Birthday Cosplay

We had a surprisingly busy spring this year. Wife and I have been distracted by a home renovation project that will soon become the focus of our lives, and probably the focus of some posts, too. Add to that the other life stuff that happens every day and here we are already in June. Because we were so busy, we decided to keep Sweetie’s birthday party low-key this year. Tough to do in general, but she has been attending parties for classmates and friends and that just adds to the pressure. Needless to say there was not much to post about from this year’s party. It was nice and all, but nothing like last year. So I decided to take you all back..

Sweetie chose a Curious George theme for her 3rd birthday. That was great because there is plenty of stuff at the local party store for Curious George – he’s a popular little monkey. Sweetie’s godfather, Micompadre, upped the party ante though when he asked/suggested/challenged me to dress up to fit the theme.

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Micompadre let me know that he owned a monkey suit and would happily join me in the fun, as you can see. With his support, and a giant costume store just down the street, it was on. Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat were in attendance.

George!!!

George!!!

Now despite the obviously high quality of our costumes, not all of the kids loved it. In fact, many of them had a look that was either incredulity or horror. We kept moving and didn’t stay in front of any child too long in order to avoid breakdowns. And thanks to the quality costumes and unseasonably warm day, our time in costume was quick.

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Just a man and his monkey friend

I have to give all credit to Micompadre. Without his push I would not have added this to our party planning. There are wonderful and fun places to go when family supports you. So something else to add to the list of things I didn’t see myself doing: cosplay for a birthday cause. But the parents out there are not surprised; they’ve done it too. To the would-be dads: expect to wear many different hats as a father, some that you never thought you would even consider. I think this is especially true for a stay-at-home dad. But when you see your little girl’s face light up, and the mood of the party shifts to “fun-silly”, it’s worth it.

May the 4th…

Yes, we are a little late in the day, but we still wanted to say, “May the 4th be with you”!

Together we can rule the galaxy...

Together we can rule the galaxy…

The cricket was all about it, but Sweetie not so much. Okay, so the Cricket is down for pretty much any opportunity to get in front of a camera. Sweetie was into it until it was time to get dressed for school. Oh well, maybe next year. We can forgive it – I mean, she killed it on Halloween as Princess Leia!

Reppin' our house

Reppin’ the dark side

Hope you had a great day! (Sorry, I don’t have any space puns here)

Welcome to the Machine

Today Cricket got a civics lesson. Like a 100-level, freshman year civics lesson. She went with me to early voting to cast my vote for the primaries (cue the excited crowd track). Voting is possibly the most basic way to participate in the political arena in our country. Tomorrow is the final day for early voting in Illinois for the Primary Elections, and I am not feeling like I want to deal with the lines on the 15th.

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Young politico

When I was in my 20’s I was much more politically outspoken than I am today. I think the back-to-back Bush (the second) administrations sucked the excitement out of my political activity. But I do exercise my right to vote. I think too many men and women have fought hard for our right to vote and all Americans should participate in this part of the political process. Does anyone else remember the MTV campaign “Rock the Vote”? Voting was cool – that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Back in my 20’s I was left-of-center, and I voted with the Democratic Party because I didn’t have the conviction that the Green Party was a viable third party. These days I think I am more moderate, and really just want to enjoy some quality American life while not imposing ourselves on too many other nations. I want alternative energy to continue to become more accessible, but I also want cheap gas at the pump. I want a safe internet, but I don’t want the government to know my surfing habits. Obviously, I am all over the place.

So this is not meant to be propaganda. It’s more of a call-to-arms, particularly to my fellow Illinois residents. You have until tomorrow to vote early. Today there were no lines, and the machines were easy to use. It is quick. And if you decide to wait until the 15th, that’s fine too. But get out and vote.

Unfortunately, I don’t think my party is “best”, or that my candidate is “right”. I feel like I voted for the devil I know – that’s supposed to be better, right? I’m trying to rally my own political energy and believe in the system again. I have two little girls who need to learn how to maneuver in American Politics. So please join the process, help me find that motivation.

And get out and vote.

