Ask Your Dad Blog

Friday, November 13, 2015

Something I Wrote for My Boy on His Birthday

Last night my boy and I rolled around on the living room floor. He'd run towards me arms out, full scream... “AHHHHHHHH!!" Then his whole self would collide with my chest sending us both rolling backwards. His laugh was like summer rain, surprising at first, comforting as it washed over me, strong until it wasn't. 

After a few seconds of rolling back and forth his laugh stuttered out and I set him down so he could grab more breathe from the room.

“AGAIN! AGAIN! Daddy!” 

He turned, ran to the fireplace, turned again and ran once more to my chest. 


When he was born I never really worried about loving him. When his sister came into the world my heart opened up in a way I didn’t know was possible. I found that love was not finite. My capacity to generate it was nuclear. 

I did worry I wouldn’t get time to know him. 

Life gets busier and busier. My daughter fills a room, a world really, with her joy and her tears. I worried for a while that he would get drowned out by her awesomeness. 

I was wrong. He is a beacon on the mountain. All things come to him, including his sister. They co-exist in my everything. They hold hands in the car. They lay on each other while they watch movies. They both jump on top of me and scream and laugh and scream and laugh and scream and laugh. Then they do it again. 

Last night she was sitting at the kitchen table tracing pictures of Stevie with a pencil while Captain and I rough-housed on the floor. “Come on YeeYee! Come on!” 

“I can’t, buddy.” (She calls him buddy too.) “I’m learning to be an artist like mommy.”

“OK. AHHHHHHHHH” And again we rolled backwards. I am a human roller coaster. I am The Colossus. 

He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates. His favorite word is pleeeeeeaase. Not please. Pleeeeeeaase. When he says “I lub you daddy” I try to blink and capture the moment like a picture. I want his tiny voice in my ears and his face permanently attached to the backs of my eyelids. I want the moments on dial up, random access memory for my lonelier moments. 

After wrestling we got him in his jammies. He didn’t want pants, because he is a normal human being and who really wants pants. I said OK, because I am a kind and benevolent father also sleeps without pants on. I read Little Blue Truck. Then he read Little Blue Truck. I read Naked, and then he read Naked. His turn is really just him turning the pages and yelling out the words he knows. I like to yell them with him. (By the way, Naked is the title of a book. My wife pointed out that this sounded weird.) 

I turned the light off and I sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When I sang “Skies are blue” he said “No. Green.” I sang “skies are green” and he said “no, red.” We went through all the colors he knows and he giggled every time. This is our thing. This is our language. This is our goodnight.  
Foreheads were kissed. Hugs given and taken, and another night with my boy was done. I shut the door and went downstairs. 

Later that night when Stevie and I went to bed I opened his door and peeked in on him. He was asleep, Little Blue Truck tucked in the crook of his arm. It was 11:30.

“What are you doing?” 

“I don't know. I just wanted to see him one last time as a two-year-old.”

“Let me see.”

Stevie and I ended our night together staring, perhaps a little too long, at our boy. Our perfect little dude. Our last two-year-old. Fast asleep and almost three. 

Happy birthday, buddy. We love you. 

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Instructions to Be Followed upon My Death

I've been thinking about death lately. Not in a dark, depressing way. I'm fine. I could work out more, eat better and drink a little less, but for the most part life is great, busy and wonderful. I'm grateful every morning that I wake up to find my son tapping me on the forehead and asking me to turn on Micky Mouse. But still, death has been on my mind. I've lost friends over the last few years. Some had a chance to say goodbye, others didn't. When I was younger I felt immortal. Not so much anymore.

I don't know when my time to go is coming, so I figured I would put this out there. Here are some instructions to be followed upon my death...

Let's start with the simple stuff.

Stevie, please take the useful parts of me and immediately give them to someone else. I don't want them. Take the eyes that watched our kids come into this world and give them to someone else so they can watch their kids refuse to eat salad from across their dinner table. Take the heart that you listened to when you laid your head on my chest and bury its beat in someone else's... not in the ground. Take my skin and arms and legs and guts. Take everything else and offer it up to the world. Give back a little of what it has given me. We don't get to keep anything in this world. It is all borrowed.

Next, please tell the kids to not be afraid to cry, ever. I spent too much of my life afraid to cry. Once I realized that crying didn't make me any less of a "man" and actually made me more of a human, things became remarkably easier. So be sad and vulnerable and weak when you need to. Rely on our family and friends. Their love for you and I will carry you guys through this. You never have to walk alone.

Set up a funeral, but not a big fancy (expensive) affair. Just a room with some chairs, perhaps an ice bucket of beer in the back and couple bottles of good whiskey. I don't need an Irish Wake, but some folks may need a drink. The hard part comes next.

