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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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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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.

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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…
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Step eleven:
Repeat this with the other 3 corners.

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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.

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L is for… #atozchallenge

L

is for Laugh. It is the best medicine after all. And what better way to laugh than at funny answers to questions we ask our kids.

This is a regular Thursday occurrence here at All In A Dad’s Work. It never fails to produce some fun answers. You can read some good ones here, here, here, or here.

Last week I didn’t plan far enough ahead, a lapse in motivation, and ended up skipping “Questions I Asked My Kids” in lieu of just telling you some of the funny things they’ve said over the last couple years. Today, I bring back the post with some fun questions for them to answer that will make you laugh. Or at least breathe out of your nose really hard.

1. Tell me a Joke.

Crash: Q: What grade do you learn the Dark Force?
A: The Sith Grade!
Bang: Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?
Banana head!

2. Did you have any dreams last night?

Crash: I was playing with my friend and there were a whole bunch of Sponge Bob’s attacking us. Then my friend turned into a zombie and was on my back. I went to the brook and there was a button hanging from a vine. So I pressed the button and I exploded.
Bang: I had a dream but it’s a secret. You gotta guess what it is. I put flames on my 4 wheeler and they were real flames and they made it speed speed speed faster than an airplane. Then my girlfriend from Wall*E (Eve) had a super slow 4 wheeler and it turned into a little bit speeding and it passed my 4 wheeler. I pressed a blue blue button and it turned into a lamp post.

3. What do you wish you could get paid to do?

Crash: Eating cookies.
Bang: Paid to have a pet sheep.

4. We’re going to make a new animal by combining two. Which two do you want to combine?

Crash: Pig and lizard called a pigzard.
Bang: A cow and sheep.

5. Where in the world do you want to go?

Crash: Legoland
Bang: Toy’s R Us

6. If you got to be dad for a day, what would you do?

Crash: Eat as many cookies as I can
Bang: Make a mess

7. If you were a hamster, what would your name be?

Crash: Luke (Skywalker)
Bang: Googlehead

8. How old were mom and dad when you were born?

Crash: 28 or 30
Bang: fifty two hundred

9. What do you like to do best with mom and dad?

Crash: Jump on the trampoline in the summer
Bang: Play plasma cars with you

10. What is something mom and dad always say to you.

Crash: “Hey Buddy” and “no”.
Bang: “You can eat lots of cookies.” (I DON’T SAY THAT!)

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K is for… #atozchallenge

K

Move your keister meester, time to kickoff the letter of the day.

I could take the easy road and just write about my KIDS since that’s what my theme is. That’s all the other days, though.

I asked Crash last night what I could write about that begins with the letter K. As any child will tell you, K is for kangaroo. I could easily write about how they bounce and jump around the house like they were kangaroo rats. I’ve already shared a clip of Bang bouncing off a door.

Last year’s post is still fitting. In the honor of originality, I won’t use that one again.

I kissed DW good-bye this morning as she left to go to work. From the backseat a certain 4 year old hollers, “Stop that kissing!” I’m not sure why he was repulsed by kissing this morning. I kiss her good-bye every morning.

Wanna  know a secret? DW and I kiss in threes.

1 for I
1 for Love
1 for You.

It’s kinda like one for me, one for you and one for love. Kooky right?

While kissing is all good and fun and healthy and a great why to gross out your kids, my favorite kisses happen in the dark.

After books are read, after the fan is turned on, after he’s all tucked into bed with the blankets pulled up to his chin (Bang likes to be cocooned like his father) I turn off his light and turn on his star frog night light. I lay down beside him and put my arm next to him. He likes to hug arms and hold hands when falls asleep. Then I kiss his little fuzzy head. He hates it and rubs it off, but I do it any way. Sometimes I give him a million kisses all over his head and he tries to rub them off. “You missed one” I tell him. “Where,” he’ll ask. “I’m not telling”. Then he’s off to dreamland to dream of whatever craziness 4 years old dream.

The big kid is slightly different. After we read and it’s lights out, I lay next to him and we chit chat for a bit. A lot of Friday’s “Go Ask Your Father” questions originate in this 5-10 minutes of darkness. The last question is always, “Will you scratch my back?” Of course I will. 5 minutes later he’s nearly asleep and twitching. I gently kiss the top of his fuzzy head and sneak out of the room.

DW gets her three after she’s all tucked in and I hear “I like head scratches.”

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I is for… #atozchallenge

I

is for… wait wait wait. I gotta tell you about this morning first. Timbit and Dozer (our two hamsters, in case you’re new here) are starting to get used to us. We’ve only had them 9 days if you count the day we brought them home. They’re spending less time sleeping and more time nosing around. They’re also starting to let us handle them more. Crash has taken this as a sign to visit them whenever he wants. I wouldn’t mind so much, but this morning he left both of their cage doors open. (I’ll give him credit for going to wash his hands) So whichever one of you told me they’re escape artists, there’s no art to it if all they have to do walk out an open door. Dozer was still looking out his door contemplating his escape when Crash closed his door. Timbit wasn’t so slow. She was already under the couch. Fortunately, she ran herself into a corner where she was apprehended.

Okay, back on track.

I could be for igloo. We built one the size of a small estate last winter. Built over 2 days, it lasted 8 days before a 10 degree rainy day turned it to soup.

I could be for imagination because our two boys have so much of it. You know you’re in for a good story when Bang starts with, “When I was at Cat’s house”. (Cat is his imaginary friend) And Crash with Lego creations!

I could be for instigate. You know, when one kid picks on another just get them riled up. It usually ends up with screaming, wrestling, or hitting. Sometimes I just let ’em duke it out. Sometimes I play referee. Usually, I try to put a stop to it.

All those words are incredible.

Are you impatient, yet?

It’s so difficult for kids to wait, especially mine. They want it and they want it now. They’re hungry, feed them immediately! Nevermind that supper will be ready in 15 minutes. They just got $5. Take them to the store to spend it on something junky that will be lost or broken by the next day. Nevermind saving it to buy to buy something better. Except for chores. They’re never too impatient to do a chore. That word alone is enough to incite a riot!

Crash is ready to plant seeds outside. OUTSIDE! Uh, hello! We’re in Canada. Yesterday there was snow on the ground. Nevermind waiting until the ground thaws to give the seeds half a chance.

Why do we have to wait until AFTER supper to have those cookies mom just made or that ice cream we just bought while grocery shopping?

I wish we could just teleport so we don’t have to take this looooooong car ride. It’s just a 20 minute drive and since we’ve been driving for 15, how much longer do we have? Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

It can be tough to be patient as an adult. Nevermind the kid who has no (or very little) concept of time. Later is too vague and 10 minutes is the same as 10 days. Bang had his primary orientation day last week. Essentially, it was a 1/2 day of kindergarten. He had so much fun he wants it to be September now. Not just now, but NOW damn it! He was pissed when he woke Friday morning to find out he was going back to kindergarten and not to primary (here, pre-school is called kindergarten and kindergarten is called primary). “When is it going to be September?” I’m glad he’s so excited to go, but it’s going to be a long 5 months if this keeps up.

What makes you impatient?

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G is for… Sun, Jacob, Erosion and Skin #atozchallenge

GGo is a versatile word. It can encouraging. Go for it! It can be discouraging. Go away.

On your mark. Get set. Go! It signifies the beginning of something. In this case, a race. It could be a journey, an adventure, or just a simple task.

It can be used negatively. Go! I don’t care where you go! Just go!

It can be used to give direction. Go left. Go Google it. Go to the store. Go get me chocolate.

Today is Friday so Go Ask Your Father.

1. How high is the sun?

Not as high as Snoop Dogg.

sun-clipart-transparent-sun-with-shades-clipart-picture-5Looking up, it appears the sun and the moon are in the sky. No wonder our ancestors believed they revolved around the Earth. We know they’re not really in the sky like the clouds and birds and planes. That would be disastrous. Since Earth’s orbit is elliptical (fancy word for oval) our distance changes. In early January, winter for those of in the northern hemisphere, Earth closest to the sun at roughly 91 million miles, or the distance a typical run on the treadmill feels like. However, come the beginning of July Earth has moved away from sun to about 94 and a half million miles or the distance of any car trip with at least two kids fighting in the back seat. This averages to 93,000,000 miles. The Goldilocks Zone- or the zone astronomers look at in other star systems to find habitable planets. Any closer and water boils. Any father away and not even an electric blanket will save you.

2. Who is Jacob?

If you remember this time last week, A was for Ask. How convenient. That day, the boys and I climbed Jacob’s Ladder in Victoria Park – an incredibly long flight of stairs on a hiking path. It was on the way back, Crash wondered aloud at exactly who Jacob was. Jacob is a biblical character, the younger twin of Esau. One day, Jacob made stew and Esau wanted some. Jacob said sure, but only if you give me your first born rights (double inheritance). Esau, being hungry, said sure. When the time came for dad to bestow blessings, he gave his blessing to Jacob, the second born. Esau was pissed and threatened to kill his brother. Jacob ran away. It was during his running away when he had dream of a ladder that reached clear to Heaven.

Not this Jacob’s Ladder…

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3. What’s erosion?

This one, too, came about while hiking in Victoria Park. This is why I like getting them out. New questions. Questions I don’t need Google’s help with. Erosion is the wearing down of the land by wind and water and ice. The erosion of my last nerve is completely different. Over millions of years erosion can have a huge impact. Just look at what the Colorado River did to create the Grand Canyon. That’s some crazy erosion. On a smaller scale, just look at sand dunes. They’re constantly moving with the wind. Rivers meander. There is also chemical erosion (think of that rust on a ’92 jalopy). It all has to do with wearing down. And when you erode my last nerve, you get a time out and sent to your room.

4. Why is he black skinned?

I knew it was only a matter of time before this question was asked. But, as I explained to Crash during that soccer game we were watching on TV, skin comes in all kinds of colors. It’s caused by a pigment called melanin. Two forms of melanin are produced-pheomelanin which is red to yellow in color, and eumelanin , which is dark brown to black. [confession: I Googled the two types] I don’t know what kind of melanin gives avatars blue skin. Different areas of the world have developed different pigments of skin. As my brother once stated, “We’re not white, we’re peach.” In the summer our skin darkens as a way of protecting itself from the sun. Even with SPF 60 all day every day, your skin will darken. We just don’t want it to turn red. Here’s my PSA… where sunscreen. No matter what mix of melanin you have.

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E is for… #atozchallenge

EIn this post, I thought of what to say without using an E. Today, it’s all about that E.

Could be for empty. The milk jug is constantly empty. Two boys can go through the milk like a monster truck goes through gasoline. The food cupboard is constantly empty.  Feeding two growing boys requires 3 full time jobs. And they’re not even teenagers, yet!

E could be for energy. But that’s what I did wrote about last year.

This year E will be for endless. Because when you have kids everything is endless.

The mess is endless. Even if you attempt to get them to clean it. Their version of clean will be drastically different than your version. Pretty much like my version is different than DW’s version. Clean is relative. Even if you do clean, they will literally come right behind you wreck it. Just cleaned the bathroom? They’ll pee all over the seat like they were doing Zumba at the same time. The mess is endless.

The noise is endless. There’s a reason I’ve nicknamed them Crash and Bang. The crashes and the bangs are indeed endless. If it’s not the boys crashing and banging then they are the cause of what’s crashing and banging. See exhibit A for evidence…

But mess and noise come with boys. That’s how they’re defined. However, I know some little girls who fit this description, too.

Sibling rivalry is endless. Whatever one has the other wants. The spot on the couch. Whichever toy is in hand.  Unless it’s a Wii game. They rarely agree on which game to play.They excel in driving each other bat shit crazy as much as they do us.

My personal favorite is the questions they ask. So. Many. Questions. I’m not complaining. I love their questions. I love them so much in fact, that I answer them right here on the blog every Friday. I love that they cover the gambit. Everything from police to earthquakes to Bavaria. Even the question, “Are you going to put that question on your blog?” Yes. Yes I am.

But I would be a fool not to end with love. Their love is endless, knows no bounds and really does go to infinity and beyond. When all is said and done we are their parents and they our children. No matter how frustrated they make us while getting ready for school or getting ready for bed. No matter how exasperated they make us while fighting in the back seat. No matter how irritated we become when they’re only goal is to irritate us. Our love is endless.

keep calm

D is for… #atozchallenge

D

is for the best job in the whole wide world. A job I’ve held for over eight years, 12 years combined. There was a gruelling interview process. There were a few conditions that had to be met prior to filling this position. The perks are incredible. There are few benefits. The pay sucks, though.

From that first moment I found out, Halloween of 2006, I was elated. I only had the vaguest idea of what was to come. However, I knew I was ready for whatever it was.

But was I ready when I found out he’d need open heart surgery when he was five days old? Of course not, but I knew I wasn’t alone. Was I ready when I realized he’d be eight days old before I’d get to hold him for the first time? Of course not, but I knew patience would pay off. Was I ready when he wrapped his tiny hand around my finger and grabbed my heart? Damn straight I was ready.

I am Dad. Deliverer of discipline, developer of dreams, and destroyer of dark thoughts. I am Dad. I play, I laugh, and I cook. I teach them to read and I teach them math. I take them outside and I take them to school. I teach them respect and I teach them the difference between the light side and the dark side.

It’s not a job. It’s not a career. It’s who I am. Just as I am a boy, just as I am introverted, I, too, am a Dad. Just as my dad was before me and his dad was before him. Nothing will ever take that away.

And if B is for Bang, C is for Crash, and D is for Dad,
D
is also for DW. She’s the one responsible for making me Dad in the first place. We make beautiful babies. We know how to make each other laugh until we drool on ourselves and pee our pants while shoe shopping. We have enough common interests to love each other and enough uncommon interests to keep things interesting. This house wouldn’t be what it is without the determination and devotion with which DW loves us.

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