Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A change of plans

As I blogged yesterday, I pondered the depth of consequence related to over 24 hours of driving to attend Thanksgiving festivities in Michigan. The more I pondered, the more I thought about flying. I remember the first time I checked flights this summer the cost was 4-500 dollars per ticket. The opportunity to drive on new roads into Michigan drew my attention. It was settled. Drive to Mt. Pleasant.

Kks is a well behaved little girl. She has her tantrums (don't we all), she has a strong will (makes sense in this family), but her mother and I frequently marvel at how she participates in the adult world. Some parents talk to me about how they never take their children anywhere. Not true for kks.

This thanksgiving trip will be her 6th trip...by airplane.

259 per ticket--according to current IRS mileage rates, flying will be less expensive for us than drving. Kks will be able to run around in the airport during layovers. We will be able to spend an extra day with family as opposed to spending it in the car.

Sounds like a good investment to get on that plane. Kendall's mother agreed with me. Air travel is not always bliss, but weighing the options--it's up, up, and away...

Happy Thanksgiving! We will enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A rare thanksgiving

Since kks parents have become pastors, the Thanksgiving holiday follows a certain pattern.

1. The other side or my side of the family tree comes to us.
2. We travel a few hours to kks' mother's side of the family for the day.

This year looks a little different--it is exciting to travel to my brother Beaker and his wife's home in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, home of the Mighty Central Michigan University Chippewas. The scary part is how kks will do in the car for 12+ hours going each way. We are stocking up the car with activities to keep her occupied. The trip to Kansas went fairly well, minus the coughing spell that she would not let us treat. She sings, sleeps, takes in the scenery and chats--much like her mother and father would.

Usually the strain of 2 Thanksgiving Eve services would prevent us from traveling--but these Presbyterians are not into that Thanksgiving Eve worship thing. I don't even have to preach this Sunday, so the time to take a trip is right.

Let us hope we are ready and pray for traveling mercies.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Acquiescence to parenting publishing

My wife picked up a book last week about parenting. The books are not all the same, but my attitude generally is. To bore you with the title is not worth the effort of creating the link. There are too many trends to monitor and if I were a betting man, something I read and practice from a parenting book will cause kks to approach me in later years, wanting to cash in on the mythical "therapy jar."

I already know everything about parenting, dammit.

Okay, so I picked something up. To simplify the thought: "The louder she screams, the softer your voice goes."

I tried this today. The list of Sunday events after church include managing waves of crabbyness in the three of us. I made a demand on kks, and her response involved shouting. To tell you how she screams...well, I can't. I plead the Fifth (hint: it sounds a lot like me when I scream). For some reason, the grace of God came to me and I spoke softly to her. As her grandmother calls kks the magpie. She responded with a soft voice and touched my arm. Calm. Extended crabbyness, averted.

This technique is actually similar in congregations. They shout a lot about their predicaments. I respond with a calm voice.

To practice at home what I preach at church is not easy. At least my wife is willing to take in some parenting wisdom, and maybe I can grow up and take some, too.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The joy of a simple day

Fred Rogers has calmed down kks, something her mother and I were not able to do this morning. Two time outs, lots of tears, and a series of doing things not quite right. The reflective questions are starting to register, though. I like these conversations with kks. I imagine that when she finally becomes able to put together long sentences I will wish for days when I did not know what she was saying. I hope I don't become a parent that dreads the teenage years.

Today is going to be a simple day. It is supposed to be 67 degrees here in the Sioux Falls metro--I think we will go for a run together, play at the park and go to the the fine cinematic production Chicken Little. kks is not running long distances yet--we picked up a baby jogger last month. I like these simple days.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Learning about God from parenting

First of all--kks was not feverish throughout the night. We're keeping her home today so that her recovery is full. More liquids and rest today, though I imagine that difficulty in keeping her calm is ahead.

Some have written that parenting gives the parent a minute perspective of the way God experiences us. At times I watch kks reject anything associated with her mother and me: I can figure this out myself! What amazes me is I can offer her something, have that offering turned away and then a few moments later hear her request for the same thing--only then because it is "her" idea. I do not have a problem with this--my self-esteem bubble is such that affirmations from a 2-year-old are not required for daily living. I can also say that I imagine that in our future there will be times we may not be getting along. This may not change my relationship with kks--but pain of the heart may be closely connected. Is this a link to the suffering of God?

Commenting on co-dependency is one thing--I enjoy how we seek to connect with one another and how those emotions and actions for kks grow into maturity. She is growing beyond mere repetition of what her mother and I do in basic interaction. She is connecting emotions and action in her own way. I make no veracity claims connected with cognitive development--only that her relational development is accelerating. I find this development a joy to watch. I imagine the joy of God as we are watched.

Monday, November 07, 2005

sick little girl

Kks showed signs of illness after her mother and I returned from a date the other night. After a nice evening of Italian food and conversation, I picked up kks and her face was cherry red with her body having the ability to warm garlic bread.

After several movie viewings and cups of 7-up and apple juice, kks is a little more herself. I knew her body was off when she took 2 naps today. Her energy is short lived.

Rectal thermometers should be outlawed. My favorite part of this how to link is step number 6. "Little girl, please stay still." Ha!

Time to buy a new temperature gauge.

A doctor visit may be in order tomorrow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

slumber party

I threw kks a curveball tonight.

The face of bedtime has changed over the past few days, as now the little girl can open a door with a door knob--a significant skill transition. Room mobility is a simple at her mother's parents, they have lever door handles. Nothing in that house can be sacred unless it has a lock. We use cheap white plastic knob covers in our house to control kks traffic, and those are saved for special doors. Now If she wants to leave her room, she has the freedom to do so barring sleep time or discipline.

