The story behind Keira’s middle name

•April 29, 2010 • 2 Comments

Keira Helen Lee is nearly 10 weeks old and getting bigger and cuter every day. Both Megan and I have had the pleasure of introducing her to so many of our friends and relatives over the past few weeks!

In mid-May, we’ll be bringing Keira to my cousin Maggie’s wedding, where she can meet many more relatives on my side of the family. It goes without saying that we’re excited, especially because we also named her after an aunt of mine who passed away a few years ago and who was such an important part of our family.

I wrote a column about my Aunt Helen back in July 2006 for the newspaper I then worked at, The Monticello Express. I thought I’d share that column again so you can see why Helen means so much to me, and why Keira was named in her honor. Thanks for reading.

 Aunt Helen beat the odds

Our relatives recently gathered together again to remember a passing family member.

My Aunt Helen, my mom’s youngest sister and one of seven siblings, died from neurofibromatosis on June 24, 2006. I was one of the pallbearers at her funeral, and it was an honor for me to serve that role.

Growing up, my sister Barbi, my cousins and I knew that Helen had some health problems, but it wasn’t until just recently that I learned how severe they were.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder of the nervous system that primarily affects the development and growth of nerve cell tissues. This disorder causes tumors to grow on nerves and produces other abnormalities such as skin changes and bone deformities.

An estimated 100,000 Americans have a neurofibromatosis disorder, which occurs in both sexes and in all races and ethnic groups.

Why these tumors occur still isn’t completely known, but it appears to be mainly related to mutations in genes that play key roles in suppressing tumor growth in the nervous system. These mutations keep the genes from making specific proteins that control cell production. Without these proteins, cells multiply out of control and form tumors.

NF was discovered in Helen when she was a teenager.

She had to undergo surgery at age 17 to remove a baseball-sized tumor in her head. Her doctors also gave a very grim diagnosis for her: that she wasn’t expected to live beyond her 20s.

The news was devastating to my family, but Helen never seemed to let it really affect her. She just accepted what her fate was, and made the most out of what was to remain of her life.

Helen lived with her parents for many years, and that house became the central gathering point for our many family get-togethers and reunions over the years.

For a lot of us nieces and nephews, life was about adjusting to being Asian in an American world, and trying to balance our lives with our parents’ lives and their ambitions, both for them and for us, their kids.

But going to see Aunt Helen meant we’d get a break from all that and just enjoy some quality fun time. As her younger brother Jimmy said at her funeral, Helen was always into how we the younger generation were doing, and we often saw her as a second parent–a testament to her nurturing nature.

I also got to re-connect with my cousin Howie at Helen’s funeral, and he brought up fun memories of how we cousins would spend the night at Helen’s, knowing it would be more like a party than a sleepover.

For one thing, being at Helen’s meant we’d get some fun foods like Shake & Bake or pizza. (Growing up on a pretty strict regimen of Chinese meals, anything non-Chinese was a treat for us back in the day.) I also remember Helen babysitting Barbi and me while our parents were gone for a week or so, and even joining us all on a multi-family excursion to Florida one year.

As time went on, however, Helen’s health continued to decline, and regular trips to the hospital became part of her life and ours.

On a weekend trip home from college, I was asked to take Helen on one of those hospital trips so she could get a checkup. Megan, whom I had only recently met and who came back with me to Chicago that time, met Helen for the first time on that outing, as we assisted her in and out of the car.

It was time-consuming, us taking Helen to the hospital and then us waiting while Helen went through her series of tests. But Megan and Helen really hit it off, and Megan told me later that she thought very highly of Helen and how she handled her situation with such grace.

And for me, seeing how Megan responded to Helen made me think so highly of Megan too.

Helen must have thought the same way. It probably wasn’t for at least a year or two when Megan and I were back in Chicago at a family gathering when Helen–now using a walker–came through my family’s front door and saw Megan.

The first thing out of Helen’s mouth, loudly and jovially: “Is that Megan??”

I don’t know if I had ever heard Helen speak so happily. It brought a huge smile to my face, as well as Megan’s.

But NF continued to do damage to Helen’s body, and she underwent more numerous surgeries over the years to remove the unstoppable growth of tumors inside her. And when our family could no longer properly care for her, Helen was moved to a nursing home.

We all continued to visit Helen there, but it got difficult to watch as she steadily lost control of her body. She couldn’t hear anymore, she could barely talk, and her muscles seized up to the point that she could not express any emotions-she was unable to smile anymore.

In mid-June, Barbi told us that a tumor was discovered growing in Helen’s neck. This tumor was inoperable, and it would eventually prevent Helen from being able to eat or breathe.

And Helen made it clear that she didn’t want to be kept alive. No feeding tube, no breathing hole. She was getting ready for the inevitable, and our family had to do the same.

Initially, Helen’s prognosis was that she would be week-to-week, and that her spirits otherwise were up, my mom told me. We made plans to go back to see Helen the last weekend in June.

But on June 24, Helen didn’t wake up.

According to my dad, Helen had actually done well and ate more than she had in quite a while, so everyone thought she would be on an upswing, possibly her last. But that morning, the medical staff couldn’t wake her, so her closest relatives nearby came for her final hours. She died peacefully in her sleep.

Megan and I were already headed to Chicago when we got the news. We had to turn around and come back to get clothes for her funeral, and we wouldn’t get to say good-bye to her in person.

But Helen’s funeral was certainly not just about mourning her passing. Sure, we were sad to see her leave our world, but we all knew she was finally free of the disease that had ravaged her body all these years.

Helen had lived to be 52 years old–two decades longer than that prognosis of not living beyond her 20s. And this fact brought great relief for everyone who knew her.

The night after Helen had died, I actually had a dream where we were all at her funeral. Once the service ended, Helen casually sat up in her casket, looked out at all of us, and smiled a full smile that she likely hadn’t been able to do since she was a teenager.

Then she climbed out of her casket and walked away, smiling the whole time.

I truly believe that this dream happened for a reason. Aunt Helen is on to her new adventure.

‘Protect the football’

•April 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My literal little girl. Photo by Brookelyn's Pix (click image for more info)

Lately, my work schedule has been such that I only get to see Keira for an hour or two in the morning, and when I get home at night, she and Megan are already asleep. So when it’s time to give Keira her overnight feedings, I’ve gladly taken on the role of waking her up and giving her a diaper check before Megan feeds her. 

It still amazes me how tiny our 6-week-old is. It feels like I’m picking up a little doll, and it’s still very satisfying to feel her move around in my arms. (As new parents, we still get paranoid when our little girl sleeps and is lying still too long — we put a hand close to her face to make sure she’s still breathing, or gently rock her and breathe our own sigh of relief when she throws her arms up reflexively.) 

Keira is the perfect size for me to hold in one arm, or to rest her on my legs when I put them up on the coffee table. I’m trying to make sure I can cherish these times when she’s so conveniently sized that I can carry her around like a football. (Coincidentally, that’s also the position Megan uses for nursing her.) 

Keira--still laptop-sized!

It’s also funny how Megan and I see Keira as being bigger now, at nearly 7 pounds, compared to 5 pounds, 14 ounces when she was born. But when others see her, they are amazed at how tiny she is — most of her cousins were more than 7 pounds when they were born! (The average newborn weight is 7 pounds 8 ounces.) 

Now, when I see my nieces, nephew or friends’ little ones, I’m amazed at how “big” they are compared to Keira, especially their hands. Which makes Keira seem all the more precious and fragile! 

And I know it’s just a matter of time that I won’t be able to hold her securely in one arm like a football, or have her lounging on my legs. But even if she won’t be pigskin-sized, rest assured I’ll be protecting her like the ‘football’ that accompanies the President of the United States. I first learned about this at a dinner party held by my friend Charlie Becker, executive director of Camp Courageous and a big-time presidential history buff. 

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Keith Davids carries the "football," foreground, containing nuclear codes, Monday, April 18, 2005, at the White House. (Associated Press photo)

The guest speaker was a former Secret Service agent who talked (limitedly, of course — they are called the “Secret” Service) about what his job was like. I asked what the briefcase that they carry around with the president was for, and that’s when I first heard it was called the football. Simply put, with all the supremely important information and capabilities that were in there, “you do NOT lose the football.” 

In sports, if you lose the football, it’s a turnover and you get booed, but your team usually will get the ball back and still have a chance to try and win the game. Losing the presidential football, however, could lead to a turnover of the entire human race. So, you do NOT lose that football. 

Which brings me back to my little football, which I consider to be more important than anything else out there. Because this football — this ever-growing football — is all mine. I only get one shot at protecting her, and I’m going to do it right.

Shhh, the football's sleeping...

Does it still count as sympathy weight gain?

•March 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Many people told me that during the nine months Megan was pregnant, it would be OK if I gained a little weight myself in sympathy.

I may have gained some, but it wasn’t too bad, with training to race at JingleCross in late November and then just trying to survive the holiday feasts that were to come.

But now that Keira has arrived, I think I’m feeling a bit more plump.

I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s pretty tough to get away from taking care of Keira to get some exercise on my own. That and the stress of learning how to take care of a newborn leads to a lot of comfort-food cravings.

We also have gotten a lot of food from my parents when they’ve visited us; literally buckets of fried rice and noodles so that we didn’t have to worry about making meals for a while. I’m very appreciative of the help, but this isn’t exactly super-nutritious stuff.

My work schedule hasn’t been conducive to fitting in exercise either. I’m working 10-hour days, usually starting at 11 a.m. Couple that with an hourlong commute each way and that’s 12 hours I’m gone from home. There isn’t not much time to fit in any exercise there unless I want to do it at night (too tired) or in the morning (gotta help with Keira so poor Megan can get some rest, as she handles most of the overnight duties).

On the days I’ve had off, we’ve been able to take turns watching Keira so that the other person can get out for some fresh air and exercise. Megan’s been able to get out and walk again after not being able to do so for about the last four months of pregnancy, while I’ve been able to get out for some runs and bike rides. (Megan’s mom also has helped free us up to do some outings.)

For the time being, I’m trying to manage what and how much I’m eating, with minor success, but I know I get a lot more inspired to eat healthily when I can also be very active. And I’m very excited for Keira to be old enough that we can take her out on walks in her stroller, which should be in the next few weeks. Being able to leave our house together for family walks sounds so fun, especially with the warm weather finally arriving!

And in a few months, probably this fall, we’ll get to expand it to family bike rides! I’m already starting to compare child trailers for bikes. (Anyone have suggestions?) 

So I know better days are ahead, both with getting more exercise in and with getting used to life with a child. Until then, please pass the macaroni and cheese, but hopefully not too much.

Time for daddy to go back to work

•March 9, 2010 • 2 Comments


When my daughter Keira was born on Feb. 20, I had planned to take a couple weeks off work so that my wife Megan and I could get used to life as parents.

At the time, those two weeks off felt like they would be an eternity after pretty much not taking any time off work for the last year in preparation for this momentous event. Yet many people told me that time would start flying once the baby arrived.

They’re half-right. It’s felt like I haven’t been at work for a long time, yet I also feel like these last two weeks have flown by, with Keira at the helm.

Time became measured in feedings and diaper changes. During many of those feedings, we waited as Keira took her time nursing. We’d be amazed that one or two hours passed by the time she was full or fell asleep while still attached to Megan; that time spent nursing felt so short to us.

Once we tried to move her around to get her to bed or take a nap, however, Keira often woke up immediately and fussed. Another two or three hours would be lost there trying to get her tired again, cradling her, swaddling her, putting her down when it seemed like she was asleep only to have her wake up again in five to 10 minutes, all agitated again. And thus the dance started over.

But it’s a routine I’ve gotten pretty used to, and it’s given me a chance to really bond with both Keira and Megan. So I’m sad that starting tomorrow I’ll have to be gone 10 to 12 hours at a time, depending on my work shift. Right now it feels like such a big chunk of time to have to spend away from them after being with them both continuously for 18 days.

