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Tag Archives: parenthood

Book Learnin’

Sweet

School Supplies 

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.

 

Weak

When The Fat Lady Sings 

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.

 

 

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A Handful of Spaghetti and Other Toddler Delicacies

Sweet

Well, At Least She is Eating 

I wonder how much it would cost to get a drain installed in our kitchen floor?  I could probably justify a couple of benefits of having one but the primary reason is that more often than not, our little one needs to be hosed off before leaving the table after a meal.  She is learning to use utensils and it is great to hear her gurgle out an “I got it!” as she bites down on a fork load of food.  Let’s be honest though, she might as well be eating soup with a slotted spoon.  Last night we had spaghetti and we are perfectly content with robbing our second of the cute picture of spaghetti all over her head and face.  We let it happen with our first and there are just some things that you learn from aren’t worth repeating.

She was bibbed up and things started well as she managed to keep some cut up noodles on her spoon.  Flash to 15 seconds later and she is downing sauced up pasta by the handful.  The horror recedes from her mother’s eyes as we both realize that she is in fact eating and we know that utensils and cleanup are only battles but nourishment is the war.  We try to help a bit but accept the mess she is making.  That is, until our united family front begins to crack in weakness.  Our well-behaved 5-year-old makes the mistake of laughing at the little one and one little chuckle is all the encouragement our little ham needs before she attempts her best spaghetti juggling routine and delights in the laughter of her sibling.  Before long she has her parents laughing as well and she is relishing her role as the star of the show.  We manage to get a few more bites down her hatch between giggles and then flip a coin to see who gets bath duty and who gets to clean up the dinner massacre.

I got kitchen cleanup and asked myself what  CSI’s David Caruso would do?  After taking my sunglasses on and off a few times and squinting my eyes to survey the damage I went to work.  A roll of paper towels later we were finished and our freshly bathed kids still had a case of the giggles.  It may have been an epic mess but at least she was eating and even if you have to navigate nostril peas and hair dipped in yogurt, knowing your kid is fed is sweet.

Weak

My Greatest Fear Has Become the Rogue Sippy Cup 

Is there anything worse?  You find a sippy-cup under the couch or behind the toy-box and your prayer begins.  Dear Heavenly Father, please show me your grace and mercy and let this cup be full of water, and if it has to be full of milk, please give me a sign so I can throw it away when my wife isn’t looking so I don’t have to wash a white festering clump of rot out of this thing.  In Jesus name, amen.  You may start and end your prayer differently or address it to someone or something else but there is no mistake that in that moment we all hope for some kind of divine intervention.  You try to remember the last time you saw the cup in the active rotation and what was in it but it is no use, the princesses and the Dora’s and Minnie Mouse’s all run together you don’t have a clue.  You walk to the sink and play a version of parenthood roulette as you twist open the lid and pray for the best.

I used to think that finding a forgotten sippy-cup was the worst thing possible, until last week when our little one upped the ante of horror and disgust.  She walked into the living room holding a sippy-cup that neither of us had just given to her.  My wife and I exchanged glances and like a scene from a movie both lunged as the word NOOOOOOOOOOOO bellowed out of each of us.  Diving to save our little one, I batted the cup from her hand but it was too late.  The sip of septic gross combined with the scare of having her dad punch a cup millimeters away from her face may very well result in a hefty therapy bill one day.  Not sure if this one had juice of milk in it but the sour odor was already escaping the nozzle and the fruit flies swarming around it made the decision to throw it away an easy one.  Contrary to any opinions that may be forming, we are not unfit parents and go through lots of wipes and elbow grease  trying to maintain a suitable living environment for our little mess machines.  Cleaning a house with little kids in it is like tossing buckets of water over the side of a sinking boat.  No matter how fast you go or how much headway you make, you are still taking on water.  Most messes are all in a day’s work and just part of the gig but the rogue sippy-cup is totally weak.


Drawing The Line at Painted Toesies

Sweet

Daddy’s Home! 

Hearing two little high-pitched voices squeal those words as I walk up the stairs makes it all worth it.  When people say there is something special about a daddy’s girl they are right.  Two beautiful little bundles of blue eyes and curls that I still can’t believe I had a part in creating.  Daughters have a way of stealing your heart in an instant and making you work for the rest of your life to ensure that they never give it back.

Having two daughters probably means two weddings and two first dates and that I will spend 2020 to 2028 with a daughter in high school.  Those things are daunting for sure but there is still a lot of time between now and then and it gets to be filled with giggles and tickles and dress up and tea parties.  I don’t bat an eye when given the opportunity to toss a pink feather boa over my shoulder and lift my pinkie for a spot of tea.  I try to keep them well-rounded with an occasional light saber battle but when having two daughters means wearing a tiara and competing in a beauty pageant,  I join in without question.

I do it because I love them in a way that I could have never understood before they were here.  I do it because their smiles and giggles feed my soul and also because Doc McStuffins is actually a pretty good show and I need to find out what happens even when they wander off and I am left watching it alone.   I have painted a bedroom purple, another bedroom pink, and then repainted the purple one pink.  I have a “wing” of our house adorned in pastel and fairy dust.  It may sound silly but even when I feel as if I may drown in a sea of pink and sparkle, nothing makes me feel more like “the man” like having two little girls who love their daddy.  You see, to them, I am the man.  When they seek protection or provision or even occasionally a prince charming or a knight in shining armor, their search ends with me.  There is magic in that.

When we found out our second was a girl I told my wife that I finally understood why God had made me so good with women.  She didn’t find it near as hilarious as I did but I like to think that He knew I would embrace the frilly and the sparkle and recognize how special girls are.

They really do grow up faster than you are prepared for and I love seeing them grow into themselves.  I get excited about the women they will become and realize how I get to be a part of that, a part of them.  There isn’t much that I wouldn’t do for those two girls.  To keep them safe or to just to see them smile.  I am a full contact dad of daughters but even I have my limit.  Though the begging seems to amplify, there will be no painting of daddy’s toesies and no lip stick.

Last night I held our youngest and rocked with her as she fell asleep.  At 19 months her feet now hit my legs and she seems to spill out of the lap that not too long ago enveloped her.  I listened to the rhythm of her breathing and soaked in the moment.  I sat there for a long time and hoped that this Sunday evening would root itself deep enough into my soul that I will still be able to find it 20 years from now.

Daughters are totally sweet.

Weak

Sometimes I Just Need More Lasers 

So yeah, I play with the girl toys because all of the emotional mumbo jumbo I just wrote about is true but sometimes dad just wants to blow stuff up.  I still want to play with their cozy critters, only I want to turn them into lunch for a hungry Jedi Knight that hunts them down.

When you play toys with your kids, it takes you back to your own childhood.  The thing is, when I was a kid, Star Wars, GI Joe, and The Dukes of Hazzard were my jam and I never had much use for Barbie, Polly Pocket, or Cabbage Patch Kids.  While nothing in the world can change my love for my girls, sometimes I just need to wander down the boy side of the toy section to see what kind of rocket packed monster killing super agents are lining the shelves today.

I loved my toys when I was a kid and sometimes it bums me out when I am putting stuff together on Christmas morning and realize none of this shizz came with a grappling hook.  My girls never like it when I make Barbie’s corvette careen off an embankment and crash into a twisted pile of flaming steel.  No one ever wants to make Strawberry Shortcake a secret agent or My Little Ponies Dinosaur snacks.

This is an area where my wife is truly awesome.  Last Christmas she gave me light sabers.  She knows that I won’t get to vicariously enjoy the girl’s fighter jets or transformers.  She also knows that I spent most Decembers as a kid with a Sears Wish Book in my lap drawing circle after circle around the greatest toy man has ever known.  The U.S.S. FLAGG G.I. Joe aircraft carrier complete with towing fuel vehicle, admiral’s launch, and working electronic sound system.  I might as well have been circling a picture of one of the Egyptian pyramids because there was no way I was getting either.  I remember seeing the aircraft carrier in a store and marveling that it seemed to take up the bottom shelf of the entire aisle.  I remember it was over $100.00 which might as well have been a million.  I coped with its elusiveness because it seemed like no one actually got the aircraft carrier.  That is, until one day you find yourself in Pete Mooney’s basement  taking in its glory firsthand and realizing it truly was the greatest thing you had ever seen.

I appreciate that my wife realizes that after time all of the sparkle starts to take a toll on old dad.  It is nice to pepper in the occasional sword fight or pirate scenario into play time because take it from me, your daughters think that having their American Girl Doll taken hostage by an evil doctor plotting to rule the world is totally weak.


Don’t Mind if I Do

Sweet

Bonus! 

There are so many wonderful things about parenthood and raising a child that they are hard to list.  The magic in your child’s eyes when they are truly happy, the moment when the light bulb goes off and they learn something new;  those moments are sometimes like the one perfect golf shot in a horrible round.  You faced your fair share of frustration but those few key moments make up for them all and continue to re-enforce your love of the game.

I think all of that emotional junk is truly wonderful and great rewards to parenthood but I think it is time we discuss one of the more tangible wins that parenthood provides.  I want to talk to you about the bonus nugget.  That’s right, the 6th nugget of a 6 piece meal.  That little reward for being a good dad.  Not all gratification is instant but every now and then there it sits, giving you a little wink and saying, “atta boy, I’m all yours.”

