Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anyone else feel old?

Don't worry, this is NOT a "I'm-nearing-30-now-my-life-is-practically-over" post. I've just taken a second to look around lately, and, according to my 17 year old self, I'm getting pretty dang old!

Exhibit A: I'll be 29 later this year and I have a wife and child and career; that means I'm getting old...slowly gaining speed like a sled at the top of a hill in the winter time ( of the hill? Like the hill you are over when you're old? and what does it mean that I used winter? like the winter of my life? Oh man...). When you get to be 28 or 29, it's harder to remember your age. Why does it matter? You're out of milestones really: 5, 8, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 21. After that your milestones are really on the 10's and you begin thinking of marriage milestones instead. I can't even remember how old I am half the time. I have to calculate my age every time someone asks me because it doesn't really matter to me anymore. 25, 27, 28...were they really any different?

Exhibit B: As a sports fan, I usually associate certain players with past eras or decades. Players like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson were all historic figures and in the Hall of Fame long before I was born. I learned about their careers through stats, books and documentaries, like I would WWII or the invention of the wheel. I've noticed in the last couple of years, that I have witnessed BOTH ends of a few Hall of Fame careers! I remember when Shaq was drafted. I remember Ken Griffey Jr's rookie year. Between my first little league game and the time G is velcro-ing on his first pair of cleats, Major League Baseball will have had 100% turnover! G will be asking for stories of Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, and why Barry Bonds' head was so big. Scary.

Exhibit C: I can feel myself starting to really prepare for fatherhood. I'm looking ahead to when G starts asking for explanations; the 'how' and 'why,' deep questions. Things like "Dad, how do you really tell when buttermilk goes bad?' or 'Where did doughnuts get their name, Dad? They're made out of dough, sure, but they don't look like nuts.' I need to be prepared for that kind of stuff! Currently, I have absolutely no idea how to answer, and the fact that I even have to worry about it makes me feel a little old.

When I really think about it, there's really nothing that bad about getting old though. The shape of my torso will slowly shift in appearance from apple to pear, and someday G will outrun me. My future mustache (right babe?) will slowly lose its color. My car will get bigger. But in the end, at least I'll have someone wonderful to share it with and my food at Denny's will be cheaper! Being old won't be so bad.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Embracing the Dadness

Well, a cute pregnancy produced a very cute baby boy one month ago. Gideon Robert McMillan was born on Cinco de Mayo, 2011. This morning, with the help of a 60min "sounds of waterfall" video (thanks, YouTube), as I try to rock him back to sleep through his grunting around the corner from our room so Hannah can try to string together a few extra minutes of sleep, I thought I'd take a look back at my first month of being a father.

My last moments as an expectant father were a bit of a blur, with thoughts like "Don't you DARE make a contraction joke! You'll never live it down" and, an hour and a half into pushing, "Man up Neal! I'm pretty sure the rule book says man-crying is only allowed AFTER the baby is born, not because YOU can barely stand HER pain anymore. Hold it together if it kills you!"

First moments as a father? I think it was something like "OB said one more push. I really hope...WOOOOAAAHHHH! How in the world!?!?" Followed by the most amazingly sweet feeling I've felt in my entire life. The birth of a child slings parents (most notably the mother) from one extreme emotion to the other, and just as suddenly as he appears, he is the most important priority in your life. After my wife, of course, because the next feeling was...ok, we all know what Hannah has done for this family ...Neal? Anything? Just stood there? Hm.

I'd say we did all the important things in the hospital: cut the cord, nursed him, had skin to skin time, ate popsicles, avoided changing diapers, and sang happy birthday of course! I truly felt like a changed man on the way home too; I drove at or below the speed limit, found myself with both hands on the wheel, felt like yelling at anyone within 100 ft of our car, and took corners like I was trying to balance a glass of water on the dash.

