Tag Archives: stay at home dad

new blog post: peering at sugar mountain through binoculars.

“oh, to live on sugar mountain
with the barkers and the colored balloons,
you can’t be twenty on sugar mountain
though you’re thinking that
you’re leaving there too soon,
you’re leaving there too soon.”

these lyrics, this song, sugar mountain by neil young (who incidentally wrote it at the age of 19), went through my head on more than one occasion today. it was seventy degrees, the sun was out, and there was a slight breeze letting us know that it’s still february. the girls and i headed up rainbow mountain to find unicorns and listen for bears. we accomplished both of our missions – the unicorns were bouncy without horns (some might call them horses) and the bear snores were either testing sounds from the arsenal or thunder that never made rain – though i kept the threat of possible rain in my back pocket in the event that the girls budged at leaving time. “come on, come on, gotta beat the rain” – gets them moving faster than “we gotta get home for lunch”.

between hornless unicorns.

a.’s confidence climbing rocks, h.’s interest in discovering what’s under every rock, and the other explorations that the girls went on today – not totally guided by me – helped me realize that they are climbing sugar mountain, they are in the foothills, they are on their way to fantastical findings that will form, frighten and fascinate them, they are still allowed on sugar mountain – and will be for quite some time.

i lived on sugar mountain, i think i dug my heels in the whole way down, but realized that we all have to move on at some point. the beautiful thing about having children is getting to sit on ‘sometimes sour, hopefully spicy, and lightly sweetened with stevia’ hill, pull out our binoculars, and catch glimpses of a pure cane time in our lives.

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letting our kids feel, and letting them know it’s real.

i was cleaning up after lunch (a chore i enjoy – setting the stage for round two in the day, a fresh start) and a. and h. were in a.’s room playing prior to quiet time – which is mostly nice, but there are the times i come in to ‘break up the party’ and am met with a myriad of reasons why they should have quiet time together. ‘dad, we will totally play quiet and i will share my leapster i promise.’ ‘no, to your own room girls’ (when i write and say that i feel really old – especially the way i say “girrrrls”) ‘dad, how about we play in here for a little bit, and if we are doing well we can keep playing together or go to our own rooms’ she looks up with a smile, knowing she has just played me at my own game. “no, come on guys let’s go” my tone flatter, my eyes losing their ‘this is cute’ smile. then: they up the ante, i get stern, they hug and kiss a few hundred times – their love enhanced by the fight against a common enemy, h. finally goes to her own room, i sit on the sofa, ten minutes later she is coming out of her room with a ‘rooster in the oven’ (euphemism for ‘poop in the diaper’), we change her diaper (it’s the humane thing to do) and she goes back to her room. i then have anywhere between ten minutes and two hours to ‘do things around the house’ (in quotes only because there is little to no consistency with how i use that time – probably best gauged off of my bejeweled blitz score).

spinning on the moon.

so, during this ‘pre-quiettime play’ i usually don’t notice the noises they are making, unless it is ‘the cry’ – you know, the one that they aren’t faking, the one that comes from the source of the pain and out the mouth, the one we say ‘it better be’ but hope we never hear. as they play, my ears are filled with my own grunts, the garbage disposal, clanging of dishes, and thoughts that range from the talent of plumbers to whether ryan braun is innocent. but, this day the noise that came from a.’s room was different, best described as a wail, a heart-felt, stomach to throat to mouth moan and cry, the sound of her soul coming out of her mouth, a child feeling deep. i walked in, knowing she was hurting and not hurt, to find her holding a picture of her and her friend from back home. not just holding, but pressing to her chest, trying to make him appear in her heart. the sobs were broken up by “i want my l., l. i just want my l.” over and over again. i held her, i think i said it would be alright, but mostly held her and let her feel. i love that little girl. my goodness, she feels. i hope that i or the world never strips that from her. yes, she is four, i could down play the whole thing, and tell her to move on, chalk it up to the irrational crazy emotions of a four-year old – ‘nope’, as h. would say, i want our children to feel. it’s not an easy road to feel that deeply, i know, i think we all know, but being able to express, expose and delve into that type of feeling will help her better relate to the world around her – i think. yes, we must teach children to regulate their emotions, but first we must teach them that it is okay to have and show them.

pictures from a gray day in montgomery





the birth of a heart-o-scope.

the girls had gathered art supplies from upstairs, brought them downstairs, and made themselves busy at the kitchen table – while i cleaned up from lunch. i looked over and observed the following.

a.’s tongue was pressed tight to the corner of her tensed lips, her eyes were zoned, and a trickle of snot had crept from her nose. she gave a quick sniffle, to bring the caterpillar back in the cave, shifted her tongue, gazed up, and then quickly back to focus – a robot like motion, a motion much like resetting to the next line on a typewriter. i’m not sure if my mind or her eyes made that wonderful mechanical noise that typewriters used to make, as her pupils lifted, quickly hit the ceiling, and then fell back down on ‘her world’. “da’ zingk”. the only thing existing at that moment – for her- was in her hands. she shifted in her chair, gave a sideways glance – to be sure sister wasn’t working her way towards any of ‘her’ materials, another darting glance at sister, this time to be certain that sister wasn’t one clumsy fall away from disturbing her creation, and a final check, this time to see what sister was working on.

