You’ll never believe what is in this quiet little spot…

001Don’t headlines like that drive you nuts? Ugh, they drive me insane! I promise to never use a title like that again.

There’s this quiet little spot in town we like to visit on occasion. It contains the world real and imagined. It’s a place where lovers meet and dead come alive. It’s a place where history speaks and the bad guy gets caught (most of the time). And lets not forget Mother Nature’s creatures. Name any and you’ll find them here. Despite all you will find here, this is the quietest spot in town.

The library is supposed to be quiet. Unfortunately, it has been getting too quiet. Visitors aren’t frequenting as much as they used to. While I haven’t actually done the research, I can speculate.

Library funding is down.
Libraries are receiving less government funding than in previous years. This leaves them having to apply for grants and often find themselves unsuccessful. Mind you, they still get new material frequently. Their funding hasn’t been cut completely. Well, there was one nearby school that faced a budget cut so deep it closed its library completely. Without money libraries can’t stay up to date, get the programming or invest in the technology that will get people coming through the doors.

Technology
When given the choice, there aren’t many kids who would choose to visit the library over playing games. Between TV, video game systems, tablets, phones, laptops, books don’t become a priority. However, the library has kept up with the times. You can check out e-books to read on your device. FREE! No need to go spending money on books you may read only once, or download a book you won’t be able to give away when you’re done with it. Borrow it from the library.

Priority
I understand that sometimes you just can’t get to the library. Work, sports, homework, cooking, housework, life most often take priority. However, the teacher in me can’t stress enough the importance of reading. The library here in town is open 6 days a week, often until 6pm. Swing by after work, on a Saturday, during your errand running and grab a book to read at bedtime. I take my kids and let them to browse the shelves allowing them to discover on their own what they like read. More often than not, they often surprise me.

Misunderstood
My final analysis is that libraries are generally misunderstood. People often think of the library they visited as kid and expect the library is the same as it was then. Libraries stay up to date, often lending out e-readers to those who can’t afford them. They do more than just hand out books. Of course, that’s their main purpose. However, they also have e-readers, audiobooks, audiobook players, movies, computers, newspapers, and magazines. There are also story times and author reads for kids and adults alike.

“Book-books” are free to borrow. Actually, everything about the library is free, including the 3D printer! Our library recently attempted to get a self-publishing machine. That would have been cool. Bring in your manuscript and it would print it and bind it and presto, you’re the author of your own book!

Lets not kill the library by never using it. Go visit. I bet you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find. Or if you can’t find what you want, ask. You’ll be impressed.

Home Alone (sort of) (for a little while)

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RacetrackFinally! Everyone is nearly back to good heath. Crash and Bang were down with fevers the past 7-10 days. Crash missed 5 days of school, effectively gaining him an extra week of Christmas vacation. So now it’s just me and Bang at home during the day. Today we played racetrack (see photo at left). We modified the track a little later so Bang could race some marbles down it instead. We also played trucks. We played A LOT of trucks. Cement trucks. Dump trucks. Garbage trucks. An Excavator. His favorite is the garbage truck. No one touches the garbage truck and no gets hurt. I wish Crash would learn this lesson. Crash likes to play with said garbage truck when Bang isn’t looking. Then Bang looks and all hell breaks loose. Crash tries to pull the “But I had it first” routine. So I make Bang ask for it nicely. Once this occurs Crash has to return the truck to its owner, albeit reluctantly.

Anyway, we delivered Crash to the bus stop and saw him off then played in the snow. More specifically, we played on the big ice patch in the backyard. Slipping and sliding and spinning. We did it again after Crash got home from school. The weather had warmed to +2 Celsius and it was raining a bit so the snow was perfect for snowballs. Many got thrown. Bang knocked on the door. Mom opened the door to see what it was that he wanted and she found herself being pelted by his snowball. His laughter was contagious. We’re getting more snow tonight and I can’t wait.

KnufflebunnyThe rest of the day was pretty boring… Took Crash and Bang with me to get a new headlight and wipers for the car and stopped by the library to exchange some books. We found one of our favorites… Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. It was one of the first books Crash learned to read. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it. I guarantee you’ll want to read Knuffle Bunny, Too and Knuffle Bunny Free. Crash and Bang are now silently asleep and I’m headed there myself… night night folks.

