Friday, May 30, 2014

"Are you going to try for a boy?"

"Are you going to try for a boy?" 

This, by far, is one of the most common questions my wife and I get when we mention to someone that we have four daughters. This is understandable. People who have four boys probably get asked about "trying for a girl" also.

(SIDENOTE: I'm not the type to get offended or make a list of what people can or cannot ask me, e.g. 10 things not to say to a father of four girls or 5 Things to say to a SAHD.)  

Now, this is not going to be a blog post about fertility or ovulation timing or the Chinese calendar, or all those other things that probably my wife can pontificate on, but I really don't care about.  

The main fact that I want to point out is how silly it seems to be to "try" for something that ultimately is totally out of your control. I mean, "trying" for a baby, in general, I can understand. You obviously have to do your part on that (but even then, and sometimes for inexplicable reasons, it may not happen). 

So, I know that there are things you can do to "improve your chances" of having a particular gender (frankly, I don't really buy into them, that's just me), but in the end, it's kind of just up to God. 

So, my answer to this question is always, No. No, we are not going to "try" for a boy. That would be foolhardy on my end and probably just lead to disappointment when we would (inevitably) have a girl.  

I am happy with the four girls that we have. They are cute and fun and make our lives meaningful, sometimes stressful, and definitely not boring. I honestly don't regret not having a boy - it obviously wasn't meant to be.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Four Daughters

Pre-blog reading disclaimer: I know there are many athletic girls out there who love sports, but apparently our oldest is not one of those girls. Here's a conversation she and my wife recently had as we were prepping to go on a picnic. 

Wife: Why don't you bring a ball? Go get one and throw it in the van. 

Oldest: Why? 

Wife: What do you mean? 

Oldest: Why would we bring a ball? 

Wife: To play with. You know, like kick ball, soccer, something like that. 

Oldest: <blank look> 

Wife: So, I'm guessing you don't want to bring a ball. 

Oldest: No thanks. 

Wife: You're not going to want to throw a ball around? 

Oldest: No. Where's the jump rope? 

So, jump rope it was.

They could swing for hours (and no, we don't make them wear helmets while they do)
I write this because on Saturday, I participated in a church softball game, and I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had done anything remotely group sport oriented. And I was thinking that if I had four boys and not four girls, this probably would not be the case. Because although there are many boys who don't really like to play sports, the majority of them seem to. I know my brother and I did when we were young.

Now, since I homeschool, I have spent hours teaching the girls how to play kickball and baseball and soccer (for P.E.), but let's face it, I don't have a girl (yet) who has expressed real interest in playing competitive sports (unless running around is considered one.)

They loved me bonking them with the noodle.
Maybe the younger two will be different, but who knows. It doesn't really matter in the long run, but I just thought that it was interesting.

I feel like I've let the sports-loving person in me lapse over the years. My mediocre performance at the church softball game and my aching legs the day after prove this. 

What's my take-away? I think I'm going to start making my excuse for things a little more specific. For example: 

Me: (hitting a pop fly at church softball game) I have four girls! 

Me: (to not knowing the Mets record) I have four girls! 

Me: (to not knowing the names of the Cars characters, but remembering all of the My Little Pony character's names) I have four girls! 

Anyway, you get the point. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we asked the pastor of the church we were then attending to officiate the ceremony for us. So, he agreed, and he wanted to do a few sessions of premarital counseling. That's great, and it would have been great, but he was... (we'll just say that he wasn't right for us). I mean, his biggest obsession was trying to figure out what all the "skeletons" in our "closets" were. Well, we ended up dumping him and getting a friend of ours to marry us, so "Pastor Peter" is now just a fleeting memory.

I tell that story as an intro to share about the REAL skeletons in our closets in our house. And by that, I mean those places in our house where there is constant turmoil, but no matter what we do, we can't seem to get it together (and, I mean this literally). So, here they are:

The Sock Bucket. 

Some of these socks have been in here for years. We're still looking for their brothers.

Anybody else out there have one of these things in their house? You know, the place where all the onesie socks go? We do, and let me tell you, it can be a major disaster. The other day, my wife emptied out the entire bucket looking for a pair of socks, and only found 8 single socks. The thing is, she actually only has about 10 pairs of socks, so WHAT THE HECK. Where in the world are those 8 matches? Where!?! Only one place, probably, and we'll need to trek to the basement for it...

