Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Good!

There's a whole lot I like about autumn--the chilly mornings, hoodies, the colors on the trees and the swish-crunch sound the leaves make when I walk. And football. Can't forget about football. Pro football isn't my preference right now, though. My interest has waned in the past few years and I no longer keep up with how the Eagles are doing (although my dislike of the Dallas Cowboys is as strong as ever).

It's all about Penn State football.

Say what you want about the past, but it's a different era now. The new coach, Bill O'Brien is from the New England Patriots and brings a new, exciting approach to the game. That's not even the best part. Now I have a fellow fan to watch the games with.

Norah Grace.

That baby loves her football. I'm able to watch the games streaming online and when Norah first sits in front of the screen she squeals and bounces up and down. Then she watches.

Even better, she knows what to do when there's a touchdown.

It's good!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Running to Escape...Literally

In this blog I focus on things that bring awe to my life, mainly my little girl. The awesomeness of adventure, though, is something different. Whether it be immersing myself in a new culture, admiring one of a kind vistas, or reaching for that surge of adrenalin, it's a passion, something I crave. There are so many adventures to be had from the north pole to south. This particular one takes place below the equator on an island that has never seen a speed limit above fifty-five and the Milky way stretches from horizon to horizon like a celestial rainbow. Fiji.

I lived in Fiji for three months in 2008 and ran a few times per week throughout the duration. One route was about five miles, part of which took place on train tracks. You can see where this story is going.

I never saw a train on these narrow tracks, plus most sections had areas I could step off if a train were to come. Perfectly safe. However, I doubt many stories beginning with "So I was running on the train tracks..." are without their fair bit of excitement (and dumb choices).

So I was running on the train tracks when I heard a noise. It sounded a bit like a train, but was far in the distance. I kept running, pace unchanged. The sound grew, like it was coming closer yet still far away. Still, I ran. I rounded a bend and kept going straight ahead. After a little while on this straightaway I chanced a look back and saw a train, loaded down with sugar cane, coming around the bend.

I didn't least not that I remember. What I do remember, though, was running like my life depended on it. I ran as fast as I could down the straightaway. There was nowhere to jump off and get out of the train's path. To the right lay a swamp, full of thick, trash littered muck, mud, and water. To the left was dense vegetation leaving it not possible exit to those poor souls who thought running on train track sounded like a good idea. So I ran.

My legs burned and I gasped for air, train growing closer second by second. I rounded another bend and saw salvation ahead. A road came close to the tracks, thereby providing a break in the undergrowth. My legs began to tired and my lungs screamed for air. The train's whistle cut through the air, giving me an extra boost. I ran as fast as I could to that road, to salvation. The train grew closer. My strength was leaving me.

Just then, I made it to the road. I jumped from the tracks and the train passed by seconds later. What a rush.

Quite the adventure. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Just an Outfit...

Just under a year ago, Norah Grace was no bigger than an orange and kicking away inside her mommy's belly. Right around that time Amy and I flew stateside to visit family and do the baby shower rounds. And, of course, we couldn't leave Kentucky without first visiting the outlet stores. The reason: stock up on baby clothes. Why there and not in Germany? Because most baby clothes in Germany are boring. Not all, but most.

We went from store to store filling shopping bags without thinking how we would bring it all back to Germany with us (in the end we filled two suitcases and a shipping box with toys and clothes from shopping trips and baby showers). Out of the multitudes of pinks, purples, and pastels, I came across some sensible clothes: a striped hoodie of autumn-ish colors, a long sleeve Daddy's Favorite Girl embroidered t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Real denim jeans, too, none of that stretchy jeggings stuff. The tags all read 9 Months. Into the shopping bag they went.

We got back to Germany and this outfit found itself in the back of the closet, impossibly big compared to the clothes Norah would need first.

Then she was born. Two days after her birth, little Norah Grace weighed a mere 5.5 pounds. So small! I caught the occasional glimpse of her daddy-bought outfit and found it astounding she would ever be big enough to wear it.

Fast forward a bit and the little bobblehead Norah's clothes were put aside and the I'm-almost-a-toddler Norah's clothes made their way to the front of the closet. In just a few short months, this little girl has gone from an infant who smiled mostly in response to the smiles of others to a baby that loves acting goofy to make her mommy and daddy laugh. It just gets better and better.

This amazing little girl has gone from curling up on my chest to standing on her own, holding on with just one hand.

And the outfit daddy picked out--it fits.

