Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue 16! Blue 16! Hut, hut, hut...

If only it were that easy...

At absolutely any moment as I write this, Mrs. Tony C could go into labor and bring our brand spanking new little girl into the world. I mean no disrespect to her specifically or the female gender as a whole by the picture either. It's just what we guys understand and relate to more easily than the true process of child birth.

Unless you happen to be a male MD of OB/GYN...

I'm still not clear what all those letters stand for and where they relate and apply in the whole process. But then again, it's been said ignorance is bliss.

Having personally witnessed the whole birthing process before, I just don't see how anyone couldn't believe in God. A single sperm and a single egg meet and from that union comes a fully autonomous living being...well...eventually. That happened due to a random sequence of cosmic events? That kind of ignorance is far from blissful. But I digress...

Let's stay on the subject of male, non-medically educated ignorance of the child birth process shall we. This is my third rodeo (okay, bad analogy), and I no more comprehend the mechanics of birth outside of rudimentary biology than the next guy. Come on guys! Admit it...we're ignorant! Know how I know? I walk into the OB/GYN exam room with my wife and see one of these...

That's right...you don't have a clue either dude. Know how else I know? Because my ignorance made me so insecure, I immediately laughed out loud, snapped a picture on my BlackBerry and shared it with other ignorant male friends just like you. Case closed... D-U-M-B.

Being at the OB/GYN office with Mrs. Tony C is akin to taking your dog to church services on Sunday morning. He's glad to be there, knows something cool is going on around him (in most churches anyway), but has no clue what it's all about. That's me in a nutshell when I go to her appointments... and yes, I'm the dog!

Sure, I always find sophisticated, ahem, ways to ease into conversations with the other pregnant people or staff attending to them, but I'm not truly at least a little at ease until I see another expecting dad and make eye contact. You can smell the fear. The kind of temporary kinship I'm sure comes across a couple of guys looking at each other knowing a mortar shell is about to drop on them the very next breath. Not sympathy, not pity...but absolute empathy.

At least my days of enduring those visits are quickly drawing to a close. Unfortunately, the graduation ceremony takes place in a room filled with busy people. Each has a specific task or duty to perform to ensure a new life is brought forth into this world under the best medically possible circumstances.

Then there's me...

Bucket of ice chips. Cold washcloth. Digital camera. Thick skin. Cap and gown. Ready to graduate.

All I can say is God bless the people in the room who know what they're doing. I've got a completely different thought for the first guy who agreed to do the whole thing in a bathtub while he was in the water during the delivery too. D-U-M-B. What were you thinking brother? D-U-M-B. If you happen to be reading this and are planning on one of those water/bathtub births and we see each other at the OB/GYN office...don't be offended when I look away. It's one thing for the mortar shell to fall on you from a different position and a completely other when you fire a mortar round straight up in the air perpendicularly...D-U-M-B.

Wish me luck beloved readers! I'm going to need it...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bungee jumping and skydiving are for wimps. If you want to experience true gut-wrenching terror... have children.

I'm convinced our 3-year-old is part bloodhound...

It's bad enough that her super-sensitive sniffer has her calling me out at assumed moments of solitude when...well...when you got to do what you've got to do. Of course, her acute sense of hearing may play a part in that also, but that's not what we're talking about today.

What terrifies me most is her lack of public discernment or even an ounce of tact that leaves the potential for an ill-timed comment in a place like, say Walmart or Target, that could immediately result in anything from tremendous embarrassment to daddy being socked in the nose. It boils down to not if it will happen but to exactly when it will happen.

Luckily, most spontaneous outcries of malodorous air by the 3-year-old have been contained to the homes of family members, well, except the one crying breakdown in a public restroom while she was with Mrs. Tony C...but since her mom didn't get to apologize to the unfortunately humiliated lady in the stall next to them, she has requested I refrain from sharing that hilarious story. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

There have been awkward moments in-family recently too. While taking the pre-schooler to her great, grandmothers on Halloween to show off her costume, I let the teenager take her in for a quick visit. My grandmother, God bless her, is 93-years ahead of her youngest great, grandchild. I was watching through the door as the two girls were talking with her, and the look on the younger's face set off an internal alarm in me that knew my presence was either required or about to be required:

Teenager: (as I'm walking in) She sure has a lot of candy so far.

