Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fathers and Sons

For the first time in a long time I feel like I connected to David - human to human.

For the past two days David has greeted me warmly and dare I say even happily. I asked him how his play date was and he explained to me why it was cancelled. This was all done in great detail (you have to know David to appreciate this). Today after greeting me I asked him how he was feeling (knowing he was feeling sick). He told me about his "green stickies on his nose" (in great detail of course). Basically he had a stuffy nose with green mucus.

JP had his first OFFICIAL play date. He was so excited to know his Dad was very proud of him.

There is one major thing I am (PLACE EMOTION HERE) about not doing with my Dad.
I never had a chance to have an ADULT conversation with him.

I really am striving to build a relationship with my sons now.
It hurts me when I am failing at that.
God willing, he will allow me that opportunity to guide my sons into adulthood.
I continue to beat up the treadmill pondering daily fatherhood matters.

Burdens of a Father

I have been burdened this week (for many reasons) of focusing on protecting my children. I feel this extreme desire (good) as well as pressure (bad) that I must protect them. It sounds sort of "caveman-ish", archaeic or even animalistic. But even as I type, I am not sure how to truly express it.

I have an overwhelmingly passion to continue to support their needs and desires financially. That is interplayed with the notion that this financial support is dependant on other factors (people, my company). This support is immediate as well as long term. I have an overwhelmingly sense I need to protect them from "the dangers of the outside world". I have this overwhelming fear that I am turning into my father (is this good or bad?)

One example I remember is a gut wrenching feeling when I learned my kids would be taking the bus to school - I could not imagine ENTRUSTING their safety with someone else.

So I wonder, will these feelings always be a part of me as a Dad?
I also wonder if these feelings a part of something that all Dad's face?

I continue to beat up the treadmill on a daily basis pondering Fatherhood matters.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween

We had a blast on Halloween (& during the days before). Attached is a photo of the Halloween Crew. You will see 3 of the 4 O'Leary kids. We had an entire crew from our neighborhood join us (no photo credentials provided for others). So 2 Years in a Row of Trick or Treating - it looks like a neighborhood tradition is brewing!

The following is an excerpt of a conversation between myself and JP. We were holding hands behind the trick or treat pack (as he could not keep up to the older kids, although JP tried)

Dad: JP, you okay?
JP: Yes, Daddy.......but Dad?
Dad: Yes, JP?
JP: Will you protect me?
Dad: JP, I am always here for you & I will always protect you!
JP: but Dad......I was SO SO scared of the scary music
Dad: oh JP, don't worry I am here and I will protect you.
Dad: (after a melodramatic pause) ...Besides, you are SUPERMAN! (putting out my arms for emphasis)
JP: but Dad....I am not superman....I am just JP!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Smiley McGee

What can I say? This girl is beautiful, friendly, sometimes shy, loves to walk, eat & LOVES HER DADDY. I can't believe one year has passed already. She is here, enjoying life and her siblings. She loves Jackie. She is intrigued by David. Cackles with JP.

Happy Birthday Abigail! You have a wonderful spirit! I look forward to many more years with you & seeing the wonderful girl you will become.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dad, The Weekend Warrior

Rachel is leading a woman's retreat this weekend. This means it is Daddy 24x7 with the kids for the weekend (minus Abigail who is hanging with the Trovarelli family - kudos to them).

I awoke this morning with 2 of 3 kids in my bed. We went to the Red Rooster for breakfast (after chasing a garden snake back into the forest). I typically go on dates with my daughter to the Red Rooster. She gave the OK to let her brothers into our world. The owners were fantastic - very accomodating to us & they even tuned the TV to Disney! A very welcoming & charming place with delicious food!

After breakfast, we attempted to see local little league games, but nobody was playing. We stopped by Goose Lake & then went to Dickinson Park. Kids had a blast on the "wooden playground". Next we went to Reed School Park which included a large spider web to climb! Our day wrapped up by attending a local Craft Fair & eating cupcakes!

We finally arrived home around 3:30 pm and we watched 2 movies - Narnia & The Wild.

Raviolis wrapped our day ("These are my favorite!" - kids exclaim).

Outdoor Fun + Tired Kids + Exhausted Dad = AWESOME DAY!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Attention Shoppers!

I enjoy spending time with my kids. I am trying to balance the previous fact with my time to relax - specifically mental breaks. I have not come up with a solution yet, but trying. Any solutions out there?

One of things I like to do is spend time with the boys on Saturday mornings. Very simply, WE DO ERRANDS! YEH! This mostly consists of food shopping or car maintenance or general "around town" stuff. We try to make the food shopping fun where the boys help me pick out stuff, we receive a slice of cheese from the deli person, and they get to ride in "Marty". Marty is the name they gave to that extra long grocery cart shaped like a firetruck (or car or truck or PLACE ANY TYPE OF VEHICLE A BOY WOULD LOVE HERE). Most recently, they have become my little shoppers with their little "shopper in training" carts. (see photo).

Watch out shoppers......clean up in aisle 22!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Telling Your Story

Today started a new year of CCD (Sunday School) for the kids. During this year's program, Jaclyn will celebrate her Holy Communion. Living this experience with my children, I am reminded of my days in a Catholic parochial school. I now have an appreciation for the Roman Catholic faith and especially an appreciation of living that faith (not just text book knowledge).

As parents, we attended an orientation for this program. The theme was for our kids to tell their story - their story of encountering Christ. After Day 1, we felt a comfort that God's grace is surrounding our family. David's teacher seemed excellent & his 1st Grade teacher is in the class. Jaclyn is in the class taught by the principal of the school. We wrapped up this sunny day (with a crisp cool breeze) to play in the "CCD Park" as David like to call it.

I learn every day about being a father & a Dad. I want to do right by them. I don't receive feedback from them, so I really don't know how I am doing (& I guess I will never know).

I want my children to experience physical activities like football, basketball and baseball (my sports). I support their new found physical activities like gymastics and soccer. I want my children to be intellectually stimulated at school & at home (trips to Bronx Zoo, etc). I want to be able to provide extra support when needed (whether it is time or money). I want my children to be spiritually fed. I understand it is a journey with hills and valleys. No expectations here - I just want to provide the foundation they can always rely on.

My struggles I guess lie in determining what activities to take on versus what not to take on. When should I lead, follow or move on.

Of course for me as a Dad my ultimate question is "How can I do it all with limited time & resources?" I suspect this question is one other Dad's are dealing with? I don't feel despondent. I actually feel challenged - very challenged to be a small part in helping my kids confidently tell all their life stories.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Family History & Memories

This past weekend we tried 2 new family things.

1. We attended the Norwalk Oyster Festival. Oddly enough, we did not partake of any oysters. However, we listened to an INCREDIBLE band named Ask Your Mom. Well, I may be biased as one of the band members is my co-worker Rob. But they rocked & the kids danced. The day ended with a trip to Pizza Hut.

2. On Sunday we attended the Greater Danbury Irish Festival. We had Irish food & I had Irish beer (Harp) with Aunt Kate. We listened to Irish music & watched Irish dancing. We learned what our names are in Gaelic. We found where our ancestors lived. We made sand art while spilling most of the sand on the floor. We played soccer & football (kudos to Uncle Mike). I enjoyed sharing my family heritage with my children. Note to self: Create family tree

I truly enjoy spending time with my family. I am a blessed man.

A New Season

I love new beginnings. I especially love the change of seasons. I believe that is because of my athletic background. As the seasons change, it signals the start of a new sport. The early morning smell of a freshly manicured football field. The high pitched squeaks of sneakers on a basketball court. The vision of seeing up close the fresh white chalk on a baseball diamond.

JP started pre-school today. He is ready and from all accounts he had a wonderful day. Jaclyn & David started school about 8 days ago (we attended each of their open houses). So 3 of 4 of our children are attending the same school.

I feel a sense of parental accomplishment today. It is a small but wonderful step. The start of something new and special. Go get 'em JP!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kids and Technology

When I was younger I owned a newspaper route (the NY Daily News). My route consisted of delivering 50 papers each morning. The papers had to be delivered - whether snow, sleet, rain, or sickness.

A pain point for me was collecting the money. I wonder why. I guess as a 13 year old kid, collecting cash from adults was intimidating. My pay consisted of taking home a percentage of each paper and receiving customer tips.

This had me thinking of how kids who deliver newspapers receive payment in modern times.
Payment today is mostly made online or via credit card.
In fact, I have not met the delivery person who delivers my NY Times each morning.

I believe the advances today are all due to technology. My children love the computer. They love computer games. My daughter loves Webkinz. Have you heard of Webkinz? Be afraid, be very afraid. My kids are skilled at using a computer. It is truly amazing the infiltration of technology into our children's lives. What are the positives you see with children using technology so early?

I love this stuff.....but honestly, I don't mind waiting a long time until they learn about credit cards!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back To School

Start of a school year = more milestones. I read a blog post about enjoying life's moments. Today marks the start of 1st Grade for David. A milestone that I yearned for 5 years. I could not picture this achievement when I was told David was on the autism spectrum (about 5 years ago). I pray every day for him to have a joyful and safe day.

Jaclyn also starts 2nd Grade. I pray that she continues to be a wonderful family leader and wonderful participant in school. Her school year start is delayed as she is a bit under the weather.

JP starts preschool in a couple of weeks.

New year. New adventures. New challenges. What will tomorrow bring?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Making Childhood Memories

I had a wonderful vacation week with my family. We relaxed at the beach for 4 days. The week wraps up with the premiere of the TV movie - Disney's High School Musical 2.

Our memories this week included:
1. Four days in the Atlantic Ocean waves
2. JP finding and holding Sand Crabs
3. Ice Cream and Karoake
4. Italian & Seafood Dinners (Happy Birthday Poppy!)
5. Delicious Donuts
6. Carnival on the Ocean City Boardwalk
7. Reuniting with old friends
8. Boogie Boarding
9. Making memories with Nana, Poppy, Aunts & Uncle Mike
10. Boothe Library 75th Anniversary Party (upon our return to Newtown)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Son, My Relationship

It always comes in bunches - many things happen all at once that talk or deal with Autism. I am reading a book (previous post), see talk shows and read special reports on autism.

For me, it's personal. I can only comprehend my own relationship with my son. I am trying and I believe he is too. It is frustrating and I believe he becomes frustrated too. I look to the world around me for help. Help comes in many forms. I look to others for how to interact with my son. Little ideas or knowledge from others who are on this road.

Watch this Video when your time allows. A line from this video hit home to me "1 in 94 boys is on the Autism Spectrum". This is my relationship with David! This is our relationship with our sons!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Book I am Reading

I am reading "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time". This is a novel narrated by a boy on the autism spectrum. I am not finished yet - but I am torn. In one way, I am thoroughly enjoying the book. In another way, I see a lot of David in the narrator (Christopher John Francis Boone) & it hits home.

Not only do I see David in the book, but I see myself in the main character's father. I love my son. I have true compassion & patience for my son. I relate to my son. But there are often times that I can not relate to David & his world & that hurts. It hurts in a way that I can not explain to anyone.

I will let you know the results when I finish this book - stay tuned.

Unashamed Promotion: This book was a gift from my father in law, Andres Torres, who is an author in his own right (see

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Keep Moving Forward

Our family went to see Meet the Robinsons at Edmond Town Hall. I enjoy old cinemas not just because of the price ($2 per ticket is wonderful for families), but because of the history and it is typically a chance to really enjoy a show without the craziness of a multiplex (DOWN IN FRONT!)

The movie reinforced 2 things for me:
1. This weekend was about family & almost turned out not to be. A friend, Victor Batsu, invited me to play golf this weekend. I was very tempted to play but desired to be with my family (see previous post on Struggles of a Modern Day Dad). I declined golf. I gained family. 2 bike riding trips to the lake with JP. Lots of reading with Jaclyn, Lots of baby giggles with Abigail. Lots of playtime with David (saturday morning at the tire shop)

2. I must keep moving forward. I learn more from failure than success. Keep pressing on, surrender life to God and keep moving forward. Something to think about.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

When did Al Gore become cool?

I have never been much for focusing on "being green" outside of buying Energy Star appliances and installing new windows in my home. Jaclyn has been focusing on recycling and has been instrumental in changing my thought process.

Today I watched Live Earth festivities and found it not only musical, but refreshing, focused, inspirational and organized and presented by committed people.

I have pledged and look forward to changing the world (in some small and fun way) with and for my children.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Struggles of a Modern Day Dad

I am struggling with the demands of work and fatherhood. I would not say it is a negative struggle. I positively struggle with the demands of my career or my personal life (lets say golf) and wanting to achieve that.

SHAMELESS PLUG: I will soon post "101 things to do before I die" list.

But I also find great joy in being with my kids. I enjoy riding our bikes to the lake. I enjoy playing soccer, baseball and basketball with them. I even enjoy taking them on errands with me or cooking for them.

I also sense that may be more expected of a modern Dad. He is expected to be at the basketball games, boy scout and girl scout activities as well as perform at work.

