Blood, Sweat and Cribs

Dear Blue,

We built your crib this weekend. Every time I pulled out a new plank of wood from the box, there were these weird red stains. stupid brain thought. Those strange patches of wood finish sure look like blood. Huh, what do you know! It was! I must have cut my hand on the scissors or the box. I don’t know. Never will. I removed all the evidence of the accident, except for one dried and bloody thumbprint hidden underneath the mattress board. You know, in case anyone ever tries to switch cribs on us.

It took us awhile to find the right crib. A lot goes in to deciding which one will make the best safety prison for your child. When we finally did, we ordered the crib online and shipped it to the closest Wal-Mart. One problem. When I went to pick it up, the box was clearly too big for my car. So I went back to the house to get your mother’s car, and based on vague measurements with a rain stick, it was too small as well. So we had to get your uncle David to help us with his cavernous SUV.

Then we had to build the thing. I dreaded this step. Of all the things I try to emulate from Jesus, carpentry is probably the one that needs the most work. For example, when your mother and I moved in to the apartment, we bought four things from IKEA: two bookshelves, a dresser, and a tv cabinet. Four items took SEVEN days, and a sprained toe, to assemble. Probably would have been six if I didn’t have to redo the tv cabinet after putting on a shelf backwards.

The crib took approximately two hours to assemble. Once again, your uncle David had to help in order to prevent any further injuries.

There a few key lessons to learn from this, Blue.

1. Never shop at IKEA. It’s terrible. Most everything there is nothing but overpriced, high end cardboard. To make matters worse, you don’t save any money by buying their cardboard and you have to assemble everything yourself. It’d be like a t-shirt company selling you yarn. Sounds terrible right? Apparently not, because every weekend the place is complete chaos, one precarious Swedish meatball shortage away from becoming the grocery store scene in World War Z. (Hope that reference still makes sense. Zombies were cool when you were born, Blue.)


2. Mark everything you own in blood. Don’t trust technology. Bury gold in your backyard, etc.

3. Some rules might be made to be broken. Instructions to assemble furniture are not some of these rules. Seriously, Blue. Know the size of boxes before you try to fit them in your car. Know that cardboard can cut you. Know your nuts. Know your bolts. Know that the headboard (A) has wood screw holes on the right side of the board while the footboard (B) has them on the left. This is all really important. That’s why I left the bloody thumbprint. To remind you that there is wisdom in knowing what rules can be broken, which can be bent, and which have to be followed to the strictest letter of the law.



Nana, The Reverse Pickpocketer

Dear Blue,

As parents, it’s our job to connect with your roots. And boy, do you have interesting roots. There are plenty of places to begin, but I figure the best place to start is probably the place it started with us. With our parents. Your grandparents.

Let’s start with your nana. Your mom’s mom. As we prepare to bring you into this world, your nana has made it her personal mission to keep your mom’s stomach perpetually filled with food at all hours of the day and night. Whenever we visit, we come back with a stack of takeaway boxes, lining up on each other in our refrigerator like Styrofoam pagodas. Not only that, but our haul also includes fresh tomatoes picked from your nana’s garden, persimmons and a loaf of bread she makes in her own bread maker. It’s a bounty.

Beyond that, your nana and your mother play this cute little game every week. When we visit, your nana likes to take money and sneak them into your mother’s pockets. Your mother has good kung fu moves, though, even 5 months pregnant, and frequently evades and blocks your nana from reverse pickpocketing. When your nana is spurned, she turns to me and tries the same thing.

This past weekend, your mother successfully chop blocked your nana not once, not twice, but three times. Each time, your nana turned to me, with a sympathetic plea in her eyes, and then tried to stuff the cash in my pocket. I am not as good at kung fu, so I just ran.

I don’t know why we play this game. I guess it’s because our parents have done so much for us, that maybe we feel like a burden if they keep doing things. You’ll understand some day. It’s important for grown ups to feel independent, and so…kung fu and running. That’s why we play the game.

So, with your mom vigilant and me evasive, your nana pulled up the white flag, slipping the cash back into her own pocket. This time, we were the winners of the game. We spent the day there, helping your gonggong pack for his trip to Malaysia.

A nana’s love, if it can be defined and contained within one word, is persistent. It keeps pressing forward like a hydraulic pump, never giving in to anything else until it accomplishes what it set out to do. Your nana is a very gentle, very kind soul, but never mistake that for anything remotely related to weakness. Her love is fiercely unrelenting, and when we tell about your roots, know that this is a part of you, too.

