Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alcohol, Fitness and Hangovers: How your New Year's Resolution Impacts.

OK, I've done the research and there has to be a way to make money on this. Investments or something. I need 5 million shares of alcohol distributor's stock set to sell on Dec 31, take those proceeds to buy fitness center stock, sell those a few days later... then buy alcohol. Or a Boat. Or a boat and some alcohol.

(Click Image to Enlarge)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frankly, my dear...


1. wanted or wished for as being an attractive, useful, or necessary course of action. 
Apparently, Vivia Chen of doesn’t think I’m desirable. This has ruined my day in the same way discovering that Martha Stewart doesn’t like my window fixtures might; In other words, not at all. I am actually irked to be mentioning her on my blog, part of me thinks I shouldn’t have bothered and I certainly will not link to her most recent piece. If you are unfamiliar with the article and curiosity gets the best of you, just google “Vivia Chen Embarrassing Undesirable Vapid Writer” and her article should pop up as the first result.

The long and short of it is Vivia believes since a few people she tried to interview did not want to put their lives in the spotlight of media scrutiny, this equals embarrassment for their husbands and non-traditional family/gender roles. The few people she attempted to speak with were “superearning” high-powered female wall street partners (you know… the average American family).  Even if we overlook the limited sample and anecdotal observations presented in Ms. Chen's piece, we also are supposed to make the giant leap that anyone who does not want to be featured in Time could only come to that conclusion out of sheer and utter embarrassment. I’m very pleased in my role and my wife could not be further from embarrassment, but we have turned down many offers to be featured in stories and even TV shows as that is not the type of exposure we feel is healthy for us or our kids.

Ms. Chen indicates Stay-at-home dads (househusbands as she calls us) are “undesirable.” I can’t understand why anyone would even take the time to belittle a group in such a blanketed way, but I have to chuckle at her skewed perspective and how limited her grasp on the term “desirable” is.

I am one of the most desirable men I know. Sound conceited? Well, maybe, but I can prove it.

I know I am useful because I care for children who would otherwise roam the streets or be relegated to day care. I do windows, toilets, floors and laundry (does someone do that for you? If so, I bet you find it useful.) I’m useful because I cook, I buy groceries, and I manage the household (it’s actually a job, there is an inventory that must be constantly replenished and consumption to be monitored).

I’m attractive because I’m a nice person, well sometimes anyway. I’m not the most physically fit or debonair man in the world, there is no questioning that, but that has nothing to do with my occupation as a stay-home-father and I doubt that is what Ms. Chen intended. If it was, then I can point to some of my most handsome SAHD peers to dispel the idea. Trust me, we could make a calendar with some of these guys. There is some grade A prime rib among my comrades.

In all seriousness, I know the comment was not about physical attractiveness, if so I would just step aside and let the interwebs eviscerate her argument without my assistance.  I don’t think Ms. Chen was indicating at-home dads are not desirable because of our physical traits, but simply because of the state of being one. The thing is, I know I’m desirable because there are two little people in my house who call my name constantly. Seriously… it’s nonstop. They need me, they want me. They yearn for a look, a shared game, or a hug and the real estate known as “my lap” is some of the most sought after property in these parts. These incredible people hang on my every word (when I’m not correcting them that is) and they follow me around the house like lost puppies. I can’t even write this post without turning on a TV to distract them momentarily and even as I type, my son is close enough to me that I should probably teach him to operate the spacebar. My daughter draws pictures for me constantly, sings me songs, tries to wear my shoes, thinks I make the best oatmeal in the world (I do cook other things, but that is her favorite dish apparently) and wouldn’t miss a chance to go to the grocery store with me for all the blog entries ever printed in Time. My daughter seeks my approval and insists that I watch (every single day) how fast she can run, how high she can jump and how many costumes she can wear at once. If I were wanted any more, I'd need two of me.

My wife thinks I’m desirable, she tells me and shows me and that’s good enough for me. She appreciates that I take care of the house even if she is sometimes disappointed with my idea of “clean.” Vv finds me desirable as a caretaker who would throw himself between any danger and her children. She knows I give one-on-one attention to our children and that they thrive under my supervision. I think my wife finds a warm dinner after work desirable, not to mention an in-house caretaker who can allow her to focus on her career, travel when necessary, and take care of many of the “to do’s” so she can spend her time at home being what she loves best, a great Mom. If we both worked we’d have less quality time for the children; that is just a fact of life. I don’t say it to knock working parents in any way, we all do what we have to do, but I don’t know of a working parent who doesn’t wish for more time with their kids and who doesn’t wish their time at home could be used to focus on the children primarily rather than having to spend much of that time doing all the things that have to be done around a home. The point is, a parent (whether working or at home) is desirable to their children, attractive to their spouse (in a healthy relationship) and *NEWSFLASH HERE* none of us need to be “attractive or desirable” to anyone outside of our household. We have already landed our big fish and I have a keeper, so frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn what you think. My house is my concern, I find it and all who reside here desirable. If I were working and my wife were at home that would not change, we'd simply appreciate each other for different things. That feeling is reciprocated by my family. In closing, I am relieved and content not to be found desirable by the shallow, in-the-box, gender-role enforcing people of the world. I can assure anyone who thinks I'm undesirable because I'm a full time father... the feeling is mutual. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Many Moons

It’s 2:09am and I’m starting a post. Insomnia has become my unwelcome companion as of late. The house sleeps, I do not. Tomorrow looms. At this point it is actually today bearing down on me. It is my daughter’s fifth birthday.

Somehow half a decade has flown by in my second career as an at-home dad. 1,826 days I have been a father. 260 weeks seems like an awful long time, how can it have passed just like that? The moon has shone full 62 times since the night she was born. How many new moons will I see before she drives, graduates, leaves home? How many before she is married? When I think of time that way it breathes new life into one of her favorite sayings, “I love you to the moon and back.” In the back of my mind, I wonder how many turns around the sun are in me? Will it be enough? Surely I am losing potential with my over-eating, my smoking (light these days, but not non-existent), my lack of exercise, not to mention sleep.

I’m a chronic procrastinator. Always waiting for some pressure to jolt me into action, or setting arbitrary moments in the future when I will do something. I’ll be a better husband tomorrow. I’ll do the dishes in the morning. New Year’s is coming up, I’ll start to exercise and eat better then. Next week, I’m going to spend less time staring at my phone and more time talking with my children about what they find important. Soon, I’ll start planning what to do with myself as my youngest enters school. A plan is needed. It’s time to plan to start planning. You see, the new and improved me is always right around the corner. Meanwhile, the moon waxes and wanes. The clock ticks and my fingers click. Is that pain in my joints? Has my steady march toward entropy gained momentum while I didn’t?

No matter. Tick. What’s gone is gone. Tock.

Quarter to three now. My mind races and my heart is determined to pump a little faster than usual this evening. Strangely, I’m not antsy. I’m writing. I’m putting my change to paper. Penning my own pressure. Write out of thin air. I’m nearly to the moon and I’ve got to make the return trip. I promised a young lady “and back…” This is no one-way journey and I can’t allow time to do me in like so much sandstone in the river bed. Tomorrow Today is the day. Step one…  go the @#%! to sleep. Do not obsess over this post, don’t edit it, let it go, it’s done (tick, tock). Get some rest and be there for J Bean’s big day. Lasso this moon and don’t let go because there can never be enough. Good night, moon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges! (Do you have a card though?)

I hear people bringing up "man cards" all the time or threatening to revoke another man's card because they ordered a piña colada instead of a pale ale or because they don't hunt deer from dusk till dawn. I've got no issue with fruity drinks, though I prefer a German Marzen myself and I don't hunt, but take little issue with it either. Anyway, I gave it some thought and came up with an SAHD approved man card. It was time as many of the manliest men I know care for their kids all day long. Here's to you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dad On The Run... Lyrics.

The name for my blog was inspired by Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" which has always been a favorite of mine. I think I finally have the lyrics down for a parody version of the song, now if I can just find a reader with the talent to put it to music we'll have a theme song. I've always wanted a theme song. Haven't you?

Dad On The Run

Stuck inside these four walls
Sent inside forever
Never seeing no one, nice again,
'Cept you, daughter.
and you son and you Mama...

If I ever get out of here

Wish I could just get away.
From this daily hilarity.
All I need is five pints a day
If I ever get out of here
If we ever get out of here

Well the milk exploded with a mighty crash
As it fell onto the floor
And the first child said to the second one there
You better run for the door! Here comes Dad on the Run!

Dad on the run; Dad on the run
And the diaper man, and dancing Dad,
Entertaining everyone
I'm the Dad on the run. Dad on the Run, Dad on the Run.

Well, the at-home Dad drew a heavy sigh
Seeing no one else had come
And the bell was ringing time to prepare
For the kids on the run,

Dad on the run; Dad on the run
And the diaper man, and dancing Dad,
Entertaining everyone
I'm the Dad on the run. Dad on the Run, Dad on the Run.

Well the night was falling
As the house began to settle down
In the living room tyrants search everywhere
But the lovey will never be found

Dad on the run; Dad on the run
And the little girl, who held a grudge
Will stay awake forever more.
Poor Dad on the run. Dad on the Run. Dad on the Run...

Here is one of my favorite covers of the song in question:

The Breakfast Club?

Piglet driving the get away train. 
Inspired by the recent photo blog I saw on The Medium about Dinovember, I decided to take a swing at the idea myself with Duplo characters. The idea being that you set up toys in situations that make them appear to be like the characters of Toy Story, living breathing characters who pretend to be inanimate when humans are around. I came home from a Dad's night out and went to work. I created a scene where the Legos had obviously escaped J Bean's room on a train and, through a combination of cabinet locks, toys, a phone charger and a chair, had made their way into the pantry. The characters in the pantry were feasting on Ritz crackers and Winnie the Pooh was trying to get into a bottle of honey.

When J Bean discovered them this morning, she had a million questions and observations: "How did they get out here? I didn't hear them leave my room? What were they doing? Are they like Woody from Toy Story?  What were they doing? Look! They've got a cracker! Oh my good gracious, Winnie the Pooh was trying to get the honey! Look! Piglet was driving! How did they all fit on this train!? Do you think they made exter (that's how she says it) trips? Can you believe they got into the crackers?! I HAVE to show this to Mommy! She is not going to believe this! How did they get out of the box? Oh my goodness, look! They stacked blocks to get out of the box? Why didn't these other guys go on the trip? What do you think they will do tonight!"

She was so excited and bewildered that I had a hard time getting her to eat breakfast and once we arrived at school she started telling everyone about it. Suffice it to say, I will be doing more of these. So much fun for her (and me!) Here's some pictures of the scene.

A zookeeper and Tigger working with Boots to set up a rope to climb into the pantry. 

Not sure why Tigger didn't just bounce across. 

The Breakfast Club. 

Sharing a cracker while the polar bear dives in the bag for more. 

Notice what Pooh is getting into. 

It's unclear if boots was on lookout or just making his way into the eatery. 

Woody was obviously supervising. 

This woman shows how they got from the floor to the chair. 
The whole scene. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

All in a Day's Work...

Occasionally at-home parents and primary breadwinners have discussions about our jobs and what they entail. I have found we have a lot in common, the differences are really quite subtle.

At the office, you have TPS reports, in our job we have T.P. Ass reports. "Did you wipe?! Do I need to come check?! Let's hear the T.P. Ass report!"

You punch a clock. We punch the FedEx man in the throat for ringing the bell during nap. 

You talk with co-workers at the water-cooler, we talk to ourselves at the diaper station.

There is always a line in the breakroom for the coffee machine at the office. Wait, what the...?! You have a breakroom!?  

You hate the commute. We want one.

You get a slap on the back from a co-worker, we get hugs and kisses from the kids.

Your boss is sometimes a tyrant. So are ours (though, admittedly, ours are cuter).

You have email notifications, we have verbal pings, "Daaaaaad!"

At the office, employees expect constant feedback, at home the kids want you to look at and appreciate every squiggle they make on a piece of paper.

Working parents have lunch with peers, at home parents have lunch with smears. (A reader pointed out, at-home parents also have lunch with peers. Peer: one who pees.)

In the office, you discuss the direction of the company. At home we reinforce, "up the steps and down the slide!"

With public restrooms privacy is hard to come by. At home with children, one is never alone in the bathroom.

In cubicles you can hear the neighbor typing and chatting on the phone. At home, everyone chews with their mouth open and whines incessantly.

Co-workers in the office occasionally don't get along. Siblings at home are often in engaged in open battle.

Working parents have to bring work home sometimes. At-home parents live at work.

Occasionally, the bosses shit on us both.

In the office, the copier is always broken. At home, the DVD player has a sandwich in it.

You have the guy whose foreign accent is difficult to understand at work. We have a toddler who thinks "Ayyyy," "Dooooh!" and "Arrgghh!" are meaningful phrases for communicating their desires.

At work, parents often deal with a drama queen or king who takes every slight personally. At-home parents have those too and at home they will scream at the top of their lungs and fling themselves on the floor because you asked them not to throw a harmonica at you.

At work the bosses are sometimes repetitive. At home, all phrases, screams and cries are repeated until you acknowledge and comply with the tyrants.

At the office, your bosses are never satisfied with your work. At home, the bosses are never satisfied with anything (unless they have a sucker in their mouth at that very moment).

At the end of the week you get a paycheck. At the end of the week we get more laundry.

You get memos, we get a runny nose.

I love my job, but it IS a job. Thank you to all the working parents (at home and at the office) the world keeps on turning thanks to you. We should take some paid time off, do you think we could leave the kids with your office for a few days while we get away?

Monday, October 28, 2013

...and going, and going and going.

When you give a child a musical toy, just remember you are sentencing the parents to hear the song a bazillion times. In other words, don't give musical toys. Link's excitement about Peter Cottontail is the only thing between this one and the dumpster. Thanks Grandma! We're still hopping down the bunny trail 18 months later. Also, what kind of batteries do they put in these things? My smartphone lasts mere hours but this animatronic Chuck E. Cheese reject just keeps going and going like the freaking Energizer rabbit from Hell.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tears of Our Fathers.

I'm watching a slideshow of other men's families flash across the overhead projection screen in a fluorescent lit classroom in Denver, Colorado. A moment ago I was eating a cupcake topped with bacon... because that's how (some) men do it. I watch with detached interest as little faces, little hands, big eyes and gigantic dreamers click across the screen. After a few minutes though, the room grows silent; Disturbed only by laughter at behind-the-scenes antics each of us can imagine by looking at this one frame. Each picture is just one sliver of a moment and I, like most in the room, don't know more than a handful of the children I'm looking at. Some are alone with hilarious expressions, others are with their siblings playing or holding hands, there are more still with mom or dad embracing or sharing silly costumes with their children. 

