Boy Oh Boy

920412_10201223895218405_1464215657_oHello! Remember me?

I’m the dad that used to be just a guy and decided to write a blog about it. I did real good there for a while too. I was posting a bunch, people were reading a bunch. I wrote more, people gave more positive feedback. It’s like I was a real writer. Then life said, “Hey! Here’s more stuff.” And I was like, “I’ll write a new post tomorrow.” Then tomorrow turned into the next day, and then the next day, and so on and so on. This happened for roughly three months. So real quick, sorry for the three-month layoff. New job + new baby = no posts.

But that ends now and so, after much pressure from my readers who made themselves very vocal recently and laid guilt trips on me about neglecting Vinny by not writing about him, here we go…for real this time…honestly…really…I know I said that before baby, but I mean it this time…I’ve changed, I promise…I’ll never treat you like that again…you know that’s not me when I get like that.

OK. Vinny. In short, he’s big. Came out 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Michelle had a C-section with him due to her needing one to deliver Ava. When the delivering doctor went to take him out, she needed to stand on a stole to get extra leverage to lift him out. I’ll never forget her words when she finally hoisted him out, “He looks like a one month old baby!”

Born April 26th, today Vinny is exactly two months old. He is over 13 pounds and is long. Michelle is currently dressing him in six month clothing. Now, he isn’t rotund. He’s more just solid, very dense for sure. Durable. I feel I can drop him a few times without doing any real damage. The jump in clothing size is due mainly to his length. Vinny never had that ‘Caution: tiny baby, easily breakable’ feel to him. From day one he was a tank.

With Vinny, I got exactly what I wanted. I got the same thing as I got with Ava. A beautiful, healthy baby. I get annoyed when people say, “You got your boy, I bet you’re happy.” Fact is I always just prayed for a healthy child. That’s it. That was my one request to God. I mean, I can fulfill my life’s missed accomplishments through Ava just as much as I can Vinny. Easy.

However, there was one part of me that was hoping for a boy. That part was my dad. As the only Viola boy, it was up to me to keep the name going for another generation. My uncle only had girls. I was pretty much the last of the male Viola’s in my family, not counting some random distant relative who I have no idea even exists. I was like The Last of the Mohicans. So at the reveal cake cutting, when that cake turned out to be blue inside, my father gave a big sigh of relief. I was relieved as well, but instead of a sigh, something else came out. I believe I said so eloquently, “My d$%k made another d#%k!” A true poet.

I’m sorry I have no exciting story about the trip to the hospital like I do with Ava’s birth. Since Michelle had a scheduled C-section, it was pretty routine (easy for me to say). No fumbling around looking for my shoes. No forgetting to grab bags. No rushing. No nothing. The only odd moment came when they saw on Michelle’s medical history that she was prescribed a certain medicine when she developed an odd rash early in her pregnancy. It was the same type of medicine they prescribe for someone with herpes. So when they asked her if she ever had any STDs, she answered “No”. Then they came back, took me out of the room, and asked her again, because obviously she was lying and didn’t want to say anything in front of me and let me know she cheated on me and got herpes. Serves her right. The sad part is they probably did that because that scenario probably happens a lot.

Anyway, the stay in the hospital was great. The doctors and nurses were the best. Michelle had a little bit of an easier recovery (yet again, easy for me to say). I had to sleep on a recliner…I’ve slept on worse. Michelle ordered chicken fingers for every meal, apparently they received 4 out of 5 clucks on her chicken finger meter. I only left her side once in order to go to a Penguins game, but I left after the second period because I’m a loving father and husband dammit! It was the least I could do. “Okay honey, I’m off to the game with the guys. If you need anything just page a nurse, that’s what their there for. Let me know if Vinny does anything cute, but only call in between periods. I don’t want to seem rude and be on the phone during game play. Oh, and if you get lonely or bored, here’s a book to read. Yeah, it’s the phone book, but that’s all I can find. Okay? Great! See ya!”

And now the pictures (and feel free to share this blog with friends)….

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Why Hello There Good Sir

2013-02-27 17.36.09I’m worse at this blogging thing lately than Wile E. Coyote was at catching the Road Runner. I am less reliable than a broken watch. Vinny is just a short couple months away from being here and I need to get these blog posts out so he doesn’t resent me down the road and become a crack head just to spite me.

