Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beep Beeps

My son Drew is obsessed with cars, vehicles, anything with wheels and in motion. I will find him in the morning, standing in his crib, looking out the window onto Florence Drive where cars are driving back and forth. "beep beep, beep beep" he affirms with his pointer finger aimed at the street.

The best way to get him ready to go anywhere is to tell him we are going in the beep beep. Driving through town, on busy streets, the chorus of "beep beep, beep beep" from the back seat as Drew delights in a simple ride with Dad to the hardware store.

And when I actually beep the horn in our car, he bursts out in laughter. He finds such joy in traffic, in carbon monoxide producing vehicles. Probably a future Repubilcan.

When I was a kid, my parents would pack me and my sisters in the car and drive to Tamarac, FL to visit our Grandparents. Tamarac was a city full of old folks communities. Not nursing homes, but two bedroom houses, all painted white with a community pool where 80 year old ladies screamed at you if you splashed, and the old men playing shuffle board scowled if you made too much noise playing the game.

On the way in the car, my father would honk the horn at random old people, people he didn't know, and for fun, he would put his head out the window like a dog and yell, "Hi A Lady!" as my sisters and I would wave at them with great passion. The old timers, confused of course, would wave back, not knowing who was honking, waving and yelling "Hi A lady!" I am sure that they didn't want to be rude, so they played along.

So now, I have taught this game to my daughters. They get mad at me when I don't honk at someone. Even when traffic is stopped, even at red lights. They don't really understand the true reason for the horn, they do think its funny to wave at people they don't know. Like they are getting away with something. I guess that's why I enjoyed the game as a youth. Getting away with something while my father cheered us on.

So while Drew certainly doesn't understand the game, he really enjoys all of the beep beeps.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Learning how to tie my shoes...

My Grandpa Fleming taught me how to tie my shoes. I must have been about five years old, but basically the same age as Bella is now. Part of her weekend homework was to start learning how to tie her shoes so I was happy to pass on the knowledge.

I actually don't tie my shoes correctly. When Grandpa Fleming taught me, he taught me the right way, which involves some tricky move with your thumb after the first bunny ear. He called me on it too, told me I was doing it wrong. I told him that it worked fine the way he taught me, and with a double knot it never untied. He wasn't thrilled, but I guess he thought he had done enough.

You may find it an interesting exercise, right now, to bend over untie your shoe and then retie the laces back the way they were. As you are tying your shoes, think about how you would explain this to a five year old. Could you write it down? Could you verbalize the process? This proved more challenging than I thought it would be.

Make an X, pull through hole in bottom of X, tighten knot, make a bunny ear, leave a tail, wrap around the other lace, make a hole, push lace with thumb through hole to make a second bunny ear, leave a tail and tighten. Got it?

Her little fingers made the laces seem oversized, and little things such as where to pinch the laces and with which hand and with which fingers was something I had not factored into my approach. She has the X part down, but she never quite mastered it last night. However, after showing her the first time, she did start to get up and say "I am going to show Mommy." I had her wait on that.

So now, not only am I teaching Bella how to tie her shoes, she gets to learn how to do it the wrong way. I guess I'll tell Daina that as long as its effective I have done enough.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Isabella's Contact?

Its funny what seems important to a parent means very little to a child. Daina and I have been talking about the various options for Isabella's eye treatment. Long story short - her shunt is moving towards her eyeball (not a good thing) and we have to watch it to make sure it doesn't move any closer. At some point, she will need to have it moved. She also needs to have strabismis surgery at some point, this will straighten the eye causing it to be less "lazy." The strabismis sugery is complicated by her cornea transplant and glaucoma treatment. Hey, nothing's ever easy nor is it cut and dry.

So Bella is going to start kindergarten in the fall, and Daina and I have always assumed that we would put a brown contact on her eye, to make it look like the other eye. We, as parents thought it would be important that she have this done before preschool.

When Daina asked Bella about getting the matching contact, Bella said she didn't want it. That having her eye the way it is makes her special, and she likes being special. She has no idea just how wonderful her way of thinking makes her special above anything else.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Phone Conversation

Daina: I had to spank your daughter today
Me: Who, Bella?
Daina: Yes, and you know I oppose spanking
Me: What did she do?
Daina: She mooned Caroline!
Daina: Its not funny
Daina: That's not what little girls should do!
Me: LOL, where did she do it, at Happy Joes?
Daina: No, in the family room
Daina: Did you teach her that?
Daina: Maybe she learned it from TV
Me: LOL, no!
Daina: Probably from her friend _______ (left blank to protect the mooning 5 year old friend)
Me: Tell me what happened. LOL
Daina: We were in the family room and she mooned Caroline, I asked her where shelearned it, and she wouldn't tell me. I told her she had until the count of tento tell me where she learned it or she was getting a spanking. And she didn'ttell me. So she got and spanking and had to go to bed.

I think I am going to go home, and if the kids aren't around, I am going to moon Daina.

Advice from my father

As my children continue to grow faster than I can keep track of I am reminded of wise words my father spoke to me. We were talking about how quickly Isabella (now 5) was growing, progressing, discovering, and I felt lost. Too much time spent working on a job I would leave, too much focus on things so unimportant I can't remember what they were. My dad said...

"Take mental notes of all the moments."

Great advice. But for me, only great in theory. I rarely find myself with the ability to sit back and remember their youth passing in front of me. Isabella learning to run before she walked, Caroline's first temper tantrum (one of many more to come) and Drew dancing to Kid Rock's Bawidiba (Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy) and playing air drums with his fat little forearms. These are great mental notes, things I am glad to remember.

But I have forgotten a lot. And hence the need for this blog.

So, Dad if you are reading, great advice. I will continue to take mental notes, but now I will give my brain the ability to be capable of more. I hope to collect stories of this life, of my wife and our children who are shy, determined, happy, emotional, curious and beautiful all at the same time.

I used to write a journal when I was in highschool. I enjoyed the experience, yet would find myself reading it months after, being embarassed about what I wrote and tearing out the page confessing my love for some girl I don't remember. Now I am too old to be embarassed about much of anything. Pride when you are a husband and a father should be put to the side. I should listen to my own advice sometimes. Here's to not hitting the delete button months from now.

My father gave me some other really good advice on my wedding day. "Smile and nod." I'll save that for another entry.