Tuesday, February 28, 2006

3 + 1 = 4

I have news, and thinking about how to say this.....well, I will just blurt it out - I AM PREGNANT! There, that was easy.

O'Leary Baby # 4 expected at end of year. Stay tuned for more details.

When I heard the news of the impending birth of each of my children (from my wife) it felt surreal. Also each time I wondered about the impact of the baby on the other children. It's funny, but I can not picture LIFE without Jaclyn, David or J.P. Interestingly enough, I get the sense they can not picture life without each other as well. I can not explain it all here how much they learn from each other and how much they love each other. That is what is exciting for me - they are building memories together. I just happen to be Dad - the captain of the ship. Of course having a baby is a sacrifice in many areas - $$, time, and sleep (to name a few). But life is so precious - I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be their Dad. I can not imagine having my life focused on other things outside of building a family.

Exchange between my wife and Jaclyn:
Rachel: "Jaclyn, mommy has a baby in her belly?"
Jaclyn: "Really, can I kiss it and bless it?"
Rachel: "Sure honey, - you know mommy is going to have a baby."
Jaclyn: "When, tomorrow?"

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another Birthday

Today I am 36 years old. Birthdays are milestones and I often like to gauge progress (its the Project Manager in me) at this time as well as on New Years Eve. Things can always be better, but I am happy with my family, friends, and work. My gut senses I have to work on the play part - the social aspect, but that time will come (in 25 years when the kids are out of the house)

Jaclyn knows exactly how she feels about her birthday. She has told me what she wants for her birthday since December (her 6th birthday is May 18). That level of excitement for my birthday is just not there. Not that I am unhappy. I feel more excited about my wife's birthday or my children's birthday. Maybe that is maturing? I realize that I truly love serving my family more than being served.

I spent yesterday alone & did not like it. I never enjoy spending too much time away from my wife. Now with children - that feeling has grown exponentially. You figure I would enjoy the time - but honestly, I felt lost & misguided. That feeling felt odd. I missed Jaclyn. We spoke on the phone and I enjoyed just hearing her say "I love you Daddy". I missed David. He asked me on the phone "How is your day?", I answered "Great, How was yours?" and he said something about the Letter C. I missed looking into J.P.'s eyes.

Happy 36th Birthday to me!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sibling Interaction - New School

Upon arriving home from work - I played with all 3 kids in our basement (kids playroom). I just spent time with my siblings (see previous post) and now I am watching my children (and their sibling interaction).

First Jaclyn and I played catch. Then David and I played catch. Then JP and I played catch. Now you must picture this playroom with 3 kids. It is completely filled with toys for 3 diiferent age groups (2, 4, 6). There is no lack of fun things to play with (although they fight over the same toy).

Next it was time for the microphones - David and I sang "C is for Cookie", Jaclyn and I sang "I Love You" and JP and I sang "blah, blah, blah, blah" spitting all over the microphone.

Next was dancing time - "I like to move it move it, da da da....dadada da da da da da da". Jaclyn does a swan ballet, David says "Spin me Daddy" & JP does a combo of JohnnyO Caveman dance/Disco Duck

All 3 children are similar yet different. I am sure in some ways not unlike my sibling interactions. I wonder what their relationship will be like when they are older. Or maybe it will be just like it is now - just matured.

Sibling Interaction - Old School

On Thursday night (anniversary of my Dad's death), I met my 2 younger sisters @ The Bayou in Mount Vernon, NY.

I hope we meet on this day every year. We toasted our Dad, had some laughs, ate some voodoo wings and drank purple haze. We listened to jazz, saw Elvis and had a figurine of Peter Criss on our table.

Driving home I was thinking that our sibling dynamics never changed. In some ways we interact as if we were in our formative years. I dont say this in a bad way - it just is and it is okay. These are 2 people that have known me my whole life. We are similar as well as different in many ways. We have shared lots of memories together and I am very glad they are my sisters. I would not change them in anyway.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Death and Taxes

"In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." - Ben Franklin

Today is the 18th anniversary of my father's death. Today, I have officially spent half my life without my father (Yes, I will be 36 in 8 days). When I think about this for long, it is interesting how it brings back memories & feelings. That is a good thing - I remember and celebrate. In some ways (which I find odd) my pain has matured along with my questions. I wonder what fatherhood advice my father would give me? Is my father proud of my relationship with my children? Am I turning into my father? Will I impact people the way my father has? Since space is limited (wait a second, this is my blog - I can do whatever I want) - I will share 3 Good Memories and 3 Sad Memories. ***

3 Good Memories:
- Going to work with my Dad (World Trade Center). My dad was an installer for NY Telephone. On a 4th grade class trip, he arranged for a special tour of the observation deck (on top of the WTC).
- I still envision my Dad's wallet, wedding ring and watch. I remember his smell and touch.
- My Dad taught me to drive a standard car in the Orchard Beach Parking lot about a week prior to his death. The morning of his death I was tested immediately with these driving skills. I needed to move his car before 8 am (alternate side of the street parking rules were in effect)

3 Sad Memories:
- Overwhelming sense I needed to become "the Man" at 17 years, 357 days old.
- My father never gave me the Birds & the Bees speech.
- My father never taught me how to shave.

