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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

A snow mountain in a Hy-Vee parking lot in Sioux City. (AP)

Dear Old Man Winter,

We get the joke.

Oh, we understand all the “weather outside is frightful” stuff. You’ve made your point — and pretty emphatically, too, I might add.

You’ve brought us plenty of snow this season, thanks. We¬†embraced that winter wonderland thing for about a week, just long enough to ensure a white Christmas. We appreciated it. Really, we did.

But you just didn’t know when to stop, do you? Look, for all the snow you’ve brought us this year, we really haven’t enjoyed much of it. No full-out snowball fights, no monumental snowmen, no igloos, no heavenly snow angels. We haven’t even been sledding this year. NOT ONCE, dangit. Your snow has either been too talcum-powder dry (like last week) or just too freakin’ MUCH (like a few weeks ago).

And that’s to say nothing of the sun-less days and biting winds. I mean, really. Can’t envision Currier and Ives scenes when everything has the pallor of soggy wool socks and the sting of rubbing alcohol on a sunburn.

I mean, you’re supposed to be fun for kids of all ages, right? Not hearing many squeals of delight around our house lately.

And now we’re getting the gloomy, sun-less stuff. Even when you thaw just a little, you can’t let us have even a glimmer of shiny hope, can you?

This isn’t the first year we’ve had this discussion, either. Remember the ice storms of two years ago (the one that brought a tree branch through our roof)? Ring a bell? And how about the snow avalanches of 2008-09? It’s deja vu all over again, dude, and we’re not down with it.

Seems this is what global warming’s all about — that winters can actually be harsher. I think that Gore fellow’s on to something. (I prefer the term “climate change,” actually. A little less misleading.)

Here’s the deal, Winter Guy. We’ve had our little fling. It’s over. I’ve found another season to love. The thrill is gone.

Sing it, Terry:

Nothing personal, Winter. You’ve just overstayed your welcome.

I’m sure we’ll get over it, and welcome you back in December. For a week or two, at least. But for now — time to hit the road, Jack Frost. We get the joke. It’s just not funny any more when you keep telling it over, and over, and over.

Sincerely,

The Pratt family, the state of Iowa, and most of the northern United States

cc: Mother Nature

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Frankly, I don’t have any great words of wisdom to share as we prepare to emerge from the 2000s, or the “aughts,” as they’ve become known.

I do realize, though, that as parents, we tend to operate in the short term. Which practice is on the schedule tonight? When’s the Pinewood Derby car need to be done for Scouts? (soon, actually) Where’s the gear for the upcoming season, whether it be snow boots or swim trunks?

I took some time today to reflect on all the changes we’ve experienced, as a family, since the decade began. The big picture, as it were. What’s changed?

Everything.

Both of our kids were born in this decade. That’s change enough for anyone, with the routine of life turned upside down.

Other changes have been substantial, too: Settling into the house we had recently purchased in 1999, a new car bought in 2000 (the car we’re still driving, in fact). And that’s to say nothing of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, 9/11 and the myriad of world events that have been chronicled endless on the decade-retrospective lists.

But in our little corner of the world, it’s been the kids that have shaped our decade. We’ve gone from decorating a nursery to solving algebra equations. From bottle-feedings, to hospitalizations and surgeries, to the first successful bike-ride and the family traditions we’ve begun to establish.

What did we do with our time before we had kids? I know we were busy, but I can’t imagine we were busier than we are now. Sometimes it’s a little much, but we’re on the path now. No turning back.

At this point, nearly a decade into our parenting journey, I’m not sure we’d even know which direction to go.

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summertime

Image via PhotographyBlog.com

It’s been quite the unusual summer for our family.

First, because of changes in our job situations, the kiddoz were home all summer, rather than going to full-day child care. On balance, I think it was good for them, and I KNOW it was good for our bank accounts. Was it good for the parents? On balance, I think so, but a few breaks are always in order, if you know what I mean.

Second, it was just an odd summer. It feels more like summer now, today, than it did in July. Our vegetation is getting mixed signals on a massive scale. Wonder if hibernation is affected by the weird weather patterns?

And third, we hit a few more milestones this summer. Our 8-year-old is now an avid bike and scooter rider, as well as a deep end-tested swimmer. The 4-year-old is actively engaged in disassembling things around the house using tools, and comes into his second year of preschool this fall as an accomplished artist, reader and writer.

We’re now fully returned to the school routine, which gives us a bit of a daytime break and keeps those active brains (the kids’, not ours) engaged. And as I prepare for my third job change this year, it seems worthwhile to chronicle where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite books, “The Journey is the Destination,” taken from the journals of Reuters photographer Dan Eldon. Dan experienced more in his 22 years than many of us will experience in our lifetimes. Here’s hoping that we all will continue to experience all life has to offer on our journey — this summer (even as it winds down) and beyond.

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carpentryOur 4-year-old’s been pleading with me lately to help him build a playhouse.

Not a pretend playhouse, mind you, or one made from a miniature-sized kit. He wants the real McCoy. The full-sized, full-featured, structurally sound playhouse. Preferably one in a tree.

I’d love to do it for him, but in my heart of hearts, I know there’s no way. Because, see, I’m no carpenter. I can handle basic woodworking jobs — like, say, gluing a chair back together, or erecting a fort with Lincoln Logs, or building a garage sale sign. Framing work? Fuhgettaboudit.

But he’s convinced that it can happen, because as he’s told me, “You can do it, Daddy. You can make anything.”

He’s seen me work on various odd jobs around the house, change the oil in the car and fix deck boards, so naturally he assumes there’s nothing outside my skillset.

It’s a good facade. I know it won’t last forever. He’ll end up learning what a klutz I really am.

But for now — maybe I should tackle that playhouse job. Maybe he won’t even notice if it doesn’t have a functioning door. Or a floor. Or a structurally sound frame.

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I am missed

One of the biggest benefits of my new shift (2-10 p.m.) is that I can spend a substantial chunk of the first half of my day with the kids. It’s a good time to be with them, because they’re still energetic and open to ideas on how to spend their day.

But one of the biggest drawbacks of my “tweener” schedule is that I end up leaving right in the middle of the day — often just when one activity is transitioning into another (i.e. after lunch, before a trip to the pool).

Nearly every day now, as I’m preparing to leave for work, I’m sent off with tearful hugs and wails of “I’ll miss you, Dad” from our 8-year-old. (Getting nonchalance from our 4-year-old, but that’s just his style. I’m sure he misses me too.)

It’s not good to have to leave at such an awkward time of day, but … it’s nice to be missed.

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I had an exchange with our 8-year-old this week that unintentionally prompted a much deeper reflection.

As many kids do, he was communicating with his younger brother via yelling. I don’t recall the topic, but I grew tired of the high-volume exchange and asked the boys to stop screaming at each other.

“Well, if you didn’t want to hear yelling, you shouldn’t have had kids,” the 8-year-old replied.

Part of that is nonsensical, of course, but he has a point. There are certain things that come with the territory, as it were, when you decide to have children. Many are welcome, of course — the legacy they’ll forge, the sheer joy of their discoveries, the unquenchable love they foster.

But on occasion, there are a few flies in the ointment as well. It’s not a secret that raising kids is no walk in the park. Tempers will flare. Frustrations will surface. Nerves will fray.

On balance, most viable parents would agree that the positives far outweigh the negatives. But it’s still a valid question to ask: Why, exactly, did you have kids? What was our motivation? Did you feel obligated, rushed, or pressured to produce offspring? Was the timing carefully considered? Did you hear a biological clock ticking?

Feel free to comment here, and we’ll get a discussion going. Everyone has their reasons for having kids. I’d love to hear yours.

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(this perfectly symbolizes the path we’ve been on lately)

As I’ve mentioned, there are a number of changes coming in my job, including one that’s pretty significant — a new schedule.

Starting Monday, I’ll be working Monday through Friday, 2-10 p.m. That arrangement has its pluses and minuses, both personally and professionally, but the best parts of it are:

— I’ll be able to see the boys during the day, before I come to work.

— I’ll have Saturdays off, for the first time in eons.

Those are a couple of pretty big positives, so I’m going to focus on them for now.

Adjustments? There’ll be plenty. But in the big picture, I’m ready to roll with them.

Let’s see what the world does with 2-day weekends!

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