Friday Night Lights
I’ve been commissioned. Dana (he took me and Dad fishing this summer) is the dean of students at our school and one of the coaches for the Cortez High School team. Dana’s got two sons on varsity, and he asked if I could use our fancy camera to snag some memories. I was even offered a press pass and sideline access. I took about 500 pictures on the night, but I wasn’t able to capture much drama. The Cortez Panthers hung a forty burger in a beatdown of the lowly Pirates from Pagosa- a town known more for its natural hot springs than its gridiron greatness.
As I filled my memory card I couldn’t help but miss the game, and somewhere around the third quarter I decided that I’m going to be one of those overbearing dads that accepts nothing less than football excellence from his son.
Isaac and I are spending Saturday morning doing pushups.
Until next time,
This is our mascot. I’m not sure what his name is, so I just call him handsome.
Today was my first day back with my kindergarteners. I’m beginning to realize that teaching a class of five- and six-year-old kids while raising a newborn at home is exhausting. How exhausting? This exhausting.
A big shout-out to my class for bringing my mismatched shoes to my attention around 9:30 this morning.
Until next time,
The Groundhog Chronicle was created for the preservation of memories. Moments. And I can think of no moment in my life more worthy of preservation than the day my son was born.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
I was in an IEP on Thursday the 11th when I was smacked with the realization that my life was about to change forever. Gracie hadn’t gone into work that morning- she’d had back pain and mild contractions the night before, but I’d been lead to believe that sort of thing wasn’t uncommon in the weeks leading up to baby’s arrival. Gracie dropped me off at work with a reminder to keep my phone on me, then took the car home. She’d be checking in at the clinic later in the morning to see what all this stuff meant. As I started my day I never imagined I was only 14 hours from parenthood.
I wandered up to the conference room for the IEP at 10:00 and apologized in advance for the fact that my phone might go off. Over the next hour it never rang or vibrated in my pocket. Thanks, Verizon. At 11:05 our principal stepped in and told me I needed to head home. I’d somehow missed a call from Gracie. It was a shot in the arm. I hustled down to my room, grabbed my backpack, and hustled back, high-fiving and hugging teachers and kids alike as I went. I buzzed through the office and said a few quick goodbyes, then literally ran home. Alright, halfway home. The sixty-two hundred foot altitude out here is no joke. I listened to Gracie’s voicemail as I jogged. There was something about “early labor”, a mention of the word “baby”, and I think I heard her say “tonight." I called to say I was on my way, and she asked why I had decided to run home instead of getting a ride. Uhhhh… we’re having a baby? There’s no time to find rides? Duh? She said it was hurting her to laugh at me, and she hung up.
I got home to find her calm and comfortable in the tub. I was bouncing off the walls. She told me to relax- we could stay home for about an hour before we had to go to the hospital. With Gracie’s assurance that we still had some time, I hopped outside to take some pictures. I wanted to remember the way the world looked the day my son was born.
Have you ever seen a sky so blue?
Or a field so bright?
Or a sun so warm?
Though I was told we’d have a good hour at home, less than thirty minutes later the pain hit and Gracie started yelling at me to “Stop goofing around and get in the car!" No argument here. We buckled up and I got one last pep talk before we left.
“Listen. I need you to be calmer than me today. And you don’t have to speed, but you do need to get us there fast. Because this is really starting to hurt." Thank God the hospital was less than two miles away. Gracie wasn’t very nice for the rest of that ride.
For the next eight hours Gracie labored in agony (No epidural!) while I rubbed her back and kept things light with such classic one-liners as “A doctor? Sounds more like we need an exorcist!!”, “I know how you feel, Babe. I ate way too many hotdogs the other night and my stomach was just KILLING me.”, and “I’m sorry, ma’am. Cold towels are reserved for our premium back rub service members.”
Sleeping Ute sunset.
As the sun sunk behind the Sleeping Ute and Thursday Night Football wound down and we got closer and closer to baby’s arrival, stuff happened. I’ll skip the details and give you the big picture. Birth is a terrible process. I saw things. Horrible things. Things that can never be unseen.
But when I extended my finger towards Isaac’s hand and he squeezed it for the first time? That’s a moment, right there.
Until next time,
Gracie and I have a son. At 9:17 PM Mountain Time on 9/11/14, Isaac Lawrence was born. He’s absolutely beautiful. I think in his first 14 hours out and about in this world his daddy’s cried more than he has.
In theory, if Baby were to arrive right on time I’m only sixteen days from becoming a daddy. That being said, Gracie, her doctor, and the entire staff at our school has a hunch that the stork’s showing up early. Holy crap. The fact that I’m so soon to be responsible for a human life other than my own is terrifying. And I’ll be honest, it’s really Gracie who’s been keeping me fed and watered all this time.
I think we’ve moved into a new pregnancy phase: Nesting. I’ve been assembling baby swings, hiding the matches, activating parental passwords on my Xbox, and whatever other last-minute prep seems absolutely necessary. Gracie’s been folding towels and grumbling a lot, and she’s started packing us bug-out bags. That’s what the nuts on Doomsday Preppers call their bags of survival essentials they keep handy for when that inevitable zombie apocalypse finally hits.
Tonight I wanted to share some pictures of what my once-proud mancave has become. The futon has been replaced with a changing table, my flatscreen with a bassinet, and all my Packers memorabilia has gone to my classroom where it’s used to indoctrinate a new generation of Colorado kindergarteners.
What was once an ugly green/yellow dresser in Gramma’s guest bedroom in Friendship, Wisconsin is now a bright blue and tan changing table in Cortez, Colorado. (Spoiler alert: We’re having a boy.) Lorax hamper? Check. Handpainted ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go!' sign? Check. Crate shelf? Diaper Genie? Lamp? Check. Check. Check.
A squadron of Allies in a lopsided dogfight with a sole Axis bomber hangs in the southeast corner of the room. It took me six hours to hang the whole scene up, but I loved almost every minute of it.
Invisible bookshelves stacked with baby books cover the east wall. CAN YOU SEE THE SHELVES THESE BOOKS ARE RESTING ON??? CUZ I SHUR CANT!!!
What? Just some boring old potted pla- wrong. That’s called Moses in the Cradle.
Bassinet in the northwest corner. Blue and tan refurbished end table. Slick new rocker. And enough baby blankets to have seen Napoleon’s army through a Russian winter.
A baby mobile/cat toy hangs above the bassinet. Gracie, her sister Lexie, and Gramma handcrafted all of these little birds this summer. Woah.
Travel and exploration will always be a priority for our family. As such, the north wall stays cluttered with another hand-painted Dr. Seuss thing and our collection of national park posters.
And above that wall-mounted wood crate shelf, a stuffed elephant made by a local Navajo woman and Baby’s name (dun, dun, DUN! To be revealed later!) spelled in old wooden blocks are the icing on the cake. Alright, maybe it’s better than my mancave.
Until next time,
I think everyone has that place. Maybe it’s a cabin. Or a beach. Or a coffee shop. Or a kitchen table. But a place so steeped with memories that the nostalgia is tangible. I think this river is my dad’s place. When he was young, Dad and Grandpa hunted ducks along its inlets, fished its bends, and trapped its banks. As time passed and developers and farmers transformed the surrounding central Wisconsin marshland into something more ‘useful’, the river remained untouched. Hidden. Neglected, even. Cue John Prine.
I’ve got my own not-fond-yet-still-fond memories of the river. In some ways, its neglect became a problem. Decades of fallen trees had blocked the current in dozens (if not hundreds) of places, making canoe travel- and thereby hunting and fishing- impossible. Also impassable. So on July 4th, 2012, Dad, Aaron and I took it upon ourselves to clear the river. Mistake. With a couple of chainsaws, a few handsaws, and a massive refurbished old crosscut we walked the river bottom, hacking and slashing and clearing old trees and tossing them up on the bank.
Fact of the matter was, we seriously underestimated the project on our hands. Progress… was slow. And as the day wore on and our shins got bruised and our snacks ran out and the sun started to set, it started to feel like we might never reach this project’s finish line- where river opens into swamp. Thankfully, mercifully, we eventually did. Between the three of us we ate about $40 of McDonalds that night.
Oh, you can paddle through here now? You’re welcome.
Flash forward two years and three weeks, and Padre and I finally got to reap the fruits of our labor with a Saturday morning paddle. Quite a few new trees had fallen since we’d first cleared it, but for the most part we could slide through with a little tree limbo. Maybe two or three spots had become mandatory portages. I got into a bunch of poison ivy and got stung by swamp bees all over my legs, but it was still a perfect morning.
In the next few years Padre plans to build a cabin near the river for hunting and fishing and getting snowed in at Christmas time. Sounds like paradise.
Until next time,
As of three days ago the school year has officially begun here in Southwest Colorado. No, I’ve got no grumbles about the early start. I’ll gladly kickoff my summer vacation in mid May.
Having never before had an entire summer to prep a classroom for the upcoming school year, the last three months I finally found the time for some fairly extensive classroom projects- building that fish tank, crafting a bunch of shelves, and painting this mural among them. I thought our shiny new camera might be the perfect tool for filming and then editing a little time-lapse video. Wrong. Any idea how much space fourteen hours of ultra-HD video requires? Two entire laptops and our camera’s massive memory card, apparently.
You know those sliding tile puzzles where you have to manipulate a bunch of pieces in a grid to create an image with only a fractional empty space to work around? Making this video was pretty much like that.
Until next time,
Over a year ago- in our first post ever- I mentioned that "If you happen to have one of those old wooden cabinet TVs you’re trying to get rid of, please keep me in mind. I want to stick a fish tank in it.” Believe it or not, within twenty minutes of posting I got a bite. My brother’s buddy Phill messaged me saying his parents had an old RCA behemoth just taking up space in their garage. (By the way, thanks for reading, Phill.) I picked the tube up shortly after that, and a few weeks later Gracie and I had moved it to Colorado with us where it sat in our garage for the better part of a year.
This summer (between travel and getting Baby’s room finished) I finally found time for my television/aquarium hybrid experiment. It was a massive undertaking, by far eclipsing the time and budget I was expecting to spend. But it’s finished, and I dug the problem-solving process involved in making it. That’s what really counts, right?. Having watched her boys grow up playing 'Tendo on the old tube, Phill and his brother Dom’s mom was a bit sentimentally attached to it, and I had promised to share pictures when this project was someday in the books. I hope a video tutorial montage will suffice.
Until next time,
A few months ago Alanna and Luke (big sister and hubby) asked Gracie and I if we’d be the Godparents of the baby they were expecting. Having never been a Godfather before, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. AMIRITE!?
On July 2nd my new nephew Liam was born, and a few weeks later Gracie and I hopped on a plane bound for the midwest and Liam’s baptism (We’ll do some other stuff during our two weeks at home as well.) At one point I did have to hold Liam’s candle. It was a lot of responsibility, but I think I nailed it. Wonderful day with family, and not a single tear from Liam!
Until next time,