Block

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Call Me Ishmael.”

I am in all truthfullness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations.

That’s the opening line of “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. I love the point of view he chose to write through. It’s amazingly appropriate for the setting of the story.

Though Zusak personifies death, I like to personify writer’s block. Block. It would be a he. Definitely. He would knock on your door, perhaps. Or maybe he’d walk right in, sit himself down next to you and start reading over your shoulder. You’d hear him breathing, feel his presence, and suddenly your pen, your pencil, your cursor, or your ribbon stops. Not a single letter persuaded to be produced. He over stays his welcome and drinks all your tea. But what can you do? he’s already here, might as well join him. Maybe he’ll leave sooner than you think. Or not.

The Block. Like that dream you wake from that felt so real, but you can’t remember a single, lonesome detail. Like Zusak’s Death, Block is invisible to all but those he comes visit. So you sit there staring, lost in thought. Daydream much? No, I was just trying hustle Block out the door.

I loved this idea of using the first line of my favorite book as the first line of my post. Then I felt his presence behind me and all I could write were the words of Zusak. Here it is a full eight hours later and I’m just getting Block out the door so I can continue. The Book Thief is my favorite book. I even made notes in the margins so when I read a second and third time I would find things I didn’t see the first time. I love books like this. They don’t happen often. Thank you Mr. Zusak.


P.S. Another of his books “I am the Messenger” is on my list of top 3 favorite, though it has my favorite ending of all.

Protecting the Innocence

I’m not going running tonight so I’ll write instead.
And eat this piece of chocolate cake, too.
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We have two kids. A seven-year old and a three-year old. If I do nothing else for them, I hope I can protect them. Protect them from danger. Protect them from sadness, fear and suffering.
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Our seven-year old had just discovered he wasn’t going to live forever just before he started his very first year of school. Of course, he had a million questions and we did our best to answer them truthfully, in compliance to our beliefs. We knew he was really bothered by it, and we did our best to help him understand it. Then Sandy Hook happened. We somehow managed to keep this from him, but it still sliced through our heartstrings like warm butter.
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However, sometimes it can’t be avoided. I understand that. Our seven-year old was home sick April 15, 2013.  The only reason I remember is because we were watching the Boston Marathon together. So we explained the situation to him. Sometimes people do really bad things. But our focus will not be them. Instead, look at all the people to go running toward the explosions. As my dear Wife likes to say “Real superheroes don’t wear capes”. Those are the people we choose to give our attention. Regardless of what monstrosity occurred, regardless of what monstrosity could happen next, those whose first instinct was to run to help, they are the real superheroes.
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There are terrorist groups beheading others. Killing in the name of their religion. There are people killing cops in both the U.S. and here Canada. There was the shooting incident on Parliament Hill. Just recently there was the shooting in Paris that killed twelve. I’m sure you’ve heard all these stories then some.
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Protect the innocence.
They shall not hear any of this. Their world will be painted with rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. It will be sliding down the stairs on the crib mattress. It will be  for as long as I can protect them.
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I’ll be right back. I need to go hug them now.
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Daddy and Running

I’m a runner. I love it. Whether I go for 4 mile “short” run or a 14 mile “long” run, I love it. So I guess it was inevitable that running would eventually make an appearance on my dad blog. I started running for the sake of running (instead of running to get in shape for another sport, i.e. soccer or wrestling) about six years ago.  A friend of mine, who had always refused to go running with me in university, asked me if I wanted to run a six hour relay race with him. That was my first competition – a little over a year after our first son was born. I’ve pretty much been running since.

Of course, on all my runs I’m thinking. Sometimes it’s about the weather. Sometimes it’s about my training plan. It’s often about food. Occasionally, it’s about the family.  So exactly how is running is like being a dad?

You get out of it what you put into it. 
The old garbage in garbage theory doesn’t exactly apply to running. There are no garbage miles. A mile is a mile and still trumps sitting on your butt. However, if you don’t train properly, don’t eat properly or don’t drink properly you might as well stay home. Just like the kids you have to spend time with, if you don’t utilize your time properly who knows what kind of monster you can create! In running I mix it up. Sometimes run slow, sometimes I run fast. Sometimes I run slow then run fast then run slow again. But that’s just so I can say I ran a fartlek. And bonus! It has the word fart in it! No, farts are not funny. They’re hilarious! Sorry, back on track. I mix up my running routines to keep it interesting and to make myself a better runner. I mix up the things I do as a dad for the same reasons- to keep things interesting and make myself a better dad. Sometime we play educational games. Sometimes we play our own made up games. Sometimes we play a new sport or find a new way to practice handwriting or addition. Sometimes it’s a new intervention to stop the sibling rivalry. Sometimes I go and hide and eat chocolate chips right out of the bag.

It’s about the journey, not the destination
How many years has Usain Bolt spent training for a race that’s over in less than ten seconds? I’m no Usain but I still spend FAR more time training than I do racing. My goal this year is run 1,000 miles. If I’m lucky 19 of those miles will be races (a half marathon-13.1 miles and local 10k). So I’m on a journey to get into the shape I want to be in to run the races I’d like to run. Being a dad is about that same journey. A journey of discovery, wonder, frustration… Except for traveling. When traveling with kids it’s ALWAYS about the destination. Often, the sooner you get there the better chance the kids have of surviving the trip.

It makes you feel good/proud.
An overwhelming feeling of pride swells inside me when I hear my 3 year old count to 15 without skipping 7 and rearranging a few other numbers. I feel the same pride hearing my 2nd grader read 4th grade books. I feel the same pride when I log a 7:07 minute mile pace for a 10k run. The 3 year old has ALOT of numbers left learn and the 2nd grader has ALOT harder books to learn to read and I still have ALOT of seconds to knock off my min/mile pace. But the pride and joy keeps me motivated enough (usually) to keep at. None of the above happens over night. But like I just said, it’s about the journey.

It can be done in groups or alone.
There’s no better way to get fun things to teach your kids like talking to other dads. There are different methods that result in the outcomes. There are as many kinds runners as there are kinds of dads. Each is their own individual. Some runners go slow and some go fast. Some runners only run on trails and some only run the roads. Some runners run really far and some runners don’t. Some dads are workaholics. Some dads stay home. Some dads are really creative and some are really handy and some are loud and some are quiet. No matter how you run or whatever reason you run, you reap the benefits of running. No matter what kind of dad you are you are still raising future’s adults. Keep on running. Keep on dadding.

He Caught the Bug

Being a parent of a healthy child is hard. Being the parent of a sick child is down right stressful. You just want them better NOW.

At least we made it through the holiday.

Our youngest has been running a fever of 100-102.5 for 2 days now. We’ve been piggy backing Tylenol and Advil to keep it down. Tylenol, we find, doesn’t do much for fever. Advil on the other hand, brings it right now and helps him feel his usual spunky self. Unfortunately, he is miserable again before the recommended 6 hours is up between doses of Advil.

*Knock on wood* He hasn’t been pukey. Though, he does like to keep his garbage can nearby. I did read one interesting tip when you have a sick child. She made the kid’s bed with 2 sets of fitted sheets. However, she put a layer of plastic (garbage bags or something) between them. That way if the kid got sick in bed it was just a matter of taking off the top fitted sheet and the bags. Effectively eliminating the need to remake the bed in the middle of the night.

Cool baths work well, too. Of course, this is something I forgot about today. The added bonus is that he loves to play in the water.

I’m a bit selfish when it comes to our kids being sick. I love to snuggle them. Our youngest hollered to me in the kitchen from the living room, “Daddy, I need you”! I go in and he wants me to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with him. So I lay on the couch with him  and pretty soon he’s turned toward me, hugging my arm, holding my hand (just like we do at bedtime) and he falls asleep. He wakes just after I leave with a fever spiked at 102.5. We got his next dose of Tylenol into him and soon (but never soon enough) the fever starts to come down again. Here’s to hoping for a good night’s sleep and waking up feeling better!

Do you have any tricks for helping your sick kid feel better? Please feel free to share! I’d love to hear them.