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Preview: blogging the children

blogging the children

the milestones, quips and quirks associated with raising children through the eyes of a stay-at-home-dad.

Updated: 2018-03-05T19:43:47.554-05:00


I'm back. Yet again.


My wife asked me to write again. I've been thinking about it, but always scare myself off. An interesting thing happened this weekend at the memorial service of my wife's dear, dear aunt. While waiting in the line to greet the grieving family, my mother-in-law (re)introduced us to a friend of hers. As we were introducing the kids, we get to Hope and this look of surprise and recognition comes over her face. "Is this the Hope that I read about while she was in the hospital?", she asks. I was floored. I couldn't believe that this woman had remembered that writing from eight years ago. She went on and on about how great it was that I'd done that and how it gave people a way to get to know Hope and to pray and wish for her. She kept telling Hope what a great writer I was. Maybe it is starting to sink in. Maybe I'll allow myself to believe the praise, maybe a little. As most creatives, I have long been my own worst critic. I'd like to be able to sit here and write that "from now on, I will no longer ...", but I'm a realist. I promise, though, that I will try every day to be better. I will try to write every day. I might not publish it here, but I will work to write every single day. Sometimes I will bore you with stories of the kids. Sometimes I will bore you with stories from cycling, training, racing. Sometimes I will bore you with reviews of cycling and other outdoor products. Every once in a while I might even bore you with an original piece of fiction.

In the Blink of an Eye


It's amazing how quickly things can change. I had just finished cutting the grass, and was walking to the garage to get a shovel for my next job when Shane comes riding up the driveway grinning from ear to ear. He was so proud of his latest 'invention'. He had strapped his wagon to his bike with one of my cam straps from kayaking. I reminded me of my childhood days. My brother and I used to try to make all kinds of goofy contraptions. Shane had asked Olivia to jump in the wagon and was going to take her for a ride. In part because she was not wearing a helmet, and in part because it just seemed crazy dangerous, we talked her out of the maiden voyage. After she got out, Shane proceeds down the driveway and makes a sweeping left hand turn WITHOUT looking. And here comes a car driving up the street. We were yelling for him to stop but it was one of those scary situations where you feel completely helpless. Luckily, the driver saw the whole developing and slowed to a stop. Thank God he wasn't hurt, but needless to say you will not see him on his bike for a long time.

Busy Weekend


What a busy weekend! And that's with canceling our date night. Normally, I wouldn't do such a thing, marriage is a precious and delicate thing, and with three kids, we find that we really need to carve out some alone time. But, we are going away next weekend for almost a week, and have 12 million unfinished projects around the house.

Lulu had her instructional soccer session on Saturday morning, we cut the grass, raked leaves, picked up sticks, played in dirt. If your kids are ever really bored, just get 5 or more yards of topsoil delivered in your driveway. Shane and Liv and the two neighbor kids were digging in this pile of dirt like they were at the beach. Building forts, burying each other, etc. I wished my I'd had my camera handy.

Today was church -- I think some folks forgot who we were its been so long -- and Shane's soccer game. The boys played hard, but got pretty much smoked by a really good side. This team had two kids who had an incredible left foot. After the game, and a little DQ, we were off to Lowe's to get the supplies to try and finally finish up this little powder room project, which my wife was kind enough to start for me while I took Shane skiing over Thanksgiving. Almost done! We actually now have a working (knock on wood) toilet again. Sink is next.

Then I went out to play a bit of soccer myself. This was my second time out in two weeks playing in this pick-up match. I was a goalkeeper in high school and college (my first college career, before I was asked to leave in 1989), but haven't played at all since (well, save for one match with my brother's side back in 1998 or so). I did pretty well. The diving and angle play came back like it was never gone, high crosses still seem to plague me a bit, and my goal kicks have been atrocious. In part, I'll blame the kicking game on a quad strain which I worsened tonight trying to be a hero. Good fun, though, and as long as our freezer keeps pumping out ice, I think I'll keep going back. I'd forgotten how much I loved the game. It's good for my sanity and gets me out of the house doing something fun and, save for the injuries (I also strained my achilles) good for me.

Groundhog Day!


No, it's not really Groundhog Day. I am well aware of that. My title to this post is more a comment on how I'm feeling. A good friend (I think we're good friends) once commented about how her day had become like the movie Groundhog Day, as life was imitating art or art was imitating life, and that each day felt just like the last. I, too, am stuck. Or at least feeling stuck. Every day, I think tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I will get up early and do yoga, meditate, write, whatever. And every time that tomorrow becomes today, I find myself waking up too late, or a child wakes up too early, or fill in the blank. I feel like life has become a series of excuses as to why I can't get anything done. This week I can't get to gym because:
  • Monday we had an intake interview for special health services through the county for the baby.
  • Today, I am scrambling around trying to locate our tax documents, and trying to figure out why once again we seem to owe the war machine more money
  • Wednesday, Hedgie is participating in a feeding study downtown
  • Thursday, those health service folks are coming out for an evaulation -- cautiously optimistic that we don't qualify for services; pediatrician just keeps encouraging us to get the eval
  • Friday, Hedgie goes to CHOP for sedated Echocardiogram

I was talking to one of my friends at the gym and he was talking about how the bigger part of him working out seven days a week is not for the reasons that most 7-day-a-week gym rats do it, it was more for his mental health. I've got to get back.

I don't mean to bitch, I am truly blessed. I just want to accomplish something. And not just beating the laundry monster.

Recent Trip to Franklin Institute


Our recent trip to the Franklin Institute. Four was a bit bummed, more than a bit bummed actually that we didn't get to see the Star Wars exhibit, but he got over pretty quickly as the rest of the place is so awesome.

King of Silly


So the other day M and LuLu -- now 5 -- were in the grocery store and LuLu was doing something silly, apparently singing some silly song. M says to her, "You're the silliest." Which was followed up by, "Actually, you're not the silliest. Who is the silliest?"

"Daddy.", came her reply. A conversation ensued in which I was named the King of Silliness, LuLu a Princess of Silliness. Ahh! What a legacy. Actually, I could not be happier. If the crown fits...



This morning, Four -- who's now seven -- was lying in our bed which happens just about every night starting around 2 or 3 AM, but that's a whole other story. Shortly after M leaves for her boot camp workout, he says out of the blue, "Dad? Even though I make a lot of bad choices [which is absolutely true, especially of late] I know you still love me."



I am SO far behind with my blogging that every time I sit down to write, I end up not knowing where to begin. There's so much to catch up on. I figure listing it below will help me organize and process some of it, and give me a checklist of things to write about.

  1. Christmas

  2. Smuggler's Notch

  3. Skiing with JJ

  4. CO and UT

These are just the big things, I am sure there are a lot of cute little stories that have and will fall through the cracks. Maybe coming back to writing will help fill in the gaps.

I'll leave with one quick story. Recently my parents took the kids to a Russian Children's Circus along with their cousin. After the circus the kids all spent the night at Nonna and PopPop's. LuLu had worn a skirt to the circus, her preferred garment for lower body wear (as opposed to pants). Well, I had packed a pair of cords and a long sleeve t-shirt for her to wear the next day. When Nonna tried to put the pants on, LuLu informed her, "I hate pants!" Since that day almost three weeks ago, the only pants that she has had on have been her long underwear and ski pants while we were in Vermont. I trust that this, too, shall pass.

How does she do it?


Yesterday, my parents came over to watch the kids while I finished up my Christmas shopping and started shopping for two parties we're hosting. It was amazing how quickly my time without the beasties slipped through the hourglass. But I digress. The point of this post was to wonder aloud how my mother was able to do so much in this one day WITH the beasties while I struggled to complete my list without them. After attending LuLu's Parent-and-Me dance, my mom did all of our laundry, baked cookies with Four, played Blokus with Four for over an hour and a half, played Barnyard Bingo with LuLu after her (LuLu's) nap, and made a salad.

This morning while sweeping the floor and ruminating over what to do for these upcoming parties and in what order to do it, I smilingly asked the kids -- as they trapsed through my little crumb piles -- "What's her secret? How does Nonna get so much done during the day?"

With his most impish little smile, Four says, "I can't tell you."

Everyone Loves a Parade!


