Man’s Best Friend
Last Monday I woke up and the brilliant idea came over me that what this household really could use is one more blue-eyed brunette female needing things from me. You read that right. We got a puppy, another female in this house and likely a few more steps down my personal path to the loony bin.
Her name is Lucy and she really is just what our family needed (I think). It has been a year with no dog in our house since losing our little guy Rusty and I think everyone just had a little extra love to share that needed a home. We are finding that Lucy has plenty of it to give back too. The girls have a serious case of puppy love and when I think about Lucy being a part of our family as the girls grow up, it makes me smile.
True, even in one week I have questioned if we bit off a bit more than we can chew but then I remember that Lucy is happy to chew the rest. I can tell that she is going to be a great dog. She is gentle but playful smart and learning quickly. Another fun part about a new puppy is just in case I wasn’t already drowning in an ocean of ping and sparkle, Lucy has food and water bowls with hearts on them and a collar with pink trim. Basically what I am saying is, if any of you are going fishing or getting together to watch the game, give me a shout.
Realizing there is enough love to go around with some left over is pretty cool, deciding to share that love with a puppy is totally sweet.
No Lucy, No No Lucy, That’s not your toy, do that outside, drop it, stop chewing that shoe, where did you get those panties……..
Yes, dear old dad, in his ever continued quest to be a hero to his girls and go for the gusto, may have just relived the banana split to-go moment only with much bigger consequences than an ice cream river running through a SUV. Don’t get me wrong, puppies are wonderful and so are toddlers. Much like vinegar and baking soda are both, for the most part, manageable on their own; puppies and toddlers are OK separately as well. Things get a bit more explosive when the two elements mix. For example: it is a great idea for us to decide that Lucy will not have any table food and we will stick to that, except our little one just gave her half of a grilled cheese sandwich just now. Unfortunately Usain Bolt couldn’t have gotten to Lucy before the sandwich was no more.
I am all for the notion that the best way to get used to the temperature of the water is to jump head first into the deep end rather than dipping in your toe. I also realize that sometimes that method causes you to come shooting out of the water with a scream and a shiver.
We will find a way to manage and there is a part of me that will love every minute but as Lucy discovers something new to get into every minute and our toddler works to finish up this potty training thing and start flying solo, I can’t help but wonder what we were thinking. It isn’t the toddler or the puppy’s fault that when combined they can become combustible. Toddler drops food, puppy eats food. Toddler leaves out toys, puppy eats toys. Puppy has accident in crate, toddler crawls in and doesn’t want to come out.
I love the feel of chaos when the primary ingredient is joy. Saturday morning, however, after the girls and puppy only being up for a couple of hours, our living room looked like, smelled like, and sounded like, the beginning of the movie Saving Private Ryan. For a split second I questioned our judgement but then I realized the toys can be put away and the messes can be cleaned up but the smiles and the laughter that was spilling in the room was a mess worth having. They are lucky that they are all so adorable.
It is worth it, but I am not naive (well maybe a little) I recognize that when your daughter wants to live in the dog crate and the puppy won’t stop trying to eat the fireplace, it is pretty weak.
As is chronicled in this blog (that as of Sept. 6 has now been cluttering up a corner of the internet for an entire year), I have some ladies in my life. Three of them residing inside our humble abode (maybe more but its hard to tell with fish). There is not a place in my house that I can go where I am not within arm’s reach of at least 3 ponytail holders. That being said, they all seem to vanish when we needed to be out the door five minutes ago. I wouldn’t trade being the only Y chromosome in this house for the world but it can present some interesting challenges. The hair and shoe wars have already begun and sometimes I can get caught in the cross-fire. It isn’t that I don’t want to help. I have offered to do the girl’s hair on a number of occasions but my beautiful wife prefers that they not look like hobo children.
They may be getting older and bigger, but they are still my little girls and dad’s have a way of seeing past the tantrum and fall sucker to their innocent requests. It’s not that I always want to play the “good cop” but often it is the only role left. Sadly, that isn’t because my wife likes to play “bad cop” but rather because I am predictable and my past performances of being a push over are already becoming evident.
I’m not saying I let the women in my house manipulate me, it’s just that most of the time, the women in my house manipulate me. The sad thing is, right now they are too young to even mask their intentions. I see right through them and still cave in. For example, last week, our soon to be two-year old came up to me at bedtime and said “daddy, I lay in your big bed so you can snuggle me?” I knew it was bed time, I knew the importance of her sleeping in her bed. I also knew that one day I would wish with all my heart for her to say something like that, so I folded like a cheap suit and into my bed we went.
That is just one example of many and I feel bad for the future dudes in their lives. Sorry guys, I was helpless against it too. The thing is, the innocence in what they want and the smiles I can create with simple wish granting will probably be gone soon. So for now, within reason, daddy caves in and most of the time when he does, it is totally sweet.
