Ask Your Dad Blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All the Things I Can’t Throw Away



Since she could pick up a crayon my daughter has drawn every day. The first time she presented a scribble to me, I held it up and didn’t see a purple kind-of-circle. I saw a certificate that said, “Now you are a dad.” 

I used to look at colorful drawings hanging on the fridges of my kid-having friends and think “Meh. It’s cute I guess.” But when I held that first piece of art, I realized that it didn’t matter if it was cute. It was her. It went directly on the fridge. 


So did the second drawing, and the third. Eventually when the fridge filled up and a combination of gravity and crappy magnets forced me to take down the older ones I’d walk over to the trash can, look at it for a second, then walk away from the trash can deciding that the pictures could live on top of the fridge. When the top of the fridge filled up, I went and found a box… and another box.

I know. I had a problem. But these pictures were the glitter and glue covered footprints my little girl had left of a life where she could barely count to fiveteen. Every day they got better. An almost circle became a face. A face grew legs, then a body. Lines became houses. A sun. A moon. Planets. She was creating the world around her. She put it in crayon. I put it on our fridge. 

We were running out of room. 

Source: Lunarbaboon

As she got bigger her world took up more and more paper. I wanted to hold on to that first purple scribble, pull it close to my chest, and remember how it made me feel to become a dad. But when I did, I felt like I missed the fact that she rewrites that contract every day. 

I knew that they were just papers, and that the little squirt that drew on them had morphed into something even more magnificent. Still, I didn’t feel a sense of loss of my little girl when I looked at her drawings. I felt a sense of emotional geography. I could see how far she’d come. I could see how far Stevie and I had come. 


A few weeks ago, I was cleaning off the top of the fridge and found an extra stack of drawings I hadn’t looked at in months. I flipped through them, traced my finger over the textured wax, and smiled thinking about the look on her face when had I put them on the fridge. Then I did something that even surprised me. 


Instead of walking over to the garbage, pausing, and walking away, I quickly crumpled the handful of drawings into a ball and shoved them deep enough into the trashcan that I wouldn’t have the chance to see them sitting on top of the pile and pull them out. Then I washed my hands. Then I felt guilty. 


Then I didn’t.


In that moment I realized that what I had thrown away was just paper and wax. That smile. That smile on her face when I had thanked my little girl and praised her hard work. That was my art, and it was safely tucked away in a place much safer than the top of my fridge. I don’t have to look at circles and trees and suns and flowers to connect with how far we’ve come. I just have to look at her. 


I still have my favorites. They are hanging on the wall next to me as I write this. But now I don’t feel as bad tossing out the majority of them. They are not all art. They are the beautiful byproduct of art. They are leaves from a tree that has a very long time to grow. 



Instead of drawing last night, Duchess asked us if she could show off her sweet, new number skills by counting by fives to a hundred. Far be it for me to deny her the opportunity to count by fives. We put away the colored pencils and Stevie, Captain and I sat attentively. 

She did it so fast the numbers blended together. We listened in amazement as she hit a rhythm punctuating the “ty” on every other number. When she hit 100 she shouted it like it was the top of a mountain. ONE HUNDRED!! We clapped loudly for her and she did her proud little giggle. She stopped saying “fiveteen” a year ago and now we’re into the hundreds. She’s counting faster than our hearts can keep up. 


That’s a lie. We can keep up. We will keep up. 


Sure, I can’t pin her counting to the fridge or put it in a box, but she can pin our clapping to her heart, and that is a lot harder to throw away. 


If you enjoyed this post, read more! I have a bunch linked in the sidebar. Also, be sure to like the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page. We have a lot of fun over there and I promise not to throw away your art. Also, thanks to Chris over at LunarBaboon for letting me use his fantastic comic. He's a great friend, and an amazing artist. Be sure to check him out. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Importance of Soup

I can't overstate this.

Soup is important.

Have you ever lowered your face over a bowl of perfect soup?  The steam floats off the top and before you even take a bite you can breathe its wholeness into yourself. Every time I have a bowl of soup I do this, and I am immediately a child again.

When I was a small human strep throat was my constant, uninvited companion. My body would ache from fever - my throat would burn, and my parents would take me to the doctor to once again have a giant cotton swab jammed down my throat. It was horrible. I’d gag and cry and cough. It happened every year. Sometimes it happened twice a year, and my only refuge… my only joy during those horrible days was soup.

It is strange how good something can be when it is the only good thing. Growing up, when I was sick, soup was my thing. My mom would pull out a can of Campbell’s Condensed Chicken and Stars and heat it up. My throat would be so sore that instead of immediately eating it I would just hold my head above the bowl and breathe the salty bullion flavored steam into my lungs. In that moment I would feel them open up, and almost feel normal again. Antibiotics were what cured me, but soup is what got me through.

Soup is important.

My sister and I didn’t get along very well growing up. She was five years younger than me, and we had very little in common. That said, we both loved snow. When I was in sixth grade and she was in first the sky dropped more snow in our neighborhood than I had ever seen, or have ever seen since. They canceled school for two days and we spent both of them together digging tunnels and building forts in our backyard. I don’t think I impressed my sister much growing up. I was that annoying older brother who wouldn’t let her play my video games. But for those two days, I was the coolest guy she knew. I was a creator.

We didn’t build snowmen. We built snow worlds.

Each day when our snowsuits had soaked through and our fingers were numb, we came inside and I made the only thing I knew how to make for both of us for lunch. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup. I clearly remember her telling me it was the greatest thing she had ever eaten, and it was definitely among my proudest moments.




Soup is important.

Not long after Stevie and I moved in together, I suggested soup for dinner. She scoffed.

“Soup is not dinner.”

I may have flinched. What? How? Why? Soup is dinner. Soup is a PERFECT dinner.

“No, Soup is something you get in a cup before dinner.” She replied.

“Challenge accepted.”

The next few months and years were filled with my subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to prove that soup, by itself could be a meal. I bought the heartier, chunkier soups from Campbell’s. I stocked the cupboard with those cool single serving microwavable lunch soups. I made my own soups from scratch: potato and ham, chicken noodle, green chile chicken. Every time, she would say “These are really good, but I feel like I need more.”

Then a crappy miracle happened. Guess who got strep? And guess who needed me to take care of them? And guess who got chicken noodle soup. And guess whose face I watched transform as she pulled its smell into her lungs.

After that day, she understood.

Soup is a meal.

Soup is important.

My kids never needed to be convinced. Ever since they could work a spoon, soup has been what they asked for. The soup aisle is their favorite one at the store. They like Ninja Turtle Soup, and Frozen Soup. They like Stars and Letters. They feed their soup to each other. Well, they try. They’re not THAT good with spoons.

The thing they (and I) love about soup is that it is something simple enough to make together. Once a can of soup is opened it is as simple as grabbing a stepping stool and letting my daughter pour it into the pot. Then we add the can of water and wait.



Once the soup is done Stevie and I sit at the table with our kids. Each one gets an ice cube in the bowl to help it cool down. Then the four of us lower our heads and breathe it in. When Stevie and I try our first bites we both exclaim how amazing it is and what a good job Duchess did cooking it, and regardless of how many times we say it, her little face beams with pride.

I see myself in that face. Finding joy from simple, uncomplicated things is what gets us through the tougher times in life. Sure, it might just be a can of condensed soup and a can of water, but to me it is more than that. It is something that has always been there for me. And, you know the best part? Soup isn’t just my thing anymore. It is my family’s thing. It’s something we share. It is our favorite… and it is important.  Soup is important.

This is my third post in a series I am writing in a partnership with Campbell’s Soup and their #RealRealLife campaign. January is National Soup Month, but in my opinion every month should be National Soup Month. I've been compensated by Campbell's both in money and in delicious soup that I would have eaten anyway because I love soup. A lot. 


Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Top 10 Ask Your Dad Posts of 2015



Well, here we are. The end of another year. This is my fourth year writing Ask Your Dad. I can honestly say that back in 2012 when Stevie encouraged me to quit storing my writing in a shoe box, and instead put it online, I never in a million years would have thought that it would have turned into this. And by this, I mean all of you. I feel like we've built a cool little community here, and that is awesome. Anyway, there's more thank yous at the bottom, but I'll toss one up here too. Thank you! These are the top ten trafficked posts of 2015. 
If you wanted to introduce one of your friends to my blog, this would be a pretty good post to share. Not that I'm hinting that you should share it. I'm just saying that you should share it... if you want to. 
ON WITH THE POSTS!! 


Number ten was written on one of the hardest days of the year for me. My good friend had recently passed away and I was not coping well. On top of that, my son was refusing to sleep through the night and my frustration with all things was being translated into how I handled him not sleeping. This is that story. 


"At 4:45 AM Captain woke up and started crying again, and I wanted to die. Yes, that is overly dramatic but everything is overly dramatic at 4:45 AM. I threw the blanket off me, jumped out of bed and stomped to his room. I’ve learned not to dramatically open his door, because he is generally behind it." Read the rest here


This post clarifying that we don't hit/spank our kids. This one got a mixed reaction. Some people were like "High five!" while others were all "Don't tell me how to parent!" Either way, a mix of the two bumped this into the top ten, so here we are. BTW, we still don't spank.


"What folks don’t seem to understand, perhaps because I haven’t explained it well enough, is that curbing the behavior has always been a secondary or even tertiary goal to Stevie and I. Helping our children become emotionally healthy, teaching them to understand their emotions and be able to cope with them, those have always been our primary goals.."  Read the rest here


Coming in at number 8 is my post about guns. Again, no answers contained herein. We... I... I don't really know what to say about it. A lot of people seemed to like. It came from a place of love and concern. 


"Sometimes I still think about my grandfather’s .22. The police never found it. I worry that whoever took it didn’t love it the way my father did. I worry that they looked at it and saw a weapon to point at other people. Now every time I hear about another shooting on the news, I don’t picture the shooter with whatever semi-automatic rifle they purchased legally at a gun show. I picture them with my WWII-era 10 shot, pump action .22 rifle." Read the rest here


Number 7 was a list of moments where I had no idea WTF I was doing. It could have been a much much longer list.


"1. When my son peed on my foot while I was on the phone with poison control because he ate diaper cream.

2. When my daughter asked about death and somehow walked away with the plot of “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” Read the rest here


Number 6 was about my and Stevie's fears. No answers contained within, but it is one of my favorite posts of the year - mainly because I think it got across what I was trying to say.. which is always a win.


"A few months ago some guy walked in the front door of a home about a mile away from us, grabbed their four-year-old daughter and walked back out the front door. The mom heard something, woke her husband up, who ran outside to find a strange man with his daughter wrapped in his arms. The dad frantically asked for his daughter back. The man handed her to him. Then he ran." Read the rest here


Number 5 on the Top 10 Ask Your Dad Posts of 2015 was a list of super lame super powers, none of which are flying, time travel, or x-ray vision. Boooooo. 


"It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to get hit by gamma rays or get bitten by a radioactive spider. As a kid I dreamed of waking up some day and suddenly being able to lift heavy objects with my mind or shoot laser beams out of my eyes. Not this. Not these powers... Who wants the "super" ability to smell their child's unique poop odor from across the room?" Read the rest here 


Number 4 on the Top 10 Ask Your Dad Posts of 2015 was the time that I got sick of a bunch of people asking me to share the Joey Salads Kidnapping Prank Video. I still don't like this guy. In fact, I hate all prank videos. They are the WORST.


"Here’s what I am going to do. I am going to keep an eye on my kids until they’re old enough to not go chasing puppies into the back of some YouTube Celebrity’s Pedovan. After that, I am going to teach them how to handle situations, not people." Read the rest here


Number 3 is probably my favorite post of the year. It is the story of my lifelong friendship with Ken, one of the best people I know. If you haven't read it, you should. If you have read it, you should read it again. Ken is good people.


“They are boys and they are getting married?” This was framed as a normal 4-year-old question, not the way I would have asked it when I was her age. There was no ewww in her voice. I smiled. 
“Yep. Sometimes boys marry boys. And sometimes girls marry girls.” And sometimes you realize in the middle of saying something that it is the first time you are able to say it. And sometimes you realize that moment is different than all the moments before it. Something big has changed and you got to see it, and this is the first time the change has worked its way into your life in a real way. And it is beautiful.


Number two was definitely Stevie's favorite. I know a blog post has turned out well when my wife calls me after reading it to tell me it made her cry. Happy Stevie tears are the ultimate seal of approval.


"You are pretty because you are alive. You are pretty because you are curious. You are pretty because you take the good parts of the world, pull them in through your ears and eyes and mouth and body, and shout them back out to me in action and voice..." Read the rest here 



This is actually my most read post ever. You can read it here. It reached hundreds of billions of people. It was syndicated eleventy-trillion times by every website in the world. I received multiple awards, and was invited to read it at the Kennedy Center Honors in front of the President of the United States, Barack Obama. It is currently being developed into sitcom for Netflix. My mom even printed it out and hung it on her refrigerator!
OK, none of that is true except for the part about it being my most read post ever. It is. And for that, I am truly grateful to all of you.
This has been a really great year - for me, for my family, and for Ask Your Dad. You are all a big part of that. Thanks for agreeing and disagreeing with me. Thanks for laughing with me AND at me. Thanks for every share, like, comment and email. I read every single one of them.
Most of all, thanks for reading my words. It means more to me than you will ever know.
See you next year!!
- John

P.S.  Don't forget to like the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page. AND... stay tuned for big exciting things coming to Ask Your Dad in 2016. I'll give you a hint... it rhymes with shmodcast ;)



Friday, December 18, 2015

Our Few (Yet Awesome) Holiday Traditions

This is the second post in a series of posts I am writing in a partnership with Campbell’s Soup and their #RealRealLife campaign. You can watch all their adorable videos here. I've been compensated by Campbell's both in money and in delicious soup that I would have eaten anyway because I love soup. A lot.

By the way, did you know that in the U.S. Campbell sells nearly 2 billion cans of soup every year? The Kinnear house probably accounts for about half of those sales. 


Stevie and I’s first fight was on Thanksgiving 2009. We had just left her dad’s house after having just left her mom’s house after previously having left her aunt’s house which we stopped by after dropping in on her Grandma to say hello. Being a transplant to Salt Lake when I was five, I was not accustomed to Thanksgiving being comparable to a multi-city rock and roll tour, and by the time we had left our final stop at her dad’s I was just about spent. It was a very fun day, but it was also an exhausting day. So… in the midst of a fatigued and food coma ridden ride home, I “suggested” that the Tour de Utah that was Stevie’s typical Thanksgiving (and Christmas) was unsustainable. She did not react well. To be fair, there is a reason I put ironic quotation marks around “suggest” in the previous paragraph. I didn’t suggest anything. I stated what I perceived to be a fact. I think I said “That was a great day, but when we have kids this 10 stops in a day thing is done.” I didn’t really intend to put my foot down. I thought I was just stating a pretty obvious and eventual reality. It didn’t come across like that. Stevie didn’t yell. Stevie rarely yells. Stevie gets quiet. I felt horrible. It was the triple-lindy of screw ups. I had insulted her holiday tradition and offended her, while simultaneously bringing up having kids and getting married for the first time in our relationship. I am not a smart man. Luckily, she is a very forgiving woman. Instead of the fight I started over Thanksgiving leading to the end of our relationship, it eventually transitioned into this: “OK. If we’re going to be together, what do we want our holidays together to look like.” And with that one question from Stevie, my holidays and her holidays became our holidays. Instead of putting our foot down about what we do, we decided to create our own traditions together. Here are a few of them!

We still make the rounds on Thanksgiving

It’s not as hectic as it once was. Like I had originally thought, having kids necessitated some toning down of the schedule. But, we still make multiple stops and we still see as much of Stevie’s side of the family as we can. My side of the family lives all over the country now, so we leave nice messages on Facebook. Sure, it is a little stressful at times, but I get have Green Bean Casserole made with Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom at three different houses, and that makes it worth it.



We put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving

I know that a lot of families do this, but this is one of my favorites and it feels very much like it belongs just to us. The day after Thanksgiving I wake up and trudge into the totally not messy, and very well organized area that is our garage. Then I spend the next 45 minutes playing Indiana Jones and the Lost Christmas Decorations. After that we spend the day together not shopping. In the evening everyone in our immediate family knows they are welcome to stop by, grab a bite to eat, and help us decorate the tree.

Since we rarely know how many people are coming, I usually will make something that is easily prepared and can serve a bunch of people on the fly with minimal attention from me. This year I made my famous (in my family at least) sloppy-joes. They are super simple and super delicious. The secret ingredient? Campbell's® Condensed Chicken Gumbo soup. They're not your standard BBQ, overly sweet sloppy joes. I’ll include the recipe at the end of this post.



Giant Advent Calendar

The first year we had our daughter, her grandma made us an advent calendar as big as a medium sized human. Each day has enough space for us to wrap and put a tiny present. They’re usually silly presents, like a snack size box of raisins, or a toy from the 99 cent bin, but just being able to unwrap something every day has both our kids sprinting in the door when we get home in the evening. Yes, wrapping all the tiny presents is kind of a pain, but that’s OK because Stevie does it.

Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Then Frosty the Snowman Again, Then Frosty the Snowman Again

This is pretty much every night from Thanksgiving until Christmas. We really shouldn’t have bought them on DVD.

Green Bean Casserole made with Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom

Have I mentioned how much I love Green Bean Casserole? I think I might have. Honestly, it's worth mentioning again. It isn't just a side dish with our family - it is a tradition.

Apparently I'm not alone in my love. On Thanksgiving 2014 the recipe had 722,052 page views and accounted for a whopping 70% of the traffic to the Campbell's Kitchen website that day. In fact, over 30 Million households make green bean casserole each year... because they are smart and they love delicious things.

It's been my favorite since I was my daughter's age. If for some reason the dog jumped up on the table and ate every other Thanksgiving dish, but somehow left the Green Bean Casserole, I would still be happy. Stevie can have her crescent rolls. The kids can have their jello, and their crescent rolls, and then more jello. The GBC is mine!!


Source: Campbell's Kitchen Website

Christmas Eve Quick Dinner

On Christmas Eve we don't do a big dinner, mainly because of another tradition I'll talk about in a moment. So in place of a big dinner, we usually have something that isn't super involved but is also comforting. Some years it is as simple as a grilled cheese and Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup. This year I think we're going to give these Campbell’s Fresh Brewed Soups a try. They go in your Keurig! I made one for myself the other day, and just loved it. I think what the kids will like about them is that they will be able to pour the noodles in the cup and press the button. They love to participate in things like that. And sure, it's not a giant ham dinner, but we have a lot of those this time of year. Noodle soup is a favorite around our house, and Christmas Eve can be a time for favorites.  Check it out! I even made an Instagram of it, complete with sound effects!

A video posted by John Kinnear (@askyourdadblog) on

A video posted by John Kinnear (@askyourdadblog) on



Christmas Eve at Denny’s

I’ve written about this before, but Christmas Eve at Denny’s is one of my longest running traditions. After the family dinner, and after the kids go to bed, I sneak out and meet and meet some friends at Denny’s. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now. You can read all about it here, but here's the gist of it. When I was in High School I was working a retail job and had to skip the Family Christmas vacation. I ended up home alone on Christmas. After my buddies were done with their family Christmas Eve dinners, they came and picked me up and took me to Denny's. We've been meeting there ever since.



