneyball' misses Mark, but hits as a movie
a ‘Moneyball’ shows uncharacteristic intelligence
a La Russa no fan of ‘Moneyball’
a 'Moneyball' is a winner


Father's Day

My Father’s Day began about 1:15 this morning with Phoebe stumbling into our bedroom and throwing up on the carpet. Mixed vegetables. … And I got the duty of cleaning the mess.

I was awakened again around 8 with Phoebe crawling into bed with Kates and me. Kates was up a few minutes later and getting ready for church. … She was the liturgist this morning, and we had planned to attend worship as a family. But the early morning episode with Phoebe changed that, and I stayed home with the girls.

When Kates returned from church, she and Phoebe gave me my Father’s Day cards. I finally opened the Father’s Day gift Phoebe had made me during her last days of preschool, too. A variation of the infamous Mother’s Day gift she made, Phoebe presented me with a corkboard featuring her handprint surrounded by the words, “My dad likes to play baseball.” Added underneath: “Safe, for a child, is her father’s hand, holding her tight.” … It will have a special place in my new museum some day.

By 11 this morning I was working on my graduate homework for the week. I start my next class tomorrow night, and I had to purchase a $100 textbook that’s nearly as thick as a children’s book.

Somehow I also ended up doing the laundry today. And I cleaned the kitchen. Twice.

I finished my homework around 4. Then I kept my promise to Phoebe and took her to the park. She rode her tricycle and I rode my bike behind her. We had a good time roaming round the playground together. … But then she was so tired that I had to carry her tricycle home. With my bike. While she walked beside me.

At 7, I was kicked out of our living room so the girls could watch “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Network. I paid bills and finished the laundry.

It wasn’t until 8:44 p.m. that I put my feet up to watch Sunday Night Baseball. Cubs-Red Sox tonight. At Wrigley Field.

I was an all-star dad today, and I’m wearing the T-shirt to prove it.

I look forward to a Father’s Day when I don’t feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.


Our Food Network Star

Phoebe recently figured out how to operate the TV remote.

So her new thing is to press the guide button on the remote and scroll through the listings. For the Food Network, of course.

While I was home for lunch today, she was checking the evening's listings and asking me to read her the shows.
"Dad, what's on at 7 'o clock?"
"Restaurant Impossible," I said.
"What's on at 8 'o clock?"
"Restaurant Impossible."
"What's on at 9 'o clock?"
"Restaurant Impossible."
"What's on at 10 'o clock."
"Food Network Star."

Phoebe gasped. Set the remote down. And ran upstairs to find Kates.

From our bedroom: "Mom! Food Network Star is on at 10!."

This is the girl who is now in her glory that she can sit at home with her mother this summer and spend lazy mornings watching the Food Network. And in the afternoon, when Kates makes her turn off the TV, she lays out her play food on the coffee table and produces a cooking show of her own.

She explains what she's pretending to make as well as any of the Food Network chefs. She does it outside at her sandbox, too.

When I arrived home tonight, she was cooking white lime (her words for whine), rosemary and garnishes "to make a tangy vinaigrette."


Faye's first baseball game

So tonight we took Faye to her first Major League Baseball game.

A Brewers game nonetheless. In Kansas City.

I put in my second day at work since she was born and left the office at 3. The plan from there was to be ready to leave the house no later than 3:30. After all, it takes at least 90 minutes to get to the stadium. Game time was 7:05 and my hope was to get there in plenty of time to take in some of the game day aura and play with Phoebe in the playground. Plus it was T-shirt Tuesday, which means the first 10,000 fans through the gate receive a free Royals T-shirt.

None of that happened.

Instead we had a little crisis at home when we couldn't find the Baby Bjorn. I nearly tore the house apart searching for it, pealing items out of every closet, storage container and cardboard box I could find. Its whereabouts are going to haunt me for days.

So Kates and I settled on the fact that we were going to have to take turns holding Faye for the duration of our trip - which wasn't such a bad thing in the end.

We didn't leave the house until about 4:40. I was frustrated. And appropriately, the first song to play on the iPod as we pulled from our driveway was Ingrid Michaelson's "Be OK."

Fortunately, we had smooth sailing to Kansas City and we were making good time.

Until we were about 15 minutes from the stadium and Phoebe announced she had to go potty. I exited the interstate as soon as we saw a sign for a convenience store and proceeded to drive about 20 minutes of the way before Phoebe changed her mind and decided she didn't have to go after all. I turned the car around and started toward the stadium again.

