He's back!

Six days after we nearly lost him, Pluto is finally home.

His brother, Tobi, apparently doesn’t recognize him because all he does is hiss at him constantly. A combination of the shaved backside, the cone, the absent penis, and the myriad of new smells have the poor guy confused, but hopefully he’ll come around soon. And that cone was quite uncomfortable when Pluto nuzzled his head into the crook of my neck for most of the night, but it’s all fine.

He’s back.

The doctor and nurse who discharged him yesterday evening were both in the ICU when I brought Pluto in on Saturday. Both of them could not believe that I was bringing him home today.

“He was dead when you brought him in on Saturday,” the nurse said. “Dead. I didn’t think he had a chance opf getting him back.”

The doctor told me that they were calling him the miracle cat. “Even if he survived, I never thought he’d be so healthy and normal again.”

I guess it’s true. Cats have nine lives.

It also turns out that Pluto and I have something in common now:

Near-death experiences. I’ve had two and he’s had one. Hopefully his last.

Thanks for all of the kind words and well wishes. It’s meant a lot. He’s got three weeks of this cone before his suture removal in mid-July, so it’ll be a little annoying for a little while, but he’s sitting across my forearms as I type these words, his tail occasionally swishing across the keyboard, slowing me down and causing the occasional typo, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pluto

I’m running on the treadmill on Saturday morning when the phone rings. It’s Elysha.

“Matt, come home now. It’s Pluto.”

Pluto, our almost three year-old cat, had been acting strange for quite a while. For almost a month, he had been peeing in the bathtub and alongside the bathroom sink. But our vet had determined that this was a behavioral problem, so we had begun to take the recommended steps to help him. We bought a cat fountain to increase his fluid intake. Installed an enormous scratching tree to make him feel safer. Changed his food to prevent crystals in his bladder.

We thought he was annoying but otherwise fine.

When I arrived home a few minutes later, Elysha told me that she had found Pluto in the litter box, unable to move. I raced to the basement and found him still lying there, nearly unconscious. I reached down to grab him so I could put him in his pet carrier, bracing myself for a fight. He’s always been a cat who refuses to be lifted off the ground. He’s almost impossible to get to the vet. But as I wrapped my hands around his body and lifted, he didn’t move at all. It was like lifting a rag doll.

I was sure that he was already dead.

But as I slid his body into the carrier, he managed to look up at me. His eyes were glassy but open.

I placed his carrier in the passenger seat in the car, buckled it in, and raced to the animal hospital, which is about 15 minutes from our home. I shortened that time considerably by driving well over the speed limit, running two traffic lights, and laying on my horn at one point, forcing a large man in an even larger pickup truck to pull over so I could pass.

When I entered the hospital, I shouted for help, screamed for help. and a woman took the carrier from me almost immediately. I tried to explain that we had found Pluto in the litter box, nearly unconscious, but I could not speak. I couldn’t breathe. I was panting like an overheated dog but unable to get enough air into my body. I collapsed in a chair in the waiting room and began to cry as they took Pluto away.

Another woman appeared a moment later to get my contact information, but I still couldn’t speak. I couldn’t get enough air into my body, and every time I tried to speak, I started to cry. She waited, encouraging me to slow down and relax, and I finally managed to give her the information she needed. I was then moved into a private room, where I sat down and began to cry.

A few moments later, Dr. Kubis entered the room. She didn’t recognize me, but I know her well. In the 18 years that Kaleigh, our dog, was alive, we spent an enormous amount of time at this hospital, and Dr. Kubis had treated Kaleigh many times. But this was my first visit to the hospital in more than a year since Kaleigh had passed, and I hadn’t seen Dr. Kubis in a long time.

She asked for permission to administer CPR if needed.

“Oh my God,” I said. “Is he gone?”

“No,” she said. “He’s obstructed. He’s probably been obstructed for a long time. This has caused urine to build up in his body, and as a result, his potassium levels are so high that he’s in heart failure. I’m going to try to save him, but you should prepare yourself for the worst.”

I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my friend.

Tobi and Pluto came to us more than two years ago by way of Egypt, and though I love both cats dearly, Pluto and I have always had a special connection. He’s a skittish cat, frightened of strangers and exceptionally slow to warm up, but it was always different with me. For reasons I’ll never understand, he was comfortable with me almost immediately, lying on my body at night, demanding my attention constantly, and draping himself across my forearms while I sit at the computer.

I wrote an entire book with him resting on my arms.

After losing Kaleigh, my best friend of 18 years last summer, I couldn’t begin to think of losing Pluto.

Elysha arrived shortly thereafter after having found someone to watch the kids. We sat together and waited for the news. I cried quietly and prepared for the worst.

Elysha is kind of amazing in moments like this. When our children or animals are sick or injured, I almost always fall apart. I become useless. Other than cutting the drive time to the hospital in half, I was a mess. I always am in these circumstances.

Elysha, on the other hand, becomes quiet and laser-focused. She manages logistics, asks the right questions, and ensures that all factors are accounted for. She was so composed on Saturday that she later told me that she worried that I wouldn’t think she loved Pluto enough because she wasn’t a puddle like me.

She had nothing to worry about. I know how much she loves Pluto.

By the way, you should marry someone like this. It’s a very good thing in emergency situations like this.

A few minutes later, Dr. Kubis returned to room. She sighed. “We have a cat,” she said. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but he’s alive.”

She explained that five bladder stones had gotten caught in his urethra, and he had been unable to expel them. Once they managed to remove the largest one, the rest came out almost immediately. “It was close,” she said. “He was probably about five minutes from dying when you arrived.”

It’s been four days and Pluto is still recovering in the hospital. If he’s doing well today, he will undergo a surgery to prevent future obstructions. Essentially, they will be removing his penis, which is where these potentially deadly blockages happen in male cats.

Pluto is already a Muslim refugee from Egypt. Now he will be gender non-conforming, too.

Trump would hate this cat.

But he will be alive and happy again, and that’s all that matters.

I love Pluto and miss him dearly. He’s now being treated by Dr. Kubis and Dr. Cox, who we also know well. Dr. Cox treated Kaleigh for canine scabies years ago and knows us well. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Lindgren, who performed Kaleigh’s spinal surgery more than a decade ago.

These are all good people and outstanding veterinarians whose children’s college funds we have contributed to mightily over the years. They are taking great care of our little friend.

Days later, I’m struck by how quickly life can change without warning. I was running on a treadmill on Saturday morning, listening to Springsteen, and looking forward to an Egg McMuffin.

An hour later, I was sitting in a plastic chair in a small room, weeping, waiting to find out if my friend would live or die.

About six hours after that, I was standing under a pavilion adjacent to the Boston Museum of Science on the Charles River in Boston. Our friends were celebrating their wedding. The evening was perfection. A cool breeze coming in off the river. Sun setting behind us. A fantastic band. Great friends. A perfectly planned party.

I was doing the thing I love most in this world:

Dancing with Elysha.

Life can truly turn on a dime. Sometimes for the best and sometimes the worst. I got a taste of both on Saturday. Though we will be several thousand dollars lighter by the time Pluto arrives home, our friend will be home soon, and I’ll be so damn happy to see him.

My memories of that unforgettable day will include a devastating moment at a litter box when I thought my friend was dead, an adrenaline-fueled race to the hospital, hyperventilating in a waiting room, a veterinarian saying, “We have a cat,” and an evening under the stars in Boston, dancing with the woman I love.

It’s not surprising that I was exhausted the next day. Or the day after. We don’t often experience so many highs and lows in a single day.

Thank goodness.

First hamburger ever

It took 6 years and 362 days to finally convince the boy to try a hamburger, but the lure of a Happy Meal toy and a love for French fries forced him to commit to at least one bite.

His response:

“Sweet.”

A whole new world has opened up for my son. Just wait until he discovers the joy of a really good burger, complete with cheese and bacon and maybe even an egg.

If and when he ever agrees to try an egg.

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Charlie supports the separation of church and state

It’s Mother’s Day.

Elysha, the kids, and I are eating an excellent brunch at Big Daddy’s, a diner on the upper west side.

