Tag Archives: wife

What We Celebrate When We Celebrate Pi Day

pies

My wife commented to me yesterday that she thinks we celebrate well. Not necessarily in the grand Christmas-anniversaries-and-birthdays sense—or at least not strictly in that sense, because we are pretty good at that. She was talking about the ways we mark smaller occasions: the first day of summer, say, or May the Fourth, or even a Friday evening after a difficult week.

We’ve not historically done too much for Pi Day, which comes every year on March 14 (3.14, yeah?), but this year was a big one, in terms of Pi Days, given that the month, date, year, and exact time for one second could be listed out as 3/14/15 9:26:53. Twice.

I secretly ordered my wife a T-shirt featuring a drawing of a cherry pie with the symbol for pi cut into the crust, and I gave it to her that morning.

For dinner, she baked a shepherd’s pie, followed by chocolate pie for dessert. We grown-ups had Irish cream whipped cream to put on our slices, and I invented a cocktail out of apple pie moonshine, bourbon/rye (I made one of each), and Izze sparkling apple juice.

Pi cocktail

I also talked a bit about circles and circumferences with the girls, so we did more than just blindly celebrate a day without honoring its roots. I believe that we should keep the Pi in Pi Day. As tasty as pie is, math is the reason for the season.

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Finals Week: The Lunch

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Thanks to the stellar math-a-thon fundraising efforts of my firstborn’s class, they get a pizza and ice cream party tomorrow on the last day of school, which means today’s lunch was the last I had to pack for the school year. That’s a big deal for me. To celebrate, I went with one of my daughter’s favorite sandwiches from our family’s first-grade menu: salami (nitrate free—or is it nitrite free?) and basil. She’s told me repeatedly throughout the year how much she loves this sandwich.

This morning, she whined about having to eat it, complained about the basil, and tried to pick it apart before I put it into her lunchbox.

My wife also pointed out that lunch responsibilities are now falling more firmly on her shoulders for the summer.

I, however, am choosing to remain in my good mood.

(If you’re wondering—and why wouldn’t you be?—my firstborn got 98 out of 100 math problems completed in five minutes correct. I don’t usually brag on this blog, but like I said, I’m in a good mood.)

What are you having for lunch today?

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Winter Soldier

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Me: Is Captain America your favorite superhero? Or your favorite Marvel superhero?

Wife: My favorite Marvel superhero.

Me: Interesting. So who’s your favorite superhero?

Wife: Probably … Captain America.

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The Party You Are Trying to Reach is Unavailable

locked out

The text from my wife read, “We’re at the movie. I had 2 shots of honey bourbon before we left (yay for not driving)! Feeling very luxurious. I love you!”

I didn’t encourage my wife to go out with a friend this evening to earn any special treatment from her, but the thought of her buzzed and happy and feeling thankful when she got home certainly made me optimistic for, well, the sort of evening that unfolds when my wife is buzzed and happy and thankful.

I put away dinner and got all three kids into their pajamas at the closest to bedtime we’ve been all week. The thirdborn, at 19 months old, has a strict routine he wants to follow every night. It involves a particular book about a puppy (which I couldn’t find tonight), and humming a hymn, and holding hands to pray, and turning a white noise generator to “ocean waves,” and hugging three stuffed animals before pushing them away, and then flopping around forever. My wife usually goes through most of this routine with him in our room while I read three stories to the girls in their room.

My firstborn lost two stories today for behavior issues, which presented a logistical problem akin to getting a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain across the river. The girls would share one story together. The secondborn would get two more stories apart from her older sister. The boy didn’t want to stay in the girls’ room, and I didn’t want to leave the oldest alone while everyone else went into my room and tried to go to sleep.

So I read everybody a story in the girls’ room, then switched rooms and put my firstborn in my bed and equipped her with headphones plugged into an iPad playing Disney Pandora. I hunkered down on a mattress on the floor with the second- and thirdborn. We read two stories—substituting a second-favorite book about ladybugs for the missing book about the puppy—then turned out the lights.

Surprisingly, it all worked.

My son rolled and kicked, and my secondborn curled up on my legs, but everybody nodded off, one by one. When the last kid started breathing in that heavy “now I’m sure he’s asleep” way, I extricated myself from the tangle, congratulated myself on successfully figuring out the bedtime puzzle, and headed out of the room to do a little last-minute cleaning.

Upon descending the stairs I saw—serendipitously!—my wife just arriving at the back door. I went to let her in. And noticed her tear-filled eyes.

“Are you OK?” she asked, somewhere between a frantic gasp and a sob.

Before I explain why she asked that, let me set some more of the scene:

My son has recently figured out how to open our front door. During this past rainy weekend, I heard it slam and looked out our front window to see the guy purposefully limping down toward the street, one foot shoved into a yellow boot, the other bare. Tonight, I made sure I locked it. I’m getting into the habit.

I locked the back door behind me when I came home from work.

I often turn off my work cell phone in the evening, because it’s my work cell phone.

I left my personal cell phone in the girls’ room when I decided to move everybody into ours. I left my laptop in there, too.

The portable phone in our room (yes, we still have a land line) never made it back onto its charging base the last time we got a call (I’m note sure when that was, because only my parents, the blood bank, and telemarketers call the land line). Its battery had died.

We usually keep a window or two cracked in our bedroom for airflow, but we closed them both during the aforementioned recent rains and haven’t reopened them.

Got all that?

Here are the texts my wife sent me later in the evening, about half an hour before I came downstairs:

“I’m home and locked out.”

“Please let me in the house.”

There were also messages on my phone (“Hello? It’s your wife! I’m locked out of the house. Can you let me in please?”) and the house answering machine.

The Facebook message she sent read, “I’m locked out of the house.”

The white noise generator and faint strains of “Hakuna Matata” coming from my daughter’s headphones, coupled with my humming “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for my son, apparently drowned out my wife’s shouts from the driveway. And her pounding on the doors. And the doorbell.

My trip downstairs to find her knocking on the back door was serendipitous only in that her own cell phone battery had just died and she was out of options for trying to reach me.

But she really liked The LEGO Movie.

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I Love it When She Uses the Oxford Comma …

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My wife’s Valentine’s Day present to me this year now hangs above a drawing I gave to her for Valentine’s Day two years ago.

I thought about arguing that I’m more geeky than nerdy, but 1) I realized I shouldn’t nitpick a Valentine’s Day present, and 2) I remembered how I get about grammar. Plus, “talk geeky to me” doesn’t carry the same pun value.

I totally love my wife.

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‘Who is REALLY caring for your children?’

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My wife came with me to the recent Dad 2.0 conference in New Orleans (thanks again, Cottonelle, for the trip!), where I attended sessions and workshops while she drank cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, visited cemeteries, and otherwise explored the city.

I’m joking. Mostly. While she did sample more of the local cuisine and color than I did, she actually attended some sessions, too, and visited the sponsor booths and suites, and met and talked with dads from around the country. She was an active attendee, and I was excited and proud to be able to share the experience with her.

My wife works with developmentally delayed infants and toddlers, a job for which she attended a conference of her own on Tuesday earlier this week. The day after she got back, she surprised me with this e-mail:

“Yesterday, I went to a conference in a neighboring city. It was nothing like Dad 2.0, with all of its glitz and swag (the entirety of my ‘swag’ for this one was a printout of the PowerPoint presentation and a folder—in my color choice—to store it in). No Lee jeans, no Starbucks (in fact, the first announcement of the morning was an apology for the fact that they forgot to buy Half and Half to accompany the industrial urns of watery coffee). I left my house at 5:45 in the morning and returned roughly 12 1/2 hours later. The conference was attended primarily by educators, child development specialists, child advocates, and foster parents.

