Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dear Husband, take notes on what it means to be a daddy to a girl. (Well, on everything except telling her about your big balls).

It has been an eventful month. A lot has happened since the last post. Then again nothing much has happened, just a lot of milestones. Big news of my life so far is that we're expecting a baby GIRL! Every day I ponder what it means to have a daughter. She's growing so quickly and The Husband experienced watching her first belly dance. She now kicks hard enough for him to just watch her bump my belly. My mother was somehow convinced to get on the bandwagon and now knows she's a girl. So, there are no more secrets. Wednesday marked the start of the seventh month. We're officially in the third trimester.

As I write today I'm enjoying the quiet time to reflect. I've been trying very hard to stop every once in awhile and enjoy the little girl I'm holding so close. I try to stop and imprint these memories so I'll forever remember what her little kicks and punches feel like. Recently I've been trying even harder to savor this happy pregnancy. My Mom, who doesn't necessarily get sentimental all that often, made a heartwarming point of writing me with motherly advice. I printed the email to keep forever. For now it is on my refrigerator for a daily reminder. Mom, I apologize but I'm memorializing the sweetest email I've ever received from you here. Here it is:

It seems appropriate on this momentous occasion (start of last trimester) to give you some advice. (When haven't I???) This is similar to the advice I gave Chelsea pre-wedding. Basically, you only get one "first time" ENJOY the moment --every moment. You are light years ahead of me by keeping a journal. What you won't vividly remember you may be able to recall down the road by having your journal.

Since you are feeling so well now, maybe you can take moments and savor them for what they are. Like, just lay there and feel her. Feel her movements, massage her, talk to her, even read to her.

I know this is not all fun and games for you. I know you have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks -- moving, etc. but try not to stress. Keep things in perspective and be thankful for what you do have....people who love and support you and a very healthy baby GIRL on the way.

LOVE YA soooo much,

Now that in itself made my week. But, the parental love and support from my Mom and Dad doesn't stop there. Dad is also supporting us the way only a Daddy can.

Dear Husband, now is the time to take notes on what it means to be a Daddy to a daughter.

My Dad is now pretty much retired. He's still in his 50's but he took a buyout from GM (Saturn) so he's not tied down with a job like the rest of us right now. He decided he couldn't wait anymore to see us. He couldn't wait until Thanksgiving so Thursday night he showed up in Ohio with tools, his steam cleaner, and apparently his entire wardrobe.

For those of you that haven't met my Dad, he's pretty great. There's not much he can't do. He's a jack-of-all-trades and can fix just about anything. He is the Hande-man extraordinaire. My Mom is the luckiest wife in the world simply because I don't think she's ever had to hire a mechanic, plumber, contractor, etc. Well, except for when they put the addition on the house and since she bought the second house in Atlanta. But, for most of our lives Dad has done everything.

The Husband doesn't quite have all these talents, but more importantly he doesn't have the time. He has two jobs and during the week is only home for about 4-6 hours, just enough to sleep between jobs. Plus he's on call every other week for our primary job. So, Dad here is like a gift from God because being pregnant means it is getting harder and harder for me to keep up with all that needs done around the house.

We had to work Friday of course, so Dad was left to entertain himself. While we were at work he steam cleaned my whole apartment, the hall, and the sofa. Do you realize what kind of back breaking work that is? The best part is he did an amazing job. One of the best things I've learned from my parents is work ethic and doing things to higher standards. No wonder my Dad was so successful with his own carpet cleaning business. Everything looks like new.

Dad of course has hugged and kiss my belly to tell Baby Girl how much he loves his first grandchild, but showing her with his talents and sweat are so deeply meaningful.

As I write I'm alone in the pristinely clean apartment with my two cats, while the two greatest men in my life are in the garage fixing the rotors and brakes on my car. One of the sweetest things Dad has done is to pass on his talents to The Husband. When we lived in Nashville Dad and The Husband would spend a lot of time together in the garage fixing things. My Mom's Dad, Grandpa Andy, did the same thing with him. I know how much it means to Dad to pass on the tradition of being a father-in-law that's more like a Dad than in-law. Neither Dad nor The Husband had a lot of fatherly support so it means a lot to both of them. The man-love is just so sweet to me. Having the boys in the garage makes me miss Nashville and home so much. It's like old times.

It's not been all work this weekend though. Last night I had a great date with the two of them. We couldn't eat at home if we tried because there was nowhere to sit with everything all wet, so Dad said we had to eat out. I of course didn't complain. We had dinner at one of my favorite places, Bar Symon, by far one of the best places in Cleveland. (Which unfortunately is the first restaurant that Michael Symon has closed. I'm very upset by this so I won't go into the details but you can read about it here).

We had an amazing meal. Dad was his exhuberant self long before he'd finished his 2.5 beers. He was flirting with the waitresses and explaining his whole life story before we even got the bread. He tried Left Hand beers simply because he had to try a beer with our name in it. It was quite amusing. He also of course had to explain this to the waitress. Then he had to explain the litany of hilarious names in our family. He even told her about Harry Johnson Hand, his great grandfather. Yes, my Dad was talking to the waitress unabashedly about harry johnsons before he even had one beer in him. This is a fine example of one of the most distinguishing Hande genes, the gift of gab and the ability to make friends with anyone!

I of course couldn't try the Left Hand beer, but Dad enjoyed it. He really liked their 400lb Monkey. He tried to get me to steal the Left Hand brewing company sign behind the bar, too, that looked like this:

I didn't steal the sign, it was about twelve feet up the wall. I do however need to remember it for a good Christmas present.

Once he got more beer in him he managed to make me blush too. My dad sometimes forgets I'm his daughter I think. Now don't get me wrong it was a great evening and great conversation, but some things are better left said to maybe just his son-in-law. But, to tell the truth I don't regret being told these stories because they're hilarious and frankly however gross it's about family.

When my grandpa, Harry Hande, yep one of those funny names discussed earlier, was getting older my Uncle had Dad come up to Michigan to stay with Grandpa for a few days to assess his living situation. Basically Dad lived with Grandpa for awhile to see if he needed to get assistance or move into assisted living. However, I have a feeling they mostly just goofed off together the whole time. Dad didn't have the best relationship with my Grandpa. Grandpa Harry was an alcoholic and it greatly affected his childhood and beyond. But, Dad always loved his father. It's one of the great life lessons he's taught me by example. I never knew my grandfather as an alcoholic and didn't really know the extent of the devastation on his family until I was older and my Dad and uncle explained those times to me. I feel like I missed out on really understanding Grandpa Harry, but I think fighting in the Pacific during WWII deeply changed him. Here's a picture of him in Hawaii before being shipped out with the Marines to the front. He seems so young and happy-go-lucky here.

My grandpa was a stubborn guy. He never did leave home and hung out at the donut shop down the street every day despite being diabetic. He had a lot of "Harry-isms" that we still recall fondly. Last night my Dad was fondly recalling how at the end of his life my strong-willed Grandpa had to fight a weakening body. He explained how Grandpa used to say, and say it exactly like this, "I only weigh 148 pounds and that's buck naked." We both agreed that at the end 140 was generous. Dad then told me one of the funniest Grandpa stories ever...

In Grandpa's house they had a little bathroom with a tub only, no shower. He'd bathed in a tub only even as an old man. That in itself is a hilarious picture. Dad said those few weeks he was staying with him Grandpa got out of the tub and was soaking wet, stark naked, and Dad was absolutely astounded by a certain piece of Grandpa's anatomy. So apparently, another Hande gene is generous genital proportions. Dad said his "johnson" (get it?) was hanging down to his knees.

I asked Dad, "Did you ask Grandpa if that was old man sag or if had always been that size?"

He said no, he couldn't, because he couldn't stop laughing because Grandpa just shrugged off his size by telling Dad, "It doesn't work anymore anyhow."

As you can imagine I was quite red at this point, but I didn't care because Dad had me laughing so hard I had tears welling up in my eyes.

It gets better.

As The Husband and I are are choking down one of the best meals ever through the laughter caused by Dad's table side stand-up Dad tops it all off by explaining that he didn't quite get that gene, but he was blessed with size elsewhere. I must have looked at him bewildered, because I was, but I didn't want to ask for an explanation. Him being Dad of course explained anyhow by saying, "Let's just say I can't cross my legs."

Well, despite talk of my Grandpa's giant johnson and my Dad's giant balls it was still a wonderful dinner. It made me miss having a weekly Sunday dinner with Mom and Dad. And to top it all off it was one of the best tasting meals of my life. I'm still mad at Michael Symon for closing Bar Symon. Apparently it will be closed at the end of the month. There's still Lola downtown. Sigh.

Well, that's it so far and Dad's only been here for just over a day.

I need to get busy. The boys are downstairs slaving away on my car after all.

After a little prayer thanking God for the blessing of amazing parents. I leave you with a picture of Mom and Dad on a very happy day in their lives recently. This is them outside the church following my little sister's wedding on August 7th, 2010 in Columbus. That dapper man in the light suit in the background on the right is The Husband.

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