Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mary Christmas?

One snow day from school my son Alex, then about 3, and I decided to start decorating for Christmas. I decided that we would first put up the Nativity scene. As I was unpacking the stable and all the farm animals, Alex was taking each of them singing "Mary had a little lamb."

A few minutes later I looked up to see what he was doing. I was amazed to see the Virgin Mary totally surrounded by sheep. In Alex's mind she was the Mary who had the little lambs. Hey totally makes sense in a 3 year olds world!

And who's to say she wasn't the Mary who had a little lamb?!?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Happens at Grandma's STAYS at Grandma's ...

Every summer, our kids spend one week with their grandparents in the quaint little town of Manson, Iowa. It’s kind of our way of exposing the kids to a simpler, more wholesome kind of life. As we dropped them off for their week-away-from-home, we had no way of knowing what they’d be exposed to this particular summer!

You see, Manson’s kind of like the “Mayberry” of Iowa. There’s one stoplight in town. A butterfly garden at the park. And one set of train tracks guiding several trains a day across the Midwest. My wife’s parents are wonderful. Our kids absolutely adore them, and they adore the kids. At the end of the week several summers ago, we picked up the kids and started our 2-hour journey home in the van. The kids were excited to tell us about how much fun they had, watching the trains go by the house, going to the pool, taking walks with Grandpa and the dogs.

And watching TV with Grandma.

My son Austin, who was about seven, said that Grandma sure does watch a lot of “Court TV”. He really enjoyed watching Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge this and Judge that…seeing all those people getting caught lying, fighting, cheating and stealing!

Then my four-year-old daughter asked her brother if they should "tell us" about that "other" show they watched. Before he could answer, Kelsey blurted out that her and Grandma’s FAVORITE show was “COPS”! She started singing the theme song, “Bad boy, bad boy, watcha gonna do – watcha gonna do when dey come for you”!

I turned to my wife and said, “Do you realize the kind of things the kids might have seen on that show? People getting arrested, running around all drunk and NAKED!”

Without missing a beat, my daughter, the little angel, said, “Don’t worry Daddy, the naked people were wearing BLURRIES. We couldn’t see anything.”

She was referring to the blurry editing patches added by the producers to block out any nudity on TV!

After we regained our composure from laughing so hard, my wife and I looked at each other, and at the same time said “BLURRIES?”

And now, thanks to Grandma, we totally crack up every time we're channel surfing and happen upon any episode of COPS!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snowball Surprise

As a dad, I really try hard to make vacations memorable. I have so many great memories of my family vacations when I was growing up, and want to pass those same types of memories onto my kids.

Well, this is the story of one of those times when a dad tries a little too hard.

When Austin was about four years old, we drove the minivan from Iowa to Colorado for a summer getaway, visiting friends in Vail. We knew Austin would really get a kick out of taking the ski lift to the top of the mountain to see snow in the 80º summer weather. The ride on the lift was great, watching the green grass change to the snow-white covered mountain top. Austin couldn’t wait to get off the lift and play in the snow. We hopped off and I reached down to scoop up a handful of snow – and discovered it was the perfect consistency for making snowballs. I threw one down the mountain. Austin eagerly followed my lead, but instead of throwing his snowball down the mountain, he turned toward me, pulled his arm back, and launched the snowball – hitting me directly in the stomach. Laughing with the giggle that can only come from a tickled four-year old, he reached down to reload for another attempt. Like a scared jackrabbit, I sprinted away to take cover behind a snow bank. Austin took another shot. Being more prepared this time, I jumped to avoid taking a direct hit to the leg.

Before I continue, I must preface this part of the story with the fact that I really have no athletic skill or ability whatsoever. But I wasn’t going to let that little fact stand in the way of an awesome summertime snowball fight with my son.

I grabbed a handful of snow, packed it into the perfect baseball shaped snowball. In an instant, Austin knew what was coming. The sheepish smile on his face faded away as he realized he was now MY target. He turned to run away. I took aim, and fired a shot directly at the center of his back. To this day, I can still see what happened next in my mind—it plays over and over like a slow motion movie. As Austin is running, he looked back over his shoulder, to see the speeding snowball grow larger and larger as it sped toward him. But instead of hitting him in the back, the tightly-packed ball of ice nailed him squarely in the face! Yep. A direct hit, knocking him off his little size three shoes and onto the ground. At that moment, I really don’t know who was more stunned – Austin – myself – or my wife who conveniently saw the whole thing. There was the obligatory two seconds of silence before the screaming. And I mean SCREAMING (it’s amazing how loud sounds actually do echo when you’re on the top of a mountain!) Austin’s screaming continued as his reddened face started to swell. My wife was screaming at me, as in “what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-you-know-can’t-throw-to-save-your-life” screaming. And my two-year old daughter was screaming – well because she’s two, and that’s what two-year olds do when they hear other people screaming. As I ran to Austin, he looked at me in complete and absolute FEAR. He started to run away from me, fearing I was going to nail him again! He hid behind his mother, seeking protection from this monster that his daddy had turned into. After a few minutes – and promises of an ice cream cone, a ride on REAL train and my commitment that I would never hit him in the face with a snowball again, Austin was able to pull himself together to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

So, ultimately, my mission was fulfilled – we did make a vacation memory that will last a lifetime.

I know my son will never let me forget it!