Sunday, July 21, 2019

Month 20: A Sunday short story

Parenting disasters happen so fast you don’t even realize you’re in one until it’s over and you step back to assess the damage. Or in this Sunday tale, the poop stains.

My toddler had been a terrorist all day. My husband finished mowing the grass and we planned to go have a nice Sunday brunch as a family. But, as John Michael shrieked and howled over whatever new tragedy had befallen his toddler body (I’m pretty sure it was the wrong version of Baby Shark playing. Not the lack of the song, just too upbeat of a rendition). We realized brunch was a terrible idea.

So, we warmed leftover pizza. And, I told my husband I was about to leave for a pedicure or shopping during nap time, I hadn’t decided which. He’s the best, so he insisted on both. And, after zero persuasion time, I said. Okay! (In my head it was more of a Cardi B inflection.)

As we were finishing up lunch, and I’m planning to get out of there faster than you can upload all your pictures to Russia, our toddler starts pointing and whining at something in concern to get our attention.

We both look down and my husband says, "What is that?" I assumed it was some crumbs.

Nope. I was wrong. So wrong.

It looks like what I can only describe as cat vomit.

We don’t have a cat.

I pick it up with a paper towel and my husband says, “Is that poop?” Surely not. The kid has khaki shorts and a diaper on.

It’s. Poop.

Well. Seeing as I put on that dysfunctional diaper and I’m trying to position myself for some guilt-free mommy time, I start cleaning him up, thinking surely I won’t need backup.

Putting a diaper on my kid in the first place is sort of like dancing with a rabid skunk. This skunk was in shorts covered in his own feces.

So, I’m trying to maneuver him in a way as to not spread any more poo particles than necessary. My husband is tweeting about the whole ordeal while watching golf from the living room:

At this point John Michael is standing up and I’m trying to get a wipe in there. This kid. Sits. On my foot. With his nasty poo booty. And just giggles.

As I left I told my husband, good luck with the teen years.

Let’s just say I tipped extra on that pedicure.

I guess the moral is, sh*t happens. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Month 13: The other day

I lost my keys ‘the other day.’ I keep waiting on them to show up and haven’t really launched a proper search.

I realized yesterday ‘the other day’ was actually about 6, make that 7 months ago.

And, this is coming from a girl who breaks her schedule into minutes of the day.

I know 19 is the number of minutes it takes to put clothes AND shoes on John Michael, get him out the door with at least one trip up the stairs for when I forget something. 

I know 7 is the absolute fewest number of minutes I can make it from my house to work.

I know 14 seconds is the perfect amount of time to microwave John Michael's tiny little chopped veggies without having to let them cool.

Sometimes, evil disrupts my mental time clock, like yesterday, when I realized the clothes I already put on for work [at the precise time allotted] really needed to be steamed. That's when I end up doing things like spraying the clothes...already on my body...with wrinkle releaser. (Also, what is ironing?)

But today, was one of those lovely parenting days where I was painfully aware of the minutes on the clock. John Michael can't decide if he's ready to drop one of his two daily naps. So today was a 'trial and error' day, much like EVERY day of parenting. It consisted of a lot of crying, pouting, screaming, (John Michael, too) futile attempts to change his mood, and me second guessing what the hell I was doing with my life. To top it off, he nearly choked on a mandarin orange. (I NEED him to stop shoveling in food without chewing like he's Joey Chestnut)

But, then, that tiny human who's just started to figure out how to walk forgot about his grouchy mood for 5 minutes before bed--long enough to walk around with his lion walker, and remind me how adorable he is. And, how fast the time goes. And, all of that crap that keeps parents procreating.

And, then I started to get sad thinking about this day, because I know he's only in this stage for such a short time, and today wasn't going in the memory bank of beautiful moments.

Then, I started thinking about one of my favorite guilt. So, let's get this straight...I was sad because John Michael was sad and this is one less day of the handful of days on my ever-ticking clock of short childhood memories.