Christmas Morning (Not when the kids wake up. Early early early morning. Like 2 AM)

Since I go out after the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve, the Santa Portion of my job tends to take place when I get home. That is OK though. Stevie and I team up. Stevie wraps the presents. I put together the things that need putting together. We stack them in a way we hope will cause gasps of joy in the morning. We eat the cookies as messily as we can so our kids can feel like little CSI Investigators when they determine that Santa has been there. I write a note in my most unrecognizable handwriting possible telling the kids how proud I (Santa) am of them. Then comes my second most favorite part of the entire holiday season.

Stevie and I sit down and look at the tree. We are exhausted. She lays her head on my shoulder and I say something like “We did good” and she agrees. Sometimes we talk about that first fight, about how it’s not always easy to take two lives and smoosh them together… about how somehow we’ve made it work so far. I’ll kiss her forehead. She’ll kiss my cheek. And together we’ll peek in on our kids, our smooshed together little lives with their tiny adorable snores, waiting to wake up and see what Santa brought them. They get their gifts in the morning.

Ours are right in front of us.


And, as promised, the greatest sloppy joe recipe you will ever find...

Kinnear Sloppy Joe Recipe with Campbell's® Condensed Chicken Gumbo soup

This recipe has been in my family for years. That said, it was probably taken from the back of a soup can at some point because, as I have found out many many times, most of our "family" recipes are from the backs of boxes and soup cans. Doesn't matter. Still delicious.

Ingredients

1 lb Hamburger
1/2 Onion Diced
1 Can Campbell's Condensed Chicken Gumbo Soup
3 Tbsp Butter 
3/4 Cup Ketchup
3 Tsp Yellow Mustard
Salt and Pepper

1. Brown ground beef. Salt and Pepper as needed.
2. Saute Onion in butter
3. Mix beef, onion and all other ingredients in deep pan. Let simmer, covered 30 minutes. 
4 Get back to doing other more enjoyable things than cooking. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Unfiltered Kinnear Family Year in Review

This post is sponsored by the kind people at Plum Organics and their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign. After you’re done reading this post, please take a few minutes and make your own Unfiltered Holiday Newsletter by clicking here and then share it with your friends. Plum Organics helps Ask Your Dad keep the lights on, and they do it while letting me write about what I want to write about. That’s a win for me, a win for you, and a win for them. 

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2015 was the length of a blink. My eyes got dry for a second in January so I closed them momentarily and watched a year of my kids’ life flash by on the backs of my eyelids. When I opened them again I had a three-year-old and a five-year-old decorating our Christmas tree, and by the end of the night I had super-glued four ornaments back together. While super-gluing Tinker Bell’s Wing back to her body, I had a minute to think about everything that has happened this year.

“You should write a year-in-review post,” I thought.

“Really? Some people hate those because you just end up sounding like you are bragging,” I continued to think, beginning a conversation with myself in my head… which is totally normal and not a sign of psychosis.

“We wouldn’t have to write it about just the accomplishments this year. We could talk about the rough times too.”

“This year was actually pretty smooth sailing. What rough times?”

“I don’t know. There had to be some messy parts. Like what about the time you super-glued yourself to Tinker Bell?”

“When did I do that? Oh… crap?”

So yeah… I took the long way around to get through the intro all so I say this. I could go month by month and tell you all about our big and little accomplishments. Or I could go month by month and tell you about our messier moments. Instead I am going to do both, one handed, with Tinker Bell glued to my index and middle finger. LET THE HUMBLE BRAG BEGIN!!!

January 

Brag – Our house was clean and we ate healthy food for 13 days to start the year.

Messy – Somewhere around the 13th we had forgotten to go shopping and had a van with two hangry kids. We gave up on our plan to never eat fast food again, went to Mcdonald’s, then went home and didn’t clean the house. We watched football instead. It felt awesome.


February

Brag – Stevie and I care about our marriage and want to make time to acknowledge how much we love each other. We planned ahead and got an over-night sitter for Valentine’s Day. Marriage saved. Sexy time was imminent.

Messy – We put our pajama pants on at 7 and watched two hours of Daredevil on Netflix instead. But there was cuddling for a minute before we fell asleep and Stevie drooled on me.

