8/31/2005

What a week!

It's been over a week since I left LA and a lot has happened. Last Sunday I flew to Miami to lend a hand at the Video Music Awards. The other half of our production team is responsible for that show, and they usually reach out for additional help from the staff as the show evolves. This year was no exception, and I got the call to drop everything and fly down there. I wasn't happy about having to leave Alissa and Sam, but since MTV pays the bills in our family, I didn't have much of a choice.

Production for the show was in full-swing when I arrived. The VMAs are by far the largest and most complex awards show on television today. It's grown into a weeklong series of concerts, parties, promotional events and ancillary productions, all culminating in the show itself on Sunday night. This year's Awards were hosted by Diddy, and when I arrived I learned that my job was going to be producing the pre-taped open to the show with him. The following three days were a whirlwind of activity as I quickly got myself acquainted with the staff on site, started scouting locations, putting crew and equipment on hold, requesting permits and planning the creative of the shoot itself. Somehow we managed to pull it all together in time, and despite a frantic day of searching for an alternate indoor location because of the hurricane, we ultimately got what we needed.

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Poolside with Diddy's Double and extras

The hurricane itself was pretty intense, though it was obviously nothing compared to what the people of Louisiana and Mississippi experienced just a few days later. I'd never been in a hurricane, so when I had to drive right through the middle of one to get back to my hotel on Wednesday night, it was more than a little hair-raising. When I finally got back on dry land at the hotel, I walked in to find an impromptu hurricane party in full-swing. The American Airlines Arena had been evacuated a few hours earlier, and the entire staff of the show were partying the afternoon away in the hotel bar. I knew I had to scramble to salvage any chance we'd have of getting our own little shoot done in time for the main show, so I bypassed the party and spent the rest of the night in my room, praying for better weather. The next morning the worst of it had passed and we were able to use our indoor location, although we had to drive through a disaster zone of downed trees, power lines and general chaos to get there. And the location itself had no power, so we had to bring in our own generators for our lights. But like I said, we did mange to pull it off, and I was incredibly proud of our crew for rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done in much less than perfect conditions.

The rest of my week was fairly mellow in comparison. I stayed on to help coordinate Diddy's role in the main show, and serve as a liaison between his staff and the MTV production team. Once the storm had passed, the show and all it's ancillary events were back in action, a small city of activity that really can't be described accurately in words. For me, it was like a high school reunion in many ways, since most of the people I've worked with over the last 10 years were there, working on the show in some capacity. I couldn't walk into a room without seeing someone I knew, and I spent a lot of time catching people up on my new life, and proudly showing off Sam's baby pictures.

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Chris Martin of Coldplay in rehearsals

The show itself was quite a spectacle, way beyond anything that's ever been attempted before. Though as impressive as it all was, by the time it was over I couldn't wait to get back to the hotel and get packed to leave. As badly as I wanted to fly straight back to LA, I had to make a detour to New York, to visit my staff here and spend some time with a production I took over a few months ago. So today I'm in our Times Square offices, visiting with the staff and doing my best not to count the minutes until I get to go home.

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Diddy onstage during the show

And speaking of home, Sam celebrated his 2 month birthday yesterday by visiting the pediatrician and getting clean bill of health. He's made a dramatic turn around since we switched him exclusively to formula and according to Alissa, he's now a completely normal baby. Needless to say that after six weeks of stress and worrying, we're both thrilled about that. I just can't wait to get home and see the little guy. Alissa's been great about sending me pictures while I've been away, so here's a slide show of Sam's latest. I promise to publish more photos after I get home.

Click on the picture to see the show

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8/19/2005

Boomer Sooner

I couldn't resist posting this today. Just a little something to get the blood pumping on a Friday morning...

The Riddle of the Sam

I'm pleased to report that Sam is showing some pretty incredible signs of improvement. We've now got him on Zantac in addition to a new formula, and he's been a new baby for the last 48 hours. We've seen calm periods like this before, so we're being cautiously optimistic, but this may be the answer we've been looking for. In the meantime, Sheila arrives today and Alissa is starting her training for Shakespere LA tomorrow. It will be great to have some extra help and I know Alissa is excited to be starting something new and to spending some time out of the house on her own, excercising her creative muscles. I'll be leaving for Miami on Sunday for the Video Music Awards. I'll be there for a little over a week, then I have to go to NY to meet with my staff there before heading home. It will be really tough to be away for so long, but I fee; much better about it now that Sam looks like he's on his way to happier times. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

8/17/2005

Dear Sam

I know it will be a few years before you can read this, but I needed to say a few things to you and since you don't speak English yet either, I thought at least if I wrote them down, you'd eventually be able to hear me. First of all, I want you to know that I love you. Very, very much. I know that there have been a few times over the last seven weeks when it might have been hard to tell. But believe me, I haven't stopped loving you since that miracle of a moment in the operating room when we finally heard you breathing and knew that you were going to make it. When you held onto my finger with your little hand and looked into my eyes for the first time. When you seemed to be silently saying to me "I'm a fighter Dad, it's going to be OK." Coincidentally that was also the first time we heard you cry, a sound we've become intimately familiar with in the days and weeks since. You cry when you wake up in the morning. You cry when it's time to eat. You cry when we take you out of your bath. You cry when you go to bed. You cry a lot Sam, and until just recently we really, really tried to convince ourselves that it was just something you had to grow out of. We really struggled with that Sam, because it was hard to hear you crying all the time. We wanted to make it all better, so we did things to try and help. We held you, we put you in your bouncy swing, we put you in your stroller and walked you around the neighborhood, we took you to the beach. Some of the time you stopped crying and looked around. Sometimes you even smiled. And some of the time you slept. But most of the time you cried, and we were sad because we couldn't make it better. So yesterday when you cried, your mom and I decided to go to the doctor and get some help. The doctor told us that all your crying wasn't normal, that there was something wrong inside you. That made us sad, and scared. But then the doctor told us what he thought might be hurting you, and how he could help. So we felt better. We took you home and gave you some new food. You seemed to like it, but then you cried some more. The doctor told us it might take a few days for you to start feeling better, so we have to be patient. That's hard because now that we know that this isn't just something you will grow out of, we just want to make it all better as fast as possible. But we're trying Sam, we really are. You're our little boy, the center of our universe, the love of our lives. All we want is for you to be happy and smile all the time. So we're going to keep trying things to make you feel better, and eventually you will.

Hang in there buddy. You're a fighter and it's going to be OK.

I love you,

Daddy

8/16/2005

Lest there be any doubt about whether my son is eating enough...

Chubs

Since these days the only place Sam won't throw a fit is in the bath, I thought I'd send out a new slide show with sort of an "aquatic theme." Click on the photo of the chubby kid above for more.

Daddy is playing hooky from work today since this morning our little boy finally convinced us to take him in to the pediatrician to find out if all this screaming is indeed just colic, or perhaps something a little more serious. When we got there Dr. Cohen was his usual incredible self, and spent an hour with us, letting us express all our concerns and ask tons of questions. As it turns out, I'm not crazy after all. Dr. Cohen agreed that Sam's fussiness is way beyond colic at this point. He suggested that either Sam has a milk protein allergy, or acid reflux, both of which would explain his almost constant screaming and general discomfort. After 7 weeks of this, we were both relieved to hear that all of this isn't normal and that there might be something we can do to make it better. So for now our little guy is on a strict formula-only diet of hypoallergenic Enfamil. After 4 days we'll check him again and if he hasn't shown any improvement, the next step is to go and see a GI specialist. Hopefully it won't come to that, but at least now we've identified some potential causes and we can work on the solutions, one by one. It was an emotional morning for both of us because up until this point we've been telling ourselves that this is all normal and that we just have to get through it. But for the last week we've really been struggling and it had just gotten to the point where we knew we had to do something. It's hard not to feel like we've failed as parents because we've let it go this long without getting help. But this is our first time doing this, and the lack of perspective is hard to overcome sometimes. At any rate, I think we both feel really good about this first step towards trying to make things better for Sam. We've got a great doctor on our side, and tons of support from friends and family. It could all definitely be worse, and we'll hope that there's a simple, expedient solution to all of this. But either way, we're here in the trenches for the long haul.

