Category

Memories

Disneyland: The Emotional Rollercoaster

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments

985175-13-20160117075156There are actually hundreds of roller coasters in Disneyland. It’s just that most of them are emotional.

Having recently returned from a trip there with my wife and 4-year old daughter, I can now take you on this imaginary ride of things recently experienced or witnessed.

Please keep your hands and feet inside the moving vehicle at all times and secure all loose items.

Optimism – The look on every parents’ face as they stand fresh and ready to fully deliver on their promise to bring their kids to the happiest place on earth.

Excitement – The announcement has been made and the gates are open. Grownups become kids again while kids quickly realize that this entire world has been created for them.

Thrill – While some kids literally squeal, others (mine included) stand slack-jawed staring at an actual castle. It’s an emotional overload.

Euphoria – Never mind the giant Olaf-shaped candy apple your child has inhaled. A simple sugar rush could never touch the part of her endorphin-releasing brain as strongly as meeting Elsa and Anna from “Frozen”. Achievement unlocked: Parent of the Year.

Anxiety – She wants to go on a ride but you’re unsure. Will she even like the ride? Will she be scared? It’s a crap shoot. Roll the dice and hope that it pays off in smiles versus tears. Hint: Start with teacups and carousels and work your way up to “flying” an elephant on the Dumbo ride.

Denial – It can’t be. You’ve waited longer in this line than what you would expect the wait at a DMV in Hell to be. It can’t be – there’s only one Anna and Elsa? Shouldn’t there be an assembly line of these characters tucked away? Stupid Disney’s infamous “rule of one” can’t be that important. It can’t be – Ariel’s Grotto ride is closed?

Fear – Two types.

First, the fear that your child will have a meltdown like the random implosions you’re sporadically witnessing. Having to discipline your child is one thing but having to do it at Disneyland is another. There is no “time out” ride.

Second, the awesome feeling of fear as the bottom falls out at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. So good, you ride it twice.

Depression – No fireworks? #sadface We can’t stay here forever? #sadderface

Panic – Where are the park hopper passes? I had them right here. Where is our stroller? We left it right here. Where is our child?!? The look on the faces of some of the parents outside of Guest Services look like something from a Stephen King story.

Capitulation – Yes, I know that I can buy Disney gear at Target for half the price… What the heck, Daddy needs a new hoodie, too.

Desperation – Where can I find a Queen Elsa dress? Sold out?! Noooooo. (I heard this more than once but every time I went to a store I seemed to have no trouble finding the gear) #mystery

Hope – I hope the wait for Elsa and Anna will be worth it (It was). I hope all the princesses pay special attention to my daughter (They did). I hope we can go on some grown up rides, too. (Front seat of the California Screamin’!)

Relief – We are blessed. Perfect weather. Quality time for sister, daughter, and wife. No meltdowns and the checklist of “really wants” is fully checked.

Optimism – Two types.

First, that she’ll go to bed without a fuss. It’s not like she just had the best day of her life and doesn’t want it to end. #icantshutmyeyes.

Second, we have a two-day pass. Who knows what magic tomorrow may bring…time to wish upon a star.


Frozen-photo-pinOn a personal note… for those fans of Frozen…

Four and a half hours.

I’ve never waited for any event for that amount of time but that’s what we were told when we got in the line to meet Elsa and Anna from “Frozen.” (Never mind the fact that I was first in line when the gates opened and “speed walked” my way directly to the attraction.) I guess those with the “magic hour” pass to get them into the park an hour early decided to spend it standing in line as well.

The wait was a team effort between my sister (who carried most of the load), wife, and myself. While one or more of us waited, the others would hit the rest of the park with Grace.

It became an even more communal effort as parents went on coffee runs for each other, watched each other’s kids so they could go grab lunch or hit the restroom, and shared games. In retrospect, I could have finished a good book if I’d thought ahead. Instead, I met June and Angie standing next to me in line and figured by the time we got to see the characters, they would be on my Christmas card list… or it would actually be Christmas.

Click…Clack…Click…Clack. Imagine the feeling of climbing that first big coaster hill. This is the anticipation you have when you are finally next in line to be called.

Wheeeeeeeeee!

