Category Archives: Dad stuff

I now have daughters aged 13,14, and 15. Can I have moment of silence please…?

Macie turned 13 on Saturday.

So I now have daughters aged 13, 14, and 15.

Can I have a moment of silence please?

And by moment of silence I don’t mean prayer or some sort of governmental ordained “quasi prayer but not REALLY a prayer if you get what I mean wink wink so we don’t offend anyone” or a “time of meditation” or any mumbo-jumbo like that.

I just mean can I have a moment of silence.

One moment.

You can pick when it is, it doesn’t really matter to me, because beggars can’t be choosers right, but just any small moment of silence.

Is it too much to ask that a Daddy can get just ONE MOMENT OF SILENCE!

Just to clear my head.

One.

Small.

Moment.

Of.

Silence.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family. But they are just so loud. What with all the WORDS, and the questions, and the doors opening and the doors closing and the stomping, and the shrieking, and the singing, and the dancing, and the fussing, and the Skyping, and the giggling, and the talking, and the phones, and the beeping, and the buzzing, and the Ipads, and the Ipods, and the IPhones, and the TV and the texting and the everything…

Shhhhhh…

Ahh, that’s nice.

Wait a minute, where is everybody, why is it so quiet around here?

 

Looking at life through “green-colored ‘noculars”

When Madison and I take her annual birthday trip to Disney, one of the highlights is watching the show in front of the castle. We’ll watch the show three or four times, and her comment every time is the same. “Don’t they do a great job.”

Every year she carefully packs her green plastic “noculars” so she can “see better.” I have tried to look through the green noculars. You cannot see better using them, but she is convinced that she can.

Early on, I tried several times to get her to put the green ‘noculars down. Partially I think because I was a little bit embarrassed that my teenage daughter was watching the Cinderella Castle show through green plastic binoculars and I was concerned what other people would think of me because what she was doing. Partially because I was afraid that she was missing out on the Disney World experience because she was not doing it “right.”

But here’s the thing…she was doing it “right.”

For her.

Frankly she has a huge time using her green ‘noculars at every show, I don’t think she could have any more fun. The green plastic “noculars” are part of the fun.

And that’s ok.

The thing I continually learn from Madison is that just because things don’t happen the way they always have or the way I would like them to happen doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it’s just different.

Sometimes you just gotta be willing to look at life through “green-colored ‘noculars”

The night the Beautiful Bride almost didn’t make it over the hill. But then laughed so hard she almost wet herself.

The Beautiful Bride has been at America’s Mart in Atlanta for the last few days (118 hours but who’s counting…) She and her younger sister Jennifer came home last night, leaving a couple of the Show Offs Art in the ATL to finish up the market. The Beautiful Bride has 48 hours to catch her breath before she heads to Dallas on Wednesday morning for the marker there. (But I’m not pouting about that yet, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves….)

She called me last night on the way home to tell the story of the adventure that she and Jennifer had just had. Seems that she and Aunt Jen can have had a bucketful of adventures in the last couple of days, but the one last night takes the cake.

They were just passing through Chattanooga on the way home, filled up on Olive Garden and Hershey Bar’s they took from the SOA booth when the fun began.

They were headed up the hill, into the darkness that is southeast Tennessee on a winter night when the car began to lurch. Cue the banjo music…

(I am paraphrasing the conversation below, because when The Beautiful Bride recounted it to me, she was laughing so hard I am certain that she wet herself.)

“What’s wrong with the car?” said The Beautiful Bride.

“We’re out of gas,” replied Aunt Jen.

“No we’re not…”

Lurch.

Grunt.

Lurch.

“No seriously, I don’t know how his happened, but we are out of gas.”

Up the hill they went.

Into the darkness

Slower.

Lurch.

Slooowweer….

Downshift…3rd…2nd…1st

Pull onto the shoulder, hazards on.

Five MPH inching up the hill.

(Can you hear “I think I can, I think I can…)

Then another sound to go with the gas tank going dry…this one like a freight train starting up “Bump…bump…bump…bump.”

Very rhythmic…And then for some reason The Beautiful Bride found humor in this and began to sing along…

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

Top of the hill…

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

Crest the hill, and then a bit faster. The car is completely out of gas.

“Wait…there’s light at the exit…just keep going.”

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

“We’re…out…of…gas.”

They rumble down the shoulder, and Aunt Jen arm wrestles the now dead car (no power steering) off the exit and points it down the hill towards the somewhat-scary-but-any-port-in-a-storm Kangaroo market.

They make it to the bottom of the heel, Aunt Jen is dragging the steering wheel to the right to take a wide swing into the parking lot and they silently slide up to the pump, tapping the brakes to bring the fuel less wonder to a halt.

