The Good Boy Says…

A blog about life, sports, music, politics, and the world in general

2010 – A Year in Review

On this last day of 2010, my thoughts drift back to the previous 364 days of an absolutely amazing year.

Erin and I rang in 2010 in Chandler, Arizona with our friends Aaron, Carrie and Jordan (five years old) Schmidt, whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding in June 2008.  As part of the trip, Erin and I visited the Grand Canyon and stayed at the El Tovar Hotel along the South Rim.  Despite Erin’s protestations, we awoke to watch the sunrise.  As the Canyon lightened, I was blown away by the enormity and splendor of the vista.  It had been snowing when we arrived, so sunrise was the first glimpse I had of the Canyon.  I was not disappointed.  We went to the lodge for breakfast, all the while planning for a hike to enjoy the view from other locations.  When we emerged from the lodge a short time, the snow had picked up again.  The sunrise view was the only one we would catch of the Grand Canyon; this time, at least.

Erin and I continued our tradition of treating ourselves to a holiday dinner at one of New York City’s finest restaurants.  This year, we opted for Jean Georges.  We had originally scheduled a reservation for late December, but illness required us to postpone our visit.  On Thursday, January 6th, we sat down for an epic meal.   We order two different tasting menus – with wine pairings – and swapped plates midway through each course.  Unlike at Daniel, where we were rushed through the meal, we were given plenty of time to enjoy the experience.  (It helped that we chatted with the captain once we were seated, telling him of the special occasion and alluding to our previous disappointment.)  The service was spectacular.  The wine was superb!  The food was magnificent!!!  In my opinion, Per Se was only slightly better; likely because it was my first ultra-fine dining experience.  Had Jean Georges been the first, our ranking system might look a little different.  FOUR STARS!  We’ve now dined at four of the seven New York Times 4-star restaurants.   My current ranking would be: Per Se, Jean George, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel.

I woke Monday, January 11th, to what I thought would be a normal day.  Little did I know that my life would be forever changed from that morning on.  Erin told me, just after I woke, that she had found one of my Christmas presents she had forgotten to give me.  I opted to shower before opening it.  When I opened my gift, I had no idea what it was.  It was a very small piece of yellow clothing with a guy with an 70s-style Afro on it.  Confused, I asked her, “Who is this? OJ???”  “There’s a baby! I’m pregnant!”  It was a onesie with a photoshopped picture of President Obama on it that said, “Obama Rama.”  I’ve never been happier in my life than I was at that moment.  A doctor visit shortly thereafter confirmed the news.  Our baby was due in mid-September.

The early part of 2010 brought a lot of travel; both for fun and for work.  For Erin’s birthday, I planned a surprise getaway to Newport, RI.  We stayed in a lovely bed & breakfast, toured The Breakers (Cornelius Vanderbilt’s mansion), ate a terrific meal at Bouchard, the #1 rated restaurant in Newport and walked around a very quaint and empty (in winter) seaside town.   I once again toured extensively with Peter Schickele on his PDQ Bach tour.  We visited Goshen (IN), Austin (TX), Kill Devil Hills (NC), Kerrville and Houston (TX), Princeton and Englewood (NJ), Davis and San Francisco (CA).  The San Francisco stop allowed me to finally see the Bay Area.  Kevin, my youngest brother, flew out to join me for the weekend to celebrate finishing his degree in Geology.  We had a blast riding the cable cars, wine tasting in Napa, walking along Pier 33.  It was the most time we had spent alone together in years, and it was fantastic.

Much of the rest of late spring/early summer was spent readying for baby.  We decided to renovate our one bedroom condo to add a nursery for him/her.  We made the decision early on that we weren’t going to learn the sex of the baby.  We did, however, have the ultrasound technician put the verdict in a sealed envelope “just in case” we changed our minds on this.  Luckily, we didn’t and the envelope remains sealed to this day.  We’ll put it away for our little girl (more on her later!) to open one day.  We also set up an extravagant system to name our child.  While in Newport, we bought a copy of “100,000 Baby Names” and decided to each go through the volume separately to select seven boy names and seven girl names.  We would then initiate high-level negotiations to pick the winners.  Rules were established.  Nothing in the Top 50 most popular names.  No name that ends with an “E” vowel sound.   Though the task was daunting, we made it through and ended up having fun with it in the end.

Since Erin was expecting, we opted to rent a lake house for a few summer weekends instead of taking an involved vacation.   We found an adorable one in Lake Arial, PA, where we spent three weekends in June.  We also found a lovely one in Lake Shawnee, NJ where spent one additional weekend in July.  My parents, George and Kay, and some friends (Jodi, Dan, Tony, Kelly, Amanda, Jorge, Talia, Kenny, Tom and Jenny) joined us.  We fished, sang songs, grilled meats, roasted marshmallows, and drank into the night.  It was grand.

The summer flew by in anticipation of mid-September.  We continued to ready the apartment; painting the walls of the nursery, building a custom closet unit, deciding on name(s), buying baby stuff.  We opted for one primary and – at the advice of my friend Elena – one backup name for each sex.   Erin’s girlfriends threw us a baby shower in our Hoboken apartment.  Our moms threw us one in Pottsville.  By the end of August, with the searing heat of summer bearing down, we were – Erin especially – more than ready for baby to arrive.

According to our doctor, baby was due on September 13th.  According to our ultrasound technician, s/he was due on September 17th.  By Erin’s calculations, it was September 19th.  Regardless, we anxiously counted the days.  On September 11th – the 9 year anniversary of a horrible day in American history – Erin and I went to the Italian Festival along the waterfront in Hoboken.  The beams of light shone from the site of the World Trade Center as we walked home that evening.  I think we both knew somehow that baby was about to arrive.

Erin’s first contractions started early on the morning of 9/12.  I started timing them, keeping a notebook of the length and time in between.  We called the doctor.  He told us to wait.  We waited until about 4:00 a.m. and then left for the hospital.  They admitted Erin and we went to the maternity ward.  Erin was not far enough along yet to be fully admitted, so they made us walk the hallways.  We did so for about an hour; the contractions continued.  Finally, Erin was moved into a delivery room.  We continued to wait.  The rest of the day seems a blur now.  But at 5:18 p.m. on Sunday, September 12th, Sloane Helen Dougherty arrived.  I was in complete awe of her, of the experience, of my beautiful wife.  At her birth, I didn’t cry.  (I had teared up repeated thinking about it.)  I had to be reminded by the nurse to get the camera to start taking pictures.  So I did.  And suddenly I was a dad.  My tears waited for the moment when I held her.  Seated in a chair a few feet from Erin, I held Sloane in my arms.  As I was talking to her, she lifted her gorgeous little face toward my voice and opened her eyes.   That moment will be forever etched in my memory.  Tears of joy then began to flow.

Honestly, the new few weeks were a blur.  I spent a week at home with the girls before heading back to work.  Erin bore the brunt of the sleepless nights and the late night feedings.  I tried my best to contribute: I cooked, cleaned the dishes, did laundry, kept the house clean.  I felt useless sometimes.  Erin was a rock star who took to motherhood beautifully.  It has been really amazing to watch.  After a couple weeks, we began to have visitors over to meet Sloane.  We even started a Facebook photo album for Sloane and her new friends.  Alan Arak was her first entry in this album.

The rest of the year can be summed up like this: I love being a dad.  There are singing gigs, and work events (new President of Rockefeller, for example).  But these all seem somehow secondary to our little girl.  As I write this, she’s napping in her crib.  She started daycare this week.  She smiles and laughs a lot now.  She seems to be finding her voice; even seems to be trying to sing with me when I sing to her.  She loves to stand.  She loves her Big Bird doll and her Rainforest jumperoo.  She may be the most photographed child in history.  I’m still in awe of her, nearly four months later.

Thanks for an amazing year, 2010.  I can’t wait to see what 2011 will bring!

Notable and Noteworthy

Gigs:

  • PDQ shows nationwide.
  • Cantatas in Context with Orchestra of St. Lukes.
  • Greek Easter with Dino Anagnost
  • Voices of Ascension
  • Mostly Mozart Festival
  • High Holy Days at Temple Emanu-el
  • Elijah with the New York Philharmonic
  • Messiah with Musica Sacra

Eating and Drinking Experiences:

  • Jean Georges
  • Bouchard (Newport, RI)
  • Cocktails at Absinthe in San Francisco
  • Dogfish Head Promo Night at Toast
  • Keen’s Steakhouse with the Boys
  • Spice Market anniversary dinner
  • Harpoon Brewery Night at The Pony Bar
  • Fried Chicken Dinner at Momofuku
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December 31, 2010 - Posted by | Erin, Family, Food & Wine, Friends, Gigs, Life in general

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