We were very blessed to have Hannah's mom helping us for well over a week. It was sad to see her go...and not because she did the dishes, cooked amazing meals every day, and stayed up with G in the night, though those were incredible features of her visit...She is great company and gave us some needed assurance that we are going to do just fine. G really looked up to her...maybe just at her.
(I should note that Hannah's sister, Cali, has also been very helpful, as well as the several members of our church dropping off meals) I've been off on parental leave for about 10 days now too which has been amazing. I've never taken a vacation quite like it. Time flies by.

In short, I love being a Dad. It presents a new phase of life, to be sure. For instance, I have never been so concerned with (or keenly aware of, thankfully) another human's bowel movements or urination range. G is such a blessing though! I think what has impressed and surprised me most is the miraculous bestowal of the capacity to love a child, which I believe is and will continually grow equal to the task of raising him. Hannah and I are amazed at how much time we could spend just looking at him sleep, stretch, squirm, hiccup, toot, grunt, furrow his brow, and move his arms aimlessly. I don't know how we'll get anything done when voluntary smiling makes its way onto that list.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pregnancy is Pretty Cute

My wife is confident in herself. She doesn't obsess over weight; just wants to be healthy. She knows she's beautiful and amazing, and I'm quite glad to have married someone with a positive self-image. Pregnancy seems to frustrate women, not just because of the sometimes immediate and always growing discomfort and/or sickness, but because it re-shapes their bodies in a way they cannot control. I would say I understand, but of course I don't (as I am frequently reminded).

Pain, vomit, rib-kicking, bladder-squeezing and sleeplessness aside, I hope pregnant women know that they are pretty darn cute! I give you the following five proofs in no particular order:

5. A Gentle Snore - In a dream last week, I was on a covert mission at night, deep in the woods. Just outside the facility I was to enter for some dangerous, manly reason, I was waiting behind a tree. As I was scoping things out, I heard the growl of a dog behind me, slow and methodic. When I decided to make a run for it I woke up....The "growl" was coming from Hannah, gently snoring. I don't remember her snoring at all before pregnancy, and it's really cute. Plus, it means she's actually sleeping, which makes me happy.

4. The Pickup - I think it's fair to say that women start losing some agility as pregnancy wears on. I say 'some' because Hannah still takes daily walks, my mother-in-law ran 6mi pretty late into her first pregnancy, and I helped my mother move a piano across the room at -1 month. But I digress...Once a woman is up to 7 and 8 months, she can't just bend over and grab her shoe off the floor. Bending over requires careful balance as she must take into account a new center of gravity. Hannah looks very adorable when she has to squat and gently lean to pick something up. I help when I can though...for the record (though Hannah just said that might be a little generous. What can I say? It's just too cute not to watch sometimes! :)

3. The Bump - The baby bump is a status symbol. So many are aware of the difficulty of lugging that bump around that it demands an air of respect. Crowds part, parents smile, kids ask questions, and the father is proud, grateful. It's sad to hear a pregnant woman say she's 'gigantic' or 'huge' as if she had let herself gain 20lbs because, as my brother-in-law pointed out, she's really just 'great.'

2. Little Helplessnesses - I admit, I was a little on the 'what the?' side when Hannah first asked me to remove her socks. When I looked at her for confirmation that she had really just requested such a thing, and saw her sad little face, I had to chuckle a little.

1. 'Ma'am, your shirt is moving' - For Hannah it is pretty common place, and she often responds with a seemingly random "Hi baby! What's up?" to which I sometimes stupidely reply "huh?" Baby movements have been happening for 20 weeks now, but I'm still pretty excited every time I get to feel one. I love seeing Hannah push a knee or bum away from her ribs while reading, or seeing her belly lurch when our little dude has the hiccups.

Yeah, seeing Hannah pregnant has made me love her even more. Hopefully she thinks it's worth doing a few more times!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Car stupid

I have a 2000 Mazda Protege. It's about 85 in car years and has had several surgeries in its later years. I know about as much about fixing cars as I do about fixing the Hubble. That's why I call my buddy whenever there is something wrong with it, stand there while he works, and give him a nice "tip," as he calls it, when he's done.

When I watch him, I think..."it's not that complicated really. I've replaced a headlight by myself, not to mention filling up the tires and installing new windshield wipers. This is about the same, only with a socket wrench." Watching him fix my breaks, install an EGR valve, remove the entire manifold assembly chassis something-or-other with relative ease makes me feel like I could do it with some coaching.

Most recently, however, he changed my spark plugs, each of which is encased in a rubber tube with a metal coil deep inside of it. As he was switching them out and I stood by, dutifully watching and making sporadic conversation, he noticed one of those coils was broken and therefore not as long as the other spark plugs' coils. "It probably won't matter, but it might after awhile. Here's what you do," he said, "you just need to wad up a paper clip and push it down in there if the engine starts giving you trouble."

I looked at him blankly, trying to imagine myself loosening bolts with my little wrench and/or pliers..."So I just need to...ok" I said, nodding, acting like I was figuring it out in my head. A moment or two of worried silence passed. It won't be too hard. I had seen him take them out a couple of times now, and I saw the coil.

Then he said, "Should we see if it will be alright like it is now?"

I thanked whatever car gods may be. He removed the plug and "we" made sure the current would flow uninterrupted to light a spark. Only afterward did I realize how relieved I was. I felt a little ashamed, to be honest, at my total ineptness.

Maybe I should have welcomed the challenge. Maybe I would have done just fine...Or maybe I'm just car stupid.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inception: Remembered

Last night I completed a second viewing of Inception (in two parts to extend the awesomeness...and because all weeknight viewings accompanied by 7.5 months of pregnancy have a hard stop of about you babe!). While the novelty wore off a smigeon, and the complexity seemed a bit more contrived, I still loved it. It was still gripping, and I had a new appreciation for diCaprio's performance. It got me thinking, where does Inception rate in my movie-watching history?

These are my top 5 movie theater experiences:

5. Batman Begins (2005) - As we all know, Batman is the coolest superhero, so when it's done well, it's AWESOME! After Tim Burton's version, all Batman-related movies might as well been directed by Lady GaGa, so while Begins didn't have the comic-booky feel that made Burton's Batman so great, this was so new and refreshing for a Batman movie it didn't matter. I was so pleasantly surprised with Christian Bale, villains were creepy. It is the best Batman I have ever seen.

4. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - The anticipation is partly what made this so good. I remember how excited I was just from watching the trailers. Watching this in the theater I kept thinking, 'this is almost EXACTLY how I pictured this.' I could have watched another 2 hours of it.

3. Jurassic Park (1993) - My 11 yr old eyes had never seen special effects quite like it. Even watching it today, it's pretty impressive. Again, the anticipation factor with this movie was high, especially since I had to wait for my parents to decide whether it would be suitable for children under 13. Aside from the effects, there were 3 really memorable characters (Samuel L, Goldblum, dude-who-played-Nedry) and a lot of funny lines still heavily quoted in McMillan conversations...."Hold on to your butts....."

2. Star Wars: Episode I (1999) - I mention Episode I with some trepidation, for fear of losing credibility in my movie-buffness. I take this experience on the whole, before thinking too hard about JarJar or Samuel L Jedi: a) I was seeing Star Wars in a theater, which was a pretty legendary event for my parents' generation who was there at its inception, and now I got to be there for the next installment of Star Wars; and b) tell me the pod racing and the Darth Maul fight at the end didn't blow you away and have you leaving the theater saying "woah!" And while you think about that, think about this - when you first saw Episode I, you hadn't seen the next two yet. You didn't know. But I digress...on to my favorite.

1. INCEPTION (2010) - Who can say if it's because it is so fresh in my mind, but I honestly can't remember being so excited after the movie was over. It was like eating dessert for 148min and feeling GREAT! There are a few things outside the awesomeness of the film that made it especially good: a) I was on vacation with Hannah by VA Beach; b) I actually wasn't anticipating greatness. It looked like it could be cool, but so did a series of other movies I'd seen that summer (like The Lightning Thief); c) we only paid $6 in Chesapeake, VA.

So there you have it. In case you were wondering, Avatar was a close 103rd

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Et tu, BYU?

My faithful readers (of which there are MANY) will remember my previous blasting of the University of Utah for leaving the Mountain West conference for the PAC-10. I thought it was a selfish move. The PAC-10 gives them a share of a nice multi-million dollar TV deal and chance at an automatic BCS bid (also a big money-maker). The college football fan in me wanted to see if the Mountain West could become a big boy conference with TCU, BYU, UofU and Boise St. But alas, Utah had to ruin it with their greedy ways!

******** OFFICIAL APOLOGY ********
This post is my official apology to my thousands of UofU readers (whom I admire for not sending any hate mail last time). I do not apologize for hating you because you left. That sentiment still remains. I do apologize for acting like the rest of the Mountain West was above your quest for more money. BYU is not. It has followed in footsteps I never would have expected...Notre Dame!

Apparently BYU wants to be independent for football, and go back to the WAC for all other sports...much like ND and the Big East. This way, BYU won't have to share any TV-deal revenue and will potentially be BCS-eligible if they are ranked high enough. There may be other reasons I don't know about, but it seems to be a move motivated by glory; "taking its talents to South Beach" if you will. It may not even happen, but the thought alone is killing me right now.

I guess it's just football, and this will give BYU some flexibility in scheduling and, with extra football money, they can give more scholarships to other sports and university programs (and stop asking me for money every month! Just kidding...I support supporting your alma mater). But it feels a little irresponsible. I thought BYU would be a little more family-oriented. I thought it would let patience and endurance guide its conscience. I thought it would show its determination, and team with its allies to rise above the tyranny of the BCS! I wanted BYU to draw a circle around itself with chalk and say, "I will not leave this circle until the MWC is a BCS conference. No, not ever!"

Oh well...

Special thanks to Lebron James, Outkast, and Karl G Maeser for their contributions

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Metro Caste

From what I have observed in Washington DC, chivalry is in a coma. I do my best when I ride the metro, which isn't terribly often, to at least offer my seat to whatever lady shuffles her way near my seat. Sometimes it is an awkward exchange. Often the ambient noise is much louder than I anticipate and she can't hear me offer. Other times she straight-up declines, probably wanting to get her money's worth out of those Asics she has on if she's going to wear them with a skirt. Sometimes, if I don't offer my seat directly and clearly to woman, some dude will scurry over to it, avoiding eye contact with anyone, which is quite embarrassing to males everywhere.

I have gone so far as to ask a few women what they think about the issue. Honestly, the younger women don't seem to care as much. Some of the indifference, I believe, is not necessarily that they wouldn't like to be offered a seat, but because they accept things as they are: men just aren't as gentlemanly, so why worry about it. The rest I will chalk up to being a generation who doesn't need men for anything! So rot in that seat!

My inquiries have mostly been to younger women, who, again, don't seem to care. I got to thinking about this however, and ya know what? As I will prove in a moment, women under the age of 35 are pretty low on the Metro Caste anyway! For those who decide to give up your seat, I have put together a point system for any gentlemen left out there who may need a little help prioritizing...

18-35 = 2pts
36-55 = 5pts
56+ = 8pts
Note: You will of course, have to estimate. This is the one time in your life it will be smart to round up.

.5 point per inch

Purse: 0pts
Briefcase: weird
Backpack: 2pts
Carry-on: 3pts
5 pts for every large suitcase, unless she can sit on said suitcases

pregnant 0-5mo = 2pts (the only symptoms here will probably be nausea or exhaustion, which would warrant 2 pts anyway)
1 child = 6pts + 3pts each additional child (+ 5pts if crying)
pregnant 6-8mo = 8pts
pregnant 9mo = 12pts

cast/sling = 2pts
boot = 6pts
crutches (no foot/leg cast) = 8pts
crutches with leg cast = 12 pts
walker = 8pts
wheelchair = 0pts

Sister = 2pts
Mother = 1,000,000 pts
Wife = 1,000,001 pts
Wife's Mother = just get up and make your wife decide

Keep this with you at all times. Make sure to give extra priority to any senior ladies with a broken tibia in their third trimester!