A Look Back at 2015

I’m reluctant to call this post a best of, or highlights, because not everything is a happy memory—but they are memorable.   2015 will be remembered as bittersweet.  Esther and I experiencing the joys of parenthood was the highlight.  Four family funerals and burying our dog made me wonder if we somehow pissed off the Grim Reaper.

Life is never as good as it seems when things are going well or as bad as it seems when they are going bad.  This is what I remember from 2015:

©The Picture People
©The Picture People

Our First Full Year as Parents – Cristian was born in October 2014 so 2015 was our first full year as parents.  We watched our little bundle of joy grow from a (not so) tiny newborn to rambunctious toddler.  He was one of the few constants over the past year.  You have no idea how many people you touched with your big smile and bigger personality.  Esther and I are still amazed this adorable little boy is ours.

Dad with his first grandchild - Katie
Dad with his first grandchild – Katie

Dad’s Memorial My father passed away this year.  Five months later his loss still leaves me numb. Although he was 89 and spent much of the past few years in doctor’s offices and hospital rooms I thought, or maybe hoped, he had a few years left.

Dad loved a good story and his funeral gave me several.  At his wake I met a charming older gentleman named Serafin who’s touching stories I’ll never forget.  His funeral mass included a eulogy which left mourners alternating between laughter and tears and a driving rainstorm at the cemetery soaked those paying their final respects.

What I remember most is spending time with the family at Mom’s house afterwards.  Dad loved entertaining—his summer cookouts were legendary. What better way to honor his memory than swapping stories with good food, good people, and good wine, the way he used to.  I’m sure El Viejo was looking down with a smile on his face.

SnowI’m Mr. Mom – If you told me five years ago I would be Mr. Mom, I would have laughed at you, but here we are.  A freelance consulting gig allows me to work from home on a laptop while Cristian plays or watches Sesame Street and Peppa Pig. I’m usually the only dad at his My Gym classes and story time at the local library.  I’m lucky—I get to experience Cristian’s firsts instead of hearing about them from others.

Esther and I Celebrated Our Fifth Wedding Anniversary – On Thanksgiving Day Esther and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.  Although she is sometimes the subject of a joke or two from this cranky blogger, she is what I was thankful for (not just on Thanksgiving). She introduced me to bike tours, long-distance running, and salsa (the music not the condiment).  She is the Ying to my Yang and I’m lucky to have her in my life.

I’m now a Published Writer – I’ve been writing for ten years and blogging the last five.  This year my work was published in a website I enjoy reading, The Good Men Project.  So if I take anything away from 2015, I’m a writer, marathon runner and a badass dad.

Farewell Chico – Some will say “Why are you getting so emotional, it’s only a dog?” I understand not everyone is an animal lover and others consider dogs or cats just pets. Not us.  Chico had a tremendous vibe and the ability to coax a smile from most people even non-dog people. Who doesn’t like a nice dog? Yes we spoiled him—he was our practice child before Cristian was born.  My day is not the same without Chico’s morning walk.

Chico - Christmas Stocking

 

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The Road Back

Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler
Running the 2012 Battle of Brooklyn 10 Miler

Note this post appears in North Queens Runner in addition to I’m Not Grandpa

I’m back in a familiar place—in front of the keyboard writing another how do I resolve my weight gain post.  I’ve written several over the years, like this one and this one.

Keeping fit gets tougher as you get older, this year was more difficult than past years. Being a stay-at-home Dad, managing my Dad’s health care during his illness, and caring for Mom, were among the challenges I faced. A sedentary consultant gig didn’t help much either.

It’s not like I’ve been completely inactive, I haven’t been able to maintain consistency.  Every time I’d gain traction, something came along and derailed my progress.

