Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm a slacker

I haven't posted anything decent in a while and I am going to use the Christmas is busy excuse. My slacktuitiveness is due largely to not being able to find my digital camera card uploader thing-a-ma-bob. Great photos within. Also, I will post the Fleming Family newsletter on the blog this year. Most likely before the actual cards arrive. Should be interesting, putting the final touches on it now.

Also, I added Google Analytics to my blog. Very cool to see what areas of the country are visiting, what they are reading, how long they are staying. If you blog, I highly recommend checking this out. And yeah, its free.

Be back with some actual content shortly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A busy night, and a busy week to come

The Tors came into town last night. For those of you who don't know, "The Tor's" are my wife's parents. I would spell their names but I would spell them wrong and that would get me in trouble.

So anyway, the Tors are here. Tor was disappointed that he didn't have ample time to spend with the computer when he first arrived. I told him there is nothing wrong with it. He didn't believe me. He wanted to sleep in the basement but changed his mind when I suggested the computer was his mistress.

Got home from work and went to Isabella's first grade singing show at the school with the Tors and Drew. It was only 2 degrees or something yesterday, walking on ice, good times.

To say this was the most politically correct school show I have ever seen is an understatement. No Christmas songs, no songs about playing with a draddle. Just a bunch of folk songs and Raffi covers - although Down by the Bay is one of my favorites. Bella rocked. Regardless, it felt more like a blue grass festival than a school performance in December. Give me some Silent Night, Jingle Bells, I'd even encourage songs from other religions, Kwanza, Festivus.

Meanwhile, Caroline was at a dress rehearsal for her upcoming performance as a mouse in the Nutcracker on Saturday, hence part of the reason the Tors are here. We will also have the Wolf's coming into town on Friday. The Wolf's are Daina's sister's family affectionately named after Uncle Wolfgang. Life is never dull.

Caroline came home with her face painted in all its mousy glory. She was pretty proud of herself. I'll post a picture on Saturday night after the big performance. (Insert pun about not letting the mouse out of the bag)

If you are interested in seeing Caroline perform, we'd love to have you join us. Caroline will be performing at the Hoyt Sherman Place, 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec 13. Tickets are available at the box office or on TIcketmaster. Man, ticketmaster? Cool!

You can all say you knew her when....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Potty training

This is getting brutal. Drew is three. Drew still poops his pants. I ask the kid every hour if he needs to poop. He says, no. Let's sit on the potty and try. No. I don't need to. Ok, Drew.

Then Drew performs the great escape. He sneaks into some corner of the house and cranks one out. I'm not sure what the deal is. He goes #1 just fine.

Daina and I are at our wits end. We have offered Caroline and Bella $5 each if they can get him to poop on the potty. They are pumped! They are to ask him constantly about going to the bathroom.

Any suggestions out there are welcome...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Crazy Week

The job change
I have a new employer and I start on Monday. I am pumped, blessed, lucky and thrilled at how everything worked out. Daina has been great through all of this and my family and I will be better for it. More news on this later.

The Toilet Debacle
So, the toilet seal on the main level bathroom leaked. We didn't know it for a few days and water seeped under the hardwood floors causing them to buckle, brend, break and otherwise just be terrible.

So, after four quotes (Daina is very thourough, thank goodness), a $1000 deductable and three days of sanding, sealing, repairing, moving all things from the kitchen and dining room to the family room, we now have beautiful floors again.

At some point, we will have to install a new toilet and all of that jazz. I have a buddy who agreed to install the new toilet.

Painting the bathroom
Before the flooring guys came over, Daina that thought it would be a great time to paint the bathroom. So I did. I ran out of paint near the end, and only needed a quart to finish the trim areas.

Off to Home Depot

Color match, etc and then finished. Next morning, it was dry and I went in to look. Yeah, color match didn't work. Not only did the trim not match but there were spots were I had touched up areas previously missed with the new paint. It looked like some rejected approach to painting.

Back to Home to Depot

"Oh, yeah, you're right, sorry about that. So you'll need a gallon?" Back home and painted the whole thing over again. Joy.

More painting

So while the guys were here fixing the flooring, Daina thought it would be a great idea to touch up the base boards and the quarter round. (Are you seeing a trend here?) I did, no issues. Looks better. Today though, I get to touch them up even more for some of the spots I missed.

Bathroom round three

Pulled the tape off of the bathroom and sure enough some of the trim work paint got all hosed. So I will be doing that today as well. Maybe I shouldn't be blogging right now.

In conclusion
None of this is either amusing or funny but should provide the basis for a lack of blogging.

Back to blogging

Sorry I have been slacking with posts to this blog. I have had a lot going on the last couple of weeks. Here's a great moment I had with Bella...

Bella: Dad, can you call Great Grandma Lillian in heaven?
Me: No, I wish I could though.
Bella: Don't you have her number?
Me: No, Bella. They don't have phone numbers for heaven.
Bella: It would be nice if they did though, right Dad?
Me: Yes, Bella.
Bella: Dad, when you get to heaven, will you be able to call Great Grandma Lillian?
Me: Yes, Bella.
Bella: Will you tell her I said hi?

Not making this up!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 5th is only the beginning

One of my favorite moments as a child came when I was six years old. My dad picked me up from school and had my three year old sister, Erica, with him in the car.

