31 August 2012

While the Mommy Cat's Away...

The Daddy cat will get in trouble - but have fun with it. I mean honestly, is there anything funnier than a dog trying to get peanut butter off his nose?

I'll get in trouble over it, but it's worth it!

26 August 2012

Great Firsts

Gotta warn ya in advance, I'm a big old teddy bear sentimentalist, so if you're a big old macho Dad, or if you have no daughters, stop here. It gets sappy.

Wow! Ya know, sometimes being a Daddy is purely overwhelming. And I love being overwhelmed by these little angels.

Today, as I was baking some bread and Princess was making special play dough bread, a very special song came on. Well, at least it's special to me. The Statler Brothers song "Do You Know You Are My Sunshine." I love this song! And I said so. Which, of course, meant I had to explain to my little font of questions why.

So I told her a story of MY sunshine. I told her of a day long ago. A day before she was born. I told her of a day when I had met a beautiful woman and was taking her for a walk through a sunlit park. I told her of how, as I asked the beautiful woman a question, she turned to me with the prettiest smile and the most enticing laugh. Her eyes twinkled with merriment and the Texas sun was dancing across her hair. And in that moment, I knew the beautiful woman was the only woman I would ever love. That was the moment I knew her Mommy would always be the Sunshine of my life.

Then I told her of how Mommy and I both traveled for our jobs back then, and how I would drive all across the country - all the way, thinking of my Sunshine. And whenever that song would come on the radio, I would remember the day I first met her and how amazing it was.

My little Princess looked at me with a contemplative smile before asking a thousand more questions and, I thought, forgetting my story. Such is the way with children.

A few hours later, I was relaxing for a few minutes between chores, watching her play with her dolls, when she turned to me suddenly and knocked me to my knees. She wrapped me around her finger for life in a way that only a daughter can when she smiled and asked, "Daddy, when I grow up, will you marry me and be my sunshine?"

Wow! I've heard it in movies and on TV. I've read it in books and always thought it was cute. I had no idea how emotional I would get when my own daughter asked it of me. She's growing up so fast. And she's so much like her Mommy. She's going to make some lucky young man a wonderful wife some day.

But not until she's at least 30.

24 August 2012

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Oh, my! Kids are the best at making you see the error of your ways. Recently, when Princess wanted to do some crafts and was told she couldn't, her response was a simple and vehement "Oh, Hell!"

Ouch! Apparently Daddy has not gotten his language completely under control yet. I sure thought I was doing better than that. I guarantee you I'm doing a whole lot better now! I could almost feel my Mama pop me upside the back of the head and hear her say, "Little pitchers have big ears!"

Now being the curious creature I am, I had to look that up. Did you know it's actually based on fact? In the olden days of centuries past, small earthenware jugs had to have disproportionately large handles to enable a person to easily pick them up. Some fellow, probably after drinking a few pints of ale out of said small earthenware jug, decided that the handles of the jug looked like big ears. Thus was born not just one, but two idioms of the English tongue. "Jug ears" and "little pitchers have big ears."

Hmm...perhaps the trend setters we look to for our language are not the most sober examples to emulate.

In any case, "little pitchers have big ears" still means that the youngest person in hearing distance will automatically forget everything else being said and pick up on the absolutely worst thing you say. Said youngster will then store it up in their cute little mind, waiting for exactly the right moment to spring it loose on an unsuspecting world. Generally at a moment when that youngster's offending parent is congratulating himself on how great an example he is to the precious developing minds under his careful tutelage.

Oh, He...


Um, oh my!

23 August 2012

Thought for the Day #14

You know you're a Daddy when it's lunch time before you realize that you put your pants on inside out when your daughter woke you up at 4 am with a bad dream. You know your a Husband when you find yourself worrying, not about your fatigue, but about your Sweetheart being so tired that she didn't notice and mess with you about it.

22 August 2012

Furry Kids

Furball was our first child. We adopted him when he was six months old, right before our first Christmas as man and wife. We had looked for months for the perfect puppy to fill out our little family. We found him at a breeder in Missouri. He was a mess when we picked him up at the airport. It didn't take too long to figure out that he had a seriously nervous disposition. He whined and peed and chewed up carpets and tore up doors and blankets and boots and...well, you name it, Furball has eaten it. When I was still smoking, I used to get a kick out of wandering the yard, trying to figure out what he could have eaten to make his poop green or blue or fuzzy. Once, it was like a rainbow. Once, it was 3 feet long - I think it was from eating a sock. He seemed to be trying to knit a new one as he went.

All Our Children
We joke that he's our $5000 dog, but it's probably closer to about $8000. He's had to have sedatives for thunderstorms and anti-anxiety pills during construction projects around the area. He's had to have surgery for torn ligaments, and he has congenital nerve damage in his tail that causes him to have problems with moving his rear legs when it flares up. So right now he's on steroids, and we have a medicine box just for him.

