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My wife will kill me if I interrupt her sleep cycle now or she might end up killing me after she reads this. 

Either way if this post happens to be my last... at least you know why.

I’m sitting in the dark as I write this with the glow of the screen as my only light source, unless I count the moon forcing its way through the closed blinds in our bedroom.  Allison is next to me, asleep, and I want to wake her to discuss the words I’m about to write and the sentences I’m about to form. 

After all, it should be her story to tell.

With every rise and fall of her chest I’m reminded of just how still the house feels during these hours; the hours when every room attempts to rest in effort to rebuild enough energy for the next day.  The hours when the reassuring sound of a balancing act between inhales and exhales can be heard through the baby monitor proving angels need sleep, too.  The hours where a three pound ball on the floor is somehow able to provide a strange level of comfort and security with the volume of  his canine snores.

It’s during these hours every night when I roll over and, like a knife in my back, feel the sharp pain of a dull object.  There’s something in the bed with us.  It should feel foreign yet it doesn’t.  It feels familiar.  It feels like a constant reminder that something is always lurking in the dark.

That something is named Brenda.

Brenda is a Cabbage Patch Kid.  She is naked and gross.  Surprisingly, she belongs to Allison not our toddler, Madison (little Miss Madison has friends of her own).  According to Allison, the hair is the attraction to Brenda or rather the entire breed of Cabbage Patch Kids.  She twirls the individual yarn-like strands between her fingers and claims it’s calming and relaxing and almost meditative.  Brenda moves through our house fluidly with the grace of a spider navigating the beautiful intricacies of her own web design.  She’s upstairs.  She’s downstairs.  She’s on the couch.  She’s on the coffee table.  She’s always in our bed.  Allison twirls herself to sleep, her version of an adult lullaby.
This habit predates the 13+ years we’ve been together.  Meet Hagee.

Hagee is also a Cabbage Patch Kid.  She wears an ill-fitting dress and is beyond disgusting.  She smells like dusty morning breath.  Unfortunately, Hagee is  bald.  Allison received her as a gift when she was 9 months old.  She slept with her every night and twirled her hair every spare moment until the last piece of brown yarn fell out.  Then she retired Hagee to a shelf where she sits currently.  Even though Brenda is the one haunting our house on a daily/nightly basis, Allison’s loyalty lies with Hagee.  Madison is not allowed to touch her.  Neither am I.  In the event of a fire, once all three of us and the dog are accounted for, Hagee is next on the make-sure-you-save list.
When Brenda finally meets her fate of premature hair loss followed by retirement, there will be Mary.

Should Madison, heaven forbid, ever inherit this terrifying habit (or Allison gets desperate)... Amelia.

They're starting to outnumber us.  I’m scared.


October 29, 2013

When we asked Madison what she wanted to be for Halloween this year she said a mermaid.  While searching for mermaid costumes we noticed two trends, either they were exceptionally provocative (especially for a two year old) or they were a poor interpretation.  If she were going to be a mermaid, we wanted her to be legit.  However, the one costume we found was so legit that she wouldn't be able to walk in it.

We scratched the mermaid idea and asked what else she wanted to be; she said she wanted wings.  We thought about Tinkerbell, but ultimately decided on a butterfly.  We ordered another costume by Tom Arma since we liked the one from last year so much.  Madison loves it.  She waves her arms up and down in rapid succession screaming flap, flap because... you know, that's what butterflies do.

Surrounded by cotton and lit by the fall sun, I couldn't help but think of the expression that these are the caterpillar years and before long she will be a butterfly eager to spread her wings and fly away. Although her wingspan will develop much quicker than I could ever prepare myself for, at least the wings of this costume are only temporary.


October 27, 2013

Thick as thieves, these three.  Over the past few months, Doc and Lambie (from Doc McStuffins) have become legitimate members of our family.  They join us every time we move from room to room, every time we leave the house  and everywhere little Miss Madison goes they go, too.

She takes them to preschool.

She takes them outside to play.

She takes them to Grandma and Papa’s house.

She takes them grocery shopping.

They sleep with her.

They wake up with her.

They eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with her… sitting in her high chair, one on each side of her.

You could play Where’s Waldo? (the Lambie and Doc version) with my Instagram feed; they appear individually or together in several of the pictures taken and very rarely is Madison ever seen without them.

Doc joined our household a week or two before Lambie and the days between the adoption dates, if you will, were spent with Madison asking and then practically begging for the cuddling lamb in a pink tutu.  Allison and I decided to use this as a bit of leverage during the final stages of potty training and promised that Lambie would come to live with us if she could make it a full week without pull ups or an accident (including through the night and at preschool).

We pretended to make phone calls to keep Lambie updated of Madison’s progress and to make arrangements for her visit as it seemed inevitable that Madison would uphold her end of the bargain forcing us to do the same.  Seven days later this happened:

We can’t possibly be the only parents making a production of the smallest things… a quick kiss in the morning, a high five during dinner, a random hug in the middle of story time or the celebrated arrival of a new stuffed animal friend.  It’s always the little moments that seem to mean the most.


October 23, 2013

She stared out her window from the comfortable confinement of her car seat and watched blurry landscapes pass by.  Her mother and I were three songs deep in the set list of an off key concert from the front seat when all of a sudden we noticed a few horses walking beside us along the shoulder of the road as we approached a stoplight.  Four liver chestnuts carrying single riders upon their backs walked slowly in a single file line along the side of the highway.  I’m from a small town so the sight of a horse isn’t a rarity; however, it is for Madison as she’s never seen horses outside of a pasture or the pages of a book.

I ran my hand over the volume knob silencing the music and encouraged Madison to look out her window at the horses.  As we came to a stop I rotated in my seat to see her face wearing the joyous glow of curiosity with a slight hint of red from the traffic light in front of us.

Whoa, she said in her sweet toddler tone of voice that makes me melt, hursies.

The light switched to green and we turned away from the horses leaving them in our rear view mirror and I reached to turn the tunes back up smiling to myself when I heard that little voice again from the back seat.


You have to pee?

No. Peeg.  Pink peeg.

Pink pig? Where?  (I looked around, as did her mother, and we didn't see one.)

No, no, noah, Daddee.  Find pink peeg.

It was an assignment delivered from a two year old, one I knew she wouldn’t let me forget until she laid eyes on a pig.  A pink one, specifically.  It was now my mission to find a pink pig.  So I did what any father who adores his daughter would do... I bought her a pig.

That's not the truth.  I definitely did not buy her a pig.
Although I did think about it, but I knew Allison would object.  Instead I distracted her with a good time by taking her to the fair.  The flashing lights and rotating rides were in town!  Madison has never been to a fair and since she seems somewhat adventurous, I knew she would enjoy it.

 Once inside the fairground we decided to get the rides out of the way before eating anything since Madison has shown evidence of inheriting Allison’s motion sickness (as to how we discovered this – that’s another story for another day).  Eating first then moving seems to be a bad idea and so riding all the rides her height permitted became our priority with the promise of a funnel cake as the finale.

 While at the fair, I managed to find a few pigs.  Or maybe that was my goal all along...

Although I don't think those pink pigs smelled the way she anticipated.

 Oh, well.  Mission Pink Pig accomplished.


October 15, 2013

He was diagnosed with a cancer so aggressive that it quickly consumed him forcing doctors to deliver the terrifying news:   he had approximately six months to live.  An unfortunate, premature death sentence.   A clock with a preset alarm where the seconds stood frozen one behind the other until all at once they flew by under the disguise of minutes.  A final countdown.

Six months, they said.  That was six weeks ago.  We attended his funeral Sunday afternoon.

With summer weather masquerading under the mask of an autumn day, his family gathered and attempted to see through the flag covering his casket to remember him and to honor him and to recollect and mentally catalogue every memory involving him.  Two attending Airmen stepped forward placing their white gloved hands on each corner of the American flag.  A third lifted a bugle to his lips, playing a soundtrack of broken hearts and brave souls.  Several others stood in line among the firing squad and with each shot helped reality settle in.  This was a final, farewell salute.  Stripe over stripe we watched the flag disappear into a triangle of stars before it was finally, on bended knee, presented to his late wife.  She wept.  We all did.

Allison’s uncle was a retired member of the Air Force.  He was a decorated Airman that served 43 years total protecting those he loved, those he just met and those he never knew.  He was a son and a brother.  He was a husband, a father and a grandfather.  Above all else, he was a great man.

A great man with a gift for storytelling.  Five minutes after meeting him you found yourself looking for a seat, you found the need to pull up a chair and soak in every detail of every life experience he was willing to share.  It was impossible to walk away from a conversation empty handed as you held onto every word he delivered.  Each story he recounted was wrapped in humility and unfolded to reveal the desire of a better you… a better me… because along the way he found a better him.  In the end, we’re all aspiring to find better versions of ourselves.  A task, like many others, he succeeded in completing then spent the rest of his time helping others do the same.

Beneath the Purple Heart pinned to his chest was a heart of gold. 


October 8, 2013

When drafting a post, I have adopted the method of simply saying what I feel about what is on my mind or whatever topic I feel needs to be documented at that particular moment.  Once published, it's interesting to see which posts become more popular than others.  Believe it or not, this post has quickly become one of the most viewed posts since I started this blog. Who would have guessed? So I figured an update on how things are looking on the potty front couldn't hurt.  Not interested?  Then read this post instead.

We are no longer using pull ups! Madison is in underwear all the time, including while traveling in the car seat and at night while sleeping. Thus far she sleeps through the night without any accidents and I can think of only one occasion where she woke us up after initially falling asleep to use the potty… which she did successfully.

We are no longer offering rewards for triumphant trips; however, we did implement a reward system when she started preschool if she used the potty while she was there. Day One saw an accident (which we fully expected but refused to regress to pull ups as a crutch) yet she has done well ever since.

We are still working on the transition from the potty to the toilet, although I will admit we’re not exactly stressing this as much as we probably should. For me, I’m fine if she uses her potty for now. We have plenty of time to actively pursue this going forward.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to be as big of an issue as I’m making it out to be since she uses the toilet at preschool plus she’s used the toilet at home a few times here and there.

We've conquered wiping, at least for number one.  We'll work on number two later.  We've also tackled flushing!  Like members of a bowel brigade, we march that bowl to the toilet and she flushes while I (or Allison) make the transfer.  Sometimes she even says bye.  Manners, folks.  They're so important.

A new challenge has presented itself though... convincing her to go before we leave the house.  Every time we're ready, Allison and I ask her to sit on the potty to try before we leave.  You know, just in case.  Every time she says she doesn't have to go and grabs a stuffed animal (or two or three) in a choke hold and heads for the door with a super toddler speed waddle.  After much persuasion (and maybe some bribing, don't judge) she will eventually pop a squat on the pot and, more often than not, use it.  We've found that if we don't engage in this battle that she will, without a doubt, ask to use the restroom five minutes after we've embarked on whatever excursion is on the agenda. 
We still praise her heavily for using the potty (I guess we could calm down a little), but she’s potty trained for crying out loud! That’s a reason to celebrate. No more diapers. No more pull ups.  I'm so excited I could pee.


October 3, 2013

We saw puppies this weekend! Some friends of ours have eight Beagle puppies and we spent Saturday afternoon grilling (and eating) and watching our children (they have two of their own) take advantage of the fall weather until the sun decided to set. Madison didn’t know what to think of the puppies, at a few weeks old they’re almost slightly bigger than Benson in height and already more in weight.

She warmed up to them as they introduced themselves, but it wasn’t long before she was over it.

She preferred to play with the swing set instead.

I tried to convince Allison we should take one home -- a puppy not a swing set -- but no such luck.


October 1, 2013

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