And, you know why I felt that way? Because everyone at every stage is reminding me HOW FAST IT GOES. If one more person tells me, 'Enjoy it. It goes SO fast.' I'm going to need a Zoloft prescription. I'M ALREADY PAINFULLY AWARE OF HOW FAST IT GOES. I'm already nostalgic about moments that happened four minutes ago. Hell, I'm sad about moments that are ABOUT to happen. Any waking moment I'm NOT focusing on 'being more present,' I can be found swiping left through my iPhone photo album of perfect baby memories faster than a college student on Tinder.

It's like the last day of a long're having the greatest time, but you can't even properly enjoy it because you know it's going to be over.

Wait, but you're in the Bahamas? On a beach? Why are you sad again? Because eventually the Bahamas will be a memory?

Parents, grandparents, future parents, past parents, friends of parents, can we all start giving parents with small children a break? We know it's going fast. We know we will miss (most) of these days and (most) of these stages. But, stressing out about how to BEST soak in every moment and worrying we may not be FULLY aware of how short it is, isn't slowing the clock.

Instead of going to that 'small talk' place of 'it goes soooo fast,' might I suggest 'Nassau sure is beautiful this time of year'

And, yeah, I know. When I'm old and gray, I'll look back on this blog, and probably say...those keys still haven't turned up. I just lost them the other day...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Month 6: Pillow talk

I just wanted some used Pottery Barn pillows. That's all.

We're moving to a new house next week. I cannot wait to have more space and move into our dream house, but I am also painfully aware of moving amnesia. You totally forget exactly how much CRAP there is to do when you move. Add in a six month old, and just wheel me to the insane asylum.  

A couple of days ago, a lady posted some beautiful outdoor pillows for sale on a yard sale Facebook group. 

Even though those are nowhere to be found on my list of 47394 things I truly NEED to buy for the new house, I couldn't let them go. We have this great outdoor space at the new house with an outdoor fireplace on the back porch. I needed those pillows. 

I arranged to meet the lady's husband to grab the pillows during the perfect window Friday around nap time and meal time and getting ready for work and the algorithm all parents to small children seem to understand but everyone else forgets. 

I had arranged for the perfect amount of time to stop by the ATM so I could get the right amount of cash and meet him by 11:45. 

I pull up to the ATM and the armed money guards are blocking my way. I ask how long they will be. 20 minutes. (This is pre-shower. I look homeless and sleep deprived, so they said this clutching their holsters...step away crazy lady...) 

Okay, whatever. I'll run by a fast food restaurant to break the $100 bill I have. (Someone bought some furniture from me and paid in $100's, I'm not a bookie.) 

First stop, Burger King. The line is 12 deep. John Michael usually whines if the car is still that long. 

Nope. I have 16 minutes until I need to meet Pottery Barn man. 

Taco Bell is across the street. Cheesy Gordita Crunch it is. 

Wait in drive-thru line. Give them my $100, which at that moment, I realize seems sketchy. They get a manager to see if they can make change. I tell the poor kid working the window, it's not fake, I'm just trying to buy some Pottery Barn pillows, which in hindsight, since I looked homeless and was paying for a single taco with a $100 bill, wasn't my best story. 

"I'm sorry ma'am, we can't take this." 

Okay, yes, that does seem like a wise business practice. At least I have my taco. 

I text Pottery Barn man to let him know I'll be late. He needs to be at a meeting by noon. Well, that's reasonable. I have 8 minutes to get cash and meet him before noon, or else, I have to figure out another meeting time and do this whole song and dance again....

But again, the pillows. 

I go to a second ATM, at this point, willing to pay the extra fee. It's out of order. At this point, I am PAINFULLY aware I should have just gone inside somewhere, looking homeless, lugging the baby in and out of the car, to get change. 

I text him again to let him know I'm hurrying to find change. 

I go BACK to the original bank, because surely the guards are gone by then. Nope. 

