Archive for the 'General Dad Stuff' Category

31
Dec
13

The Great Jingle Bell Caper

I know this is late, but it’s been a busy few weeks and I’m (as we all know) inherently lazy.

My fondest Christmas memories are of the night before Christmas when my brother and I were tucked into our beds, excited and trying not to fall asleep, only to hear jingle bells outside.

We’d both run into each other in the hall and run to a window. We’d never see anything and our mom or dad would show up and point out that if Santa Claus was close enough to hear, we’d better get to sleep.

Of course at some point I stopped believing in Santa and discovered that the ringing had been coming from bells my father had set up outside our window, with a string running to the back of the house and into their bedroom window.

So my other fondest memories are of the years I assisted my parents in staging this all for my younger brother’s benefit.

Not shockingly, when I became a dad, I wanted to continue this tradition.

I recall my wife not being sold but to me, it was something that would bring a little magic to their young lives—and perhaps a little to my own as well.

We travel a lot during Christmas, so my opportunity to do this has been sporadic. Sometimes the kids would pass out on the way home from somewhere and the last thing I’d want to do was wake them up. Sometimes we weren’t in a place where jingle bells weren’t feasible to ring.

I didn’t really get started until we moved away from California and to New York.

One year I ran a string across the roof of our apartment in Queens, dangling jingle bells down next to our kid’s window. The string ran back to the kitchen in our apartment where I could reach out a window and pull it.

It worked a little bit, but I ended up having to go up the fire escape, onto the roof and ring it by hand.

In the dead of night. In ice and wind.

Which ended up working so much better because the kids heard footsteps on the roof which made them insane.

This year was the year Alpha Tween stopped believing. I don’t remember when it happened and was not a shock—his faith had been tested two years prior when he found candy alarmingly similar to what was in his stocking in the kitchen cupboard.

We pointed out that certainly we could buy the same candy as it was in all the stores and—because he still wanted to believe I’d guess—he let it go.

But at 12, most kids are done and so was he.

He was excited by the prospect of helping me continue the tradition with his younger brother though, so when I went to tuck in the Professor, Alpha had already hid two sets of jingle bells out on the covered front porch of our apartment.

So as I lay down with our youngest, down below Alpha was leaning out of a window with bells in his hands and gently ringing them.

The Professor flew out of bed and looked out the window to their room. He spied a red light in the sky—what I can only imagine was a plane—and while he mentioned it might be a plane he also thought it might be Rudolph.

Shortly after, Alpha came upstairs to get changed for bed and I went downstairs and duplicated his efforts.

When I passed Alpha on the stairs to the boy’s bedroom, he smiled and nodded and I knew they had heard.

This could be the last year for The Professor to believe. As a younger sibling, it seems the magic doesn’t last as long.

No matter how long though, these are the memories I will always cherish—and I hope they will as well.

There’s precious little magic in the world, save for what we make.

Perhaps we just need to make more of it.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

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12
Dec
13

Keep Calm and Nerd On

keep calm and geek onThe way I got here was so circuitous (as it is with most ‘places’ I arrive at) I won’t confuse you with it, but I found myself back reading a Tumblr post I had come across months ago by artist Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue.

The story Watson shares is a sweet one, about an interaction between a father and a son at this year’s San Diego Comicon.

It’s about acceptance and taking a few moments to enjoy time with the people you care about.

It struck home with me for a couple of reasons but the biggest one was the part about acceptance.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed nerd, geek or whatever the whole “acceptance” thing is important. I certainly have felt alone or different most of my life.  I’m willing to bet most of us have whether we admit it or not.

It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin—and I readily admit there are days I still don’t. Which is amazing because the more I work in media and the more people I meet, the more I find they hold very similar interests to my own.

So the post hits home because one of the things I really want to do with the boys is to empower them to love what they love and not worry about what others think of it.

Not long ago Alpha Tween (who recently I considered re-naming Sullen Tween because hormones) relayed a story to me about something that happened at school.

image via 4kids Entertainment

Despite being 12, Alpha is still a fan of Pokemon. I’ve never totally understood the fascination (though I am a fan of Psiduck) but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

And he definitely has friends who still enjoy looking at and playing with the cards and video games.

He was with his friends at lunch and two of his friends were doing something with Pokemon cards. Alpha was watching, not playing but hanging out when he ended up in a conversation with two 6th graders.

The younger kids asked him if his friends were really playing Pokemon. Alpha responded, yes they were.

They then asked him if he liked Pokemon too. Alpha said he did.

The two kids then proceeded to make fun of all three kids, laughing as they walked away.

I asked him how he felt about it and he shrugged.

“What do I care what they think? I like what I like.”

I’d like to think he learned this from my wife and I. That when his younger brother was running around in pretty princess dresses and we didn’t bat an eye, he learned it’s OK to be different.

That no matter what others think, who you are is fine.

That’s going to be a fight, especially for the tween/teen years which are all about standing out by fitting in. But we’re well on our way.

I think, ultimately, this is why geek culture has become such a “thing” over the last decade. It’s about acceptance. It’s filled with people who “didn’t fit in” to what the norm was, who learned to embrace differences in others because they had their own rejected and in some cases belittled.

Sure, there is infighting because every group on earth has jackholes in it (I believe that’s a law) but by and large it’s an accepting bunch.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked—even the people who try hard to make you think they don’t. On some level, they absolutely do.

Hopefully my wife and I can put together a pair of kids who will help them feel that way and who will always feel that way themselves.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

03
Dec
13

I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be

jarvisislazyI have been sick for a little over a week now.

I began to get an inkling something might be amiss the Sunday before Thanksgiving when I sat at my desk watching the NFL slate for Week 12.

That, in and of itself, wasn’t unusual. I do that every week.

What was odd was that this time, I did it shivering under a flannel blanket with about four layers on underneath. Next to the heater.

Yeah, I was sick.

I don’t handle that well—I never do, especially in-season when I am enormously busy. Normally my body and I have an agreement—it doesn’t fall apart between August and January and I let it collapse for all of February post-Super Bowl.

Apparently we’re at war because my body pulled a Blitzkrieg on me and there I was sick.

I was buried in work Monday and Tuesday so I slept a lot of Wednesday, drank a ton of tea and muddled through Thanksgiving (which was very enjoyable). The kids left with mom and dad for the weekend, which allowed me to sleep a bit more and knock some work off early on Friday.

My wife left on Saturday to head to Pennsylvania and a niece’s birthday party. We both thought it bad form if I brought even an improving plague with me despite their assurances that it was fine.

Which left me home alone on Saturday.

Relaxing is a hard thing for me. You’d think I would be good at it, but I’m actually quite awful at relaxing. I am constantly wracked with guilt that I should be doing something. Most of the time I couldn’t tell you what that something is, though it usually becomes work and writing because even when something isn’t on a deadline the more you write the more you’re out there and the better and more diverse a writing resume you have.

There’s another column there grappling with the general American (and male) inability to shut work off, so let’s put a pin in that for another day.

Going into Saturday I made a determination: I was going to relax. I was going to make myself relax, rest, and reboot both physically and mentally.

If forcing yourself to relax seems like an oxymoron, welcome to my world. It’s warm here and we have cookies shaped like schadenfreude.

So Saturday, the wife packed up and headed to Pennsylvania.

And I did nothing—and it was everything I thought it could be.

OK, not strictly nothing. In part because I wanted to get a head start on a piece I needed to write for Tuesday and in part because I had fun things I wanted to do which would count as “something” even if they seem like “nothing.”

As parents, we don’t get much down time. For a work-from-home/stay-at-home dad or mom, it can be hard to ever really shut down because your office (and therefore your work) is always right there.

“I can just hammer out a few paragraphs” or “I’ll just do some data-entry” and the like are things home-office folk tell ourselves so that we feel less shitty for working at home during “non-office hours.”

But that’s just a cover for the fact that, because we are always at the office, we always see the pile of work on our desk and always feel like we should be working.

We lie that we’ll just do a little X and a bit of Y and then flip on the TV but that never happens and the next thing you know you’ve worked overtime for free.

So when you’re a parent—and one who works from home—you need to grab those relaxation moments when you can.

Once I wrote the one piece I felt I needed to (which made Monday a lot less painful), I stepped away from the computer and didn’t look at it again.

That took a lot of self control, let me tell you. I didn’t watch any football, didn’t break down any game tape, didn’t look at potential 2014 NFL draft prospects—all things I could have done and written off as “work, but not really.”

I did a lot of stuff, but none of it was critical.

My day consisted of:

Catching up on Supernatural.

I was about two episodes behind and had to find out what the Winchester boys were up to. Two brothers, a muscle car, 70s and 80s hair metal and monster hunting. THANKS HULU!

Watched Pacific Rim.

Some of you people told me I would enjoy it.

You people undersold it to me and for that you will forever have my anger.

Or not. Who knew I missed giant robots fighting giant monsters? My inner 12 year old was excited.

If you’ve ever played Battletech, watched Godzilla (the originals not the crap with Matthew Broderick) or have read/watched something like Macross and you haven’t seen this flick you are doing yourself a disservice as a geek.

One of my favorite popcorn movies ever.

Ate way too much crap.

Which, when you think about how sick I had been was pretty counter-intuitive but I wasn’t cooking and calzones and cherry coke are tasty sometimes.

Played The Last of Us.

Someone described The Last of Us as the best zombie movie to come out in a long time and it’s a pretty accurate description.

I’m tempted to do a review of it at some point—both from an aging gamer/geek point of view as well as a fatherhood angle—because while there are zombie plant people/infected and bandits and apocalypse things, what the story is about, at its heart, is a grieving father and a lost little girl.

I have a lot of thoughts about it (and OH THE FEELS) but I’ll save it for another time because any half-assed discussion here is just a disservice to the game.

I will say that I have played many video games where I thought “well this could be a cool movie/TV series/book.” In fact, I ingest a lot of entertainment wondering how it would look in other forms. Comics as movies, movies as shows—I think that’s how we tend to absorb our entertainment now.

I cannot think of how this game—which I can best shorthand as the greatest choose-your-own-adventure “book” ever—would be improved by another format.

I can’t wait to finish it and also am sad that I can only experience it for the first time, once.

This game had me do something I haven’t done in forever.

When my wife came home—later than expected—we chatted for a while and she went to bed. I went back to playing. I figured I would play for maybe another hour and then go to bed.

At some point my wife got up and went to get a drink of water or use the bathroom and I thought “huh, she hasn’t been in bed long.”

I checked my watch and found out it was 1:30am.

I don’t play video games often but when I do, apparently I don’t sleep.

You’d think that I would wake up tired on Sunday, having hit the sack well past my bedtime—I mean I work late on Sunday and Monday since NFL games end at midnight both of those evenings, but almost 2am is pushing it even for me.

However, at the end of the day (and the start of the next one) I felt rested and refreshed. My brain was clear and I was surprisingly stress free—not something I feel most days when I don’t do more than a small amount of work.

As parents, we don’t get much time off.

But we should make some for ourselves even a little.

We—and our kids and partners—will probably be better for it.

I believe I am scheduled for another day off on December 12th……2016.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

24
Oct
13

I CAN SEE THROUGH TIME

image via funnyasduck.net

So my wife has started working home more often. We share an office in the house, so we’ve been in each other’s space a lot more, which has actually been fine, save for when she is on a client call and I’m doing a radio spot—in which case one of us has to leave.

Anyway, it also affords us the time to have conversations like the one which led me to discover that yes, I have the ability to SEE THE FUTURE.

Here’s yesterday’s conversation so you have some background.

And then prepare to be blown away.

 

 

Me: Man it’s cold. It seems cold enough to snow.

Her: It’s not.

Me: I’m not saying it is, I’m saying it feels like it.

Her: It’s 50 degrees.

Me: It’s almost cold enough…..

Her: <laughter>

Me: What?

Her: Yeah, it’s only 20 degrees too warm.

Me: I don’t like you or your logic anymore.

Here’s the thing—I woke up this morning and it was totally cold. I have proof.

SEE IT'S COLD

SEE IT’S COLD

So here it is a day later and totally almost cold enough to snow, maybe.

You know what this means? That’s right! I CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE.

Clearly I wasn’t really thinking yesterday was cold enough to snow—I was seeing through the space-time vortex into Thursday morning.

And here’s more proof it is cold enough to be cold.

LOOK FROST

LOOK FROST

That white stuff? Totally frost.

MORE FROST

MORE FROST

And look! Frost on the playground.

A CLOSEUP OF - FROST!

A CLOSEUP OF – FROST!

In case you can’t see, the above is a closeup of frost. I tried to get a picture of my breath but couldn’t get it to work but it was absolutely cold enough to see my breath.

Holy crap you guys! I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN.

How awesome is this? I can now do all sorts of things with my future-sight. I can stop crimes before they happen. I can win bets on sports events. I can figure out when the last donut is going to be eaten and get there first.

I promise you guys I will only use my powers for mostly good things though (mostly good because I’m only human—OR AM I?) and not for evil (MOSTLY BECAUSE I AM ONLY SORT OF HUMAN).

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

18
Oct
13

Exhausting, this whole fall thing

IMG_4284At the end of every Summer I have pretty much braced myself for a very busy Fall.

By the middle of every Fall, I realize I had drastically under-prepared.

What’s stunning about that is the fact that this happens every year.

This Fall has brought some new challenges beyond getting back to school, gearing up for Fall sports and my NFL work. I took on coaching and that has been more exhausting than I ever anticipated, both emotionally and physically. It’s been tremendously rewarding and fun in most ways, but it’s certainly an extra layer of energy drain and exhaustion.

Also, work has been scattered and more stressful than usual, though there is less of it. Odd, right?

Oh, and Alpha Tween broke his hand playing football because he’s Alpha Tween and these things happen to him.

So here we are, most of the way through fall and I feel like I’ve been dragging along for twice as long. It’s definitely shown up here, where the posts have dropped off dramatically (though I’ll admit the pace I started off with was a bit mad).

It’s funny how, despite the fact that the kids are more self-sufficient, they seem to require more handling and more energy to get to do what they’re supposed to.

So all in all, this Fall has been super-exhausting.

It’s also been great. That might be a little exhausting as well.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

11
Oct
13

I like kicking leaves

IMG_4284I love fall. I think I like winter more, but I really enjoy fall.

Especially since we’ve moved east. In Southern California, there aren’t season. There is “hot”, “less hot”, “rainy” and “OH DEAR GOD THE HOT” along with some other assorted other “seasons” like “fire”, “earthquake” and “smog”.

Here on the East Coast we have drastic change in the weather. It got cold here in the last week or so (not Alaska or Arctic cold, just sorta cold) and the trees had their yearly implosion of color and falling leaves.

I like to kick them.

There’s something cathartic about kicking leaves, at least as far as I’m concerned. Not quite as much as surfing is, but pretty darn close.

I found out that The Professor is a fan as well.

While we were walking down the sidewalk to our car after school, I started kicking leaves because AWESOME and Professor stopped to watch.

Professor: Wait, Dad, WAIT.

Me: What’s the matter?

Professor: Let me get on the side of you so I can do it to.

After which he crossed the sidewalk and got on the lawn next to it and started kicking.

My kid is awesome.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

IMG_4285

07
Oct
13

What We Have Here is….A Failure to Motivate

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

The pass was off, I’ll give the wide receiver that. Maybe he ran his pattern wrong as well, but the ball definitely floated.

So in many ways, the interception wasn’t that big a shock after you saw the pass go up.

The receiver standing there after the ball was picked off, unwilling to run after the ball? I’d like to say that was a surprise, but after two months with this player it’s not.

I don’t know how to motivate some of these kids.

There’s a point in anything—not just football, but any aspect of life—where you get metaphorically kicked in the teeth. At that point you either fold or you get off the floor and get back to work.

We folded. Well, not all of us, but enough of us for it to matter in a sport which requires your whole team to be on point.

Some kids it’s easy. They’re natural competitors, whether on the field or in the classroom.

Some kids, it’s not.

And I don’t know how to reach them. It doesn’t compute for me, at all.

That’s on me, because as a coach I need to be able to do that. When that interception happened, the air went out of our team and, quite literally, a chunk of the team quit. Shoulders were slumped, heads down, efforts became half-assed.

You can encourage them, yell at them, talk them up, bench them—but what I can’t seem to do is get them going again. It’s like a car engine when the carburetor is flooded. It’s just not starting again for a while.

The thing is, opportunity—again, whether in football or life—is fleeting. It’s there one minute, gone the next. If you spend time moping, you miss your chance and sometimes it doesn’t come around again.

I know of what I speak.

And I hate to harp on it because these are kids. They aren’t the people they’ll be next week, much less next year, much less once they’re grown.

But the ability to get off the mat, to pick yourself up when you get knocked down—to overcome obstacles—is something you can instill in a person early.

Forget football for a second, that’s a critical habit for life.

Because life is really, painfully, unfair. There are times it flat out sucks. It has no qualms about kicking you in the groin and then spitting on you as it walks away. Most of us get nothing handed to us. Most of us will forever have to fight tooth and nail for what we want or believe in.

We are promised nothing and things are constantly—painfully—ripped from our grasp if we aren’t careful.

So it bothers me I can’t reach some of these kids. It bothers me that I can’t manage to teach these kids to be resilient. That I can’t instill the will in a player that when something goes wrong he shouldn’t shut down.

Because at some point he’s going to need that skill.

Of course, I realize it’s not all on me. It’s not all on the coaches, not when you see a kid three or four days a week and it’s only been about two months. There’s only so much you can do.

It’s a combination of all the people around him (or her) daily—the parents, the schoolteachers, everyone—who will help a kid find their way.

I guess at the end, all I can do is my best. I can try to instill them with confidence, teach them that a bad play or moment isn’t the end of the world and hope that they hear me (which, frankly, is a whole different post).

Some of the kids will get it. Some won’t. And some might five years from now when the “light switch” goes on because of something else.

It’s frustrating though, as I think over the loss yesterday. Could I have done more to help the kids turn it around and keep their heads? Could I have done something differently, whether for the wide receiver (who never got his head back in the game) or any of the other players?

I guess I don’t really know.

All I can do is pick myself back up, dust myself off and work harder to get better.

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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages