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Showing posts from 2016

We voted. Just not when The Kid wanted to vote.

Gladys and I have always taken The Kid to vote with us. Voting is just something we do as a family.

I was a little surprised when The Kid told me yesterday at breakfast that she wanted to go vote with me. There is nothing exciting about voting, except watch the returns that come in way after she falls asleep. But we agreed that I would take her with me after work instead of before pre-school because she didn't want to rush.

At her doctor appointment yesterday, she leaned in to whisper to me.

Her: "You told a fib, Papa. You said we were voting but we are at the doctor instead."

Me: "Sorry, kiddo. Tomorrow is Election Day and we can't vote until then."

Her: "But I want to vote today!"

After a little more discussion, we agreed that she could wait a day and that she only wanted to go vote when I went.

I was excited to take her because I want to help her build some of the memories of civic participation I hold dear. Walking into the old school lever v…

To a generous young trick-or-treater for his kindness

Our neighborhood is unbelievable on Halloween night. Starting about 6 p.m., our street is packed with trick-or-treaters. If you don't start stockpiling candy early, you could go broke trying to keep up with the crowd.

The Kid doesn't really like the trick-or-treating part, she loves to hand out the candy. She ventured out twice, once with me and once with Grandma, but returned because she loved being the helper kid who was making everyone enjoy their holiday.

One young man hesitated at our door after she stuffed a few treats into his bag. If I had to guess, he was about 10 or 11 years old himself. He started fumbling in his bag, pulled out a treat and said, "This is for her since she hasn't been out trick-or-treating for herself."

I think he was a little embarrassed by our effusive praise of his generosity. He didn't have to do that for our little Wonder Woman. She was having a great time and has a boatload of candy from her two tours of our block. But he wa…

Grandparenting a stuffy can be hard, rewarding work

I am not exactly sure where we got Hip the Hippo. I think The Kid found him on one of the community walks they take during the day at her pre-school. There isn't much remarkable about him, except the letters HIP on his back, which make it easy to remember the name of a stuffy we only see once a quarter or so.

Today, she decided that Hip wasn't feeling well and needed to spend the day with Papa. I was given her trusty Doc McStuffin's thermometer and firm instructions on how to tell if Hip was running a fever.

Whatever Hip's illness, he felt much better after we got on the road. We had a great time together, going to a press conference, eating lunch with Uncle David, writing and editing blog posts, checking out a gas meter, and drinking coffee. He felt well enough to try sneaking a slice of Buddy's Pizza on our way home from work.

I like the days The Kid decides I need to take a stuffy with me. It gives me a fun focus in what can be a monotonous work day.



If you see my kid walking around with a tire pressure gauge, you'll know why

I've had a slow air leak in the right front tire of my car for a few weeks now. I initially brushed off the loss of tire pressure as typical for colder weather, but the weather hasn't been much colder and I found a nail in the tire today. 
While I know I need to get it fixed, I will miss the chance to watch The Kid being a helper with my car. I showed her how to check the tire pressure and use the portable air compressor a few weeks ago. Today, she grabbed the gauge out of my hand and got right to work before I could unpack the compressor. 
She relishes every opportunity she gets to help, the other night it was putting the clothes from the washer into the dryer. She enjoys making pizzas for the family and stirring pancake batter. She likes to help carry groceries in from the car. She's trying to learn how to walk our dog Barney. She really is my number one farm hand.
Watching her use the tire pressure gauge, I started reminiscing about my grandfather. He was always findin…

Our family became whole because another family fell apart

A co-worker shared a powerful story from Huffington Post with me today. It was one adoptive mother's account of the days from meeting their birth mother to walking away from the hospital with their soon-to-be-adopted daughter in tow. I almost cried reading it because I can relate to the story in many ways, especially the feelings of uncertainty that are ever present until you see the amended birth certificate in the mail. 
"Bearing witness to her sorrow, I realize BabyMama is also experiencing three days of labor. As we text and grieve, we experience the contractions of the heart and body and mind together." -Kathleen Dennehy 
Our situation was different. The family in the story had to wait for three days in the hospital while the birth mother had to make the impossible decision to surrender her child for adoption. The Kid's foster mom had taken her home from the hospital and cared for her until her birth parent's legal rights to custody were terminated. We met h…

Difficult to discipline myself

An advocate of mine likes to remind me that my daughter is one of my greatest teachers. It sounded hokey the first few times she said it. Now, I agree completely.

I have ruminated on this lately because I just finished reading the book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline on the advice of the staff at The Kid's preschool. As a family, Grandma included, we're reading it so we are all approaching discipline for The Kid from the same place.

While I will not be giving a full book report, there are a few things that make the approach advocated in the book difficult for me to follow because it is not a part of my nature. For example, I am learning to tell The Kid when I notice her doing something we want to reinforce and to "notice" without judgement. Instead of saying, "good job clearing your plate," I have been saying things like, "I see you doing your part to help our family by clearing your plate."

The reasoning behind the exercise is sound, so it…

My Number One Farm Hand

Our neighbor has a huge old mulberry tree that hangs partially over our backyard. We had part of it trimmed earlier this year because we noticed the base of the tree is starting to rot, and we were afraid of the potential damage a falling tree can cause. The location of the tree in relation to our electric service wire going to our house prevented the tree trimming company from getting everything off that tree that was over our property. 
Friday night probably shouldn't have been a surprise then, but it was. A huge limb broke off, doing minor damage to our garage and knocking out our power for a few hours. Once our power was restored, work to clean up the backyard began immediately. I borrowed my grandfather's old chainsaw from my Aunt and Uncle to take care of the pieces I couldn't get with the garden loppers.
Tonight, we dragged the pieces I had cut out to the curb so the city crew who takes care of yard waste has more trees to make wood chips. The Kid wanted to help, a…

A random conversation at the Peninsula Grill

There were four of us seated at the bar last night at the Peninsula Grill, a regular on the end to my left and a couple at the other end on my right. I purposefully picked the middle of the bar so I could watch the Tigers game while journaling in peace. Between finishing my soup and my whitefish arriving, I had managed to fill almost an entire page.  