"Don't type, Daddy - scratch!"
We also have a huge spot in our hearts for the little doofus. He's not much different from our biological children. He just goes to a different doctor, and he chews up clothes instead of wearing them. But he's part of the family. And losing him would be an extremely difficult event. He's been here through it all. He helped Sweetheart keep in shape when she was pregnant with Princess and had to control gestational diabetes. He had to run to keep up with her walking, but he would keep up through 45 minutes walks, drag himself through the door and still be happy. I've seen that dog step on his tongue before, but there was no way he was letting Mommy brave the outside world without him by her side.

When I was recovering from thyroid cancer, he would be right beside me, keeping me company. And I don't believe it was only because Daddy gives him the best ear scratches. When I started having seizures, he stayed near me and would do his best to alert us before I would collapse. I always thought it was a myth that dogs could detect epileptic episodes, but it's not.

Not a night goes by that he doesn't roam through the bedrooms at least twice (and I know because he often wakes me up) to check on the kids and make sure the house is secure. I'm not sure what the little fella would do if someone broke in, but I'm betting he would go out doing as much damage as he could to whoever threatened his family, same as I would.

I'm not stupid - I know he's not immortal. I dread the day I have to tell the kids he's gone. He's already given us several scares, and I've spent sleepless nights praying for him. I've done what it takes to keep him healthy and happy, and I always will. But I know the day will come when it won't be enough.

Faithful Dusty
I say all this because Mom and Dad are there now. There little Monty is in critical condition due to kidney failure. The vets say he has a couple of months at most. They've already had to say goodbye to two furkids in the last six years. When Dusty passed on from old age, it tore all of us up. Then Baby pined away until she also succumbed to her years. Dusty was such a sweet old fella, and Baby was the first person in my wife's family to give me unconditional approval. And now Monty, who has been the Furball's buddy and is one of the kids' favorite playmates at Grandma's house. We're all in shock, and I'll admit, I'm terrified of telling the kids. We're all going to miss him.

Precious Baby

Our furry kids burrow their way into our hearts and make up such a large part of our lives. They comfort us and protect us and give us their unconditional love no matter how upset we get when we catch them chewing up our new shoes. They rarely ask for anything more than a comfy scratch. Well, and a fresh baked biscuit.

I don't know how to say goodbye to such big parts of our lives. But I do know this. They will never be forgotten, and they will always be loved.

Lovable Monty

Great Moments

I was lying in the bed at the hotel, having been woken by the occupants in the next room. It had been a rough few days, between the wickedly sprained right foot and all the travelling, so I was enjoying a few moments to enjoy the quiet. I was stretching and waiting for the alarm to go off before waking up Sweetheart and the kids. Suddenly, the alarm went off and in a flurry of practiced orchestration, my beautiful wife slapped the snooze button, threw herself across the bed and wrapped herself around me. The next thing I knew, my love was peacefully snoring on my chest while her hair tickled my nose. I could hear the little ones begin to yawn and stretch and roll back over to sleep in their beds. I was pretty much overwhelmed by the comfortable peace of the moment as I gently reset the alarm and enjoyed the wonders of my life. Husband - Father - both at peace, lying there surrounded by everything worthwhile in my life. I was counting my self as the luckiest man in the world and thanking God.

And then my precious Sweetheart twitched gently in her sleep, moved slightly...

and kicked me square on my right foot.

Ah, well - the pain couldn't stop my glow. And I even managed to stop whimpering before she woke up.

21 August 2012

Thought for the Day #13

You know you're getting old when you here your doctor tell you that you have a severe ankle sprain and a severe midfoot sprain and that you have to be careful how you walk on your feet for now on.

20 August 2012

Great Mistakes

Ain't it great when you make a mistake and it turns out better than if you hadn't screwed up? Yesterday, I made a couple of loaves of this really good country oat bread. Sweetheart makes some incredible french toast with it. But when I was kneading the bread, something just didn't look right. The dough just stayed shaggy and wouldn't form up. So I added a little more flour. And a little more. And a little more. I finally realized that I was using freshly ground whose wheat flour, and in our humidity yesterday, it was just too moist to form up the dough. So I added a touch of all purpose flour and it came together in a nice satiny smooth ball.

But it wouldn't rise. We waited an hour. Then we waited two. Finally we panned it up and waited for it to rise in a warm oven. Nope. Sweetheart said to just give it up and bake it. As it was baking, I finally realized - I had to use instant yeast in this recipe, which I don't normally use. I use active dry yeast instead. Which requires a much lower temperature. Instant takes a little more. And I didn't give it to the poor little critters, so they didn't fart enough to lighten up my bread.

But I figure, what the heck - it's for breakfast anyway. If it comes out the consistency of a week old bagel, we'll just toast it. So it came finally came out of the oven. And looked a little, um, carmelly. Yeah that's a good word for it. It looked kind of like a brick like cinnamon roll. Oh, good grief. I didn't have maple sugar. So I substituted. No big deal. Except that the substitution list I found had two separate possible substitutions, but I misunderstood and thought they were one single substitution. So instead of just adding maple syrup OR white sugar and maple extract, I added all of it. That's some sweet bread! And dense! Oh, my goodness, the thing just about broke the counter.

But my beloved and ever-supportive Sweetheart said not to worry. It'd be fine in the morning, and we can always toast it right? I was skeptical, but what the heck. The dog was sitting there at my feet begging me not to throw it away, but to give it to him instead. Course, he's on a diet, but if it's a bomb in the morning, I can sneak him a little before i throw it out - as long as my sweetie pie ain't lookin'. So fast forward to this morning, and you get some astonishingly great soft, gooey, sweetbread which goes great with a little cream cheese.

Poor Furball is so disappointed. He didn't get a bite.

Oh, My! Good Morning World.

Well, more like and nice, but conflicted morning to you world. Ah, the joys of parenting! Yeah, joys. The joy of being woken up at 4am by the very pleasant knowledge that my ravishingly beautiful wife is bumping as grinding into me, pushing up against me to ensure I wake up in a GOOD mood. Oh, what a joyful way to wake up! I don't care what time it is - I'm always happy for that kind of good morning.

Hey, wait a minute...

Why is she moving away. Oh, maybe she's getting...what the...! There's a FOOT IN MY FACE!

Oh, my...

It's my Princess. "Daddy, I had a bad dream. Can I sleep between you? I dreamed of..." oh my...

I would share the dream with you, but honestly, at that point my mind shut down as I rapidly turned over to try to get back to sleep, as I pondered whether I would have to get her therapy later on if I threw her back into her own bed.

Oh, good grief! Might as well go make the coffee.

19 August 2012

Who'd Have Thought?

Ya know, kids can be so amazing! Concepts that you would think are beyond their comprehension can be grasped in the blink of an eye, while the most simple ideas can be readily ignored.

Princess had been acting out and pouting and throwing tantrums and just generally being unmanageable. I had gotten worn out to the point I could barely see straight when I got the wild idea of simply sitting her down and explaining a few things to her. I told her that Daddy wasn't able to give her attention every minute of the day like she wanted. I told her I wanted to, but I just couldn't. Little Man has been having a hard time teething, my seizures are just now getting under control yet and I am so sleep deprived it's crazy. I explained that, regardless of what I wanted and regardless of what she wanted, I couldn't give her my undivided attention as often as she wanted.

But, I told her that if she could handle playing by herself or with her brother sometimes, and help me out by not destroying the house in the process, then I would make her a promise. I promised that any time she felt like she needed my undivided attention, all she had to do was ask me for it. And if I could manage it right that second, I would drop anything I was doing and I'd be hers. And if I absolutely couldn't manage it, I would ask her to be patient and let me make time for her as soon as I was able.

I didn't expect it to actually work. I mean seriously - she's a very hyper four! But...you guessed it. The child who can't remember not to treat her brother like a toy has suddenly developed an understanding of patience. It's utterly amazing! I've always believed in speaking plainly to my children and I know how clever they both are, but wow! She has begun to be more polite and patient and she's begun helping me clean the house and do simple chores. She's been playing more gently, and she exhibits admirable patience when she asks for attention and I have to tell her no. She's still four, and she still gets in trouble, but it's much more controllable and low scale than it used to be. As a result, I'm able to spend much more time just playing with her and spending quality time with her. It's wonderful! Who'd have thought?

17 August 2012


Many times in the last few months, I've had reason to think about Blessings. I use a capital B because I'm not talking about the things we daily think of as blessings, as gifts from God which show His love for us. No, I'm referring to Blessings in the Biblical Patriarchal sense. I've noticed that people think it's unusual - either in a good way or a bad way, depending on the person - that I Bless my children daily.

I don't remember when I began Blessing them both every night before they go to bed. All I can say for sure is that some time after the Little Man was born, I felt strongly that I should hold both of my children and Bless them in the Name of Jesus. I don't know if it's Biblical or not, I just know that, as their father, I feel compelled to Bless them with peace, love, healing and protection. And a big hug and kiss - and of course happy dreams. I feel in my heart that God honors the promises of a father to his children when they are asked in the Name of His own Son. I see evidence of it almost every night. Little Man started sleeping less fitfully and seems to be bothered less by teething at night. The biggest change, though, has been in my Princess. She absolutely will NOT go to sleep without being my Blessing. She used to wake up many times during the night. She was afraid of the dark, afraid of noises, afraid of the door being closed, afraid of monsters and anything else she could come up with. She would get up and run in our room sobbing or screaming. This went on for two years. Since I began Blessing her, she sleeps like a rock and wakes up happy. She goes to sleep faster, too. It's been rather amazing to watch. My wife looked at me kind of funny at first, until one night I said no and she told me I HAD to Bless them. Biblical or not, it held power and my children relied upon that security. So Blessings they receive.

