Archive for November, 2012

The Boy is Concussed

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Well, to be clear that’s not a doctor’s opinion; however, the evidence is pretty heavily in favor of that diagnosis. During his hockey practice on Wednesday, he collided with another player, hitting face-mask to face-mask in the process. He says that his head started hurting after that. When he came off the ice, he came right over to me and told me he had a headache. He complained it hurt more after we took the helmet off, though I attribute that to the adrenaline from practice running out.

We went home, he took a shower and went right to bed, but he didn’t sleep well. He got up a several points during the night to complain to me about his head and his room being hot. The fan helped him a bit with the room, but I told him there wasn’t much we could do about his head. We kept him out of school yesterday since his head was worse by the morning.

By midday, his head was feeling better and he said there was no more headache at that point. As bed time approached, however, he said it was starting to bother him again. He went to bed at the normal time and slept well, waking with no headache this morning. We sent him to school today.

The headache came back around midday today, as the school nurse called to let us know. The plan was to let him rest a bit and get him a little lunch and some drink and see how he did. We didn’t hear anything more today until he arrived home. He got off the bus and complained that his head was hurting again. He said it never really stopped but he didn’t want to go back to the nurse so he just stayed in class and took it easy during recess and some other things.

Somewhat compounding the problem is that he might be catching a cold. His colds are often times accompanied with headaches. The Wife and I are figuring to keep him out of hockey this weekend to be on the safe side and possibly ask his martial art instructors to give him a pass in sparring next week. He’s a bit young to chance getting multiple concussions.

I’ll note that the initial symptoms after hockey and such as he described are pretty similar to my own experience from being concussed, including the headache that peaked about 12 hours later. Fortunately, the helmet kept his experience from being on a par with my own. Unfortunately, it didn’t prevent it entirely- that’s disappointing.

The Lass Goes Too Far

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Quite possibly, one of the lass’ more enduring traits is also her greatest weakness. She has a seemingly endless drive for fun and games. She laughs easily and is fun to be around, especially for girl friends.

But there’s a downside to this behavior- she can’t easily turn it off. Or, perhaps more correctly, she doesn’t know when enough is enough. The result is the fun ends on a low note, either she gets yelled at or someone gets hurt.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised at the story the Wife related to me earlier this week. She had taken the boy to his martial arts class on Monday. I had gone to play racquetball, so the lass was with them.

She’s no stranger to the school, and the head instructor has always been amused by her and her antics. They typically would play little games where he would stop and talk to her, tease her a bit. When she was younger, she would bring a tea set to the school and he would ask her for a cup of tea. In turn, she would call him silly and play hiding games and the like. The Wife or I would usually intervene so he could get back to his duties. Outside of this, she plays with other kids there who are either waiting for their class or waiting for a sibling’s class to end.

On Monday, she was playing with other kids and things had gotten a little rowdy, it sounds. The head instructor asked her to stop. The lass told him “No.”

The rest is predictable. He went and found the Wife and informed her that the lass had sassed him. The Wife came out and had her apologize, but the damage had been done.

The Wife and I had warned her many times now she needed to learn when to stop or she’d end up making the mistake with someone else. Now that she has, perhaps now she will.

Goodbye to an Old Friend

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When the boy was still an infant, one of the Wife’s friends crocheted a blanket for him. It’s a small blanket, though at the time it was big enough for him to be covered up by it. But it wasn’t quite big enough to swaddle him in.

It became his favorite blanket, despite a number of other potential candidates including a couple his Grandmother had made (those were big enough to swaddle him in). Blankets with Sesame Street characters and Super Heroes on them all fell be the wayside to this simple, light green blanket.

Now, this wasn’t a “Linus” blanket. He didn’t carry it with him everywhere he went. Though when he was younger, if he was found napping, “Green”, as he came to call it, was often clutched in one of his hands. He would bring it along for long trips and, as he got a older, it was his goto companion when he went to sleep.

When the boy turned 5, I argued with the Wife that we should remove the blanket from him. It was, in my view, the equivalent of a pacifier and I felt he was getting too old to be dependent on something like that. She countered that he really only slept with it, that it basically stayed on his bed and we should let him out grow it on his own. I grumbled something to the effect of how long would we wait for him to give it up? Until he’s 10? or 13? It wasn’t going to be easy either way. I lost that argument and the boy kept his blanket with him. I kept my feelings to myself for the most part. The Wife knew, but I never mentioned anything to the boy.

Then, this week, he decided to put it in a drawer in his dresser. When I put him to bed last night, he asked me “Do you see anything that’s missing, Dad? I’ll give you a hint, it starts with ‘G’.” He then showed me how he’d neatly folded it up and placed it in a drawer in the dresser I’d made him. It was a drawer that he used for other keepsakes as well.

Curious, I asked him what had prompted the change. The boy shrugged his shoulders and said he “didn’t want to be a baby anymore.” He further elaborated that it was a little embarrassing when he had friends over and the blanket was still there. He figured he was old enough that it was time to put it away.

Despite my own feelings about the blanket, which admittedly had only intensified as he’s gotten older, I winced a bit internally when he mentioned how the blanket embarrassed him. It was a long fall from grace for something that had held such high status for so long. But sometimes, that’s the way of it.

He gave the blanket a final look before closing the drawer. Then, he climbed into bed. I noticed that his hand made a strange motion, as if clutching for something it expected to be there. The boy looked at me and grinned sheepishly, his expression asking me a question that most kids ask their parents at one point or another: Did I do the right thing?

I said “Goodnight” to him, then gave him a hug and kiss. My final thought before I turned out the light was “It’s just a blanket.”

Snow

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It’s been snowing lightly today. It’s cold enough for it to hit the ground as snow and stick, but only just. Still, makes for some cool pictures.

I Don’t Love a Parade

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One of the local towns had a parade this weekend to kickoff the Christmas season. Cheerily titled “The Holiday Dazzle Light Parade” I’ve dutifully watched it from the sidelines for the past several years. I say “dutifully” because of all the things I’d like to be doing, parade watching it way down there on the list. Actually, it might not even be on the list.

But that’s just me.

The Wife has a much different view of parades, as do both of the kids putting my firmly in the minority on the matter. Thus, each year I do my duty.

Being the Cub Master for our Cub Scout Pack, I got a different view of the parade this year. I marched in it along side the boy. Or, I should say, with the boy. He was handing out candy initially and, when he exhausted his supply, he rode on the float that a couple of Moms in the Pack put together for the occasion.

The different view was an improvement over the prior one, since, give the choice, I’d rather be doing something and walking the parade route, monitoring kids definitely counts as something.

But it also gave me a chance to realize something that I think every parent knows, but finds it difficult to put into practice. We want to expose kids to different experiences. But those experiences are often filtered through the ones that we, the parents as people, prefer thereby denying a lot of different opportunities or experiences to our kids. Given a choice between a parade and, say, a day of woodworking, for me, there is no choice. Give me the wood and saw any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I think it’s largely natural for us (parents) to do this. Our most stretched resource is time and given a choice most of us would rather spend it doing something we enjoy that we can share with our kids. Thus, family traditions are propagated down through the generations. Also, I’ve found that as a parent there kind of a “stride” that we hit or a rhythm to our life where we rotate through a set of activities that are all similar but different. Striking out and doing something really different just doesn’t come to mind.

It’s easy to forget that, even though they’re our kids, they are not us. While they’ll likely enjoy the stuff we choose to do with them, there’s little reasons to suspect that they won’t enjoy other things that we might never think to do, like participate in a parade. The boy had a blast doing it and I suspect he’ll want to do it again next year.

And that will be fine. Even with admitting I had some fun this year, I still don’t particularly care for parades; but that doesn’t mean the boy has to.

From the Desk of Santa Claus

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Dear Boy and Lass-

I just wanted to send you a short letter to let you know that Sparky is getting very excited to see you again. All the Scout elves are trying to get lots of rest because they will soon be making nightly flights back to the North Pole.

I have received your Christmas Wish List letters. My elves have built a lot of great toys this year. I bet we may have something you would really like. Be good … and keep sharing with each other and listening to your Mommy and Daddy. Doing chores around the house would be a big help to them too.

Sparky will be visiting you very soon!

Love, Santa

This letter was waiting in our Christmas tree this morning. Full letterhead and everything on a golden, sort-of-sparkly paper. Sure looks official to me.

Let There be Flashlights

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I had to head out for a few minutes this evening to do the grocery shopping. Before I left, I contributed to the outdoor decorating festivities by putting installing the outdoor timer for the lights. It’s real tricky- a stake has to be driven into the ground, then the timer is mounted to the steak. Finally, plug the timer into an outlet. I had an axe and a flashlight to make sure I got the job done right.

With that done, and the Wife and kids hanging lights, I readied for my departure by heading over to them and asking which one wasn’t doing anything. The Wife was stringing the lights up, the boy was holding the strand. The lass was supervising, so she got the short straw.

I walked up to her and held out the flashlight, a nice 3-D-cell Maglite. (I also have a 4 battery Maglite, but no one else is allowed to handle that one.) When she grasped it, I fixed her eyes and spoke to her “This flashlight is your responsibility. Be sure to keep track of it and take care of it. If you don’t, you’ll never get another flashlight for the rest of your life.” I deadpanned the whole thing, like I was simply stating a well-known fact.

When she’d initially reached out for the flashlight, she had a smile on her face, happy to be in charge of it. When I’d finished speaking, the smile had been replaced with a frown and she uttered a telltale little grunt that indicated she wasn’t happy about what she’d heard. Apparently, the threat of “no flashlights for the rest of her life” was serious business.

I released the flashlight to her and turned away before I started to laugh. As I walked away, I concluded the exchange by calling to her “No pressure.”

My smile broadened as she again grunted, louder this time.

Epilogue

When I returned, they had finished with the outside lights. It looked nice.

Upon entering, both kids were in their pajamas and watching Home Alone. They interrupted their viewing to let me know that they’d both taken care of the flashlight and that it had been put away. They went back to watching the movie.

No lifetime bans forthcoming tonight.

The Cowboys Need to Start Over

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At this point, I’d have to say the Cowboys are a sinking ship. They can’t keep anyone healthy. They have no running game. They make mistakes at inopportune times. They can’t come up with plays in the clutch. Think of just about any cliche related to winning NFL games consistently and the Dallas Cowboys have only been consistent at violating them.

I’m coming round to the opinion that they need a major overhaul. It’s not a matter of tweaking a player here or a coach there or tweaking their offensive scheme a bit. They need to be stripped bare and rebuilt from the ground up. The team probably had the horses to make a run several years ago, but they spent too much time talking about “swagger” and squandered their opportunities.

Now, the team has gotten old with the results to show for it.

I’m not sure where you start with a team like this either. They’ve clearly got some tremendous talent at a bunch of positions. The problem seems to be they lack the supporting cast that allows them to maximize their potential. I’m thinking the offensive line is, frankly, more offensive than anything. I’m aware that they’ve been hit hard by injuries, but that happens to other teams and they manage (the Ravens and the Texans are two examples). Also, the defense seems to consistently disappoint, giving up plays when they really need to come up with stops. I’m not sure why that is- it could be as simple as having well known weak spots that their opponents are able to consistently exploit.

Anyway, I think it’s fair to say I’ve given up on them for this season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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What are you doing here on Thanksgiving?!?

There’s turkey to eat and football to watch! ┬áSo get to it!

The Plejulejit

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While going through the some of the lass’ school papers, the Wife came across a page with a picture of a sunny day, with the US Flag flying and a bird that has to be an eagle. It also had a drawing of, what we believe, is the US Capitol building.

She called me over and asked if I could figure out the following phrase the lass had written at the top:

We sed the Plejulejit.

Given the context, I managed it. But only just.

I’ve decided to add this one to the Kid’s Dictionary Page.

Eavesdroppers

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If there’s one thing that drives me crazy about the kids, it’s eavesdropping. That’s not to say it’s the only thing. There’s plenty there to test my sanity. It’s just that their listening in on conversations between the Wife and I makes for some difficulties.

It’s one of the downsides of being around the kids constantly and, honestly, is partially our fault as well. We aren’t as picky about the subject matter of some of our conversations as we probably should be. The catch is that the conversations can’t always wait until they are in bed or for them not to be around.

These are “forbidden fruit” type conversations as far as the kids are concerned. Or, if not quite that level, they certainly pique the kids’ curiosity. I suppose Mom and Dad conversations are just inherently more interesting to them.

The problem is that often times, the Wife and I are either privy to background information they aren’t or the subject matter is something they can’t easily grasp. There are occasional times, like when we’re all in the car together, where it’s really none of their business even though there’s inherently no problem with the hearing it.

For instance, we might be discussing options about an upcoming purchase or trip. They’ll pick up on just enough that they’ll want to know more and they’ll start peppering us with questions. It’s annoying because they’re jumping into our own talk, they missed the first half and now want us to bring them up to speed on all the bullet points, and they don’t really need to know most of the info anyway. Besides, it’s not like the Wife and I have someone taking meeting minutes.

Our reactions vary anywhere from obliging them to fully-communicated annoyance. In this, we are our own worst enemies. If we always reacted with annoyance, they’d likely quickly learn to not bother us. But then, not every conversation is privileged. If we always shut them down, we’d miss out on opportunities to help them learn reasoning skills and decision making.

