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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Happy Birthday Cristian

1st Father SonI can’t believe it’s been a year already.  A year ago I spent the night in a hospital room keeping friends and family updated via Facebook posts as nurses induced Esther—it didn’t work.  It turn out, Cristian like his parents is stubborn.  How stubborn we didn’t know at the time.

At 1:26 pm Esther gave birth to a 9 pound 3 ounce   21.5 inch boy, whatshisname.  We hadn’t agreed on his name yet.  Asking me to calm our crying and unnamed son, by speaking to him, I put on my best Darth Vader voice and said, “Son I am your father.”

The first few weeks were a blur or feedings, diaper changes and friends stopping by to see the baby.  Sequestered in our apartment like jurors on a trial while we took turns watching Jeopardy, napping and playing with our new son, the memory still makes me smile.

father-son-chill

I dove headfirst into my stay-at-home dad crash course.  I was introduced to the Sprout Channel, Peppa Pig and Sid the Science Kid and scrambled like a contestant on a gameshow folding laundry, sterilizing baby bottles and grabbing a quick shower while Cristian napped.

In March we enrolled Cristian in My Gym, a children’s fitness center giving him a chance to meet other babies socializing him through structured activities and giving me a chance to compare parenting notes with other parents.

The many faces of Cristian
The many faces of Cristian

Esther and I were amazed as out son grew from a fragile newborn to a chubby cheeked toddler.  His smiling face every morning made us forget the, sacrifice, sleep deprivation and occasional blowout.

As Spring arrived my time was split between caring for my son and managing my father’s healthcare first in a hospital and then in a nursing home.   My blogging suffered as my world was turned upside down, but Esther and I insisted on keeping as much normalcy in Cristian’s routine as possible.  My Gym classes and trips to the park were sandwiched between hospital visits.

Family Selfie
Family Selfie

Cristian will never know the joy be brought his grandfather during his last days or how much his cheery demeanor helps grandma cope with Dad’s loss.  His days consist of playing, crawling and general mischief. His electric smile and big personality changed Mommy and Daddy’s lives in ways we couldn’t comprehend a year ago as we anxiously monitored his vitals as nurses induced his Mommy.

Happy Birthday Cristian!

Cristian and Me

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Flying Solo

One of several care charts left for me
One of several care charts left for me

After six weeks of Tag-Team Parenting Esther’s maternity leave was over. Returning to work meant it was time for me to fly solo.  Although my newborn crash course taught me much, this was a new challenge.

Photo texted to Esther letting her know Crisitan is ok
Photo texted to Esther letting her know Crisitan is ok

I’m no stranger to challenges.  I’ve run a dozen marathons and two ultramarathons, and managed a complicated trading-system installation for the U.S. Treasury Secretary but taking care of my six-week old son had me a little nervous.

Esther did her best to ease this rookie Dad’s growing pains, packing the diaper bag, leaving three matching outfits, onesie, pants, and socks per day and posting care instructions that rivaled nuclear launch codes.  Turn your key now Frank.

Cristian and I drove her to work on her first day back.  Sure there was some crying and carrying one but before long Esther was ok.  I kept her in the parental loop texting pictures and updates several times a day.

Another photo texted to Esther
Another photo texted to Esther

Why Is He Crying-A crying baby usually means one of three things, I’m hungry, diaper change, or nap time.  Of course it’s never that easy.   A few times Cristian wasn’t hungry, had a dry diaper, and wouldn’t go down for a nap—he just cried louder.  This was usually when Chico wanted attention.  Why are you ignoring me Frank?  Now what?  Keep your cool— don’t pull your hair out, don’t throw the baby bottle across the room.  Stay calm.  Put him in the swing, walk him, or take him out in the stroller.

Sleep When They Sleep-I’m convinced whoever offered this advice never took care of a baby. Maybe the nanny cared for the children, or they’ve forgotten how demanding babies can be.  Feel free to contact me if you want to relive those memories and I let you change a few diapers.

I ran and Cristian slept, it works for both of us.
I ran and Cristian slept, it works for both of us.

When the baby napped, I’d scramble like a contestant on a game show.   I sterilized baby bottles, folded laundry, and prepped dinner (I’m not just another pretty face, I cook), take a quick shower and if I’m lucky shave before he woke up.

Baby Friendly Programing-Like many new parents I was introduced to Sprout and the Baby First Chanel and searched Netflix. We watched Curious George, Peppa Pig and Sid the Science Kid. You know you’re watching too much of it, when you’re singing along with the songs.  I’d cringe when it was time for Susy to sing, but she kept Cristian entertained for 20 or 30 minutes so I dealt with it.

Motion Is Your Best Friend-Whether it was riding in the car or cruising in his jog stroller while I ran (that’s a different post) motion lulled Cristian to sleep. Taking advantage of this I took him everywhere, grocery shopping, the post office, and off to Grandmas.  It served a dual purpose of getting me out of the house and getting the baby a nap.

Thinking back I realized I’m pretty lucky.  Cristian’s a happy baby, he’s easy to take care of (despite my growing pains) and watching his daily development gives me unspeakable joy.  Although I’ve needed to de-stress from time to time when Esther came home from work I can’t imagine doing this another way.

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