Leipzig, September 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An Update

I know I haven't posted in a little while now, so I thought I'd add a quick update. With my master's classes back up and running for the fall semester, life has been quite busy. Along with work and being a family man, it's quite a balancing act to keep and sometimes the blog will fall by the wayside.

That's not to say nothing's going on.

The other day I found out that I was a top finalist in a writing competition for my short story "Lifted," a piece I posted last month. I am going to work with an editor to polish it up a bit before it gets published. Here's the website:

Miss Norah Grace is still herself, funny faces and all. She's working hard to start crawling but hasn't quite gotten it yet. She's also working towards pulling herself up and standing while holding on to something. She seems to like running in place when she's picked up or laying on her back.

More updates and pictures to come. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our Children

Our first children were the four-legged kind. Bella, a yorkie-poodle mix (called either a yorkie-poo or a porkie, depending on your sense of humor) joined us about a year before Mika the border collie ran into our lives.

Bella was generally pretty calm and went with the flow while Mika shook things up a bit (and by "a bit" I mean there were moments of "Oh my God, what have we gotten ourselves into?").

We learned that having dogs, especially a border collie as emotional as a 15 year old girl, is good practice for having kids. HOWEVER, you don't trade the dogs for the baby--those dogs that were such great practice for having a child are still around when that child gets there.

We lucked out with very laid back dogs. Bella is like a Gumby doll, the kind with the wire inside that stays in any position you put it in. Flip her on her back, her side, mess with her face, her paws...she just lays there. Mika has never been around kids, so we weren't quite sure what would happen when the dogs were surrounded by five and six year olds at a parade a few years ago. We got our answer when one very brave/less-than-genius little boy shoved his hand into her mouth. He pulled it back out again in one piece, so we knew she didn't have any problems with kids.

Then came the real test for our dogs: a baby.

They've taken it surprisingly well. And by that I mean Mika will lay there and let Norah pull on her eyelids and play dentist, both hands in the dog's mouth, while Bella also tolerates her, but usually gives her a wide berth and seems to be wondering when that baby is going back to where she came from. We try to encourage Mika to stay out of reach for her own well-being, but she will plop herself down right next to the baby anyway.

I think Mika and Norah Grace are going to prove to be a formidable duo when it comes to getting into things. However, I think once Norah has a big enough lap, Bella will park herself there and soak up the attention.

And we're pretty sure Norah we'll be saying "Mika" before "dada."

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Miss Norah Grace is proving to be a bit reserved with people she doesn't know very well. She'll laugh and play with mommy and daddy, but she needs to get used to a new person before showing that side of herself.


She loves making strangers smile. Not to sound too arrogant about it, but she generally doesn't have to do much to light up someone's face. With her bright pink clothes and big, bright hair bows, this little one stands out in a crowd of German babies. She gets "ooh" and "aah" and "how sweet" any time she ventures out. People ask if she's the birthday girl.

Nope, this is just how she rolls.

Some aren't so quick to turn the frown upside down. This is where effort comes in. And awkward staring. The usual situation is this: Norah Grace will be riding on the bus, tram, or train and choose a stony-faced target. She will stare at them, sometimes smiling, sometimes making goofy faces, always awkwardly, until they break. 

Even the most stoic of East Germans can't hold out forever. Three to four minutes seems to be average. Not being able to hold it in anymore, they smile at the cute little baby. Men, women, old, young. Doesn't matter. And then, in true shy/awkward Norah fashion, she looks away and won't smile anymore.

Last week, though, Norah Grace met her match. She and Amy were riding on the tram when Norah sighted her next target. She stared. The woman looked at her. Norah made a face, continued to stare. The woman didn't flinch. This battle of wills lasted minutes until Norah finally saw the futility in it and gave up. With big, dramatic sigh, she broke eye contact with the woman and looked up at her mom, as if to say,

"Some people are just hopeless."

Leipzig, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Norah Grace is is making me happy, yet again. This time, it's something she's doing for her own benefit. At seven months old, she is already showing a love of books and reading. For the past two months or so her attention span for sitting and being read to is growing and growing.

She will lounge with us and read through a couple books without showing a sign of impatience. And, now that she has her walker, she has been going into her room and finding books on her own.

Not too long ago, I read a list of all the things a child should be able to do before starting kindergarten. It was ridiculous. It more resembled a list of things I would expect a child to be able to do after spending a year in kindergarten. Besides, it doesn't matter if your kid can recite the ABCs frontwards, backwards, and upside-down in their sleep; the number one sign of a future successful reader is the size of their vocabulary early on. What better way to expand one's vocabulary than through books? Plus, I love to read and it's pretty cool knowing I have something in common with my little girl.