The Steak/ Banana Stand-Off…

Ok.

So here’s the deal. I’m all about trying something and determining that you don’t like it. I’m not saying that you need to sit there and eat everything on your plate… You don’t like that steak, ok, chew up what’s in your mouth, swallow it, and you don’t have to eat anymore.

Then it started.

It was subtle at first. Much like myself in trying to be sly, she tried to get it under the radar.

After five minutes of chewing without taking anymore bites, I became suspicious.

Chew up what’s in your mouth and swallow it.

“I am.”

— —

Another 30 seconds go by. Still chewing.

Amelia. Swallow what’s in your mouth.

“I don’t like it.”

Swallow what’s in your mouth and you don’t have to eat anymore.

“But I don’t like it.”

— —

So it had begun.

I wanted the lesson of fully trying something to sink in. Gut through it and swallow, you’ll be fine… At least you tried it. Spitting food out at the table is gross and not ok…. But she is stubborn.

But, so am I.

Before dinner, she had asked for a banana, 15 minutes into what was a losing battle on my behalf, I remembered this piece of bargaining gold.

Never in my life would I have thought eating a banana in front of someone would be a negotiation tactic.

Enter parenting.

I had threatened bedtime, tv, and various other standard techniques…. The food was still being treated like a cows cud…

Casually chewed…. Never swallowed.

I grabbed the banana.

Amelia, do you want a banana after dinner?

“Yeah.”

Swallow what’s in your mouth, or you aren’t getting it.

**casually chewing continues**

(Thought process: shit.)

Amelia, if you don’t swallow what’s in your mouth right now I’m going to eat your banana.

“Nooooo.”

**continues chewing**

(Thought process: Am I seriously about to have to do this? I can’t back out now… Ok…. You brought this on yourself kid.)

**I unpeeled the banana… Slowly with apparent intent in my eyes***

“Daaaaaaad! NNNNOOOOOO!”

Swallow what is in your mouth. Now.

*continues chewing*

— —

Now, before you go judging, saying, maybe she just couldn’t swallow it, maybe it wasn’t in her control… I tried getting her to drink water, she would push it to the side in her mouth and swallow. Then continue chewing. She knew what she was doing.

I began threatening the bananas well-being like a thug breaks a loved ones fingers in front of the guy he is interrogating.

Do you want this banana?

“Yeees.”

Then swallow what’s in your mouth.

**30 seconds of silence,  I took my first bite**

“Noooooo!!”

Then swallow the food. The longer you go without listening, the less banana you’ll have to eat.

**more chewing without swallowing…. Process repeated**

— —

We got down to 1/4 of a banana, and I had a idea.

You can have a bite if you swallow your food…

“Oh kaay.”

**the tiniest morsel of banana went into her mouth, food was swallowed***

— —

YEEEEES!

There were tears, bites of banana, and slight life scarring…. But a life lessoned was learned.

Daddy’s not screwing around…. So you better listen.

Seriously though, I have never fought so hard not to smile as when I was negotiating with a three-year-old over swallowing a bite of food.

The steak-banana stand-off will live on forever.

Thought you all might enjoy this story of how I scarred my child emotionally. You’re welcome.

As always, more to come, stay close///

A bubbling sense of independence; and baby chicks!

Oh, hey. Hello.

It’s been awhile. Finding time to sit and write seems next to impossible these days. Life is constantly pushing forward, it’s like that moment right after you trip where you do the awkward running forward thing trying to keep your feet under your body so you don’t actually fall and eat it into the concrete; just trying to keep my feet under me.

Amelia continues to grow and learn new stuff every second too.

The good news is that while the whining remains, the fits subsided pretty quick. Teaching my child manners remains a constant battle; not that she is rude, she just seems to forget key phrases like “Can I please have…” over “I want…”

Overall, simple kid things.

However.

