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A Thumbs-Up Week

April showers

Last week I spent more time with the digital camera than I have in a while. It was nice to have the opportunity to take pictures again and to be excited about trying to capture a shot. I was worried that my interest in photography was beginning to waneand that I would have to buy a new one to remedy it. Anyway, as I was looking through the extra pictures, I realized that it was a pretty good week: lots of time with Veronika, Caravan milestones, signs of spring and my first Mets game. I also realized that I cannot seem to have my picture taken without throwing a corny thumb up. Sorry about that. It was a week worthy of the gesture though so I thought I'd put it out there. Three days into a cold from Veronika, this week isn't looking as good.

On the baseball front, worry not--the Brewers will always be my team, but I'm becoming interested in supporting the Mets because they're the New York team that's not the universally loathed Yankees. The only thing keeping me from fully supporting them is that Mike Piazza's mustached mug is still their public face. It didn't help that in the two games I watched this weekend, he went 0-for-8 and left sixteen runners on base. He's the Sammy Sosa of catchers: past his prime, still getting the big contracts for his numbers from years past, and a sure strikeout/double-play in clutch situations. But I will not let Mike Piazza talk overshadow my week.

Launch A Thumbs-Up Week

April 26, 2005 | Comments (4)

Falls and Doubts

On Monday night, Veronika fell down a few stairs and we had to take her to the emergency room. There we found out that her injuries were much less serious than the damage done to my self-confidence as a parent. She cried for a few minutes and got over it; I was distraught the whole night. She was back to her normal self by the next day; I'm still thinking about it. While we were waiting to be x-rayed, it was the specifics of the fall that were bothering me. I kept imagining the different ways she could've fallen (horrible thoughts to be forced to have) and the unseen injuries she could have incurred: broken ribs, internal bleeding, concussions, etc. After she checked out ok, most of these thoughts disappeared but the tough questions were still to come.

How could I have let this happen to her? Isn't this the kind of tragic neglect that people read about in the paper and shake their heads at? Sitting in the hospital waiting room, I felt myself placed squarely in the lowest ranks of parents, the kind that let things happen to their children that require emergency rooms to remedy. I should have done this, I should have done that, I should have been more vigilant. Eventually the other side of my brain started to retort. Toddlers make their own trouble even in the safest house in the world. You cannot protect them from everything. How many times does she have to climb the stairs successfully before you can stop hovering? Needless to say, the prosecution, representing the State of Doubt, won the case rather handily. I might be capable of deluding myself in some matters (my readers can weigh in on this one) but this is not one of them.

Dinka tells me that part of being a good father is accepting your limitations and not allowing them to be a weakness. I think she's right, but hearing that on Monday night just meant another thing that I needed to work on. I guess all of this is a long way of saying that I'm still learning a lot and trying to mature as a parent. Even when it's hard and I don't want to, Veronika is there, gently pushing me every step of the way.

April 15, 2005


The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy, with Dinka in training for a new job, Holy Week, etc. There has been no indication that things will slow down in the near future. If anything, it seems like the next couple of months may be even busier than the last. I have been coping by sleeping slightly less than I should every night, not spending enough time with my family, and worrying about my ever-growing laundry list of injuries and ailments (latest additions: neck pain, shin splints).

Then came word that the Pope was near death, news that took me by surprise despite his deteriorating condition of the past few weeks. When they announced that he had died this afternoon, everything kind of slowed to a stop. I will not attempt to elegantly eulogize him--my writing abilities are far too meager--but I do feel like I need to say something about how important he was for me. Bear with me.

I first began considering joining the Catholic Church about four years ago and at the time I was doing a lot of learning about the Church. One of my primary sources of knowledge and first-hand experience was Dinka, and I suppose that it says a lot about the Pope's influence on her life that his name often came up. Whenever there was a difficult moral question or divisive issue, it was always the Pope's insightful words that made the muddled waters clear. He obviously possessed great ability as a thinker and writer but what always impressed me most was the simple way he framed every argument: everything begins and ends with love--first God's love for us and then our command to love each other--and love should be the motivation for every decision we make and every church doctrine. If you start there, you will always end in the right place. I realized that all of the human shortcomings of the Church were only failures to adhere to this idea that the Pope embodied so well. His example continues to give me great confidence in the Church and in humanity. Although I've only officially been a Catholic for a few years, it is still difficult to imagine the Church without his voice.

I was fortunate enough to be at World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002, to hear the Pope speak in person and to celebrate Mass with him. Even in his diminished physical capacity, I was amazed at his ability to energize the youth of the Church by relating to them on such a personal level. I have a whole shelf of his books--some read, some still waiting--that I hope will continue to inspire me as he has so far.

It has been raining hard for two days here. If this was the movie Magnolia, it would rain frogs soon. But that's ok, because it means that soon the weather will break and life will go on, regardless of whether we know how.

April 02, 2005