G-Talk: The One About Baseball

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Growing Up, Memories, Personality, Relationships, Spring Time, Toddlers | One Comment

48760-1350637836Am I an optimist? Of course, I’m a Chicago Cubs fan and every year hope springs eternal.

Is my daughter an optimist? I think so… but I know she’s a Cubs fan.

She was with us at Wrigley Field handing the engagement ring to Jana when I proposed. (The Cardinals won the game but I still left the ballpark happy.) She has to wear her “baseball shoes”…also known as blue sparkly shoes…when we play pepper with the inflatable beach baseball. Her one and only ball cap is a flowery one with a big C on the front. She’s in.

So she noticed Dad’s excitement when Opening Day came around this week. She’s too young for me to explain that Theo Epstein has us on a schedule and that the true results of his farm club work won’t show up for a couple of years… so instead, I asked her what she knew about the game.

In the process, I got to explain Cracker Jacks and how long a century is…and maybe unicorns aren’t such a bad idea (but only if they can switch hit.)

Here’s the one about baseball…

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Catch previous G-Talks: The one about The Skunk,  The Bat,  and Bad Breath

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Review: The School Zone Little Scholars Tablet

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Development, education, Fathers and Daughters, Parenting, Play Time, product review, Technology, Toddlers | One Comment

little-scholarLately, I’ve been on a huge “lo-tech” kick with my daughter.

Instead of watching a movie, we make a craft together. Instead of playing Clumsy Ninja on the iPhone, we play hide-and-seek, and instead of using the iPad as a Netflix babysitter, we (gasp) play… outside! (When the weather lets us, that is).

As a guy who was often raised by episodes of Gilligan’s Island, Saturday morning cartoons and Atari, I wanted to break the cycle of small screen addiction.

Don’t get me wrong. Electronics are awesome for kids. The educational apps and toys available have me believing my gifted girl is going to be valedictorian of her Kindergarten class someday. Plus, these devices can be used as great rewards for good behavior. Giving her time on them is motivation for clean rooms, fewer tantrums, and well-behaved young lady. So it’s a bonus when the “iPad” she uses is a School Zone Little Scholars tablet.

But first I had some questions. Would she be able to adjust to the different look and feel of an Android-based piece of equipment after being an Apple kid? Would she like the content and games? Would I have to re-learn a new system to keep her from downloading other content, etc.?

Looks like I had nothing to worry about.

It’s been one month since she’s gotten it. She calls it her “school iPad” and prefers it over the Apple.

I had the thing charged and connected to my home’s Wifi in a cinch. I didn’t have to download a thing. It comes with over 150 preloaded apps, videos, ebooks, and songs that help her master math, reading, and spelling.

The games are progressive in their challenge level and are very creative. There’s nothing cuter than a three year old saying “Daddy, look! These are my metacarpals.” It looks like somebody’s been playing the Napoleon Bone Apart game again.

She likes to take pictures with the built-in cameras (front and back) and we both like to watch “Charlie and Company” videos and try to “puzzle it out” along with Miss Ellie and her golden retriever Charlie. The educational video series combines live action and animation.

EXTRA BONUS: The School Zone company is Michigan-based and features Michigan talent including local musician Brian Vander Ark from the band The Verve Pipe. Local is good.

There is no credit card or registration needed. No apps to download. No upsells within the tablet to buy more apps (that’s huge), no “lite” or School-Zone-Logopartial programs, no advertisements, and no worries about her accessing something her young eyes and ears shouldn’t be exposed to. Seriously, it rules.

But what I really, really love is the A+ report card. This is a parent’s dream with all of the stats: how long she’s used it, which category and school level she spends the most time in (Kindergarten level spelling rules in our house), how she’s performing in each category, and many more metrics. You can play the role of teacher with exact information on what she needs help with. I don’t get anything like that on the Apple iPad. It’s my new favorite thing.

The content is aimed at ages 3-7. You can get all of the hardware stats on their site for details on memory, USB drives, and more. You can purchase one for only $199 and I’d have to say they are fully DaddyDaughterTime approved!


