Hair: All a Dad Really Needs

19 03 2010
  • My four year old daughter’s first words to me this morning were, “I love you Dad.”  After returning the sentiment, I asked what it is she likes about me. She said, after a moment’s pause, “Your hair looks good.”  If only I’d known it could be so simple.  I could have saved myself the stress of worrying about being a good role model, setting boundaries and providing some tough love when necessary.  All I really needed was to make sure I have enough hair gel.
  • Cheating on Sandra Bullock is kind of like having a brand new Porsche and thinking, “This car just isn’t good enough.”
  • Hurray for the “little guy.”  Go Murray State and Ohio University.  Keep up the good work in the NCAA tournament!
  • I’m so thankful for my wonderful family.  I had lunch with most of late mother’s sisters and one of her brothers and one of my cousins this past week.  They are wonderful, open-hearted people, and it’s like being able to have lunch with my mom again.  Like many whose parents have passed, I wish I would have had lunch with my mom more often than I did as an adult (especially if she had made it…mmm!), but there are so many similarities between my mother and her sisters that I feel blessed to have the aunts still in my life.  (One of them gave me some holy water to use on my swollen legs, which I thought was very touching!
  • I love that spring is near and that it is sunny and 70 degrees here today.  Cardinal baseball can’t be too far away.
  • I resisted the Facebook craze for a long time and still find myself annoyed at status updates like, “I’ve been cleaning my floors today” or messages giving me the thrilling news that someone scored 8 billion points on a game called “Pork N Bean Shuffle.”  However, I am really enjoying a couple of rekindled high school friendships and am thankful to Facebook for them.  With all the crappy news we hear every day, it’s nice to know there are still some good people out there.




Some Things Our Kids Don’t Need to Know About Us

30 07 2008

Ever wish you could answer something in a completely honest way? Maybe when you’ve filled out a job application or been asked questions by someone on a first date? There are certain situations when complete honesty is probably a mistake (unless you are a true saint and have nothing to cover up).

I’m in one of those situations currently. I was given a journal/book called A Father’s Legacy (J. Countryman Publishing) by a family member. The idea is a cool one: Answer the questions about your own life in the book and then give it to your child/children so they can have a lasting memoir to keep. It will require some work (thanks a million, Luke), but I acknowledge this is a good idea.

Another good idea would be to utilize a modicum of care in how I answer some of these questions. This book is meant for my child (or children if more come along in the future) and could very easily get passed down to their children and so on and so on. It will be important to be truthful, of course. BUT, it may be wise to keep some true things about my past to myself. How fun would it be, though, to answer some of the questions in any way that I wanted to answer them? Luckily, I have this blog space to do just that! I can save my more “fatherly” answers for the book.

From the CHILDHOOD section of the book:

“Did you enjoy reading as a boy?” My book answer will of course praise the merits of reading and refer to the joys of having The Monster at the End of this Book read to me by my mother and enjoying Charlotte’s Web on my own. This is all true, but let’s get to the nitty gritty. I will never forget reading the sex advice column in the Playboy magazine that I stole when I was about 12. (I was not the type to steal, and other than the magazine, I think I stole a piece of hard candy once, and that was about the extent of my pilfering. I stole the magazine because, at least back then, they didn’t allow 12-year-olds to buy Playboy, and Suzanne Somers was in that particular edition. I had seen Three’s Company, and I couldn’t resist.) Back to the sex advice. What red-blooded boy at that age would not be mesmerized, awed and possibly a bit overwhelmed reading advice about extra-marital affairs or understanding female orgasms? I had the feeling that I was partway in heaven and partway in hell hiding in the garage reading those pages. Plus Suzanne Somers was hot. So, I can honestly say, yes I enjoyed reading as a boy.

