42

A city girl from Pennsylvania.

A farm boy from Maryland. 

They met in college at the boy’s birthday party. The rest, as they say, is history.

The girl’s mother asked the boy, “Why do you want to marry my daughter?”
“Why not?” the boy responds.

I laughed when I heard this story. I used to think it was smartass remark. But thinking on it, perhaps he had no reasons why not to marry her. Perhaps, he knew all the reason why. 

But knowing him, it was probably as much a smartass response as it was romantic.

Through the years they’ve had their ups. They’ve had their downs. Perhaps even a few side ways. They’ve lived in at least four different states. Twice as many houses. They brought two strikingly handsome, brilliantly intellegent, incredibly strong yet gentle, loving boys into the world. They couldn’t have done that if they weren’t all that themselves. 

It takes something special to make it 42 years. A great sense of humor, for instance. Like when your husband sneaks up on you while you’re blow drying your hair in the bathroom and bangs on a pot with a wooden spoon. If you don’t laugh, you might kill him. It also takes wisdom. Like knowing you can only get away with said scare only once. It takes great patience. Whether one of you is working vast amounts of overtime or it’s time to move house again or finances are a struggle or your kid just broke another window, patience will see you through. Supporting each other when the going gets tough and laughing together when going gets easy will help any marriage survive the test of time. 

I try to follow their example in both marriage and parenting. Patience. Humor. Love. With a little luck we’ll last 42 years, too.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

It’s Just A Movie

No it’s not.

It’s much more than that.

It’s the connections we make. It’s how we react to the message, react to the storyline, react to the words. Combine that with a powerful, stirring soundtrack and you have the makings of movie that moves us to laughter and to tears and back to laughter.

If you haven’t seen Disney’s Moana you might want to put this post in the “to read later” folder. 

To begin with, the movies tackles fear; the fear of a people who teach its peoples to fear. Fortunately, Grandma remembers braver times and encourages her granddaughter to be courageous. Secondly, it tackles love. Unfortunately, Grandma gets sick. Forehead to forehead, her last words to her Granddaughter were

There’s nowhere you could go that I won’t be there. 

Like, Obi Wan, she comes back stronger. Moana casts aside her peoples fears, shoves off from shore to save her people from despair and destruction. Her goal is to restore the heart of Te Fiti that was stolen and lost by the demigod, Maui. When she finds Te Fiti, forehead to forehead she restores her heart and restores life to her people’s island and way of life. 

I could have cried and I don’t cry at movies. Well, there was that one time. But I claim my eyes were watering from not blinking.

In church that morning, our Deakon spoke of a photograph of he and his grandson that he holds dear. They’re forehead to forehead. Then he went on to explain the significance.

It’s living in the moment. In that single moment all we can see is each other. Nothing else exists.

Nothing.

Our eyes are so close all they can focus on is who is immediately in front of us. They have our complete, undivided attention. They have our moment, we have theirs. I find it more endearing than a hug. As meaningful as a kiss. It’s going to be my new thing with DW and the boys.

Things I Won’t Write About This Year

As a parent, I see so many different methods, rules, suggestions, ways to parent it’s tough to tell who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s hard to tell which method will work and which ones won’t. Well, not until 20 years later and we look back using our perfect hindsight vision and wish would would have done, said, reacted, taught, reared, our kids differently.

Looking ahead is difficult. We don’t know exactly how our kids will react to certain rules, certain consequences, the various methods of time outs and the whole reward/punishment philosophy. Over my 9 + 5 years of parenting I’ve used my own strategies and I’ve used suggestions from others. What I have learned the most are the kind of parents I dislike the most.

Parents who allow unlimited screen time  

They explain that technology is the way of the future why should their child not embrace it. They might as well learn it now and get a head start. They seem to instinctively know how it all works anyway. Besides, when they’re on their phone/tablet/computer/game console they aren’t out running the roads getting into trouble.

Parents who are strict with screen time

These parents are almost obsessive with how much time their child spends in front of a screen playing games. They justify it by arguing that there are more important things to do than play video games. They expect their child to engage in physical play, use imagination, interact with others, and in general – learn.

Babies who are breastfed

They say repeatedly that the benefits of breastfeeding are immeasureable. Antibodies, vitamins, that it provides ample nutrition for proper growth of body and brain. It’s convenient in that the baby can be fed anywhere with no prep work. It’s almost a celebratory event when a mom’s milk comes in.

Babies who are bottle fed

Some moms just aren’t physically able to breastfeed. Perhaps they don’t produce enough milk. Perhaps they see their breasts as something sexual and feel uncomfortable breastfeeding. Perhaps the baby isn’t able to breastfeed. If they can’t latch properly, they can’t eat. If they’re lactose intolerant and power puke after feeding, then they won’t eat. 

Tiger parents, helicopter parents, free range parents, snow plow parents
Some parents push their kids to succeed, even at an extremely early age. Some parent hover over their child to make sure those who influence their child do so in a way that benefits the child. Some parents allow their child the freedom to be and do what they want. Some parents push aside all problems their child might encounter before the child even knew the problem was a possibility. 

I won’t write about any of them. They’re all right. They’re alright. I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: So long as your child is happy, healthy, and educated, keep on keeping on. Do what is right for you, your child, and your family. Never mind what that other mom is doing to survive her children. We’re just doing the best we can with what we’re given. No one knows how it’ll all turn out in the end.

Go Ask Your Father: A Verbal Typo, Acid, Radio, and Pee Pees

Happy Friday everyone. We’ve got friends coming for a sleepover with their two little girls. We can’t to see them! (and their parents, too) So here is this week’s question and answer episode. Let’s get smarter!

1. What’s friction?
Bang was sitting on the couch working diligently at some additions problems I printed for him. He solved them with Lego bricks – make a stack of 7 then make a stack of 5 stick them together, count them up and know that 7+5 = 12. Then he asks his mother this question. She tells him it’s when things rub together. Like when you rub your hands together and they get warm, that because of friction.

“Oh. Well then what is a fraction?”

That’s a verbal typo. He said friction, but meant fraction. The difference a vowel can make! So she then explained that a fraction is piece of something, like when you cut a pizza and eat part of it.

2. What’s acid?

It’s a chemical that can be corrosive and dissolve some metals. It can also refer to fruits like citrus that can be acidic. This is what gives them their sour taste. There are acids everywhere, including in your stomach. Normally, your stomach has ph value of 1-3, or up to 4-5 after a large meal. However, for the most acidic acid, which is fluoroantimonic acid, it lands on the Hammet acidity function (kinda like ph) at -28. To give you an idea of how strong that is, a ph of 1 is acidic enough to burn skin. If it’s that strong, what can an acid that strong be contained it? A can of Coke? Nope, Coke has a ph of 2.53. It’s kept in a container made of the same stuff you fry your eggs on. Teflon.

3. What is FM?

Radio waves, believe it or not (hint: believe it), are a form of light. Like microwaves, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and gamma rays. Of course, it’s not within the visible light spectrum. Developed in 1895 by Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, radio was born when sent and received his first signal. In AM radio, where all the talk shows are, the AM stands for Amplitude Modification. Amplitude is the hight of the wave. So by changing the hight we can change the sound. FM, where the good stations are, stands for Frequency Modulation. Frequency is the rate at which the wave moves or how often the top (crest) of the waves pass in a second. By changing the frequency we can interpret the electromagnetic frequencies as sound. It’s all over my head, really. Even after reading about it for a half hour I’m still not sure how it works. All I know is that when I turn on the radio and hear Rag-n-Bone Man’s Human, I’m happy.

4. Do girls have pee pees?

Do they ever buddy. In our house, pee pee is a general term and can used for both the male and female genitalia. Yesterday I got to explain the differences, albiet carefully. I told Bang that his pee pee is called a penis. A girl’s pee pee, like his mother’s, is called a vagina. “Oh” he says. All the while I was explaining this I was sitting on the toilet doing my business. 

Questions I Asked My Kids

Spoiler Alert! If you watch The Voice, Gold Rush, This Is Us, Blindspot, or Grey’s Anatomy and you aren’t all caught up, skip down to the questions!

I mark the days of the week by what show is coming on after the boys are in bed. On Mondays (starting next Monday) is The Voice. I’m excited for this season’s group of judges – Adam, Gwen, Alicia, and Blake. 

On Tuesdays its Gold Rush and This Is Us. In Gold Rush I’m rooting for the Hoffman’s to get a little luck and for Parker to find himself again without his Grandpa around.  This Is Us gets me every time. From William’s story and death which  pulled powerfully at heartstrings, to the story of Jack and Rebecca to the growing up of their three kids. The writers and set designers have a done a spectacular job of recreating each time period from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and today. Of the five shows I’m highlighting, this is the one I recommend the most.

On Wednesdays it’s Blindspot. I love the drama and thrill and the “OMG! We only have 3 minutes to this or the whole world explodes!” story line. I really hope Roman turns out to be a good guy. Tonight, Thursday, it’s Grey’s Anatomy nightI’m curious to hear the rest of Karev’s story and where the writers take him. Last week’s episode when the 9 year old who died in a routine surgery hit too close to home since I have my own 9 year old. On a side note, since Izzy left the show years ago I’ve been looking for a new girlfriend. DW likes Karev. I’m okay with that.

Fridays are Fridays! It’s either time to catch up on shows we may have missed through the week or game night with friends. Win win!

Now for the questions…

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Crash: Police man
Bang: Heaven-man

2 What superpower do you wish you had?

Crash: To control the world with blue lightning
Bang: Cape power to appear my cape – like teleporting

3. What is something I always say?

Crash: I love you
Bang: Do your math

4. What is something mom always says?

Crash: I love you 
Bang: Room

5. What do you wish we would say more often?

Crash: Yes to the things I want and No to the things I don’t want.
Bang: You don’t have to do anything but play plasma cars

6. Where do you wish we could go during March Break?

Crash: Legoland
Bang: Horseback riding

7. What is something you learned today?

Crash: The line of symmetry in art
Bang: I don’t know… I know everything!

8. What do you NOT want for supper tonight?

Crash: Pickles
Bang: Peas

9. What three words best describe you?

Crash: Amazing, gaming, and brother-annoyer
Bang: Bad, distractive, and beautiful

10. Can you tell me a story or a dream?

Crash: I was in Minecraft and I was a slime and I had a diamond sword. I was hitting chickens and they would split into two chickens.
Bang: I had secret dreams but I’m not telling so just write “I don’t know”

Time

The past is just a memory. The future is unforseeable. All we have is right here, right now. 

This very moment. 

I’m hearing stories of my father-in-law. 

Of how he grew up with a twin sister and they were the second youngest of 17 kids. 

Of how his first job working at gas station, he made $25 a week and would give most of it away to kids for new shoes, or to go to the circus, or for fries and drink, or to go to the movies. 

Of how much he loved kids, particularly his grandkids. He would walk for hours to get a granddaughter to sleep when her father just couldn’t do it. He always had a joke or would act a clown to make them laugh. He would pass them his spare change. He always had a treat for them.

Of how he knew so many people and touched so many lives in big ways and small. Whether through an act of kindness, the giving of a nickname, or just talking their ears off, he was an influence far and wide. 

Of his use of the English language. There were no swear words in his vocabulary, though he swore enough to make a sailor blush. To him they were just verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. 

Of his days working as a welder.  I’m told that whatever job he was on he was always one of the best. Though that doesn’t surprise me because he always took pride in his work. 

Of how he loved company. He truly believed the more the merrier. He’d invite friends and tell them to bring their friends. It wasn’t uncommon for friends to arrive with their friend’s friends. Then he would start up the BBQ and feed you. 

Of how some animals liked his home better than their owners’ home so they’d come live with him instead. He adopted stray cats. He adopted a bearded dragon that couldn’t travel with his granddaughter. 

Of how he would bail kids out of trouble. He would give them a place to sleep when they were tired. He would feed them when they were hungry. 

Of how much he gave. His money. His time. His tools. His Jeep. A listening ear or an earful. His home. 

He gave me his greatest treasure… His daughter and his family. For that I’m forever grateful. 

His memorial service was Saturday. There was food and a few swear words, the place was packed, memories shared and laughter rang through the tears. 

Parenting vs Baseball

It’s America’s pastime.

Even though I live in Canada, I’m not really a hockey fan. I don’t have a favorite team. Kids in schools ask me, “Who do you go for?” (translation: Who’s your favorite hockey team?) I always give the same response just to see the shock on their face. “I don’t watch hockey.” I usually have to pick their jaw up off the floor. After a few minutes they regain the use of their voice.

My favorite sport to play is soccer. Those hockey kids in school know this from all my days subbing in their gym class. Otherwise, baseball is where my loyalty lies. Particularly with a certain black and orange bird.

We’re now 11 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to the warm climate of Sarasota Springs, Florida. We’re also 25 days from their first spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Argh…

This means we’re also not far from our friendly, family rivalry as DW and Bang are Blue Jays fans.

All this talk of baseball makes me want to compare the game of baseball with raising a family…

1. Training

It’s all about creating and moulding the best team possible. Mind you, I won’t get fired for having too many losing seasons, but I’m still responsible to do the best with what I’m given. Just as the players are responsible for improving their game, we’re responsible for being better than we were yesterday. Perhaps it’s teaching the kids a new skill they need for school or sport or life. Perhaps it’s improving ourselves to be better at whatever it is we’re trying to improve upon. We’re always striving for the next homerun…

2. Patience

There are roughly 150 pitches thrown by each team. Some crazy level of patience is needed to get through the 3+ hours it takes to deliver all 300 of them. Multiply that by 162 games per season and you’ve got 48,600 pitches to watch. When kids are throwing temper tantrums, you’re spouse isn’t paying attention, and you’re afraid your house is so messy it’ll appear on the next episode of Hoarders, you need patience. Though, unlike baseball, parenting isn’t a summer game. It’s all day, every day with no hope of winning a world series and the pay sucks.

3. Coaches

A baseball team needs lots of specialities. There are managers who oversee the whole shebang. There are also pitching coaches, hitting coaches, bench coaches, bullpen coaches, first base coaches and third base coaches. A household works much the same way. I’m the cooking coach. Not because DW can’t, but because I enjoy it more. DW is the paying bills coach. Nobody likes that position. I’m the cleaning coach because I’m home more often. DW is the snuggle coach because she’s so snugly.  

4. Bases

Speaking of bases… 1st base is kissing. 2nd base has something to do with boobs. I’m fairly confident that you can figure out 3rd base and a homerun. Without the homerun, without “scoring”, we wouldn’t have the families we have. No kids, anyway. May you all hit homeruns tonight without gaining extra players on your team…

 

Questions I Asked My Kids: Would You Rather…

So apparently I’m doing this blogging this all wrong. DW shared an article with me about a lady who is making over $50,000 a month with her blog. A MONTH! I’d be happy to make that in year, let alone 30 days. She also spends 40-60 hours a week on her blog. I might spend 7-10 if I write every day. 

1. Would you rather drink lemon juice or eat a cricket?

Crash: Drink lemon juice
Bang: Eat a cricket
Mom: Drink lemon juice
Dad: Eat a cricket 

2. Would you rather have stupidly huge hands or huge feet?

Crash: Huge hands
Bang: Huge hands
Mom: Huge hands
Dad: Huge hands

3. Would you rather have your grandmother’s hair or her first name?

Crash: Her Hair
Bang: Her hair
Mom: Her hair
Dad: Her name

4. Would you rather be the best player on a team that never wins or the worst player on a team that never loses?

Crash: Worst player on a team that never loses
Bang: Best player on a team that never wins
Mom: Best player on a team that never wins
Dad: Best player on a team that never wins

5. Would you rather have feet for hands or hands for feet?

Crash: Hands for feet
Bang: Feet for hands
Mom: Hands for feet
Dad: Hands for feet

6. Would you rather be blind or deaf?

Crash: Deaf
Bang: Blind
Mom: Deaf
Dad: Deaf

7. Would you rather be horrible at a job but get paid alot or be perfect at a job and get paid a little?

Crash: Horrible at a job and get paid alot
Bang: Perfect at a job and get paid a little
Mom: Horrible and get paid alot
Dad: Perfect and get paid a little

8. Would you rather be able to only whisper or only shout?

Crash: Shout
Bang: Shout
Mom: Only whisper
Dad: Only whisper

9. Would you rather give up electronics or junk food?

Crash: Junk food
Bang: Junk food
Mom: Junk food
Dad: Junk food

10. Would you rather have an elephant trunk for a nose or a giraffe’s neck?

Crash: Elephant trunk
Bang: Giraffe’s neck so I can go through the ceiling
Mom: Elephant trunk
Dad: Elephant trunk

I encourage you to ask your family member these questions. Bonus points if you can guess their answer!

Being God

Perhaps Jesus was God’s son. Perhaps Jesus was God himself. Either way, it is said that when Jesus walked our mortal Earth he was a worker of miracles. He could make the blind to see, cripples to walk, dead to live. I’m not here to preach to you though.

Then it came to me…

We parents are God, too. Think about it…

Jesus healed the sick. We know that having a sick child is miserable for everyone. So we do everything we can to make them better. Snuggles. Cool baths. Medicine. Lots of sleep. A trip to the hospital to see a doctor if warranted. We bestow upon them our powers of healing. Granted, it’s not as instantaneous, but still, we, too, heal the sick.

Jesus clothed the poor. From their very first breath outside of their mother’s womb we put clothes on our children. We plan what outfit they’ll wear home from the hospital. We buy clothes month after month after month after… as they outgrow outfits faster than they can put them on. WTH? They just tried on those pants at the store and they outgrew them on the way home! And our kids are dirt poor so they need us for clothes.

Jesus fed the hungry. Sometimes with fish and garlic bread. We feed the hungry, too. Sometimes with hotdogs and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes with pizza. Most times with veggies, we hope. We can’t keep food in the house. “Can I have a snack” soon evolves into “I’m hungry” which eventually becomes a shortened grunt, “Imungry“. They eat a full meal and minutes later they come back looking for a snack. They seem to eat their way through a dozen grocery bags of food on the way home from the grocery store.

We may not have all the patience of The Shephard, but we do what we can for our little sheep. We heal them, we clothe them, and we feed them month after month, year after year whether they worship us or not.

21 Questions I Asked My Wife

I highly encourage you ask your spouse these questions. The laughs you get will make it well worth it. I’m not even sure where I found these, but here they are for your enjoyment (and mine). 

Q: Would you rather I be completely hairless or as hairy as a gorilla?
A: Completely hairless

Q: What actress would play you in a movie about your life?
A: Katie Holmes (or Emilia Clarke or Megan Fox if Katie isn’t available)

Q: Who would play your love interest (aka, me) in a movie about your life?
A:  Kelly Slater or 
Howie Mandel or Billy Zane (from The Titanic) (she also named Mr. Magoo)

Q: Would you rather our children grow up to be 8 feet tall or 3 feet tall?
A: 8 feet tall

Q: If you had to go a week without your phone, what would you miss the most about it?
A: Wunderlist (our grocery/to do list)

Q: What do you like most that I do in bed?
A: Scratch my head

Q: What was your first impression of me? Did you ever dislike me?
A: My first thought was “Wow, he’s really short.” and “Why’s he’s wearing a trench coat?”

Q: What’s your favorite memory of our wedding day?
A: Seeing how excited you were when the bagpiper piped us into our reception

Q: If you woke up tomorrow as a man, what would be the first three things you’d do?
A: Stratch my junk, play with my junk, and pee standing up

Q: Would you rather use whipped cream or hot fudge?
A: Depends on what we’re using it for… 

Q: What do you think is your best physical feature?
A: My smile

Q: What do you think is my best physical feature?
A: Your bum

Q: If you could be on any reality TV show, which one would it be?
A: Gold Rush so I could drive a bulldozer or a big digger

Q: Have you ever obsessed over anything? (toys, movies, projects, people, problems)
A: New Kids on the Block

Q: What were your nicknames growing up, including the ones you didn’t want to stick?
A: Smurfette, Shit-heels, Pissy-Liz, Bimp, Boo, Snugglebum

Q: If I let you dress me, what would I wear on our next date?
A: Dark jeans, brown shoes, and a nice button up shirt (she knows I hate brown shoes)

Q: Would you ever role play in bed?
A: Yes.

Q: Yoga pants or skirts?
A: Yoga pants

Q: What song would you sing for your audition on The Voice?
A: As I Lay Me Down by Sophie B. Hawkins or The First Cut Is the Deepest by Sheryl Crow

Q: Is there a food that reminds you of me?
A: Hearty Chicken Bake

Q: Is there a memory you have or me that always makes you laugh?
A: Holey underwear