Which leaves us with our current hodge podge system. As it stands, sometimes it pays off for them to ask “What did you mean Dad when you said ‘pool’?” or some such. In that case, I’d just as soon they not jump to conclusions about anything. But then I have no one to blame but myself for opening my big mouth around curious ears.

Unfortunately, this is one child-annoyance that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Growing Pains

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The way I figure it, the term “growing pains” can have 3 distinct meanings. In the literal sense, it can refer to an actual physical condition that affect younger kids from time to time. In a figurative sense, it can refer to the normal mistakes and consequences they suffer through as they mature. In another figurative sense, it can refer to all the headaches that kids can cause their parents as they grow up.

Of late, the lass has definitely fit the third version, although the Wife and I suspect it’s related to the 2nd version.

More specifically, she’s cranky and irritable in the mornings; exhibiting sudden mood swings, especially when she doesn’t get her way; and she doesn’t listen very well to our instructions for doing certain tasks that she’s, uh, not inclined to do without persuasion. For the most part, her antics are of no avail to her. In fact, depending on the state of the Wife’s or my defenses, they’re likely to result in more trouble for her than she bargained for.

By far, the most trouble for her occurs in the morning. Her main priority in the mornings isn’t breakfast or getting dressed or getting ready for school. It’s controlling the TV and whatever show she gets to watch. When she’s under its spell, she becomes almost non-responsive. When we insist on her finishing up her morning routine so she can be ready for school, she typically responds with frustration and outrage at the prospect of being disturbed to have to brush her teeth or put on her shoes. Since we’re typically not in the mood to take that kind of attitude, especially on one-cup of coffee, those moments don’t end well for her. She’s learned that she doesn’t have a right to the TV.

From the Wife’s and my perspective, it’s somewhat baffling because her behavior mimics the boy’s when he was a similar age. The boy met similar fates when he tried all of these techniques, and the lass watched him go through that period. Yet, here she is trying the exact same thing. Those who don’t learn from history really are doomed to repeat it.

Another Letter to Santa

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Santa Claus I wood like
All Blingles
All project runway and fashion angels, Doll, doll cloes,Scoters, Bike, tabea tablet, angry birds, super mario bros2, hocebag, Xbox 360
Love, the lass
how’s is Sparky Santa Claus?

There’s also a picture of, I think, Sparky with Santa Claus, and perhaps a self portrait and a cat bag, or something. Perhaps it’s a cat in a cage.

The doll and doll “clothes” are a bit of a surprise, and I’ve no idea what “Blingles” are. I guess it’s this stuff?

No idea about he “hocebag” either. In fact, I can’t even figure out how it should be properly spelled.

So now they’ve both written their letters to Santa. Guess we’ll have to see how accommodating the big guy is this year.

Confusing Times for Cowboys Fans

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The Cowboys managed to beat the Cleveland Browns today in a come-from-behind, overtime effort 23-20. If this were any other team, I reckon we fans would be pleased with the effort and ready to move on. But this isn’t any other team, it’s the Cowboys who have been the most incomprehensible team in the league for several years running. Today’s game provides a number of great examples of the type of shenanigans we’re routinely put through by the current iteration of the Cowboys:

  • Should we be pleased with the win, or disgusted with the fact that they didn’t soundly throttle a (now) 2-8 team?

  • Should we be happy that Tony Romo lead a successful come-from behind effort, or upset with the fact that he had a lousy first-half that necessitated a great 2nd half?

  • Likewise, what to make of a last minute drive that needed a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty and a 30+ yard pass interference penalty?

  • For that matter, once they got into easy field goal territory, should we be pleased they got the tying field goal, or upset that they didn’t score a game-ending touchdown?

  • What about the defense? On the one had, they held Cleveland to a decisive 3-and-out in overtime. On the other, they allowed Cleveland to march down the field and score a go-ahead touchdown with less than 2-minutes to go in regulation, against a rookie quarterback.

  • Tony Romo had over 300 yards passing, including 140+ to Dez Bryant; but there was no credible running game to go with it.

The Cowboys continue to be a conundrum, wrapped in an enigma; a paradox, shrouded in mystery. It would be easier if they just out-an-out sucked. At least then, the fans would know what to expect.

Waiting on Sparky

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How far into the rabbit hole are the kids about Christmas?

This far: they spent the afternoon making “Welcome” cards for our Shelf Elf, Sparky.

Yes, you read the correctly. They spent the afternoon making cards for Sparky the Shelf Elf.