I know what you were thinking reading that first part. This guy is setting a bad precedent. Discipline can be a slippery slope and if he can’t say no to them now, it will only get worse and their requests will only turn more demanding. Don’t go and call child services just yet, I say no plenty. The words no, and be careful, are probably spoken by me more often than any other, even if they do fall on deaf ears from time to time.
Most of the time the requests of my little angels are innocent and pure of heart but I can already sense a twinge of diabolical in each of them. The little one knows how to tilt her head and give me that cutie pie face when all she really wants are fruit snacks, and the oldest knows how to say daaaady with just the right tone and inflection to get my attention before asking me to turn on the Disney channel.
I love my wife and my two daughters more than you can probably imagine but I recognize they outnumber me and it is important that a situation never arises where sides are chosen. I can see them getting smarter. I know that they pay attention and pick up on things that I may not even notice. I am not suggesting that as women they are pre-wired to be resourceful and use highly developed tactics of manipulation to get the things that they want. I am saying that from time to time I have been fooled and in hindsight realized that they knew exactly what they were doing and it was scary smart. I know that it isn’t three against one and my wife recognizes it more often than I do and works to put a stop to it. Without her, I may be in trouble. She notices the subtlety that I am too obtuse to recognize. She is the master. In fact, that is worrisome in its own right. If my girls are paying close enough attention, they will probably, one day, be able to execute ninja moves like the one that took place in my house this week:
Beautiful Wife: I was thinking we should have Thanksgiving at our house this year. It has been a while and everyone had such a good time. My mom still talks about that turkey you made.
(3 days later)
Beautiful Wife: We need a new dining room table.
Did anyone get the number of that bus that just hit me? It was as if she waved her hand across my eyes and Jedi mind tricked me saying “these are not the droids you’re looking for.” I’m not saying she is Yoda (because she hates short jokes) but you have to recognize skill when you see it. I couldn’t be happier or more blessed to share my life with these three amazing women (and possibly above average fish). I love them more than words but when you recognize that you’ve been Jedi mid tricked and the innocence has turned diabolical, it’s totally weak.
I was skeptical when I wrote my first post over a year ago if I would be able to maintain something like this. It has been an enjoying way to tap into a creative side that I let sit covered for too long. This was my wife’s idea and I love her for seeing things in me that I don’t always see myself. I have a pretty ordinary life when looked at from the outside but getting the pleasure of being in it with my 3 beautiful girls is as extraordinary as it gets from my vantage point.
I truly appreciate you all that take time out of your day to wander by and read. The posts may not be coming quite as consistently lately but I assure you that I am still around and have no plans of going anywhere. Thank you all for helping make the last 12 months an awakening of sorts for me, you are the best.
I’m not sure if it happened all of the time or only a few times but the memories of it were etched deep enough that they are easy to recall. When I was a kid we would sometimes go to the Dairy Queen on Canton Road on Friday night. We would sit on the patio with these round fiberglass tables with red and yellow fiberglass umbrellas that were angled just enough to keep the sun away and look like they were tipping their hat to the cars driving by. Dad always called it getting a Brazier burger and I didn’t even know that was named after the cooking apparatus until I Googled it just now. I would get a chili dog and there the four of us would sit like some John Cougar Mellencamp song.
When we finished dinner the sun was down and dad would buy everyone a milkshake to have on the ride home. Usually chocolate for me, in a bright yellow paper cup. Thick and delicious in a way that made the pain between your eyes as you tried to suck through the straw totally worth it. We would get home and it would be time for bed. Half eaten milkshakes were put in the freezer for safe keeping.
Until I hit the teenage sloth years, I was often the first one up on Saturday morning. I would walk into the kitchen and get my now frozen solid milkshake and a fork. I would turn on the TV and relish in controlling its destiny. I would watch Super Friends and Pee Wee’s Playhouse and scrape the frozen bits of milkshake off with a fork until it melted enough to pull the straw free.
At the time I thought I was getting away with the most diabolical act of breakfast treason ever and smiled in the assurance that my unknowing parents were fast asleep right down the hall. As the roles have changed, I now know better than thinking that they were ignorant to my scheming tucked away in blissful slumber. They were awake, maybe groggy, but letting a little boy savor his first tastes of independence. I will never forget that frozen leftover milkshake with Saturday morning cartoons. Totally sweet.
After a long week, the fatigue can often culminate on Friday night. Yet, still determined to have some kind of life, it is inevitable that we will stay up later than usual even if it is just to have a beer or two and watch an old episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix while folding laundry. We are wild and crazy like that, I think the kids these days call it thug life.
We stay up later because we still live under the guise that just because we won’t be rushing off to work the next morning, that there will be time for rest and relaxation. The reality of that is parenthood does not come with a snooze button. Saturday mornings never arrive late, and often seem to smack me right in the face before the sun is even up or my eyes have had the chance to peal open. Dropped toilet seats by the oldest begat cries from the toddler begat the realization that we have to be at some dumb kid’s birthday party in two hours and there is more to do than time to do it in. It is funny how the cherry on top of that Saturday morning scramble is always writing something in said dumb kid’s card, even though a card is merely the gallbladder of a 6 year old birthday party.
Saturday mornings have a different feel now but if my oldest follows in my footsteps as an early riser, as long as she is quiet, she can eat whatever she can reach and clean up. It would also be in her best interest to hide the evidence if she ops for ice cream sandwiches and fruit roll ups. I can wax poetic about letting her spread her wings and have a touch of freedom but the reality is, pop should have probably passed on that last Amstel Light and just needs a few more dad gum minutes to sleep. She has almost completed the complicated TV remote training so I think the time is drawing near. Until then, we will remember the days of yore and hope those memories ease the pain of our new Saturday mornings that are totally weak.
School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day. In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in. You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.
I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me. It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain. The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges. Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.
The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities. Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in. Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.
I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise. Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.” Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect. There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course. Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.
I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning. Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.
Yep, you read that last part right. Today the high in Atlanta is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school. Where does the time go? Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right. While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation. The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity. You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.
You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo. At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).
You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside. Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside. Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.
I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation. For me, I was like a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him. That day was always a last day and never a day before a first. I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.
A few nights ago I was lying in bed watching NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. At about the 200 meter mark of the mens 4X100 freestyle relay, I sat up and turned up the volume. My wife joked and asked if I thought that would help team USA swim faster. Alas, it did not but in a nutshell that moment is what I love the most about sports in general and the Olympics in particular. Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things about the Olympics is learning the names of obscure athletes in obscure events and then spending two weeks name dropping and acting like a pretentious jerk (I do this with the Kentucky Derby as well), but even greater than that is the pureness of competition.
I have mentioned before that I will race you at any given moment for any given task or situation. Pretty much anything gets more interesting and more fun when there is a chance to emerge victorious. I love the Olympics not because I am a fan of swimming or shot putting, but because I am a fan of watching athletes that have dedicated their life to something put it all on the line against each other or against the clock. In fact, sometimes when I am eating Oreos, I imagine there is a little green digital line moving between the box and my mouth that represents world record pace, just makes it more fun that way.
I love that moment when the end of the race nears and someone begins to break from the pack and surge to the finish. To me, there is no greater drama than that regardless of what kind of event it is. Peppering in the fact that my rooting interest is an act of patriotism only adds to the enjoyment. In short, that is why I love the Olympics. The pageantry is OK and while Mary Poppins will always be on my top 5 list of fictional characters, the opening ceremonies don’t do much for me. I love the Olympics because sport and competition have a way of making me rise up out of my seat and share in the drama that can only be provided by a level of competition measured in hundredths of a second. Watching an athlete’s life of work and dedication boil down to one definitive moment of triumph is totally sweet.
The Agony of Defeat
As much as I love competition and the Olympics in general, there is a part of it that frustrates me. That part is events that are not raced or scored but rather judged. I am not suggesting that the judging isn’t top-notch and impartial but I cannot seem to develop the same type of rooting interest when I cannot discern a winner from a loser. For instance, last night I watched synchronized diving for a bit (side note, I see that there isn’t a ton of package that needs covering but something about a plumber’s crack doesn’t seem very Olympian to me, could we not get like an inch more fabric on those Speedos?). I was blown away by the twisty rolls and the spinny turns (sorry if my vernacular gets to technical for you) these guys were doing in perfect sync but sometimes even before they hit the water the commentator was telling me how horrible it was and pointing out a leg separation or a bit too much twist and not enough roll.
While events like diving and gymnastics are entertaining and I can be in awe of the physical display being put on, I just can’t get as invested as if I were rooting for someone to get to the water first or jump the highest. I hate that moment when the dive or apparatus is complete and everyone just waits around while the judges give their most educated opinion on how good something was. Maybe if I had invested the time to understand figure skating or the parallel bars better, I would be able to embrace the judging component better but for me it is just easier to recognize a winner by the person that got to the finish first, lifted the heaviest thing, or threw something the farthest.
Regardless of my novice understanding of those events, the XXX Olympics is nothing like that thing I almost watched on pay per view in that Hilton in Dallas a while back. While the opening ceremonies lacked a Mr. Belvedere reference and had no shiny pickup trucks like when they were down here in the glorious south, I will always tune in and follow along. The Olympics are great but seeing someone’s dream and life of work and dedication go down the tube because of slight knee separation on the second flying rolly turn is totally weak.