“During the breaks, I chatted with the people at my table. One woman asked if I hoped to have children someday. I informed her that I already have three children. She declared, ‘Oh, you do not look old enough to have children at all!’ Bless her heart. Of course she asked my kids’ ages. I told her. Upon learning that I have a toddler, she asked how I could get away from him for an entire day to attend a conference. I assured her he was safe and sound with my husband/his father, and I had no concerns about being away for a day. Then she said, ‘Sure, but who is REALLY caring for your children? You must have a nanny or a daycare provider. A man couldn’t possibly handle a toddler and two older children ALL DAY LONG.’ I was shocked. I’m sure I said something about my husband being an amazing father and just as capable of caring for our children as I am. But mostly I remember working very hard to keep myself from expressing my outrage in a way that was sarcastic, rude, or unproductive.

“I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but this conversation—and the sentiment behind it—was repeated all day long as I chatted with more and more conference attendees. I am disheartened to realize that in a room of more than 150 professionals who work with children for a living, so many people are clinging to the idea that men cannot be competent (if not excellent) caregivers.

“I am thankful for Dad 2.0 and the blogging world that is working hard to change stereotypes of men and fathers. I am happy to see small changes in the media and advertising that are depicting involved, loving fathers. I hope to see more. I hope, as each year passes, fewer and fewer people react with surprise and shock when I say my children are with their father for the day.”

I was humbled and grateful to read my wife’s perspective, and though I have flown solo with the children before, I do have to point out that the two girls were in school for part of this particular day, and a friend did watch the kids for a couple of hours in the middle of the day since I edit two weekly newspapers and we were on production deadline. But I did get everyone out of bed, dressed, fed, brushed, and packed up in the morning; had the toddler with me in the office for the first third of the work day; handled all of the school drop-offs and pick-ups; edited articles for two newspapers with and without kids tugging at my sleeve; gathered up all the kids for the third third of the work day; drove them to an appointment in the late afternoon; and took all three back into the office with me at the end of—and past the end of—the work day because a computer crash in our production department deleted several files and I had to re-approve already-done work in order to make sure the paper could get to the printer late but intact.

Quickly moving from assessing libel risk to changing a poopy diaper is an odd shift, but not a prohibitively taxing one.

I am fortunate to have giving and flexible friends, bosses, and co-workers, without whom none of this crazy juggling would be possible. I’m amazed and grateful at the help we receive, and at the fact that my wife has a similarly busy schedule—plus she remembers the laundry—and pulls it off.

I’m not doing any of this (or mentioning it) for applause; it’s what has to be done. But I’m sure glad she’s the one I’m doing it with.

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Awkward Week: Up to Bat

I have little to no athletic ability. Sure, I can sink wadded up balls of paper into across-the-office trash cans—typically when no one’s looking—and I play a pretty mean game of table tennis, but I’ve never played team sports or anything. Not really.

My wife swam in high school, but she isn’t what anyone would call athletic either.

As our firstborn has demonstrated both talent and interest in sports, we figured it would be a good idea to get her into something official, hence our first-ever foray onto a softball diamond this afternoon. Actually, my mom played softball for years, but I usually spent her games looking for bottlecaps.

I’m not a sports guy, if you couldn’t tell.

I’ve tossed a ball around with my 6-year-old from time to time, so she at least understands the concept of throwing and catching, but as I walked her toward the sign-in tables and paired-off lines of girls lobbing (overhand!) pitches into each others’ mitts, I realized that I should’ve talked to her a little more about the game.

“Do you know what you do after you hit the ball?” I asked her, pointing to home plate as we passed. “In a game, after you hit it?”

She thought for a moment, then: “Throw it back?”

“You run,” I said. “Run to first base.”

I got a blank look in return.

Fortunately, based on my observations from this morning, she’s a quick study and will likely trick everyone into thinking her parents know at least a little bit about softball. I mean, she’s not perfect right off the bat or anything, but she’s confident and has good hustle and is coordinated enough to actually connect a bat with a ball, or later throw that same ball in the direction she intends it to go.