Tony C: (glaring at the 3-year-old peeping up at me) Hey Mamaw. How are you?

Bloodhound Kid: (whining loudly) It stinks in here daddy! It stinks real bad!

Mamaw C: (looking at teenager) What'd she say?

Teenager: (thinking fast and talking loud) She said she's a pumpkin.

Mamaw C: Yes you are sweety, and a very cute pumpkin.

Tony C: (grabbing Bloodhound Kid by the hand) Give Mamaw C a hug so we can trick or treat a little more.

Pumpkin Kid: Bye Mamaw! Love you! (running back to car)

Now in car Pumpkin Kid: Mommy, it stinked real bad in there!

Mrs. Tony C: (to me) What was it?

Tony C: 96... (teenager giggling in the back)

Mrs. Tony C: Tony! That's not very nice!

Tony C: Hey! I hope I'm lucky enough to smell 96 some day.

Pumpkin Kid: That's not nice daddy! It stinked real bad in the house! You don't say those words!

Of course, she had no idea why she was calling me out and just followed her mom's lead. There's another common trait of most post-toddler children...they don't forget anything. When we visited my grandmother this week and the little one froze upon stepping on her porch and seeing the door, I had to get creative pretty quick:

Reluctant Youngest: No daddy! It stinks! It stinks real bad!

Tony C: Want to ride the horse outside of the grocery store? Let's go in here and visit Mamaw, and when we leave, I promise we'll stop by and let you ride the horse...twice!

Excited Princess: I can ride the horsey! Yay! Ride the horsey!

My only fear from that point was the little stinker would yank the lever on my grandmother's recliner and launch her into the floor. That's a game she plays with her grandfather who can move around a whole lot better at this point.

I can only imagine what my grandchildren will say about me one day...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm not an OB/GYN...but I could play one on television.

Since I wasn't blogging during the process of pregnancy for my first two daughters, I feel a bit compelled to share a few muses during my final go around...

That's right. Three and out. So please stop asking if Mrs. Tony C and I are having another one to 'try' for a boy. What exactly does that mean? Plus, the only thing another baby will result in is another future wedding bill and more college tuition to pay for a fourth daughter. Call it poetic justice, Divine intervention or whatever you chose because I'm certain the number of daughters I produce is directly proportionate to the number of children I father...period. I understand and accept that fact. So should you.

Besides, I'm getting pretty good at being a daddy for girls. What I'm not acclimating to is the whole pregnancy process. Yesterday, I had to stop and laugh as I was scouring the internet for a good deal on a Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack Breastpump. Twenty years ago, I had absolutely no idea such a thing existed and would have probably punched you (if you're male) in the face for suggesting I did know. Why would you do that to a perfectly good breast? It would have made no sense to me.

A little knowledge in pediatric health and a formal education that included economics brings a whole new light to the subject. Today I understand that baby feeding is actually what God made boobs for in the first place! Go figure. Bikinis had nothing to do with it!

Through my new found knowledge and a little progressive logical thinking, I also now understand the Intelligent design (aka God again) behind a pair instead of one great big one goes well beyond the two is better than one principle or anything that involves feng shui...and no guys, nothing to do with the fact we have two hands either (eye roll). To accommodate a constantly feeding newborn requires a one-sided respite much in the way you shift from one cheek to the other when you've been sitting for a long time. Brilliant!

How could a person possibly look at the completeness and pure genius of biology and believe in a creation by randomness. How?!

The philosophy of randomness does bring into question the overall intellect of humans though. Well..that and the need for disclaimers like this...

Seriously? Come on. Only a man would think a bunch of women sit around hooked up to the same breast pump while at book club like milk cows. Right? Please tell me I'm right ladies!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas brings out a little something in all of us...

I was told this weekend that our Christmas tree needs to be up soon, so our newly arriving bundle of joy can come home from the hospital to a festive environment...

Like she'll notice. She won't even know she has feet for a few months much less notice something shaped like her daddy but much brighter and better smelling.

Now don't take that as Tony C being all bah humbug either. Actually, I quite love the Christmas season and everything that goes along with it. I just prefer when it's contained within the month of December...that's all.

Plus, I'm also a traditionalist when it comes to the tree. I favor a fresh-cut tree despite the hassles of trimming and the fire hazard imposed throughout the duration of its stay inside our home. Problem being... I'm a tad too Clark Griswold, and my judgment in scope of size is limited to if the tree will or will not block the view of the flat screen from my recliner.

Mrs. Tony C holds far stricter parameters, therefore, she prefers the consistency of an artificial tree. I'll bet you see where this is going.

For the past two years, the real tree/artificial tree debate has taken a Washington-like flavor and resulted in absolutely no progress on either front. Last year we used a hand-me-down, green pipe cleaners artificial tree that quite frankly saddened me to share the same room. Year before, we settled on a grab-and-go mass production tree hybrid call-it-spruce-or-call-it-fir for $39.99 from the front of a Wal-Mart tree. Ho-ho-stinkin'-ho. Instead of evergreen, we had the smell of formaldehyde flowing gently through our home. Don't bother looking for that in the holiday scented candles section...trust me.

I want tradition. I want to make memories with the whole family loading up and driving to a wooded area to find our holiday home centerpiece. The teenager can forget being cold temporarily for such a memory. The toddler can overcome her fear of all things that creep and crawl to share in the joy. Ditto to both for Mrs. Tony C...we're making lasting memories here people!

In the spirit of the season, I will offer a compromise of good tidings and peace. If I am to forgo my personal conviction of keeping it old timey...to disrespect the memories of my heritage when the family gathered to celebrate the season around a real, once living tree...to succumb to the trappings of an over-commercialized, injection-molded holiday...I will agree to a fake tree if, and only if, that tree can be the one artificial tree of nostalgia that once lite my imagination as a young boy. The futuristic pine that sparked my dreams of off-world adventures as an astronaut working for the pinnacle of space exploration agencies called NASA. The cutting edge technology that jump started the hip to be square phase of American pop culture.

This tree...

My late aunt had one of these in the 70's, and she would wait until I could be there each year to assemble the tinsel wonderment. I would sit for hours and watch the aluminum foliage shift from red, to green, to blue and then yellow before starting all over again. I vividly remember the grind of the slowly spinning color wheel. The pop of static sting if you touched a branch while putting a present around the base. It was like truly living in an episode of the Jetsons.

I miss my aunt. I miss that tree from such a wonderful childhood memory too. How in the world can you possibly say no to that Mrs. Tony C?

(I fight a little dirty if you didn't notice...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And like why would I assume they'd like want fries with that? Duh...

I'm not sure if this post is a dig at the fast food industry, Generation Y, or both...

I'm about to ditch fast food (see Monday's post), but since I'm married to a Gen Y'er, I guess that ensures me a pretty constant stream of entertainment in the future. Come on! You know what I mean. Nothing says giggle my butt off like a trip to the local Mickie D's and Taco Bell for a little people watching. It's the new dinner theater.

There's just something about the combining of middle class suburbia with foods high in saturated fats that is simply irresistibly amusing. Maybe, just maybe, it's the typically employed staff of Gen Y'ers at fast food joints that makes this combo so interesting. Regardless, I'm convinced a future article of study for Psychology Today is inevitable.

Uh huh, huh...you said joints.

