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I love fall. It’s football, and fires, and sweaters, and stews. An explosion of color before all goes gray. For me there is no better season. It’s flawless. 

Summer is Papa Bear, too hot. Winter is Mama Bear, too cold. Spring is ok, until it takes an hour away from you while you’re sleeping. I guess that makes Spring Shady Uncle Bear.  But Fall is Baby Bear. It means you no harm, it just wants to cuddle. 

And since this is our little baby bear’s first real fall (the other two having been spent in SF, where every season, amazingly, is fall) we couldn’t wait to be outside. DSC_0063

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That’s “outside play” for those that don’t speak 2-year old. No way mommy was letting us inside looking like this. 

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A plague has befallen NJ. The return of the 17-year cicadas. I have to admit, though, that this is nothing like the scourge I was promised. So far I’ve found them to be pretty tolerable. Cute even. Very photogenic. 

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Summer fun. Beatin’ the NJ heat. What started out as a car washing effort quickly became the Madison show. More fun that way anyway. 

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DSC_0330Since being outside with an occupied toddler is vastly more pleasant than being inside with a bored one, these days you’ll find us in the yard just about any time the sun is shining. Plus, it gives me an excuse to break out the camera; something I’ve been meaning to get back in the habit of. 

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 5.14.43 PMSitting in an all-day meeting the other day, my mind wandering off in search of any form of amusement, I think I devised the perfect plan for disruption. A prank for the modern office. It’s potentially diabolical in its conceit, but ultimately harmless in its execution. And it’s practically guaranteed to work, since most of these meetings seem to be taken very seriously.

First, get a recording of that sound it makes when someone dials in to a conference call; it’s kinda like ‘boop beep.’ Then, play it randomly during your next telecon. 

It’s that simple.

“Hi everyone. Thank you all for coming, I think we can go ahead and get started.”

 <boop, beep>

 “Did someone just join us? Hello? Is someone there? Hello? Did someone just join?”

 “Sorry guys, anyway, as I was saying…Welcome…”

 <boop beep>

 “Hi. Is someone joining us?”

 “Guys, do we know if we are expecting anyone else??”

<boop beep>

 “Is someone there? Hello? I think your line is on mute. Unmute your line. Are you there?” 

 <boop beep>

“Is that Mike? Was Mike going to call in?  Helloooooo. Did someone just join?”

<boop beep>

Not sure how many times it would take to reach a full-on meltdown. But I’m pretty sure it would be the best meeting I ever attended.  

DSC_0351Madison adapting to being back East, and adopting the local cuisine enthusiastically. Can’t blame her. I don’t know if anyone has ever satisfactorily explained why NY bagels are better, but I’ve never heard anyone even attempt an argument for why they aren’t.

Ridin’ the rails.

Sippin’ a Molson.

Ice.

From a brown paper sack.

Jersey has turned me into a hobo.

It only took a month.

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It all unfolded in a moment. I was standing at the bottom of the old wooden stairs, when I heard Denise yell “MADISON!” I heard quick, tiny footsteps and knew what was coming. I looked up and saw a streaking, determined toddler headed for the steps. Terror. I knew I couldn’t climb them quick enough to stop her (the baby gates haven’t arrived yet). I started to sprint but then froze, helpless, when I saw her eyes register that she was out of solid ground. We both knew this was going to be bad. Then I see this hand come from nowhere; a blur, really. Madison’s progress stops abruptly as she’s yanked backward by her upper arm. I realize that I’m seeing my wife Denise in a full-on, skidding, headfirst dive.

In a lifetime of watching professional sports, I’ve seriously never seen a catch like it. Not even close. Pure instinct. Fearless. Hall-of-fame type stuff.

You moms can be pretty freaking amazing. 

 

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To the best of my knowledge, exactly 5 pictures of me exist from the time I was born until I was 18 years old. Madison will turn 15 months old this month and I believe we must have at least 57,000.

Over the years, my sisters and I have sniped at our parents for not taking any pictures of us growing up. They’ve been consistent in their defense. My dad specifically recounts visiting the zoo when we were little, watching all the parents with their eyes glued to the viewfinders on their cameras, literally missing those moments they were trying so desperately to capture. He decided it was better to just enjoy the moment, in the moment.

And though I’ve heard that story many, many times over the years, I have to admit that I often find myself undecided on this particular subject. I want to be present (in contrast to just being ‘there’) for all the great milestones in Madison’s life, but I’ve come to appreciate how quickly they all seem to happen, and then pass us by. It really does get hard not to see every new outing as a critical photo opp.

So yesterday, when we decided to take our own little family to the SF Zoo, there was no way I was leaving the camera behind. For good measure, I was also going to have my iPhone handy for the more immediate gratifications of photo messages and Facebook status updates.

It all started out great. Madison was as wide-eyed as I’ve ever seen her. And I was getting some cool shots; the hippo, especially, seemed like he was taking his job as tourist attraction and spectacle very seriously. But the more I fumbled with my equipment, and the more I started to look at Denise and Madison as props in my own personal zoo photoshoot, the more I realized that I was starting to get it all wrong. I was investing more time worrying about what photo would show well in an album (or on a blog) than in just enjoying the beautiful San Francisco day and the time with family.  I was doing what my parents had chosen not to.

That’s when I decided to put the cameras down.

What’s here are a few of the photos I did take before I stopped. And don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I took them. I don’t plan to ever stop taking them. Because I’m sure the old memory will appreciate some visual aids when I try to revisit these days in the coming years. And I’m also sure Madison will someday want to see us all together, looking super young and happy. I just want to make sure to never let chasing the memories become more important than making them in the first place

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