Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just another story about my life as a Dance Dad.......

This past weekend two of my girls participated in the local drive for St. Jude's Telethon. Every year their dance studio showcases ten or so routines from the competition teams. Usually I am a spectator/baby wrangler. This year I traded the wrangling for full Dance Dad Duties. Traded, more like the other parental unit was away on business and it needed to be done. No biggie; been there, done that.

We arrived early which turned out to work in our favor. I was able to get into our dressing room, more like make our dressing room (because you can't have a gaggle of pre-teen and teen girls changing all willy-nilly) and calmly rock some hair buns and set up the wardrobe/changing area for the cutest dancers ever. Really I had to make as easy as possible to not screw up their costumes because, as a male I am not allowed where girls are changing.

The younger one had her hair done before we left the house but needed to be touched up. She isn't the most reserved child. It's hard to be reserved when your preferred mode of transportation is cartwheel. You can imagine how even the toughest gel finds itself useless to her onslaught of inverted movement. Since the makeshift dressing room was now occupied, I asked for some gel and bobby pins from the bag. With my back pack full of snacks, with water bottles dangling like I was about to set off on a safari across the Sahara, I proceeded to attempt to get each and every stray hair stage ready.

While being an amateur hairstylist, I noticed another father watching with a grin. Not a malicious grin; more like a "You're doing a good job, man," grin. Or he was totally thinking to himself, "I'd hate to be that guy. Poor S.O.B." I'm betting it was the former. That's when it hit me. I'm doing a good job. I have three girls, all in dance. I am doing what I need to for them. I am doing what a father does for his kids. Isn't that what we are supposed to do? 

There is no way to transition to my final thought so here it is.  If you are a woman or a man (so basically if you have two legs and walk upright) you should stand up for each other EVERY DAY no matter gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, shoe size or hair color. We are all equal. On International Women Day, step in and show your support for the women in your life. Stand up to any injustices you see. We are all the same. Not one of us is better than the other. Once we figure they out, things will fall into place. But if we continue the way we are, "IT" is going to hit the fan. And when things hit fans, things spray into a messy "IT"storm. I have way too much to clean up around here to be cleaning that up too.

*I stole, or repurposed most of the last paragraph from my Facebook post. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Undermining Gender stereotypes - Ish

It has been some time since I have written, let alone done anything on this blog. I assure you I have not been abducted and forced into hard labor (oh, wait! I am a stay-at-home dad; this is hard labor!).

To bring you up to speed, the kids are great. Fourth grade (Wait. What?  Fourth? Grade?) First Grade (WTH? When did this happen?) and almost three (Wasn't she born last week?). And they are dancing.




Three kids in dance. Two on competition teams. (I need to lie down. It packs quite a punch when I put it in writing.)

I'm better now (I hope; >*deep breaths, deep breaths*<). Things have been going along nicely around here. The older girls enjoy being sisters (translation: at each other's throats constantly for no other reason than it is something to do) and the littlest is coming into her own as the perfect mix of the other offspring with a healthy dose of antagonizing little sister. Life as normal with three girls under one roof.

My life as a stay-at-home dad is pretty normal. I do laundry, vacuum, cook meals, clean and tidy up the house, transportation to and from dance, and wash dishes. A lot of dishes. Sure, we do have a dishwasher, but there are things that aren't supposed to go into that time saving device. Sure, they probably could go in, but they will last longer if they don't. Things like pots and pans, stainless utensils, and delicate antiquities. Then there are the things that are used every day; such as specific plates that SHOULD be used (not that they must be served on them, its just easier for my mental well-being if they are, and that needs all the help it can get). Add to that the commonly used cooking and serving utensils and my butt is parked at the sink at least three times a day for what seems like hours on end. With all this quality time the sink and I spend together, my hands feel the brunt of it. Add to that potty training a toddler and keeping the various colds and nastiness that come home from school at bay, my hands are constantly wet. They get beat up; especially in the colder months. Right around the time the days grow shorter and the air gets chillier, my hands start to crack. And I have yet to find a suitable hand cream that is worthy of my manliness (or lack thereof) and keeps my hands soft for the ladies....😉

