Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: Birthday time – everyone is 40!

Almost everyone is forty.  Frank turned 3 on May 19.  Because of the current situation it was a low key affair with a few good friends and their kids.  That’s all he wants anyway, is to be around other kids.  We’re working on it buddy, she’ll be home soon hopefully.  Our respective families poured on the gifts and Frank was OK with that too.  His Thomas the Tank engine collection received a substantial upgrade.

Doing what he likes best – hanging with the gang.

We did big parties for his 1st and 2nd but I still don’t think he cared either way.  Those things tend to be more for us than him.  Anyway he enjoyed his birthday, he’s as low maintenance as can be most of the time.  He is just as happy playing on the big swing set as he is running around his grammy’s empty new house before all her stuff arrived.  He will let just about anyone do nighttime, from me to grammy to babysitters, hey Sydney.  Shoot, a lot of the time he takes himself to bed.  Low maintenance has been a theme with Frank.  His sister on the other hand…

Well she is forty and we all know what cranks 40 year olds are.   Except she’s 40 weeks not years, obviously.  Finally full term.

Here is what she thinks about that.

Can I get an Amen from the congregation!

Friday June 29th was Anne Marie and Linda Claire’s due date.  It has been a long road to this point.  With Linda Claire in her eternal peace, Anne Marie has had to go it alone.  So she made it to her birthday, again.  It will be a long road to her next birthday as well.  The NICU is a crazy place, time wise.  Einstein has a handful of theories about bending time, the NICU can actually do it.  AM is 40 weeks old and 13 weeks old at the same time.

They go by gestation age, the point she would be in the womb.  Today she reached the full term, 40 weeks, and should be born.  She had other plans and was born on 22 March.  That’s three and a half months early, for those of you playing the home version.   So while she is technically not a newborn, she’s been breathing the free air for 14 weeks, as far as development goes it’s as if she was born today.  Sort of.  It’s a little more complicated than that but not nearly as exciting to read about.

However, if and when she gets to come home, the second she steps out the door of the hospital she will revert to her actual age.  She was born on 22 March.  If she leaves the hospital on 22 July she would be four months past the day she was born but only 1 month past the day she should have been born. She will be 4 months old on 22 July but will really only be about a month old in development.  Get all that?  Good.  I’m glad someone gets it.  Anyway she hit 40 weeks Friday so we went to celebrate.  Here is some pictorial proof of the mayhem.  As someone on ESPN said – You can’t control us, you can only hope to contain us.

Go hard or go home!

The two youngsters weren’t the only ones celebrating a birthday.  My wife also turned 40 this month.  Forty years, not weeks, obviously.  I would now like to revise my earlier statement about 40yr olds being cranks.

I am married to a 40 year old.  Hard to believe.  However Tracy is still younger than my little sister.  That’s just too … pffft  hahahaha, no no wait, it’s just…. hahahaha, I can’t… it’s…. hang on…. hahaha.

Sometimes living 600 miles away from home can be a good thing.

For those of you not aware, I have married up, out of my league, out kicked my coverage, and any other cliche you can think of to describe how I ended up with the catch of the century.  I managed to trick the homecoming queen from the University of Kentucky of 1994, into marrying me.  Maybe I should have gone into sales.

Here’s what a person who is 40 but could pass for 28 looks like – at bath time.  Happy Birthday to my Wife!.

40 is the new 28. Happy Birthday!

So it has been a month of celebrations.  We had hoped for one more, a homecoming for Anne Marie, but that will have to wait.  She has more growing up to do.  So we will go on with what we’ve been doing, taking two steps forward and one step back.

Maybe we’ll celebrate two independence days in July.  I can almost guarantee there will be pictures.

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: 7 Pounds of Angry – an update

She’s a grunter, who would have guessed.

My not so little anymore, 3 month old daughter doesn’t cry much, but she growls and grunts a whole lot when she wants something.  She also grunts when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to do. What are some things she’s not supposed to do?  Oh I don’t know, lets start with pulling out her feeding tube.

She still has a feeding tube for those times when she is too tired to take the bottle.  Preemies need to eat.  They can’t sleep through feedings.  The little feeding tube snakes through her nose and down the back of her throat.   It gets taped under her nose right above her lip.  Pulling it out is no small feat.  It takes time, diligence, and effort, but most of all patience.  She may work on it for hours, chipping away a little at a time or she may get a good grip and just pull out the whole shootin match.  Depends on her mood.  Here’s a comparison.

Tube in.

I appear to have caught her contemplating her next move in this shot.  No idea what she is thinking but her wheels are clearly spinning.  I prefer she not be so demonstrative.  Covert op’s shouldn’t be so obvious.  She’s making it a little to easy for the opposition in this picture.

This next picture is not very subtle either.  She appears to be trash talking a bit; as much as a 3 month old baby can trash talk anyway.  While the tongue out is a nice touch I can see I’m gonna have to teach her to be a little more gracious in victory.  Or maybe not.  Tough call.  Anyway, here’s the next picture – victory personified.


Tube out!

Hahaha.  This will never not be funny.  She knocked off the hat just for fun.  I’m throwing in the next shot for free.  She got a little angry the next time she yanked the tube.  This is her mad face, or as Frank would say, “She’s Cross.”  Yes Frank, yes she is.  There are a few sweet a cute shots too, just to balance it all out.

On to the update.  As of today Anne Marie is 7 pounds 1 ounce and 19 inches long.  And she angry.  I’m no longer sure about Frank’s safety, but I’m sure he will learn to share, whether he wants to or not.



7 pounds of angry!










Sleeps just like her brother.

Beneath the cuteness lurks a lion.


Derision 2012! – A voice of clarity

The best summation of today’s ruling I have seen so far.  Maybe Mr Burns should become the political director at CNN.

Ironic, isn’t it Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.”  Charles Montgomery “Monty” Burns Owner, Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Boss of Homer Simpson

The real irony, that comment could have been said by the President or Governor Romney and still be accurate. Well the part about costing them the election anyway.

Brace yourself my friends, it’s just barely heating up.

Derision 2012! – He who jumps first is …….. an idiot

Looking at you CNN, and FOX, and CBS, and several news organizations and individual news people on twitter, too many to name believe it or not.  A quick recap of the stakes.

Today was the day the United States Supreme Court handed down it’s ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act or ACA, or socialized medicine , depending on what side of the crazy you inhabit.  The biggest issue was the mandate stating all Americans must purchase health care.  If that was struck down the whole law would likely fall.  If the mandate was upheld, the Republicans would get their rallying cry for November.

Rally cry Ho!

The court ruled the mandate is constitutional, but not the way it was written.  It is not constitutional to mandate health care under the commerce clause, but it is so, under the taxing authority of the government.  That little subtlety is where the news organizations crapped on themselves.  More on that in a second.

Game with in the Game

Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative put on the bench by President Bush 43, wrote the decision for the majority, meaning he ruled in favor of the law. Truly a big surprise there.  Not as big but still a shocker, Justice Kennedy, the most liberal of the conservative justices, sided with the minority conservatives.  He went as far as to say the law should be struck down entirely.  So much for claiming partisan politics on this deal.  That’s a small blow really, for conservatives but in my opinion a bigger win overall.

A sleeping giant

The pizazz is missing from team Romney.  His party is in like with him, not in love.  This might be the spark that ramps up the love.  Well probably not, it will more likely ramp up the hate for the President.  The last time that happened – 2010 when a lot of D’s lost their jobs over this very issue.  The Tea Party is drying their powder right now, I can assure you.  To steal and modify a line from the President’s chief advisor David Axelrod, that sound you hear is the buzz of Karl Rove’s super pac bombers revving their engines.

Wisconsin: in a word – meaningless   

Remember the most important election of our lives, you remember, the recall election of Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin.   That was fun.  I predicted that event would have little impact on the November election and ultimately be meaningless if for no other reason than timing.  Way too much time between that fight and November.  Well the Supreme Court just moved the Wisconsin election to meaningless-ville.  It’s still June folks, this decision may move there as well.  Who knows what will happen between now and each party’s conventions in late summer?  A lot of golf left my friends, which ever side you are on, trust me, the Presidential election was not decided today.

Jump first, blush second, wait, is it jump first look second, no, no it’s read first jump second, or… oh hell just jump. 

Such in the journalistic motto of my friends at CNN.  All the news outlets came on the air an hour before the decision was handed down.  All but MSNBC failed to wait that one crucial minute and read past the first paragraph.  The Supreme Court is not an elected body.  Those folks serve for life, cannot be removed unless they break the law, and do not have to campaign.  There was never going to be a press conference to announce the decision.

It was handed down they way all Supreme Court rulings are handed down, in written form.  Each network had one press pass to be in the room when the decision was handed out.  They were then required to go outside to report.  Only Pete williams and Chuck Todd took the 2 minutes necessary to read it.  John King and Wolf Blitzer of CNN now wish they had used those two minutes.

CNN folks read the first sentence and then went to Breaking News – Health Care Law struck down!  Whoops.  The first lines detailed how using the health care law as part of the commerce clause was in fact unconstitutional.  That was good enough for King and Biltzer.  They went nuts about the blow to Obama.  FOX did the same but CNN’s melt down was so much more epic that the FOX gang was overlooked.  At least the FOX reporter was reading the ruling as she was reporting.