I have been working feverishly on getting his room ready, as well as Ava’s ‘big girl’ room.  Thankfully my employer realized I would need a lot of time at home to prepare for the new baby so she decided to retire and close the company. I have all the time I need now. I have been spending my days hanging out with an 18 month old and hitting up story times and museums. There is nothing like being the only dad in a room full of moms at a story time, it’s like being a hair in the potato salad. Nobody is sure how you got there and they are all trying to figure out who you belong to.

Don’t worry about me. I am LOVING my time home with Ava as I wait for the right job to present itself. I see it as a blessing. If it was up to Michelle I wouldn’t go back at all. She says the house hasn’t run this smooth since it was just me and her. My buddy and I are also working on starting up our own marketing/branding agency, so the future is looking swell. (www.Flyfoxcreative.com if you want to check it out)

Enough about that, back to the kids. Ava is growing more beautiful  and intelligent by the day. It’s weird, we can actually talk with her now. Before she was just a less hairy version of a primate or something. She looked enough like a human, but really  all she did was eat, poop and make random sounds. Now she is like an actual human. We can talk with her and she answers. She figures things out by herself, sometimes too quickly. Michelle and I have to really, really watch what we do now because she imitates like a champ.

Ava also does the cutest thing on the face of the Earth. She very much want’s to meet her brother. She will run up and point to Michelle’s tummy and say, “baby”. She will then hug and kiss Michelle’s belly. It’s so cute and just want to take a bite out of her. I can’t stand it. Another disgustingly cute thing Ava does that melts my heart like ice cream in the desert is when I rock her to bed and she finishes her bottle. She will hand the bottle to me, put her hands on both sides of my head and then hug and kiss me before she lays her head down. It makes me want to grab a hammer and hit myself over the head with it. It’s so cute it should be illegal.

Ava got to see her brother earlier this week when we went for a 4D sonogram. As you can see above, the images are amazing. Many of his features remind me of Ava. His nose. His lips. His chin. Handsome little devil he is. With his mother’s looks and his father’s charm, I will warn you now, mothers lock up your daughters…..in 15-20 years.

Sitting there and seeing your baby as  they project it up on the wall is such a thrill. Then I look over at Michelle’s belly and I can’t believe how all of that handsomeness is contained in her baby bump. A true miracle. As you experience a pregnancy first hand, you really start to realize that there might be higher powers at work. It’s mind-boggling.

The sonogram verified three  important points. One, he is definitely a boy and is very healthy (knock on wood). Two, he has lots and lots of hair. Three, that discomfort Michelle was feeling where it felt like a foot was under her ribs was in fact Vinny’s foot under her ribs.

Just like Ava, we had them record his heartbeat and place it inside a cute stuffed animal, so every time you squeeze it, you hear the little man’s heart. As daddy says every time I hear little man’s heartbeat, “Strong like bull.”

I’m glad I’m having  a boy this time. Not because of any male ego thing, but just because it will be nice to know I now have a partner to help me kick the shit out of any boyfriends Ava decides to bring home.

I’m Making Ava a Pirates Fan So Feel Free to Nominate Me For Worst Father Ever

What a weekend.

Once again we ran around like a band of traveling gypsies. Saturday Michelle and I took a little bit of an impromptu trip to McConnell’s Mills. A great spot about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh. It has great hiking trails, covered bridges and runs along Slippery Rock Creek, which is more like a small river.

It is very scenic with beautiful views, landscapes and greenery. Trees, ferns, large rock faces, moss-covered boulders/rocks and assorted other forest plants set the scene. It is an ideal spot for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and likes to hike. Ferns are my favorite plant, so I’m like a pig in mud when I’m there because McConnell’s Mills has ferns like an episode of ‘Hoarders’ has cock roaches.

Ava isn’t quite ready for the advanced hiking trails just yet, so we had to stick to the beginner path. It was paved, which is to say it was relatively flat and had something that could be considered a non-dirt surface without roots sticking up and large rocks on the path.