In the living room, Mom was sitting in the recliner in a bath robe. I remember her looking happy and tired all at the same time. They had just returned from the hospital. We were told that our new sister, Whitney, was sleeping in her room but that if we were quiet, we could peek at her real quick.

Erica and I crept up the three stairs and into the room on our tip toes. Inside the crib was a beautiful baby girl, our sister. I lightly patted her on the head, he hair was like silk. Erica patted her on the head as well in the same fashion. We looked at each other as if we had gotten away with something and then ran quietly back to the living room and started laughing quietly.

I asked mom if we could have another peek. She agreed and Erica and I went back. Patting this little baby on the head, one time each and then running back to the living room. We did this about 30 times. I love that I remember this experience.

Well that baby Whitney, has a baby of her own now. Whitney and Brooks brought Naia Marie Gibson into the world on November 5. This kid is about as cute as Whitney was on that warm September morning in 1980.

Having my own family now, I have come to realize that the beginning of a family, the birth of each child is only partially the best part. As I get older I become more and more like my own father. Something I swore I would never do as a child, but as an adult its something I embrace. I am able to realize that the sum of life's experiences are so much greater than an actual moment itself. I'm pretty sure my dad feels the same way, as he truly was my inspiration for starting this blog.

The experiences my sister and Brooks will have for the rest of their lifetime will forever be better because of November 5th. Here's to Whitney and Brooks on the journey of some wonderful experiences.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote for Caroline

My daughter Caroline's preschool class posed the question to a group of 4-5 year olds. "What would you do if you were president"

Random answers included: Lower gas prices, end the war, lower taxes

Caroline's answer: I would need to eat a good breakfast.


Dragon Drew with Daina

Drew at his preschool Halloween show

Caroline as Cinderalla, Bella as the witch

A really hot chick and a dork

Daina and Caroline at Living History Farms

Me and a piece of pizza. Don't ask.

Between Monday-Friday, the kids were in their costumes begging for candy four times. Daina said we got our money's worth.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Laurens Wedding Recap Part 2

In this post, I'll go over the rehearsal dinner portion of the event. Part three will include the wedding itself.

Daina was the bride's personal attendant which I guess also means you get to shred frozen pork for the main entree. Here is the meat extravaganza.

There were ten people shredding meat that had been frozen since May which were leftovers from the bride's brother's graduation. All of this was occurring in the church kitchen. Not sure how many pigs had to die for this but they seem to be plentiful in Laurens anyway.

Daina shortly after shredding meat. Not sure if there is meet in her eye of if she is crying from the thought of eating the meat.

The meat "money shot"

Decorations. Yes, those are fushing lures. And very lifelike once removed from the box.

Decorations in action! Nothing says classy wedding like a pine tree decorated with fishing lures and red and white bobbers.

The Groom's cake will go here in the plush camo tent.

This is a star that I hung from the ceiling. Notice how impressed Daina is with my work.

Here's my clan, the ring bearer and the flower girls. This was all taken extremely seriously by the girls. Drew threw the pillow at least 20 times.

Here is the lead singer of the Spin Doctors, also father of the bride. Apparently there are no barbers, combs or shampoo in Laurens.

I'll post the wedding pics soon, including pics of Bella doing the Cha Cha dance.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Laurens Wedding Recap Part 1

Great times in Laurens, IA and a lot more fun than I initially thought it would be. We stayed on our friends family farm and they could not have been more hospitable. Here are the farm highlights in bullet format for you all. Wedding stuff soon.

The Farm House. 600 acres of corn fields surround God's country. Absolutely beautiful and makes me wonder how I ever grew up as a big city boy in Miami.

Great trees in the fall on the farm

CC & Lizzard- combine

The four-wheeler. My kids happy, Lizzard not so much. You can't please everyone.

This is Marc. This is a pig. And I have never heard squealing like that in my life.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Every girl's crazy about....

...a sharp dressed man.

Drew diggin the tattoos!

Wedding in Laurens

What a great weekend. The rumors I heard about this wedding were largely untrue, although it was still an interesting weekend to be sure. I'll start by debunking the myth that there were 350 people. More like 200. The BBQ pork was actually pretty good, although Caroline now has a rash and a fever. Here is the first of many pics to come. Good times had by all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

This could be interesting

This weekend we are headed up to Laurenes, Iowa (pronounced LA Renz) for our kids babysitters wedding. Apparantly, Laurens a.k.a. "The busiest little town in Iowa" has quite a history, and suprisingly a web site.

All three of my little dudes will be in the wedding. Drew as the dashing ring bearer, and Caroline and Bella as flower girls. I anticipate blog posts of this event to much to list in a single blog post, so I am planning on a 4-5 part series. Here's why:

The food at the wedding is going to be leftover bar-b-q beef sandwiches. They have been frozen since June when our babysitter's cousin graduated from highschool. There will also be potato salad that a lady in Laurens is making. Did I mention that there will be 350 people at the wedding? Yeah, that's a lot of mayonnaise for the masses if you ask me.

The flowers are plastic, but don't worry. They were spray painted to match the fall color scheme theme. I am hearing orange and brown which only makes me wonder how ridiculous Drew is going to look in an orange tux. I am presuming that its orange, plus it goes well with the Dumb and Dumber picture.

I'd get into more of it but it hasn't even happened. I'll be back Monday with evidence including photos and potential some YouTube videos that you will see here first. I am both frightened and elated all at the same time. Tom Arnold's show will have nothing on this shin-dig. 

Tom if you're reading, bring a film crew to Laurens.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The story behind finding the picture of me on the phone

So I called my mom and told her to send me the picture that's in the previous blog post. She and Dad just moved and have all their photos in boxes. The idea of her finding this picture was a challenge. Another challenge was that she and my dad would have to figure out how to use the scanner even if they did find the picture. They had a scanner, they just hadn't used it. This is the equivalent of having a stove but eating your meat raw. They are somewhat technically challenged but they are gaining on it. I tried to talk them through it on the phone.

So I told my parents to try scanning any old picture just to see if they could accomplish that. If they could, and only if they could, they would look for the real picture. Below is the test version I received.

Now if you know my dad, this is pretty funny. If you don't know my dad, you're missing out. He drew characters like this all the time when we were kids. You could say he has his own style. That's me with with the purple Napoleon Dynamite hair and my mother in her maternity prime. So, the good news is that I got the real photo for a sappy sentimental post, and I got this little beauty as well. I am going to try to convince my sister to use it as her birth announcement but that conversation won't last too long.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All My Life's a Circle

I love this picture. I am three years old standing in my grandparent's living room wearing a t-shirt that reads "Shady Oak Fish Camp." The look of amazement, bewilderment, concern and surprise is due to the message coming from the other end of the phone. My parents are calling me from the hospital and telling me that I have a brand new sister. "Her name is Erica" they told me. I am so grateful my Grandma thought to take the picture.

I got another phone call today. This phone call was from my little sister, Erica, who is now all grown up, 31, married and living in Boston. She called me from the hospital. She had a baby girl.

Funny how life always seems to find a way to work itself out, to make the edges round, to become the same all over again, to come full circle.

These are the best parts of life, aren't they? There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing the face of a friend who is a father or mother for the first time. Knowing what they are going through, the experiences and emotions I have felt, they now have too. They are different, but in the end, they are very much the same.

All of us, humans, if you will, just trying to carve out a space in this world, trying to build relationships with people from father, mother, brother, sister, friend, co-worker or the stranger walking by that nods and smiles, hello. We're all better because of each other. Today, I am better because my sister and her husband know one of life's greatest joys. They are the parents of Austin Elouise Maite Archabal.

So I welcome my niece into this world and hope that in 25-30 years or so she has the same experience her mother is having now. I hope she realizes that this is a joy passed down through every generation, through every person that has ever lived.

I would be remiss if I didn't reference my favorite Harry Chapin song here. As you many know, Harry Chapin is best known for his song "Cats in the Craddle" but his best work is burried on albums that aren't mainstream, with songs that never made it to the radio because they were deemed too long. Why are we in such a big hurry?

Here is Harry Chapin singing, "Circle" - it runs about five minutes long, but I am sure if you look close enough you can find the relevance in your own life, and more importantly, the lives of everyone around you. Don't be in a hurry, sit back and enjoy.

The lyrics are below.

by Harry Chapin

All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Season's spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by.

It seems like I've been here before;
I can't remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we'll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There's no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It's like a children's game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let's go 'round one more time.


Monday, September 29, 2008

My sister is in labor!

She has allowed me to co-author her blog while she waits. You can read about it here:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Caroline perspective

I picked up Caroline from dance on my way home from work yesterday. Its always nice to have one-on-one time with any of my kids so I usually shut the radio off and we talk about things.

So I asked her what she thought Bella and Drew were doing at home with mom.

"Well, Bella is probably being good, watching tv or something," Caroline said, "Drew is probably going crazy because he's pretty much a meatball."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caroline has a boyfriend

So there is a young man in Caroline's preschool class that apparently is head over heals for my sweet Caroline. To protect the innocent, I'll call him "Conner." So anyway, this Conner kid doesn't just have a little crush on Caroline, he like LOVES her. (Daina's words.)

Apparantly at the pretend center the other day, Caroline was making pretend pizzas and this kid started crying that he couldn't make pizzas with Caroline. He tries to hold her hand. He basically worships the very ground she walks on. Caroline likes him, you know, as a friend. She doesn't get the whole thing and just thinks its a boy being nice.

I'm onto you Conner. This is too early for me to be worrying about this. I knew the day would come when I would start sweating this stuff, but I imagined it was Bella when she was 15, not Caroline when she's five! I mean, the kid isn't even in kindergarten yet.

So Daina assures me that this Conner punk is actually a fine outstanding young man. A class act. When Caroline grows up she wants to be a pig farmer. Its cool to have dreams when you are five. This Conner kid, when he grows up? He wants to be a financial planner. Just like his dad, apparently.

Caroline came home from school the other day with pictures that Conner had made for her. These weren't made at preschool, they were brought from his home in his back pack and delivered to Caroline at the end of her half day class. I mean, I wasn't making mix tapes for girls until at least junior high. Passing notes with girls started around the same time. And now I have Pablo Picasso giving my little girl his art. What gives?

Caroline and I spoke. She can hang with this kid. Two conditions. No hand holding and no kissing. Caroline thought this was cool and agreed.

So come to find out today that Caroline and Conner had a lunch date at Happy Joe's today. I asked Daina who drove? Mom's were there with siblings so it was a controlled environment. They apparently had a great time and partied at the ski ball machine. Daina assures me that Connor is very nice, polite and comes from a good family.

And as much as I am joking throughout this post I am concerned how I am going to handle punk ass teenage boys making the moves on my girls. It aint going to be a pretty time for me. I have now turned into the Dad that I dreaded meeting as a kid. Those dad, like me now, know exactly what a young boy is thinking.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slippers and Skim

Got Drew to bed around 8 last night and the girls were watching some Phineas and Fern garbage on TV. I said, "enough, turn it off, lets talk." So the three of us sat in the living room. We started with the standard questions from Dad.

"What did you learn at school today?" This was followed up with lots of "Well I played with so and so," and "I don't remember."

I also try to remember to ask "What did you do today that was nice for someone else?" This was followed up by "I held the door for the class, I picked up my friends paper on the floor" that kind of stuff.

"So, Bella" I said, "What did you have for lunch today?" Her eyes lit up, she had some material and she was going to share it.

"Well dad, I had salad bar and skim." Bella said.

"Skim?" I asked. "Do you mean skim milk?"

"Yeah, Dad, I had skim."

Daina would later confirm that for the first week at school she was drinking something called "Whole."


So then they wanted to play the "Guess the person game" - which is basically 20 questions. Is it a boy? Is it someone we know? Are they on TV?, you get the idea. We had everyone from Jesus, Uncle Wolfgang and Hannah Montana's friend on her tv show.

So it comes to Caroline's time to have us ask her the questions. Bella goes first. "Is it a girl?"

Caroline nods yes.

"Is she in a movie?" I ask.

Caroline nods yes and says, "And she wears glass slippers!!!" as if the hint was a good one.

Bella yells "Cinderalla"

Caroline screams, "Yes! You got it!"

I'm lucky to be their dad. Good times.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's going to get louder....

So I had the kids all day yesterday while Daina worked. I got them up at about 7 a.m. and we were on the road at about 7:30. We have a plan for mom's birthday that the kids are helping me on. This was to be a big secret, but Drew blew my cover five minutes after Daina came home.

There are some things that Daina still doesn't know about this surprise and it won't be posted here until "The Big Reveal" - sorry, I digress, too many home improvement shows. I am going to digress further. The problem with home improvement shows is that I watch them, get a lot of great ideas, but never get motivated enough to do anything with my own house, except for staining the stuff I have, which I did yesterday, for the third time for the deck, but I digress further.

So after our 8-9 a.m. adventure the kids were squawking for breakfast. I wanted to introduce them to the Waveland Cafe. Now they have been to the new Waveland in Boonville, IA, but the one on University in Des Moines, is old school, righteous and ideal for a Sunday morning. Its great greasy spoon fare with terrible service and poor cleaning ethics, but mom wasn't around and Big Red wanted a Lumberman. A lumberman is a plate of hashbrowns, topped with four biscuits, topped with two fried eggs, and then a bunch of sausage gravy. Like I said, mom wasn't around. We parked and walked to the door to find people standing outside. Boo. I knew my crew couldn't wait.

"McDonalds?" I asked, figuring it was a quick and cheap solution right around the corner.

"No McDonald's!" yelled Bella from the back seat.

"What, why?" I asked.

"Because they don't have toys for breakfast!" Bella informed me. (Note to McDonald's - breakfast happy meal people, get with it!) I digress again.

So we hit the HyVee for breakfast. French toast and bacon a plenty. No happy meal toys, but plenty of happy faces.

Straight from HyVee to church. Caroline and Drew made it to their Sunday school classes and Father Vince had a great homily about being generous. I guess that's all well and good but then I looked at my check book register. I guess I'll have to be generous later.

Quick stop after church at home for pasta lunch. No spaghetti sauce, but butter, parmasean cheese and some sort of Italian spice I bought six months ago that is running on empty. There were like six different selections, but we are now on the last two. "I want mine with butter, cheese and spice" Caroline said, "Me too" said Drew, "Just butter and cheese" said Bella. I got it right.

I made those kids scarf their meals down and we made it to Drew's Flag Football practice right on time. Big game against the Panthers next week so we actually started running plays today. The whole idea that three year olds can comprehend the game makes my encouragement from the sideline seem even all that more ridiculous. Drew would see someone bending over to hike the ball and he would get in front of them and get in the same position, all the while his but in some unexpecting kids face. Sometimes Drew would tip over. Each time he laughed. Its great to see him just standing there looking into the clouds thinking about stuff, thinking about anything other than the task at hand. What do I care, he's three.

Home from flag football and its "Happy night night time" - kids down for a nap. I stained the deck for a couple of hours, she's all done for now, or at least I thought it was until Daina pointed out a spot to me when she got home.

So Daina gets home at about 7 and I made dinner. Tacos, from a box, not the meat, but the rest of it was. At this point I told Daina that I need about 15 minutes of quiet. I somehow found a beer in the fridge - and it was a good beer, a micro brew I actually bought at a company auction a year prior. It had aged well. It was like found treasure. I went upstairs and geeked out on football for about 15 minutes and came back downstairs.

"You feeling better?" Daina asked.

"Yeah, just needed a little quiet" I said, "I've had the kids all day and it was getting loud."

"Well," Daina says holding her pregnant belly, "It's going to get louder."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Chicken, a Snake and some Toilet Paper

Apparently the incident occurred during some kid related shuttle activity so I got the short version of the story from Caroline when I got home.

There was a bird, I am told by Daina that it was a hawk or some kind of predator. I'm going with a hawk. Although Daina described it as a hawk with talons and a large wing span. It was swooping down onto the street and eating some road kill that was recently unsuccessful crossing the street. As traffic came by, the hawk would fly up and then swoop back down when all was clear. The road kill I am told was a snake, but that's debatable. I've never seen a snake meet its demise on a suburban street, but that's the story Daina told me.

So Drew says, "What that chicken doing?"

Daina decided to turn the car around and go back to witness this bird of prey and its easy lunch. The kids enthralled.

Caroline says, "That freakin' chicken is eating a dead snake."


On they way home from a friends birthday party, we saw that the highs school had been toilet papered, AGAIN. Bella says, "Well it wasn't me!" Caroline says, "Those kids should clean up that mess and apologize." Guessing she heard that from her mother. I said to her, "Caroline, you're pretty funny." To which she replied, "Yeah dad, you should put that on the blog. And the freaking chicken."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bella reaches a milestone

As of this month, Bella's 2nd cornea transplant has reached one year. She went to Omaha to see her doctors a couple of weeks ago and everything looks great. 18 months with the transplant is the real hurdle but we are miles ahead of where we were with the first transplant.

I still find it amazing what the combination of great doctors and a child with the most amazing resilience I have ever seen can achieve. Not to mention a strong mother that makes all of it come together.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flag Football

High drama and comedy at the YMCA fields are granted - provided you show up with a three-year-old who is interested in playing flag football. Yes. They start at three years old. So Drew, doesn't really get the concept. He understands that part of the game involves pulling off people's flags. We have had two practices so far. Our third practice is Sunday at 1. Then the games begin.

Drew, wears #7 for his team, "The Jayhawks" - don't even get me started on that. Anyway. My little #7 has a blast running around the field, learning to hike, hand off and "play defense." Basically this is a good excuse to run. And certainly wears the boy out for nap time at 2 p.m.

So back to this not understanding thing. Since it has only been practice, Drew and his teammates have been scrimmaging (if you can call it that) against each other. The ball is hiked to one kid, he hands it to another kid, kid with the ball is prompted to run and the rest of the team chases him around trying to get the flags. Pretty simple, right?

Either Drew is not very fast or his athletic pants are too big. Probably blessed with his father's gift for speed. He'll break no records but certainly gives it his all. Drew has never caught the guy with the ball. Yet, he has managed to catch #10. I think the kid's name is Quincy or something. He is slower than Drew and they basically compete for bringing up the rear of the pack, with Drew smiling the whole time. So the play will break up with no one ever catching the kid who actually has the ball. But that doesn't stop Drew. Drew goes and takes the flags, both of them off of #10. This wouldn't be as amusing if 1. #10 didn't cry, 2. Drew didn't laugh, and 3. It didn't happen 30 times during one practice.

Pictures of the big game soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Potty training

Drew is about 95% there when it comes to going on the potty. He wears a pull up diaper through the night and usually wakes up dry clamoring to go in the potty. When he does go potty, he does a pee pee dance, and sings "Drewy made a pee-pee" over and over again. He sings it to the rhythm one would do a conga line too. During the day time he is all about big boy underwear and is pretty proud of himself.

He will occasionally have issues, shall I say, going #2 in the potty. Sometimes he sneaks off into the playroom and goes in the girls little dollhouse tent thing and pinches one off. He knows he shouldn't but he does. He hasn't reached the "low maintenance point" quite yet. We're getting there.

Tonight, I was trying to wind him down as he sat next to me in the bed watching some football drinking his cup. All of a sudden he start making these weird noises and I am convinced I will be cleaning up dirty beep beep underwear. So I say, "Drew, did you just go potty in your pants?"

"No Daddy," he says, "I didn't poop, I just yawning, I just tired."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Baby names

So most of you probably know that we are expecting, again, yes, that would be four, and no need to remind me how it happened cause I know. And quite honestly we are thrilled.

We decided to wait until after the first three months to tell the kids. We decided to go to Cold Stone and have some ice cream and tell them there. The kids all went for the cotton candy flavored ice cream mashed with marshmallows. Yeah, not what I would have chosen but I am sure the sugar high was great. This ice cream color was smurf blue and the marshmallow were aplenty.

As we were eating ice cream we told the kids that mom indeed have a baby in her tummy. There was speculation, the kids had seen an ultrasound pic, and we had told them all along we thought there might be a baby in there but we had to be sure though.

Caroline was very interested. Is it a boy or a girl? When will it be here? Where will it sleep (We have four bedrooms, four kids, plus mom and dad so this was big stuff to consider for Caroline.) Then Caroline asked, "What will we name it?" Caroline had a girl name already picked out. "Lilly" was her choice. Any boy names? Caroline didn't have any boy names, so we asked Drew.

"Drew, what would you name the baby? Drew replied, "Marshmallow Ice Cream"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

37 Years

As of September 4, that's how long my parents have been married. After successfully raising three kids who have avoided jail time or any major self inflicted drama I have to applaud this feat. You see, its because of them that my sense of self is strong, that my family values are so important, that I love my children as much as I should, that I laugh as much as I do.

They have been married all of my life, like it should be for all kids. Growing up, I took for granted the fact that divorce surrounded us. It effected everyone of my cousins, too many of my friends and even ended great friendships my parents and had created.

As a child, I remember my parents arguing once in front of me that I can remember. Mom got mad and went to the the bedroom. Dad sat there with a blank look on his face - not knowing what to do. It appeared that he had never had to comfort her after a fight so didn't have a clue as to what to do next. My sister and I went to my room and worried that they would get a divorce. That seems almost laughable today. My parents will always be together, that was the true certainly and the only real truth I knew as I grew up. That was everything to me. It still is.

My parents love for each other inspires me to be a better husband, a better father and a better man. Even though I know I will never live up to the high expectations that they have set for all three of their kids. The bar is set pretty high. I suppose if I can do half a good a job as they did I will have to consider my life, my marriage and my family an overwhelming success.

I love this picture because there are so many stories I could tell about this moment and about these people. The story that is most worth telling is that this picture to some extent represents my parents life's work. Three happy kids, and their adoring spouses. I'm not sure who is luckier, my parents or their children. And that is definitely a debate worth having.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caroline, the dancing mouse

Last weekend, Caroline was one of about 150 5-6 year olds that tried out for the Des Moines Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. #137 spent an hour and a half learning a dance with the other kids and then had to perform on stage for the judges. She wasn't nervous, or scared. She just went about her business as she tried out for the role of "Mouse."

I'm not a big ballet guy but I am now. Yesterday we received a letter congratulating her! We were all very excited for her and are awaiting word on when she will be performing. We know it will be at the Hoyt Sherman Theatre during the first week of December as Caroline will be dressed in moue attire and doing something with a Sugar Plum Fairy. (I'm going to have to learn a little more about this whole thing.)

This is a pretty big deal for Caroline. She doesn't really have her own "thing" like her brother and sister. She is kind of schlepped around with the other kids quite often and doesn't really get her own time with mom or dad. The fact that she has something that is all her own will do wonders for her confidence. She's a great kid and feels like she has really accomplished something. Way to go Caroline!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Damage from the Iowa State Fair

Brought $100 to the fair - Left with $3

Admission family five $20
Sprite $5
Three Snow cones $3
Three Corn dogs $6
Two Tenderloins with fries $16
One Funnel Cake $6
Three waters $6
Midway Rides $20
Playing Carny Games $15

Check out this picture a friend of mine took. Guess shirts are optional at the fair. Is that woman sniffing her armpit in the background?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quick Hits

Bella starts first grade tomorrow. On the way to Walgreens tonight, I told Bella she would need to have a bath tonight. Caroline said, "Yeah, Bella needs a bath so she doesn't go to school all stinky."

I took Drew to the mall the other day to get fitted for a tuxedo. He is in a wedding in October (more on that later). Apparently when Daina took him to get fitted he threw a fit and had a meltdown and was unable to be properly fitted. So, I got to take him. He was a champ, looks like a stud in the coat and even tried on the little shoes. We closed the night by playing at the play place and then eating at Chipotle. He even tried the hot sauce. "Dat too spicy Daddy"

Drew got in his first fight the other day. A scuffle with a friend at the Happy Joe's pizza place game area. I think they scuffled on the ski ball machine. Apparently he didn't start it and reacted after being hit. Drew walked away with fewer scratches than the other kid. Don't mess with Drew. Drew went to this kids birthday party today and apologized and then played with trains. Friends again.

Caroline has a common excuse of "I can't sleep good." This happens at around 10 p.m. every night. She uses the line to hang out and watch the Olympics, or sneaks into our bedroom and promptly sleeps there all night. I usually wake up with Caroline's foot in my face as she is prone to mountain climbing dreams.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Married 10 Years

Daina and I celebrarted 10 years of marriage on August 8. She makes this unbelievable life possible and to say I would be utterly lost without her is an understatement. She makes me a better person. Isn't that everything you could ask for?

Saturday, August 9, 2008


A good friend of mine sent me an invite to help distribute materials in the recently flooded Des Moines suburb known as "Birdland." This effort was a local church's effort to make a difference for flood victims.

With Daina working at the time, I told him I would help, but it was a package deal. Me and the three kids. He loved the idea. This morning, we walked around flood ruined homes, and talked to some of the people that had evacuated and were now trying to rebuild. They were happy to meet us.

The church provided a small gift and an invite to a Free Garage Sale by invite only that the flood victims could come to. There will be gently used furniture, appliances, clothing and toys available. The expect to fill a 3,000 foot sanctuary with free items.

Bella, Caroline and Drew, walked down these sad streets holding presents from the church and taking turns giving them to the people living there. I asked them on the way home what they had learned and ultimately there answers were that its nice to help others. They got it.

We talked to one woman for about 30 minutes. Her house was destroyed and she was rebuilding. Her husband was let go from his job the day after the flood, she was ill, he was looking for work. It was tough going. It was as if our news was the first sign of hope this woman had received in a long time.

She will be at the Free Garage Sale, I can count on that. So if our morning spent walking around this neighborhood reaching out to those who needed help only bring this one lady then it was worth it.

The Fleming Kids are planning on giving 3-4 things to the garage sale. Its all they can talk about this afternoon and it makes me humble and proud at the same time. The thought that even young people, my young people, can play a part in the help of others is an amazing thing to witness. And to be quite honest, it feels great.

The Free Garage Sale is at Valley Church, in West Des Moines, August 16, 8 a.m. -1 p.m. Email me if you want details as this is an invite only program specifically for the flood victims.

Back in the high life again

It was the summer of 1992 and I found myself driving my black Honda Civic through Northern Arkansas with my kid sister, Whitney. I was 18 at the time, and she was 12. My parents and sister, Erica followed in a car behind us. The Arkansas trees had started their progression towards fall, the world was full of yellow, greens and red.

My family was driving me to college at the University of Missouri. They were dropping me off. I hadn't been west of Atlanta, GA my whole life, and here I was in Norther Arkansas considering the leaves and the dawn of a new chapter in my life.

I didn't think about it much at the time, but Steve Winwood's song "Back in the High Life" came on the radio. Now I'm not some geek for Steve Winwood. Don't own an album, haven't purchased anything from Itunes. Its good stuff though, if it comes on the radio, I'll listen. I guess he's like Bob Seger. If the moments right, then Steve and Bob are your men.

I remember hearing the song, and thinking, that some time soon and perhaps often, I would be with my sister Whitney, and my family again. And that these moments would be plentiful.

As I have aged, as I have put roots down in a strange place for some here in Iowa, with no family within the state, I have learned these times to spend back in the high life are slim. My sister Whitney now lives in Hawaii, my sister Erica in Boston. They both finished highshool, finished college, have found the love of their lives and are both pregnant. They did that all without their big brother. My patents still live in South Florida which basically means we are about as far away from each other as we can be, yet still very close to one another.

I heard "Back in the High Life" on the way home from work on Thursday and it all came crashing back. I instantly called Whitney when the song ended. I didn't tell her about the song, I just wanted to hear her voice, to be close even though we are far.

I know that soon, she and I, and my family will have these high life moments again, maybe even in person. They just aren't as often as they should be. Stop reading this and call someone, or better yet, visit someone you love.

I think all of us can find something meaningful with what Winwood accomplished here. Here are the lyrics

It used to seem to me
That my life ran on too fast
And I had to take it slowly
Just to make the good parts last
But when youre born to run
Its so hard to just slow down
So dont be surprised to see me
Back in that bright part of town

Ill be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Ill be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in

And Ill drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me
And on Ill be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

You used to be the best
To make life be life to me
And I hope that youre still out there
And youre like you used to be
Well have ourselves a time
And well dance til the morning sun
And well let the good times come in
And we wont stop til were done

Well be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Well be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in
And well drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily
And oh well be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

Well be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Well be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in
And well drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily
And oh well be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday afternoon rainbows

Drew and I took our traditional errand run on Sunday night. We hit the book store, the grocery store and then Lowes. We parked at Lowes in the middle of a downpour. It was bad. I was looking for tornados and such. The two of us sitting and talking in the rain. He was scared of the thunder and lightening so he got to sit shotgun, which being a car-seat man for his entire life was a pretty big deal. We talked about "rain no hurt you" and "thunder no hurt you - it just loud" and so on.

Then a rainbow appeared.

It was the first rainbow I have seen this summer and it may be Drew's first. His only real understanding of rainbows are his watching his older sisters drawing pictures of them. We spent some time looking at it in the parking lot after the rain had subsided. He named off the colors he saw and talked about his favorite colors and how we should go inside soon because it might rain again.

Inside Lowes, the cashier struck up a conversation with Drew who provided her with details about the just witnessed rainbow, the colors, etc. It was basically the same conversation just more refined, better articulated. A future in sales for Drew?

So we settle up at Lowes, walk outside and Drew starts crying. No reason, just freaking out. The rainbow is gone. Daddy, where my rainbow. This was not good. I told him that rainbows don't stay very long, you need sunshine and rain and some science stuff that Dad doesn't remember.

Drew delt with it. He came to the conclusion, that the rainbow "had taken and a nap."

We'll see him later I told Drew. "Yeah Daddy, after his nap" he said.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Iowa Cubs Game

It was our company night at the Iowa Cubs AAA baseball game last night. My friend Phil took this great picture of Drew. Really captures him like no other picture I have seen. One of the guys in our group caught a foul ball and gave it to Drew. A really sweet gesture and Drew was thrilled.

There's something great about taking the family to a baseball game. I'm not sure if its because it reminds me of all the times my own father brought me to MLB Spring Training games in South Florida or just the simplicity of the event itself. Probably both.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


For the last two weeks the kids have been begging me to take them to McDonald's. Now I like me a Big Mac as much as the next guy but McDonald's is a place I usually try to avoid.

This trip to McDonald's I was assured by Bella and Caroline was special. They had some little pet shop toy or something in the happy meal. And Drew could get a boy toy, a Transformer beep beep. And, the promotion ended today I was told. So, off we went to McDonald's.

Daina was working so we went through the ritual we always go through before we get to McDonald's. The kids have three choices to make. Cheeseburger or Chicken Nuggets, french fries or apple dippers, white or chocolate milk. They made their choices and we were well prepared. Now typically I am a drive through man, but tonight they wanted to go inside McDonald's. Love the atmosphere there, great mood lighting, clean floor, tables so clean they sparkle. I caved and we went in.

Orders were placed, a booth by the window right next to the Red Box was selected. Back at the table with a tray full of food; packets of ketchup to open, open my toy, open my milk, I'll do my own straw, open my apples, open my caramel, I need more dip dip, I need a napkin, where are my nuggets, no Drew, that's my toy, you got a Transformer, and on and on. Once everyone was set there was more playing with the toys than actual eating going on.

An old friend of mine's father used to tell us at the dinner table. "Less talking. More eating." It was a good line and I realized that by using it I had become that guy. That father that wanted nothing more than a little peace and quiet over a meal, even if it was McDonald's. The kids were good, just excited and eventually ate their meal with a little begging from Dad.

As we ate I asked them how they knew the toys weren't going to be there tomorrow. That the "promotion ending" today seemed like way too much information for a five and seven year old to be losing sleep over. Bella told me, "We saw it on the TV, the TV told us." I just laughed and ate the rest of my now cold food. And yeah, we had to get a Red Box video for the kids. A Hannah Montana DVD filled the evening entertainment bill, and lucky for me, you and the rest of us, there were no McDonald's videos in the previews.

Monday, July 14, 2008


It's been a while since my last post. Perhaps I have been busy or the kids have been not as cute as this blog would make them out to be. Probably a combination of both.

For whatever reason, Caroline seems to cry whenever she doesn't get her way. This has been going on for about a month. I want this blanket, sorry, Drew had it first. Cry. I wanted to sit here. Sorry, Isabella is already sitting there. Cry. You get the idea.

Drew has other issues. His sisters will be quietly sitting watching Wow Wow Wubzy or some other show on Noggin and Drew will be invited to "snuggle" on the couch with them. This works for about all of 30 seconds until Drew decides he doesn't have enough room. Depending on where he is positioned this results in punch in the arm or a kick in the head for one of his sisters. When he gets in trouble, he acts like he was the one who got hit and cries. I keep putting him in timeout, so much so that the other day, he threw something at Caroline, some plastic pig toy and before I even said anything, he said "I'll go to timeout."

So I was reflecting on Drew and Caroline's behavior yesterday with Bella. I said, "Bella, why are your brother and sister so crazy and you are so good?" She told me, "Dad, I went to kindergarten, I learned about respect." My mood immediately improved.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Smoothie

On Sunday, my mom who was visiting from Miami and I took the girls to the Des Moines Arts Festival. At some point during our time there the kids wanted a snack. I found a portable ATM machine which while portable, was also out of order. A glance into my wallet revealed all of $6. So I said to the kids, "I have $6, how about a smoothie?" They were game.

The guy at the smoothie booth (if there is such a thing) said smoothies were $6 each. I had to pause and consider the ramifications of buying one smoothie and having a 7 and 5 year old argue over whose turn it was for a sip. I declined.

"Girls, lets get something else. I am not going to spend $6 on a smoothie" I said, which was greeted by some whining, ah mans, and other unpleasantries. There groans were eliminated when I suggested ice cream. The ice cream booth (if there is such a thing) offered a variety of choices. Everything from $1, $1.50, $2 and $3. They both wanted Dove bars which were of course, $3 each. Their faces covered in chocolate proved that this was a successful turn of events.

Last night, the kids received a birthday package, in which, Bella and Caroline each received $20. As we sat in the backyard enjoying the kiddie pool, Bella and Caroline discussed the many ways in which they could spend their $20. We talked about the Arts Festival and what they liked the most about it. Doing arts and crafts topped the list, as did the Dove Bars. We talked how we could go again next year, and every year for that matter.

Bella says, "Dad, if I still have my $20 next year, can I buy a smoothie at the Art Festival? To which Caroline replied, "A smoothie? You want to spend your twenty dollars on a freaking smoothie?"

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sandy Sanger

Greatest Aunt Ever.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


My sister, Erica, wrote this blog post:

If you have ever moved; if you have been to my home in Miami then you will enjoy reading this. Erica's post says it all.

Update on Bella's Vision

This is good news. Her vision is doing really well and her second cornea transplant will have lasted for one year this August. She went to Omaha to see her doctors yesterday and everything looked great. Her eye pressure was where it needs to be and she is seeing well out of her new cornea. Fingers crossed.

Her last cornea transplant worked for about 18 months before it rejected so we still have some hurdles to overcome. She is still patching to make her eye stronger and to keep the pathways between her brain and her eyes alive. She does this for about two hours a day and we anticipate that will stop in the next year. Apparently when you are 7-8 those pathways cannot develop any further. She's been a champ.

She graduated from Kindergarten about three weeks ago and is enjoying her summer. She is taking swim lessons (wearing goggles) and is a little more brave than her mother would like her to be. Jumping off diving boards in the deep end of the pool, holding her breath under water, just being a kid who has learned to swim. Its great to see how far she has come, unfortunately it has gone by too fast. I still like to remember her as the little baby with glasses and a patch on.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?

I feel like we all need more of these kinds of things in our world. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seperated at Birth?

Anderson Cooper and my son, Drew.