John Michael is starting to whine, and I can't reach any of his toys, so I wad up my empty Taco Bell bag and hand it to him. Mom of the year? Innovator of the year? I don't know which, but it HAS to be one. 

I'm at the bank contemplating going inside, and Pottery Barn man says he has change.

Sweet. Lord. Why. Didn't. I. Text. Him. To. Ask. That. Half. An. Hour. Ago. 

Meet him two minutes after 12. Get the pillows. They were worth it. 

Soooo, yeah. That's sort of my best analogy for how motherhood is going. SO worth it, but utter chaos along the way. 

And, here's something I've learned. All of us are looking at everyone else wondering how everyone has it so together and figured out? Meanwhile, we're all running around giving our kids paper bags to play with. 

So, to all the moms out there---whose dishwashers look like this...

getting through each day on coffee, wine, and the occasional satisfaction of a Pottery Barn pillow victory...


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Week 11: The working parent club

One of the biggest challenges in the news business is breaking down complicated mumbo jumbo into as few words as possible. I try to take stories about nuclear plants or the tax code and break them down to a 5th grade reading level. Why? So everyone can comprehend what I'm saying while they're cooking Hamburger Helper in the kitchen on a Tuesday. But, trying to sum up the first 11 weeks of a newborn's life---trying to break down that transition from 'just Laura' into 'John Michael's mom' is nearly impossible to put into words. It changes everything. 

If you have kids, you're probably nodding. I nod so much now. Every time I read something about parenthood on Facebook. Or see a Pampers commercial. Or give a knowing glance to a mom with a screaming baby in Costco. It's like the world's biggest club I didn't even know existed until I became a member. Our secret handshake is 'the nod.'

But, I'll be honest, I'm nervous about the club I'm joining tomorrow. I know every working parent goes through this transition, but I'm just surprised how worried I am about going back to a job I love. 

(I'm also nervous that my job requires washing my hair....which means I need to carve out time to shower.)

First of all, maternity leave. What a roller coaster. It reads like the opening of a Charles Dickens novel. "It was the best of was the worst of times." I mean, the highest of highs with that wiggly newborn. Watching him figure out how to use his gummy smile to completely disarm me. 

Figuring out how to stick his bottom lip out to completely disarm me...

Watching his world expand and come into view. 

Couch snuggles. OH, the couch snuggles. 

There are a lot of highs. But, when people refer to maternity leave as 'vacation,' they've clearly never been on maternity leave. It's quite the opposite. "What can I do right this moment to make you stop crying?" Sometimes, the answer is, well, nothing. Blowouts no longer mean anything to do with tires. And, I now sleep with my hair in a ponytail. Why? Because I'm so tired every night, in the event that I do get a solid chunk of REM sleep, I crash so hard that I drool enough to soak my hair. Mom life is a lot of things, but 'glam' is not one of them. 

I've always wanted kids, but I've always wanted a career I love, too. But, how do you have it all without drowning in Mommy guilt or losing your identity? How do you keep both sides of the scales balanced? How do you keep mascara off your face? 

Sorry, but those are (mostly) rhetorical questions. If I had the magic answer, I would be wealthy off my book deal and inspirational seminars. 

I think the thing I failed to calculate into my life plan when I was playing with career Barbie is exactly how much I would love this face. 

I mean, theoretically, I knew I would love my kids. Duh. But, I just didn't get what it would feel like trusting someone else to take care of them a few hours a day. I didn't fully 'get' that I would love him so much, even when he figures out how to simultaneously poo, pee, and spit-up at the same time. And, once again, my parent club is nodding. 

It's like a huge part of my heart is outside of my body now, living in another little person. 

My working mommy friends did give me some good advice I thought I'd share:
-When at work, be at work. When at home, be at home.
-In no time, it will be 'old hat' and your new normal. 
-The busier you are at work, the quicker the time flies until you're back home. So just turn that worry and longing into more productivity. Everybody wins. 
-Quality of time over quantity. Working and parenting is hard, but it makes the moments you're together that much sweeter. 