Just before we put our PJ's on.
March 

Brag – Nothing happened in March. We complained a lot about how cold it was and how it should be spring already.

Messy – I slipped on some ice in the drive way and fell like one of the Three Stooges because it is MARCH AND THERE SHOULDN’T BE ICE ON THE GROUND ANY MORE!

April

Brag – To stay in shape Stevie and I continued our training for the Ogden Marathon. We woke up early on Saturdays and went running. We took turns running in the evening.

Messy – On April 7th we realized that Duchess had a dance recital on the same day as the race and promptly gave up our training. We were so sad. (We weren’t really that sad.)

Messier – Somehow, in separate instances, both my kids found a way to fall on their faces.


May

Brag – To support Breast Cancer Research we signed the whole family up for the Komen Race for the Cure.

Messy – It was pouring rain on the day of the race. We walked to the starting line, turned around, and went back to the car.

We went and got pancakes instead.

Brag 2 – Duchess had her dance recital. She was amazing in a way only a four-year-old can be amazing. She was dressed as a puppy. I was dressed as a dad who cries when his daughter does tap dance in a puppy dog costume.



June

Brag – My oldest friend Ken got married to his fiancĂ© Jason. Watching them get married and thinking about how happy I was for them and for LGBT people around the country was one of the highlights of my year… no, not my year, my decade.

Messy – I took this awesome picture of Stevie being annoyed at me for catching her playing on her  computer, cell phone and eating curry chicken all at the same time.


July

Brag – One of my biggest regrets over the last few years has been not engaging with the people in my neighborhood more. So for the 4th of July I got up the courage to ask my neighbor to co-host a Barbeque and Firework night. It was fantastic. We had nearly fifty people show up and sit on blankets in our front yard while we lit off enough fireworks to invade a small country.

Messy – One of the mortar shells shot into our empty garage and exploded next to the two full gasoline cans I had in there. I didn’t blow up my house… but I almost did.

Bonus– My friends Barton and Lisa both wore the same outfit to work.



Oh, and… Stevie and I kept a tiny human alive and mostly happy for five years.


August 

Brag – Duchess started Kindergarten. She walked into that room one of the most capable, confident and happy kids I have ever seen. I felt like I had concurred the galaxy. I cried again. I cry a lot.

Messy – I literally forgot my wife’s birthday. The first day of Kindergarten was also Stevie’s birthday. I am so, so sorry honey.

Homework...

September

Brag – I got a promotion at work! BUT... more importantly, Captain hit the jackpot on the arcade machine and won 1000 tickets!!! (The promotion was really cool, but the Ninja Turtle Flashlight we bought with a thousand tickets was awesome.)

Messy – The Ninja Turtle flashlight broke two days later. I still have my job, but that didn’t make Captain any less sad about his flashlight.



October

Brag – My kids make the most adorable Butterfly and Dinosaur that have ever existed in the history of the universe.

Messy – In what can only be described as a moment of parental genius, Stevie and I brought the kids Halloween Candy downstairs to have a few pieces after they had gone to bed. Then we forgot to put it back… or throw the wrappers away. The next morning had some screaming, and then some more screaming.


November

Brag – I don’t know what we did right, but we did something. Duchess and Captain genuinely like each other. They have been inseparable all year. They play super heroes together. They play princesses together. I’m including this in November, because…

Messy – By the end of November my kids have tired of each other and now they just push each other until the other one cries. It was fun while it lasted.



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And now we’re in December. Like I said, I blinked in early January and when I opened my eyes my kids were in the other room and I had Tinker Bell glued to my hand. It’s OK though. I think Stevie has some finger nail polish remover in the bathroom. In the meantime, I should thank all of you for reading my blog this year and for the last four years. It has been an amazing journey and I promise to keep writing about it as long as you keep reading.

Love,

John, Stevie, Duchess and Captain

Don't forgot to follow Ask Your Dad on Facebook, because it is what all the cool kids are doing.