Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year End Observations of Parenthood

2006 marks the end of my first full year as a parent and boy what a ride it has been. Among the obvious changes that being a parent brings--namely the shifting of your primary function in life from a selfish thirty-something man to guardian of your child for the next 18 years along with infinitely more responsibility and copious amounts of used diapers-- there are more subtle changes that manifest themselves in your persona over time only to surface when you least expect them.

Here are a few that I've witnessed this year:

* While waiting in a doctor's office or other waiting area, you and your wife/girlfriend/partner or whatever know instinctively when to come over and relieve the other from watching your child. This parental instinct which somehow senses fatigue or distress surfaces at some time after the birth of your child. Are words used to communicate this? Nope. Its all second nature. You just know when it's time to go over and help out. On October 13th, I found out that I possess this intuitive power.

* I now have no problem carrying my wife's purse in public even if its around my shoulder in times when I need a free hand and she is otherwise occupied. Two years ago, this would have happened over my dead and rotting body.


* My son's favorite word is "BALL". I have learned over the last 6 weeks, the word ball can be used in 73 different contexts. After weeks of in depth dialogues with him, I now know 32 of them with the other 41 still presently unknown.


* Urinating used to be a thirty second break from everyday activities where I could relax and not be bothered. Now, I need to covertly plan when and how I leave the family room in order to do the old number one. Of course, the best laid plans...in this case, foiled by said 18 month old. Consequently, I've learned to hold my son back so that he doesn't break the pee stream with his hand thinking that it's a faucet.

* After 42 episodes of 21st century Sesame Street under my belt, I now appreciate its comedic value and eagerly await the next day's episode especially the segment where Cookie Monster devours the letter of the day. He's a real bad ass. On a related note, my wife sat through an entire episode of America's Funniest Home Videos and told me to hold all of her calls. Since when did staged skits showing grandpa doing a back flip off of the trampoline into a flowerbed become funny? This now constitutes cutting edge entertainment for my wife.

* Never in a million years would I have thought that my future 18 month old son would crave MUSTARD. He makes frequent trips to the fridge to scam a dollop of the stuff which he promptly licks off the tip of his finger as he strolls out of the kitchen.

Freaky stuff.

My week entails watching my son for 6 hours a day. In order to get things done around the house, careful manipulation of each situation is of the utmost importance so as to garner as much time as possible in completing the task before he realizes you're not paying attention to him and he searches you out, finds you and pulls you away from said task. Having experienced this dozens of times, I felt it about time for someone to create a unit of measure quantifying this time interval. I am that man. My new unit of measure for this is called a TLP. T for the latin word for TIME (TEMPUS), L for the latin word for LOCATION (LOCUS) and P for the latin word for FATHER (PATERNUS). For reference, one TLP is approximately 15 seconds. My son is good for 10 TLPs. Do the math. I've got a little over 2 minutes to complete any task.

2007 will no doubt be filled with more interesting discoveries.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Quick Story Before Christmas

It's true. We all know it. Our little corner of the everyday world is more complicated than ever before. My family is no different. Five years ago when all that mattered was my career and playing baseball, long before I had a family, I truthful thought that I could handle any situation or "psycho-social stressor"--as my psychologist father would say--that presented itself in the course of everyday life.

But let me tell you, the stresses that run congruent to both parents working full-time AND on opposite shifts while raising a family are far beyond what I thought my mind could comprehend just a short time ago.

Each day, my wife goes to work at 6AM, I wake up at 6:30, my son wakes up between 7 and 7:30, sometimes earlier. I watch him from the time he wakes up I have to go to work around 1:30PM when my mother-in-law comes over for a few hours covering that interim time from when I leave to when my wife gets home around 4PM. I come home around midnight. I fall asleep around 1AM and start the process over again the next day.

Seeing how I've never played babysitter for 30+ hours a week and worked 45 hours on top of that, the adjustment period is a difficult one and its still ongoing. There are times that I wish either my wife or myself could stay home while the other assumes the responsibility of bread winner. Where work and babysitting is concerned, this was the first time where I've actually had symptoms of anxiety although at the time, I thought I was coming down with something. Ultimately, I was getting burned out...real fast.

Each day while I drive the 38 miles to work, a somewhat effective way for me to unwind is to listen to sports talk radio. Much of the time, I only listen passively as it makes for great white noise drowning out the sound of passing trucks and other extraneous vibrations eminating from the undercarriage of my ten year old car.