Her independence level is growing rapidly. Teeth brushing, drink getting (at least water from the fridge [which absolutely MUST have ice in it, every time]), dressing herself in the mornings… it all comes with a simple phrase and the same basic interaction:


*standing there watching her struggle a little*
Are you sure you don’t want just a little bit of help?

“No thanks, I can do it.”

Alright.


She is pretty great.

As a fun side note, I’m having to really start watching what I say, as the following random interaction happened a couple weeks ago:


“(out of nowhere one evening) Dad?”

Yes, Ameel’s?(a nickname for her I picked up from a friend of mine)

“Did you know we can’t say f**k?”

(as I pick my jaw up off the floor and pop my eyeballs back into my skull) WHAT?!

“F**k. We can’t say it. It’s a bad word.”

Uh. Stop saying that word. No, you can’t say it.

“I know. It’s a bad word, so we can’t say it.”

Ok. Well, don’t say it again, ok?

“Ok.”


 

Well. Hey man, after five years in the Navy and growing up around parents who weren’t exactly filtered in their choice of words…. it’s a bad habit, ok?! Anyways. I chuckled, as always, at the interaction.

Our biggest new development was a decision to jump on the backyard chicken train. We are the proud new owners of five adorable little baby chicks. I love them. And… they love me.

(It’s the audio that matters in the video, as the video itself is kinda dark, but you get the idea)

We’ve got (left to right/ top to bottom) Zoey, Gingie, Frightful, Princess FeatherBottom and Edna.

  

 

My current favorite is Princess FeatherBottom, who loves to perch, or as I like to call it: “Ready herself for the hunt…”

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The hashtags on Instagram look something like this: #trainingmyfalcon to #hunt . . . It’ll take some time.

Amelia loves them though.

Like. A lot.

We got a bag of dehydrated meal worms, or as the chicks know it: crack. They love it. We bought it about a week ago, and they already know to run up to the edge of the kiddie pool (their current indoor living situation) and wait for a handful. I have been making sure they only get it by hand, so they see us as a positive.

She feeds them a handful or five in the evenings, says good night to them before bed and “bye” in the mornings when she leaves for daycare.

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Not too long after we got them, Amelia feeding a little baby some food…

It’s totes adorbs to the max.

Anywho, chickens are pretty awesome and you’ll get to enjoy the process of me building a coop soon enough I’m sure. I’ve changed my mind how I want to do it at least 5 times already. Luckily I have another three months before they need a real outdoor living structure.

Slowly but surely, I hope to get back into the act of posting more regularly; finding time to write has been cumbersome, I need to make a more honest effort at it though. Welp, until next time:

Stay close, more coming soon///

It’s Simple… Apparently.

Guys.

Hold on, I need a moment.

*heavy sigh*

Ok, so… I spent the last year thinking how lucky I was. What a fortunate parent I am. I have such a good kid, I thought. Man, I am getting away easy with my well-behaved little girl.

That’s out the window, I think.

Either Amelia is just having a bad day, or we are in the beginning stages of “Everything is worth melting down about or arguing” phase. Either way, at the end of the interactions, I’m still chuckling with a side of silent rage.

A conversation had about an hour ago:

“I DOOOHHNNNN WANNNAA TAKE A BAYTH!!!!”

I don’t care.

*I put her in the bath*

(45 seconds later)

Are you havin’ fun?

“Yeah, I’m havin’ fun. Cause I like bein’ in the bath…”

Yeah, I know.

“Well….”

 

A little bit before that, we were watching some Disney shorts on Netflix and they were talking about something to do with Mickey Mouse’s nose and it being turned up when he looked sideways and flat when he looked straight on…

When you turn to the side you have a big nose?

“No. When I turn around…. I have a big nose…”

“It’s simple.”

*continues eating chicken nugget…*

 

Just before that:

Amelia, Fletch is following you because he wants to have fun with you.

*Whining about something incomprehensible*

Amelia, stop whining and talk to me so I can understand you.

(Stops whining and speaks perfectly clear while staring right at me)

“I’m sad because I don’t want to have fun.”

