I realize it’s been a while since I posted. The ending of summer, travel for work, back to school for the girls, and summer semester finals and projects for me have kept me busy. We pretty much stay on the run nonstop now.

It was an eventful new school year because my baby, Amelia, started kindergarten. Fortunately, Olivia is at the same school (in 3rd grade) and has been able to help little sis out. Before they started, I told Olivia she’d have to show Amelia the ropes. This was of course countered with, “daddy… we don’t have any ropes at our school.”

That’s when I told her it was just a figure of speech, which was met with, “What’s a figure of speech?”

Never mind.

The girls are enjoying school so far.  Olivia is in the accelerated 3rd grade class – a point that she makes every time she tells someone what grade she’s in.  They are riding the bus for the first time this year.  Fortunately, they are only on it for a few minutes because we are the last neighborhood to be picked up and the first one to be dropped off.

Olivia begins her extra-curricular activities next week.  We started something called Girls on the Run.  She’ll be doing some actual running (culminating with a 5k), but they also have a curriculum designed to help young girls develop confidence and build a positive self-image.  I’m not really sure what to expect; I just hope she can start running with me someday (and get a cross-country scholarship to college in 9 years).

Amelia already has three new BFFs and no telling how many boyfriends.  She is not going to make fatherhood easy for me.  Here they are from their first day of school…

 

2014 School 2

2014 School 1

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On the day of this being published, the US will play its first (and possibly last) game of the knockout round of the World Cup. Sara was the captain of her soccer team in college, but I know about as much about soccer as I do about soap operas. In fact, they seem kind of similar – over dramatic with very poor actors. At the onset of the US/Portugal game Sara told me that soccer players were tougher than football players becuase they don’t wear pads. After about two dozen flops, dives, and players rolling on the ground crying – yes, crying – she recanted that statement.

Regardless of the level of toughness of the players, I have to admit that, like most of the country, I am keeping up with the World Cup. During the World Cup we always hear about how soccer is gaining popularity and will make a breakthrough in the US.

Don’t hold your breath. Yes – I am watching and even recording the games while I am at work, but that does not make me a soccer fan. I mean come on – I watch bobsledding and luge once every four years but that doesn’t mean I’ll be traveling to Sweeden anytime soon to go sledding.

Don’t get me wrong. Soccer is a great sport. The barrier to entry is low, it has international appeal, it is safer than football, and the uniforms are quite spiffy; but a 1-0 win after two hours of viewing is just not satisfying enough for most Americans. Here are my suggestions for making soccer more exciting:

  • Play with three balls at once… more action = more scoring = more exciting
  • Every time a player flops and does a poor job faking an injury, the opposing team’s striker gets to kick him in the shin as hard as he can
  • One person on each team is allowed to tackle anyone, anywhere, anytime without a penalty
  • Stop the clock when not in play and actually play a specified amount of time like every other friggin sport in the world.  Then you will actually know when the game will be over and clock will mean something!
  • Ban all players who wax their eyebrows – yes, I’m talking about you, Cristiano Ronaldo

Apparently we are now cat owners. I’ve never liked cats… in fact I may have never really liked people who like cats – I’ve always been more of a dog person. Our dog, however, is almost 15 years old and we’re not sure how much longer we’ll be dog owners. Plus, I have to admit that having an outside cat to keep all the critters under control around the house wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

This cat showed up one day as we were having lunch on the porch. I tried to scare him away, but he actually walked toward me. Later, as I was doing some work outside, he was right underneath me the entire time. He’s really more like a dog than our actual dog. It’s been a week now and he is still hanging around (plus he has a name) so I guess he’s ours. About the name – Olivia made a comment that I finally had another boy around the house and he loves to follow me around, so she named him “Jason Junior”. I shortened that to JJ – I’m still not really a cat person.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roW356B0bxs

Check out this video for an introduction to JJ by our correspondent, Amelia.

A few years ago, we had to come up with Olivia’s Native American name for school. I named her Smiles-With-Freckles. It seemed fitting and stuck. Olivia also made sure to tell the other students that she was part Native American – I’m sure nobody believed her. I think I am something like 1/32 Native American, but the German ancestry seemed to win out for most of my DNA. On the other side, my wife is Scandinavian, so Olivia looks about as Native American as an albino squirrel… technically, I guess those are Native American.