There they are! The “real” Queen Elsa and her quirky sister. Give Disney credit. Once you are in their presence, you aren’t rushed out the door. Grace played hide and seek with Elsa looking for Anna, they answered her questions, let her touch the snowflakes in her hair, allowed us to take as many pictures and videos as we wanted, and even let us sing a song.

Weeks later it is the first thing she talks about when anyone asks her about the trip, so for us, the “ride” was worth the wait.
T.


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G-Talk: The One About The Plane

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, G-Talk, Memories, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships | 3 Comments

airplanes-work-1Disneyland.

That one word can have the same effect as Christmas to most young girls. 

My daughter is only 4 so the full concept of what the amusement park brings didn’t reach its full potential until she was standing slack-jawed on Main Street looking at Sleeping Beauty’s castle. When it finally hit home, we literally embodied the “happiest” part of “the happiest place on Earth.”

But before we got to enjoy the days of teacup rides, princess makeovers, and meeting Mickey and Minnie, we had to get to California… and that meant a plane ride.

Many thoughts went through my mind. Would she be scared? Would she like it? Would her ears be ok?

But as she usually does, Grace amazed me with her calm demeanor, curiosity, and cuteness.

Living a plane ride through her eyes had me answering questions and witnessing things I would never have expected. (Example: Watching her try and clean the ‘fog’ off the window as we ascended through the clouds.)

Here’s the adorable audio of her giving me the play by play from take off (which she started calling “blast off” on the return trip) to landing.

Here’s the one about the plane…

(You can hear previous G-Talks: The one about The Skunk,  The BatBad Breath, and Baseball)

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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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G-Talk: The One About The Skunk

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

Pepe_Le_PewI don’t specifically remember where my first childhood “monster” came from but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t from a PBS video on YouTube. (Of course, there was no YouTube back then so “scary” things were at a distinct disadvantage on getting to my eyeballs.)

My daughter has always been an excellent sleeper. She is four and has yet to even mention a bad dream. But that streak was tested last week as we read her books before bedtime.

Here’s the play by play…

She had picked out a few books including “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” This book is like the others in the series but with a selection of different animals like flying squirrels, mule deers, and blue herons….oh… and a skunk.

While reading to her I thought it would be neat to show her a video of a flying squirrel. But first she wanted to see a skunk.

I tested SIRI’s capabilities and asked my iPhone to search the web for videos of a skunk. In the results, I saw one by PBS. That should be safe, right? No curse words. Educational.

Here’s the video:

You heard him right. The narrator did say “two nozzles from its rear” as they repeatedly, and I mean repeatedly, showed a close up of the skunk’s anus. I’m sorry if you watched that while eating.

Grace was fascinated. (Whew).

She wanted to watch it again. So we did. Then we finished the books and it was time for bed.

Enter the fear of skunks. I spent the better part of a half hour talking her off the ledge while she thought of every conceivable counterargument to my reassurances of her safety from a smelly skunk entering her room.

Oh, and my apologies if you live in California but somebody had to take the fall.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/140218623?secret_token=s-kRT4L” params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]

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


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Coronary Ink

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Memories | One Comment

images (2)I can admit it.

I’m not as cool as you.

Every time I have previously felt the urge to get a tattoo I couldn’t pull the trigger (or needle) for one reason or another.

Most times I just couldn’t think of anything worth zapping into my skin for the rest of my days. Sometimes it came down to not being able to decide where on my body to get one.  Other times it was purely to respect the wishes of my mom who is vehemently against them or I would tell myself that the “age window” for me to get one had passed.

Then I had a daughter.

If there was one thing in the world that would be worth forever branding onto my skin it would be to proclaim my love for her.

I enjoy seeing other Dads’ tattoos that pay homage to their girls. Some tattoo artwork their kids have brought
home from school or the actual footprints from their daughter’s birth certificates..

So I spent even more time thinking about it. Would I get her initials or her name? Where on my body would I get it? I came really close a couple of times.

But it looks like getting inked just isn’t in the cards for me. I guess it’s just a personal choice of style but I won’t be getting any external tattoos.