Well then go in your room and sit down until you want to have fun and he’ll stop following you.

“Nooooo.”

Go. You can come out when you want to have fun.

*weird floppy stomping to her room…silence*

-Upon an around the corner review, she immediately sat down in her room with a book and started reading to Fletch about animals… because he followed her to her room. (My dadsense predictions are growing strong)

She has hit the point of VERY, VERY (how do I make the font BIGGER?) VEERRY opinionated opinions.

That part, I must admit, I kinda really like.

My favorite new thing is this “it’s simple” response.

Do you want milk on your cereal?

“Yeah, you just pour it on. It’s simple”

I know you pour it on. But do you wa….. never mind.”

I feel like we are entering a quote-rich blog here real soon. She’s getting hilarious and somehow terribly frustrating at the same time. I’m pretty stoked overall. We’ll see how long that lasts.

 

Stay close, more coming soon///

The Holiday Lump of Single Parenting…

Ok, I can tell you right now, this is going to be a bit of a downer post. Sorry in advance, but, hey… It’s my blog and this is one of the sadder memories I realized as it happens I will always carry with me. So. You get to experience it too.

 

This past weekend I went up to take part in a family tradition for the first time in like 15 years. Coincidentally, single parenting I think is what kept me from doing it when I was younger and single parenting is what made the memory I can barely stand to think about now.

Most of my mother’s side of the immediate family now lives on Whidbey Island, where I grew up. Every year for about the last 12-15 years, my Mom, brother, Aunt, cousin and grandparents (since they moved up to Whidbey from California) get together in Coupeville to take part in the Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony. As we were waiting for the parade to start we began discussing it and realized I had never come down for the evenings events. We decided by coincidence that I must have just been with my dad each year.

It was not a weekend where I had Amelia. And now it starts getting kinda sad.

For the last couple of months we (Amelia and I) have been getting into some pretty serious conversations about Santa. Who he is, where he lives, the never-ending list of what she wants to ask him for and what he might bring her for Christmas, and the fact that she REALLY wants to go see Santa.

Engage lump. Even as I type. Dammit.

The parade was going fine, and I was minorly disappointed that Amelia couldn’t be there for the Christmas carols since she loves singing so much.

Then it happened.

Santa came up over the hill. And I thought about how much she would freak out to see him in person. And I got sad she wasn’t there.

Then it kinda hit me that I was missing the chance at a serious life memory. That first time she see’s Santa; being aware of what it means as a kid to see Santa.

Every time I looked up towards the lit-up sleigh with the waving Santa, the lump in my throat got stronger. As the rest of my family looked on and waved, I kept trying not to dwell on how much, especially in that moment, I missed my little girl. Luckily it was cold and rainy out, so the sniffling and wet upper face area was easily disguised as a rainy cold nose.

It still amazes me how uncontrollably strong my emotions for my child can be. It is an irrational and truly unconditional love. And not having her always around for everything is hard.

Not being able to share in that moment that all the parents around me were getting to relish in, taking for granted the moment as it happens as a routine part of the holidays, made it that much worse.

As he dashed through the rain past us, I managed to get through the moment without anyone noticing.

A deep breath, a strong effort to compartmentalize, and a fake smile. It’s amazing what those three things can do to hide what’s happening in your head.

After the parade they brought the sleigh around and had Santa walk through the crowd to meet the kids and take pictures with everyone. I, of course, had to get a photo with him to at least show Amelia that I had met him. A fake smile and a constant fight to keep the lump at bay… We took a couple photos with the fam and he moved on.

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He was impressed with my little baby beard. 

It’s something that will linger through all the walks near anything holiday-ey. Driving past a house with lights and not getting to point them out to Amelia. Eating the Christmas cookies we made together in an empty house. It just kinda sucks, man.

To keep it from being a totally lame depressing post…It’s not all bad. We’ll get to do plenty, go see Santa and drive around and look at Christmas lights and do fun holiday stuff together… and I get to wake up Christmas morning and enjoy her seeing the presents under the tree this year. But it’s the little moments you don’t get that can weigh so heavily.

I’m sure I’ve already said it once, but, the one thing I never wanted Amelia to have to go through was being a kid with separated parents. It is tough, and for us it is only just beginning.

I suppose on the plus side, silver lining or whatever, it makes you appreciate the moments you do get with your kids so much more.

Take the time to cherish your moments with family this Christmas; appreciate being a part of those events…

 

Stay close, more coming soon///

Thankful Thoughts and Things…

Well. In the spirit of keeping up with holiday topics and whatnot… and trying to get back into the swing of blogging things… Suppose now is a good time to reflect lightly over the last year and make you sappy about loving your family.

This time last year I was still living in Maryland, Marie and the kiddos had already moved across the country to be in Washington but I was job hunting while maintaining the job I had out there, teaching photojournalism to the military, a job I wish I had blogged more during, as it was a ton of fun and produced a lot of great memories.

But, being 2,200 miles from my daughter and hitting the start of what turned out to be the end of a relationship around the holidays was, well, terrible.

This is one of those times where I write and delete 12 different facts about how crappy I felt, deciding which facts to share and which to keep to myself. I was unhappy, missing mainly my little girl, who’s birthday party I also missed just a few weeks prior, save for a 5″ phone screen and Skype… and was about to be alone for Thanksgiving.

I was hitting an emotional life low. Then something pretty cool happened.

Some friends from work invited me over for Thanksgiving. It was a real kind of turning point for me in dealing with the distance. People I worked with became family. Bennie Davis, who has become a very good friend since, offered me a spot at his family’s table for the holidays.

We went from being work friends to, in the months that followed, becoming pretty close friends.

I learned to reach out to those around me. Which is something I don’t do often. I’ll normally keep things kind of hidden, maybe talk about things a little with those close to me, but, I try and put on a pretty good charade and not push my problems off on other people. It’s just part of who I am. But I needed people to be around, and the people I worked with stepped up, probably somewhat unknowingly, and were there for me. (For the record, that’s not a creepy, “I was in their bushes” kind of unknowingly… just so we are clear)

It has been a rough year for sure. But even as I go through the stressful days here and now dealing with everything I am going through and learning to be a part-time dad, I force myself to keep those memories close. The nights sitting alone in an apartment dwelling on my solitude, drinking more than I should have, missing my daughter terribly… That sucked a lot.

Getting to spend time with good people, that wasn’t so bad. And it got me through an otherwise terrible time.

So, onto the less dramatic and more positive thoughts… cause just writing about it is bumming me out:

Out of that down slope of a time came some really good friends, people I am still very thankful to have in my life, even if they are on the opposite side of the country, we made some great memories and I’m sure I’ll see them all again at some point.

As a lot of my friends and family know, I took a job in Seattle that has had its challenges for sure. But in the end, it has taught me a lot of things, good and bad, about working in the corporate world. It gave me the chance to get to the West coast and get back to my little girl and my family. It pays me pretty well and even though times are tough, the paycheck is keeping me afloat. Whether I stay or find other employment that maybe suits me better, I’m still thankful for getting this position.

After the separation, I went hunting for my own place, and realized that the cost of living in the Seattle area has gotten just ridiculous. So much so that it was cheaper to just buy a house than it was to rent… So I did that.

20151116_171709.jpgGot my own house, where I can do whatever I want, and if, say, a dog named Fletch wanted to wreck up the downstairs bathroom when he is kept in it for a day because he can’t stay off the counters…. I wouldn’t have to worry about the repairs, I can just do them myself. Like, patching torn up drywall spots and wrecked blinds and door molding repairs…. Just in theory of course.

 

I wanted to murder him just a little bit…

I digress.

I’m thankful for the support system of a family I have out here. I wish my dad could be closer, but I’m planning to make some trips down in the spring and summer next year. At least I’m on the same coast as him now.

In light of all the craziness that has been the last probably 8 months, I managed to meet this new lady in my life… who is pretty amazing. I’m really thankful for her. She’s Canadian, but not the “12-year-old boy imaginary girlfriend” kind of Canadian. Being Canadian doesn’t actually matter, I just like to point it out and crack a joke whenever possible.

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That’s Kyla. My selfie game is not as on point with an actual DSLR… but I still really like this photo. An older lady stopped us in the wine store while I was up there visiting to tell us we were the most adorable couple she had seen in weeks. So, we are gross like that. It’s pretty awesome.

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More on her later, but we met at a time when I needed a strong shoulder to lean on… and I’m pretty sure she works out.

Man, my dad jokes are getting better.

Anyways. Getting to the point and wrapping everything up, it has been a really rough year, and for the most part I’m glad it is almost over. I think things are starting to be on an upswing, although there are still lots of challenges to overcome; that’s just kinda how life works.

Never get ahead, always gettin’ kept down by the man…

It can be really hard sometimes, but ya gotta find the good in the bad and learn to reach out to and lean on those around you. That’s what I am most thankful for and kind of the whole point of this post I suppose. In my shitty dark days, even when I didn’t want it, there have been people there for me. And I’m thankful for them.

Even though I can’t enjoy all of their company, like all my East coast friends and family, my pops, Kyla’s family, all my friends here at home, all the people I’ve known and become friends with throughout my time in the military; I could fill a banquet hall with all the great people I have met in the last almost ten years of life… and how great would it be if we could all hang out at once?! Anyways, even though I can’t be around them all this Thanksgiving, I’ll be thinking about them more than usual, they have all had a hand in shaping who I am and how I’ve gotten through some bad times, and helped create some really great memories in the good times. Thank you all for being there for me. I love each and every one of ya.

Alright, enough sappy crap. Go eat turkey and drink beer.

Stay close, more coming soon///

 

2.5 Years Later… And Picking Up The Pieces…

Wow.

It’s been about two and a half years since I wrote a post. A whole lot has happened; some bad, mostly good I suppose.

Playing catch-up, Amelia is now three as of a couple weeks ago. I am now “Doing it Single-Daddy Style” for almost a year, but I figure that only reinforces the name of the blog, right? We moved back out to the great state of Washington, Marie and I separated, I have a job doing public affairs for a government agency, and Amelia and I have just one dog now. But we’ll get to all that.

Of course, as always, let’s get to them pictures of the kiddo:

 
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At three-years-old, she is full of personality and opinion. Sometimes too much so in a way that I still absolutely love:

We were at the store last night, she says to the cashier: “Are you so old?”

I couldn’t really managed to fake being embarrassed, but I think I suppressed laughing pretty well.

The lady took it better than I expected, and just chuckled… In Amelia’s defense, she was definitely ‘so old.’ Really nice, but… old.

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It has been a hard adjustment not having her around all the time. Being a single parent is one of the things that I never, ever wanted to do; but somehow ended up there anyways. It’s a tough road that has really only just begun, I’m sure.

One thing I don’t think I’ll ever get used to is sitting on the couch in an empty house. Finances have been tight, and I find myself trying to save pennies by playing video games on my nights without her rather than going out and wasting money. It’s tough not having your favorite person in the whole world around. And she is pretty great, I gotta admit.

Which reminds me, in the “updating since I’ve been away” theme: I bought a house. I’m adulting really hard, which is… well, really hard.

I think the best part of her age thus far is the release of an imagination onto the rest of the world. If that doesn’t make sense, see exhibit A below:

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Amelia decided that I wasn’t feeling well and started taking care of me. there was a bottle of medicine involved and lots of temperature taking. She is nonstop imagination all the time and it’s lots of fun.

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Her daycare flourishes that imagination as well. They did her face up as a kitty cat, which Fletch managed to lick off half of it between coming in the door and getting a photo of it, but oh well. But she loved it.