We arrived at the parking gates around 6 p.m. - not bad - and got ourselves settled. Kates stayed in the car and fed Faye while Pheebs and I retrieved our tickets from the will call window. Finally, around 6:30 we started making our way to the stadium. As a family of four.

We arrived at our seats along the first base line just in time to hear the national anthem, sung by a choir from one of the crosstown rivals of my high school alma mater. Cool.

Then the game began, and while we were trying to settle in and decide on our concession orders Alex Gordon slammed a home run to lead off the game. We didn't see it but we certainly heard the roar of the crowd. Royals 1, Brewers 0.

A hot dog and Mountain Dew in a souvenir cup for me. A hot dog and a snow cone for Phoebe. Chicken tenders and french fries with a bottled water for Kates. It wasn't until the third inning that I finally got settled into my seat.

Shortly after that Kates was off to feed Faye. She didn't return until the eighth inning, but did so with a glowing report of Kauffman Stadium's facilities for nursing moms. Interestingly, this was the third stadium she's visited for a baseball game with a baby in tow -- the Metrodome and Wrigley Field being the others. At the Metrodome, she fed Phoebe in someone's office, and they were directed to the depths of Wrigley Field. Kauffman Stadium, it turns out, had a whole lounge area with easy chair for attening moms. When I asked her if there were monitors to watch the game, she said, puzzled, "No. That would have been nice!"

Back at our seats ...

As long as I have to keep one eye on Phoebe, my days of keeping a scorecard and tracking the game pitch-by-pitch are long gone. I was excited to learn this afternoon that Zack Greinke was starting on the mound for the Brewers tonight, but I couldn't tell you how he did -- aside from the homer he gave up to Gordon, which I didn't see -- without looking at a professional box score. The fourth inning was the first time I was able to take a good look at the scoreboard and realized the Royals starter, Luis Mendoza, was tossing a no-hitter.

One thing that wasn't hard to miss: Surprisingly, there was a large Brewers crowd at the game.

In the fifth inning, we got a visit from one of Royals K Crew members. She signed a poster for Phoebe, who beamed. ... She may not pay much attention or understand the game. But she does enjoy the atmosphere, and to her Sluggerrr and the K Crew are like the Beatles.

In the seventh, Ryan Braun broke up Mendoza's no-hit bid with a single and then advanced to third on a couple of little league-caliber throwing errors by the  Royals. Suddenly, the game was getting exciting. ... But Braun eventually was thrown out at the plate. The Brewers scored one in the inning.

They put runners on the bases in the eighth and ninth innings, too. We cheered mightily, but the game ended in a 2-1 win for the Royals.

Still a win for the home team, but not our home team.

We took our time leaving the stadium and getting back to our car. Now Kates is feeding Faye as we wait in the parking lot and listen to music.

It will be 1 a.m. before we get home. But I'll take it. We had fun tonight.


Two weeks and counting

So I returned to my office today after a wonderful and refreshing paternity leave, during which we spent some well-deserved and needed time as a family.

I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of work to catch up on because I stayed on top of emails throughout my leave and managed to work on some projects when there was down time at home. Still, my first day back in the office seemed longer than I had anticipated, and when I arrived home tonight, I could hardly wait to get out of my work attire. I’ve been so accustomed to T-shirts and shorts these last couple weeks that my slacks and button-down shirt felt terribly uncomfortable today.

After all, last week was filled with mornings of sleeping past 8 and waking to Phoebe crawling onto our bed to settle between Kates and I, not to mention a couple instances where Pheebs even woke up to join us for Faye’s 3 a.m. feedings. We’d let her lay in bed with us for awhile, before taking her back to her bed.

We spent lazy days playing games, reading, watching movies and, of course, taking turns holding Faye. During the late night hours, Kates and I found ourselves watching “Friends” marathons on Nick at Night, in addition to making some good progress on our mission to get current on “Mad Men.”

Thursday we took Faye for her first trip to the university campus to introduce her to some of my colleagues there. Our friend Gina presented Phoebe with a handful of balloons, which we opted to store in my office for the time-being. After all, we were on our way out of town for a shopping spree to St. Joe. ... Of course, we forgot about the balloons. And at 12:30 a.m. that night, long after we'd put her to bed, Phoebe came from her room nearly in tears and saying, “Daddy, we forgot my balloons in your office.”

Saturday night, Phoebe and I took a stroll around campus.

* * *

Faye is doing well, although I feel like we’re still trying to get to know her.

With Phoebe, we were couped up in the hospital for nearly a week after she was born, which meant we spent every minute with her. And by not being home, we didn’t have a steady flow of visitors occupying our house and diverting our attention. Also Phoebe, as we often say, was born alert and seemingly aware of her surroundings. Her personality was there the moment she arrived.

With Faye it’s been a little different. Thus far, she seems pretty laid back and content with the world. She sleeps more consistently than I remember Phoebe sleeping at this stage; Phoebe’s sleep during her first week was hindered by the stress of still being in the hospital, I think. When Faye does open her eyes, she just gazes around the room, looking totally content and comfortable.

Those eyes also have caused us a little concern because they’ve been severely bloodshot since she was born. She’s got these deep red rings around her irises that aren’t showing any signs of disappearing. But the doctor tells us it will go away.

Her eyelashes aren’t very pronounced. Phoebe’s were the opposite and were one of the first things people noticed in her facial features.

We’re still trying to get her back to her birth weight. At her latest checkup, she was 6 pounds 10 ounces. So we’re making progress.

Her voice, for an infant, is starting to become more pronounced. For the first week or so, nearly every noise to come from her was a high pitched squeak or squeal. Which had us calling her Squeaky or Squeakers. Only in recent days are we getting some good cries from her.

Her lips are almost always pursed; Phoebe was always sticking out her tongue.

Her smiles are a rarity, so far. Kates says she’s seen a couple, but I’m still waiting. Phoebe gave us several memorable smiles during her first couple weeks, with this one being my favorite.

When Faye’s pacifier is in her mouth, she smacks it like Maggie Simpson. Loudly.

She also seems to enjoy sleeping on her side. Unlike Phoebe, we’ll have no worries about flat head with Faye.

Just like Phoebe as a baby, Faye’s milk comas and the way she stretches after being raised from a good nap are both funny and adorable. When she stretches, she arches her back, strains her neck and pumps a fist in the air -- which then prompts me to sing, “Power to the people …” Every time.

* * *

Phoebe remains proud of her big sister role. When Faye cries, Phoebe is quick to tell us “Faye’s ready to eat again.” Phoebe also has helped on a couple diaper changes.

Still, we’ve had to deal with a few battles for attention.

And last evening we had our first freakout moment among the siblings. …

I was at our work table, on my laptop in our family room. Faye was laying asleep on a blanket on the floor. And Phoebe was bounding around the room, playing with her toys and dancing to some music I was playing.

Phoebe was walking near Faye, and all of a sudden Faye let out a shriek.

Phoebe jumped away and looked at Faye with a startled look. Fearing the worst, I shouted “Phoebe!” and ran toward Faye to scoop her up. Hearing the commotion upstairs, Kates rushed downstairs, shouting at Phoebe, with scared tears filling her eyes, “What happened!? What did you do!?”

It all happened so fast. Whatever happened, we were scared stiff that Phoebe had stepped on Faye and, worse, caused a severe injury.

Phoebe didn’t know what she had done and was just as scared and sorry as Kates and I. She sobbed uncontrollably as we tried to recount, for everyone’s sake, what exactly happened while looking  for any signs that Faye might be hurt.

“Phoebe, where did you step?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her tummy?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her arm?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her leg?”
“I don’t know.”

As of tonight, we don’t know exactly what happened and probably never will. We’ve kept a close eye on Faye for any signs of something awry, but everything appears to be normal.

Whatever happened, it made for one dramatic evening at our house.

Surely, it won’t be the last time we feel such emotions. The trials of raising kids.


Celtics crush

My interest in the 2012 NBA season essentially ended with the Boston Celtics’ Game 7 loss last night.

I’m not a huge NBA fan, but I’ve really enjoyed watching the Boston Celtics the last five years. In fact, I can’t say I’ve admired a pro basketball team as much as I do the Celtics since my days of following the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls.

What’s not to love about that team? Starting with Paul Pierce, whom I have fond memories of dating back to his Kansas days. Steady and calm Ray Allen. The big man with a big heart Kevin Garnett. Flashy and fierce Rajon Rondo. And they’re led by one of the best active coaches in the NBA in Doc Rivers. I would All five could be hall of famers some day.

