Sledding with my daughter!
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My 3 year old daughter loves to tell jokes. Her favorite one goes like this:
Her: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Her: Chicken burger.
Me: Chicken burger who?
Her: Chicken burger in your eye (que hysterical laughter)
Tonight she got on her kick of just doing the same bit over and over. Finally she says “your turn!”
Me: Knock knock.
Her: Who’s there?
Me: Chicken burger.
Her: Chicken burger who?
Me: Chicken burger in your ear.
She scowles at me for what seems like an eternity then says “That is not even funny.” So much for my career as a comedian at kid parties.
Kids never want to go to bed, they may miss all the fun after all. It is even worse during the summer months when the sun is up late. You use every argument in your arsenal to defeat their logic including “see the moon is up.”
Taking my two youngest into school on monday, the five year old yells out “oh no we have to go to bed!” I calmly asked why and he pointed to the moon in the morning sky and said “because the moon is out” and he began to giggle. Well played little one, well played.
So the weekend has come and you are sitting around trying to figure out what to do. Funny thing is as you throw out ideas you realize you can’t do this or that because one kid doesn’t like to. You finally realize you spent all the time you had for doing something just thinking about what to do. A few weeks back we were in this boat. At one point I looked at my wife and said “let’s throw the kids in the car and drive 3 hours to Niagra Falls, walk around for an hour and then come home.” After staring at me for a few minutes my wife shook her head no, that was a bit to spontaneous. Then she said “what about going canoing?” Here was an idea.
I pulled up the website to get the information and discovered that we would have to split into two canoes, but the six of us could call all fit in a raft. With all the information we needed we pack some snacks and the kids in the car and set off on our three to five hour tour. Our kids were not convinced, but kids don’t always get the choice of having fun with their parents. When we arrived at the livery the kids got excited as they saw all the boats, people, and the river itself. We suited up with our life jackets, each grabbed paddle, and hoped in the raft.
The first few minutes were uncertain. By that I mean the kids weren’t sure if they were supposed to be having fun or actually were. Than the big moment came, we were heading towards the side of the river and a giant log. The kids moblized and began paddling to avoid our sudden peril. We didn’t hit the log or the side of the river, but we did start spinning in a circle. From that moment on we had a blast. Each time we got stuck, it wasn’t complaining, it was all of us working as a team. The 3 year old paddled just as hard as the 10 year old.
Our shinning moment came after our half way point pit stop. We came to a spot in the river where you either got stuck on a sand bar and drug your craft over it, or you went through a narrow pass with a log sticking out just above the height of a boat. We only gave it a moments thought and surged ahead to the passage with the log. With several on lookers we paddled perfectly and all ducked at the moment the log passed over the boat. It was a moment we will cherish for many years to come. We did get stuck on rocks here and there, but our spirits could not be broken.
Being a parent is challenging, but just a few moments of everyone coming together makes it all worth the challenge. Enjoy the moments you get.
Any parent knows there are a million things you have to keep track of at any given time when it comes to raising kids. My wife is the master of keeping all the things straight, and planning ahead. The thing I am most noted for is that when I leave the house, I will shortly return to grab that one thing I forgot. I no sooner walk out the door and head for the car when I realize my [insert item] has been left in the house. I have the morning routine of getting the kids out of the house and too school and I can’t think of a week recently I haven’t forgotten my youngest sons’ glasses.
A few days ago I was getting my kids out of the house and off to school. Shortly after pulling out of the driveway I realized I had left my sons’ glasses at home. I began to turn the car around when my 2 year old daughter asked me where we were going. “I forgot your brother’s glasses,” I said. “Nooooo,” she said with a stern look on her face, “they in my backpack.” I responded by telling her that she had not, but then I reached into her backpack and realized there were his glasses. I couldn’t believe it, my 2 year old had more sense to organize things than I did.
Sometimes you wonder if you are making a difference in your kids lives, hoping they are learning what they need to know. My daughter clearly has learned organizational skills from her mother, which is encouraging for me that she hasn’t gotten them from my example. When the time comes for me to need care I know I am in good hands, although clearly I need more care than I thought.
I am always hard pressed to find a good resolution to make for the new year. Near the end of 2010 my kids started getting into the cooking shows that my wife and I have enjoyed. Weekends had started turning into one hour cooking challenges to see what they could help dad make. I tried a few new recipes and found I enjoyed experimenting, and more importantly my kids enjoyed helping. My kids also started raving about my homemade spaghetti sauce saying it should be world famous. So for 2011 I decided I would make at least one new recipe a week for the entire year.
Now that January has come to an end I thought I would recap what I have made and what we, as a family, have learned. January was a very productive month as I tried 14 new recipes, not all were successful. Let me run down the list of recipes I have tried so far.
- Black bean tex-mex dip
- Chicken tortilla soup
- Egg white omelette
- Crab cakes
- Baked rum apples with raisins
- Roasted red pepper hummus
- Strawberry butter cream
- Burgundy port tenderloin
- Beef stew
- Banana bread
- Sweet potato fries
- Sweet potato mash
From the list, items that were not a success where the sweet potato mash and the strawberry butter cream. The mash called for orange zest, and I added to much. The strawberry butter cream was not a complete failure, if you like extremely sweet things, but for my purposes it was no good. My error on the butter cream, which I was going to use to fill the crepes, was I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones which means there was a very sugary sauce included. The biggest success came from the amatriciana, which I actually modified for my kids and came up with two very different tasting sauces. The original recipe calls for using bacon which I made, but I also made a batch with Italian sausage which I knew the kids would like.
The best part of my resolution is how my kids are changing. I have found my kids more likely to try new things because their dad made it. Also, helping me cook and seeing the ingredients being used helps them understand what they are eating. This means instead of saying yuck right away they at least will taste what I made. I can already tell this is going to be a fun resolution to keep, especially since when I ask my kids what they want for dinner they don’t respond with the name of a fast food restaurant.
Kids are funny because they are so real. Yes I know they are real in the sense of psychically being there, but they don’t hide or sugar coat things when they are young. My four and two year old kids have recently been on a tear that has had me cracking up.
I was in the shower the other day and my son wanders into the bathroom. “Daddy, are there candles inside light bulbs?” The shower is where I wake up in the morning so I was taken aback for a moment and then I was able to mutter out “No, they don’t have candles in them.” He pressed on “So what is inside the light bulb?” Still trying to catch up to his level of energy I respond “filaments.” After a moment of silence I thought it was safe to relax when he says “You know one of the light bulbs is burned out.” I could hear my wife laughing in the other room, likely because she has said this to me several times, and I respond with a sigh “Yes, I know.” What made me break out laughing was the part where he says in a very stern voice “so when do you plan to fix this?”
When I get home from work during the week it is always hectic. My oldest usually has to be somewhere else and we need to get dinner on the table. Trust me, four hungry kids are not very patient as a mob. So it happens I was standing in the kitchen preparing dinner when I hear a little voice from behind me say “daddy?” I responded by calling my four year old by his name. “How did you know it was me,” he asked in a very surprised voice. I gently let him down by saying “because you called my name.” He place his palm on his face and said “oh no, wait, let me go back and try this again.” My wife and I couldn’t stop laughing for some time.
Standing in the kitchen, my 2 year old daughter came to me and asked for some milk. I put some in a cup with a lid and sent her back to her favorite show. A few minutes later my daughter came back in the kitchen looking very upset. Stomping her foot down she said “where my milk daddy!?!” Normally I would just respond with “where did you leave it,” but I noticed the cup was stuck in the crook of her right arm. “It is stuck in your arm,” I responded with a smile. Looking down at her left arm she got annoyed stomped her foot again, then looked into her right arm and began laughing as she walked away.
During the week I am always downstairs before any of my kids are awake, usually. My four year old has recently decided he is afraid of his shadow and doesn’t want to be on any floor of the house by himself. I usually come downstairs and get things like the kids lunches and backpacks ready before I wake them so it doesn’t take four times longer than it should. It has not failed that two to three times a week for the last few weeks my four year old walks down the stairs and then says “Helloooooo?” I responded with the usually “I am down here.” to which he replies, without fail each time “who is that?!?” This is usually followed by a sudden laugh and another response of “oooohhhh daddy it is you.”
Kids may bring stresses to your life, but the living comedy more than eases those times and makes life a lot more fun.
Being a parent has many challenges, and one that I would put at the top of my list is potty training. Each of my kids has posed a different challenge, and I have learned a great lesson from each. Of course it is great to learn from each experience, but it is also great to find a way to laugh when you can. One thing in common with all my kids as a motivator to become potty trained has been the ability to wear big kids underwear. Wearing big kids underwear when you still have accidents can create a big mess for mom or dad. Sure if they pee before getting to the potty, you can just take the underwear and throw it in the wash. However, should they miss getting to the potty when they have to poop you have a mess you don’t want in your washing machine.