I don't generally think about it except that tonight, I felt compelled to Bless my Sweetheart. She's had so many stresses and problems pulling her in so many directions that I just felt I had to do something to help, and since I can't take over her career, and I can't heal her folks or move her brother to Nashville, I did what I could do. I laid my hands on her and gave her the Blessing of her husband. She seems to be more peaceful now, and she's snoring happily, so Lord willing she'll be Able to drop the worries and sleep well.

At the risk of attracting crackpot comments, I would definitely enjoy hearing from other parents on this topic. Am I alone, or are there other fathers who Bless their children?

Thought for the Day #12

Ya know, playing catch with your son when you have a sprained ankle and foot might make your eyes water, but oh, man, it is SO worth it!

The Vizio VBR337 Blu-Ray Player

Nice and sleek
Like many At Home Parents, I try to limit the television my kids watch. As an unexpected result, I found that my wife and I were also watching less TV. But we were paying $100 each month to have hundreds of channels available, as well as DVR capability. What a waste! So we decided to do something about it. That's when we found the Vizio VBR337 3D Blu-Ray Player with Wireless Internet Application. We actually caught it on sale at our local Target or $129.
Now, I'm not an old geezer, but I'm old enough to know what VHF and UHF mean. I remember the thunk...thunk sound of that tuner. And the fast tick, tick, tick of the UHF tuner on my Granny's "high class TV." Shoot, I was in high school before we were rich enough to have an actual remote instead of the set top box with the big switch buttons. So all this high-falutin WiFi technological stuff is foreign to me. But I'm a larnin' fast!

Front of remote
Keyboard on rear of remote
The remote is particularly handy for the full Qwerty keyboard on the back. It really makes searching for shows much easier. It takes a little getting used to, but it saves a lot of time once you do. On the flip side, the remote is actually the only complaint I have against this Vizio. Vizio won't allow it to control the volume of a non-Vizio TV, so I'm stuck having to use two remotes. And the buttons are a little stiff. Those are the only complaints I can come up with for this machine.

The player itself is so easy to set up it was surprising. I'm not a technophile, so I don't trust myself with electronics unless I've read the manual a few times first. There is NO included manual with this player! Only a simple card which basically says to connect the HDMI, connect the power and turn it on. It guided me through setting up the WiFi connection; setting up accounts for Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and HuluPlus; and setting up all the machine settings. I already have an Amazon Prime membership, so all I had to do for Amazon Instant Video was plug in my username and password. From getting it out of the box to watching the first show was less than 20 minutes.

As for the quality of the machine, it's topnotch. Operation is simple and works from a main carousel type menu. The video and audio quality is fantastic. I can't speak for the 3D capabilities, as that's WAY beyond my needs (and comprehension) and we don't use it. But with my Samsung 52" plasma, it puts on a great SD or HD show. And best of all - there are no buttons or doors to be broken off, and the slot for discs is so small it's impossible to stick a peanut butter sandwich in it!

After getting the Vizio home and getting it set up, cutting off our DirecTV account was an easy choice. Between Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, the kids have access to pretty much anything they would ever be allowed to watch. I enjoy being able to go into Amazon and watch the old series from my childhood with no interruption. And for the few current shows we like (I'm an NCIS addict, and I love crime dramas), we pay for the entire season from Amazon and still save money. With the help of the Vizio, we save just over $900 per year, and have access to more entertainment options than ever before. For a redneck who doesn't even know what HDMI stands for or the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray, I think that's pretty doggone good.

16 August 2012

Not Right!

Okay, Marc Brown, you're just being mean. I was just watching "Arthur" with Princess - um, I mean to say Princess was watching it - when I heard that crazy little rabbit say something about how Arthur depriving himself of fun activities to save money for a new bike was awful. He said - and I quote - "That's like living in the Stone Age, or 1980 or something." Ah Man, that's not fair! I just turned 40. Do you really think I need reminders of how old I am? That's just mean.

Nostalgia & Family

Little Man's first flight.
It is so cool meeting new family! My Sweetheart's family reunion was a wonderful opportunity for the kids and me to finally meet her extended family. She has so many cousins and aunts and uncles - apparently Yankees have very little outside entertainment. I guess they missed the whole TV thing. Makes for big families. But it also makes for fun stories and great times listening to the old folks reminisce.

