Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Like Riding a Bike

We bought Abigail a bike about two years ago. It was a cheap little BMX from Walmart. I figured she could learn to ride on that and then pass it on to Aidan.

We finally removed the training wheels a few weeks ago.

My little girl, who jumped off a high dive at the age of five, was afraid of falling on her bike. She was content to pedal around the street leaning on the training wheels.

It was driving me crazy. Every time I suggested removing the training wheels, she started to cry.

A few weeks ago, she was riding a neighbor kid's scooter.

"Daddy, I can ride the scooter."

"If you can ride that, you can ride your bike without training wheels."

"Okay, take off the training wheels."

She shed a few tears that first day but picked it up pretty quickly. It was as if a switch was thrown inside her head.

I look forward to riding my bike with her around the street. Aidan pedals furiously on his tricycle to keep up with us. Sometimes, the neighbor kids are out on their bikes. We ride in circles on the cul-de-sac, trying to keep from crashing into each other. It's been great.

I want to get her a new bike for Christmas. I've got my eye on an Electra Hawaii.

She's Growing Up

Abigail's Second Grade portrait.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Basket Left by the Door

He sits on the couch, completely focused on the television screen.

It's dark outside. A young woman carrying a basket looks furtively around her. She approaches a large door and rings the bell. Twice.

A woman opens the door and finds a baby.

Aidan wanted to watch "Meet the Robinsons" today. The movie (for those without children) is about a young orphan who tries to build a machine that will show him the face of his mother. There are time machines, singing frogs, a man in a bowler hat, and the voice of Tom Selleck in the movie.

Aidan loves it.

Aidan came to our family when he was five days old. He has never seen the face of his birth mother. We are the only family he knows.

We haven't kept his adoption a secret. He understands it about as well as you would expect from a three-year-old. He knows he didn't come from Mommy's tummy. Today in the car he implied most people don't know their mommy and daddy.

What does he think when he watches the movie?

As much love as we give him, there must still be a piece missing for him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep the Rubber Side Down, Part 1

Late in my high school career I started to dream of owning a motorcycle. Two wheels meant freedom, excitement, danger. It meant breaking away from the mundane. Motorcycles were cool.

My only previous experience with a motorcycle ended with me crashing into a trailer and opening a deep gash on my leg. That incident cost me a week in the hospital and about three months in a splint. I missed the last few weeks of my fourth grade year.

I wasn't going to let that stand in my way.

What did stand in my way was a lack of funds and an inability to save more than two dollars at any given time. My motorcycle dream was on hold.

While I was in the Navy I had subscriptions to a couple of motorcycle magazines. Every month I would devour the descriptions of the newest machines the motorcycle manufacturers offered. Each new model offered incremental improvements that rendered the previous model hopelessly obsolete. I could think of dozens of motorcycles I would like to own.

However, being somewhat intelligent I didn't want to buy the most powerful model for my first bike. I wasn't going to be one of those knuckleheads riding a GSXR 1000 while wearing flip-flops and no helmet. I was going to do it right.

One day I was reading the magazine when I saw the Suzuki Bandit 400. This motorcycle touched something very deep within my soul. It was red. Its tiny four-cylinder motor wasn't hidden by plastic. It revved to 14000 rpm.

It looked awesome.

I'd saved a little money during the Gulf War. I returned to a father happy to have me home and willing to help me buy a motorcycle. We went to our local motorcycle dealer and exercised Pop's credit card. The next day I rode home on my new motorcycle.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Night Shift

I've been working nights in the salt mine for about a year now. At first, most days passed in a fog of half remembered conversations and missed appointments. I struggled to sleep during the day, the bright sun boring its way through my closed eyelids. I would fall asleep and then wake up four hours later and not be able to return to the blissful dream-like state.

I never even considered taking a sleep medication because, seriously, who has eight hours to devote to sleep.

Slowly I got used to my world being turned topsy turvy.

I remember most conversations now.

Things turned around for me when I splurged on a set of heavy drapes. They block most of the sun out and allow me to sleep in relative darkness. I still have a lot trouble making the drive home in the early morning hours. Sometimes I'll stop at Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a chance to stretch my legs.

Only once did I catch myself shutting my eyes for a moment too long. The rhythmic rumble of the reflectors glued to the freeway startled me awake.

But things are not all rosy.

On my days off I can't get to sleep until midnight. This is normal for many people but my family is usually sound asleep by nine-o'clock. And then I have this nearly uncontrollable urge to take a nap at about eleven in the morning.

Yesterday morning, I came home from work and crawled into bed. I slept for about six hours and then woke up with a splitting headache. I called in sick. The family went to bed at their usual time. I stayed up until about eleven and then crawled into bed to read. I read until one.

And then I couldn't sleep. I just laid in bed for five hours drifting into and out of consciousness. My afternoon nap was a welcome relief.

Tonight I'll do it all over again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Autumn - A Contrast

In many parts of the country, the impending arrival of Autumn is characterized by:

1. The days grow shorter.
2. The nights are cooler.
3. The leaves change colors and drop from the trees.

In California, the arrival of Autumn is indicated by:

1. The days grow shorter.
2. A hot dry wind blows from the north east.
3. The humidity drops.
4. It grows hotter.
5. Everything catches on fire.

Notice the difference?