From the FAMILY LIFE section of the book:

“In what ways are you like your father?” The book answer will include that I am funny and determined and that I believe in God, which are all things that my dad role modeled. He was a good man. These things are true, but like any man, my late father had his own issues. Unfortunately, I may have inherited one or two or twenty of them. So what’s the real answer? I can be as stubborn as an ass, just like him. I don’t like to lose any argument and therefore can be an infuriating person. I tend to scoff at the stupid things people do which can make me a bit judgmental. I’m guessing that my kids, when old enough to understand the book, will know these things about their dad without me having to write them down! Speaking of similarities between myself and my dad, let me mention one way in which I am not similar. Why can’t I hit a golf ball the way my dad could? I don’t enjoy the game, but I probably would if I could master the course the way he did.

From the EDUCATION section:

“What did you learn in high school?” I’m sure my book answer will touch on many things regarding “responsibility” and “self-reliance” blah, blah, blah. But here, my honest answer is this: I quickly learned there was a perfect spot on the first floor of the gym where, at lunch time, one could stand and be positioned directly below the railing on the 2nd floor of the gym where cute girls often gathered to socialize and lean against said rail. Why was this significant? Keep in mind, I attended a Catholic high school where many of the girls wore those plaid, uniform skirts. That’s right, in just the right spot, a perverted young male could see up those skirts on the 2nd floor. In my defense (not that there really is one), I was certainly not the only male aware of this, and looking back, I’m pretty sure some of the girls knew too. This was vital information and made lunch time so much more fun. (Maybe actually going up to the girls and talking to them would have been fun as well, but this seemed preposterous and impossible for me during my first couple of years).

“Is there Something You Wish You Would Have Done in High School?” Yes. Keri and Christine…preferably at the same time.

From the LOVE AND MARRIAGE section:

“What qualities first attracted you to your wife?” This is the easiest question to answer both truthfully and in book-appropriate fashion. We worked together. I was impressed with my wife’s intelligence, motivation to succeed, class and humor right off the bat. It’s difficult not to be impressed with her, and if you’ve read her blog you already know what I mean. I may leave out two things from my book answer, though. I still remember those two things from our days working together as though they happened just yesterday. One is a particular time I came across her in a narrow hallway while she was making copies. She smiled and said “hi” (we weren’t dating yet). She was wearing a skirt, and as I passed closely by her (remember it was narrow), I was stunned by how beautiful her legs looked. The other time was when a discussion broke out amongst several co-workers about working out, playing sports, flexibility, etc. My future wife decided to demonstrate her flexibility by bending completely over and easily touching her toes. I believe this happened on a casual dress day when she was wearing jeans. The incident affected me in ways I really couldn’t describe here. (Really.)

“What do you think is most important in maintaining a healthy marriage?” The book answer will include important things like trust and commitment. My real answer here? Being willing to help her with blog wording and titles and recording sporting events to watch later when she’s gone to bed instead of trying to watch them when she’s awake.

From the PARENTING section:

“What has been the greatest challenge of being a father?” My three-year-old daughter is great and is a nearly constant source of smiles and happiness. That is very, very true. However, if I were to answer this question with nothing but the truth, I would have to say it’s a challenge to remember those smiling times and to keep my cool when she decides it’s time to climb something inappropriate in a store (say, a display of breakable items). It’s usually at this time when she is very good at calling bluffs. When you have a cart full of items that you really need to purchase (or at least think that you do) and you warn her that you’re going to take her immediately home and give her a time out if she doesn’t listen, she knows that you’re not really going to do that. That’s when she looks you straight in the eye and defiantly pronounces, “I want to go home. I want a time out.” This eventually leads to an all-out screaming, public fit in which she does the kid universal turn-her-whole-body-into-deadweight-jelly when you try to pick her up off the floor while you get disapproving glances from non-parents. I get a little angry just thinking about it. Probably time to move on to the next question.

From the CELEBRATIONS section:

“Do you remember particularly special birthday gifts you received?” Hey, I got some cool stuff as a kid, like the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or the Miner 2049er game for my Atari system. I’ll probably put those down in the book. However, I can’t help but also remember some of the items of clothing that my mother, bless her heart, made for me. She was great at crafty things like that, and it helped out the family financially whenever she made clothes instead of buying them. The problem is; they weren’t always the coolest styles. You can see one of the outfits in a horrific picture buried deep in this post.

