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).

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.

Things The Bad Catholic Dad Does

At work I’m surrounded by a great group of Catholics. I love listening to the techniques employed by many of them in raising their children over the years. Plus, working with Father Rocky gives me an opportunity to listen to him speak. He has a particular talk where he encourages praying the rosary with your family. Even saying it is a great event to do with even the youngest of children. Although, recalling his words, it can be a “full contact” rosary with young children. The first time I heard him say those words. I thought, “That seems a little exaggerated. I’m sure if my time to be a dad ever happens it won’t be like that.”

Boy was he right and I wrong on that one. I have to admit being around an active 3 year old will keep me young well beyond my years. And going to Sunday mass has often become, to borrow Fr. Rocky’s words, a “full contact” sport.

I’m not complaining. I’m just realizing that the perfect dad isn’t the one that is comparable to Ward Cleaver. He is more like…well…a gifted verbal juggler. And sometimes a full on juggler. For my 3-year old daughter and myself, the verbal exchanges just keep coming. Plus, I keep getting reminders how even the most quiet of actions are always being recorded by a 3-year old mind.

We haven’t started praying rosaries with her yet. But we started from almost day one doing smaller prayers like the bedtime prayer, the prayer before meals, and the Guardian Angel prayer.

A 1 or 2-year old is easily distracted and that has caused me to occasionally reword a prayer. For instance if our 3-year old starts eating prior to everyone else sitting down I may reword the phrase, “which we are about to recieve” to, “which she is already eating/scarfing/inhailing”.

But the nighttime is sometimes “accidentally misworded” by me in order to distract her, get her to giggle, and refocus so we can say it correctly. The correct one we pray goes like this:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep,
I pray the Lord,
My soul to keep.
Guide me safely,
through the night.
Wake me with,
the morning light.
Amen.”

Well, when she is distracted, or not really ready to pray yet I may start her off with:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep.
A bag of peanuts/big ol’ pizza,
At my feet.”

The giggling usually starts followed by her saying, “That’s NOT how you pray it. Do it like this….”

Then she prays it the way we know.

A few nights ago I got up after going through out nighttime routine and a dresser drawer was left open just a little bit and I banged by foot against it. I only grumbled a little bit to myself and walked out of the room. (For those of you who really know me, you would be proud. No loud yell. No foul words. Literally just a grumble to myself and that was it.) I didn’t even think our 3-year old heard me. I was wrong.

The other night, my influence was heard by my wife. She went in to do nighttime prayer with our daughter. Our 3-year old improvidsed the following prayer. I think you will see my influences clearly.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
A big ol’ pizza at my feet.
Guide me safely through the night.
Because a drawer is in my way. Amen.”

I wasn’t in the room to hear this lovely prayer. But I’m pretty certain the neighbors could hear my wife and daughter roaring with laughter followed by the real prayer.

I’m not sure my word substitutions would be given a Fr. Rocky stamp of approval, but I think my daughter watching out for our feet sure gets my approval.

And it is really important that I remember I’m being watched and listened too much more than I realize.

Just learning and living the #dadlife everyday.

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