Once everyone is sitting down and had a few drinks, have someone read this:

John didn't really believe in a God. Maybe he was wrong, maybe he was right. If he was wrong, he knows that now and he'll be dealing with it in his own way. If you knew John, you know that he was pretty good at talking himself out of awkward situations. He'll be OK. Most funerals John attended in his life focused on a message that the person who had died would be waiting in heaven for their friends and family. Since that isn't what John believed, he wanted to take this opportunity to write his own message to all of you. Also, he was kind of full of himself like that, so he respectfully asks that you humor him this one last time. Here's his goodbye message:

Hey everyone. Thanks for coming. Sorry I died. I'm sure it's really hard - probably extra really hard for some of you. Maybe just kind of sad for others. However you are dealing with dead me is the exact right way to be dealing with dead me. You be you. I hope I had the chance to say goodbye to some of you. If this happened quick, perhaps I didn't. If I have lived my life in a good way, I would hope that the need for me to say goodbye would be small. I would hope you already know exactly how much you meant to me, and how much you enriched my life because I would have told you over and over again. That said, if you are a random person that knew me in high school and you just showed up because you saw my obituary, I probably never got around to telling you how much I appreciated and loved you, but I did random person I haven't seen since high school. I really did. Probably not as much as I loved my wife and my kids, but you understand that would be silly.

Stevie, Captain, Duchess. (Whoever is reading this, please use my kids real names and not their silly internet names.) I'm sure this is much worse for you than it is for me, because I am dead. I want you to know that you are the very best parts of me. You are everything I ever wanted in life, and every day with you was the best day I ever had.

Since I don't really believe in an afterlife, my consciousness was snubbed out as soon as my brain was depleted of oxygen. That means the alive me is gone. I'm not waiting for you in the clouds or on another celestial planet. I won't be writing any more words. You don't have to listen to me sing anymore. The creative me, the part with autonomy and free will is gone... unless I am wrong.

Tell you what. If I am wrong and I can find a way through space and time to be a ghost in the room with you right now, I will turn the lights off and on... now.

OK. One of three things just happened. A the lights did not turn on and off. B the lights did turn on and off and I have made a horrible mistake and am now doomed to a purgatory like hell, wandering the mortal plane as a disconnected spirit for all eternity, or C someone, probably your uncle, is messing with everyone and turned the lights on and off to be funny. That's not funny, Jim. A funeral is no place for ghost jokes.

But really, all jokes aside, I'm probably gone forever. I'm really sorry that I won't get to see what happens from here. I know it will be a mix of good, bad, great and horrible things, and I know you will handle them all with grace... unless you don't, which is OK too. I know that I did my best to fill your world with love, and I know that in many ways I succeeded. I believe that the people who are closest to you in your life have a way of reflecting your best and worst qualities. When I look at you, all I see is the love I put into the world. So thank you.

Which, I suppose, brings me back to not needing to say goodbye. As was mentioned earlier, I did not put any stock in an afterlife. Some may say that a life without the promise of salvation is a life without purpose. To those folks I say my life was a life filled with purpose... and immediacy. I didn't live for a better world after death, I did my best to use the time I had to make a better world in life.

And, in a way, I do believe in life after death. Just not my life.

I believe in all of you.

And it's with that belief that I leave you all with this. You are what is left of me now. There is no need to say goodbye, because each of you bears the awesome responsibility of carrying me with you... just as I carry the love of the folks whose lives touched mine. I'm not waiting at a pearly gate somewhere. Look left. Look right. I'm waiting there. Unless you are sitting on an aisle. I am not in the wall.

Sorry. I said no more jokes.

If I knew anything to be true in my life, if I ever put my faith in a single belief it was this: You are what you put into the world. I'm done putting things into the world. My house is built and all of you are its foundation. I hope, I pray (yes, I pray) that it is sturdy and beautiful and filled with love.

Thank you. Now go have some beer and whiskey or juice or water and tell funny stories about dumb shit I did.


John (Dad)

P.S. If you liked this, or other stuff I have written, be sure to come like the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page. I'm still very much alive and posting over there. I don't plan on dying any time soon. I just figured I would put this out there in case I get hit by a bus or eaten by a pterodactyl that we thought was extinct but was actually just really really patient.

P.S.S Don't read that first P.S. or this one at the funeral. It would be confusing. The post scripts are for the blog post only.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lee Jeans, Ballet, Tailgating, and Dropping the Ball On Deadlines

So here's the thing. This post is sponsored. Well, it was sponsored. It is for a brand I love, Lee Jeans. Generally I am the one that pays Lee Jeans to wear their jeans, but when I was selected to write about football, Mike and Mike in the morning, and Lee Jeans... AND get paid, I was pretty stoked. This post was due a week ago. Oops.

