Ever since my dad died six years ago, Father’s Day has been pretty bittersweet. I never really liked Father’s Day when my dad was still alive. Nor did I like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. I’m not a big fan of the Greeting Card Company made up holidays. This is due mostly because I have healthy relationships with my family. But, you’re still supposed to show your appreciation for this special person on their special day in some way special.
I would usually get my dad a card, and then I would struggle to figure out some kind of present to get for him. My dad was such a practical man that frivolous gifts were just that, and I never wanted to clutter my dad’s life. So, that usually left me to buy him a bottle of scotch. I’d buy him a bottle of Dewars and a funny card that would cut the awkwardness that was me giving my dad a token of my love and appreciation.
I decided that this year I would’ve purchase a nice knife sharpening gadget for my dad. I don’t think I’ve ever considered a gift for my dad since he died. This year I thought it’d be nice if I provided him with a practical gift — something that I knew he’d use. I’d see a table-mounted, motor-powered, belt-sanding knife sharpener at the local world’s most foremost outfitter a few months ago and thought to myself, “man, dad would probably get a kick (and a lot of use) out of that thing.”
I probably would’ve bought that gadget for my dad. And he probably would’ve been sincerely appreciative of the thought. Hell, the thing might’ve actually worked alright in helping my dad to sharpen his knives. But it’d probably never sharpen a knife to a razor’s edge like my dad could do with an old wet stone and some elbow grease.
I don’t know why I’ve been thinking of all this, or why I’m compelled to write it here. I guess I’m just reminding myself of something that my dad might’ve told me. Something like, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing the right way.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you, and sure do miss you.1 comment
You turned 13-months-old today. You’re crowning achievement for this month has been that you have identified that all living and inanimate objects communicate by saying “moo.”
“Mara, what does the cow say?”
“What does Daddy say?”
“CAREFUL!! MOMMY’S COFFEE MUG IS HOT!!”
You have six teeth now. You put everything in your mouth. Your mom went to change your diaper last week and since you had a mouth full of something, she decided to investigate. You were storing a rock, an acorn and a roly poly. Everything goes in the mouth. Dirt, sticks, rocks, things of unknown origin and natural value, etc.
You walk fine now. In fact, you can walk at a fairly brisk pace now, especially if you’re after something that you’re going to stick in your mouth. You still walk with your elbows out at right angles from your body. I think this is still you just getting used to your balance.
You can now blow kisses. This is very exciting, especially after you call one of us a cow by saying, “moo.”
You love shoes. I think you’re the only person in this family who can love shoes as much as shoes can possibly be loved. The concept of walking is great in and of itself, but adding shoes to this experience only magnifies the greatness that is shoes.
I’d say the absolute greatest thing that you’ve managed to do this month is give hugs. You give the most awesome, deliberate and meaningful hugs. It’s so heartwarming and amazing to be a witness to uninhibited and genuine love. Please don’t ever lose touch with that part of yourself.
I love you, Sug.
“Having a 1-year-old is like living with a perpetually drunk person. She stumbles around everywhere, hugs random & inanimate objects, cries for no apparent reason, I can’t understand a damn thing she says, and when it’s time for the rest of us to go to bed, she wants to chat and laugh (at offensive volumes) about subjects that aren’t as compelling or important as she thinks they are, and then, invariably, she craps her pants.” –Josh Janicek, April 23, 2013
Maly’s a first-grader. Every week her class has a spelling test. Often I’m surprised with the words that she’s required to memorize. I think when I was in the first grade, I proudly knew how to spell “dog” and “fart.”
I’ve taken on the role of schoolwork whip-cracker for our offspring. Elise and I share the same values and appreciation for hard work and commitment to our children’s school work. I’m the diligent, meticulous & methodical one when it comes to just getting things done, so Elise and I have an unspoken agreement that we want our children to be trained, honed, and follow suit in being diligent, organized and committed to their studies. When Maly brings home her new list of spelling words each Monday, I enter them into Things and we begin committing the words to memory.
