Tag Archives: family

Not Letting Us Put Princess High Heels on the Dog and Other Ways Dad Ruins Our Life

What do you mean I can't go to my sister's school performance dressed like this?

What do you mean I can’t go to my sister’s school performance dressed like this?

I have often joked that if Hollywood made a movie about my life, the actor that would play me would be whoever is best at walking around the house turning off lights and forgetting to put a new trash bag in the can.  It’s funny how paying an electric bill can turn you into your own father.  I used to always wonder what the big deal was during the summer when he would yell at us to SHUT THE DOOR!  Now any time a door is open for more than 4 seconds it just looks like a $10 bill waving goodbye.  So I get it dad.  It took me a while but I totally get it.

I also get that sometimes you need to let your kid help with a home repair project even if all you let them do is hold the flashlight and sigh when the space in the cabinet under the sink goes dim right as you get a grip on the part of the disposal you were working on just to see your kid shining the flashlight into their mouth to see if it will come out of their ears and nose.  Sometimes being a dad means you have to take your daughter into a public bathroom and answer questions about the urinal or suck it up and smile while you fork over $18 for a bag of popcorn at the circus.  Other times being a dad means you have to tell them no when they want to put lip stick on the dog or bring the fish with us to the grocery store, “can’t we just put them in a bag like when we brought them home from the pet store?”

For me, being a dad of daughters means that sometimes I have to ease out of my comfort zone and play “bad cop” even when they act like not letting them push the button on something just ruined their entire life.  It also means helping find missing shoes and honing my negotiation skills trying to talk my little one into putting down the magic marker.  It can be about explaining why you can’t just put down a Popsicle on the table because climbing onto the kitchen counter requires both hands and it can be about threatening to turn the car around and drive home when you are 4 hours into a drive to Disney World and back seat sibling rivalry has reached an apex.

Being a dad can be about cleaning up messes and saying no and checking prices of diapers on Amazon instead of perusing watercraft on boattrader.com.  Fatherhood can include all kinds of stuff that I could deem “weak” but guess what? Those kind of problems are like hardly having enough room on your bedroom floor to set up the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  They pale in comparison and are blown away by the awesomeness of fatherhood.  The sweet always outweighs the weak.  The good guys always win.

Being a dad means you get to freak your wife out with stuff like this.

Being a dad means you get to freak your wife out with stuff like this.

You see, being a dad means getting to carry 40 lbs of unadulterated happiness on your shoulders while you feel her ice cream cone drip on your head. It means seeing the magic that only lives inside of a Christmas morning smile.  It means getting to be a hero, prince charming, and the guy that can make everything good again.

I’ve been a dad for 7 years and although I didn’t know it when I was a kid hoping to be a baseball player or an archaeologist (I spelled that on the first try by the way), this is what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Being a dad means seeing tears dry when you kiss a boo-boo and standing alone in the street yelling “you’re doing it! you’re doing it all by yourself! keep peddling!”  It means putting up a tent in the living room or making a pallet of blankets and watching an ordinary Friday turn into the greatest day ever.

I remember when I was a kid that no matter how bad I messed something up or how hard a task seemed, when dad came to help I knew it was going to work out.  Now I get to be that guy.  The one that in two little pairs of blue eyes, can do no wrong.  I know it may only be in the opinions of my kids but I’ve got to tell you, it feels pretty awesome to be awesome.  It can be a lot of work and the return on investment may not always translate on a spreadsheet but when the fruit of your labor is rewarded with smiles and cheers and “I love you daddy’s” there isn’t much this planet has to give that is any better.

I don’t do it right all of the time and agree that being a parent can be the hardest thing in the world sometimes but if I had any advice to share with other dad’s out there it would be to not rush past the pay off.  Realize that what you do not only matters but it shapes those little people who call you daddy and has a pretty huge impact on the kind of people that they will become. Don’t let fatherhood feel like nothing but a job.  Enjoy the pay-off of your labor. Smile with them, laugh with them, put a flashlight into your own mouth and see if it will shine out of your ears and nose.  Recognize in the moment that this is what it is about and don’t rush onto the next.  Take the time to make a snuggle sandwich and feel how they have the amazing ability to be the ones that make everything all right with you the same way you do for them.  Those moments can heal you just like your kisses on scraped knees.  Remember them, enjoy them, there is nothing sweeter.

