(T)GIF – The Dude

It’s Friday. The weather is finally cooling down a tad in southern California (omg it’s under 90, let’s wear scarves). And the Angels won the division.

It’s time to party, people.

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(T)GIF is a regular Friday feature at Smiling Through Tearz. Know of an animated gif that makes you tinkle with laughter, cry or cringe that you think should be featured at STT? Let me know at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com.

Gray Has a Girlfriend

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Around May, my 3-year-old son, Gray, started talking about his girlfriend. Matter-of-factly, he’d wedge her in to conversation. Like it was an achievement. He was being humble, but wanted us know to know he had one.

As curious parents, my wife and I peppered the boy with questions about this lady friend. Over the course of the last several months we’ve developed a pretty good idea of who this girl is, based on eerily consistent and specific answers to our questions. And now, I present to you Grayson’s girlfriend – Hayley.

Gray met 2-year-old Hayley at B.J.’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. If you take him there he will show you the booth she ate at. She has brown hair and brown eyes. And she lives in a hotel.

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She was supposed to meet us at Roman Cucina in Fullerton for a Mother’s Day dinner, but never showed. Gray seem more relieved than hurt that she flaked on him.

While watching a Brewers’ tee-ball game in the spring, Gray pointed out a father from the other team. As we sat on the bleachers, having not discussed Hayley at all, he told me that this father, dressed in a bright orange construction shirt with jeans and tan boots, locked Hayley in a cage. Gray saved his woman when he pushed this man in to a mud pie. A couple of months later he mentioned parts of this same story. With the same details. Stoically. And I have no idea what a mud pie is.

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On Saturday, when we left the Harbor House Cafe, a woman in her early 30s with purple hair pulled her Bentley in to the parking lot. Gray told me that he colored Hayley’s hair red and called her Roxy. I was afraid to probe him further on this anecdote.

Now, Hayley has competition.

A girl in his preschool class has taken a keen liking to our boy. She has black hair with a fuzzy caterpillar for eyebrows. My wife said yesterday when she dropped the twins off in their class, said girl rushed to welcome Gray. We’ve asked if he still has a girlfriend, and who it is. And he firmly says it’s still Hayley.

But to be fair to this girl, really, how could she compete with Hayley? She lives in a hotel, she likes one of Gray’s favorite foods (pizza), she colors her hair and even goes by different names to spice things up. And she’s never around. Sounds like marriage material to me.

Water Play, Snapped and a New Niece – How Was Your Weekend?

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Friday

Ellie is a natural athlete. She has good hand-eye coordination, fantastic motor skills and excellent balance. She’s pretty strong, too. Whereas Gray needs hard work and a passion to reach his goals, Ellie picks up new things naturally and gets it. The most obvious illustration of this is baseball.

Typically Ellie would rather watch Gray swing off the tee or play catch. She’s indifferent to the whole thing. Meanwhile, it’s Gray getting in the extra hacks as he roleplays as Mike Trout with the Angel game on in the background. His clunky swing has shown some improved results, but it’s better designed to wield a sword.

So when Ellie grabbed the tee, set it up in the kitchen and said she was going to hit a home run like Mike Trout, I felt warm fuzzies all over. Gray cheered her on from the couch with a red foam finger and an Angels knit cap.

Between swings she’d read the score, which has become a hobby of hers over the past couple of weeks. Most of the time she’s correct. She even knows the Angels’ top three hitters, in order: Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Josh Hamilton’s been hurt since forever, or else she’d probably know him, too.

Below is a clip of our night.

Saturday

To beat the heat while my wife slept off a hospital shift I took the kids to my parents’ house for water play. Gray and Ellie bounced around from different inflatables filled with water while rocking out to the Frozen channel (it’s all Disney songs) on iTunes Radio.

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We just hung out, got wet and enjoyed a few hours in the sun. It was nice. Gray had a good time, I’d say.

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“This is a real fun party,” Gray enthusiastically said. Four different times. Ellie agreed.

“This is the best party of the year!” she shouted. No idea why they thought it was a party, but they had a blast.