“Well, we’re here…”

And they exploded into laughter which was still resonating 30 minutes later when they called.

I think the thing that made me happiest (outside of the fact that they were not squashed like a bug as they moved at 5 MPH on the shoulder of the interstate) is the fact that The Beautiful Bride can laugh at almost any situation. She realizes that sometimes things happen that you can’t control and many times your options are to 1) freak out; or 2) laugh until you nearly wet yourself.

And I am so glad that can nearly wet herself almost any time…

Did the bunny come and get my tooth last night?

We went to a Christmas party the other night with some people we don’t know really well and had the conversation you typically have when you meet someone for the first time:

Me         …Nice to meet you too…

Them    So do you have any children?

Me         Yes, we have three daughters; two are freshmen in high school, and a 7th grader.

Them    Oh…you have twins?

Me         No…they are a year apart because Madison is….

At this point in the conversation there is usually an “I’m so sorry” or “That must be hard” comment. And I understand the discomfort that comes from hearing about a child with the challenges she has. It’s not normal and people tend to get a bit unsettled because they do not know what to say.

It’s ok. No need to feel weird. We have processed all of this a thousand times and I must admit, sometimes the whole thing still feels weird to me. So no worries on being uncomfortable hearing it the first time.

We didn’t plan it this way. She was born healthy. But to quote the doctor at Vandy when she was sick, “We don’t know why, but sometimes crazy stuff happens.”

Yes it does.

There are undoubtedly a lot of things that are harder for our family than for the average family. (Whatever that is…) But here’s the thing, I also know that there are a ton of things that are better for our family than most. Just a few of my favorites are:

  1. Santa will come to our house every year. Forever.
  2. DisneyWorld will always be a magical place.
  3. I can always get a kiss good-bye.
  4. A helium balloon can bring incredible joy.
  5. And I will always hear things like what Madison said one night after the “Tooth Fairy” came to her room and she got her mixed up with the Easter Bunny:  Did the bunny come and get my tooth last night?

Chunky Milk

Parenting involves lots of responsibility and decision making. Actually as I mentally run down the list of things that fall solely to the dad, it seems to me that nearly every decision is mom’s and frankly she “decides” to let dad’s be in charge of only five things: vomit, bugs, spiders, snakes, and chunky milk.

While the first four are obvious, it took me a few years to comprehend fully the “chunky milk” responsibility. Basically anytime there is a school lunch thermos that has spent the weekend in the back of the car, or maybe a bed-time glass of milk that get set behind the night stand for a couple of weeks, dad gets called into action. And it is not in the first part of the disposal of the milk that is the problem; it is in digging around at the bottom of the glass to get the chunky parts that are holding on for dear life. I have discovered it is this dairy adhesive that, when separated, stinks with the stench of a thousand-year-old skunk stuffed into the back of a 1974 Chevy parked on the side of the road in July in western Arizona . That is bad part of the chunk milk responsibility.

The only thing worse than clearing out the chunky milk from the nasty glass is hearing your lovely wife say, as she conveniently walks back in the room to see you wiping your tears and clenching your gut from the unholy stank, “Oh honey I meant for you to throw that away. Our little pumpkin cannot possibly use that again. Didn’t you smell it when you cleaned it out?”

Makes me long for more vomit, snakes, spiders, and bugs.

The biggest fear a mother has

I have been married to a mother for almost 16 years. She wasn’t a mother when I married her, she became maternal post-matrimonial.

And I think it is fair to say, that after 16 years of being married to a mother, I have a pretty good understanding of what mothers need, want, and fear.

Mothers NEED love.

Mothers WANT appreciation.

Mothers FEAR Daddy’s having to do their daughters hair before they leave the house in the morning.

I am pretty sure that the thing that keeps most women exercising and eating right is not their concern about leaving their husband but rather the fact they are scared to death at the mere thought of their husband being responsible for the daily care, nurture, and styling of their daughter’s hair.

I do not speak lightly of this fear or mock it for I have smelled the deathly smell of this fear in my very home, and I know that it is real.

Once when the girls were little, say maybe ages 2, 3, and 4, The Beautiful Bride happened to be out of town on a Sunday. On this particular Sunday the girls were all in a fairly cooperative mood and so I decided to take a run at going to church. I rummaged through their closets and found matching outfits and got everyone dressed.

(At this point I should have known there was a problem with going to church. Because EVERYTHING else that could possibly have been needed that weekend when Mommy was away was pulled out, organized, and explained in significant detail in a rather lengthy memo. There was no mention of church going attire…Big clue.)

But I missed the clue and so I got the girls dressed, ran a brush through their hair, a different brush across their teeth, and marched everyone out the door.

As we headed off to church, my phone rang.