I really do love my job. And, I know one day, John Michael will love having a mom who loves her job. 

So, like a lot of you, I'm just going to try to do the best I can. I'm going to try to give myself grace. I'm going to try to make choices about balance by asking myself, "How will you feel about this decision when you're 60?" (Of course, I'm answering from the deck of my yacht, surrounded by my well adjusted, adult children, who have no signs of abandonment issues. We're reminiscing about their perfect childhood over a glass of Cabernet. From my vineyard....)

Tomorrow, I'm going to shower, find something that fits, dodge spit-up until I can get out of the house, put on waterproof mascara, try to remember how to talk to adults, give myself a healthy dose of grace, listen to my husband when he tells me I'm a good mom, and get back behind my favorite news desk. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week 3: The hype

I keep a lot of lists. I like the feeling of crossing things off. But recently, I’ve started making lists of things I accomplish each day. (Besides keeping a human alive.)

Today, I wrote ‘brushed my teeth’ on that list. At noon. Yesterday, it was 10PM. (And I wish that was something funny you say in a blog, but didn’t actually happen.) 

So, the fact that I’m making time to write this blog post that’s been on my to-do list for 3.5 weeks (with one hand on my iPhone and a baby napping on my chest) feels right up there with crossing off ‘learning Mandarin’. 

It’s a crazy thing when the hype actually lives up. I can only think of a handful of things where the suspense and excitement you build around an event has lived up. If I’m being brutally honest, off the top of my head, this is that list up until now: 
1. Our wedding 
2. Trip to Italy
3. Playing Augusta National

I’m sure I have a few more, but I’m tired. The point is, when I’m really excited about something (I mean Christmas morning of 1994 excited), I usually build it up so much in my mind, it’s nearly impossible for the actual thing to be as impressive as I made it in my head. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Disney World for the first time was anything short of freakin’ magical, but EXCEEDING the expectation is really hard when you’ve been hyping something for so long. You expect it to be awesome. 

So, of course, there’s a great deal of build up to the birth of a child. 

More hype than an ESPN commentator on the phone with Nick Saban around playoff selection time. 

A lot. Of hype. 

But, it doesn’t matter what everyone tells you. How excited you are. How prepared you are to meet your little one. It exceeds all of the hype. ALL OF IT. In a way most new parents probably understand, that makes these words seem hollow and trite. 

How do you put words to a religious experience like that? My dad always said there are no atheists in foxholes. I’m convinced there aren’t any in a delivery room either. 

I just wasn’t prepared...even though I prepared. A lot. I built it up so much it couldn’t possibly live up. I set the moment up to fail. But, it didn't. 

John Michael's arrival:

This mama was totally done with pregnancy. Complete with a really lovely hormonal meltdown in my doctor's office the Wednesday before John Michael made his arrival. For whatever reason, our viewers recognize me the most at the grocery store and the doctor's office. So, if you saw me covering my tear-stained face with a People magazine, don’t worry. I’m alive. It was just hormones. 

So my doctor, (I like to call her Saint Jennifer Morgan. ‘Dr. Morgan’ doesn’t fully convey how great this lady is) says, “You are progressing great. Baby is great. We can induce you as early as Monday, (39 weeks, 1 day), but that’s your call 100%." Believe me. When you get to the end, the lines get blurry. So after about a five gallon bucket of tears deciding what to do, and a very frank conversation with John Michael asking if he was ready, I said, "BOOK THAT INDUCTION." 

Mother's intuition is a beautiful thing, because guess who was ready to make his arrival, anyway? 

5PM: I went into early labor on the news desk during our 5PM show Friday night. I’d shoot my husband a text from the desk every time one would start. Contractions every 10 minutes. Nothing too painful. 

1:30AM: Hello labor. When the doctor says ‘you’ll know the difference when they’re the real deal.’ They 100% are not lying to you. What in the actual hell?!?! Even with the fake screaming, chick flicks do not prepare you for labor pain. 

