Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to the WND Top Ten - Dad's Cooking

What Now?

OK, it's been way too long since my last post, so I am back at it, with #3 on my own personal What Now Dad top ten. This post was one of my first as my new role of part-time-stay-at-home Dad was starting to take shape. I think over the past 3-4 months I have gotten much better at my new role, but things were rough at the start, as you will read.

What's For Dinner Dad?

Tonight was one of those nights that make me think being a part-time stay-at-home Dad is going to be more difficult than I thought. My better half was on a day trip for work and was headed home a little later than she thought. The girls and I were knee deep in some home cleaning (the family has recently decided to get our house picked up and put in order, which I love!!!). Yesterday we tackled the girls room, and today it was the toy room getting the home make-over. Well, dinner was now on me and when we finished our room cleaning it was already 5:15pm, and I didn't have a clue what we were going to eat. If I would have just remembered what my wife had told me and cooked up a little pasta thing would have been fine, but I decided to improvise a little. I went straight to the freezer, the one place I used to call home for the night's dinner plans before I was married. There was nothing, nothing at least that I could handle. Then, in the back I saw something, it was frozen solid and looked a little like taco soup, one of my favorites. Mind you, it was frozen solid and by now it's 5:30pm. So, I dump the frozen block of something into a pot and turn the stove burner up to the max. Needless to say this was going too slow, so I then transferred the frozen block into a bigger pan and threw a top on it. The girls were getting anxious and hungry so I called audible #2 and threw together some cheese quesadillas and apple sauce (that's healthy right?). While they chowed down I was still holding out hope for my frozen something or other. After it started to smell like something was burning I decided to take a look. Not only was it not close to being ready to eat, but I discovered what I thought was taco soup was actually spaghetti sauce. How someone can make this mistake is beyond me, but as I have been telling my wife I must have been in another state of mind or something. So, with my options for myself running low I turn off the stove and abandon the burnt frozen mess and look at my other options. It turns out my plan B for the girls was not enough and they are still hungry. I then go to an old standby and try to throw together several items to make something that, after eating, does not remember anything that anyone would eat. In this case it was tortillas. cheese, ketchup and pepperoni, or as I was calling it, pizza. This idea was more horrible than it sounds. Did I mention I pounded down two glasses of wine during this whole process. Thankfully, as I was finishing off my so called pizza (oh yes, I ate it...and my stomach is feeling the effects as I write this!) my angel, my goddess, my wife walks through the door. Before I can even fully explain the events that have taken place up to that point she has pasta boiling. Before you know it all my girls are eating a wonderful dinner while I sit at the computer and write down what happened. I have a long way to go, but I think my heart was in the right place. Now I just hope I don't get sick later tonight.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WND Top Ten - My Wife

What Now?

For the next top ten Whatnowdad post I picked this one from February 23 because it describes, in a very simple and cute way, the relationship I have with my best friend and soul mate. As I have said on a few occasions I could dedicate a whole blog to my wife and what she means to me. This post is just one example why I am entirely devoted to this woman.

There are a few certainties I have in my life and one of them is that I married the perfect woman for me. We are so compatible it is scary. One of the ways I know this is that we have the same sense of humor, which is probably only funny to us. Last night we were catching up on some of our shows on DVR and my wife was enjoying a chocolate peppermint patty. She then looked at me to say something very important and I turn to her and see her mouth surrounded by a thin, chocolate ring. This is funny to me on so many levels, but mostly because our 5 year old daughter has this look constantly. In fact, I swear she sometimes gets this look without even eating chocolate...I don't know how but it seems I am always cleaning off her face. So to see my wife, a 38 year old woman, with the same look made me laugh instantly. And when I pointed it out to her she too started laughing. We both laughed so hard we were crying. It was the second time last night we did that, but I probably shouldn't talk about what made us laugh the first time. She is my soul mate, my best friend and the other half of my comic duo. I am more than certain she was the one I was supposed to meet and I love her more than she will ever know.


Monday, August 24, 2009

WND Top Ten

What Now?

This post is #90 for my little blog. Not much of a milestone number I realize, but it does mean that I am only 10 posts away from hitting number 100, which in just about any setting is big. Right now however I don't feel super creative and/or inspired to come up with new, awesome, funny, insightful posts. So, here is what I came up with.