As I was making the turn onto the interstate one day, a caller got my attention. While some people call in to hear themselves talk, this guy was different. He had a story to tell and it went something like this:

"My name is Mark. I just wanted to call in and say that your show really helps me get through the day. I have an 18-month old son who was born with a genetic defect. He's already had 5 surgeries and just yesterday, he had to be put on a feeding tube. Your show helps me get away for a few hours and for that I am thankful. Merry Christmas."

Needless to say, I was blown away. At that moment when the caller told the host "he had an 18 month old...he has a feeding tube", something in me clicked. While I finished that left turn onto the interstate going north, everything suddenly came into focus. What in hell do I have to complain about? Sure, each day of the week, my day is around 17 to 19 hours long with around 5 hours of sleep at the end. And sure, watching my 18 month old is the most fulfilling but yet the most draining experience EVER.

But I know this much. I have not had to utter the words "genetic defect" or "feeding tube" when speaking about my 18 month old son Nathan. My son was born with a cleft-lip but that was cosmetic. For all intends and purposes, it's like it never happened. His cleft-lip is in the past. Poof. Done. That caller's infant son will need 24 hour care for the rest of his life. I thought my day-to-day life was tough. It pales in comparison to what this caller has to go through each and every day.

The entire ride to work that day was a sobering one. The radio stayed off and I reflected on the intangibles of my life promising never to take anything for granted. Since then, when a day isn't going great, I think back to the to that caller named Mark and his infant son and I realize how great I have it.

As car rides to work go that afternoon early last week, it was the best one I have ever had.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Card is Complete!

If you know me and I communicate with you on a semi-regular basis then you will be getting the 11th annual Sabs Christmas Card very soon. Some of you might even win free stuff.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

11th Annual Christmas Card Update


Back by popular demand, the 11th annual homemade Christmas card is in the second stage of production and should be in the final stages sometime in the next 24 hours with a projected shipping date of December 14th or 15th.

(Note: The picture above IS NOT from my card)

If any production delays occur, an update will be posted.


Thank you for your cooperation!


The Evening with Sabs Staff

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Few Bookkeeping Items

Yes, I need to resize the picture at the top of the site. It came out waaaaaay too big. A more realistic sized picture will be substituted very soon.

Also...

A few people have commented on the new hit counter and its enormous number of digits. Either I am extremely optimistic that I will garner the hundreds of trillions of hits per second for the billions of years that would be needed to warrant the 32 digits or it just looks neat. The latter is probably the safe bet although a trillion hits per second would make me feel good.

I did the math.

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 hits is alot. But how much is "alot"?

If I got 10 million hits per second, it would take 31,688,764,615,412,794 years to accumulate. Assuming that the universe is 13.5 billion years old, it would take more than 2,347,315 universe lifetimes for eveningwithsabs.blogspot.com to utilize all of those numerical places in the hit counter. So get cracking. Time's a wasting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remembering Pearl Harbor

It was 65 years ago that this attack occurred. Here are a few pictures taken on that day so this can be properly remembered.


Friday, December 01, 2006

RUSH reference on The Family Guy

If you want irreverant humor that is over the line then The Family Guy is the show for you. In fact, on this past weekend's episode, a reference to the progressive rock group RUSH (always snubbed for Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame induction) was included in one portion of the show.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Second Coming of Clark Griswold

Once I saw the movie Christmas Vacation, I realized why I was put on this earth. My reason for being became obvious. Someday when I own a house, I thought, my ultimate goal will be to have the biggest and brightest holiday lighting display in the entire neighborhood.


Now that I am a home owner, each year on the day after Thanksgiving, my plan to take over the electricial grid begins to take shape. It began with a marathon think-tank session in the basement drafting out every possible contingency. Temperature, wind, rain, snow, nosey neighbors, dead lights, bad extension cords, they were all accounted for at least in theory. After ten hours in the basement racking my brains out, I emerged and proclaimed to all that would listen that I had the ultimate plan! The lovely Mrs. Sabs' response to my declaration: A stare. You know, the stare that screams "Are you a freak?" It didn't matter. The 2006 Christmas lighting display plan was ready. Today was the day that my ultimate Christmas lighting display plan was executed. And I must say that it all went according to plan. Mrs. Sabs reluctantly gave me props for a job well done. Who's the man.