3:30AM: My husband is pulling the trigger. We are going to the hospital. Do not care that contractions are not quite 5 minutes apart. We’re going. 

5AM: Waiting to ‘progress.’ No epidural. By this point I have reached ‘cliche pregnant woman status’ and I am ranting to my husband about equal pay for women and basically my disbelief that millions of women do this crap for humanity’s sake with not nearly enough monuments erected in their honor..

5:30AM: Husband still a champion...still has not left me. Still telling me I’m beautiful and strong and wonderful. Spoiler—by this point, I am not. 

6:30AM: The clouds part and an angel in scrubs says, "Just got off the phone with the doctor. We are keeping you. We’ll wheel you back now for that epidural."

6:45AM: EPIDURAL. Say it with me people—-TAKE THE DRUGS. 

1:00PM: Started pushing, and I knew the Dawgs we’re kicking off at 3:30....

1:20: John Michael arrives. Disbelief. Lots of staring at our perfect human. 10 fingers, 10 toes. 

3:30: The Dawgs lost to Auburn that day, but we won so huge. My husband and I kept looking at each other all day saying, “I can’t believe he’s ours...”

3.5 weeks later, we’re still saying that. We’re tired. Sometimes we don’t know why he’s crying. Sometimes I’m curious how such a small human can create three times their body weight in poo. One time I clipped his fingernail too short and he cried for 5 minutes, and I cried for an hour. He peed on everything last night at 3AM. Everything. 

But, guess what? The hype still lives up. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

WEEK 34: Label makers and scare tactics

I bought a label maker. 2017 is a wild time to be alive. I really thought those things had to be at least $40, but no. Two clicks on Amazon and the most amazing label maker was delivered to my doorstep two days later for $10. 
Which means, my pregnancy-induced OCD has shifted to overdrive. Do I need to label each blanket in my closet organizer? 

Probably not. I'm sure I can discern a swaddle from a burp cloth by looking at it, but, you just can't be too sure. 

My husband made his contribution to the labeling....
I think he's making fun of me...

Also, I think I've mentioned this in an earlier blog, but nesting is a real thing. I get these crazy urges for everything to be in its place and everything this kid may need for the first three years of his life to be sitting in our house. But, I'm so torn because I also hate clutter and junk we will never use. It's creating a perfect storm of anxiety in my body, which sometimes rears its head at really inopportune moments. Like when my husband graciously takes my non-verbal clues to come with me to Buy Buy Baby to complete our registry checklist 7 weeks before our due date on a Sunday during football season. (That's true love.) 

The completion discount was only 10%, I thought it was 20%. Then, they didn't have our car seat in stock. Then, I couldn't find the crib skirt I registered for. Then, I started crying in the baby monitor aisle. Why? Who knows. That's when Austin starts getting what I like to refer to as 'tear-induced-panic-syndrome.' I dare you to imagine a more cliche scene than a pregnant lady crying in Buy Buy Baby with an empty shopping cart and a panicked husband. 

We left. I ordered everything I needed online. Umm, why didn't I do that in the first place? Because I am pregnant and my sense of logic and reason is as distant a memory as my high school body. 
Circa 2007/ Teen Miss Georgia USA

RIP high school body! Remember that time I didn't appreciate you? I'm sorry. 

Then, there are the really tough whether to buy the freaking Owlet Smart Sock. I SWEAR when the baby 'stuff' industry is coming up with a new invention, they have a bar graph with a sliding parental guilt scale.  THAT'S how they decide if this thing is going to make it on the market. For those of you who raised a kid when 'car seats' were the hot new baby safety item on the market....I'll explain the Owlet. 
Here's my mom's first car seat...that is some of
Darwin's best work. Survival of the absolute fittest.
An Owlet smart sock is this tiny little baby sock that monitors your baby's oxygen level and heart rate. It sends you an alert on your smartphone if either of those drop below acceptable levels. Why? Because of SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you want to really scare the neighborhood parents, don't dress up as Dracula or a zombie from the Walking Dead for Halloween this year...just wrap yourself in a poorly tied swaddle blanket that can come loose and suffocate you and watch the neighborhood moms shriek in terror. 