Like I said, I've tried lotions. Arm & Hammer had a good one, but it only works for a little while; and I'm not going to be putting lotion on every time I wash my hands. I'd need 55 gallon drums just to get through the month. As for the rest, the results are barely worth writing about. So I have set out on a quest to find the best gloves for dishwashing. And there are so many out there. Latex, spandex, rubber, non-latex, lined, unlined, wool, plastic, chainlink, and so on. I've tried them all. (well maybe not the last few. It just flowed and I'm going with it). I've gotten them at the grocery store. I've gotten them at the home improvement store. And the best I can say, there is a market for larger, masculine dish washing gloves. If you have a hook up or the where-with-all, you can make a buck. The ones that come from the home improvement stores look masculine in that they are black or grey and a little more rugged. But they are not as good as the dedicated cleaning gloves one finds in the cleaning isle at the grocery store. The good ones, in my opinion and experience, are non-latex and felt lined. The only non essential  drawback are the color choices; which have not stopped me from brandishing my lovely pastel protection complete the never ending cascade of dirty dinnerware.

I am seeing if any of my loyal readers know of a quality glove that is sturdy, non latex, lined, AND in a cool color. Flames would be nice. Skull and cross bones. Or even a primary color. I'm sick of looking at my light purple covered hands for hours on end.

My wife got me this shirt for Christmas and ever since I have been brainstorming this post. Today I wore it to the library group we go to. I noticed a few reading it and looking a tiny bit longer than normal. It may have been the cute kid with me. Or the shirt. Probably the kid; she is pretty darn cute. Anyhoo I decided I needed to actually write it instead of thinking about writing it and this was the inspiration.

I do not own this design. It's on a T-shirt.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Can I get a witness?

Last night I witnessed something we rarely see in our friends.

Let me back up a bit.

My daughter has been dancing at local dance studio for five years and has been on the competition team for the last three. Through the team, we have become friends with the other Dance Moms and Dads. We even hangout outside of dance things. We camp together. Occasionally they come to gigs of mine (OK just once but we're going to be playing another one soon). The girls invite each other to birthday parties. It's a regular ole friendship. And last night we got to witness one of those parents celebrate her 40th (!) birthday in a splendid surprise party! I'm still sore (but that might be because I, too, am aging).

When we have friends, we only see them for short periods of time; we only see snippets into their lives. We have these ideas how the everyday workings of their life go, be it good or bad. We never truly know until we see it first hand. And last night we all got a peek into a wonderful couple's life and it was phenomenal.

After the big surprise, first dance, and what-have-you, the husband got on the microphone to say his introduction to the party and thank you's to all those who helped. But what happened was something no one in the room expected. He was so overcome with emotion he had to stop and collect himself a number of times. It. Was. Great. His love and admiration for his wife still has the power to take his words away. Her love and support lift their love higher than anything he can fathom.

Here I was. I thought I knew this happy couple with two great children and a dog. I thought I knew how much they loved and cared for another. I had no idea. Now I know and it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Like I said, if we are fortunate enough to get a glimpse into the lives of those around us, we will be astonished at what we see.

Happy Birthday, JK!

Monday, October 26, 2015

What I learned from sleeping in the hospital with my 19 month old.

(This might be long, but bear with me.)

I have always been a sound sleeper. Very sound. Something in my body is wired to sleep when I get horizontal. In college, a dorm-mate suggested not to hang out in your bed. It is for sleeping, only. That way when you get into bed your body associates that environment with sleep and you will go to sleep quicker and sleep more soundly. My co-parental unit is very skeptic of this theory and routinely calls B.S. Who cares; it works for me. 

A couple days ago my littlest one came down with a runny nose. Not too surprising living with the up and down, left and right weather swings we get in New England. Yesterday she woke up wheezy with labored breathing. And not like her breathing was giving birth to another breath. Like her breaths were shallow, both in and out and she developed a cough that wasn't helping anything. This day was Sunday and we were heading to church. We all got into the building and sat in a pew in the back, as to not disturb too many (three kids tends to do that every now and then). Her breathing and coughing were too much for us to handle so I volunteered to take her home (my wife was teaching and it's kind of hard to teach Sunday School from home with a sick child.).

After our semi-regular visit to church (hey, we go when we can. We're a busy family. Get off my back!) we prepare for our next event: the annual pumpkin carving party a group of our friends have been having long before we all had kids. Usually it's a smorgasbord of soups and appetizers and adult beverages (there are less if these than the old days) and pumpkins and a rocking-good time. Lately the kids have been asking very sternly for very intricate designs to be carved into their gourds of choice. I don't know about you, but getting a stencil to stick to a pumpkin and then carve said pumpkin in a way that resembles the stencil is no easy task. Usually I go free-hand and end up with a more traditional Jack-O-Lantern. This year I tackled a stencil-carve. Or tried to. 

So before we head to the pumpkin dismemberment ritual, I decided that someone should skip the party (my wife) and stay home with the sick child. There will be at least eight kids all anxiously watching (i.e. Playing outside/in the other room) for their parents labor over the finest detail one can possibly put on a pumpkin so a sick kid wouldn't be all that welcome. And the parents take pumpkin carving very seriously. This is our children's pumpkins, we're talking about. Their whole lives depend on how a ceremonial squash looks for a week before it starts to rot on our front steps. 

So I go to the party, toting two kids, two rather large pumpkins (that I had to purchase on the way because not one of the five we had on our stoop were not big enough to carve), buffalo chicken dip, and a cooler of veggies and varieties of a beverage called beer. Perhaps you've hear of it. It's quite yummy and I think it will really catch on. 

We take our spot at the table; each kid cleaning out the "guts" of their pumpkins (or I am while the girls eat snacks and do kid things).  First up is the ballerina stencil. It has some pretty tight lines and is going to require reinforcement (toothpicks, for the untrained carver). After about half an hour or so, I lost track of time, (I think my eyes went blurry for a while) I think I've done a pretty good job and the oldest agrees. One down. Next up the middle child's pumpkin.  She says she wants a flower. A daisy? A tulip? A rose? A chrysanthemum? Bird of paradise? Venus fly trap? 

"A tulip. That's what I want."  Thank goodness. Easy. I can pull that off. Free hand a tulip, stem, a few leaves. Carve it out as one piece. Give pumpkin flower to one of the kids as a token of my love (girls love flowers!) and wallah. Best. Dad. In. The. World. 

My two creations

The whole gang's artwork (minus one, I think)

Then I get brought back from the parenting high by the news that the last two members of the clan are headed our way. It seems the little one has been coughing a lot and our friend, who is a nurse practitioner at the pediatrician's office wants to hear the cough and wheeziness first hand (And I don't mean her impression of Mrs. Jefferson); the iPhone video isn't the best quality for diagnosing a toddler. After the roadside exam, it is agreed upon to take a trip to the emergency department. Six hours, four nebulizer treatments, a round of steroids, a bunch of full strength juice (crack to a kid who rarely has juice cut with water, let alone high test) some bad, stale graham crackers, three botched IV attempts (because 19 month old's love to be pricked with needles. Repeatedly.), four hours past bedtime and a slew of loud "neighbors" coughing, hacking, scolding little boys for not sitting still snd getting into things, and one mother not believing the doctor's treatment and calling her pediatrician, we finally get admitted. Finally some piece and quiet. My wife went home somewhere between hour four and hour five. She has to work the next day. It broke her heart to go, but I reassured her I can take care of it. I only have been doing this for three years. Just another flower to be carved. 