When we left the house, we packed up our car and hugged everyone goodbye. Secretly, your mother and I were both pleased that we had won the game without any more struggle. It never occurred to us that we got by too easy. We were overconfident, proud, and in the end, we never saw it coming. Your nana gave us some vegetables in a paper bag, and then, nearly clipping my shoulder in a rushed movement, she closed the screen door and locked the bolt in place.

She smiled slyly. “I put money in your purse when you weren’t looking.”

Your mother and I exchange shocked looks, and after putting up a token display of refusal, we know we have lost. We hang our heads in defeat, pocketing the cash.

Game. Set. Nana.

The Most Ultra-est Ultrasound Ever


Dear Blue,

We saw you for the first time last Monday. When I say that, I don’t mean it literally. Modern technology is pretty modern and awesome, so we saw you for the first time back in July. That was the first ultrasound, and it was ultra awesome because there you were, real and impossibly funny and with that hummingbird heartbeat going a zillion miles an hour all on its own, excitedly alive.

On Monday, though, we SAW you, Blue. Like, you know, in the Avatar kind of way. And you have had me grinning from ear to ear ever since. Here’s why.

We went down to the radiology lab at 8:30 at night after grabbing a fat stack of Italian food at a local Silver Lake establishment. In order to make everything go smoothly, your mother was required to drink 32 ounces of water one hour before the test. This proved to be a challenge, as that is quite a bit of water and doesn’t exactly want to stay where you put it. Strategically, we waited until the very last second to chug those 32 ounces. We barely made it. Your mom was about to burst as we walked along the lake, but she held it in. She wanted to see you real bad.

At the lab, they took your mom back to do “the boring stuff” while I waited in the lobby. When they finally called me back there an hour later, the technician was behind frazzled, muttering “Oh your boy…He’s naughty…”

It’s not supposed to take an hour, Blue. You were stubborn, with your head wedged into the corner of your mother’s uterus so that they couldn’t get a proper picture. To my surprise, when I got in there, your mother wasn’t frustrated at all. In fact, she was laughing, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

“Mike, guess what your son just did.”

“Tell me.”

So she did. And it made me proud to be your father.

From what I can tell, ultrasound technicians are an odd bunch. They’re the medical equivalent of archaeologists. Sure, every once in a while they make some great discoveries that excite the world, but by and large, they’re sifting through dirt with a toothbrush. Ultrasound might seem exciting, but that’s only because the average person sees “the cool stuff.” A lot of it is sifting through dirt with a toothbrush, and my guess is this sort of dynamic makes a person slightly kooky, or it attracts the slightly kooky to begin with.

Gloria was slightly, endearingly kooky. She talked to you as she glided the camera over your mother’s belly, telling you “Good job” when you did the right thing or “Don’t do that!’ when you didn’t. At first, everything went fine. She got pictures of your fingers (All ten! Great!), your toes (ditto) and backbone. But then came that stubborn dome of yours, and she just couldn’t get an accurate read. She prodded your mother’s belly, applied about a pitcher full of that gel, but still…nothing. Finally, she got frustrated and scolded you, saying “You’re such a bad boy!”

Even though this was scheduled to be the ultrasound where we found out your gender, we already knew through a chromosome test. If I could change that, I would, because what you did next would be the best gender reveal ever.

After she said, “You’re such a bad boy!”, Gloria lightly slapped your mother’s belly. In effect, she spanked you. And then she told you to turn your head so she could see you. Immediately after, you turned. But instead of presenting your cranium to the camera, you decided it was best to announce to us you were, in fact, a boy.

You teabagged the camera, Blue. Straight up, with no shame to your game.

On the screen, in stark x-ray black and white, sat your boys, as clear as the full moon outside. Gloria sat up stiffly in shock, gasped and said she had never seen that in all her years of doing ultrasounds. And you held it.

It took another hour, a few laps around the radiology lab, toe touches, and a walk up the hill to the main hospital to get you to maneuver into a decent position to get a picture of your brain, and even then, it wasn’t good enough. We have to go back again in a week.

I’ll do it gladly, even if it because you’re stubborn and “extremely difficult” as the report said. Good.

There are times when you have to do what you’re told, Blue. Sometimes, you don’t. The real trick in life is trying to figure out which rules are in place to benefit you, and which ones benefit others. It takes some people most of their lives to figure out the difference. Most people, even when they know the difference, are still so used to following rules they can’t NOT follow them. You know why? Because not following the rules sometimes means standing up to rulemakers and saying, “No, I don’t accept that for myself.” Believe it or not, it’s scary to show the world your balls.

And at -5 months, you already have, Blue. Couldn’t be prouder.