It may sound silly but when that lone nugget remains and your kid has moved onto the playground or decided to finally attempt in public their Houdini high chair escape they have been perfecting at home, you grab that little reward, dunk it in polynesian sauce, and relish in parenthood sweetness.  But don’t take too long chewing a victory lap, your kid is about to bust their head open when her feet get tangled in the high chair straps.  get in the game buddy, the party is over.

The Bonus Nugget is totally sweet.

 

Weak

Three Gallons of Mustard 

The first time I ever wandered into a warehouse membership store (Costco, BJ’s, Sams, etc.)  I wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, and still left with a three gallon tub of mustard.  Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the hype and the thought of being the mustard king for only six dollars was a bit intoxicating.  Two years later I threw away 2.5 gallons of old crusty mustard that had not been refrigerated after opening.  Who has room for a keg of mustard in their refrigerator?

Now that I am a family guy we take advantage of the local discount club and tend to have a better strategy when it comes to running an inventory of household necessities.  Some products like paper towels and diapers are stockpiled into a seemingly endless supply and some inventory like milk run in a” just in time” inventory management system.  There are benefits to both and they each have their drawbacks as well.  The only thing worse than being out of milk is having milk within 2 days of the expiration date (on either side), and where in your house is there enough room to store a pickup truck load full of paper products?

The worst part of the buying in bulk strategy is that it lulls you into a false sense of security with your seemingly infinite supply.  You start letting the baby empty an entire box of tissue because it is cute and when a drink is spilled you just put the entire roll of paper towels on top of it and step down until the quicker picker upper finishes its magic.  My wife isn’t a huge fan of this type of behavior but when our basement looks like a nuclear fall-out shelter full of supplies some of that stuff needs to be used.

It seems like it will last forever but guess what?  It doesn’t.  And though it may take months, when it is gone it always catches you off guard.  Walking into your bathroom and seeing an empty roll holder and a stack of yellow Wendy’s napkins on the back of the toilet is totally weak.


Nooks and Crannies

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Much Better
I think we all can agree that few things in life rival spending the day at the beach. Fun, sun, surf, and sand, and sand, and oh look more sand. There is nothing better than that feeling you have after your post beach shower. Your skin is all tight and sun kissed and the sand is finally all washed out of your business. Totally Sweet.

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Weak
The Summer Beard
I have spent a bit of time spring breakin at the beach this week. I have had a great time and am also continuing my journey of self discovery of this person I didn’t used to be. For example I have a naturally darker complexion and have rarely used sunscreen. Now I know that most towels have a soft side and a scratchy side. Yowzers sunburns hurt. I am contemplating growing a summer beard because the thought of scraping my burnt skin with a razor makes my knees wobble. Another reminder that I am getting older and now the father of two girls is my opinion of bikini clad adolescents. If this particular spring break location had a sponsor it would be tube tops and aviator sunglasses. There was a time in my life that this would have been heaven but now all I can think is how that girl’s dad must feel. I guess that is part of growing up and follows suit with the other paradigm shifts in my life. I know that we all have those things that we look back at when we get older and realize they were silly (although, I will stand behind a well tight-rolled Bugle Boy jean) and for today’s teenager it will likely be the sunglasses. I don’t get the whole hipster thing. What is so ironic about looking like and idiot? As you get older the thoughts going through your mind on vacation change and that is kind of weak, but not near as weak as rubbing aloe on your blistered ear lobes. Seriously, sunburned earlobes?? Weak.

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The Mystery No One Enjoys

Sweet

Squinting in the Rear View Mirror  

I log a fair amount of time sitting behind a windshield.  The amount of time I spend driving combined with my general disdain for it and desire to reach my location has resulted in more than one contribution to various state governments via their blue light collection agents.  A few weeks ago I was about 150 miles from home driving along and minding my own business.  Probably going somewhere between 5 and 10 miles over the posted limit.  I had set the cruise control and was changing cd’s when I looked in my mirror and saw it.  Is it?  I can’t tell, it is dark and they are too far back.  Annoyingly, I slow down because I am not going to chance it and they seem to slow down with me.  Following behind me just far enough back to make me equal parts nervous and agitated.  I wish cars with roof racks had little illuminated signs on them that said “not a cop.”

Finally the car passed me (probably wondering why I had started driving so slow).  As soon as I verified that it was only a roof rack, zoom zoom buddy.  Driving for miles looking in your mirrors trying to figure out if you are being followed by the police is not super awesome but that moment you realize it is only a roof rack and you gun it is totally sweet!

*Note:  I passed the car in the pic last week.  He probably thinks that blue duct tape is hilarious.

Weak

When First in Line is the Last Place You Want to Be 

Traffic in Atlanta is pretty bad so not much surprises me and for the most part I keep myself from wading into the deep end of the road rage pool.  Lately though, one particular scenario has begun to force my frustration into a crescendo.  If I am driving in the right lane and the cars in front of me suddenly come to a stop while the left lane is still moving I should be first in line to go around right?  But noooooo that isn’t how it works.  I come to a stop, exhale in frustration and begin looking in my mirrors to find the needed gap to pull into the left lane and go around the traffic standstill.  I see my opportunity steadily approaching.  After this green car, I am in the promised land.  The green car approaches and I gently ease off the brake and begin to sneak the nose of my car into the left lane when it happens.  Some jack leg behind me steals my window and leaves me in the dust!!

This is a time when being in the front of the line does not make you next.  The gap in traffic that you had your eye on gets to the cars behind you first and they could care less about you.   In fact what usually happens is the last car in line takes the window first and the proverbial jerk floodgates are opened so everyone can speed around you until it is just you and a stopped bus sitting on an empty street.   If you happen to be driving with your kids in the car, this is one of those times when a swear substitute like Mother Hubbard! comes in handy.  Stealing someone’s merge  window is totally weak.


Time to Decorate the Christmas Branch

Sweet

I Think it is Leaning a Little to the Left.

There is no “real or fake” debate in my house when it comes to Christmas Trees.  I have had a real tree every Christmas of my life and have no plan to stop anytime soon.  I understand the convenience of only having to “put your tree together” but as for me and my house?  We will embrace the challenge of tackling the wild outdoors and domesticating a part of Mother Nature to put into our living room for a month.  I really love everything about the entire process;  from picking out the right one, to stringing the lights, to vacuuming up needles and scrubbing the sap off your hands with that grainy soap that hurts.

I can remember as a kid how going out to find a Christmas Tree was a huge part of the season for our family and we always had a real one.  Even during times when money was tight, dad would just kind of leave the house one afternoon with a bow saw and come back an hour later with a Christmas (ish) Tree.   I learned two great Christmas tree tips from my dad growing up.  The first being that the best time to pick out a Christmas Tree is on a cold rainy day in early December because you will have the pick of the lot and not have to compete with anyone else being there.  The second piece of advice (and one I have truly taken to heart) is that the only way you can be sure that you don’t end up with wasted space between the top of your Christmas tree and your ceiling is to start with something a smidge too big and work your way from there.  I am fortunate enough to have a house with vaulted ceilings in the living room now (because it was a strict selection criteria for this exact purpose) and I love filling that usually empty space with 12 feet of wilderness.  From the wrestle to get it up and straight, to finding the “front”, to being in your own real live vacuum commercial every day sucking up needles, having a (huge) live Christmas Tree is totally sweet.

P.S.

The title of this post is from a Christmas special I remember from childhood.  “Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas”  anyone else remember it?

Weak

I Just Saw that Thing the Other Day 

If any of you have any idea of where the remote to the TV in our bedroom is, any clues would be appreciated.  You see, around Tuesday of this week it went missing, and things just haven’t been the same since.  We have a likely suspect who enjoys picking up objects she can reach and carrying them around our house until she tires of the object and just drops it in whatever location she happens to be at the time.  The problem with this suspect is that she is impervious to my interrogation techniques.  Instead of being coerced to come clean with what she knows,  she just looks at me funny and mashes a handful of Cherios into her mouth, eating one and dropping the rest on the floor.  Then she smiles and talks some gibberish while I plead with her to tell me where she put it.

I hate losing anything and have an uncanny knack for knowing that I just saw something somewhere in our house and now have zero ability to link any images or clues together to remember where I saw it.  I wold venture to say that rarely a week goes by in my house without hearing at least one “I FOUND IT” being shouted from the basement or down the hall by the linen closet.  Sometimes we just accept that something is lost and know that it will turn up, other times we tear our house apart like our lives depend on it.  I hate to sound shallow here but losing a TV remote always results in the latter.  I honestly have no use for the television without the remote, to me it is like a bowl of cereal without any milk.

We are still looking for it, but thanks to the late Steve Jobs I am able to control my TV with an app on my phone so that is pretty clutch.  I am sure that we will find it eventually, tucked away in a shoe deep in a closet or mixed  in with a thousand other pieces of plastic in  her toy box.  Actually, those are two really good suggestions for places to look. sometimes I impress myself.  I guess until it does show up, we will continue to rough it like pioneers changing channels with our smart phones but not being able to control the volume.  Losing stuff is totally weak.


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