We get settled in our new digs, each have a sandwich (finally, food of substance for the child. And I get to eat, too) and get settled to bed. Yes a bed. A real bed. It's a hospital bed.  It sure as hell beats the last "bed" I slept on in the hospital. (All dads know the joys of sleeping on that sorry excuse for a bed in your wife's room after your she gives birth to your child. I'm not even sure you can legally call that a bed) And it's only midnight. Perfectly acceptable bedtime for a 19 month old. 

Surprisingly she settled pretty quick for being somewhere strange, in a strange bed, with metal bars like a caged animal, (parental observation. I'm sure she didn't feel that way) but she must have been exhausted. I know I was. 

We both woke up to a coughing/crying fit a few times. Now recent studies have shown I do not wake for darn near anything. I'm pretty sure a bomb can go off and I'll sleep through the whole thing. It's not my fault (see second paragraph above). But this time, this night I was on top of my game. I was up, comforting back to sleep, shushing, coddling, the whole nine yards. My wife can't believe that I, in fact, woke up with the baby. Now I know this sounds like it's not a big deal, but for a dead-sleeper it is. And when you sleep next to a light sleeper, you don't ever have to get up, unless you get the elbow of death at three a.m.  But it was just me. I was that elbow. Or the coughing was. Either way it is not the ideal way to wake up. 

So here's what I learned from sleeping in the hospital with my 19 month old: 

I learned I can wake up in the middle of the night if I have to. 

I learned I am a good father for helping my child through this ordeal. 

I learned I am a good husband for stepping up when my wife can't. 

I learned sometimes hospitals aren't the most efficient at time management. (To their defense, we weren't the only ones there and I understand that, but an hour wait for transport up four floors is redonk). 

I learned nurses on the children's floors of hospitals are awesome and I thank them for that. Even at midnight.

I learned life sucks, but you make the best of it. 

I learned my kid is amazing. Always having the go-getting, get out of my way attitude, even when she's not 100%.

I learned this dad thing is hard. This dad thing is easy. This dad thing is amazing. I recommend it to anyone. (I understand it might be a little difficult for the ladies, with the gender thing and all, but y'all are smart and resourceful. I'm confident you can figure it out.)

Dad on!

Friday, October 23, 2015

First World Problems.

I almost called it quits this morning.

While at a local shopping establishment, (ok Target, you caught me. For the second time this week. Don't judge.) for birthday gifts for a couple of Anniversary Of Your Birth parties coming up, I realized I could care less about most of the toys in the isle.  Sure LEGOS are still cool, but they are not the same as they once were. Where is the broken glass we once played with when we "were your age," (said in your best grumpy old man voice)

But the really bad part came when I was loading my little one in the car.  I had gotten a coffee from Starbucks, (as one does because Target and The Bucks made a pact with the devil so you can buy stuff and then fuel up with some high-octane nectar of the Gods, or vice versa) and set it on the floor of the "trunk." (I have a Chevy Travers, hence the "trunk") After strapping her in, I close aforementioned trunk. Spilling said coffee. Luckily I remembered my coffee when I was about to start the car. On the bright side, I got to enjoy about 5 sips of coffee. I debated too long with myself about going to bed and try to start the day over, but there is too much laundry to do. And who wears all these clothes? On the bright side, I am catching up on Cheers while folding the never ending garments. Thank you Netflix!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spilled milk. No crying. Just cleaning.

Today, the littlest and I had a few errands to run. Not really an errand. More like a shopping trip to the golf store to pick up a few things before my annual trip south. (A tough job, but someone had to do it) There were two objectives to the trip:

1. To get a few things and to peruse the clearance items, and

2. To test the "She does not need the "plug" (Binky, Pacifier, Rubber sucker thing) anymore.

I have been saying, much to the chagrin of my spouse ("Cant we let her have it till she's 5?") that it is time to cut the tether. She's almost 18 months old. It's time to "Let It Go!" (I apologize for the Frozen reference. You all had just kicked that horrible habit, I hope.) And I have taken and hid said plug for the last week, at least in the car. She fusses at first, but it is very short lived, and getting shorter as the time passes. (Notch one in the belt for daddy!) And how happy was I when we got to the store and she was asleep. Without it. (Not so humble brag)

