Potty Predicaments


We do a lot of celebrating to commemorate our children’s success at consistently wiping their own asses, and rightfully so. It’s an impressive achievement, deserving of fanfare. What it is not, however, is the end to our potty predicaments. Future lessons, such as actually flushing the toilet after use and washing their hands without the entire bathroom looking like the first three rows of an aquarium dolphin show prove much harder to learn than expected. A tendency to use an entire roll of toilet paper for each of their solo wipes leading to some fun clean ups.

There’s also a matter of timing, namely that they will always have to go at the worst possible time. We begin the process of getting out the door at 7:40 each morning so that socks, shoes, and jacket can be donned in time to actually walk outside at 7:55. At least once, usually twice a week, my daughter will take her morning dump at 7:52.


potty predicaments


If at any time during the upcoming shopping season you experience some sort of gastrointestinal emergency and need to find a bathroom quickly, search not for an employee, but for someone with small children in tow. Chances are good that if they have ever shopped there before they once had to abandon their place in line to rush their kid to those facilities.

Here in the Northeast we are currently experiencing the snowsuit conundrum. After spending twenty minutes bundling up in seventeen different items of clothing to prepare for playing outside in the snow, even a child that has spent the prior twenty minutes “trying to go” will somehow still have to pee almost immediately upon exiting the house.


potty predicaments


A least this one has a scientific explanation, something called “cold diuresis.” The idea is that when a person is cold, their body constricts blood vessels to reduce the flow of blood to skin and extremities. This works to conserve heat closer to the core, but results in an increase in blood pressure. To reduce this, the body responds by pulling out excess fluid, causing the urge to urinate.

Whether anyone else will find this interesting is probably debatable and it certainly won’t help the first time you realize there is a hole underneath your clogged up toilet that is directly above the basket of clean laundry in the basement, but maybe now you know something that you didn’t yesterday, and isn’t that fun?





Life Love and Dirty Dishes

The Picture In Our Heads



I saw this quote on Facebook a few days ago and realized that it might be the most accurate thing that I have ever seen on that platform. I wish I knew who to attribute it to, because they have somehow managed to elucidate the shortcomings of human experience in under twenty words.

Think of the times when you were the saddest, most disappointed, the angriest. Whether it’s with a person, a place, an experience, chances are that they failed to meet expectations that you had placed. Whether reasonable or not, you wanted things to be better than they were. Needed things to be better.

Think of your biggest mistakes, the regrets that you hold, the things that you took for granted. How many of these decisions were made out of a desire to find something better, a feeling of standards not being met, the chasing of something closer to the picture that you had formed in your head? Dissatisfaction leading to a search for greener pastures that aren’t there.

Sometimes they are. Sometimes we need to be able to identify the status quo as unacceptable. To dream higher, expect more, fight for what we deserve.



Isn’t this what we try to teach our kids? To always want better, to never give up until they achieve everything that they can, to be all that they can be and never settle? I’ll confess to have never read a parenting book, but I’m pretty sure that none of them have a chapter about embracing mediocrity.

That’s what we tell them, but is this a disservice? One of the biggest complaints old men such as myself seem to have with the current generation of young whippersnappers is their sense of entitlement, their expectation of not only “having it all” but of having it handed to them. How many of our children are currently heading out into the world, looking around and asking “what the hell is this shit?”

I don’t want my girls to settle, but I also want them to have reasonable expectations. To strive for the top but also be able to find happiness somewhere beneath the summit if that’s where their journey ends. I want them to be successful, but to measure that by the things that they have. Contentment to come not from the picture in their heads but by the one in front of them.

Its a picture that all too often we end up looking back at longingly, only afterwards realizing how beautiful it really was.




Wanting To Believe


This was an early start for me, but overall today was a pretty productive first attempt at  Christmas shopping. I was able to find a successful balance of toys that both myself and the youngest would want to play with and even bought a few things that I don’t think the teenager will hate. Left behind was the mostly illegible three page list for Santa that was scribbled sometime in the middle of October but I’m fairly certain that I deciphered enough to meet some of her requests. If anybody knows where I can find a spell book full of actionable magic I’ll pay ten copper pieces for the map.

To be honest, I was pretty happy with the stubbornness that she showed while insisting that this list be mailed north immediately, before the elves started working for the season. Last year’s skepticism, endless questions and my ridiculous answers seemingly replaced by acceptance and reminders to her friends about the locations of “Santa-Cams”, the jolly one’s surveillance network.


Holding onto belief
Hes always watching


Privacy concerns aside, it amazes me sometimes how easily she is able to mold facts into a way that fits with her narrative. She has learned fire safety in school, actually attends Girl Scout meetings in a firehouse, and knows that this is a smoke alarm. She knows what to do if it ever goes off and her mother isn’t cooking but has no problem also believing that it has another purpose, that anything remotely electronic looking that hangs from a ceiling or telephone pole is monitoring her behavior.

It amazes me, but it probably shouldn’t. Aren’t we all guilty of this to some extent, this ignoring of evidence and common sense, desperately clinging to ideas and hopes that we know to be misguided? The voice in our head that we silence because our hearts say different. The voice that we ignore because to listen invites pain, a challenge to the status quo that we refuse to acknowledge, repudiation of what we so desperately want to be true.

Sometimes this can be a good thing, the chasing of dreams and aspirations that come true despite naysayers and easier paths that could be taken. Leaps of faith and inspirational defiance of odds.

Other times it’s delusion, the flapping of arms to attempt flight as one careens over the edge.


wanting to believe
should have seen this coming


There is a balance to be found, as there is in most things. A middle ground somewhere between innocence and cynicism, optimism and fatalism.

I want my girls to believe. In Santa Claus, toy making elves, fairies and angels. To believe that people can change, that love conquers all, that stories can end with happily ever after.

I want them to believe, so I’ll continue to lie. To them and to myself.





Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Happening For A Reason


We all have our little pet peeves, commonplace sayings or activities that drive us insane. Sometimes these aggravations are reasonable, sometimes less so. Some we make public, some we keep to ourselves.

Mine is a phrase, one that many of you probably use, one that brings you comfort. In a way I envy that because I just can’t bring myself to believe that “everything happens for a reason”, that our bad times are moments meant to test us or make us stronger, that they will eventually lead to a greater good or purpose.

For some this is an extension of religious beliefs, the idea that there is a higher power with a grand plan for all of us, a trust that there is a benevolent force guiding our journey. I mean no offense to any that feel this way. I just don’t believe it.

For others it’s a coping mechanism, a straw to grasp at when drowning in despair. A way to make sense of the senseless. I understand that, the search for light in the darkness. I’d encourage anybody there to hold onto that, to use every tool available to get yourself through your travails.


How many decisions do you think that we make over the course of a single day? Hundreds, thousands, millions? Some are small, some are big. Some right, some wrong. Each one, each metaphorical right or left turn taking us further from where we just were and leading us down new roads. Sometimes the differences seem insignificant, but are they really?

I don’t think they are.

I think that everything that happens to us, good and bad, comes from these decisions. I don’t think we are capable of tracing everything back, don’t think hindsight always shows us our wrong turns or even allows us to be able to identify them as such. I don’t think that our right turns always take us where we thought they would or that by making more of them things would be any better.


Is this a simplistic notion, dismissive of the randomness of life? Possibly.

Possibly, but I think the fundamental flaw, the thing that that really takes away the control that our decisions have upon our lives is the influence of others. The millions of decisions made by those around us that change our own, that ultimately have as much to do with where we end up than the ones we make ourselves.

I’ve seen good things eventually come of bad, life’s roads leading to places not imagined, wrong turns that eventually lead to different, happier destinations. We all have. I credit the driver’s persistence, their ability and will to continue, not a cosmic GPS or invisible hand guiding their wheel.

I can’t tell you why the good die young, why bad things happen to good people. I can’t tell you what decisions may have been made by them or others that may have had that unintended consequence.

But I believe that they happened.

I may have misled you at the beginning of this post, and for that I apologize. I do think that “everything happens for a reason.”

I just think that reason is us.


Weight Concerns at Six?


weight concerns at 6?


One of the things that I admire the most about my youngest, that I’m sometimes a bit jealous of, is her self esteem. There are times when it can border on arrogance, cute at six years old, potentially problematic as she gets older, but better than the alternative. Multiple studies have shown that seven out of ten teenage girls have a negative view of themselves, believe that they don’t measure up to how they perceive that they should be. Once formed these feelings of inadequacy are difficult to dispel. Despite our best efforts it’s something that I know the teenager has struggled with at times, something that I had vowed to try and do a better job of identifying earlier if her sister ever felt the same.

What I hadn’t realized is at how young of an age I needed to start my vigilance.

Many times these self image problems revolve around weight. Not actual weight, but how the individual perceives his or her body image and shape versus what they believe it should be. When I was sixteen I hated taking my shirt off at the beach because my ribs showed, ten years ago I would have hesitated because of my massive beer belly. I’m thirty pounds lighter than I was then but last year my daughter still asked when she was going to grow boobs like I had. I think it’s a struggle that many of us can understand.

I can understand it, but I was still shocked and saddened last week when the six year old asked if she could go down into the basement and use the exercise equipment there. She wanted to exercise not because she wanted to wanted to jump around with a calisthenic routine on the Wii or practice her ninja moves on the heavy bag, but because she wanted to lose weight.

My daughter is not a small girl. She’s not fat, actually is very healthy. She plays sports, hikes, rides her bike. We try and encourage physical activity and healthy eating as much as possible. When two of her friends came over this weekend, I was very pleased that they spent three of the four play date hours outside.

We try, but the fact is that this kid loves to eat. She had rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and apple for dinner tonight, but the amount of each that she had was both concerning and somewhat impressive.

She doesn’t think that she is fat, is not yet burdened by insecurity or a desire to meet society’s standards. She wants to lose weight, but also to gain muscle mass in her arms, the better to carry her body weight across the monkey bars, one final playground challenge that she has yet to conquer.

She doesn’t think that, and it’s my job to try and keep it that way. My job to encourage exercise and smart food choices, but also self-acceptance and confidence.  It’s a job that starts much earlier than I realized it would.




Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms