Mid Life Baywatch

pamela-anderson-baywatchJust by me mentioning ‘Baywatch‘ you instantly get a picture in your head of Pamela Anderson running down the beach, in her red bathing suit and boobs bobbing up ‘n down, while she smiles awkwardly clinging to the lifesaver.

Patrick_StarWell, this is not what this post is about.  Life saving yes, but slightly different mental picture.  It involves me walking along the pool edge, looking similar to Patrick Star in both skin color and oddly body shape, wearing my somewhat tight blue swimming trunks with a small hole in the crutch area (which I actually wasn’t aware of!?).

I have the daddy look going these days; “small” belly, pale as death himself, ginger beard and tight trunks.  Not the poster icon for next swimsuit edition, but I am apparently carrying the hot daddy look these days, something that I wasn’t even aware even existed.

Apparently women dig this look according to my 20-year-old nephew who mainly sleeps during the day, who now aspires to look more like his “cool” uncle.

Anyway, we had been invited to this amazing family pool party in a wealthy area of New York State called Chappaqua – a name I have seriously difficulties pronouncing without insulting native American Indians.  We weren’t too sure what to expect, but were pretty impressed when we pulled up to the mansion that could easily fit 3 of our house inside.

We approached the back garden and crossed a football sized lawn, to reach the pool area, which had large BBQ area, plenty of seating for 50 people, pool house with small kitchen and a supersized pool.  It was perhaps 40-50 feet long, and ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet deep.  A really nice size pool.


Within 10 minutes of arriving, feeling the sun frying my bacon, my kids happily jumped into the pool with various belt and floating devices – and plenty of sunblock.

Another kid, a 10-11 year old boy, was playing in the pool.  He was mainly jumping on the bottom and he didn’t look like a super confident swimmer.

For some reason, I kept looking at the pool and the kids playing.  Something was bothering me, and it quickly became apparent.  Things escalated within seconds.

The happy and over-confident boy was starting to struggle to reach the bottom, and had difficulties getting back to the low-end.  His mum jumped in to help him, but she was then struggling to reach bottom as well and keep her son above surface.

supermandad1Without hesitating, I jumped into the pool still wearing my Hawaiian shirt.  I quickly got the boy into my arm, while reach the mother with my right arm – dragging both to safety.

The mother was for obvious reasons very happy that I had saved them both, and gave the boy plenty of hugs … and also a few angry comments about staying at the shallow end.

Several spectators clapped my shoulders for saving them, and I rewarded myself with a cold beer.  The severity of the incident started to hit me and from then on I kept monitoring the pool.

Lesson learned – when having a pool party, with many adults and kids, you should always have a dedicated lifeguard on duty.  It should not be the responsibility of a parent or guest.

I will look after my kids while swimming, but will also keep an eye on other kids, especially after this event.

Do I consider myself a hero - some of the guests called me hero

No, I did what I had to do, and hopefully what any other person would’ve done.  I’m just grateful that nothing happened and that I could help save these people.

Save a flower

redhawk-dancersWe had the wonderful experience of attending a Native American Pow Wow some weeks ago, in Bear Mountain (NY) and it was a fantastic day.  Weather was late 80’s Fahrenheit and the pow wow was full of colourful native indians wearing their costumes.

Visitors were welcome to participate and could buy plenty of souvenirs, handcrafts and refreshments.  The latter was import to make sure your body was hydrated in the heat.

As I was getting refreshing lemonades for the family, I noticed another visitor who looking a little pale.  It was an elderly native american, who was accompanied by her son (I believe).  She complained about dizziness and was showing signs of heat stroke and/or dehydration.

Suddenly she sat down and I decided to help out.  No one else seemed to worry too much.  I got her into a chair in the shade and got her some cold water, and also a cold sugary strawberry lemonade.

Another person placed ice cubes on her neck, but they quickly dropped into the seat in which she was sitting.  I’m sure that was uncomfortable, and informed her that I was going to touch her butt – she smiled and said that it has not happened for some years 🙂

She seemed to be doing better gradually and I left her to bring back the lemonade to my family.

native_flowerI returned to the lady some minutes later and learned that her name was Lomasi (Pretty Flower).  She was very happy to see me and confirmed that she was feeling better.  I gave her a hug and left.

I seem to be getting into the habit of saving people – not a bad thing and great feeeling.

School’s Out for Summer

schoolfinishOne chapter closes – and several new starts.  Kids are wrapping up their school year with ceremonies, ranging from pre-K to 5th grade.  I can’t believe that they have full fledged graduation ceremony for pre-K, with hats, gowns, speeches etc.  … but they do.

We are proud parents of graduates from 5th, 3rd and pre-K.

The big adventure is ahead of us, as we will have three kids in three different schools, each with a school bus picking them up.  Our front door will be the school bus central.

Our oldest daughter will start in middle school.  That’s a huge change and I’m certain it will bring a number of challenges (and opportunities), but we can do this.