I use the word external intentionally because from the first moment I saw Grace I was internally branded. It wasn’t on my bicep or back but in my heart. Being the geek I am, I envision it went something like this clip from the TV show “Supernatural”

Some bizarre whatever-happens-to-a-caterpillar-inside-its-cocoon experience changed who I am as a person on a very base level. My “coronary ink” doesn’t stay stationary but flows through my veins with every beat of my heart.  I’ve got more than just skin in this game.

That’s about as permanent as it gets.

T.


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Gold Medal Dad: Substance Over Style from David Wise

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Relationships, Toddlers | No Comments

 

The unveiled Sochi 2014 Olympic Gold Medal is displayed during an IOC executive board meeting at the SportAccord International Convention in St. Petersburg, on May 30, 2013. The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics organisers unveiled today the medals for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

I was watching the halfpipe freeskiing competition the other night on the Olympics and caught a Daddy/Daughter moment that touched my heart.

After one of his runs down the pipe, skier David Wise kissed his 2-year old daughter Nayeli on the cheek.

Only she wasn’t there.

Wise’s wife was at the bottom of the hill with a giant blown up picture of his daughter on a stick. He kissed the picture on the cheek. It was adorable.

Wise, a 23-year old from Reno, ended up winning the gold medal in the first halfpipe skiing contest in Olympic history.

I thought to myself ‘There’s a very marketable kid. He’s handsome, well-spoken, and humble.’ I didn’t know much about him other than the fact that he was going to be on the Today Show the next morning. I figured he’d have sponsors lined up for endorsement deals with his easy-on-the-eyes looks and demeanor.

But from what I’m reading. That isn’t the case.

Jeff Passan wrote an article for Yahoo! Sports that said…

“David Wise…does not exactly appeal to the same sort of crowd as Shaun White or Danny Davis or pretty much any snowboarder. There is something backward about this…that by all accounts a good guy who loves his wife and kid and Christianity and actually spends time in the gym and isn’t really down with late-night partying is the freak.”

“Wise’s case might be the oddest of all: he could appeal to a massive swath of people. That swath happens to be the very last group of people freeskiing wants to capture.”

READ the whole article here. It’s insightful.

It also poses a question for those Dads out there who aren’t ever going to stand on a dais with a gold medal while the National Anthem gets played…

“Who are you performing for?”

As far as I can tell, Wise accepts his God-given ability and puts his best effort forward for no other reason other than its what he feels he is supposed to do. By skier and snowboard standards, he lives an “abnormal” life. But its right for him because he is “performing” for those that matter: his family, his God.

Who are you performing for? When you spend time with your daughter, when you buy her a gift, or when you take a picture of her to share… where is your heart?

Daddy Daughter Time was created to encourage and enable fathers to spend more time with their daughters. I started it because I want other fathers to realize the importance their relationship has and will have on the lives of their girls.

But the time I spend with Grace isn’t for show. I do the things I do with her because I feel I should use my God-given ability and put my best effort forward for no other reason other than that I feel it is what I am supposed to do as a Dad.

If DDT didn’t exist, we would still be doing the exact same thing.

But I also believe that you spending time together with your daughter is one of the most important investments you can make and I hope the events, pictures, blogs, and more that I and the other DDT Dads share on this site and through social media inspire you to make that time happen. If just one Dad “gets it”, I’ll be happy. But I’m hoping for many more.

The time I put in now with her may garner rewards I’ll never see and that’s okay. Nobody needs to hang a medal on me to know if I’m doing it right. Grace’s arms around my neck as she says “I love you Daddy” in my ear is all the glory I’ll ever need.

T.


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Pearls

By | Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments

PERLASome see their daughters as diamonds, precise and brilliant. Others may see their girls as chocolates, sweet and fun. You might see a rose – elegant and delicate.

But if I had to choose a Valentine’s Day metaphor for my daughter, I would choose a pearl.

Other gems are dug from the ground. A pearl, and the “pearl” my daughter will end up becoming, is organic and the direct result of a biological process. She comes from a living thing.

The shell surrounding her is made of two parts working as one – the bottom shell as her bed to give her a base and to nurture her while the top shell covers and protects her.

Eventually she will be shucked out into the world and separated from the two parts that kept her as safe as possible from an ocean of regret and trouble.

