Phil's News: Information-Education-Entertainment


Happy Birthday Karis

*Editor’s Daddy’s note – This was actually written weeks ago, but life interrupted my plans to get back into blogging.  More on that later…but hopefully you won’t hold it against me later in life Karis.  I can tell you that you don’t hold it against me right now and the statute of limitations for being upset expires in three (3) days. 

Dear Karis,


Happy Birthday Happy Girl

As I write this you are a little older than one-year-old.  I  am sorry I missed  writing and posting this on  your birthday, but life is a little busy these days with two wonderful girls to spend time with.  Somehow taking time away from you to write a letter to you seemed a little off.

Plus, since I am sure you will learn about computers from tablets, I am sure you will realize how hard it is to type on the first generation of on-screen keyboards.  So you also have the honor of being the first thing I’ve really written about using my new  tablet keyboard.  You’re daddy is a bit of a tech nerd, if you haven’t figured that out by the time you learn to read.

With all that aside, I have to say that I am glad I did get to wait a month to write this, because your personality is developing by leaps and bounds.  It’s not that you didn’t have a personality as a baby, but you were a baby and as cute as you were you couldn’t do much.  Now you are walking, talking, hugging, waving and even giving kisses.  I promise, that one day you will get the joy of getting the first kiss from your baby and as slobbery and messy as it is, nothing can compare to the joy it will bring.  Your little face lights up when you are running towards me to give me hugs and words cannot express the feelings I have for that.

You had a wonderful first year and as much as I thought I knew about parenting after having been through infancy with your sister, you were quick to teach me you were a completely different person.  First of all you know how to sleep…you take after your mommy like that.  You slept for several hours at time almost immediately when we brought you home.  This, I can assure you, is a huge deal and I will be forever grateful for the sleep you allowed us to get during your first year of life.

I guess my next observation is how independent you are.  You like to do your own thing and I could not be prouder of that fact.  I hope you keep it up, but don’t be too independent, because it is nice to be needed and sometimes it is nice to need other people.

You are an amazing little girl.  I can’t wait for this next year as we both get to know each other better and as we continue to be a family.  You and your sister are the best girls any father could ever ask for and God has truly blessed me not only with you, but with your mommy.  I hope you know how lucky you are to have her as well, because she is full of love for you and Selah and daddy.  I can say that I didn’t even really know how to love until I met her and you can thank her for opening my heart so that I can be the best daddy possible to you and Selah.

I love you all so much.



Dear Karis…


Easter 2012

My Girls

One day you’re going to look back on this and realize I wrote my first letter to your big sister shortly after she was born.  You’re then going to see that this letter is coming a few weeks later.  All I can say is, ‘I’m sorry.’  Life, you see, has been a bit busy lately.

Just because you’re my second daughter doesn’t mean you are going to come second.  I’m not sure how it all works yet, but I know I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you and your sister are treated equally.  Still, I can already tell that you and your sister are different.

The first difference between you and your sister is you are more of a cuddler.  Maybe it has everything to do with the fact that we were able to hold you the first week of your life because you didn’t need light therapy.  Maybe that’s just you.  I just know that your mommy is very excited to get a cuddler.

These days I go to work with a different attitude than I did when I first got into my career.  You see, right now I’m a TV news reporter.  I’m not sure that TV news will exist in its current format when you are able to read this or not.  The industry is changing rapidly.  I’m not even sure if I’ll still be where I’m at now by the time you’re able to read this.  All I know is that right now I am working to make the world a better place for you.  I don’t know if I’m making any bit of difference, but I do know there are people who say I’ve helped them.

In reality, I want you to be proud of me.  I know I will be proud of you and your sister.  I want to make sure that I set an example that you will be able to follow.  Not to follow in my footsteps…I will discourage you from getting into the TV biz, but that’s just for your own good.  I want you to be able to follow an example of honesty and integrity.  I want you to be someone who will stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not popular.  I want you to grow into a woman who will defend honor and promote humanity.  Lofty goals.  I know I expect a lot from you, but if you’re going to change the world you will need to aim high.

As I watch you sleep in your crib, it’s hard to imagine this tiny baby girl will one day be on her own.  Still, it will happen.  I hope you’ll forgive me for the times I over react…be patient with me as I learn the ropes of being a dad of two girls…and be kind when you are a teenager with hormones.  You’ll know what I mean one of these days.



Dear Selah: Big Day Big Sister

Walking with Daddy

Selah & Daddy

Dear Selah,

I am writing this letter on your last day as an only child.  I doubt you will ever remember a time when you were our one and only little girl.  Tomorrow we are going to the hospital to meet your little sister Karis.  I pray you will both be best friends and love each other dearly.

Don’t forget you are still my little girl.  I know tonight you can sense something is about to change because you didn’t want to go to bed.  You’re sleeping in a toddler bed of your own.  We call it your ‘big girl bed.’  You are such a big girl and so very smart.  You figured out how to get in and out of it so quickly.  Tonight you wanted daddy to hold you for a while.

Your favorite night-night ritual is our finger kiss.  It is, quite possibly, the sweetest thing you do.  After we put you in bed and say our prayers you hold out your little finger and point up at me…waiting for me to do the same.  When our fingertips touch, you giggle and then go to sleep.  Your little laugh warms my heart in a way I never thought possible.

Tonight we played and played…I don’t know if you know you are about to have to share your parents.  I am praying God gives me the wisdom to be a good daddy to both you and Karis.  I am planning to try to give you as much attention as possible.  Your mommy and I both don’t want you to feel left out.  I don’t think you will be.  I think you will want to help take care of your baby sister.  You already do such a great job taking care of your dolls, making sure they are all tucked in before they go ‘night-night.’

Here’s hoping and praying we all have a great day tomorrow and are able to welcome your little sister…into our family.



History…not so long ago

Selah playing the radio

This is a picture from when Selah was only a few months old.  At the time, one of her favorite toys was her radio.  It’s shaped to look like a little boom box and plays a variety of children’s tunes.  What’s interesting to me is that when you turn the dial it actually plays static and the sound of skipping over radio stations.  As I watched my little girl play with this, I realized she will likely never know what radio static is or what it’s like to turn a dial to get a radio station.  Who knows, she may not even know what a radio station is in the traditional sense.

It go me thinking about all the things she’ll also never know about, things that I grew up playing with or that were a part of my life.

The biggest thing…VHS tapes.  It was a big deal that we had a VCR with a remote when I was a kid, but our remote had a cord on it and you loaded the cassette in from the top.  It was a big deal at the time.  Even now, we have DVDs and I’m sure those are going to seem as ancient to my girl when she is old enough to know better as VHS appear to me now.

Computers are constantly changing and I wonder just what my daughter will be able to do with technology.  Will the world look more like the Jetsons?

Will my daughter make fun of me for going to movies in 2D?  Will the high-technology 3D movies we see today be ‘oldies’ to her generation?

More importantly, will I be able to keep up with it all?  I think I’m doing a pretty good job riding the technology wave.  Accepting whatever comes next, reading up on trends…but one day will I be that weird old guy who is trying to be hip by having the latest gadgets?  You know who I’m talking about.  They are usually really old guys who bought Beta when they first came out because they were a big deal, but now they can’t even spell ‘internet.’  Yet, this same person who was clearly once into tech, has spent years avoiding it…and now has a smartphone.  Not that every old person with an iPhone is like this, but there are some who are just way too excited to be on the “world wide web” connecting to the “internets.”  I don’t want to be that guy.

Who do I want to be?  I want to be that guy who’s not scared by the tech, but not necessarily driven to always have the latest stuff when it comes out.  I’d like to always be like I am now.  Someone told me that can’t happen…and that eventually I’ll get old.  I’m not sure I believe them…but then again that stranger in the mirror laughs at me when I tell him I am the same guy I was in college.  What does that old man know anyway.

Dear Selah: Year One

Dear Selah,

This is your daddy writing…you’re actually starting to get the hang of saying ‘dada’…although when you get really excited you sometimes get it backwards saying “ah-dah, ah-dah.”  These are the memories I hope I’ll be able to hold onto forever.

1st Birthday

Selah's Birthday

Your first year of life went by so fast.  It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we were bringing you home from the hospital.  Sometimes I laugh at the things your mom and I worried over at first.  You are our first…so we might have been a little over protective.  However as we have talked to some other parents….we seem pretty mellow.  Whatever we did…we must have done something right, because you really are the most wonderful baby.  Everyone says so.

We also recently found out you are going to be a big sister.  I know you will be a good big sister.  I can’t wait to see how you will be able to play with your little brother or sister.  The daycare tells us you are very good with the little babies.  You also just got two baby dolls for your birthday.  It is adorable to see you hold and rock your little babies.  You do put the babies in your Halloween pumpkin tote…I’m guessing you won’t do that with the real baby.

I am really trying to be a good dad.  I hope you think so…I can only judge by your smile, which we do get to see very often.  Your mommy and I hope you will understand though we always want what is best for you and sometimes that means keeping you out of trouble, even when you think you are just playing.

I wonder what you’ll be when you grow up, when you read this.  Will you be a good student…will you be a daddy’s girl?  Will we be having tea parties or will you be helping me build a tree house?  It really is a world of possibilities.  I hope you will be happy.  I’ve heard parents say that before…but never really understood it until now.  Just know that your parents love you very much.



Thanks Dad

New ceiling fan

The new ceiling fan my dad helped install for the baby's room.

This post is a little late in coming, but we have a baby now, so I get a pass on getting things done for…well how long can I use the ‘new baby’ excuse?  Anyway, yes that is a picture of a ceiling fan in the baby’s room.  My dad came down a few weeks ago (the same time my mom was staying with us to watch Selah while the babysitter was on vacation) and helped me with several things.  The biggest of which was this new ceiling fan and light for Selah’s room.  I was looking at it again tonight and realized it what a huge help my parents and my dad have been.  I can’t wait for the day when my little girl (and any other future kids) are able to say “Thanks Dad” about something I’ve done for them.

The last visit from my parents also gave me one of those “blow your mind” experiences.  We were all sitting in the living room talking, or watching TV, or something and I was holding Selah.  Then I looked over and saw my mom and dad watching me hold my little girl.  What is that like?  I was once as little as my baby and they once held me the same way.  What is that like to have that view point?  Looking at a grown up, thinking of the child they once were.  Boom!  Yep that was my mind blowing again.

Selah's First Roll Over

Selah after rolling over for the first time...just under 4 months old.

I don’t want to be one of those “my baby’s growing up so fast” kind of parents, but Selah just learned to roll over.  We’ve got boxes of clothes she’s already outgrown…clothes that at one time seemed so big on her.  When I hold her and she looks up at me I try to save a mental image of that face looking up at me.  My mind tries to do one of those sitcom flashback montages, where it’s the same shot, but everyone grows up in a series of pictures.  Granted I only have 4 months to time lapse through, but I can’t help but think that someday those big brown eyes will be graduating high school and college (and with any luck some post-graduate work that will ensure she has enough money to pay for the good nursing home).  How will I look at her then?  How will she look at me then?  Will she look at me and say “Thanks Dad” or will she, like me, not learn to appreciate her parents until she’s lived on her own for a while?  I guess I just have to take time and relish in these moments where she’s all mine and still looks at me with wonder.

She also loves to look at the ceiling fan with wonder.  If she could talk I bet she’d say thanks grandma and grandpa for taking time to visit and help out so much.

Oh and this is not to say Keiana’s parents don’t do anything.  I could write a novel on all they have helped out with as well…but this one was about my parents.  Luckily I have been blessed to have two sets of parents (now grandparents) who love me and my wife.  I really could not be luckier.

Tweet-free Christmas

Selah - 3 months old

I am so blessed to have family.  Not just my family, but a new family that became mine when I met my wife.  I was also blessed to have time to spend with not just one family this Christmas, but both sides.  It meant a lot of traveling and since I am paranoid about crime after doing a story about social media and crime I did not tweet for most of the week before and week of Christmas.   Don’t worry I saved my more poignant thoughts.

  • “Traveling with the baby for the first time ever.  This should be easy”  (before leaving the house)
  • “Traveling with the baby is insane” (after packing the car with the entire nursery)
  • “Dallas would be more fun if traffic during the day was as smooth as traffic at night.
  • “Never staying anywhere but Comfort Suites again.”
  • “Coke + MiniFridge Freezer = Morning Mess”
  • “Best Christmas present ever:  Father-in-law just told me he would stay up with the baby”
  • “Hmmm…everyone wants to hold the baby, but no one wants to change her.”
  • “New Rule:  If you’re holding the baby, you’re changing the baby.  No free cuteness”
  • “Had to re-learn how to play the piano…thank goodness for the metronome app.”
  • (In car) “Baby and dog both just farted”
  • “Baby is only talking to my Grandma and for some reason Grandma can hear the baby and not me when I talk”
  • “Price for my mom babysitting a week…letting her show off baby Selah to her entire church.  #totallyworthit”
  • “Old ladies who think they’re whispering in church aren’t really whispering.”
  • “Home again.  Already miss family, but glad to be back in my own bed.”

Among the more troubling revelations I learned at home this Christmas…apparently the woman who my parents let babysit me on occasion kept a snake in her house to eat the mice.  And apparently there was more than one snake.  Very disturbed.  Random thought, but I can’t let it go.

Seasons of Love

A new season of loveYes, this post got started by watching RENT.  I like musicals and theatre.  Get over it.  In another post I might explain how watching and analyzing performing arts can teach you think critically about your own culture.  Theatre as a way of knowing.  Fascinating discussion.

Back to the real purpose of this post.  As I listen to the song, it asks how do you measure time?  Perhaps its the song, or the slight chill in the air that reminds me it’s fall and I’m literally transitioning to a new season or perhaps it’s the little girl sleeping in front of me that makes me realize I am entering a new season of love myself.

We all go through seasons of love and would imagine, most of them are very similar.  Sure the circumstances are different, but like every Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter our seasons of love are essentially the same.

Life begins as we are totally dependant on others for our survival.  The love of a child for their parents is so simple, yet so deep.  It’s this dependence on others that helps with the bond between parents and children.  This season of love is so subtle that I don’t think any of us realize when we leave it to transition into a new season.

As we grow older, love becomes focused on self.  It may take different forms, but let’s face it, as we grow more independent in our teen and young adult years we grow to love ourselves.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with self love.  I think it’s vital to our growth as individuals.  Even at times when I’ve hated myself or my life I still was exhibiting self love.  It was about me and I did little to care, really care, about anyone else.

I think the first time I really noticed a season change in my life was when I met my wife.  I thought I was doing just fine on my own.  Though I will be the first to admit there was something missing.  I filled that hole with work and friends and just assumed that was how my life would progress.  Then I met Keiana and my world changed.  It was as noticeable as the first snowflakes of winter.  A beautiful blanket covering up the gloom that comes in late fall.  The gloom that no one wants to talk about because we only want to talk about the beauty of the leaves changing and the crisp, cool air.  However when the air changes from crisp to just cold, and the leaves have all fallen and the trees are bare there is a need for something to change.  That’s when God sends in winter.

I think Winter gets a bad rap.  It’s cold, but that just means we need a fire to move close to and hot cocoa to drink.  It is a time when we need others more than ever.  In my mind, this is the next season of love.  I remember the first time I made a major career decision on the basis of ‘we’ instead of ‘me.’  The realization that there is someone else instead of of just self can be shocking.  Instead of running from the unknown, I embraced the new season.  That embrace was the warmth that protected me from the cold I didn’t know existed.  I was walking through a season of life that was growing cold and lonely, but I had ignored the signs that Fall had lost it’s beauty.  That’s when I found a world of new beauty in my wife.  It was now us against the world…standing together.  Two independent people who found strength leaning in, ever so slightly, growing together.

Now the seasons are changing again.  This season, is an awakening.  Love.  Pure love springing from me like the green grass appears from the frost-bitten earth.  This little girl brought in the spring of our lives.  Children are the rebirth of love.  It’s not that love ever left, it’s just God decided we did not have enough love in our lives.  We don’t need flowers either.  The landscape looks perfect and complete, but when the first daffodils bloom or the spring tulips spread their petals we realize what was missing from the picture.

I don’t know what the next season of love is.  At this point I don’t really care.  I’m still trying to figure out this new life change.  It’s scary, exciting and puzzling all at the same time.  Bring it on.

Dear Selah: Final Thoughts Before I Meet You

Dear Selah,

As I write this, your mommy is laying in front of me in a hospital bed all hooked up to the machines as we await your arrival.  I can’t believe you are on your way.  Your mommy has been wanting to meet you since we first found out about you.  We’ve actually been praying you would come early, because as I’m sure you will find out some day… apparently that last month of pregnancy is pretty miserable.   I just had no idea it would be tonight.

I was just sitting down today thinking about you today.  About your future.  About what you will be and what the world will be like as you grow.  I was actually watching an episode of Law and Order where the parents were overbearing and demanding and their desire to push their daughter turned her into a killer…and I was praying I wouldn’t be like that.  Please don’t kill anyone and let me know if we’re being too pushy before you go crazy.

Seriously, you can be anything you want.  I just can’t believe you are going to finally be here.  It is hard to believe I am going to be a daddy.  I never really grew up around babies and don’t really know anything.  I guess that is good, because I will have to learn from you and won’t be going in with any preconceived notions.  I am going to have to put in a request that you not follow me in terms of work…I doubt TV news will be in the same form it is now so who knows…maybe it will once again be a profitable line of work by the time you grow up.

The day you arrived…or the day you started to arrive was pretty normal.  We had no idea you would actually come today.  Your mommy has been wanting you to come since she hit 36 weeks.  Today we went to church as normal and actually joked with the pastor about having to leave in the middle of his sermon if you came.  I really didn’t expect you for a while.  I was planning to see you in another week or two and was so surprised when your mom yelled to me that she thought her water broke.

We had plenty of time to get to the hospital before the contractions started, but when they did…wow did you cause mom some pain.  Thankfully the epidural doctor came.

Now it’s time for me to go back and wait for you to arrive.  I can’t wait to see you.  I can’t wait to hold you.  To love you.  I have loved you for 9 months…I know your mommy has loved you even longer.   We can’t wait to meet you little girl.



Dear Selah…We Can’t Wait

Dear Selah,

Beautiful Baby Girl

Selah Elizabeth Cross

Someday I hope you’ll read this.  I’m sure we’ll have told you most of the stories about your early days, even those before you were born, so many times you will be tired of hearing them.  Just in case I wanted to let you know from long before you were born, you were so loved by your mommy and me.

I hope you like your name…we put a lot of thought into choosing it.  Your mother wanted a far different name, but that’s because she didn’t grow up in a place where people named cows and didn’t realize it would have been inappropriate.  Don’t tell her I told you that.

We went back and forth on names.  We knew we wanted something from the Bible and something that had a good meaning.  I didn’t want you looking up your name someday and being disappointed.  I remember the night we were going through names and I was just reading through a list of names and each of us said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or just remained indifferent.  Then I read “Selah,” and we both paused.  A quite appropriate pause because the word means ‘to pause and reflect.’  It was the first name that we both agreed on that wasn’t too popular and sounded as beautiful as we knew you were going to be.

I hope no one is giving you a hard time about how to pronounce the name.  We did our research before settling on pronouncing Selah as, SAY-luh.  We actually found a website that had native speakers, (your name is Hebrew) and the pronunciation there was very close to SAY-luh, the only different is the accent.  We weren’t going to make you go around having to change your accent every time you said your name, so we went with the Americanized version of the pronunciation.  I hope you are the only Selah in your class.

As I write this, you are still weeks away from arrival, or you are supposed to be weeks away, and we are still getting ready for your appearance.  The room is painted and the crib is put together.  I hope you like your ceiling…it took me forever to refinish it.  Just know that everything we do is because we love you.

See you soon.





Today was our second doctor’s appointment for the baby. It is still a little surreal for me. I know I am a guy and it is OK to not feel the same level of attachment as Keiana does, but still part of me feels worried that I am not baby crazy.

I have always been a bit of a worrier and tend to keep things bottled up inside. So this visit was so important because it meant we got to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I have known so many people who have had miscarriages and I don’t know why I think those situations will happen to us because it is more likely everything will be just fine.

It has always been my motto to plan and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Somewhere along the line I stopped focusing on hope. I have seen so much tragedy, so much pain that hoping for the best is often a luxury I don’t see a lot of people enjoy. I love my job, but meeting people on the worst day of their lives and talking them into sharing in a very public manner sometimes gets to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some very postive things come out of people sharing their pain, but being there…face-to-face with the pain can wear you out.

With all the thoughts of what could go wrong rushing through my mind, I walked into the doctor’s office holding Keiana’s hand. I know she’s been nervous and only wanted to hear the baby’s heart, but all along I have been saying everything was OK and there was nothing to worry about. But there I was, on the edge of the chair, waiting. Waiting to hear sounds of a little life. At first there was nothing…my heart was racing. The nurse was telling us when the baby is this small it can be hard to find them. It only took a minute, but it felt like forever. It felt like my heart skipped a beat when finally….thump, thump, thump. The rapid beat of a baby’s heart.

It was there and, for now, everything is OK. I said a prayer right there in the doctor’s office. A prayer of thanks. A prayer of thanksgiving. A prayer of relief. Don’t tell Keiana, but I teared up a little. While I can not be as connected as mommy is to the life growing inside her, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and joy. That is my child. That is our baby.

I am sure I am going through the same emotions as every other soon-to-be father, but it is all so overwhelming. Such an incredible experience. It is like nine months of going up the hill of the roller coaster of parenthood.

In other news…if anyone is reading this and wants to get us a baby gift, the baby told me today it would like a new bar-b-que grill. I know weird kid, but it is our first so we should probably get it what it wants.

1/3 Over


Well…a couple of firsts with this post: 1) my first baby post and 2) my first post written using the WordPress app for my Droid phone. I am not sure how I feel about composing a long post on my phone’s keyboard, but I can post from bed, so I guess it is a win.

So, according to another app on my phone, today is the first day of Keiana’s second trimester. It doesn’t feel like any time has gone by. Really it seems like just the other day we found out and then told everyone. There have been some changes, but for the most part many of them have not happened to me. As a consequence I am still a little disconnected from everything. As I have read, it is not uncommon for dads to not feel truly attached until they can hold a newborn baby. I read in one book that at this point the baby is just another item on a checklist. While it is more than that to me, I am focused on getting things ready.

To that end the most important thing I have done these past three months is pray. I have prayed for my beautiful wife’s health and safety. Little things that I never paid much attention to before are demanding my full attention. I have started paying attention to every recall announcement.

My other prayer is for myself. I pray that God prepares me to be a father. However, I don’t want to just be a father, I want to be a dad. I want to be daddy. to be honest, the thought kind of freaks me out. To date, there have been many times when I’ve been presented with two choices and chose the wrong one. To date, those choices have only affected me. Soon those choices will affect a little one’s life. More than ever my prayer is that I listen for and follow the direction God is leading me.

I have started reading books that prepare men for pregnancy. My favorite, (and the only one I’ve purchased so far), is “Dad’s Pregnant Too.” It is full of helpful information, but I don’t think any book can prepare you to be a parent. I did an interview recently with a sociologist who pointed out that “there are a lot of people who have children, but not a lot of parents.” That is so true and I just hope and pray I am ready for what is coming our way.

Of course, perhaps my prayers for the wisdom of Solomon have already been answered. While I have made many mistakes in my life, each one has shaped me into the man I am today. Each turn brought me to Keiana, the absolute love of my life. I am certain I will continue to make mistakes, but with Keiana by my side I know I can accomplish anything. I am so thankful to have a wife who loves me more than any wife has ever loved her husband. I know I don’t deserve her, but I suppose that is the perfect example of God’s grace and mercy. He has given me so much that I don’t deserve. Now I just pray I will be able to be the husband and father God wants me to be.

More to come…this baby is just beginning, and apparently I don’t mind typing long posts on this phone.