Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Covered in Lava but otherwise ok

We had a significant enough earthquake today to shake some buildings and leave us uneasy. We evacuated our building in somewhat ordinary but urgent manner. We were well trained and it showed as we poured from the building and assembled in the parking lot.

Phone lines were jammed and I wasn't able to get in touch with my family until later in the day. When I finally got through my wife relayed this conversation with our four year old.

"Daddy was in the earth quake today,but he's ok," said my wife.

"He's ok? Is he just covered in hot lava?" asked Molly.

"No, he's not covered in lava."

"He just has lava then and he's ok."

"No honey, lava wasn't involved. It was an earthquake not a volcano."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wrestling with Molly

My youngest daughter still likes to wrestle. I'm grateful because my six and nine year olds, Claire and Patrick are losing interest. Molly is just that rough and tumble type that loves physical contact, pushing, shoving and hitting. She is a beauty who will bat her eyes while getting ready to knock your lights out.

Keep in mind that she is every bit of a four year old, but with an increasing and expanding vocabulary. Kathleen is a stay at home mom who is very sensitive to what our children learn, watch and say. I know if there is any corruption of rules or etiquette, it either comes from me, church or her twice per week day care.

On one occasion where we wrestled, I pretended to be hurt. She likes to fool me with the "Dad, I have to go ask mom something", distraction. While I am "not paying attention", she attacks me from behind and really lets me have it. She proceeded to stomp me screaming, "I have mad skills", at the top of her lungs.

Patrick and Claire just stood by cheering.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Have courage to be together. Getting away doesn't mean spending money.

Our family just returned from a wonderful vacation at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Kathleen made all the arrangements, invited our great Texas friends and basically took care of everything while I worked. I jokingly, but reverently told my coworkers that all I had to do was point the nose of our minivan in whichever direction the Garmin Nuvi GPS indicated. It was all taken care of.

While on vacation our first two days were spent catching up with our friends and taking the short walk to the beach. The weather was beautiful and the sand, powder sugary. These first days were enjoyable and low stress. We just had to figure out what we wanted to eat.

We stayed at the Lighthouse condominiums with a terrific view of the gently rolling waves. From our eight story perch, we could hear the waves and the sounds of laughter echoing up the terraces. The funny thing was what drew our children’s attention. It wasn’t the Gulf waters as much as the pool. Not even the outdoor pools called as strongly as the indoor pool; we could have stayed home to do that.

Soon, the waves and fun didn’t call as much as the tourist opportunities. Our first official outing took us to LuLu’s. This restaurant is owned by Jimmy Buffet’s sister LuLu. It is entirely outdoors with some shading relieve us from the 90 degree temperature. However, the biggest draw to two of my children was an elevated walkway towering three stories above a sand pit. This attraction featured a metal structure where harnessed visitors could walk obstacles up to 40 feet off the ground.

Unfortunately I have a fear of heights that my nine year and six year old children just didn’t comprehend. I thought I would have a break since my four year old was too young. However, my loving wife decided she would make the “sacrifice” and stay behind with her.

My fearless children didn’t realize that even though I’ve jumped out of airplanes and rappelled from helicopters in the Army that I have a deep respect for heights. Being clipped to a winding overhead track while escorting my adventurous young ones was almost too much. They did a terrific job while I fearfully followed.

Here are some other great beach vacation attractions:
Visit the Pensacola Naval Air Station Aviation Museum
Take the glass bottom dolphin tour
Eat at some of the fantastic restaurants
Shop at the outlets
Speed away in go carts and kiddy rides

When we returned home a week later, I asked my children, “what did you like best about the vacation”. They mentioned the beach, the pool, friends and family. However, they didn’t mention any of the attractions my wife and I thought were “must see”. It seems that just as our past adventures demonstrated. It’s the togetherness that counts and what you do while together. Don’t worry about the tourist attractions or spending a lot of money. Just have fun and be together.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The family walk

Claire, our three and a half year old middle child is very competitive these days. One evening we had the bright idea of getting away from the TV and out into the fresh air. Fixed on the grand plan, the Bennett’s were going on a family walk and nothing could stop us.
A half an our later, Kath and I were exhausted and a little damp from the exertion. Still determined, we finally rounded up the cast and wrestled them into their shoes.
Fifteen minutes later Molly, our two year old, screamed for us to go as she sat in her umbrella stroller, Patrick our six year old was still protesting about the dumb old walk and Claire struck out in the lead, determined to beat everyone around the block.
“Okay, we’re out numbered but it isn’t hopeless,” I said turning to my wife.
My beautiful bride Kathleen rolled her eyes and used her big girl voice. The birds flew from their perches, the neighborhood children stopped their games, the townspeople locked their houses but our troops responded and order was once again established.
Keep in mind that it’s been about 45 minutes since we hatched our grand idea to go for an after dinner walk. We are still in our driveway with Molly in her stroller, Patrick just down the walkway on his bike, and Claire half a block away and still running. “I want to win.” we could still hear her voice trailing away.
A while later and only a quarter of the way our children were having their second melt down.
“I wanted to win,” cried Claire (I mean really crying, big tears and all). She threw her arms around me.
“Go, go, go,” screamed Molly, upset that we had stopped her stroller ride.
I looked at Patrick who was beaming proudly after beating his sister in a bike against runner race.
“Claire, he’s on a bike and you’re running. I really don’t think you are going to win.”
Claire began to jump the way three year olds do when the world comes to an end. “I want to win for three whole weeks.”
Kath and I looked to one another for an explanation. Not finding one we just laughed.
There were several more races that Claire lost and Patrick had no idea he was involved in. Molly continued to encourage forward progress, while Patrick resumed his inspection of each and every fire hydrant along the way.
Though outnumbered and clearly outwitted, we parents still brave the family walks. It’s a time of learning and growing, talking and explaining, and making up. We look forward to our next adventure.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Let's lead them down the right path...

...but sometimes it's so difficult. I'm a fun loving guy who likes to play pranks on my children, but sometimes it backfires and causes problems for my wife. Take for example this morning as we got ready for chuch. As I was dressing my children, I couldn't help but notice that my daughter's maroon and heavy material dress came with accessories. I thought it odd that a three year old would have a hoodie on a dress. It looked kind of monkish or clostic.
"But why does it have a hoodie?" I asked my wife as I inspected the dress and accessories hung on a hanger.
We had began the morning with me discussing reasons why I shouldn't be the one picking out the children's cloths.
"That's not a hoodie, it's panty covers."
Well, maybe it wasn't a hoodie, but it did kind of look like a barrett. Later as I dressed her, my imagination led me away to a place where my daughter would wear such a barrett.
"Here, Claire, let's put your barret on." I had just finished dressing here and began folding the "panty covers" into the form of a hat. Claire didn't resist as I lowered the waist band over her crown and flopped the rest of the "hat" to one side.
"Oh Claire, you are sooo beautiful. Go show mommy."
"Daddy, I am beautiful," she said to herself in the mirror. "Look at my hat mommy."
Kathleen shot me a look as if to say, "would you please what you tell the kids?"
Needless to say, we had a difficult time trying to convince our poor three year old that daddy was just playing and that no, she could not wear "panty covers" to church.