I Fuckin' Love You Guys....

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy First Birthday, Darling!

I just wanted to congratulate you on reaching this important milestone, and to say thank you for all of the wonderful things you have done for your mother & I in the past year. It has really been a pleasure for us, every day, to get to know you and just hang out with you. You are a very cool young lady.

One of the best things about you is that you are almost always happy, from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to sleep at night. It is hard not to be happy when we are around you. And you have been like this since you were about 4 months old, too - which is pretty amazing. Even as a little tiny baby, we'd hear you waking up in your room, and when we went to check on you, you'd have this great big smile on your face - as if you'd been laughing at your own private little joke before we came into the room. I'll never forget the first time you actually laughed: you were very small, and I was changing you on the dining room table. We were listening to music, and I played with your feet to make it look like you were dancing, and you started laughing your little head off. It was the best sound I'd ever heard in my life (and it still is, by the way).

Sure, you have your moments - you are still just a baby after all - but it hasn't been very difficult at all, really. There are a few times when you cry so much that nothing we can do helps, and that makes us feel useless and sad for you. But those times are getting more and more rare. And those times when you wake up in the middle of the night crying, and I pick you up, and you give me a fierce hug and nuzzle into my chest and fall back asleep in my arms...it gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment. I love being able to help you.

And you are so smart! You have been using sign language to your mother & I for months now ("milk", and "hungry", and "finished" and probably a dozen other things that we can't understand yet - we don't really know sign language!), and you can say "yeah", and "no", and "mama" and "dada"....and oh my God, child - are you loud. They call you "foghorn" at daycare, you know. A few weeks ago, your mother & I got a letter from the city council; one of our neighbors complained about the rooster that was waking up the whole neighborhood at 5 o'clock every morning. I explained that it was just you...

Just in the last few days, you've been standing up on your own two feet - and you get such a proud look on your face! You look up at us as if to say "Look what I just did!!!", and you do your little twisting dance. In a few days or weeks you will be taking your first steps on your own. You are changing so much, so quickly. But in a way, to me, you haven't really changed very much at all. Especially when you are asleep in my arms - you have such a beautiful, angelic, happy look on your cute little face; you look almost exactly the way you did when I first held you in my arms just a moment after you were born, one year ago today.

Love Always,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yoyo's Ma *

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* Not to be confused with Yoyo Ma.

Part 2 of my contribution to the Mother's Day Bloggect is a shout out to my beautiful wife, Senna.

I have been in absolute awe of the way she's transformed every part of her being into this amazing Mom. In typical fashion, this transformation started well before I understood what was going on.

I've always been very attracted to my lovely wife, and in my mind she never looked more beautiful then the moment she walked up the hill overlooking the ocean on our wedding day. Believe me, folks - she had nothing to change. But about six months after we were married, she started working out like a woman possesed; scrupulously watching her diet, cutting out the few bad habits she had, and basically fine-tuning her already fine body. This went on for about a year. I felt like I had won the lottery.

One fine day, lying in bed, snuggled up with this dream, she purred "I think we should make a baby...". Like most guys, I'd thought about having kids 'someday', but it was all very abstract - something we'd do in the fullness of time, when the finances were just right, when the stars were perfectly aligned & I had the perfect job, etc. It sort of threw me for a loop when I realised that she meant right now. And the penny really dropped when she asked "What do you think I've been preparing for over the last year?". "Ohhhh!", I said, big lightbulb belatedly exploding over my head.

So we started trying to have a baby. And trying. And trying. I know it sounds really fun, but when you're really trying to get pregnant...well, it's not as sensual as I would've hoped:
Sen: "I'll be ovulating Tuesday til Thursday, so don't make any plans".
Kev: "Oh, baby, when you talk to me that way, I just can't resist...".

This went on for months and months and months. It wasn't the absolute focus of our lives, but it became pretty stressful. We went through a lot of home pregnancy tests, and had our hopes up several times, only to have them dashed when her period would come around. It got to the point where I just couldn't take the disappointment in her face every month. We decided that maybe the time wasn't right...that we'd quit trying, let some time go by....focus on our careers and put some money in the bank....maybe go to see a "specialist" in a year or two.

So we totally quit trying. Two weeks later, she invited me out for a cheap dinner at our favorite little pub in the city after work. As we sat down at our table with a drink, she passed me a little envelope with a card in it. This is very typical in our relationship, so I thought nothing of it. I opened the card, and a stick of white paper fell out. With two blue lines on it. As I've mentioned, I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, so it took a moment for the significance of those two lines to sink in. Then all the blood in my body seemed to rush to my head, and I cried, and I kissed her, and we laughed & laughed & laughed.

We've pretty well been laughing ever since. The pregnancy seemed to sail by - she wasn't the least bit sick the whole time. We went to all of the Dr's appointments together, and held hands, and made jokes with the doctor, and stayed up late talking about how it was going to be when the baby came, and how the two of us could possibly be parents, and we laughed some more.

