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Saturday, July 21st, 2012
Any minute now, my wife Jill and my son Jack will be landing in Philadelphia, then driving about an hour to a place called Downington.
One of my wife’s sisters and her family lives there and is having a surprise birthday party weekend; unless this blog post spoils the surprise. Awkward…
I will pick them up again on Wednesday from the airport. Until then, it’s just me here.
It’s only been a few hours but it already feels like Chernobyl.
Normally if I’m sitting in my living room writing a blog post on a Saturday afternoon, hearing nothing but silence, it means that any second Jack will be waking up from his token 40 minute Saturday afternoon nap.
Well, it’s been more than 40 minutes now.
I thought I heard him cry a minute ago but it was just a poodle in the townhouse next to us.
This is my “dad sabbatical.” It’s pretty weird so far.
Granted, I am happy that my wife will get to enjoy these next several days with her sisters she rarely gets to see; no thanks to scientists who have yet failed to invent a practical teleportation device, despite us all living a dozen years past the year 2000.
(No flying cars or hover-boards yet, either. Back To Future Part II made it very clear what life is going to be like in the year 2015. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do!)
Her side of the family will get to meet Jack the Toddler; as opposed to Jack the Infant, who they met a year ago when we all met up in Sacramento where they are all originally from.
It worked out better for me to stay here in Nashville this time around.
(Especially if the rumor is true that we may both need to use a couple vacation days next month to make an appearance on a morning talk show on NBC. Oh well, I probably just now jinxed that for us. Now it won’t happen. Great.)
You would think I would appreciate this “time to purposely do nothing” more than I do. But I’m still in culture shock right now.
Sure, I miss them both tremendously. Right now I feel emotionally exactly what I’m supposed to.
But also, I feel guilty.
For nearly 2 years I have constantly been a dad. No pause button. And for 4 years, I’ve been a husband. No more than just a few nights apart due to the occasional business trip.
And now for half a week, I will have no real responsibilities as a husband or a dad. Yeah, it just feels wrong.
Okay, time to go see Batman. Because that’s what a 31 year-old dad on sabbatical evidently is supposed to do with his free time.
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Sunday, July 8th, 2012
Today my son Jack asked me to turn on the TV so he could watch Elmo on Netlflix.
By “watch” I mean “point to Elmo when he appears on the screen then let Sesame Street serve as background noise as Jack plays with his toys.”
And by “asked me” I mean he simply pointed at the TV and said “On?”
But his version of “on” was pronounced “own.” Whereas when I say the word to him to teach the difference between off and on, I pronounce it as “ahn.”
We live in Nashville, Tennessee. It assumed that people here speak with a thick Southern accent, if for no other reason, because this is where all the Country music stars live.
But the thing is, most of those Country artists moved here from Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, or some other state in the South. And if they are actually from Tennessee, they’re from a good hour outside of Nashville.
Visit Nashville and you will find that most people here don’t actually have a thick accent. Instead, you may here some Indiana or Maryland or Colorado in there instead.
Like my wife, for example, who is from Sacramento, California. And even though I was raised in the South, I don’t have the accent to prove it because my mom was raised in Buffalo, New York.
So Jack is being raised in a major Southern city consisting of a very high concentration of transplants and internationals, by two parents who don’t sound like they are part of the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard or The Beverly Hillbillies.
I predict that though he may have some Southern tendencies regarding his accent right now, when it’s all said and done he will talk the way I do. Like he’s from Louisville, Kentucky or Cincinnati, Ohio.
In other words, a virtually untraceable American accent.
On top of all this, have you ever noticed how Southern accents are extremely rare and underrepresented on TV?
When a character on a TV show or movie is from the South, they often embody a negative or theatrical stereotype, like Sawyer on Lost.
Or even if the actual actor is from the South, they neutralize their accent to be taken more seriously in the world of entertainment.
NBC’s The Office is a prime example of this. The actors who play Andy, Kevin, and Angela are real-life Southerners who don’t show it in the way they speak.
Based on my own unprofessional (!) Wikipedia research, about 35% of Americans are Southerners speaking with a Southern accent. Population-wise, if my assumptions are correct, more Americans speak in Southern dialect than do Midwestern, Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, Western, or any other American accent that exists.
So when we watch TV and movies, we are more likely to hear neutralized accents than we are to hear the same accent that the actual slight majority of America actually speaks.
I believe my son’s “own” will eventually become “ahn” when he tries to say “on.” But I guarantee you that, like his parents, he will still use the word “ya’ll.”
He may pronounce it “yahl” as opposed to the true Southern way, which is “yawh,” in which no actual “L” sound is heard, but at least there will be a little proof he is a Southerner based on how he speaks.
Not to mention the whole “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” thing; which, as his dad, I will make sure he says, ensuring his status as a true Southern gentleman.
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accents, Colorado, Country music, Midwest, Nashville, New York, parenting, Sacramento, southern accent, Tennessee, The South, toddler | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Must Read, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
I think the best way to begin is to share a few things that I would rather do than paint two bedrooms with vaulted ceilings:
1) For the next three months, I would have to replace my bio picture here on The Dadabase (featured right) with one where I have an un-ironic mustache.
2) For three nights in a row, I would have to sleep on one of those inflatable alligator pool toys in the middle of a swimming pool in Wisconsin, where it’s colder. Also, I would have to sleep fully dressed so that when I regularly fell into the cold water, I would remain that much colder.
3) Fly to Sacramento and back with my infant son, again.
Some of our very good friends have been kind to take us in as we have waited for the renters in our townhouse to move out. This weekend, we will finally move back into it and make it our own.
For me, making our townhouse our own means the three of us moving ourselves and our stuff back into it. And the guest room officially becomes Jack’s bedroom. I would say that pretty much makes it our own.