Now droplets spilling over the dam of my eyelids have caught me by surprise. What trickery is this!? Why the water works? This is a man's convention, a dad's convention dammit! Aren't we supposed to be too hungover to make it to the presentations? Shouldn't we be considering cutting out early to check out a strip club? What is going on here?!

When it comes to fathers who don't follow society's rules, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to find that what might look like a glorified guy's weekend away to the casual observer turns out to be so much more. You see, every man in this room is a stay at home father. I look to my right, red eyes. I look to my left and that dude has a tissue at his face. Everyone looks as stunned as I am to have been caught off-guard by family pictures, but no one is ashamed. We share these feelings, we let them roll over us. We are the same. We've talked about communicating effectively, about being engaged, we've heard stories of loss and triumph, we've listened to raconteurs deliver heart wrenching descriptions of miracles. We've laughed at each other's anecdotes about the challenges of being an at home parent. We've heard quotables from notables such as "Potty training isn't a corridor, it's a labyrinth" (Chris Routly of Daddy Doctrines). We've learned breathing exercises from Dr. Rich Mahogany of Man Therapy. We all wanted to hug president Al Watts as he painted, with a croaking voice, a picture for us of his 11 year old daughter falling into a canyon, and surviving. The pain he felt, the feelings of helplessness he endured as he waited for her to be extracted via helicopter pierced us all like a dagger. The sheer force of will he showed to get through the epic story for us became our strength and we helped feed it within him. 

The weekend has been an incredible experience. I've met dozens of guys for the first time and others I only knew from social media. I've ribbed and joked with men as if we were old buddies, then turned around and had conversations with them I'd be surprised to have with my closest friends. There were beers, bourbon and burgers with guys who will make your stomach hurt from laughter. I've listened to stories of sorrow, tragedy, intestinal fortitude, persistence and honor in the face of challenges. Sure, many of us partied and carried on, but we were careful to pull back the reins so as not to miss out on an opportunity to learn and share with these fathers. 

We ran the full gambit, from cruising happy hours in downtown to volunteering in a warehouse to facilitate food distribution for the hungry. From board meetings to running (a very short way before hyperventilating) up the steps at Red Rocks amphitheater. There was drinking and debauchery and meals out to satisfy the craving a stay home parent might have to hit the town, but I was proud no one suggested a strip club. We were the most respectable bunch of bar hoppers you'd ever want to meet and we tipped pretty well too. We did some good for others, and plenty for ourselves.

As I sit here watching the faces of children I've never met go by on the screen, those faces stop being strangers and they start to represent fatherhood in general for me. They show how much we have in common despite our differences, and they are the thread that hold all in attendance together. We're lashed together by the common purpose of raising great children and becoming the best fathers we can be. Somehow the grins going by cease to be just some kids and they start to look like loved members of my community. I see  determination in their eyes. I see wonder, love, and innocence in every smile. I see faces looking for approval, without a shadow of doubt they will receive it from loving parents. I'm reminded of the stories I've heard this week and suddenly all of the stories I've heard of pain and encouragement of miracles and disasters have become my own. I'm crying with joy for these families and my own. This is how we define masculinity; with strength and support for each other and for our families, with empathy and encouragement for all in our community and many beyond, through teaching and in listening we teach our boys and girls what a man is... what a dad is.

As the trip comes to an end, I'm delayed and my chances for reaching home today become long odds. A new friend (Chris of DadNCharge) offers to put me up for the night while another (Don of Daddy Newbie) offered to drive me to Chicago from Denver as if he were offering me a ride to the 7/11, despite his home being in New Mexico (the opposite direction). That's the kind of friends I made in a few days. The kind I'll keep up with from now on.

I made my flight, I made it home and I spent the better part of the next day hugging and playing with my children. The desire to be in the moment with them has delayed the final editing of this article, but that is OK. I tried to focus on the principles I'd learned from Dr. Harley Rotbart and his presentation on "No Regrets Parenting" and it felt good. Those dishes can wait... I've already decided that, so why not immerse myself in the moment and wonder at these amazing beings who are a part of me? Later, when I had a chance to catch up online, I noticed a large number of posts from fellow attendees indicating happiness with being home and showing off pictures of their kids. Another slide-show of sorts, though I didn't cry this time, I just smiled to myself. I like this slideshow, it plays every day and it will help me keep perspective about what the most important things in life are and keep me motivated to make as many moments as I can between now and next year's convention. If you are or know a stay home dad, please put them in touch with the National At-Home Network and start thinking about how you can send them next year. It's a gift I can't understate and a trip all stay at home dads should experience. Big thanks to all the coordinators, board members, presenters, sponsors and fellow dads who made this trip one to remember! 

And so it begins... 
Met up with Don (of Daddy Newbie) and Mike Andrews Jr.

Welcome to Colorado.

Community service project. Warehouse work. 
Ron enjoying some of Al's plentiful Slim Jims. 
Don't call us Mr. Mom. 

Bacon cupcakes? Yes, please. 

Cooking basics

Tivoli building

Denver sky.
President Al Watts giving us the low down.

Triangle Dads at Red Rocks Amphitheater. 

I climbed that. The steps... not the rock. 

That seems a lot further of a hike when you are hungover.
Class time. 
Keynote speaker, Dr. Harley Rotbart. No Regrets Parenting. 
Working on the definition of masculinity.

AHD Convention Group Photo. I'm the good looking one. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When Toys Get Hurt... Halloween Witch Trial Edition.

I have a feeling that Little Bo Peep didn't fare too well at her witch trial. I found her this morning...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twinkle in My Eye

I'm proud Link is starting to learn the names of body parts, but it's not so fun when you are changing him and he says "Ahhhh" just before poking you in the eye.

"$#*@%!! Yes, yes, that's my eye you just poked with your 'finger'... and these are called 'tears' streaming down my 'face'. Also, don't repeat that other word, that was less of a body part and more of a colorful adjective adults sometimes used when unexpectedly poked in the 'Ahhhh."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Dad Bloggers: Rinse and Repeat

I'm part of a fantastic group of Dad Bloggers where I am lucky enough to surround myself with great writers and storytellers, comedians, businessmen, entrepreneurs, established authors, stay home parents and I'm happy to call many of them "friends." The only things we all have in common is that we are fathers and bloggers (with the obvious exception of Blogless Joel). Occasionally we'll discuss the repetitive nature of parent blogging. Sometimes it can seem like it's all been done before, but usually we come to the consensus that while we do share some of the same topics, we all bring a new perspective and some of us are usually "right" about more things than others; I'm not calling any names here, Aaron Gouveia of Daddy Files. No matter how big or small or what type of Dad Blogger you are, it seems we all follow a similar evolution.

The topics and life cycle of a Dad Blog:

- I'm a blogger! (this one is embarrassing to read in the future).

-My wife is pregnant it's hardest on her but kind of sucks for me too, just sayin'.

-I am or am about to be a Dad.

-My baby doesn't sleep much.

-My baby poops a lot.

-My baby is cute.

-As a Dad of two months, I'm a changed man and I think I have this Dad thing figured out.

-My baby cries a lot.

-My baby is laughing, life is grand.

-My baby is trying solids. He's messy.

-My baby is becoming a toddler now. Woe is me.

-My wife is pregnant again, holy shit!

-My toddler is walking. and talking!

-Sentimental post about children growing up too fast.

-My toddler says the darndest things.

-Look how fast he's growing!

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I'm in the know.

-New baby! Sibling love, toddler meets baby.

-This is harder than I remember.

-Single Dad Laughing is terrible. Why does my wife read it?

-Rinse and repeat first 10 for the second and any additional children and add in funny sayings from the older sibling(s). "How big is the poop this time, Daddy!?"

-Why I don't spank (or do).

- Letters to my kids in the future.

-Sibling fighting.

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I'm in the know.

-Why I started spanking (or stopped)

-Life Cycles of a Dad Blog (This is so meta...)

-School starting.

-Sentimental post about children growing up too fast.

-Witnessing first love.

-I need to drink.

- My kids are dating.

- My kids are driving.

- Lessons my kids need to learn.

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I'm in the know.

-My wife doesn't understand me.

-My parents were smart.

- I got a vasectomy. It hurt yo.

-Sentimental post about children growing up too fast. Enjoy yours!

- I found a hobby!

- I'm not just a Dad Blogger. At this point some will renounce the term altogether and take a giant crap on others who are not as far along in the cycle. After all, It's all inane drivel now that I've already been through the things you are just experiencing for the first time.

- I think I might have to delete my old blog so as not to ruin my children's school life.

- Writing about your kids is a bad idea. Here's why.

-Sentimental post about children growing up too fast.

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I'm in the know.

- From now on call me Blue Soccer Buddha. Here's my new link.

- Why my blog is awesome (or why I'm retiring my blog)

- Kids these days are crazy. More parents should be like we were back in the day.

-Empty nest approaching. Lessons learned.

-What I won't miss about a house full of kids.

-Things I'll miss about a house full of kids.

-Open letter to my children about parenting.

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I'm in the know.

-Why grandkids are great.

-Things my kids taught me about parenting.

-My kids think they know it all, and they started a twoog about it (similar to a blog, but in the future).

- Hey, I wrote a book. Check it out at (disclaimer: I didn't write that book).

-I thought I had this fatherhood thing down before. I was stupid, now I realize the teaching and the learning will never end.

-I'm a twooger!? In the olden days, we had blogs. Hey, I should write about that!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Secondhand Lions

In North Carolina a little boy passed a day like so many others before with the comfort of his favorite toy, a plush lion's head attached to a comically small blanket. He carries the toy with him wherever he goes and sleeps with him every night. Unfortunately, it was the inevitable day when Lovey Lion was lost, you can read the full story of Lion Lovey's last day over at Dad and Buried.

In Chicago, J Bean has always been in love with a similar toy, a sheep purchased as a gift before she was born. Sheep was received with a companion lion like the one mentioned above. Sheep is in J Bean's hands anytime she is upset, every time she lays down to sleep and during just about any moment of anxiety or boredom. Sheep is in her arms right now and I'm fighting back my own tears as her own bead and trickle down her face. How did we get here? Why is J Bean crying? How did a 4 year old just teach me so much about love, sacrifice and the feelings of a stranger?

To understand how we got here, take a look at the link embedded above about Detective Munch losing his beloved lion. I read that story a few days ago and was surprised to see a little boy's lost lion in the story was an exact replica of our own. I considered the idea of asking J Bean if she would be willing to part ways with the toy and I'll admit I was fairly confident, if the story were presented correctly, she would choose to donate her lion to the mourning Munch. She's always been a giving soul. J Bean's attachment to "sheep" is strong and when we temporarily lost that fading lamb a year ago I scoured the internet until I found and ordered two duplicates and an extra lion.  As these things often go, we found the real McCoy the day before the replacements arrived so we packed them away and waited.

Our lion was more than gently used and served as a substitute for "sheep" on the rare occasion that sneaky ewe couldn't be found at bedtime. J Bean had agreed to give "extra lion" to an envious friend for her birthday last year so the idea of giving this one away was not without precedent. We also have "new sheep" in the mix after another false alarm of losing the one and only original bona fide "Sheep" several months back. It's always just been "Sheep." J Bean summarily dismissed any and all attempts to elicit other handles for her fuzzy friend over the years. The two sheep, one much dingier than the other, and a lion are fixtures in J Bean's bed. The lion is just as old as the original sheep, albeit slightly less worn.

After reading of Detective Munch and his missing lion and later discussing the matter with his father, Mike, I called J Bean over to the computer. I showed her some pictures and told her how the boy loved Lion Lovey just as she loves Sheep and how he had lost his favorite toy this week. J Bean quickly indicated she could send Lion to him, explaining "he's not my favorite anyway and then he'll have a lion again." She began asking questions about the boy in the pictures. We discussed shipment options and the idea of a new pen pal. Then I asked her again if she was sure this was something she was OK with doing and that she wanted to carry through. To my great pride, J Bean indicated it was. I sent a message to Mike letting him know operation Lion Drop was a go.

Five minutes later J Bean was bawling.

"Sheep and I are really going to miss lion" she sobbed. The tears slid down her face and I kicked myself for misjudging the situation. I felt simultaneous sadness (for her feelings), guilt (for the possibility that I might allow Detective Munch to go without our replacement lovey if it was going to break my daughter's heart), and disappointment that J Bean was seemingly looking to back out of her commitment. "Was it fair? Should I have asked this of a child?" I thought to myself.

A minute or two later, with her lip finally stiffening, we discussed the situation. I reminded J Bean I had already informed Detective Munch the toy was on the way and I asked for her input on what we should do. I was struck sideways when I realized J Bean was not trying to back out of the deal, she was simply expressing her sadness and admitting she did care for the toy. This is a loss I didn't know she would feel, I thought the toy's status was far below that of sheep. Having had her necessary cry, she still wanted to give the toy to Munch. Her tears were not of remorse or a change in heart but just an acknowledgement of her feelings.

Ultimately, she made one card for Munch and another for the lion (her idea to help him through the times when he would undoubtedly miss her). I had stepped away to the next room for a moment when I heard J Bean say to the lion, "I know I will miss you more than you miss me, and you will have a new home where you will get to be somebody's favorite toy but....," she trailed off into a few more whimpers.

I was at a loss. I was so proud of her I nearly ready to burst at the seams, but my heart ached for her pain. Sure, it's just a silly lion, but these totems hold much power and affection among certain circles, a fact I only thought I understood before that moment. When I reentered the kitchen, J Bean asked how lion would travel. She decided on a cracker box, wrapped in brown paper (to keep him warm), and mandated that lion would be accompanied by a tiny gingerbread man made of melted crayon remnants. The little man would double as friend for the recipient and lion alike.

J Bean drew some pictures and stamped and stickered a few cards for the occasion. One card for the mysterious boy miles away and one for the lion who would go to meet him.  She then offered to help me tape up the package. Her tears were dry, already fading to memory behind those blue eyes, as she stuck her tongue to the left (just so) in order to maximize focus on the placement of the tape strip.

As we addressed the package she said, "I hope Munch will send me a picture of Lion when he gets there. Sheep will really miss him and it's nice to get pictures of something you don't have anymore."

"I'm sure he will, Little Bit. Give me a hug and let me tell you a few things," I said as I pulled her in for a tight squeeze. I pushed some of her hair from behind glasses where it had been lodged during the previous water works. I continued, "I love you so much. I think you are a very special and kind person and I am very proud of you. Good has a way of coming back to us and doing good makes us feel nice too, doesn't it?" She nodded quietly and I studied her expression closely, taking in every quirk of this little blinking and breathing gift that just keeps on giving.

In the distance, I hear the faint yet familiar rag tune "The Entertainer" which 'round these parts signals an ice cream truck in the vicinity. I hope you swing by our house, sweet chariot, because I know one little girl who is getting a Choco-Taco tonight even if I have to run three blocks to get it.

Detective Munch, please take good care of lion he was never meant to be a second stringer and deserves to be the favorite toy of a special little boy. J Bean looks forward to having a pen pal in a far away place and maybe hearing about some of Lion Lovey's adventures from time to time.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blogless Joel: The Night I Woke to Find my Heart Missing.

This week, Dad On The Run, is happy and proud to host a blogger with no blog. He wanders the interwebs in search of a place to host his words, shaking his cup in every direction. When I saw the cup, I looked at the man then I looked back at my own blog, so much space, so many rooms and I had to let him stay the night. That was before he told me this story about unlocked doors and the day he almost lost everything. Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing Blogless Joel. 

A Public Service Announcement: Lock your Hotel Door
by Blogless Joel

She was gone. My 3 year old daughter who was sleeping beside me when I turned out the lights was no longer there. All that remained on the hotel bed was the shiny pink blanket she affectionately referred to as her “pink one”.

I realized that we didn’t lock the door. Panic took hold.

Picture from

The loud banging on the door intensified.

Earlier that day we checked into the hotel. We picked the wrong weekend to visit a neighboring city’s zoo. A memorial was being held for victims of a recent drive-by shooting. Authorities feared retaliation. Tension was in the air and armed police officers stood on every corner.

But the day was a success. So much so that my daughter decided that when she grows up she wants to be a zookeeper--displacing previous aspirations to be a movie critic or a jockey. (When I told her to be a jockey she would have to be short and little, her response was, “Daddy, I AM short and little.” Touché.)

By 10pm, the day’s sunshine and ice cream had taken their toll, and my daughter was snoring through Lorax. The room had two individual-sized beds instead of one large family-sized bed, so I laid her on the side of one of the beds and slept beside her. My wife was in the other bed. We went to sleep ill prepared for the wakeup call we would receive several hours later.

The loud banging on the door intensified.

I wondered if I was dreaming.

I did a double take, rescanning and clawing at my daughter’s side of the bed as if frantically looking for a lost remote under the couch cushions. Nothing but her “pink one”.

My chest tightened and I audibly gasped. I shouted my daughter’s name. My wife sprang up immediately in terror.

“She’s gone.”

I had woken to a parent’s worst nightmare. The knocking continued.

“Answer the door!”

Heaving for breath like I’d just run a marathon, I sprang to my feet and grabbed for the door handle.

A hotel worker stood angrily in the doorway. Nearly pushing him out of the way I looked down the long carpeted hallway to my right and saw nothing but an endless corridor of identical doors.

Picture from

Glancing quickly to the left I saw my daughter rounding the corner in tears. Saying no words she sprinted into my arms.

“You need to lock your door,” the hotel worker said.

I stared back speechless, still confused at what had happened. In the 2am haze, I didn’t know if I was angry with him or if I wanted to give him a hug. I closed the door and said nothing.

With trembling hands and voices, my wife and I tried to make sense of what had happened. My daughter woke up in the night. Confused about where she was, she stumbled towards the rectangle of light surrounding the doorway. She reached for the handle, pulled it down, slipped through the crack, and she was gone. She could have been gone forever.

She told us she was trying to find the “escalator” (sic, elevator) so she could get to us. The hotel workers later told us she was in the hall for an hour or more. A police officer found her and they began going door to door. My daughter, an otherwise articulate little girl, was too afraid to speak. She couldn’t tell them her parents’ names and she had no idea from which of the identical doors she had come.

Never in a million years would I have thought that she would leave the hotel room. She never leaves her room at home and I wouldn’t have expected her to be tall enough or strong enough to open the door. But she did. And if not for the police officer and the hotel workers, she could have entered the elevator, stepped into the lobby, and into the streets of a major city...

I wrote the hotel a letter the next day, expressing my immense gratitude and apologizing for not thanking them immediately for their actions, which prevented what could have been a traumatic experience.

Parents, when you stay in a hotel with your children, lock the door and lock it tight--not just to keep bad guys out, but to keep the good guys in. 

They tell you to baby proof your house. They tell you to reduce the max temperature on your water heater. No one had told us this.

I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. My heart raced with my mind. My daughter just wanted to cuddle her “pink one” and get back to sleep.

“Daddy you’re holding me really tight.”

“I know.”

Joel was also recently featured at Ask Your Dad Blog, check it out here. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

What The Fox Say?

Time for an installment of "I Like to Move It." The one in which I encourage everyone who sees this to stop. Stop what you are doing. If you have a kid home and they are awake, crank the music and see if they will dance with you. It's one of our favorite activities around here. If your child is older or too cool, they should be in school really. If not for some reason, then they should submit to your wishes lest you do the dance by yourself out the window during homeroom.


Sunday, September 22, 2013


I stand here in front of you as you sit in the swing enjoying the soft breeze of the mid-September afternoon. You are blissfully unaware I'm blocking the blinding rays from your eyes with my shadow. My shoulders are wide enough to eclipse the sun in your lane and allow you to enjoy the last drops of a cool fall day unperturbed by the glaring orange disc behind me. At a year and half, your biggest problem at the moment is retrieving the last dried strawberry from the bag you clutch in your tiny hands. I know how high I can push without frightening you and I keep you moving with the slow, steady consistency of a pendulum easily metered by the repetitious whine of metal on metal which is interrupted only by the drone of traffic. You have no fear of the unknown and therefore no appreciation for the safety I provide. Inconceivable events of earth, wind and fire would have to conspire before I allowed you to fall from the swing; so you sway and you smile with fiery intensity of your own. Your blue eyes gleam like sapphires as you laugh and squeal. I shoulder the weight of your safety as you learn to keep yourself from harm. When we leave the park you'll ride the same shoulders and we'll stroll home enjoying the city's sounds, sights and smells in the twilight of the day and the season.

Any mortal in their right mind would be terrified to be hoisted three times their own height atop a giant, but you know nothing of fear. You've never fallen from such a height, as a matter of fact, you've never fallen from any height within my reach. The piece I have trouble with is teaching you actions have consequences without diminishing your intrepid spirit. How do I teach you without scaring you? I want you take on faith that the slide curving away below you is well worth the ride, even though you can't see the end from your vantage point. The moment of uncertainty when you let go is what makes that ride all the sweeter, but too much doubt can hold you back. You are already assembling a respectable collection of bruises on your shins and bumps on your head, but the blades which will cut deepest are years in the distance. I see them coming, as inevitable as the end of this afternoon. No need to mention them, we'll have plenty of time for that. I have faith in the time. Time won't let me down.

Will it?

My hope as a father is to remedy all that ails my children. To protect you at all times from all dangers both real and perceived, while teaching you to do the same for yourself along the way. There will be time for that, the shadows will grow much longer before mine fades to black. The truth is, I think I'm doing OK at this dad thing. I had some good teachers; I stand on the shoulders of giants. Perhaps I'm getting too deep into metaphor, even for me, but when it comes to the stories of our fathers sometimes only clichés will do. My Dad is a great father, as was his. I rode on his shoulders when I was your age, I enjoyed their shade when I was swinging, and I cried into them when life seemed unfair. My father taught me how to stand on his shoulders literally, then with his love and support I learned the far more difficult task of standing on those shoulders figuratively.

It is not the piggyback rides along Myrtle Beach that come to mind when I think of those shoulders, but the times they carried me through the rough patches in my life. I was blissfully unaware of the diligent protection when I was younger. I had little experience with fear; security was a gift I didn't know I had been given. My father was there when a "big kid" pushed me off a big wheel, he was there to reassure me when I was faced with losing my place as the one and only child, he was there when I struggled with self-esteem in junior high and he taught me not to define myself with the expectations and judgments of others. When I was attacked by a bully on the bus for defending my sister he was there to stand up for me when I was nearly suspended for my unfortunate luck. My father taught me about fairness and courage. His ideas of justice were a constant theme in my childhood, running deep like a vein of iron through a mountain range. My dad was there when I didn't make the grade and when I did, he was there as loved ones left this world, there when I struggled in college and there when I searched for a career. He didn't tell me where to go or what to do, but no matter where I turned his shadow always danced ahead even when he was not physically present. My father was there to remind me that my path was my own and no one would or should prepare it for me, he was there when I fell in and out of love, there when I made bad decisions, there when I succeeded at work, there when I lost a good job, there when I was married to your mother. He's been there following the birth of each of my children; always wanting to show support while not wanting to be in the way, giving me space to live and experience life in my own way. There are times these days when my father's shadow isn't as clear to me and we don't talk as often as we should (a shared fault), but when I look a little closer I can usually see his silhouette against the hard sun of life. His shadow hides the danger and in doing so obscures it's own presence. I know when the day comes and the sun sets on my father, the absence of that cool slither of shade will become shockingly clear... blindingly so. I'll squint at the unforgiving sun. I'll hide my eyes in my hands and I'll weep. Afterwards, I suspect I will spend years realizing the full myriad of ways he protected, supported and encouraged me. I stand on the shoulders of my Dad; as he did on his.

As I continue down the path of fatherhood, I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing my shadow will grow longer and provide respite from the cruel elements for those I love the most. I don't say that out of pride for myself, but pride in all of us. It gives me a peaceful, reassuring feeling to know you, my helpless little boy, will one day cast an epic shadow indeed. You will stand against the sun and the wind and the rain; a rock upon which those who love you can make anchor and against those who would harm your loved ones will break themselves.

The amazing thing is how much growth you and your sister have precipitated within me as well. That thought makes me happy as I try to conceptualize how my father grew with me. In our family we are sustaining each other and laying the foundation for the future with every laugh and every tear. Now our shadows lengthen as we walk home with the sun at our backs and you, my son, on my back. I have to wonder whose shadow stretches ahead of us leading us home.