I know I won’t be able to spend that much time with them until at least we have another baby, which probably would be two years from now if everything works out. Any time spent away from work would be for about a week per the usual vacation time, or possibly for two weeks if we plan a big enough event. (I don’t know if I could burn that many vacation days all at once–I’d like to space them out over the year so I don’t burn out. This past year was an exception because of Keira’s impending arrival.)

It’s kind of crazy to think that any amount of time off work like I’ve just had may not come again until I’m retired. By then, Keira and any other children for the most part will be grown up and won’t want to spend all that time with dorky ‘ol Daddy.

But I think I made the most of these past two weeks with her. For sure it’s been a challenge making the transition to life as a parent. I’m so used to figuring things out and getting the hang of things quickly that it’s been a harsh reality to learn that this isn’t the case when it comes to another little human being. What worked one day (or earlier in the day) won’t work again. Until it does, sometime later. If they allow it. That’s because Keira’s her own person with her own personality, even as a baby. And because her traits came from me and Megan, we both know she’s going to be a handful.

Megan’s going to take another six weeks off work to take care of Keira, and after that we’ll have a system and schedule set up so that we can take turns watching her while the other one is at work. Megan’s mom, who has spent a lot of time here with us the last couple weeks, also will help us out on a regular basis, which we don’t mind at all, because Grandma has a blast with her little girl and would do it full-time if she could!

It’s definitely going to be a team effort to raise Keira, just like it has been since she arrived. But with all the things we’ve gone through these last two weeks, I feel prepared now to take care of her on my own such as when Megan’s working or out running errands, just as Megan is when I’m gone. And even though I know I’m going to have to start spending more time away from her, I look forward to those days when I come home and Keira will welcome me with open arms and a big smile.

Those days are probably going to get here a lot faster than I think.

The New Reality

•March 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment


Keira is just over a week old now, and the euphoria of her birth has worn off. Though I am still amazed that she is Megan’s and my baby, we’re also well aware now that we have a baby to take care of, full-time.

That first night, it was cute seeing her sleep, andwe were ready and excited to jump at the chance to respond to her and help her when she woke up and cried. Boy did that get old quickly. Now, it’s just a part of being a parent to a newborn, I guess.

I had watched a Baby Blues cartoon a while back where the couple, Daryl and Wanda, had all these ideals about how they were going to raise Zoe, their first child. Megan and I had the same intentions for Keira. But we, like probably every new parent out there, learned quite quickly that this wasn’t supposed to be the case.

Thankfully, one of those night happened while we were still at the hospital. We were still in our “ideal” stage, where we felt Keira would only be breastfed and would not have to rely on a pacifier. Well, after the first few diapers changes where Keira really filled hers up, she went dry for most of the day. Megan had been doing well in training Keira to breastfeed, and so we thought all the other things would fall into place. With her having had the Caesarian section, though, her breast milk was supposedly going to take longer to come in.

But we stuck with the breastfeeding, and Keira, for the most part, kept drinking in the colostrum and/or milk, as far as we knew. But she didn’t pee or poop into her diaper all day, and she started getting irritable, as well as possibly dehydrated. We refused to use a pacifier but ended up relying on putting our pinkies in her mouth to pacify her, constantly. And we could tell that her mouth was really dry.

But we hoped that this somehow would pass, that she magically would just cry herself to asleep if we waited it out long enough and dealt with her crying, which went from a cute soft cry to loud, lung-searing burts of wailing. Just when we thought she’d calm down, about a minute later she’d start fussing, and work herself into a frenzy again. This went on repeatedly and we were at wit’s end, getting desperate. Now we felt like crying too.

I knew things were getting bad when talk of a pacifier was not about “calming her down” but “shutting her up.” We finally called a nurse, who brought one over, and suggested some formula too, as a supplement since Megan’s milk hadn’t come in yet.

That changed things in a hurry. Keira took to a pacifier quickly, sucked up the formula, and calmed down a lot. The nurse even offered to care for Keira back in the nursery so we could get some rest, but we declined for a bit, as we felt like doing so would be a cop-out. Also, we were supposed to bring Keira home the next day, so we needed to cram in the experience fast!