I wonder if other Dads experience this as well? I wonder if women (Moms) experience this or do they feel different pressures?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Boys, Boys, Boys; NO GIRLS ALLOWED

The boys and I had boy-time this week. We are missing the ladies but we had a blast!

10 things we did this week:
1. Day at the Library - Paws, Claws, Scales and Magic Tales
2. Trip to the General Store for Candy
3. Lots of book reading
4. Lots of writing (David wrote some amazing letters)
5. Trip to Dad's job
6. Horseback Riding for David (Pegasus riding for special kids)
7. Trip to Nana's house
8. Swimming
9. SuperPretzels!
10. Close out the week - Movies!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Missing My Daughter

Jaclyn is having a sleepover with the Chaluisan family this week. I've been thinking about her throughout my drive home and I miss her terribly already (she left merely 3 hours ago). Baby Abigail is joining her at only 8 months old. I love my daughters.

Check out one of my favorite photos of Jaclyn on her 4th birthday.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Autism Town

I recently came upon a virtual placed called Autism Town. I am interested in this for multiple reasons. First, I continue to try to understand how to interact with my son, David. Second, my technically curious nature has always drawn me to virtual reality. I have not checked out in detail yet; Autism Town has an striking resemblance to something I encountered a couple of years ago - the million dollar homepage.

It continues to amaze me how we (the virtual community) comes up with new ways to utilize technology. I am especially amazed at how this community supports each other - with comments on blogs or otherwise. I look forward to seeing what other technical advances are ahead for us, our world and our children.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Color of Love

Tonight after arriving home from work, I colored with Jaclyn.
We colored in a tiny coloring book. It brought back memories of how much fun it is & how much i love art. I enjoyed the mixtures of color, the creativity. I enjoyed being with my daughter.

I kissed her on the cheek and I said, "Jaclyn, you know what?".
She replied, "I know Dad, you love me!"

For Dads - this is precious time. I enjoy those small moments - especially during the week when I am away all day. Some days if I leave early and the kids go to be early, I dont see them. I am similar to other Dads out there whereas i dont like days like that.

I will savor these small moments whenever they arrive.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Wife....she is da WO-Man

JP has a favorite shirt that says "My Dad is the Man!". He likes to feed my ego.

That being said, my wife is the WO-MAN! She always encourages, pushes, supports and is a driver of my fatherhood. By pure nature - I am not a father without her and this blog don't exist.

This past week I have appreciated her even more than usual. In a weird twist of fate (thank you Jesus), the negative stuff we experienced became a blessing of spending much time together. Time spent talking, listening, crying, laughing and time spent re-energizing and pushing life forward.

Thank you - to my wife. Thank you to the mother behind Fatherhood Matters.

Monday, June 04, 2007

JohnnyO Goes to Washington

Going to DC on business. Taking the train. I don't like leaving my kids. I don't like being away from them. I can't explain it, but it it is an uncomfortable feeling leaving them - I will truly miss them. Does anyone else go through this?

I told the kids this morning I was going on a trip.
Jaclyn said, "Are you going to see the President?"
David said, "You are going to BE the President?"

Before I left, Jaclyn made me lunch. She said it was important that I have food for my bus ride and for my "field trip". She really showed me love today and I needed it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Deja Vu - All Over Again

My day began with a game we created called, "Peas in the Pod". We place ourselves under the bed covers & pretend we are peas inside the pod. Our names are: Paul Pea (me), Patrick Pea (JP), Penelope Pea (Jaclyn), & Johnny Pea (David). This morning JP & I played this game & sang songs (his current playlist is: Spiderman, Bob The Builder and The Wheels on the Bus).

My day ended with Jaclyn telling me she loved me because I am handsome, David telling me he loved me because of my "cool red car", and JP singing to me. Oh yeah, JP sang the same songs as this morning (except this time he sang on his "stage" - in front of the fireplace)

I will take that start & end of a day.......every day.

Friday, June 01, 2007

JP: The boy, the myth, the legend

I love JP. In fact, there is lots to like and love about him. He is lovable, cute, friendly, sensitive, athletic and quite simply a joy to be around.

To the right is a shameless promotional photo of my son playing with dirt.

Pootatuck Duck Race

Saturday, we attended the Pootatuck Duck Race. I purchased raffle tickets for 4 plastic ducks (each of my children) that would compete in this race down the river. What a blast! We played (well, the kids played) in a bouncy balloon, petted llamas, ate duck cookies and then we played in the Pootatuck River prior to the ducks being launched.

Playing in the River was new to me. Trying to overcome my nervousness in the water (will they fall on the rocks? Will a fish bite them?) but allowing them to just experience nature. But I believe they enjoyed this time & they will never forget it. (Shameless promotion: Look for photos and hopefully video posted here soon)

Oh yeah - we lost the duck race.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

David & The K-Kids

Emotional! Emotional is the best way I have to explain how I felt at David's Kindergarten performance (The K-Kids). It's been a long road. Watching him sing, recite poems, put on sunglasses and dance (we have to work on his hip movement & rhythm) helped me realize my dreams come true. He is interacting with a standard Kindergarten class. He was even a minnow in a little skit (ask him about it sometime).

The bad news. He has a long way to go. He is clearly "a little off" when it comes to social interaction. So we rejoice in the good (lots of noise, sounds, people and David survived). We are cautiously optimistic as we battle to improve the bad.

Shout out to Nana who attended the performance. We have video of the event we plan to watch with some popcorn!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Girl

Today is Jaclyn's 7th Birthday party (May 18 is her official Birthday). It is a bit surreal how she has grown up before my eyes. The last couple of days have been stressful to say the least - no power since Wednesday, 1 night in a hotel room. This equals lots of fun for the kids BUT lots of stress for the parents. Well okay, a little fun for Dad.

Today is a bowling party with only girls allowed (except her Daddy). The boys, not invited. I am sure David and JP will have their revenge one day.

Happy Birthday Jackie O!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Man Of Character

We attended a charity dinner for Hopeline Pregnancy Center on Thursday night. The guest speaker was Ryan Dobson. This is the first I learned of him, although I've listened to his father, James Dobson.

Ryan used the term "Man of Character". That term touched me. I am searching & struggling to become this type of man in all aspects of my life. I am particularly trying to become a "father of character". Maybe achieving this is a lifetime journey? Maybe it is unattainable? Maybe I am not trying hard enough?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What A Weekend!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday was absolutely gorgeous weather here in Newtown, CT. The kids & I spent most (if not all) of our days outside. We worked (built patio furniture) and played soccer, tag, basketball, bike riding, running, exploring.

On Saturday we attend Andrew Vincent Caparelli's 1st Birthday party. What a lot of fun for the whole family. Jaclyn said, "Dad, this is the best day of my life!"

On Sunday, the Hoffman & Soloman families visited our home. We had our first BBQ. Again, what a blast for the kids as the day ended with ice cream sandwiches!

I am finding more & more joy in the little moments of life with the family. I enjoyed spending so much time with them this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

On Saturday, David said to me - "Dad, can you & I have boy time?" I was touched & honored, I happily said "of course". Jaclyn & JP were most gracious as they allowed this time for me & David.

I asked David, "What do you want to do?" He said, "I want to put the lower case alphabet letters in the coconut tree". This is in reference to a children's book - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Disheartening for me. I wanted to wrestle, play football, or have a catch. We set the metal easel along with the magnetic letters. One by one we placed each letter on the board in alphabetical order, removed the vowels, organized by color and then went through the book - WORD BY WORD. David memorized the book.

This is disheartening because the letters are a source of repetition - a calming mechanism for David. After we completed the story, David wanted to do it again. I told him that this was enough focus on the letters. He looked at me & said, "Dad, I love you. Can we have boy time again soon?" I proudly told him we would (heart melting)

David - I look forward to boy time & ya know what - we can do whatever YOU want!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Enjoying (not sweating) the Small Stuff

I learned from my children this week that the small & simple things matter. I learned that spending time with them - just playing - they find great joy in that.

5 small wonderful things from this past week:
- We made homemade pizza together (me, JP, David, & Jaclyn)
- We played Robots (kids are robots and wind them up)
- Jaclyn made her 1st basketball shot (no help) on Saturday, April 7
- Abigail turned over for the first time on Sunday, April 8
- We made a chocolate cake for Easter (Jaclyn licked the bowl)

I am going to make a dedicated effort to enjoying those moments - these small moments where joy is found.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Father Getting Right with God

I attended Morning Prayer this week in preparation for Easter. Lesson learned - get right with God. Most importantly, getting right with God sets the tone for the rest of your day, interactions, work, relationships, family & fatherhood. I am not perfect but trying.

