It occurred to me today that my life has just reached a major milestone. It can be argued that we all pass one of those every day we're still alive, but this is one of those major ones. Like when you finally land the career you want, when you finally save up enough to buy that boat you've always wanted, or when your last kid finally moves out of the house (I suppose), this is one of those signposts in life where I feel like I will be able to look back and measure time that occurred before and time that has come after it.
So I went to my first school event as a parent. What a different perspective!
Harper's school did their Thanksgiving event yesterday, and it was one of the most adorable things I've seen in a while. All these kids were dressed as little pilgrims and indians. Of course, no one in Harper's class wanted to be a pilgrim, so they were all indians. The kids made their own outfits, so it was all the more adorable.
I made a quick video slideshow of the event for those of you that I'm related to. And no, there is not supposed to be any music. (Don't email me and tell me you couldn't hear anything. Yeah, you know who you are.) Happy Thanksgiving!
How is that Harper is already four years old? I just don't understand it. I remember when she didn't exist at all. Now she's in preschool, writing her name, carrying on intelligent conversations with me, and turning four years old. I suppose this is the way of things. It happens. Parents have to come to terms with the fact that their kids grow up. We know that's what we want, but it's still tough to come to terms with the fact that you're really not as needed or important in certain ways as you used to be.
She used to be tiny. In fact she used to not walk and run and ride a bike and every other thing she can do now. She needed us to transport her from any place to another. Now she only needs us to drive her. Soon enough that will change too.
Now she's this big girl - riding her bike and talking to me like me. It's funny. It's like having a conversation with a young, female version of me. She cracks me up.
Well dear, this is a tribute to you and how great you are. It's been a pleasure being your Dad, even when it was hard. I hope I get to keep doing this for a very, very, very long time.
Happy Birthday (and PLEASE be careful on that bike)!
What's better than a 10-hour car ride with a 3-year-old and a 19-month old to visit your in-laws? Well nothing, obviously. [...] Oh, sorry. I'm back. Got hit by lightning there. No more lies, I promise. No, but really, it wasn't as bad as you might think. I actually had a good time. I ate entirely too much and was sadly reminded how much I love and miss Chattanooga, but, on the whole, we're calling it a win.
We left after Harper got out of school on a Thursday and drove to Atlanta to have dinner with a buddy. By about 9PM we made it to Chattanooga to spend the first night with my aunt and uncle. Penelope played the piano for the entirety of the next morning.
We ate well, as to be expected when you hang out with Aunt Brenda, and then we traveled to Nashville to meet Vickie the mother-in-law for some lunch.
With Harper's brithday fast approaching, we had to do some family shopping at the local Toys-R-Us ("where Eric can be a kid"). I found lots of stuff for me, but Jennilyn said we couldn't buy it. I pouted a little, but straightened up when she told me I couldn't have ice cream later if I was bad at the store.
Penelope found this little number while Harper rode around the entire store on the bike she eventually wound up with.
We spent two days in/near Jennilyn's hometown and had an awesome bonfire and weenie roast at her family farm as an early birthday party for Harper. My two kids played harder in those two days than I've seen them play in weeks at home. They had a great time playing with cousins they rarely get to see.
Harper really enjoyed her awesome dinner. She was fascinated that Daddy managed to cook her food on a stick over a fire. Oh yeah, Daddy is a cavemen. Watch out!
Ultimately though, tiredness overtook poor Penelope, who fell asleep, yes, fell asleep, leaning over a cooler.
She had a juicebox in her hand. As she would drift off and lose her grip of the box, she would jump a bit and grab it tightly. Poor little thing was all tuckered out.
It was awesome getting to see family again that we usually only get to see about once a year. The girls had a good time, and Jennilyn was excited to walk her old stomping grounds and force me to eat at her favorite restaurants. (Are you noticing that food continues to be a major theme of the trip?)
We had a great, safe trip. That said, my head was really happy to lay down on my pillow, and my body was thrilled to sink into my bed. Gotta start ramping up for next year's trip.
Distance: 1,221 miles
Travel Time: 20 hours 51 minutes
My eldest - dear, sweet Harper - is attending her preschool orientation tomorrow. I'll be there too, obviously. I know it's the beginning of something amazing for her, but it's also the end of something pretty amazing for me. My little girl is growing up.
It is unbelievable to me that she is ready to start school. She'll be 4 in October, which is also a little surreal to think about. On the one hand, it seems like she's been with us forever, but on the other it seem like yesterday that I brought her home from the hospital. Preschool will be great for her though. She will love interacting with the other kids, and, the way her mind works, she will love soaking up all that information and learning "big kid stuff."
This first semester, she'll be attending only two days a week. We may make it three next semester if it is worthwhile and something she wants to do. We are going to get to ride in together in the mornings, which is how I grew up - riding to school with my Dad. While we are both excited about that part, the cruel shock of having to get up and get ready that early will become a regular source of contention, I'm sure.
Harper is a special kid, a great kid. She'll do great at school as long as she learns to keep that pretty little mouth shut. She'll make new friends, and she'll learn skills that she will use for the rest of her life. I'm happy to be her Daddy, and I hope she doesn't get too much smarter than me too quickly. I know I'm going to have to listen to that in years to come, but right now I just want her to learn while still admiring me. Yes, that would be very nice.
Some parents sleep. We do not. In fact, we spend so much time awake that we might as well just not try sleeping at all. My wife and I have the privilege of raising two wonderful girls. However, one skill neither of them possess is the ability to enjoy a long meaningful sleep - meaningful to their young bodies and meaningful to their poor parents' sanity.
Like most things though, when you leave the kids alone, they seem to sleep just fine. They never sleep when you want them to, but they seem to have no problem sleeping on their own accord. See incriminating evidence below.
Penelope sank into a comfy beanbag and had a little nappy-poo. Harper did the same exact thing the very next day.
It would seem that there is a lesson to be learned here. There is always a lesson. Parenting is actually the best way to find out that you know nothing. It is a sure fire way to have any feelings of superiority yanked right out from under you. Children are smaller than us, not as smart or experienced, and less physically capable. Why is it that they can instantly make us feel so completely inept?
Like Little Boo Peep, who lost her sheep, if we leave them alone, we may just find that they end up doing what we wanted them to do in the first place. That's obviously not a hard and fast rule, but I've got to file this back in the folder for things Dad needs to think about on a regular basis.
Man, I'm tired. Where's my beanbag. I'm takin' a nap........
Hello dear blog. How I've missed you. I didn't mean to stay away so long, but I was just too freaking busy to spare you the time you so eagerly want and so definitely deserve. I know that you are jealous because the Work Blog has been getting my attention and you have not. I will remedy that now. I hope that this humorous tale involving my dear children will entertain you and satiate your anger toward me.
I have dramatic kids. It can't be helped. They are at least half the result of their mother's DNA. I love all of my girls, but from time to time the estrogen ocean at my house rouses a fierce gale equivalent to a brick wall. Both Harper and Penelope have their individual dramatic flair, but Penelope has had the benefit of watching and learning from Harper. She has become a master of the dark arts of dramatic performance. Two tales follow, one for each kid, and I hope that you all enjoy a laugh at this poor father's wonderful plight.
Harper and Her "Feelings"
More so than Penelope, three-year-old Harper is a lover. She is affectionate, caring, and a snuggler. Now she can throw a fit, don't get me wrong, but generally speaking, she is more emotionally expressive than her sister. Harper has adopted what I refer to as a "pitty phrase." She breaks it out whenever something doesn't go her way. It is "you hurt my feelings." Now, in her defense, this is a true statement. Anything contrary to Harper's wants and desires does, in fact, hurt her feelings. Her happiness really does depend on getting her way. Poor thing. But it's not the phrase that is so hilarious. It's the double-handed, weak-kneed, body-crumbling expressive dance that goes along with the phrase that makes it hard to keep a straight face. I'll have to post a video of this sometime. This kid is awesome!
Oh, no! You fixed Harper some water instead of letting her do it (even though you had no idea she wanted to do it herself)? Collapse; the world is coming to an end; "you hurt my feelings."
Egad! You didn't say the right thing while pretending to be the mother while she was playing Alvin and the Chipmunks? Downfall of western civilization; gruesome dismemberment; "you hurt my feelings."
Man I love this kid. If nothing else, the shear entertainment value of her faux misfortunes is enough to carry through all the things that actually aggravate me about her. Classic. Can't wait to put this back on her one day.
Penelope and Her Faceplants
Oh my goodness. Next to "dramatis personae" in the dictionary is a picture of Penelope doing the faceplant. Not a normal faceplant mind you - she knows that would actually hurt. I'm telling you, this kid is clever...frighteningly clever.
At dinner, Penelope will inevitably want something not on her plate. It's the same thing she has on her plate; it's just on your plate and not hers. Act One, Scene One - action! Penelope now lowers her head slightly, begins loud, shrill screams of agony, and covers face with the tops of her hands. Everyone stares intently. Penelope opens one eye to ensure she still has her audience. Reassured, she plunges her head into her plate, usually aiming for the ketchup to ensure adequate messiness. She then lifts her head slowly to reveal the damage, again verifies her audience's attention, shrieks in agony, and plunges her head back to the plate. Bravo infant, bravo. Here's your Academy Award - Outstanding Performance in a Dinner Roll/Role.
Tired of cleaning up this mess, me - the ever intelligent, decided to slide the plate away from her during a recent performance. As she began down into the plate, she realized it wasn't actually there. The crying stopped, of course, and she looked at me perplexed. She reached over, slid the plate back in front of her, and resumed the show. I moved the plate again. Realizing I was onto her game, she grinned ever so slightly before once again resuming the performance and planting her snot-covered face directly on the glass table top. Gotcha Dad.
Having kids is great. Having my kids is amazing. They never cease to amaze me, and they never seem content to just be average. They always want to take it to the next level - one up themselves and each other. For now, it's kind of adorable, albeit slightly messy. In 10 years I probably won't feel that way anymore. Shoot, in 10 years I'll squirt ketchup on both of 'em myself!
Harper: "Daddy, I don't want to sleep with you. Please ask Mommy to come to my room."
Me: "Why don't you want to sleep with me?"
Harper: "Oh Daddy, I still love you though. I just like it when Mommy lays with me."
Me: "But I like laying with you."
Harper: "I know Daddy; it's okay; don't be sad. I'll sleep with you tomorrow night."
Me: "But that's what you said yesterday..."
Harper: "Yes, I know I did, but I was only kidding yesterday. Today...well, I may be kidding today too. We'll see how tomorrow works out."
Me: "I love you, Harper." [grins]
Harper: "I love you too, Daddy. Can you call Mommy please?" [grins]
Me: "Goodnight Harper." [complies with her request, of course]
Living the life and writing (some of) it down for your reading excitement.