I’ll take them over the Miami Heat’s “not one, not two, not three …” arrogant Big Three any day. Although, I’ll admit I did enjoy watching Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers as valuable role players for the Heat throughout the series; I have fond memories of each of their college ball days, too, and how can I not root for Mario after his 2008 miracle.

Talk of the team breaking up during the offseason breaks my heart. Of course, the eternal optimist in me thinks there’s no way the Celtics brass or any one of the players could ruin such a great thing by leaving. I want to see the Big Three retire as Celtics.

I watched almost the entire Celtics-Heat series, taking in many of the games on the comfort of my beloved couch with little Faye in my arms. I kept saying it was too bad she mostly slept through such a great series.

When the Celtics took a riveting Game 4, the conference finals officially became a series. And when they stole Game 5 in Miami, I thought the Celtics had the series for the taking. I particulularly enjoyed the over-the-top cheerleader kid heard across the nation as the Heat headed to the locker room that night.

Then Lebron showed up to play and was unstoppable in Game 6. Game 7 appeared relatively safe in the Celtics hands or most of the game and an eight-point lead in the third quarter.

Then Miami, well, turned up the Heat. Chris Bosh came out of nowhere to start popping three-pointers. And the Celtics seemed to have lost all fight they had left.

Dang. It was fun while it lasted.

I hope Oklahoma City wins the title.

(Updated: 6.11.2012) Good reads ...
a Pierce makes pitch for KG
a Father Time runs out on Celtics in Miami
a James able to deliver from start to finish
a Celtics’ Rondo remains defiant
a Big calls to make on Three
a Work over, but already looking ahead


Fun with friends

Beginning where I left off on my previous post

Ray, Leah and their 2-year-old, Audrey arrived Wednesday afternoon for their first-ever visit to The ‘Ville. And it was good.

Once they were settled, we loaded the kids in their strollers and hoped to take a walking tour of the university campus. There were some dark clouds looming, but I remained optimitistic we could complete a tour before the rains came.

We traveled about a quarter of the way down our block as the clouds darkened in the west. Then some thunder rumbled nearby.

“Retreat! Retreat!” Leah shouted, and we promptly turned around the strollers to return to our house.
We had barely stepped inside when the sky let loose with rain, though it only lasted a few minutes.

* * *

Wednesday night, after the kids were in bed, we got a 10 o’clock craving for ice cream. So I was dispatched to the local Dairy Queen with a set of Blizzard orders.

At the Dairy Queen, the lights were on and cars were still in the parking lot. We’re good to go, I thought. … Then I sat in the drive-thru for five minutes only to have a girl come on the speaker to say, “Uh, we’re closed.”


So, I headed to the Sonic across the street, called Kates and took orders for Blasts instead. I waited another 10 minutes for someone to take my order there.

By the time, I returned home, the craving was all but gone.

* * *

Thursday morning, we took Faye to the hospital for her one-week checkup.

All went well and she remains a healthy little girl, although her birth weight was down to 6 pounds, 8 ounces. So we have an assignment this week to get her back to her birth weight and have her checked again next week.

Back at the house, Leah had taken Phoebe and Audrey for some play time in our back yard. They were playing in the sandbox when it began raining again.

Leah shouted, “Let’s dance in the rain!”

“Well, my mom’s going to be mad,” Phoebe replied.

“Let’s dance some more!” Leah shouted.

* * *

We hit Pagliai’s, a favorite local pizza joint, for lunch Thursday and then a garage sale.

Thursday night, I attended the final session of my latest graduate course. Three courses down, four more to go.

From class, I headed to my softball games. Games, as in two of them. A good old-fashioned doubleheader.

I went 1-for-5 in the first game. Aside from my ground ball single, the balls I hit for outs soared off my bat, but all of them were caught deep in the outfield. Although, two of my outs were RBI-sacrifice flies. So that's something.

In the second game, I sat the first two innings before coming off the bench and slapped a liner to center field that scored a run and helped us put the game away with the 15-run rule.

We’ve won five in a row, and we’re on a roll.

* * *

As of this morning, we have the house to ourselves for the first time since Faye was born. Just the four of us. It's a great feeling.

Now we have a solid week together before my parents arrive for a visit next weekend and before I return to work.

We also have gobs of laundry to do, thanks to Ray and Leah bringing us three tubs of clothes, most of which are Phoebe’s old clothes that we loaned to them for Audrey. I'm hardly looking forward to that part of the weekend.