Taco Sunday

Our oldest daughter had her 1st communion a couple of years ago, and it was a fantastic joyful day with laughs, friends and plenty of food.  She was dressed like a princess looking amazing and I was standing on the porch with a shotgun fending off all the potential boyfriends – A dad has to take the necessary precautions!

Being the proud father of three, it was just a matter of time until the next in line had to go through the 1st communion as well.  Behold, my little man was getting ready and preparations started 18 months ago for his big day.

Beside the mandatory church teachings where kids learn about Big J, Heffe, prayers and important scriptures, they also need to be comfortable with wine and unleavened wafers (or tacos as I call them).

This is where we the parents come in.  Every Friday for several weeks before the big day, we practiced getting wafer and wine, ensuring he would a) spit it out or b)make funny faces and then spit it out.

tacowaferAfter the first attempt at the VERY small taste of wine (5-10ml), it was clear that he enjoyed the taste of wine.  So, no need to practice that step any further and we replaced the wine with Fanta.

However, the wafers are not exactly a delicacy among food critiques and are not my son’s favorite food source.  To encourage some involvement by my son with this process, I initially swapped the wafers with Doritos, and that seemed to do the trick.  Unfortunately he was utterly disappointed as I re-introduced these dried up wafers, which caused a few gagging moments and wafers were hitting the ceiling, windows and floor 🙂

The big day finally arrived!

Sunday was his moment to shine.  He knew something was up that morning, probably because I was ironing his pink shirt and hanging up his new awesome suit.  He would be dressed like a true Kingsman.  And, the fact that I was wearing a suit too was probably a give-away + rest of the family was wearing fancy dresses.

Deep inside, I was fearing that he would walk off in the middle of the ceremony, when standing in front of the parish, or simply spit out the wafer as he did so many times at home.

Taco_TuesdayI kept reminding him it was Taco Sunday, so just be cool and do the stuff he learned.

Beside the fact he refused to join the line of kids before entering the church, it was a flawless performance.  He bowed as he walked in.  He held his hands up for prayers. He sang along (mimed more accurately) and did superb when getting wafer + wine.  All-in-all an outstanding achievement.

gangThe most magical part of the day was when he discovered that his aid had come to witness his big.  They hadn’t seen each other since my son moved school, but they have developed a very tight relationship.  My son’s eye lit up like Christmas lights, and he ran to give him a big hug.  It was true love and admiration for his best friend.

My wife started to tear up and people walked up to them to comment on how much their bond was shinning out.  Smiles on both their faces and big hugs proved that they are brothers.

I’m so proud of my son.  He did an amazing job in church, and we had a great day with close friends … and plenty of food as always.

Congratulations my son!

…and they all cried

moving-fishThe realization of our move to another ZIP code has come to fruition, as the kids had their last day of school (now old school) and had to mentally prepare to meet a bunch of new kids Monday morning.

We had tried to negotiate with the school about keeping the kids at the school until end of the school year, for the simple reasons of stability.  And, the fact that we were driving them to/from school every day.  Our son has Down Syndrome and for us this move could potentially regress his development, and surely it would in the child’s best interest to stay in the known environment.

Yes, we know we moved to another ZIP code and that this normally involves moving kids to a new school unless you are willing to pay for tuition.  But, we wanted to do what was right for the kids.

Anyway, this post is not about the educational battle, but the fact that we all cried!

My wife had organized enough snacks to feed a small village and had scheduled a farewell party with the teachers.  There were hugs, presents, dancing, more hugs, friends departing each other, contact details being shared – it was a realization that we were part of the community after all.

Parents were hugging us too, and even the teachers were getting emotional.  After all, we have some great kids and have been with the school for over 3.5 years.  Kids had participated in school sports, activities and birthday parties.  It has been an awesome experience to be part of that community.

educationAs we were getting ready to pack the car, our son’s aid (Mr. T) walked our son to car.  It was clear that he was affected by this departure.  They had developed a bond beyond aid/student, and become close as brothers.  He had bought him some awesome shoes.  Some days they had dressed alike and they had so much fun together.  He alone has been the reason we wanted to stay at the school, and he can take full credit for the amazing development of our son.  Of course the other teachers did an awesome job too, but this relationship was special.

The aid wants to be part of Christian’s life going forward.  It was just not something he said.  We could tell he meant it.  I even heard him say to my son “I’ll be here for you forever.  You have taught me more about life than anyone”.

crying-manDude!  that made me bloody emotional, which is awkward when I want to have a tough appearance with my ginger full beard and cool shades.  A tear rolled down my cheeks, but I caught before anyone noticed.

Now a chapter has been closed, but we start writing a new book.  It’ll be awesome to meet all the new people and make new friends (again!).  The kids will have an amazing experience and it will be a positive opportunity for our son.

It is our responsibility as parents to stay in touch with the friends we made, and encourage our kids to feed those relationships too.  They made friends for life.