Honestly, I don’t even care which candidate people support. The turnout for the 2012 presidential election was 57% of the eligible population. Worse yet at 36.4 % for the 2014 midterm elections. Paltry. I’m growing tired of relying on our elected officials, especially with this elections offerings. So I am trying to take a more proactive approach and figure out what I can do to improve the situation. More acting and less complaining!

The first thing I came up with: get out and vote. Now go!

I think they give out stickers on the 15th

I think they give out stickers on the 15th

Take your kids to McDonald’s, or else…

This is what I get for not taking my girls out to McDonald’s for lunch:

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Yeah, book-case emptied, stuffed animals flung, toys and their respective parts strewn about. All because I didn’t take my girls to McDonald’s.

Well, that might not be entirely correct…

This whirlwind struck while I was making lunch. That would be a home-cooked soup and handmade egg salad sandwich lunch. So technically, this is what I get for making my girls lunch. If we had gone to McDonald’s, someone else would’ve worked on the food. I would’ve monitored their behavior and the storm would’ve never touched down here.

Now this isn’t some rant post about the destructive nature of a toddler (times 2). This is more of a notice to new Dads and potential Dads-to-be. The point of this post is to send home this message: sometimes you need to be away, you need to leave your kids “on their own”.

That’s right, sometimes you need to go downstairs to change over the laundry. Sometimes you need to hole up in a room to clean. Sometimes you need to go to the bathroom…without an audience. Sometimes you need to prepare a meal. So figure out how to do it wisely. Make sure rooms are as safe as they can be (like using outlet covers). Make sure you know the sounds of “normal” kid activity, and stay aware of silence (the telltale sign that something is going on). Try organizing an activity before stepping away. Try making a game where you can pop in and out of the room so you can keep tabs, but still accomplish a task in another area. And for goodness sake, try to keep your absence to an absolute minimum.

The seasoned parents out there will recognize that this room mess was not that bad. In fact, three minutes later, with the help of a few choice big-boy curse words and we had this:

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So again, to the new Dad or soon-to-be Dad, some parting wisdom: keep the messes in perspective, they come with the territory. So much of parenting is a juggling act, just keep trying and learn from the day’s adventures. And sometimes take the kids out for lunch.

Random Thought for Thursday: Nose Hair

“Daddy, when I get older will I have hair come out of my nose?”

Sweetie asked me this question from the back seat and I immediately felt that I had to handle it delicately. She had been quiet prior to the asking, so I knew it was something she was thinking about. I didn’t want her thoughts to turn into worries.

Everyone knows that everyone has hair in their nose, right? Rather, everyone who is not 3 years old know this. I couldn’t tell her she already had hair in her nose. What if I made her feel silly for asking the question? What if this fact of nature freaked her out?

I am a fairly hairy guy (good Eastern European genes there), and I happen to be approaching 40. So I am losing hair where I want to have it (on my head), and growing it where I don’t want it (ears, eyebrows and nose). Any guy who is getting older can tell you this happens. So I know half of the population does grow more nose hair as they age. But is it the same for women?

 While I was weighing the best way to answer Sweetie’s question, she piped up:

“If I don’t, then all the dust and garbage and stinky houses will all get in.”

Yes, you read that right, dust and garbage and stinky houses. Maybe this was not such a concern after all. Maybe this was just part of their lesson plan of the week: learning about the senses.

“Yes, honey, I imagine you will.”

Question answered, on to the next one.

What can I ask next?

What can I ask next?

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.

PharoahJoe

Happy New Year!?!

In my previous post I said I did not know how many installments I would write for the D-3 “Christmas Survival Guide”. Yeah, it came out to that one post – definitely an opportunity for improvement in 2016. Honestly, if I knew that was my last post for 2015 I would have wished you, my dear readership, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But that’s why I’m writing this post!

Would you believe that the delay was part of my plan? That I didn’t want to share holiday internet space with everyone else, but instead wanted to wait until mid-January to share pictures of the girls? That way, there’s no competition and you can focus solely on them. No, I’m not buying it either, and I’m writing it. Anyway, here they are:

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To tell the truth, we had a strangely busy holiday season. Most of Wife’s family were travelling and out of town, and everyone local on my side got together on the same day. But our foursome stayed busy throughout. And what a great problem to have! We spent a bunch of time together as a family. Movie nights, lots of playtime, some Christmas adventures. It was great.

And now we’re in the new year. I don’t know about you guys, but mine is starting off at full-pace – I can’t believe we are already 3 weeks in. I was just able to read over the year-end numbers from WordPress to see how this blog did last year. I was a bit disappointed to see that I posted 5 fewer entries than in 2014 – that’s on me. I was very excited to see that the site hits had gone way up though. And that is because of all of you, my dear readership!

So let me put a great big “THANK YOU” to all of you out there who take the time to read, comment, like, follow, re-post and all of that other stuff that shows support for the detour. That’s big thanks to my family and friends for their continued support; to the new followers who came on board; to the people using the comments section, particularly BDB; to my girls for the continuous, sometimes overwhelming, font of material; and to Wife, my top supporter, most constructive challenger, thorough editor, available sounding board and the best partner ever. All of you help to get me in front of the computer to write these entries and share these stories and I appreciate your support of this blog and this family.

And so we’re off and running. I think it is customary to feel nostalgic during this time of year. I get that feeling around November and it usually lasts until February. So I am going to use it to re-visit some notes and stories from earlier in the year. You know, make up for stuff I didn’t do in 2015 (even though I don’t believe you really can). With Sweetie’s PreK-3 rolling into it’s second half, and Cricket’s everyday adventures continuing to ramp-up, there is a lot of new stuff to write about also. So again, thanks for taking the detour with us, and please continue to enjoy the trip.

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Xmas Holiday Prep – Part 1: The Tree

We have had our tree up since the day after Thanksgiving, so I figure it’s time to share. Yes, it’s an artificial tree. But it’s pretty, no? We think so.

Oh Tannenbaum!

Oh Tannenbaum!

Before you beat me up in the comments, let me point out what is most obvious: only the upper half of our tree is decorated with ornaments. For those of you out there who are “parents of toddlers”, the reason for this is obvious and necessary (as it turns out, pet owners will also recognize this style of decorating). To the unenlightened, let me share with you the magical attraction that ornaments possess. Much like all things sharp, electrified, high up or generally dangerous, ornaments emit a siren call to human beings shorter than four feet tall.

So the entire tree was decorated. But as grabby hands explored the lower branches ornaments moved up. So I share this in solidarity with my fellow parents, and put it out there as a general warning to would-be parents. Have a Christmas tree, or any holiday decorations for that matter? Prepare to put them much higher than your pre-toddler levels. They just want to touch all the ornaments and play with them and remove them from their assigned branches.

I am not really sure how many installments of Christmas adventure I’ll end up posting here. The D-3 Christmas Preparation and Survival Guide is very much a work-in-progress. Stay tuned for our next post though – toddler holiday cards!

Less terrible when lit!

Eh, less terrible when lit

Happy Halloween!

Tricks and treats, spooky ghouls and ghosts – it’s time. Happy Halloween!

Daddy's Little Monster!

Daddy’s Little Monster!

So 45º and rainy does not make for a great Halloween, but you have to make the most of it.

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We decided against the local treasure hunt, but stopped in at a couple of stores to eat and run some errands.

Mos Eisley Cantina?

Mos Eisley Cantina?

 

And really, what fun is running errands if you can’t bring your wookie with you?

Bring your wookie shopping day!

Bring your wookie shopping day!

This is the first year for our family costume, so we all got in on the fun. And here is probably the best part – that is Wife as Chewbacca, DIY suit and all.

All in!

All in!

It seems like the rain has stopped for now. The trick-or-treaters are starting to come around, so maybe we will get rid of some of these 200 juice boxes. Have a Happy Halloween and stay safe out there!

Almost Time!

True, Halloween isn’t until tomorrow. But there are events happening at the school and the girls are dressed up and I haven’t given you all any pictures for a while. So here’s something to hold you over…

Practicing for the big day!

Practicing for the big day!

The Cricket will be in a different costume on the 31st. We are going to try our hand at a “Family Costume”. Want to guess the theme?

Help me Obi-Wan...

Help me Obi-Wan…

All credit due to Buya and Wife here. But there’s more to come! Have a safe end of your week…