We’re in the city to visit Elysha’s parents and her grandmother, who is a few blocks north at Mount Sinai, recovering from a recently broken hip.

Elysha hands Charlie a dollar bill to play an arcade game. It’s a version of the claw machine, filled with rubber ducks, except that everyone who plays wins. You just keep grabbing until you have a rubber duck between the claw’s teeth.

It’s great except that it’s establishing some seriously unrealistic expectations for the future.

Charlie looks at the dollar bill, sees the words, “In God We Trust,” and asks her why there is a reference to God on our money.

Elysha explains that it’s simply the way our money was designed.

Charlie, age 6, smacks his palm against his forehead, sighs, and say, “I don’t even believe in God. Do you?”

He apparently supports the separation of church and state. Also, I guess he’s an atheist. And Jewish.

My children will never cease to amaze me.

Physics and philosophy at bedtime

Before bed last night , Charlie, age 6 asks:

“When the Big Bang reverses and the universe compresses into a tiny dot again and then we have another Big Bang, will we all eventually get born again like this time, or will it be different?”

“That’s a big question,” Elysha said.

I wanted to say, “Who the hell has been teaching you physics and philosophy? Where in the hell did you learn enough to ask a question like that?”

Before I could say anything, Charlie answered his own question. “Probably not,” he said. "Probably not."

Charlie eventually told us that he was reading about the Big Bang in a book. Clara then reminded us that I had explained the Big Bang to both of them a few months ago. Charlie added that his babysitter, Kaia, had answered some questions about it, too.Before going to bed, I explained the possibility of entropy (let him go blow someone else’s mind) and touched on the theory of the multiverse.

But he’s only six years-old, so he might need a second lesson.

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My daughter's issues with Title IX. Kind of.

Clara, age 10, is sitting in the backseat of my car, reading a book. She says, “Dad, this book has it all wrong!”

“What are you talking about?” I ask.

“The girl in this book started playing football on the boy’s team in 1974 because of Title 9.”

“You know what Title 9 is?” I asked.

“Of course I do,” she says, sounding quite annoyed. When I ask her how she knows about Title 9, she says, “I read a book. Except in the book, they called it Title IX.”

She pronounced the Roman numeral 9 in letter-form. It was cute.

“Okay,” I said. “So what’s the problem? Title 9 allows girls to play the same sports as boys. What’s wrong with this girl playing football?

“Dad,” she said, sounding even more annoyed. “Title 9 became a law in 1972. This girl started playing football in 1974.”

I was going to ask how she knew that Title 9 passed in 1972 but stopped myself. I knew what she would say, and I kew she’d be annoyed for being questioned about her knowledge of the matter.

I tried to explain how Title 9 still gives women equal access to collegiate sports today and that 1974 was no different. “It’s a law that started in ‘72 (something I didn’t know until she told me) but it’s still the law today.”

Clara wasn’t having any of it. “I don’t want to hear about a girl who waited two years to play. I want to hear about the first girl who started playing with the boys.”

I had more to say on the matter - maybe the girl had no desire to play football in 1972, or maybe she was too young to play football in 1972, or even though she played two years after the law passed, it was probably just as difficult and courageous to do so -but I instead allowed Clara to return to the book.

Sometimes, it’s better not to poke the beast.

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You might be sick, but count your blessings

Charlie’s tummy was not feeling so good earlier this week. He looked into my eyes and said:

“Dad… diarrhea is the worst.”

Then he paused for a moment, looked down at his feet, and then returned his gaze to me and added, “Though I have to say, the Black Death is actually worse.” 

To his credit, the boy has perspective even at the tender age of six.

Unfortunately, this comment was followed by a series of questions about the Black Death, an explanation of the lyrics in “Ring Around the Rosy,” a review of the symptoms that lead to the Plague, and some serious concern that the patch of dry skin on his leg might be a precursor to his own, oncoming battle with this deadly disease.

A few anxious hours, to be sure, but still… perspective.

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I did not speak like this when I was ten years old.

The children are trying to argue with me that they are no longer little.

“We’re big kids now!” Charlie said.