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G-Talk: The One About Bad Breath

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Growing Up, Memories, Parenting, Relationships, Toddlers | 2 Comments

BPA-PVC-Phthalate-free-Toothbrush-GuideThey say women are emotional creatures and I say they are right.

But I really like puzzles. So having a daughter is like having a speed pass to the best ride at EmotionalPuzzlerland.

Since I only have my one child, I have no frame of reference to know whether my daughter is more or less of an emotional roller coaster than a son would be. It doesn’t really matter. I love being the constant and steady one while she goes from one mood to the next at the flip of a switch.

They also say “wait until she’s a teenager” and they are probably right about that too.

But while she’s still just 3 years old, it’s fun to watch the range of emotions. A few days ago she was playing with her doll when she immediately went into a funk without a word. I asked her what was wrong?

This is what she said.

Here’s “the one about bad breath”…I apologize in advance for the gargling.

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PS – Did you hear “the one about the bat?”

Like what you’re hearing/reading? I’ll cut you a deal. Subscribe on the front page and I’ll consider putting the batteries back into her Dora the Explorer toothbrush. She’s moved on to the manual brushes (Barbie, of course) but if she were to hear that sweet hum again, I’m sure Dora would get top billing once again. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too. Now, spit!


G-Talk: The One About The Bat

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fall and Autumn, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Growing Up, Halloween, Memories, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships, Toddlers | 3 Comments

108245476_-com-hanging-rubber-vampire-bat-halloween-toy-decorationIt’s been awhile since I’ve written and posted on this blog and the “blogger’s guilt” was compiling by the day. It got to the point where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. “I’ve got to write something really compelling” or “It has to be super funny” where thoughts racing through my head.

I know, it’s silly. You’d think I write for the New York Times.

Then I remembered what I used to do. I used to host morning radio. I love audio.

Why should I beat myself over the head for something to write when all I have to do is talk to my 3 and half year old daughter about life and record it. That always delivers quality entertainment.

So, with my iPhone and audio software at the ready…I bring you a new series: G-Talk.

Grace loves to tell me how it is. Now you can hear her do it, too. 

The first episode is naturally about… Halloween. We were driving in the car and instead of giving her something cute and cuddly to play with, I gave her a rubber bat complete with menacing face and teeth. I swear this is the same toy my sister used to hang from our front porch each year for the holiday to scare the trick or treaters.

Here’s “the one about the bat”…

[soundcloud url=”” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


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The Candy Man – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fall and Autumn, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Halloween, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships | One Comment

candy<Guest blog from Teresa L Thome>

“Pick one for me, and then you take two,” he would say.

I would divide reluctantly.

“Now pick one more for me and you take another two,” he would say again and I would do so again, despite my intense desire to defy his request.

The “he” was my Dad and the “dividing” was candy.

Halloween candy… my Halloween candy!

My pops, who at his peak weight was 340 lbs., loved his candy… and apparently mine, too.

Now the only good that comes from having to give up one’s Halloween candy to their Dad is being able to shed circus peanuts, anything with marshmallows, Necco wafers and that horrible invention called the Almond Joy.

Those I could easily remove from the pillowcase that served as my Halloween candy receptacle. He would occasionally push for a Snickers or a Nestle’s Crunch, which I would give up, but not without a fight. On the surface, this standing (read: annoying) tradition, instilled by my father, clouded my love for the Trick or Treat experience.

But more than loving to eat candy, he loved to share candy.

In his later years, after my mom passed, my Dad would send my husband or me to Costco to stock up on about $250 worth of candy (and sodas) every six weeks. He would store them in his apartment at the retirement community where he lived. All the workers there would stop by for a candy bar after their shift or at the end of their lunch.

Sometimes they’d stay and chat. Other times, they’d just grab their sugar fix and go. Either way, my Dad would beam. Half the joy in his life came when he would offer up a candy bar and someone would accept. Take two and the man would be on cloud nine for days. It was that easy to make him happy.

The first time I took him to a doctor’s appointment, I wheeled him up to the counter and from seemingly nowhere he pulled out a plastic bag filled with goodies. “Make sure you all get a piece of candy,” he said to the nurses behind the counter.

They’d chuckle and give the inevitable, “Oh, I surely don’t need another piece of candy,” just before they’d walk over and pull out a Hershey bar. Two minutes later someone would ask him how he was doing. “Crabby,” he’d answer. They all knew better. So did I.

The first time I took him to the eye doctor, the nurse said as he wheeled up to the counter, “Here comes Bob. You better have some candy for me!” He’d clearly been doing this for years.

I could easily imagine him in his apartment getting ready for the appointment, all alone, pulling just the right assortment of candy. Later, when I needed to do the bagging for him, he would say things like, “Get extra Nestle Crunches. I know Jan (the nurse) likes those.” Or, “Grab the big Snickers, not the little kind. Sally will only take one candy bar and she needs something to fill her up!” It was sweet. He was sweet. Pun intended.

A few years ago, I found my father’s high school yearbook. One of the autographs was signed as follows: “Hey Bob. I know I don’t know you too well, but thanks for the candy bars. You’re a great guy.” I cried. He’d been doing this his whole life.

Looking back, I realize my father was a master teacher. Without ever saying, “You need to share”, he held me to it (as a child) and demonstrated it (as an adult). And so, over time, I learned this valuable lesson.

This Halloween, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum will serve up hundreds of children for their Trick or Treat night. This year and for years to come, that candy will be given in my father’s name. My siblings and I felt this would be a fitting tribute to the man who really was a “candy man”.

“Who can take a sunrise?
Sprinkle it with dew?
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two,
The Candy Man.
Oh, the Candy Man can.
The Candy Man can
‘Cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.”

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum11 Sheldon Avenue NE, is hosting its annual Trick or Treat Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. Parents and children are encouraged to wear costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the museum, create Halloween-themed art projects such as footprint ghosts and puffball spiders and more.

Admission is $1.50 per person. Contact Adrienne Brown at 616-235-4726 or visit for more information.

Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


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7 Ways Braiding Your Daughter’s Hair Is Like Fishing

By | Activities, Beauty, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Personality, Toddlers | 3 Comments

reverse-fishtailUsing your man-hands to create a passable French braid on your daughter’s hair may give you the feeling of landing a 60lb. Giant Mekong Catfish … but that’s just the start of how braiding her hair is like fishing.

7 Ways Braiding Your Young Daughter’s Hair Is Like Fishing

Patience: Toddlers, like fish, are quick. Just because you can see them doesn’t mean you can catch them. It takes time. Be patient. Keep casting.

Bait: To lure your catch you may need some tasty bait. Licorice and lollipops work, but gummi worms may be the correct choice here. Keep extra “bait” on hand. If her mouth seems to pucker like she’s gasping for air, she’s just pouting and more candy may help. (Or you bought the sour gummi worms).

Battle: She’s not going to “jump in the boat” once you’ve got her within reach. Be prepared for a struggle.

Grip: Once you’ve “landed her” you’ll need to have a firm but gentle grip. Young girls wiggle as much as an earthworm avoiding a hook. And like fish, they are attracted to any shiny object their eye catches.

Dexterity: Like the motion of an expert fly fisherman, braiding is a tricky thing to master. Stretch the wrists, crack the knuckles, limber up the fingers.

Smell: Your hands will smell. Not of fish, but rather the Twirlin’ Swirlberry Detangler spray you’ll probably use. This is actually an upgrade.

Trophy: You’ll want to brag about your conquest. Pictures are OK and much more preferable to mounting her scalp on the wall in the den.

Congratulations. With the concentration, balance, and skill of a master angler reeling in a 10lb. bass, you’ve done what few other men can.

Now set her free. This is a “catch and release” process.



How Daddy Daughter Time Saved Baseball

By | Activities, Baseball, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Play Time, Quality Time, Relationships, Summer Time | One Comment

download (4)I have profound love for two things: My daughter and baseball.

One of the first phrases she learned was “Go Cubbies” (and no, Cardinal fans, that is not some form of child abuse). We’ve been to numerous minor league games in our city and we’ve even got some time to play catch on the field.

Basically, if I was receiving a kiss and an “I Love You, Daddy” from Grace while at Wrigley Field immediately after they’ve won the World Series, I’m fairly certain my body would explode due to an overload of happiness.

So when I heard this story on ESPN about the adoption of the Designated Hitter in baseball, I was very intrigued as I’d always wondered what went on behind the scenes during that process. And this is what the segment was promising.

It also told the story of how the National League was very close to allowing the DH as well. Actually this was the focal point of the piece.

*Side Note: For those of you who don’t know, the designated hitter rule was adopted in the American League (Major League baseball is set up with two leagues, the champions of each play each other in the World Series).

The rule makes it so a team’s manager can substitute their pitcher with another player while their team is up to bat. Pitchers, in the Major Leagues, have somehow transformed from some of the best athletes in their high school and college careers into such prized commodities that they dare not swing a bat and risk hurting their glasslike bodies. So a designated hitter, who doesn’t play in the field, will do nothing but go up to bat when it’s the pitcher’s turn.

When the rule was adopted by the American League, it was to boost run production and spur more crowds in ballparks. It worked. But purists of the game, including Hall of Fame managers like Sparky Anderson, were not shy about going on camera and saying things like “It Stinks.”

Basically they (and I) viewed it as a way to cheapen the game for more money.

I should mention that not all pitchers are unable to hit. This year, Travis Wood has hit for power with home runs and has a decent batting average. His last homer came off of the defending World Series champion’s ace pitcher.

If you were watching that night’s ESPN, you actually saw that the NL pitchers outhit the NL designated hitters and matched them for home runs in the past week. Just sayin’.

Back to the story…

It was in the meetings of the National League teams in August of 1980 where it was decided that a “Yes” or “No” vote was going to take place to determine if the NL would include the DH.  If a majority (seven of the twelve teams) voted “Yes,” it would be implemented.

Going into the meeting, most of the teams in the NL were confident they had the seven votes to pass it.

For the record: The Chicago Cubs were voting “NO.” The St. Louis Cardinals were voting “YES.”

The Phillies were also going to vote “YES.” But at the meeting their representative learned that if approved, the rule wouldn’t go into effect for a year and half. Since they weren’t sure that’s what the owner wanted, they reached out to the owner Ruly Carpenter, to see if it was still OK to move forward.

Trouble is. They couldn’t get a hold of him.

1980, remember? Still no accessible mobile phones and the owner? He was out.

His rep didn’t know how to vote so he abstained from the vote. The Pirates General Manager had been instructed to vote the way the Phillies did. The Houston Astros joined in by not voting as well.

The man pushing the hardest to pass the rule was John Claiborne, the General Manager of (you saw this coming right?) the St. Louis Cardinals. He swore he would keep pushing for the vote every 6 months. Little did he know he was going to be fired in 6 days. That’s baseball. When your team can’t win games the manager gets fired. Trust me; I of all people have seen this.

So where was Ruly Carpenter, the Phillies manager at the time?

Carpenter keeps detailed (I mean, scary detailed) log books of his other passion…fishing.

He is quoted in the piece as saying that on the day of the vote “I was fishing with my daughter and my goddaughter at a location in the Delaware Bay known as ‘The Anchorage.’ We caught 39 sea trout, 2 flounder, and 1 shark for a grand total of 42 fish. Not bad.”

Some people may say that the love of fishing (and lack of technology) kept the game I love in its purest state. But I see it a bit like this.

Because one Daddy was out with his Daughter spending some quality Time together, the game is played the way it should be (at least half of the time) and just the way I like it.

Good Dad.


