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October 15, 2004

Ever put off writing a letter until you have the time to make it really special? Then the next thing you know, eight years have gone by, the person you were going to write to hates you, and you can't remember what you wanted to say in the first place?

So I've been meaning to write a long post about the new boy, post a picture, and so on. It ain't happening any time soon. So let's just hit the main points for now.

The child is like a teenage boy -- he parties all night, sleeps all day, and is obsessed with breasts. Given that I'm an up at five in the morning kind of guy, this doesn't wear well on me. The wife, on the other hand, has some kind of estrogen Superwoman thing going on that enables her to nurse him every ten minutes at night, reorganize the garage and work in the yard all day, and still look breathtakingly beautiful when I get home.

Everyone asks us: "how are the other boys adjusting to their new brother?" The answer is that they are France and he is Lichtenstein, which means that they mostly talk to and about themselves, but occasionally remember he exists and stop by for a visit.

Eli has struggled a little, however. The second day we had Isaac home, Eli came into our bedroom where my wife was sitting on the bed nursing the baby.

"Mommy, will you hold me?"

"I can't hold you right now, sweetie." Quietly he turned and left the room. A minute later I peeked into his bedroom and saw him curled up in his little rocking chair with his blanket under his arm and his fingers in his mouth, listening to music.

"Are you sad, Eli?"

"Yeah. I can't fit in dat bed."

"Come here, baby." He toddled over to me and I cradled him in my arms. He sighed, that long low sigh we all make when we finally get to hug someone we love and have missed terribly, or when we slip into bed after a miserable day.

We talked about the random things that occupy a child's mind, him looking up at me with his cheek against my chest, and for a little while he was the baby again. Then he wiggled out of my arms and tackled me, ready to give the little boy thing another go.

I worry all the time that I'm not giving them enough of me. They crave my time; they soak it up like thirsty plants. Caleb still talks fondly about when we spent a few days putting flooring in the attic. It was a hot and miserable job from my perspective, cutting boards, dragging them up the stairs, and gluing and nailing them down. But Caleb had a blast in his little tool belt and yellow construction worker's hat as alternated between whacking boards with a hammer and decorating them with his little brush and watercolor paints. I wish I could see the world through his eyes more often.

The other night one of the boys started a rumor, which spread to the other one, that I was going into work in the middle of the night. I know this because they opened my bedroom door at 11 p.m. and marched to my bed like a delegation from some tiny country of wee people, demanding to know whether I in fact was getting ready to go to work.

"Do I look like I'm getting ready for work?"

"I don't know."

"I'm sleeping, babies." They just stood there quietly in the dark, but I could feel them staring at me suspiciously. "Now let's go back to bed." Of course this required a Daddy escort, because while they were brave enough to come down the hall to check on me, they couldn't quite muster the courage to make the return trip on their own. Then there was the tucking in, the requests for sips of water, the additional questioning about exactly when I planned to go to work, why I have to work at all, and whether they could have chewing gum in the morning.

"Daddy," Caleb asked me a few weeks ago, "why do you have to work?"

"So we don't have to live in a shoe box."

Fast forward a few weeks. "Daddy?"

"Yes, buddy."

"Do you have to work tomorrow?"



"Uh huh?"

"I want to live in a shoe box."

They are an observant, literal little crew with keen memories. Just the other day I caught Eli chomping on something at eight in the morning. "Eli, are you chewing gum?"

"No, I'm Eli."

It's often frustrating in the moment, but it makes me smile when I write it down. I should smile more often, because one day all I'll have left is what I've written, and what scraps of memories remain in my mind. But I'll be able to watch them, God willing, experience what I'm enjoying and enduring right now. I hope I prepare them well.

Posted by Woodlief on October 15, 2004 at 07:47 AM


It's funny: We all crave attention once given by others. You and I have seen each other once in the last eight(!) years or so, but because of the past, we are still connected, and I feel like I can go over to your house and hang out at any time - high school all over again. We always have the requisite "come visit" invite, but what keeps us, all of us, from preserving memories by creating new ones? At least you realize time is fleeting as we get older and this will sustain your priorities better than you think. As expected, I'll end with a "we should really get together soon," but all I can do is hope it will happen and then return to my daily grind, forgetting its importance as soon as the words are written. Well, before I get too mushy, take care, love to the entire clan, new and old(er), and we should really get together soon.

Posted by: Shawn Small at October 15, 2004 8:10 AM

"Eli, are you chewing gum?"

"No, I'm Eli."

Classic. :D Just classic. You have a future comedian on your hands.

Posted by: Thief at October 15, 2004 12:31 PM

I have two boys... 19 and soon to be 17...

As I'm reading your post, I've having vague memories of my guys looking to me for comfort, security, love... and I'm agonizing over the fact that time slipped by far too quickly...

And then you write:

I should smile more often, because one day all I'll have left is what I've written, and what scraps of memories remain in my mind. But I'll be able to watch them, God willing, experience what I'm enjoying and enduring right now. I hope I prepare them well.

Oh lord, you nailed it. I don't know if my 19 and soon to be 17 year olds have been prepared well... and now, it's clear, that there's little more I can do to change that state of mind...

But oh how time does go by...

Enjoy your boys Scott... and keep writing man...

Posted by: RickinVa at October 15, 2004 1:11 PM

I said Scott... I meant Tony...

Have no clue where Scott came from but it does ring a familiar bell...


Posted by: RickinVa at October 15, 2004 1:15 PM

That was adorable, funny, and classic, as others have said. I find that my blog also gives me a chance to take frusterations and turn them into smiles, but mine come from work, and not from wonderful children. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Jenny at October 15, 2004 1:24 PM

With no sitter yesterday I took my 13 month old son to work with me for the day. I had a job to check on [I am in construction management], so we went there, stayed for a few hours and both had a great time. I wonder if he will remember that when he is 20...

Posted by: Josh Harmon at October 15, 2004 1:33 PM

I'm fighting back jealousy pangs when you mention holding your sons in your arms. My son is getting so big that he is difficult to lift and carry. I ask him if he's been eating rocks since he's so heavy, yet he keeps denying it.

Those youngsters do give you a time warp. You try to treasure each day, then wonder where the time went.

Posted by: MarcV at October 15, 2004 2:31 PM

Kid's are great, man. I don't have any of my own - yet - but I spend a good bit of time working with them, and just love 'em. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

Posted by: Russell Newquist at October 15, 2004 2:59 PM

I have a 2 and 3 year old...thanks for the reminder of why we do it. I can't wait to get home from work.

Posted by: El Konty at October 15, 2004 3:55 PM

I came by way of Dean's World cause that grown kid is kin of mine and I love him dearly just the way he is.

Your story is so tender and I can honestly tell you now that my daughter and son's have all grown up it is difficult to be, "an empty nest."

I think about my first son, WOW...my first son is in his late 30's now! Oh how he loved to have me read to him and if I got interrupted by a noise or something going on in the household, that lil' guy would take my chin and pull it hard back to the book! "Mommy, I'm Listening, where are you?"

Then the attention he gave to his newborn sister was so adorable. He liked her, and then he did not for he was not too happy Mommy had somebody else to give attention to.

Then my youngest son came along and both his brother and sister adored him, sometimes immensely and of course they got irritated with the the last little son God sent me.

There is a song by, Neil Diamond that fits in when a parent let's go of their last child. It speaks to my heart and when each child went their different paths I would hear this song..."The Story of My Life Begins and Ends With You, it starts the day you come and ends the day you leave."

I'm a grandmother now and all of us are spread from the west coast to the east but you know what Tony? They are right here...even though they are not.

Blessings A Bounty Full to you, your wife and your children.