I insisted that they are still little. “Look at you,” I said. “You’re short and tiny. I can still pick you up!”

Clara’s response:

“When I refer to myself as big, Daddy, I’m speaking in relation to the little ones. You know, preschoolers and such.”

Maybe she’s not so little after all.

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Worst reaction to a gift ever

Yesterday Elysha and I gave Clara several birthday presents. Books, accessories for her American Girl doll, and a canopy to create a book nook in her bedroom.

Happily, Elysha was in charge of choosing the gifts and ran the choices by me only after her selections were made.

She knows that if I was in charge of the gifts, I would buy far too many gifts.

I am a living contradiction:

I want to overwhelm my children with presents on every gift-giving opportunity but think there’s far too much stuff in our house and think a lot of it should be given away.

I’m a joy to live with.

Clara loved her gifts. She thanked us for them. Hugged and kissed us.

This was a far cry from Hanukkah 2011, when Clara had a decidedly different and hilarious (and heartbreaking) reaction to her gift.

I was recently contacted by a marketing company that wants to try to make this video go viral, and it just might, all thanks to an almost two-year old Clara and her reaction to this present.

Clara turns 10 years-old today.

Clara is ten years-old today. Double digits. I can’t believe it.

From the moment I learned that Elysha was pregnant, I started writing to Clara, and later to Charlie, on a blog called “Greetings Little One.” I wrote a post to the kids on that blog every day from 2008 until late 2015, about eight years in all, so there is a lot of content there.

On the day that Clara was born, a single decade ago today, I wrote this to my little girl.

_________________________________________________

Our day began yesterday, at 11:53 PM, when you mother awoke me from twenty minutes of glorious sleep to inform me that her water had broken. In fact, it was still breaking as I awoke. I could hear the splashing from the bed. Despite the hours of birthing class and hundreds of pages that Mommy and I read on pregnancy, we both stared at one another and asked, “What do we do now?”

I doubted that your mother was experiencing contractions, since the brutal, possibly hedonist midwife earlier that day had told me that there was “no mistaking contractions.” Since your mom had said that she thought it might be contractions, I assumed that she was experiencing cramps and that we should probably not go to the hospital yet.

Your mother, in a bit of a panic, insisted that we go. I offered to call the doctor first and bring Kaleigh to the Casper’s house before heading off, but she was not happy with this suggestion.

Oh well. Mommy and Daddy aren’t always perfect.

After loading up the car and waiting for Jane to arrive to pick up Kaleigh, we were off, finally leaving the house at 12:30 AM.

Seven minutes later, we arrived at the hospital, and I dropped Mommy off at the doors in order to park the car. I said, “Don’t wait for me. Just go up.”

She replied, “There’ll be no waiting for you” and exited the car.

I admit that I secretly hoped that by the time I made it up to the sixth floor, you would be well on your way out.

No such luck.

Mommy was filling out paperwork with a nurse when I arrived in the delivery center, and it was at this time that I finally understood the degree of Mommy’s pain. As she was being asked questions, her responses were were fairly incoherent. It turns out that her contractions were coming every three to four minutes, which explains the pain.

After being led to our room, we met Cassie, the first of two nurses who we would come to adore throughout the birthing process. Cassie was with us throughout the evening, making us comfortable and helping us to catch a few hours of sleep. After arriving, we learned that Mommy was almost entirely effaced but not dilated at all. We were shocked. On the way over to the hospital, we took wagers on how dilated she would be.

She said 4 centimeters would make her happy, and I was hoping for 7.

Zero was a disappointment.

Thankfully, our doctor, who doesn’t believe that women should ever suffer through childbirth, offered to administer the epidural immediately, even though birthing class instructors informed us that it would not be done before 4 centimeters. This was the first of what we discovered to be several false statements made by birthing class instructors, including their assertion that the hospital had no Wi-Fi, which I am using at this moment.

I left the room for the epidural (though Cassie said I could stay if I wanted, which my birthing instructor said would never happen), and even though Mommy hasn’t said much about it, it seemed to go well. The anesthesiologist was a bit of a jerk, but otherwise, the needle, the meds, and all the horrifying aspects of this procedure went off without a hitch. Mommy was terrified during this process, possibly more than any other time in her life, but she held up like a trooper.