i was washing dishes at the kitchen sink, felt a ‘force’, looked down, and there was the three-foot-four-inch ninja, eyes blurred from concentration, hair without a part, and little hands holding a collection of objects held together by a number of adhesives, she extended her ‘art baby’ and asked that i tie a knot. the string was affixing a piece of construction paper to a roll of paper towel, and the roll of paper towel had been transformed into a valentine’s day kaleidoscope with wings. there was a panted ‘thanks’ as she shuffled back to the table. h. had now successfully plastered cray paper to each of her fingers, which left the glue stick hopelessly melted to itself. her eyes were smiling and wide, her face was painted with smudged marker, her creation, no less awesome, but, her creation was ripped to pieces, while a.’s fingers turned into tweezers as she put the finishing touches on her prized piece of work.

she was done, for now, and a. and h. took turns looking through their ‘heart-a-scope’ – for a moment. then h. wanted it longer than a., a. pulled it away and said it was hers, h. cried, a. scurried to her room – heart-a-scope in hand, h. cried a little more, and we all took a ten minute break.

the heart-a-scope.

a. would not be happy if she saw this picture.

quick thoughts contemplated while getting clean.

many times, when i write these, i jump onto the page as if you have been in my mind, and i, for some reason, decide to start sharing mid-way through a thought. this post started in my mind ,in the shower, the following way ‘it appears that when you care less you are happier, or perhaps it’s caring less about things that shouldn’t be cared about, perhaps those are not cares but worries, are worries and cares the same? or are worries really cares that shouldn’t exist? is caring/worrying really all about controlling rather than letting what will be be (don’t sing it. resist the urge. don’t visualize the closing credits. step away from the desire to…ahhh ke sara sara) so it came back to control and needing to grasp onto everything in life all at once and know where it is, have it in its proper place, pretend i’m caring, but in reality i’m worrying. so, to care less? no, to devote my caring to things that are important. to worry less. these thoughts come after concerning my mind with why i care so much about the details of life, and then realizing, after thinking the aforementioned thoughts, that i wasn’t caring about details, i was worrying about things i can’t control.

it feels like this has been less and less, but there are times where ‘worries’ outweigh ‘cares’. i wish to care more, caring is active and forward moving, caring requires action, if you care, but worries are paralyzingly painful positions of pause in our lives. worries are doubts. this seems to reflect on my previous post ‘why.do.i.care’. perhaps, it wasn’t questioning why we care, but why we worry.


the great worm rescue.

ballet outfit, silver boots, argyle socks, and a blanket for a cape – it was sixty degrees out – today was h’s day, and we were hunting for worms to save. our last bout of rain washed out the creek and left dried minnows and worms scattered on the sidewalk in its wake. h. was calling herself “captain something” as she stumbled down the sidewalk following her sister’s direction. sister (which is what h. calls a. – and she will remind you of their relation to no end) is a professional worm rescuer, and has taken h. under her wing. as they made their way down the parkway, they stopped at every ‘thing’ that didn’t look like a rock, dead minnows or worms, and crouched down to pay their respects to the fallen. dried worms get a little more ‘crouch time’ than the minnows. as they huddle over the crunchy-dried up-circles (h. having to be reminded countless times by a. not to touch) i think a. is reflecting how she could have saved her ‘poor little buddy’.

a. gives h. a pep-talk prior to her first solo worm rescue

we continue on – h. falling on the walkway that was made slippery by washed out mud and sand, a. seeing how close she can go to the creek before I call her back, and me thinking how fruitless this worm search seems to be, but enjoying the sounds and sights that join a walk alongside a moving body of water. and then…what to my surprise do i hear from a.? “h. we got one get over here” h. clumsily run/falling down the slight incline (down the incline?hm), knees knocking, cape blowing in the wind, hair in her face, panting and red-faced she makes it to where a. is hunched over a…a…a… real worm – still alive, and now it is their job to save it. i was quite impressed that a. waited for h. and walked her through the process. “now h. (yes she really speaks this way) pick it up carefully. no, no, no use both hands. okay, now you want to set it on the grass by some water. no h., don’t squeeze it. oh, oh,oh h. just gently set it down.” I am watching with a huge grin not wanting to butt in, and now h. is swinging the worm as if she skipped tee ball and went straight to fast pitch softball. “oh…h….okay, that’s right. set it down right there. good. leave it. no, don’t pick it up. great.”. yah for h. we clapped, danced, chanted “h. h. h.”, hopped in our wagon, and went home.

thanks to the efforts of a. and h. – there is one more worm in the world, and one less crunchy snack on the sidewalk for a one year old.

my second piece on “extremely loud incredibly close” will hopefully be up by friday. r. is out-of-town and today time only permits a quick story about worm rescue. if you have seen the movie, or read the book, since my last post – please let me know what you thought either in the comments section of the last blog post or drop me a note at idiowind@gmail.com.

my morning vent. rant. call it what you want.

It was cold upstairs; I turned up the heat and opened the vent. I opened the vent. All the way open. You there?

It was four a.m. This I would not know unless from the glow of the microwave clock that beamed in my half-opened, angry, and quarter conscious eyes. I was not craving a “hot pocket” (which I haven’t had in years, but were a staple in my early twenties diet), nor was I waking for an early morning fishing trip. I wasn’t relieving my bladder of the two pints of oolong tea I had during the, um, well, the game of American football that played on the screen from three thirty in the afternoon to…whenever that “thing” ended, nope, I wasn’t getting up for an early morning jog either. Actually, I was lying, quite peacefully might I add, in bed, asleep, as I normally do, when I heard what I thought was the sound of a cup pushing against the water dispenser on the refrigerator door. At first I thought it was the heat kicking in, “who would be getting water right now?” ran through my mind, but the gulp and loud “ahhh”, clued me in that, after a pat down to rule out the human who sleeps next to me (who was there – sleeping quite soundly), I realized one of the two “little people” were up getting water, in the kitchen?, and I identified which “little person” by the sound of their little feet that they don’t pick up, but shuffle quickly across the floor, which most of the time endears me to her, but when my mind realized there was no “forty o’clock”, I was anything but endeared.

H. had woken up, needed water, moved a stool in front of the refrigerator, got a cup, climbed the stool, pushed the cup into the lever, filled the cup, drank the water, and set her cup on the counter – all in the dark. I should have been impressed; perhaps I was, until the day progressed. Progressed may not be the right word. I shuffled H. back to bed and she, I presume, went back to sleep.

double rainbow.

It was six fifteen. This I wouldn’t have known unless A. hadn’t announced, on their way into our bedroom (yes “they” – ol’ “shuffle feet” was in tow and blamed for the early wake up call), that “it is six. one. five.”. I was thinking quicker than I was at four a.m. “Okay, I can handle this” was the pep talk I gave myself – really motivating huh? “Girls, can you go in one of your rooms and play? I need a minute (or fifty).” A surprising “yes daddy” followed by the shuffling and pounding (a. is a pounder like me) of feet out the door. Ahh. I made it. I get a little more sleep to make up for the random four a.m. hydration fest.

It was six twenty. I was woken by cries. I made my way, slowly, into A.’s room. A. was crying and H. was hiding – I didn’t need details. “Really?” I thought to myself. “Really I am starting my day, wait, my day was started two hours ago, well, starting the second part of my day with cries.” Okay, I can handle this. “Hey girls, what’s up?” Why? Why do I do things like that? Why do I ask questions? A. Starts “H. blah blah blah” It was like the reverse Charlie Brown. Let’s head into the kitchen – I need to start the coffee. They went to the table to color.

It was six forty. I was turned around by grunts. H. was pulling the bag of markers from A., and A. was trying not to cry because I told her my head might explode if I heard anymore cries – they started anyway. “Girls, could you go to one of your rooms and play while I get breakfast going?” – let’s try this again. “Yes, Daddy.” Yes. We are back on track – until H. walks into a wall on her way to the bedroom. Crying. Followed by a “I wanted to make your bed and leave Minnie Mouse on it – don’t take your Minnie Mouse off argument”, then a wrestling match to change H.’s diaper while A. commented on the smell and size of H’s rooster (in case you missed it in a previous post – we call “poops in the diaper”, “roosters in the oven” for no real reason), a crying fit because H. wanted to wear her tutu for the tenth straight day and I was trying to explain that we needed to clean the wheaties-pudding-milk-hotdog mush off of it, a nice walk to the washing machine to put it in together, then a total misunderstanding when the washing machine actually started, to a blissful moment watching the tutu swirl in water , to a melt down when the tutu couldn’t come out after a five-minute wash, to walking into another wall, a peaceful moment listening to “puff the magic dragon”, jumping on sister, then, as I was showering I heard from our closet “Dad, she has to poop” a minute later “Dad, she’s taking her diaper off”. The warm water and glass barrier were comforting. Let her poop all over the closet, this moment is worth cleaning the poop out of my clothes and carpet. Luckily, no poop.

Nine o’clock. Yes, only Nine o’clock. Only Nine o’clock and we had enough tears, cries, pouts and thirty-second bliss moments for the week. “One of those days” I thought. “Just shoot me” I texted r.. They were fed, we tried schoolwork, and H. and A. started arguing about something else. My leg bounced, as it had when I was twelve waiting to give an oral presentation, “come on ten o’clock, come on ten o’clock” racing through my mind – and I think verbalized a few times. At ten o’clock we can get in the car and start heading to gymnastics where at least A. will be busy, and I think I can wrestle H. into eating a snack – or six if it buys time – to get a little peace. It worked. We are good. We ate lunch and are now getting on with our day. I am writing and they are doing an art project.

No moral, no message – just an open vent that I am yelling through. We all need that every now and again.

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