Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Big Day Right After the Big Day

The last time I wrote one of these it was Labor Day. Well, good thing not much has happened since then, right?

Actually, since I last wrote, we crammed as much activity into the dying days of our summer as we could; trips to the park, concerts on the square, trips to nearby pools and lakes.

Mrs. Blackwell and I even went to Europe where I managed to get food poisoning. (A bit of advice: avoid the meat platters in Prague.) Master Blackwell enrolled at a new school and started music lessons, the new little guy took his first steps and the United States had an election.

Yes life's been busy and despite this blog's extensive global readership (stay strong Belarus!)  its superb design and cutting-edge content offerings (I have a Twitter feed!) it doesn't generate the revenue one might think.
Eyeing his prey.

So, "real work" and family have been keeping me quite busy of late. But I'm back in the saddle now and with the holidays right around the corner, there couldn't be a better time to resume this little labor of love.

In just a few hours, along with some of my American friends and family, I'll celebrate Thanksgiving. We'll eat, drink and consider the many, many things for which we should be grateful.
A role model to show him how it's done.

Meanwhile north of the border, my Canadian friends and family who celebrated Thanksgiving last month will continue their struggle to comprehend just what the hell is happening down here. While we eat and drink, they'll just drink.

Like the rest of the world, the vast majority of Canadians are still trying to wrap their minds around the presidential election. The ascension of Donald Trump has left me as sort of a "Chief Explainer" to many of my Canadian friends.

I'd like to think that my time covering local and state politics, a masters degree studying government, including loads of work on political polling, make me an expert — but even in the most ordinary of times they don't. (If you need expertise on discreet ways of determining if your undershirt is clean while you're in a meeting, I'm your guy.)

In extraordinary times like these, I might as well have spent my life living in a cave, such was the ability of anyone to predict what happened.

Political insanity notwithstanding, we had other immediate needs.

As America was testing the raison d'ĂȘtre of the electoral college, we were pulling together a birthday celebration for the new little guy.

That's right, our big, bouncing, beautiful baby boy turned one year old the day after the day many people think the world began to end.

Like lots of folks, we found ourselves turning away from the outside world for a few hours and focusing solely on something closer and, in our case, something cuter.

It was a welcome pivot and frankly after 18 tumultuous, frustrating months of having lies and bile heaped upon us daily, we earned a few hours to decompress and focus solely on what's most important, the little guy's big day.

The little guy is, in fact, not little. He's a great, big, bull of a kid whose heft is matched only by his smile. On his first annual checkup his weight measured in the 98th percentile while his length put him in the 97th.

So he's big, which is great because big babies are sturdy and can roll off the couch without getting hurt. But it's terrible because he's slowly destroying my back and I'm pretty sure Mrs. Blackwell is an inch shorter than she was last year.
Mom shows him how to keep it cleanwhile enjoying a meal. 

Each and every time he cries to be picked up, I pause and really think about what I'm about to do: "Lift with the legs, back straight. Hold your breath. Pray."

It behooves me to mention here that the boy loves to be picked up and carried along for the ride, even if its just from the kitchen to the living room. So, perfect "picking up" form is a must as it's an act that's regularly repeated.

Another of his emerging traits is an unwillingness to sit still.

It's not like his older brother was ever a sedentary creature but instead of giving us a break, the universe decided to ladle mobility upon the boy's perpetual motivation. Now that the little guy is transitioning from crawling to walking, the game is changing.

So, we're vigilant about the baby gate, about what doors to what rooms are open and when. We know "who's got the baby" at any given moment.

All this said, this is a fantastic age. It might not be an easy age but it's uncomplicated.

If he's hungry, he lets us know. If he's tired, he lets us know. If he wants attention, well, not much time goes by before he lets us know.

From the perspective of his mother and I, it's reassuring that his needs are so simple and easy to address.

We know that this time is fleeting. That first birthday just breezed by; soon it will be his second, then his third.

But his first is a big one and, given that it happened on the day the U.S. presidential election was settled, I felt a bit bad, like the little guy got short shrift.

Thankfully I married a smart woman.

As she so often does, Mrs. Blackwell had a plan and we had a followup party planned for Saturday. We had a few friends pop by. I grilled. Mrs. Blackwell went all out making cupcakes and icing from scratch. We had a few beers but, unlike election night, this drinking was voluntary.

And the little guy ate and smiled and laughed and the last thing on my mind, for a while anyways, was Donald Trump.

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