With the epidural on board, the pain vanished, the lights were turned off, and Mommy and I managed to sleep for a couple fitful hours. The chair that I attempted to sleep in was a device that harkened back to the Spanish Inquisition. It tortured my neck and back, but I later found the wisdom to open it into a bed and sleep soundly for an hour or two. We slept from about 2:00-4:00 AM, when Cassie checked Mommy again and found her fully effaced and 4 centimeters dilated. Lights went out again until 6:00, when Cassie checked and found Mommy fully dilated.

Hooray. I expected a baby before breakfast and said as much.

She began pushing at 6:30, but in the midst of a shift change, Cassie left us and Catherine took over. It was immediately decided to allow you to drop some more on your own before resuming to push.

When Catherine first appeared, we didn’t know who she was, but being the woman she is, your mother immediately requested her name and rank, and we learned that Cassie was leaving us. Cassie was wonderful; an easy going, friendly, and warm woman with three young kids of her own who was perfect for helping us to rest and relax during the night.

Catherine was warm and friendly as well, but she was also a bit of a drill sergeant, specific and demanding in her orders, and it was just what your Mommy needed when she began pushing again around 8:00. This was the hardest time for your mother. She pushed consistently from 8:00 until 11:30, but because of the placement of your mother’s pubic bone and the angle of your head, you simply would not come out. The vacuum was attempted briefly, but at last, it was determined that a c-section would need to be done.

A few interesting notes from the pushing:

Several times, Catherine encouraged Mommy to find some anger with which to help push. “Get mad,” she would say. “Find something to be angry about.” Your mother continually asserted that she had nothing in her life with which to be angry. “I’m just so happy,” she said. Catherine eventually gave up on the anger angle, acknowledging that she was dealing with the sweetest person on the planet.

Your mother never yelled at me and never uttered a single word of profanity during the entire birthing process.

Throughout the pushing, I was receiving and sending texts to your grandmother, Justine, and Cindy, who were all dying to find out what was going on. I also managed to update my Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the morning and work on my next novel, finishing up a chapter and starting a new one. Catherine questioned this, but Mommy is no dummy. If I finish and sell this book, she might be able to stay home longer with you, so between pushing, I would roll to the other side of the room and write.

When the vacuum was brought into play, the room filled with about eight doctors and nurses. At one point, a nurse asked me to hold your mom’s leg, which I had been doing all morning. “Not him,” Catherine said. “He doesn’t get off of that stool.”  Though I didn’t feel queasy or weak in the knees, she saw something in me that indicated otherwise. Later I was sent out of the room to “drink some juice.”

This was prescient on her part. After you were born, I went downstairs to Friendly’s to eat and fell down in the hallway from hunger and exhaustion. Nurses ran over to me, expecting the worst, only to find me half-crying about how hungry and tired I was.

When the decision was made to extract you via c-section, things got fast and furious and I left your mom for the first time today in order to don a pair of scrubs while she was rolled into the operating room and prepped. It was at this time that I was forced to remove my Superman tee-shirt, which had been specifically chosen for the event. I wanted your first glimpses of me to be reminiscent of the man of steel.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

When I entered the OR, the doctors were already working on your mother, and I inadvertently caught a view of her and the horror of a c-section before I was ushered to a stool behind the screen and told not to move.

Yikes!

Sitting beside your mom’s head and three anesthesiologists who were busy at work injecting Mommy with more medicine than I could have ever imagined, I listened and waited with her. It took about fifteen minutes before I heard your first cries and one of the doctors leaned over the screen and said, “Here it comes. Do you want to know if it’s a boy or a girl?”

“Yes,” we said in unison.

“It looks like… a girl,” he said, and immediately thereafter, the docs behind the screen began asserting the same. We began crying while we listened to your cry and caught our first glimpses of you as a nurse was preparing to weigh you. A couple minutes later, after managing a 9/9 on your Apgar scores, you were handed to me, the first time I have ever held an infant without the protection of a sofa and many cushions.

You were simply beautiful.