At bedtime this evening she responded with her typical litany: "I don't want to go to bed." This is not a BBC-style argument "Excuse me, Faaaather, I shan't retire to the boudoir, for I have not reached that level of fatigue. Kindly adjust my shhhhedule in order that I may take in some literature." The Kks litany sounds like it would belong on a Swedish situation comedy. This must be the Northern Great Plains rubbing off on her diction. The kks utterance has a sing-song rhythm. I dig the sing-song stuff. When I lived in Copenhagen I used to love to watch Swedish television, especially the news--I would just get fixated on the rhythm and melody in something simple like the declaration of an occluded front over Goteborg (not that I understood exactly what the broadcaster was saying--my Swedish comprehension is slightly above understanding the Swedish Chef). It was a source of peace in a world in which I could only participate in a limited fashion. I think the Swedes could actually invade the United States and take over if they would merely talk to us. At least I know I would be hypnotized.

Rather that repeat the announcement of bedtime to kks, I brought the dog in. The whole house was surprised, including the chocolate lab. Kks and the dog were going to have a slumber party. The dog looked at me with the look "what in the hell are you doing to me?" He has slowly become used to the idea. The little girl also thinks it's quite special, and bed time suddenly became a desirable activity. We shall see how long this enterprise lasts. Regardless, we have reached a high level on the cuteness scale.

Friday, November 04, 2005

my daugther, the carnivore

For at least since 1991, I have skewed my eating habits toward the vegetarian side of the fence. I can only describe the looks received when making the reluctant proclamation about my dietary relationship with veggies and other non-animal death products in this way: my grandmother thought I was in some sort of cult. My grandmother is from the Pacific Northwest as well. I've had it easy being a vegetarian back in the Northwest. At least only some folks from the homeland merely thought suspiciously of me. But I also knew that there were many others who had made a similar dietary choice as me.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been rated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--aka in SD--"People Eating Tasty Animals") as the least vegetarian friendly city in the United States. My observations are anecdotal, but to not eat meat does not merely create suspicious looks...but it becomes an offensive statement to residents of this region. So I only try to stay away from meat. I am reminded of this hostility when I drive west on Interstate 90. A billboard by the side of the road reads "In South Dakota, we REJECT animal activists." On that drive I might see a bumper sticker that reads: "Eat Beef--The West Wasn't Won On Salad."

I wouldn't consider myself an animal rights activist--I've just found that it is the best health choice for me, and I believe it to be good stewardship.

I found it interesting that kks put away about a half pound of taco flavored beef tonight. She ate it like she was a vulture. Her eyes were fixed as if she was stocking up her body for hibernation or waiting for the next kill. I wasn't offended. I was in awe. This growing girl needs food. Kks may become Miss Beef America--I'd be okay with that. Regardless of how our diets my diverge, I was still in awe of the consumption I saw.

The seed has sprouted

On a crisp autumn morning, kks and I went out to the driveway to try out our new hockey sticks. This activity held her attention better than putting in the basement as I attempted last winter. She enjoyed gripping the hockey stick--she only tried to hit the hockey ball a few times--it was a bit awkward to maneuver a stick taller than her. She rolled the ball to me after a few tries and liked how I would collect the ball and shoot it toward a small goal I set up in front of the garage. The lesson for the day was simple: keep your stick down. This rule was beginning to register after awhile. It helped that it was cute how she said "hockey."

The play time we have these days is much more connectional for me--it is a new thing for kks to enjoy something I would like to do. It is also fun to participate in her developing interests.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The little girl mocked me!

Kks and I went to hang out in the basement last evening. As we walked downstairs, I stepped on our dog's pinch collar--spikes pointed upward (yes, we ARE inhumane freaks, but we value our appendages in the Smales household). I responded with a pain-ridden utterance: "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow!"

Kks not only repeated what I shouted, but copied my voice as well as Fred Travalena would. She then let out a cackle--both amused with her impersonation and my pain. My wife thought this whole thing was amusing.

I found the pain was well worth the laughter we shared.

P.S. The real value of this posting is that you learned a lot about Fred Travalena with the link--and all the celebreties who amuse the guy by taking a photo with him. I wish I could hang out with Alice Cooper. I hear he's quite a golfer. I need a partner to work with until kks' is willing to use her putter for putting rather than as a weapon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trick or Treat Liturgy

I try to keep a balance of "forcing" kks to do certain things and having her "discover things on her own." She was not so agreeable when it came to trick or treating--but I thought she should give it a preschool try. I wanted her to improve on last year's tally of one house.

Off we went into the night sky. As Yogi Berra once said, "It gets late early here." The night sky was startling in its earliness--back to Standard Time the night before.

She grasps routine quite well.

1. Point out the decorations on the house.
2. Walk up to the front door.
3. Ring the door bell.
4. Hear the remark about cuteness.
5. Say "trick or treat."
6. Open your bag to receive the treat.
7. Say "thank you."
8. Say "have a good night."
9. Repeat at the next house.

Kks knew the routine in stages without my prompts--especially "have a good night!" We visited 7 homes--almost all of the people we knew. Being young and cute seems to net extra treats. My earliest memory of Halloween was when I asked my mother if I could be a moustache for the festivities. I think she turned me into a cowboy with a large moustache an exclusive (?!) in the Sierra Heights neighborhood of Renton where I have this memory of walking around the blocks adjusting the fuzz on my face. I have some early memories of life--I wonder what kks will remember. My Spiritual Director said that this blog will be quite a gift to kks someday and may contribute to her memories. It is on this day we will remember that we created the trick or treat liturgy. Something a father-daughter combo of Lutherans would think of doing.