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Our plan was to go to the beach all day. But the thought of crowds, sand and constant heat kept us at home. Instead, my dad and I took the kids to the beach for dinner.

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We grubbed at Harbor House Cafe in Sunset Beach. Our shakes melted within minutes of hitting the table and my burger, requested as medium, came back black. Once past the edges it wasn’t as bad, but the taste of the meat itself completely lacked. It tastes way better at 1 a.m. after a night of drinking. Or breakfast. Get there before noon and you’re likely to be okay.

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Afterwards we drove up to Seal Beach and walked on the pier. They got their feet in the sand a bit, we snapped some sunset photos headed home.

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Sunday

From what I can only assume was the result of an exhausting Saturday, Ellie woke up with rage. She started off okay before losing her shit.

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I was in the bathroom getting ready and Gray was laying in a toy doggy bed pretending to be a dog. He got up and Ellie swooped in. Eventually they shared until Gray knocked her on the head or something. It wasn’t anything serious, but he wanted the doggy bed back. While he rest on his right side, head on the ground, Ellie got up on her knees, her Hello Kitty wrist wallet in hand, lifted it over her head and viciously brought it down to the bath mat just to the right of Gray’s head. She missed.

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But she didn’t miss the second time. She did the same thing, clocked him on the forehead and sent Gray, normally a pretty tough kid, running crazy. I put Ellie in time out and went to comfort Gray. Blood ran from his head. Oh shit she beat him good. Kristina patched him up while I tried to deal with Ellie. Inside the wrist wallet was a plastic hot dog, a key chain and a toy baby bottle. Whatever it was that got him got him good.

graycutGirls are insane.

My sister manufactures bowling bowls designed as babies, and she delivered her second at 3:21 p.m. Claire Anna, my niece, weighed 10 pounds, 8 ounces and is 21 inches long. Her son, Liam, was about 9 1/2 pounds. I spent most of the day at the hospital waiting for chubs to visit the world while my wife made sure Ellie didn’t boil Gray’s Pluto stuffed animal for dinner.

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It’s hard being at that hospital. I mean, I’m soooo happy for my sister and her husband and I’m excited to have a niece and a girl for Ellie to grow up with. Thrilled that mom and baby are completely healthy. But Jax died next door at CHOC. and we should have had one baby in April (miscarriage in 2013) and should be due for a December delivery (miscarriage in April). But as you recall, I’m pretty good at pushing my shit down, so I did that, focused on happy times for my family and waited for my own melancholy and infinite sadness for my ride home. And hoped our chance would come again.

(T)GIF – Best Gif Everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Hat tip to my buddy Will who found this on The Chive and brought it to my attention. There are no words to describe it. And I have no idea what movie it’s from. Just enjoy the glory.

Best Gif Ever

(T)GIF is a regular Friday feature at Smiling Through Tearz. Know of an animated gif that makes you tinkle with laughter, cry or cringe that you think should be featured at STT? Let me know at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com.

How Was Your Summer?

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I’m not going to bury the lede (I majored in journalism. Let me be all journalist-y, dammnit. And yes, lede rather than lead makes me seem extra journalist-y. Roll with it.) I went swimming for the first time in two years. Since the day Jax died.

In middle August we camped at Carpinteria State Beach with a bunch of families that work with my wife in the NICU. On the second day of hanging out on the beach, Gray began to warm up to the idea of playing in the water. Enough so that he asked to boogie board. I grabbed an unused board and carried the densely boned boy (he’s fucking heavy) in to the ocean. I tried sticking him on the board, got him horizontal and that was enough for him. After hiding under a t-shirt the first day, I was up to my gut in ocean, which my body finally warmed up to. I walked him back up to mom on the beach and returned to the water, my hands clutching the board. It was time to hurdle this obstacle.

I swiftly considered the significance of being in the water again. Like, for three seconds. Then I buried that shit down as I paddled out to some others in our group waiting on waves. A part of me felt like I was betraying Jax by returning to the water. It’s a similar feeling to the guilt when I first found myself smiling in fleeting moments months after he died. As if my love and grieving over Jax wasn’t as deep as it was when I only cried in heart ache. But I’ve mastered stuffing things down, and spent the next hour feeling uber inadequate at catching waves while the sun burned the top of my hands. THE TOP OF MY HANDS, PEOPLE. The hell?