The Laundry Pile. 


Here's where I provide a link to this post about why our laundry pile is ridiculously high (We have Four Kids). There have been a few times in the past year where we have effectively washed every piece of dirty laundry. But then, our kids took a bath, or wet the bed, or decided to make mud pies that day, and... we're backed up again. What can you do? Well, since we're already in the basement, let's head over to another place I would normally ask you to avert your eyes from...

That One Corner of the Basement. 


This is where we keep things like certain Christmas decorations, my wife's pile of Stuff-That-One-Day-She-Will-Sew, a toolbox, a large bag of children's shoes (having four girls necessitates that we save every single pair of shoes - some kid will eventually wear them), a large plastic bin that we're just not going to open, a bag of bags, wrapping paper, Holiday-themed books and movies, the list could go on. Let's just say that every time we try to organize it, it seems to get worse. 

(Thinking about these places of chaos makes me feel overwhelmed, so let's go see if my wife will make us some brownies. Oh, no, that leads us to another one...)

My Wife's Baking Stuff Cabinet. 

Of course, since I've written about it, it doesn't look so bad...
The Wife loves to cook and bake - awesome! However, this cabinet is sort of like one of those closets where you open it, and things just start avalanching toward you. Or, it's sort of like a Muppet Babies closet - remember that? - You open a door and all of a sudden it's space, or a jungle, or ... you get the point. She'll clean it out and straighten it up occasionally (one time, she found a whole bag of Craisins, unopened, that had been shoved in the back of it for probably a couple of months), but then it will slowly make its way back to the mysterious jumble from which she will create bakery goodness.
So, there you have it. Four of the skeleton-filled places of our household. I've heard that the more you share the bad stuff about yourself with people, the closer you feel to them. So, you should all feel closer to me now, and I will just imagine all the messy nooks and crannies of your homes and I'll feel closer to you. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Family Thing

What's your family's thing?

I think every family has a "thing." And by that, I mean, something that they all like to do together, maybe rituals or traditions or something like that.  I think it's usually (although not always) driven by what the parents like to do, and I think that it's interesting to think about what our family's "thing" is. And I think it's cool to think how it may evolve as our kids grow older and develop new interests that are different from my wife's and mine.

So, I think our thing is that our family likes fantasy/adventure/imagination stuff.  My wife thought it was funny that one day she came home from work when our oldest was a baby, and there we were (Dad and Baby) sitting on the couch watching one of the Lord of the Rings films together. 

Subsequently, we will often have some fantasy film on at any given point during the week, like if we are having an informal dinner or lunch (sometimes these are known as "Snacky" meals), or if it's rainy or snowy, or if we are all sorting/folding buckets of laundry. 

Funny: We were at a friend's house for dinner and we brought over The Fellowship of the Ring for the big girls to watch... The part with Gandalf "dying" came on and our friend was like, "Oh, that's a scary monster, isn't it?" and our girls just said, "It's called a Balrog."  

The girls don't just like to watch movies with fantastical/magical elements in them, they like to read fantasy books, and write about/pretend little fantasy scenarios (among other things, of course).

Now, who knows if this will stick with the girls, but hopefully it's part of our family glue, in a way.  It's sort of one of the things that bonds us together - a family narrative, of sorts.  And, whether or not they continue to like fantasy movies or stories, I would hope that we encouraged them to think creatively and feel free to embrace their imagination in whatever they end up doing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If Dads Had Play Groups...

If you're a stay-at-home Mom, you'll know that there are all these "groups" and "playtimes" that you can go be a part of, take your kids to, hang out with other moms, etc... My wife has told me on several occasions that I should go to some of these groups and take the kids, hang out with other- wait a minute. I'm a Dad. Not a Mom. So... I'm not sure about this. 

I know that at one point in my life, the thought of hanging out with a bunch of women and being the only guy would have been ideal. You know maybe when I was in college and... not married with children.

So, I have to tell you something, and I don't claim to speak for every man, but I will speak for myself: I really have no desire to hang out with a group of women anymore. Frankly, that's my Monday through Friday routine. It's nothing personal. It just may be a bit awkward... for you and me.