Here is what I figure. When I started this blog nobody knew me, nobody read it, and it was pretty much something I did to kill a little time. In the 90 posts since I have actually followers, people are commenting and I have been introduced to a blogging world I never really new existed. The 10 posts I pick will help catch people up on who I am and what I am, at number 10 is my very first post dated February 10, 2009.

Welcome to the start of what I am hoping is a well written, well received, daily journal of one man's life from this point forward. I am joining the world wide phenomenon of blogging in an attempt to release some creative energy and maybe, just maybe, create something that becomes bigger than I can possibly imagine.For my first blog I thought I would list 25 things about myself that will help you, the reader, find out where I have come from and where I am at now so that you will come back to see where I end up going. So, without further ado...

1. I am married to the most wonderful woman on the planet. I could use this whole list to talk about her and at the same time know I don't need to.

2. I have two smart, beautiful girls that are the center of my universe. I can't imagine life without them.

3. I live in the same town I grew up in and love it. I spent 7 years in bigger cities and maybe someday I'll live in one again, but for now I am a small town boy and loving it.

4. My parents still live in my hometown and having them so close so my family can see them as often as we do means more to me than they can possibly know.

5. I am the oldest of three kids with a younger sister and brother. I could not be more proud of the adults they have grown up to be and while we don't talk as much as some siblings, I love them to death.

6. I have 5 nephews and two nieces. All of which hopefully consider me one of their favorite uncles.

7. I could not have hand picked better in-laws.

8. I am currently in a career that is deeply effected by the current economic crisis, thus the part of my blog description "part time stay at home dad."

9. Before I started my current job I worked in sports marketing for several teams including several in semi-pro leagues, one from the NHL and a collegiate athletic department.

10. I grew up loving sports and competing in many, including running hurdles for my college track and field team.

11. I have lived in 4 states and traveled to many other, and hands down I think Idaho is the best in the US.

12. I have had several pets in my lifetime and I think my cat Muffin from childhood is my favorite.

13. I currently have a 10 year old Australian Shepard mix named Maggie. This dog has frayed every nerve I have and then some and I always think back to how my lovely wife tricked me to get her.

14. While always maintaining a decent level of fitness since college, I have recently jumped started things and will be running my first marathon this May.

15. Did I mention how awesome my wife is, and that she inspires me everyday to be the best I can be.

16. My girls, let's call them K and R, provide me with a lifetime of entertainment every day.

17. The house we currently live in is about 50% updated. I look forward to doing the other 50% while at the same time wishing fairies would come and do it for me in the middle of the night.

18. I have attended several PGA tournaments with my father and brother including the Phoenix Open, The Masters, The PGA Championship, The Ryder Cup and last year the US Open (the one that Tiger won on a bum knee). We plan to seeing the British Open as well so we have a clean sweep of all the majors.

19. Last year I rode the Seattle to Portland cycling classic with my Dad. 200 miles in 2 days. He kicked butt on a bike that is almost as old as I am.

20. When it comes to music I like just about everything but have a special place in my heart for hard rock (especially from the 80's!).

21. I also love just about all movies, but nothing beats the Star Wars saga.

22. I have my girls hooked on Star Wars as well....HECK TO THE YEAH!

23. I raced Dan O'Brien in the hurdles back in college. Guess who won?

24. I have many, many friends. Some I don't stay in touch with as much as I would like, but when we do talk it's like we never missed a beat.

25. I look forward to seeing where this thing takes me...hopefully you will too.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Break out the tissues, it's back to school time

Fatherhood Friday!

This is my post from last Thursday, but it fits nicely with the new Fatherhood Friday theme going on over at dad-blogs. Go check it out and read a lot of great dad and mom blog posts...and now, the back to school post from WND.

What Now?

Last night my wife and I attended an informational meeting for the K+ program our youngest daughter will be attending before her kindergarten class this upcoming school year. It sounds like a great program that will enrich her kindergarten experience and set her up for a great start to her educational journey. What it means for my wife and I is even bigger....One drop-off and one pick-up. The one-drop off/one pick-up means that instead of driving all over our little town to take each of our children to their school, daycare, babysitter, after school program and snack run we drop them both off at the same time each morning for school and pick them both up at the same time after school.

When you are a parent it's the small things that make up the biggest joys in life. Like not having to make lunches for them anymore. Hot lunches for both kids at school means I have just about 10-15 more minuets each morning to devote to sleep, dishes, laundry or even coming up with my next wonderfully creative idea for this blog.

Another great parent morning time saver is when your kids can make their own breakfast. We are close on that one, but the fear of our oldest attempting to microwave her own bacon keeps us up at night, so it might be a few years before that actually comes to pass.

I think these little time victories are only on my mind as we draw closer to the school year. For my wife I can tell something much bigger is brewing insider her head. I saw it happen two years ago when our oldest child started kindergarten. "How can we have a child starting school, she was just a baby the other day, how will she get along without us for most of her day" are just a few of the verbalized thoughts I heard from my wife back then.

You can take that anxiety and turn it up about 10 notches now as the baby of the family starts school. I am thinking of breaking out the heavy duty sweater that day to help absorb the flood of tears that my wife is sure to expel. It is sure to be a water works show only before seen at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas that could last the better part of the day. My wife has already scheduled a day off from work so she can sit outside the school, stalker style, to make sure everything is safe and sound. Call it a kindergarten stake out, Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez style (there is a reference I bet you wouldn't expect!)

Thankfully my youngest child is more than ready for this and should, if history is any indicator, treat her first day in school like any other.....and if she makes her own breakfast that morning it will be me she sees crying, tears of time victory joy!!!


Monday, August 17, 2009

The OTHER great race

What Now?

Yesterday, at the World Track and Field World Championships, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won the 100 meter dash with a time of 9.58, shattering his own world record in the process. Bolt, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, once again showed why he has the title of "world's fastest man" by blowing away the competition.

And yet, on the other side of the world another race at a local high school track was about to take place. A race that, in my little world, makes the world championships seem rather unimportant. This race would pit father against daughter, a rivalry just starting to take shape, but will no doubt be ranked among the best in sports, at least in my daughter's mind.

For anyone who developed an interest in sports at a young age the biggest rival you faced was your parent(s), especially if you are the first born. Sibling rivalries are big, but don't really develop until all the siblings reach a similar level of ability. Heck, I could whip my younger brother in just about any sport invented for the first 18 years of his life. But I would say the last 15 years things have changed big time in the only sports we dare to compete in, like golf, ping-pong and racquetball. I would challenge him to a game of basketball, but I'm afraid I would injure myself beyond repair.

As the oldest child in my family it was my Dad that posed the biggest sports challenge I could ever face. To me he was like Larry Bird, Dan Marino, Don Mattingly and Carl Lewis all rolled into one super athlete. No matter the sport, he would always get the best of me. Until that one day that will live in sports history, or my mind, forever. The day I finally beat him in basketball. I don't remember the details, but I certainly remember the feeling. I have to believe it's right up there with winning a Super Bowl, an NBA title or a World Series. I still don't know if I beat him legitimately or if he threw the game, but for me things changed from that day forward. And now as a father I know they changed for him too.

How do I know this, well let's get back to the big race shall we? I thought it would be fun for the whole family to head on down to the local track and run around a little. We could probably tire out the kids a little and if I could avoid pulling every muscle in my body it would be a good day. My 7 year old is built very much like me, tall and all legs. I know she is fast. I've seen her leave friends and cousins in the dust when they race. When she suggested we race I'm sure you could see the glimmer in my eye a mile away.

We lined up at the start of the 100 meter dash. I told her I would give her a 5 second head start, just to be fair. To be honest I thought I could probably catch her by the 50 meter mark and then jog it in for the win. We get set, we get to our marks and I yell 'GO!"....and she is off. I count to 5 very loud as I see my little girl tear up the track...oh shit, I'm gonna really have to run now. At 5 I take off, determined to catch her.....better go faster.....come on dad, better catch her. Whoaaa, she is really fast. Don't hurt yourself old man, this is just for fun remember. Amazing how many thoughts I'm putting together for this short race, eh?

At this moment I know what my Dad felt like when we would play. On one hand you love seeing your child compete, give it everything they have to beat you. On the other you do still have a little pride, and you don't want to just hand them victory, you want them to earn it.

So, how did the race end you ask? You mean it wasn't posted on right under the world championship results...that sucks! Well, let's say it took just about everything I had in the tank to just nip her at the finish line. We did race one more time, and in that race she got me....and if I let up at the end she will never know, nor will she care because she beat her dad and that feeling will stay with her forever.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow

What Now?

In the past week my girls and their two little friends have said very, very funny things about their parents and our hairyness (I know hairyness is not a word, but it works here). These are not the first hair conversations they have had, and I am guessing they won't be their last either. When it comes to their parents the only thing kids seem more interested in talking about besides how hairy they are is the shape, size and downright odd nature of their private parts. Maybe because besides the amount of hair and the difference in private parts both kids and parents are pretty much the same. Whatever the reason is I love it because it gives us such gems as these:

Conversation #1 - I took all four kids to the local pool on a very hot day last week. I usually let the older girls loose to have their fun on the slides and diving board while I hand out in the shallow pool with the younger kids. My normal routine is to stand there and continually say "yes" every time one of the little ones asked if I will watch them do something ("WND, will you watch me while I duck my head under water....PLEASE!!!"). On this particular day I was just standing there and I notice the other parents little one staring at me. I ask her if she would like me to watch he do something and she replies "no, but you know what?" "What?" I ask. "My dad is really, really hairy!" This is funny for two reasons. 1) I am about as hairless as lizard. Besides all the normal spots I don't have much hair to speak of at all. When I do let the old beard go it resembles Cliff Clavin from the Cheers episode where all the guys have a beard growing contest (if you don't remember that show just think of dabbing your face with glue dots, then rolling around the floor of a barber shop...that is me with a beard. 2) Her dad is hairy, and I mean Sasquatch hairy. I am pretty convinced if you saw him 50 yards away you couldn't tell if he was shirtless or wearing a sweet black sweater he got for Christmas.

Conversation #2 - This comes from our friends who watch all four girls the other half of the day. The mom sent me an email saying "I won't go into how this conversation between the two little ones started, but it ended with your little girl saying her dad has really hairy armpits" So where I lack hair just about everywhere else on my body I more than make up for under my arms, at least according to my little girl. This one is not as funny as #1 until I heard the first part of the conversation. The mom said her little girl, out of the clear blue sky, tells my little girl that her mom had really, I was half expecting her to say armpits, which in itself would be funny and a little embarrassing for the mom. Instead the word VAGINA followed that sentence. Hmmmmm, awkward, ya think? My first thought is I've got nothing to follow that, no a joke, not a pun, not a personal experience I can share...nothing. My next thought was what in the hell were the girls talking about to lead them to that sharing session? What did come of out my mouth was something to the effect of "girls, let's get your stuff and"


Monday, August 10, 2009

Hey Sis, bad news...Mom and Dad are back!

What Now?

My family is sooooo very lucky to be living in the same town as my parents, and I say this very sincerely for those of you sitting out there thinking "oh boy, here come the sarcastic punch line!" But it's true! I know many, many couples who would shutter at the thought of sharing the same home town to habitat in, but for us it is wonderful.

How can this be you ask? Don't they drive you crazy, aren't they always telling you how to raise your kids, don't they say you your house is too small, messy, ugly, close????? How in the hell can you like living that close to them?

Well, my parents just may the the perfect combination of involved, non-judgemental and respectful. This, I must stress, makes their relationship with my wife, our kids and I about as pleasant as one could hope for. Example: My wife and I both had a triathlon race this weekend out of town. We were fully planning on bringing our kids and finding a babysitter to watch them while we swam, bike and ran our asses into the ground. about a month ago my folks asked if they could keep the kids this weekend because my sister was dropping her kids off on her way out of town and they wanted all four of them around to play and have fun. ARE YOU SHITTING ME? Who offers this? What was their real motivation here?

Nothing. That is just the way they are. Not only did they keep all four kids, ages 4-7, for 3 days and nights, but they had a blast with them. The weekend rundown went a little something like this:

Mini Golf
"Hotel For Dogs" on DVD
"Night At The Museum 2" at the theater
Dinner at McDonald's
Stops at the ice cream shop
Rides in Dad's convertible
Trips To The Park
Late nights and early mornings
Enough snacks to keep a small army moving for months

And that was just on Saturday!!! So you can only imagine my girls reaction when they were told my wife and I were back in town. That went over like a fart in church.

I am guessing that most kids don't live this close to their grandparents, and if they do they all don't have the same relationship that my kids share with their Nana and Papa, and for that I feel very fortunate. None of my grandparents are still alive, and I lived about 300 miles away from them when they were alive. Growing up we would see them about twice a year, and I remember how much I loved those trips as a kid. As an adult I saw them less, except for the one year I lived about 30 miles away from my grandmother, one of my favorite years of all time. My kids see my parents about every day and enjoy every second of it.