But at CNN you could hear the voice of John King slow to a “oh crap, it’s not repealed, it stands, what did I just do” silence.   Wolf was left holding the flaming turd bag trying desperately to put it out as King decided that shutting up might be the best course of action.  That only lasted a minute, maybe 90 seconds, but it was the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in a while.   King is still on the air but he looks a lot like Charlton Heston did in Ten Commandments after he went to see the burning bush.

CNN’s John King before reading shouts “Struck Down!”

King seconds after finding out “It Stands!”







I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.

So let it written, so let it be done.

Be advised, this fight is far from over.  In fact it may have just started.

Stay tuned.

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: Six pounds in a one pound sack

Well by now most of y’all are aware that my daughter Anne Marie was born three and a half months early and weighed in at 1 pound 12 ounces.  She shed 3 of the useless ounces the next day.  So on March 23rd she was 1 pound 9 ounces and measured 12 inches long.  (You don’t get a height when you’re that small only a length.) It was going to be tough sledding to say the least.

The sledding has been good so far.  Today, 21 June, she is 6 pounds 6 ounces and 18 3/4 inches long.  Since they don’t weigh her until late in the evening, it’s possible she is heavier than that right now.  To give you some perspective, my son Frank, the name sake of Frank’s Place, was born 1 week early and weighed  6 pounds 9 ounces and measured 19 inches long.  He stayed in the hospital for the normal 2/3 days.  Anne Marie will hit the 3 month mark in the hospital tomorrow.  She’s building serious honors points on her Hilton gold card.   If and when she checks out of the hospital she will weigh much more than Frank did.  The track she’s on now will most likely put her past 7 pounds.  So according to Tennessee Fish and Game, we don’t have to throw her back.

Here’s the most recent photo shoot.

Nice chin dad, all three of them.

Hope you like pistachio!

Hey! Can a sister get a little shut eye.













The only thing jamming up the works right now is her feeding.  She has to be able to take a bottle for every feeding.  That means going against the age old adage, “never wake a sleeping baby.”  Premies can’t miss a meal, they have to eat which means waking her up.  If she’s too sleepy to engage the bottle, she gets it through the feeding tube.  We obviously can’t do that at home so she’s a captive until she can go a few days straight of taking a bottle at every feeding.

One thing she has no problem with is filling her diaper.  Holy cra…. I mean wow, she can really punish it.  I have heard the jokes about how can such little people produce such abnormal size steamers.  But Frank never really did that.  I’ve been changing his diapers since day one and I never really stopped and said whoa, that’s bigger than his head!  His diaper was always the normal amount of disgusting, dry heave inducing, waste.  Look people I’m just not going to say poo, I can’t do it.

Besides poo wouldn’t even come close to doing justice to what Anne Marie has been up to.  I finally made it there to visit her during the day time hours.  I’m usually on the night shift, thanks Lauren!  I picked her out of her crib and she smelled more like butt than usual.  When I sat down with her the dank odor really started hitting home, plus I realized her clothes were wet.  Time to change the diaper.

It was epic.  It was everywhere.  It was the color of pistachio.  In solid form it would have easily been bigger than her head and that’s a trick for a preemie.  Their heads are freakishly big compared to the rest of their bodies.  Although her head to body ratio had started to even out when she crossed the 6 pound threshold.  She hammered that diaper.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s on a protein supplement with her formula.  So, you know, if a world record had been set it would have come with asterisk for illegal supplements.

Two positives from the pistachio diaper: it took me forever to clean her up because I had to deal with the rolls of fat on her belly.  Changing her diaper two months ago, her body fat was exactly zero.  Her legs had filled out and they were kicking in the most uncooperative fashion for the level 5 toxic spill we had going.  Two months ago they were spindly tooth picks, I was afraid I was going to break them, and I could over power both legs with two fingers from one hand.

The moral: in every pistachio diaper there is a silver lining.

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: Hey Frank, it’s U.S. Open Week!

It’s hard to beat Masters Week for pure golf excitement, but the U.S. Open does.  The only way it could get better is if Jim Nantz fell into a tear in the space/time continuum and they used commentators from the BBC, that’s right the British Broadcasting Corporation, to handle the coverage of both the Masters and U.S. Open.  The folks at the BBC know two things, golf and when to shut the hell up.  Nantz probably knows golf, the other thing, well lets just say he’s never met a silence he didn’t think should be shattered with a grandiose 7 minute monologue about nothing in-particular.  He’ll ramble on to the sound of his own voice while golf is going on.  Someone needs to tell him we tuned in to see golf not watch/listen to his dopey opening title sequences.  Don’t even get me started on the jack-apples at the Golf Channel.

Anyway, our country’s national golf championship is a different excitement as compared to the Masters.  The fact that the tournament is played on a different course every year is nice, but it’s the course they pick that makes the difference.  The Masters is rich golf history, the U.S. Open is survival of the fittest.  This year the Olympic Club in San Francisco gets the nod.  Possibly the toughest golf course in the country.  I heard several press conferences today and most of the guys said the same thing, only Oakmont in Pennsylvania might be tougher.  Technology advances are nullified, knuckle dragging long hitters who can’t chip to save their lives are cast by the way side, and guys who are wild off the tee are in for a long-short tournament.  It will be short because they won’t make the cut and be sent home Friday night.  But it will be the longest, as in most frustrating, two rounds they’ve ever played.  The rough is twice as high, the fairways are half as wide and the greens half as big and twice as fast when compared to what they play on most of the year.  You can’t be a hitter and win a U.S. Open, you have to be a golfer.

The other exciting thing about the U.S. Open is it’s an Open.  Meaning anyone can play in it if you can qualify.  With a registered handicap of 1.4, which means you can shoot par, (72 strokes on most courses), you can play in the sectional and regional qualifiers and if you manage to snag one of the slots you will be playing in the U.S. Open.  Think it can’t happen?  Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was one bad round away from qualifying last year.  Now Andy Zhang, born in China raised in Florida, fell one spot shy of qualifying and became an alternate this year.  Paul Casey from England withdrew due to injury and Zhang was notified he was in if he wanted to play.  At 14 he is the youngest player ever to qualify.  At 14 I was plotting revenge strategies on all those nuns that terrorized me in grade school.

Tough course, impossible odds, a 14 year old, amateurs and club pros playing along side legends like Tiger, Mickelson and Bubba Watson, man it can’t get much better.  You know, except for that whole Jim Nantz thing.  So in honor of U.S. Open week, I took Frank to an actual golf course to see if his backyard swing, seen here: big hitter, would hold up on the real grass of the greatest game ever invented.  Take a look and decide for yourself.

Staring down an unruly photographer.

Taking his stance.

The take away.


Holding the finish.

Another rite of passage – taking your first pee on the golf course.

A celebratory dog in the “golf house” as Frank calls it.

Enjoy U.S. Open Week!

Diary of a Stay At Home Dad: Machines? We don’t need no stinking machines!

Yeah, that headline sounded much better in my head, but that’s all I got.  Well it’s not all I’ve got.  I have an update for those following the trek of my daughter as she fights it out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Anne Marie has been relying mostly on machines to sustain her.  She had a tube hooked to a corresponding machine that catered to just about every need.  She had a tube for breathing, feeding, medicine, exhausting gas from her belly, and even one pumping liquified fat directly into her veins.  She lived in an incubator for warmth and protection from germs, a humidifier to help her breathing and keep her skin pliable, and even a blue light to burn off the jaundice.  Such is the life of a 1 pound baby.

This is what she looked like at maximum machin-ism.

From my deep sea diving collection – the latest in incubator wear.

Like I said, the life of a 1 pound baby.  Yeah it was hard to see her this way sometimes.  There was a lot of coping mechanisms.  My go to coping move is humor.  Of course most of the stuff I say or write is only funny to me.  In your mind you have to tell yourself, this is all for a purpose, all these tubes and machines are there for a reason.  She wouldn’t be alive without them.  And at some point, someday in the future she’ll be free of all this stuff and breathe and eat and grow on her own.

Well the future is now my friends.  We walked into to her room this afternoon to find her in a very fancy baby swing, with no feeding tube, and more importantly, no breathing tube.  She had shed most of the other stuff I mentioned a while ago.  But this is the NICU, you can never let your guard down.  You aren’t out of the woods until you’re actually out of the woods.  The light at the end of the tunnel might actually be a train.  To that end it is more than likely during bottle feeding she’ll have to have some breathing assistance, until she gets the hang of it.  In between feedings and while she’s sleeping she breathes fine on her own.  One small step for man, one giant leap for Anne Marie kind.

So the life of a 1 pound baby can look grim at times, but the life of a 5 pound 8 ounce baby looks better and better every day.  As a matter of fact it looks something like this.

1st face shot of an Anne Marie in captivity.

This is truly the first time we have ever seen her face without some tube or machine blocking it in some fashion.  Turns out she takes after Tracy, thank God.  Here is a good shot of her futuristic baby swing.  It looks a little like the half-egg Mork from Ork rode to earth.  Google it.  And yeah Tracy will be buying the swing as soon she finds it on Amazon or Babies R Us.

Just swinging the day away. Working the binker (pacifier).












Her official stats are as follows: 5lbs 8oz.  17 3/4 inches long.  Taking a 2oz bottle every 3 hours.  It’s still early to be talking about her coming home but the docs think July 4th weekend is a reasonable goal at the moment.

Stay tuned.