Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Here!

By: Smiley Face Now

I am of course talking about the last day of school.  Putting the kids on the bus for their last day brings a smile not just to their faces, but mine as well.  It means we survived another year, the kids got a little older and more able to take care of themselves. 

I love the way my little one has come out of here shell.  She has her little friends; she jokingly teases me as much as I jokingly pretend to not understand what she is trying to tell me.  She asserts herself now.  Here is an example.  She is a peanut, reedy and skinny but can swim all day.  A year ago, she would have been visibly scared if she ended up face to face with a dog – any dog, even those she knew all her life.  Well, we got dog and that skittishness seemed to evaporate into thin air.  I told her she is the boss of the dog and she ran with it.  So much so, that the other day we were at a graduation party where the family had a large Labrador Retriever.  The dog, a friendly, gentle and good natured brute of 100+ pounds, was in heaven because people were leaving half eaten plates of food all over the yard.  Now this house had a pool and my daughter was swimming.  She saw the dog going for a plate of unattended chicken wings, knew that dogs should not eat chicken bones because they splinter very easily, and got right out of the pool, walked up right up to the dog, sternly told him NO and took the wing from his mouth and the plate from his nose.  It all happened before I could even find a place to put my plate down.  The dog licked her hand and walked off and she jumped right back into the pool.  Amazing!

I am truly blessed; both of my daughters are thriving and make me proud.  School is a positive thing in their lives and they seem to take to it naturally.  I am happy they have a break and I’m sure we will do fun things together this summer.  I am also smiling because I get 10 more minutes to sleep because my wife and I don’t have to get up quite so early to get the kids ready and all of us out the door.  Hurray for summer vacation!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Look Dad, I Can Swim

By: Smiley Face Now

One of the many joys in life happens the day you realize your kids can swim.  You no longer have to linger soggily directly at the edge of the pool or stand in cold lake water with numb feet and a sweaty brow.  You can back off just a bit, let the kids have some freedom and you can enjoy a cool drink on your lounge chair (granted, near the edge of the pool or right at the ocean’s waterline).  At some point, you are even throwing your kids into the pool or telling them to go swim (and by extension to leave you alone while you read your book).  I am happily in that magic zone.

Then I got a puppy.  Now I know intellectually that dogs can swim, but our dog had not ever had the chance yet and I was a mixture of concerned curiosity as to how the first time would go.  I envisioned a planned event with me right there, knee deep in some cold body of water, and the dog would happily splash in and start swimming.  Well that’s not how it turned out – never does.

It had been raining for two days straight with four more days of light to heavy rain forecast.  I had been lazy and not been down to our little boat at the local marina for the first few days of rain.  I also had not put the boat cover on the boat and had reached the point where the gnawing pressure of responsibility overpowered my natural inclination to blow it off.  So, grab the dog and off we go for a quick trip down the road to the marina.  Now it was not raining when I left the house, and was drizzling a bit when I parked at the marina, but the dog and I got out and headed down the dock with all intention of this being a quick, 1-2-3 trip.  By the time I get to the boat, it is raining.  The dog does not want to get into the boat and I don’t want to fight about it, so I tied her off to a cleat and went onboard.  Now this is a small boat with no cabin so setting up the cover is a simple thing, but there is one part where I usually stick my head under the canvas cover to stick a support pole in the right spot.  As I am under the cover fiddling with the pole, I hear a strange sound, not the ever increasing rain hitting the canvas.  It was more of a slow thump, thump, and thump.

I lifted my head up and in the now pouring rain realize no dog.  I climbed onto the dock and found her swimming between another boat and the dock where I had tied her off.  Luckily the current was slack and she was not pushed under the dock or between the boat and the dock to be smushed.  So I run over and grab her by the collar and yank het out of the water.  So now the dog is looking at me drenched and standing in the rain as if to say, “This was fun, do you have any other bright ideas?” 

