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I have a running list of comments, phrases, and one liners from Madison that I keep in my phone. I started collecting them when she started talking because almost as soon as she said something that had me laughing hysterically, she said something else funny that made me forget it entirely. 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 her random comments (click here for more).

ALLISON:  Do you want to take dance again?
MADISON:  Yeah, but I want to be a different kind of ballerina.
ALLISON:  Really? What kind?
MADISON:  The kind that has long hair. I don't want a bun thing.


We're getting ready to leave the house...
ME:  When's the last time you used the potty?
MADISON:  40 hours ago.


Rubbing a blanket on her face...
ME:  What are you doing?
MADISON:  This blanket is warm to my head ford.


At a store...
ME:  I wonder how much this is.
MADISON:  It's sixty twenty dollars.


MADISON:  Did you post on your Instapants that I watched Doc McStuffins yesterday?
ME:  Instagram? No, I didn't.
MADISON:  Did you post that I snuck some of Mama's tasty French fries?
ME:  Nope.
MADISON:  You should do that.


June 29, 2016

We drew a 5 on her foot for her age like Andy did his name on his favorites from Toy Story and she sat in the grass surrounded by a pile of characters from the movie. She put the same red hat upon her head that he wore, that Jessie wore with a loose braid, and her eyes lit up like Mr. Potato Head's did when he stumbled upon his eyeglasses. She requested a Toy Story theme for her party this year and we couldn't help but oblige. As a favorite movie of my own, it seemed the perfect opportunity to channel my inner child to help her celebrate this milestone birthday.

Our baby isn't such a baby anymore, the toddler wrist rolls and the words she stumbled over have remedied themselves and somehow we now have a little girl in our home. We rented a local gym full of balance beams and ball pits and more, inviting family and her closest friends to share laughs and cake with us. We watched as the party coaches strapped her into a harness before flying her over her friends, they tried to tickle her toes and she giggled and squeaked as she passed back and forth and her mother and I stood there as the last five years flashed before our eyes.

Five. An entire hand! Time - it really does fly when you're having fun.


June 22, 2016

I often wonder, as I’m sure all parents do, if I’m making the right decisions in raising her. I wonder if I’m doing my part in helping her become aware and respectful and informed and compassionate to the ever-evolving world we’re living in. In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando recently and the still traumatizing aftershocks of Sandy Hook Elementary, I sometimes feel like I spend extra energy in making sure she’s tolerant and accepting of others regardless of their choices. While I feel this is exponentially important as her father, I worry that I’m not letting her be young in the process. I worry I’m not letting her enjoy her childhood by clouding it with adult realities. We haven’t discussed the specifics or the issues or the headlines, but I feel myself nudging her and course correcting as we go – yet sometimes my worry is I’m worrying her too much.

Yesterday she turned five years old. Her mother and I took the day off work as we do every year and climbed into her bed waking her up with the lyrics everyone knows and repeats on their birthday and we filled in her name where necessary until she opened her eyes and forced a smile. She walked downstairs then into the living room pulling tissue paper from bags revealing gifts she’d requested weeks in advance. We ate brownies for breakfast saving cake for her party and we let her control the day whispering rumors of a surprise later. We swayed in her hammock and rocked her new doll. We ate at her favorite place for lunch then we set our eyes on a place in town she didn’t know existed. With trampolines for floors and some for walls, with foam pits and obstacle courses and airbags to jump in like cannonballs in a pool, we sang “Happy Birthday” again as we entered because five is a reasonable age to have parental embarrassment.

She removed her shoes and replaced them with the required socks while her mother and I did the same then we left everything in a cubby in the lobby and jumped. We jumped from surface to surface and climbed and crawled and bounced until our allotted time expired. Catching our breath, we wiped the sweat from our brows and shoved our feet back into the shoes we wore in – back to reality. Late last night, once she was asleep in her room, I looked through the few pictures in my phone I managed to take between jumps. I wondered again, five years into this journey, if I’m protecting her and guiding her and preparing her for the years to come; I wondered if the worry and stress of a world I can’t control is negatively affecting the bubble her age places her in. Then I saw it in black and white, her smile, bright and wide as proof of happiness. Sometimes jumping for joy is all it takes to reach it.


June 15, 2016

They clipped a glittery bow in the side of her bun and tied strings to match in her shoes and I heard her tiny feet shuffling with the others behind the curtain. I imagined the smile on her face, a kind but unnecessary reminder from the backstage moms, as she waited for the spotlight and the applause of an audience waiting in anticipation for the chance to see their hearts dancing outside their chest.

The curtains parted and her feet performed the steps she spent the last year practicing. She tapped her way through a theme song about a train named Thomas and later she traded her shoes and her thinner, shorter skirt for a much thicker, layered tutu and gave a breathtaking interpretation of a dolphin named Flipper. The theme of the recital said to “tune in and turn out” and everyone present couldn’t help but oblige.

I watched as her lines were cleaner, a result of longer limbs from her first recital. I watched as she gracefully leaned into her moves allowing the music to influence her. I watched as she traded rows and made memories with her best friend in front of her, beside her, behind her. I watched as my little girl revealed promises of the young lady, the woman, the person she’ll become – the person she is – beautiful, inside and out.


June 8, 2016

I could provide a million excuses why I haven’t written in this space of mine over the last four months, but the truth is the break wasn’t intentional. It just happened, as they do. One day rolled into the next and my daughter got taller and so did our dog and I never typed in the letters to unlock this place, to share the words that make this whole thing seem worthwhile, to reflect or document or analyze this time of our lives when living is far easier than we give it credit for. One day of contentment became the next, February became June, and I didn’t hold myself accountable enough to tap the keys, to sit and watch the sunset instead of closing the blinds because it did - until one day I missed it. 

I missed this space. I missed the inhale, the exhale, and the holding of my breath every time I came here to get something off my chest. One day, the little girl I spend most of my time writing about may be one of the people reading this and if she were to ask why I stopped, the million excuses I could provide would never be good enough. There will never be a bullet point in that list that explains why one day I stopped marrying words, why one day the stories stopped accumulating and this journal of mine came to a halt. The truth is I’ve still been writing, just not as often or here and about other things on occasion, while saving words about her to use as captions on a social media post, but I suppose one day I knew I would return to close the gap. 
Write while the heat is in you. 
The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. 
—Henry David Thoreau

I wasn’t sure when I started this blog what it would evolve into. It was a hobby, a chance to find my voice again, and a literary playground for my own amusement, but over time it slowly grew into this virtual scrapbook of sorts and I wished I’d started it earlier. I found my love for writing again because of it, I’ve “met” several people I otherwise never would have, I shared stories I probably would have forgotten, I’ve used it as a reference point or a timeline of certain events, and I find myself visiting to read over the words of Madison’s childhood if only to hold on to them a little longer. It’s easy to remember the milestones and the achievements, but parenting really is more about the little things in between.

I don’t share every detail of her life, of this whole fatherhood journey, but I do force myself to be honest and open and, more often than not, sentimental in an effort to capture the nostalgia of it all. She’s growing up so quickly, as cliché as it sounds, and the ride is equal parts exciting and difficult to let go of what was to see what’s next. She’s an amazing kid and being her father is the greatest privilege of my life. Documenting bits and pieces here and there seems like such a small task in the grand scheme of things. Sure, she may or may not be interested in a random post of her jumping on the bed or a short story of an impromptu game she created, but one day when I'm old and gray, I have a feeling I'll squeeze the truth from every word as if I'm raising my baby girl all over again.


June 1, 2016

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