Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is It Just My Imagination...?

Or is my daughter brilliant? :-) I need others to filter out the doting parent factor and tell me if this is "normal" for a 3.25 year-old:

This morning Nessa got both legs into one side of her big shorts, with some room to spare. When I noticed it and asked her to fix it, she said "If I left both legs on the same side it would be a skirt, right, Daddy?"

Now, it's certainly possible that she heard someone else say that, to her or in her presence. But if so, it wasn't anyone in our immediate family.

Sophisticated Connection, or Obvious Observation? You be the judge.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Really Cool Birthday Present

As is often the case, I’m a little late to the party (see First-time Fatherhood at Forty-Four), but I’m having fun. Tami and Nessa gave me an iPod Classic for my birthday, and I’m just starting to really get going with it. I’m slowly loading my CD collection, which means I have access to much more music at work. In fact, I'm listening to it right now. :-)

As I always suspected would be the case, the real beauty is being able to get individual songs on the fly. Last night I heard a beautiful daddy-daughter song on the car radio (“Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman). When I got home I went on iTunes, bought the song, put it on my iPod, and was able to play it for Tami about 90 minutes after I heard it for the first time.

Now that’s what I call instant gratification! This “internet” thing just might have a future…

Ground 1, Nose 0

Sunday Nessa was swinging in the back yard and wanted to change which way she was facing. When I put her back on the swing, she tried to scoot forward in the seat without grabbing the ropes. All of a sudden she was face down on the ground, crying. When I got her up, her nose was bloody. We started for the house, and it kept bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding. Nessa was being very brave and following directions very well through her tears. Megan was just coming out the front door, so she got some tissues while Tami got a wet washcloth and a towel.

For a while it seemed like there was blood everywhere: all over Nessa’s shirt, on her face, arms and legs, on my hands… But after a few minutes the bleeding stopped and we were able to get her cleaned up. By that point she had regained her composure and realized she was OK, and she told us she didn't hurt anywhere. There was no swelling--mostly she had gotten shaken up and scared. She was able to have a picnic with Megan as soon as we finished cleaning her up.

Tami worked hard on the shirt and by the next day you couldn’t tell that it had been bloody at all. We have a couple of drops of blood on the sidewalk and steps to remind us, but otherwise our sweet girl came through her childhood rite of passage just fine.

What Does Your Daddy Do?

Our pastor heard this story from his wife, who works at Nessa’s daycare. Apparently, when the kids went on a daycare outing recently to play on the playground equipment at a nearby school, someone asked Nessa what her Daddy does:

“Oh, he leaves early in the morning and plays on computers all day.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cake in the Morning...

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

OK, I meant to get this out as a Happy Birthday post yesterday, but got distracted by several other things ... the picture is too adorable to chance many of you not seeing it though --

Shawn didn't mention that we started the day yesterday with cake! It's a little tradition I've started that works especially well when we are not able to plan a bigger celebration later in the day, and now I find it helps me not feel bad about not calling ahead to ask about getting/brining a gluten free cake along. Instead we fill up on other yummy things at dinner since we've already had cake (OK, OK we had more cake later too).

Nessa helped me mix and bake the cake the night before, and then she got up early yesterday morning to help me frost it. As many of you might imagine Nessa's favorite part was putting the sprinkles on the cake.

Then Nessa sang Happy Birthday to her Daddy without hesitating while I just smiled and held the camera. Then we ate cake. Nessa was a little sad that we had to cut it even though she did indeed want to eat it, so Shawn took the opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom about not being able to eat your cake and have it too.

There are a few more photos on flickr:
(or click the photo as this is a flickr post)

Time For Recommended Service?

My life odometer flipped to a new digit yesterday. For those who want to know the exact number:

Nessa’s age x 16 = Shawn’s age

It was a good day. I took the day off work, not because it was my birthday but because I was helping our new Associate Pastor move in to her apartment. When that was done I went and bummed around my favorite stores for a while, seeing if there was anything I wanted to buy myself for a birthday present. I ended up getting a VeggieTales DVD. For supper we went to Hackberry’s (a restaurant run by our food co-op, where we can get gluten-free food) and then I went off to the weekly meeting of the La Crosse Board Game Group. They let the birthday boy pick the games, but showed no mercy otherwise: I came in dead last in all three games we played. True, I’d never played any of them before, but still…

I received many nice cards and other well-wishes from family, friends and co-workers. My darling wife and delightful daughter also gave me a wonderful present: an iPod. I’ve been thinking about getting an MP3 player for months, and now I have a really good one.

Thank you Tami! Thank you Nessa! I love you!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dancing Girl

Nessa loves music. She likes having songs sung to her at bedtime, and likes the songs she learns at daycare. She likes the songs on VeggieTales, DragonTales and Signing Time. She will sometimes surprise us by breaking into whatever song she has recently learned.

Nessa also loves to dance. Last Friday we were at a Farmer’s Market in a park in La Crosse that had a band playing bluegrass/country, and she couldn’t stay away. When she was done eating before we were Nessa wanted to go over by the music. When Tami and I were trying to buy vegetables Nessa wanted to go over by the music. We finally had to promise her we would go listen to the music when we were done to get her to be good while we were shopping.

