onvural.net – melih – family man

Week of birth celebrations – Powered by people

Nov
22

This was the best birth week I’ve had in a really long time – if not ever. It was filled with memories and people, and – very happily – no presents to unwrap.

Starting Tuesday:

  • Tuesday -> Warriors vs. Nets basketball game in our amazing seats. I also didn’t eat all day so I could go all out on chicken tenders, popcorn, and french fries
  • Wednesday -> Dinner at Bowery Meat Company on one of the final warm evenings of the year where we sat outside, had way too much food, and enjoyed every bite of it
  • Thursday -> My uncle decided to come into town somewhat randomly, and we got to have a great family dinner together
  • Friday -> D&D Day 2 of what will probably be 20 instead of 10 because the boys can’t focus long enough to finish anything. It turns out introducing them to the Leeroy Jenkins meme was a horrible idea because now the answer to every question is simply them yelling – “LEEEROOOOOYYYYYY JENKINS”
  • Saturday (my actual birthday) -> Soccer, food, seeing Greg and meeting Christina, and seeing the Dune movie. So many thoughts on the Dune movie, but that’s for another post and another day.
  • Sunday -> COVID test (negative), pizza/salad with Theo, Bronx Zoo, Holiday lights, Benihana

I mean – just so many people, so much awesome, and so much joy. When we moved to NYC I didn’t know if we’d be able to pull this off because making new friends is just so hard at this point. But we’ve found our people, and we’ve also found our rhythm as a family to celebrate and be celebrated.

And it was truly a wonderful week.

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2020 – Kids in Review

Jan
23

I think we all know what went wrong last year, but I think I’ll appreciate writing down the things that went right to look back on over time.

This was a year of immense growing up for the kids. In so many dimensions – academically, emotionally, socially – they’re all completely new people in a way I don’t think I’ve noticed before.

Amelia has an incredibly strong group of friends. It’s much smaller than what I remember having in elementary school, but the quality of the connections is much deeper. They’re around each other constantly which worries me. Won’t they grow tired of each other? But honestly – they don’t. And it amazes me.

It’s incredibly hard to be a father to a modern girl. You have to instill in girls confidence that they don’t inherently have. Not push the spunk out of them even though it can drive you crazy. Amelia and her gaggle of friends have random fears of the world that make no sense to me. So how do you push them through those fears without turning them off to experiencing life? I haven’t figured it out.

Amelia has fallen in love with gymnastics. She swims like a fish. Piano, singing – we’re trying to find an art, but we’re not quite there yet. I wish she would read and write more, but she did play Belle in the Spring Production of Beauty and the Beast.

More than anything though, she’s becoming a highly opinionated, strong willed young lady. And before too long, she’ll be ten years old!

Luka spent the year amazing me and driving me crazy simultaneously. Fewer opinions, but moody as hell. Smart as a whip, but the street smarts of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Obsessed with things at a level that fascinates me, but laziness that drives me crazy.

It’s equally hard to be a father to a modern boy. Especially one who is as sensitive as Luka. I really need him to toughen up a bit. The world is cruel. But he carries the world’s emotions with him. He makes himself responsible for the well being of everyone else – almost always to the expense of himself. It’s hard to watch, but on the flip side it makes me incredibly proud of him. How much he cares. How much he nurtures.

Luka had one line this year that I just won’t ever forget. They were talking about marriage with Laurel, and he said – “You’re supposed to marry your best friend, and so I guess I’ll marry Reeves.” There was no stigma. No real concern about the comment. Just pure love for his friend. And I think it captures the Luka of this moment perfectly.

Luka is obsessed with football and Pokemon. He plays Minecraft. Incredible reader and mathematician. Lazy as can be when it comes to writing. Plays a small bit of piano. We might even start a Christmas tree business this summer together. I really love this guy – even if I’m scared of how the world will abuse him one day.

And then there’s Theo. He’s absolutely the extreme of everything. Screams at you one second. Cuddles you the next. Bites you. Then he wants to play a game with you.

Theo spends way too much time being asked to copy or live up to what his siblings are doing. That’s where we’ve failed him the most. But as we establish his own friend group and his own patterns his own personality is really starting to shine. He’s got his pod, and his buddy Owen, and they’re great together.

At one point during the early lockdown a family with another five year old was up in Catskill with us. The two of them escaped everyone else, had their pizza, and then walked together to the playground. They were just desperate for friends their own age. And it was so incredibly delightful.

Theo is incredibly smart. Loves to swim. But his mean streaks are intense. No one in our family loves Eevee the way he does. They’re often together in her kennel. Or seen wrestling in the living room floor.

We’re building a board game together, and I think I get the most 1-on-1 time with him relative to the other kiddos. He really is my last baby, and I’m feeling the baby phase disappear. That’s hard because I don’t feel done, but we’re not going to have any more children. But I’m enjoying the hell out of this last baby phase.

It hasn’t been an easy year. It has been a year of transition. A year where the kids really grew up, and while growth has pains it’s also a wonderful journey to travel. Especially with these three.

Let’s see what 2021 brings us.

He’s growing up too fast

May
03

Theo in a hammock at Lodge Hill

Theo in a hammock at Lodge Hill

Here we are – one month out until Theo turns 3 years old. It’s really hard to imagine being done with babies. The stages are fun, but they’re hard. The days are long, but the years are short. <insert another cliché here>

And so I’ll just soak up the moments I do get because there are a lot of lasts (last diaper, last formula, last potty training). The best part of it though is that I get to do it with this wonderful guy.

Date Day w/ Theo – M&M Store

Apr
15

The big two got a really great treat today when they got invited to a show where two folks jump in and out of balloons (and do all sorts of other tricks). As the show was sold out, Theo and I decided to go on our own adventure.

We decided to be tourists, and checked out Times Square! We were roaming about when I remembered that there was an M&M store. I really didn’t know what was there or if it was worth visiting, and so we decided to find out.

It’s relatively useless – just a glorified gift shop, but there was one part which I thought was super cool – you can add a label to your own M&Ms.

So we hopped into line, and typed away on the key pad when it was our turn. And we made about 250 M&Ms with “Theo’s M&M” on them!

As soon as we saw the big kids – who had ring pops from their own adventure – Theo showed off his M&Ms, and traded a small handful of M&Ms for a ring pop. I think he came out ahead on this one!

Theo watching as his M&Ms emerge

Theo watching as his M&Ms emerge

Our local butcher

Apr
10

Amelia, Theo, and Luka looking at the meat at the Park Slope Whole Foods

Amelia, Theo, and Luka looking at the meat at the Park Slope Whole Foods

The closest we have to a local butcher is the meat counter at Whole Foods. But the kids are absolutely fascinated by it. Theo especially will make trips to specifically watch as the lambs, pigs, and the occasional rib of cow gets chopped up into the parts that we then buy and cook. I think it’s a great way to connect them with the reality of what food is while also having a chance to get quality meats.

And now with Amazon owning Whole Foods the prices are about half of what they used to be… which is a bit insane (either on the margin that Whole Foods was making, or the profit margin that Amazon has given up).

I remember going to the farmers market and the grocery store as a thing my mom and I would do most weekends. I loved doing that with her, and I’m glad that even in the age of Instacart it’s possible for us to have those same experiences in a small way (but we also love our Instacart account, and use it religiously).

Bon appetit!

Luka’s Date Day – ACC Basketball Tournament

Mar
08

I have quite a dilemma on my shoulders. A really difficult question. And I’m scared that I made the wrong choice…

So I put it to you, dear reader:

Is it ethical to sign up your children for a life of misery, pain, and suffering?

Because today I took Luka to the ACC Basketball Tournament, and he became the most unfortunate of things… an NC State fan.

There was something to this year… new coach, unbelievable run during the season, beating Duke and Carolina. At one point, we were undefeated against teams ranked #2 in the country!

So I took the plunge. I found amazing tickets on StubHub for cheap. I grabbed Luka out of school. We decked out in all red and white State gear. And they did what all NC State teams do.

Underestimate an opponent. Let a few hot hands out play them for large stretches of the game. Pull off a heart attack inducing comeback. And then lose on a techncial foul because they ran out of timeouts, and called one anyway…

But we had so much fun. Barclays is a really great basketball arena (I’ve heard it’s horrible for hockey), and we were in an amazing spot. We had fun people around us. We got hot dogs, and sugary drinks. There were games set up from the sponsors, and we got to play the games. We were doing math puzzles with the score. It was amazing…

What a fun date day with my Luka… but now I’ve made him an NC State fan. He’ll feel the highest highs and the lowest lows in a spread of about 10 minutes. He’ll probably go bald in his twenties. And it’s all my fault.

But for his first NC State game, and my first ACC Tournament game, we had the time of our lives. There’s always next year in Charlotte.

Moana – The review for adults

Nov
28

If you haven’t seen the new Disney film Moana, then turn away. There are spoilers in this post.

