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Today's Inspirational Story

Sarah: Otto, what are you doing?

Otto: Nothing.

Sarah: You do realize that you're eating a dog treat.

Otto: Oh, I thought it was bacon.


a whiff of genius

After discovering that Otto had put on some of her perfume, Sarah explained that there's a version for boys...

Otto: I want some cologne.

Mom: Well...maybe when you're a teenager.

Otto: OR when I'm a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?


We take pause to recognize one month of Eliot

Tomorrow Eliot is one month old. I could joke that it's been the longest year of my life, but Sarah's done most of the work. I try and stay up late with our crazy little girl but my wife ends up standing over me, gently cuddling our most persistent baby, while I crash into a tired pile of disappointment.

Eliot is so cute when she plays with her daddy.

She's good, both of the shes, and even the cat, she's the third she and luckily still the craziest. For your reference, here's how our family goes as far as order of appearance on this planet: Jared, Sarah, Paco, Quin, Allie, Otto, Eliot. It's weird writing that out. That's a lot of commas. In 1995 I thought it would go something like Jared,. It was about then when my friend, Todd, said he wanted to take a psychology course and wondered if I'd take it with him. I signed up and then he dropped it. I think it was a form of intervention. Anyway, I needed the school credit so stayed. The professor, a woman in her 40s who fully enjoyed straddling the chasm of gender expectations, shared her story of how she wasn't in a relationship and wasn't sure if she ever would be, as relationships are often most successful when people start them in their 20s. That kind of freaked me out. I was already 21 and just a few months prior had gotten so drunk I'd wet my pants. As the husks of her voice rasped together, I spiraled into a spacey place where I was forced to take a look at myself. Oh sweet god, I was only getting older and I was already pretty sure I was stubborn and arrogant. Those are the traits, she said, that can only tumor over time and stunt any person's hope for love.

Jared, Sarah, Paco, Allie, Quin, Otto, Eliot. Commas do make you pause. I'm not just talking about their inception, that first encounter, but their continued existence in your life. Commas. Kids expand moments into incidents--some bad some good--and make you deal with a break in the flow, the grind, the loping on the mental treadmill of self doom. Yah, sure, this might mean running to save someone from toddling into the street, or sprinting through a Target to get them to the bathroom on time, but you're forced to pull over in your life's sentence and enhance your statement.*

It could be like the fracas we had the other day. I was sitting on the couch and surfing our 32 over-the-air channels, most of them Spanish or religious, when Quin ran from Eliot's bedroom. He was excited and a bit freaked out. "Mom's doing something in there," he said, breathlessly. Sarah's a good, upstanding person, and no matter how much Eliot keeps her awake, she's not going to do anything crazy, right? But whatever Quin had witnessed sent him to me with the vigor of Paul Revere's famous ride.

"It's a machine!" burst Quin, with the wide-eyed wounds of what cannot be unseen.

I was already off the couch and preparing to face down a fountain of poo, or stumble into an emotional situation that would come with the internal dialogue, "don't say anything, just hug." The mention of a "machine," however, perturbed the recollection of innocence past. It was the first time I saw my wife connect herself to the the little teat trumpets that turn awesome boobs into industrial udders. "She's being milked by a machine," I remember thinking. Sarah looked back at me, her shirt hiked up and her face saying, "welcome."  

I laughed while trying my hardest not to diminish concern for what Quin had seen. Not all that impressed with my reaction, he stormed down the hall to recruit his brother. I could hear him busting his Paul Revere into Otto's space and whisper shout about this "machine" and mom and how freaky it was.

What I don't get is how they were not aware of the process. Sarah feeds Eliot in front of the boys all of the time. Although it's true they don't hear me call their name from three feet away and can rarely relay anything that's happened during 8 hours at school. So I sat on a bean bag with my guys and shared how female mammals have mammary glands that produce milk for their young. Otto was stoked and asked if boys could do that. I told him the bad news and he said he wanted to be a girl. Before he could tell his mom that he wanted to have a sex change, Quin warned him that by entering her room he'd have to see mom and the "machine." This led to an argument fueled by the most interesting point of view: Quin thought the breast pump was filling his mom up, instead of doing the all-important extraction. I tried to fix the perception issue, but I still don't think Quin is convinced. "Why would she pump it out when Eliot likes it?" he asked.

And we savored the pause. We'd scamper about and relish the big vision of a bubble blown up in time, and then I'd head back to the couch, stepping back into the straight and narrow--a tube? A "machine?" But comforted by the guarantee of another pause.

Comma comma comma comma.

*I realized a certain smug douchiness to this pause-with-children concept and know it can work without them, too. For example, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I need professional goals and benchmarks to reach them. This kind of focus; this kind of kindling the passion causes pause and great amounts of reflection that was once frittered away by pacing pointlessly about the room/existence.


An Actual Conversation that Took Place at 2 a.m. with a Police Officer

So I went to my company party last night. It was great. I was a couple hours late and by the time I got there (the Irish Snug on Colfax) everyone was way ahead of me in debauch and drunkenness. And I have to say that I'm very proud of my coworkers. They work hard and they counter that dedication with equal measures of play. I did what I could to be a part of the action, which often manifests in my lifting people. Not uplifting, but actual lifting. I think that my teetering so close to 40 has me trying to prove my physical ability by carrying my coworkers. One in particular, a genius coder of slight build, is genuinely afraid of me. The last time we drank he threw a pilates ball at me and ran out of the building. 

Last night I did my lifts, discovering that many of my colleagues are heavier when I'm sober, and ended the night by terrorizing the newest member of our team. She's a thin, attractive woman who has demonstrated more focus on her work than anyone in the building. That is to say there's a level of integrity about her that might collide with being spun around the room by a stranger. I felt bad about it. I'd lost my social gauge and encroached upon someone who does not want to be encroached upon...with a kind of redneck pirouette ending in a flourish of Braveheart shouting. 

I share that because the incident had me feeling a little out of place. I tried drinking but was more hungry than thirsty. Twenty minutes later I was in a Wendy's drive thru, justifying the midnight meal as replacement calories for alcohol that would have to be consumed by someone else. I carried away my ketchup covered kill to the park just across from our house. I lay napkins across my lap, got the soda in perfect position and prepared the french fries for their rapid demise. I turned on the BBC's feed via NPR. There was a bio on Nelson Mandela. This was going to be awesome. 

I first saw the cop car in my rear view mirror. It drove past me and stopped. And then it turned around and stopped again, this time blocking me in. I continued on the gruesome dissection that a gluten-free disciple must do to eat a perfectly good burger. Otherwise, I was unmoved. Whatever this police officer was going to throw at me I was going to counter in kind. I have baby license. 

Tap, tap, tap went his flashlight introducing his world to mine. The greeting perforated a discussion of how Africans sing songs to grieve. That's a good idea, I thought, and then, in a ill-advised move, I opened my door instead of rolling down the window. The officer stepped back and got serious. 

"You're missing a good piece on Mandela," I told the salt and pepper gentlemen of retirement age. 

"This park is closed you shouldn't be here," he ran together with his hand on his holster and light in my face. 

"I'm in the parking lot," I countered with the inner cringe of a person entering a losing battle. 

I know. Totally dumb. But I felt empowered. I was in the right, I felt. Besides, I have six pounds of irritated little girl who was going to help me take down his protocol of suspicion.

"The parking lot is part of the park and the park closes at 11pm..." and he went on making a valid case. 

"Wait, wait, wait," I said, painfully conscious of a poor decision to argue with an armed agent of peace. "I live right across the street and I come to this park every day."

"It's even closed to the neighborhood," he replied with a resignation that had me believing I had a chance. I needed to pull the baby card. The license.

"Sir, I have a week old baby at the house. When I pull into the driveway the dog is going to bark thus setting off a chain of events that could mean I never get to eat this glorious cheeseburger."

"Congratulations, but that doesn't change---"

Baby license had him on his heels, so I continued. "And that means my wife will be torn out of whatever limited sleep she gets so I'm doing my best to make the world as peaceful as possible."

And smiles. The baby had carried her father to victory. The officer turned off his light. Africans sang in the background. 

"We've had trouble with this park," he said, smiling in the comfort of a brief connection on a cold December night. "We get high school kids doing drugs and making babies in this parking lot."

"I could have used you ten months ago. Now I have to trespass to eat a cheeseburger."

I felt good about that line. For my esteem it redeemed the evening's party faux pas. He laughed. I laughed. The Africans discussed hope for the future. I told him to have a good night. He shared the same sentiment but with extra salutations for my wife and baby. His cruiser crunched away into the cold and I got back to that god awful sack of fast food goodness, eating an illegal cheeseburger in the dark.
Plus I was way more confident as my mustachioed alter ego Chet.

Eliot Munro Ewy

There's really no story to it, other than Sarah did what she was supposed to: wake up and go with the first thing that came to her. Well, actually, the Internet helped. We googled around and Munro just flowed. That, and the writer Alice Munro is on the verge of a Nobel prize for literature. I need to read some of her stuff. I hope it's not porny. 