Ava was in her glory though. She definitely is a fan of nature. She was in her stroller and never stopped pointing to plants, kicking her legs, clapping her hands,  laughing and giggling, looking in every direction. The only thing that Ava didn’t enjoy was when mommy tried to dip her toes in the water. Every time Michelle went to lower her feet in, Ava would curl her feet up like a turtle. Later she waved her finger at mommy to tell her, “No more of that!”

Someone who did enjoy the water was Frasier. If you thought we wouldn’t bring him then you haven’t been reading this blog close enough. Frasier tried jumping in the water every chance he had. Then he also felt the need to roll in the dirt and sand once he was out. I had to hose him down once we were home.

We ended our trip that day by having an awesome picnic at one of the many areas they have set-a-side up there. Once again, I highly recommend McConnell’s Mills for any family looking to enjoy the outdoors.

Not to be outdone by Saturday, we headed to the Pirates game on Sunday. Frasier had to stay home this time, though he was still recovering from the prior day’s activities and needed the rest. After fighting through marathon traffic and blocked roads, I had to park a few blocks from PNC Park, which I didn’t think was a real big deal until I had to carry Ava in 80+ degree heat. By the time we got to the park I was sweating like I just ran the marathon and my arm was numb.

I got us duckets in the Pirate Club level. This way we could step inside and watch the game if it got too hot, which we did a lot. Even though we put sun-block on Ava, it was just too hot sitting in the sun. We watched a few innings from our seats, but most the time was spent watching from a shaded balcony or inside the restaurant area. Which isn’t a bad way to watch the game either. Though the Pirates didn’t make it much of a game to watch anyway.

Most importantly, Ava got her ceramic Pirates pierogi bowl, which is worth the price of admission alone. Regardless of how the game turned out, there is nothing like that feeling of taking your kid to a ball game. Walking across the bridge with her. Seeing her take in the park and all its sights and sounds. It was all great and will only get better as she gets older.

We are headed back to PNC Park tonight to see the Buccos play the Nats. Hopefully the Pirates give us a better showing tonight. Either way Ava will be smiling and so will her parents.

Its All Happening At The Zoo

Second on my list of things I wanted to do with Ava, after taking her to her first Pens game, was take her to the zoo. We can now scratch that one off the list.

At nine months, Ava has reached the age where she is curious about pretty much everything and really likes to observe. The zoo is the perfect place to do just that.

It should be noted that this was actually our second time taking Ava to the zoo, however, the first was unsuccessful as it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the weather was perfect. Apparently everyone else had the same idea we had and went to the zoo too. I now know that if you are single, you stay in the city and drink on St. Paddy’s weekend. If you have a family, you go to the zoo. The traffic was lined across the bridge that leads over to the zoo. The parking lot had to have been full. There was no way we would have enjoyed ourselves with that crowd, so we ended up going to Phipps that day instead and had an equally great time.

So a couple weeks later I ended up taking a day off of work on a day Michelle already had off. It was also a nice day, a little chilly, but the sun was shining. We got there early and for the most part had the zoo to ourselves, except for a field trip or two. We let them go ahead, no biggie.

Our first stop when we got there was not to the polar bear exhibit. It was not to the lions, or the tigers, or the monkeys (thought I was going to say “bears” didn’t you?). Our first stop was right to the gift shop. For some reason, Ava makes us want to spend money. Everything just looks so damn cute on her. Hats. Sweatshirts. Sun glasses. All adorable to the point where we have no choice. Plus, she needs a keepsake from her first visits to places…that’s just the basics.

As we got moving through the zoo, it was a series of photo shoots. Ava in front of the elephants. Ava in front of the gorillas. Ava with mommy in front of the penguins. Ava with daddy in front of the penguins. Picture after picture after picture. Which is pretty much the norm for everywhere we go, or when we are at home. Let’s just say Ava is well documented.

As we went from exhibit to exhibit, Ava was loving the zoo. She loved pointing at the animals and clapping when she saw we were excited looking at them too. At the aquarium, her favorite part was when a shark would swim right up against the glass. Ava showing what a bad ass she is, had a great time slapping the glass as it swam by.

Her hands-down favorite exhibit though were the penguins. Her eyes were as big as saucers. As the penguins jumped in the water and swam by the glass Ava would clap and bounce in my arms. She would hug the glass trying to get to them. She would bob her head as she watched them waddle on land. Penguins have been a favorite of hers since she was first born. She had penguin stuffed animals and penguins books. This was her first time though seeing them for real, and it was awesome.

