Ready for Spring

 

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Its been a cold and windy last few days, but Alaina and I have spent as much of it as possible outside. There is still plenty of snow on the ground and the temperature has barely hit 45, but the swings are accessible, the skies been clear, and we’ve been ready for a while. Its amazing how much you appreciate fresh air after a few months without it.

We made it outside a few times this winter. There were snow men made and a fort she built with her mom. Alaina was introduced to the joys of a good snowball fight. Its just not the same when the snow is piled too high to run. A kids got to run.

So we’ve swung on swings, rode bikes, played in the sandbox. We took her jeep out for a spin and spent two hours in the woods unsuccessfully tracking dinosaurs.  She chased a lot of bubbles. Being a parent has led me to the conclusion that no matter what age a person lives to or whatever else they may accomplish in life, a person will never again know the unabashed joy they felt as a toddler chasing bubbles.

 

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It’s a late start to the season, and probably won’t stay springtime for long.  Soon there will be a large lawn to mow and two bickering kids to entertain.  If this winter was any indication, it will probably be over a 100 degrees most of the summer.

There will also be days at the park, splashing  in the pool, and hikes in the woods. I’m already thinking about trips to the zoo and aquarium. This year Alaina will better appreciate some of the children’s museums around the state.

We can’t wait.

 

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Play Ball!

 

My yard may still be 70% snow cover, but opening day for Major League Baseball is only a few days away, and I’m ready for it.  Having children twelve years apart allows you a second chance to correct some mistakes made the first time around.  It’s time to begin Alaina’s indoctrination into sports watching.

I’m very fortunate to have a wife that’s into sports. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, she will watch them all.  We’ve had parties for big boxing matches and UFC fights.  I came home from work last week to find the television tuned to NFL free agency news. We go to Fenway Park several times a summer and winter vacations are often planned around what stadiums the Miami Dolphins are playing in. She’s a keeper.

 

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Somehow we dropped the ball with the teenager.  Kayla will watch an occasional Patriots game with her mother, but has no idea what is going on.  I consider her lack of understanding of football one of my greatest failures as a parent.  She went to a Hartford Colonials game when the United Football League was a thing, and I take her to minor league baseball games at least once a summer, but I think she is mainly going to spend time with her old man. The food and tight uniform pants may also play a part.

 

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I’m cautiously optimistic about the toddler.  Alaina will sit and watch a football game as long as she knows who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are, but I’m not sure she realizes she’s watching a sporting contest. Basketball she seems to like but hockey really confuses her. This winter she asked me “why are the skaters holding golf clubs around a soccer net?” I don’t think she ever even saw the puck, but we’ll try again next year.

I’m not sure what she will think about baseball.  I’m afraid it may be too slow moving to keep her attention on TV, but I’m going to try and get her to a few games this summer.  She probably doesn’t remember her first trip to the park, but I’m pretty confident she’ll enjoy it. The tight uniforms may not interest her yet, but you can’t go wrong with peanuts and cracker jax.

 

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Fictional Gift-Givers

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I was very excited a few years ago when I heard the news that my little brother and his wife were expecting twins. Their children were going to be about a year younger than Alaina, and it would be great that they would be able to grow up together.  There are  many things that you are unprepared for with babies, so I was also glad that I was going to be able to continue dispensing my invaluable  wisdom, of which my brother has always been very grateful.  In other words, I was looking forward to laughing at him.

I didn’t even have to wait for their birth. That Christmas my brother solemnly declared that there would be no talk of Santa Claus for his children.  He was emphatic that he wasn’t ever going to  lie to them.

I understood the point he was making and applauded his intentions. I also laughed at him. I have nothing but respect for anybody that refuses to give their children presents from fictional characters for whatever their reasons, I was just very skeptical about his ability to hold to his views.  Every time I see a picture on Facebook of his children sitting on Santa’s lap or visiting with the Easter Bunny I still laugh.

There is one thing that will always trump good intentions, and that is keeping our children happy. What makes kids happy? Presents. Opening presents makes kids happy, which in turn makes me happy. They only have one birthday a year. That isn’t enough for me.

I try very hard not to spoil my children. Alaina is at the age where she wants everything that she sees on  television commercials. Kayla is at an age where she must constantly procure new clothing. Very rarely do either of them get what they want, but both are reasonably content with what they have and handle our repeated denials appropriately.

They do very well with fat guys in red suits and magical bunnies however.  Sometimes I wish there were more of these imaginary characters bestowing gifts. My wife vetoed a visit from Cupid on Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t even bother asking about Lucky the Leprechaun.  It’s probably for the best if our daughter isn’t asking her little friends what Uncle Sam brought them on Independence Day.

 

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Alaina is a pretty bright child. I don’t imagine that there will be many years before she starts questioning the existence of unicorn riding tooth fairies, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.  Eventually we’ll explain the real origins of the holidays and some of the non-present related traditions.

I suppose it’s possible that she will be angry with us for lying to her as a child, but I think it’s more likely that she’ll be disappointed that there really isn’t a Baby New Year.

 

An F for Teacher

 

Every day I have people telling me to do things that I don’t want to do or don’t think I need to do.  Besides having a wife and actual bosses, I work in a hospital where every doctor on site is basically my boss.  I shut my mouth and do what I’m told because that’s what adults do.  It’s called life.

We recently received an e-mail from one of the teenager’s teachers expressing concern because when asked to stop texting and remove her ear buds in class, the teenager informed her teacher that he needed to “drop the subject before she got mad.”  She has tried this same tactic at home. Threatening to get angry?  Was there an accident that I missed where she was exposed to high doses of gamma radiation?  Should we really be expected to back down from the wrath of a fifteen year old girl?

 

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It seems to have worked at school though. The phone was not taken from her, there was no trip to the principal’s office.  The impression I get is that we were only notified because this has happened before.  She, of course ,assures us that “everyone does it.”  Shouldn’t a “no phones during class time” policy be implied?   I’m guessing that the e-mail home was an attempt to put the responsibility of discipline on our shoulders, thus allowing the teacher to remain the “good guy”. The teachers at her new school also allow the students to call them by their first names.  Is the lack of respect so prevalent in today’s teenagers that teachers have given up any pretext of trying to receive it?

Besides the actual “learning stuff”, I believe learning respect for authority is one of the most important functions of school.  The three year old listens to us about as well as you’d expect from a three year old, but she knows that she is supposed to.  She now needs to get used to the idea that there are other people that she needs to mind, starting with her teachers.

I’m aware that as long as there has been teenagers, there have been old men like me lamenting their lack of respect and worrying about the future. So far every generation has managed to keep society functional.

I do have real concerns, however, about how well she is being prepared for the “real world.”  I don’t know when it happened or how I missed the clues, but some serious attitude adjustments are going to be necessary for her to be a productive member of the work force eventually.

We’ll continue to try and impart these lessons at home.  In my house, I still demand respect.  I’m not sure how much I’m actually getting, but I’ll keep on demanding it anyway.  Kayla is not my “friend,” my “peer” or my “equal.” She is my daughter. There are rights and privileges that she can expect as such, but I shall be accorded respect in return.

I really wish that her teachers felt the same way, because somewhere down the road a boss is certainly going to.

 

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Confessions of a Bad Eater

 

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It may seem like summer is never going to arrive in Connecticut, but efforts are underway in our house to reclaim our bathing suit shapes. My wife and I have very different methods to achieve these goals. She eats healthier, spending extra money on low-carb, all-natural type foods.  She eats lots of salad and spends time reading about what is in the food she buys. I’m more of a believer in portion control, limiting myself to eight pieces of pizza in a sitting instead of twelve.

She shares stories on Facebook about GMO’s,  I’m reading stories about UFO’s. So far her methods have proven more successful.

I have a severely impeded sense of smell and taste, most likely resulting from having my nose broken several times.  This is often very beneficial working in healthcare, but leads me to gravitate towards spicier foods. I’m not a “picky” eater, just “limited” in the things I make. I’ve literally had buffalo chicken fajitas for lunch the last three days. I don’t like foods that are “grown” except pasta covered in cheese.  Barley and wheat are ingredients in beer. I eat corn and potatoes during holiday dinners so that my mother and mother- in- law don’t yell at me.  I prefer them in whiskey and fries.

Kayla seems to be taking my love of spiciness to a totally different level. I don’t know if it is an acquired taste she has developed by living with me all these years, but yesterday she was observed dumping copious amounts of hot sauce on a hot dog before eating it. If my stomach is lined with lead, hers is pure adamantium.

My wife and I work opposite hours from each other and have figured out a division of labor that seems to work for us. I think that our children are fortunate that on most nights dinner duties fall to her. She cooks a lot of low fat chicken and wheat pasta with organic sauce. The kids are forced to eat their vegetables. Alaina seems to be a big fan of cucumbers and is usually open to trying new things, but I really regret not having my camera  last night as she tried mashed cauliflower for the first time. I didn’t try it.

I do my best. I grill meat instead of frying it. Alaina has strawberries or a banana every morning with her breakfast. She has an apple with lunch. Snacks are usually granola or cereal bars. I just can’t bring myself to force her to eat her vegetables.

Because they’re yucky.

 

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Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms