karaoke extravaganza

This year we celebrated my birthday at Max Karaoke in West Los Angeles. An elite group of crooners, who also happen to be some of my closest friends were in attendance. In order to protect the innocent, I've only posted the closing part of our version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I think karaoke is a lot of fun... but like Halloween, I suppose its not for everyone. As I've discussed elsewhere, I think people who take themselves too seriously can't do karaoke, is that true? If you aren't able to laugh at yourself, are you able to do karaoke? Is your fear of what other people think of you, the same force that prevents people from dressing up for Halloween? I think the two are somewhat related.

Hits from the night include (but are not limited to)
Enjoy the Silence
La Isla Bonita
I Had the Time of My life
To be with you (2x)
Country Roads
Cracklin Rosie
Policy of Truth
Honest Mistake
Livin on a Prayer
Every Rose has it's Thorn,

I think I discovered my new... go to song. Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode. That song is fantastic, and it's in a perfect range for my voice. I used to rely on Never Gonna Give you Up by Rick Astley, but now I'm feelin' the Depeche Mode.

What are your "go to" karaoke songs?
What are karaoke-party buzzkill songs? Ashley maintains that any Bob Dylan song is an immediate mix tape buzzkill. I concur.

post script:
i started another blog.


This morning on his 30th Birthday

This is David this morning as he left the house... it never rains in Los Angeles, but it is today, on David's 30th Birthday. He is a trooper and refused a ride to work, but I think he was secretly excited to wear the rain gear that usually sits in his closet.

It is a rare occasion that I post on the blog, but today I just really wanted to say Happy Birthday and that I love him a lot. He is a really great husband and friend and is always an example to me. I am really excited to see him become a father in the next couple of months. I know he will do such a great job. I love David because of his ability to commit to things he believes in and always has a really positive outlook on everything. I am grateful to have him as a husband--- Happy 30th Birthday David!


bike nerd, certified

This past weekend I spent an intense, three days learning how to teach people of all ages how to maintain and operate their bicycle. It is a course offered through the League of American Bicyclists.

This is the group I completed the course with. They were all really great, and coming from all sorts of backgrounds - education, advocacy, recreation, etc.

After I get a little more experience, I'll be a League Certified Instructor and will be capable of running my own classes. If you are interested, shoot me an email.

Not the most interesting post I know... but I really couldn't help myself with this picture. There is something about bike nerds that I find so endearing.


man's search for fatherly advice

A week or so ago, I posed a set of questions to some of my friends who are fathers. The content of the email was this:

"remember when your wife was pregnant with your first child?
remember when you were about two away from having your live changed forever?

what would the present, january-2009-you, say to the two-months-away-from-being-a-pappa-you?

just looking for some sage advice. thanks gents."

I got back some great advice - and I wanted to share it with you guys - and also for it to open a dialogue between mothers, fathers, sons, daughters - and everything in between. What makes a good father? Keep in mind, my line of questioning was centered around what fathers wished they knew, or wished they could've said to their future self. I've geo-coded the responses (above) for that urban planner-nerd effect. Enjoy. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

"I was freaking out, trying to get everything done on our new house. Madly trying to finish everything that I knew would be forgotten once the kid was here.
I remember landscaping on the wednesday after Kerry lost. So very depressing. Cornelius was 3 weeks late.
It all turned out fine.
And I did have more time to finish projects...after about a year, but that probably says more about me and my situation than you and yours."

"I would read the Bradley birth book. Even if your wife is going to have an epidural, I think it's worth a read. Other than being knowledgeable about the whole birthing process, there's not a whole lot you can do. The things you're supposed to do with the baby will come up naturally. (not much you can do anyway as a husband besides hold it and change its diaper.)"

"Well, you know that I don't really have a knack for words, or advice for that matter, but I will tell you what I remember feeling. The first thing I thought was, "they are going to just let us leave with this baby? no oversight? no test to pass before we can take her home?". The fact of the matter is that you guys will do great. We thought like we had no idea what we were doing but we did it and it was a fun ride, and still is. Of course you know that you will be tired from now until you retire but that is just how it is. At least your kids make it worth it. I guess the best advice I can give is to trust your wife. She has motherly instincts and she knows what to do. She can read the babies emotions and knows how to respond. So listen to her and do what she says and what she needs and it will work. One thing that Beatrice pushed and I am really glad she did (this will come as the baby is older) is for me to put the kids to bed and read to them every night. That is time that I cherish and something I don't want to every miss. Anyway, I know you will be a great father and will have wonderful kids. Oh yeah, I almost forgot - remember to make time for your wife. Even if it is a movie after the kid is asleep. Being with a baby all day is not a trivial task and she will need some adult time and attention and praise from you. By the way, I already know you are good at this because Beatrice tells me all of the great things you do for Kittie. Well, I am excited for you and we can't wait to meet little Ronald. Maybe his middle name should be Guate Guate. Just an idea."