The way my clothes fit and how my bulging belly looked in pictures, I knew I gained weight, I just didn’t know how much.  A few weeks ago I replaced a broken bathroom scale—it was a wake-up call.  Like recent pictures of me, it wasn’t flattering.

halloween party 2

The scale said 225.  Stupid scale.  This was before celebrating the Christmas holiday with the family. Two days of solid eating, lasagna, ribs, pernil, chased with beer, wine and coquito (Puerto Rican Egg Nog) and lots of desserts during Christmas Eve spent with my family and Christmas Day with Esther’s pushed the scale to 228 as of yesterday morning.

Now it’s time to fix the problem.  This isn’t a resolution post—I don’t make resolutions—I set goals.  My current goal is more about creating new habits, than resolving to lose 15 or 20 pounds.  My first goal is getting active or more accurately fitting activity time into an already busy schedule.

Over the past few days I started with slow runs, actually run/walks. Sunday Morning Esther and I bundled the baby up taking him for a long walk in his jog stroller.  This morning I woke up at 5am before things got hectic and ran for 30 minutes, it was more of a challenge since Cristian woke me up at 1:30 this morning for a bottle.

My second goal is eating healthier and smaller portions.  Although I started running again, unless I consume less calories than I burn, I’ll keep gaining weight.

Motivation is important and mine is simple, it’s not about race times, personal records, or about maintaining my brand as the Badass 50-something marathon running first-time dad, it’s about Cristian.  He’s getting bigger and more energetic and deserves a dad who is there for him.  I owe him that.

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One and Done

Esther and I pose for a picture during the Tour de Cure, a fund-raising event benefitting the American Diabetes Association
Esther and I pose for a picture during the Tour de Cure, a fund-raising event benefitting the American Diabetes Association.

A few weeks ago Esther, Cristian, and I participated in a charity walk—we do a lot of them.   For years Esther and I have been running, riding and walking for many causes.   Finishing the walk we ran into a cousin we haven’t seen in quite some time.

We caught up on how she’s been and what’s new with various aunts and cousins as she played with the baby.  We answered the usual baby-related questions.  How’s he sleeping?  Is he walking?  Then came the curveball, are you planning another child?

When Cristian was born I knew he was one and done—although the hospital staff had other ideas.  Waiting for Esther and the baby to be released they planned our next child as I was online researching vasectomies.

IMG_3567

In my mind’s eye, I always pictured two kids.  I’m the younger of two, most of my friends have two—except for my Aunt, Titi Carmen, who has seven—she kept trying for the girl.  If I suggest seven children to my better half she’d handle the vasectomy herself.

Old schoolers insist one child is easy, providing no challenge—real parenting starts with (at least) two.  I come from a big family, Mom is the oldest of eight—of course in those days children doubled as indentured servants.  I can only imagine what Titi Carmen would say if I asked her opinion.

Esther and I are both experienced multi-taskers.   Professionally we’ve mentored and trained employees, and managed the expectations of the most difficult clients.  Outside of work we’ve run over 250 races including 24 marathons and two ultras.  We’ve never lacked energy, but toddlers are the great equalizer.

mini me

Over the past months, our fragile newborn developed into a full-blown toddler— funny how that happens.  Crawling and walking were replaced by climbing and exploring.  Temper tantrums are now part of his personality and bedtime is a nightly challenge of who can outlast who.  So far we have the upper hand.

Becoming a Dad at 50 meant Cristian is probably one and done—this concerned me and still does a little.  Raising an only child is different than raising several children.  With no siblings to play with we enrolled him in classes at My Gym, twice a week he goes to story time at the local library, and we are always inviting cousins over for playdates.

Parenting at any age and family size is a challenge, most things worth having are.  Taking care of my son as I work from home affords me a luxury many parents don’t have—I experience many of his firsts with him, instead of hearing about them—although some days it doesn’t seem that way.

Raising a child is a lot like running a marathon, energy is required, but pacing is important as well.  I’m still at the beginning knowing there are hills to climb and challenges to meet, but the end result is worth it.

pigeons

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