I’m excited and nervous about this new phase in parenting, in life. I don’t know the team sports environment, either from personal experience or as the parent of a participant since this is so new.

We also chose today to start dance lessons for our 4-year-old, so we felt like cliche parents today for the first time: loading three kids into the minivan and shuttling everyone from home to rehearsal to home to practice to home.

So it begins.

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Imagination Week: Hitting the Pavement

Zombies, Run!

I recently got a new phone—a phone that can actually do stuff, and one that prompted my wife to say, “Welcome to the 20th Century.”

I countered: “But we’re in the—”

“I know,” she said.

This is my first-ever personal phone, and I sort of didn’t know what to do with it at first. An office Secret Santa, however, had given me an iTunes gift card, so I bought a couple of songs and then remembered an app I’d read about last year.

It’s called Zombies, Run!, and it basically plays a story for you to listen to while you run in real life. It’s sort of a game in that you “pick up” items as you go along—including medical supplies, water, and, honestly, underwear—some of which you can then use to improve a virtual outpost full of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors, but the main draw is this: While you’re running, earbuds firmly in place, a voice gives you directions and reports on nearby groups of “zoms” with a hankering for your hamstrings.

I initially thought that the game was a bit more interactive, but the missions seem to be set audio tracks. Which is fine by me. My typical physical activity consists of walking up the stairs to go to bed, and this download actually motivated me to get out of the house and do several laps around our condo complex.

I was prepared to be a bit freaked out, but the initial mission was fairly tame. At first. I chose to run at night, thinking the darkness might heighten the suspense. Also, that’s the only free time I can generally carve out of my day.

Once I got into the groove—both in running and in the game—it was easier to slip into the story. I tuned out my neighbors, waving from their garages as I jogged past, and focused on the narrative. Smoke coming from one condo’s chimney became the sight and smell of a downed helicopter. I didn’t know how to incorporate the one set of Christmas lights still mounted and lit, though.

Everything was going smoothly until a large pack of zombies caught wind of me and gave chase. One zombie in particular broke from the pack and zeroed in on me.

The voices in my ears grew urgent. “Don’t look behind you!” they shouted, “Just run! RUN!”

That worked. I resisted the urge to glance backward, even when I passed a streetlamp with dual lights on top, giving me a double shadow. Suddenly, as my eyes slid sideways, I could see silhouetted on the road another figure immediately behind me.

Imagination is a powerful thing, especially when it has audio help.

Since this is the first time I’ve run in, well, my 30s, I will admit that I paused the track to walk a bit before carrying on the run for my life. I imagine that the zombie took a breather, too, maybe put her decaying arms up over her head and shuffled along a little more slowly before picking up the pace again.

I’m a bit sore now from the rush, but I will be going out again soon.

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Memory Week: What’s My Age Again?

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I can fall asleep anywhere. In college, I would fall asleep in class, at club meetings, and even when hanging out with friends. It didn’t bother me, but it annoyed some of said friends. “If you’re tired, just go to bed,” they’d say.

I’ve never seen why falling asleep is offensive to some people. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. And I frequently do both in front of other people—even strangers. When somebody’s tired, they should be able to fall asleep. No guilt.

My wife does not really appreciate me sleeping anywhere else than in bed. We’ll be watching a TV show together on the couch downstairs, and I’ll start to nod off. I don’t mind, but she often does. I’ve had to work to convince her that I like curling up next to her or putting my head on her shoulder or lap, that it’s comforting to fall asleep leaning on her, knowing she’s there. If she’s not ready for bed, but I’m ready for sleep, I’ll put off going to bed. But not sleeping.

Tonight, after I was nodding off during Call the Midwife—a show I really enjoy—I suggested that she watch something I don’t typically watch with her, and that I sleep next to her. I still don’t think she gets it, but she agreed and put on an episode of Sister Wives.

I very quickly nodded off, but bolted upright when I heard my secondborn shouting “Daaaad!” from upstairs.

My wife just laughed. “That was on the show,” she said. “It came from the TV.”

Puzzled, I insisted that I’d heard our daughter calling for me. No, she said, it was on the show. Go back to sleep. So I did.

“Daaaad!”

I snapped up again.

“That’s her this time!” I said, jolted out of sleep again.

Nope. It was the same scene in Sister Wives, being played as a recap after a commercial break made nonexistent by Netflix.

My memory of the rest of my pre-bedtime nap gets hazier from that point, but I’m fairly positive I heard the child shouting a third time. The resemblance to my 4-year-old’s voice was uncanny. I could feel my heart thumping heavily in my chest after each startling “Daaaad!”

* * *

I started this week by noting that I don’t really think my memory is fading, and I’d say that repeatedly forgetting that the yelling I’m hearing is coming from the TV—not my daughter—doesn’t really count, due to the sleep-induced fuzziness.

As the title of today’s post indicates, however, I have noticed some particular trouble in remembering how old I am. In my most recent Freaky Friday post, for instance, I jumped the birthday gun by three weeks—something my wife quickly pointed out. I did something similar earlier in this blog’s life, too, in my most popular post to date, when I said I went to Disneyland for my 34th birthday. Actually, it was for my 32nd birthday.

* * *

So now, since I took a late-evening nap and my wife didn’t, she’s sleeping next to me—in bedwhile I write this post. This is nice, too, and I’ve sort of gotten used to interrupted sleep cycles due to kids climbing in bed with us over the years. In fact, as I started typing this paragraph, the baby woke up and is now tucked on the other side of my wife. If history is any indicator, he’ll eventually end up between us, and he’ll be kicking me in the face by 4 a.m., meaning I’ll probably start nodding off in church tomorrow morning—another place people don’t like to see me falling asleep.

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Memory Week: Uh …

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“Did you bring up my phone?”

My wife asks the question around her toothbrush as I walk into our bedroom after a quick trip downstairs. I reply quickly and easily: “No.”

Her eyebrows furrow, and then I realize that she’s not just asking out of curiosity.

“Was I supposed to bring up your phone?”

The toothbrush stops.

“You told me you were going downstairs,” she says, “and I asked you to bring my phone back up with you.”

I nod.

“I guess I didn’t hear you,” I say. “I mean, did I respond?”

“You said, ‘Sure.'”

My I-think-you-might-have-only-thought-you-asked-me-to-do-that-out-loud defense can only work so many times. Actually, it never has. So I apologize.

“Sorry,” I say—but then I dilute it by adding, “but I have no recollection of you asking me to do anything when I was going downstairs.”

It’s not like this happens every night, but it happens enough for it to register. At 35 years old, I’m not concerned about my memory leaving me, but I do notice that I’ll set something down, walk out of the room, and not be able to find it when I walk back in 30 seconds later.

That has more to do with our house being cluttered, our having three children who whisk things away (I find my frequently worn sandals in places I didn’t take them off), and my general scatter-brainedness than it does with pure memory, I believe. I hope.

One of my favorite movies when I was growing up was The Absent-Minded Professor—the black and white one, from way back before the Robin Williams remake. Being absent minded has always had a charming, eccentric vibe to me, but I realize it’s not so charming to the people who have to put up with the fact that I don’t know exactly where the car keys are or that I don’t have the laundry basket I apparently agreed to bring in from the garage.

I don’t have a huge takeaway from this, either. I’d like to say that I’m going to resolve to pay more deliberate attention in 2014, but I don’t know how realistic that is. Perhaps a genuine apology to my wife will suffice?

I think I’d feel a lot worse about this—am I tuning my wife out and just automatically agreeing with stuff in order to give her some sort of response so she knows her words at least registered with me on some level?—if she didn’t do it too from time to time to me. Not as often. But from time to time.

I think.

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