If you want to see the most creative birth announcement in the history of birth announcements, click here (congrats CJ and Jill!)
Last Friday I made good on a promise to my lovely wife that I would follow through on an (ahem) procedure that render me unable to continue procreating. It wasn't the best timing. My original plan was to have surgery right after Christmas so I could do nothing but watch football for a few days. But this didn't work for the doc, and since the only other date available would have rendered me useless while my associate was in Haiti on medical mission trip, January 25th proved to be the only day that would work before we welcomed child #4 into the world.
Anyhow, with only a couple of NBA games, and too much pain to concentrate on reading, I basically watched a whole bunch of crap on TV and just laid around with my bags of frozen peas. Here were ten thoughts I had during my convalescence.
1) I was referred to a urologist by our family doc and friend, Eric Stalkamp. During the actual procedure itself, they only use a local anesthetic so you are wide awake for the festivities. The Doc, Ben Martin, asked if I wanted a particular form of music on while he did the surgery, and I told him anything that made his hand more steady would be fine with me (I don't want the guy playing air drums while trying to match Alex Van Halen as "Panama" blares across the office). Then to try to relax me (because I was not relaxed), he started talking sports. Pretty soon I found myself talking Fantasy Basketball with him, which did make the time pass a little more quickly. Kind of surreal experience, though, watching your fertility go up in smoke while your surgeon asks you for tips on any NBA guards he could pick up.
2) All the reality shows on these cable networks are replayed over and over and over, all day long, so I was exposed to all kinds of foolishness passing off as TV entertainment I had never seen before. I watched some show that locked up Bobby Brown, Dee Snyder, Maureen McCormick (the original Marsha Brady), Carnie Wilson, Sisco (the "Thong Song" guy), a guy whose Hispanic heritage was commented on more than once, and another lady who apparently appeared on "American Idol", in a house to write county songs. The highlight was seeing Dee Snyder go crazy because no coffee was in the house while the producer played "We're Not Gonna Take It" as background music. You could say that both rock and country music died a little in that moment.
3) Watched two Cavs games this weekend: the heartbreaking last-second loss at home to the Suns, and the win against the Lakers. Biggest difference in LeBron's game from last year to now is his commitment to defense. Not only did he strip Kobe Bryant down the stretch, but he also took away his chance at a last-second three pointer to win the game. Injuries continue to threaten the team's progress (Varejao's ankle twist against LA looked ten times worse in HD), but if they can get healthy and a point guard, they can win it all. I believe!
4) Biggest downer of the lost weekend I wasn't allowed to walk? Missing the boy's basketball games on Saturday. I'm told that in the middle of his game, Xavier and the boy he was defending began to make faces at one another, totally forgetting what they were doing. Just two boys making faces at one another at mid-court while everyone else chased the basketball. You don't get moments like that back. Not to mention, if I had been there coaching, his little can would have gotten a little nudge back toward the action, which once again proves my theory that coaching 5-year olds is like herding cats.
5) Eli, who still isn't all that proficient at speech, can say the words "Knock, Knock". The reason for this is that "Knock, Knock" jokes have become a staple in a family with boys in both kindergarten and the 3rd grade. Here's a typical Eli "knock, knock" joke.
Eli: Knock, Knock
Me: Whose there?
Me: Snzerfizzip who?
Me: (laughing hysterically)
What can I say... he's a regular Drew Carey.
6) Speaking of which, Aimee and I while waiting at the doctors office, saw Drew Carey of the host of "The Price is Right" for the first time. How did he do? Well, let's put it this way.... despite the fact that Bob Barker was surrounded by people wearing homemade shirts saying things like "Hey Bob, Bark at Me!", he always seemed to bring a measure of class and sense of respect to all those present, which resulted in his audience becoming very loyal to him. Our sense with Drew was that at virtually every moment of the show, Carey was collecting more material for his stand-up act. "Respect" is exactly the word I'd use to describe Carey's attitude toward the audience. "Amusement" is probably better, which makes sense for a guy whose comedy is built on pointing out the absurd in others. I wonder how well that'll play in Peoria, long term?
7) During a commercial break, I saw Obama's victory speech on one of the news channels, and I have to say I was impressed. It was short on policy (something The Great One pointed out last night as we ate Kewpees at our house), but victory speeches rarely have much policy in them (a point she conceded). It was very inspiring and - dare I say it - reminded me of John Kennedy. Not that I can remember John Kennedy. He was killed before I was born. But when you speak to those coming of age in that generation, there is this melancholy that comes over them when they talk about his death. My generation never really had the kind of politician who inspired hope (we were too young for Reagan, and Bill Clinton inspired hope among Baby Boomers who were getting one of their own for the first time). I can see where Obama is that kind of person to young people who aren't yet jaded or cynical about politics. He's certainly going to give Hillary a run for her money.
And as for the Republicans, well, I'm still perplexed. I don't see Romney winning the South, and there's no way a Republican will win if he doesn't win the South. That leaves McCain and Huckabee (Giuliani is done). Maybe we'll know more after Florida and Super Tuesday.
8) I watched most of the Godfather I, II, and III, complete with commercial interruption, all weekend. It's been said by a good many pundits that this series is the ultimate "man movie series" of all time. It's violent. It's about family. It's about the struggle of wanting to be good, but also dealing with the reality that the world isn't. It's about love found and lost. And most of all, it's about money and power. My opinion is that they get progressively worse (III being a complete train wreck) and largely are less about family, goodness, and love, than they are about violence, money, and power. And more specifically, how fleeting power and money are because of all the violence. Anyhow, I tried to turn it off, but just at the moment I thought I could get out, they pulled me back in. Too bad the Star Wars series wasn't on instead.
9) I don't know what Dr. Drew Pinsky is up to, but it appears TV has sunk to a new low with "Celebrity Rehab", his show which is now on VH1. Reality TV has always kind of lived off the misery and humiliation of others, but jiminy frost this takes it new lows. Watching Jeff Conaway literally be incapacitated by opiates while his hanger-on girlfriend holds the rolled up dollar bill so he can snort more drugs just turned my stomach. To ask people struggling to find work to sacrifice their privacy in order to receive a paycheck while getting three weeks of treatment just seems morally bankrupt. And yet people will watch....
10) As I pondered my future, it did occur to me this weekend that this latest milestone is but another reminder that I am not getting any younger. Life is fleeting and must be enjoyed and appreciated... something we often forget in the hustle and bustle of each day. We will not have little children in our home forever, and while at times (like the day Eli opened a box of food coloring and started finger painting our white cabinets) that thought is comforting, I'm guessing that years down the road it will not be. Our moment is now, and when its over in this life, then its over. Of course, this leads one to ponder what eternity must be like, but I'm not so curious or excited to get there that I'll ponder it much. I'm still very much concerned with this world and what it will be like when my grandchildren and great-grandchildren walk barefoot down a sandy beach. What I pour into my children, how I love my wife, treat my neighbor, and honor the living God now will determine much, but definitely not all, about their fate. I only hope the choices I make now are wise ones, and the mistakes I make are somehow mitigated by the grace of God. It's all we can hope for, I suppose, as we throw ourselves on His mercy. In the meantime, however, let us all strive to be as compassionate and principled as grace demands.
10b) Much thanks to Aimee and the boys who had to do without Dad for most of the weekend. Also, a big welcome to my Uncle Fred, his daughter Katy, and her boyfriend Matt (who are both adored by the kids after they took them to Squirty Worm to play video games yesterday) who are here for short visit. Much kudos for their help this weekend, and a shout-out to Aunt Kathy who couldn't come with them due to the loss of her grandmother. You are in our prayers.