But by then she will have grown into something stronger and more beautiful than what could have been expected. Unique and imperfect, my pearl has a beauty that grows over time. Like the gem, she represents purity, love, and eternity. And if I catch her in just the right light, I can see myself in her.

The pearl is the oldest known gem and has endured throughout time. So has a parent’s love for a child. They are both timeless.

To my pearl…

Daddy loves you. Happy Valentine’s Day.

T.


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The Five Stages of Grief (Read: Bedtime)

By | Bedtime, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Discipline, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Relationships, Rules, Sleeping Habits | One Comment

707px-Crying-girl1I’m pretty sure I won the “kid lotto”. Bedtime at my house, while it may take longer than it should, is far from a battle. While she will put up a halfhearted fight, my girl knows she can only push it so far and I think she actually enjoys all of the routines we have before she hits the sack.

But for some Dads, sending their kids to bed resembles a mash up of “The Exorcist” and a Benny Hill episode.

While the Kubler-Ross model was written for the five stages of grief, Liz had know that she had nailed the nighttime ritual of any parent today.

I talked it out with a couple of other Dads and found it is really simple to associate each of the stages with a young daughter. But based on their responses, I’ve also found it applies the same for the Dads – just in a different way.

For example…

Stage One: Denial

Daughter – “It’s not late.” “It’s not dark out (see:pitch black)”
Dad – “Tonight’s routine is only going to take 20 minutes and I’m watching the playoffs.”

30 minutes later…

Stage Two: Anger

Daughter – “Nooooooooooooooo! I don’t CARE if the sun has gone to bed.” (mad face, limp body, #daggers)
Dad – “I’m an idiot. Why didn’t I upgrade to the DVR so I could record the game?”

Stage Three: Bargaining

Daughter – “What if I sit still on the couch and watch football with you” or “Just one more story” or (insert ANY thing you can think of to avoid skin touching sheets).
Dad – “Somebody put this kid on Shark Tank because I’m fairly certain she could sell ice to an Eskimo.” Then…“Let’s try the couch thing.”

Somebody didn’t hold up their end of the bargain or tried to change the terms mid-deal. The firm foot of fatherhood comes down…off to bed.

Stage Four: Depression

Daughter – “But …(whimper)… I’m (sniff)… not (sniff, sniff)… tired. (gulp) I need a tissue” (If you’re lucky, if not read: boogers on sleeves)”
Dad – “But… (whimper) is that halftime analysis (sniff)… I’m hearing in the background? (moan)”

Stage Five: Acceptance

Daughter
– “I love you, Daddy..zzzzz..zzz”
Dad – “I love you too, boo.” Spend the next 10 minutes watching her sleep, kissing her, and remembering what the truly valuable things in life are.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, your “pace of life” has changed (which I’ve tried to explain for you here) but the short story is you have to plan it all out. Like way out… in advance. The days of snap decisions and impromptu desires being fulfilled are over. And even the best laid plans can get blown up. As we say around here “Life happens”.

Oh, and for Pete’s sake…get a DVR. How are you living without one?

T.

P.S. If you’re battling every night, you should check out this book. It could help.


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5 Resolutions for the Single Dad

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Toddlers | No Comments

top 5Whether you are a single Dad or not, these five are my personal reminders for the New Year. Hope they help keep you on track or nudge you back.

1. Traditions – Keep the good ones and add more. “Milkshake Mondays” needs to make a comeback (even if I’m trying to lose weight). While we have dozens of routines in place, a few big traditions are a good way to create long lasting memories.

2. Relations – Not everybody has a friendly split up. Continue to try and improve conversations and the relationship with her mother. How your daughter sees/hears you treating her mom is incredibly important. This can be tough for those going through a divorce/custody battle but setting a good example for your daughter should be motivation enough for you.

3. Action – There is so much to do within 30 miles of the house…(nature hikes, the beach, downtown ice skating, etc.) not to mention IN the house with my new subscription to Kiwi Crate. Stay active! But at the same time…

4. Moderation – Strive for a balance between fun events and simple chill time. Not every moment has to be scheduled with extravaganzas. Sometimes the best time, is when “nothing” is happening at home.