Posted by: Mary Janelle at October 15, 2004 7:57 PM

I don't want to make anyone feel old around here, but I think I will.

Tony, you write the most beautiful things sometimes; and I think they are all the more striking because they are not carefully crafted chunks of prose--they are the heartfelt and sincere musings of a Dad, a Christian, and a man of faith (religious and otherwise).

I am 23. I have no kids (thankfully, for the moment), but reading your blog reminds me, every so often, of the special things that await me in life; and these posts--sad, happy, and in between--offer me hope for things to come.

They also remind me of my Dad. He doesn't write as much as you, or blog, but he loves me the way that you love Caleb and the rest. He remembers when I was five, and he worries about me every day. I don't understand it now, but he has dedicated his life to me as you have dedicated your life to your sons. I think there is nothing more noble, human, or precious than that bond.

You remind a lot of the folks who visit this blog of how much they love their children. You remind this child how wonderful it is to be loved. As always, thanks and God bless.

Posted by: John at October 15, 2004 9:41 PM

Tony, John said something that is perfect.

He tells us how your words reminded him of his Dad. He is absolutely right that being a Dad is the most noble human bond there is... far excelling anything that Dad and of course a Mother will ever do.

No treasure could ever surpass the greatest gift Our Father in Heaven gives us as parents...Our children. My Daddy loved me so very much and how I miss him. He is in heaven watching over me and his grandchildren now.

I feel you may know Max Lucado, he is the number one christian writer in the world as well as his books always become the number one seller in the NY Times. He is a simple man Tony, a humble man for sure. He loves Jesus and through loving Jesus he surely learned to love himself. His walk with Jesus is his first priority, and then he works daily towards loving himself. That is hard to do with or without children but as he puts it in print. Love God, love Yourself, then your Wife and then your children. In loving God, in loving yourself then you are able to love your wife more and the same with your children.

Tony, even Max Lucado questions himself. I go to his church here in San Antonio, Texas and the membership is growing so fast. They are laying the tracks and the railroad is already coming. The membership is in the thousands, and we are building a satellite church in NE San Antonio.

That tells us, people do love God and the morals taught to us through the bible, as well as the Ten Commandments Moses brought to us from God.

A few weeks ago, Max told us a true story and said, "Now I know some of you are going to wonder if I am telling you the truth here, but this really happened earlier this week. I went out early for my daily run and while running I was asking God in earnest if I was doing what I should be doing here in my short lifetime. Am I really helping people, am I doing Your Will?"

And then he heard a voice, loud and clear..."You're doing Great keep at it!" He said to himself, no, nadda, I'm hearing something, so he stopped running. He looked back and then up. There on a two story home was a roofer and he saw Max running so he shouted down to him from above..."You're doing great!" and the roofer was waving his hands cheering Max on watching him run.

Tony, you're doing Great! Keep your faith and let us hear from you more.

Posted by: Mary Janelle at October 15, 2004 11:23 PM

"The wife, on the other hand, has some kind of estrogen Superwoman thing going on that enables her to nurse him every ten minutes at night, reorganize the garage and work in the yard all day, and still look breathtakingly beautiful when I get home"
...I'm the Marine Wife mommy of four boys ages six and under and let me just say that I hate your wife. (big grin!) Keep enjoying your boys - this life is a blast!

Posted by: Jennifer at October 17, 2004 7:09 AM

Tony, I don't know you from Adam. I wouldn't know you if you were standing next to me in the marketplace. However, if I do, someday comes across you in a mall, on a bus, at the library where we're supposed to be so very quiet, or at a picnic in the park, anywheren - if you get my drift... I will have to give you the biggest hug and a clear shout out to all around about what an amazing guy you are. Your words are like prose. And in the end they are all any of us have to remember lost loved ones. Thank you for taking the time to write it all down. They are a prized reminder of this life we live.

Posted by: cooper at October 18, 2004 12:42 PM