Sweetheart's Grandpa and Grandma were full of stories, as befitting a couple who have been together for 67 years. Grandpa was telling stories of his brother - who fought in WW II, until he was captured by the Germans and died as a POW - and of his own days as a printer for 50 years. He talked about his days as a sailor in WW II and about how an argument with a nurse in Norfolk ended him up as a corpsman in Panama - the moral being never argue with someone who has the power to transfer you to BFE.
Great Grandpa and the tornado.

Grandpa giving me tips on shelving.
I think the coolest thing was when I found out Grandpa was also a woodworker. Mine was a Master Carpenter. I actually started developing woodworking as a hobby so I would have something to share with my son. I am really looking forward to telling my son someday that both of his great grandfathers worked with wood. Grandpa shared books and tips and sent me home with a bunch of patterns and projects to work on with the little critters.

Then there was Pat with his, um, naturally fresh water. Mm, now that was great for the pain. And Jim and Connie, who created the coolest art wall of colored bottles, and Keith and Barb and their family with their amazing hospitality...my goodness, pretty much her whole family took us into a big hug and just made us not want to leave.
Great Grandmas give expert hugs!
And they kiss boo boos away better than anyone else!
The trip itself was harsh, thanks to all the mishaps, but it was definitely worth it!

15 August 2012

Redneck Lampoon Vacation

Let me tell you a crazy story. A story of a wild, unpredictable and danged near insane vacation. The kind of vacation only a redneck could have.

It all started on a sunny north Texas morning. Sweetheart and I were wrapping up the last of the packing for her family reunion when we realized we were over the weight limit on one of the bags we planned on checking. So we had to repack a little. No big deal. We had already gotten up, drank some of my wife's great coffee and we were bright eyed and bushy-tailed. We had a fantastic, sugar-packed breakfast of donuts (mmm, donuts...) and we would have no problem repacking a little bag. After all, we had five hours before we even had to leave for the airport.

Well, the bags were on the dining room table, and I had to ask Sweetheart a question in the kitchen. So I turned and headed for her. I was doing great until my right foot hit the floor at an angle, with a little twist...

Did you know you can sprain your ankle just by walking on it? I had no idea! I missed that memo. So I was rather surprised to end up in the urgent care clinic getting x-rayed, examined and booted, before being sent out the door hobbling on crutches. Now, if you want entertainment, walk behind a fat man using crutches for the first time in his life. Once they got me loaded up on pain killers, I was willing to admit that it must have been hilarious.

Now comes the real fun. Remember that little bit of repacking? Well, it hadn't gotten finished. Neither had the Furball been dropped off at the vet for boarding. Neither had the bags been loaded in the car. Neither had the air conditioner been reprogrammed. Or the kids water bottles been filled. Or the dog's bed been brought down. Or any of the dozen little things you generally do as you get ready to walk out the door. Normally, this would be no problem. This time however, we got back to the house with 20 minutes left before we HAD to be on the road to the airport. I was thinking of how much I hated having to pay to reschedule the flights when my Sweetheart suddenly turned into a real live Texas Tornado. That woman moved so fast papers were flying around in her wake. The dog, who is normally a foot behind her any time she moves, gave up and just sat confused at his inability to keep up. The kids were thrilled - it was like an acrobatic display. Clothes flew through the air from bag to bag, things rattled and banged down the stairs, vortexes appeared in the air to let us know she had passed. It was cool!

I have no idea how she got us in the car, but she did. I grant you, she did have to turn around and drive back to the house for my crutches and the dog's bed, but she got us moving. The dog got dropped off and we were on the way to DFW. Then we hit the traffic. Then we missed an exit in the traffic. Then we hit the construction in the airport. Lord have mercy, what a trip. Rather reminiscent of the National Lampoons - hmm, we can call it the Redneck Lampoon Vacation. Thankfully, the in-laws had gotten to the airport first and had a sky cap and wheelchair waiting at the curb. We had 25 minutes to check in, check the bags, get through security and get to the gate. We made it with three minutes to spare. I could hardly believe it.

The rest of the vacation went relatively smoothly. For me, it was a happy blur of introductions and pain killers, topped off with an accidental buzz after I tried a small glass of mead. I had entirely forgotten about the Norco I had just taken.

And then, we got back to the airport for the return flight. Oh, my! The service in Louisville just didn't quite measure up to DFW. The sky cap dropped everything at the check in counter and took off, before Sweetheart had returned from dropping off the car, and things started getting confused. The fellow pushing my wheel chair said his shift was ending, so he took off and turned me over to an even older fellow who had the patience of a gnat. Which was not good, seeing as how I was trying to wrangle eight bags, two crutches and two extraordinarily hyper children. Sweetheart ran up to the counter, started checking in and handing over bags and the fun got started. After sending the smaller bag down the conveyor (against my unheeded advice), she found the big one was seven pounds too heavy. A hundred bucks is a little much to pay for seven pounds, so she kind of freaked and started ripping that bag apart, making a pile at my feet. I made the mistake of suggesting she simply pay the extra fee and barely missed getting my head bit off. That was the wrong thing for me to do, because in her frenzy and frustration, she saw the old fellow getting impatient and told him to go away.

Oh no...

After taking a tongue-lashing for suggesting that perhaps that had not been a good idea, I did my best to shut up. We were now a frenzied train heading through the airport. What my Sweetheart had forgotten, and I was trying to preserve my life by not mentioning it, was that the gate was a mile away. Did I mention my size? I'm not exactly petite. My wife, however, is. So she put the baby in the Ergo carrier on her stomach, put a now overloaded backpack on her back, threw another overloaded backpack and two smaller cases on my lap, gave Princess her Pink and began pushing me down the terminal. All I could hear was grunting, deep breathing and the occasional mumble. Sweat flew everywhere as strangers turned to stare (but not help, damned Yankees!) At the very slow convoy passing by.  We finally made it to the gate and started getting settled in. That's when Princess started saying she was cold. I looked at her and realized the fun was just starting. She was burning up, glassy-eyed and shivering. Then Little Man started screaming. He didn't stop until we reached DFW.

Oh my, I'm pretty sure I'll never fly again. Next year is Disney and everyone is flying. Hmm - nope, it's not that long a drive. Maybe I'll put a recliner on top of the car.

14 August 2012

From the Mouths of Babes - or Daddies

My daughter has two things in the world she simply cannot live without. One is her blanket, Pink. The other is her favorite stuffed animal, Snuggle Elephant.

Last night, as we were getting ready to collapse into our beds after finally getting home, Princess came into our room and said, "Daddy, why do you and Mommy hug each other when you sleep?" At those words, I will admit, I froze as vivid terrifying images of dreaded conversations came to mind. I prayed fervently that this would not be one of those. I hesitantly asked what she meant and almost passed out from relief as she said that in the hotel, she had woken early and seen that my wife and I snuggle up and sleep wrapped around each other. I guess it does look like a hug, and she wanted to know why we slept that way.

Now, my daughter is very smart, but I've found that explaining the more abstract concepts like love requires putting it in terms she can understand from her own experiences. So I wasn't sure she'd understand when I said, "Mommy and I love each other so much we just don't do well apart, even if we're sleeping. So we sleep close together and usually sleep holding each other." And she didn't. So I thought about it and came up with what I thought was the perfect answer. I said, "Well, it's kind of like you and Pink and Snuggle Elephant. Mommy is my Pink and I'm her Snuggle Elephant."

That child left my room laughing so hard I thought she was gonna pee herself.

Thought for the Day #11

You know the vacation's been good when you're laughing so hard with each other that your Sweetheart just about makes you pee your pants. When she got me with a particularly good (but slightly harsh) joke, I said she was becoming a little acerbic. I almost lost it when she pouted and said, "I am not a Serbian!"

13 August 2012


On the way home from the airport, coming home from a wonderfully fun family reunion, I mentioned that my father-in-law was the patriarch of our extended family - or clan. My daughter asked me to explain what that word was, and as I began to tell her about how Granddad was like the father of all of the other families of her aunts and uncles, she jumped in and said, "He's a hero!"

I love hearing the thoughts of my children. And she's right. Granddad is a hero. He's a hero of God. He's teaching me how to be a father and a husband. He's teaching me how to teach my own children. And all the while, he's managing the disputes and arguments and egos of a growing and spread out extended family. That kind of job takes a hero. He may be a little goofy at times, but he commands more respect than any old Superman. And Grandma, oh my! That woman, as the matriarch of our crazy little family, carries out the incredibly heroic job of loving the living daylights out of every single one of us, no matter how ridiculous we behave. Now that can't be an easy task!

Yep - I love the way my kids think!

America, I luv ya!

Oh, I do love America! We just pulled into a shopping strip with 3 stores lined up - back to front, they are a gym, a Big Boys and a Casual Male XL. Where else in the world can you get your morning workout, come out and pull straight into a burger joint for your daily fat and then walk into the best store to buy shorts to cover your growing butt for your workout tomorrow morning?

07 August 2012

Uh oh

Have you ever done something and immediately realized that you shouldn't have done it? And have you ever realized you had screwed up AFTER you realized you had been caught?

Ah, man!

