Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Awesome!

Columbus Circle is one of my favorite places in the city.  This doesn't mean that I am some die-hard Italian or ignorant to the abuses that still continue in our post-colonial world.  It is just a great place to sit and watch the city go by.

We have been there a lot.

Summer 2010

Summer 2010

Summer 2011

Summer 2011

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

When people ask me where they should go, I always say to just head to Columbus Circle.  You have access to Central Park, Times Square, Lincoln Center, and 5th Avenue within easy reach.  There are plenty of benched to sit on with a great fountain circling the monument.

Yesterday we experienced Columbus Circle in an entirely new way-- in Christoper's living room.  





This art exhibit is one of the best things that I have done since being in the city.  We were only there for about 15 minutes, but it was incredible!  After climbing the scaffolding we entered into a room that was built around the 19th century statue.  Everything from the carpet to the wallpaper was intended to capture the iconic nature of NYC living and the fantastic world we are fortunate to live in.

I had a great time, and this visit was another great reminder of why I love living in this city.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Time Flies

video

It has been said that time flies when you are having fun, but it also flies when you are crazy in love.

It has been over one year since Kim quit her job, said goodbye to family and friends, sold off most of her belongings, and relocated to NYC from her happy life in SLC just to be close to her boys.  It has been a rough year; between drama with the other mother,  stressful jobs, cancer, school, and semi social isolation, we have had some tough days.  However, it has been a very happy year; with unlimited cuddle time, marriage, family adventures, and making new friends, this has been one of the best years of my life.

I am in love, and it just keeps getting stronger by the minute.

Thank you, Kim for making our house a home, for keeping your boys loved, and for making this grumpy old man smile again.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening

I had an interesting night with my family yesterday.

We had decided to surprise Kim at work and took the train to see her in action.  While we were on the train Gabriel looked up at me and asked: "Daddy, why did you have tantrums with my mommy?"

I didn't see that one coming.

We got off the train and as we were walking I asked him where he learned about my "tantrums."  He said that his mom told him.  I asked what else she told him, and he had several more things to say.  I asked him how he felt when he heard about what happened, and he said it made him sad.

It made me sad too.

My marriage with Gabe's mom was not easy, nor was I a perfect husband.  Gabe's mom has valid reasons to not like me.  I will not dispute them.  I have spent too much time in therapy coming to understand the difference between guilt and regret, and when the time is right I will talk with him about the whole truth.  He deserves to know the mistakes that both of us made, but he also deserves to be a kid.  We divorced to create new, happier lives separately, not to relive past memories of sadness. I like to remind him how lucky he is to have two dads and two moms that love him so much, so why focus on the things I can't control?

Gabriel is forced to never forget a past that he cannot remember.

I put him on my shoulders and I promised him that when he was ready we would talk about what happened. Right now he doesn't have the right vocabulary to grasp the truth, and he will know the truth eventually

Don't worry, there were some funny parts to our evening too!

We made it to Kim's work, and Gabe saw Kim from the sidewalk and started pounding on her window.  While she finished up her day, we went to the park across the street to play.  When it was too dark to play any longer, we started walking to the bus station.  My phone started ringing, and it was Gabe's mom.  I asked him if he wanted to talk and he said no. I let the call go to voicemail.  In our most recent custody arrangement it states that both parents but make "best efforts" for phone contact every 48 hours.  As he was not even close to the 48 hour mark, I decided to not press the issue.  (Lately Gabriel's mom has sent me some emails claiming that I have denied Gabriel access to call her.  Through a series of electronic communications I repeated my stance that I would not force him to talk if he didn't want to.  When we get close to the time limit, I tell him that the judge wants him to call his mom, and he does.)

I asked him a couple more times if he wanted to call his mom, and suddenly he remembered something and wanted to call her.  This is a great relief to me because the more he talks to her, the less I have to.  They chatted for a few minutes, and at the conclusion of his call he asked her: "I get a treat, right?"

Aha!!!

I couldn't figure out why he decided to cooperate so quickly, and then all the pieces came together.  After he hung up he told us that he gets treats if he calls his mom.  We just started laughing and told him that was nice.  That kid cracks me up.  He sees every opportunity as a negotiation, and he has no problem asking for a little extra.

We came home, bathed, read stories, cuddled, and had family prayer.  Gabe said that he was grateful for the "good love" that was in our family.  You know what?  So am I.  There is a good love in this family, and it gets better every day.

Some things make me sad, but they always seem to be overpowered by the things that make me happy, and my family always makes me happy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who doesn't love a barefoot boy?

One of the best parts of leaving the city is getting back to the basics of life.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random Reflections


  • Utah is a great place to visit.
  • My family may have drama, but I still love them.
  • Humor can push out sadness.
  • Del Taco is AWESOME!
  • Never miss an opportunity to make a memory.
  • I like seeing my wife everyday.
  • Kids are silly, and acting like a kid is refreshing.
  • Tillamook ice cream makes me happy.
  • My sister  has a super-fun dog.
  • I like living in NYC.
  • My wife is adorable.
  • It is worth the extra money to get the extra legroom.
  • Don't run out on a conversation, even late at night.
  • Don't wear red around sports fanatics.
  • Always mention that the blue I'm wearing  is "Columbia Blue."
  • Forgive everyone.
  • Funeral potatoes can make a stomach smile.
  • Don't travel without my wife.
  • Schoolwork can wait.
  • Always order a few extra tacos.
  • Rizzo the Polar Bear rocks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I guess that makes me Little Archie...

I come from a long line of Archies.  We don't follow the number system, and we have different middle names.  From Archibald Gardner to Archibald Egbert, there have been six of us passing the name on down.

At times it can get a little confusing when there are multiple Archies in the same location.  This is solved by a small tweak.  For a number of years my grandfather went by Arch, my father went by Archie, and I was called (and am still called) Archie Baby.  This was a good system.

If there was a call for "Archie" in our family home, we would simply ask "Big or Little?".  As I grew larger than my dad I was still the "Little" just to keep with the convention of age.  I didn't mind because I knew there would be a day when I would be the "Big Archie" and then I would be cool.

When I had my first son, it was important that I pass on the family name.  I did.  This equated to four Archies living within 1 mile of each other.  I didn't (and still don't) care what name he chooses to go by.  In fact, for the first year, I rarely called him by the same name more than twice in a row.  Eventually it just felt natural to call him Gabriel, and I added that to the rotation.


Now my little son has decided to start using Archie a bit more frequently.  I think that it is really cute.  People church or at the park will start talking to me about "Archie" and it takes me a few seconds to realize they are talking about my son.  I always ask them "did he tell you his name was Archie?" and they always reply in the affirmative.  The other day, Kim went to Gabe's school to get some information about his pre-k program.  When she told the office that she was Gabriel's step-mom, they just said "Oh, you mean Little Archie!".  I guess that the little one has decided that he likes "Archie" as a name.

I don't know how long he plans to use the name, and when I asked him about it the other night, he didn't have a solid response.  When I asked him if he wanted me to call him Little Archie, he said that he preferred to be called Big Archie.  He reminded me later that night in the middle of family prayer with a gentle tap on my shoulder and a whisper in my ear of "Big Archie" after I said how much we loved Gabriel.

This morning as he crawled in my bed for one last snuggle I told him how my family calls me Archie Baby, and he just laughed at the very thought of me as a baby.  He told me that I would be "Little Archie" and he would be "Big Archie."

The moral of the story: just call me Little Archie aka Archie Baby.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Lower Lights

There is a great Christian hymn written in the late 19th century entitled "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."  I've included an audio portion below.   


The beacon from a lighthouse is not enough to guide a ship into harbor--we need more lights.  We are those lower lights.  We bring people home in reaching out and showing that we care.

This morning, one of those lights went out.

Gilbert Sims Capson, my grandpa, passed away after a lifetime of bringing ships home.  His light burned bright--brighter than any other I have seen.  He would be the first to deny any such accolades, but that is because he did not help others to gain recognition; he helped because he loved.  He knew what it meant to worry about paying bills, feeding children, and fixing a house, and he wanted to ease the burden of those who struggled.

I will miss him, yet I still feel a close connection.  I will remember him whenever I stop at a 7-11 to get a couple of sodas.  I will remember him when I see piles of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and apples. I will remember him when I pile my kids in the car and go for a long drive in the countryside.  

I will remember him by giving service.  


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Ambush!

A couple weeks ago, we bought Gabe a bow and arrow.  It is awesome.  It more like a slingshot, but the great thing about this toy is that he can't launch it hard enough to do any damage.  As we all know that my son is the greatest superhero of all time, this was the perfect accessory.  


It was too perfect.  It is so much fun to shoot the walls and other family members that we decided that one wasn't enough.



Then Kim and I decided that it wasn't enough to just have more weapons, we needed to plan an ambush against the world's strongest 4 year old.


Our plan was to catch him in the middle!  When Kim came home from work, she retrieved the bow I hid for her near the front door.  While Gabe went to say hello, I got my bow from under a pile of clothes in the bedroom.  

He was trapped!


Mission Accomplished!  



Friday, September 07, 2012

What I Can't Tell You...

Baby momma drama.

I believe that is the proper name for what I deal with.  For a long time I have kept my issues and frustrations with Gabe's mom secret.  As I wrote about in a previous post, she is his mother, and I don't want him to be in a position where he has to feel defensive about her.  I am a child of divorced parents and still don't like hearing anything negative about either one of them--from anyone.  So it has been my resolve to keep all my issues with her a secret from my family and friends, but this secrecy is difficult to keep especially when the stress starts to climb.

In keeping a secret, I lose my voice.

I want to be honest about what I experience because it seems a bit absurd to lie on a blog, but I don't want my extended family and friends to have any resentful feelings towards Gabe's mom.  I could keep an anonymous blog or make this one private, but I do not hide.  I am left with asking the people who read this to be respectful and understanding.  There is always more than one side to a story, and while I may attempt to be unbiased in my writing, it is an impossible undertaking.

The drama has always been there.  I made mistakes from the beginning.  Eventually the bad times were more frequent than the good times, and the end was inevitable.  Divorce does not mean failure.  I learned a lot from my times with her, but I am glad those days are behind me.  I am grateful that she pulled the plug.  I am a stubborn man and would have endured many more tough years, but now we are both in better relationships with fantastic spouses, and we have a great kid.

Gabe's mom recently remarried, and I am very happy for them.  Gabe's new dad is really cool, and there is so much that he will be able to teach him that I never could.  There are times when my son likes to test the waters here in this house and complain about his other family, and I just remind him that he is very lucky to have two moms and two dads that love him and want him to be happy.  He seems to like this idea, and I think that he will soon learn how awesome it is to have multiple birthday parties and Christmas celebrations.

My happiness for his mom doesn't mean that my relationship with my her is a good one.  I have heard through the grapevine about her angry facebook rants, and she isn't shy in pointing out my failures as a father.  Despite all of that, I can't say that I am angry at her.  Sometimes I want to be angry like when she did everything possible to take away my extra days with my son over the Summer.  It was after my second surgery, and I was keeping Gabe home from his preschool (although it would be a stretch to call it preschool) so we could spend time together.  I wanted time with my son, and she was worried about his academics.  She could also argue that it is important to have a routine for Gabe that involved less dad and more school, but I wasn't in danger of dying, and days home from school will be a rarity once he starts a real program.  However, she not only limited my time with him to three days every other week, she filed a motion in court demanding that my time be further restricted.  I was fortunate to have a wise judge who asked that we work out a better deal, and we did (well it was a better deal for me, but not for her as now we have an equitable amount of time with our son).  But even through all of this drama, I do not resent her.

Most days I feel sorry for her.

I can't imagine the level of her frustration that would make her want to take me to court.  Even with my limited time with Gabriel, the thought of going to court never occurred to me as I barely have enough money to take the subway to get there, let alone the money for an attorney.  I feel bad that her evening phone calls with Gabe are more like interrogations than pillow talk.  I feel bad that Gabriel is starting to ask me direct questions about his mom that I will eventually have to answer.

But then I remind myself that there is much in life that I cannot control.  I cannot dictate what my son will experience when I am not around, nor would I want to.  I am excited to watch him grow and learn from his loving parents.  I am excited to build a loving home that he can always return to for hugs, kisses, food, friendship, love, and acceptance.  I am thrilled to be in a healthy, loving relationship with my wonderfully, most awesomest, stupendously fantastical wife.

There was a time when the dark night of gloom seemed to never end, but now I am happy.

Genuinely happy.

I don't expect the baby momma drama to end anytime soon, but I already feel better knowing that I won't have to hide it any longer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Busy Day

This is Central Park:
This was our path through the jungle.  We had a fabulous adventure meandering the middle of Manhattan.

1: Columbus Circle
One of my favorite places to chill in the city and enjoy a Jamba juice.

2: Hecksher Playground
Gabe jumped the fence and ran straight to the tire swing.  

I'm certain he was running away from Kim in this one.

We like cute, cheesy pictures together.

3: The Carousal
For only $2.50, this is one of the best deals in Manhattan.

4: The Mall
I love this place, and I never come here enough.



The benefit of being small, you can fit inside a bubble.


I love Bethesda fountain, and I really wanted to rent a boat on the lake, but that was out of our budget... maybe next time.

Kim was happy to see the sweaty men dancing and flipping.

5: The Obelisk 
Another favorite!  I remember reading about this in the sixth grade and how the acid rain has destroyed parts of the face.  I was scared of rain for years.


This is us being cool

6: The Reservoir
Scary faces

It started raining on the walk, but we were prepared.

7: Bridge #23
He is just so cute!

8: Tarr Family Playground:
This one is at 110th street and Central Park West.

Can you tell he had fun?

These two are hard to drag away from any playground.

All in all, it was a very good day.  We are tired from the walking, but the jalapeno pickles we bought at the Farmer's Market gave us enough kick to walk the final blocks home.

Central Park: Part One

Monday, July 23, 2012

Friday, July 06, 2012

Summer Lovin'


Have you ever had a perfect date?  

I have. 

It started with a pretty girl and a train ride to Coney Island.  We added some fresh italian ices, bacon cheese fries from Nathan's, a stroll along the boardwalk, kissing on the pier, some pictures in a photobooth, and a whole lot of laughing.  I wouldn't have changed a thing, and I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Grandpa's Chickens

My grandpa has a lot of sayings (I think that is a prerequisite to becoming a grandfather).  One of my favorites is "I never plan a menu.  I let the stores tell me what I am going to cook.  When they have a sale, I buy the food and that's what we eat."  I might be a little off in the wording but I know I caught the meaning.

He loves to buy food in bulk.  Not as in "I bought 200 hotdogs from Costco" bulk, but when a store--any store within 50 miles-- advertised a great sale price on frozen chickens, he would buy all of them.  20 frozen chickens.  If there was a limit to how many a person could buy, my grandma would stand in line behind him, and they would both buy the maximum limit, and then they would do it again until they had a carload of frozen chickens.

These chickens were put to use right away.  Many families would receive a frozen chicken straight from grandpa's freezer.  If we went for a visit after a recent conquest, he would order me to the freezer to grab a bird to take home.  Many more families received a cooked chicken on a Sunday evening.  Grandpa learned that if he stood the chickens straight up while cooking rather than have them lie flat, he could fit more in his oven.  He would cook several chickens each week, chop them up, wrap them in foil, and deliver them to anyone he felt might need a little extra food.

No one has to ask for food, he just helps.

His service extends beyond the chickens.  Grandpa learned that, when properly planted, tomato plants produce a lot of tomatoes.  He tore up half of his backyard and planted a whole mess of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and any other plants he found on sale.  I lost track of how many times I came home from work to find a tray of vegetables sitting on my porch.  His yearly crops easily reach hundreds of families every year.

No one asked him to plant, he just does.

This reminds me of another saying he has.  While serving an inner-city mission for the church, members of the ward in which he served asked him if he had been a Bishop or Stake President in his previous callings.  My grandpa always replied "I have the best calling in the church, I am a Home Teacher."  The members would chuckle and tell him that everyone is a Home Teacher, but he would add "Yes, but I actually do my home teaching."  In the Mormon church, most every adult is given the responsibility to visit and teach other members of the ward at least once a month, and many members, including myself at times, are lackadaisical in this assignment.  But not grandpa.  In fact, once a month is not nearly enough, and he makes several visits to ensure that all in his care are sound.

Grandpa doesn't care about accolades, payments, or titles.  He cares about people.  It may be hard to see that love through his gruff exterior, but  I have seen it through the food he delivers.

Some people can fake being nice, some people can fake piety, but no one can fake service.  You either do or don't, and Grandpa does.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Snacks

Gabe insisted that I pick him up from his school at lunch today, so I did.  We rode the bus to Morningside Park where we quickly discovered that it was too hot play and decided to go get a soda and find some shade instead.

Our snack consisted of orange soda (because he wanted us to have the same kind) peanut butter M&M's for me and Reese's Pieces for him (because that is what ET likes).  We dined under the shady trees on Columbia campus.  

It is going to be a very good weekend.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Table Has Turned

My grandpa is sick.

It is not my place, nor is this an appropriate forum for me to talk about his medical diagnosis, but this blog is where I can share my thoughts about him, about life, and about the frustration of being so far away from someone I really care about.

That last part--the part about being far away from a loved one--didn't make a lot of sense to me the last few months.  When my medical issues started and I later received the dreaded cancer diagnosis, I was inundated with calls from family expressing their concern.  To be honest, I didn't want all the phone calls.  There wasn't anything that they could do to help me, and I didn't want to tell the same story twenty times a day.  I couldn't understand why, at a very stressful moment in my life, people kept calling me!  I had enough problems to deal with that I couldn't take conversations about other people's feelings any longer.

But now I understand.

I understand the helpless feeling that nags at me while I am enjoying my recovery here in NYC while my grandpa is in the middle of some really tough treatments.  I understand the frightening reality that I might not make it back to Utah in time to see him again.  I understand that when someone you love is sick, you want to be by their side.

Grandpa would be the first to say it, and I will certainly echo it, that he is not a perfect man.  I have no doubt that his pragmatic personality is quite matter-of-fact about his condition.  However, that doesn't stop me from caring, so I will do for him what others did best for me.  I will talk about the good times I had with him. When I was at my lowest point, the happy stories friends told me about their experiences with me made all the difference.  I didn't need to hear how sad people were for me, I needed to hear how happy people were that I was in their lives.

I don't know where to begin.  I could start at the beginning and talk about my earliest memory of him where he would take a towel in both hands and have me sit on it like a swing.  He would then lumber around the house swaying the towel side to side while singing a song about an elephant.  It seemed to me at the time that my grandpa was so strong for being so old.  In retrospect, he could have only been in his late forties at the time and not so old at all.

I could start at the most lasting memory of his continual service to friends and family.  Working side by side to take the day-old breads from a grocery store to a low-income neighborhood on Sunday mornings was a special treat to me.

Ultimately, I will share the stories as I feel the need to.  I know that the old man wouldn't want any extra attention, but that won't stop me from doing it because as his grandson, a little bit of that stubborn love has worked its way into my heart, and I love my grandpa.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

*There is a gross picture at the end of this post; you have been warned.*

I have been home from the hospital for almost three weeks, and it has been an interesting respite.  

The Good:
  • I am allowed to stay in bed all day and watch TV.  
  • The semester is over, and there isn't any homework for me to do or papers to finish.
  • By not working I am able to spend a lot of time with my son, and we are enjoying this time to relax.
  • The results of the Lymph Node Dissection were fantastic!  All lymph nodes were cancer-free, so I do not need any chemotherapy at this time.  I will still have a number of blood tests and CT scans over the next few years to make sure that the cancer stays away, but this is really great news.  I can focus on recovery and getting back to work sooner.
The Bad:
  • I am close to getting cabin fever.  I occasionally get out for walks, but after a few days of being trapped inside, it can be scary to venture out into the Upper West Side.
  • I hate sleeping on my back--a lot.  I am now to the point where I can spend about 2 hours on my side, but then it hurts too much.
  • There is still a lot of pain, but it was a big surgery, so I am happy to have less pain today than yesterday.
The Ugly:
  • You might not want to see this, but I am going to share it.  This is part of my incision.  The surgeon opened up parts of it to allow fluids to drain.  It is gross, but I am used to it, and it is going to leave a really cool scar.


*I told you it was a nasty picture.*

Monday, May 07, 2012

Adventures in the Upper West Side

We had Gabriel for another weekend, and since this was my last chance to get out and play before the surgery, we decided to have another adventure.  Kim has a great set of cards that show places in the city that are perfect for kids to explore.  Our first trip was to the hippopotamus playground.  We took the scenic route down Riverside Park as we live so close to it.

Gabe stopped at every playground on the way there to show off his cool playground skills.

We found some dinosaurs.

They were pretty cool.

Kim and Gabe chased each other for awhile.

I took a lot of pictures of my pretty wife.

Yes, my son likes to walk like this, and I love it.  He has style!

We stopped at the Soldiers and Sailors monument. (It is really big, so google it if you want to see the rest of it)

We took some cheesy shots.

We took some warm and fuzzy shots.

Gabe took 15 shots of me walking to the camera. (Trust me, there were a lot of them)

We found the Hippo Playground!

There were baby hippos too.

Kim and Gabe found several ways to be goofy.

There was room for a child to climb inside, but Gabriel was no fool.

We also had some pleasant conversations.  Who knew hippos were so comfortable?

It was a great weekend, and I am truly blessed to have such an amazing family.