Here is this week’s spelling list:
Some of the above words are tough, and Maly has a tendency to want to spell them phonetically. For example, she wants to spell “joint” as “joynt.” I pointed out that a lot of this week’s words have the oi sound, like “oink.” So, now she remembers “oink” when she here’s a word with the oi sound.
She had a hard time with “shawl” because that word just has some weird sounding stuff going on at the end of it. So I taught her the concept of the acronym: “A shawl is a little afghan blanket thing that little old ladies wear in the winter to keep themselves warm. So think of this: SHAWL – Stays Hot All Winter Long.”
This week’s spelling words were a bit more tricky than usual and this morning Maly struggled with one of the easier words as we were doing a quick quiz before heading off to school for the day. We use a Boogie Board to do our spelling quizzes. Maly misspelled “royal” this morning. It was a word she hadn’t had any problems with up until today. I was concerned, so I decided to flip our roles. Instead of me grilling Maly, I decided to let her be the proctor. I gave her my phone with the spelling list and had her quiz me. She told me the word to spell, and I had to write each word on the Boogie Board. I intentionally misspelled every other word. When my “quiz” was over, I had her return my phone to me, I handed her the Boogie Board and said, “Okay, check my work to make sure I got them all right!” She found and corrected all of my errors. Hopefully she’ll be proud of her hard work and diligence when she gets her graded spelling test from her teacher this afternoon.No comments
Maly confided in us a few days ago. It was a rare opportunity where Elise and I needed to indulge our oldest daughter in a very serious topic. She thinks that our appreciation and adoration of her is waning.
Our youngest, Mara, is 11-months-old and is at a point in her life where she needs a lot, if not constant attention. I attribute this need for attention to the fact that she is very mobile now and has become equally verbal. I think she is trying to warn us that her people will be arriving on Earth soon and they plan on taking all of our Nutella with them. Prior to the 10-month mark, Mara required somewhat passive attention from us. She wasn’t as mobile, and as long as we knew the vicinity in which she resided and hadn’t fallen into the bathtub full of our moonshine, we knew all was well.
Well, Maly has taken note that her younger sibling is getting a lot of Elise’s and my attention. Maly has kept her thoughts and emotions bottled up and it finally came to a head. I kind of always feared that the day would come when one of our kids would come to us in tears and professing, “you pay more attention to HER!”, but I maintained an inkling of hopefulness that maybe our family would be the exception — that our family’s ecosystem would balance itself out with empathy and harmony.
While she didn’t cry, she definitely sulked. She sat, sulking and slouching on the couch and with sheer honesty, conviction and a hurting tone in her voice, she told us how she felt that Mara gets all of our attention, and because of this, she felt ignored and sad.
As Maly is spilling her guts to us, I know Elise and I are thinking the same exact thing from our respective sides of the couch: Our child is such a beautiful little girl. She’s entrusting us to approach us with her deep-down emotions and fears. She’s presenting us with a problem of the heart. Her feelings of safety and worth are being challenged, and she’s having to learn how to identify a solution. She’s bearing her soul to us and is humbly asking for help. We both know that we have to wholeheartedly acknowledge and address these concerns and fears that our brood is presenting. We have to reassure her that we love her no less. We have to convince her that, if anything, we love her even more today because she has taken on a new level of responsibility within the familial ensemble. She is the big sister. Her mom and I will hold her high as the eldest offspring, our cherished first born, the enlightened, experienced and wisest child in our tribe. She is the one that Mara, and any other forthcoming children will look up to, emulate and adore. Although she doesn’t realize it today, she is the strong one and will be the leader. She is the Alpha Dog.
These thoughts, and probably a thousand others, are spinning through Elise’s and my head as we attempt to formulate our respective consolatory remarks and answers to Maly’s emotional plea. While we dutifully maintain our composure, I know we’re both on the verge of tears as our sweet, sweet almost-seven-year-old baby is pouring out her heart and soul before us. She is solidifying and strengthening the bond of love and trust that is the foundation of our family.
Just as the swell of emotion is about to crest, the child, with undying conviction says, “I just wish Mara would move away to college with big moles on her face!”
