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!"