So thanks Mom and are the world's best grandparents!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bad influence

What Now?

My wife and I try so hard to set a good example for our girls. The biggest compliment any parent can get from other people is "your children are so well behaved" or "your child is so caring" or "We just love your child, she is very nice". It's amazing how all of our efforts and hard work can be tossed aside like an AC/DC record at a disco party. Who would dare undermine our efforts to raise the world's perfect children....THEIR FRIENDS!

Yes, like Lex Luther is to Superman....your kids friends are constantly looking for ways to turn your sweet, lovable child into a super villain with the power to whine, pout and throw temper tantrums that shake the foundations to the ground.

Don't take this comment the wrong way, I like my kids' friends. If I didn't I would do everything in my power not to let them see each other. It's just they seem to get away with behavior that they shouldn't, and it's rubbing off on my kids, and it drives me fucking crazy. When I see their friends act like this I have to do everything in my power not to let them have it. It makes things really hard when my girls copy this behavior, because I don't hold it back for them and they get all my rage that is pent up.

The biggest problem I have with it is that my kids know better. They don't act like that until they spend some time with these friends, then they transform into their friends, right before my eyes.

The good news is the friends I speak of go to a different school, so in a month when my children restart their educational journey the time they spend with the "bad influence" will be limited. Of course, my problem increases by 100% when they encounter all those other kids at school. If only other parents were as perfect as us, in the fantasy land we live in anyway.


Monday, August 3, 2009

I love it!

What Now?

For me one of the greatest times of being a parent is discovering that your child shares the same love of certain things that you did when you were the same age. Now I will admit I have gone to great lengths to make sure my girls are exposed to lots of the things that I loved back then and for the most part still love today, but it is "mostly" their own personal choice on if they will like them as much as I did/do or not. So, for your reading pleasure I have compiled a list of some of those things...and they are:

1. Star Wars - For me the greatest movie ever made. Yes, the movies now have better special effects, better sound, and yes, even better writing, but...I have yet to see a movie that makes me feel the same way I did after watching Star Wars at the tender age of 6. My girls took to these movies instantly, and we watch all six of them together often. Now that Cartoon Network has introduced the Star Wars "The Clone Wars" TV series we can share brand new adventures from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

2. Legos - Legos were around a long time before I played with them and they will be around even longer after my girls have outgrown them. They are the perfect toy. You get to build a toy, play with the toy, take apart the toy, and repeat. That could be kid toy nirvana wrapped in cardboard. Now you can buy your legos in themes like....Star Wars. Are you kidding me? That is like sex and eating for adults!

3. School House Rock - Back in the day these great little cartoon shorts were wedged between your favorite Saturday morning programs to keep you from seeking fresh air and exercise. The good news was each episode was based on something educational, either history, math, gramme, money or science was cleverly disguised with catchy songs sung cool cartoon characters. The only way kids of today can see these classics is on VHS or DVD, which of course I have. The whole family has our favorites...mine is linked to the title. "Rockin' and a-rollin', splishin' and a-splashin', Over the horizon, what can it be"

4. The Banana Splits Show - I would run, cheetah fast, home from school in order to catch this show created by the fine folks at Hanna Barbera who also gave us such classics as The Flintstones, Jonny Quest and Hong Kong Phooey (God, was there anything better for kids television than Hanna Barbera? The answer would be NO!). Only because of the addition of Boomerang, the classic cartoon network, to the infinite list of cable channels can kids see this show (I don't even think it's on DVD...WHAT?). For some reason my wife thinks this show is mindless crap that is rotting our girls I make sure to pepper in a little School House Rock to even things out!

5. Disneyland - My family took lots of road trip vacations. I don't think I actually got to fly to a vacation destination until we took a trip to Hawaii my sophomore year in high school...and we only did it then for obvious reasons. Two of these trips were to the happiest place on earth, the magic kingdom...DISNEYLAND! As a parents we have already made that many trips ourselves and are planning another one this winter. I think you are either a Disneyland family or you are not and thank your Micky Mouse ears we are. If I had the same expressions tattooed on my face at that age that I see on my kids then I know how happy my parents were taking us there. What is great is riding on the same rides with my girls that I rode on with my parents and still feeling like I'm seven years old. Man I just love that place.

There are many, many others...but these are probably my top 5. Whenever you find connections like this with your children you build bonds that last a lifetime and at the same time relive your own childhood. Can it really get any better than that?