Without traffic (a So Cal mantra of sorts), Carpinteria is about two hours away. Naturally, it took us about four-and-a-half hours to get up there on a Thursday. This is a snippet of Gray for about two hours of the drive.

The kids started preschool when we returned from Carpinteria. They love it. Ellie asked the teacher and the class to call her Elsa. Jax had the same teacher, so we have a strong rapport with her, and she knew that wouldn’t be okay with us. But she swears her friends call her Elsa. Of course, Gray swears they call him Hans of the Southern Isles. Anyway, how was your summer?

Other Stuff

– The 2014 CHOC Walk is just 35 days away. Go here to sign up to walk or sponsor the team. Anything and everything is greatly appreciated. I created a Facebook page for the team. We scheduled a dining for dollars fundraiser at Super Mex in Lakewood. Print out this flyer and come drink some of these with us!

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We are also planning a similar event at the Rubio’s in Orange on North Tustin Avenue, near the Orange Mall (I know it’s not called that anymore but that’s what I know it as. Also, I’m old. And I still call the place the Ducks play The Pond.) We will announce the date soon.

– I’m tired of the site’s look and will be searching for other design options in WordPress.

– Posts on the planning sheet: Gray Has a Girlfriend, Ellie Has a Boyfriend, Untitled piece on Ellie’s hips that don’t lie, regular T(GIF) and How Was Your Weekend posts.

I’m back, people.

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An Open Love Letter to Matt Shoemaker

This was intended for bugsandcranks.com, but apparently the Eastern European hackers really like the hits for their pharmacy website, because it’s been hijacked. Rather than waste my efforts, I’m going to post it here until Bugs is back up and running. Matt Shoemaker is a pitcher for the Angels, by the way. 

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My Handsome Matthew David Shoemaker,

You never stop surprising me. After you signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, our paths never crossed. How could they? You, undrafted out of Eastern Michigan, and me, only paying attention to real baseball prospects. But this year. Oh, Matty, this year. The stars brought us together.

Somehow you broke Spring Training and made the Angels’ 25-man roster. You pitched serviceably out of the bullpen, fulfilling the role of a versatile long man. Honestly, I didn’t expect you to last. In May, however, you returned. In my birthday month, no less! I just love how you knew that. Anyway, you returned, and you returned for good. Your boss, Mike Scioscia, handed you some starts once Hector Santiago shit the bed and lost his spot in the rotation.

Rotoworld treated you like another one of their hussies.

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But you showed them. And me, darling. You caught my interest. But I kept my distance. I didn’t think it could last. In June I swooned as you struck out a career high 10 against the Indians. You aroused my faith. So much that the stinker you tossed against the Kansas City Royals on June 27 (4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER) did little to dissuade me.

I never told you this, my man stallion, but what I saw in you, that thing that gave me hope, was your strikeouts. We all know you’re not a bombshell. Radar guns aren’t shorting out from excitement when you step on the mound. You weren’t the kind of guy that was ever going to make the cover of Baseball America. But you figured out how to succeed with the tools that God gave you.

How does one, armed with a measily 90-mph fastball, manage to strike out more than a batter per inning pitched? It’s because you know how to use your tools.

Your splitter makes me tremble inside. But it’s your ability to hit the right spots with five pitches (splitter, four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider and knuckle curve) that puts these batters to bed to the tune of 8.86 whiffs per nine innings.

Everything changed for me on August 9. That’s the date I fell in love. The Man Crush was born. It was at home, in Anaheim, and you guys were hosting the Boston Redsox. I was laying in bed. Cemented in a 4-4 tie in the 17th inning, you entered the game in relief. Just three days before you pitched well in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 K). You twirled three perfect innings with four strikeouts until Albert Pujols’s walk-off home run ended the marathon and sent your aching arm to chill in a bucket of ice until the clubs in Downtown Santa Ana turned the lights on and made the hood rats go home.

I bragged about you to my friends. I wish I could’ve massaged that right shoulder of yours.

My honey, that is when you stole my heart. To pitch that long in relief – that well – on short rest was heroic. Gutsy. And thrilling. But you weren’t done.

When super model Garrett Richards tore up his August 20, many considered the Angels’ World Series dreams in jeopardy. Even after an 8-3 victory in that game, the clubhouse was silent. No one celebrated the victory. Everyone was crushed about losing Richards.

Baseball media based the rotation. They wondered whether you and your buddies could keep the Angels in a pennant race without the bombshell. That very next night you showed them. At Fenway Park you entered the seventh with a no-hitter until the “butthole” Will Middlebrooks ripped a double down the left field line. You finished the 2-0 victory with 7.2 IP, that one hit, just one walk and nine strike outs.

You lifted the Angels when they needed it the most, my precious. You ooze humility, grace and class. And you’ll need to do it again tonight against the Miami Marlins. That trashy Wade LeBlanc, filling in for Richards last night, was bombed in a 7-1 drubbing and you’re tied again with the Oakland A’s for the Western Division lead. We need you to keep us in the this game. To pitch well. To win. And I know you will.

My beloved, I’ll be there tonight to root you on. Look for me in the suites behind home plate. Watch for my fluttering baby blues. With butterfiles in my stomach and my heart at your mercy.

Eternally Yours,

Seth Tearz

CHOC Walk 2014: Iron Jax Details

Registration for the 2014 CHOC Walk in the Park is and team Iron Jax has been created. This year’s Walk will be Sunday, October 12 at 6:30 a.m. It will kick off at Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A.

For those that don’t know, Jax passed away at CHOC’s pediatric intensive care unit. The entire staff was so compassionate to us and treated us with so much respect that this is our little way to give back to the hospital and the community in memory of our little hero.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

Iron Jax group shot at California Adventure.

What is the CHOC Walk?

The Children’s Hospital of Orange County annually raises funds to support the care, services, research and education that CHOC provides children. Last year more than 15,000 participants raise $2.1 million from the event, which was presented by Disneyland Resort.

Gray and I.

Gray and I.

The Walk is a 5k stroll through Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. You do not receive entrance into the parks after the Walk, however, walkers have the chance to buy discounted tickets on the day of the event:

1-Day Park Hopper® ticket for $78 or a 1-Day 1-Park Ticket for $50 for use on this or your next trip to Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park!  A maximum of 5 tickets may be purchased per wristband. Offer valid on 10/12/2014 and tickets expire 11/7/2014.

How to Register

Go here and click on “Join an Existing Team” on the right-hand menu. Scroll down and enter “Iron Jax” as the team name. It takes you a page to verify this is the Iron Jax that you are looking for (Kristina is listed as the captain) and then click on Iron Jax. At the right of the team page you’ll see the active roster and a “Join Team” button. Click it.

You can sign up as an individual walker (no fee required but you’ll need to raise $50 minimum) or as a sleeping bear, which allows you to raise funds in your name, for Iron Jax, and take part in prizes. But you aren’t able to walk.

Sponsor a Walker 

If you’d like to simply make a donation as a non-team member, click here. Full disclosure, that takes you to my personal page. Click the “Donate Now” button to proceed. If you want to donate to a specific person on Iron Jax, go to the Iron Jax main page, click on the Walker you want to donate in the name of and go from there. Please keep in mind to walk, a Walker needs to have raised a minimum of $50. Children ages 3 and up are required to be Walkers. Two and under are free.

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Iron Jax T-Shirts

We will order t-shirts again depending on the demand. So if you want one, let us know. Otherwise we’ll assume most everyone has one by now and won’t place an order.

Must Read

CHOC created two pages worth reading before the event. Please refer to these pages for any questions that you may have:

Event Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Prizes

As an incentive, CHOC has laid out a prize structure which is found here.

Thank you in advance for those that choose to take part in this event as a walker, fund raiser or donor. It means so much to our family to give back to the community in Jax’s memory.

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