Once we did, she couldn’t stand still for long. She started swaying, then bopping, then running in circles around us while swinging her body back and forth. It looked more like running to me, but she said she was dancing. During the Tony Awards she kept wanting to sing along and dance whenever one of the musical numbers came on. The fact that she had no idea what they were singing (or what she was singing, for that matter) didn’t matter in the least. She was gonna dance!

Flower Girl

Every morning Nessa gets 10 nickels. During the day, when she wants us to do something for her that she should be able to do herself (such as putting on her coat) she has to pay us one or more nickels. Any nickels she has left over get converted to quarters on a regular basis, and Nessa can spend the quarters on anything she wants except candy: cheap trinkets in the 50 cent vending machines, kiddie rides by stores, toys at the dollar store—whatever catches her eye.

Lately she often wants to spend them on flowers. Nessa really likes flowers, both getting them and giving them to others. We go to a nice flower store close to our house and they show her the different inexpensive flowers like daisies and carnations. Nessa never has trouble making up her mind; lately she’s been choosing daisies, I think because there are multiple blossoms on the same stem so she feels like she’s getting more than one flower. She carefully counts out her quarters (Dad takes care of the tax) and gives them to the salesperson, then clutches the flower in its wrapper and smiles from ear to ear as we walk out the door. She’s always very polite when she’s buying something for herself.

Once she went with Tami and bought some flowers to take to the teachers at daycare…I believe it was her idea, too. She takes so much delight in flowers wherever she sees them that it’s fun to watch her.


We’ve entered the “Why?” phase in a big way. Not so much when we ask Nessa to do something, but more when she sees us doing something, or just when something catches her attention and strikes her as unusual.

“Why did you go downstairs, Daddy?”
“Why do you have a red napkin?”
“Why did you put my pants so the legs were by your feet?”
“Why did that bird do that?”
“Why do you have that shirt on?”

(At least when Nessa asks that last question, I know she’s just being three and not commenting upon the suitability of my sartorial choices.)

We also get some questions that are much more interesting. At the park last Friday, Nessa was listening to a song about “riding the wheel of emotion” when suddenly she asked “What’s an ocean?” So I explained that the song was about emotions, being happy or sad or angry. Then she wanted to know about riding them. I said something lame about how being happy and then sad was confusing, and then looked at Tami and said “It’s a metaphor, kid. Just go with it.”

Sadly, none of my vaunted liberal arts education—even the parts that involved textual analysis—prepared me to explain the concept of metaphor to a child of three.


Things Nessa has been saying lately…

On being given a choice of what to drink: “Well, I will try the __”. Or sometimes: “Well, __ will be fine.”
(She’s been saying these for a while, but they still crack us up because she’s usually so serious about it.)

When she really wants something: “Pretty please can I have …”
(This one’s new. We think she picked it up from Megan.)

On being kissed on the forehead: “Hey, those are not for foreheads—they are for mouths!”
(Or for anywhere she has an owwie…which can make for interesting moments, like when she backs into something in public that pokes her, and then wants Daddy to kiss the owwie. “Kiss my butt, Daddy.”)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Shawn proudly wore his new shirt to Church in addition to posing in it for me later that night. Unfortunately he went to Church by himself since Nessa wasn't feeling well. We also had to cancel our plans to go to brunch, and Tami had to scramble to try to make some fun brunch foods at home (good thing Shawn doesn't love me for my cooking!). The entire weekend was spend doing more relaxing than chores due to both Nessa and Tami not feeling well. After some much-needed rest we hope that the week starts out healthy.

Happy Father's Day to all Dads, Grandpas, and favorite Uncles out there!

Signs of Summer

End-of-the-year slumber parties: Megan and a friend had a blast dressing up in the formal dresses that Aunt Heidi gave Megan (rumor has it they played "What Not to Wear" (!) ... I think the dresses were the makeover result), as well as watching movies and spending LOTS of time giggling!
Tired Girls: Busy summer days and nights lead to tired girls ... sleeping peacefully. This was taken the morning after I returned home from Philly (I think) as I can see Nessa tightly clutching the little koala bear that I brought home for her (received from an attendee from Australia).

Swimsuits and Sunburn (!): Hopefully this will be the only sunburn shot you'll ever see of Megan, but she was complaining heavily so I wanted to show it. She did say "Mom, you were right" when she discovered she was burnt and I asked what/when she applied sunscreen during her first outing to the pool with her friends (she didn't) this year.

Last Tuesday Megan was thrilled to spend all afternoon at the pool, and then we all went to the pool as a family as well that night. Megan had a blast, and so did the rest of us. Nessa actually did great in the water, and was excited to get to go down the water slide on mom or dad's lap as well. We're looking forward to more fun days and nights at the pool this year.

Unfortunately not all of our early summer days have been full of sunshine. The region has received way too much rain as well. South La Crosse, is fine, but areas just south (east and west -- WI, MN, and Iowa) have once again been devastated. I really hope raising funds for flood victims does NOT become a La Crosse summer tradition. :-(

Nessa dressing herself ... ready for anything!

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

This was taken back at the beginning of May, and I've been meaning to share it. Check out my Flickr stream for more photos I finally as able to upload.

Nessa was getting ready to leave in the morning -- it was sunny, but was supposed to rain so she wanted to be ready. She also wanted to wear her new skort and fixed the chilly legs problem by wearing some (wool!) baby legs. :-) That's our girl!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Apparently I wasn't just being paranoid...

I've had a feeling for some time that the company I work for was going to decide to do company-wide or selective layoffs. I tried to tell myself that I was just being paranoid. I wasn't being paranoid.

No, not me. I still have my job ... I still get to do 5 weeks of work in 2 weeks.

Tuesday afternoon three of my co-works were not as fortunate. I do not know the number throughout the larger corporation, but it was supposedly not only La Crosse that experienced cuts.

Now that I know I'm not being paranoid though I'll be increasing my job search in my spare moments (ha!) and being a little more public about it. Fortunately for me I have never been more excited about the technical writing profession. I think there are many exciting opportunities available in technical writing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It Makes A Father Proud

While going through Nessa’s bedtime routine last night, at one point I said the word “praying”. Nessa looked at me with a big smile and a twinkle in her eye (I swear I don’t know where she gets that from) and said “Craying?”

“No, I said ‘praying’,” I responded. “It’s time to say your prayers. When you say your prayers, you’re praying.”

She looked right at me with that same smile and said “And when I color, I’m craying!”

Her first pun! At age three!!!

I get all choked up just thinking about it…

P.S. Shawn wrote this back in June but it is showing up as unpublished ... not sure if a version was published previously or not, but as part of my blog cleanup I'm going to publish it now ... fi you've already read this, enjoy the flashback to Nessa's playing with language several months ago. ~Tami

It Makes A Father Proud

While going through Nessa’s bedtime routine last night, at one point I said the word “praying”. Nessa looked at me with a big smile and a twinkle in her eye (I swear I don’t know where she gets that from) and said “Craying?”

“No, I said ‘praying’,” I responded. “It’s time to say your prayers. When you say your prayers, you’re praying.”

She looked right at me with that same smile and said “And when I color, I’m craying!”

Her first pun! At age three!!!

I get all choked up just thinking about it…

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Before the rain started...

I went for a walk after lunch today. In no time at all (literally minutes) I was in historic Philadelphia.

The last time I saw the Liberty Bell was 18 years ago when my family visited me when I lived in South Philly (near the Naval Ship yard). It was raining that day too. The time this bell made the biggest impression though, and what sticks out in my mind to this day is when we visited when I was very young (5?) and the bell seemed bigger than life then even if I didn't understand the history.

I have purposefully not returned to see many of the areas I remember from when I lived here 18 years ago, but memories flashed into my mind unpredictably the last few day. Current residents have confirmed in a general way that a lot of things have changed in nearly two decades. Of course I just may have missed a few things ...

I certainly never noticed a duck before:

About the time I was really hot from my walk in the humidity (I didn't get rained on though ... as the hotel worker promised my hour was dry), I had to return to the last few sessions of the conference so I made my way back to the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

By the time I returned to my room when the conference ended I was exhausted (a quick trip to fivebucks seems to be helping with that). Even though I'm missed my family more than I can express, the time here has gone SO fast, and it has been a great trip. In addition to the great STC Conference, EVERYONE here has been SO helpful, polite, and friendly. I seriously can NOT remember a hotel staff being this great on every level before. The Convention Center staff was equally impressive.

If everything goes smoothly, I should be in Wisconsin before noon on Thursday. :-)

I've been uploading pics to flicker too:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Checking in from Philly...

I'm in Philadelphia for the Society for Technical Communication conference ( Thursday. Since this is a family blog I won't go on and on about the career-inspiring sessions I'm attending. I'm learning a lot and I'm getting pretty exhausted, and yet I'm so glad I'm here and thankful for this opportunity for professional development ... and yet on a personal level, I'm mostly Lonely in Philadelphia.

I felt it before the plane even left La Crosse. The emotions were in stark contrast with the last time I was traveling (to Annapolis with Shawn over Mother's Day weekend). Traveling with Shawn is one of my favorite things, and this past trip was one of the best. Then after I arrived here there were so many things I wanted to share with Shawn, and being me I wanted to share them IMMEDIATELY ... much of it will be shared in various conversations over the next several weeks, but much of it will also be lost in time. Shawn and I love exploring cities together too ...

Okay I'm in danger of getting really sappy and it's late so it probably wouldn't turn out well. I miss my best friend in every way.

At the same time I smile when I think of Shawn home with Nessa. I miss my sweet girls too. It helps me to know that Nessa is happily following her normal routine (you know, our routine girl), and that Shawn is there to sing her to sleep at night and give her extra hugs and kisses from me. I also know Megan is having fun on her end of the year field trip today, and is counting the hours left in 4th grade.

I'll barely be back in WI for a day before leaving for a weekend in Northfield, MN to get more Cully snuggles and see the rest of my family at Cully's baptism.

Next week I plan on soaking up the every-day wonderfulness that is my family ...
and laundry.