As I drove home with the now sodden and wet dog smelly pooch in the back, I smiled as I realized of course she can swim and she didn’t need me to be there to hold her leash – just like the kids.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

See Sea Glass

By: Smiley Face Now

If you don’t know what “sea glass” is, let me tell you.  It is small pieces of broken glass that washes up on the beach after having been tumbled in the ocean and affected by the seawater.  What you get is a rounded piece of frosted looking glass.  Now I am fortunate in many ways, but one of those ways is that I live near a small pebbly beach where small pieces of sea glass wash up.  When I say small, I mean the average size of the sea glass I have found there is on the order of a single pea – but usually flat.  So here is the story that made me smile.

I was at the beach mentioned above with my family this weekend.  It was hot and humid and overcast, not exactly a beach day, but I was determined to “go to the beach” sometime this weekend.  One of the nice things about this beach is that you can drive right up to it and park.  Step a few feet in front of your car and presto! You’re at the beach.  So we pack up a few chairs, a few towels, a few snacks and off we go.  Now I like collecting sea glass and have a small jar of it at home – my little daughter loves collecting sea glass and has commandeered my stash as her own.  She lays claim to all collected sea glass, no matter who actually found it.

The thing that made me laugh was this.  My little one and I are off looking for sea glass.  As we find a few unimpressive pieces, walking side by side, she starts the edge me towards the water.  She then starts stepping across my path, but just a little at first.  Then she starts to jump my claim and scarfs my sea glass finds right from under my fingers.  Now she is quicker and dartier than me and as she says, she is lower to the ground so she can see the bits of glass first.  By the end she is boxing me out with her butt and grabbing the sea glass quicker than I can find the next piece.  This is funny because she weighs all of 50 pounds and is a skinny little thing – but fierce.  To top it all off, as we head back to our little spot, she loudly proclaims to her mother that here is all the sea glass SHE found – dad just got in the way!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All in This Together

By: Smiley Face Now

I am usually a glass half empty kind of person.  I try to see the best in people and situations, but I always have a plan B in case things go south.  My faith in humanity was restored the other day and though wet to the bone and shivering, I smiled to myself.

I was at my daughter’s softball game the other evening, and it was a cool almost raw spring evening.  The sky was overcast, rain threatened at any minute and there was a constant fine misty drizzle to make all of us parents miserable as we watched our little angels catch pneumonia.  At least that was how I saw things.  Well the game progressed and things stayed the same for almost an hour and a half.  Then the inevitable happened, it started to pour.  Now there is a reason I am a glass half empty kind of guy.  Every time I go glass half full, I get soaked.  I did not bring the umbrella I had in my truck (parked several hundred yards away) because I thought we would get the game in before the storm.  I was wrong.

So as the heavens open and rain comes, a torrential rain at that, I am left standing with no umbrella, no hat, and a now soaked cotton sweatshirt sucking the heat away from me.  Some parents ran, some opened umbrellas they were smart enough to bring with them and some, like me, looked around forlornly.  The kids were snug in their dugouts and the ump decided to wait a bit before calling the game, so I was stuck.  Just before I was about to bust a move back to the truck, across the now muddy field, one of the parents, a man I had seen around town but didn’t really know, walked up to me with his golf (large) umbrella and without saying a word covered me with half of the umbrella.  And of course he said, “I don’t think the heavy stuff will come down for a while.”  Now if you are of a certain age, I do not have to place that quote for you; but for the others who may not know, it is a famous and often used quote from the movie Caddyshack.  As you could imagine, my new best friend and I smiled to each other.  Oh, the rain let up after a while and girls finished the game – our team lost a squeeker by one run.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Harsh My Mellow

By Smiley Face Now

If you have to begin a story with, “no really, this happened to me,’ then you know it will be a good one.  But, no really, this happened to me.  Actually it happened to me and my older daughter.  I love that fact that she is of an age where we can have shared experiences and laugh about things that happened to “us.”  So here you go: my daughter plays field hockey.  Not my thing, but so what, I support it.  Support comes in the form of paying lots of money and taking her to practice on Sunday morning at 0700 (that’s 7 AM).  Now the early start would not be too much of a problem, except that the facility where they practice is about 40 minutes away and unlike me, a tweenage girl cannot just get up and go.