From the LIFE EVENTS section:

“Has there been a political event in your lifetime that made a strong impression on you?” Yes, the Watergate scandal. I could write in the book how I learned that politicians are not always looking out for us and how the media serves as a sort of watchdog for us. In reality, though, what I really remember about that time was how mad I was that it was the ONLY THING ON TV ALL DAY FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ETERNITY. There was no cable at that time. We had the three networks and PBS. I needed my cartoons, man! All of the shows I cared about were preempted for the Watergate hearings every time I turned on a tv. At least it made me get out and play more (I was already the type of kid who liked to play outside, but it was nice to have a little mindless tv time now and then.) What kid would rather see the face of John Dean instead of Bugs Bunny or Batman? Exactly.

From the INSPIRATION section:

“Who were your role models when you were young?” I’m going to have to write about teachers and my parents in the book, and they certainly were role models. However, the truth would also include Fonzie, rockers like the dudes from Night Ranger or the Scorpions, and maybe, since I loved scary movies, someone like Jason Voorhees. I think I’ll leave these out of the book so I don’t make my kids think that I’m a leather-jacket wearing druggie who sticks axes in people. Yeah, I’ll stick with the parents/teachers answer.

The more I think about my Playboy-stealing, scary-movie loving, skirt-looking-up, Batman-watching days, the more I wonder if I really should be parenting anyone. Then again, my daughter seems to be doing amazingly well in spite of my shortcomings. Have to give my wife credit there. Maybe this whole journal/book idea to give to your kids was someone’s idea of a sick joke.





The Incredible, Expirable Egg (How to Keep Neighbors From Having a Fight)

21 03 2008

There are two types of people in a marriage. Those who heed food expiration dates and those who disregard them.

One of the laws of the universe is that an expiration heeder (EH) always marries an expiration disregarder (ED…not to be confused with erectile dysfunction). EH’s and ED’s tend to argue about these dates. EH’s find themselves secretly throwing away food (and stuffing it way down in the bottom of the trash can so that their ED partner will not see it) in an effort to save their family from the pain and suffering of botulism. ED’s make a fuss about wasted food and money and talk about how expiration dates are not real and the food is still good.

My name is Matt, and I’m an EH. My wife is Allison, and she’s most definitely an ED. We have spirited discussions about our food perceptions and the potential lack of safety of various foods that have occupied our fridge for some length of time. Who is right?

There are variables that muddy the picture. Some of the time, food is clearly marked as having an expiration date. EH’s love this. It is clear and concise and tells you the exact moment an egg becomes fraught with danger. ED’s do not like this, as they wish not to be told by anyone when a food has reached the disgusting point. ED’s much prefer their food to say either, “Best before” or “Sell by” dates. This gives them the leeway they crave. ED’s believe that eggs, for example, are still good weeks after the “Best before” date. Apparently they are satisfied eating a egg that is “not at its best” but is still probably not going to kill you. EH’s wish that manufacturers would just grow some cojones and put a definitive date on the things. If you give an ED an food inch, they’ll take a mile.

Here’s when things really get fun. Sometimes, an egg carton with have only a date with no words. This, of course, is interpreted by EH’s as a strict “Expires by” date while ED’s believe this to clearly be a “Sell by” date. In these situations, separate vacations may be needed to help cool things off.

Well, I was faced with an interesting spin on this whole food thing last weekend when we were dog-sitting for our neighbors, who had gone out of town. On Saturday morning, my toddler made it clear to me that she would eat an egg for breakfast, and ONLY an egg. This was a small problem. We were out of eggs. After trying to tempt her with a variety of edibles that we actually had in the house, such as cereal, hash browns, waffles, pancakes, etc, she reiterated that she would not even consider eating anything other than an oval thing that comes out of a chicken.

The easy solution hit me! Our neighbors were gone, and we have a key to their house in case of emergency, such as needing an egg! Surely they had them. I wouldn’t have to make a quick trip to the store in my sweatpants (many of you know what happened the last time I tried that.)

I made my way over there, whistling a happy egg and toddler tune. In no time, I’d have a yummy scrambled egg whipped up, and no more would I have to listen to the early-morning screams of “I DON’T WANT A WAFFLE!! IT’S YUCKY!!!”

I entered their abandoned abode and went directly to the fridge. I opened it, and *GASP* I was immediately faced with a dilemma. They had two egg cartons. There were four eggs remaining in the first carton, and they had an expiration date (that’s right EXPIRATION, not BEST BEFORE, at least in my opinion) of a few days prior. Since I am an upstanding EH who cares about preventing food poisoning in my only child, I could not take one of those eggs. The problem, however, is that the second carton, with a beautiful expiration date well into the future, was full. If I took one from that carton while a few eggs remained in the top carton, it would be obvious at some point to my neighbors that one had been used, which could lead to a case of mistaken identity and a huge fight.

I know my neighbors well, and I am certain that one of them is an EH while the other is an ED. Once one of them realized that an egg had been used from the bottom carton, either the ED would be angry with the EH for not using one of the older, “still-good” eggs, OR the EH would be angry with the ED for being a hypocrite and taking one of the EH’s new eggs after endlessly preaching that expiration dates were for fools.

I like my neighbors, and I could not be the cause of marital discontent. I stood there, with the fridge door open (I can picture my parents in heaven admonishing me for letting all the cold air out.) What was I to do? I closed the fridge and decided I was going to have to mull this situation over for a bit. While thinking, I did what anyone would do. I walked about the house eating some of their potato chips, found some old love letters my neighbors had written to each other (they were buried at the bottom of one of their closets), plopped down on their couch, put my feet up on their coffee table, and started reading. At some point during an “I miss you so much” letter, the solution finally came to me! I would just take the whole, full egg carton home, go the grocery later that day, and give them a whole new egg carton before they ever got home. That way, my toddler would get her much-needed and completely safe egg. We would have all the eggs we might need that day. My neighbors would have an even newer dozen of eggs to go along with their decrepit, expired partial carton, and they could work out what to do with the 4 rotten eggs themselves!

Satisfied with my decision, I stuffed a few of the love letters in my pocket, brushed the chip crumbs off my shirt, grabbed the unspoiled dozen eggs, and headed home. They’ll never even know how I saved them from an argument. Man, I’m the best neighbor ever.

p.s. My kid didn’t want the egg once I had made it.





My Family Portrait

9 02 2008

Allison, my beautiful wife, draws pretty well. Our daughter enjoys watching Allison pencil pictures of our family. Check out Allison’s latest artwork by clicking here.

Then, tell me if my attempt below measures up. Which is better? I think it’s a close call.





Why Kids Lose at Poker

1 02 2008

My daughter really, really likes poker chips. She does not yet understand when to fold. Here is her dramatic way of saying, “All in!”

This is the what-you-talking-bout-Willis-look she gives me when she finds out that a pair of twos does not beat a straight.





Toddler Translations: She Just Wants “Neminems”

23 01 2008

As with any foreign language, it takes some time to pick up the meaning of the sounds uttered by toddlers. Through hard work and diligent research with our own little miracle, I have come to learn the meaning of certain words and phrases. I thought I’d share.

First, I will list the word or phrase that she uses. Then, the real meaning will be revealed.

“Apple Poops” = Corn Pops cereal

“Uh Oh” = I broke something expensive while you were in another room

“I need to go poopy” = I actually already pooped

“I carry you” = You carry me

“The floor is wet” = I peed on the floor

“The floor is yucky” = I vomited on the floor

“WAAHAAAAA!” = You are a bad parent and a moron. How hard is it to figure out what would make me happy?

“I want one more neminems” = I want a whole bunch of M&M’s

“That’s Daddy’s boogers” = That’s Daddy’s face whiskers (5 o’clock shadow)

“You take it” = I have a booger on the end of my finger, and I’m going to place it on your shirt if I can catch you

“I don’t want night-night” = I will scream if you even think about putting me in bed

“I help Daddy cook” = I knock things over and try to get dangerously near the oven

“No…THIS chocolate” = Use chocolate syrup in my milk, not that nutritious chocolate powder stuff

(When being picked up from daycare) “That’s MY Daddy!!” = I love my Dad





Ties Suck (Not the Kind You Wear…Well, Those Do Too)

8 01 2008

I really enjoy working with kids sometimes. Today, after a session of chess with a young teen, we were discussing the strategy involved and how it exercises the brain. We talked about how some professional chess players have matches that last a very long time. The kid said, “I think they can last a week!” After I agreed, we talked about the matches sometimes ending in a “tie.” At this point, the kid said, “That would suck. Playing chess for a week and ending in a tie is like working out for a week and finding out you’re getting fatter instead of stronger.” I whole-heartedly agreed. Man, they keep you young.





My Kid Saw Me Naked

30 12 2007

Isn’t it great when your child is a baby, and you don’t have to hide or close any doors when you take a shower or change clothes? The baby does not care if you have an extra arm, scars, or even whether you are anatomically correct (just for the record, I am). It’s like the Garden of Eden before the apple biting.

I’ve heard that it’s somewhere around age 2-3 that you are supposed to start being more careful around your child in the “nudity” area. I certainly am not one of those that feels the body au naturale is shameful or dirty (unless you’ve taken a mud bath, but that’s a different story). However, trying to be a good parent, I’ve started being conscious of the situation when taking a shower or changing in our walk-in closet.

A few days ago, I was coming out of the shower clad in a towel and making the trek to the walk-in. Down the hallway, I spied our daughter, who is smack dab in the middle of that 2-3 age range, happily playing on the living room floor with books and toys. Surprisingly, she had not found yet another dangerous object that we thought we had placed in an unreachable place. No, she was actually enjoying items appropriate for her age. She seemed not even to notice me. Therefore, I thought I did not need to worry about closing any doors. After grabbing boxers from a drawer, I proceeded into the closet and picked out something to wear (no doubt something stylish, like jeans and a sweatshirt).

As I let the towel drop, ready to don the boxers, I looked up, and there she stood. (If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Ring where the scary girl could transport herself quickly to a new location, well, it was like that). She was looking directly at me. She was looking DIRECTLY at me (we’re not talking eye contact here; we’re talking her eye level, my midsection level – staring with a sort of contemplative look on her face.) Did I quickly pull on the boxers? Did I turn around to give her a somewhat less offensive view? Did I push the door shut? No, I turned into a deer on a midnight, two-lane highway with an SUV speeding toward it and froze in terror.

The ball (no pun intended) was absolutely in her court now, as it usually seems to be. I could see her thinking. At this point, it’s important for you to know that she likes to watch the Disney t.v. show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This is important because they end the show with a silly song that repeatedly uses the words “hot dog.” While my daughter continued to stare at my most private part, she happily burst out into song, singing “hot dog, hot dog” repeatedly. The only thing that would have made it funnier, more embarrassing, worse would have been if she had actually pointed right at me. This, she did not do. At some point, which seemed like a LONG minute to me, she walked back toward the living room, and I was left to finally put on my clothes.

Obviously, I do NOT think she is scarred for life or anything like that. However, I wonder if maybe I am. If that song pops into my head at inopportune times in the future, I’m doomed. I’m going to do my best to keep the hot dog, buns, and beans covered around her in the future.

(Yeah, I went with a humongous large hot dog pic.)





Heathen Toddler Saved!

15 12 2007

This past Sunday morning, it did not take our toddler long to figure out that we were on our weekly (well, nearly weekly) drive to church. Apparently this was not her idea of a good time on this particular day, as she started yelling, “NO CHURCH! NO JESUS!” We were somewhat concerned that this two-year-old might be in need of an exorcism. (Actually, aren’t all two-year-olds in need of that? But that’s another story). Undeterred, we dropped her off in the preschool room at the church, and we heard possibly blasphemous screams and cries as we walked toward the service. However, she was quite a different child when we picked her up after church. She was all smiles and quickly said, “It’s Jesus day, Daddy!” It was a true miracle. Sure, the miracle may have been the yummy treats they gave her or the fun activity they did involving paste, but we’ll call it a “miracle” all the same. No need to put an ad in the paper for an “experienced exorcist” just yet.








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