19 July 2014

The Genetics of Chocolate Milk

When I was a kid, we were poor. I wouldn't say we were dirt-poor, but that's only because we couldn't afford dirt. Mama was good at making sure us kids were pretty well insulated from it though. I didn't actually know how poor we were until I was in high school. But I always knew there were some things that were rare treats to be savored and enjoyed to the fullest.

For me, the king of treats was chocolate milk. Oh, Hershey, how I do love your syrup. Especially when mixed generously with ice cold milk. I always used one of those big ol' Granny table spoons. The kind that held alot more than a tablespoon. And after a vigorous stir to make sure none was wasted by being stuck on the bottom of the cup, I would use that big spoon to sip the sweet elixir so it would last as long as possible.

Yeah, I know - it sounds goofy in the telling. But a few minutes ago, I heard a slurping sound from across the room as my little Princess enjoyed her chocolate milk exactly the way I did at her age. I know I've never had chocolate milk with her before. Apparently, some things are just hereditary.

I wonder if the scientists investigating the human genetics have figured out which gene is the chocolate milk gene yet.

14 July 2014

Falling Water

I love being a parent. Of all the things I love about being Daddy though, there are a few special types of moments that I absolutely live for. The laughter which runs in my ears as I'm dancing with my little girl; seeing the goofy, sleepy grin on my son's face as he stumbles down the stairs in the morning, sees me and breaks into a run for my first hug of the day; family movie nights cuddled up on the couch with pretty much everyone except the dog piled onto my lap to get comfy. Glorious moments all. But right up there near the top are those candid, hilarious moments which illustrate beyond a show of a doubt that you are indeed the parents of small children.

Like when you sit down to eat and as your beloved spouse prays a blessing over the meal you hear, "... and thank you, Father, for this much needed and welcomed, um, water falling from the sky..." It takes a precocious preschooler to make an intelligent adult forget the name of rain. And the love of a parent to be able to laugh about it.

29 June 2014

As sands in the hour glass...

so are the days of my apparently too doggone long to be remembered correctly life!

Is it just me, or are there other dads out the who see something on the store shelf and think to themselves, "Oh wow! I loved that when I was a kid. I'll share it with my little ones." Only to find out later - as in much too late, later - that our memories of our childhood are slightly off?

I shot myself in the foot with this last one. It started so simply. We were walking through Michael's and saw a bunch of children's books on a shelf. And there was Peter Pan. Hey, think I, my kids love Hair and Tinkerbell! That will make a great snuggle time reading book. I remembered it clearly from my childhood...clean, kid-friendly, fun and happy. A great read for my precious darlings.

My precious little darlings who had never heard of murder or stabbings or crocodiles eating men whole while others are drowned or poisoned.

Good grief! Either I'm senile or they've rewritten the classics. I sure don't remember the volume of violence and death in the book. But then again, I don't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, so I suppose senility is definitely an option. My daughter, however, is as sharp as Pan's bloody sword. I tried to speed through the initial fight scenes, and when I realized how bad it would get, I tried to put it aside. The mutineers rose up against me and forced me to read more.

It used to be easy to change up a book, too. You know, skip forward past a bit you didn't want to read. Like that whole fight in chapter 14 filled with one death screech after another. Nope, she caught me every time.

I know I can't keep them in a bubble forever, and I may be too overprotective, but doggone it, I think I'm going to stick with the good Dr. for awhile longer.

28 June 2014

Favorite Readings

Yesterday I sat at the dinner table with another couple, good friends both, while our kids and their's had a massive, noisy play date. The Mom is so sweet that she wrangled the kids the WHOLE afternoon, so we Dads were actually able to just sit there and chat about anything and everything for a good four hours. I don't remember the last time I was able to do that withouy being interrupted.

The conversation led through reading for a bit, and it turned out we liked many of the same books The classics, mostly. Both of us used books to escape into as kids. Which got me thinking about what we read as adults to escape. I don't mean the Bible, or personal growth books (like new languages or fields of interests) or self-help books. I'm talking escapism. I'm talking about what you dive into when you have to tell your wife, "They're yours for 30 minutes, I need some peace and quite!"

For myself, when I need escapism, I turn to something fun like military sci-fi. For the last year or so, I've been enjoying the work of an extraordinarily prolific new author, Chris Nuttall. I've never seen a writer who can crank out novels the way this fellow can. He's published at least 45 on Amazon alone. You can find his books with this Chris Nuttall Search.

