Sunday, August 06, 2006

First Trimester

No, not that kind of trimester. As of this week I’ve been at this blog thing for three months, and the experience has been so great and fulfilling that I thought I’d write a little bit about it to mark the milestone.

When I started with my first entry, late on a Wednesday night in May, I had no idea whether or not I’d even come back for a second posting, let alone return to the space more than 30 times to document and celebrate all manner of moments and developments happening in and shaping our lives. Being able to put Ava’s “Dad! I’m counting on you!” line in print was, alone, worth the effort, but there’s been so much more than that, and it’s just beginning.

As a former journalist, I have to admit that post-blog I find myself thinking in terms of entries, as we move from day to day. Someone will say something, or something will happen – a trend will emerge or just an opportunity for some additional depth or historical context out of my own childhood – and I’ll say to myself, “that’s an entry… I have write that one up.” I’ll grab a piece of paper and whatever I can find to write with and start scrawling down ideas or quotes. Invariably, if she’s nearby, Madison will ask what I’m doing and why I’m taking the time to memorialize her latest observation on the rapture of Skechers or most recent lament that we won’t let her have a real pet or any Bratz Girlz toys.

The girls know about the blog, I’ve shown them the photos I’ve posted on here and when I’m working on an entry in our home office they are prone to coming into the room, looking at the screen and saying something like, “is that the blog?” before demanding that I immediately close it out and switch to Noggin.com so they can play games, watch an online video or pick out some printables.

I started small on the distribution of the URL, a few family members and close friends, and the list has grown over time and the things I’ve heard back have been so positive and complimentary that I’m sure they’ve fueled the effort. Again, back to the journalism roots, it’s great to take the time to knock out an entry, push “publish” and know that the people we are closest to in our lives will, at some point, find their way to this current information and understand where we are and what we’re up to.

It has been terrific having a place to document little moments that would otherwise blur and eventually disappear, replaced by the relentless march of the here and now. Little lines like the one Ava delivered yesterday when we were driving in the car, as she looked out the window and found the sun throwing her reflection up against the glass – “Daddy, I see pictures about me in my window.”

Or the time during our recent vacation in Vermont, when we were trying to pick a dinner location after a long and occasionally challenging day that had us in and out of outlet stores, always with the kids, managing through multiple destinations and unscheduled Britax naps and other assorted logistical setbacks. We have yet to find a real bulletproof dinner destination up there, where both the kids and we can eat well and leave satisfied. At one point, after discussing and dismissing a half dozen possible options, I said to Gwen, “I really don’t care, wherever you want to go, you pick.” To which she replied, “I really don’t care, either, but wherever we go I’d like them to have a liquor license.”

So we’re three months into this thing, and I’m looking forward to taking it full term. Nine months will hit in February, Ava will have just turned four and Madison will be a few weeks away from six. God and my employer willing, we’ll just be back from our annual week in Aruba with my parents and assorted other relatives, and will be in the final stages of planning our first trip to Disney, which we’re hoping to accomplish in March or April of next year. Ava has an aversion to large costumed characters, a condition we discovered after she spent entire Barney, Dora and Wiggles live shows with her face buried into each of our armpits, her arms wrapped around us and clutching for dear life, so we’ve put off the formal introduction to Mickey and Minnie in the hope that she'll eventually come around.

And who knows what else we’ll be doing six months from now? You’d like to think our kitchen renovation would be complete by then but who can really tell. The girls will hopefully have a new bathroom. Depending on her persistence and level of persuasiveness I may have acceded to Madison’s wishes and taken a job selling paint at a Sherwin-Williams store. Madison’s first school bus ride, Ava in a new pre-school program, friends and family, cousins, holidays, everything that weaves together to create the fabric of life.

And, now that I have this little forum, this living vehicle, I know it will all be covered on here.

For parents out there who can find the time and have the slightest inclination, here’s a parting thought – do this. Get yourself a journal to write in or, if online works for you, go to www.blogger.com, take 30 seconds to establish your own little place on the Internet and start creating your record. Share the URL with others if you want, but more importantly do it for yourself, and for your kids, and ultimately for their kids, because you don’t get these moments back, and while you can certainly remember the high points, the remaining 98 percent will get away from you.

Like what Ava just said to me. We’re at my parents’ house this weekend because they’re refinishing our floors in the area of the kitchen – part of the above-mentioned renovation – and I’m sitting in the family room on the laptop writing this anniversary entry. Over the last five minutes or so there has been a scurry of mobilization to go out on my parents’ boat… swimsuits are going on, sunscreen is being applied and Ava just came over to me and said, “Dad! You can play your computer on the boat because it’s time to go!”

Think about starting a blog, or a journal. And don’t forget to take a lot of pictures. And shoot tons of video, for your family’s own historical record and also to get your kids comfortable in front of the camera so they are appropriately prepared for an all-but-certain starring role on reality television.

**[Editor's note. Heard from the wife on some of the more recent postings, this one and also "What did she say?" She's concerned that she's being presented as someone who is either "shopping or looking for alcohol," and wanted to express that she is not entirely pleased with the way her character is being edited and depicted here. We will strive for some additional balance and context in future installments.]

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