I carry this lesson with my children. I continually have to step back and re-learn that they are not perfect, they are trying. In doing so - they want to be closer with me & I with them.

Lovable times today with David and J.P. We wrestled, played with dinosaurs, played with baby emperor penguin. Boy time at its best.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Newtown Science Fair

Yesterday was a Science Fair at Newtown High School. I attended sessions with David while Rachel attended Sessions with Jaclyn. The first session we attended was about Eggs! David learned that eggs are Ellyptical (ask him that next time you see him). The second session was about Fire Safety. Their was a stop, drop & roll presentation from the firefighters as well as seeing all the equipment. It was quite a blast for me to see David in a school environment.

Our day continued with David & I attending David's Birthday at Funstation, USA! Again, it was a blast for me to see David interact with his peers.

5 Things I Learned about David on Saturday:
1. He raises his hand when the teacher asks "Does anyone know..."
2. He is more cooperative in class than I expected
3. David's classmates all greet him with excitement!
4. I think he has friends from school (at least that is my observation)
5. David is silly, funny, very cute & has a contagious smile

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Off To Work We Go

Yesterday, JP came to work with me. This is the first time for him. David & Jaclyn have joined me at work. I struggled with bringing JP as I was not sure what to expect & I do not want to intrude upon my co-workers.

JP wished everyone a "Good Morning" and was well behaved throughout the day. We had a lunchtime meeting (pizza) & then we left at 3:30. He met special friends Joshua & Sharon Sachakov who played with him. While leaving, he gave everyone a hug & kiss and told them "to have a good weekend". He is very special.

As we walked out together hand in hand, JP said, "Dad, thanks for the fun meetings you have" He fell asleep within 5 minutes of driving home. That's a great day!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I Have Autism

Today, we went to Friendly's for dinner. Afterwards everyone takes a bath & we have the bathrobe parade (photo via cameraphone of JP).
Late tonight we watched the MTV show "True Life". The episode was I Have Autism. It is very tough emotionally to watch these shows. But it helps me in many ways.

It is a personal reminder. I would not change one thing in my life.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Best B-Day Gift: Date with my Daughter

After adoration (at St. Marguerite's) & 8 am mass I had a date with my daughter. We went to the bank, the Newtown general store (for candy) & to the Red Rooster Bakery. It was great fun to place our order (crossaint for jackie) & sit down for our date. We just chatted - nothing major yet wonderful. When the food was ready, the waitress came over & said "Sorry for interrupting your date with your Daddy". That felt great!

Is there anything better? Thank you Jaclyn for the best gift.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stew Leonard's & Autism

Yesterday, David and I went to Stew Leonard's. He wanted to see his "musical friends". I believe we very much had a good time (our day ended with ice cream) - it is hard to tell. That is, he handled crowds well & listened when I talked with him. But David seemed unusually drawn to the musical characters in the store. But honestly - spending 3 hours with your son is beautiful - there ain't nothing like it.

Tonight was interesting. 60 minutes had a nice story, "Diagnosis: Autism". It was the revelation on how early intervention services (12 months & younger) helps "re-wire the brain". I felt proud of our early work with David but also emotional. Emotional in the fact of how far we have come, how far we have to go & especially for the families shown tonight. Afterwards, we quickly turned to Extreme Home Makeover - just to see the house. The show centered on the O'Donnell Family who had 5 autistic children. My heart & respect went out to them.

Finally, Jaclyn asked to read a children's book entitled, "He's My Brother" by Joe Lasker

Tonight was an emotional body blow, but an awakening for me to keep fighting.

I can't wait for David to wake up. I want to hug him.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Day My Father Died

19 years ago today, my father died. Not sure what, but on that day something died in me too.

3 recent events that reminded me of my Dad:
1. In January our family attended the Jack O'Leary Pasta Night. This night is a fun family night held at my grammar school in the Bronx. For 19 years they have celebrated and raised scholarship money for 2 graduates. The OLeary kids were excited to go see "Grandpa Jack".

2. Baptism of Abigail Elizabeth. Abigail's baptism and welcome to the Catholic faith this past Sunday.

3. This morning when Rachel mentioned to the kids that Grandpa Jack died 19 years ago today. Jaclyn responded, "Well, if his Daddy died, he must be sad today".

You know what, I am sad today.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Who Cares About the Super Bowl?