Start Petting Spiders

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Independence, Memories, Personality, Quality Time, Toddlers | No Comments


Havana Maggard, Logansport, displays her bravery by holding a Chilean Rose Tarantula at the Insect Petting Zoo. (Mark Simons/ Purdue University)

(Mark Simons/ Purdue University)

Life without fear.

I promise I’m not a “YOLO” fanatic, but I do believe that fear is at the core of most problems in the world today.

Fear of regret. Fear of failure. Fear of pain.

Most of us have an inner battle that keeps us from doing what truly makes us happy because we are afraid of one thing or another.

Most children don’t seem to have that problem.

Now before you think I’m someone who doesn’t understand the concept of learning caution from mistakes, I could delve into my previous marriage and offer up some real fear-inspiring life lessons. But that’s not what this blog is about.

And yes, I do realize that most children haven’t been “burned” by the consequences of some of their actions and the idea of not being scared of something that could potentially hurt them isn’t an altogether positive trait. That’s why they have Dads, Moms, and other grownups. We protect them.

But I saw the undeniable plus side to fearlessness this past weekend. That big “carrot on the end of the stick” that tempts us to take a chance can pay off in ways that risking a bit of failure, regret, or pain will never match.

Most of you know that when Grace is with me, I don’t squander Daddy Daughter Time. We get up, get out, and do stuff. This past visit was no different.

So when Jana and I picked her up from her mother, we already had a great day planned at Binder Park Zoo. The highlight of the day was going to be the feeding of the giraffes and as promised it did not disappoint. She wasn’t shy about an enormous creature, and it’s equally enormous tongue, coming right for her.

But the real moment came when we were almost going home. It was reptile week and a collection of herpetologists were hosting a room full of turtles, snakes, spiders, and lizards. Was Grace scared of snakes? Nope. Turtles? Of course not. But how about a huge brown tarantula crawling on Daddy’s hand?

Yep. Fearless.

I know for a fact that she’s already witnessed my ex’s aversion to anything resembling a spider (shriek!) so I was happy that Grace was brave enough to trust me to check it out.

We exited the room to see the rest of the exhibits in the building only to be prodded by her to go back to the “snake room” again.

The next day was our “Gym and Swim” day where I’ve been teaching Grace how to swim. Man, do I love these days. It was only a month or so ago when she decided that the swim vest was all she needed to just jump in the pool. But today, she didn’t like wearing it.

I asked if she wanted to use a “noodle” to hold herself up. We’d had this conversation before and it was always a “no”. But today, not only was it a “yes” but it was “Hey Dad look what I can do” as she swam from one side of the pool to the other, over and over.

The positive reinforcement she got from that had her floating on her back, doing spins, and “water dancing” with just that small bit of foam helping her do it. I had a hard time spending time above water as I just kept diving under to watch my baby girl swim.

The next day, she got her first bicycle. It’s a small “sidewalk only” job with Disney’s princesses plastered all over it. I should know by now that you can’t escape Cinderella.

We had only taken her trike out for a few times this summer as it has been rainier and cooler than usual, but she took to that bike immediately and delivered the perfect Hallmark memory for Jana and me. There was no hesitation. There were no instructions needed. The possibility of perceived joy in her brain outweighed any fear she may have felt.

And when she did tumble all she could talk about that night was getting back on it again. Well, actually only after she realized that the scrape on her knee was really small was she cool with it.

Did she swallow a little water? Yes.
Did she scrape her knee and put a hole in her favorite purple pants? Yes.

Did the exhilarating look on her face and the pleas to do it “one more time” outweigh any of those? Undoubtedly.

(I’d love to give you an example of hesitation or a consequence about the reptile room but there just wasn’t any. She was saying things like “Oooh. It’s so cuuute” about snakes.)

So what’s the takeaway?

I won’t go “pie in the sky” and tell you to live every day like it’s your last. But there is a lesson for grownups here.

If you are lucky enough to be like Grace and are surrounded by people who truly love you, have someone there to catch you if you fall, and want to experience true happiness, then what do you have to be afraid of?

Lose the life vest, kick the trike to the curb, and start petting spiders… or whatever other metaphor I can use to inspire you to follow your bliss.






Put Down The “Flowbee” And Slowly Back Away

By | Activities, Beauty, Daddy, Dates, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Shopping, Teenager, Toddlers | 2 Comments

If there’s one thing single dads (especially those of young girls) have to learn quickly, it’s how to style their daughter’s hair.

Shopping for clothes? Easy. A basic sense of style and a day at the mall or community garage sale can set you up for an entire season or two.

Feeding her? Simple. Men, at least a lot of the men I know, are already pretty proficient in the kitchen and can avoid the Happy Meals by preparing simple dishes with actual nutritional value.

But when it comes to styling her hair, some men run away in “shear” terror. (See what I did there?)

Personally, I love it. But I may come from a background that isn’t common.

My mother had her beautician’s license and even though she didn’t do it as a profession, the smell of someone on the receiving end of a perm wasn’t a rare odor in our house. I learned how to work with those perm rods before I was 10.

I had three older sisters so the tangled web of hair dryers, clips, scrunchies, flat irons, and the rest aren’t foreign to me.

My ex-wife is a hair stylist so once again the terminology and techniques were ever present.

So when it comes to grabbing a brush or comb and putting Grace’s hair up in a quick ponytail, pigtails, or even a braid, I’ve got it covered. More than that, I look forward to doing it (even if getting her to sit still has become more of a challenge).

If men want to fully embrace parenthood and take part in the equalizing of the roles of a caregiver, they’ll need to put aside any machismo keeping them from styling their daughter’s hair. Don’t worry guys. You can still love football and beer all the while knowing how to pull off a decent French braid.

Daddy Daughter Time is hosting an event in August at Cheeky Strut salon in downtown Grand Rapids to help you out.

Full details are coming to the site and our Facebook Page very soon. We hope you can join us!

In the meantime, check out this alternative method of getting the perfect ponytail. It includes power tools to help ease you into the idea.

P.S. This product could save your sanity.




I Like “4-Foot Grass Stains”

By | Activities, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Personality, Toddlers | No Comments
Picture taken by Michael Kappel

Picture taken by Michael Kappel

I wish I could remember who told me this saying so I could give them credit, but I can’t remember which one of my friends told me this: “Kids are like farts. You can only tolerate your own.

I’ve used that line more than once since I became a father.

Before I had kids,Before I even thought of having kids, I felt like I could tolerate a few “farts”. Maybe not all of them, but in small doses, I was golden.

When I had my radio show, I would always refer to them as “four foot grass stains” but only because I thought it was funny. It was a term of endearment. Truth is, I liked them.

Then I had one.

And I found out that I hadn’t liked them.

I’d see them in the grocery store and think they were cute, but I didn’t immediately size up their clothes to see if they would fit or look good on my Gracie.

If I saw a baby, I didn’t immediately want to hold it, stare at it, reminisce in all the getting up at 2 a.m., burping, diapers, and everything else that was the definition of “worth it”.

I barely noticed strollers unless I had to hold an elevator door open for one. Now they pop up everywhere.

I would have thought it was cool (but certainly would not have used the word “awesome” more than 7 times) when I recently saw a beach-fold-up-highchair. That thing was awesome (there’s 8). If I ever have another child, it’s the first thing on my registry.

Now, I like them.

I really like them.

But there’s one of them that is always better. It irks me because I’m a really objective guy. When my favorite sports team is getting beat, I’m not the guy screaming at the ref if we just sucked. I see things for what they are.

But no matter what Grace does that another child does, she just does it better. How awful is it for me to think that? I’m hoping that every daddy out there thinks the exact same thing about his daughter and I’m not some obsessive father. We all feel that way. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Am I still objective enough to know she’s not the highest swinger or the dancer that pays attention to her instructor? (She just twirls around.)

Of course I am. But she’s still the best player/ballerina out there every single time. Because it’s my Gracie swinging and twirling.

It’s not fair (or objectively accurate).

She’ll always be the best.

I guess that’s a father’s love.