5. Contributions – College tuition isn’t going to go down and education is a big deal in our house. Time to up the game and get that fund built up. Check out programs that lock in college tuition at today’s rates with regular donations.

Most importantly, listen, love, and spend as much time with your daughter as you can. DaddyDaughterTime is the best time. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

T.

 


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The Last Thanksgiving – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Food, Growing Up, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships, Thanksgiving | One Comment

54cb76d69713f_-_detroit-lions-turkey-112310-xlg<Guest post from Teresa L. Thome>

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always pleasant enough, but I never quite understood what all the fuss was about.

It was a day off from school. The greatest stress involved was the cooking of the meal and that was left primarily to my mother. I suspect my oldest sister, eight years my senior, shared some of the responsibility. I’m sure she’ll let me know after she reads this. But, by and large, it was my Mom’s meal which meant we would feast on overcooked turkey, over-creamed vegetables, over-radished salad, and (surprisingly) delicious chocolate pie! (My grandma’s recipe).

This meant, for my Dad and me, Thanksgiving was more about Lion’s football and dessert than the meal itself. (Although my Dad did love turkey skin!)

As my parents aged and my siblings moved away, Thanksgiving grew even less about the food – if that could even be possible. Much like other fall days, it was a time to spend with my parents and watch the Lions with my Dad.

I vividly recall one Thanksgiving with my parents and grandparents where, as I looked around the table, I noticed that each adult had food somewhere on their face. I gagged a little. Needless to say I really started dreading Thanksgiving. It had become about aging and change. It was making me sad.

After my Mom passed, it got worse. My Dad moved into a retirement community and not wanting him to be alone on this day for families, I’d join him. By this time I was a full practicing vegetarian. While the seniors in the home dined on turkey, and my Dad the extra turkey skin he loved, they lovingly prepared me a boiled vegetarian hot dog for my protein. After a few years of that, my Dad really encouraged me to go to Detroit. “It’s just a day. Go. Go,” he would say. I went.

But after a few years spending the holiday there, I decided to once again spend Thanksgiving with my Dad. I also decided to make my grandmother’s pie.

The meal was being served at 12:30pm, which meant seating at noon and completion by 2pm. But kickoff for the game was around noon and that disappointed me. I really wanted my Dad to be able to see the whole game and I really wanted to the see the whole game with my Dad.

I arrived at 11:30am. Late arrivals always stressed my Dad, so I was unusually early this day. He was pleased. We chatted a bit.

Then I said, “Too bad kickoff is right at meal time.”

“Oh, you saw that, huh?” he said as if he didn’t want me to feel bad about missing it.

It was sweet. He knew I wanted to enjoy the game. He didn’t realize it was about enjoying the game with him. I appreciated the concern. Then I had an idea.

“Hey Dad, why don’t I run over to Meijer, grab takeout and we can just watch the game?”

“No, you don’t want to do that. You want a real meal,” he said half-heartedly.

I knew he already thought it was a great idea.

“Really, Dad? I mean the food here isn’t that great. Let’s bag it and eat in front of the TV.”

He lit up, quickly rubbing his hands together as to express excitement. Within minutes I was at Meijer and, moving as if on an episode of Amazing Race, was serving up a full meal in his apartment by kickoff.

I bought a roasted chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, biscuits, glazed carrots, creamed corn, and for the first time ever… wine! I always enjoyed that with my husband’s Italian family for Thanksgiving, but we had never had it. My Dad even wanted a glass. We sat with our TV trays for the entire game. We ate, drank and laughed. The food was decent. He was happy. I was thrilled.

When it came time for pie, I asked him how big a piece he wanted. He didn’t want any pie. He told me he never really cared for my mom’s chocolate pie. Wow. Thanksgiving wasn’t even about pie for him. Just football. I was so grateful that he got to enjoy the whole game – beginning to end.

As we said our goodbyes, he thanked me and I thanked him. I didn’t want to leave. He didn’t want it to end. We kept remarking what a lovely day it was. How grateful we were that it played out as it did. How we should do it again. I think we both hoped the day could go on forever. I know I did. For the first time I realized, truly, what the fuss was all about.

It was my last Thanksgiving with my Dad. I am forever grateful.


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

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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