Last night, we went to our little town's Annual Winter Parade. We tried to meet some of our friends at the local brew pub for dinner beforehand -- well, we did meet them its just that we didn't really get to eat dinner. The place was so packed we ended up ordering food for the kids at the little table where we were waiting for a real table. Normally that would have sucked but we were with friends from the 'hood, there was a 3-piece band playing Christmas songs, and we were waiting for a parade. Its amazing to watch these kids, any kids, at a parade. The way their faces light up and they are awed by the procession. Even the relatively low budget procession that graced our sleepy little streets last night. It seems like one of the last great traditions. A tradition that tenaciously holds the attention and admiration of kids and adults despite a culture of video games, virtual reality, and ever enlarging televisions. There's nothing quite like bundling up and sharing the street with your fellow man.

I Would For You


Happy Belated Thanksgiving! After a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, the fam spent the night at Chez Nonna and PopPop. Four and I woke up early for the long drive to Hunter Mountain in New York. Every year, in high school and early college, my buddies and I used to go to Hunter Mountain on Black Friday. It was a great tradition. Now that we've all moved on and/or away, it's time to start a new tradition. Not knowing how long Four would last on the slopes, I decided to leave early so we could be there for most of the morning and feel like we got in a good day if he faded during the sometimes crash-prone afternoons. Even though he was so excited to go -- skiing had been my carrot for the week to help remind us of our good behavior -- getting him up as early as we did was pretty comical. M, who was up getting ready for work, pulled the covers down and started talking to him gently and rubbing his back trying to ease him into his day. He sits up with his scrunched up face and 'hrumph' attitude, grabs the covers, and lays back down. After finally getting him up and dressed, we had the best day. About an hour into the drive, we stopped for gas and coffee. I kept asking him if he wanted anything, juice, snack, etc. He politely declined everything. He only peed because I was going. We later stopped at a McDonalds (his favorite) just off the highway, I asked if he wanted anything. Again, he declines citing his desire to go skiing.Once we got to Hunter and got our tickets, we only lasted two runs before Four's hands got cold. It was pretty cold that day. As we walked back to the van to get his other gloves and then to the lodge to get lunch, I nervously wondered if we were done for the day. Nonetheless we had a great lunch together, and when he got too shy to continue talking to the lovely Argentinian couple across the table from us, we went back out on the slopes. We had started the day with him in the Racer Chaser vest and a ski tip lock. At different times he would ask to try it without one or both of these aids. The only green run open had some sections that were probably steep enough to not truly be green. In these areas, we would fall often without the vest on. But really, he was doing great. As the day went on and our runs started piling up, he started to seem uncomfortable on the chair. I kept asking if he was cold, if we should call it a day, if we should take a break -- truth be told I was getting uncomfortable snowplowing all day in my nearly 20 year old alpine boots (my tele stuff arrived the Monday after). But he wanted to keep going. Finally, on what turned out to be our last lift ride, I could see him wincing in pain. He finally admitted that his hands were cold. For his last run, he wanted to ski down without his vest and tip lock. He did great. I think he only fell twice that last run and did a get job of checking his speed on the steeper sections. I was so proud of him!After that last run, we started over to the van and he just melted down. His hand hurt. We turned around and went into the lodge for hot chocolate. His poor hands hurt so badly that he wouldn't use them to hold his hot chocolate. After lots of hugging and holding his hands we got it together enough to make it back to the van. As we got changed into our street clothes, I told him that he really should have told me sooner that his hands hurt, especially when I keep asking him. He replied, "I just wanted to make sure that you had a fun time." You could have knocked me over with a feather. I wanted to cry. I told him that the trip was about him and me having a great experience together and the number of runs that we made or the length of time we spent on the hill wasn't important, that being together was what was important.We were pulling out of the parking lot at 3:48. Four was asleep b[...]

Think Snow!


