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.

A Ten Month Old Can Save Your Heart

When I restarted this blog I made a commitment to continue to keep sharing little parts of our lives. I’ve found tons of stories because, being a Catholic dad of two girls is quite a ride. So stick with me because there is a lot more to come. Yet this post starts off with why I’ve been a little quiet. We had a rough patch as a family.

Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. As every person in every walk of life knows, you have those rough spots on the journey. When you travel as much as I do it can create some very rough times alone. For our family August was a tough month. For me personally, it was even a touch tougher. (Don’t worry, this blog will pick up shortly.)

Near the top of that list the list that complied a rough August was fearing that although our 10 month old was always smiling when I was around, she wouldn’t cuddle and sleep in my arms. Ever, at all! I was beginning to develop a complex especially when I’m using the “late night mind” that you can get when sleep eludes you at night. I figured she was keeping her distance from me. I have to think that every father has thoughts like this.

Well, my wife got sick. Well, we all did. A cold shot through our home. It started with the 10 month old and did a full lap in our home. So the 10 month old was doing better when my wife was at her worst. She was so sick she couldn’t feed the 10 month old. That duty fell to me. Something I haven’t done much of in her life because my wife and I have avoided using formula. (Quick side note. I can’t put into words how much I’ve admired my wife carrying this work upon her shoulders for nearly 10 months.)

I have to admit, I was terrified. Only because I wasn’t sure if that little 10 month old would let me. She really fought most people that have tried to feed her. I watched several people actually give up trying to feed her with a bottle.

To this point I could carry our 10 month old…as long as I wasn’t sitting down. Standing/walking/dancing with her wasn’t a problem. Sit down and you can forget it. She would sprawl and try to stand up. She would fuss and start to cry. The only time she would settle in my arms is if she was really, really tired and would fall asleep. And only then would she relax. (Again, it gives a guy a complex.)

Allow me to set the stage. A Saturday afternoon and it’s nap time. My wife is sick and needs to sleep. Our 3 year old was getting ready for her afternoon nap. The 10 month old, she is hungry. Now a nervous daddy, adjusting to a sad event that happened to all of us (I’m sure I’ll post about that event in the future) and now it was time to step up to the plate and take care of our hungry 10 month old.

Make the bottle and warm it. I grab that beautiful bundle of hungry screaming unhappy baby and lean her back in my arms like I did hundreds of times before when our 3 year old was younger and tried to feed her. I didn’t sit down. I was going to walk with her. She had no interest. And I knew that for certain she had no interest in the bottle. Well, I knew she wasn’t happy and so did most of the neighborhood even though the windows were closed. Not only was she unhappy, she would stiffen up and make it tough to hold her. Sort of looking like a younger version of herself.

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I didn’t want anyone in the house to wake up and have their nap disturbed. So we went outside. I opened the garage door grabbed a lawn chair and sat in the garage. I like to call that “redneck style” just sitting in the garage and watching the cars. I sat her on my lap.

She not only sat down on my lap. She stopped crying. She smiled! We had a nice daddy/daughter moment! I tried the next logical step.

I grabbed the bottle and as she sat up on my lap and watched the cars roll by she ate. Then SHE grabbed the bottle and stopped eating but only because she was smiling.

Personally I was in a rough spot and that moment was where that rough spot ended. I couldn’t have been more excited.

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All it took was a 10 month old chomping on a bottle and smiling at me to turn my heart around.

I do want to end this post with a question and a comment to you. It feels weird always calling my daughters by their age (the 10 month old or the 3 year old) I’m going to start using names. But not their names. I want to ask you if you have any suggestions for names based upon what you have taken the time to read?

And the comment. Actually, feel free to comment on the page at any time. I welcome your thoughts and input on this blog. What would keep you coming back? Anything in particular? Share away!

The Acorn Never Falls Far From the Tree

I know it’s cliches aren’t great to use in language.  But with each passing day I realize the truth in “the apple/nut/fruit never falls far from the tree.”

It was bath night for the girls.  I decided I would help with the 3 year old.  After washing comes playing in the tub.  She was playing, laughing, and splashing around.  Suddenly she stopped to just tell me a story.  It came out of nowhere and she was very serious as she told it to me.  That focus had me paying attention even closer than normal.

“Um. Dad.  I think the DVR is broken”, she started.

“Oh yeah, what makes you say that”, I wondered?

“Well, the screen (she makes this spitting noise like it malfunctioned) pfffft (she rolls her eyes) goofy.  So mom tried to reboot”, she answered.  My eyes just about bugged out of my head.  I really didn’t think she said “reboot”.  I must have imagined it.

So I tried to interrupt her to ask but wouldn’t let me ask, “Did you just…” I was cut off.

“No, wait”, she cut me off.  “So Mom didn’t like how it looked after reboot.  So she reboot again!  (rolls her eyes like she can’t believe it) Again!  (holds up her fingers to show me the number two) TWO TIMES!  TWO REBOOTS!  That’s why I think it’s broked.”

I finally could ask her, “Margaret, did you just say ‘reboot’?”

“Yeah.”, she looked at me like I’m an idiot for not knowing the word, “When you unplug something and count and plug it back in.  Mom did that TWO TIMES!!”

I work with equipment all day.  From radio studio gear, to transmission gear, to computers the first troubleshooting step is to ask the person you are talking with if they rebooted the item to see if the problem goes away.  A geek like me couldn’t have been more proud.  Or should I say a tree like me couldn’t have been happier with the acorn?