Because of the position that Mommy was still in, she wasn’t able to see you well until Catherine finally took you from my nervous arms, flipped you upside down like a football, and held your face to hers.

I’ll never forget this moment.

Your mom was forced to remain on the table, arms outstretched and pinned, for more than an hour while the doctors stitched her up. She began to go a little stir crazy for a while, unable to move and shivering uncontrollably, and we tried to calm her by massaging her shoulders and rubbing her arms.

Eventually the surgery ended, and you were finally handed to Mommy. The two of you were rolled into Recovery while I had the pleasure of telling your grandparents, Aunty Emily, and soon-to-be Uncle Michael all about you. There were many tears. Your grandfather laughed, your grandmother cried, and in keeping with her character, Aunty Emily was indignant over her inability to see you and her sister immediately.

She’s one demanding babe.

It’s almost 9:00 PM, and we are now sitting in our room, resting and chatting. You are asleep and have been for the past few hours. I must leave soon in order to go home so that I can teach tomorrow and use my time off when you and your mom are at home. My students will be thrilled to see your photos and hear all about you.

For your mother, the hours of pushing were her greatest challenge of the day.

For me, the greatest challenge will be leaving this room tonight and not taking you with me. I want nothing more than to hold you in my arms for the next week.

We love you so much, little one. Welcome to the world.

Charlie can kiss all he wants. He just doesn't want to.

I’m telling Charlie about mine and Elysha’s first kiss when I see him grimace.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “You don’t need to kiss anyone unless you want to, and besides, you’re way too young to be kissing someone anyway.”

“Dad,” he says, sounding exasperated. “I’m old enough to kiss girls. I could kiss girls if I wanted to. I just don’t want to.”

So there you have it. My six year-old son is apparently plenty old enough to kiss a girl if he’s so inclined.

After a brief conversation about consent (to which he rolled is eyes and said, “Of course”), I ran to my computer to record our interaction word-for word.

If he gets married someday, I have my first bit of material for my speech.

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Kids get mad at "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Our kids love music.

Much of this is thanks to Elysha. As much as I love music, she loves it even more.

But it’s also in large part the result to hours of Spotify playlists playing in the car, the music playing often in our home, the endless conversations about music, and our before-bed ritual of climbing onto our bed as a family and listening to a final song to end the day.

As a result of all of this, Clara and Charlie care deeply about music and already have a great deal of background knowledge about music and the artists who make it.

This is almost always a good thing.

But yesterday morning, I was playing a playlist that featured Queen songs when “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on. Clara was in the front of the house, playing with toys, and Charlie was in the back of the house, doing the same. But about a minute into the song, both of them converged in the middle of the house, where I was working, to listen more closely to the song.

“What is this?” Charlie asked. “It makes no sense.”

“Is he okay?” Clara asked. “And why is he singing about Galileo? Does he even know who Galileo is? I don’t think he knows anything about Galileo?”

“What is this?” Charlie repeated, becoming more irritated by the second.

I tried to explain “Bohemian Rhapsody” to my children, but how do you explain “Bohemian Rhapsody” to anyone?

I tried to tell them that it’s a combination of hard rock, an opera, a ballad, and probably some other stuff that I’m not hearing or have forgotten. I told them that I think it’s a song about a man who is waiting to be executed for murder, but that might not be right at all.

I said, “It’s not supposed to make perfect sense.”

“No kidding,” Charlie said and stormed off.

Clara listened until the song was done. Then she turned to me. “Do you like that song, Daddy?”

“Yes,” I said. “A lot.”

“Okay,” she said and walked away. Unimpressed. Back to her toys.

I can’t help but wonder what Freddy Mercury would think all these years later if he knew how angry and befuddled my children became upon hearing his song.

I also can’t help but wonder how I reacted when I heard the song for the first time.

Maybe I was annoyed, too. Maybe it’’s the eventual, inevitable transformation of annoyance and befuddlement to acceptance and love that makes us love that song so much. Rather than a simple song with a simple message, “Bohemian Rhapsody” demands something from you, and as a result, it leaves its mark on your heart and soul.

I look forward to watching my kids fall in love with it like I have.

Dad is clearly an idiot

Clara, age 9, came down stairs on Saturday morning, popped open her Chromebook, and started pecking away.

I waited a few minutes, but when she failed to acknowledge my existence, I finally asked what she was doing.

“Just doing a little research on tsunamis.”

“Oh,” I said. “You woke up thinking about tidal waves?”

“Yes, but don’t call them tidal waves anymore, Dad. They have nothing to do with tides. I’m sure I’ve told you that before.

Because this is exactly what I want in the pre-dawn hours of a Saturday morning.

Pre-teen intellectual irritation.

Thank goodness that I'm smart enough to listen to my wife

Photos like these remind me of how stupid I can be.

About eight years ago, Elysha began talking about wanting a second child. While I was agreeable to the prospect of one more kid, I was also perfectly happy with just Clara. She was a happy and healthy little girl who filled my heart with joy.

Did we really need another?

What a stupid question.

I can’t imagine the world without Charlie today. He is such an interesting and lovable human being, but beyond my own love for my son, I can’t imagine my kids without the blessing of each other.

Not only does our boy bring so much happiness to our lives, but Clara and Charlie love each other so much, and I simply can’t imagine them existing without each other.

Listening to my kids talk and play and laugh together is by far my favorite thing in this world.

Thank goodness for Elysha’s infinite wisdom.

The life cycle of a human being through the eyes of a six year-old boy

Behold!

Charlie’s (age 6) interpretation of the life cycle of a human being from the womb to the grave.

The beginning stages and the ending stages are especially interesting.

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A solution to arguing on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is upon us. A day of food, family, and friends. A day of giving thanks for all our good fortune.  

And with it, the prospect of strife at the dinner table.

Democrats vs. Republicans
Rex Sox fans vs. Yankees fans 
Carnivores vs. vegans
Beatles vs. Stones
Cat people vs. dog people
Mouth breathers vs. nose breathers

These feuds can sometimes ruin an otherwise festive holiday. I've witnessed a few of these turkey day battles in my time, and I’ve participated in a few as well. 

In fact, I’ve angered the fathers of girlfriends on Thanksgiving to the point shouting at least three times in my life.

I once encouraged folks around the table to pass on food they don’t like while the father - a self-proclaimed chef - watched in horror at the rebellion that I’d stirred.

Eventually he and I had words.

I once repeatedly left the room every time the father of a girlfriend made a racially insensitive remark. That father eventually realized what I was doing and had words with me.

I was also once, (unbeknownst to me) fed my pet rabbit on Thanksgiving, which eventually caused a bit of a row.

I’ve also argued economics during the height of the Great Recession with family members who didn’t know a credit default swap from a toxic asset, debated the future of the NFL with my father-in-law, and argued the stupidity of trickle-down economics with my uncle when I was about fourteen years-old.

I drew a political cartoon that year to make my point, and decades later, my aunt sent me that cartoon. She had saved it for me.

None of these incidents made for a good Thanksgiving. I’m a guy who loves to argue, but not on Thanksgiving. Today is the last day that anyone should be verbally sparring, and yet we do.

When you see an argument erupting this year or you feel like the family is on the verge of an argument, here is my suggestion:

Tell a story.

Rather than jumping into the fray with disagreement and debate, try to tell a story instead. Return civility and joy to the table by capturing the imagination of your friends and family with an entertaining return to the past. Rise above the ruckus with something like:

"Guess what happened to me last week!"

"I attended quite the birthday party a few months ago!"

"Do you remember the Christmas when the raccoon broke into the house and tore open a bunch of the Christmas presents?"

That last one really happened. I had a pet raccoon as a kid. He managed to sneak into the house on Christmas Eve.

I should tell that story someday. 

Maybe I'll tell it at the Thanksgiving Day table this year.

Anything is better than a fight.

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Just another Saturday night

It’s Saturday night in our house. An evening to relax. Enjoy ourselves. Have some fun.

What did our 9 year-old daughter, Clara, choose to do with her free time?

She read books on ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and then for funsies decided to create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two cultures.

She’s cool that way. A real party animal.