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Matthew Turns Five

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

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Matthew entered our lives on a Friday, a day that began pretty normal.  I dropped Ben off at daycare and then Andrea and I grabbed a healthy breakfast of bagels and donuts.  Andrea was already scheduled for a C-section the following Tuesday even before we headed over to the doctors office for  routine a appointment.  It wasn’t long before the doctor told us that we had to go home, get our stuff together, call who we needed to call and get Andrea into the hospital because Matthew was going to join us that day.

Of course, we didn’t know it was going to be Matthew Robert.  At that point the baby might have been Marisol Rose.  Regardless, in an excited frenzy, we got home and started making calls. I had to call my boss to let him know my paternity leave had already started and we both had to call our parents.  We then headed to the hospital, where, over and over, Andrea had to tell the nurses that she had bagels and donuts for breakfast as the tried to gauge when she would be ready for surgery.

Instead of the traditional cigars, I had put a bunch of blue and pink Peeps into plastic eggs since it was just a week until Easter.  Of course, I thought I had a few more days and found myself packing the eggs in the hospital room, which led to a nurse panicking thinking Andrea was eating them.  It became obvious that we had some time, so I decided to go pick up Ben from daycare instead of asking our parents to do it.  When I told him that the baby was on its way, he was so excited.

With Benjamin causing mayhem in the hospital hallways and our parents nervously keeping watch of him, Matthew Robert Keenan was born in the early evening of March 30, 2007.  We had another beautiful healthy boy.  I honestly don’t remember much of the rest of the hospital stay.  Unlike with Ben, Matthew had no trouble feeding and did not have the same jaundice problems.  Not to mention, we were practically experts by then, instead of scared rookies.  Benjamin’s excitement, of course, was a new variable, but, we all handled it in stride.  Regardless, that day is on of the three happiest days of my life, and it makes me so happy just thinking about it.

I can’t believe that Matthew is five now.  I look at him and I see so much of that little baby in him, more so than I do with Ben.  The days of diapers and bottles and midnight changes all seem so foreign and far away now.  Now, we have these little men, who still dominate the centers of our lives.

While I remember Matthews birth, it’s hard not to think of our bulldog Edgar who died just five days later.  Before the boys, he was a huge part of our lives, dominating rolls of film and then flash drives.  We truly loved that dog and his death was sudden and painful. It’s unlikely that he’d still be with us today if he didn’t die then.  English Bulldogs, on average, live only to seven.  At five, Edgar was already showing signs of getting old.  We sometimes wonder if him going that day was God’s way of sparing him and us a longer, drawn out illness. Either way, in the perspective of our two little boys, I sometimes feel embarrassed to admit the strong emotions I had for a dog, but there is no denying that I did, and it took me a long time to get over him.  Of course, Matthew and Benjamin did help me with that.

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Dear Little One, Part 1

March 27, 2012 1 comment

Going through some old writing, I found three “letters” I had written right around the time we found out that Ben was on his way.  Below is the first one from the night we found out that Andrea might be pregnant.  You probably need to read this post to make sense of some of it.  I’ll publish the next two in the coming days.

December 5, 2004
Dear Little One,

Andrea Reading

Andrea in December 2004, right around the time we found out she was pregnant. Edgar liked to make him useful. You can sort of see the boxes in the background as we were getting ready to leave NJ and come to Bethlehem.

It was a strange day for your momma and I.  For two years now, we had been talking about having a baby, and this morning, a pregnancy test was sort of positive.  An what that means is that we sort of think you are on your way.  Admittedly, I freaked out a little bit (in a good way), but your momma was pretty calm.  I think she might be a bit shocked.  We both so badly can’t wait for you to join us in the life we have built for us.  We have a spot in our little family specifically made for you.  And we are excited.

So, now we have to wait until tomorrow so your momma can take another test and see what that shows.  I am scared it will be negative, but logic seems to tell me I have nothing to worry about.

While we waited for you today, we went and did a little Christmas shopping.  We saw lots of things we want to buy you next Christmas.  We also went to dinner, and we talked about how our lives may change, and what we do next.

I feel like you are here, now in this world…and I feel like I already love you.

