Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It must be hard to be number 4

This weekend we were out at the mall for 3 of our kids that had a piano recital. It was nice. They had a nice baby grand set up and the kids played Christmas music for about an hour. When it was all over with the older kids were asking about food. Seems to always happen in our family. After any activity, doesn't matter what time of day or if they have just eaten, as soon as the activity is over, they are all asking about food. We had planned on treating them this time, as a reward for the great concert they had just preformed. After the restaurant debate had ended and we were all getting on our coats, it occurred to me that Logan had not seen Santa yet this year. In previous years, when more of the kids were younger, we had seen Santa atleast twice by now. I can't believe that I hadn't remembered to take him before now! What a bad dad I was!

Luckily, the mall we were in did have Santa for the day so, I took my son and we got in line. It wasn't a long line as Santa lines go and I could tell Logan was excited. He kept talking to himself, trying to remember all the things that were on his list. He wanted to make sure he got it all right. He didn't care that his brother and sisters weren't going up there with him(they had already seen him earlier this month, wink, wink), he wanted this to be the perfect conversation. As I stood there watching him, I thought I could have really blown it if I hadn't remembered to take him! I felt so guilty about the whole thing that I even bought the picture for him to keep to remember he got to see Santa this year.

It can be really hard to remember to do those little things that came more naturally when all the kids were younger. I don't want my younger kids to go into therapy when they are older because "Mom and Dad never took pictures of me as a kid." Hopefully, remembering Santa will help me to avoid the therapy sessions. Oh, let's face it, I'll find another way to screw up my kids. All parents do...right?!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time away is good, just throws you off your routine

Ok, the one thing I have been saying is that I would be consistent with my blogging and I really have a desire to be that way and make a go of this blog, but there are many things that get in the way. I give a lot of credit to those bloggers that have stayed consistent for years.

Several weeks ago, right around the time I stopped blogging, my wife and I got away by ourselves for a weekend away from the kids. I would totally recommend this to any couple who hasn't done it in awhile! It is such a great feeling to be with the one you love and not have to worry about what the kids are doing. I have to admit this trip away is a long time coming. Long story, made very short, I didnt' go with my wife on a work trip to San Francisco many months ago. This is a decision I have regretted and am so glad that we finally got away. You see, when you have four kids it is really to forget about spending time with your wife because your kids' lives are so busy.

We didn't go that far away, but that wasn't the point. The point was to spend time with my wife and get back to what is really important. We are both so busy every day and when we finally see each other at the end of the day, the energy we have for each other, is most times, lacking.

I have committed to dating her monthly and intend to follow through on this. I just set up my date with her for December and am excited about spending time with her. She is one of the few that laugh at my silly comments or stupid jokes. You would think this would be an easy decision and would happen every month, but it is so easy to get into a rut and focus my attention on the needs of the kids. Times are changing and priorities are getting changed.

I would love to hear about any ideas that any of you have about how you keep the love alive in your relationship. I should clarify that by saying, keep it clean. I will share things that I come up with and that way, maybe I can help spark other relationships as well. I don't have all the answers, so I need help. Please comment so I can become a better husband.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I learned from my daughter this weekend!

Ok, so I like to do this blogging stuff early in the morning, but that just didn't work out for me today, so I want to make sure I do it. Afterall, Brian Reid, Rebel Dad himself, said you have to be consistent and I don't want to fall off the wagon already.

This weekend was much better than I had expected. I ended up going with my 13 year old daughter on a church retreat. We left Friday night and were there most of Saturday. At the convention I had committed to my Omaha SAHD buddies that I would attend a DNO meeting that night. They scheduled it around me, so I couldn't cancel on them. So, we told the youth director at our church, that she wouldn't be going. Then two days later, my wife's other plans didn't work out, so she was going to go with her, but they would have to be late because of her job obligations. My daughter was fine with that, so I emailed the director and said we were now in.

I thought things were set, and I was happy how thing were turning out. I had Friday night free and my daughter and wife would get some alone time. Then I found out, through my email list, that the DNO wasn't going to be well attended at all and it looked like about 3 to 5 guys were going to be available. Priorities, priorities, priorities...drinks with a couple guys or quality time with my daughter. I chose my daughter. I am so glad that I did!

I emailed the director again and said plans had changed for the third and last time. I was going to take Kedzie! This freed up my wife for another work obligation and allowed the two of us to go with the group on time to the retreat.

Friday night was pretty laid back with most of the kids figuring out the layout of the land and the bunkhouses. The parents too were just getting aquatinted and adjusted to the routine for the next 18 hours. We had some team building, some Bible time, a campfire and then snack time before bed. The cabin we were in fell asleep early, much early than most, from what I was told, so I got a good night sleep...as well as one can sleep in a bed that is too short for you. I never knew what tomorrow would have in store for me.

I don't wake up well in the morning and it usually takes me awhile to want to talk or socialize with anyone. That was again the case Saturday morning. The boys in my bunkhouse were up early. In fact, one had finished off a Dr. Pepper before 7:30 in the morning. After a hot shower and a change of clothes I was ready for the day. Headed down for breakfast and looked forward to hearing about my daughter's night.

She came in shortly after I had and filled me in on the late night adventures in her cabin. She fell asleep early, but the other girls stayed up way to late to be up already. Once all the kids and adult leaders had entered the room, the director stood up and asked for a volunteer to lead the morning prayer. I thought I could do it, but wanted to see if one of the kids would do it. The director pointed behind me to the kids table to one of the kids who had volunteered. I bowed my head to listen intently to the prayer. I thought it would be one of the simple but appropriate prayers we heard last night for dinner, but it wasn't any thing like that.

All of a sudden my daughter started praying! She started thanking God for the day, for the young disciples that were there, for the learning that all of us will experience, that how we all want to be closer to God, that the leaders will help to teach them how to be better Christians. I tried to focus on everything she said, but it got hard, because I was crying. Not just little tears, but big, wet, joyful tears. My daughter, a 13 year old, was praying in front of a bunch of strangers. She stood there proud, confident and with conviction and delivered those words for all to hear. I didn't care what else happened that day, my life was better because I had attended this retreat with her!

God worked in her and in all the plans of that weekend to make it possible for me to share in that moment with her. I don't think she even knows how that moved me. I am going to tell her and thank her for her words. I learned how to be a better Christian that weekend and it wasn't from listening to a pastor or some biblical scholar. I learned from my daughter. Praise God.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sports..why do I care so much?

I mentioned pushing my kids in sports in my last blog, so I thought it appropriate to talk about it now. I push my kids to be athletes! I am not proud of it...well, maybe sometimes. I think sports are important in a kid's life and I want them to become conditioned and love sports like I did. Is there anything wrong with that? No...not until it goes over the edge. I like to teeter at that edge.

For some reason I think that these kids should do thing flawlessly. I never was perfect, but that doesn't occur to me when I am sitting there watching the game unfold. I really get crazy at times. Now I am not like those parents who yell at the players or say much to the refs, but I do say things that I should keep to myself. Why is that? I am not a bad person or think my kids are the stars of their teams, but I can't control myself. I can feel my blood pressure raise and a big knot in my stomach when the game isn't going well. Sometimes I have to walk away from the game because I get too heated. I don't want to be like this, but I don't know how to be anything else. I even had a ref tell me last year, "Relax, Dad, this is only a 7th grade game."

When my wife and I actually get to go to one of our kid's game together, the car ride usually consists of a talk that we have about how to control my emotions during a game. Well, it is more like my wife telling me to be supportive of our daughter and keep the other comments to myself. I say, "I'm really going to be quiet this game," but that never happens. I see some of the other parents who sit and watch silently as the game goes on never showing any emotion and I want to say, "How do you do that!" But then I turn back to the game to see what I just missed. I know there is some happy medium, but I don't know how to get there.

The funniest thing about my reactions at sporting events is that in any other setting, I keep my thought and emotions to myself. I avoid conflict like the plague. Just ask my wife about that. Maybe she will blog about that sometime. So what is it about sports that brings it out in me? When I was growing up, baseball was my life. I could have practiced it all day! I loved it and couldn't wait to go to a game! I talked all the time on the field and many times would annoy the other team with all my talk. I was a good player, but never was great. My parents were very encouraging to me as a player and heard often how proud they were of me. Only once did I ever hear anything negative from my dad during a game, when he yelled at one of my teammates to "take the piano off your back." Maybe his passion for sports is where I got my passion for sports. I was hoping as I turned 40, I would mellow out some, but so far it hasn't happened.

I am writing about this to hopefully start a dialog about how others with kids that are in competitive sports deal with their emotions during games. At the end of the day, I want to be known as the dad who always supported his kids in whatever they wanted to do. There is that point when you can go to far and I am nervous that someday I will go there. Maybe by just putting the words down for all to read will be all that it takes to keep me and my emotions in line.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween isn't what it used to be!

What ever happened to the time when you would trick or treat until the homeowners actually turned off their lights and you had to go home? Or when you had to stop at home to empty your plastic pumpkin so you could go trick or treat some more? Or when you would change your costume half way through the evening and trick or treat at the same homes again(well, maybe I was the only one to do that)? The point is, that Halloween has changed and I don't like it as much.

Maybe it is just my kids, but after an hour, they are done. I keep seeing all these house that they haven't gone to and think, I bet they have good candy! Unlike my pushing of my kids into sports(another day for that story), I decide that candy isn't worth it and I take the kids home. Maybe I need to do what many of my neighbors do. They drive their kids around the neighborhood in golf carts! The dads are in the front with some good tunes blaring and beers in their hands as they pull up to each house and the kids in back get off and run to the door.

Maybe it is just the neighborhood we live in, but I must have seen 10 golf carts out on Saturday night. Each cart had it's own flare. One had big oversized tires, one had had a rain/wind protector around it, one was all decorated in team colors, but it was dark and I couldn't make out the team logo. One actually had lights, so you could see it coming in the dark. I saw a not-so-sophisticated vehicle too, but it wasn't a golf cart; it was a lawn tractor that had a trailer attached. On the trailer the dad had put folding chairs and he was pulling about 6 dads and kids. The best site I saw all night though was a pick-up truck pulling a long trailer with at least 10 parents sitting on it. What were they doing? They were throwing candy to the kids! I said next year, we should just have a neighborhood parade for Halloween and the kids sit on the side of the street and all the home owners throw candy to the kids! Talk about no effort for the kids! The one part of that parade vehicle that did make me really happy was seeing a friend, who is recovering from cancer, get to ride in the cab and and enjoy the festivities with his family and friends.

Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with anyone celebrating the way they want for Halloween. For me, it is just really hard to get used to that. In my opinion, the fun is running from one house to the next, trying to beat your buddy to the door bell. It is the one night of the year that it is ok to run through the neighbor's yard and not have to use the sidewalk. It is that one night when you ring the doorbell and you aren't prepared to give your speech about how if they help with your magazine drive, it will help you get a better education. All you have to do is say "trick or treat," and you get free candy.

I will admit that I have fun on Halloween. I am glad that I have a couple of kids that are young enough for me to go out with them. Sure I like to steal their Reese's Peanut Butter cups when they aren't looking, but more importantly for me, it love to see their expressions and joy in their face when they get something they really like or when at the end of the night, they want you to hold their candy bag in one hand and they want to hold your other hand as you stroll back home. Life is good! Plus, another year without a razor blade, needle or other foreign object in the loot! 39 years and counting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jump rope a-thon is a priority

Well, for the first time I had to make a decision to have my daughter skip a basketball game in favor of her dance team practice. Did I like to make this decision...no. Was it the right decision...yes. I say it was the right decision, but I am not sure I really believe that. For me, I would rather have her play basketball, but I guess it isn't what is important to me...right?!

The way it works in Elkhorn is the tryouts for the next season of basketball take place about a week after the basketball season ends, which is in April. The season doesn't start until October. Madison really didn't want to play basketball, but both my wife and I encouraged her to tryout and she could decide if she wanted to play if she made one of the teams. Well, she made the second team and decided that she did want to play. Then, later in the summer, around July, she also decided she wanted to be on her dance studio's dance team. This is where it gets sticky...
Both dance and basketball are on Saturdays.

I am friends with the Director at the studio and she has been very good to me and our kids(our youngest son, Logan, also dances on the team). When this conflict became evident, I was quick to talk with Sandi about our conflict. She has been good about trying to schedule around our kids other conflicts, but just couldn't do it this weekend. So, my dilemma was, does she skip her dance number and get an unexcused absense or does she skip her basketball game and possibly leave her team short handed. I decided to have her miss her game, but wasn't happy about my decision.

My wife disagrees with trying to do so much on Saturdays for Madi and has talked about her quitting basketball. I have told her that that is not an option. I have seen the effects of kids quitting team sports and the pressure that puts on other kids that stay with the team and I won't be part of that. This decision making goes back to when I was a kid and has stuck with me ever since. When I was a kid, I participated in a jump rope a-thon with a team of friends. Shortly after signing up for this event, I found out that baseball tryouts were at the same time! I wanted to go to the baseball tryouts in the worst way! I wanted to drop out of the jump rope a-thon. My parents wouldn't let me! " You can't let down your team," they told me. I knew this had to be hard for my dad too as he was a huge supporter of me in baseball and a great baseball player in his time. I would imagine he felt much the same way I did!

So, I am going to do my best to manage these sports going forward, communicating with both coaches and trying to make the best of a stressful situation. Quitting is not an option. I am going to continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of my daughter and not those that would make me the happiest. I am hoping by operating this way, that my daughter can learn a valuable lesson that will stick with her as my jump rope a-thon did for me. Next April, maybe we will skip the basketball tryouts all together. That was really hard for me to type!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How I came up with the blog name

I know it is kind of early in this whole process to tell you all about how I named this blog, but I thought it was important to do so. This blog takes most of it's title from a book that was written about me and my role as a full time at home dad. If you think that is the best part, it isn't. You see the book was written by my wife as a way to honor me as a full time dad! That is the best honor I have ever received! In a small way, I want this post to be a way to say thank you to her for doing this for me!

When she finished the first book, she didn't stop there, as she wrote two more books about me as a positive dad in our kids lives. This turned into quite a family affair as her sister illustrated the three books for her and we self-published them, with some financial assistance from her parents.

After publishing these books, we had boxes of them in our garage. Now...how to get them to the people that would want to buy them. That proved to be a task that was harder than I thought, and to be honest, life was an excuse as to why I didn't have more time to market these books to publishers and consumers. I talked last week about the Stay at Home Dad Convention. As part of my involvement, we decided to donate books to all those who attended the convention. I am really glad I did as I got great feedback from the dads and it has renewed my interest in getting the word out about the books.

Sure, it would be nice to recoup the money that we invested into the project and get rid of some of the boxes that fill our garage, but more than that, I want my wife to write again! She says she has a couple more book ideas already written down on paper and we already know a great illustrator, so we really just need a little capital influx to get this all going again. If you are a publisher reading this, we would love to talk with you. LOL.

Some of you that already have the books, I am sorry if this next part is old news, but I wanted to take a few sentences and write about each book.

This was the first book my wife wrote and this one is specifically written about me as a stay at home dad. This is also where the first part of my blog title comes from. It is called Daddy Does the Dishes and Other Daddy Deeds. It tells about all the things Dad does while Mom is at work.

This next book came from something my kids said during the summer Olympics. It is called, My Daddy Can Touch the Moon. It had to do with the still rings in men's gymnastics and they thought that I could do the routines as well as those gymnasts. This is a story of those things dads can do and the special powers they possess.

The third, but certainly not least book is called, My Daddy is Supersillious. This book is all about how much fun it can be to be silly with your kids and how those are things that they will remember.

Ok, well that is a quick run down on the books. Thank you for reading all the way to the end. If you are interested in getting a set of your own, I think I can find a set or two around here. LOL. Please email me at homedaddio@cox.net or through the blog. $28 gets you all three books, shipping included. I will even have my wife sign them for you and include a personal message. My friend Robb was mad because his copies weren't personalized like that. We have learned from our mistake, so Robb I owe you a new set, dude!

Thank you for letting me take the time to tell you about this special tribute that my wife has paid to me. My hope is that by raising our kids the right way, I will be able to honor her and her commitment to this family!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stay at Home Dad Convention was Awesome

Waking up at 7:00am on Saturday was not an easy task for me. It was Oct. 10th, and there was about an inch of snow on the ground!!! Our bedroom is freezing(which probably will be another post) and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. I did that for about 10 minutes before I decided I didn't have a choice. Saturday was the Stay at Home Dad Convention in my town, Omaha. I really hadn't done anything to help the local guys out. They had worked extremely hard on this and I wanted to be there to support them. After my shower and putting on warm clothes I felt much better. Still kept complaining about the weather and the driving conditions, which got me a very unsympathetic response from the other side of the bed. With that kick in the butt, I was off.

Driving down was like I thought it would be. Omaha forgot to get their snowplows ready on time or they just didn't believe it would snow. I saw a car spin out and get hit by about 3 other cars going the other direction. Glad it wasn't on my side, because I was running late and didn't need an accident to slow me down anymore. I got down to the Durham museum a little after 8:00 and helped to get everything set out for registations. My involvement was minimal, but I was glad to help out where I could.

Guys arrived by 8:45 and the convention started pretty much right on time. Right from the beginning I was impressed with the work and the thought that went into this convention. You can tell these guys really wanted to do this up right. Afterall, we had dads come in from all over the country as well as Canada. The speakers were knowledgable, the breakout sessions were helpful and the food was great! Everything was top notch. I was really proud to be part of the group that put on such a great convention!

I think for me the best part is meeting new dads from across the country and also right here in Omaha. Getting an opportunity to share stories and get connected really makes you feel a part of something. In fact, I came home after the convention and looked up a lot of these guys and friended them on facebook. I looked up dad blogs and now follow them. I went to Vista Print and made my own business cards to hand out when I meet other stay at home dads. The convention was a great opportunity for me to recommit to the stay at home dad movement. Well, movement might not be the right word, but I want to be more involved in this group and as my wife would say, in this space.

I would like to thank all the Linomaha Dads that worked so hard to put this convention on. I would also like to thank all the dads that traveled to Omaha to be part of this last weekend. I know some of the dads already said they are coming again next year. If we get all of them to return and can add to our numbers, it will only help more dads out there feel connected and a part of something bigger than their own home and family.

This weekend has inspired me to start blogging about my family and our life. I have had this blog set up for over a year, but never knew how to start it off. This weekend was the perfect way to get it going. Besides, I am waiting for my laudry to finish. Good timing, just heard the buzzer. Guess the clothes need to get folded.