Having been a ski bum for two seasons, saying I love to ski is an understatement. As winter approaches I once again am growing itchy to spend some time on the mountain. Unfortunately, equipment woes have recently plagued me. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the interface between my anatomy and the equipment has plagued me. The last two pairs of ski boots that I have owned end up rubbing my shins raw at the top of the cuff after only a day of skiing, admittedly aggressive skiing, but this shouldn't be happening. One bootfitter suggested there may be an issue with the curvature of my tibia/fibula bones. Its gotten to the point where I was comtemplating not skiing. I am hopeful that my solution will come by way of telemark skiing. Giving the discipline a try last year, even on my two-days-of-alpine-bump-skiing-shin-bang-shin-bite-torn-up shins, there was no pain to speak of. Now, perhaps as I get better at the discipline a whole new crop of problems will spring up, but my friend made the switch for similar reasons. Plus he's such a good skier, I think he was bored with alpine. Anyway, I've become very excited about skiing again and recently took the kids on a minor road trip to try to find some tele gear. Coming home, I decided to try on Four's boots. I was nervous that Santa's unused gift from last year -- I know, I know -- would have to wait another year or more until LuLu could use them. Fortunately, they seem to still fit. Well enough that even after clicking into his skis and tooling around in the basement (on the rug only) and trying to do helicopters, Four was lounging around in the boots for quite some time. He is anxious to ski this season, asking, "When can we go?" and "When will it snow?" Last night, he insisted that I read him a book about snow. I am so looking forward to taking him skiing this season. Think snow.



LuLu has been obsessed lately with "boo-lay" or ballet. I have been taking her to a Parent and Me Dance class at our gym. At first she didn't want to go because it wasn't ballet. Finally, I convinced her to give it a try saying that while it wasn't all ballet, they may do some ballet. Last night at dinner M asked her what she had done at dance class that day. Struggling ever so slightly at the end, LuLu replies, "I did a arabest." I had been struggling for most of the day to remember the word, "No, it not pique. Not sashay. Arrgh! What is it?", and while it had come back to me in the pool after class and I helped remember the arabesque, I could not command the word to my mind when M started the conversation. Even in class the teacher only had three or four of the older girls -- the class only goes up to 36 months -- do the pose at the very end of last day of the session, so LuLu only heard the word four or five times. But I guess it made an impression.

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from Zorro and our resident Flower! This year we made the kids costumes. I spent the Friday night and Saturday before Halloween in front of the sewing machine. I sewed Zorro's cape and belt and the flower's dress all without a pattern. So a few things got a little frustrating and several seams needed to be ripped out and re-sewn. But in the end the effort was worth it. We also made LuLu's flower collars, which was no-sew, but time consuming nonetheless. The kids had a great Halloween season, attending our town parade, a neighborhood party, a party and parade at school, and a pre-Trick-r-Treat parade -- now we just have to ration all that candy!

Happy Birthday Four!


As I mentioned in an earlier post, Four recently turned five. In an e-mail sharing pictures with family I wrote the following:
We just got home from [Four's] birthday celebration at school. He was beaming the whole time. On the one hand, he was/is so grown-up (most of the time) that I can't believe he's only five. On the other hand, it seems like he was born just only yesterday, and I can't believe five years has flown by.

I've been wrestling with whether to continue refer to the boy as Four or to change his moniker to Five due to the age change. In the end, I've decided to continue with Four as it's often how I refer to him in my head when not blogging.

So much to update!


So little time.

About a month ago, the kids went to M's parents for the night. I had packed their bag with pajamas, two changes of clothes each, a teddy bear, a stuffed puppy, a baby doll, toothbrushes, etc. When unpacking the bag, my mother-in-law was apparently impressed with the neatness with which the laundry was folded. She asked Four (who just recently turned five) if his Dad does the laundry. He replied in the affirmative. She said something to the effect of, "He's very good at it." Four responded, "He doesn't think so." It's amazing how perceptive kids are so early.

There was another story from that trip that has had me riding high for a while now. While I don't remember the details of the conversation, essentially, Four ended up telling my mother-in-law that I was "the best dad in the whole world."

Yesterday, I was getting dressed to go to the gym. With both beasties in school M and F mornings, I take the opportunity to sneak in a workout. I had just taken off my boxers and was putting on an athletic supporter for some work on the treadmill, when Four walks in and observes what I'm doing. In his best mocking voice, he says "You're wearing girls underwear!" So if the boy starts cross-dressing, I will always think back to this moment.

LuLu has been almost obsessed with getting a blue baby like her friend Maggie's blue baby for Christmas. The problem is, she is very frightened of sitting on Santa's lap. She remembers our efforts last year to get a picture with Santa and talks very frankly about how much she cried and cried. Last night, she asked Four, "Will you sit on Santa's lap and ask him for a blue baby for me like Maggie's blue baby?"
Four responded, "I will....for you."
It was too cute.

That's all I can remember for now and I can't find the list of things that I'd written down. But I am going to work to be more regular in my updates.

I'm Back!


I'm back, and while I'd like to say better than ever, for now I'll just be satisfied with being back. I cannot believe it's been a month since my last post. This is my longest period of blog slack ever, I qualify it as blog slack since I've been busy in other ways, or at least my mind has been telling me we're busy. It had been so long, my mother-in-law sent me a note that she was having trouble accessing any new posts and was wondering it there was something she was doing wrong. I sheepishly sent her the following:
Actually you're not doing anything wrong, I've just been slacking lately.
I'll try to update it soon. I've got a bunch of stories, just can't seem to
coordinate the time and energy. When I have the time I don't have the
energy, and when I have the energy I usually don't have the time. Funny how
that works out, huh? Soon though, I promise.

Since I'm proclaiming to be back, I will end with a little story. The other nite, M was called back to LuLu's room. The following conversation ensued:
LuLu: There aren't monsters inside, right?
M: Right.
LuLu: There aren't any monsters inside, because the monsters are all outside.

Katrina, Bush, and Money


I have been watching the Katrina coverage on the news in complete disbelief. My heart pours out to those people who find themselves trapped there because they had no other choice. The folks who stayed out of hubris, that's a different story, but I pray for them nonetheless. The video footage is heart wrenching, especially the babies, young children, and the elderly. What is particularly disturbing though are the reports from the city that no information is being disseminated to the survivors, that there is no available food or water, and that looters and thugs are running rampant through the city. For a country that engineered a war halfway around the world with surgical precision to the tune of $191,480,000,000, to not be able to better prepared for and coordinate a response to this natural disaster is inhumane and embarrasing. In this day and age, this seems inexcusable.

I mean who came up with this plan? New Orleans' levees were built to withstand a Cat 3 hurricane, and here comes a Cat 4, so lets get everyone to the Superdome, but let's not stockpile food and water there. And if the government officials from the Mayor of New Orleans all the way up to the President knew that this storm was going to be dangerous enough to order evacuations on Sunday (and perhaps earlier) why does it seem like they are still fumbling around for an effective plan to save the storm's survivor's? When Mr. Bush assures the American public that New Orleans will rebuild and will emerge from this stronger, please forgive me if I don't get the warm and fuzzies. Those comments bring to mind the words "Mission Accomplished."

Big Bang!


I am certain my head is going to explode. It's not just the sinus pressure from my cold -- but darn it why can't I encourage the stuff to drain as well as my chiropractor did? The impending mess is most likely the result of my increasingly indescribable relationship with my neighborhood and the Board elected to 'serve' the community. Because of the sinus pressure in my head and the exhaustion I'm feeling I'm not sure I can even right about it now. I'll try later. What was that line from Margaret Meade, hold on... time for a Google...ctrl-n...ahh, there it is:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; Indeed it's the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Meade

Alas, if the Board won't help us, we'll do it on our own. Eff'em. Oops! Did I really just say that?



This morning, I found Four sitting at the computer trying to sound out our address and type the letters into the address window of our email client -- which in itself is pretty impressive for a not quite five year old. When I came over to help him with the task, he asked me to type a message for him. The note he dictated to me follows:

Dear Evil Presidents,

Please do not set off any more bombs. Thank you,


P.S. When you get this message please send us a message letting us know if you got rid of all your bombs or not.

If only it were that simple. I should clarify that he is not necessarily referring to any president in particular, but rather those leaders that knowingly cause harm to innocent people. Four has been very concerned about bad guys and bombs lately. I guess it's no wonder with all the news coverage of worldwide violence. We try to minimize their exposure, but it seems a losing battle. It's amazing to me that we can't all get along, that people are killing each other in the name of their religion.