The streak is over. I missed my 1st Chaluisan Super Bowl Party. I received a call (while driving to the party) that Jaclyn was accidentally hurt by knocking a picture frame on her foot. My instincts & adrenaline instantly urged me home. I arrived home to give her a big hug and put ice on her foot. She was calm & then I had to urge JP to get to bed. I sat down to watch the 2nd half of the Super Bowl.

Jaclyn hopped downstairs and gave me a note that said the following:

Dear Dad:
You love me.
I love you.

Who cares about the Superbowl. (PS: Colts won)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

First Snowfall

Feb 3, 2007 brought our first REAL snowfall in our new home. We had a blast - Jaclyn, Davd and JP helped shovel and built snow pyramids. We find the most fun is when we are getting dressed in anticipating the snow. We also find fun afterwards when getting undressed while anticipating the hot chocolate. Our first snow memories in the new home - not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Talk About Curing Autism.

Read this letter. Very simply, this letter helps to give us a glimpse into David's world. Even better, it shows us how he perceives and interacts with the world around him. After reading, I gained a deeper respect and understanding for David. This understanding further encourages my patience and love for him and all my children.

> Read "Dear Family & Friends" Letter
> View TACA Website

Monday, January 22, 2007

Love and Respect

I am struggling with respect. Specifically, respect from my children. I feel I have overloved them - that is, many hugs, excitement with their joys, a shoulder to lean on when they are down, given them whatever possibly I can afford. In a sense I feel taken for granted. But yet I know there are times during the work week where time with them is limited. So maybe that is the center of the issue? Not sure. While investigating I will continue to humbly love and serve.

I do know that when I dont feel respected it is hard to love. If my kids are not feeling loved, it is hard for them to show respect. Is this a family circle all Dads encounter? I continue to investigate.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ode to Fathers Who Blog

I have not explored yet, but I hope to read other dads experiences through their blogs. I also like the props given to fathers who blog.

I am also the type of dad to help other dads (giving them some sort of clue). I happily share any wisdom I have regarding pregnancy, labor and childbirth. To be honest, I literally thought the baby POPPED out of the womb. Never in my wildest dreams imagined the labor process. So I pass along as my duty to all men the following article - What every Dad should know about Labor. Good Luck y'all.

NIGHT NOTE: JP and I played balloon catch tonight. This little guy is amazing. Clearly feeling under the weather, but none the less - eager and willing to play catch (with all his heart and pride)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Strong Families include Strong Fathers

Blogging allows me to be introspective as well as focus on improvement. This is especially true in becoming an effective father. What I find enlightening is that there is a website for fathers. I'd like to learn more about this site and others.

I find it fascinating there are wonderful resources for fathers. But I wonder, do you really need a manual to be a father? Do we need a step by step guide to be a Dad?

After 7 years of fatherhood, I wonder what fatherhood books I missed or could write.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stagmania is running Wild

On Saturday, I attended the Fairfield U. vs Manhattan Jaspers basketball game in the Bronx. 3 future Fairfield Stags - Jaclyn, David & JP - joined me. It was a blast having them with me. The sounds of the PA & the substitution horn were painful to David's ears. He communicated to me that the sound was bothering him, yet I persuaded him to have courage & fight through it. He did & I was very proud of him. I was also proud of Jaclyn who made friends with everyone. She is a beautiful little girl.

David realized at halftime how easy it was to run on Draddy Gymnasium court. This was not good as JP agreed this was also fun to do. Most of the 2nd half was spent playing a zone defense on my boys.

I asked Jaclyn & David what they enjoyed about the basketball game.
Jaclyn said, "I made a new friend.....Samantha"
David said, "Dad, I love Jasper cheerleaders & I love Jasper dancers!"

Slight blow to my ego as there was no mention of the actual game.
Oh yeah, Stags lost.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Facts of Life

Today, we received a negative school report regarding David's behavior. We are concerned our worst fears are being realized that he needs further daily intervention (socially, OT work). We are more concerned that the school is blind to this fact. We now begin the process of researching alternative means to get our son help.

Along with the above, JP had a breakdown while out shopping, Abigail is sick and we are concerned with Jaclyn's schoolwork. THE PERFECT STORM! Can I get a witness???

However, the day included these 2 wonderful nuggets:
1 - I started my day by sitting with David and looking at a full moon. We talked about how the full moon was visible yet it was daylight.
2 - I closed my day by tucking Jackie in bed "like a hot dog in a hot dog bun". Then singing Jaclyn's lullaby, "I Love You Lord".

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life....the Facts of Life. (go ahead, sing it)