Any-hoo, I shopped, browsed and thumbed through a few things, debated a few things, and bought a few things.  Under budget.  Who knew I could go to the golf store and come out under budget? So I decided with the extra, new found (not really, but sort of) money we should have a lunch date. Just me and her. I had done it with each of the other ones, just never really had the chance to do it with her. And why not? So after a visit with Grandma at her work (where the little one was proudly shown off to anyone that was in the building and could not run the other way) we had our lunch date.

It was just a lunch date. At Panera. Nothing fancy. Sandwiches. Yogurt. Apple. Milk. A lunch of kings. (Ha!) My little date is not the cleanest eater.
She's gonna kill me for this picture when she gets older.

And she shouldn't be. She's a year and a half (in two weeks). So as I was clearing the table and putting her in the stroller, I noticed some milk had spilled (probably when she squeezed the box-o-milk, causing a geyser of moo juice). Being one not to cry over such spills, I did what any self-respecting Stay-At-Home parent would do; I cleaned it up. (Because that is what 85% of my day is about) The odd part was, as I cleaned it up, a mother who was also on a lunch date with her little one commented on how nice it was that I was cleaning a high chair. It struck me as odd that someone would not clean their child's mess in a restaurant. I know that people are paid to do such tasks, but during a busy lunch shift, things are bound to be overlooked. Maybe it was because I have waited tables in the past, or the fact that I am just looking out for the next parent, but I feel that my kid made that mess. It is my responsibility to clean it up. And this stranger was happy. She had, as most parents have, come across a dirty table, seat or highchair in the past and silently cursed the person before them.  Perhaps my insignificant random act of cleanliness will inspire her to do the same. Or not. Who is to know?

The moral of this semi-sensical story is this: One little thing will help the next person. And most of the time that little thing doesn't take much time or effort. And it usually is the right thing to do. Even if it is not for the next parent, it will make the bus person/waitstaff thankful for you lightning their load. It's like a silent "Thank You" to them. And the power of that simple phrase is immense. And if you don't know, you have not heard it enough. Go do some random acts of goodness. You will feel so much better. And who knows? It may just come back to you.

And that wouldn't be all that bad.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Someone Get Me A Time Machine

Today is my daughter's birthday. It is my oldest's birthday. (I have to be specific due to all the kids around here.) Not only is it the anniversary of her coming into this world, it is the anniversary of me becoming a dad. A Father. A caregiver. A grownup. (Let us not put too much emphasis on that last one. I will never grow up. What's the use? Staying young is way more fun.)

I was thinking back to when I was eight and trying to remember the things I was doing. My family just moved to a new house. I rode my bike. Played Legos. Played MASK (For those of you who are not familiar with this, it was a television show and subsequently a line of toys that were cars and such and did other things. I kinda can't recall what exactly they did, but I did enjoy it.)  I'm sure I did other, more exciting things, yet I cannot recall much; I'm an old man now (For Pete's sake, I have three girls and the oldest is eight years old! My memory is pretty shot.)

Anyhoo, as I was reminiscing of my glory days, I began to compare my past with my child's present. She draws. She is a good reader. She is a part-time vegetarian. (Read sausage and bacon - good; chicken breast - bad) And she is a phenomenal dancer. She is on a team with other, like-minded dancers who, as a group, are awesome. And she has performed a solo. Four times. She got on stage, in front of a lot of people and danced. All by herself. Four times. And did very well, impressing judges, teachers, teammates and strangers without batting an eyelash. And now she is learning another solo to do the same this year. I don't think I got on stage to perform until I was double her age. She must take after her mother. 

Looking back at all that she has accomplished in her short time, it fills my heart with joy and pride. All that done in just eight short years. I can't imagine what the rest will bring. Someone get me a time machine. Lets go see what she does. Better yet, lets go back and watch it all again.