My hometown paper, the Jackson County Star, was on the verge of running a contest.We're happy it's behind us. We were getting a little stressed out. We suck at making decisions and Eliot wasn't helping at all. Quin and Otto should get credit for their suggestions:

Leaf, Nick, Paco, Girl and Larry.

Also, if you haven't seen the boys go back to their birth hospital to meet their little sister, then here's that magic.

We're all getting back into our groove, and little Eliot is becoming quite comfortable in her new digs.


The Baby Name and the Baby

I'm sorry. This apology is necessary for anyone who's taken the time to contribute a baby name for our nameless little girl yet has not seen any evidence to support the fruits of their labor. 


We had some ideas for names going in, but thought she might "tell us" who she was once she came out. Now we're pretty certain she doesn't want to be saddled with whatever the name is for being cross eyed and making tiny growling noises. 
She seems as disappointed as many of you (and if any of you knew my dear Grandma Mac you might recognize that look.)
She's also got a scream that could be banshees being attacked by zombies, or vice versa, or the terrifying chorus of their unholy alliance. She's not as crazy as Quin was in his first seven weeks of psyche-shattering shrieking, but she's nearly as the most adorable way possible. And I'm telling you, this girl has got me somewhere primal. I mean I see her curled up and nuzzling and I'd cut down the last redwood to make her a papoose. I'd leap across a flaming pit for an ice cream cone. Somebody show me where a dragon is because I'll vanquish the fire-breathing bastard! 


Right now I'd sprint through a war zone to get her a binky she likes. But that would really be more for me.

Here are pictures from a more peaceful time.


Destroyer of reasonable men.
She has one ear that looks like Spock's. Apparently perfection comes with two different ears.



A brief update on the name: the birth certificate people have said we need to get something to them TOMORROW MORNING (Friday, December 6th) or it will get much more difficult to process our little lady into the "system". Sounds terrifying. Here's a list of the most popular names suggested.


Oh, and I should add a thing about my mother. Greatest lady ever? She'd laugh and point to the woman who's wrestling an angry infant on the couch. Besides, my mom's busy. In a scandal that has rocked the ether, her energy has been eternally entwined with that of Gregory Hines. Also, with our first born we paid tribute to her in the kind of surreptitious way she would enjoy (or I'm left to guess.) Quin comes from Quintanamos, the name of my mom's imaginary friend--also a renowned chef-- who lived in her world until her passing in the summer of 2005. Some people would say she was delusional; others might say she cracked the code to the good life. Regardless, we have Quin, this person that was born in the deepest part of a brilliant person's imagination, and now has come to life as only a mother could bring him.




So...The Baby Names* that have been suggested on Twitter, Facebook, at work...I mean I'm really going crazy searching the 'net (the fifty most successful women may be talented but their names are lame,) asking strangers and interrogating children for ideas.


Good Ones

Dashielle, Mirabelle, Lailah(lay-la), Allegra, Ariah, Cello (chello),Melody, Rhapsody, & Symphony
Alberta. Bertie for short.
elle or ella 
Ann, Anne, Freya, Saga, Laura, Sofia
Jamie... Sadie...Bailey
Amelia; Sophia
Mae West
Camillla, Chloe, Ayla, Noelle, Isabelle, Lillian, Eliana, Opal, Lily, Layla, Mallory, McKinley, Nathalie, Valerie, Isolde, Ilona, Lorelei, Isla, Scarlett
Penelope or Prudence
Amelia, Ava, Addison, Harmony 
Sarah II
Spot (Six Pounds of Terror)
Lily? Abigail, Giselle, Clarissa, Madeline, Sophia or Grace
Olivia Ann
Electra Lee Ewy
Delilah Ruby
NoName (pron: No Nah May)
Drucilla, Aurora, Charlotte
Eerie, Dove, Lovey, Texi, Chestina, Odell, Leafy, Ova, Tiny, Buelah, Barna, Pearly, Flonnie, Classy, Lavada, Almeta, Dimple, Merry, Gaynell...
Ida... Mabeline (Mabel)... Madeline... Zelda... Ethel... Izzy... Hazel... Just for some Runs with Brothers
Louise, Eleanor, Avery (means Elf Ruler!), Evelyn, Eliza B
Erin Carter
donatella alexandria ewy


The ones that would take some drinking:

Plix Rounds Dove Peeveless Flerror
Elliot "Your Friend Stewie Griffin" Ewy
Runs with Brothers
Elizabeth Borden
Eliot Riot Ewy
Eliot Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen Ewy


Sarah is passed out right now. Our baby is finally asleep, too. I've told Sarah that when she wakes up to feed our gal at some awful time in the morning (the hour of the Zombanshee,) to take one good, long look at her and lock it in. Draw a long maternal glance and make it stick. It's time. 