But my wife helped me realized that in order to truly make our townhouse our own, we would need to paint the two bedrooms.
It didn’t matter that neither of us had ever actually painted the interior of a house before, nor did we have any painting supplies or equipment, or even someone to watch Jack on short notice. Painting had to be done to make this townhouse of ours our own.
On Saturday, I was able to recruit my highly experienced friend Jason to teach me how to tape off the walls and how to, basically, paint a room. He also had a ladder for me to get the job done with. Then the next day, our friends who we have been staying with watched Jack as Jill and I tackled his bedroom.
Ultimately, something I have realized about my wife and I is this: When we really want to get a job done, no matter how outlandish and impractical it may seem, we find a way to get it done.
We did it; painted both bedrooms (with vaulted ceilings) within a weekend. My preconceived ideas about painting were accurate: painting is a miserable experience. But we survived it!
I want to brag on my wife’s ability to pick out colors. For our bedroom, she chose a very light green named “River Reed,” which has a breezy Caribbean feel to it. Jack’s bedroom is Ranch Mink; a chocolate brown. We’re calling Jack’s bedroom his “boy cave.”
Want to see finished pictures of our fine work? Wait until we move in this weekend and I will surely deliver.
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brown, brown bedroom, Caribbean, green, Home Improvement, home repairs, painting, Sacramento, townhouse | Categories:
Home Life, People, Storytelling
Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Is there such a thing as “free time” after becoming a parent? When can a new mom or dad find time in the week to just simply chill out together in peace and quiet; or even more difficult, be able to participate in their beloved hobbies that reflect who they are as individuals?
Other than daddy blogging, I also enjoy playing guitar and writing songs (though that hardly ever happens anymore). But the hobby that is a bit less sporadic in my schedule is simply exploring, whether it’s via hiking or mountain biking.
In his book, Daddy Dates, author Greg Wright perfectly describes why “exploring” is a solid hobby of mine:
“It’s the way guys operate. Exploration amps us up. There is this moment when curiosity rules and you get kind of jazzed and you think, ‘I wonder what’s in there, this is so cool!’ You’re going to figure out how to get around that mysterious place because you’re motivated by some instinct of discovery.”
While in California last month, I found a few 90 minute nuggets where I could slip away virtually unnoticed, amidst all the family. I snagged a mountain bike from my mother-in-law’s garage, then went exploring along the Sacramento River.
I ended up accidently discovering the neighboring 15 acre community of Locke. The Chinatown, settled alongside the river, was built in 1915. These days, it resembles a closed down, but kept up, exhibit at the Epcot Center. I read on Wikipedia that most of the original Chinese population of the town moved out to Sacramento and that today only 10 Chinese-Americans remain residents there.
See, that’s the cool kind of find I’m always looking for when I go exploring. My favorite part of the expedition was finding a Buddhist church. In Thailand, Buddhist temples were everywhere, but never a church. Weird and cool.
As far as finding and/or making time for myself and my hobbies, it takes creativity. There’s that strategic balance of being a good husband, a good dad, and still getting some “free time” anyway I can. Even now, as I write this, it’s 11:08 on a Monday night- my wife and son are sound asleep; I’ll be waking up at 6 AM to get ready for my “real job”.
My free time often translates as “time when I’m the only one awake,” as well as, “time during which most normal parents would be asleep if they had the chance.”
I’m one of those people who functions strangely well on less than six hours of sleep each night. If I wasn’t, The Dadabase would be on life support right now.
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baby blog, blogging, Buddhist, California, Chinatown, dad, daddy blog, Daddy Dates, Epcot Center, exploring, hobby, parenting, Sacramento, Thailand, time management, weird | Categories:
Home Life, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase, Writing
Sunday, September 4th, 2011
Due to Jack’s increasing mobility and creativity, he’s never been more fun to play with. Our newest playtime activity is for us to crawl around the coffee table, taking turns chasing each other. Ultimately, when one of us catches the other, we have a bear hug while growling in each other’s ears. Our chase game is a great way for the two of us to bond both physically and socially.
As the dad of a nine month-old son, it can be easy to feel like a third wheel sometimes; Jack obviously has a much stronger bond with my wife. But now, I am getting to a stage where I am able to feel more connected to him- as my son, not just my biological baby. I am so anxious to be able to experience more of this social bonding with him, as he continues to mature in communication.
I got a taste of this kind of heaven about a month ago while we spent several days out in Sacramento with my wife’s family. My wife is number 9 of 10 kids; that means I have a lot of nieces and nephews. Throughout the three years we have been married, I have gotten to know some of them better than others.
During this past trip, I really got to spend some quality time with her brother Jeff and his wife Joni’s kids- who gave me a glimpse of the social involvement and emotional connection that comes with a child, as opposed to an infant.
Several people took notice of the physical resemblance of their eight year-old son, Neil, and my son Jack. Coincidentally, Neil and I really hit it off this time around. Despite my lack of sports enthusiasm, I found myself tossing the football with Neil out in the backyard. Even stranger, I actually taught him to improve his football-throwing skills: “Just hold the ball a bit past your ear to where the tip of the football is like your nose, then move your hand forward like it’s being jerked by a rope.”
Now, for all I know, that could have been the worst football-throwing advice ever. Regardless, he started throwing the football straight after that.
I also spent some time with Neil’s older sister, Bella, whose artistic interests completely reflect my own when I was her age. She is such a cool girl and I really enjoyed getting to know her, through easy conversation. Bella really made me think of what it will be like if eventually I ended up having a daughter. In fact, Bella makes me want to a have a daughter.
Needless to say, I long to be able to communicate and interact with my own son the way I was able to with his older nieces and nephews.
Will Jack look like his cousin, Neil, several years from now? I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
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