8/15/2005

Let the brain-washing begin!

Sooner Baby!

Sam tried out his crib this weekend for the first time and loved it. He didn't really get any sleeping done, but was fascinated by the OU mobile. It plays "Boomer Sooner" in a soothing, lullaby-esque way. We figure that it's never too early to start imprinting him with a subconscious allegiance to OU. He's going to have to spend the next 20 years watching them play football and basketball on TV. And if he's really lucky, he'll get to see some games in Norman when he's home visiting grandma & grandpa. So he might as well learn the fight song.

When Sam wasn't laying peacefully in his crib staring at the OU bears, he spent the bulk of the weekend attempting to break the world record for loudest continuous screaming fit. I'm pretty sure he feel short of the mark, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I'm sure that with proper training, he'll get there eventually. And if somehow he doesn't, we at least know that his cardiovascular capacity will serve him well should he decide to take up a career that requires him yell at very high volume for extended periods of time.

8/11/2005

Taking comfort in the pain of strangers.

Here it comes....


Over the course of the last few difficult days with Sam, both Alissa and I have been taking solace in the pain and discomfort of others. Other parents, to be exact. These days it seems, nothing makes either of us feel better than to read or hear other peoples' horror stories about their children. I'm not generally someone who enjoys seeing other people in pain. (unless it's people falling down in public, then I think it's hilarious) But trust me, when you've endured several endless hours with a colicky baby, it feels very good to know that you're not the only person who's ever considered shooting themselves in the head. To that end, it was with great pleasure that I discovered this blog entry while trolling the internet this afternoon. It's true what they say, misery does love company.

8/10/2005

A chip off the old block

This morning I exchanged a few emails with my buddy Michael, who's been my best friend since we were little. He lives in Austin now, with his wife Kelly and their 2 daughters. I was telling him about some of the tough times we've had recently with Sam, and what an adjustment it's been for me. I knew he'd have some good advice, since he's a veteran daddy. He passed on a few words of wisdom, and of course, made me laugh out loud. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine...

Michael: Just remember buddy, all of this is God's way of preparing you for the teenage years.

Me: Ha Ha. Well, at least I know that those years will be a little less stressful for me than they will be for you my friend. ( A thinly veiled allusion to the fact that he's the VERY over-protective father of two young girls.)

Michael: Nope no stress, once I kill the first little motherfu#@er I think everyone will know not to screw with me.

Me: Well don't worry, we'll keep Sam away from your daughters at that age.

Michael: Good idea. I'd hate for you to lose your first born because he crossed my path.

It's hard to believe that this is the son of a man who once told me he was going to rip my head off and shit down my throat. At soccer practice. When I was 8. And he was my coach.

8/09/2005

Fast Freddy comes to L.A.

On Sunday my cycling club Velo Club La Grange hosted the 2nd Annual West LA College Grand Prix. This year's race was a big success, with huge fields competing in every category on the tough, 1.3 mile course with it's signature, agonizing climb to the finish. I competed in the race last year, but decided to sit this one out since daddyhood has put a serious crimp in my fitness lately. (This is definitely not a race for the faint if heart!)

I did however, come out and join my fellow club members to volunteer at the race. I manned the Prime table, handing out donated primes to the winners in all the races. Our booth was set up right next to the announcers booth at the Start/Finish Line, so we had an awesome view of the course. And this year, we also had a view of our special guest in the Men's Pro 1/2 race, 3-time US Pro National Champion, Tour de France finsher and Giro D'Italia Stage winner, Freddy Rodriguez. "Fast Freddy" contacted our racing director Dave Kiere the night before the race to ask politely if he might be included at the last minute, since he was in town spending time with his family. Dave of course jumped at the chance to have such a huge name competing in our little local event, and word went out via email that we'd have a VIP in attendance.

The day itself was awesome. All the races were very competitive, and the club turned out in droves to support the event. By the time the Pro race started, the course was lined with spectators and it felt more like a stage race in Europe than a one day race in L.A. The officials even arranged for the Pros to do a parade lap around the course so the fans could get an up-close glimpse of Fast Freddy and the rest of the field, which included a who's-who of top U.S. Pros. My coach Josh Horowitz raced for La Grange, as did the rest of the men's team including Mexican National Champion Maro Rios. Also on hand was David Clinger, so recently made headlines in the cycling world for showing up to training camp sporting a full-facial Maori tattoo, for which he was promptly fired.


After the parade lap, the field lined up and introductions were made before the starting bell. Right away I was blown away by the power and speed on display. These guys were flying up the hill! I joined the rest of the fans on the edge of the course and watched the race unfold. Freddy stayed in the break that was established early and sat in, making it all look too easy. The leaders traded pulls for over an hour, and magaged to stay away from the field, which had disintigrated on the tough, relentless climb. Coming into the final lap, the only question was whether Freddy was going to allow one of the local boys to take all the glory, or if he would flex his muscles and take the win himself. As the leaders came onto the final climb, there was no longer any doubt. Freddy stood up, hit the gas, and left the others in his wake, cruising to an easy win. The rest of the field limped in one by one, looking happy just to have finished such a tough race.



Afterwards Freddy did a post-race interview and then stuck around signing autograps and posing for pictures. I went back to my duties at the Primes desk, and finished out the afternoon cheering on my teammates in the Cat 4 race. None of our boys had a very good day, since by that time the heat and the wind had taken their toll. But they slugged it out anyway, and I watched form the sidelines, wishing I could have been out there with them.

It was a great day for the club, and for anyone who loves cycling. I had a ball and was reminded yet again, why I love this sport so much.

Click on here to see my slide show and here to see a copy of the Cycling News story about the race, which features more great pictures.

8/07/2005

great literature

"embrace this right now life while it's dripping, while the flavors are excellently woesome. take your bites with bravery and boldness since the learning and the growing are here in these times, these exact right nows. capture these times. hold and kiss them because it will soon be very different."

"kiss your childen not so tht they will kiss you back, but so that they will kiss their children and their children's children."

hi, it's alissa again. sam is nappng in his car seat (one of his favorite spots for daytime naps) and i am writing in the brief silence. it is significant that the quotes above are the longest pieces of literature that i have read lately, and that i only read them becausse i found them printed on the side of my latte cups from starbucks last week. these quotes have stayed with me all week, and so they finally make their way here today.

the first quote appeals to me because it matches an epiphany that i had in the middle of the night the other night: as i was sitting in the rocking chair feeding sam at 3 a.m., i looked down at him and he looked suddenly bigger and older to me (probably because he has gained two punds in the last few weeks!). i suddenly realized that he will not be a baby forever. i realized that he will likely be crawling by christmas, and walking by next summer, and that he will grow up and away from us by leaps and bounds. i relaized that he is already not a newborn anymore, and that he never will be again. i realized that once he outgrows these tiny clothes, he will never wear them again, and i realized that each moment is precious and that i should not wish these days away. i know there will be a day when i look back on sam's babyhood and think "it went so fast - it was a flash in the pan". sometimes, when kyle and i are tired or sam is upset, it's so easy to think "i can't wait until he outrgrows this phase," or i can't wait until sam can talk to me". but i think that's a mistake. because every phase of life has its firsts and its joys and its frustrations. but i want to be present for every moment of sam's life, the good and the bad. i want to take him for better and for worse. i want to watch all the changes and revel in the small triumphs. every moment is a moment that i am getting to know my son, andgetting to be with my son. and every moment is precious. besides, life it what happens while we are busy making other plans. i want to enjoy the ride i'm on while i'm still on it.

i love the second quote because sometimes when sam is this small, it's easy to feel that he doesn't know what we are doing for him, that he might not appreciate all the love and care we are pouring into him. sometimes it feels like it just might not be accomplishing anything, especially when it doesn't soothe him in ways that we can see. but then i realize that getting recognition is not the point, the point is that he will grow into a person who has been loved, and that will show through in him in ways big and small. i'm told that kyle was a very colicky baby, and i know that his parents loved and held and talked to him through it all. and he's grown into someone i love more than ice cream. and my own parents tell a story about me screaming all the way across the atlantic ocean on an airplane as an infant, but i don't remember that. what i remember is that when i cried as a child, someone was always there to soothe me. it's powerful to me to think that now it is my turn to do that for someone new, to pass on the love and care through the generations.

but right now i'm just going to go pass on the milk, because sam is stirring and is bound to be hungry!

8/06/2005

11 lbs. and counting...

Alissa weighed Sam at the Pump Station on Friday and our boy tipped the scales at 11lbs. 2oz.!! Now that he's getting about 60% of his meals from formula, he's growing like a weed and is a MUCH happier baby. He definitely still has some fussy times, but he's managed to go a week now without any "bad" days and is increasingly able to be awake and alert without crying, much to the delight of his parents.

On Thursday our friends Mark & Jen arrived from Norman with their 6 month old daughter Mallory. Jen is Alissa's best friend from childhood and her husband Mark married Alissa and I, so they're pretty much family. They came out to meet Sam and spend a weekend in LA. We had a wonderful time with them and it was nice to spend several days with parents of a baby so close to Sam's age. Thursday night we all got really ambitious and went down to the Santa Monica Pier to meet our friends Max & Carmela and their daughter Alexa for a seaside picnic and a concert under the stars. Sam was a champ and we had a great night. Saturday they all explored the Grove while I stayed home and waited for the repair man to come and fix our air conditioner. Then that night we cooked out at home and had a ball. This afternoon we gave Mark & Jen our patented LA Tour, and then hit the beach in Malibu for some fun in the sun. Tonight we're going to get Thai take-out and maybe even play some Mexican Train. It doesn't get much crazier than that around the Millar House these days!

It's been a constant flow of friends and family these last three weeks, but it's been wonderful to have so much help and so many friendly faces around all the time. Sam continues to grow into the world and though the first few weeks were pretty rough, we feel fortunate to have survived them. Now we know we won't take the good times for granted and we'll appreciate the moments of calm even more.

Now without further ado, here's a slide show of Sam's latest and greatest...
(click on the photo for the show)

The Definition of Love

8/03/2005

Uncle Kerry Comes to Town

Uncle Kerry & Aunt Kristin came from North Carolina to visit Sam last weekend. Since Sam is the 1st grandchild on either side of our family, he's also instantly created the 1st two Uncles and "almost" Aunts as well. (Kerry & Kristin are engaged and hopefully Alex & Sarah aren't far behind) I'm happy to report that they all got along famously and that Kerry was a total pro with the baby. He held him, fed him, changed diapers and happily tolerated a couple of Sam's "rough" days. Of course, he also had the ability to leave town on Tuesday morning, which made it a lot easier to take all of the crying and fussing, but he was a trooper none the less.

Uncle Kerry & Sam

We spent the weekend cooking and eating well, taking trips to the beach and generally taking it easy. Kerry's in an intense graduate program at UNC Chapel Hill, so I think it was nice for them to just be able to relax for awhile. Alissa and I loved having the extra help around and were sad to see them go. Sam's still growing like a weed and slowly getting less colicky every day. He occasionally regresses to his former, fussy ways, but generally he's doing pretty well. I've even managed to get him down on my own a couple of nights in a row, which has done wonders for my self-confidence and our collective sanity as parents. When he's not sleeping or eating, Sam spends the remaining 2% of his days smiling and looking around at his new world. He loves laying on his changing table and watching his mobile, and playing on his baby gym. He's also holding his head up frequently, which I'm told means he's very advanced. (Of course, we already knew that.) He's also developed quite an affinity for warm baths, which gives me hope that when he gets older he'll love being in the water as much as his daddy does.

I've put together a few pictures from the last few days. Click on the photo below for a slideshow.

At the Gym

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