Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's Crunch Time, Baby

In what seems like a running theme, I must apologize for the length of time since my last post. The past 6-7 weeks have been hectic on many levels. On the work front, we are now in the middle of fall championship season and I am on the national Division II women's soccer committee so that adds quite a bit to my normal workday. In addition, basketball season is right around the corner so we have been getting ready for that. Finally, we have two new staff members who are doing a terrific job; but just as anyone in a new position, they have a lot of questions and this is their first year in our league and I am trying to help and mentor them as much as possible. I have also been doing quite a bit of travel...two trips to Indy, an AD meeting and Title IX seminar in Hickory and a few football games on Saturdays.

On a personal note, Joanna and I took some time (a baby moon) and went to Destin for a few days the end of September. It was great to get away and spend time with just each other since it will all change very soon. A special shout out to Joanna's sister (Maggie) and her boyfriend (Brendan) who let us use their condo for the week. Even though they crashed our baby moon for a few days :-), it was great to see them and we really did have an awesome time. FYI, a 10-hour drive each way was a treat for a pregnant woman!!

Joanna and I then went to DC for our nephew's baptism. Ethan Ryan is an amazing little guy and Joanna was lucky enough to be chosen as his godmother. We get to see him and his awesome brother, Jackson, this weekend as they are coming for a visit. Maybe a good tryout to see how unprepared we really are!!

On a sad note, on October 14, my 96-year old grandmother passed away. I hate that she did not make it long enough to meet Baby Britz, but her health had deteriorated a lot over the past few years and I know she was in a lot of pain. Her mind never faltered and she was as sharp as ever up until just a few days prior to her passing. I am so glad I was able to move back to this part of the country three years ago and got to see her on a more frequent basis the last few years. She took me to my first Phillies game against the Cubs at Wrigley (don't remember the year, but I do remember Mike Schmidt jacking one or two HRs) and my first Notre Dame football game in South Bend (vs. Miami in 1980). She was always a huge supporter of mine and came to a lot of my soccer and basketball games, as well as a lot of my skating meets. She will be missed greatly, but in anticipation that someday I would have a baby, she made a blanket a few years ago and it is hanging neatly over the crib right now. Thanks grandma!!

Well, as the title states, it is crunch time. We have a c-section scheduled for next Friday...that's right, the baby's birthday is going to be 11-11-11. Of course, he/she could throw all that off by deciding to come early! My sleep patterns have already started being altered by the overwhelming feeling of there is no way in hell I am ready for this. Poor Joanna is not very comfortable and definitely at the 'get it out stage' and I am at the 'freaking out' stage. To see the change in Joanna's body and what women have to deal with during this time, makes me appreciate the fairer gender even more. What an amazing sacrifice they have to make during this process, but they do it and we love them for it!

While I am very excited to have our child enter the world, I would be lying if I said I won't miss my quiet mornings with coffee while browsing the internet or watching some meaningless TV shows or movies. I am sure once I get to hold him/her, stupid selfish thoughts like that will not even enter my mind, but as we inch closer to the big day, I keep thinking of the things that I won't be able to do anymore.

Well that's it for you think it would be wrong for me to take one last trip to Vegas before next Friday?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Room With A View

One of the most exciting, enjoyable and 'this sh*# is for real' parts of preparing for Baby Britz's arrival has been getting the nursery ready. The room in the house we chose for this was one that had been storing a daybed, the treadmill and some other odds and ends. There was little to no organization to the room and the previous owners of the house had painted it a horrid deep green for some unknown reason. It was so dark, I had to prime it twice!!

The first thing we did was take out the daybed out and it is now stored in the attic and garage. Next we got the treadmill out and it is being stored (and used more than it ever was) at the in-laws in Raleigh. Thanks to Tom and Sandy for helping out with this and I am glad it is being used. After that we got all the other random crap that accumulated in the room and closet out so we could start painting.

