Monday, May 2, 2011


This pic has been my phone wallpaper for the past month. I love it. We pass things every day that have become commonplace or no longer excite the adult in us, like carousels.

If I hopped and rode the carousel by myself, it wouldn't be very much fun. And it would look super creepy. But riding with Benjamin and seeing him look around at all of the horses and mirrors like he had just stepped through the looking glass - man, it was an awesome $2 investment. Then another $2, and another.

That's what this picture means to me, a child's sense of wonder and joy when they're experiencing something for the first, or twelfth time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I moved around a lot as a kid, so I never really had a team that was "my team." I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Chicago Bears thanks to Walter Payton being an exemplary human being, The Fridge being huge, and the Super Bowl Shuffle being my first rap single.

Emily's family are serious Bears fans, like being in a foul mood the Monday after a loss. This shirt was a gift from them trying, no doubt enlisting their latest recruit. Benjamin and I were watching the NFC Divisional Playoffs and I noticed that he was making the "Touchdown!" arm signal each time they scored.

So I sat in front of him for the next quarter waiting for da' Bears to score again. They did, Benjamin made the call, I snapped the pic. Touchdown.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Christmas 2010

Now this is the reaction every parent hopes to get with each toy their child opens - pure unadulterated joy. Thankfully Benjamin is a pretty excitable little boy, or he is fantastic at faking it.

When he opened up Toy Story 3, there's a chance the guys at Pixar in California heard his squeal. Wide-eyed, mouth open, "Mommy-Daddy-Doy-Storie-Free!!"

The runner's up gift - "Butz Aightyear FashAight!!"

Christmas 1950

Every old Christmas movie has a scene where the kids are pressed up against the glass of a toy store window, just trying to get a better look at a train set or a rocking horse.

My assumption is that if it's in the movies, that's what little kids really did back in the 50's. No video games, no brats guilting parents into buying something - just kids marveling at the wonder of a new toy.

That's what this picture reminds me of, a simpler time. Benjamin was so quaint and gentle looking at this little Christmas village display. He was peering at the little people and wondering what each one was doing. It also helps that we was wearing long sleeve shirt/sweater combo and a festive holiday necktie. Don't judge me.

Geez, what year is it?!

The good news is that I've been trying my best to live life. The bad news is that keeping up with a blog clearly isn't on other people's list of "Things Dale Should Be Doing". Alas, I have the best intentions, so there is no time like the present to try and get back into the swing of things.

This will be more of an update via pictures over the course of multiple postings. Numerically it will really feel like you're getting some serious bang for your buck. A great value in this economy.

Enjoy the pics and I make a pledge to the 3 of you still keeping up with this I will try and make up for lost time. Or at the very least do a bi-weekly entry.

I love this picture. If I didn't take it I would swear it is a fake staged moment in a J. Crew catalog for sensible wool scarves.

Benjamin loves picking leaves. We always take them home and then they are forgotten, but until that time Benjamin feels like a rich botanist collecting different treasures.

This one goes in my digital and mental scrapbook marking a lovely autumnal afternoon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

While the Cats Away...

Everything needs a recharge once and awhile. We cram electrolytes into our body, our phones are bricks without plugging them in, and the human spirit is no different. I think parents in particular need to monitor their power levels better. Some get so tethered to their kids that they forget how to function without them. They dry-cell themselves.

We love Benjamin to pieces, but we have always been able to leave the house without freaking out and obsessing about whether or not he is upset. We did the sneak out thing at first, but later thought it was more traumatic for a baby to see their parents one minute, look at a toy, and look back to see that they've disappear without so much as a puff of smoke or anything. The last time we did it the babysitter reported that he tearfully searched the entire house for us, woops. Now we just tell him that we're leaving and he practically closes the garage door on us - see-ya!

Emily and I have had staycations before, but they were always within driving distance should something pop up like sickness, an accident or being discovered by a Hollywood baby agent. A few weeks ago Emily and I turned a friend's San Diego wedding (way to go Eric!) into a little vacation, marking the first "real" trip away.

We were giddy with excitement over being in the sun-drenched SD area and seeing so many of our college/improv friends in one spot. Then a gust of reality hit me, we need to stop putting off getting our will drawn up. WOMP-wom. A sobering thought that I only compounded by having speculative daymares of Emily and I going down in a fiery plane crash or launching our rental car into the cold Pacific waters leaving Benjamin to an Oliver Twist-like future.

No one likes "will talk." In college during phone calls with my Dad he would routinely update me, "Well, I've made some changes to my will..." He was of course politely keeping me informed, but I would just mentally cover my ears and go "la-la-la-la..." Wills automatically make you think "death," but they are a necessity now in our society or your things and more importantly the guardianship of your children would be left up to the state to decide. Yeah. That will give you a shiver.

Thankfully my Mom has studied up on will preparation and such, which made everything super easy and avoided going through a lawyer. Plus she billed me much less than an attorney would, I do need to ask her about that "convenience fee" though. And I have to say, a weight was lifted off my shoulders knowing that it was at least done and should Emily and I be eaten by Shamu while in San Diego, Benjamin would be taken care of.

Enough of that happy talk. Our time in San Diego was wonderful. Just the two of us exploring a new city, stopping at places on a whim, not changing diapers for 4 days, eating at places that aren't kid-friendly, being able to cuss all we want (jk) and not having to share my yogurt with anyone.