Clark Griswold I am not...at least not yet. But with three solid years of Christmas lighting experience under my belt, I've learned a few things:

1) Check all of the lights BEFORE you hang them. Seems like a no brainer but trust me, it never fails. Each year, a neighbor hangs them all without testing them and nothing works. Then I hear a volley of expletives between him and his wife blaming the other for the faulty lights. While this makes for great entertainment, it will happen to you and your significant other if you don't plug them in FIRST.

2) Mark the strands with labels.

Again, it makes perfect sense. However, when you're tearing it all down after the first of the year, you'll try to convince yourself that you'll remember where they'll all go next year. In reality, by January 10th, you'll forget that you even have Christmas lights. So put labels on your lights!

3) Forget about wrapping lights neatly.

What the hell are you talking about? Trust me. Neatly coiling up the lights before putting them away might seem like a good idea in an attempt at preventing chaos the following year but it does no good. For some unknown reason, the Christmas lights all snuggled away in the attic undergo a metamorphosis changing them from their perfectly tidey state into the poster child for ultimate chaos over the span of a summer. November rolls around and you open the box stored in the attic and the neatly bundled lights are now a clump of green wires all balled up in total disarray. There is no stopping it. Just throw them in a box and be done with it.

4) Draw a detailed diagram of your layout.

If you need graph paper to do this, borrow some from your kids. Make sure the labels on your lights are identified in the diagram. Maybe buy some colored pencils of markers. Color is good.

5) Add more fuses.

If you plan to add more lights each year, you need to add a dedicated fuse or ten. Its all about the power, baby!

Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Nissan One Year Retrospective


Today is a very tough day for me. It marks the first anniversary of a tragic loss . Since that fateful day back on November 14, 2005, the emptiness inside me still lingers. The grieving process has been a long and painful road with many setbacks along the way. Each day brings its own set of challenges as I learn to live without this member of the family. What could this insurmountable loss be that has my emotions in a knot?

.....oh boy, this is very difficult....

...sigh...

...Just one short year ago, my very first vehicle I ever purchased--a 1990 Nissan 240SX--was hauled away to the junkyard. A long life of service spanning almost 16 years, 31 states and 158,000 miles (81,000 miles of which were mine--my brother put on the remaining 15K) was cut short by a delinquent female driver who sideswiped the front end inflicting damage that was too costly to repair.

The significance of today has hung over my head like a trip to the dentist because until this day, I couldn't decide on a proper memorial to fit this fine machine and its years of service. Rather than list her long list of battles won from The Badlands of South Dakota to the deserts of Arizona to the hills of West Virginia to flooded roads in Georgia, here are a few pictures of the "SX" in all her glory.



She was as sleek as a Ferrari and as solid as a LIncoln. She handled the different roads in her travels with a gentle touch yet with reckless abandon that made it a joy to pilot. It didn't matter whether it was volcanic ash or sand, the Nissan would glide through it all.

The curious side of me often wonders what happened to her. Is she in a far off junkyard disassembled down to the frame forever sealed in a rusted out crypt? Or did someone see a glimmer of potential in the Nissan and rescue her in the hope to give the SX another lease on life? Honestly, there have been times where I've come really close to looking up her VIN number online to confirm my spectulations.

Today, the Nissan's wheel covers and license plate hangs in my garage as a rememberance of her service. Please take a moment and add some fuel injector cleaner to your ride or maybe get it washed as a tribute to your vehicle and what it means.

Send cards in lieu of flowers.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nathan's FIRST Haircut!

This day couldn't have come quick enough for me. His hair--as evident in the pictures--was getting out of hand. Of course, my wife and all of the ladies at her place of employment and in the neighborhood along with all of our relatives think Nathan looked sooooo pretty with all of his curls. I think he looked way too pretty for my taste. Which brings us to today and his trip to the haircut establishment called Reflections.

Let's see the before and after pictures of the back of his head showing the demise of his girly curls.


Before
After

The top gets trimmed


The perfect part




Nathan enjoys a beverage







Time to kiss the hippy hair good-bye

Who is this sharp looking dude?

Now that's manly. I'm gonna get all the chicks once I figure out how to sneak out of the house after I go to bed at 7:30.


A Legend Passes...