When she finally went into labour, she refused to believe it - she couldn't believe it was really happening; she thought she had a bit of indigestion, and that I was being overly dramatic. We were playing scrabble in our kitchen until one in the afternoon...got to the hospital about 3:30...and our beautiful daughter was born about 8pm. By the way - her means "peace" in my mother-in-law's language (my wife is from Papua New Guinea). One of our friends' daughter couldn't pronounce it, and called her Yoyo, and we sometimes call her that now.

My entire recollection of that wonderful day was the way my beautiful wife took everything in stride...the way we held hands during the contractions, and how we laughed and kissed in between them....and mostly how Senna did this amazing thing - she brought this beautiful, perfect, happy smiling crying baby into this world, with such good humour, and grace, and style. I had heard all the stories, and I fully expected her to shriek, and call me names, and probably hurt me...but there was none of that. That day forever changed the way I look at her; I am sort of in awe of her.

She will be a year old in a few weeks, and she has brought more joy to our lives than I ever would have expected. The perfect days seem to roll into each other, and my life is just this busy, blurry, beautiful impressionist painting full of hugs and kisses and playing and lullabies and dirty nappies and laughter and I have honestly never been so happy in my entire life.

Thanks, Sen. Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Mother's Day, part 1: My Mom

There is no way I could combine all the thoughts I have about this Mother's Day into one post, so I have to do this in two parts. Hope that's ok, Kara...

It's difficult for me, still, to write about my Mom. I started to write sort of a tribute to her, but it was getting pretty long, and it felt like more of a therapy session than a tribute, so I stopped, and I've had a hard time writing this. She was murdered in 1986, when I was 21 years old and she was 53. Even though it was 20 years ago, it still feels like yesterday, and hardly a day goes by when I don't miss her. But at the same time, I've really enjoyed thinking about her a lot over the past few weeks while trying to come up with a way to blog about her.

My Mom had such confidence in me. She knew that I could be anyone or do anything that I wanted in this life, and she instilled this into me when I was a teen-ager. She backed this up by her own example - my parents' relationship was really dysfunctional, and for a long time she was the slavishly devoted house-wife to an abusive drunken asshole. When I was 8, and she was 40, my father came home one night, hours late, roaring drunk, and demanding his dinner. My Mom came out and dumped it over his head. The next day she enrolled in community college and continued on to university - eventually earning her nursing degree, then her Master's degree, and building a successful career for herself from scratch, while basically raising 5 kids on her own.

Even though I was in a lot of trouble half the time growing up (and when you were in trouble with my Mom - you were in big trouble), she somehow never lost faith in me. I think that in a lot of ways, going through all those things made my Mom & I closer. I stayed with her for a few months after I got out of the Army, but I was anxious to go back out to California - to see a girl I had met out there, and to get a job, and otherwise make my fortune in the world. We had argued a bit about that, and I think she was unhappy that I was leaving again. She dropped me off at the airport, and we gave each other a fierce hug, and I said "Don't worry about me, Mom". She said, "I don't worry about you, Kev. You are the only one I don't worry about". That was the last time I saw her alive - she was killed a few months later.

For 20 years I've wished that we hadn't parted like that. I wish I hadn't been such a shit when I was a teenager. I wish she could have seen me grow up to be a responsible grown-up, with a good job, and a mortgage, and a good head on my shoulders. I wish she could have been there on my wedding day, and met my wife. I wish she could meet her grand-daughter. I wish a million things that just can never happen.

But I carry her around with me, always. I know - I've always known - that I can do anything I want to do in this life. And I know that I can change everything in my world if I don't like the way it's going - because my Mom set an example for me. I hope I can instill that same sense of self-confidence in my daughter. I hope I can set anywhere near the same sort of example. Sometimes when Yoyo looks at me a certain way, I swear I can see my mother's eyes in hers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

You just messed with the wrong little girl....

So how much prison time would a forty-something-year old get for beating the crap out of a 6 year old, anyway?
Twice in the past few days, we've narrowly averted big trouble down at the old sand box in the park across the road. Our 11-month-old daughter loves to crawl around in (and eat) sand, so she is delightfully in her element - minding her own business, running her fingers through the little mounds of sand and making little cooing noises, when a gang of young toughs, ranging in age from 4 - 6 (I guess), swagger up looking for trouble. I knew they were bad news right away - they just had that look in their eyes, you know?
Unfortunately, Yoyo is the most trusting baby in the world, and she doesn't recognise that sort of look. She thought the boys wanted to play (she thinks everyone wants to play, all the time). So she looks up with a huge happy grin on her face to the boy nearest to her, and before I could jump up and run over to her rescue, the little prick throws two fistfuls of sand in my baby's face. He saw me barrelling over, and he recognised the look on my face right away - and took off like a scared rabbit.
Poor Yoyo didn't cry or anything - she just looked surprised that she suddenly had a mouthful of sand that she hadn't put there herself, and she seemed disappointed that the older kids didn't stick around to play with her.
The next day, we were in the sandpit again, and a different little mob of very-juvenile delinquents turned up, and I picked her up before anything bad went down (but they had that same evil look about them). Now I realise that kids will be kids, and little boys play differently than little girls, and that daddy won't always be there to bail her out of trouble....but I really, really wanted to smack that little bastard...