At Day’s End

Z
I’m posting this one at sunset. It is the end of the alphabet – the letter Z. Zee. Zed. Either way you say, it’s still at the end. I find it fitting to post the end of the alphabet at the end of the day. The symbolism gets me. I get the symbolism.

And it’s at the end of the day we look back and can see how our whole day played out. It seemed just as the sun rose this morning we were infants. New to the world. Innocent and pure as newly fallen snow upon the forest floor. We had the whole day before us to use however we wished.

This afternoon we learned not just walking and talking, but everything else we needed to survive. We found ourselves out on our own in the big wide world. We became whatever it was we wanted to become. Perhaps we had some kids. Some pets. We made a life and the river of life carried us along to sunset.

Now we lie in bed ready for sleep because it’s been a good day. A great day. We’re tired. We’re happy. So we sleep.

Z is for sleep. Zzz.  But this sleep lasts longer than 8 hours. It lasts forever. This is the end, isn’t it? The end of the alphabet, the end of the day, the end of life. We experienced this end first hand yesterday. Our sweet, baby boy Dozer left us yesterday for the big Ball In The Sky. To say the least, we were devastated. Crash took it pretty hard, as could be expected. It was really hard to look at his empty cage. The mention of his name would bring tears to eyes.

His sun has set and now he sleeps. Sweet dreams our little hamster friend. You will be missed…

Dozer

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Y is for … Go Ask Your Father: Dealerships, Babies, Passwords, and Freebies #atozchallenge

Y

is for all the questions. Why? Y? Why?

Okay. Sue me. Or unfriend me. Why doesn’t start with Y. They sound the same which makes them homophones. That means they’re kind of the same thing.

Y? Because. This is my blog and I said so because I’m the dad. Yes, I use that argument. It’s totally valid. Especially if I’m losing that argument against a 4 year old (or an 8 year old).

1. What’s a dealership?

What If I Could Drive A Car Hauler? It’s only one of the “What If I Could Drive…” books we read at bedtime. There’s also a tanker truck, fire truck, ambulance, and tow truck. Imagine being responsible for transporting 10 cars on a busy highway. I’m barely responsible for the one I drive. But to deliver them to a dealership? That giant parking lot full of brand new cars where I’m nervous to drive. Do they have a “you break it, you buy it” policy? It’s where we got our baby (our RAV4) last June after visiting many dealerships for many weeks.

auto-moving

A rolling parking lot

2. Don’t you have to be in a hospital to be born?

Another question that arose because of a book. I guess this is part of the reason why I read to them. This one came from an author I read frequently because I love his characters. Carl Hiaasen. He has two chapter books for middle school readers. Hoot and Flushed. Like the rest of his books, this takes place in the Florida Keys and deals with the destruction of the environment. In Flushed, a casino boat is accused of emptying their toilets into the bay instead of paying to empty them into a sewage tank. It’s up to 12 year old Noah and younger sister, Abbey, to catch them and bring them down.

Anyway, Noah was born in a car on the way to the hospital. Crash thinks babies come from hospitals, so naturally he was curious to discover you could be born in a car, too. Fortunately, I didn’t have to get into HOW he was born, just that he was.

3. Can you do the password?

I put a password on Crash’s tablet. Otherwise he’d be sneaking extra time on it. Most times he is limited. Otherwise he’d do nothing else. On rare occasions, I’ll ignore the timer. But, damn, it’s frustrating to hear this question over and over and over. More Minecraft. More Piano Tiles. More Slither.

However, thanks to his teacher setting up an account for her class, we’ve discovered a new app – Get Epic. It’s a book app. Thousands of books ranging from infant’s picture books to middle school chapter books. He logs into his account and reads. Some books even have a “read to me” feature. His teacher receives feed back on what he’s reading like how much time he spends reading, how long it takes him to read a book. So when he asks, “Can you do the password so I can go on Epic?” I’m all for it. He can rate books. He can select favorite  books. He can change his icon from the class list. They receive “awards” and “level up” according to how much time they spend reading and how many books they read and various other tasks. It has certainly motivated him to read. He has spend 8 hours reading this week alone! Check it out!

Epic

 

4. What are you doing?

This is a question asked of anyone in our house at any given time.

“What are you doing?”
“I’m letting Dozer run on my face because it tickles!”

“What are you doing?”
“I’m riding my snowboard down the slide!”

“What are you doing?”
“I’m getting a free newspaper!”

That last one happened just days ago while we were walking home from the park. It was me who said that. It was the rest of my family who looked embarrassed and hurried away like I had the Black Plague. I’m not revealing my source, but I found a place to get free newspapers. This place throws away their unused newspapers! Of  course, they’re in the dumpster. I ain’t too proud. I read some it, but I mainly get it for the crossword puzzle. DW can’t believe I’m dumpster diving for newspapers.

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X is for… #atozchallenge

X

 

This is the hardest letter for me. Last year I wrote about the x-ray Crash needed when he was 2ish. Turns out he didn’t need it because his foot was okay. It just hurt like hell.

This year I thought I’d go with a simple X. As in X marks the spot. We enjoy treasure hunting. Not the pirate booty kind with an ancient map with a wandering trail of dashes that ultimately end at big red X. Nor the kind our favorite Goonies were in search of back in the 80’s. goonies-map

This is more technologically advanced. It uses man-made satellites orbiting miles and miles above the Earth. Unfortunately, the treasure we find isn’t of the gold and riches kind either. It’s usually sealed away in a small Tupperware container. Or perhaps a film canister  – those small black cylinders film negatives used to be kept in prior to the digital age. Or perhaps it’s 5 gallon bucket with 200 yellow, plastic eggs and you’ll need to open them all just to find the log book.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I speak of Geocaching. We’ve been caching since 2004 when my parents gave me a rudimentary GPS for Christmas and one day I stumbled (before the days of StumbleUpon) across a website to find stuff others had hidden using a GPS.

Some of these caches – there are millions of them worldwide – are very clever and will involve some detective work. A quick Google search of “Clever Geocaches” will supply you some idea of clever they can get. Some are super easy that you can just park and grab and go. Don’t take it with you, though. Just sign the log book, put it back for others to find and then log your find on-line. To date, we have 152 finds and have hidden 5 ourselves.

I use it as an excuse get the kids outside and into the woods. Now, you would think that using a GPS, where’s the challenge? You simply go to the coordinates and viola, there it is. A GPS is only so accurate. The best mine can do is get you to within 3 feet. This means it could be 3 feet to my left, 3 feet to my right or in front or behind. This would create a circle 9 feet in diameter. That is IF the GPS is that accurate. If there are trees it won’t be that easy. Numerous times I’ve gone looking for caches with the kids only return home empty handed with a DNF (did not find). We’d enlist the help of DW and she would find it for us.

We haven’t been for a while because we’ve found all the ones near our house. To find more we’ll need to travel a bit. I look up caches in the areas and along routes we travel and grab them along the way. Time for more adventures!

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W is for… #atozchallenge

W
See. I told you there would be a quiz today. It’s 1 question. Pass or fail. If you want to look up the answer, you can find it here.

Last year W was for Water. Guess what? It is this year, too. Last year was simply about bath time. If that can be considered simple. This year is about all the other water my kids get into. If I’ve learned nothing as a parent (some days are questionable) I’ve learned that were there is water, there my kids will be playing in it. Even if they’re not supposed to be. If we’re walking through a parking lot and they happen to spot a puddle, long before they even get close it they get warned, “Stay out of the puddle.” Often they like to push their luck and try to walk through it, “But I’m not splashing!” Water is so much like a magnet…

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of this story.

Crash water 1

Crash as a 2 year old and saggy soggy shorts

bucket on head

A bucket of water on Crash’s head

Bang water 2

Too hot for summer, too cool for shoes

 

bang splash

Nothing like a good bum cracker!

crash surf

Who needs an ocean?

 

Bang water 1

Hover time!

Crash water 2

Just like Superman without a cape…

crash slip n slide

Slip n Slide like a rock star!

bang slip n slide

I’ll let you caption this…

bang in the mud

The dirtier the better

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Yes. He’s shovelling water.

waterfall

It’s like a shower AND a bath! (minus the warm water)

beach

Instant happiness. Just add water.

It’s not just my kids, right?

V is for… #atozchallenge

V

is for peace. That hand sign popular in impromptu photos. Peace out, man. Though no one knows why. V is for victory. That was made popular by Winston Churchill during the second world war.

Apparently in England it’s a rude sign. Again, thank to Urban Dictionary, way back during the 100 years war the French would cut off the middle and index fingers of English bowmen so they couldn’t shoot any more. The English who still had their digits would taught the French by showing those two fingers. Is it really a rude sign in England?

V is for vadelect. As a dad, I sometimes act the vadelect. I make breakfast and serve it. I make supper and serve it. Pour glasses of milk and juice and serve them, too. I do laundry, too. As parents, don’t we all act the vadelect? Perhaps as chauffeur to soccer matches or swim lessons or Wal-Mart. Perhaps as chefs, maids or teachers. My motto is “If I’m going to act the vadelect, it’ll be Oscar worthy.”

Acting the vadelect will only increase my vallidom. And who doesn’t want a bigger vallidom? Naturally, our vallidom isn’t recognized by our kids until they have kids of their own and realize for themselves that a parent’s vallidom is often immeasurable. Can you measure the sacrifices (if you can even call them that)? Can you measure the love, the patience, the pride and all that other stuff that takes too many words to explain? I think not.

As viatores on this journey called parenthood we often find ourselves becoming vinipotes. Ahh, those sweet whites and oaky reds. Those sauvignons, sangrias, shiraz. I’m partial to the reislings and moscatos. I read somewhere that a glass of wine is equivalent to an hour at the gym. I’m not sure how true that is. But I’m willing to try…

giphy

I wonder how many reps I could do at one time? In one day?

 

I hope you enjoyed this brief vocabulary lesson on parenting. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to vacate this blog. I’m feeling voracious. There will be a spelling test tomorrow.

Vadelect – a servant
Vallidom – worth or value
Viatores – wander or traveler
Vinipote – wine drinker

Yesterday, I compared my face to a refrigerator. Check it out.

Untitled

 

R is for … #atozchallenge

R

is for realize. I realized this morning that today is not “V” day. It’s “U” day. But I already wrote “U” last Saturday. I didn’t do two letters in a day, yet I’m a letter ahead.

I realized this morning that I skipped the letter R. When I should have been writing about R, I wrote about S. It was that stupid slither game that threw me off.

Not only did I realize I skipped R, but thanks to The Coach Daddy, I also realized the lines and splotches decorating my face each have a story. Laughter.  Like when Bang poked his finger in his mother’s belly button (which she hates). After a slight pause, he smells his finger. Maybe you had to be there, but we were dying with laughter. Naturally, this caused him to do over and over. “It’s making you laugh, mom!”

I realized those lines are from stress. Perhaps my O’s lost their lead. Perhaps they’re staging a late game comeback. Perhaps from a few white knuckle, white out drives. Some are from a certain someone who had open heart surgery when he was 5 days old.

I realized those lines are from stupidity. An invincible adolescent who was too cool for sunscreen. I worked every summer, nearly every day, outside wandering through corn fields, pea fields, potato fields looking for bugs. I loved that job. If I wasn’t in a cornfield I was on the ball field. I was too cool for sunscreen. Even in the 115F heat waves. But I would tan and they’d call me José.

I have also realized I’m happier when I run regularly. I haven’t been. I’ve been finding excuses easier than finding the time. I realize this needs to be remedied.

I just now realized our refrigerator is as much a story teller as I am. It’s adorned with magnets collected from around the US and Canada and a Save the Date for a wedding invite from 3 years ago. It’s decorated with a picture of a creeper and R2-D2, a stop light made in kindergarten and a flower colored on primary practice day (colored by the same child). It’s covered with calendars, sight words for reading, and an EKG print-out. It’s a literal snapshot of our life right now.

fridge

 

Does your fridge tell any stories?

Sunday Share 25

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Happy birthday dad! Aka Pop Pop. Aka Grumpy Frog.

I’ll order up an Orioles win for you. If they lose, consider last night’s 8-3 win your pre-ordered birthday present. We have a little something else for you, too.

It’s cold and rainy here. Yesterday it was warm and sunny. I want yesterday back. So, if it’s cold and rainy where you are, too, happy reading! If it’s warm and sunny, get outside and read this later.

A Momma’s View
When the shoe is on the other foot – bullies.

Admissions of A Working Mother
Dirt, Noise and whole lotta love

Coach Daddy
What’s in a name?

That’s What Anxious Mom Said
A text that could be texted frequently around here

Grubbs-n-Critters
Taking a walk…

You the Daddy
An interview from the front lines of first time parenthood

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The Ties That Bind

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PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

 Read chapter 15 or start from the beginning.

Chapter 16

“Do you want us to chase him down?” The gleam in their eyes said they’d love to.

15 minutes later the man in the black sedan was being led at shotgun point back to the abandoned bark mill. In his rush to get out he had gotten lost.

Using a length of barbed wire, they gingerly wrapped it around him, effectively tying him to the post without hurting him. If he moved, however…

“Should we leave him?” I asked.

“We saw what he did to you. What he could have done.”

“Give him a few days to enjoy the serenity of the wilderness.”

I had the book back. It was time to go public.


Read the next chapter

This is a continuation of an experiment. Each week there is a 100 word short story photo prompt challenge posed by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. My challenge to myself is to connect these photos into one seamless story. Click the blue frog to read other stories inspired by this photo.

U is for… #atozchallenge

U

I’ve written about being outside and it’s therapeutic tendencies. So it should come with no surprise that today’s post is also about being outside. Since yesterday was Earth Day, this will be fitting.

U is for Urban Garden.

Technically, we’re probably a rural town. But I’m stretching the word to fit not just the cities, but towns, too. It’s a bit big, but it fits. Yesterday after school, we built ourselves a raised garden bed. The seeds have already been started inside. They haven’t even germinated, yet. The last risk of frost doesn’t occur until May 12th!

Anyway… here’s our DIY Garden box in eighteen easy to follow steps.

Step one:
Decide that you’re going to build one and how you’ll do it. Then go to the hardware store and get the materials you’ll think you’ll need.
Wood. We used 6, 8′ long 2 x 6’s. Cedar is apparently best. But we would have had to trade in our first born. While temping, we opted to just get spruce, instead.
Screws. Wood screws to be exact. And if 3″ screws are good, 3.5″ screws are better. We got a pound of them. Don’t worry. You won’t need them.
Brackets. These are bendable pieces of metal we used to hold the boards together. They’re called strap ties.
Go home with your wood and hardware excited to start building.

Step two:
Check out where you can get enough bags of soil to fill your garden box. Here’s a quick math lesson on volume. If your garden box is 8′ x 4’x 1′ what is its volume? Length times width times height. 8 x 4 x 1 = 32 cubic feet. But we’re in Canada so the soil bags are measured in liters. How do you convert 32 cubic feet to liters? It’s actually pretty easy. First, go to Google. Then enter “convert 32 cubic feet to liters” into the search bar. It will tell you the answer is 906.139. See math is easy. If you want to know how to really do it, go here.

Step three:
Drop off the materials you just bought at home. Then return to place you found the cheapest bags of dirt. The world is dirt, but buy bags of it anyway. From step two we know we need 906 liters of dirt. Is it cheaper to buy $6 70L bags or 1$ 25L bags? Hint: buy the 25L bags. You’ll need 36 to fill the box entirely. Buy 30. Get home to discover it’s “Black Earth”.

Step four:
Call your neighbor to borrow his circular saw.

Step five:
Two of the boards you bought need to be cut in 1/2. If you’re not good at math, half of eight is four. Measure twice.

Step six:
Return the circular saw to keep your good standing.

Step seven:
Match boards of the same length along their long side and used the brackets to fasten them together. Allow your 4 year to assist because he’s “a fast driller”. Hence, it will take twice as long to complete, but at least he’s having fun.

garden box 6

Step eight:
Assemble the box. We placed the 8′ lengths with the 4′ lengths between them. With the 3 1/2 screws, screw the 8 footer to the 4 footer at a 90 degree angle.

Step nine:
After you discover that the 3 1/2 screws won’t screw into the wood return to the hardware store for the 2nd time to get 8 right angle brackets and 50 1″ screws.

Step ten:
Using the 1″ screws, screw the right angle brackets to the inside of the garden box frame. You’ll need a bracket for the top plank and one for the bottom.If two screws are good, six are better. When you’re done, it might look like this…
garden box 5

Step eleven:
Repeat this with the other 3 corners.

garden box 4

Step twelve: 
Get your leftover weed control fabric that you used for your pallet garden two years ago from the basement. While you’re down there, get your staple gun and staples, too. Unroll the fabric to discover you only have half as much as you need.

Step thirteen:
Return to the hardware store for the 3rd time for more weed control fabric. Pick up a sheet of cheap plastic while you’re out, too.

Step fourteen:
With your new roll of fabric, roll the fabric over the frame of the box. Staple the shit out of it.

garden box 3

Step fifteen:
Flip over the frame so that the fabric is on the bottom. Pray that it’s sturdy. Praise your DW when it is.garden box 1

Step sixteen:
Empty the 30 bags of black earth into the garden box. Forget to take a picture of it full of black earth.

Step seventeen:
Just like you did with the weed control fabric, use the sheet of plastic to cover the top. This will deter any animals (like neighborhood cats) from using it as a king size litter box. It will also attract kids to poke holes in it.

Step eighteen:
Photograph the finished product for facebook and the blog.
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T is for Go Ask Your Father: Fenders, Pain, Walking, and Funerals #atozchallenge

T

is for Tons. Because everything with kids is endless.

There are tons of groceries to buy. There are tons of squabbles to either ref or breakup. There are tons of messes to clean. There are tons of rules and routines to explain over and over and over a ton of times.

Can I get an Amen because I’m preaching to the choir here!? As parents, we know this already. There’s a ton of shit to do. But do you know what there’s isn’t a ton of? Time. There’s never enough time, is there?

Since it’s Friday, there are tons of questions to answer. So many, in fact, that I’m having a hard time remembering them all. Crash had two at bedtime that were good. Can I remember them? I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Maybe he’ll remember what they were in the morning, but I doubt it.

1. What’s a fender do?

Another truck book, this time about big rigs. That fender will push things out of the way of that monster sized truck. It’s the first point of impact should that big rig get into an accident. It’ll also keep things from going underneath. Like the cow pusher thing on the front of a train. Except there are no cows on the highway.

2. Does it hurt to be electrocuted?

9volt
I’ve sorta answered this question before. It didn’t include pain threshold last time. So it depends. What I think hurts, your mom doesn’t notice. What your mom thinks hurts would kill me. If you stick your tongue on a 9 volt battery (those little rectangular ones) you’ll get a little shock, but it doesn’t really hurt. Put your tongue on a power line and it’ll be something you’ll never forget.

3. Why does he walk like that?

As parents there some questions that are inevitable. Sex. Babies. Body parts. Then there are questions that make us want to find the nearest black hole and jump in. To hell with spaghettification. This was one of those questions. Bang was riding in a cart at our local, friendly Wal-Mart. I couldn’t find what I looking for so I did what any dad would do, I asked for help. The gentleman I asked was very polite and very helpful and willing show me where to find whatever it was I was looking for. He has a very distinct gait and hence the question. He meant no harm, of course. He was curious. Why is he bald? Why is he dark skinned? Why does he walk like that? The gentleman was ahead of us. If he heard the question he ignored it. I simply told Bang, “It’s not nice to ask questions like that about other people.” Thankfully, he left it at that and I didn’t need that black hole after all.

4. If you and dad die, will I be old enough to go to the funeral?

We weren’t expecting this one, that’s for sure. We do live next door to a funeral home. We do sometimes play in that funeral home’s nice smooth parking lot. Sometimes we can’t because of all the cars of all the people attending the wake. Nothing like putting life into perspective by an eight year old, eh? He knows we’re not getting out of this world alive. I’d love to tell him he’ll be an old man when he and his brother attend their parent’s funeral, but life isn’t guaranteed, is it? Like raising kids, we can only do the best we can. The better we do the longer we might get. No matter. Yes, you will be old enough, buddy. No matter how old you are.

starry sky