In fact, it's a little too "girly." Since I have four girls (plus a wife), I feel like I already get my fair share of girliness. If I could bottle the estrogen that pumps through this house on a given day, I could probably rival any pharmaceutical company out there. And, let's face it. Do the women really want me there? Probably not. It would probably be weird for them. Sometimes I feel like maybe my kids miss out because of this, but then I just buy them an ice cream cone, take them to the playground, or direct a play for them to be in, and they're happy. Or, my wife takes off a few hours from work and we drive an hour to the nearest Barnes and Noble. Then we're all happy.

But my wife has mentioned several times that she thinks I should start a Dad's Group. I hate starting things, so that's a no go on many levels. But I started thinking... What would this Dad Group look like? I'm betting it would go something like this...

Dads arrive with the kids. If there are any girls among the children, their hair would either be down or in a ponytail. No braids or other fancy stuff. 

No one says anything at first except for maybe "Hey!" More than likely, heads would just head nod as the men shuffle toward the coffee maker and get coffee. That itself would be in doubt because who would make the coffee? Each man would probably come armed with their own travel mug or cup bought from Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, or a gas station. 


There would be no snacks unless some guy brought donuts. We would nominate him to be the "planner" for the next one. (In other words, he would choose who bought donuts next time.)

Now, you could hear a few conversations spring up. What would they consist of? Who knows. But I'm sure movies would come up.

By this time, kids are running around like crazy and Dads are ignoring them (I feel like Moms would have toys set up, or a craft prepared). As far as men are concerned, the kids just need an open field or gym. 

There would be definite periods of silence as men take sips of their coffee and stare at the sea of children crashing around... or at a car passing by... or a tree swaying in the wind. We wouldn't want to say too much. Don't want to be too "chatty." But during these periods of brief silence, we would call out the name of our children just to fill in the gaps of wordless minutes.

Side tangent: True story about my Dad... When I was a kid, my Dad and another man would meet occasionally at Burger King to "hang out." I would go with him to hang out with my friend. All they would do is sit at the same table and drink coffee. For 45 minutes or more, they would just sit there. And drink coffee. No small talk. No chit chat. Nothing. The would maybe speak a sentence about something every 10-15 minutes. That's it. That's hardcore, people.

Anyway, back to the Dad's Group. We wouldn't meet from 8-10 or 9-11. It takes too much "planning." We would meet until our travel mugs are empty of coffee. Think of it as some sort of coffee hourglass. When the coffee is gone, that would let us know that we've been there long enough.

So... we call our kids and leave. There would be no saying we're leaving and stay for fifteen more minutes to continue talking. Once we say, "Time to go," we're out! We get the kids in the car and drive away.

It's then I realize that we never introduced ourselves. Oh well, we'll introduce ourselves at the next Dad's Group... 3 months from now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Father... Another Name For Provider

Being a SAHD can be an isolating journey. Many people have their own perceptions on what I do or why I do it, and most of them are probably wrong. I've often heard this phrase: "Husbands/fathers should be the provider of the family." 

I wholeheartedly agree... just not in the way others may believe or that sentence implies.

A father is a provider. 

I'm also a firestarter... the non-horror movie kind

If the family needs a cook, he is to cook; if it needs a handyman, he is to fix things; if it needs a dishwasher, he is to wash the dishes; if it needs a hairbrusher, he is to brush hair; if it needs a defender, he is to defend; if it needs financial support, he is to work; if it needs him to stay-at-home, he is to stay at home. 

If it needs the lawn mowed, he is a lawnmower... man... I guess.
That is what a father does. He provides. He is to provide whatever the family needs. 

Just as Mom is to be the model woman in the family, Dad is to be the model man (unfortunately, I often fall short of that standard). Though I would love to provide financially for my family, I am not a mere paycheck. I am more than that.

Sometimes, I am a giver of ice cream.

So... as I have worked in "a world of moms" for the past 9 years, I have come to this understanding - I am not a one-dimensional character that can only earn a living. I can build a family and take care of one as well. 

Why do I do it, you may ask.
Though it is none of your business, I will answer the question anyway. (Especially, since I am writing about it in an open forum making it somewhat your business.)