As a first time dad, I wasn’t sure how to handle the poopy underwear. My wife showed me how to get the underwear mostly clean in the toilet. Sometimes you get lucky and it just rolls right out and you don’t have to really soak it to get it clean. Then there are the times you have to really soak them, and even flush the toilet to get the water pressure to pull away the mess. It was one of those “messy” times that I was cleaning my sons underwear. He was standing next to me making sure his favorite pair of underwear would come clean. I was nearly finished when I flushed for the third time to rinse one last time, but I didn’t have a good enough grip and they got pulled down the drain. I had no idea how to react and my son started to cry. “Daddy I won’t poopy in my pants again if you can get them back,” he cried. The only thing I could think to do was to flush the toilet again to see if it was clogged, but the bowl drained without incident.
After explaining to him I couldn’t get them back, he sat there silently. “It’s ok daddy, I know it was an accident,” he said to console me. I felt horrible but at the same time I wanted to laugh about the way his underwear just shot out of my hand and went into the abyss. My son proceeded to walk into his bedroom and brought back a fresh pair of underwear to which he said “this is now my favorite pair, don’t flush them down the potty.” Amazingly after the incident he only had a few more accidents in his pants. Even the few times he did he would watch me like a hawk as I cleaned his underwear. Fortunately I have never allowed another pair to slip through my fingers again. Funny how I am proud to say I only have lost one pair of poopy underwear in nine years as a parent, and I say it with a big smile on my face.
Kids have a interesting way of seeing things. I often enjoy seeing the world through their eyes because it provides a perspective I often forget I also once had. To kids, everything is an adventure and every thing they can’t see is a hidden world. Sure as adults we may see a locked door and wonder what is beyond the threshold. However, we also know the general physical boundaries of the building we are in and so don’t see entire worlds housed behind what is most likely a small closet. Although we may understand the constraints of physical space, we are still left to wonder what exactly is behind the door and our imaginations still fill in the blanks.
Our basement has a crawl space. Growing up, the crawl space in my parents house was dirt and I often imagined there were strange monsters living up there waiting for me to be left in the basement alone. However, the crawl space in my house has a poured concrete floor and has about four feet of height clearance. This makes for a great place to store lots of things but is a challenge since it is up four feet from the ground. In order to segregate off this storage area we have a double door between the furnace and crawl space from the play area of the basement. My kids can safely play all day while we rearranged the space and put more stuff up there for later use.
We were getting ready to put away some stuff for the summer when my wife said I should put a few things in the crawl space. My oldest son who was five at the time got really excited and asked if he could help. Since things were mostly organized I didn’t see the harm in taking him up there. I let him know in a little while we would put the outdoor stuff away. He was elated to say the least. He danced around the yard and kept telling mommy “I get to go in the crawl space with daddy!” As is usual with kids, he asked me every three minutes if I was ready to go in the crawl space until he finally declared “I know what is in there!”
I was a bit surprised and confused. Looking at him I said “all the stuff were aren’t using right now is down there”, but he shook his head no. “Daddy, I know the secret of the crawl space. I know what you are hiding down there.” The whole time he said this his little body shook with excitement. I asked him what he thought I was hiding down there to which he responded “Gold and ice cream, but I won’t tell mommy about those. But that isn’t all that is down there.” I tried to keep from laughing, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. The thought of having gold hidden away in my basement made me blurt out “could you show me where the gold is, I could use it.” I was again assured that my secret was was safe with him as long as I gave him some of the ice cream, perhaps it was even golden ice cream. There was no arguing with him on this point so I asked what else he thought I had down there.
Cordless phones were a great invention because they allowed you to get things done while you talk on the phone. One day my in-laws had called to ask me if I could find a microwave they had given us so a friend could use it. I talked to my father-in-law on the phone while I searched and eventually found the microwave. My son pulled me down so we were looking eye to eye and took a deep breath. He gauged my attention and when he decided I was listening closely he said “there is a tunnel to grandma’s house down there and you go there all the time while we play in the basement.” I fell to my knees on the grass and tried as hard as I could to keep from bursting out in laughter. Of all the things he could have come up with, I had never seen this one coming. His eyes burned into mine with an excitement so great I knew it would crush him if I laughed and I began to worry about how crushed he would be when he didn’t find any of the three things down there he expected to find.