“So what are you guys doing this morning?” said the very cheery Beautiful Bride.

“Oh,” I said. “We’re headed to church.”

“Uh….”

Then silence.

Then a sound that sounded like a whimpering stuffed animal…

Then I swear I smelled fear coming through the phone.

“Uhm…did you say that you’re going to church?”

“Our church?”

I must admit the response was not nearly as overwhelming as I expected. I expected “Yeah…what a great Dad you are” or “Hip Hip Hooray, I am so proud of you.”

Instead of “nice job” I got nausea.

“Really…Did you go to our church?”

“Yes…why?”

“Well,” she said “what about their hair? Did you got to Nana’s to let her do their hair?”

“No, I did their hair.”

Sniff, sniff…there’s that stench of fear again…

Then after a short pause came a torrent of questions…“Uh, here’s the thing. Do you know how to do their hair? Did you brush it? Did you use any hair bows? Which ones? Did they match the outfits? How did you know which ones to put in? I didn’t leave any out so how did you know which ones were for each girl? Did they stay in? What about their bangs? Did you pull their bangs out of their eyes?”

The fear was palpable. And it was bigger than any fear I had seen (or smelled) before.

She was not concerned that I would wreck the car with her family inside. She was not concerned that I would run off and join the circus. She was not concerned that aliens would come and take us to Mars.

She was however, scared to death that I was letting the girls leave the house with their hair looking like scarecrows who had been struck by lightning and then had their straw heads inhabited by a flock of buzzards.

Looking back on the whole thing, I can’t say that I blame her.

Top 10 Reasons “Same Old Lang Syne” is NOT a Christmas song.

I like Christmas music. I LOVE Christmas song.

And I like Dan Fogelberg’s music. “Longer.” “Leader of the Band.” “Run for the Roses.” “Same Old Lang Syne.” You can’t get much better ‘80’s soft-rock than that.

But here’s the thing. Every time the Christmas season rolls around, the Christmas music stations insist on inserting “Same Old Lang Syne” into the rotation.

“Same Old Lang Syne” is a nice song.

“Same Old Lang Syne” is a lovely song. It even has a groovy Michael Brecker soprano saxophone solo at the end.

But here’s the thing.

“Same Old Lang Syne” is NOT a Christmas.

And so to avoid confusion over the holiday season, here are the Top-10 Reasons “Same Old Lang Syne” is NOT a Christmas song.

  1. Real Christmas songs do not use the word “lover.”
  2. Real Christmas songs are not plaintive about loves lost. They are plaintive about not being home for Christmas or the lack of snow at Christmas.
  3. “Auld Ang Syne” is a New Year’s Eve song. So if this song is “Same Old Lang Syne,” how can it possibly be about Christmas?
  4. No sleigh bells. How can a song be Christmas song without sleigh bells?
  5. The song references a six-pack. Christmas songs do not reference six packs.
  6. Unless they are six packs of reindeer.
  7. The word “hell” is in the lyrics. Christmas songs should reference hot chocolate and hot fires, not hot places of eternal damnation.
  8. In real Christmas songs, snow does not turn into rain. Snow turns into snowballs, snowmen, or White Christmases.
  9. You cannot tap your toe to “Same Old Lang Syne.” Toe-tappabilty is paramount to success as a Christmas song. (The only allowed exception to this rule is Silent Night.)
  10. Just because a song has the word “Christmas” in the lyrics does not make it a Christmas song.

So please join me in not listening to “Same Old Lang Syne” this Christmas season.

Hurry up and wait.

As I write this, I am sitting in the car waiting for Macie while she is at her horseback riding lesson. Earlier today I waited on Madison to get in and out of the tub and for McKenzie while she decided which things in the stack under her desk were “keep” and which were “dump.”

I spend a lot of my time waiting.

I have for almost 16 years.

I waited (anxiously) for Madison to be born.

I did the same for her sisters.

I waited for them to settle down in the evening so I could sleep for a bit.

I waited in the waiting room, waiting on any bit of good news while Madison was sick.

And then I waited while they nursed and then got back out of bed to take them and tuck them back in their pretty white crib.

I waited while they tried to lean how to go potty.

I waited while they tried to write their name for the first time.

And I waited to not give any clues (“what goes after the ‘c’?”) when they almost had it figured out.

I waited while they sorted out walking into school by themselves for the first time.

I waited in the car when they did not need me to talk them up to the school anymore.

And I waited and watched to see if they needed me when they walked in by themselves, and I waited on a turn and wave ‘good bye’ while the door closed shut behind them.

I waited on them brushing their hair one more time before their first middle school dance.

I waited outside the school for them to come giggling out with a gaggle of friends.

The hours I have spent waiting are countless.

And even now, even so, I am glad to wait.

Because I know that one day will come, far too soon I fear, when they will not need me to wait for them anymore.

And believe you me, I am very happy to wait a long time for that day to come.

Why I am glad my wife is not “My Rock.”

I’ve heard some say that their spouse is a rock. Solid. Steady. Unmoving.

I’d have to say that Annette is more like a glob of Flubber. In that she is Flexible. Adaptable. Ever changing.

When we married 19 years ago today I am pretty confident that neither of us could have predicted what lay ahead. I am pretty sure it involved suburbia, white picket fences, and a high degree of normalcy.

That is not what we got. Well actually we did for the first few years of marriage. After we got through the rough early years that everyone has. (“Who is this person” “What planet are you from?” “Who kidnapped my husband and replaced him with you?”)

Then after a bit of a challenge we got pregnant and had a beautiful bouncing girl. And then a few months later (and by a few I mean like four…) we got pregnant again.

And then it all changed.

Madison got sick.

And McKenzie was born.

Then 18 months later Macie was born.

And though it all Annette was not a rock. She was not stoic. Or locked up. Or Stuck.

Rather she was as fluid as the waves on the beach. Ready to adjust and move, this way and then another, able to fit all of life into the ever changing crevices of the instability that comes with a family like ours.

And then the idea of Show Offs Art was birthed in her heart. A desire to use all that she was (and even all that she didn’t know she was…yet) to use the experience of raising the girls, and loving me, and loving God to encourage other Moms.

Still more change.

And then the teenage years…

And through it all, she is as ever changing as ever.

“Ok, this won’t work, then we’ll do that.”

With all the seizures and the meds and the surgeries and the growing pains and the fitting in and the McKenzie and Macie growing up and Madison staying young it is a life that we never in a million years imagined. Or planned. Or dreamed. Or hoped for…

But it is the life, that together 19 years ago today, we both said “yes to.” And when we left the altar, after saying I do, the song that played was Steven Curtis Chapman’s “The Great Adventure.”

Saddle up your horses we’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other – this is The Great Adventure

We’ll travel over, over mountains so high
We’ll go through valleys below
Still through it all we’ll find that
This is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see
The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams

I do not know what the future holds. I do not even know what I will have for lunch. All I know is that I am lucky to have girl like my “Un-Rock” Annette; adaptable, adjusting, adorable, to walk with me through all of it.

Just Show Up

I am not a “You Can Do It” motivational poster of an eagle circling around a lighthouse on top of a foggy mountain while guys run laps on the top beacon kind of guy.

I am a simple guy and I try to give the girls simple, but more than just bite-sized pieces of information or inspiration.

I have one exception.

Just show up.

That’s it.

Just show up.

Pretty simple huh?

Cause here’s the thing, you are not always going to be the smartest person or the most talented candidate or have the right “connections” or any of those things all the time. But if you give the effort, show you’re committed to the project or the job or the show or the whatever, I promise you that if you “show up,” if you make yourself available, you will be in a position to succeed.

We saw this first hand (again, not that I’m bragging, but I’m just saying…) recently with a show that McKenzie was working on. She is a freshman in high school and has previously had a bunch of leading roles in shows in middle school.

But this is high school.

The big leagues.

She has moved from AAA to “The Show.” So she auditioned for the show and, not unexpectedly, was not cast. But instead of thinking  “What are they thinking, bI was totally awesome last year and I can’t believe they are not making me the Queen of The Universe and write a show just for me.”

She just showed up.

She signed up to be on the crew.

And she helped build sets.

And when it came close to opening night, there was a situation with the show, and because she had “showed up” at all the rehearsals and preparation meetings she went on and became the star of the show! Ta-da!!!!!!!!!

No, that’s not true.

But it would have really tied a nice bow on the story, huh???

No actually, because she had been around the rehearsals some, the director asked her to run the light board. This is something she had never done before, but I think she had a great time doing it.

And she got the opportunity to do this because she showed up.

Here’s the thing. This “Just Show Up” thing is not (sadly because I could make some awesome T-Shirts and inspirational posters for it) my idea. It’s from the Bible. All throughout the Bible God gives people opportunity because they followed Him.  Moses showed up when God called and he led the people of Israel to freedom. The early disciples just showed up when Jesus called them and they helped to change the course of history. David showed up when God called him to fight Goliath.

Just show up.

We are not always (frankly hardly ever…) going to have the final result of our initial actions. McKenzie did not know that she would get a really cool opportunity with the show because she initially just showed up.

But she did.

So you can’t worry about the “What’s gonna happen if and when and how…”

You can only be concerned about your willingness to show up.

And so my question today is this, “What or where is God asking you to show up” so that He can use you in a way that could never imagine?