Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

Ok, it took three winters. But the 3-year old and I were outside and the snow was perfect. The entire time I shoveled the driveway and front walk I listened to this, “Dad, how do you like Elsa’s Castle?”

She built three of them while we were outside.

My back was starting to ache from shoveling so much. Then I realized that the sun was heating some of the snow in the front yard to a perfect temp for sticky snowballs.

My first thought was to ball up some of this snow and launch one at my daughter to start a snowball fight. I balled up some snow. But seconds before the launch, I decided to roll it towards her. Without pushing too hard, the ball grew perfectly. I realized the snow was perfect. The sun was shining. The time was now to softly walk up to my 3-year old and say those magical words, “Do you want to build a snowman.”

Well, the whole neighborhood heard her response.

Since neither of us is an architect. We made the ugliest, goofiest snowman ever. In fact after putting sticks in the snowman for eyes, arms, legs, and yes, hair (Thanks Olaf) we have constructed a snowman only Stephen King could be proud of.

Well, he may be proud but so are the two of us. Although, from what I was told before naptime, there are a few more coming. Because, to use her words, “I think we can do better when we make the Mommy and baby snowmen too.”

With all due respect to Disney and poetry writers around the globe I present to you a small poem that can be read to parts of the song, “Do You Want To Build a Snowman”. The parts in brackets were spoken by me during the build. The bracketed words were spoken by our 3-year old.

Do you want to build a snowman? (Yeah!)
It shouldn’t take much time at all.
We’ll roll some snow to make some balls,
Stack them up, and hope that they don’t fall.

Come help me push this snowball,
I’m asking why won’t you, whyyyyyyyy? (Sigh, ok).
Do you want to build a snowman?
(Yes, I want to build a snowman.
Ok, fine).

Now let’s make some arms.
Using branches from a tree.
Wait! You can’t put a hole right there.
(Why not? How else can he pee?)

More branches for his legs,
He looks good and we didn’t fail.
Why are you putting a stick back there?
(Dad, he needs a tail).

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You’re Wight Dere

(***Note: Now that the weather is getting colder, I expect I’ll be posting with more frequency. Between the weather and our daughters just handing me posts, it is difficult to not share some of these little moments. Of joy and otherwise…hehe.)

Listening to my 3-year-old discover the English language is one of the joys I have in life. The letters “r”, “l”, and the “th” sound are three difficulties at this point. Just listening to her attempt to say “parallel lava lamps” causes me to giggle.

A few weekends ago we took the girls to Chicago. One afternoon we took them right downtown. It may have been the last good afternoon of the season. We were very blessed to enjoy great weather. I couldn’t wait to get our 3-year-old to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “the bean”. This great reflective work of art is an attraction. And on a nearly cloudless day it is even more impressive.
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I didn’t realize getting from the parking ramp to “the bean” was to become a feat of endurance. For the first time we were going to have our 3-year-old walk instead of ride. That meant, in a time of poor judgement on my part, she would be walking the 8 block walk from the ramp to the park. Then walk through the park with us and walk back to the parking ramp. She started whining at the half block mark and I knew my patience would be tested on this trip. Seriously, a half block and she was already complaining about being (insert complaint here: I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m sweating) that’s right sweating one half block into the walk. After a rest at block 4 things did get better.

If you haven’t walked on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago on a nice afternoon you may not realize it can get rather crowded. My wife is not a fan of crowds. Because of this I watched our 3-year-old even closer than I expected. Not only because of the crowd of strangers, but also just to make sure she wasn’t going to show signs of claustrophobia or problems handling crowds. The good news is she did great in a large group.

When we got to “the bean” I took the 3-year-old around it and underneath it. Those pics are fun to take as well.

While underneath I asked her how she was doing? I also asked if she was frightened. (Lately she has said, “I’m scared” a lot so I just wanted to be sure she was fine. I was just making sure.) Her answer, “Nope.” When I asked why she wasn’t afraid she pointed right at the reflection on “the bean”, “Because you’re wight dere.”
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To translate, “Because you’re right there.” It does a heart good to know she felt safe because I’m near.

