Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 is going to be big.

It's this time of year when I always think of my friend Joe Smyth and New Year's Day 1997. A number of us had gone to a friend's apartment at Marist College for all the end of year parties and had gotten after it pretty hard. The following morning/afternoon we watched the bowl games while re-hydrating and trying to piece together the events of the previous night. After some extended quiet time, Joe said to no one in particular, "Well...it's 1997...I was supposed to have my shit together by now."
Ahhh, how things change.
Granted, every January 1st, I have that same thought Joey had, but these days it's more about the comic relief. I'm a dad, a husband, a teacher and a coach. I have two dogs, a house in the suburbs and a rider mower. But despite my obvious standing as a pillar in the community (editor's note: HA!), it can be difficult figuring out how, in the blink of an eye, you went from being a 21-year old nursing a wicked hangover to an adult with real world responsibilities.
Nevertheless, spending my days wondering where time went seems somewhat counterproductive. We got things to do, man! My team is taking on the three-time defending state champs on Tuesday. Emily is scheduled for her first lengthening in mid-May but is slightly more concerned with changing the outfits on her many princess dolls right now. My bulldog Moose desperately wants me to play tug-of-war with the new rope Santa brought him. And, unless, Baby Paige busts out early, we'll be inducing Kate a week from today. And what am I doing? Posting on my blog for the first time in two months. Yep. Wasn't I just saying something about counterproductivity? Is that even a word? Shut up.
So...yeah. Camp Sweatpants is just a hub of activity right now. And while I had big plans for this post to be full of witty observations, heartwarming stories and other, general end-of-the-year wisdom, all the stuff going on around me makes me feel like this will quickly spiral into just a stream of curse words. Common decency suggests we can't have that.
But before we wind this down, there are a couple things worth mentioning. Emily's friend Mariel, who is just slightly ahead of us on a similar journey, is down in West Palm Beach right now. Her blog can be found here. Check it out for a taste of what's in our future.
Since this blog is mostly about Emily, we should probably mention that this kid is funny. She's legitimately developing a sense of comedic timing. She'll randomly come up to me and innocently whisper, "Daddy?" before getting a big grin and yelling "GET TO DA CHOPPAH!" It never, ever fails to make me giggle hysterically.
That's a brief glimpse into our little world. Just know that large-type events are afoot. I'll do my very best to keep you up to date with the birth of girl #2, preparations for Emily's first lengthening and all the other things that pop up along the way. In the meantime, have a safe and restful holiday and maybe think about getting your shit together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cold weather's coming!

It's 82 in West Palm Beach today. But this is Connecticut. And this kid is prepared.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My new favorite team.

My posts today haven't been all that creative, but they have been plentiful and that should count for something considering I'm working at a diminished capacity. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm just going to post the letter I sent to the Fairfield University president and athletic director this morning.

As a middle school teacher and high school basketball coach, I’ve become familiar over the years with how quickly any perceived slight can quickly find its way to the desk of an administrator. Occasionally, good news is passed on, making everyone feel good about themselves and the job they’re doing. Having said that, I thought it necessary to write you in regards to your womens’ soccer program and coach Jim O’Brien.
Coach O’Brien and I became friends when he and I shared time in the Southern Connecticut athletic department. As time has passed, I have been fortunate to maintain this friendship.
My three-year old daughter Emily was born with a rare congenital disorder where her right femur did not fully develop in utero. Over the next 10 years, our family will need to take multiple trips to West Palm Beach, Florida where a doctor who specializes in Emily’s condition has built a limb-lengthening institute. While my wife and I are fortunate to have careers that allow us a certain amount of flexibility, the financial concerns do weigh on us.
When Coach O’Brien heard about Emily, he wanted to know how he could help. Last spring, he helped organize a fundraiser during a scrimmage at Southern where people could make donations. Most recently, he, with the help of Chris O’Connor in sports information, set up a similar fundraiser at the home game against Stony Brook. While the donations were more than generous, the bucket could have been empty and we still could not have been more excited about what took place.
An hour before kick-off, we were greeted at the gate by O’Brien and a handful of his players. Emily was led on to the field where she got to interact with the players during warm-ups. She was named an honorary captain for the game, high-fived each starting player and even got to stand on the sideline, complete with Fairfield soccer apparel, during the match. Even with a spirited three-year old in the mix during a close match, the players displayed genuine enthusiasm and patience with her every inquiry.
While Fairfield came up short that day, I can only hope the players and coaching staff take comfort in knowing how happy they made our daughter.
Your womens’ soccer program is made up of the kind of student-athletes that should make a university very proud, and it is in good hands under the direction of Jim O’Brien.
Go Stags.
Tim Tredwell

This is how far behind I was.

The wife and I just had the following the conversation...
Tim - "Did we ever post anything about Disney or any of the summer trips?"
Kate - "Uh, no."
As I looked at the picture file with over 500 shots in it, I won't say what I actually said because this is a family show, but let's just say it was a long slow exhale that rhymed with "duuuuuuuuck."
Anyway, with trips to Disney World, Sea World, West Palm Beach and the beaches of Rhode Island, there are plenty of great shots. However, with me pausing every sentence or so to try and clear the fluid in my lungs on top of already being a little loopy thanks to the various meds I'm on, I just don't have the patience to thoroughly examine each picture. So if the quality of this post isn't quite up to snuff, feel free to peruse other free blogs with cute kids. You get what you pay for around here!
Entering the Magic Kingdom. In step.
A little quality time with Tigger and Pooh.
Mommy schooling Emily about stingrays.
PFFDers will appreciate the range of motion. Crossfitters see the phenomenal depth in her squat!
Children running through an open field. It's in the dictionary under "Happiness." Look it up.
The Cousins: Allison, Caroline, Sammy, Jane and Emily.

She loves the animals.

These pictures are from a recent trip to Brooksvale park where you're free to walk around and take in the various horses, goats, rabbits and other assorted wildlife. She seems ok with it.
Look at the hands. Such a little girl.

Love this look.

Gram - "She's just such a happy kid!"
Daddy - "Yeah, not all the time."

Really??

Diagnosed with pneumonia yesterday. Pneumonia. Apparently when you have a barking, rattling cough for the better part of three weeks, you just might want to consider checking in with your doctor. At least before the fever spikes. Not that this excuses my six week blog hiatus, but just thought I would put that out there. Plus, it gives me a chance to use this picture.
Anyway, plan on making up for it all right now. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Not a lot of time this morning for a sappy, long-winded piece about how this birthday is already infinitely better than last year's simply because you're not strapped into the back of the stationwagon, hurtling south in preparation for reconstructive hip surgery. Just know that I don't recall allowing you to turn three. So have a great day, sweetness. But watch yourself.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A little late on the update...

My deepest apologies to anyone who continually checked back here over the last 36 hours, thinking something had gone wrong and was genuinely concerned for the health of our child. The simple fact is, she is fine. She had her standard burst of bi-polar-ism (I really hope she's not actually bi-polar seeing as how I continually refer to it in such a casual manner) upon her exit from surgery. She woke up all smiley and happy, pitched a fit when Mommy came to get her, seemed happy to see me in the waiting room, then promptly melted down when I picked her up. All this was followed by a trip to Toys-R-Us and an extended nap for everyone back at the hotel. If I wasn't such a cheapskate, I would have paid the $10 for 24 hours of wi-fi and given you all the gory details right away. But, well, naps are free. So there.
Wednesday wasn't very conducive to blog updates either as Team Tredwell loaded the car and hit the road at 4 AM. With a cooperative three-year old and two parents determined to sleep in their own bed for the first time in 10 days, we pulled into the driveway just after midnight. South Florida to central Connecticut in 20 hours. That's the way you debate!
That gets us to Thursday. Today was a catch-up day. Catch up on sleep, cleaning, finances, yardwork, etc. Should I have gotten to this sooner? Of course. But, honestly, you should be used to this from me by now.
At this point, you're all well aware of the particulars from our check-up. I'll just add a couple notes that I failed to mention the other day.
That is a picture of the screw that was removed from Emily's hip on Tuesday morning. It's about an inch and a half long. She was walking before we got back to the hotel. It furthers my belief that this kid is unstoppable.
When Dr. Paley came into the exam room to check out Emily's x-rays and eventually discuss removing the aforementioned screw, he struggled to raise the seat in front of the computer to a preferable height. I hold this man in such high regard, yet I'm wildly immature and my mouth has always been quicker than my brain. "Really? You can't even work the stool??" I think he laughed.
I'll leave you with this. I tend to wrestle with insecurity. It's part of who I am. Some may doubt that, but that just means I have you fooled (editor's note: sucker!) Then there are moments like Monday at Paley's institute when, in a discussion with patient coordinator Caroline Eaton regarding the new website Paleykids.net which will help patients and their families connect with each other, she mentions, "For a while, your blog was the network!"
The following day, she stops by the bullpen where Kate, Emily and I were getting geared up for surgery by watching Wall-E (don't judge us.) She tells me that Dr. Paley wants me to be sure to mention in the blog that this procedure Emily was about to go through is highly uncommon for Superhip patients. At the time, I just kinda nodded. Only later did I pause to think about that.
Paley and his team make miracles happen all the time.
In my own ridiculous, sophomoric way, I get to help.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just your standard Tuesday.

Today's post is coming at you a bit sooner than expected. I had expected to get home from Florida, harass the Director of Photography into uploading pictures from our trip, and then procrastinate for another few weeks before finally enlightening the masses about our visits to Disney World, Singer Island and St. Mary's hospital. Life, however, has a way of throwing curveballs when you're looking fastball.
Team Tredwell went into yesterday's appointment with Dr. Paley expecting x-rays, a substantial wait, a little face time with The Man himself and a date for next year's lengthening surgery. Well, we got all that and more! (I feel like I'm writing for an infomercial. I need to get some sleep. Or hire new writers. Either one.) Emily, who had been having a smashing time all week sweating her way around the sunshine state, naturally turned a corner when it was time to get some work done. X-rays came at a price, as she wailed away while Daddy struggled to hold her in place. In the end, she managed to keep it together long enough to get the pictures we needed. This was followed by a lengthy stint in the lobby/playroom as people from all over the globe waited for the attention of one of the top doctors on the planet. Emily returned to her normally charming self, organizing games of duck-duck-goose in the hallway with other kids and even attempting to rope some staff members in to the game as well. (Admit it, Caroline. You wanted to play.)
When we finally got moved to an exam room, we got a little time with our man Servando who looked through Emily's x-rays like a kid on Christmas morning. As a simple gym teacher, I don't understand much in the field of orthopaedic surgery, but I know what the words "fantastic" and "beautiful" mean, especially when they pertain to my daughter's x-rays. He was genuinely excited to see the hardening of the hip socket, creating a more stable joint and the potential for continued progress. He also noted the discrepancy had decreased by a tiny fraction as a result of last year's Superhip which was obviously good news.
When Dr. Paley arrived, he echoed Servando's earlier statements, although in a much more relaxed way (note to self: never play poker with Paley.) As he looked at the x-ray, he clearly saw something noteworthy, turning to us and asking "how long are you staying?" A brief moment of anxiety was quickly wiped away when he explained how the hip looks excellent but, in a highly unusual circumstance for a child with PFFD, the growth plate is still open. In the majority of cases, the growth plate is completely closed, meaning any extra length will only occur through surgery. In Emily's case however, there is still the possibility of more growth. Her right leg won't catch up to the left without surgeries, but perhaps the road just got a little less bumpy.
Of course, to allow that growth to occur, Dr. Paley needed to go in and remove one screw which kept her hardware attached to her hip joint. To do that, a five minute procedure was necessary involving a tiny incision, a screwdriver and a single stitch. Piece of cake! (Emily disagreed.) Still, it was amazing to watch the team snap into action as he turned from the x-rays and began doling out assignments. "Get them on the schedule for tomorrow morning. Call the insurance company and get approval. It's 4:20 right now. You have 40 minutes." Seriously, it was awesome.
And now, it's 10:20 AM. Kate took Emily in about two hours ago and we should be able to see her anytime now. She was clearly not on board with this whole idea (waking up at 5:30 AM probably didn't help,) but rallied with the help of a little medication. Nothing but smiles and giggles as they wheeled her away. This kid is incredible.
I'll keep you updated when I finally get to see her.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oh, boy.

I'll let you guys figure out what this video is all about. I just know it's going to get crazy around here in mid-January...

Every kind of summer fun.

What's there to say? It's summer! Fill up the kiddie pool and play outside until you're covered in sweat, dirt and bug bites.

Father-daughter bonding.

That's right. Playing Mario Kart and blatantly ignoring the mess in the corner. Awesome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I needed this.

There's a lot to think about when you're planning your daughter's first lengthening. Paley-patient Emma, pictured above, seems to suggest that mobility won't be a problem.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ok, that was a long time.

I'm still here, I swear.
What can I say? It's a tough schedule I keep. Knee-deep in 360 middle schoolers from 7 AM to 3 PM. Maybe get in a workout after work. Chase Emily around the rest of the day. Did I mention she stays up later than I do? I know you think this stuff just writes itself, but it's hard to come up with brand new poop jokes every few weeks. Even when you have an almost-three-year-old who's actually potty training.
Let's see...where were we? Last we talked I was thanking my hoop team for their thoughtfulness. Shortly after, those of us at Camp Tredwell were prepping for Emily's first soccer fundraiser. It turned out to be a great time. Both teams took a real shine to our girl. Emily got to go out on the field during warm-ups and get loose, sit on the Fairfield bench during the game and even get prime seating in the press box. That's a full evening! Thanks to Coach O'Brien, Coach Cohen and Coach Lopes for putting together a tremendous evening. Despite temperatures in the "let's just stay inside" range, we still drew a decent crowd to watch some spring soccer. Extra special thanks go to Bri Miller and Alli Walsh, two injured Stag players, who sat near the front gate and hit people for donations. These two couldn't have been any nicer. While their Fairfield degrees will certainly take them to bigger and better things, they can always fall back on careers in fundraising.
I'm sure a lot has happened since then, but I've pretty much screwed myself by taking all this time in between posts. Really? I can remember all the details? The witty remarks? The uncharted cuteness? Remember, I'm not terribly bright and a bit of a boozer. It's just a matter of time before Emily is rolling her eyes at me and walking away with an exasperated, "Ok, Dad..."
So, until I decide that it's much easier to post a picture with a quick blurb every few days, I'll just have to catch you up bullet-point-style.
  • I'm pleased to say Emily is taking after dear old Dad with her ability to quote movies. Because "Despicable Me" is in her rotation right now, she rips those lines out at just the right moments. Time for dinner? "Assemble the minions!" Ordering pizza? "I will stuff you all in the crust!" If you don't get these jokes, you need to get on her level.
  • She has a new swingset in her backyard. It is her equivalent to Ray Kinsella's baseball field. It is the first thing she looks for when she wakes up.
  • She can flip out with the best of them. Offer her a peanut butter sandwich and, in the same breath, she will cry, "I DON'T WANT THAT! Give it to me. Thank you!" Either she's soon to be turning three or she's bi-polar. It's really 50-50 at this point.
  • She loves to sing and dance. She knows the words to a number of top 40 songs featuring Rihanna, Adele and the Black Eyed Peas. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
  • She clearly has personality. I often label her "bossy" and am immediately corrected by women who call her "assertive." How ironic.
  • She often asks, "You know who's going to fix my boo-boo? Dr. Paley."
As sweet as the last one is, it's a phrase that's starting to take over our little world. With about five weeks before our next check-up with The Man, we're starting to put plans in motion for her first lengthening next year. Even as I sit and write this, thinking about alternate housing, stretching the finances, insurance and separating the family for an extended period is creating a knot in my stomach. Nevermind the fact that it's our beautiful little girl who will be going through such excruciating pain for months at a time.
But what can you do? There was never another option. This is what we're doing. We've got a plan. We're all in. It's just our turn.
While being busy was a convenient excuse, perhaps this is why I took such a lengthy hiatus. It allowed me to avoid the reality of the situation. For the longest time, this was something we would have to go through eventually, but not now. Later. Much later.
Not anymore.
And I know, I know...we'll get through it. We have to. But knowing that doesn't necessarily make this easier.
Uh, I don't have a clever ending here. Maybe next time. For now, just enjoy a couple recent pictures and hopefully I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It had to happen eventually.

By "it," I actually mean two separate events. The first "it" was the inevitable end of my basketball season. The other "it" was my next widely-anticipated blog post. Yes, technically I posted that flier announcing the upcoming Fairfield - Southern Connecticut spring soccer game (Friday, April 15th! Tell your friends!) but that didn't cover my usual quota of cute Emily photos and sophomoric fart jokes. So, after catching up with all my post-season responsibilities (paperwork, schoolwork, re-introducing myself to my wife, etc.) and watching UConn take the NCAA tourney by storm (sadly, I did NOT pick that one) it's clearly time to buckle in and update the masses. Keep your hands inside the car at all times, please!
Ok, I actually don't have anything too exciting to report. Remember, I was basically an absentee father from late November to early March. Really, I just want to talk about my team and how great they've been. My girls had a pretty good season. We doubled our win total from the previous year and even made some noise in the state tournament. But they could have won the whole damn thing and it probably wouldn't have meant more to me then how they've been with Emily all season. It started last August when we returned home from her Superhip surgery in Florida and found a massive pink box stuffed high with toys, coloring books, crayons, dvds and every type of fun imaginable, all courtesy of Hand girls' basketball. The mini basketball that every kid signed was a pretty nice touch, too.
It didn't stop during the season, either. If Kate brought Ems to practice, everything stopped as they elbowed each other out of the way to be the first to pick her up. After a good win or a tough loss, these girls were never too tired, too busy or too cool to roll around on the floor with my ever-energetic toddler. When it came time for our team picture, they insisted that Emily be in the shot. Like I was going to say no.
And if that was all they did, it would still be more than I could ever want.
But they went above and beyond. They went ABOVE above and beyond. In an effort to raise some money for our future Florida excursions, a good friend donated his tickets for the Lakers-Celtics game in Boston. 9th row behind the basket. Phenomenal seats. Our booster club took the opportunity and ran with it, selling raffle tickets to anyone with a wallet. The team carried Emily out to center court during halftime of one of our biggest games so she could pick the winning ticket. One of my senior captains was even kind enough to point out the dance teams' skimpy outfits and say "we wear longer shorts than that, Emily." Well done.
One of my sophomores, however, wasn't satisfied. She got her parents to front enough money to buy 1,000 black rubber bracelets with "HOOPS FOR EMILY" printed in gold on them. The team went to work selling these as well.
At the banquet, my girls presented Kate and I with two checks. I'm not often speechless, but, well, you get the idea. In my attempt to sufficiently thank everyone for their effort and support, I tried to tell them just how much it all meant to me...how much THEY meant to me. I told them someday we're going to win a state title. We have the talent and the commitment in this town necessary to make that happen. But I wouldn't trade ten state titles for the privilege of coaching this basketball team. And if you think I got through that without getting a little emotional, then you haven't been paying attention.
So, to Ash, Leo, Kelsey, Kara, Jackie, Morgan, Kelsey, Gianna, Graceann, Fitz, Jenn, Hannah, Trish, Grace, Sophie, Colette and Lily...thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for me and my family.

Emily LOVES Graceann.
Thanks for teaching Emily about spit bubbles, Kara.
Emily, surrounded by her "friends," picking out the winning ticket.
Thank you, Gianna.