Dear Jackson,

December 31, 2011

Another year bites the dust

Filed under: Uncategorized — aJOHNymous @ 1:54 pm

I realize quite a bit of time has passed since my last letter. You can probably take it as a sign of just how busy our lives have all become over the past few months. It’s actually incredibly difficult to put into words. It really has become quite a blur. Days melt into each other without even a warning. Sometimes I think it’s Tuesday, but it’s actually Wednesday and as soon as I figure that out, it’s Friday. It sounds ridiculous, I know. A lot of that is also a reaction to the past two months at work. November and December are our big months at work because we’re desperately trying to affect our 4th quarter numbers as well as planning and executing online sales events for Black Friday, Cyber Sunday/Monday, and everything else in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There were several days where I never even got to see either one of you due to my schedule. Those were really rough days, doubly so for your mom, who was doing her best to handle you both by herself. For that reason I always felt like a dick whenever I had the urge to complain about work.

My opening paragraph reads like a laundry list of excuses, doesn’t it? It’s just that the last two months have been so busy that I have lacked the motivation to do just about anything. I haven’t been working out, eating healthy, or even sleeping very well. I know most of these things piggyback off each other, so when one issue rears its head, they all tend to follow suit, one after another. My hope is that the new year will once again bring a renewed sense of motivation to turn all of these negatives into positives. I feel like every yearend recap I’ve written contains the exact same sentiments: “Oh, next year is THE year. I’ll change EVERYTHING in January.” The reality of the situation is that the first quarter of every new year usually does go at least 80% according to plan, but then I find excuses to mentally allow myself to get lazy. I just want to be able to set a good example for the both of you. I’m still working on discovering how to stay motivated and kill my laziness. It’s one of life’s great challenges.

Now that we have the usual yearend rigmarole out of the way, allow me to do a bit of recapping.

Jackson first:

You’ve been doing a lot better in your bed lately. You still fight us for about the first 15-20 minutes after we’ve left the room, but eventually you settle down, stop crying, and play in your bed until I guess you just pass out. There’s an entire routine we have to go through before you are able to finally fall asleep. We turn on some music, we flip on two different nightlights, we turn on your humidifier, and we oblige you when you request 2-5 hugs, and calm you down when you climb out of bed 3-4 times and yell down the hall for us. It’s a bizarre set of rituals that I hope we can break you of this coming year.

You’re also quite taken (read: borderline obsessed) with the movies Cars and Cars 2. There is hardly ever a time where you aren’t pointing at the TV and chanting “Cars” or “Mater” (one of the main characters). We ask if you want to watch something else, and you shake your head, say no, and ask for Cars. You like what you like. I do wonder how long this love affair will last because it seems like you watch both movies at least every other day. Not to say you’re always watching TV, because you aren’t. You can also be found playing with Cars toys and driving them all over the living room, us, your brother, and the dog. Yes, it’s safe to say that you love Cars.

As far as the rest of your vocabulary, it’s still pretty lacking. Perhaps it’s due to your prematurity, I don’t really know. I’ve been told boys take longer to develop, but we have a few friends with boys younger than you who are able to put together basic sentences. It’s definitely a bit frustrating that you’re still relying pretty heavily on pointing and making one syllable sounds. Not to say you haven’t made any progress, because you have. We finally have you referring to airplanes as airplanes (formerly dee-dows) and you can count to about 5 or so. You can also identify all 26 letters of the alphabet as well as say them, with W being your only issue. You refer to both my parents not as Bopa and Nina (which is what you call your mom’s parents), but as simply Poppe. It’s actually pretty funny.

I’d also like to mention that you’re about 95% on point when it comes to identifying letters, numbers, and colors. I think it helps that we have a colorful set of both for you to play with during bath time. You’re definitely a lot smarter than your current vocabulary makes you out to be. That’s probably the most frustrating part of it. I know you’ll get there eventually, but when you’re as close as you are now, but still so far, it’s pretty tough for everyone.

And then there’s Kameron:

You’re just over 5 months old now and one of the happiest little babies I’ve ever seen. You’re almost always smiling and when you’re not it’s simply because you’re hungry and/or tired. You’re finally starting to figure out that you can grab things with your hands so that seems to be pleasing you as well. You’ll occasionally grab the dog’s face or a handful of hair and he’ll somewhat return the favor by licking your face and ears. This amuses you.

You’re also able to finally stand up on our laps with assistance. You can’t stand on your own, but we’re able to hold your hands so you can bob and sway all over us. You’ve got strong legs, just like your older brother. I imagine you’ll be sitting up without assistance pretty soon as well. And then before we even know it you’ll be crawling, and then walking. So for the most part, you’re mostly just getting bigger, stronger, and more vocal every day. It’s truly been a joy to watch.

You were also baptized a few weeks back. Our friends Emily and Justin are your Godparents and they were very excited and honored to fill those roles for you. I think it probably means a bit more to your mom than it does to me, but that’s definitely a topic for another letter.

You also enjoyed your first Christmas about as much as a five-month-old baby can. I like to think your brother had enough fun for the both of you. Of course your grandparents spoiled you, as they are wont to do. That’s good for your mom and me because money is pretty tight this year. You guys will definitely get lucky in the toy department as you grow up.

So that’s the really the state of the union when it comes to the both of you.

Since this is the end of 2011, I guess I should speak to this year’s resolutions as well as make a few new ones for 2012. By you know what? I’m not going to. I’ll just leave it at this: I didn’t accomplish in 2011 what I set out to accomplish this year. For that reason alone, I’m not going to come up with new resolutions for 2012 either. It’s time to try something new. I’m just going to go with the flow and try to be mindful of my attitude and general well-being. In other words: think positive and stay active. I guess if you really want to you can call it a resolution, but I won’t. My opinion is that creating a list invites a lot of anxiety and procrastination in that it’s easier to put something off that lower on the list in favor of a more temporary, but higher-ranked goal. So I’m not doing it this year. We’ll see how it goes.

In other news, the Packers wrapped up the regular season with an admirable 15-1 record, and solidified a first-round bye and home field advantage through the playoffs. Our only loss came at the hands of the Chiefs, who managed to end our winning streak at 13. What can I say? We simply just let that one get away from us and played like shit. It happens. It did allow us to sit our starters in the final week of the season, though. With no undefeated season to play for, we were able to rest the players who needed a break in order to come back at 100% for the playoffs. We’re definitely making a legit run at a second consecutive Super Bowl title. I’m not really that worried about any of the AFC teams we could potentially meet in the SB, I’m more worries about the NFC teams that could stop us from getting there. The Giants, Saints, and 49ers are all playing some amazing football this year so getting past them in the playoffs will be no easy feat. That said, if we play up to our full potential, we should be able to beat almost anyone. I hope I’m able to follow this up in February with a letter celebrating another SB win, but you never know. Our fingers are crossed.

And that pretty much brings us to today. The Christmas Chaos at work is finally done with and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. No more 12-hour days or weekends are expected in my near future. It’ll be nice to actually be able to see you guys in the morning and evenings again.

For all the complaining that I do about my job, I need to admit that still I have it pretty good at Kohl’s. My co-workers are excellent, my manager doesn’t really micromanage too much, and I can work from home once or twice a week if I really want to. Yes, being the lead digital copywriter for emails definitely has its perks. The big one being that I have pretty good job security. Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I think it would be a pretty tough task to replace me. The biggest downside is my compensation. For what it’s worth, I think I’m compensated fairly for what I do, but with two kids now, I’d definitely like to be making significantly more. Bills are piling up, and for the first time ever, we have more debt than money in the bank. My annual salary of $42,000 coupled with what your mom makes really needs a boost. For that reason alone I’ve actually started casually hunting for other job opportunities.

I think I’ve only sent out 4-5 resumes in the last two months, but it’s a start. I’m just trying to get my feet wet and see what’s out there. I’ve only gone on one interview so far, but I think it went pretty well. They called me back for a second interview, but it was during the holiday chaos at work so I deferred until the new year. I’m not expecting to find a dream job or anything, but if I can find something similar to what I’m doing now for a few coins more, I’d definitely strongly consider leaving Kohl’s—or at least asking if they’ll match the offer. It doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there. After all; the best time to look for a job is when you already have one.

That’s pretty much it. 2011 is done. We’ve had lots of ups and downs over the past 12 months, but this is the year that ultimately brought Kameron into all of our lives. So, really; how bad could this year possible have been? Everything else that can be construed as negative is actually trivial in comparison. Remember that.

October 17, 2011

Catching up on things

Filed under: Uncategorized — aJOHNymous @ 3:11 pm

Wow, it’s been a really long time since my last letter. Sorry about that. As you may have surmised, things have been pretty crazy since the addition of Kameron into our lives.

Jesus, hold on–I don’t even know which one of you I’m writing this for anymore. This used to be a collection of ‘Dear Jackson,’ letters, but now I’m not sure how to adjust my perspective and writing voice for two kids. I’ll do my best to make sure I address both of you at the same time, but please forgive any weird perspective shifts that will no doubt occur. If anything, this will be an interesting experiment in existential rambling in a myriad of different voices (first person, second person, third person, etc).

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get right to it.

The last few months have been really busy. Kameron, you’ve been a remarkable little newborn. Sleep schedules are much better than they were with your brother. I think it’s mostly due to you being on time and fully developed. You’re definitely a bit chunkier and rounder than your older brother was at your age. You seem to have a much better temperament than he did as well. Again, I think that’s just a development thing.

For being only a little under three months old, you’ve been quite a busy little guy. We’ve taken you up north, to weddings, and even made it to Miller Park you so could enjoy your first Brewer game. We won. You slept through it. Don’t worry, we took pictures.

Since I just mentioned the Brewers, I’m going to touch on them a bit here before moving on. We just experienced our best year since the ’82 Brewers made it to the World Series. Last night saw our dream season end in game 6 of the NLCS as we were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals, who’ll move on to play the Texas Ranger in the World Series. Oddly enough, the Cards were the team who beat us in the ’82 World Series. Milwaukee was an American League team once upon a time. We won a franchise-best 96 games and came within two wins of getting into the dance. But such is life, I guess. We still had a great season and it was a lot of fun watching us kick ass down the stretch. Besides, we still have the 2010 Super Bowl Champion Packers to watch every Sunday, so there’s that. Speaking the Pack—we won the game yesterday (against the St. Louis Rams of all teams) to improve our record to 6-0. We’re the only undefeated team in eth NFL right now. Taking that into consideration, it’s a damn good time to be a sports fan in the state of Wisconsin. And let’s not forget the also undefeated Badgers, who’ve been clowning every team they’ve played so far. Yep, definitely a good time to be a Wisconsin sports fan.

Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah; we’ve been busy.

I hope you guys don’t mind, but I’m going fast forward a bit here. Much of what I could speak to about Kameron’s development would pretty much be just a recap of some of the earlier Jackson letters. I’d much rather focus on how we’ve all been adjusting.

I’ll say this much, Jackson: you sure are obsessed with hugging, kissing, and laying on top of your brother, I sincerely hope that it stays that way because it’d break my heart if you two aren’t able to grow up as best friends, not just brothers. I don’t think I have to really explain [again] why that is so important to me. And Kameron, sometimes you freak out in the car when you get overtired or too hungry. It’s important for you to know that your brother will reach over into your car set and hold your hand, without us having to ask. It’s absolutely one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. He genuinely loves you and wants you to be happy. Jackson, I hope never grow out of that. You’re already a natural big brother and it amazes me to see how quickly you’ve grown into that role without coaxing.

Jackson, I should also mention that it seems like you’re learning new words almost every day. Well, you aren’t so much learning them as you are trying your best to mimic them, but that’s huge progress. We’re teaching you letters and numbers during bath time every night and you seem to be picking most of them up. There are these soft, floating letters and numbers that we got you and we’ll ask you where the B is or where the 7 is, and for the most part, you’re able to find the right one. Your mom is convinced you’re colorblind because you aren’t as good at picking up the colors we ask for, but I think she’s overreacting, as per usual. Baby steps, as they say. Color identification will come in due time.

I’d like to touch on a few differences I’ve noticed in how Kameron acts at this age versus how Jackson acts [I’m writing for both of you here so I’ll be address a nonexistent third party. Expect more of this in future letters. Sorry for any confusion.]

Jackson—probably due to his prematurity—was not always the happiest of babies. I’ve already discussed hoe difficult his sleep schedule was, but even at a few months old, he was just a bit, well; behind, I guess. I find that Kameron is definitely a happier baby who smiles much more than his older brother did at his age. He also appears to be able to interact more as well as react to facial expressions from me. If I make a weird face, I can usually count on him to smile and laugh, plus follow my face if I should move. I don’t remember this happening with Jackson. Perhaps it’s simply because Kameron was full term and sleeps so much better. I’m really not sure. Several factors could play into it. I do wonder how these differences will grow as both of you get older.

Jackson, you’re getting pretty smart about technology too. It’s late 2011, so touch-screen devices are all the rage. We have an iPod Touch, Android mobile phones, and a 10-inch Android tablet (Jesus, by the time you both read this, will either of you have any idea what these devices even were?) that you are able to fully unlock, swipe from screen to screen, switch between apps, and play games on. I’m pretty sure you picked up how to use these devices all on your own and that you can do more on them than even your grandparents themselves can do. It’s mindboggling. None of this technology existed 10 years ago (to consumers, anyway) so just thinking about what sort of devices you’ll be playing with at age 10 blows my mind. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have reached the singularity (look it up if it hasn’t already happened) by then. It’s just really cool to be able to watch the wheels spinning in your head as you play with television remote controls, phones, and even computers. I wonder if your younger brother will pick it up just as quickly as you have.

One more thing I’d like to mention before I close this letter is a trip we took about a week ago. Your mom and I have a friend who is an airplane mechanic. He just got a job with Harley Davidson and he recently offered to bring us to the hangar at the Milwaukee airport where they keep the two corporate Harley planes. Knowing how much of an airplane (or ‘dee-dow’, as you call them…yeah, I don’t get it either) fanatic Jackson is, we figured it’d be a lot of fun for everyone.

We spent a few hours in the hangar as our friend Tyler let us explore everything. We let you run around inside the planes and even let you sit in the cockpit while we snapped a few pretty cool pictures. We even got you to sit on the wing and inside one of the engines for a bit. You seemed to get a kick out of everything and looked like you were having one hell of a good time. At one point Tyler opened the large hangar door and we were able to look out at the runway and watch the planes taking off and landing. I’m pretty sure this blew your little mind. How many other two-year olds can say that they’ve sat in the cockpit of a private corporate jet and pushed random buttons? Not many. You’re a lucky little guy. And true to form, Kameron just hung out and looked totally uninterested in anything. Though in his defense, he’s only a few months old. I’m sure we’ll take you both back out there again once you’re a little older. All told, it was a pretty nice day and everyone had a lot of fun.

Kameron, I’m sorry; I wish I had more to say about you. So far, you’re an amazing little guy, but aside from eating, sleeping, and shitting, you don’t really do too much yet. That said, the day you start walking or talking is going to come far too soon, so we’re really trying to enjoy these newborn days as much as possible.

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