I told him it was time to go down there and see just what was hiding in the crawl space and he eagerly agreed. I lifted him up onto the floor of the crawl space and climbed in after him. We made our way to the back where he indicated we would find the tunnel and all we found was a wall. He looked a bit puzzled, but did not give up so easily. He made his way as best he could around the outer wall and when he didn’t find the tunnel he asked me where the hidden door was. Needless to say he wasn’t disappointed there was not tunnel, in fact it made him plot how we would dig a tunnel to grandma’s house in the future. He then set out to find the gold and ice cream, but again was left with only a bunch of things from our house we hadn’t recently needed. He took my face in his hands and asked me where I was hiding the treasure. As I told him I didn’t have either down in the basement he looked a little disappointed. “I do know we have ice cream in the freezer,” I said, “and maybe we can have some with mommy and your brother.” His face relaxed and he started laughing. “OK daddy, you can keep your treasurer hidden for now. Someday I WILL find it!”
My kids inspire me each day not just to see what is in front of me, but to look beyond the physical constraints of our space and explore new worlds. I keep this story close in my mind when I am told something doesn’t exist or cant be done, and instead of giving up I look for new possibilities. Maybe someday we will find that hidden gold, or maybe the treasure is in the adventure itself.
When my first son was eighteen months old we decided to take him camping. Camping was something my wife and I loved to do and we wanted our son to experience the fun. As first time parents we were a nervous wreck. Camp fires are one of the best parts of the camping experience, but with an eighteen month old running around they are a source of great fear. With two parents and only one child we were able to safely contain him and had a ton of fun. When our second son was eighteen months and our first was four we braved it again. Again we were terrified of having a fire, so we limited it to minimal time, but we survived and had a blast.
When our third son was born we couldn’t bring ourselves to get back out to the campground. When it was a 2-1 and even 1-1 ratio we felt we were still in control, but being outnumbered by little ones was just a bit overwhelming. Just when we thought we were getting to a point where we could take three, our daughter was born and the parent-kid ration of 1-2 sealed the deal, we would be sitting out the camping scene. Of course we couldn’t stay away forever. My wife and I were convinced by some friends we needed to get together and go camping this summer. Knowing it had been over four years since our last trip, we decided to do a test run of just our family so we knew what we were getting into.
We jammed the van full of our gear and other things, trust me there was not an inch of unused space in the van. Picking the camp site was the first challenge. There were many strong opinions about which site was the best and the kids kept saying “just a pick a site as long as it is mine.” We chose the site and the phase II of fun began. Kids love helping, and our two and four year olds helped with great fervor get the tent up. After a lot of re-setting up poles the tents were finally standing so we took a family bike ride. The great thing about camping is there really is nothing you have to do, you just hang out. The moment of truth came when we lit the fire to get ready for dinner. My wife was a nervous wreck, but the kids for the most part stayed behind the circle of chairs we had created as a barrier. We cooked dinner, made smores and other camping treats and just relaxed as a family, well at least as much as you can relax with little ones in the forest.
Bed time came and my two oldest boys climbed into their tent. We laid the two little ones down on either side of us in our tent and turned out the lights. The forest was nice and silent. “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDYY!!!!” came the blood curdling screen that woke me from my sleep. My eyes couldn’t focus and it was pitch black, I couldn’t figure out where I was. Then I remembered I was camping and my wife was telling me the boys needed help and to hurry. I stumbled to the front of the tent, got my shoes on while opening the tent and saw my boys flashlights on in their tent. “What’s wrong” I called over to them. “A raccoon is attacking our tent!” they called back. While this exchange was going I was climbing out of the tent, and lost my footing. I crashed into the tree in front of our tent getting a nice cut on my knee and scraping up my arm. I circled their tent with a flash light and didn’t see any animals, but that was no comfort to my sons.
After moving them and their gear over to our tent, we all finally settled down and my wife and I had a good silent chuckle. In the morning after everyone was awake, my sons recounted their harrowing tale. We inspected the tent and found a bunch of small muddy footprints on the back and one side of the tent. A raccoon had pawed at the tent. My sons had seen an episode of “iCarly” where the older brother went looking for a beavcoon (part beaver, part raccoon) and swore it was that which tried to get them. For the rest of the day until we left to go home, every time they heard an animal making sound all four kids would shout out “BEAVCOON!” Amazingly they all are ready to go camping again, but said they will sleep with mom and dad next time. I am sure when they have grown and have their own children the story of the beavcoon will be recounted, with many more harrowing details of course.