Ok, I’m assuming that if you’re still with me, that you’re ok with knowing what happens in the movie, and jumping in on the conversation my brother and I had in the aftermath of seeing the film.

This lady probably thinks that the movie is about the Climate Change agenda. I could see why she would believe that. But that thread in the movie didn’t really make a huge political statement in my opinion.

In the movie, a young Chieftainess decides that her destiny requires she go outside the small island and reef her family has called home for generations to undo the curse imposed on man by the demigod Maui’s decision to steal the heart of creation.

I remember talking with Byrne Reese (one of the most interesting thinkers that I know) that the “bad guy” in Frozen was in fact the 1%. Sure it was actually Hans and the Duke of Weaslton in the physical form, but underneath the surface it was that insatiable desire to hold power even when it wasn’t yours to hold. In the shadow of the Occupy Wall Street movement which was happening down the street from the Pixar offices as the movie was being made, this made a ton of sense to me.

Equivalently, in Moana, the bad guy is the human ego and its insatiable desire to be worshipped. The physical manifestation of this is the demigod Maui. He’s the one who starts the curse, avoids the problem as much as he can, and then attempts to actually kill the entity who needs to be saved.  But underneath it all is his origin story. Thrown away at birth by parents who didn’t want him, Maui needed to be saved by the Gods, and repaid this favor by constantly giving to man so that man would continue to worship him. He had to feel wanted because he started off life by being rejected.

He’s such a fun character. You want to love him. Having Dwayne Johnson voice him is perfect, and I think he does an incredible job giving the character an outsized personality. But as much as you want to root for him, you actually have to root against Maui. Because he represents everything that’s wrong about that handsome, likable, hometown hero figure. The bullying nature. The misogyny. The condescending tone. Running away in the critical moment.

It’s a good enough movie for kids. My trio all paid attention for the full 90 minutes. It was Theo’s first movie in a movie theater. There are two or so catchy songs you’ll hum when you see the movie advertisements around town.

But at the end of the day – the formula for the kids is pretty predictable and generic.

It’s the commentary on the hero worship culture that I think is worthy of conversation and analysis. When the guy you wanna love is really the bad guy in the room – what are we supposed to do?

What are your singing in the car songs?

Jan
26

In high school, my buddies and I (well really just Nora, Shelby, Maria, Gottshall, & Ashley) would obnoxiously sing in the car, no matter the song, windows down, and as loud as we could. And in the vein of being a good father, I’m trying to pass these values – never be embarrassed in public to sing and dance, never be embarrassed to not the know the words to a song, make sure you laugh at yourself as much as possible – onto the kids. So far, the two big ones have their favorites, but I’m trying to expand their repertoire.

Luka’s favorite is – Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

Amelia’s favorite is – All I want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey)

And I added these two the list, but they’re not picking up just yet…

Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)

The Shoop Shoop Song (Cher)

What’s your sing out loud in the car song?

Self-worth – a toddler’s point of view

Dec
13

It’s fascinating how much of the reflection we see in the mirror is a reflection of what others have told us about ourselves. In this case, it’s more of a metaphorical mirror, and also more of a metaphorical reflection.

But it has a bigger impact than the physical one that I can actually look at. And taking control of it is also much harder.

But I think I’ve done it 🙂 And it feels amazing. Obviously Theo helped. You see, he doesn’t have that problem, and somehow he showed me how to approach it the same way he does. By not approaching it all.

And then there are those dance parties, curtains wide open, with two screaming, happy babies. They care a lot. Which friend said what. Whose feelings got hurt by inclusion or exclusion. But man they shake it off fast.

And then a kiss. A hug. A sneak ice cream that mommy doesn’t notice. It just fixes everything.

It’s awesome. And I don’t mind at all if I just copy their approach. It’s much better than the one I was doing.

When 3 year old wit strikes

Oct
12

We were dropping Micky off at work today. Driving up Mission Street, we saw a bunch of Academy of Arts kids walking to school. As they’re all designers of one sort or another they’re always wearing something quirky.

One girl walked across the street wearing bright green Ninja Turtle pajama bottoms.

Micky, as the pajama bottoms walked across the street, said, “Wow, those are hideous.”

And Luka, without missing a beat, said, “You can’t fix stupid, ya know.”

The whole car started dying laughing, and then had another fit of laughs when Amelia asked, “I didn’t hear what Luka said. Why are we laughing?”

Oh man, in those moments… you know they’re definitely related to me.