"my thoughts on this baby / fatherhood situation:

you're not going to screw anything up somehow by failing to read the right book, or being less prepared than you think you're supposed to be in some category of pre-fatherhood aptitudes. you're going to be the best dad there's ever been, whether you worry yourself to fits, or calmly watch, and react naturally.

billions and billions of fathers have come and gone, and you're one of them :: how much better equipped you must be than nearly any of they?
how conscious, and prepared, and engaged were all of those men?
how many of them had a home, or a loving, committed partner?
how many of those men had food to feed that little baby that came? what did they do, over the centuries, to provide for that child's needs?

just be conscious, man.
make and take as much time as you can to be present, and share and watch and care for him. it will be the most special thing that's ever happened, and that first 6 months won't ever happen again.
that, and just don't drop the baby."

"I guess I would tell my old self that it isn't nearly as nerve racking as I'm making it out to be. Some innate instinct kicks in and you realize that this is really important crap and if you aren't there to do it then nobody else is. The kid only has one dad. It's a good feeling. Great even.

Oh and also I'd tell my old self to enjoy my free time as much as I possibly can.
We just had our second two weeks ago.

Also Rodney I'm sure you are if you can, but take as much time off from work as they allow. The first two or three months are really hard depending on the baby and if you're around it helps you get the complete experience of being a parent, not just the typical dad stuff we're you're seen as someone either really fun or someone to be feared."

"I like the idea of my 2009-self advising my 2004-self. Here's what I would say:

* Speak highly of Yvonne around your kids. There's nothing cooler than watching Penny watch us show affection towards one another. I think it is so important for her to see that. It seems to me that kids only know what things are important because we treat them with importance.
* I think the most important thing you can give a child is high sense of self-worth or self-confidence. This might be more applicable with girls, but I'm constantly feeding my girls lines that build their sense of self-worth.

You may have been looking for clever one-liners with a hint of humor. I took the serious route instead. You're going to do awesome!"

"Hi Ned. I'm excited for you becoming a dad. You'll be a good one. When I was (I thought) two months away from being a papa, Percy was suddenly born early. We didn't have a name picked out yet, didn't own a car seat to take him home from the hospital, no crib, etc.

Some advice: Clear your schedule for a while. The baby won't need you at first, but your wife will. It's a strange time after a baby's birth, when time is loosed from it's normal rhythms of night and day, work and leisure. It will be easier if you don't have a lot of stuff to worry about while you spend a night walking the floor with a new baby. Just enjoy the time and know you can catch up on your sleep later, everything can wait. A person is only an infant once (except for certain outgoing U.S. presidents, but I digress). It seems to be a scary and painful experience being born, so the baby needs you to hold and sing and talk to him or her.

Also, Rosaline had a bout of post-partum depression after each of our two kids were born. With Willoughby, we didn't recognize it at first. I just thought Maeve was way too anxious when the baby would cry, awfully sensitive about things, always worrying. Once she got medication, everything evened out. Watch for signs of depression, because it can be quite serious in some women. And at least for us, medication worked great. (It's not the kind of depression that needs therapy or psychoanalysis---it's chemical and responds well to chemicals.)

Babies are such lovely little people. I am awestruck and surprised by how much I love my sons."

"Having a kid is tough. Get ready not relinquish all of your personal time and forfeit it over to the kid. It is my opinion that the difficulty that is inherent with caring for another makes the rewards sweeter.

Baby boys get boners. No crap. Nobody told me about it, but we looked it up and it is natural for little baby boys to get boners. Laugh it up!

Babies will learn the word “no” sooner than you think they will. So start using it so the kid will learn limits."


ashley's autonomous belly


    [aw-ton-uh-muhs] Show IPA Pronunciation  
a.self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.
b.pertaining to an autonomy.
2.having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent: a subsidiary that functioned as an autonomous unit.
a.existing and functioning as an independent organism.
What I like about Ashley's pregnant belly is that its sort of like a chameleon.  An ornery chameleon trapped inside a rubber playground ball.   A chameleon - because sometimes you can see it, and sometimes you can't.  

I'll show you what I mean.

Big Belly 
Big Belly on the Colorado College Campus

Big Belly in an art installation that smells like a swamp.

No belly in an art installation that smells like a swamp

No belly in the Fancy Pheasant Antique shop

No belly in an antique nightgown.

Big Belly in a lovely outfit.

I always tell Ashley that you can't tell she's pregnant from behind - and there's the empirical evidence.  Some of you have asked for belly pictures - and there you have it.

Ashley - sorry in advance for the nightgown picture.  I couldn't resist.