There is no doubt that we will be back there multiple times this summer. I am also thinking about making a summer trip to the Columbus zoo, which is one of the best in the world. Seeing Ava enjoy the same things I enjoyed as a kid (and still do) brings me so much joy and happiness. We have a bunch of pictures from this trip, but haven’t downloaded them off our camera yet. I will post them as soon as we do.

On the days between our zoo visits, Ava is held over by Frasier. He for sure acts like he belongs in a zoo sometimes.

Ava Is A Dancing Fool

Ava is just super fun right now. She is at a stage where she is able to start really learning things, as well as mimicking movements you show her.

Recently she has learned how to clap, how to wave, how to point, how to dance and sway, and how to bop. She is currently in training for peek-a-boo and blowing kisses. At times I feel bad “teaching” her these things because it feels very similar to when we taught Frasier his tricks. I think to myself, “Am I treating my daughter like my dog?”

It’s nearly the same process. Illustrate, repeat, reward. The only real difference is that Ava doesn’t get a jerky treat when she does something right…she gets a kiss instead. Which, knowing how pathetic and sensitive Frasier is, he would almost prefer a kiss over a jerky treat. Almost.

Something Ava started just doing on her own though is dancing. One day it just manifested itself. The first time she did the “Ava shuffle” was when we took her to her first Penguin game. She was sitting on one of our laps and music started to play over the speakers. We look over and Ava is swaying back and forth like Stevie Wonder. This was out of nowhere. Since then Ava will do her version of Flashdance any time she hears music. Ava has this robo-dog toy that sings and moves (click here for video). Sit her in front of that and she dances and kicks like a Rockette.

When she is not performing for us, she also likes to applaud. She will clap when you enter the room. She will give you a round of applause for making her bottle. She gives a roaring ovation when Frasier chases his toys. She gives a nice golf-clap when you change her diaper and she will give a rousing cheer after you read her a good story.

Most exciting is that she is starting to be able to make new sounds and use different letters. When she started to baby talk it was mostly sounds that started with D’s, T’s and L’s. Now she is making sounds that start with W’s, F’s and a bunch of others. A few times she has blurted out sounds that were close to words, but we aren’t counting those as first words quite yet. She also hasn’t quite found her M sounds either…sorry Mommy. Ava is only about 9 months old and it seems her first real words are just weeks away.

A look at the fangs on Ava-saurus Rex

Another new thing is when people want to hold Ava and she is in a certain carnivorous mood, Michelle and I have to issue warnings. What I mean by this is that Ava is a biter. One again, she is just a few days shy of being 9 months old and she has nearly a full set of teeth. Michelle has marks on her shoulder from the Ava-saurus Rex that make it look like she was mauled by a rabid guinea pig. It border line sadistic because after she bites into you and you yelp, she just looks at you, smiles, and gives a few claps. There is a look in her eye that says, “I can’t wait to do that again.”  If Ava starts to kill small animals when she gets older, I’m really going to have to worry. I really hope I’m not raising a modern-day Lizzy Borden.

As a father and husband I’m pretty lucky. When I walk in the house after work I am initially greeted by a 110 pound jumping chocolate lab. As I walk up the steps and round the corner into the living room I find my wife and daughter playing together. My wife gives me a smile and announces, “Daddy is home!”. My daughter starts to clap and giggle. Any bad day I might be having at that moment stops immediately.

Top 10 Parenting Tips From The GodFather

The Godfather is the greatest movie ever made. It is a perfect movie. Law states that every guy has to watch it at least once.

Three hundred years from now, when people are living on the moon and illegal aliens (literally) are scattered across Earth, the captain of some star-ship is going to explain his battle strategy by saying, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

I was watching The Godfather for the 3,066th time the other day and I realized that there is some great parenting wisdom hidden behind the bloodshed and Italian accents. below are the top 10 pieces of parenting advice I found in quotes from the movie:

10: “Leave the gun…..take the cannolis.” – Clemenza: If ever your daughter comes home with an undesirable, take him out back to threaten and/or harm him. Leave that ugliness out-back where no one can find it. Then, when he is “convinced it won’t work”, come back inside with some sweets or pastries to help break the good bad news to your daughter that her friend felt the need to keep his future open.

9: “The Corleone Family wants to buy me out? No, I buy you out, you don’t buy me out!” – Moe Green: Don’t let your kids think they can make the rules. You tell them what to do, they don’t tell you.

8: “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.” – Calo: Teach your daughter to be tough and not to take crap from anyone, especially men. As her father, you should set an example for what a man should be. Have her set her expectations high and if a guy doesn’t meet them then she should have no problem axing him.

7: “Hey, listen, I want somebody good – and I mean very good – to plant that gun. I don’t want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hands, alright?” – Sonny: Prepare your child for life. Don’t over shelter them. Let them learn their own lessons. Don’t be afraid to punish them. Show them how great the world and life can be, but let them know the flip-side of life’s coin as well. The world can be a tough place, so they may need a little grit themselves to battle through whatever obstacles come their way. Don’t send them into the world empty-handed. Help them try to be self-sufficient, confident, and aware. A little attitude doesn’t hurt either.

6: “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” – Michael: Of course this had to be on the list. Simply put, let the boyfriends and others know you care deeply for your daughter, and that their well-being is dependent on your daughter’s well-being.

5: “If there is trouble, I stay here to help you. For your father. For your father.”  – Enzo the Baker: Teach your children the importance of family, loyalty and respect. Teach them to help others and contribute to society, as there are so many that only take.

4: “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.” – Clemenza: Teach your kids that there are repercussions for their actions. They may temporarily hate you for their punishments, but it will inevitably lead to responsibility and character.

3: “I like to drink wine more than I used to…Anyway, I’m drinking more.” – Don Corleone: Kids will do that to you. Always have a bottle on hand.

2: “I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life, I don’t apologize, to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That’s my life, I don’t apologize for that. But I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, something.” – Don Corleone: Do whatever you need to do to support your family. Work for your children so they have what they need to be successful in life. Sacrifice and set examples. Don’t be afraid to dream big for them in hopes they achieve great things. Let them go after their dreams. You will feel rewarded in their achievements. Regardless of what they end-up being or doing in life, if they grow to be healthy, smart, responsible, caring and happy people, then you did your job.

1: “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” – Don Corleone: No explanation needed.

The Plague Has Hit

It’s been an interesting past few days at the Viola homestead.

Sunday afternoon Michelle came down with one of those 48 hour stomach bugs. So I was on my own with Ava all day Sunday and Monday. I handled every diaper change, every feeding, gave her baths, did her laundry, read to her, played with her and juggled her needs with anything else I had to get done. Just short of 48 hours. Me, Ava and a big brown dog.

Am I saying I am special because I did something most other mothers (and some fathers) do on a daily basis? No. However, I am proud of the fact I did it and the situation didn’t turn into a total train wreck. Plus Ava stayed in one piece. So I got that going for me…which is nice.

The only thing I really had trouble with was finding what drawers Ava’s clothes were in. No matter how many times Michelle tells me what drawers hold what clothes, I can never remember. Mainly because I don’t really pay 100 percent attention [Translation: I don’t pay attention]. We’ll be in her room, Michelle will say, “Mike I am putting Ava’s [insert important item of clothing here] in this drawer.”, and I will give an, “uh huh” while tuning out after the word “Mike”.

In my defense, my daughter is distractingly cute.

So how does Michelle thank me after taking care of Ava, as well as doing my best to nurse her as well? Well, Monday night I started puking. That night I ate spaghetti for dinner. If I was ever on Fear Factor and had to eat worms, I now know how it would feel to puke them back up.

I am finally feeling normal today. Michelle and I are praying that Ava doesn’t catch this bug to the extent that we had it. So far, so good. If there is a bright side to all of this, it is that we got sick in the beginning of the week because Michelle’s birthday is on Friday and we plan on going to a nice meal. I’m guessing Michelle wouldn’t have been too excited for me or her to be spending that day on the bathroom floor asking God for mercy.

In other Ava news since you last visited, she is now not only rolling from back to belly, but from her belly back to her back (too many backs). Ava is also able to sit-up in certain seats. She has recently been enjoying her activity jumper. I look at her in it and think to myself, “I wish I could enjoy something as much as she enjoys that jumper.” Then I realize she has the same look on her face I get when I walk into a bakery or head to the Hofbrauhaus.

Lastly, in three days Ava will be six months old (mind-boggling). Which means in 6 more months will be her first birthday. Michelle has already reserved the venue. Since Ava’s birthday is in July, we are competing with graduations, other birthdays, reunions, BBQs, etc. From what Michelle has been telling me what she is wanting to do, Ava’s birthday will make the Oscars look like the BET Awards some half-assed, tacky celebration.

Where is the ‘slow down’ button

In earlier blog posts I have stated that I couldn’t wait for Ava to grow-up some so we could do more stuff with her.

I officially take that back. She is growing too fast. No sir, I don’t like it.

I realized this after I put her in her car seat yesterday. A car seat that seems to be shrinking. She used to fit in it like it was an oversized cocoon. Now her legs are nearly hanging over the end.

Ava was weighed just a couple of days ago at 16 pounds, 9 ounces. Mind blowing. With a birth weight of 8 pounds 3 ounces, she has officially doubled in size.

I have grown to really like baby Ava. I like being able to cradle her in my arms. Looking at her little button face. Having her lay across my chest at night.  Her not being able to tell me, “I hate you” or “Go to hell.” It’s all good stuff.

I don’t know how it happened. One minute we were swaddling her and dressing her in teeny-tiny little outfits, then the next thing I know we are buying size 3 diapers and storing away clothes that don’t fit her anymore. She has teeth. She is rolling. She is eating baby food. She is on the verge of being able to sit-up without help. She is recognizing things, mastered her hand/eye coordination, and is developing her own little personality.

She is developing very nicely…and it’s terrible.

Before long she will be walking and talking, and wanting to go play with her friends. I hate the thought of it all, it makes me sick. How dare she grow independent!

We will never get this time back. I am starting to realize now how it is that fathers can never stop seeing their daughters as their ‘little girls’. To me, Ava is always going to be that sweet little baby that falls asleep over my shoulder. The girl I rocked to sleep every night by singing to her. The little angel that puked all over mommy’s face.

The kicker is that in just 10 days Ava will be six months old. It blows me away how much she has developed and changed in just half a year. What will she be like in another six months? two years? 10 years? I need to lay down.

The funny thing is that even though Ava has only been with us for six moths, it feels like she has been with us for six years. It is honestly hard to remember what life was like before her. Sure, Michelle and I were probably in better shape, had a bigger bank account, could go out whenever and wherever we wanted, were able to spoil each other, stay up late and do things on a whim. But were we happy?

Yes, actually, we were happy. But were we fulfilled? Yes, very much so. I’m not sure where I am going with this. I’m not one of those people who think that you’re not compete unless you have a kid, in fact, there are many, many, MANY people who shouldn’t even think of procreation. You know, the type of people who slam on the brakes before entering a tunnel or any of the people who appear on reality television.

The point is having Ava filled a void we didn’t know we had and turned us into people we didn’t know we wanted to be. And now we are addicted.

Just like Ricky Bobby preferred baby Jesus, for now at least, I prefer baby Ava.

Ava Is A Giver

At the end of yesterdays post I promised to tell you a disgusting funny thing that happened involving Ava.

Some may think that the quick little story I am about to tell is not funny at all. However, before you pass judgement on me, allow me to explain exactly why the forthcoming story amused me so. Well, it’s quite simple really. It’s the same reason you laugh when you see someone trip or get hit in the groin. The reason it’s funny is because it didn’t happen to you.

I will delay telling this tale to make one more point. Settle down, good things come to those who wait (or you can stop reading this and just skip down, I mean come on, it’s not like anyone is holding a gun to your head making you read every word. Though I would if I could.)

My other point is that Ava has my “jag-off” sense of humor. She is willing to make a fool of others in order to amuse herself. She could graduate from Harvard on a full scholarship and I wouldn’t be as proud as I am right now. Anyway, here we go.

Wednesday night Michelle, Ava and I were doing our normal thing. I was cooking something up for dinner and Michelle was playing with Ava in the living room after having just given her a bath and then a bottle.