This is a boulder I carry for the rest of my life (credit for this line given to the book, 700 Sundays by Billy Crystal). However, I honestly feel how you handle your hardest moments, define you and define your greatest triumphs. Very simply - my mother held us together. My father died in the very early morning. Upon arriving home from the hospital, she brought her 3 kids to Mass (it was the 7 am service) clearly showing us where strength is found. I will never forget that 1 action within that life-changing day.

Yes - nothing is certain in life but death and taxes (that reminds me to get this done this week). But it is still tough to say goodbye to your heroes. Time will tell, but I hope to be at least half the father that Mr. Jack O'Leary was.......I love you Dad.

*** author note on memories: these 3 good and 3 sad memories are not all encompassing, in any particular order or paid for by any sponsors. they are simply 6 things that I can remember at 2 am in the morning.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

David Goes to Yale (Part II)

Yesterday we completed the Yale evaluation. I don't want to speak for Rachel, but I would say we are very happy with the services they provide - they provide a "no holds barred" report to us about David along with suggestions for his development.

Good News
- David is extremely bright - intellectually, reading, letters, numbers
- David likes people, he is social

Bad News
- David needs lot of improvement in social and emotional growth.
- David is currently at about a 2 year old level socially and emotionally.

- Because of his intelligence along with his rugged good looks (he gets from Dad), people externally don't see a lot of things wrong. In the case of the school system, he ain't that bad (therefore school says we don't have to concentrate our efforts on him). The doctor used the phrase - "The Devil is in the details". Which in the case of David means that at first glance he looks great BUT when you look deeper there are issues to work on - IMMEDIATELY. David relies or reverts back to his strengths - letters & counting to make up for his social or emotional weaknesses.

This is the end of our relationship with this Yale group - we now will work with another Yale team (across the street) for small children. All of the staff loved David (they were all women) and they will miss him. They hope that we continue to share with them his progress - which we plan on doing.

As we departed, the chief of staff looked at me and she said "You really have a wonderful rapport with your son". I smiled, welled up a bit and said proudly "Yes, That's my Boy!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

David Goes to Yale (Part I)

Well, technically yes - we went with David to Yale today. However, dont be alarmed, I still have 13 more years until I figure out how to pay college tuition for 3 kids (Read previous post of Jaclyn & the Retrievers and see if I have any shot of a Basketball Scholarship)

Today was our return visit to Yale Children's Center for David's evaluation by the Children's Developmental Disorder team. Our initial consultation was almost 3 years ago when David was about 18 months old. They essentially run through a battery of play challenges and assess where David is developmentally. So today helps us understand how much (or how little) progress David has made since 2002.

I had a great 1/2 day with David at Yale. Tiring yes - I was grouchy by lunchtime (sorry Rae). But David and I were Playtime Partners. I sat in the room with David as different people came in to run through each of the "play" evaluations. Interestingly enough, I remembered the place, the room and even some of the exercises. At the time of this writing we have not received the final evaluation but my cautiously optimistic feeling says they are pleasantly surprised with his growth. My brain says he still has areas of improvement. David was funny, cute (from what I overheard from the nurses), smart, defiant, and perplexing - a 4 year old boy. After 2+ hours David figured out this was really some "pseudo-play". David's question after every exercise was, "DAD, ARE WE DONE YET ?"

Two great things happened today:
1 - When David awoke this morning, he came into our room and said, "Hey, Where's My Dad?". Shocking because I am not part of his morning routine. My morning funk is growing on him.
2 - During one of the exercises at the clinic he played catch with one of the staff. While throwing and catching the ball with her I became very emotional. Suddenly he stopped and said - "HEY DAD, CATCH!". I instantly opened my arms in great joy to catch the ball thrown by my son. It became one of those Classic Sports movie moments where everything goes into slowwwww motionnnnnn. I open my arms, steady my hands, big smile on my face waiting for a ball thrown by my son and...........I DROP IT.

David - I was so proud of you today. You are one of the most courageous little boys I know. You are the B.M.O.C. (Big Man On Campus). To answer your question - NO, WE ARE NOT DONE YET and WILL NEVER BE DONE. I am your life advocate and I promise to brush up on my catching skills.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Jackie and The Retrievers

I coach a basketball team named The Retrievers. This team consists of 10 wonderful 5 year old kids including my daughter, Jaclyn. I have coached other teams before and I really enjoy coaching. If I could do anything in the world (without worrying about paying the mortgage), I would coach. I have forgotten how wonderful it is to see the formation of the team - from first practice to the last game.

This team is especially interesting for 2 reasons. The first reason is because for some, this is their first exposure to basketball. The second reason is because I am coaching my daughter.
For Jaclyn, it is a combination of both of the above reasons - so in reality we are both not really there for the basketball - it aint the main thing. It it time for us to spend together - an informal date of sorts. We drive to practices & games together, we hold hands, she sits on my lap during breaks in the action. I sense she is proud that her Dad is the coach or at least that is what I gather from the conversation I overhear with her teammates.

Driving home from practice tonight, I was thinking how I reached this point in my life. WOW - I am coaching MY OWN DAUGHTER basketball. I wondered: What impact will this have on her life? Will she remember this basketball team? Does she realize how special this time is for me? Is it special for her? Then from the backseat I hear her say "Dad, can I do gymnastics?"