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She looked in the mirror and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and smiled at her reflection. My daughter with the large brown eyes of her mother told the girl in the glass looking back at her that she wanted a little sister, that she would then be the oldest, that she would let her play with her toys and wear her clothes and I stood by wondering if I wanted the same thing. I wondered if I wanted it for myself or for her or her mother or maybe a combination of all the above.

We’ve had this conversation before, the talk of extending this little family of ours again by having another child yet we never come to a complete agreement on either end. There are times when my doubts overshadow my wife’s desires and then come the moments when her fears scare away my fever and we’re left reading from the page the other just read, just not the same page at the same time when this topic is involved.

To think I’ve already changed my last diaper or willed my last burp from a baby’s back with the palm of my hand or comforted and calmed a restless night of teething, to think it’s over clouds my judgment. To think I could have savored the months of exploration and discovery a little more or cherished the days of feeding her first while my food grew cold instead of wishing them away or settled in for one more nap with an infant on my bare chest letting our hearts sync, to think those days have come and gone without being prepared to soak in them a little more feels like a bath where the plug was pulled too soon.

We were so clueless the first time around and yet we managed to create something, someone so perfect and beautiful and flawless that we made it up as we went in the days that followed completely mesmerized by her. Sometimes I remember those days clearly the way she would lift her feet towards my face so I could blow between her toes or the way she threw her head back just before she fell asleep mimicking the exact position she was in during her mother’s ultrasound when we got our first glimpse of her. 

Sometimes those days seem distant, the little girl in our home with 3 years of experience and learning more by the hour consumes us completely and the early days with her seem to slip further and further away. Would having another one allow us the opportunity to recreate those moments? Is that even a valid reason to have another? The love between us personified amazes me anytime I stop to reflect on the life we created together, of the life we’re building together, and I can’t help but wonder if we could do it again. If we could possibly ask God for another blessing as big as the one He has already given us.


January 28, 2015

I looked over my shoulder hoping they would catch the hint I threw at them; the four teenagers sitting directly behind my three year old daughter discussing the indiscretions of their weekend. The details and the word choices and the content were all things that should have been part of a conversation behind closed doors, not one had in public where children were around.

Before I could settle the internal debate of being that guy and saying something to the unruly and disrespectful young adults they gathered their things and found the exit. However, their foul language left a bad taste in my mouth and when I mentioned it to my wife later she admitted she didn’t hear anything they said among the other mumbling chatter of the restaurant. 

Has fatherhood made me hypersensitive of my surroundings? I had my back to them with my daughter at my side yet I heard every word crystal clear and it left much to be desired regarding the state of our youth. I feel like someone’s grandfather by even admitting that, but it’s true. Somewhere along the way, this generation missed the memo on respect… where’s Aretha when you need her?


January 26, 2015

I'm not sure if these are amusing to anyone else or just my wife, Allison, and me since we're her parents, but I have a feeling we'll look back one day enjoying that we captured some of Madison's random comments (click here for more).

MADISON:  Sometimes I call Nana... Nana Banana.
ME:  You do?
MADISON:  And sometimes I call her Nana Ba-apple.


ME:  You're very observant.
MADISON:  I am not a doughnut.


While brushing her hair...
ME:  Your hair is getting really long.
MADISON:  I know. If it keeps growing it might fall in the toilet.


ME:  Do you want Mama to have another baby?
MADISON:  Yeah, but first we should probably get a kitty cat.


MADISON:  Boys are stinky.
ME:  Why do you say that?
MADISON:  Because they poot a lot.


January 22, 2015

Sometimes it’s really difficult to see who is growing more from this relationship of ours, sometimes it seems the roles of teacher and student quickly reverse and yet most of the time we discover a better version of each of us in the process. It seems every time I take advantage of a learning opportunity with her, I’m the one learning a lesson in the end. Sure, most of these (if not all) are lessons I’ve encountered before but it wasn’t until I stressed them with her that I realized just how important and forever applicable they really are.



Patience, much like respect, has to be demonstrated before its received. I’ve noticed the more impatient I am with her, or anything really, the more likely a lack of patience will be reciprocated. If I rush her to put her shoes on so we can leave, she’ll rush me later when she wants a snack. If I take my time and explain it’s time to go, she’ll have an easier time understanding later that a snack waits until after dinner. Providing an example in my actions gives her a reference point to reflect on which helps her mirror my behavior later (scary, but true).



Flattery will get you everywhere… or at least somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with a genuine compliment and she’s learned that if she mentions how much she likes my shirt or her mother’s hair that our mood, regardless of any state prior, tends to swing her way and so she applies this lesson often, sometimes to waiters or cashiers or strangers in general. She’s proven to be a very positive kid and she often reminds us that every day “is a happy day” before she questions our facial expressions should they display otherwise.



Sleeping in is overrated, one should wake up early and seize the day. Unlike the sleeping habits of late infancy/early toddlerhood with this one where she slept late and throughout the night, now she fights bedtime and rises early like a bird in some cliché attempt of catching the worm. She pushes open the door to the bedroom her mother and I share with as much force as she can garner and shouts “Boo!” to startle us awake. It works. As much as it pains me to pry my eyelids apart from a sought-after slumber, once opened her enthusiasm for a new day becomes contagious.



Imagination is not something we should allow ourselves to grow out of. Maybe it’s work or maybe it’s age or maybe it’s just life in general, but as time goes on the more I notice creativity and imagination extinguishing itself… and that’s a sad epiphany. I wear whatever hat or headband or character she assigns me and I sit on the floor until my back hurts because whatever game she’s playing, I want in. Everyone should grasp the imaginations of our children and hold them tight with both hands, regardless if the world is truly becoming a better place or not at least we’ll have the ability to pretend it’s true.



It’s okay to color outside the lines (both literally and figuratively).  Her coloring has come a long way since she first picked up a crayon and while it’s nice to see the pictures colored in as intended, part of me misses the freedom of expectation that came with the books she filled in the past. Every time I hear someone say “make sure you color inside the lines” a little part of me cringes in fear that individuality is being silenced and conformity is being encouraged. A little deep? Probably. However, if she wants to color outside the lines or give her Ice Queen a purple dress instead of blue, for the time being, I see nothing wrong with that. Stepping outside the box, outside our comfort zones, should be something we all do a little more often.



For a while, it was a free-for-all when it came to her toys, and often our living room and/or her bedroom looked like a toy store exploded leaving remnants of games abandoned or dolls in various states of dressing. When asked to clean up, she didn’t know where to start. Recently, we’ve asked that she put toys away when she’s done with them or when she decides to play with something else in an effort to maintain the chaos. Much like when she’s older, resolving one issue before tackling another will help keep any problems and their potential for piling up at bay.



If someone needs help with something, they shouldn't be afraid to ask; we all need assistance from time to time which is exactly why everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. That being said, one shouldn't ask for help if they truly don't need it. When she asks me to hold her cup so she can have a sip simply because it's cold to her hands, I encourage her to do it herself because we both know she can. If there's something she needs on a shelf she can't reach, then I'm there to lift her up. As someone who rarely asks for help because I've subconsciously convinced myself I can do it all, this lesson is one I constantly need to be reminded of.



As easy as it is to litter our vocabulary with mindless words, we should really make more of an effort to focus on the choices we're making before allowing the letters to leave our lips. With kids especially, the words that stick are always a gamble and why supply them with elements that leave their speech less than desirable. When hearing certain words you've said from the mouth of a toddler, it's clear word choice is imperative and should be applied across communication as a whole. This isn't to say we should water down our conversations, I've heard her say words that seem foreign for her age and she's received compliments on her own word choices, but we should be cognizant that the words we choose have purpose and meaning leaving those with negative connotations behind.



As crucial as it is that we choose our words wisely, it's also necessary to focus on how we deliver those words. I've been reminded on several occasions that how I speak to her almost means more than what I'm saying. When reprimanding her, I should still be patient and respectful and firm without crossing into angry or yelling or nasty territory. She seems to respond well when her mother and I are calm and direct versus the opposite. Granted, this is easier said than done but it applies in every aspect across every age in every stage of life. 



This may seem to contradict the last two, but it's worth mentioning. There are times when words aren't able to carry the weight of a situation and a hug or a listening ear proves to be more sufficient. Sometimes we need to listen more than we speak. Sometimes we need to provide a shoulder instead of advice. Sometimes people really do forget what you may have said, but they almost never forget how you made them feel... a lesson better learned early instead of the hard way.


January 20, 2015

Every Wednesday night, her mother twists her curls into a bun begging them to stay in place for the next hour or so. She slips into her leotard and skirt and grabs her bag then we watch as she twirls and kicks and points her toes to a rhythm all her own. Regardless if the taps of her shoes are on beat or if her ballet positions are in order, she's learning how to move gracefully and with purpose while we're learning to sit back a little and soak it all in... our very own tiny dancer.


January 14, 2015

Am I doing this right? Fatherhood. Parenting. This whole raising another person to be responsible and caring and kind and productive. Some days I feel like I’m nailing it, like every decision was solid and every outcome was as expected but those days are scarce. Those days seem hidden in a forest of days that fall short, days where she cries to get her way before breakfast or days where I vow to help her write the letter M perfectly only to give up by the way she holds the crayon. Days where she asks so many questions that I can’t answer them fast enough or accurately enough so I feel like I’m letting her down. I feel like a failure if I don’t respond to her every request. If I don’t teach her, someone else will and whose to say they will teach her correctly. Whose to say I will?

Sometimes before I give in to sleep at night, I’ll run the day through my mind like a movie playing on the back of my eyelids. I’m not sure if I’m helping her reach her full potential, if I’m challenging her, if I’m aiding in helping her become the best person she can possibly be. I’m scared to ask her to wait for anything so I answer her every call. I feel guilty if I spend any amount of time doing something else when I could be spending it with her. I know a day will come where she won’t beg me to play with her or have a million stories she eagerly wants to share with me so I soak in every detail of the time we have together. I store away the memories and document them whenever I can in fear of forgetting one so I have them to look back on when she realizes her old man isn’t the hero she once thought he was.

When that day comes, when she exchanges her dolls for heels and the cartoons she loves for movies she shouldn’t, I want her to know I tried my best. I want her to know I did what I could and often wished I could have done more. I want her to forget the timeouts and the lectures and the long faces to remember the laughs and the advice and the abundant hugs. I want her to know all the books in the world couldn’t prepare someone for the reality of parenthood, for the moments when they wrap all their fingers around one of yours or when they say they love you completely unprompted in a wet whisper or when they do something that reminds you so much of their mother you realize why they were created in the first place… to let you know without a doubt, for all the things you've potentially done wrong, once you did something right.


January 12, 2015

I'm not sure if these are amusing to anyone else or just my wife, Allison, and me since we're her parents, but I have a feeling we'll look back one day enjoying that we captured some of Madison's random comments (click here for more).

While helping me make chicken noodle soup...
ME:  Don't let me forget to add the rosemary.
A few minutes later...
MADISON:  Daddy, don't forget to add the roast beef.


ALLISON:  Are you ready to go?
MADISON:  Yep, let's rock and roll.


MADISON:  Want to hear something funny, Daddy?
She starts cry-laughing hysterically...
ME:  What? What is it? Tell me. I want to know!
After laughing for several minutes, finally...
MADISON:  Diarrhea. That word makes me laugh so hard.


ME:  You're a wiggle worm.
MADISON:  Did you just call me an animal?


ALLISON:  I love your Daddy.
MADISON:  I know this, Mama. He's your cousin.
ALLISON:  What? No, he's not! He's my husband.
MADISON:  That's what I just said.


January 7, 2015

She received a few games for Christmas that we’ve been playing in heavy rotation ever since. Candy Land. Hi Ho Cherry-O. A version of Chutes and Ladders. They’re encouraging her to count and to apply herself and most of all they’re teaching her the importance of remaining positive. Whether or not she decides to play organized sports when she’s older, the lessons that come with being a good sport are applicable to life in general not just a game.

It’s important that she know how to lose gracefully and to celebrate her successes without making others feel indifferent for whichever side of the coin they happen to land on. Many things will go her way over the years and, unfortunately, many will not. As I’ve learned, it’s the reaction and the aftermath that defines our character. I would be letting her down and failing as a parent if I didn’t try to teach her the same.

Therefore, while we play to win in our home there aren’t any shortcuts from either side. I believe in being fair and enabling bad habits in effort to feed false expectations of winning every time just isn’t reality. When she wins, she wins fair and square.  When she loses, she asks to play again… a lesson I’m probably learning from her example. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded how necessary it is to get back up when you fall.


January 5, 2015

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