My mind went right to our faith. What if we could always see God, “wight dere”? How much better would we feel? How different would we act?

It amazes me how sometimes a small sentence from a 3-year-old can get a mind going.

“Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Or, to quote the chorus of the David Haas song “You Are Mine” I had stuck in my head the rest of the afternoon:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine”

Her First Trip to the Polls

Pic courtesy of freeimages.com.  Taken by szaszlajos.

Please allow me to preface this post stating that although it is a story about voting in the midterm elections, it is not political.  (Gets up on soapbox).  I solemnly promise NOT to tell you how you should vote.  I promise NOT to belittle you for whatever your political choices were in the election.  I sincerely do not like the negativity that comes with elections.  Not just the advertisements.  But the discussions within social networks about how one side is “dumber” than the other side.  Consequently, I won’t talk negatively, or positively, about any specific candidate/party.  Finally, I sincerely apologize in advance to those who read this and live south of the cheese curtain.  To those readers you will understand at the bottom of the post.  (Steps off of soapbox).

Since I was a little boy, I’ve always been a fan of the political process.  You only need two fingers to count the number of elections I failed to cast my vote.  And one of those times I literally ran across town to the poll only to get there at 8:01 as they were locking the door.  It is important to do your civic duty and get out and vote.  Having a 3-year-old who asks tons of questions just seemed like a good time to take her to the polls and have her watch the process of voting.

She appeared enthused about the prospect of going with me to the place to vote.  It was a little daddy/daughter time.  She even seemed ready to do all the steps.  (Even standing in line.)  When we finally got to the first step I explained how I had to sign a paper showing that it really was “me”.  Plus I could point out how Mom had already been to the polls and voted earlier in the day.

After receiving a number, she actually walked with pride as she carried the number to the woman who gave us the ballot to fill out.

We went to a polling station where there was a chair so she could sit and watch as I took the black marker and connected the arrow for each candidate I feel is best for the job.  With each arrow connecting my little “critique” partner became more and more vocal.

I cast my vote for Governor.  She said, “Hmmm.  Dad, that’s a good one.”  (Of course I think she was referring to my drawing of the line from one part of the arrow to another.  But it made me smile.)

Then the next vote was cast, or arrow was drawn.  “Good one Dad.  You’re pretty good at this.”

A louder and seemingly more positive reaction greeted each vote cast.  It felt like I had my own cheering section of one.

The people around us started giggling.

The second last vote cast was where she noted that the desk I had set my ballot on had a few black marks from earlier voters.  That was when the comparison got me laughing because as I completed another arrow she said, “WOW!  At least you aren’t like this person.  (Pointing to the black mark on the desktop).  They don’t know how to vote right.”

I felt a little hand pat me on the back as I cast my last vote and the most encouraging congratulatory voice she said, “Good job.  I can tell you’ve done this before.”

I gave her the ballot to put into the machine that tallies and counts the vote.  As our vote was swept away she said, “Is that it?”  Almost asking if she wanted more steps.  I could only think of one.  I grabbed a sticker, which normally I would not do, and placed it on her coat.

“A STICKER?!?”, she exclaimed, “I LOVE VOTING!”  She turned back toward the crowd of people with their heads in the booths voting, “GOOD JOB EVERYONE!”  And, with a wave of her hand like a politician, she walked out the door to the exit with me.

I voted.  You should too.
One of the highlights in the voting process

As we walked out of the library where we voted an older gentleman was walking toward the door.  Another couple was right behind us walking out.  My daughter asked, “OK, now can we vote again?”

“No”, I replied.

“Awww, why not?”, she sadly bemoaned.  The gentleman walking in smiled at me after hearing her sad tone.

“Because we don’t live in Chicago”, I replied.

Good thing there was a bench for the gentleman walking in to sit down upon.  He started laughing pretty hard.  The couple behind us started laughing too.

Again I am sorry Chicago.  I must apologize, but that punchline was right there and I couldn’t help myself.

The Difference Between a House and a Home

The next couple of posts will revolve around a little time away from our house as a family.  We were able to take the girls out of the small town we live in to Chicago.  Oh the things you can learn when you travel with anyone, much less when you travel with family.

We are also trying to sell our current house.  To prepare our 3-year-old for an impending move I’ve talked with her about the difference between a house and a home.  I never realized how the talk about the difference changed her thought process in such a beautiful way.  The concept is as simple as I could put it.  Any building you can live in is a “house”, but a home is where we all are (mom, dad, and the girls).  I was using the description to show how wherever we live is our home as long as we are together.  My hope was this would make a new house transition a little easier.

When we arrived in the Chicago area the first step was getting everyone into our hotel room.  Then, my little quirk, I walked out and filled the ice bucket.  I did that alone.  When I came back to the room our 3-year-old said rather loud, “WELCOME HOME!!!”  It felt like I was away for hours and not the couple of minutes it took to fill an ice bucket.

My wife, unknowingly, corrected her, “We’re in a hotel room, not home.”  Our 3-year-old wasn’t phased.  (Which was a surprise too.)  Instead she waited until she could catch me all alone and whispered, as if we were sharing a secret, “Mom doesn’t know?  You need to tell her when we are all together we are home.”

Cute on it’s own, right?  But then she took it the next step.  You see we stayed at the same hotel I stayed at on and off for over a year working on a project.  She knew this was the hotel I stayed at because we made a big deal about staying where daddy stays when he goes to Chicago.  That was when she said something I never expected.

“You stay here a lot.  But it wasn’t OUR home until we came here with you.”  Then I got a huge hug.

I guess she hugged too tight.  Because she caused a few tears to sneak out of my eyes.

She really got the message.  I don’t think I did until that moment.

I Found My New Fashion Expert!

It was almost 12 years ago a few women I work with took it upon themselves to help “improve” how I dress. There were rules I didn’t realize were in place. The world I grew up in had men wearing a t-shirt, work pants, and work shoes. Belt? Well that just help up your pants. If you needed it.

Well, the world I work in is somewhat different. So when I would come in with a button down shirt buttoned all the way up to the top button, no tie, black shoes, and a brown belt. Well, one would have thought I was wearing a Viking t-shirt to a Packer party.

These ladies were wonderful. They held a fashion intervention on my behalf. They very tactfully set some rules out for me. It was something I truly appreciated. Their words are often rolling through my head when I’m picking out clothes for the next day at work.

Well ladies, you can move over. I now have a new “fashion expert”.

The other morning I walked out of the bathroom intentionally dressed in some not-so-proper ways. (A picture will not be posted of this, so don’t even ask.) My wardrobe for the day was going to be:

An orange polo
White t-shirt poking through the collar of the polo
A tan pair of dress pants
A BLACK belt
Black socks
and….wait for it….
BROWN sandals

Not only brown shoes with a black belt, but black socks and brown sandals. OH, THE HORROR!!! Those fine ladies that had the intervention with me years ago would roll their collective eyes!

Yet there I stood, in classic superhero pose, awaiting the response from our 3 year old. “So, how do I look? Ready for work?”, I enquired.

“No, no, no.”, she responded.

I actually thought she was going to bust me down for the black socks and sandels. I was wrong. She just lifted her index finger to her face and drew a circle around her lips and said, “You missed your whole face. You need to shave.”

I smiled and told her, “Nope, not today, I have to get going. I’ll shave tonight or tomorrow before work.”

With two clicks of her tongue, a wink of her eye, and a thumbs up (something we do to each other all the time) she said, “Good to go!”

Ladies and gentlemen, my new Fashion Expert!

(Take a close look and you will notice that there are two different colored socks on my expert. I think that’s the new style is Paris this year.)

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P.S. I get the black socks and sandals thing. I fear that this moment in time may have brought me closer to “old man in the neighborhood” status.

Again, there will be no photos of this event.