*I wish the phrase "baby name" weren't so annoying. For one, it's not a baby name, but a person name. If it really were a baby's name, then we could lose it like we do our teeth and grow into something new. "Yes, Turdell**, you're supposed to change your name when your 12. Unless of course you like it."
**There really was a guy named Turdell who played for the Oakland Raiders. So whatever we do we could do much worse.



I have a daughter. A girl. A tweener. A teen. A woman.

At this point we don't have a name for this little lady.Quin had a question before I took Sarah to the hospital: "How does the baby get out?" I gave him a vague answer about how moms are magical people. He came back with his theory about a "tiny cut on the tummy" and he wanted to see if his mom had one. I evaded that opportunity but then, just like when you thought Columbo was done yet he'd condemn the accused with one, final damning question, Quin asked, "Well then how do you know when the baby is ready to come out?" I was able to play the male camaraderie card and say we men would really never know, but moms do. It wasn't enough, and I'm happy about that. What I'd essentially relayed unto my son was that men are clueless and he'd just have to get used to it (he'll have to learn the hard way some day.) 

Who the? What the? Do you have food? First glance at mom.

A day later, as Sarah gently rocked and cooed our new baby girl, Quin went after her with the interrogation. Sarah caved and told him: "The baby came out of my privates." I cringed. And to my surprise, Quin left it alone. It was all too much. And that should be a lesson to all women out there. If you want to paralyze a man, like maybe your boss who's dogging you about being late, then just drop the lady parts on him. Once you say something to the effect of "female problems" or any reference to monthly timing, the male will cave to his debilitating disbelief in simple yet necessary biology.

And you thought you were having a bad day.I thought about this as I looked at my new baby girl. She's absolutely the most adorable creature this side of puppy Paco, yet I'm still unable to wrap my head around the fact that I have a daughter. A girl. A tweener. A teen. A woman. The timeline shot across the chasm and left a lightning bolt impression on my brain. A few cells clumped into a few more and a few more and the next thing you know they're not talking to me because I said the wrong thing about the cute boy in glee club. 

Very resourceful, and doubting any of us know what we're doing, she helps the nurse with the stethoscope.

Honestly, it's not any of those issues, or Disney's bullshit princess intrigue, or the undying mystery of femininity in general that had me unable to grasp what I was holding. First of all, babies are fricken magical. They pull all the serious out of the world, trivializing everything, and in a tiny six-pound spot you're riveted by what really matters. And you hope to god you're not the one to fuck up pure beams of crystalline with doubt's dirty exhaust and smudges of cynicism

OK ENOUGH. You get it. Babies are awesome.

The boys win awards for overall awesomeness.

So Sarah and I shocked the delivery room with our disbelief that we'd just had a baby girl. I don't know what it was, but I guess we never thought we'd have a girl...or not so much in that we were trying for any specific sex, but it only crossed our minds in a hypothetical way. And that little va-jay-jay had me shout "It's a girl?!" in a question mark exclamation point sort of way. I was incredulous and Sarah was too. "It's a girl?"

"Oh crap, it's a girl," I confirmed Sarah's query as the nurse lifted the baby into her mother's arms. "It's a girl," I repeated again before hanging on to the bed railing for the support necessary for a guy who has issues with blood.

The new big brother forming an alliance.That all seems like a month ago but our little girl is just two days old. The expansion of time has given me an inclination as to what the shock was about. It's not just that I'd tangle with one of her first baby poos and have to call for help against her lady crevices, but her arrival is a broad swipe at being a grown up. We've had fun with our boys, but I could always tell Sarah wasn't done with the baby thing. Now, it's for real. We've lived in this weird purgatory between doing and undoing, where we don't often make decisions, rather just keep moving in and out of days until they're weeks and years. Now, we've completed the major reason most creatures even exist. We're done breedin'. We can shut that door behind us and try not to freak out over how good things can be. We've got our unit; our penises, our vaginas, our DHA and even a car that was made in the last five years. 

Hoping for all family scenes to be this gentle and engaging.

So take heart little girl, we weren't really shocked about who you are. We were blown away at who we've become. And we're very excited to have you with us. Maybe one day you can explain to your brothers how it all happens.


And with Paco's approval, she can stay.