I write letters to The Kid in the journal. Someday, I will probably give it to her. Many of my letters are simple remembrances of the funny things she said, accounts of the astute observations she's made or me reminding her future self of the giving things she did as a four year-old. Some of the content is about my journey to becoming her Papa, and that can be deeply personal. She's also getting to an age that blogging all of it is no longer appropriate, she deserves her privacy, so I decided several months ago to start an old-school journal to preserve my memories.  
After dinner, which was excellent, I continued to pour my hea…

I never expected to see Frabby in that room!

My sister decided to give The Kid a four-foot tall stuffed frog for Christmas last year.

Christened Frabby, this frog was an immediate hit. The Kid and Frabby were inseparable for weeks. Frabby rode along a few times on the trip to take The Kid to pre-school so no one would be lonely.

After a few months, Frabby started changing. The frog was no longer a he but a she. Then Frabby started having behavior issues, with The Kid frequently in distress because the frog wasn't listening and putting Frabby in time out for hitting some of our other stuffed friends.

As a defensive measure, the adults in our house would try hiding Frabby, which worked for a time. But The Kid is a good finder, just ask her, and Frabby would be back in the mix after a few days of peace.

With all toys however, attention wanes, and Frabby's Most Favored Stuffy status was eventually revoked. Lately, Frabby has been content hanging out in the living room and watching our neighbors through the bay window.

Grandm…

Marching for hope in our neighborhood

The Kid and I walked our neighborhood this evening, but with a different purpose than usual. Many in our neighborhood gathered at Gesu Catholic Church to March for Hope.

Roughly this time last year, a federal judge who lives a few streets over, was shot on his front porch in a botched robbery attempt. His physical recovery from the single bullet to the knee took the better part of a year and extensive rehabilitation, and his emotional recovery was sped by his church community and immediate neighbors.

I don't know the judge, nor am I a member of his church Gesu Catholic. I'm not much of a protest guy either, I prefer to work behind the scenes. I read about the walk this morning, and almost forgot about it until Gladys started to do some work for a class she's taking. So we bundled up The Kid, and the two of us walked over to the church to support our neighborhood.

When we walked into the church, I was struck immediately with the knowledge that this was not a protest, but …

Yet another blog of parenting advice

A friend whose wife is expecting their first child was asking me for advice today. He's going to be a new dad, so he was asking in general terms because until you're in it, you really don't know what to ask for.
My knee-jerk reaction was to tell him to get rest. Lots of it, whenever you can from now until the kids are adults. Forget the idea of work/life balance too, because balance is a myth. Sometimes work will take priority, sometimes the kids will, and sometimes dad has to be a priority. If you're too concerned about hitting a false measure of balance, you're going to miss something.

And that was it. That's all I could come up with until I got in the car and scarfed down one of the sugar cookies I bought for myself as a treat that I had no intention of sharing. Here's what I came up with.
Avoid watching Caillou at all costs. For some reason, kids are absolutely mesmerized by him. No adult on that show holds the kid accountable to the boundaries they'…

Arming my daughter against the misogynist disguised as an ally

My feelings about who The Kid will become as she becomes an adult are complicated. She's a few days shy of her fourth birthday, so I have plenty of time to worry.

What I really want for her is to become a loving, trustworthy, kind, emotionally intelligent, smart-working woman who is able to take care of herself. I would love for her to go to college, unless she wants to go to Ohio State or University of Florida, then I hope she skips. I hope she finds a partner she can build a life with, who respects her for who she is and treats her like an equal because she is fully capable of living a satisfying life without being in a relationship. I am optimistic that she will find a career (or a few) that she enjoys and succeeds in, that will fulfill her and give her the freedom to explore life.

Job one for parents is to guide their children away from danger and propel them toward living their best life. Which means I have my work cut out for me, if what I want for my daughter really is wha…

Adventures in Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is somewhat of family tradition. It all started when our neighbors convinced my Grandmother (Ema the Great) that it was a fun way to exercise. We started borrowing skis from them, gliding through the pasture and woods behind their house.

We had been doing this for a few years when Ema the Great went out with us one day and came around a corner. Corners at the bottom of a hill are tough if you don't hit the trails often, and she certainly didn't get out as often as us kids did. She was going down a slight decline and couldn't steer away from a small sapling. Eventually, and I use that word purposefully because she was going so slow, she hugged the tree, thus ending her cross country skiing career.

I, however, had been bitten by the skiing bug. I helped teach my two of my cousins when they were just old enough to put on skis. When I had time, and in the days when metro Detroit used would get a decent amount of snow each winter, I would be on the trails f…

Where will listening to girl music take us? To more women's basketball games for starters

A few weeks ago, The Kid implored me to listen to girl music.

"What's girl music?" I asked.

"It's music that has girls singing, Papa," she stated with a hint of disbelief that I didn't intuitively know that.

So we started scanning FM stations, eventually finding girl music. The next day, I put on a playlist of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Aaliyah to avoid frustration when we couldn't find appropriate music over terrestrial radio.

I realized through this exchange that she is starting to figure out who she is in this world, and what makes her different from other people. I reflected on our conversation last month about why I have white skin and she has brown skin (hint, we are all made a little differently). I thought about my tendency to take her to sporting events that feature men, Detroit Tigers baseball, Detroit Red Wings hockey, and Oakland University Golden Grizzlies Men's basketball.

Talking about this with my wife, I d…