I messed up. I was so intent on not having to rent a U-Haul to get our luggage to the airport that I missed the obvious. It didn't occur to me that by consolidating our luggage and packing everything efficiently and compactly to save my poor back that I was shooting myself in the foot. Nope - it didn't occur to me until I had neatly folded everything my wife said had to go with us, and fit it all into one medium sized bag instead of the numerous bags she expected. I was busily working away (mostly because my bed was under the pile, and I wanted a nap), folding and packing as the Navy had taught me when suddenly from behind me, I heard a gasp. That was when I knew the jig was up. I was busted. The next thing I heard, as my head drooped in shame at my stupidity, was my dear wife exclaiming, "I can't believe you fit everything in one bag! I'm going to have you pack for now on!"

Ah, man!

I've always managed to escape having to deal with the hassle of packing and preparing for a trip. I'm a man. I load the bags in the car, I drive to the destination - carefully monitoring fluid intake levels of all females in the vehicle while watching for exits with clean bathrooms, knowing that as soon as I pass one, someone who moments before answered my query with, "No, sir, I promise I don't have to go," will say, "I have to pee, and I can't hold it!" - and when we arrive at said destination, I unload the car. That's what a man does.

A man does not pack panties and pjs! It's just not right. Next thing ya know, she'll have me cooking and cleaning. Um...Uh oh.

06 August 2012

She Never Learns

Some of my best entertainment comes straight from the mouth of my Sweetheart.

She has no filter to keep things from coming out, and honestly, part of me hopes she never develops one. This evening, she was reading the news after supper when she suddenly said, "I want to by the Princess a chastity belt. And Little Man, too. They make them for boys and girls."

Now, in today's world, chastity belts might not be a bad idea. That wasn't the entertaining part. The fun came in because, as usual, the little pitcher was near and her ears were wide open. My Princess loves clothes, so she heard "belt" and perked right up. She ran over and said, Mommy, what's a chastity belt?"

I've learned to look fast any time Sweetheart says stuff like this, because the look on her face is absolutely priceless! Kind of like a deer caught in the headlights. Her eyes go wide as she realizes what's coming and then she shakes a little as she tries to find a way out before her head drops when she hears the inevitable question and understands the truth. There's no way out. My daughter won't take no for an answer and she's just too doggone smart to be put off by the whole, "We'll talk about it later" bit.

Nope, Sweetheart managed to forestall it by saying it's a special kind of belt, but that just means that I'll be going everywhere with them for the next few weeks. Cuz I know from experience what's gonna happen. It'll come soon, and I just pray I'll have a camera ready when my precious little child pulls on Mommy's arm in the checkout line of some store and says, in her wonderfully loud preschooler voice, "Mommy, you forgot to buy my special chastity belt now?"

04 August 2012

Night Watch

I love watching my family sleep. I lay here next to my Sweetheart, listening to her peaceful breathing, interrupted by occasional unintelligible murmurs and wonder of what she dreams. Sometimes I even envy her ability to ge to sleep almost instantaneously wherever she closes her eyes. I like that she's such a sound sleeper, though. It means less chance of my chronic insomnia being passed on to the kids.

Thankfully, neither of them seem to share my affliction. I roam through the house some nights just to check in on everyone. The Furball is my companion. He like to sleep in a wide variety of locations throughout his 20 hour sleep cycle, regardless of the beds we buy him, so I invariably stumble over him at least once if I get up. He'll then take up his spot at my heels - after a suitable amount of yawning and stretching and smacking of jowls in protest of me waking him up without so much as a treat in hand to compensate for his lost slumber. But, on the chance that I may wander down to his cookie jar, he makes the rounds with me, sneezing and passing gas like the old man he is.

As we pass the Princess' room, with door faithfully set at "medium" (I have no idea, I just go with it) I peek in to see if I can catch a glimpse of the angel hidden somewhere amidst the pile of blankets, toys, pillows, baby dolls and other detritus from the days activities she's fashioned into her beaver dam-like "sleeping bag" as she calls it. Generally, she's off to one side, spread out like a rag doll thrown from the pile. That child sleeps so hard, there have been many nights I've had to pinch her to satisfy myself she's actually okay. I feel a little guilty when she tells me the next morning about the mosquito dream, but come on, the child won't move for hours. And Daddies are allowed to be paranoid with their first. It's in the rule book.

Little Man is another story. That boy gets a workout while sleeping. He rolls all over the place. He'll prop his feet up in the corner, wedge his head against the crib bars and generally sleep in positions that would hurt an experienced contortionist. I never have to worry about him. But I often watch from the doorway just to see what spectacular feat he managed during the night. Sometimes, I'm pretty sure the Furball is trying to ask me, "Daddy, how'n the wuld he do dat?".

Ah yes, you didn't know that did you? Yes indeed, my dog is a hillbilly. A Yankee hillbilly to boot. Ah why not? I figured, shoot, if I can marry one, I might as well have one for a dog, too. Ooh, Sweetheart's gonna shoot coffee out of her nose when she reads this in the morning. Dad will catch it tomorrow evening and laugh until his eyes water. At least he won't punch me after shooting coffee out of his nose. I wonder if this is what they mean by keeping a marriage interesting.

Okay, the walkabout is done, the Furball is temporarily returning to his bed in protest of me replacing the bath rugs he moved aside so he could sleep on the tile, and Sweetheart is beginning to stir and feel around my side of the bed, so it's time to return to my favorite place in the world and sooth my love back into slumber with a gentle caress.

Good Night, all!

Question of the Day #13

Who did it?
The Furball?
The Little Man?


Did you seriously think it could be the dog?

03 August 2012

Thought for the Day #10

You know you're getting through to your child when you hear her say, "Anything to help a friend." And you know you've had a long day when the satisfaction is only slightly diminished by the fact that she was helping her friend (her little brother) out of a mess that she put him in in the first place!

02 August 2012

Children's Go Bag

Princess' Pink Go Bag
As a prepper, I try to be prepared for everything. I don't always manage it, but I do always try to learn from my mistakes. Through trial and error over the last four years, Sweetheart and I have been developing a go bag for the kids to make sure they keep themselves out of trouble wherever we might be.

We actually managed to find a pink camp backpack that's a perfect fit for Princess. It will carry everything she needs for a day out, and also doubles as her "keep me busy enough in the car to keep Daddy sane" bag. It's the perfect size for a coloring book, crayons, her LeapFrog Laptop, a book or two, a change of clothes (vacuum packed, of course), a container filled with healthy snacks, some Sani-Hands for quick clean ups, her security blanket (which goes by the name of Pink), and her baby doll. It has a side pocket which is the perfect fit for her Nalgene Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle. She loves it! And it makes it so much easier to keep her occupied when I'm at a doctor's office or when we're on road trip. When we're going somewhere, like Grandma's house, we can toss her tooth brushing kit,  her sound machine and pair of pajamas, both also vacuum packed for durability during the trip, and we have the ability to get her straight to bed as soon as we arrive without having to unload the car first. After a six or seven hour drive, that is a blessing indeed!
A complete change of clothes, in 1/2".

Little Man still lives pretty much out of his diaper bag, but I think he's getting big enough to trade that out for a little go bag of his own. Of course, I'll substitute some cars in lace of the baby doll and add his LeapFrog Text and Learn. And his hammer. That boy always has to have a hammer with him. Hmm...kind of annoying actually, but I've been assured he'll stop banging on things eventually.


01 August 2012

My Homemade Diaper Pack

We're about to spend much of the next month traveling. Between the cars, and airplanes and shuttles we'll be climbing in an out of, my back is hurting in anticipation. Because I seriously hate hassles and unnecessary inconvenience, I tend to prep a bit for this kind of stuff. And since I'm not the only Daddy out there who travels, I figured I'd share some of my tricks, and invite comments about yours. So over the next few days, and possibly weeks, I'll break things down and let you see how the clan gets ready for a really long trip. I'll start with the funnest part.

I get a lot of smiles, and a lot of giggles over my diaper packs, but I actually get quite a few compliments as well. As a SAHD, my goals are cost effectiveness, efficiency and preparedness. When my wife tried to give me this big honkin' diaper bag to carry, I said no way. Things were lost in there since Biblical times! My answer was to develop my tactical diaper bag, which I've skimmed over in a previous post. But even that is a pain to carry if I'm just taking the kids into the store for a little bit of coffee and shopping. But every time I tried to leave the danged diaper bag in the car, the boy would smile and fill his diaper, producing clouds of noxious fumes which, I'm pretty sure, are banned by the Geneva Convention. So I had to have a way to change a diaper.

Hence, my diaper pack. You can buy these things at Toys r Us for $5 or $6, or you can do like me and make your own. This let's me use my favorite appliance - my foodsaver. Oh, I love this thing. I'd vacuum pack the kids to keep them clean, but Sweetheart says it would be bad for their lungs. It's great for packaging things up for convenience sake. Or, as in this case, for odor eradication.
The actual package is quite simple. I take a diaper, and a diaper disposal bag and stick hem in a regular food saver bag made from an 11" roll and cut to 6" length. I seal one end first. In a separate pouch, of about 4" by 5 1/2" (I'm not OCD enough to actually measure it), I place five diaper wipes, squeeze it fairly flat, and seal it up. This way the wipes stay wet pretty much indefinitely. The wipes go in the pack,accompanied by one or two Sani-Hands sanitizing wipes. These last are a nod to my OCD. I can't change a diaper without them. The pack is then vacuum sealed into a small, durable pouch about 1/3" thick, which can fit in Sweetheart's purse, or can be easily carried. It's a perfect alternative to carrying a full diaper pack. And put one or two in the glove compartment and you have a quick and easy way to change a diaper on the road. The only tool you need is your handy pocket knife, which of course, should always be in your pocket anyway.