May 24, 2011

Introducing Mia Marie Klems

Photo courtesy of
Loft3 photo&design
Team Klems has a new member: Mia Marie Klems was born on May 23 at 4:27 a.m. Her stats:

Weight: 7lbs, 9 ounces
Height: 20.5 inches
Softball Position: 2B
Hair: More than we expected.
Favorite Movie: Back to the Future III
Favorite Sister: Yet to be Determined
Total Time of Labor: 3 hours (that's not a joke).
Favorite Ballplayer: Joey Votto
Favorite Parent: As if there were any doubt.

Welcome to the world, Mia Marie. I hope you are ready to join one fun, joyous and big-headed family. We are very, very happy to have you.

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May 19, 2011

The Life of (My) Dad

My Dad unexpectedly passed away last weekend at the young age of 55. Here is the tribute I delivered at the funeral. Thanks to everyone for your love and support—this has been way harder than I ever imagined.

A little story most of you probably don't know about my Dad is that he actually started his own fan club when he was 10 years old. This is 100% true. He put an advertisement in the paper and it read:

To the Editor,
I would like to ask people to join my fan club. I think I should have one because I am so great, kind, handsome, polite, generous, and most of all humble.

Thank you,
Roger Klems

Surprisingly, he got dozens of letters. Some of them very kind, some not so kind. These letters sparked him write a follow up which also got printed:

To the Editor,
Thanks for printing my letter recently about the fan club for me. I am sure you don't realize the great service you have done. Since it appeared, I have chosen my fan club officers and they are as follows… Also, an answer to those who think I'm conceded, they are terribly mistaken. I just think highly of myself.

Everybody's hero,
Roger Klems

My Dad was a warm, loving, passionate, selfless man who cared deeply about his family, his friends and making the world a better place. He was a big guy with a big personality, who loved to smile and loved to laugh and loved to tell stories. He believed everyone he met was not a stranger, but a friend in the making. And given enough time, he'd win you over with his charm and make you think you'd been friends all your lives.

He grew up in Clifton as the youngest of four. His brother and sisters adored him. They'd always tell me stories about how their little brother was one of a kind. "When we were little," my Uncle Clem told me, "Your Dad and I used to share a bed. But every morning I'd wake up with his feet in my hair. It'd drive me crazy. Finally I said, 'Roger, why do you keep doing that?" His response: 'It feels nice on my feet,' as if my Uncle were the crazy one."

My Dad played in the Marching Band at Roger Bacon High School and won two national championships, which were commemorated by a plaque that still hangs on his bedroom wall. Shortly after high school he got a job at Central Trust Bank, which is where he met my Mom. They were so lucky to have found each other.

I'll remember my dad for a lot of things—loving black and white movies, wearing shorts when it's 37 degrees outside, taking me to the early mass on Sunday mornings then cooking me breakfast, carrying around his giant mug, punishing me and my sister for fighting by making us hug for what seemed like hours, running the finances at my school summer festivals, singing Harry Chapin songs around the house all day long, collecting change around the house for Men's Club, heading out to dinner with "The Gang," reading me Dr. Seuss' The Lorax over and over and over again.

I'll remember him for the way he worked so hard to support our family, and the way he loved me and my sister, supporting us in every decision we ever made.

But what I'll remember him most for was the way he took care of my Mom after she had her stroke. He'd do anything she'd ask, run any errand, drive her anywhere she needed to be. He'd put in late hours at work so he could break away during the day when she needed him most. My Mom called him her "Sweety-Petite-y" and she was his. He made her his top priority—always. And he never complained about it. He never said, "This is too hard" or "I can't handle this." He just did it. It was his unrelenting love of her that caused him to do everything in his power to make her life easier. He was her hero for that. He was my hero for that.

While I'll remember him for all those things, I'm 100% sure what he'd want to be remembered for most was being an amazing grandpa. Since he passed away last weekend, I'd received nearly 100 e-mails saying kind words about my Dad—telling us how funny he was or how smart he was or how or how kind he was. One note from Rick Noble really hit home with me. It said:

"Roger possessed qualities that simply drew you into him. I was first attracted to his incredible mind and ability to reduce complex businesses to a few simple elements.  Roger and I butted heads quite frequently, but I never wore out his patience or ability to explain why my analysis was not complete.  He would often make his point with his keen wit, that left you speechless until the moment his point became evident."

But even through all those compliments, there was strictly one common thing mentioned in nearly every e-mail: "Your Dad LOVED being a grandpa." He'd brag about those grandkids any chance he got. He loved spending time with them, reading to Ella while she sat on his lap, chatting with Chris as they folded laundry together, singing to Anna while she rocked on the rocking horse, snuggling with Carson as they napped on the couch. He often called holding one grandkid in each arm "Heaven on Earth" and said he only wished he could grow more arms to hold all of them at once.

And while I'm crushed he won't get to do that anymore, and I'm crushed the kids won't have him to hug, and I'm crushed he won't get to meet his newest grandchild who is due to join this world any day now, I take comfort in knowing that his love, kindness, humor and legacy will live on through them. I take comfort in knowing my sister and mom and aunts and uncles will share stories of him for years to come. And I especially take comfort in knowing that I will try every day to be as amazing of a father to my kids as he was to me.

And if he were here today I'd hug him so tight, tell him how much I love him and how much I'm going to miss him—and let him know that I will always, always be the #1 member of his fanclub.

I love you Dad.

Also, my Dad always told me that this was his favorite post of mine. He said it really embodied being a parent and made him smile every time he read it. That makes me smile knowing that.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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May 13, 2011

5 Essentials for a Dad's Hospital Bag

We are approximately 17 days away from our new baby being here and my wife has yet to pack a hospital bag. When I first started asking her to do it six months ago she said, "We still have time." When I asked her about it yesterday she said, "We still have time." And when she's in the delivery room pushing and I ask her about it, she'll probably say, "Get out of my face bozo!"

While I can't force her to pack a bag for herself—and there are only so many times my kids can sit in it and pretend it's a boat—I can pack a bag for myself so at least one of us is prepared for our hospital stay. Here are the 5 Essentials every Dad should pack in his Hospital Bag:

Toilet Paper
You think you can rely on that lame 1-ply garbage that hospitals provide? No sir-e-bob. I need the thick, comfort of Angel Soft when I'm doing my serious thinking.

Having a radio on hand will allow you to play soft, soothing sounds of music to help your wife relax in her time of need. Of course, if nothing else good is playing, you might happen to stumble upon something else she'll love like, oh, I don't know, a Reds baseball game. And, for the first time in your marriage, she may be yelling at the bullpen louder than you do. OK, that last part is not true. No one can yell at the bullpen louder than you do.

Softball Glove
Babies can be slippery, especially newborns who are usually covered in slime. While our doctor briefly mentioned his collegiate baseball credentials, he was unable to provide for me documentation of his exact fielding percentage and ultimate zone rating (UZR). Until you doctor releases that data or it shows up online via Wikileaks, you can't trust him to catch your baby. Also, when the baby starts to drop, be sure to call out "It's Mine!" This will serve two purposes.

Bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos
Who knows how long it will take this baby to come. Need to stay energized with all the nutrients and vitamins you can. If you have room in your bag, pack two. Added Bonus: While your wife isn't allowed to eat anything, she can live vicariously thanks to your tasty Dorito breath. She'll probably want to make out with you.

8 x 10 Senior Portrait
If we learned anything from Lamaze class (other than the Wendy's in the hospital is terribly over-priced), it's that the mama-to-be needs a focal point. She needs something she can look at that will keep her calm, make her smile and remind her how lucky she is to have married such a stallion. An 8 x 10 senior portrait of her husband is the only thing that will help her forget she's having a baby and put her in her happy place. We can only hope that such a handsome photo doesn't also distract the doctor.

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May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I just wanted to wish my Mom a very happy Mother's Day. I certainly don't say it enough, but you really knocked it out of the park when you gave birth to me. Who knew you could create this much awesomeness—and this giant of a head.

All joking aside, I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you've done for me over the years—the support, the love and the late nights of typing up my high school English essays on the computer for me because someone (me) waited until the last minute to finish writing them (2 a.m.) and would never have been able to type them up in time for class (one-finger typing skills just don't cut it).

I wouldn't be the writer, the father or the person I am today without you—I also wouldn't have this nice Italian olive skin that doesn't sunburn, which I greatly appreciate. Brittany and I, and especially Ella and Anna, are that much luckier to have you in our lives. And the new baby will be, too.

I guess the awesomeness doesn't fall far from the tree.

I love you, Mom.

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