Sure, go ahead and be the bad guy when you need to but remember, you’re not really going to turn the car around and drive all the way home so let those times be the ones you dwell in the least and then remember to slow down and enjoy the part where someone laughs at all of your jokes and somehow even an average guy like you is capable of magic.

Happy Father’s Day.

What can I say, I'm a pretty lucky guy. Doesn't get much sweeter than this.

What can I say, I’m a pretty lucky guy. Doesn’t get much sweeter than this.


Whoever Said, “The Best Things in Life are Free” Obviously Wasn’t a Parent

Sweet

I Laughed So Hard, I Peed My Pants 

funny should be measured on a scale of snicker to involuntary urination

funny should be measured on a scale of snicker to involuntary urination

The rustling of the nylon against her 50 lb lanky frame as she darted through the play tunnel was the only accompaniment to the raucous giggle fest taking place. I walked up the stairs after getting home from work and heard the laughter break just long enough for the words, “Daddy, look at Lucy’s trick!” Lucy is our 8 month old  Weimaraner and she has lots of energy. My daughters had gotten out an old nylon baby tunnel and Lucy decided  running through it as fast as she could was the greatest thing ever.  My toddler agreed and just like that it was giggle-palooza.

Remember that? Remember what it feels like to laugh so hard at something that you think you may never catch your breath? Remember what it is like to have the laughter go silent as your face contorts almost in a plea to make it stop before the control of your bladder is the next thing to go?  Seems like it used to happen a lot more often doesn’t it?

No one likes pee pants but there is something kind of awesome about a moment that entertains you to the extent that you can no longer control bodily functions.  My toddler (standing on the toy box so she wasn’t in the raceway) stood there and laughed so hard she could barely breath.  Lucy, apparently relishing her new role as giggle fuel, continued to dart through the tunnel to the toddler’s delight.

I stood on the stairs and watched thinking about how the laughter of a child can be contagious.  Just before I began to wax-poetic about the unabated joy that can be found in the most simple parts of family life, the laughter stopped.  Lucy stopped.  The toddler looked at me and said, “sorry daddy, I had an accident.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the dog took off again and the giggles exploded as if the puddle on the toy box wasn’t even there.

She has been potty trained for a while now but I knew right away this had nothing to do with being potty trained.  She had simply laughed so hard she peed her pants.  While not the most fun to clean up, you have to tip your hat to the concept of laughing so hard you wet yourself.  When you are a kid there isn’t very much that you are in charge of, you aren’t used to having a tight grasp on things.  It’s probably easier to lose control because you aren’t that used to having control.  As we get older our grip begins to strengthen as we hold onto things we are responsible for and trick ourselves into thinking that we control things when all we really control is our reactions to them.

They look so sweet when they aren't sprinting through the living room or peeing on the toy box.

They look so sweet when they aren’t sprinting through the living room or peeing on the toy box.

What if you could have a moment that you didn’t just loosen your grip but you opened your hand completely, trusting that there would still be something to hold onto when you were done but for just that instant you laughed.  You laughed long and hard and maybe you don’t wet your pants but you get right to that point.  That point where everything just kind of disappears and the only thing that you are cognizant of  is the thing cracking you up.  You know what else is cool about that? Laughter is free.  I don’t know about you but for me it has been a while and I miss laughing like that.  Cracking up is totally sweet.

 

Weak

The Best Things in Life do Not Care About Money As Long As They Get Most of It 

Seriously dude? You are spending me on another glow necklace at the park then putting me in the freezer? We both know that doesn't really work.

Seriously dude? You are spending me on another glow necklace at the park then putting me in the freezer? We both know that doesn’t really work.

Remember that time I disabled the parental control’s on my daughter’s Kindle to download some movies for a long car ride but forgot to turn them back on and 2 months later found out I owned every single episode ever of iCarly? I remember it like it happened yesterday because that is when it happened.  That’s right, every single episode bought one at a time (instead of the discounted price for purchasing the entire season) over a couple of months.  I guess this goes into the family budget column of  “unexpected expenses” but I really thought that meant stuff like tire repair or an wrist cast.  I’m sure those will come but for now, our “unexpected expenses” are brought to us by Nickelodeon.  I get it though, I know it was my fault for not turning the parental controls back on but in all reality it is probably my fault because my 6 year old has a Kindle Fire.

Regardless of if it is something you have time to prepare for like shoes for school or something unexpected like a broken window and a flesh wound in need of stitches, kids are expensive.  Money arrives and departs my bank account so quickly it doesn’t even have time to sign the guestbook.  People joke that if money talked,  theirs would only say goodbye but I think mine would give me a long sigh, an exasperated look, and exclaim “seriously?”  Then I would suck it up and pay $18 for popcorn at the circus or a Disney World souvenir that will have the newness worn off on the drive home and be designated to some junk toy bin that probably holds $200 worth of plastic chachkies.

Image property of Nickelodeon, just like my $150.

Image property of Nickelodeon, just like my $150.

I wan’t my kids to experience things to the fullest as much as anyone else but now that I am older, I get why so many dads in movies and cartoons I watched as a kid came with a scowl.  I think the process goes something like this:

Kid: Look they have a petting Zoo!

Dad Brain: Awesome…..wait, twelve dollars?

Kid: Yay! Snow Cones!

Dad Brain: Gotta love snow cones…… but ten dollars?

Kid: I got invited to a birthday party!

Dad Brain: twenty dollars

Kid: Thanks for bringing us to the movies dad!

Dad Brain: fifty dollars

Kid: I think I broke my ankle, its really swollen.

Dad Brain: Rub some dirt on it.

Kid: Uh Oh

Dad Brain: Eleventy bajillion dollars.

This uh oh will cost a bit of coin but luckily she was fine. We were glad the blinds were closed and she learned a lesson about climbing onto the table.

This uh oh will cost a bit of coin but luckily she was fine. We were glad the blinds were closed and she learned a lesson about climbing onto the table.

As you can see, it is a steady digression and finding the balance between basking in the smiles of your offspring and calculating what it cost to get them can be a challenge.  I guess it is important to make it work though and realize that there are ways to make things less expensive and it is insensitive to nick name your kids “could have been a jet ski” and “instead of a lake house.”  This week I got a broken window and iCarly.  When they are teenagers I will probably look back at how this was small potatoes.  Still though, over $300 of unexpected expenses in a 10 day span is enough to put me at risk of sporting a scowl.  I mean, just think of how many fireworks you can buy with $300.  Perhaps the most telling piece of information in this blog post is the fact that I was just thinking about how many fireworks you can buy with $300 and not how much interest it could earn over the next 10 years if tucked safely into an IRA.  Enough about that, never mind the man behind the curtain  the great and powerful dad has spoken.  Kids are one of the best things in life but they are far from free and spending over $100 on iCarly episodes is totally weak.

 

 


We All Remember At Least One

classroom

Remember raising your hand so long your arm started to cramp and you had to do that behind the head support move with your other arm?

I started the 4th grade in 1987 in Ms. Griffith’s class. I finished the 4th grade in 1988 in Mrs. Chun’s class.  Her husband proposed to her in front of our whole class with a singing telegram.  Our class sang at the wedding, I caught the garter.  We did a class play of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I was Edmund.  I remember how she would sing with us each morning and how she put her hand on my shoulder with empathy when we got back from Christmas break and I told her that I didn’t get the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  Even though she was my teacher, I think I maybe had a little bit of a crush on her, she was kind and pretty and always seemed interested in what all of us had to tell her.  Her’s is the class I see in the forgotten corners of my mind when I think back to elementary school.

The middle school years can be tough on everyone and the feeling to fit in is almost palpable. I will never forget saving my money from mowing lawns and heading out to the mall, going into a cool clothes store called Chess King and buying Skidz. It was the coolest outfit I had ever owned and for once I was going to have the name brand clothes just like the cool kids. I remember wearing them on a Monday morning and feeling like the king of 7th grade. I think they went out of style the Wednesday of that same week but I didn’t get the memo and wore them again and endured some ridicule.  That was the last time I wore them, middle school was hard.  I will also never forget Ms. Hall, she was my English teacher and she taught me lots of things, the most important was that teachers don’t have to be the enemy. Ms. Hall was funny and cool and I remember that older kids from the high school would come by sometimes to visit her. She would joke with us and laugh with us and made me feel like her classroom was a safe place where the middle school pressure to be something you are still too young to be can be overwhelming.  When I made it to high school I went back and visited her, I felt like the coolest kid ever.

images

try not to be so jealous of my style

In high school I seemed to find my way a bit but I still had plenty to learn.  Mr. McCloud taught me that being sociable was a good thing but it was also ok to apply myself and that I was smarter than the effort I put forth.  Mrs. Moody & Mrs. Evans taught me how to be a part of something that was bigger than me and put a class clown up on a stage and let me spread my wings in a more productive setting than the back of Mr. McCloud’s Algebra class.  Mrs. Rivers taught me that the movie “Gone With the Wind” left out quite a bit of the book and that sometimes taking shortcuts aren’t the best idea.  She also taught me it isn’t much fun getting an F on a test.

In college I had a philosophy professor (I don’t even remember his name) that not only taught me about existentialism but also that joining in on the conversation, attending classes, and taking an interest could make college a good experience for what happened inside of the classroom as well as what happened outside.

In 2003 I remember helping my wife hang paper on a bulletin board and getting her first classroom set up just right.  It was what she wanted to be ever since she was a little girl.  Most of us lose on making it to what we wanted to be when we grow up.  For most of us it turns out to be “this is what I do” not “this is what I am.”  Not for her though, a teacher is what she is.

I am sure that there were parents that summer that got their kid’s class list and weren’t thrilled that they got Mrs. Holland because it was her first year and you just never know about first year teachers.  Fast forward a few years and it is common knowledge that if you have a third grader getting ready to start the year, you hope that they get to be in Mrs. Holland’s class.  Kids from the high school come back to visit her and by the time they are freshman it has been over 5 years since 3rd grade.  She makes a difference in those kid’s lives. The kind of difference that they still remember when they grow into full size people.  She has this unbelievable gift that sets kids at ease and somehow they instantly know that they can trust her.  She pushes them to be better and to grow and in her classroom is often where the bloom of a person begins.  She doesn’t do teaching, she is a teacher.

Next year their won’t be any kids or parents excited because they got Mrs. Holland.  After 10 years in the classroom it is time for a little break.  She is going to stay home and cherish being a mom while our girls are still young.  I am sad for this batch of  rising second graders that they won’t get to experience a third grade year with her but I am more excited that we get to have her all to ourselves for a while.  You see, she isn’t just a teacher. She is also a mom and that is another thing that she doesn’t just do, it is something that she is.

mom-tattoo

I couldn’t be more proud of the impact that she has made in her first 10 years of teaching and I know that there will be times that she will really miss it. She has been “playing school” for as long as she can remember and today she exclaimed with a tear in her eye that it was her last day to play.  I know that she will be back in a classroom one day and I can’t wait for this next little chapter of our lives where we can grow as a family.  She is so excited to be taking this break because even though every school year brings a fresh batch of 3rd graders, your own kids are only young once.

No matter how old we get we can all remember at least one teacher. The one that explained it different or the one that held our hand when we needed it or made us laugh and feel like we belonged.  None of us would be were we are today if it weren’t for the impact of  teachers and I just happened to be lucky enough to marry one. Teachers of the year come and go with each new calendar  year but for dozens and dozens of kids, Mrs. Holland wasn’t a teacher of the year, she was the teacher of their life.

Here’s to the next chapter Mrs. Holland, cheers!