Ah, another update fact… I had to find Dexter a new home (one of my labradoodles) so now I just have Fletch. :/ I was pretty sad about that, but two 85-pound dogs was too much for just me, especially with Amelia.

 

So. That’s the latest in a nutshell. I want to try and get back into blogging somewhat regularly, so pardon the awkward-facts sprinkled in through this weird catch-up post.

Amelia is so full of ridiculous statements and fun moments, we are coming into that time where I have a chance to capture the little things that every parent wishes they had to look back on to help remember…which was the whole point of this blog in the first place.

Here’s to the next thing my kid says that will most likely offend someone… I know it’ll happen sooner than later, stay close///

 

Keeping it Fresh . . . The Diaper, That is. . . . .

Every diaper is like trying to outrun the apocalypse.

You know it’s going to happen, no matter how long you wait to change it, hoping they squeezed it all out… they are never fully done.

   Grab the wipe, move like Flash Gordon trying to get their butt clean, and then you have to do the one-handed change out while holding their feet up like a cow wrangler, which is baby code for time to poop.

Unfortunately for Marie, she just wasn’t fast enough, and she paid the price. Poop. Everywhere.

I thought it was hilarious, she wasn’t as entertained.

   You learn quickly that farts can be the scariest thing you’ll encounter in your entire life. When you are holding a baby by the legs trying to slide a diaper under their butt and they fart, you will have the worst one-second panic attack ever.

“OH NO!!! . . . . ok, whew….”

 

   It’s been great though. Aside from leaking diapers and the occasional science defying poop-up-the-back trick that newborns seem to be pretty good at, it’s been an amazing experience. And we are only three weeks in. Three weeks down, 60+ years to go.

   I have found it to be quite interesting how quickly a baby can develop habits and dislikes. For example, Amelia doesn’t care for her swing, loves the papasan, hates her crib and will sleep like, well, a baby when you put her on your chest. The oddest thing by far THUS far though, is that she LOVES walking up and down the stairs.

   It doesn’t seem to matter how upset she is, what’s causing it or for how long she has been crying. As soon as I walk her up the stairs she’ll quiet right down. It’s a simple fix, though again with the panic attacks, of course she loves to be walked up and down the most dangerous part of our house. Every step is like I’m making sure there aren’t hot coals under my feet.  

   I have been loving every bit of it though. I’ve come to realize that I am getting spoiled though as she has, from the first night she was alive, been sleeping 3 or more hours at a time. Experienced parents hear this and they get a look of shear hatred in their eyes for half a second masked by fake words of excitement. I always feel bad when I have to answer it.

 “So, are you getting a lot of sleep?”

Which really means:

“So how’s being kept up every night and never getting to sleep for more than like 20 minutes at a time, have you gone insane yet? HAHAHAHA WELCOME TO PARENTING!!!!!!”

Then you answer with:

“Actually, she sleeps for like 3 hours at a time.”

They respond with:

“Oh that’s good.”

Their eyes say:

“I hate you. I haven’t slept in 3 years. I hope a jet engine test shop is built next to your house tomorrow.”

 

   Amelia is doing great though, she went in for her two-week appointment not long ago, came in at just over ten pounds and in the 92% of size for her weight and 73% for her length. Healthy and seemingly pretty happy.

   She doesn’t fuss too much either. She only gets noisy when she actually has a problem, i.e. needs a clean diaper, is hungry, she’s too hot or cold or needs help with getting a fart out. That’s pretty much the extent of her worries at three weeks old. What a life, eh?

   Drives Marie nuts because I can pick her up and quiet her down within a couple minutes, and now with this stair thing figured out, I am Mr. Problem Solver. I like it though, she loves her dad. And there is nothing wrong with dad being able to solve all of her problems. Won’t last forever; but the longer Amelia doesn’t know that the better for me. ;)

   Well, that’s about all for now, we are going to be doing some actual portraits here in the next couple of days, so stay tuned for those to be put up. Stay close, plenty more to come!

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