Legendary actor Jack Palance has passed away. He was 87. But since our friends at colonelt.com beat us to the punch in putting together a memorial, I will now point you to that very site for a great memorial to one of the toughest men EVER. Please, ignore the shirtless Gil Girard portion of the montage.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nathan's Hair

Many of you are concerned that my son's hair is--as Sniderman put it: "OUT OF REGULATION". I have taken your concerns into account and the issue will be addressed very soon. I'd hate for Nathan to look like Nicholas from Eight Is Enough.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Brainwashed UPDATE

Well, it's official. My son is now one of Elmo's little mineons. Just this past Thursday, I walked into the family room and witnessed with my own eyes the final step in converting my son into a follower of Elmo. Knowing that it was too late to save him, I did what any responsible parent would do in a situation like this: I grabbed the camera and snapped this picture so that I have proof of this phenomenon in the event I need it in court when I take the late Jim Henson's company of brainwashing puppets down.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My son has been brainwashed!

Creatively speaking, its been difficult to find subjects to elaborate on because frankly, I've been burned out with work so blog ideas haven't been exactly free-flowing. Rather then force myself to expound on a topic solely for the purpose saying "I posted something", I decided to take some time off from writing. So I waited....waited....and waited some more for that brand new concept or idea to suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Nothing happened.

Then, as I was playing with my son Nathan earlier this week, a song appeared on the television in the other room loud enough for him to hear. Most of the time, he ignores the TV because he's too involved in trying to torment the dog, gain entrance into the DVD cabinet or banging his Fisher-Price plastic wrench on the closet door in an attempt to tell us that we need to get the vacuum cleaner out so he can try to plug it in the wall.

But this time was different. The song on the TV stopped him in his tracks. He turned around, practically running into the family room to catch a glimpse of what was on the TV. To my surprise, the song was eerily familiar. Where have I heard this before? As I turned the corner, my jaw hit the floor. The character that I swore years ago would never be apart of the life of any future child of mine was brain washing my dear son with his goofy, cheesy, jolly, sing-songy garbage.

You guessed it: BARNEY!

And guess what. Later on that day, Sesame Street was on and that freak Elmo made an appearance dancing around in all his effeminate glory. And sure enough, my son was glued to his every move. What the hell was going on?

Forget Cookie Monster or Grover or Snuffelupagus (incidentally, his first name is Aloysius), Elmo and Barney have lewered my son into the deep, dark, girly, puppet abyss with no way out. As a resul of my stunning discovery, my pool of blogging subject matter has been reduced to this: BARNEY AND ELMO.

Honestly, I have nothing else to add but this: I can't wait for the day when my son snaps out of his hypnotic trance induced by Barney and Elmo. Maybe by then, he will understand that Elmo and Barney are nothing but evil red and purple, furry freaks whose sole purpose in their fictional lives is to torment parents. How I long for that day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Killing Frost Appears

After almost 2 weeks of cold weather, we finally had a killing frost (overnight low: 26) last night which abruptly wiped out most of our leftover summer flowers which I never brought inside.




Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Keith Olbermann Post Revisited

After my posting of Keith Olbermann's comments on 9-11, many faithful followers of Evening With Sabs have voiced their displeasure of the violation of my own Prime Directive which states that I wouldn't get political. In point of fact, no violation was committed. Why? Because we are here to educate and have fun but also to show many sides of an issue even if that issue is controversial. In retrospect, to keep the political pendulum from swinging too far one way or another, a counter commentary from Bill O'Reilly should have been listed following Mr. Olbermann's. For that, I offer my apologizes.

Purely for entertainment purposes, if you REALLY want to know what side of the isle I reside, here are my views on a few hot-button topics:

* Separation of Church and State? Yep. Gotta have it. Remember, as the bill of rights indicates: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." which means that the federal government is prohibited in supporting a specific religion. If one chooses to be Protestant, go for it. If one chooses to be Jewish, have at it. If you want to worship Seinfeld and recite the summary of every episode verbatum, you'll be labeled a freak but again, you have every right.

* Way back in 1974, the National Maximum Speed Law went into effect that capped all speed limits at 55 mpg. The entire law was finally repealed in 1995 which gave the states power in determining speed limits. Back in 1998, I drove a stretch of road in Montana and the speed limit was "resonable and prudent". I LOVED THAT. Since that experience, I firmly believe that the speed limit should be 80 miles per hour everywhere except in school zones.

* Gay marriage doesn't bother me as long as the chicks are hot.