Ava was doing some baby talk (just random bits of gibberish) and all of a sudden “mama” came out. Clear as day. No mistake, it was “mama”. Loud and clear.

As soon as I heard it I ran into the living room and Michelle and I both gave each other looks of amazed joy.

Now we both realize that Ava didn’t actually mean to say “mama” and that it was a sheer coincidence that in her gibberish baby talk, the sound “mama” just happened to of come out. Do these count as first words? Probably not. I could talk gibberish in a french accent and accidentally spew out a couple actual french words without knowing it. That being said, it was still awesome.

Anyway, Michelle got very excited and lifted Ava up in the air and started talking to her. This made Ava happy, smiley and excited. It also, apparently, made her a bit nauseous.

Ava proceeded to spit-up the bottle she just drank right on Michelle’s face and chest. There was a lot of it. That’s not that bad you say? Did I mention Michelle had her mouth open when it happened? Some got in. Some may have even got swallowed.

In the kitchen all I hear is Michelle talking in a happy voice, and then a sudden, “Oh God!”

I run in and find Michelle covered in a white, translucent gel. She looked like she got slimed. It could have been a scene from Ghostbusters. To her credit she was still holding Ava.

I grabbed Ava and all I heard was, “I think I’m going to be sick. I gotta get upstairs.”

After that there was some dry heaving and the sound of the shower being turned on. I looked at Ava, gave a chuckle and asked, “What did you do to mommy?”

Ava just smiled back. It was a nice moment for us. Not so much her and Michelle though.

Ah, the joys of parenthood. They don’t teach that in the parenting classes.

What A Year!

I know I am a few days late on this, but happy new year. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and now we can look forward to three months of terrible weather here in Pittsburgh.

As usual, Michelle and I (and Ava) celebrated with family and as usual having Ava with us made everything feel new and fresh.

From Halloween through new years day, Michelle and I reminded each other, “Remember last year when we told each other that, ‘This time next year we will have Ava to celebrate with us.’ and now here we are. Isn’t that crazy how time flies?” It is crazy, but I guess you had to be there when we said it to get the full impact of the craziness of that statement because reading back over it, we just sound like a couple of simpletons.

2011 was a great year obviously, with Ava’s birth being the main event. However, stemming off of that I think Michelle and I really grew as people and as a couple in 2011. Having a kid will do that I suppose, but I definitely feel we are closer than ever and our relationship/marriage is as strong as it ever has been. (“Please hold your applause” [takes his bow])

Once again, Ava’s birth was the reason for this. Sure, frustration still gets the best of us at times and we still might argue and bicker, but the trivial stuff that used to ruffle our feathers no longer seems to matter. We are big picture people now. We have a new focus. Priorities have been re-shuffled.

That’s not to say that having a baby will solve any relationship’s problems. That is never the case. For us though, Ava coming along was sort of like gilding the lily.

I am hoping 2012 will be calm and easy-going year. 2011 was great, but it was also hectic. There was Ava’s birth, planning the shower, going to the birth classes, preparing the house, taking Ava the beach before she was two months old (it was more stressful than you think), planning the baptism, dealing with Michelle who was dealing with going back to work, fitting in all the “baby’s first” stuff around the holidays and finding the right daycare.

Yikes, I’m stressed again just thinking about all of that.

However, 2012 does involve its fair share of events. Ava’s first birthday comes to mind. I also think Michelle and I will have to have the “when do we start trying again” discussion [gulp].

I am also looking forward to a bunch of stuff this year. Ava will be bigger and able to enjoy more activities. I plan on taking her to several zoos and museums. Hopefully we can get back to the beach where she can better enjoy the sand instead of just laying in a tent. I know Michelle is looking forward to starting Ava on cereal, fruit and veggies in a couple of weeks.

Whatever 2012 holds for us, and you the reader, I hope it is nothing but good things. I also want to once again thank you all for reading and supporting this blog. I really appreciate all the positive feedback, as well as your interest in my baby girl. God bless and here’s to a happy and healthy new year.

*Make sure to check back tomorrow as I will tell you a story that will either make you piss your pants laughing or get grossed out to the point where you throw-up a little in your mouth. Happy new year!