Image result for screaming gif

I have never worried about anything like I worry about SIDS. BUT, for the low cost of $300 (payment plan optional) I can ALWAYS monitor whether my child is breathing. Or, I could just, you know, not buy it. Like millions of parents have done before me. Of course, I would never sleep again. And, in my waking hours as I watch my kid breathe, I could dwell on the hypothetical guilt I would have over saving that $300 for something like food, and something happening to John Michael in his sleep without the Owlet's watchful eye. *sigh*

I think we all know who this was marketed for. I might as well have a giant sucker painted on my head. I asked my husband to make the decision. We'll see how that turns out...

Spoiler alert...we're buying the Owlet. 

Why? Because look at this face! (If you've been following the blog for a while, you'll be happy to know that nose-gate has been debunked.) 

32 week sonogram pic

6 more weeks-ish to go. I don't think time could move any slower at this point. We're so ready to meet you, John Michael! (Your foot feels like it's a size 8 already in my rib cage, so it feels like you're probably ready to get out of there and meet us, too.) See ya on the other side! We'll be the ones waiting with an Owlet and way too many labeled swaddle blankets.

Friday, August 25, 2017

​ 28 weeks: What's in a name?

My birthday is Saturday! I'll admit, I'm one of those obnoxious people who absolutely love their birthday. I usually celebrate the whole month of August. But this year, I'm so focused on another birthday getting here, my own has barely crossed my radar. 

My favorite part of birthdays are the surprises that come along with them. So, I decided to write this blog to surprise a few of our friends and family, still patiently waiting to hear what we're going to name our little man. 

Naming a human being is a big responsibility. Understatement of the year? I mean, how often do you get to decide what letters will be scrawled together to claim your kids' food in a break room refrigerator 30 years from now? That's important stuff. But, my husband and I have had this little guy's name picked out for a while. I wonder what he will think of that one day? Before we even knew you, we were thinking about you and what we would call you. 

I've held off sharing his name for a few reasons. Mainly, because I've seen my friends get too many 'helpful' opinions on their name choices. Or my personal favorite, 'Oh! I've only known one other 'fill in name here,' He was kind of a rude sociopath and ended up with a meth addiction. But, love the name!' Gee, thanks. 

I feel like I need a drumroll....or those fireworks you can add to your texts on iMessage...
Image result for fireworks gif

It's John Michael. And, yes, it's a double name. Not John, not Michael, John Michael. (Maybe JM when we're short on character counts on Twitter.)

He's  named after the two most important men in our lives, past and present. Austin's dad, John, and my dad, Michael. 

If you get even deeper, John means 'God has been gracious; has shown favor.' Michael means, 'Who is like God?'. It's a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God. So, to me, it's the perfect name for our rainbow baby. And, a reminder who is really in control of this crazy thing called life, should we ever forget. 

I'll tell you a little about Austin's dad. 

I remember being so nervous to meet him for the first time, which is crazy to think was almost nine years ago. I had heard all of these stories about how intimidating he could be. He was a long snapper for Notre Dame, one of the youngest guys ever to make partner at his high powered law firm in Atlanta, a really smart, really shrewd, straight shooter kind of guy. Well, then there's me. I tried on 3 outfits before this. Super southern. I talk too much when I'm nervous. Sweaty palms. They asked me over dinner what Camilla (my hometown) is known for. I quickly inventory my options: dirt roads, we got a Burger King this year, we won the state football championship when I was in middle school....nope. I land on 'gnats.' Austin's incredibly sweet mom is like, 'Gnats?' 'Yes ma'am. You know, the pesky bug? We have a festival in their honor every year.' 

They love this story. Bless them for not looking at Austin and saying, 'Where did you find this girl?'

I tell you this story because Austin's dad's smile and laugh when he tells that silly story always makes me feel so loved. It reminds me of my own dad, and that's how he's always treated me. As if I was his own daughter. I know when he becomes a Papa, or Pop-pop, or Papa John, or whatever it may be, he will be the best. And, even though he is all of those things I mentioned before: smart, shrewd, straight shooter, tough football guy, a presence that demands your respect, he's also passionate and curious about his hobbies (right now that's red wine, golf, and fly fishing). He's one of the most loyal people you'll ever meet. He's competitive, but fair. (Although, he's not very good at bananagrams.) He's a great judge of character. And, he's also a bit of a softie (don't tell anyone), but you can really see that in rare moments when he lets his guard down. I hope John Michael learns a lot of these qualities from him.

My dad...well, I was definitely a daddy's girl.

I don't talk about him as much as I should. I never want people to feel sad or sorry for me
when I bring him up. But, not a day goes by that I don't wish I could call and hear his voice or ask his opinion on something.

He went in for a biopsy for a spot on his lung the summer after my freshman year in college, but he never left the hospital. It was lung cancer. But, no one, not even the doctors knew how aggressive it was. My dad was larger than life. He could fight anything. He'd already survived the Vietnam War, my rebellious teen years, and prostate cancer. So when I heard the news, I treated it like he had the flu. 

I was a camp counselor that summer, and I'll never forget my mom calling to say, 'You need to come home.' I was stunned. I had no idea it was that serious. I got home in time to see him the day before he died. The time of his diagnosis to the night I held his hand as he took his last breath was less than two weeks. 

So, two takeaways here, life is short, and you never know when it's your time. AND, if you smoke, stop. I know it's hard. My dad told me that all the time. You know what else is hard? Giving your dad's eulogy when you're 19. And, if you don't want to stop for yourself, stop for everyone who loves you. 

Okay, the PSA is over...on to the good stuff. 

My dad and I would stay up until 3AM talking about everything from politics to philosophy. I thought he was the smartest man in the world. He was witty, funny, and would rather play a  joke on someone than breathe. He convinced me, in order to properly ripen a watermelon, you had to sit on them. Basically incubate them like an egg. So I would spend hours as a four year old, 'ripening' watermelons during the summer. Of course, it backfired anytime we went to the grocery store because I tried to sit on every watermelon there. They got a few strange looks. 

When I was 13 and had my first boy/girl birthday party, he convinced, not just the kids, but the parents, too, that he was selling smell-o-vision. I think we still have video of people watching the cooking channel, sniffing the screen, swearing they could smell roast beef. 

He could put the fear of God in you. When he was the supervisor at Bell South (that's when land lines were a thing....) everyone knew not to cross him if he wore his black shirt. That was his 'ass kicking' shirt. My worst punishments were ALWAYS when my mom told me I had to 'tell your dad what you did.' I would start crying and self punishing, working myself into a tizzy before I ever got the chance to squeak out the words. I never wanted to disappoint him. All it took was the 'disappointed look' for me to swear I would never do it again. 

But, man. He was a great dad. When my mom had breast cancer when I was just two years
old, we would spend countless hours at hospitals. He would come up with these great stories to entertain me off the top of his head. Mom says my favorite were the legends of
'Big Brown Bear.' 

He was front row at every ballet recital, pageant, barrell racing competition, and tennis tournament.

He worked his butt off to provide for our family. I've had a job since I was 13, and I know that's because I learned my work ethic from him. He started his own low voltage company when I was in elementary school, and I would wire phones and crawl under houses just to be with him. 

I miss him. But, I learned so much from him. And, I hope even though John Michael will never get to meet him in person, he'll grow up learning some of those traits from me.

And, most of all, I hope John Michael will know how special his name is, and why we couldn't just settle on one. It may take him a little longer to spell out all those letters, but I hope he knows how much love is packed into those two words and three syllables.