I lost it at that point. I jumped up from the couch and covered my face as I walked toward the front of the house and laughed harder and louder than I can remember laughing in a long, long time. And everyone laughed too. Even Mara.
I kept laughing, probably for five minutes, even after I’d returned to the family meeting on the couch. I might’ve relayed some of my consoling and reassuring commentary, but I don’t remember. I’m pretty sure Elise took the lead in making sure Maly knew that we’ll always love her more than she’ll ever know. But the laughing is what saved us all. It diffused us. It was the best medicine.
Now whenever Mara learns that her idol and older sister wanted her to move away with moles on her face, I’m hopeful that Elise and I have provided them both with the right tools to work through that conversation.1 comment
You turned 11-months-old today. I’m typing this while nodding my head in disbelief that another month has quickly passed and trying to fathom the notion of you almost having been around for a whole year.
This month has blessed us with your adoption of your new vocabulary. Often it is that you’ll go on and rant about all kinds of stuff, in a language that only you can understand. But, we indulge you by listening, nodding our heads and saying things like, “really? Wow!” You say things like “dabble dubble dabble,” “BOOF!,” “DAAAAD!” and “Uh oh!”
Early this month you also took your first steps. You’ve been standing for a while now, but a few weeks you finally figured out how to put one foot in front of the other. I think your record now is 7 steps. You get really excited when you walk because your mom and I (and even Maly) get really excited when you walk. I’m pretty sure you believe you can travel faster by crawling, only because you’re unsure of your walking skills, but I know it’ll be too soon that you’ll be walking on your own, and we’ll miss the days where you were so dependent. Until then, it’s a blast watching you figure out your vocabulary and mobility.
This month you flew in an airplane and saw snow for the first time. We traveled to Des Moines two weeks ago for your Uncle Eric & Aunt Christy’s wedding. You were totally awesome on all legs of the trip. And even though it was so close to Spring, you were able to see snow for the first time in your life in Iowa. I don’t think the snow did much for you, of course we didn’t subject you to much of it seeing how we were just shuffling you in and out of cars & houses.
But by and large, and month after month, you continue to exude this overall happy demeanor. You’re a happy girl. i like to think this is because your family is just so awesome and you couldn’t be happier anywhere of with anyone else in the world. Rare is it that you’re frowning or crying. Usually your either relatively straight-faced or smiling and happy. You just have a positive disposition that helps to remind me that life ain’t that bad. You’re the little 20-pound, glass half-full beam of sunshine. I keep thinking that there are so many things that I need to teach you, but I think there’s a world more that I can learn from you.
I love you, Mars.
You turned 10-months-old this month. You’re now in the double digits. This is but one of many previous and soon-to-be experienced milestones in this thing called life. You won’t remember this day because, well, you’re drunk half the time. But in all seriousness, I think the National Institute of Microperson Rememberization states that babies don’t really start remembering life events until they’re somewhere around 5-years-old, which gives your mom and me plenty of time to do some serious damage and can pass the blame onto you when your therapist asks why you’re so “unique.”
This month you figured out to wave hello and goodbye. It’s cute because you’re quirky with your waves. You open and close your fingers with your right hand to wave, and you lift your left hand up and down to wave at us. Sometimes it takes a little coercing to get you to wave, and one of us invariably has to sit there and wave at you to get a response wave from you. Sometimes, if one of us peeks into the bedroom after you’ve woken from a nap and you’re standing there in your playard, you’ll see us and immediately start waving. It’s cute to watch you figure out how to use both of your hands independently. It’s looking like you’re going to be right-handed.
When you’re not being all cute and perfect and angelic, you’ll have a spell where you get really upset about something. Usually it’s because you’ve bonked your head, smashed your fingers, the cat bit you or you just need the close company of mom or dad. In these infrequent cases, you’ve learned to stick out your bottom lip in such a pitiful yet precious way that always warrants one of us picking you up and talking to you to make that pouty bottom lip (as cute as it is) go away.
You’ve also taken a keen interest to music this month. For the last six months or so, I’ve been really bad about not listening to music. This month I’ve made it a point to open iTunes or Pandora whenever the opportunity presents itself and play some likable and danceable playlist. You’ll stop whatever it is you’re doing, look at me and, if you’re standing up, you’ll immediately start bending your knees and bobbing to the beat. If you’re sitting, you’ll usually lift your arms to your side and rock back and forth on your butt to the beat.
This month you’ve started recognizing sounds and you often attempt to imitate them. We call the cat by making these click click noises with a tongue and top of the mouth. Whenever you hear this, you try to imitate the noise by parting your lips and making a smack smack noise. More recently you started imitating the sound of me giving your mom a kiss goodnight by making the same smack smack noise. As I’m walking off to my bedroom, your eyes will follow me and before I get to the door, you’ll wave to me and make kissy noises.
And then there’s the grin. Words can’t express the awesomeness that is this grin. It evolves every month. It’s infectious.
I love you so much, Mars. Every hour, every day, every month brings us new joys and happiness as we watch you experience and take in your world. Don’t ever stop being exactly who you are.
I love you, Sugar.
Last night she came home and told me about the Monster Club. She and two of her classmates had a discussion yesterday and are fairly certain that monsters come out from within the closet or under the bed at night while they sleep. The plan was to perform a test. Counted kibbles of cat food would be left under the bed. If any of the cat food went missing, we’d know we have a monster problem.
She told me about this plan, and her concerns with having monsters in her bedroom. And the way in which she told me proved that this is a very serious and grave subject. Childhood fears can go unmatched for a lifetime, and I acknowledged, to her, the understood severity of this situation. I told her I liked her plan and course of action. I applauded and praised her for doing something instead of passively accepting what could be, and living with this element of fear.
Her mom and I told her that the cat would probably come in to her room while she was asleep and eat the cat food, thus derailing her plan. She concurred. I assured her that no monster would set foot into her room on this night. I would stand guard. I would check on her before I went to bed, just like I’ve done every night since the day we brought her home from the hospital. And I told her Beary the teddy bear would be on watch by her side all night as well.
I checked on her at midnight, just before going to bed myself. No monsters.
After staring at my daughter, sleeping peacefully for a few minutes, I decided I would make sure no monsters made it past Beary’s guard as I was going off duty for the night. I recruited the A Team of friends and placed them on guard at the foot of her bed, all facing attentively toward the closed closet door. I also installed the Monster Deterrent Tripwire System between two posts at the bottom of her bed. This is a strand of bright red yarn, pulled taught that creates a impenetrable barrier against monsters from getting in or coming out from under her bed.
She didn’t know that I labored in the dark of night to keep her safe from monsters until I showed her my work this morning. I want her to always know that I will always be there, doing whatever I can to help protect her from monsters. It’s my job.1 comment
Maybe this is the wrong title for this post, but as it implies, I’ve a list that I’ve meaning to impart for quite some time. I don’t mean for this to be a list of how to get your child to make his bed or do the dishes – it’s more of a list of personal discoveries and victories that I have personally discovered in my job and adventure of being a parent. There’s no rhyme or reason to this list, and I may or may not update it at any given future date.
- How to help your child develop walking skills: kids are going to learn to walk on their own eventually. For our first child, it was like she was always almost there. In my heart of hearts, I knew there was no reason to rush things along, however I was compelled to give her that little extra umph to help her along. Note: I’m one of those impatient sorts who’ll be quick to say, “Geez!… Here, let me do it for you.” So anyway: get your kid acclimated to putting one foot in front of the other with a Playskool Walk ‘n Ride. It’s a 2-in-1 jobber that acts like a push buggy for when he’s in that pre-toddler phase, and then it’s a little push scooter for when he’s old enough to keep his balance and push around on it as a little car.
- How to get your child to ride a bike: get a bike with training wheels. This will help her with the overall function of a bike and the concept of pedaling, steering and braking. Don’t rely on a bike with training wheels to help your child get a sense of balance. For my daughter, the balance came after learning to ride a Razor scooter. The Razor scooter is great because it’s adjustable to any child’s height, and it’s propelled by the child pushing with one of her feet, and therefore maintains a sense of balance and control. You’ll know when your child is getting that sense of balance when she’s going down a small inline, has both feet on the scooter’s base and is genuinely balancing herself. That’s the prime time to take the training wheels off and get her back on the bicycle.
- This is more for the parents, but thought it was a useful product tip. Baby food can be expensive. Our youngest is 10-months-old and while she’s beginning to eat soft, solid foods, we still blend/chop/puree some foods for her. Before they were on store shelves, I think you could only get these blenders from informercials. With that said, we use the hell out of our Magic Bullet blender system. It’s not one of those clunky, pitcher-style, eyesore appliances that either sits out on a countertop or takes up room in a cabinet. It’s a small & unobtrusive appliance that stays on our countertop and we use it daily. The best part is that it comes with “mugs” (I think they’re maybe 12 ounce), which are perfect for blending up smaller quantities of foods and liquids. And it comes with a bunch of lids, so you can whip up a strawberry, banana and yogurt smoothie, put a cap on it and put it in the fridge. And, of course, it comes with a pitcher, so if you’re going to make a batch of margaritas, you can do that. I’m notorious for burning up blenders, and surprisingly, the Magic Bullet has endured my abuse and keeps on trucking.
- Another tip for parents – you’ve got to stay organized. Our oldest is in first grade now and there are always field trips, school activities, after school activities and reminders-in-general that need to be taken care of. For me personally, I rely heavily on two things: 1) iCal (native calendar that comes with your Mac) for all of our appointments and due dates. 2) Things – a mobile and desktop app to organize your “things” (your to-dos). I use both religiously and daily because I’m always either in front of a computer or have my iPhone on me so I can be reminded of upcoming appointments and events, or have quick and easy access to my to-do list.
That’s it for now. More as I experience parenthood.No comments
You cruise a lot. Cruising is that think where you stand up and “cruise around” by supporting yourself with something. This usually means the coffee table, a chair, a mom or dad leg, the cat or the fireplace screen. For the past couple weeks you’ve been making valiant attempts at standing on your own. This usually happens in mom & dad’s bed, and it makes for loads of laughs. You’ll stand up by supporting yourself on one of our hips, then you’ll throw your hands in the air and wait. Sometimes you’ll stand for a few seconds. Other times you’ll immediately fall back and land on your butt or flat on your back. Either way, you think this game is awesome because your mom and I laugh heartily with you.
We’re pretty sure you’ll be walking before your first birthday. As much as you cruise and as fast as you crawl, it seems logical that you’ll be walking soon. You have an older sister and parents who are always on the move, and I can tell you’re compelled to keep up with us all.
And holy hell could you stop getting into EVERYTHING? The light sockets, the cat food, the plants, my alarm clock, the blinds, the tupperware, the fireplace. And what’s up with you wanting to go into the guest bathroom, where all the scary monsters live, when it’s pitch black in there and steal the little plastic cover that goes over the toilet bolts?! You’re obsessed with that thing. When we can’t find you, invariably you’ll be in the totally dark bathroom, sitting next to the toilet with that bolt cover in your mouth. It’s kind of odd.
This month you also grew a set of full-on fangs. Last month we’d noticed not only your front two bottom teeth, but also a fang. This month your fangs have grown in quite nicely. Your fangs are cute and make your mom and me chuckle, especially whenever you’re really happy or laughing and you do your big, full teeth grin.
This month you have also started attempting to communicate with us. You can say “cat” and “dad,” although both of them come out as “dat.” Whenever we ask you to find the cat, you crawl around while saying, “dat. dat. dat.” You also say “boof” a lot. We don’t know what that means. I think it might mean “food,” or “we should go outside and put dirt in our ear!”
This past December was also your first Christmas. We spent this Christmas at your Grandma’s house. I can’t remember what all Santa brought you, but I do remember he brought you your first teddy bear, which I’m hoping you’ll hang on to and pass down to your daughter. Christmas this year reminded me of how important it is to treasure these times with you, and all of our friends and family as our time together is so precious and finite.
Christmas or any day I count as a blessing to be with you and see you grow & learn. Your smile is amazing and gorgeous and infectious. Thank you for your smile and for everything that is you.
I love you, Sugar.