Fast food is by nature designed to be simple. simple=quick. simple=cheap. quick+cheap=profit. Now I'm no Rockefeller, but that's about as easy as it gets in business models. From the birth of the fast food industry in the 1950's through the rapid expansion of the 1980's into the empires of today, the captains of mass fast food production have had a relative constant when it comes to their targeted labor force. Young, energetic kids who are for the most part conscientious, reliable and willing to work for minimum wage. Booya! Mad Money's Jim Cramer gets chills just thinking about it all meshing together. Who cares about health consequences! There's tons of money to be made!

In steps the Gen Y's as the labor force of not choice...but necessity.

My, oh my how things have changed! Gone are the adjectives reliable, energetic and even willing. Now we are using descriptors like spoiled, lazy and presumptuous. I'm not doing a lump classification here...okay, yes I am. But don't be offended my young friends if the proverbial shoe doesn't fit. There have been post on Tony C Today dedicated just to you.

Just this week I was faced with a prime example of what I'm getting at in this post. Rushing to church Wednesday night straight from work, I decided a Burger King drive through for a cheap burger would carry me over until after church and band practice. Convenience overrides conscience yet again. So, I ordered a single $1 Buck Burger and pulled forward to dispense my $1.09 to the dude at window #1 wearing his skater cap and Pacsun jacket. So much for uniforms. Too militant I suppose. At least he was facing me, so I didn't get cracked. Oh! But then I see the dude washing the dishes behind him...why'd I look?!

Up to window #2 for my food, where I meet obviously the future Mrs. Skater Dude. There are things that just can't be made up. As she hands me my order, the follow exchanged happened...so help me...it actually happened:

BK Employee Sydney: Here you go. Thank you and come again.

Tony C: (noticing the bag is obviously heavy) That's just one Buck Burger?

BK Sydney: No, I threw in an extra burger.

Tony C: (quite stunned) You gave me a free burger?

Sydney: Yes, we were about to throw it out, so I just gave it to you.

Tony C: (stunned yet even more) You gave me trash?! (trying to hand bag back)

Syd: I'm sorry, but we can't take bags back through the window. It's a rule.

Side note: At this point, I realize a debate on any standing rules concerning the distribution of time expired food is obviously moot and pointless. Yes, I've worked in fast food.

Tony C: Can you at least tell me which one is the old one?

Girl: The one on top. Thanks!

Her last word actually carried an inflection of sarcasm as she seemed completely offended that I didn't appreciate her act of kind generosity. Does this stuff happen to skinny people? Did I look like one sandwich just wasn't going to get the job done?

My ban on fast food started immediately after I ate both burgers driving to church.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to my brothers and sisters...and to our beloved Corps.

President Reagan once said some people live their lives wondering if they've made a difference...but Marines don't have that problem.

Now my most favorite President meant that in a particular way, but today I'm going to spin it another. Sure, Marines have made major contributions to the world we live in for 235 years as of today. Freedom just wouldn't be the priceless liberty it is without the Marines who've actually paid the price. They've not done that alone, and tomorrow on Veterans Day, please make a sincere effort to thank a veteran still around...and reverently remember a few that aren't.

But Marines, they are a unique breed. The Corps goes to great extents to stay current with modern battlefield technology while always instilling into each individual Marine that winning the battle may come down to one Marine with nothing but his hands and head...be ready. Every Marine young and old takes a great deal of pride in that fact. There's also a great deal of pride and esprit de corps with the Marines from previous generations who laid the foundation and reputation of the world's greatest fighting force.

However, let me tell you the difference that I see Marines make...and that's the difference made in the lives of each other. I reflect back on twenty years ago and the friendships made, the positive influences shared, and the hardships we suffered together. Don't mistake that last one as a complaint because we wear it like a badge. A right of passage. One of the most difficult and frustrating things is to try to share those experiences with someone who doesn't have a point of reference. We often come across as aloof or reclusive trying to talk about our time in service. Believe me, that's usually not even close to the actual case. Just get a few Marines or formers together and watch the room light up with energy as they share and spin their tales of times gone by...times never, ever to be forgotten.

History records several encounters where a single Marine did in fact turn the battle and win the day, but every Marine of today and yesterday knows in their heart it takes brothers and sisters to make a Corps. Brothers and sisters willing to die for their country, their ideas and for each other...if it comes to that. Those are the stuff never dying friendships are made.

Happy Birthday Marine Corps and a heart-felt thank you to those Marines that helped make me who I am today. Oh...and goodnight Chesty Puller...wherever you are...you old Devil Dog!

Monday, November 8, 2010

There's only room for one person of girth in this house...I was here first!

My wife is a petite lady...when she's not pregnant.

On the other hand, she's married to a man about a ham biscuit away from shopping at the 'big and tall' men's shop, and I'm only 5 foot 7...so it's sure not for the 'tall' part. We are finding the logistics of having two people in the house of considerable girth a rather unpleasant experience. Again.

Mrs. Tony C has done a wonderful job not gaining as much weight this go around as she did with our first child. I'm convinced the reason we have a red haired 3-year old is directly connected to the mass quantities of watermelon consumed by her mother while she was processing in her womb. If watermelon futures were an actual commodity traded in Chicago, there would have been some rich people made in 2007.

Still, pregnancy does by very nature expand a person even in the best of weight management conditions. I'd love a reason to just be fat. Actually, I have a reason, and it's called being static. Sure I could throw out the usually culprits of excuse like I'm big boned, have an inactive thyroid, or conspiracy theories on high fructose corn syrup, but the fact is my big old butt is the only thing inactive. I'm not in the game anymore.

Mrs. Tony C would confirm that I'm not really a big eater. I occasionally splurge on ice cream (my food vice) or have an Oreo binge once in a blue moon, but for the most part, the problem isn't food. I went from being a multi-sport high school athlete, to a competitive power lifter, to a US Marines, to being a professional desk jockey. That's not an excuse...it's actually a reason for me to be more active. Working a desk job is way more stressful than you might think, but then that's a different blog post all together.

So I'm fat and Mrs. Tony C is 8.5-months pregnant. We've gone from spooning before we fall asleep each night to something that resembles the yin-yang symbol...

Or maybe closer to the Greek letter phi... Either way, it's just not as intimate as before being pregnant. But then again, I guess that's how we got back to being pregnant. But, I digress...

I've made an additional vow with my wife that I will put forth maximum effort to lose weight with her after the baby is born. I know I'm not in my twenty's anymore, or even my thirty's, and the task is not going to be easy. But it's just darn embarrassing when both parents have to ask the toddler to help with putting their socks on in the mornings. Lord knows I'd never ask the teenager.

So look for a slimmer, sexier Tony C next summer my dear readers. I won't bore you with the play-by-play details of the quest. There are too many inspiring people out there who do a much better framing job on that story than I ever could. I just want to be able to once again share the same side of the booth with my lovely wife, go horseback riding, kayaking, or ride a teeter-totter together in the park without launching her into low Earth orbit. I want to climb into bed and snuggle up close to my smoking hot wife and spoon with my love on a frosty night...

Wait a minute! I've got to make an appointment with a urologist ASAP!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Please don't make this deja vu all over again...

Don't get cocky old-school Republicans...it's not about you.

The sure way to curtail any momentum handed to the Republican party is for the party to think this past election was a glowing endorsement by America for them. I don't think so. As Americans, we only have two real choices...for now.

The election two years ago equally wasn't about the Democrats either, and their victories were numerous. Republican had the position of power, voters didn't like what they were doing with it, so a vote for change was cast. Tuesday, voters sent a clear message to Washington that things aren't changing fast enough. Change? What changes?

THAT is the question everyone in Washington should be asking and fearing! Heads are coming out of the sand all over the country. For decades now, the Washington two-step with the American public has been more akin to professional wrestling than governance of the Nation. Sure, the two sides fight and squabble in public, keep throwing out hot-button issues as rally cries, and generally force over 200 million people to pick between us or them...but a lot of people are getting it now. The only thing worse than dichotomy is no choice at all, and we're tired of being forced to pick between two sides that are basically cut from the same piece of cloth!

The crying game is coming to an end and the rats are scrambling to get off the ship. Personally, I don't care if it's Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or the Cap'n Crunch Party. Just somebody please define and act conservative by the same criteria I use when it comes to the federal government- balance the budget, get spending under control, eliminate the huge debt hovering over my children's children, and get your nose out of every single aspect of my life. I can take care of myself thank you very much. That last one should be easy if you just send most of the bureaucrats in Washington home. Come to think of it, that would probably help with the first three too.

Don't tell me you're going to lower my or anyone else's taxes until you get this stuff done either. I helped get us in this mess, and I'll do my share to get us out. Even if it hurts a little. I just don't want my children to have to pay for the indulgences and poor decisions of my generation. This country grew, flourished and did fine for well over 150 years without massive legislations, government interference at every level, and expensive special interest bailouts.

Lose sight of that this time Republicans, like you did after 1994, and voters will seriously wonder if you understand the meaning of the word conservative. Tea Party activist will be watching...you can bet on that.

At least it's not hard to spot a liberal because they don't hide who they are...thankfully.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Face the facts...the bed is already made.

I watched David Stockman on 60 Minutes last night in utter disbelief...

Politically, I came of age under Ronald Reagan. He was the first President I had the privilege of casting a ballot. Raised in a family of Blue-Dog Democrats, I watched the party turn from one that championed the causes of the middle class to a party that pandered to society's misfits and their agenda. Conservative philosophy no longer worked or had a place among uber-liberal ideas of the social elitist. I felt like party leadership was making fun of me specifically for trying to hold to the idea of both social justice and God almighty. Bet Jimmy Carter related on a much more grandiose scale.

There were problems with the 'other' party too, but not near what Democrats imposed. Reagan Democrats somewhere became a tag for those I shared the same hopes and dreams for our country. After college, I was commissioned in the service and enjoyed some of the most prosperous times for service men and women...especially during a time of mostly peace. It wasn't until years later I fully realized that I was just another card in a gigantic house of them, and the term conservative was apparently no longer synonymous with smaller government...

Last night, I listened as former President Reagan's Budget Director said in no uncertain terms that our economy has reached a breaking point and ALL Americans needed to face the reality of higher taxes. (Gasp). Then came the moment of epiphany when I knew in my heart what he said was completely true...Mr. Stockman pointed out our government spending has reached 24 percent of our national GDP. I went immediately to my computer to confirm that number. But not true! Sources I found put it at 43 percent when you factor in the deficit! We've not seen 24 percent since 1951...but how? Why?

There have been spikes in the ratio in the past 110 years during times of global conflict, and that's to be expected. But since 1974, the percent has never fallen below 30 percent again and has steadily increased to present day dipping only during the Clinton years. Sorry folks, you can't deny the facts. That one hurts me too. Democrats and Republicans have controlled both the executive and legislative branches of government during this unprecedented era in U.S. history. Just as we watched the mortgage market bloat and overfill to a final pop that left most of the world in financial shambles, Americans are watching our government grow to a similar point of exploding and then insolvency.

It can't be ignored and won't go away.

So where do we cut? Who pays the bill?

I like to consider myself a modestly intelligent man...at least intelligent enough to know hard decisions are upon our country, and any politician who campaigns on promises of lower taxes and less government spending is either negligently naive or boldly full of bull crap. Neither reason deserves a vote.

If we, as Americans, continue to stick our heads in the sand and let our government spend uncontrollably, mortgaging the future of our children, the pop will be a lot more painful for everyone than the sting of a few less entitlements or a little higher tax bill. Haven't we learned a thing the past few years?

Somebody has to pay for the irresponsible behavior we've allowed to happen on our watch. The sooner we realize and accept that responsibility, the less painful the fix will be. We just can't afford the shenanigans of either party anymore. Something to think about not just tomorrow, but each and every time you vote until we get government spending back under control.