Friday, January 20, 2012

Surprise Ticket

This is going to be one short blog but with a big piece of news, at least for me.

I've got a ticket to the NFL's AFC Championship game this Sunday.

I feel like the boy Charlie who discovers he had a golden ticket to enter Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. Maybe even luckier. I mean, out of the all the fans here in New England, all those rabid Patriots fans, and I have snared a ticket to Patriots v. Ravens?

Holy cow!

I really had almost nothing to do with this. Somehow, magically, my friend Av knew some people who, equally amazingly, either have season tickets or know some others who do and aren't going to the game. They aren't going to the AFC Championship game. Go figure that.

And since Av somehow knows these people, he found out they had an extra ticket. He told me several days that it looked pretty good that he would be able to go.

Then, around lunchtime today, I get a text from him. It read:
"My man, it's Av. SHALOM! I'm going to the game on Sunday..."

I was happy for him. He adores the Pats.

The text continued, "and might be able to get you a ticket. Stay tuned."

Trust me, I stayed tuned.

No more than a half-hour later, Av calls me: "You want to go to the game?" he asks.
I should've said, "You want my first-born?" OK, I don't want to go that badly.

But pretty close.

So, there you have it. I will be at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Sunday afternoon, cheering lustily for the New England Patriots as they take on the hated Baltimore Ravens.

My sister, her husband, and one of their children will be sitting at home, dressed in their Ravens jerseys.

Eat your hearts out, Niccolinis!

And... GO PATS!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oopsy Order

We have a subscription to a possible pornographic web site. Let me explain how it happened.

This morning, Nathaniel was playing in his room as Michelle put our younger son, Isaiah, down for his morning snooze. When she entered Nathaniel's room, she noticed he had her phone. She asked why.

"Lamby has an owie on her bottom," Nathaniel said, pointing to the stuffed sheep's underside (stomach), which had been stained with some kind of liquid.

Michelle inspected the stain and asked again, "But why do you have my phone?"
Nathaniel answered, "I had to get it to call Doctor Tina," referring to our pediatrician, Christina Dierolf. "But she wasn't home," he added, still clutching Michelle's cell phone.

The phone suddenly beeped, indicating an incoming text. Michelle took a look.
The message read: "Thank you for subscribing to Sprint's 'Babes Unlimited.'"

Frantically, Michelle sought to figure out what had happened, and, instead, navigated her way to the site's first offering, a picture of a provocatively posed woman.

I swear I did not put Nathaniel up to this.

Michelle called me in a panic, asking me to call Sprint and cancel the subscription. I've got to say I was a little stunned when she told me we had just begun a subscription to scantily (if at all) clad women.

Sheepishly, I made the call. You bet I made great pains to blame it on our three-year-old son.

Let's hope this is not a pattern!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seven Years

New Year's Eve is a special time for many people. A time to close the books on the year that was (for better or worse) and throw open arms to the year that will be, hopes and dreams attendant.

For Michelle and I, New Year's Eve is also our wedding anniversary. On New Year's Eve 2004, we got married in Iowa, so it's now been seven years of matrimony. Lots of ups, a few downs, lots of joy, some tension (hello, children!), many laughs, a few tears. A wonderful voyage so far. I know this is simplistic, but I've always likened marriage to rowing a boat. You get where you want to go if you are rowing in unison. Or, you don't, and you remain mired in the same place. For most of these seven years, Michelle and I have rowed synchronously and harmoniously. I feel blessed that we are on the same page on most matters and share the same values, especially the core ones. Like others, we don't agree on everything (cleanliness, the NFL and timeliness with performing chores come immediately to mind), but we are of one mind on the things that matter most. And if we do disagree, we talk about it. Most of the time.

We sing from the same script with our children, which is vital, for obvious reasons. Uniform, consistent rules and behavior in parenting is essential to raising children who are loving, kind, giving and respectful. We try hard to be fair and balanced with our boys and to instill in them the values we think are essential for them to one day be happy, adjusted, productive and successful. At least we hope we know what we're doing.

I remember the first time I met Michelle. Actually, it was the first time I saw her. I was working at a daily newspaper in Ames, Iowa, and I had walked into the newsroom on a Saturday morning. Usually, no one is there, and I had gone in only to nab a copy of that day's paper. Instead, the general manager had someone in his office, seated, with her back to the newsroom. All I could see was this long, gorgeous red hair. Boy, did I love that hair, for the fleeting moment that I saw it.

And that was that. Or, so I thought.

Maybe a week later, the woman with the flowing red hair appeared in our newsroom, and from there, haltingly, a relationship was born. A relationship greased by nights out with newsroom friends, visits to a honky tonk-like spot with odd characters crooning country tunes and watching Iowa State games (her alma mater) in person or on TV. This was October 2000 and by the time January rolled around, I was out of there, on to the Associated Press bureau in Rhode Island. It seemed like this little romance would end there.

And then a funny thing happened. We spoke almost every night on the telephone (no cell phones yet, folks). We didn't agree to do anything of the sort when we departed. It just happened. And those chats were easy, unforced, unhurried, seamless. We visited each other about every five weeks. And our relationship, which seemed as if it would be dashed against the rocks of distance, flourished.

In June 2002, Michelle, her brother, Matt, and I drove from Iowa to Rhode Island. Michelle was moving to New England, to join me. It was major leap for her, leaving the only state she had called home, leaving her family, leaving her friends, to be with me. I'm pretty sure I didn't fully appreciate the magnitude of her decision, not how hard it must have been to decide. But I'm glad she did it!

In the spring of 2004, I proposed to her. You can read that story here (the byline is wrong, by the way). And by the end of the year, we were married.

And now it's been seven years. Wow. Two children. A home. A family. An interconnected life. A marriage. A future together.