Let’s See What Every Public Restroom in Our Town Looks Like

Sweet

Big Girl Panties 

You're basically a horrible parent if you don't buy your kid's an ipotty, I mean how did anyone live before these were invented?

You’re basically a horrible parent if you don’t buy your kid’s an ipotty, I mean how did anyone live before these were invented?

I say the phrase “big girl panties” far more than I am comfortable with but my modicum of machismo is a small sacrifice in this rite of passage known as potty training.  We’ve traded in Minnie Mouse pull ups for Hello Kitty underwear and so far so good.

I shudder at the risk of writing some mundane blog post that reads like so many all too graphic status updates we have endured on Facebook about the trials and tribulations of dumping the diaper.  I refuse to chronicle the occasional set-back and focus on the fact that we are no longer forking over hard-earned cash for it to get peed on.

I think that we, as parents, are usually so happy to be passed the diaper changing stage that it doesn’t dawn on us for a while that it really is the conclusion of the baby stage.  There is no stopping them from growing up so we may as well appreciate that their maturation can provide a bit of a break for us as well.  As a dad of daughters I could live without the daily 3 minute decision process of is she in more of a My Little Pony mood or a Tinker Bell mood to gird her fanny with but getting your kid potty trained is totally sweet.

Weak

I need to go  

Seeing this is totally clutch.

Seeing this is totally clutch.

Here is the deal, 74% of the time you hear a child utter the phrase, ‘I need to go to the bathroom” what it really means is, “I want to see the bathroom.”  I won’t discredit my sentiments from above that your child being potty trained is a good thing but ugh, can we go one place in public without visiting the loo?  Since that is obviously not an option could we please limit our public wanderings to places that have a family restroom?  I don’t mind navigating the potential minefield of taking my daughter into the men’s room but I think we can all agree that the family restroom is pretty clutch.

We have been to the restroom in every store, restaurant, post office (haha, it isn’t 1987, we don’t go to the post office), park, doctor’s office, and gas station in at least a 8 mile radius of our home.  I don’t shy away from taking my girls to the restroom out in public but it ain’t all roses and sunshine people.  Here is just a sampling of some of the thoughts that have gone through my head while fake potty dancing our way to use the water closet:

  • Please don’t ask about the urinals, please don’t ask about the urinals.
  • Oh good, an automatic paper towel dispenser, guess we are coming back here 14 times in the next hour.
  • Good thing we don’t need a special license plate to use the handicapped stall.
  • LOOK AWAY!!!
  • Sure, I will hold you above the sink so you can get soap and wash your hands and splash water because it is important to form a healthy habit even though we both know you just sat there with your hands clasped while I did all of the dirty work.
  • Honey, unless you are ready for her to start watching rated R movies, it looks like its your turn and let’s hope the lady’s room is more G rated.
  • It’s a good thing this kid can’t read (this is mostly on a road trip emergency stop at a highway gas station)
  • I think I put that paper seat cover thing on backwards.
  • NOPE, too many dudes in here = too many potential questions.
  • I already know that this is a false alarm but this is not the type of thing you risk.

So, we visit them all and hope for the best.  At some point they will surely realize that none of them are really that special but I think I know what their angle is. It is the nemesis of parent’s taking their kid’s to the bathroom and the crown jewel of children’s restroom adventures.  The water fountain.  Man I hate public water fountains.  Just as you finish the whole restroom experience and think you are free, you exit the door and your child’s eyes light up with the desire for cool, bacteria laced, free, public refreshment.  Not only does that water fountain present one last obstacle / opportunity for you to be a meanie head, they remember that water fountain and you can bet your life the next time you visit the location, they will want to visit. No one wants their child to be in diapers forever but that doesn’t mean that taking your kid into a public restroom isn’t completely weak.


Don’t Step on the Magic

Sweet

Saying Yes

ketchupbread

Because why not ketchup.
Stock Photo

Sometimes you have to give in to originality. You need to stop letting your daily decisions be regimented by social norms. Sometimes the only consequence of saying yes is your kid’s snaggle-toothed smile.

What I’m trying to say here is that I just put a turkey and ketchup sandwich into a school lunch. That’s right, I pack lunches. I also get daily lunch reviews that occasionally could make the harshest New York Times food critic cringe at times. I am still waiting for my Zagat rating though.  My initial reaction to this request was saying no. I mean ketchup on a sandwich is weird, Subway has 37 different condiments you can put on a sandwich and ketchup is not one of them. I don’t want my kid to be known as the ketchup sandwich girl.

Then I thought about it for a bit and wondered who made me the boss of what tastes good to my first grader.  Once upon a time I was a kid too and I am sure I was into some stuff that was weird.  I’m sure I got told no a few times to my suggestions of strange ideas and eventually put those ideas to rest and got normal.  I’m not suggesting that this was completely my idea but had I stuck with some of my outside the norm ideas we probably wouldn’t have had to wait this long to be able to buy containers of dehydrated cereal marshmallows that we are now free to enjoy on everything from Rice Crispies to spaghetti.

The world is going to do a fine job of stepping on the innocent magic a child is born with.  Over time a part of their creativity will get broken and pushed aside as they get normal and get accepted instead of getting fun and getting crazy.  Luckily a ketchup sandwich doesn’t really have any negative side effects and saying yes was easy.  The rest of the day though, I thought about how easy it would have been to just say no and step on a little bit of her magic without even realizing it.  I’m not suggesting I need a medal or anything.  A trophy maybe but not like with a big ceremony and a marching band and having to give some inspirational tear jerking speech while I accept a key to the city and a free Subway sandwiches for life card.

It isn’t like making a ketchup sandwich made her day that much more awesome or not making it would have crushed her but the situation did offer me a chance to reflect on how fast life can kick the childhood magic right out of their hands.  I’d like to try and keep it around a bit longer, I mean who knows what kind of amazing ideas could be floating around in her head afraid to come out because they may be weird.

Sometimes I think it is good to remember that being a parent is just as much about saying yes as it is about saying no and sometimes saying yes can be totally sweet.

 

Weak

Didn’t We Just Do that Whole Cicada Thing?  

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride. Photo from cardomain.com

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride.
Photo from cardomain.com

Ever have a memory that seems like it occurred pretty recently and then realize it was 10 or 20 years ago?  Man, that is like age kicking you right in the breadbasket (when I was a kid, I used to watch wrestling and “bread basket” was what they called that part of a male that rests below the belt and is very sensitive to pain.)

Last night while I was wondering when David Letterman stopped being funny he made some joke about the pending Cicada Apocalypse on the east coast. I looked at my wife and asked how this could be news when it just happened like last year?  Only it didn’t happen last year, it happened 17 years ago.  That’s right, 1996 was the last time the 17 year Cicadas took over both the east coast and the monologues of used to be funny late night talk show hosts.

17 years ago I was popping a Spin Doctors CD into my disc-man and putting a tape with a cord connected to it into my in dash tape deck, hoping not to drive over too many bumps because we all knew that anti-skip technology was mostly hollow promises and nothing is worse than being right in the middle of belting out “If you want to buy me flowers” and your music screech to a halt.

How could that much time have passed so quickly?  How have I been alive long enough to remember the great 17 year cicada outbreak of ’96?  Which, if I recall correctly, did not in any way live up to the hype so I am pretty skeptical of the upcoming reunion tour.  Life has a way of sneaking by and tricking us sometimes. Sure, I realize that I have had 17 years of life experience since the last cicada show-down and I’m happy I’m not still driving a faded blue Chevrolet Cavalier with a leaky sunroof.

Just like flipping through the pages of a calendar and thinking Christmas will be here soon because, how long can it possibly take to live 6 pages, time can seem equally as fast when you look back at things that feel like they just happened and then realize it was long enough ago that you still had a bowl cut.  I’m not sad about getting older and I am having a good time filling each year with memories just as sweet as that Spin Doctors CD.  Sometimes though, having time roundhouse you from out of nowhere with how old you are can be completely weak.


72 Band-Aids and Plenty of Apple Juice

 

Father Knows Best was an old TV show that I am old enough to know of but not really know about. It seemed fitting, this picture is from the Interwebs and belongs to the show. I guess.

Father Knows Best was an old TV show that I am old enough to know of but not really know about. It seemed fitting, this picture is from the Interwebs and belongs to the show. I guess.

*Stands up, clears throat* Hi, my name s Simon. I am a 35-year-old father of two and sometimes I would rather play Xbox than Polly Pocket or watch a show about pawn shops instead of giving them baths. *All together now* “HI SIMON” 

Horrible huh? I mean moms on Facebook are re-purposing tiny mason jars into sippy cups and spending 6 hours making rainbow cup cakes for their kid with two last name’s preschool class. Dads are coaching multiple sports teams and all work for companies that are happy to give them half the day off to go to their first grader’s Christmas party to stand around like overgrown wall flowers and watch their kids eat said cupcake. Babies are learning sign language and how to read and the other day I met a 5-year-old that knew what quinoa was.

The over-achieving appears to be at its zenith and it seems that all of the parents around me went to orientation or got the syllabus ahead of time and have a way better clue as to what they are doing.  I mean I hate to break it to you but some mornings I wake up and it takes me a few minutes to remember I’m not 15 and I am in charge of TWO HUMAN BEINGS.

Don’t worry though, the whole grown up secret is safe with me. While I may not fool other parents, my kids think I’ve got all the answers just like we thought about our parents when we were kids. One day I will be able to hand down this tradition of the human condition to my daughters and the cycle will continue.

“Wow Simon, that was quite the little rant, you must hate being a parent.”

Nope. Being a parent is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and guess what? It’s my favorite. I love my kids with all of my heart and I even think that sometimes I am a pretty good dad, maybe even most of the time.

I also know that it isn’t always easy and when you add being a parent to being a spouse, being a sibling, being an employee, being a son or daughter, and being an adult, sometimes you can forget what it feels like to be you.

The good news is, I think there is room to be all those things, be good at them, and still be you. I also think that if you can remember who you were when you were 15 and not be afraid to let it shine through in your other roles, it will make you better at them and the days more fun along the way.

I’m not going to lose who I am in an effort to be the best parent I can be. I’m going to share who I am with my kids and figure things out one day at a time. It may not always wind up looking like a photo on Pinterest but as long as I can keep them healthy, happy, learning, and laughing I think we will figure this thing out.

I hope to share some light-hearted stories and observations from a dad’s point of view of what it can be like raising the generation that doesn’t know what the roll down window gesture means and can’t drive to the grocery store without wanting to watch a movie.

I love them with all I’ve got even when they make me miss video games. As long as we have a fun-loving disposition, plenty of juice, and extra band-aids I think we will do just fine even when we do eat the occasional gluten and still aren’t positive that quinoa isn’t a city in Canada.


Kids Need a Healthy Diet

Sweet

Movie Night  1527087-popcorn-and-plate

I wish I got as excited about anything as much as my daughters get excited about the declaration of movie night in our house.  Now keep in mind at 6 and 2 years old they are not exactly film buffs but they are seasoned connoisseur of another component of movie night; snacks.  Specifically popcorn.  My kids will devour popcorn and for the toddler, it is the main attraction of movie night.

We are at a fun place right now when it comes to entertainment selections because the little one is old enough to follow along and enjoy a show or movie as long as it is on her level (mostly Caillou) and my older daughter is at the age where she feels like she needs to distance herself as far away as possible from any show or movie that she deems: for babies.  They are both aware of the others disdain for certain shows and have become quite the little antagonists.

That is where the movie snacks come in.  They are the common denominator and unite them even when their movie choices differ.  It is fun to watch them get so excited over something so small and though the snacks may not be the healthiest thing, the laughter and fun are things that are definitely good for them.

One of my favorite things about being a parent is that no matter what happens, you are always a pallet on the floor or a tent in the living room away from being a hero.

That is pretty sweet.