Despite her paleness, Olivia’s Native American spirit has begun to emerge. Both of the girls spent last week in Tennessee at Nana and Granddaddy’s. They got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Amy and her boys, Blake and Matthew. They are older than the girls and were able to teach them a few things. I’m not sure what all the girls learned during the week, but I do know that Olivia tried to shoot a frog with a BB gun.

Being an over-the-top animal lover, Olivia shooting at any living creature is like Gandhi getting into a barroom brawl. The funny thing is that she had no regrets. In fact, she asked me if we could go shooting. She later asked me if I would take her hunting. The idea of her sitting still and quiet for hours is laughable, but I appreciate her enthusiasm.

Where did this killer instinct come from? I can only attribute it to the hunter spirit living deep within her… or an older, male cousin who showed her that shooting stuff is pretty fun. As for Amelia, she said that she wasn’t old enough to shoot a BB gun yet (must be all of those episodes of A Christmas Story), but have no fear – if there is a warrior in our household, it is definitely Amelia.

The girls have just one more week left of school and then summer vacation officially commences. I can’t believe Olivia will be a third grader and my baby will be in kindergarten, but I’m also proud of the girls they are growing up to be.

We kick off the summer with the girls’ annual trip to Nanna’s. Sara and I take the girls up for Memorial Day weekend and leave the kids there to spend some time gettin’ countryfied with the cows and chickens. They love it and I’m glad they have the opportunity to spend some extended time with my family. I know Nanna enjoys it – though I think she is silently thankful when she gets to hand them back over to us after a week of quality time.

We’ve already taken our family vacation this year, but Sara and I have another trip planned in June for our 15-year anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been that long. We’ve decided that there should be a 15-year “We Made It” shower because all of our wedding gifts are pretty much worn out now. Hey – it’s not fair that we have to buy gifts for friends who are remarrying while all our stuff is decomposing!

Hopefully it will be a fun summer with lots of time at the cabin and on the lake. Last year was kind of a wash out with all the rain and unseasonably cool weather. I want to make a concerted effort to maximize our time with girls. Olivia is already starting to spend time in her room with the door shut. That’s one of the reasons we got the cabin… with four of us confined to 968 square feet, solitude is not an option.

I look forward to the summer and hope all of you spend yours wisely.

I turn 40 this year. I already have my progressive lenses (that’s the new politically correct way of saying “bifocals”)… I can’t sleep past 6:30… and I’m finding that injuries are coming more frequently and lasting longer.

I’ve always been a pretty active person. I work out daily, run whenever I can find the time, and spend as much time as possible outdoors. You would think that would keep me operating in top order, but now things just hurt more.

Just last week, something happened and I may be dealing with a hernia.  I’d like to say that I was lifting a tree or deadlifting 400 pounds, but no… I was play-wrestling with my 5 year-old girl. 

We have a game that the kids call “Bad Guy/Good Guy”.  I don’t know where they came up with the name, but I’m the bad guy.  Basically, I get down on the ground and they run at me full speed.  I catch them and do a sort of fake body slam.  At this point a bunch of tickling or fake punching ensues.  We generally continue this until someone cries.

Last week; however, it was me who had to throw in the towel.  My oldest, Olivia, outweighs her younger sister (barely), but is much more gentle.  She runs at me and slows down a little to soften the impact.  Amelia, on the other hand, is about as gentle as a mother grizzly bear with a caffeine buzz and serious anger issues.  She comes at me full speed and hits me like a linebacker.

As I lifted her up after one of her attacks, something gave.  It felt like something popped out pretty far north along my hip flexor.  I’m a week into it and still hoping that it’s a pull or strain, but I’ve had those before and this just seems different.  Also, I’m finding that my old tried and true method of ignore it and hope it goes away seems to be much less effective than it was in my younger years. 

I want to give it some more time before going in and getting it checked out and I can be very stubborn about these things.  Last year’s IT Band Syndrome left me unable to run much more than a mile or two without excruciating pain in my “one good knee”.  However, after waiting it out (for about six months), it finally went away – leaving me vindicated in my decision not to seek medical advice.

So here I am again… in pain, but too stubborn to do anything about it.  Yes – I know all about the medical risks and know I should probably have it checked out, so no need to nag about it. Like I said… I’m stubborn – it’s one of my biggest faults and greatest assets.

We went on a Disney Cruise and Universal for Spring Break… now I’m spring broke.  We had a great time.  I think this will be a memory that the girls will have for the rest of their lives.  Here’s some photos: