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”

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.

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 Best Entertainment Money Can’t Buy

So we’re taking our first full family trip together. I spent this past Father’s Day driving the family 6 hours from our home. (For all the math majors that read this blog. A 6 hour trip+3 year old+8 month old+2 parents=8 hour trip). This means, for the 3 year old, less TV than most days. An issue I thought would be a bigger deal than it seems to have become.

Screen time isn’t a big issue in our house. Years ago I would have assumed the opposite would be the case.

After two days of great weather, we woke up this morning to rain. A dreary day overall. So, at the risk of sounding like an old man, this morning I sat in a rocking chair and watch it rain.

Boring rain.

Falling rain.

Seemingly never ending rain.

Boring.

Booooooooorrrrriiin…. Wait, is that a duck? Hmmmm. It’s kind of cute.

Then a mother goose, I’m pretty sure no relation to the one from children’s stories, and her babies walk through the backyard.

Then I notice the clouds moving gracefully across the sky.

Next I notice some frogs hopping on the dock behind the house we are staying in. I whisper for the 3 year old to come sit on my lap.

We sat for about 25 minutes watching the frogs, ducks, geese, and 2 cranky swans moving about in the backyard. (When she asked me why the swans were so cranky, she answered her own question before I could with the words, “Probably they are mad because everyone called them ugly ducklings as they grew up. Right Dad?”)

The best entertainment money can’t buy is so often provided by God. We just have to take time to see it.

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Backyard day

The Humility of Fatherhood

First off a belated Father’s Day to all dad’s and grandfathers. Not just biological, but adoptive, uncles, godfathers, brothers that may have influenced you (in a good way), and all other forms of fatherhood that are possible.

For me, Father’s Day is taking on a newer meaning. One of humility. With a three year old and 8-month old, I still feel like a new daddy. (Mostly because I’m making it up as I go along. I’ve now learned that is a typical trait of most dads. So I know I’m not alone.)

In future posts I will detail more of my full Father’s Day. Just to wet the appitite, I bring you a simple exchange between the 3 year old and myself. This was how the day started. It was early and we were going out for a drive. So there we were, just the two of us. Just after she was buckled into the seat she smiled like she had a secret to share but wouldn’t risk bursting at that moment.

But once I sat down and buckled my seatbelt she blurts out at the top of her lungs, “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD!!! LET’S CELEBRATE!!”

I haven’t fished in a long time. And it always annoys me when people fish for compliments, but I have to admit I was going on a verbal fishing trip with my daughter. I dropped my mythical hook in the water by asking, “What exactly do we celebrate on Father’s Day?”

I was met with the always “satisfying” response, “I dunno? What?”

Sure I was a little dissapointed, but I soldered on ready to set the hook once she answered this question correctly, “Most people celebrate how much they like or love their dad. So, do you like or love your dad?”

Oh I know, I was seriously fishing for a compliment here. But it seemed so easy. Until she responded almost as quickly as I asked the question, “Well, I dunno. You give me time-outs. And now they are (holding up her fingers to show the correct number) THREE MINUTES LONG!!!”

And another moment showing the “humbling of a dad” was complete. I could only laugh. Although it did get me thinking much of the morning how much I didn’t focus on those moments alone with my dad. How now, I would love to share one more moment alone talking with him. Plus, during times of prayer, how often I let the distractions of the world get in the way of my prayer. Sometimes even when I’m sitting in prayer, I let my thoughts drift away from Him right in front of me.

Always cherish those times alone with your dad. In all forms. Don’t focus on the “time outs” you have been given, rather the true time out with dad.