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June 25, 2015

MADISON TURNS FOUR




We celebrated her fourth birthday a few weekends ago with family and a few close friends that feel like family. She ran and laughed and played until she worked up an appetite then we cut into a white frosted cake revealing six layers, each a different color of the rainbow. We watched the little girl who fills our home with laughs and questions and dolls and dresses collect another year. Her mother and I watched the person we created transition into the person she’s becoming and it happened right before our eyes. We attempted to blink away the tears of reality that our little girl is growing up faster than we ever could have imagined, but the truth of the matter is time really does seem to fly when you're having this much fun.

Happy Birthday, Madison.

Happy Birthday to you.

June 17, 2015

MUDDY BOOTS


The wind played games with her curls as we collected the miles under our tires and counted the streetlights we passed by. We turned up the radio and sang at the top of our lungs until we reached the spot we unintentionally drove towards, a random field by the side of the road full of yellow flowers. 

“It’s a little muddy,” she said. An observation made by the sweet voice from the back seat that seems to be growing in volume as she is in height, one of many races forced upon us by age.

The mud gave way as I climbed onto it and immediately I was glad we came prepared. We slid our feet out of the shoes we wore and exchanged them for the boots we thought to bring at the last minute. We let the mud hug our soles as we walked through the flowers. We talked about her birthday pausing to discuss memories of the last four years as they surfaced, remembering our first days together, our first minutes together.

I remembered her cries fading to a whimper then to a hum as her body curved into the bend of my arm and her head rested against my chest, a position she claimed as hers from the first hour we met. We sat there then letting the love I never knew existed, the love I never knew I was capable of, fill the silence.

I remembered counting her fingers as she wrapped all five of them around one of my own. She blinked through wet eyes, struggled to see me between the squinted openings the light of the room allowed her to have and once she found me I told her I was her father without saying anything at all. 

I remembered feeling the weight of her in my arms and the weight of the world on my shoulders. The new challenge, the unquenchable thirst, to be the best person I could be if only to help her become the best person she could be. The insatiable desire to focus on the adventure, the journey, instead of constantly searching for the light ahead at the end of some proverbial tunnel.

A bee buzzed by us landing on a petal and I followed her eyes and watched her watch him. It was only a second before his patience caught up with the speed of his wings and he left just as quickly as he came. In that moment she took note of every movement, tucking questions away in the corner of her mind to retrieve for answers later.

Mother Nature sighed heavily and the breeze of her breath compromised the balance of the toddler at my side. My daughter reached for my hand to steady herself and I counted all five of those now larger, but still small fingers of hers just as I did when she was born. There was a time where I couldn’t see myself as a father, but every time her little hand finds my own I can’t imagine being anything else.

We made our way through the muddy soil, retracing our steps as we went, stopping for impromptu jokes drowning punch lines in laughter even though we’ve swam in the same ones for days on end. We stomped and wiped our boots in the grass as a poor attempt of leaving some of the mud behind then we strapped ourselves in for the ride back home.

“Daddy, why did that bee land on that flower?” she asked as I prepared myself for the landslide of inquiries to follow because when there’s one question, there are many.

I introduced a conversation about the habits of bees and their purpose and why they use pollen from the flowers and discussed hives and honey and all things related to the bee life. She smiled and seemed to accept my answer. She found her reflection in the window by her side and watched the wind resume the game with her curls through the crack at the top.

Later, after dinner was eaten and baths were taken and prayers were said, I tucked her in and kissed her cheek. I told her that I loved her. I told her I enjoyed our time together, that I’d see her in the morning. She wrapped her arm around the stuffed dog she sleeps with every night pulling him close and tucking his nose just under her chin and before I could make it across her room she stopped me.

“Daddy, I thought that bee stopped to smell those flowers.”

It was then I realized she could be right. Maybe some things aren’t as complicated as we make them out to be. Maybe some things don’t require a lengthy explanation. Maybe in the process of teaching our children, we’re the ones learning the most in the end.  After all, we pulled over to look at the flowers, to visually soak in their simplicity, to smell them ourselves. I responded with “probably so” as she rolled over giving in to the promise of sleep. 

It never gets old… fatherhood, parenting… seeing the world all over again through their eyes.

June 10, 2015

THE YEAR OF THE THREENAGER


From the moment she opened her eyes as a three year old, we got a preview of her as a teenager. Gone are the mornings where she wakes up with a smile and a giggle and instead they have been replaced with desperate grabs to pull the covers back up and sometimes, on particularly difficult days, she swats at us to leave while she mumbles something about more sleep.


While she’s even more sweet and gentle and twice as caring as she was during age two, we’ve seen her express her opinions more frequently and without hesitation since turning three. She prefers to pick out her own clothes or at the very least reserves the right to veto an outfit chosen without her input. Pants are still outlawed with dresses her preferred article of clothing, I suppose this will be the case throughout age four as well.


She found her voice and an understanding of how to use it. To think there was a time before she was two that we prayed night after night for her to find her words, to make complete sentences instead of subjective grunts... she’s definitely making up for lost time. She talks from the moment she puts her feet on the floor until the moment she gives in to sleep at night and her comedic timing is near perfect.


This year we saw her vocabulary soar with word choices such as claustrophobic, oviparous, unfortunate, negative, organize, among others -- all used in the correct context. Speaking of organizing, she started (and continues) to organize and reorganize her toys and books and belongings until they’re displayed in a way she finds satisfactory.


We enrolled her in preschool again, as well as dance classes where we watched her take the stage for her first recital attempting steps in both ballet and tap. We finally took her to the pumpkin patch to pick her very own pumpkin for the first time. We introduced chores and implemented creative punishments for those times where her age forced her to lose her better judgment.


She fell in love with The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz and donned Dorothy’s signature threads for Halloween. She learned the theme song to Inspector Gadget and joins me in impromptu, spontaneous sing-alongs. She let her imagination run wild and soaked in the details of her surroundings, asking more questions than anyone could possibly answer. She learned a lot over the last year (how to spell and write her name and her phone number to name a few) and she managed to teach us even more along the way.


This year her favorite singer was Meghan Trainor and every car ride was all about that bass. Her favorite color slowly transitioned from purple to yellow and her favorite show from My Little Pony to The Magic School Bus. We saw Frozen on Ice and watched her first movie in a theater. We made her first Gingerbread house and built her first snowman. We played Candy Land and endless other games both inside and out leaving her growing footprints in the yard and her expanding handprints on the glass of our sliding door.


When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, the response seemed to change weekly throughout the year. Rock star. Astronaut. Teacher. Actress. Scientist. Ballerina. Doctor. Most recently, a waitress. Whatever she ends up becoming, I hope she maintains the courage to follow her heart and knows that her mother and I will be behind her every step of the way; we just want her to be happy. After all, she’s changed our lives for the better since she was born and she deserves nothing but the best in return.



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