Categories: Prequel Tags: , , , ,

The Unbearable and Magical Passage of Time (and Star Wars)

March 23, 2012 1 comment

It seems like a mere week ago that it was just Andrea, our bulldog and myself sitting in a little house.  I would spend time on the computer researching new daddy things like the best car seats and cribs and what diapers are best.  It seems like just a few short days ago that I was on a computer trying to learn about little, little boy stuff like what color a stegosaurus plate was.  Today, I found myself trying to find answers for my two sons on what color Count Dooku’s light saber was and whether or not he was in the first three movies or just the second or just the third.  And I find myself wondering where the time is going.  How could Tyrannosaurus Rex be replaced by Darth Tyrannous?  How have diapers and bottles been replaced with baseball helmets and water bottles?  How is it that my youngest son is turning five in a week?

About a month ago, I transferred most of the photos I had scattered on two laptops and another online storage location into Picasa.  As I did it over the course of several nights, I found myself becoming more and more sad.  In the process of documenting my two sons entire lives from baby-bump to little men, they reminded me of small moments that I had actually forgotten.  It’s sometimes easy for the brain to want to remember sleepless nights and the endless hours with a colic baby that you can forget all those countless, sweet moments in between.  It’s easy to be with the boys day in and day out and not always be as cognizant of just how much they are growing.  To go from one moment, in the present, of having a conversation behind the physics of the Death Stars main weapon, to the next moment of staring at a six year old picture of the same child lying on his back as a baby, eating his foot (at times, I feel like eating my own foot out of frustration when trying to explain Jar-Jar Binks to them) is almost unbearable.  To see their little lives flash forward like that makes my heart feel like a small thermal exhaust port with two proton torpedoes headed towards it.  (Yeah, I am pretty proud of all my Star Wars references…at this point, this is what the kids have turned my brain into…Thank God for Wookieepedia.)

The whole situation is exacerbated by the fact that there are a lot of pictures mixed in from Andrea and I’s pre-children days of trips to Florida and hanging out in New York and Hoboken.  It’s not that I long for that life again, it is just that feeling of how long ago those days were.  It’s a simple calculation of math that my mind starts to do…I did x and y and z before the kids came along, add that to the a and b and c of the time with the kids and it means that I am getting old , but I’m going to spare you my brewing mid-life crisis rant for now.

Even without the pictures, when I see them playing certain games or having certain conversations, I am reminded of my own childhood.  It brings back memories that I had forgotten about being a kid.  And then they ask questions about where I’ve lived, what states I’ve been to, things that I’ve done and it just brings up so much of the past to the surface.  It is really just amazing.

I know some of this sounds depressing and sad, but when I do find myself thinking about stuff like this, I am usually able to correct it by thinking about what the future holds for them and for us as a family.  I think about what they might do in high school and the friends they might have.  I wonder about who they will one day fall in love with and what are the things that will make them happy.  I think about them reading this blog for the first time and of grandchildren.  And I realize that while so much of their lives and my life has passed, there is so much more ahead for the four of us.

The point is that, more than ever in my life, I can actually see time zipping before me like never before.  For hundreds of years, people have been exploring the possibility of time machines.  The simple truth, for me in my relatively few short years as a father, is that kids are time machines.  The way that time just flies when you are with them and the way they can remind you of your own childhood and how you can see your entire life, past, present and future, in their tiny faces, makes them time machines.  They are little hyperdrives in more than one sense of the word (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that a light year is a measure of distance, not time, but I couldn’t end this without one last Star Wars reference.)

Fixing Home

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

This evening, after work, I was out playing tee ball with Benjamin and Matthew, trying to get a head start on practice for both them and me.  At one point Matthew insisted on batting without the tee, with me pitching to him.  So, I lined him up at the rubber home plate and explained where his feet needed to be in relationship to the plate. I explained that the pointy part always pointed away from the pitcher and that his back foot should be sort of inline with it.  He did well with it his first at bat and came back to the plate after Ben took his turn.  Matt started to line up his feet in a way that had him facing me straight on, with the point of the plate between his feet.  Without me saying anything, he realized something was wrong and proceeded to fix his stance…by keeping his feet in place, and turning home plate around so that they were lined up correctly in relationship to the plate.  Laughing, and instead of trying to explain it, I moved and we got everything in order.

It’s going to be a long season.

Off My Game

March 11, 2012 1 comment

Any one who is a parent knows that there are days when we just are going to be off our games.  Days when it feels like all we have is just enough energy to get through three solid meals, the bare necessity errands and a story at bedtime.  Days when the kids are basically good, but the tolerance low and they find themselves wondering why they were in trouble.  Most of today was one of those days for me, but somehow, it was salvaged in the end.

Andrea is travelling for work again and the daylight savings time change gave the entire day a weird Twilight Zone feel to it. Throw in some stuff I had to do for the kids tee ball team and near summer-like weather and I could almost hear Rod Serling’s voice narrating.  The kids are also somewhat caught in a weird place as well.  They still are stuck in Winter find-stuff-to-do-indoors mode even thought the weather is perfect.  I felt like my parents as I kept ordering them to go/stay outside while repeating, “I don’t know why you would want to stay in the house when it is beautiful outside.”

After a trip to Target and a ride to the baseball fields to pick up equipment, I did make a few half-hearted attempts to play with them outside, but when they wanted to kick a soccer ball at the baseball pitch-back and then wouldn’t leave me alone when I was trying to chop up a stump with an ax, I gave up and we all headed inside.   The next couple of hours were spent with me grumping on the couch and them playing video games and watching TV.

However, like so many things in life, the day just miraculously turned around.  A little before dinner, I decided to head out side and throw a baseball against the pitch-back and then throw pop-ups to myself.  As I was doing this, Matthew came outside and asked to play baseball.  We spent a good amount of time with me lobbing wiffle balls to him, giving him instructions and watching him solidly hit every other pitch (I am so proud).  We then went inside where we laughed over dinner.  Afterwards, we walked down to the small river by us, skipped some stones and tried to see who could make the biggest splash with rocks.  About 45 minutes after bedtime, Ben came back down complaining about not being able to sleep (because of the time change) and so, we talked about his video game as he drank some warm milk at the kitchen table.

It really was amazing how quickly the day turned.  What started out as a day I couldn’t wait to get through and forget, turned into a day that I think I will remember forever.  It’s amazing how easily that can happen and how magical it is.

Manager

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

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It was just an email trying to sort through what I thought, correctly, was a mistake.  Ben needed more time at a tee and Matthew had not played tee ball and they were trying to put them both in the next division. Yes, I had already said to being an assistant coach when I signed them up.  Next thing I know, I am the manager of the team.  As I went to bed that night, all I could think was “What the hell just happened?”

I thought about the madness that swirled around the  manager from last years team.  I thought about those ten kids running off in all different directions…and then all back towards the same destination, very quickly.  I thought about how my own son was driving me insane trying to get him the listen to instructions.  I thought, what had I just gotten myself into?

I had expressed similar feelings on Facebook that day and the responses from most of my male friends were ones of condolence.  They know.  However, one friend who knows of my love of baseball called me out on it and mentioned that this is probably what I secretly wanted.  I think that I may have to agree with that.

While sorting through logistics and trying to arrange things with assistant coaches is a bit of a pain, I do look forward to this now.  I think that all along I have always wanted to try this and all I needed was someone to push me on it.  Now I don’t know if I’ll be singing the same tune in six weeks, but right now, I have a general feeling of happiness about it.

A conversation with Benjamin also brought somethings to light for me:

“So, you are going to be the big boss of the whole team?”

“Yes.”

“You get to tell everyone what to do?”

“Yes.”

“You are the boss?”

“Yes.”

“Awkward.”

A fear I do have is that I may not know how to treat my own sons on a team of ten kids.  I don’t want to favor them, but I want them to love the game the way I do and this is a great opportunity.  I want them to have fun and learn the basics.  Ben really didn’t like it last year and I feel like this is my best chance to have him learn to love it.  I feel that Matthew will pick it up nicely, but we’ll have to see.

I have high hopes for this endeavour, even if I am extremely afraid.   In the end, I just hope the kids have fun, which is the most important thing.  However, I hope I also have fun, without having to be committed.