The thing I like the best about Nuttall is that his characters are real people. They have their flaws, their weaknesses and their strengths. There are realistic relationships and realistic outcomes, or as realistic as you can get in the sci-fi genre. He doesn't build up unbelievable situations, but creates sciences and deals with them well. He's very consistent throughout each book or series, which is unusual in the genre. I get a kick out of the fact that, in many of his books, he creates societal situations which allow him to leave the science out of it and focus instead on the characters and the action.

Of course, with this author, you have to go into his books knowing that most are very political. The viewpoint he packs into his books is pretty Heinlein-ian. Oh, there's a word for you. He appears to be very anti-socialist, very anti-capitalist and very, very anti-entitlement. Personal responsibility is a strong topic, followed closely by societal responsibility. If you read the reviews on his work, you'll always find a few, or more, 1 star ratings given by more left-leaning reviewers. I don't actually understand that, since reading the sample content of his books is always enough to understand that the books are written with political slants.

In any case, if you like gritty action and believable characters, along with a dose of muddy political realism, I can highly recommend his works. Oh, and in the interest of disclosure, I've never met or corresponded with Chris Nuttall. I just like his books enough to recommend.

I'd like to hear from other Dads about what you use for escaping yourselves for a bit. Books, hobbies, etc.

27 June 2014

Product Review: Phycox

The Furball is getting older. This July, he turns 8, and slowing down. Now, I grant, he never was vey fast to begin with. Mostly only when it came to food. But a few years ago, he was dropped by a groomer as she was taking him off the table. The result was a pinched nerve in his tailbone which causes him to not be able to fully control his hind end. Thankfully, it only flares up every now and then these days, but as an older dog, he deals with the same stiff joints and achy muscles as we humans do.

So I started looking around for something to help. The vet recommended a vitamin supplement for his joints, and of course, told me to stop using the dog as my baker's assistant/taste tester. We're working on getting the weight off him and me both. But that stil left the achy joints and such. You could see him struggle to stand up, and for the longest time, he could no longer jump up on the couch.

What I found was PhyCox. These are the absolute worst smelling things you can find outside of a fish bait shop, but they pack an enormous kick. It's a joint support formula and helps with the inflammation and achiness, and also has antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. I started him on a loading dose for the first six weeks and within a month of happily chewing the stinky little things, he was a new dog. Furball is now jumping up on the couch again, running up the stairs on his own and huffing happily along on walks. Okay, well, maybe he's not huffing happily, but he's not lying down in protest anymore.

Of course, this is Furball we're talking about...he still sleeps at least 20 hours a day...but that beats the 22 hours a day he was staying "reclined". And now he's back to chasing rabbits in his sleep.

22 June 2014

What's Worse?

As I stretched out on the couch for a moment to close my eyes before my wife got home from grocery shopping, my son jumped up to the couch beside me, and I had reason to face a dilemma. A thought experiment of sorts. A cunundrum, if you will.

What's worse?

Having your preschooler jump up beside you, just in time to throw up in your lap?

OR

Having him immediately begin slapping wildly at your crotch in a horrifying attempt to clean it up?

20 June 2014

Wow!

What a day! I started off the day having fun in the morning, and then headed off to Princess' first concert. It was fantastic, and seeing how much she enjoyed herself actually made me tear up. Thankfully the room was dark.  But doggone, she's growing up so fast! She's a natural entertainer, too. In just one short week, he singing improved dramatically, and her dancing is too cute. She made that little poodle shirt fly just right. I remember asking my Mama what in the world they wore them for. She told me you had to watch them as they danced to understand. Now I get it. She twirled that sort and that little dog looked like it was having so much fun it was dancing, too.

And then she ran out into the crowd, grabbed my hands and pulled me onto an impromptu dance floor. My little girl had the biggest smile I've ever seen as she spun me around doing the Twist. And I'm pretty sure it was mirrored on me as well.


Morning Fun

I love my life! There are stresses galore, the same as anyone else's, but there are so many more great moments when life is just fun and free. Like when you get up at 5am and get to enjoy 2 whole hours of quiet for reading and catching up with paperwork. And after I decided I finally had to wake the family, I was in such a pleasant mood, I decided to wake everyone with a smile.

Note I did NOT say I was waking them with a smile on THEIR faces. Lord forgive me, I do have my devilish moments.

I marched into my bedroom, where Princess had ended up on the floor at some point, and where Sweetheart was peacefully slumbering. And of course, the Furball was snoring away in his kennel.

Almost felt ashamed of myself.

Do you have any idea how badly you can freak out a spoiled, sleepy cocker spaniel when you march into a dark room roaring out a reveille? That poor thing almost had a heart attack. Took a handful of treats to make him stop huffing at me. It was hilarious!

17 June 2014

Waltz Across Texas, Straight Through The Kitchen

My Princess stole my heart the moment she looked up at me from her warming table, when the nurses had her screaming from the shock of birth and being tested for diabetes.  I leaned over and whispered to her and as soon as she heard my voice she stopped crying.

But there are times when she just grabs  it again and melts it all anew.

She's enjoying a musical theater camp this summer and is practicing excitedly for her big concert. When I looked over the song she's practicing, I could see a dozen classics or so from the whole range of rock and roll. Now, when I was young, Mama and I would listen to her old records and bee bop around the house, which must have looked odd, since I have no natural rhythm and could not dance if  you paid me, and Mama had a back fusion and could no longer dance as she once had. But we had fun nonetheless, and that was the foundation of my love of music.

This has been something I've tried to share with my family. Princess can't carry a tune in a bucket, but that doesn't mean much, because she loves all things music and her enthusiasm is amazing. So when she was practicing and asked me what blue suede shoes were, oh my!  I knew it was time for fun! YouTube, here we come!

We listened to Elvis, Danny and the Juniors, the Beatles, Ritchie Valens and so many more. Of course, we had to start with Chubby and the Twist.  Hoo boy, I can still do it! Only danged  dance I ever managed to do without messing up. In my younger days, I could go all the way down and around. Now -  well, let's just say I'm not built for those kind of maneuvers anymore. Don't get me wrong, I can still twist again like we did last summer, and I can go down and around like a champ. The whole coming back up thing, well it wasn't quite the same as it once was. I don't think my knees will ever be the same. But who cares! My Princess loved it.

Then she asked about waltzes. I, being the Texan redneck God blessed me to be, immediately brought up old E.T.  And played Waltz Across Texas, while I taught her the moves before sweeping  her up into my arms and dancing around the room to the sweet sounds of steel guitar and giggles galore.

These are the moments that clear every worry and frustration from life and replace them with sweet laughter.

Now, Sweetheart is tucking the little darlings into their beds and I'm stretched out on the couch enjoying the memories, both old and new.

And wondering just how I'm going to get my aching knees up those stairs to my own bed.

16 June 2014

Shhh!

Don't tell anyone, but I have a secret. I know I should be ashamed of myself, but I really can't help myself. It's really terrible.

I shamelessly exploit the goofy and/or overly cute behavior of my children to provide myself with writing material. And tonight's is a real good'un.

Tonight, after a long, fun day, the Little Man melted down at dinner and refused to eat. Watcha gonna do? We put him to bed and he promptly asked for a "mack". I used to have rules about food upstairs and such. Not anymore. I choosing battles and that is one I have up on. So he got his mack -  a buddy fruit and string cheese.

And promptly feel asleep. But didn't stop eating.



And yes, that string cheese did eventually miss his mouth and hit his ear. Priceless!

14 June 2014

Ah, how time changes things...

As we say at dinner tonight,  I had occasion to look back on the last six years. Having children has been such a joy and such a challenge. And having children has changed us in many ways,  some good, some bad and some downright hilarious.

As Little Man grabbed for his hot dog, he squeezed too hard and the dog flew right or of the bun,  landing near his Mommy's feet.

My attention caught, I watched in rapt anticipation,  for her response.

Well do I remember the days when she would jump out of her chair, grab the soiled food, throw it away, grab the cleaner and spot clean the carpet and then quickly cook another hot dog for our dear child.

Six years down the road and she shook her head, grabbed the hot dog, washed it off, stuffed it back into the boy's bun, turned to me and asked in confusion, "What in the world are you laughing at? Did I miss something?"

I do so love my wife!

12 June 2014

Listen to Lead

Do you ever listen to your kids? I mean actually really listen to them? Or do you just assume the worst and react to them? And then catch yourself later and have one of those, "Aw, man, I'm such a jerk!" moments like I just had?

Little Man had passed out during supper and was already tucked snuggly in bed for the night. Princess was sitting on my bed reading to me when Little Man woke up and came stumbling into our room looking for Mommy. He settled for me and crawled up into bed and forced his way between his sister and I and then burrowed in and got comfy. Of course, sibling rivalry being what it is, Princess had to try to lay down beside me as well. I soon started to hear, "he's kicking me!" interspersed through the lines of Frozen.

Now, in my defense, it's been a long day. I've been hearing this since they woke up. And I had my fill. So I simply told the boy to stop kicking or I'd put him on the floor till his Mommy got home. It kept up and so I scolded him again and started to put him out of the bed, but decided to let him go with one more warning. That's when his sister jumped out of bed and ran to see if Mommy was home and he turned toward me and began to squeeze his ice cold little get under my back.

Doh! I'm such a jerk. It didn't even occur to me that the boy wasn't kicking his sister, but trying to warm up.
And then, to drum in the lesson, I read this line in Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army, a book my Outreach Pastor has asked my fellow community assistance volunteers and I to read - "Lead by listening." Aw! That's just rubbing my nose in it.

What the author is writing of is, of course, a multi-billion dollar organization spanning the globe, which is slightly different from my little suburban two story. But as a father, struggling to rear my children in a Christ-like way, the leadership philosophies espoused in the book are very close, in many ways, to my ideal of fatherhood. And I was in no way listening to lead. I just assumed the worst and jumped on him.
I've been trying very hard to be less authoritarian with the kids lately,but I've sure been missing the mark alot.  It's difficult, since it's something I'm having to learn for the first time. My family was never big on open communications, and kids were expected to stay out of the way and mind their manners. 'Nuff said there. I've definitely been very indulgent with the kids, but I have a long way to go when it comes to communication.

So, from the halls of global organizations, to the bedrooms and nurseries of suburban Texas, I say. On with the parenting tips!

06 June 2014

Awards

Kids are a mess! As we picked up the Princess from what will be her last day in the public school system, she was toying with the colorful dog tag pinned to her shirt. She seemed so dejected, which is so unusual for my little ball of energy and fun. So Sweetheart asked what it was and why she looked so sad. Her answer was classic.

"It's my Attendance Award, and I got it for never being tardy. But I won't get it next year."

"Well, no, Little One," said I. "You won't be in school next year, so you won't get it. "

"That's what I mean, Daddy. I won't be here, so I'll be tardy all the time!"

29 May 2014

Daddy Fixed It?

You know, daughters have a really strong leash their daddy's hearts. There's not much we won't do for the little angels. But that's not always a good thing.

My sweet little Princess is afraid of the dark. Or, as she says, "I'm not afraid, I just don't like it!" And as any daddy will tell you, my little girl is not going to have to suffer anything she's, um, that she "doesn't like." So Daddy fixed it.

A couple of years or so ago, after the dismal failure of so many nightlights and lamps left her coming into our bedroom at night, I decided to get more aggressive. I hardwired nightlights into every outlet in her bedroom. I could read a newspaper in her room with her light off.

It wasn't enough. It was time to get creative.

I find LED butterflies in a strand of 24 and hung them up around the walls over her bed. Beautiful!

It still wasn't enough.

Sweetheart took to leaving the hallway light on, which is a great pair of energy efficient LED can lights each equivalent to a 60W bulb. They're meant for security. Not nightlights.

At this point, I should say I DO like the dark at night, and Sweetheart looks to sleep with our door open in case the babies need us.

Oh, and those nova-like hallway lights are right outside my bedroom door.  Now I could read a newspaper in my own bedroom with shades and a ski mask on.

Something had to give, and since Princess' reaction to the dark is an ear splitting 500 decibel staccato scream that she won't stop long enough even to breath, that something was me.

Well, those butterflies burnt out, giving me the opportunity to replace them. Hopefully with something much better. Oh, yeah, much better.

I couldn't find butterflies, but I found flowers. And they didn't come in a strand of 24. Nope, these bad boys are 100 lights per strand. A respectable 32' of cheerful lights for my little girl.
Hmm. My little girl who didn't think the butterflies were enough.

If you're thinking, "Surely he didn't...", I'm sorry to say you're wrong. Very wrong. I figured one might not impress, but surely two would. Yes, my friends, today I hung 200 LEDs in my daughter's room and happily watched her fall asleep with a smile on her face, as I looked fearfully around her room with dawning understanding while my wife shook her head.

See, something else failed to occur to me. Those bright hallway lights, which are now off, were not the only things outside my bedroom door.


I now have the Aurora Texan-us directly across the hall, in all its purple and pink tinted glory.
Now I can read a newspaper wearing shades and a ski mask while hiding under the covers and being laughed at by my wife.

28 May 2014

Poop On The Patio

The Furball has issues. Serious issues. And it's all Sweetheart's fault. I think she gave him PTSD.

Recently, a thunderstorm rolled through and gave us a nice bit of rain. The next morning, after his normal chaotic rumble down the stairs, he came barreling through the house heading for the back door. I barely got it opened in time. He blasted through and I closed the door and returned to my coffee. A short while later, he knocked on the door and burst in through the crack as soon as I started opening it. I'm pretty sure he was trying to get past me before I saw the large pile he had just deposited on the patio immediately outside the door. He knows this ticks me off.

Of course, as ticked as I get at him, I let him get away with it because it gives me a chance to mess with Sweetheart.

Seven years ago, we adopted the Furball. He was so cute and so sweet. And he already had a nervous disposition.

Well, the winter we adopted him, the weather was much wetter than usual. So the backyard was always muddy. And I bet you can guess what color carpet my Sweetheart had chosen, . If you guessed light tan, you're right. Yep, a really nice creamy tan Berber. And after cleaning the carpet the first time, that woman declared war on that poor wet dog.

It was awful! She would catch him at the door with the biggest towel she cold find. At least, that was her intention. That dog was like greased lightening! He dodged, she pounced, laughed so hard it hurt! It was great!! That chase went on for days and days - she wasn't about to let those muddy paws into the house, and the dog hated that towel with a passion.

Eventually she won. Kind of. See, that idiot dog is way smarter - and more stubborn - than she thinks. If it so much as drizzles, he won't go out unless he's bursting at the seams, and then only to poop on my patio. Nope, he'll hold that bladder all day long if he has to. She'll holler and push and do everything short of beg to get him to go out. But Furball, he remembers all those years ago and he won't budge.

She says I'm wrong, but I don't think so. That dog is devoted to her completely, but when it rains, he has flashbacks and remembers that crazy lady with the towel.

27 May 2014

Hello Again

Well, it's been nigh on a year since I last wrote anything at all, and Sweetheart keeps poking and prodding, telling me I need to put pen to paper again. Or is that thumb to touchscreen? Hm, not quite as catchy. In any case, she thinks I should start writing again, and I figured I'd see if I couldn't humor her a bit.

Well, you may have surmised from the quietness of these here empty kilobyte corridors that it was an uneventful year. Oh my goodness, how wrong you would be. This last 11 months went by in a blur of activity.  I won't bore you with all the details - I do have a reputation for brevity, after all. Suffice to say the kids are growing like weeds and running rings around their daddy. But that's the way it should be, so all is right with the world.

Except for today. Today, I'm being assaulted by an all too familiar foe. Today, I'm sitting here looking at my wonderful, enormous plasma TV, as it hangs on the wall. Wondering if capital punishment is OK for electronics. And wondering if Sweetheart would shoot me if I shot the TV.

Or maybe I should just get online and cancel Netflix. But no, I can't do that, since Sweetheart enjoys the holiday movies she gets on it.

No, I'll have to best the torture with stoic strength. It is my own fault I suppose. I'm the fool who sat down with my coffee, thinking I could simply turn on some music and enjoy the last cup of the day before getting to work.

When I was getting the remote, Little Man said, "I pick, Daddy?"

So innocent. So sweet. I had no idea my dear son had developed such cunning. So of course I said yes.

He immediately pointed to the colorful tile on the Netflix menu with the creepy dragon and I cringed inside.

"NO!"

It hasn't been long enough. I can't handle it again. I can already feel brain cells dying as drool begins to form at the corner of my mouth. The world is glazing over as my eyes go glassy...

words swirl through my mind without cease...

"The wheels on the bus go round..."