Dad vs the hawk of death

Let me start off by saying that there is colorful language in here. Those that know me best aren’t going to be surprised by my foul mouth, but others may not know me as well, so you’ve been warned.

So, this was an experience. I know I’m basically a giant wuss when it comes to creatures outside of any kind. How I made it through boy scouts is a mystery to me. If you belong outside, then stay the hell away from me. I’m not truly terrified of anything other than snakes…(shiver), they move without feet people! C’mon, that’s not normal! However I admittedly have a general discomfort with all other things belonging outside; spiders, ants, any type of rodent, anything with wings, and of course rodents with wings. Bats straight freak me the fuck out, sorry for the language but bats deserve the f-word! Muscly little rats with wings! Forget about it! I’m sure some of you find them cute, and that’s fine, but if you have a bat for a pet, I’m not coming over.  I mean, I like Batman, but that’s about as far as I go.

Yeah, now I need new pants.

Yeah, now I need new pants.

But I digress, this isn’t a story about bats, or snakes (shiver), or anything else. This is about the hawk that scared the bejusus out of me! I’m sure some of you will read my recount of this and laugh, but at the time I was freaked out.

This happened a few weeks ago, like early to mid January, and Jaime was on her way home from work. A little while before this I went out and opened her garage door so that she could just pull into the garage and I went back inside. Later, right before she got home, I was taking the trash out. When I opened the door, from inside the garage I saw a shadow dart out from over by my car on the opposite side of the garage and heard a loud rustling. My initial thought was that there was a small bird in the garage. That was short lived as this “small bird” tried to get out the closed window on the far side of the garage. The window is about 2 feet wide by 2 feet tall, give or take and the shadow I saw covering this window was way bigger! I could only see about half of the wings and the body took up almost the whole window from top to bottom. It was at this point that I admit to letting out a sound that could only be mimicked by a little girl. I’m secure enough to admit that it was a high pitched shriek with the words “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!?!”  and then I took off back into the house! Still at this point I’m thinking “Big crow!”, not anything else really. So I give it enough time to fly back out the open garage door before proceeding outside. When I walk out, it’s quiet in the garage. I try making some loud noises to startle it, but hear nothing. I can faintly see a shadow of something in the far corner perched on top of some supplies in my garage, but I figure it’s my imagination and that it’s a rake or something leaning against it. So I reach just into my garage and flip on the light and then jump back 10 steps. It wasn’t my imagination, it wasn’t a rake, it was this…..

Damn it, I should just wear brown pants!

Damn it, I should just wear brown pants!

This wasn’t the actual hawk, I found this online. The eyes were yellow, and it was bigger than this looks. But close enough. Or maybe I just remember it being bigger. Anyway, I turned on the light and this little bastard was staring at me like I was dinner. When we made eye contact, it puffed up it’s chest real big to intimidate me. Totally worked, I flung open the other garage door and took off for the end of the driveway.  My first thought was to go get the dogs, maybe they’ll scare it away! Then I remembered that one of my dogs was a Jack Russell, this damn thing might try to attack her, or carry her away like the dog in The Proposal, (movie with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, good flick) and quickly dismissed that idea. I begin to run through scenarios involving animal control and stuff in my head, because now I’m afraid that maybe it was hurt as it was previously trying to fly through my window! So I call Jaime who by now is only a few blocks away from home to tell her not to go into the garage because of a big ass hawk, etc etc. As I’m telling her my ordeal, the hawk hops off of his little perch of supplies and starts walking across my garage. Passes in front of my car, never taking it’s eye off of me, and that’s when I notice a little lump of something by my rear drivers tire. The hawk hops on top of this lump and starts clawing and pulling, feathers and blood flying everywhere. OOOOOH, so the demon hawk chased some sort of prey (small bird by the looks of it) into my garage and was having dinner when it was rudely interrupted by yours truly. Still, not in my garage bub! At this time, Jaime pulls into the driveway and flashes her brights at it. That must’ve done the trick, it grabbed whatever it had in it’s talons o’ death and flew off over the house next door, never to be seen again. (WHEW!) Ordeal over, but I assure you I kept one eye open for that bird every time I went outside for days! I had visions of it swooping down from the rafters on me and Luke while I was loading him into his car seat and me having to beat this beasts ass to protect my family. Scary shit. There’s still feathers turning up in my garage. He survived unharmed though, so no animals were harmed in the making of this blog…except for the one that the hawk ripped to shreds….I don’t think that little guy is going to make it to the sequel. Oh well.

Introductions to the boy

I apologize that it’s been a while since my last post, I’ll try to keep that from happening as much.

Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be a stay at home dad without someone to be a father to. So it’s time you were introduced to the boy. Lucas Kenneth Riley, currently days away from 15 months old and growing up WAY too fast already. He was the answer to a very long wish. Jaime and I were hoping for so long for a child and when we learned that we were finally pregnant, it seemed impossible. After he was born, it still seemed impossible that I was a father. Hell, it feels that way even now. I wonder if all parents feel this, look at their children and think “Holy shit, I’m a parent…that’s my son…I am responsible for keeping this person alive!”. There is no scarier thought than that one! But so far so good (knock on wood). 6 pounds, 3 ounces when he was born. Healthy, but tiny. Had the tiniest little chicken legs I had ever seen on a baby.

Chicken legs!

Chicken legs!

But luckily, that was short lived. He started plumping up nicely and now is perfectly chubbed up! I could tell from the very beginning that he was going to be full of personality. He reminds me so much of my father. Even before he could sit up, or even roll over, I saw him in Luke. The “shit eating grin” as my mom would say, that played so easily across my fathers face, also plays against my sons. He is full of life and has an amazing sense of humor, and if he’s anything like my dad…and mom…and me…his mother…well all of us, then I’m sure he will have a foul mouth as well. As long as his first word isn’t the F-word, then I’ll be happy. Though, lets face it, will probably at least be his second. I’d love to say that we try to curb our language in front of him, but lets be honest, we really don’t. If you’ve ever been head butted in the nose by toddler sitting in your lap then you understand that expletives fly of their own accord sometime.

He is a great baby, has slept through the night since the day we brought him home, and has eagerly eaten everything we’ve ever put in front of him. Like idiots we would wake him up every two hours to feed him when he was a newborn. “Never wake a sleeping baby!” everyone would say, but we wanted to fatten up those little chicken legs! We eventually saw the light and let him go. The first night we went to bed and woke up the next morning, we dashed out of bed terrified that something was wrong. That fear, I’ve learned, is shared by many other parents on that first full night of sleep. “What? It’s 8 in the morning and we’ve had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Yeah, he’s dead! I know it!” Just to find him wide awake and entertaining himself in his crib, cooing and laughing at you as you come storming into the nursery, hair disheveled and drool still dried in the corner of your mouth. As a parent I had that fear more than once as I opened the door each morning to get him up.

Luke started walking the day before he turned 9 months old. Shocked the Hell out of us, he was standing by the table in the living room, shuffling along the floor and then he just let go and walked halfway across the room. Jaime and I cheered so loud that we scared him and he fell to the floor. But it was amazing. Walking and then running came easy, but little things like clapping his little hands and waving goodbye didn’t come until much MUCH later. Everyone learns at their own pace I reckon. Like his dad, he’s still bald as a cue ball. I didn’t start growing hair until I was four, bald little kid I was! He seems to be following in the old mans footsteps, though I hope not quite as bad as me.

Couple of cue balls

Couple of cue balls

His Riley stubbornness has started to develop already. We were hoping that it would be a while before we started seeing it, but sadly no. He does this thing where he opens and closes all the cabinet doors, entertainment center doors, dresser drawers….basically anything that can open! Hits them all a thousand times a day, tirelessly. I know that it’s part of his natural development and curiosity, so I don’t try to stop him too much unless he’s getting into something that he shouldn’t. As a result, we’ve moved all the chemicals that could hurt him, far out of reach. But he can still get to the dog treats, much to the love and adoration of a certain beagle and Jack Russell that I know! I keep an eye on him but pretty much let him go, however when I do find him opening something that he shouldn’t and tell him “No” he looks right at me, smiles, and does it anyway. “You little shit!” See, there goes my inability to filter in front of him again. Then he just laughs and takes off running. He’s pretty good about minding most of the time, though. I don’t want you all thinking the boy runs over us. Not the case….mostly.

Well folks, that in a nutshell is Luke. There are a thousand other things about him that I could say, and I’m sure I’ll get to most of those in the future. As well as a great number of things to come. Thanks for reading friends. Until next time.

To understand me as a father, you need to know about my own father

My son’s middle name is Kenneth, the same as my fathers and that’s no accident. He became a father in the 70’s, in the days of bell bottoms, disco, and….the afro. Yeah, true story my dad had a strawberry blonde afro. So one of the first things my brother Travis got to see when coming into the world was this….

Yeah, look at that hair

             Yeah, that happened

Luckily by his first Christmas, that was gone. But the pictures will last forever. It was the seventies, it happened. Anyway, my father was a Hell of a guy. He had a huge heart, was infinitely patient, and loved his family fiercely. Those qualities are what I strive for as a father myself. I get my sense of humor and my love of cooking from him. He had a foul mouth, a dirty sense of humor and as such gave the most colorful advice, most of which I cannot write here and keep it inoffensive. But that was his charm. He didn’t know a stranger, or an enemy…unless you cut him off in traffic, then watch out.

Sadly, he isn’t with us today to get to know my son. But he had an amazing relationship with his granddaughter, my niece Loren, who misses him everyday. He also got to make it to my wedding, to witness me marrying my best friend as he did with his best friend, my mom. That was a good day, we didn’t think he’d make it. But he was there. It was the best wedding present I could’ve asked for.

Happiest day of my life

Happiest day of my life

His last years weren’t what he wanted for himself, or what any of us wanted, but his strength then was shown the greatest. I see him everyday in my son, his smile and his sense of humor have lived on in that little guy. He would’ve been a big fan of Luke, and it would’ve been totally mutual. I know there is much more about this man that I can say, but I’m sure little things will come out through the course of this blog. In the meantime, I raise my son in honor of my father, so that he lives on through him. I promise to tell him all about his papaw, so that he will know you, dad. I love you and miss you, everyday.

In memory of Melvin Kenneth Riley
November 23rd 1950 – October 15th 2010

The first week of parenting

After my first week of parenting. Here was a list of things I expected:

1. Impressive lack of sleep
2. Late night feeds
3. The chili cookoff my son must have attended last the night before based on what I have found in his diaper.
4. The pee flying with each diaper change. I felt like I was in the matrix, bullet time dodging fluids.

What I did not expect:
1. All of the outfits I thought he’d never wear, he has worn all of them in one 24 hour period. The boy had more outfit changes than Lady Gaga during a concert.
2. As a result of this, we had to do laundry everyday. Sometimes twice.
3. My dogs were not only protective, but they had become diaper bloodhounds. They informed us that he was dirty before he did.
4. I have already forgotton more about breastfeeding than most men will ever learn.

In spite of all of these things, it was the most fun I have ever had while being THAT tired.

The day I became a father

I’ve been a stay home father for over a year now. It’s been a wild trip. As I sit here looking across my living room at my beautiful wife playing with my son, I thought it was time to start documenting these memories. So where do we start? At the beginning of me being a father. November 16th 2013.

Jaime was in the first day of her last week of pregnancy, but the full moon rising outside had other thoughts. She was asleep, as she usually was during her pregnancy, by 9 o’clock and I was playing Skyrim. Then at one in the morning she walked from our room to the bathroom and called me over. Apparently her water had broken and she was crazy calm about it! I was a total basket case, heart racing, I had forgotten everything I was supposed to do and just stood there with my mouth hanging open. “I’ll pull the car out of the garage!” I said. She said “No, I’m going to take a shower first, can you make me some breakfast? It’ll be a while before I can eat again.” So yeah, that shit you see in the movies where the water breaks and the woman starts screaming is a total crock. She couldn’t have been more chill. So she hops in the shower to get ready and I start making bacon, eggs, and toast while trying not to freak out. I grab the packed bag, put Katie the destroyer of worlds in her area that nobody can escape from and we head to the hospital, finally.

We arrive and they usher us in to verify that she is in fact in labor. Not that I needed verification. While her feet were in the stirrups, every time I made her laugh amniotic fluid would squirt out like a fountain. Which was hilarious and would make her laugh more. Though nonetheless Dr. Obvious came in and told us that it was time. By this time it was 3 in the morning and we were taken into our room to relax while the process progressed. Her contractions were far enough apart that we could catch some zzzz’s. Not a ton, just a few. Then as the sun came up, so did the pain. An epidural later and the Mrs. was singin show tunes again. For those wondering if you should do natural childbirth or get the drugs, GET THE DAMN DRUGS! Best stuff ever.

As things are starting to heat up in the delivery room, the waiting room is filling up. First Jaime’s grandparents, then my mother arrives from Hamilton. Various family filing in and out. Our nurse, Jennifer, has given us a time of about noon to deliver. That’s two hours from this point. As the contractions start closing in on one another and she begins to eface, our doctor arrives and we get down to business. I couldn’t help feeling that I was about to watch something akin to Godzilla destroying your favorite playground! I was wrong….well….only half right. For those that have  witnessed child birth, I think you can agree that it is the most amazing, beautiful, phenomenal thing that is also disgusting and traumatic.

The first time I laid eyes on my son, it was a 5 centimeter diameter circle showing me top of his little head. It was amazing, all of a sudden there he was. First just a little bit, then more. Then a little more. I could see his forehead, then his eyes. I was amazed, I was in awe, I was terrified. Nose, then his mouth. When a baby is being born, the mouth can be open, twisted in what looks like pain. Until the chest comes out and decompresses, allowing the baby to breath. Nobody tells you shit like that, scared the hell out of me! Once his shoulders cleared, he slipped right out, there he was. My son, screaming his little head off, and covered in goo, but healthy and beautiful! Was THE best day of my life. Jennifer took him over to clean him up and get him warm. I walked over and got the first real look at him. Lucas Kenneth Riley had entered the world. Being the nerd I am, I just looked at him and said “Luke..I am your father”. Yeah, that totally happened, shut up and don’t judge. They finished up with Jaime and brought Luke over to her. Exhausted, she looked down at what she had done. For the first time ever, we were a family. The labor was over, but our lives were just beginning. I was a father, that is a thought that didn’t fully sink in for a few days…Hell, still really hasn’t and maybe never will. It’s been a crazy 14 months. But we’ll talk about that later.