Category Archives: Family

The Board of Fame

My desk is a regular menagerie of small knickknacks that my children have made or given me over the years. I have a little jar of gold my daughter bought me while on vacation, clay sculptures, fimo bears and an assortment of “best papa ever” statues and plaques. I just have a hard time getting rid of them, and so they have slowly taken over my desk to the point where dusting is a full day event.

I’m just that perfect bad combination of pack rat and sentimentalist.

This is most obvious when you look at the bulletin board I keep above my desk. Here you will find a dizzying collage of graduation announcements, thank you cards, posters, first communion invitations, baby pictures and wedding invitations.

If you send me a note, it must go to the Board of Fame.

I just love looking up and remembering all the relationships that mean so much to me.

So I decided to share a little of it with you. The first thing that pops out to me is a song my daughter wrote for me:

The Song of Nature
As I walk through the breeze,
It get’s everywhere except my knees.
And while the petals fall like fairies,
It makes me so merry.
And like I see the swallows fly over cliffs and meadows,
I see the sky turn red, pink and different shades of yellow. 
And as God plans everything,
One day we must go on His wing.
To: My dearest Papa
From: His loving daughter Aurora

Could you throw it away? I certainly can’t. It’s hung right above the Star Trek figurines that my wife got me for my birthday last year, right next to the picture my other daughter drew of our dream boat, named “Loft Oin”.

There is the graduation announcement from one of my youth group kids from years back, and no, it’s not a high school announcement, it’s for college. When did I get so old that my first youth group kids are married and having children? Well look there, there are some of their baby pictures.

No, it’s not all that formal. I don’t have them framed, and you can date them by measuring the dust. Like my memory, much of the past has been covered up by the new, but I know with a little work, I can pull back the layers and look into the past of those who changed my life, by letting me into theirs.

One quote on my wall grabs my attention:

“You create your own universe as you go along.”
-Winston Churchill

Lawns are Stupid

It’s not so much that I hate grass, I am rather indifferent to grass in general. It is very pleasant for a green, living carpet if that’s your kind of thing.

What I truly dislike is yard work.

I know what you are thinking. “Nobody likes yard work Dance, it’s just what has to be done to make your house look nice.”

No. It does not “have to be done.” Lawns are stupid.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I know people who actually like this sort of thing. Their idea of a great day is getting out there, planting flowers and shrubberies and messing around in the dirt with their fancy flower laced gloves. I respect that. I am also fully aware that there are plenty of people who actually enjoy the labor of cleaning up their land, felling trees and running tractors like farmer John. That’s fine, whatever floats your boat is fine by me.

Why does that need to imply that I must have my yard look tidy? So you care enough about your curb appeal to work on it, so what? I don’t. I’d rather go for a walk, or a hike or pick my nose or any other myriad of things. I don’t want to mow my lawn and trim my hedges. It’s not fun at all.

Here’s what is even more frustrating. I like my grass long. Very long. Waist high. When I was a kid, I used to love running through the open countryside through the tall grass. I love the smell of it, the critters scurrying underfoot, the way the wind plays across the field. I think it’s far prettier than your silly green carpets.

I like dandelions too. (Gasp!)

In fact, I don’t just think lawns are silly. I think they are stupid. They feel so industrial, all cut the exact same height. It’s like a desert of mutilated grass stalks. I bet they cry. Do you feel like butcher with green grass blood all over your shoes?

I know that this is silly to most of the people out there reading this, but I really honestly don’t want to mow my lawn. I actually, truly like it just the way it is. If I don’t mow it though, everyone else sees it as unkempt, and that saddens me. I don’t want to feel like a slob.

So here is my request for the day. You hard working, lawn loving fanatics out there, can we just shake hands and be friends? I’ll ooOOoo and Ahhhh over how nice your shrubberies are cut and how fresh and green your lawn is, and all you have to reply is, “Geeze Dance, I love that natural touch your yard has.” That’s it. Then we can be friends.

And while you are at it, pay no attention to the fact that my Christmas tree still hasn’t been taken to the dump.

Wet Noodle Dance

So I’m not sure if I did the right thing. I went and got my children an X-box for Christmas.

You should know, we did not even have a TV for many years. I’m rather uncomfortable with the idiot box in general. It’s not so much that I can’t stand the degradation of common decency that is present on the thing, I do, but there is a deeper issue for me.

I have no attention span.

What this means is, if the TV is on, I can’t hear anyone speak to me, nor can I be a useful member of our household. If the TV is on, I am glued to it, period. I can hate the show, be angry at the commercials, wish that all the crap was taken off the air, and at the same time, I cannot hear my wife calling me in the kitchen. TV just doesn’t work for me.

While it certainly shows how brilliant all those producers and directors are out there at grabbing our attention, it has also been something I have had an aversion to for most of my life. We usually have a TV in the house, but it is primarily for movies. I can’t even remember the last time I actually watched a live TV show. But I digress.

We live in a very rainy climate, and that means we stay indoors for most of the winter. While this has made my daughters very good at knitting, it does not give them much exercise. Enter X-box Kinect. For those of you who don’t know, Kinect is a device you add to your game system that makes you able to control the game with your body instead of the hand held remote like thingy. If you want to race a car, you just act like you are holding the steering wheel, and it sees you and the game responds accordingly. Pretty darn neato really.

There is however a problem. Racing cars just doesn’t seem to excite my kids. No, they want to dance. So I said sure, let’s buy the dancing game.

What exactly was I thinking here?

There are two major problems here. One is content, and the other is the removal of my masculinity.

Ok, now I like to dance, I mean heck, my name is Dance, I can hardly get away with it. Clearly however, my idea of dancing is not relevant to this game. I don’t think I have ever tried to dance to such hits as “Right Thurr”, “Rude Boy” or “Turn Me On”.

Now, I will admit I am protective, but I have never tried to hide my kids from the evils of the world. We just let it pass, and then I talk it to death. (Effective strategy so far by the way, I think my kids have my voice rolling around in their heads permanently at this point.) Having it blasting on my TV speakers however is another matter. At first, this just made me uncomfortable, but at this point, we have made such fun of the songs that when they start up, we immediately start laughing. So yes, my daughters do know the words to “Baby Got Back”, but they also have a silly dance routine making fun of it. Give and take I suppose.

There is however another issue. I pretty much do everything with my kids, and so now, I am expected to jiggle my behind along with them.

Now, on a twelve year old, this is cute, but on a thirty five year old balding man, not so much. Every time my wife comes in the room she just starts laughing at me. Now I will admit, that is a standard response in my house, but this time it’s not because I look funny. Now it’s because I look like a wet dancing noodle.

X-box, you have stripped me of my masculinity. Now even my sister wants to come to visit just to watch the spectacle.

The Sound of Music

Right now I am being blessed. If you walked into my house at this moment, you might not think it is so, but I assure you it is true. You see, my daughters are performing their mandatory half hour of musical jubilation. I am completely aware they do not feel jubilant about it, and to be honest, it’s not exactly, well, musical to my ears either. My piano playing daughter is playing at about twice the speed needed, over and over again, and my budding violinist doesn’t really have great pitch yet, and I cannot help but recall the sound of two cats fighting.

I will say this, they are oh so much better than last year, the bleeding in my ears has finally stopped.

It is a blessing. I think of all those who get to miss these real moments just because they are not altogether pleasant. They are my daughters, and though their music dulls my taste for any sound whatsoever, I am so thankful for hearing them.

I have two points, one about homeschooling from a father’s perspective, and one about music.

We live in a culture absolutely saturated with sound. Every advertisement, movie, ride in the car, ride in the elevator or walk in a department store is done with an accompanying soundtrack. Our children can’t hear us over their ipods, and we can’t even go for a jog without ours. So much noise. The worst part is, it is all of such good quality.

Good music is a bad thing you say? What do you mean by that Dance?

Well, good music is not a bad thing, but so much of it gives us a totally incorrect view of music in general. Let me put it this way, what do you think it takes to become a country, opera or rock star? You have to be good, really darn good. In fact you really have to be in the top .01% of mankind to be good enough to reach that kind of success. So all we ever listen to is the very cream of the crop whenever we listen to music. Guess what? Nothing you can do will ever match that. A hundred years ago you would go to the local dance hall, and hear good folks in your community play some music, and it was good, and you loved it. It was a treat to hear music at all. The fact that everything wasn’t perfect didn’t hurt your expectations in any way.

Now however, one of the main complaints I hear about at Mass is the choir is terrible. Actually, they usually aren’t, but your ear is way to dang good. If you were surrounded by the top .01% of speakers every day, you would never open your mouth because you would feel like a fool, like you weren’t good enough. I think the fact that someone is willing to sing and play at all in our modern age speaks volumes for their courage.

Next time you hear some good live music, just say thank you, that was wonderful, and I love your selections. Keep the bad opinions to yourself, chances are, they don’t deserve it.

Now for homeschooling.

I realize that homeschooling is not for everyone, and would never advocate that it is. For me though, the greatest blessing is not moral, but personal. I just love my kids so very much, that I can’t imagine a day without their lives flying around me like acrobats in a circus. They drive me crazy, they play badly, they sing at the top of their lungs the same line in a song over and over again, and they laugh like angels playing the harp. I treasure it all. I would hate to give even a moment of it up for a kings ransom. The fact that I only have had to pay for that honor by owning old beat up cars and living in a cheap small house seems like a great bargain.

Not to mention the fact that I get to show them how serious their faith is on a daily basis with daily Mass and prayer built into our life. That is worth more than a kings ransom, that, is what my soul was made for.