And we were scared about being on our own with her. But after seeing how much more calm Keira was with the pacifier and formula, we felt like we had a few more tools to work with. And our way of thinking had changed too. Gone are the ideals of how we’ll take care of and raise her; now it’s more or less a matter of survival for us, and we would use all the different tools and tactics available as needed.

And my sister Barb, who has three young kids of her own, reassured me that Keira would be OK with this. After all, she said, our plan of a natural childbirth had gone out the door with the C-section, and we still ended up with a beautiful little girl. Things will work out with taking care of her at home as well.

I think that our meltdown with Keira at the hospital was a blessing in disguise, because it helped us prepare mentally for the kinds of situations we’ll be facing with Keira. If everything had gone smoothly while at the hospital, we’d have gotten very scared and desperate the first time Keira cried uncontrollably at home.

She’s gone that route a few times now since we’ve come home with her. And Megan and I have since settled in to life at home with little baby Keira–well, as settled as you can get with a newborn, which isn’t much.

But we’re not scared of the challenges we’ll face. At least they should be coming slowly so we can adjust and prepare as needed.

Then again, people have told me the time will fly by, and in a lot of ways it already feels like they’re right.

We’ll roll with it.

She’s here!

•February 20, 2010 • 8 Comments

Welcome, Keira Helen Lee!

I really couldn’t have gotten my post about the anxiety of fatherhood out there any later. Just like my baby girl’s time inside my wife, yesterday’s post was supposed to have stuck around longer. But Keira arrived at 12:51 a.m. Saturday, about 14 hours after Megan’s water broke, so my post, which was supposed to last through the weekend before a planned induction, had a much shorter shelf life than planned.

But I don’t care. I’m now the proud father of, and Megan is the proud mother of, Keira Helen Lee! The whole labor process was stressful, and it was tough watching Megan struggle with her contractions, even though she handled them like a champ. Because the labor wasn’t coming along as planned, a decision was made to deliver by Caesarian section, which brought about a new set of worries because we initially planned for as natural a childbirth as possible. I was given a full set of scrubs to wear, and had to wait while Megan was prepped. And I was told, no cameras in the operating room, just the nursery. So I kept ours in my pocket.

When it was time for me to enter the operating room, an exhausted and hurting Megan was replaced by a revitalized one — the pain medication had kicked in! And she greeted me with a big smile as I walked up to her and took a seat by her head. And now, we waited. We heard operating procedure talk interspersed with gossip about what happened at the Olympics. I felt and saw Megan and the table she was lying on move around as the doctors and surgeons got to work.

And then one of the nurses asked me if I wanted to stand up and peek over the curtain to see our baby. I wasn’t sure what to do; here Megan was doing all the suffering of growing this baby and then laboring to give birth to her, and now she wouldn’t even get to be the first one of us to lay her eyes on her.

She encouraged me to get up and see Keira. The nurse then said, “Got your camera ready?” Wow, really?? Now I get to at least share those first looks at Keira with Megan after all! I pulled my camera out, stood up, and there she was! I started taking pictures. I told Megan I saw a head. Then I saw the rest of her get pulled out and the doctors start examining her. And then we heard her cry! And I heard Megan laugh with joy.

Then I was invited to go over and watch/document as the pediatrician and nurse give Keira a thorough lookover and wipe her down. Although Keira’s umbilical cord was cut already, it was quite long, and they gave me the opportunity to cut it down to the correct size. It was an honor that I gladly accepted.

But an even bigger honor was that they would let me carry her over to Megan and let her see her daughter for the very first time. Even though Keira weighed just 5 pounds 14 ounces, feeling her weight in my arms was most splendid.

“She has red hair!” I exclaimed to Megan as I carried our daughter to her. And they got to meet. A nurse took our picture with our camera (and, as I learned later, filmed me walking with Keira toward Megan).

I then got to carry Keira out to meet her maternal grandmother, Mary. (And be part of their first photo together!) Then it was off to the nursery, Keira still in my arms.

As the doctor and nurse continued giving Keira a thorough exam and lookover, I feverishly kept taking pictures and filming video. These were Keira’s first moments, and I wanted to preserve them so that they could be cherished forever. Once all that wound down, though, and the images I was capturing started to look like they were repeating themself, I set the camera aside and truly took her in with my own eyes — no more viewfinder for a while.

All this while Mary stood outside the nursery looking in through the window. I had to share what I’d captured with her, so I went out and gave her the camera so she could look through things, while I headed back in to be with Keira. I just wanted to do everything I could for her!

“Do you want to put her first diaper on?” the nurse asked me. HELL YEAH! With her guidance (label goes on the front — it’s still all about the advertising) I put on the diaper.

Now it was just a matter of waiting for Megan’s post-operation process to be completed so we could bring Keira to her again. And what a great feeling it was to do that again — the most special of deliveries!

And just like her mom, Keira has been a champ. Her cries revealed a powerful set of lungs, her eyes already are so observant and inquisitive, and she’s already unloaded impressive amounts into her diaper several times.

Guess who got the privilege and honor of doing Keira’s first diaper change? Yours truly, and there is absolutely no sarcasm in that previous sentence. I’m a pretty sentimental guy and already feel so privileged that I got to do all these “firsts” for Keira already. The first diaper duty is just another item on that list! And you know what, I feel like if I was able to do it that first time, then I can do it anytime! That was a big hurdle for me leading up to Keira’s arrival. Now it’s no big deal at all. It’s still a privilege. (I’m aware that down the road, Keira will offer up much bigger deals of her own in her diapers, but if I’m already handling things pretty well now, I should be fine at that time as well.)

Which brings me back to yesterday’s angst-ridden post. Keira has already helped me put some of those anxieties to full rest. And for the others, well, they’ll still be there and I don’t know what I, Megan or Keira can do about the things that are out of our control. But what’s keeping me going right now is that, like all the other things that have happened to me to make me feel so special in about the first 12 hours of Keira’s existence in this world as of this writing, I’m so excited and privileged to help her tackle it.

Game on.

My little angel's already so expressive.

Fatherhood is imminent

•February 19, 2010 • 5 Comments

Wow, the last time I posted anything about our upcoming baby, it was an ultrasound done at about 3 months. I had been hoping to provide more updates about how the baby and my wife Megan were coming along, but I got caught up on other things, including focusing on getting our house and the baby’s room ready.

Well, the big moment is imminent. We’re a few days away from Megan getting induced (unless we can jumpstart labor on our own) and a few days away from meeting our baby girl. (At least that’s what the crew at the birthing center has been telling us.)

So this in all likelihood is the last time I’ll be writing something as a guy, i.e. not a dad. It’s kind of a weird feeling.

I know parenthood is something that happens to so many people, so the event really isn’t that unique, but because it hasn’t happened to me yet, I still can’t wrap my head around this notion. I just have to wait to our baby to arrive, and see what happens from there.

In no way do I expect it to be that easy, of course. I understand that labor will be quite the experience, and even more so for Megan. I’m as ready as I think I can be to help her get through it. One hand will be doing whatever is possible to help her (hold her hand, rub her back/neck/shoulders, feed her ice chips, get crushed by her, etc.) and the other will be holding a camera, ready to capture Baby Lee’s arrival.

I’ve read several books and articles on the dad’s role in pregnancy and fatherhood. I’ve gone with Megan to the childbirth class and read through the corresponding materials. And when it’s time to go to the birthing center, I’m planning on bringing only reading material that’s related to the task at hand.

I’m actually quite relieved to feel pretty comfortable talking about all this. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a big a-ha moment of the enormity of the situation while staring at different baby strollers. As in, “Oh my god, I’m looking at baby strollers because soon I’ll have a baby to put in one of these!”

The last time I realized I had such a big moment of realization was when I was at a hardware store in Seattle looking at the best tools for the yard of the house we just bought. (“Oh my god, I own a house!”)

Now it’s all coming together. I realized how far I’ve come along when I was talking about how proud I was of our updated bathroom and its low-flow, five-star flushing power toilet to a new co-worker who had just graduated college. I don’t know if the recent-college-graduate me would have been able to relate to all that stuff the impending-father me just spewed out. The younger me would have thought all that was, well, dorky.

