You’re Only 40 Once

I celebrated another friend’s 40th Birthday this weekend. Besides that most of the group was ready for bed by 11:00, it was a great time and a chance for me to reconnect with many friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Thanks again Nelly – Happy Birthday buddy!

My 40th was back in December and I have been meaning to write about it since then. The first reason for the delay is a pitfall that I have fallen into many times since starting this blog: I wanted to write the perfect post about turning 40. Yeah, that post eluded me because of the second reason for delay: I was not inspired by this milestone.

It’s a weird situation and one that I’ve been chomping on for the past three months. The “thing” has nothing to do with our celebration. We actually had two celebrations, with both sides of our families, and both around meals (food being one of my favorite things). And it’s not so much about getting older. I mean, I’m not happy with all the changes I’m experiencing with my body, but we all get older so that’s just life. I thought it might have to do with my current position in life. Granted, I have friends who are making six-figure salaries, others who have tripled the bottom line of their family business, but they don’t all have kids. And you can’t really compare to children – I mean, c’mon, priceless. So it wasn’t any one of those things, but at times my lack of enthusiasm was caused by a bit of all of those things.

And so I’ve passed the last three months doing a lot of thinking. Reminiscing on “old times” and remembering all of the life that got me to this point. And thinking about the future, like what will I do when both girls are in school? After the past two friends’ birthdays I decided it was time to put thinking aside for a night and do some writing, so here it is. I don’t know if it is the perfect post about turning 40, but I put this out there for any of you getting ready for this birthday (I celebrated with many of you on Saturday!) and for those of you who have also recently passed this milestone. It may take a minute, but I hope you find a happy acceptance of this new decade.

While we were celebrating on Saturday many of us were joking that “40 is the new 30”. Looking at a picture of me taken ten years ago, at a 30th Birthday Party, I recognize that there is very little about me that is new. But it is a nice thought. I know that I am older now than at the start of the detour (deep, I know). And I do think I am more wise, but only because I pay attention. I am thankful for all I have to show for my time so far, and honestly, I think I am settling in with this 40 thing. As Sister Scales-of-Justice shared with me, “Celebrating turning 40 definitely beats the alternative”.

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Happy Halloween!

Well, the parties are over, the candy bowl is empty, the plastic pumpkins are full of treats and the girls are passed out. I call this a successful Halloween for our crew.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Despite being out of our neighborhood, Wife and I found a bunch of stuff to do this Halloween. So we already started laying the plans out for next year – not too shabby. The girls seemed to enjoy it all: parties with friends (see above) and bonfires and pumpkins and trick-or-treating – oh boy! So I hope you and yours also had a safe and fun Halloween, time for me to sort and hide the candy.

Goin’ Back to School-y (a.k.a, Back to School 2016)

Goin’ Back to Cali…get it? Anyone? Okay, maybe I didn’t channel my inner LL Cool J as well as I wanted to for that title. Maybe I’ve been away a bit too long. Anyway…

The time has come to send Sweetie back to school. This year she is in PreK-4 – whee! Here’s us leaving home.

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Oh it’s early!

Sweetie was showing mixed emotions about going back. She was happy at an earlier “Welcome Tea”, checking out her new classroom and such. But she was definitely moving slowly as we got closer to the door. And she wanted nothing to do with our cute sign. Nope, wouldn’t hold it.

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Too cool for sign, just right for school.

As many of you may be experiencing (and here’s a warning for parents whose kids aren’t in school yet), Sweetie did not have much to say at pick up. One word answers to my questions, flat tone, subdued emotions. I really thought I had until her teen years for all that, but then the reason became clear:

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Direct bus from school to snooze

Wow, sorry that last one is so fuzzy (firmly planted me with a camera vs. me sitting in the front seat rushing the shot with my phone at a stoplight). You get the picture though, she was worn out. I guess it will be an adjustment for her to be an “All-Day Friend”. We’re glad school is back in session, it was a fast summer and a bit hectic. With Sweetie back in class she gets some good challenges and gets to have some fun with her friends. Good stuff.

Hope your Back-to-School is going smoothly. It’s really like a month-long event with all the different starts. Regardless when they go back, I hope your little ones have a great start to their year. And hopefully it is a welcome break for all you parents as well.

Alright, we have some lunch to build, outfits to choose, and a backpack to sort – now where’s my Kangol?

It’s the principle

“Ain’t the size [of the scratch] that’s in question here, it’s the principle.”

I was reminded of this quote when Sweetie made some bad decisions at a recent play date. She decided to bring a toy home from her friend’s house, but didn’t bother asking. That’s right – THIEF!

Obviously “life lessons” take all shapes and come from all places. We all know it’s cliché, but yes, even Hollywood can capture a lesson on the big screen. The above quote is from Pharaoh Joe, a character from George Lucas’ movie American Graffiti. American Graffiti is one of George Lucas’ earlier, sometimes overlooked, films. Set in 1962, it is Lucas’ ode to the 60’s, when he was a teenager living in California. The movie draws on his experience and tells a coming of age story involving girls and growing up, cruising and cars.

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One of my favorite scenes shows a heavyhearted Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) brooding in front of an appliance store. He’s sitting on a car fender staring at the window display televisions and listening to the Wolfman Jack radio program.

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Curt is ruminating about a mysterious woman in a white 1956 Thunderbird (Suzanne Somers). They shared a moment when their cars were cruising side-by-side and she looked over at him and smiled.

Who's that lady?

Who’s that blonde?

He’s so caught up in his infatuation (and singing along with the show) that he doesn’t notice three guys walk up on him until they join him at the car.

What are you doin', creep?

What are you doin’, creep?

There is some intimidating banter made by one of the guys, who is Joe (Bo Hopkins) the leader of the Pharaohs car club. He explains that Curt is sitting on a car owned by a friend of the Pharaohs. Curt tries to casually slide off the fender and walk away, but he’s stopped so Joe can show him a scratch across the hood. Curt tries to clean it off with his finger and some spit (very technical repair) and plays the scratch off as being not so big. And then the quote: An obviously frustrated Joe looks at the scratch and declares, “Ain’t the size that’s in question here, it’s the principle”.

Let’s get back to our crime. Sweetie’s friend, code name “Kevin” (he likes Minions) invited us over to play on a vacation day. We had originally met Kevin and his mother, Momstar, over a year ago, but it wasn’t until Sweetie started school that we re-connected with them and learned that they a few blocks away. The day went fine, with the kids making a mess and a racket and generally playing like kids. It wasn’t until we were loaded in the car (“we” also includes the Cricket) that Sweetie pulled a traffic cone out of her pocket. Given that Kevin’s has his train table near the door, I knew she had sticky fingers. Note that the cone is maybe one inch tall, and she has a Duplo cone just like it. So it’s not the size of the stolen toy in question here, it’s the principle.

You stole THIS?!?

You stole THIS?!?

I took the cone away from her and told her that she would be returning it to Kevin the following day after school. I figured this gave her a full day to stew in her guilt. And she immediately started peppering me with questions about the incident. When we got home I sent a “Thank you” text to Momstar, and informed her of the stolen toy. She laughed it off, but she backed my plan for a public return and apology. The next day at pick-up we stepped off to the side and Sweetie returned the toy with no hesitation. Kevin accepted his toy without any drama, and in a matter-of-fact tone told Sweetie, “Next time just don’t take any of my toys home with you.”

Despite feeling infuriated by Sweetie’s theft, I stayed cool throughout the entire incident. When I discovered the toy, I explained that you don’t steal from your friends. I told her that was a sign of disrespect and was not nice. Momstar supported how I chose to address the situation, and again, all was calm. I am well aware that children take things, and getting caught is often the best way they learn not to steal. All In all, I think I made good use of this teachable moment. In American Graffiti, Curt takes a ride with the Pharaohs, and through their misadventures they become friends. While my approach was not as cool as cruising around town in a chop-top ’51 Merc, I think Sweetie got the point. And I know it’s better to collect friends like Kevin who share their toys versus ones that steal quarters from pinball machines for gas money.

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20 Year Take-Aways

There are limousines parked at the Olive Garden, Facebook is exploding with photos of teens in ill-fitting evening wear and reunions abound – we are in the homecoming season. We celebrated by attending my 20 year high school reunion. It turned out to be a fun night spent in the northwest suburbs (down the street from my high school) with many pleasant re-connections and funny memories. We did not take the girls with us, for obvious reasons. But I did try to remember a few things from the night to share with them as they face challenges approach older school years. I figure I have to record these thoughts now – my memory might not be so great by the time the girls can appreciate this wisdom.

  • Things change, people change. It was weird to look around a room full of classmates and pause with so many people. Some of the people who were big in high school are not so big anymore. And some people who were small are not so small anymore. Some people who were “too cool” twenty years ago are approachable and friendly. And some who were friendly then are now a bit too cool. Like everything else in life, people change.
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same. About halfway through the event it struck me. The novelty of the night was wearing off, the music was getting too loud to talk, and the alcohol was setting in. And people starting drifting into the groups that they knew twenty years prior. People went with what was comfortable, even if it was a bit older.
  • Everything shakes out, even if it takes twenty years. Again, the evening was full of pleasant re-connections. Gone were so many of the social constructs of our youth. The social strata was also largely absent. Nobody got loud and nobody re-hashed twenty-year-old drama. Interactions felt more genuine – we were meeting one another right where we were, and that was okay.

I know this stuff is not really profound. In fact, I am sure many people would just say it is just a sign of “growing up”. But I do hope to share these thoughts with the girls when they are in high school. My high school years were not traumatic, but there are things that could’ve been better. I expect their experience to be similar, so I want to have some good stuff to offer them.

So for all of you out there who were at the event, it was great seeing you. I am glad our detours crossed. Especially MN – congrats again on your success, so good to see you, girl. To all those from the “rival” high school, glad you crossed Camp McDonald. So now I guess we start looking forward to the thirty year – Go wildcats!

Joining the mass

Like so many of you out there, we sent our child to her first day of school today. That’s right, Sweetie is off to Pre-K!

Wife and the girls

Wife and the girls

The school is smart about this, so last week there was a welcome open-house type event. Today, parents hung out to see the morning routine. So Tuesday is the technical first “drop-off and leave” day of school. Kind of convoluted, but at this age it makes sense.

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Sweetie is keen on the school idea. The classroom is full of toys, craft supplies, posters, games and most importantly, books. Her teacher roped the kids right in and had them learning basic manners and good classroom behavior right off the bat. This is gonna be good.

Mmmm,. books

Mmmm,. books

Sweetie has some playground buddies attending the school as well. And thankfully, her first friend is also in her class. That’s right, Linda is right there with her! They are actually seated at the same, all-girl, “super-power” table. The teacher had no way of knowing what kind of situation that would create, but “Team Trouble” should make things interesting. And wow, to think we met this little one when she was just 8 months old!

Always good to have a friend close

Always good to have a friend close

So now Sweetie joins the educated class. If all goes well, she will be at this school until she is ready for high school. She is also paving the way for the Cricket who will join this melee two years from now. And we join the masses of parents who post photos of their childs’ first day of school. Oh yeah, and put the sign in our yard. Oh boy…

Yeah, that's in my yard

Yeah, that’s my yard

Congratulations!

I just want to say congratulations to our friends at the “house of the no-go” – they welcomed baby number 2 last week. The whole family is home now and Baby BC is doing great! I figured I would put it out to the interweb while also saying a little thank-you to the universe.

I have often mentioned Momma Z, Big Daddy B and Linda in various posts as all three have a great impact on Sweetie’s life. We are so happy that the birth of #2 was fast, safe and now over. While we have briefly seen Baby BC, we look forward to hanging out with him and getting to know him.

Congratulations to all of the families that have welcomed new children this spring. Moms, you are amazing. Dads, your work starts now. Here at D-3 we have all kinds of love and support for you!