December 4, 2007

Hello Old Friend

An old friend came to visit today and put an end to a week in which my wife and I were abuzz with anticipation and questions. It hasn’t been long since we saw him last, but he was in such turmoil that we have been worried sick about him. He’s one of those guys that have a truly destructive streak, one fueled by his ridiculous ego. But he’s so principled that he somehow makes recklessness seem honorable. Every time he ruins a relationship or gets fired from a job, we think that he’ll never turn up again. But like clockwork he reappears, usually in some new variation of his former self; smelling sweet as pie just like before.

When he showed up today he was looking innocent and stable and swore that he was singing a new tune. He has apparently settled down and stopped drinking, a feat that I would have told you was impossible just a few short months ago. We’re talking about a man who would drink on the job if he was feeling low enough, and who would often spend long nights sitting alone in his car sucking on a bottle of whiskey. When he would eventually turn up the next day, he was rarely even clean, let alone ready to work. So as far as the drinking is concerned I am a touch skeptical.

I will say this though; I have met his new girl before and always thought she could be a stabilizing influence on him. She wasn’t here today, but you could sense her presence in the calm way in which he turned down another friend’s offer at a night out at the bar. His eyes were practically glossy with contentedness. In the past he would have jumped at the chance to run out and throw back a couple of drinks, but not now. All he wanted to do was get home and hug the kids and have a quiet dinner. Our mutual friend almost fainted when an invite was extended to him; like he didn’t even know what dinner was.

It was just so nice to see him today. The wait is finally over and for once we can go to sleep knowing that he is going to be all right. So why am I so disappointed? Well you see, our friend, if nothing else, was never boring. Now when I watch him go through the motions in this new life of his I am sickened with the thought that he is settling. All around him life goes on and people literally are getting away with murder. If drinking and sleeping around are what it takes to keep the streets of Baltimore clean, then so be it. Besides, a little carousing never really hurt anybody did it? We sat with him for two hours tonight and never saw an inkling of the old Hell raiser. Oh well, there is still plenty of time left in the season. Here’s to Bushmills and Jimmy McNulty and the hope that he will one day soon be way, waaaay off the wagon.

December 3, 2007


It has been such a long time since I have written about my day to day life with Annie. She is growing up so quickly that I can hardly keep up. The last time she was pictured here, she was wearing an Indian head dress and preparing for Thanksgiving. I knew that we were in for a long week between traveling and sleeping in a new place. The simple act of packing for her was concerning. Lately there have been so many stories of planes sitting on runways for six hours that I felt we needed to pack our carry on luggage with an entire day’s worth of supplies. So when we boarded the plane, all of the other passengers were not only struck with fear at the sight of a baby, but also at the amount of luggage we had. Fortunately, flying was the easiest part of the trip. Annie was a champ and slept through all four flights that we took. I could feel everyone's relief at the end of each flight and a few passengers even offered their congratulations to us.

While home in New Jersey Annie was her usual beautiful self, and I took some time off as there were plenty of extra hands to hold her with. The biggest challenge we faced was not having her crib there. She slept in a travel playpen and it just wasn’t the same. I think that for our Christmas trip we will have to buy the same crib for Grandma's house. For the most part, she still slept through the night, but not without considerable fussing. Throw a house full of gregarious relatives into the mix and you get a tired little baby. Leaving New Jersey was sad, but I was incredibly happy to be back in our little apartment in Shreveport.

Having seen my relatives amazement all week, I got some perspective on her development. Things are moving so quickly now that I can almost see her leaving for college. She is now rolling over so easily that I forgot it was even a milestone. She is to the point of figuring out that there is something else on the horizon for her. I’m sure that crawling is still a few months off, but she is starting to do a little surfer move on her blanket in which she flops on her chest and tries to swim forward. It won’t be long before she realizes that if she does this while on all fours, she will be on her way to flying all over the house.

Also, as many of you saw, Annie has started experimenting with some solid foods. While the sweet potatoes were a definitive no, she has been slurping mashed bananas and applesauce all week. She hasn’t completely figured out how to swallow without sticking her tongue all the way out of her mouth, and she always ends up covered in sticky fruit, but she loves it all the same. I can't get enough of watching her figure these little nuances of life out, and enjoy seeing her progress every night. Even something as little as gripping the spoon by herself and promptly bumping it into her nose cracks me up.

One of the things that I feel bad about is the fact that she really has been giving me every opportunity to write more often. For a month now, she has been sleeping for twelve hours a night. I already completely take for granted that this is going to last forever. When I speak with other parents about their children of the same age, I am now the wise old veteran who tells them to hang in there. I try not to be condescending, and I never preach about how we accomplished the feat, but I’m sure my joy creeps though and they wonder if I’m showing off. The bottom line is that until a parent and their baby are both ready to sleep, it will never happen. I hit rock bottom the week before sleep training and if I had not I would still be getting up every night.

The last leap forward that she has taken involves sleep as well. She has always vigorously fought taking naps, even when her eyebrows were rubbed red with exhaustion. Lately though, she has been falling asleep wherever she is with just a few sobs. The car is still easiest, but today I put her down for three naps in her crib; something that only her Grandma Liz had accomplished previously.

The moral here is that after five months, Annabelle Harper Poulas is starting to figure this life thing out. I only hope that she keeps it up and shows her Dad how it’s done.