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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

Slave Labor



Now this is what I'm talking about. Isn't this why we had kids? So they could do our work for us? My son is now old enough to perform the back-breaking tasks while I watch from the warm, dry house while sipping hot cocoa.

And he works for candy!

The truth is that he loves shoveling snow for about three passes up and down the driveway, then he gives up and I get to finish. But it's good training. I tell him, "If you don't do your homework, you'll be doing stuff like this for a living."

After we finished clearing the driveway this morning, it snowed another inch or two. Sometimes shoveling snow is like picking up the kids' toys -- it never ends.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

Let It Snow



Woo-hoo! First big snowfall of the year. The kids are ecstatic, and soaking wet.

Anyone else out there have snow?


 

Stan Berenstain, RIP



My kids love the Berenstain Bears books. They have a permanent place on our shelves, right next to the Dr. Seuss collection. Thanks Stan.


Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Crunch



Me and cities don't get along too well. I'm a rural person at heart, and I never feel comfortable in urban environments. I've walked through many downtowns (Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco) and I only ever see three types of people: Businessmen, bums, and people up to no good.

So, when my wife said she wanted to go into downtown Spokane for some "big city" shopping, my first reaction was to recoil in horror. But it's important to please the breadwinner, so we headed off across the border this morning. Not ten minutes after leaving the freeway, we're sitting at a red light when we get plowed into by an out-of-control pick-up truck. Us and three other cars all got sideswiped and crunched.

First of all, I'm just thankful nobody was hurt. My daughter didn't even notice we'd been hit. But being thankful didn't stop me from being completely annoyed at the inconvenience of the situation. 90 minutes spent waiting for the police to gather information and finish their report. The morning shot. The shopping spoiled. The big city... well, I hate you even more now.

There were a couple of things that I laughed about later, though: The truck driver's license plate frame read "Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up & Hang On." And what was playing on our CD player when we were hit? James Horner's "Titanic" soundtrack. That disc is not allowed in the car anymore.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

 

Time To Clean Up

I am declaring this coming week to be National Get Rid Of Stuff Week.

After seeing some of the scenes of shopping mall chaos around the country, I'm fed up with our consumer culture. So, rather than accumulate more crap stuff, I'm going to actually redouble my efforts to rid our home of items we don't need, don't want, and don't use. It's not going to be easy, but I suspect it's going to feel really good.

Join me in a week-long celebration of ridding ourselves of excess clutter!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

 

Convention



Jeff took this picture at the 2005 At Home Dad convention held in Chicago over the weekend. I don't know who these three guys are, but it's definitely got me thinking I'm out of style with the other dads and need to get a haircut real quick!


 

Child Labor

Interesting article in a local paper about a father who lets his young children work on construction sites with him.

I agree with this man on only one point: A strong work ethic is one of the most important values that fathers can teach their children. But the way in which he is teaching this ethic to his kids is slightly warped. 11-year-olds should not be operating heavy machinery. Kids that young simply don't have the mental and physical agility to handle problems that might occur.


Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Diamond in the Rough



I mentioned to a friend that Neil Diamond had a new CD out and he said, "Neil Diamond!? Isn't he dead? He's either dead or he's really really old."

I stopped right there and didn't tell him how much I'm enjoying the new Neil Diamond 12 Songs CD. I must be really really old. Don't think I'm dead yet.

Listen: Neil Diamond - "Hell Yeah" MP3


Thursday, November 17, 2005

 

Dads On The View

I'm watching The View this morning, which is featuring stay-at-home dads... This show gives me a headache. Anyway, they started off the hour with a group of dads in Minnesota, talking to them briefly about their at-home situation. Then back to the studio where the hosts immediately segue into a discussion about brothels, male prostitutes, and sexual massages. Geez, who picks these topics?!

Now they're talking to three dads in the studio, who are all representing the stay-at-home dad community quite well. These guys sound just like me, except for the one dad who gets up at 5:30am (I can't even imagine).

"I'm trying to become more selfless and more patient," said Scott Torpezor. Exactly! Being a dad is an on-going process. Ahhh, this is funny. Scott is an opera singer and his kids tell him to shut up when he sings. Maybe I won't take it so personally when my kids do that (admittedly, my singing leaves a lot to be desired). He also said that when his wife comes home, "I'm just so happy to see another adult."

Really good segment... Makes me feel better about my situation as the things I feel and experience are quite similar to what they talked about.

Now if we could just get the media to stop calling us "Mister Mom."


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

 

Puppy Love



There it is. The moment that changed everything. How could I have known?

Sometimes, late at night, when I'm tired, I'll fire up Picasa and just start scrolling through old photos until I reach a sort of zen state. I'll look at pictures of me and the missus before the kids came along and wonder, "Who is that thin fresh-faced couple?" Or I'll look at pictures of the kids when they were in diapers throwing hissy-fits about eating their vegetables and be glad that at least now they use the toilet after throwing hissy-fits about eating their vegetables.

