I’m still relatively new to this whole blogging thing, so I was a little bit surprised when I got an email from a representative of Chin Music Press asking if I’d be interested in receiving a copy of Jeff Gillenkirk’s upcoming novel Home, Away, explaining that it follows a professional baseball player who walks away from a Major League career to care for his son, so it might be of interest to me as an at-home dad.
I was definitely intrigued!
I won’t pretend to be a professional book reviewer, but having now (finally) finished the book I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
By Jeff Gillenkirk
Chin Music Press, 2010
“A powerful, stirring novel about family, love and the depths of compassion played out against the dramatic backdrop of professional baseball.”
Jason Thibodeaux is a promising 21-year old pitcher, with a young son he adores and a bright future ahead. Having just taken the year off from college ball to care for his son Rafe while his wife Vicky finished law school, Jason is anxious to return to the field and kick-start his very promising baseball career again. But with the sudden, messy collapse of his marriage, a bitter divorce, and an unwillingness to repeat the mistakes of his own absent father, Jason finds himself forced to fight tooth-and-nail for his son. Sadly, it’s a fight Jason can’t win, even as his career catapults him into the big leagues — complete with $42 million contract…
Did you just kick Mama? She insists it’s you she feels, kicking away. I’m sure she’s right — if you’re anything like your brother, from here on in you won’t even stop moving around when you’re asleep. I kept my hand on Mama’s belly for a long time the other night hoping to feel you move, but so far nothing that I am sure was you. I hope I get to feel you soon!
You’ve probably noticed that Mama has been talking to you a lot more, recently. Don’t take it personally if it’s mainly “Settle down in there, Boo!” Keep it up! Mama loves feeling you there. In fact, she loves everything about you.
This week we all drove down to go to the Philadelphia Zoo, which is the first zoo ever opened in America. It was very, very hot outside. I’m sure you felt it. But it was fun! Tucker loves animals, and he got to see lots of them. He even got to pet some goats. We can’t wait to take you too.
You are now the size of an apple! Apples are so good for you that there is an old proverb that says “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” They’re also delicious, and can be eaten as they are, made into juice, or apple sauce, or even baked into a pie. Yum!
Gnocchi always intimidated me, until I finally tried making them.
They require a little bit of technique and get easier with experience, but as it turns out they are quite easy to prepare.
One of the great things about making gnocchi is that this is definitely something you can have your kids help to make if they’re interested. I’m looking forward to when my son is old enough to roll out snakes of dough for me!
I like serving this with a pesto sauce (pictured, accompanied with sauteed green snap beans), but it would also be great tossed with your favorite tomato sauce or even just some good olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Just use whatever suits your fancy — or that your kids will enjoy. 🙂
NOTE: One great tip I’ve read is to actually roll, cut, texture and cook a single gnocchi before continuing to prepare the rest, just to be sure the dough is the right consistency to hold together and give you a nice fluffy pillow once cooked. If it is too mushy or falls apart, add a little bit more flour to your dough. This way you can fix the problem before having made up your whole batch.
So, without further ado…
Sometimes what I need most is a reminder that this special time with my son Tucker is going to be limited, and to make the most of every moment we have.
The other day he and I were playing like we often do with his favorite big green rubber ball (his “BAOW”) in the living room. Tuck loves it. I’ll kick it or throw it, then he’ll chase after it, giggling all the while, and bring it back for more. I’ll encourage him to try throwing it back to me, but his arm is pretty terrible right now so he usually just shoves it at me and then runs away, laughing and trying to anticipate where I’m going to send it flying. It’s a hoot, even if in some ways it’s not unlike playing “fetch” at this point.
We do a lot of running around, and as the old fat one in the game I tend to wear out a lot faster than he does. So this time I ended up eventually sitting down in the desk chair, but continued to toss the ball as he brought it to me. I’d just watch him joyfully chase after it from my comfy chair is all.
