Dad Diary: My Lenten Letter to My Children

Paczki | DonutsYes, I had a pazcki for breakfast. Yes, I’m going to eat my favorite fast food for lunch. Yes, I’m going to have an Old Fashioned this evening, but it’s Fat Tuesday, for heaven’s sake. However, tomorrow, with the first day of Lent, it’s going to be a “first-day” of a new life where I take care of myself, my body, and my brain first in order to be a better father, husband, employee, friend, and human.

All religions talk extensively about the greatest gift we have from God is our body. Do most of us treat our body as a gift?  Ahem. My recent adventure onto a scale at my Dr.’s office suggests, no, I treat my body like a rental storage unit (and my cholesterol results suggested I’m a hoarder and that storage unit has every old magazine I ever subscribed to). I look around any mall or grocery store, or theme park, or sporting event, and looking at most people’s bodies, well, I can see most of us don’t treat our bodies like temples and gifts. I’m not breaking any ground there.

I’m going to change that. Starting tomorrow and pray for me that it’s forever.  44 years are in the books on this body I have. Let’s see if I can get 44 more, and make them healthy and fit.  And now, a letter I wrote to the people who love me. They say, if you write something down, you’re more likely to follow through. Let’s test that theory.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” -Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).


Dad Diary: Clothes Mountain Has a Song

I might write a children’s book with the sole purpose of turning it into a cartoon, and with an awesome theme song.

Remember, I change the bed sheets each and ever week and my daugthers have clothes everywhereand since I refuse to determine which clothes are dirty, and which clothes are clean, I stack it all in a mountain.

Here’s the theme song. Picture this with a banjo and more lyrics.

Dad Diary, Someone Still Thinks I’m Awesome

Regular readers are probably aware – I have two teenagers in my house, and a sweet, kind, smiley pre-Teen (she calls herself a “Tween”) heading in that direction.

I’m compared often to Phil Dunphey on Modern Family. I should be offended that sitcoms always paint us dads as dimwitted simpletons who are way-too-easily entertained. I’m supposed to be complex, I guess. But I’m not. I like every “Best Dad Ever” mug I’ve ever gotten from every Secret Santa shop. I haven’t thrown any away. I like the cheap keychains they buy me (even though I don’t use a keyring). I keep the keychains in a drawer. I have a box under my bed filled with every father-themed artwork, picture, or ash tray – and I don’t smoke.

Basically, if one of my kids poured their heart and soul into something, I’m sappy and nostalgic, and I can’t throw things away, and I can’t let things go.

With teenagers, the “Super Dad” mugs and art projects are all gone. They don’t think I’m as funny anymore. And when I use our family message board to encourage everyone to write down New Year’s Resolutions, the wife and the teens roll their eyes and walk right by.

Not my Tween (her words). She, instead, makes a resolution typically made by someone 30+ and quotes a song more than 50-years-old.

I’m tellin’ ya folks. She’s gonna break the mold on typical teen behavior, and she’s gonna be respectful to people, while also being relaxed.

Leave a Comment with your resolution. Also, leave a comment …what should this feature be? Dad Diary? Dad Evolving? Fatherhood Chronicles? Lemme know.

Dad Evolving, Carpool Lane Etiquette

Having a teenage daughter is the best. Right? Everyone?

I currently have a teenage daughter, and another on the way (but I have hopes the younger one, when she reaches her Teen years, will revolutionize how teenage daughters and parents interact with each other).

Let’s discuss the morning drop off at school with my 14-Year-Old in the carpool lane. She’s been a high-schooler for 4 months. Too many times I’ve made the mistake of telling her, as we pull up to our spot in the carpool line, “have a great day,” and, “I love you,” and, “I’m proud of you.” Each time I say those horrible things, she ignores me, can’t leave the car fast enough, and storms off. I drive away wondering, “what did I say? Did I use the wrong tone? Is telling someone you love them not what it used to be?”

Turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. What was I doing wrong? Well, I was saying these shameful things when the car door was open and other random girls, parents, administrators, and TMZ reporters might hear me. For a teeange girl to be seen openly communicating with a parent in a joyful, friendly way is not cool. Not cool at all!

Today, however, as the car began to slow, my daughter said, “OK, Dad. Tell me you love me and get it out of the way before the door opens.”

Whoa! This is a revelation.

I told her, quickly, “I love you. I’m proud of how serious you take your studies. I think it’s great how well, and early, you went to bed last night. Sleep is so important. Have a great day. It’s going to be a great day. When you get home from school, eat a healthy snack …”

I could hardly stop myself. To be given this access and permission to speak directly to my 14-year-old, and without earbuds, or a screen in her hands illuminating her face …this doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t.

And because I followed proper protocol, before she opened the door to exit the vehicle and storm off with her way-too-heavy backpack and lunch, she said, “I love you, too, Dad.”

Yup. Those words came out of her mouth (would it have been embarrassing if I was filming that moment with my flip-cam? …probably). I heard them. This happened. My daughter said, “I love you, too.”

That kinda moment is better than a cuppa coffee for getting the adrenaline going.

Needless to say, when I pulled away and started on my commute to work, I turned on Imagine Dragons and cranked it all the way up.

p.s. I’m not sure where “Blogging about your teenager” ranks on the “Most Horrible Thing a Parent Can Do” list, but it’s gotta be up there.

Dad Diary: Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch

I’m not perfect at following through on things, but something I really stick to is changing all the bed sheets once-a-week, no matter what. I’ve read enough articles on Mind Body Green and linked in Tweets to know a dirty bed is a horror that will lead to bed bugs, asthma, poor quality sleep, and skin issues. Call me “OCD” or a hypochondriac, but I took on this phobia about 7 years ago and have never looked back.

It is my belief that my kids have fewer colds because I do this. I also think there’s nothing much better than crawling into a clean bed. It’s like a hotel.

Every Sunday the sheets. And once a month the mattress pad and blanket.

Now, for the comedy. My girls share a room. My girls are slobs. They might argue they appear to be slobs because they are two people living in one room, but truly, their room is consistently messy because they are slobs.

I built an elaborate and huge closet system with more than enough room for all their clothes, shoes, and clothes. But the clothes mostly go on the floor. I applaud them protecting the nice hardwoods, but trust me – they have a place for worn clothes.

They also have two desks, each with waste can underneath but guess what – trash rarely gets into the trash can. It’s a crazy phenomenon and every week, when I strip, wash, and make the beds, I “organize” the madness.

I call it Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch. And a new Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch are created each week. You gotta believe me, on Sunday evenings, the beds are made and Clothes Mountain and Little Gulch are torn down and thrown away. A fresh start. Fresh, clean sheets. A clean room. Usually, the laundry is mostly clean, folded, and put away.

Then, in the course of a week, an unnatural disaster happens. And funniest (to me) is that as I strip the beds, it’s not just blankets and pillows, but somehow, random articles of clothes and tags and trash and gum wrappers, pen caps, hair ties, socks (usually only one of a pair), tissues, ear buds, and so much more are enveloped into the sheets and blankets.

I’m a great Dad (just ask me), but I’m in charge of a nice, clean bed because I’ve made that my mission, but I will not pick up and sort all their clothes and trash items.

So I make Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch in the middle of their room and now I’m Blogging about it as to embarrass them somewhere later in life (or right now).

I worry I’m raising future pack rats who will collect newspapers and fast food bags for decades. Or maybe, I simply have teenagers who share a room and don’t have enough space.

Clothes Mountain and Litter Gulch tours start at 10:00 a.m. and leave every half hour beginning Sunday at Noon. $5 donations accepted and you get a free “I Survived Litter Gulch” window decal for a keepsake.  See you Sunday.