My Autumn Bucket List

I read a thorough autumn bucket list on Early Childhood Family Education and thought that since I did a summer bucket list, perhaps I should do a fall list as well. I was successful in completing all but one item from my summer list. The painting never got done. Guess I’ll have to carry that over to the fall list. The first day of fall was last Wednesday and we’re already getting fall temperatures and weather.  Nice and cool at night which makes it perfect for sleeping, though we don’t get much of it (we’re early risers, even if we don’t want to be). So what’s on my list?

Bon Fires
We have a small fire pit in the backyard. More like a large metal bowl that we can put away when we’re not using it. But it’s great to get it out, set up the camp chairs around it and have a powwow. Especially now that cooler weather is here and it’s getting dark earlier. We’ll roast some marshmallows, eat s’mores, drink some drinks and laugh a lot. Perhaps if it’s not raining this weekend?

Get ready for Halloween
We have our costumes picked out. The kids are excited about them. DW is excited about them. I’m excited about them. I want to share now, but it must wait. Only 31 more days. It’s going to be awesome! I’ll also get the house all decorated. We have bats and crows and skeletons and spiders and webs and tons of stickers for the wall. We don’t go all out crazy, but we certainly do have fun with it.

Carve Pumpkins
They’re already sitting on the front porch, not carved yet, of course. Pumpkins last a long time. But once you carve it, it’s only a matter of days before it rots. I’m not sure what we’re going to carve this year. I just know we’re going to have fun digging the guts out. I’m sure Crash will something “Minecraft” carved into his. I can’t even begin to imagine what Bang will want. He’s pretty random sometimes.

Take a hike
This is the time of year when the tress are dressed in their best colors. The temperatures are ideal for walking comfortably. There is a trail near us that leads to a 25 foot waterfall. It takes about a 1/2 hour to hike to it and it’s a beautiful trail with a small bridge or two to cross. Plus the smell is intoxicating. I love it!

Watch Halloween shows
My favorite is “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. I know all the words. I know all the songs. Yes, I’m proud that Crash loves it, too. Did you know it took nearly 110,000 photos and three years to create the stop motion animation? Charlie and the Great Pumpkin Patch and Hocus Pocus are great ones, too.

A Farm
Not just any farm, but a farm that has hay rides and a pumpkin patch and corn maze. Those corn mazes have always intrigued me. Plus, I think the kids would love it. We already have two pumpkins, but there’s something about actually being in the pumpkin patch. The giant box of pumpkins in the grocery store just doesn’t cut it. And since Bang is all about tractors (and everything that has wheels) a hay ride would be right up his alley.

I remember raking up a huge pile of leaves to jump and play in when I was a kid (if 13 still counts as a kid). When we lived in Virginia, I raked up small piles for Crash to run through. The piles weren’t nearly big enough to jump in. He had a blast running through them and kicking them into the air. Or throwing them up and letting them rain down on himself. It made for some fun pictures, too. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we have enough leaves in our backyard to rake up a pile big enough to jump in. Guess we’ll just have to try!

What’s on your list to do this autumn?


Thank you Pinterest for this


I’m a Judgmental Parent

We’ve all been in the grocery store or the Wal-Mart, or any other store where children like to “break down”. Maybe it’s your kid who breaks down, maybe it’s another. Maybe it’s your kids who gets the gimmees. Maybe it’s another. Maybe it’s your child who is on their best behavior. Maybe it’s another. Maybe it’s your kid who is hiding in the clothes rack. Maybe it’s your child’s father.  Either way, good or bad, I feel like I’m quick to judge.

These judgments are easy to make. I can clearly see the problem and can quickly thank my lucky stars it’s not my kids (this time). But sometimes the judgement is not on how your kid is behaving but how you are. Your parenting skills are put under a microscope and I will judge if what you are doing is right, wrong, smart or stupid. Are you a helicopter (or snowplow) parent? You shun processed food and server strictly organic and homemade food? Are you a stay home mom or do you have a career? And dads… where and how do you fit into the family? These are more difficult to judge because it takes observation and conversation. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to judge. It just happens. I know how DW and I are attempting to raise our two boys and anything different is strange.

There’s a splendid video (commercial?) depicting a stand-off at a playground between breastfeeding moms, “crunchy granola” moms, stay home dads, career moms, and a gambit of various stereotypes. They covered every kind of parent and they’re all quick to judge. Not so much as claiming themselves superior, but everyone else inferior. Nevermind… just watch it.

Now that I’ve said I’m judgmental, I also want to say I know when to keep my trap shut. I won’t say anything about what you and your kid are doing or how your behaving. It’ll simply be a thought that goes through my head. Judgmental thoughts usually don’t last any longer than the thoughts of a goldfish.

In the end, we’re all parents first. It matters not what I think of you, your kid or your parenting style. You’re a parent doing the best you know how. It doesn’t matter what you think of me, my kids or my parenting style. I am a parent doing the best I know how. We can still be best friends. Or friends. Or acquaintances. Or two strangers standing in the same long line at the busy grocery store.

Do I let my judgmental thoughts effect what I think of you as a person? Certainly not. Do I judge myself even more harshly than I do you? Absolutely. So lets let bygones be bygones and lets not let how we judge determine our treatment of others.

The Edge of Forever

PHOTO PROMPT ©The Reclining Gentleman

©The Reclining Gentleman

I saw him sitting there blankly staring into the calmness of the river far below. I stopped my bus and called out to him.

Hey, come down from there!
There’s only one way down. This is how it ends.
No. There’s always two sides. Good and evil. Heaven and Hell. Living and dying.
Not for me. I’m done. I’m just a small step away from ending my suffering.
No. You’re one small step away from beginning again.

I climbed on to the rail with him. It was a long way down. Come get on my bus. I’ll take you home.

This is a story in 100 words or fewer for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle-Wisoff-Fields based on the photo above. Click the blue frog to read more stories inspired by this photo!

Good Enough

So I’ve been thinking lately, how good is good enough? How much is too much? How much is not enough? What’s “just right”? Is there even such a thing as just right? How do I know when I’ve crossed any of these lines?

Parenting is a tough task. There are manuals and instruction books. There are internet articles describing personal opinions. There are some scientific studies. There are guidelines. But really, is there any one right answer?

There are books about how to get your baby to sleep. Guidelines about what and how much your kid should be eating and drinking. There are recommendations about exercise and screen time and time spent reading. There are suggestions about potty training and breast feeding and what to pack for their school lunch. There are also some pretty strong opinions about what not to feed your kids. But how do we know what’s right?

Some say there is no such thing as perfect. There is no perfect parent. I beg to differ. I say if you’re kids are happy, healthy, and educated, you are the perfect parent. Here’s how to tell what’s right for your kid. You take all of those of opinions, guidelines, suggestions, studies, and recommendations and toss them right out the window. On a busy highway. With lots of transfer trucks. Or you could drown those ideologies in the ocean. Or burn them in wood stove. Or an active volcano.

There really is no exact right. There is no one size fits all. Especially in parenting. There certainly is a wrong, of course. But perfect is whatever works for your kid. How we got our kids to sleep all night will be different from what others do. How could one book instruct us all? How we got our sons potty trained is different from how others will do it. And I’m not even going to get started on that lactation consultant who attempted to help DW in hospital.

So how much is too much? How much is not enough?

How do I know we’re perfect parents? Because we doubt ourselves nearly every step of the way. We question ourselves… What the hell are we doing wrong? We question the kids… What the hell is wrong with them?

So, how good is good enough? How much is too much? How much is not enough? What’s “just right”? Is there even such a thing as just right? How do I know when I’ve crossed any of these lines? That’s for us to decide for ourselves. We have put aside what the “experts” say because they are not experts on our kids. We are. We live with the heathens which makes us the experts on our kids. No one knows them like we do.  We have discovered “too much” and it ain’t pretty. We have found “not enough” and it’s uglier than a blobfish. We found our perfect and it works, well… perfectly.

Did I write this just to make myself feel adequate? Most likely. Are we perfect parents? Damn straight we are.

Confessions of a Dad

I read a post titled “Mommy Confessions” over at No Page Left Blank. She read it from She Didn’t Come With Instructions. I thought I’d borrow (steal?) the idea for myself today.

These “confessions” basically entail all that is adventurous in parenting. They are what we do to get by. Maybe we’re not proud of them, but it’s what works for us. Sometimes they’re funny. Sometimes they make others raise their eyebrows and think “OMG! Really?” But mostly they are to give a give a glimmer of hope to other parents, letting them know the struggle is real and they’re not alone.

The Claw
I’ve written all about this complex lie we tell Bang. It keeps him from whining wherever we go.

We lay with Bang until he falls asleep. We used to do this with Crash, too. Now, with Crash (the 8 year old) we only lay with him for a few minutes or so after lights out. Then he puts himself to sleep. However, with Bang (the 4 year old) he hugs his penguin and will often hold our hand or arm until he drifts off into slumberland. He’s going through a couple transitions at the moment. Kindergarten three days a week and a new babysitter. Once he’s settled into routine we’ll probably start get him to put himself to sleep. He’s done it before, but we never stuck to it. That’s our quiet time together. Same with Crash. We still lay with our kids at bedtime because it’s our peaceful time together. And we like to hang on to their childhood with both hands good and tight.
We change clothes in front of the kids.  We use the bathroom together. The kids see us naked and we’re okay with that. Though, I am more self conscience about it than DW. One day after DW got out of the shower, Bang was laying in our bed watching TV. DW went in to get dressed and Bang told her, “Mom, you have cute boobies”.
We try to get the kids to do chores but it often feels like a losing battle. I would like to come up with some regular chores for them to do. Every day kind of chores. Then start allowing them earn a small allowance. My DW’s sister-in-law gives their children chores to do and at the end of the week they can earn up to $3. One dollar is for them to spend, one is for them to save and one is for them to use toward buying something for someone else (i.e. birthday present). Right now mine just do chores when I think of them or when they need to be done.

We probably eat out more frequently than we should. But sometimes, we just don’t feel like cooking. Sometimes it’s just easier.

I sneak junk food yet I make the kids eat healthy. If they ask for a cookie, I make them have a piece of fruit first, if they haven’t already. And while they’re off eating their piece of fruit I eat a cookie. Sometimes, I’ll pass on dessert right after supper so that I can eat it after they are in bed and I won’t have to share with them.

When the kids do something mean to each other I sing the chorus to Dennis Leary’s “I’m an Asshole” under my breath.

I hate feeling like a restaurant but sometime I’ll cater to Bang just to get him to eat. If it turns out he doesn’t like (replace “like” with “want”) what we’re having I’ll get him something different. Most of the time I just reheat a leftover. Once, however, I made him a banana pancake just so he would eat supper.

When the kids were infants I liked it when DW pumped because that meant I could feed the baby.

Speaking of pumping, breast milk tastes sweet. (Am I the only dad who knows this? Or just the only one willing to admit it?) I may have tasted a small amount. Don’t be surprised. I also tasted cat food.

I yell. Not often, mind you and I’m not proud of it. But I do. It usually follows 3-100 times of already having said what it was they weren’t listening. Stay off the road. No horseplay on the trampoline. Stop splashing in the bathtub. Don’t be mean to your brother. Clean up your Legos.

You know those freezers in grocery stores where they keep the bags of ice? I may or may not have a picture of Crash standing in one looking out the glass door. Much like Oh did in Disney’s “Home”. (Don’t worry, Crash wasn’t locked in like Oh was. Though some days it’s tempting).

I know I’m a good/fun/sometimes goofy dad, but Mom is the real brains behind our family machine. I like to think I can handle it all on my own and DW usually lets me think I can. That’s why we make a great team.

Book Review


Picture courtesy of Amazon

I used to do regular book reviews. Wednesdays were my review days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one. I think it’s time to do another. I’ve found a book worth reviewing.

We were at the library last week exchanging books. I came across this book called “The Book With No Pictures” by B.J. Novak. I was curious. So I opened the book and started reading. By page 4 I was laughing so hard I was crying. It was that clever. It was that funny. I knew Crash and Bang would love it.

After snack time that evening I told Bang (Crash was off at a sleepover at Nanny and Pop’s house) it was time to go upstairs and brush teeth and we’d read “The Book With No Pictures”. He wasn’t too thrilled. Didn’t want me to read that one. I took it anyway.

We read “Have You Filled A Bucket, Today” first. That’s for another post though. Then, I pulled out the No Pictures book and Bang wouldn’t even let me open it. Threw a fit! I started reading anyway. By page two he had settled. By page six he was laughing and he laughed the rest of the way through the book. I read it to Crash and Bang the following night and the two of them together, with this book, were in hysterics listening to me read. They could barely stop laughing long enough to catch their breath to keep on laughing. Did I mention this book is dangerously funny? It’s funnier than There Were Monkey’s In My Kitchen.

The book is as plain as can be. Large, black lettering on stark white pages. Color appears when the humor begins. There’s no story line. There’s no plot. The reader is the main character. Most of it doesn’t even make sense. There lies the beauty of this book. It’s about the images words can create. It’s about the power books have.

Here’s page four.

Here is how books work:

Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.

From there the book controls us. Makes say silly words. Sing a silly song. Rhyme off some nonsense. There’s even something in there about a monkey, blueberry pizza and a hippo. All the while, the kids laugh and laugh (and laugh) at the words we have to say and the fact that we have to say them because the book says so.

I’m so glad I found this book. Chances are good it’ll end up under the Christmas tree this year so they can have their own and make us read it. All. The. Time. No worries. Who doesn’t want their kid reading all time?

If you love your kids, if you love to hear them laugh, if you love them wanting to read, you’ll read them this book. It won’t let you down. Happy Reading!


Authors Answer 46 – Promoting with Blogs or Websites

Authors use blogs, websites, and social media to promote their writing. Here is how the authors from Jay Dee’s Authors Answers promote their writing.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

These days, there are a lot of indie authors who need to promote their own books. Many traditional authors also do a lot of promotion themselves. It’s very common for an author to have a website, run either by themselves or someone else, and also quite common to have a blog.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 46 – How do you use your blog or website to promote your writing?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I use my blog to talk about characters and stories I’m working on, and some things I learn while making them.  On occasion I participate in blog hops like Weekend Writing Warriors and post snippets of my writing.  There’s other content not related to writing, like recipes.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

My blog, No Page Left Blank, is my home base for all things writing and social-media related. Though it is consistently the least viewed of my social media outlets (I’ve had…

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3rd Grade Spelling Words

Watch this short little clip of one of my favourite favorite poets, Taylor Mali. I personally, think he’s brilliant.

I’m no spelling whiz. Never have been. DW and mom can attest to that. Fortunately, I know my words and can tell the difference between ewe and you. I know when to use their, there and they’re. I know when to use to, too and two. Even affect and effect. My spelling, on the other hand, isn’t quite so good. And being an American in Canada doesn’t help that fact.

One of the positives of being a substitute teacher is that I sometimes get to go into Crash’s classroom. Naturally, I’m in teacher mode, not dad mode, so it’s a little different. Anyway, the other day was one of those days. I was in as a resource teacher and had gone in to assist his teacher. Or rather, assist the students who needed. They were to be writing a sentence using a word from their word wall.

The first thing I noticed was that favorite was spelled wrong err differently. It was favourite. Sneaky British spelling. How am I supposed to help him with spelling words when he’s being taught to spell them differently? When I type the word favourite, there’s a red line under it. There’s a whole list words I’d spell incorrectly on his test. In other words, I’d fail a 3rd grade spelling test.

  • Favorite/Favourite
  • Color/Colour
  • Neighbor/Neighbour
  • Pajamas/Pyjamas
  • Center/Centre
  • Meter/Metre
  • Liter/Litre
  • Any word that ends in er

These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. Good thing we didn’t put him in French Immersion. I’m going to have a hard enough time teaching him English!


rusty wall

©David Stewart

Here I am on the outside looking in. These walls built to keep people in, now they keep me out. I can see the camp from here, through the rust and iron. They know I’m out here hiding, waiting for the right moment. I can hear them walking around. They’re expecting to find me, but I know what I’m doing. I’ve done this before. They shout for me to come out, but I know better. If they find my hiding spot it’ll be my turn to be the seeker.

This is a story in 100 words or fewer for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle-Wisoff-Fields based on the photo above. Click the blue frog to read more stories inspired by this photo!

Back to School Woes

It’s back to school time. Crash is now in 3rd grade. Amazing. Where has the time gone. It wasn’t that long ago he was just starting primary (kindergarten for those of you in the US). Now, Bang is in pre-school three days a week. Both kids in school. How did we get here?

However we got here, here we are. I know it’s back to school time. I don’t need a calendar to know that, either. I can see it on their faces. It’s dripping from their little noses. Their noses are normally so cute I could kiss them, too. I won’t go near those noses without a meaty layer of Kleenex (aloe infused, at that) between us. They haven’t even been in school for a full week, yet!

Crash’s first week of school was only two days long. That was right before Labor Day weekend. His second week of school was only four days because of Labor Day. Bang didn’t start until last Wednesday and he had just two days of school. But here they both are with colds, full of snot, and probably on the verge of being feverish. *knock on wood* (I really hope not because Bang is supposed to be going to the sitter’s house for the first time tomorrow and I won’t send him with a fever).

I wish there was a use for snot. I’ve got two factories running full time here. I could bottle it, sell it, and make a fortune! I’m sure it could be used as bio-diesel or rubber cement or butter substitute. Unfortunately, there seems to be no need for it when it’s outside of their bodies. So I’ll just keeping blowing their cute little noses and throwing it away because it’s certainly not going to be me who finds a use for that stuff.