Sometimes I'll zoom through the pictures real fast until they're a blur of memories. And then I spot something I'd forgotten, and suddenly everything makes sense. This picture of my 2-year-old son with a cute little puppy... How did I forget that? If this was a video, you would see the dog finish his puppy kiss, then my son would turn to the camera with a look on his face of complete horror, like Lucy after she's been kissed by Snoopy, and then you would hear the most awful wailing and screeching.

This was the very moment when my son became a dog hater. Five years running now, he still reacts with utter disdain when he spots a dog. "Cats rule, dogs drool" he likes to say. Every dog is dumb and useless to him. He'll spot a dog in a yard off the highway and say, "Daddy, look at that stupid dog!" Or when he sees dog poop on the sidewalk he'll shout, "Ah, look at what some dumb dog did. They're not even smart enough to use a litterbox!" I remind him that some dogs are nice and friendly, but he won't have any of it. All because of a little puppy kiss he received when he was two!


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

 

If You Build It, They Will Come



Last week we heard the news that ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition crew was coming to North Idaho to build somebody a dream house. The lucky family is in Sandpoint, about 45 miles north of where I live. This afternoon we decided to go check it out because this show is the only over-the-air program that we actually sit down and watch. Yes, I hooked up the antenna just for Ty Pennington. The kids enjoy it, and they like that the show helps people in need.



It was dark by the time we arrived at the building site, but the place was lit up like mid-day. As we stood there, the roof trusses were being put into place. It took them mere minutes to finish that and move on to the next step. A security guard told me, "Each time I make my rounds, walking around the perimeter, when I get back here there's something new." Imagine that, constructing a house in seven days. Our new house took seven months from foundation to finish.



My son said it was cool to see a TV show in person. Even though we didn't see any members of the design team, he was right, it was really cool. The entire town of Sandpoint, it seems, has rallied around the show and the family. I talked with one volunteer carpenter who said they had to turn away people who wanted to help. He told me that everyone had their own little piece of construction to focus on, and it all fit together in a perfectly timed process. It's amazing what can be accomplished when everybody's working toward the same goal. My daughter was equally impressed by the souvenir passes that were handed out to spectators.



 

Dream Angel

Every night, about an hour after their bedtime, I check on the kids to make sure they're asleep and to turn off lights and put books away. So the other night I was tiptoeing across my 4-year-old daughter's room to switch off her light when she started giggling. "Uh-oh," I thought, "I woke her up." Her eyes were closed, but she kept giggling, and then she started laughing out loud. I asked her what was so funny, but she just turned over and giggled some more. Nice dream, I guess.

The next morning I told her that she was laughing in her sleep. "What were you dreaming about?" I asked. She quickly answered, "I was dreaming about farting."

Yup, definitely my daughter!


Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

Screenagers

There's a new term for the current generation of teenagers who take the digital world for granted - Screenagers - according to this New York Times article.

I'm about six years away from having a teen in the house, but I have some idea of what his world will be like. Internet, iPod, blog, digital camera... Or at least the next generation of those products and services. I'm sure that in six years time there will be new and amazing technologies that will change everything. Hopefully my kids can explain it all to me.

Speaking of technologies, I fiddled with my logo... Please let me know if it looks okay and didn't mess up my formatting.


Friday, November 11, 2005

 

Google Earth

Having been on dial-up until just recently, I'm a little late to the game with things like Google Earth. I can think of few free downloads that are as stunning as this. It's really quite addictive, and quite the educational tool. I'm able to show my kids how we relate to other places geographically in a way that I never could have imagined. It's opening their eyes to the world around us.

Here are some views of my little corner of the world:


Coeur d'Alene, with the Spokane River wiggling away to the west.


A closer view of downtown Coeur d'Alene and the Tubb's Hill hiking area... See that little spit of land at the bottom? That's one of our favorite summer beach hangouts.


Silverwood Theme Park, where we ride rollercoasters until we're sick!


The historic little town of Wallace, Idaho, home of the Sierra Silver Mine and The Brothel Museum.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

 

The Family Area



Wednesday, November 09, 2005

 

Doomed

Mir made a great comment on my post about divorce:

I'm not a proponent of divorce, by any means. But I do tend to twitch a bit when people start talking about its effects on children as if intact families are exempt from long-lasting psychological damage.


I completely agree that keeping families intact can sometimes be just as bad or worse than splitting them up. In my case I was doomed either way. I shudder to think of how I might have turned out if my father had been a strong influence on me. My self-esteem would certainly be much higher, but I know that today I'd probably be a selfish, materialistic, workaholic who has no relationship with his kids.

I'll take the way things turned out, warts and all.


 

Deck The Halls With Novelty Junk

Spotted this on Boing Boing today -- an exact replica of Charlie Brown's pathetic Christmas tree is now available at UrbanOutfitters.com for just $24. Since I'm a sucker for anything Peanuts-related, I might just have to spring for this. I'll put it next to my Christmas Story Leg Lamp.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

 

Cheap Decorating



My wife found this in an old book, took a picture of it, and then made me photoshop the toilet paper to turn it pink. Actually, I use Microsoft's Picture It, the poor man's Photoshop (hey, it was free. I like free stuff). Now the picture is framed and hanging in our guest bathroom. Sure beats spending $24.99 on an Anne Geddes print at Target.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

 

Legacy of Divorce

Reading Brett's latest post at DadTalk, I was reminded of my own feelings about the divorce of my parents nearly thirty years ago. Its effects on me continue to this very day. Which is sometimes a good thing, as it makes me acutely aware of my own children's needs. I'm laying a foundation for them to build a future upon. It has to be as solid and stable as I can make it.

The scars of divorce are long-lasting. I still get a sour feeling just thinking about that part of my childhood. I've never received a proper explanation from my father as to why he wanted to knock my foundation out from under me. But I've learned from that too, telling my own kids that I will always be open and honest with them about everything. And I will always be there for them, no matter what.

Sometimes divorce is the only option for quarreling couples, but that still doesn't lessen the damage done to the children. Once a family is "broken" everything possible needs to be done to protect and stabilize what's left of it.


 

Paul Is Alive



For all you Beatles fans, here is one woman's close encounter with Paul McCartney when he sat down with some lucky Seattle kids to read from his new children's book.

And look at this cute picture of Eddie Vedder and his daughter listening to Sir Paul read.



Photos by Ken Lambert, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Friday, November 04, 2005

 

Rain Rain Go Away

It's been raining for... forever, it seems like. Well, maybe for a week. Wednesday the sun actually came out. My son was so shocked he had to ask me, "Daddy, what's that bright light?" We have no backyard landscaping yet, so it's one giant mud pit. And the kids are chomping at the bit to get out there, probably for the sole purpose of tracking as much mud as they can back inside the house.

With all this drizzly rain, we've been doing stuff inside the house... Digging out board games, playing with Legos and Play-Doh, building puzzles. And listening to music. I've been making mix-CDs, introducing the kids to the music of my youth. My daughter is really into music. She asks, "Does this one have drums?" or "Is that a man singing?" and then she'll dance around the room. Today we were coloring and "Rock The Casbah" by The Clash started playing. She listened for a minute, then started singing, "Rockin' NASCAR, Rockin' NASCAR!" She got that from the new Herbie: Fully Loaded movie, because I'm one of those people who would rather watch an infomercial about wrinkle cream than view one minute of a NASCAR race. I don't get it, the cars going round and round. Oh boy, maybe there'll be a crash. Zzzzz...

My kids really love the old 80's New Wave songs. Something about those synthesizers that are easy for their young ears to digest, I guess. Mostly they just like a good melody and a steady beat. Like these:

Have fun dancing around the room with your kids!


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

 

Pile On



Jay has a great post about multiple-child households over at Blogging Baby. Loads of great tips from parents who have been there, done that. My own experience with two kids is that it's best to "keep 'em separated" in the car, at the dinner table, and with their stuff -- it's imperative that they each have things that very clearly belong just to them.

When we were expecting baby #2, I remember thinking it would be so easy because we were doing so well with the first child. How much harder could it be? Well, it was much more difficult than I expected but not quite the shock and upheaval that we felt the first time around. It was nice to have a lot of hand-me-downs for the second baby... Yes, my daughter wore a lot of boys' clothing that first year.

I just heard a quote from Jerry Seinfeld about having more than one child (I'm paraphrasing): "I like to think of it in terms of football. Having the first kid is like getting tackled midfield. Once the players start piling on, it doesn't really seem to matter how many of them are on top of you."


 

Too Much Too Young

Here's an article from the UK about how too many organized activities can be harmful to the development of young children. They're burning out from an overload of adult-led, supervised "enrichment." Kids need to have time for unstructured creativity and imagination.

My kids can have the most fun with a large cardboard box, turning it into a pirate ship, scientist's lab, or army fort. Piles of dirt or sand become the Himalayas or the Sahara. I've never seen them so busy as when they're just doing nothing. In the immortal words of Calvin & Hobbes, "There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want."


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

Help



Someone... Help me... Please... My daughter... She's having a screaming contest with herself.

I might not make it through the afternoon.


 

Costumes

Here's my last Halloween post. We certainly did have a fun day, but now it's time to move on to the next big holiday -- Christmas! Thanksgiving doesn't count... I like eating turkey and stuffing as much as the next guy, but visiting with relatives is not my idea of a good time.

My kids decided on Halloween costumes yesterday, a zombie for my son, and a lion for my daughter. At some point in the afternoon, my daughter changed her mind and ended up as a dalmatian for the evening trick-or-treating. We hit both the mall (for about two pounds of candy) and our neighborhood (less than half that). All in all, a good haul of treats that will prevent me from having to buy them candy from now until next October. We capped off the night by watching "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (the Disney cartoon, not the Johnny Depp film).