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Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

Siren Song

Here's a second email I received about the TV show Wife Swap. It's nice to be wanted, but no thanks:

"I came across your site while doing some research for our show. We absolutely LOVE the idea of a stay-at-home Dad/Career Mom for our show! I see from reading your site that you have very strong opinions, which is definitely ideal. We would never exploit your lifestyle, like some of the other shows out there right now. I would love to speak to you in further about your lifestyle and your family. We do pay families alot of $$$$ for participating in our show. Please give me a call or email me if you are interested. If not, maybe you might know of someone who is. We do pay a referral fee, as well. Thanks so much and i look forward to hearing from you!"

- Lori Malkin, Associate Casting Producer for ABC's Wife Swap


Thursday, July 28, 2005

 

Warm Springs

I wish I hadn't overheard this from a teenager at the Boulder Beach wave pool yesterday:

"Hey, the water's really warm. Everybody must be peeing in it."

Ugh.



 

Growing Old

I was watching a wonderful documentary tonight about film legend Samuel Goldwyn. They showed a clip from his 1948 film The Bishop's Wife and I heard this line of dialogue (written by Robert Sherwood) that really struck a chord with me:

"The only people who grow old were born old to begin with."

It sounded better when Cary Grant said it, but you get the idea.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 

Pow Wow Dads



We spent Sunday afternoon at Julyamsh, the largest outdoor pow wow in the nation. The Native American gathering of tribal dancers, drummers, and horsemen, is held every year in Post Falls, Idaho.

It's quite spectacular as the dancers take the field, but what impressed me the most that afternoon was this group of dads who brought their children out with them during the ceremonies. I love to see one generation passing ancient traditions on to the next.

See more of my photos from the event here.


Monday, July 25, 2005

 

Public Displays

A few weeks ago we were in Sandpoint, Idaho, poking around the touristy downtown area. We stopped at the Cedar Street Bridge to browse the Coldwater Creek store there. I don't know about you, but we don't buy stuff at Coldwater Creek, we only browse... It's much easier on the checkbook.

Anyway, in the middle of our browsing, our daughter started her little dance and whispered, "Mommy, I have to go..." so off to the nearest bathroom on the upper level of the bridge. My son and I looked at old photos on the wall while we waited. Soon a middle-aged couple and their friend stopped to look at the photos too. Just then, the screaming began.

"No no no! Aiiiieeee! Bwaaaaggghh! Gurgle! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!" Something like that anyway. I didn't react at all. Why should I? I hear this stuff practically every day. But the couple next to us became very concerned, probably because of a recent child abduction that had brought national attention to our area. The woman didn't waste much time and announced that she was "going to investigate!"

We waited a few moments, with a small crowd gathering, and me pretending not to know what's going on. Pretty soon the woman emerged from the bathroom, spread her arms, palms out to calm the masses, and authoritatively stated, "It's okay! Everything's alright. She saw a spider web!"

Audible sighs of relief followed, and the crowd dispersed, glad in the knowledge that the screams of terror coming from the public restroom were simply a little girl freaking out over a dusty old spider web.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

 

I'll Get You, My Pretty!



It was Halloween In July today in Moscow, Idaho. We drove down there to visit family and to do a little mid-summer trick-or-treating. North Idaho Halloweens are usually frigid affairs, with October nighttime temperatures in the 30's, so it was interesting to see kids wearing costumes sans the heavy parkas. My son dressed as a soldier, complete with Vietnam-era Marine helmet courtesy of Grandpa, and my daughter was a Hawaiian hula girl (try that in October!). We had an enjoyable afternoon gathering candy from various downtown shops, strolling through a haunted house, and shopping at a few sidewalk sales.

Oh, and there was this witch. A wicked witch. A wantonly wicked witch from the west! Kurt Haley, a premier Wicked Witch impersonator from Hollywood, was prowling Moscow's downtown streets scaring the bejeebers out of young and old. Haley has that shrill cackle of Margaret Hamilton down cold. All up and down Main Street we could hear "I'll get you my pretty!" and it sounded like it was coming straight from the movie.



My daughter now has nightmare material for the rest of the year!


Saturday, July 23, 2005

 

A Hard Line

It's time to take a hard line with child molesters.

How can you not agree?


Thursday, July 21, 2005

 

Officer Friendly



A Coeur d'Alene police officer lectures kids on the dangers of jumping off the pier.

Five minutes later, they were back at it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 

Raptor Discovery

If you ever find yourself in Pullman, Washington, stop in at the Palouse Discovery Science Center like we did last week. It's a great facility, especially for a small town. My kids loved all the fun experiments and cool science toys that you expect to find in places such as this.

But what really wowed us was the appearance of the Washington State University Raptor Club with several of their birds, including a red-tailed hawk named Dakota. We were able to get up close and personal with Dakota, literally four inches away. And he didn't even rip my eyes out! In the photo below, you can see damage to his eye where he was shot by someone. Dakota also has buckshot permanently embedded in his leg. Stupid hunters.



We also met a beautiful barn owl and this little guy, an American Kestrel:



Sunday, July 17, 2005

 

Reading Frenzy

Something terrible happened tonight.

Following a nightly routine, my son got ready for bed and went to his room to pick out a book for our nightly reading. A few minutes later I walked in and asked, "So, what's the story for tonight?" His reply, "If you don't mind, I'd like to read more of this," and he held up his copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe that he's been reading on his own. I said, "You want me to read some of that for you?" but he explained that he just wanted to keep "looking at the words," which is his phrase for reading silently to himself.

My reading is no longer wanted... sniff... At least for now. He tells me we can read some different stories later, after he finishes his book. He's quite proud of himself for learning to read. And, of course, I'm quite proud of him too.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

 

Cooling Off

Helpful Blogging Tip #17: When you don't feel like writing anything, post a photo.

Here's my nephew, enjoying the local waterpark on a hot day.



Back in my day, we were happy with our little slip 'n' slides. Now it's all about the high velocity slide, giant wave pool, lazy river, super flush...


Thursday, July 14, 2005

 

Dino Park



Look what's being built in my little town... A dinosaur park, complete with volcano, "lava" pools, bones, and more. The kids are giddy.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

 

It's You I Like

"The greatest gift you can give someone is your honest self."
- Fred Rogers

Have you ever tried this? Actually given someone your honest self? It doesn't always work...

When my son was about three, we started watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood every day. I loved the message that Fred Rogers sent out. Love, honesty, friendship, education. I looked forward to the show even more than my son, because I felt that what Mr. Rogers was saying was pertinent to people of all ages.

Applying his words to my life, I came to believe that honesty was the best policy with my friends and family. Well, it works with my kids. They get the real me, and they seem to be happy with who I am, quirks and all. Different story with some of my friends. I opened up to one friend, of over twenty years, about several misunderstandings and slights from the past that had always bugged me... Basically, that he had taken me for granted on several occasions. I just wanted him to know how I'd been feeling so that we could be better friends in the future.

Oops... In this case, my new honesty completely backfired and my old friend told me in no uncertain terms that my feelings were unimportant. That if I couldn't appreciate his friendship, then he wouldn't be my friend at all. And it's been nearly a year since I last spoke with him.

Since that time I've wrestled with how to be both the honest and thoughtful person that my kids enjoy, and the fakey, cloying, formal person some of my friends and family seem to need. It's tough, dizzying work switching back and forth. I'd rather just pick one and run with it.

Why can't we all just like each other the way we are? ... As Mr. Rogers sings:

It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair --
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you --
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys--
They're just beside you.

But it's you I like --
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself,
It's you, it's you I like.


Monday, July 11, 2005

 

Fruit Nut

Fruit is the favorite snack of American kids, according to a recent survey. Some nutritionists are shocked with disbelief, and I'm guessing that they either don't have kids or aren't in charge of the grocery shopping. In our house, my kids snack on carrots, apples, and grapes. They don't eat chips because, gasp, we don't have chips in the house very often. What's so hard to believe about that?


 

The Deer Hunter



There's a little place an hour north of us called Beyond Hope, where friendly white-tailed deer roam freely. We only spent an hour driving around the game preserve, but it sure made an impression on my kids. They're already asking when we're going back to pet the deer. I'm also successfully brainwashing my son to believe that the best way to hunt animals is with a camera.


Friday, July 08, 2005

 

Get Smart

Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth, was in North Idaho this week to promote child identification kits. I'm stunned to read this statistic from the article: 800,000 children go missing every year.

That number breaks down to 450,000 runaways, 300,000 family member abductions, and most frightening of all, 58,000 non-family member abductions.

I hadn't heard these numbers before. Now I don't feel so bad for practicing a certain level of extreme caution with my kids.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

A Distorted Reality

Last week I was contacted by a casting director for the ABC-TV show Wife Swap. She is looking to feature "fabulous" stay-at-home dads who can inspire America to change its view of that particular family dynamic. "Generous financial compensation" is part of the package.

Now, while those three magic words certainly caught my attention, there's no way I would shine any kind of media spotlight on my kids. It's beyond me why anyone would willingly invite a TV camera into their home to film their young children for a national television audience. It simply boggles my mind. When my kids are adults, they can be reality TV stars if they want. But right now my job is to protect them from that sort of unnatural observation.

Besides, I'm not "fabulous" and I'm certainly not "inspiring".... Most days I'm boring and tired. I'm the epitome of a casting director's reject pile.


 

Sons Of Guns

Here's a great article about boys and gunplay. Before our first child was born, my wife and I swore that we would not have guns in the house. Sometime before he was three, he started picking up sticks and shooting at things. He would also fold paper into a gun shape. Soon, everything was a gun... bananas, water bottles, TV remotes, breadsticks, Legos.

I take the blame, as I let him watch Star Wars and there was no going back from that. We came to realize, however, that the imaginative play that he engaged in was not harmful. So one Christmas he received a Star Wars blaster to go along with his light saber.

What's really interesting, and is discussed in the above article, is that our daughter isn't as interested in the gunplay. Every now and then she'll go along with her brother and blast at Storm Troopers, but she gets much more excited about princesses and dolls. Hopefully she won't be asking for an NRA Barbie anytime soon.


 

Heffalumps!

It's been out on DVD for over a month, but we finally got around to watching Pooh's Heffalump Movie. Here is my son's One-Line Movie Review:

"Hey, that was pretty good."

There you go. Hope it's useful.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

 

The First Blog

One of my favorite cartoons of all-time, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, is also one of my kids' faves. And it was, apparently, way ahead of its time on certain subjects.

We were watching an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies on DVD when I noticed something familiar in the background. "The Haunted Carnival" episode from 1973 features the Mystery Gang meeting Dick Van Dyke and fighting off a team of sideshow spooks. It also includes what might be the very first accidental pop culture reference to our favorite type of web site...



Who knew that the very first blog was a magnificent ferret!?



But you had to pay ten cents to see it!


Saturday, July 02, 2005

 

Missing Child Found

Happy news in North Idaho this morning, as one of the two missing local kids was found alive right here in the very city she was kidnapped from. That restaurant is just a few miles from my house. We can only hope and pray that her brother is found soon.

Over the past six weeks we've driven past billboards, posters, and electronic signs around town reminding us that Dylan and Shasta Groene were still missing. I'd think to myself, "Why bother, those kids are long gone from this area..." Now I see how important it is to put the faces of missing children out in the public eye.

Speaking of faces, I'd like to remind my fellow parent bloggers to be very careful when posting photos of your children on your web sites. I don't think of myself as paranoid, just overly cautious. Why take any chances with your kids? My general rule for blog photos is: No recognizable close-ups. Yeah, my kids are cute, but you don't need to know that.


 

Young At Heart



The things I do for my kids... We spent the day at the annual "open house" of Camp Sweyolakan, on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene. High up in the trees is The Giant Swing, a high-wire contraption that sends you soaring through the trees. Somehow they got me up in that thing. I must admit it was loads of fun despite the voice-changing harness that left my legs numb. But it wasn't enough to convince my son, who hid behind a bush when we asked "Who's next?" My daughter did it though, becoming the youngest person to ever take a ride on The Giant Swing at Camp Sweyolakan. We also shot arrows, hiked, paddled funyaks and canoes, swam, and basically acted like kids at camp.

It's easy to be young at heart around my children, whether I'm swinging through the trees like Tarzan or bouncing around the house to a cheery pop song like this one from 1984:

Listen: The Bluebells - "Young At Heart" MP3

Buy The Bluebells CD at Amazon.com