with the good, comes the bad


I suppose the universe is always seeking to maintain some average vibe between euphoria and misery. Today, has been the day to provide some balance to some of my better days as an at-home dad. Four has just been a handful. Pestering his sister. Pestering me. Just pestering. For her part, LuLu has been whining. All day. To be fair, she didn't sleep well last night and is undoubtedly tired, but that doesn't make it any easier on the ears. After lunch, I decided to be bold and run some errands despite the behavior and demeanor of my pint-sized companions. It seems that the grocery store is where it always hits the fan. Today was no different. It was actually embarrassing. The two beasties were climbing in, out, and on the cart. Fighting over who sat where. Over whose seatbelt was whose. I wanted to crawl under a bag of flour. Unfortunately, we weren't at the bulk foods store. To top it all off, and this is noone's fault but my own, when I got to the checkout and the clerk had rung up my entire order, only then did I realize that I did not have my credit card or debit card. I have been taking them on my bike rides along with my driver's license in case of emergency. They never made it back into my wallet. As I'm trying to tell the clerk this story of my flakiness LuLu starts crying hysterically. Like someone's hurting her hysterically. I'm trying to maintain some semblance of calm and serenity, but inside I am certain that my head will explode.

"You got it pretty good"


The other day, while LuLu napped, Four and I rode bikes out in the front and side yard and driveway. Four on his 16-inch bike and I on my 20-inch BMX bike. Mini-me and I must have looked even more alike than usual. Both of us ended up riding with helmets and gloves, and without shirts. We got out the soccer cones and wood boards, and made obstacle courses, 'cafeterias', and traps (a child's imagination never ceases to amaze). I was so happy to be riding with my son. Cycling has been a huge part of my life over the years, and for us to be having some much fun on the bikes together was incredible. We told M about our adventures over dinner, to which she responded, "You got it pretty good."

I agreed, "You're right. I think we've all got it pretty good." Being home has been such a joy (and challenge), but I can't think of missing some of these great memories that we've had together.




Watching my son 'soar' off the edge of the pool was another one of those moments that just made my heart soar. Four loves the water and had thrived at the swim lessons at the local University (more about being water safe than actual swimming), but had always had a bit of trepidation about going under and getting his face wet. Yesterday at our friends' sister's pool, Four took the step, or should I say jump. Watching his friends jump and swim without floats you could see the gears turning, "I think I can do that!" And he did! By the end of our session, Four was jumping off the edge in the deep end -- supervised, of course -- and swimming to the opposite edge, and diving for submerged objects. It is such a joy to watch this progression.

Still More Shore Pics!



These are from the night we went to Ocean City. What a great time! The kids were so excited. The weather, while pouring earlier in the evening, cleared beautifully. I think it actually helped by keeping some of the crowds away. Enjoy the photos!

French Stew


This morning we all woke up in a good mood. Four and LuLu came into our bed and lounged, cuddled, tickled, and asked to be tickled. After M got out of the shower, I made a comment about how incredibly hungry I was -- rode 45 miles last night, 26 of them at an average speed of 26.7 mph, and had NO ice cream (my one true love besides my wife) before going to bed. Anyway, I didn't think much of it, but shortly after the munchkins dissappeared. As I walked down the hall to find out what trouble they had found, I couldn't hear exactly what they were saying, but there was defiinitely a spirit of cooperation. I could hear LuLu saying, "Allright." and "OK." I summoned M to see and hear. We tried to observe stealthily, but were busted.

"Mom, Dad, I made French Stew!" proclaimed Four. They had just about every mixing utensil out -- wooden spoons, wire whisks, BBQ brushes, etc. -- and were using them to stir together in a pot cantaloupe chunks, peach slices, and raspberry yogurt retrieved from the refrigerator. I was very impressed with their selections and how well they went together. I went to take a taste. First bite, delicious. As I'm putting the second bite in my mouth, Four starts reciting the ingredients. "Cantaloupe, peaches,..." I bite into something with a more dense consistency. "...yogurt,..." I'm thinking maybe cheese? "...and BUTTER!" I had to find a napkin.

A while back fellow blogger Philip over at The Blue Sloth, wrote a post that began with the question, "What makes your heart soar?" I think of this question often. Usually when the moment I'm in makes my eyes well up with pride, love, and admiration. This was one of those moments. Other recent moments have included watching Four thrive in his swim lessons that make most children cry, watching Four smile from ear to ear at soccer camp, watching LuLu gently push an infant buoyed in a inflatable swim boat around in a pool.