An observation about the general San Diego area, everyone looks cool (in a natural Californian way, not in the artificial L.A. way), everyone drives an Aston-Martin, and no one seems to really work. I'm told that the city was a big destination for people in the US who made their money, like a white collar retirement city to Miami's blue collar rabble. (p.s. Don't tell Emily I took pics of these cali-hotties around town)

The best part was not worrying once about Benjamin's safety, knowing that he was having a blast with Mimi and Nanny. In fact, we would give one check-in call to see how things were going and Benjamin seemed a little disinterested in talking with Mommy and Daddy. Was he just as happy for us to be out of the house as we were? Did he need a recharge too?

When we returned I found these photos that Benjamin must have taken while we were gone. It looks like he grew up and lived a swinging bachelor's lifestyle in our absence. Here is how I interpret his snapshots - trying to piece together his vacation from us:

Benjamin likes to take bathes so he clearly started things off with a Home Alone-like scenario where he showered and shaved in order to look his best. Axe body spray may have been involved too.

To make ends meet he took a part-time job at the local Krispy Kreme. Since he is only 2.75 and his negotiation skills are terrible, he was paid in donuts. This is him eating his day's wages.

This one is harder to nail down. He either went to the pond area by our house and rescued this Galapagoan Deep Sea Turtle from international poachers, or HE was rescued by the TMNT
and he is simply repaying them for their bravery.

This picture clearly tells me that things just aren't working out with his girlfriend. They seem to have grown apart, like they no longer have similar interests. She's into Dora, he's into Super Why. She wears 5's, he's wearing 6's. It's sad really. The other theory is that these two didn't break up, but instead cut a folk-rock record and this is their album cover - "New Horizons."

In summary, true time away was refreshing for both Emily and I. It was great visiting with friends and seeing how people have matured from their college selves. Having a will gives peace ofmind (go do it). And thank God for having grandparents close by that are willing to stay at your house and watch your son for 4 days, winterize your faucets when the temperature suddenly dropped, and take you to and from the airport in the black of night/early morning.

And in the words of Ron Burgundy, "Stay classy San Diego."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


(Insert requisite apology for delay in updates here)

I love autumn. It is home to cool crisp air, more vividly colored foliage, and ample opportunities to wear costumes. And thankfully 2.75 year old Benjamin is still willing and compliant to wear pretty much whatever we put on him.

One of his good friends had a cowboy themed backyard party complete with hayrides, roping and a sarsparilla geyser. What’s a cowboy party without a few people dress like cow-people, right? Benjamin was the easy costume, he some how had all the trappings for a legit cowpoke.

What you can't tell from the "vintage" western picture is that I'm wearing Emily's red sequins drill team hat that matches my red bandanna and red faux-western shirt. Don't let the toothpick fool you, I looked like an extra from a Roy Rogers musical revue.

Benjamin was the smallest buckaroo there, but had a ball running around with all of the other kids. I love the picture of the two of us because it is reminiscent of a novelty photo I have of my dad and I from a Six Flags type place. We have generational ties to an outlaw in Jesse James’ gang (Douglas Highbarger), I reckon our "ice water running through our veins" looks do our ancestors proud.

For Benjamin this was a trial run for his cowboy main event – being “Woody” f
rom Toy Story for Halloween. He is a big fan of the movies, in fact TS3 was his first movie theater experience, so when we asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, “WOODY!!” echoed through halls of our house.

The surprise was his follow-up request, “Mommie be Jessie… Daddie be Bus Ight-Ear!!” He cast us as his supporting roles. The gauntlet was thrown down. I have a long history of competing in our agency costume contest, 6 years of coming in 2nd place…yay, but I took pride in always making my costume Macgyver-style. There was NO way I was going to attempt to make a Buzz Lightyear costume. I don’t mind playing the fool, but I don’t like being a dollar store idiot.

I tried to persuade Benjamin to play the Space Ranger role, but he wouldn't budge. The kid costume is 1/5 of the adult costume's price. But a layer of rational-Dale was melted by the auspice of missing out on really doing Halloween with my son.

The net result was a family of three dressed to the nines in Toy Story regalia; we took pictures with other awe-struck kiddos, held hands while trick-r-treatin, and hopefully have some pictures to show Benjamin when he is older that, "Yes, your parents are dorks. But we are dorks who clearly love you very much."

This Halloween Benjamin was more cognizant of the “people inside these houses give me free stuff” concept. We really limit his candy, so the siren’s call of sweets hasn't entranced him yet, except for Dum-Dum lollipops. I could get him to walk over hot coals for a sucker. No, this night was all about the “hunt.”

I modded my Buzz Lightyear costume with a laser-pointer (I had to make it legit), so we would hold hands walking on the sidewalk, then I would project the laser on the path to the front door. Benjamin would chase the light like a trained cat up to the door and deliver his well rehearsed line, “Tick, tweet, CANDY!” I guess he got the important word right.

The highlight was Benjamin scoring one of those huge, big as yo-face Hershey bars from a nice lady on our street who got it just for him – they are New Year’s Eve dates this year, in a non-creepy way.

Sidenote: Packs of high school mungos wearing black t-shirts or sports jerseys trying to trick-r-treat, please stop. No one wants to give you any thing, they only do it so you won’t knock over their floodlights. It is like candy extortion. Go text about how awesome you are at home.

The end of Halloween night is so great - the ritual of dumping out your bag to see what treasures you have hauled home. I just wanted to watch and take pictures of this and I love every candid picture of Benjamin and Emily together. Hearing the “whoa! Wot’s dat one?” each time he discovered a never before seen candy.

Their outfits, the lighting, everything is so warm and Americana to me. Like this is what being a kid is all about. And the fact that our little boy wanted us to dress up with him to be part of his Halloween was the sweetest treat of the night.