If you read some of the earlier entries, you know we are not finding out the gender of the baby prior to its arrival so we had to pick some gender neutral colors to paint the room. After my idea of painting the room to look like the outfield of Citizens Bank Park (home of the five-time NL East champions and soon to be 2011 World Series champions Philadelphia Phillies), we decided on a nice beige for the base color and then painted a stripe of mint green and stripe of a butter yellow. It does not get much more gender neutral than that!!! A special thanks to Brian Davis who helped prime and paint the base color on his short visit here from Texas in July! And yes, this has been a several month project, but it turned out awesome!!!

We then decided to go with animals (mainly animals from Australia) for the theme. I wanted to do a shark them, but again was outvoted 1-1. I have to be honest, this whole theme thing for a baby's room is the biggest scam ever. There is no way this kid will have any clue what the hell is on the walls, in the crib, on the shelves, etc., for about two years. But we as parents feel the need to make everything perfect for our own peace of mind so we drop a bunch of money and pretend to be on those home improvement shows. Shoot, the baby probably won't even sleep in the room for the first 4-5 months! But I digress...we had some stuffed animals that were koalas and kangaroos and then some standard teddy bears, but we really had nothing for the walls. After much discussion and stopping by a few stores, we found these wood animal figures of tigers, lions, giraffes, elephants and one monkey that are about three inches high at Hobby Lobby. In what is probably the cheapest and lamest interior decoration effort ever, we bought several of them and just taped them on the wall in between the two stripes. Amazingly enough, they look great...they add just the right amount of color and they go very nicely with the theme. In the near future, some shelves will be added and then maybe the name over the crib once the baby arrives.

Somewhere in between all this we did purchase a nice crib and dresser. We also just bought a glider and ottoman and the I am still lobbying for the 50" flat screen for the wall. I will leave it on the Animal Planet channel so as to not disrupt the theme!! We also got a new closet organizer and installed it in one afternoon. I have to admit I am pretty proud of myself for doing all this without professional help because I am not what you would call a handy man. To be fair, Joanna did help quite a bit with everything but the painting for obvious reasons.

I will say once we got the crib put together (hopefully well enough to support the baby) and it was just sitting there glaring at me, it really hit home that this was happening. I am very excited to put Baby Britz in the crib and stand there watching him or her sleep. At the same time, it is very frightening to think this kid has to rely on me and Joanna for EVERYTHING. I have no idea what kind of dad I will be, but putting the nursery together has given me hope that I am not a complete moron when it comes to fixing up stuff around the house. Who knows, maybe the kid will even be impressed by this at some point. Until next time...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Name Game

I am posting tonight based on the numerous requests I received on facebook today. Joanna has also been 'encouraging' me to post another entry for a while. It has been three weeks since my last post and that is too for my loyal followers I offer my sincerest apologies!

As I stated in my last post, we are not going to find out the gender of the baby prior to its arrival. While that has been far and away the most asked question, next in line is if we have names picked out. I have to admit the whole process of picking a name has been overwhelming for me. I mean this is the ultimate a human being a name that he or she will be stuck with until they are at least old enough to legally change it (I have no clue what that age is, but as far as our child is concerned it is no sooner than 35!).

Joanna and I have a book of like 20,000 names for boys and girls and every time we open it and start discussing possibilities, she reminds me how old I am based on the names I like. I remind her that just because we know someone who has a certain name does not immediately eliminate it from our option list! Because there is always the threat of someone stealing a name we like (Joanna's concern, not mine), I am not allowed to post any of the names we are considering in this blog. I can tell you, however, that Cliff Lee Britz has been vetoed in the case it is a boy! Therefore, our boy is already behind the eight ball in his quest win a Cy Young award.

I do fear that maybe we are not equipped to pick a good name. I mean maybe we are taking this gender neutral thing too far. After all, when you introduce yourselves as Jo and Pat I am not sure that is a strong resume for being able to pick good names specific to a boy or a girl!

Fortunately, we are close to 100% agreement on a boy's name so we have spent most of our discussions on a girl's name. Since neither of us is really fond of the other's suggestions, I am going to be creative and think outside the box. If we have a girl, I am going to recommend her name be Sixteen, a la George Costanza from the TV show Seinfeld who wanted to name his kid Seven in honor of Mickey Mantle. The only famous athlete I know of to where the number Sixteen is Joe Montana and while I think he was a great QB at Notre Dame and in the NFL, that is not why I like it as a name.

First of all, Sixteen was my soccer number in college for my first three years (somehow I was given 10 for my senior year and still have not gotten a good explanation why) so that has been my favorite number since that time. Secondly, the sixteenth birthday is such a special one for girls, how awesome would it be for Sixteen to think about that from day one?!?!

So Sixteen it is for a girl...nicknames could be One Six, Comeback Joe (Joe Montana's best nickname in my opinion), Driver's License or Sake (which has a 16% alcohol by volume). Other suggestions are welcome! Thanks and until next time...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

Sorry it has been a while since my last post. Finding enough time to actually sit down and write has been tougher than I thought. Anyway...

From the moment I have even thought about being a father, I have always wanted to keep the sex of the baby unknown. I know in today's instant gratification and need to know now world, that sort of thinking is very antiquated and old fashioned. Maybe the fact I am older than your average first-time father has something to do with it. Fortunately, I am married to someone who feels the same way; therefore, from the outset of this experience Joanna and I decided we were not going to find out if we were having a boy or a girl until the little critter actually appears in the world. Obviously, this is a personal choice and I do not look down on those that do find out what the sex is prior to the actual birth; however, the reaction we have gotten from many has ranged from apathetic to proud to almost angry.

To be honest, not finding out the sex of the baby has not been as difficult as I thought it would be. Joanna and I were able to agree on some very nice gender neutral colors to paint the nursery and coming up with a neutral theme was not a monumental challenge (pictures of the nursery will be posted once it is completed). The hardest part has been trying to explain to some who ask if we are having a boy or a girl why we are not finding out.

First, the only reason we need to give is because we don't want to. Secondly, it is one of the few remaining surprises left in the world and planning for the unknown is pretty exciting. Unfortunately, for some these answers have not been enough. To be fair, most of the responses have been either a shrug of the shoulders or supportive of this decision. Some, however, have gotten very upset and confused about this decision. They can't understand how we are able to plan or how we can see a sonogram of the baby and not want to know. A lot of these people we don't even know very well so I am not sure why they care, but to each their own. I think some are frustrated because they are not sure what to give us as a gift. If you are one of those, cash or gift cards are GREAT gifts!!! :-)

The best part of not knowing the gender is hearing all the crazy ways people KNOW exactly what we are having. They range from what Joanna is eating/craving, how oversized shirts hang over her belly, if she sleeps on her side or back, etc. And of course, everyone has an opinion and it has been a fun to hear all of the theories. Several family and friends have "wished" a girl on me for my many playful remarks about the softer gender over the past several years. I am quite certain, if it is a girl, she will have me wrapped around her little finger in no time! For the record, I am convinced it's a girl and Joanna is convinced it's a boy. I will take suggestions on what the wager should be between us on this one!

The only challenge remaining for us regarding the sex of the baby is picking names. Until next time...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I know this blog is about Joanna and me preparing to have a baby and my thoughts/fears/excitement about becoming a father; however, a traumatic thing happened about 2 months ago that I need to chat about.

On June 12, my dog of nearly 14 years passed away. While she was certainly and older dog who was slowing down and having some bladder control problems, she had been a major part of my life for so long that it has been hard to fathom she is no longer with me. Many of you reading this met Josie at some point and I honestly don't recall one person who spent any amount of time with her that did not think she was one of the sweetest dogs they had ever encountered.

I got Josie in September of 1997 when I was working at the NCAA in Overland Park, KS. Some friends of Shane and Emily Lyons found her as a stray in St. Joseph, MO, which is how she got the name Josie. Shane and Emily knew I was interested in getting a dog so they got me connected with their friends. The moment I met her, I was hooked. The vet guesstimated her age to be about 9 months so her "birthday" became January 15. She and I immediately bonded and I still remember taking her for walks around the apartment complex I lived in at the time. One of my favorite memories of that time with her was taking her to the great dog park in the area with her buddy Dee (Shane and Emily's dalmatian) and wearing her out to the point she would fall asleep on the drive home.

Around January 1998, Josie developed her trademark personality trait of constantly going in circles to her left (except when chasing rabbits, birds, a ball, etc.). I took her to a couple of specialists in the KC area and the conclusion was a possible tumor on her vestibular nerve, which distorted her sense of equilibrium. There was no way to tell exactly what it was without doing an MRI at the cost of approximately $1,000. Even then, there was no guarantee that it could be fixed so I decided to let it go since it clearly did not affect her appetite or disposition. She stayed that way for the remainder of the time I had her and I can't even begin to tell you how many times I had to explain her condition.

All in all, Josie was with me when I moved from KC to Indy, from Indy to Lubbock and from Lubbock to Fort Mill, SC. She was with me when I was passed over for a promotion at the NCAA, when I got a promotion at Texas Tech and when I ultimately became commissioner of the South Atlantic Conference.  She lived in seven different apartments/town homes/houses with me and met quite a few females in my life, including my wonderful wife, Joanna. My point with all this is she was the one constant in my life of highs and lows for nearly 14 years. The scary thing for me to think about was Josie was part of my life nearly as long as my mom was (my mom died when I was 17).

As strange as it sounds, I really think having her in my life has prepared me to be a father. Before people start freaking out thinking I am comparing owning a dog to being a parent, let me explain. From September 1997 until June 2011, I was forced to become more responsible, patient (stop laughing!), nurturing and loving. I always had to think about how she would be cared for when I had to go out of town, when I could get home to let her out, when and what she could eat, etc. I truly believe my experience with her will help me be a better father.

I hate that our baby never got to meet Josie, but her spirit lives on in the house. Her buddy of 8 years, Shortstop (the cat) misses her and sill occasionally goes to the back door waiting for her to come back in the house. Even though Joanna does not particularly care for dogs, she has been a great support the past 2 months and I think we will get a new dog at some point in the next several years (no pressure blue eyes!).

I promise the next entry will be about the baby on the way!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beginning

March 4, 2011, started out like many other birthdays of mine since I began working in the world of college athletics. You see, I have the misfortune of almost always working very long hours on my 'big day' because it seemingly always falls on or around conference basketball tournament time. This particular year was the Friday before the semifinals of the SAC basketball tournament in Hickory, N.C., so it was set up day at the arena and the teams would be participating in shoot arounds most of the day. I had arranged to take the staff to a nice dinner that evening to thank them for their efforts surrounding the tournament thus far and also to have a small celebration for my birthday. Joanna would be driving up in the afternoon to join us for dinner and hang out with us during the games on Saturday and Sunday.

That morning as I was getting ready to leave the house, I had a very overwhelming feeling that my mom was wishing me a happy birthday. For those of you that don't know, my mom passed away from congestive heart failure when I was 17. I have had those sensations before, but this one was strong enough I actually had to sit down for a moment to gather myself. Needless to say, it was a nice way to start the day.

After several hours of loading the van, driving to Hickory, unloading the van and setting things up, I got to the hotel about 5:30 and Joanna was waiting for me with a very special birthday gift. It was a baby jumper that said, "I Love My Daddy" and a home pregnancy test that was positive. Obviously, it was the best birthday present I had ever received and I hugged Joanna so hard I was afraid I hurt her! Maybe it was my mom joining in the hug that made it seem that way!

The hard part was we had to go to dinner that night and act like nothing was different because we obviously could not tell anyone since she was only a few weeks pregnant. One more thing that made me feel like my mom was around was when Joanna told me the appointment with the obstetrician was on April 13 - my mom's birthday!!

Anyway, since March 4 our lives have been centered on getting ready for the baby's arrival. I have had the idea to start this blog for the past few months and, for various reasons, am just now getting around to starting to do it. Feel free to provide comments and feedback, but please keep them PG rated!! I'll be back soon with another entry.