* I don't believe that all of THIS--the universe in its entirety, from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest galactic cluster and the forces that control them--happened by accident. There are too many mechanisms in nature--cell division, DNA replication via RNA, water being the only molecule that floats as a solid just to name a few--that are too incredibly complex to just say "it just happened randomly". I have no scientific proof of this but let us just say that there are elements of existence that are beyond our comprehension as human beings. Kind of like the debachel that is Cleveland sports. No one understands why they all suck but something must have started the ball rolling.

* The economy: The stock market is going up. The S&P 500 is at the highest level in almost 6 years. Housing is down, Car sales are down. Ford and GM are being restructred. Companies are moving to China and other countries taking American jobs with them. Affordable health care is still a work of fiction and Bin Laden is still hiding under a rock somewhere on the Eurasian continent. I still have a job, a 401K, a house, a kickass lawn mower and a car that has 191,000 miles on it. I have no idea what my kickass lawn mower has to do with any of this but it still tops my list of badass power tools in my garage.

* Violent video games don't cause kids to kill people. These damn Tickle Me Elmo-type stuffed animal toys are the REAL cause of violent tendencies in children. Ever listen to Elmo's voice played backward?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Painting the Bathroom

So the wife and I finally finished painting the bathroom. Correction: she painted 90% and I rerolled two of the four walls after she put the first coat on. Anyway, as much as I like being a participant in picking out colors and other decorating items for the house, the prospect of painting anything makes me nervous and impatient. Now I'm a decent painter but since becoming a father, I've become way too highstrung to stand in one place for what seems like an eternity while developing a touch of carpal tunnel as I repeatedly recreate the scene from The Karade Kid: "Wax on, wax off, Daniel-son."

My wife says that painting relaxes her. She can have it. In retrospect, its a great feeling after the job is done seeing the final masterpiece. But I'd much rather build something like an addition on the house or repave the driveway with an asphault paver than be cooped up in a 4 by 4 bathroom with no ventilation just to spread Sherwin Williams' color number 1357634 otherwise known in Sherwin Williams circles as "Enticing Red." This isn't a box of Crayola Crayons, this is semi-gloss, interior paint. Unless the can comes with a built in sharpener, leave the fancy names behind.

The bathroom painting project took nearly 10 days to complete but now it is done. Ah but the projects have just begun. Finish the dining room, repaint the family room and then the basement. I plan to utilize some power tools in lieu of a brush.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Vacation Pictures

Our trip to upstate New York was great! A bit cool and a brief period of rain but all in all, it couldn't have been better. Our son Nathan now refers to himself as "Nay-Nay".

On the 5 day hiatus from everyday life, my wife and I for one of the first times had a chance to observe him from morning to evening without interruption. It's almost as if his level of comprehension is increasing not at a linear rate (a little bit everyday) but at an accelerated rate. He now knows what the word "weedeater" is and will get your shoes, try to put them on you so you can take him outside to play with it!

Here are a few pictures of all of us.



I couldn't resist showing our flowering tobacco plant from home.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Random Parental Observations

While I enjoy some delicious stir-fry for lunch that my lovely wife made last night (even better as leftovers), I've been pondering what this fall and winter has in store for me being that my son, who is almost 15 months now, has a comprehension list of at least two dozen words. Those words range from "bottle" and "blankie" to "subacromial decompression". Everytime I ask Nathan what part of daddy was operated on last year with a procedure called Subacromial Decompression, he immediately points to my right shoulder. Amazing. By Halloween, he'll be beating mommy and daddy at Scrabble.

His level of comprehension and mobility certainly makes days very entertaining. You can interact with him more than ever before. He even has a favorite baseball bat picked out from my collection which he drags around the house.

But I believe that this fall and winter will be especially enjoyable. I can't wait to jump in piles of leaves in October to a hayride around halloween with my little bruiser. And how will he respond to the first snow? Who knows. Maybe he'll react like me when I was 11 when I tried to shovel the entire backyard in early November because of my immense disdain of frozan precipitation. That's a story for another time.

Nathan is even showing an interest in video games! You know, the basic ones like Tetris and Ms. Pac-Man.

He's also diving head first into mommy's purse no doubt looking to score some cash. Sure, now its coins that strike his fancy. From what I am told, kids' craving for money will only get worse as they get older as the denominations of the dollar they demand become larger.

Do you think my wife will mind if I buy the new Nintendo video game system which comes out on her birthday to "share" with our child?

You know what? Being a parent is and will continue to be the best thing ever!