My Lee Jeans. Well, one of 4 pairs I own.
This is actually the second time I have written this post. The first one was accidentally deleted. I found this out while out of town. Oops again. By the time I got home I had missed the whole campaign. I know. I know. Get it together John. You're a professional. Thanks voice in my head. 

So yeah. I suck lately. I missed the boat on this one. Do you know what doesn't suck at all, in fact, are the opposite? Lee Jeans. Really. I am wearing them right now. (See photo above.) They're a good, affordable brand and they deserved an on time post from me. Know what else doesn't suck? Tailgating. And the Green Bay Packers, who, as of last Sunday, are 2-0 on the season. They play tonight on Monday Night Football. I won't be watching most of that game either. Know what I am currently watching? 

Yep. I'm writing this at ballet practice. 

Mind if tell you what I love about Lee Jeans? If you have read this far I am assuming you don't. They fit and they are comfortable. Yep. I know that may sound like a pretty low bar, but I am a short and round man and finding jeans that fit and are comfortable is not an easy task. For a long time I was wearing another brand that starts with an L and are not nearly as comfortable. Then I found Lee Jeans.

OK, let's talk about tailgating now. This post originally involved tailgating. My two favorite sports radio guys, Mike and Mike have been going head to head in a series of videos for Lee Jeans. I had a whole piece written about how my dream is to go tailgate at Lambeau. 

I used to love tailgating. I used to show up to football games three hours early, cook delicious things on hot grills. We would grab ice cold beers out of ice cold coolers. I would dream of someday tailgating at Lambeau. Greeny is right. Lambeau is the promised land for tailgaters, or so I have heard. In my imagination it is like the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Gene Wilder first opens the door to the candy world, only instead of candy it is beer and bratwurst and green and gold as far as the eye can see. That is what I used to dream of. I didn't dream of ballet practice. I should have.

My daughter is currently jumping in between first and second position. She explained to me what these things are a few weeks ago. We spent fifteen minutes in the living room as she chirped "first! second! first! second! Good job daddy!" 

I was wearing Lee Jeans. 

I probably wouldn't recommend performing Swan Lake in its entirety in Lee Jeans, but jumping between first and second position with your daughter really highlights the Active Comfort Denim that accompanies the Modern Series and Premium Select jeans.

I know this seems disjointed. I am a bit frazzled lately. Tomorrow night is gymnastics. I also just started a new job. The blog is behind. I miss you guys. Life is good. Tailgating is good. Lee Jeans are very comfortable.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Lee Jeans for this promotion.  I have received compensation for my participation, but my thoughts are my own.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Our Dog Riley - An Update

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
#BrightMind #CollectiveBias

As we mentioned in our last post about Riley, we've switched up his diet a little bit. We'd noticed some differences in how he'd been acting lately, wasn't really interested in playing, didn't pay much attention to the kids. According to experts at Purina Pro Plan, around age seven, the glucose metabolism in a dog's brain begins to change, which can affect memory, learning, awareness or decision making. 

So we picked up some Pro Plan Bright Mind dog food from Purina at PetSmart that designed for senior dogs. He's been on the new food for a little over a month now and I'm super happy to say that we've seen some great changes. He's got some spunk, and he's starting to play his old games again. He never really did traditional things like fetch or rollover. But he did used to play this fun game where he'd bite anything moving under a blanket. Whether or not you knew you were playing. 

I'm so excited for his new found energy and willingness to play. It's not that I don't love to cuddle with the boy (who doesn't love some cuddle time with that cute face??) But it's nice to see that he's interested in some of his old games these days. 

We made another video to show you some of the things he's been up to in his day-to-day lately. Like I said before, he's definitely an old man. But he's my old man. 

Do you have a senior dog that will always be your puppy? Right now if you Spend $10 on any Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog or Cat Food* at PetSmart between 8/31 and 10/4, you can save $10 on your next Purina Pro Plan Dry Food purchase, 14-lb. or more, on or before 11/1!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

5 Children's Books That Don't Exist But Should

Remember the timeless classic children's book from a few years ago, "Go the F*ck to Sleep"? If you don't, you should check out this dramatic reading by the one and only Samuel L Jackson. A family member e-mailed me the link to that video for the eleventieth time the other day and it got me thinking. What other tongue-in-cheek kids' books do I wish were out there? Here are five. If any publishers are reading this, feel free to contact me. I can write these.

How to Wipe Your Butt