 

Weak

How ‘Bout a Bowl of Disappointment? my_child_will_not_eat (1)

My kid’s favorite thing to eat for breakfast on Saturday morning is whatever we are not having.  Seriously, the preparation of meals in our house has to be one of the most futile activities we take part in.

We are always trying to find balance between, “you can’t get up until you finish eating” and “just give her an apple sauce squeezy so she at least eats something and shuts her cry-hole.”

Sometimes I feel like it would be faster to just pinch her so she starts crying, toss a plate of food in the garbage, and squirt ketchup on the dog. Might as well at least make the ordeal only last a minute instead of 15.  It is important to us that they learn about different foods and don’t live on chicken nuggets and yogurt for the next few years.  We are finally getting better at utensils and manners but unfortunately, ours was part of the new generation that figures out how to work the settings on an ipad before using a spoon correctly.

We won’t give up and not every meal time is a bad one.  There are often times though, that I feel like the toddler should just tell the truth, “watching you clean up after dinner and scrape my hardly touched plate into the garbage is exhausting.  I want a snack!”

When you spend the time to create a good dinner for your family and it instantly becomes a plate of disappointment when set in front of your toddler, it is totally weak.

 


Will There be Canned Cranberry, or Should I Bring My Own?

**This is an excerpt from a post I wrote last year and a few people liked** Happy Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Sandwich 

I know that the Thanksgiving day meal gets all of the hype but come this time of year I start to crave one thing.  The Thanksgiving sandwich.  Either that night or the next day, cramming as many leftovers that you can fit between two slices of bread is the way I like to usher in the Holiday Season.

I am taking a break this year as I have been the CEO of the bird for the last 6 or so years.  Cooking the turkey can be one of those manly culinary exhibitions like making a pot of chili or grilling.  Last year I put a turkey on a giant Foster’s beer can and cooked it on an open flame just like baby Jesus intended man to cook.  But this year I am taking it easy.  So, since I don’t have to worry about targeting that 12 hour window far enough before Thursday that the store still has fresh sage but not too soon that it goes bad, I thought I would offer a couple of Turkey day tips.

1.Small servings.  I don’t mean, limit your intake all together but don’t fill up on the first pass.  There will be aunts people there that will measure their happiness and possibly some portion of their self-worth on who goes back for seconds on their dish.  So be a hero and start small and make several trips.  It isn’t like the extra walking is going to hurt.  Speaking of needing exercise, if you are a dude that could stand to drop a few lbs, this is even more important for you.  No reason for someone to feel like a failure because the fat guy didn’t even want seconds.

2. Get a can of cranberry.  It may not look too fancy jiggling there with its can lines wrapping around it but nothing goes better on a thanksgiving sandwich than slices of canned cranberry.

3. The sympathy scoop.  Don’t let anyone take home a dish that was barely touched.  I don’t care if you are 90% sure you see hot dogs and marshmallows in there, get a spoon-full.  Leave it for last then spread it out on your plate so it looks like you ate it.  Remember, these are the people you love, or at least pretend to once a year on this day.

4. Keep it classy.  Wine should not be opened before the Turkey float goes by on the parade.  (exception: if any part of the menu is being cooked outdoors an open beer is the most important cooking utensil regardless of time of day)

5. Wardrobe selection. You don’t need to go over the top here and show up in a Biggest Loser sweat suit but at the same time think ahead enough that you at least pick those pants that you are still “growing into.”

Last of all, say “Thank You”  and have a great time because eating until your left leg starts to go numb is totally sweet.

*note: not to brag but that is a picture of a turkey I cooked. (actually, that was totally to brag)


Fun Little Games Like “Find That Smell” and Other Joys of Life with a Toddler and a Puppy

Sweet

Man’s Best Friend 

Meet Lucy

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.

 

Weak

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…….. 

I may have found the secret to parenting

Shoot me.

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.


They Don’t Just Get Bigger, They Get Smarter Too.

Sweet

Innocent 

image via Precious Moments

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.

 

Weak

Diabolical 

I shouldn’t have to site this, but it’s Obi Wan from Star Wars. Duh.

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.

Me: OK

(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.

 

 

Note

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.

-Simon


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