But the current me kind of gets it now. And to think there’s so much more to come once that baby arrives. How am I going to feel the first time she looks up at me? And smiles? And poops? I know I’m going to be changing her diaper many, many, MANY times, but is it because I have to as part of my fatherly duties, or because I want to because I will absolutely adore her and don’t want her to feel the least bit uncomfortable?

And then there’s the whole thing of having to be a parent, to not just take care of her, but to actually RAISE her, to keep her out of trouble, to make sure she becomes a good person who, in roughly 18 years, will be able to fully take care of herself?

This is when I start wondering if I’ll become more like my dad. Not in any bad way, mind you. He’s a good man, and I think I turned out well because of how he and my mom raised me. But rather, is it that generational thing where you want to be your own person but come to find out you do have some similarities to the ones who raised you, because duh, you came from them? Where when you say something, you catch yourself and think, “Whoa, that sounded a lot like how my dad would have said it”? That’s happened to me a few times now, and where I once freaked out and thought, “No no no, that’s just weird and wrong,” I think I’m more indifferent now when I catch myself doing that. I wonder if I’ll continue moving down that line of thinking, to the point that when I find myself acting more like my dad, it’ll be a relief?

And then there are the things that I’ll have even less control over, and this part really scares me.

I worry about what kind of world my daughter and her potential siblings will be growing up in. The economy’s in the tank. Our money situation is OK, but anything can happen. Our country and this world are being run by people who for the most part don’t care about making life good for us all collectively, but rather about keeping themselves and their cohorts in power. In poker terms, I don’t like thinking about the hand Baby Lee and the next generation could be dealt.

But what can I do? I guess trying to answer that question is what’s driven me to read and prepare as much as I can to be a good dad. And when my daughter arrives, I’ll take care of her, and Megan, as well as I can, for as long as I can, however I can. (Heh, if Megan and I do a good job, then way down the road, she’ll want to take care of us!)

But first things first. I just need to concentrate on the fact that soon, I’ll officially be a dad. And Megan will be a mom.

And the two of us will become the three of us.

It just goes faster and faster!

•January 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It hadn’t really hit me that we’ve already come to the end of one decade and the start of another. I was used to thinking of the year-end stuff that news organizations traditionally do, but wow, with the start of 2010, yep, that’s another dacade down the hatch!

Having just turned 35, I’m halfway into my fourth decade of existence. I was too young to recall the start of the ’80s but I do remember hearing about us having a new president by the name of Ronald Reagan. And I do remember all that talk about what happened in the ’80s as we approached 1990.

But the ’90s never really got summed up as its own decade, at least to me. As 1999 started and went on, it was all about the last century and millenium, and the start of a new one. (And fears of Y2K mayhem.)

So with this decade quickly winding down, here are my highlights of it in a nutshell:

-Spent the first five years of it in Seattle, in a new job (my only non-journalism one). Got married!

-The last five years of the decade we’ve spent back in the Midwest, but traveled around Europe for several weeks (in 2005!) before settling back down. Resumed a career in journalism.

Interesting how this decade really consisted of two parts, the Seattle and the Midwest eras. So what will next year (and the next decade) bring? A little bundle of joy, due in late February! Followed by maybe another bundle of joy, followed by fatherhood and parenthood adventures. I also hope there will be a lot of good news for everyone else, as many of us know how tough the last decade has been.

I for sure am going to need a good decade, because by 2020 I’m going to be the father of a ‘tween girl. I’m already kind of worried.

Getting better at that cyclocross thing

•December 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Boy, does fear make for a good motivator!

After suffering through last year’s JingleCross Rock, where I came in second-last (to a guy who ran while carrying his broken bike) I made it a point to do more training for this year’s race. And it was a success.

Read my whole blog post here. Michelle also writes about how fun and successful JingleCross in her post.


Ready to race at Jinglecross

•November 24, 2009 • 2 Comments

This is at the Jones County fairgrounds, where I've been practicing. The real fun will be at Jinglecross in Iowa City this weekend!

Well, it’s official: I’ve signed up to race at JingleCross. My race starts at 9:15 a.m. Sunday. Read my full blog post on VeloDuo, and come out and enjoy a day or a weekend of bikes, mud and fun!