So as you might imagine, we get up early while sleeping in as late as we can to arrive just at 0700.  We had it down to a science, I get up and hit the coffee, get her up, mill around while “we” get ready, and then out the door, me with coffee in hand.  We decided early on to skip breakfast and just grab something after practice.  Well we stop at the local Starbucks on our way home, get some food and I usually get another coffee and my daughter a juice of some kind.

On this particular morning, I was teasing my daughter about the cost of these breakfast stops and the fact that this time she wanted a mocha frappachino whatever instead of juice.  As we were waiting for our order and continuing our cheerful banter, I said something about her not drinking expensive coffee drinks, but I am glad these frozen drinks don’t have caffeine in them.  Well the counter person, who looks twelve and should be delivering my paper, leans across the counter and says, and I quote, “dude, hate to harsh your mellow, but these drinks have a little caffeine in them.”  My daughter and I were thunderstruck - and not about the caffeine.  The dude was pronounced Duooode and really, Harsh your mellow?  Where the heck are we, Laguna Beach?  I must say I appreciate the kids concern, he was just ensuring I was an informed consumer in that uniquely Starbuck’s way, but seriously.  Anyway we had a laugh about that all the way home.  And now, any time I correct my daughter, like, “hey don’t leave your plate on the counter,” she says I am harshing her mellow.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

If Dogs Could Smile

By: Smiley Face Now

If dogs could smile, I am sure mine would today.  A 10 month old Golden Retriever requires a lot of love and attention.  They can also create a lot of mischief if they get bored.  My dog likes to dig for rocks.  I swear she can smell them and thinks nothing of carving out a two foot deep hole in like no time flat.  Just turn away for second and next thing you know, you have a crater in the front yard.  Now I love my dog and I am willing to put up with a certain amount of grief to have her in our lives.  But the digging is getting to be a bit annoying.  So I was on the prowl for the perfect diversion.
One of the reason I love where I live is because we a small county co-op near us that is a cross between a hardware store, a feed store and Petco.  Well I often stop in just to see what’s new and to check out the latest in dog chew toys.  I finally figured out that if you want to stop having to crawl under the couch to retrieve the dog toys (who has who trained?), buy dog toys that don’t fit under the couch!  Eureka!

So on my usual troll through the co-op; I happened upon a larger dog toy called a Jolly Ball.  It is a large plastic/rubber (I don’t know what it’s made of) ball with a rope knotted on each end led through a channel in the middle of the ball.  Well this thing became my dog’s new best friend as soon as I threw it in the yard.  She was off like shot to check it out and has been carrying it around and shaking it ever since.  She is as happy as she can be without getting into trouble.  And I think she smiled at me as she ran by.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Little Game of Pepper

By: Smiley Face Now

When I was a kid, baseball was a way of life.  All of my friends and I played Little League and when not at a game or a practice, we played Wiffle ball till the street lights came on (this being the universal signal for all the neighborhood kids to head home).  We had delusions of grandeur and were just as good as any of the pros, at least in our minds.  It was a magic time in all of our lives and really cemented America’s pastime into our souls.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Part of the Scenery

By: Smiley Face Now

There are few things in life that will make you smile more than observing your child completely absorbed in their own goings on, oblivious to your presence.  I just had such a moment picking up my daughter from school with one of her little girl friends.  When I tell you that they did not stop talking from before I actually saw them outside school (I could hear them) and they are still talking now as write this.  But what made it funny is that they can interact with me as they need to and still not miss a beat.  Let me explain.

The Joy of the Egg Sandwich

By SmileyFaceNow!

How to capture the contentment and joy I felt Mother’s Day morning?  I will paint you a picture.  My wife and the kids had discussed breakfast in bed as a way to show our appreciation for Mom.  The kids were for it and the adults were not so much.  Then my wife said what she really wanted was an egg sandwich from the breakfast place a few towns over from ours.  It is a simple fried egg with cheese and sausage, but it’s on a heavenly Asiago cheese bagel and it’s to die for!  Problem solved, I can handle this.