So, why do I stay at home? 

Because that is what my family needs of me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Play's The Thing

As I already stated in an earlier post, I’m directing a play right now. 

The Last Rose of Innod

I originally wrote the story in novel form a few years ago, but then I kind of dismantled it and used parts of it in another book that I’m currently trying to get published.  So, it was sort of not a book any more, but the basic story was still there, and it actually worked well for a play, I think... I hope... now I'm beginning not to care at all as long as it is presentable.

I kind of feel like I need a mini evaluation/reflection session right now (perhaps with a therapist or a counselor), since we are about to launch into the final part of the rehearsal process – the BIG OVERHAUL.  Basically, the play is blocked (at times I'm not so sure), essentially rough-sketched, out... sort of... or at least it should be.  Anyway, now is when we must put it all together, and take it up notch, after notch, after notch. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. 

So… here are some reflections about this process so far to help me reinvigorate for the last leg:

     The good thing about producing/directing your own play is that you don’t have to pay any rights or royalties to a playwright/publishing company.  Plus, you get to have the satisfaction of seeing something you wrote take form and shape.   Also, there’s the knowledge that people are going to actually see and experience something you wrote (see also bad experience), which is more than you get as a solitary novel-writer whose books are not yet published.

2.       The bad thing about producing/directing your own play is that sometimes you can’t get a fresh feel about it, since it’s so close to you.  In my case, I feel like I was already tapped out creatively when I starting rehearsals, since I had to finish it really quickly and jump right into everything. Another bad thing about directing your own play is that people will watch and experience something you wrote (translation: they will also judge it).

3.       The funny thing about this is that I’m working MOSTLY with teenagers (some younger kids, including my two oldest daughters), and they are a pretty interesting subset of the human race... almost alienish. Sort of kids, sort of adults – on the verge. You never know what you are going to get - will it be an adult? Will it be a child? But really (thankfully), these kids are all pretty good to work with, so I'm not complaining. For the most part they all work really hard, and even after I harangue them about things, they tend to pull through.

4.       There’s nothing like a play to foster community (if you don't kill one another first). Theatre is the ultimate collaborative art, and in my opinion, it’s the easiest way to make friends (or enemies) and feel like part of a team.  Most people like being involved with a production, even if they didn’t realize how much work it would be (I think it’s a shock for some to realize how much time and effort is put into a production, even a small one like ours).

5.       If you’ve been part of a production before, you may have experienced “Post-show Depression.” This is when the show is over, and you’re just sitting around, thinking about how much time you have on your hands, and you are simultaneously:

a.       exhausted (and not wanted to do anything)

b.      bored (and wanting something to do)

c.       glad (that you don’t have any more rehearsals)

d.      sad (because you want to go back to rehearsal)

Phew, I think it worked.  Now, instead of stressing out, I’m going to live in the moment, realize that I’ll feel like this was “the best time ever” when it’s over, and embrace the insanity. Okay, maybe that is way too idealistic, but at least it distracted me for a moment.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

First Blog Post

I'm debating whether I should start writing my blog again.

Some of you may wonder, if you even care, why I haven't been faithful to the blog, why I haven't been writing it. Well, it's easy enough to explain - I didn't want to.

Also, I've been too busy writing another book to worry about a blog. A third reason I haven't been keeping a blog is because I was having difficulty coming up with ideas to write about.

If I do start one again, I've decided I could use old posts and just repost them, which is a simple solution until I come up with good, new posts.

Now, you may wonder why I'm doing this. Why am I trying to start a blog again? To be honest, I wonder that as well.

I've come up with a couple of answers. (I've put them in bold to make them appear a bit more important.)

1. I feel like I should be doing something a little more proactive in my search for publication. I know this confession may be a blog killer, but I really don't feel like I have something important to say. I just feel like I should say something regardless how useless it is.

2. In case I am published, I am ready with a blog (Because every author needs one, right?) I need some place to hawk my wares.


I couldn't think of any other reason. So there it is - my list! I kept it brief so you can read this at work without drawing too much attention to yourself.

So this (artificially) draws me back to my original thought. Should I start a blog or not? Feel free to leave an answer.