But inevitably, the siren song of the computer called to me, and I started turning away to read snippets of emails/blogs/tweets while he ran around…
Welcome to the second trimester of your life inside Mama! We’re so happy to have you in our lives.
Sometimes it’s hard for your Mama and me since we can’t see or hear you yet, and we want to know how you are doing. That’s one of the reasons we love it when we get to go in to visit with the doctors, and they use their special equipment so that we can! This week was just a basic check-up, but we got to hear your heartbeat (and Mama’s!) and, well, it’s just always wonderful to know you are growing and doing so, so well.
You’ve grown to the size of a large lemon, another citrus fruit which is like the bigger cousin of the lime from a couple of weeks ago. Lemons are also sour, but we still use them in lots of yummy foods. Most people find them too sour to eat, but do you know who doesn’t? Your brother Tucker! He likes to eat slices of lemon, even though they make his face pucker up with their tartness. It’s very funny, and I’m sure it will make you laugh to see someday!
Recently New York Magazine featured a cover story entitled All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting.
It’s an interesting look at the conclusion that many social-science researchers keep coming to recently that, contrary to popular belief, having children doesn’t bring happiness but actually makes adults less happy.
From the perspective of the species, it’s perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so. This finding is surprisingly consistent, showing up across a range of disciplines. Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize–winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities.
Honestly, I find the whole idea of asking whether having children “brings happiness” as any sort of a YES/NO thing to be kind of a silly, loaded question.
Here we are at week 13 already, and at the end of what’s called the “First Trimester” of your life inside Mama. Only two more trimesters to go and you will be in our arms. I can’t wait!
Mama visited the doctor this week so they could take another peek inside and see how you are doing. Boo, we’re so grateful you are growing and developing well. They even took more pictures of you, so that Tucker and I could see them.
Speaking of your big brother, Tucker is getting better and better at saying your name. He’s still learning how to say words clearly, but when he looks at your picture he knows it’s you and says “Baby!” or “Boo!” almost every time. He already loves you, and so do we.
This week you’ve grown to the size of a medium shrimp! I know that “shrimp” doesn’t make it sound like you’ve very big, but you’re doing just great. Shrimp are a kind of seafood (a crustacean) that Dada loves to eat. Mama isn’t a big seafood fan, but she’s a huge fan of you, so don’t worry.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be a guest on the awesome new Band of SAHDs podcast. I had a great time chatting with some of my fellow SAHDs about what we do, about this blog and about my comic. It was a blast.
During the show, one of the listeners (pretty sure it was fellow daddy-blogger PapaRocks6) posted a question for me in the chat room, which was basically “What is your parenting philosophy or strategy?” and a further question asking “What impact do you want to have on your son?”
I think my off-the-top-of-my-head answers were pretty good (they seemed to like them, at least) but it really got me thinking about the questions after the show, since it’s something I’ve never really put down into words before. At least, not in a way that I can encapsulate in any sort of concise way like “attachment parenting,” or intentionally strategize it as authoritarian, permissive, or any other specific adjective. I know I want my impact to be more than just playing a role in helping him survive to adulthood.
So, please indulge me as I ponder the questions a little more, here…
Today is an extra special day, because today is the day we tell all of our friends and family about you!
We are so excited to share the news that you are coming. You are going to have so many people clamoring to see your adorable face when you come into the world! Don’t worry if you can’t keep them all straight, just know that you’re coming into a world where you’re going to be surrounded by people who love you and have been praying for your safe arrival.
This week you have grown to the size of a lime. Limes are a sour green citrus fruit that is used in a lot of very yummy cooking, like Mexican and Thai food. They are full of Vitamin C, which helped sailors a long time ago fight off a sickness called “scurvy” on long voyages. British sailors were so well known for their use of limes that “limey” became a slang term for all people from Britain. Neat, huh?
I’ve been writing these since we found out we were pregnant, but kept them hidden until we could share the news. They’re all published publicly now though, so make sure you check them out:
Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11