They also may have surpassed the Wife in Christmas enthusiasm as well, since they’ve bugged her non-stop for the past week or about getting the Christmas decorations out. She ended up breaking out the majority of them today, but he Christmas tree won’t be coming out until after Thanksgiving.

The boy wanted to turn on our Pandora Christmas station, but I forbid him from doing so until after Thanksgiving. That’s one of my pet peeves- Christmas season shouldn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I’m probably the only one.

Well, not the only one. I know Sparky won’t show up until after Thanksgiving.

The Wife’s Cell Phone is Missing

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She doesn’t appear to have seen it since she returned from a business trip on Tuesday. She’s looked in all of the usual spots where it might be expected to turn up, but not dice as yet.

The amusing thing, to me, about the extenuating circumstances is … she hates the phone. She hates it with same gusto that I hate raisins. It’s a crappy smartphone knock off variety that is anything but a smartphone. It doesn’t respond to touch well or consistently. If it at least did that, I suspect she wouldn’t have near the hang ups with it that she does.

Unfortunately, I’m the one to blame for this particular circumstance. When I picked up the phone, I figured she would prefer a touch type phone as opposed to a keyboard based phone. At the time, she had an iPod (which she loves)- a fact that informed my decision to go with this smartphone knockoff. Ironically, I thought at the time it might end up like this if the phone failed to be responsive or if the touchscreen started to get flaky. One of those times when I didn’t want to be proven right.

So, given her intense dislike for the phone, I also have to wonder if it’s a coincidence that it disappeared in the first place…

The Blue Heron

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While out and about today, I had one of those interesting Nature run-ins:

That’s a Blue Heron that patrols the area. I see one quite frequently in the sky and patroling various streams in the various local towns and I assuming it’s the same one. Or, if it has a mate than it’s the same pair. This one looked to be about 3 1/2 feet tall or so, but it’s the wing span that’s so impressive.

I got to within about 15 feet of it with the car. I stopped when I saw it in the road and, when it didn’t immediately fly off, I slowly crept up on it and pulled out my phone to take the shot. I wish the camera on it had some kind of zoom, no such luck though. As for the Heron, it had a ton of nerve. It didn’t budge as I crept up, even after I came to my final stopping point it stood it’s ground. Of course, had I been a predator that would have been an excellent way to get itself killed. Today was it’s lucky day though. And mine. It can’t be seen in the picture, but it had yellowish eyes.

As I started to take the second shot, the Heron decided it had had enough and took off. I was just fortunate that I’d pushed the button when I did and that the camera picked up a decent shot.

They’re cool to watch in flight. They have an effortless look to them and the wings look like a perfect waves in synchronization as they beat their pattern. Then the Heron can just extend them and glide. Watching it, there’s little wonder why we wanted to learn to fly.

A Comfortable Spot

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Our fireplace rests in the family room, and across the room from it sits our couch. My spot is typically on the end next to a window. The couch is a couple of years old and comfortable, one of the dual recliner couches. It’s got a high back and the cushions are attached so they don’t slide off the couch when someone has been sitting on it for awhile.

When the fireplace gets tuned up and we’re running it all day long, it gets warm in the house like the Summer time. I’ve tried burning the fireplace with less wood, burning it faster, burning it slower. Nothing really changes the basic fact that it warms the downstairs up a lot. It’s designed to burn hot and it does that very well. The Wife likes the result.

YAWN!– Hoo, ‘scuse me.

Anyway, with the room nice and warm, my spot on the couch turns into a YAAWWWN! sleep trap. Not infrequently, my eyes start to get heavy after a couple of minutes of sitting in this spot. Especially if I’m sitting and reading something. YAWWWWWWN! I’ll start doing the bob-and-weave and start thinking “I’ll just close my eyes for a few minutes.”

Then I just kind of tilt my head back, YAWWWN! and rest a bit…

Bits and Pieces

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A CubMaster’s work is never done. Well, it seems that way at times. We’ve been wrapping up the first phase of our big fund raiser, which is a popcorn driven campaign. We’ve finished the selling and order phase, next comes the delivery phase and collection phase. In between all that, I had to accumulate all of the orders for all the kids in the pack and enter their orders. I also had to come up with individual sales numbers for each Scout because they get rewards for different levels of selling. As it happens, we had a good campaign and the majority of our Scouts earned rewards. Good for them, more work for me- but that’s what it takes to keep the troops happy.

In addition to the fund raiser, we also have our Pack’s recharter going on. That’s a process of demonstrating financial viability as well as good membership numbers and a sponsoring organization. With our charter, we remain members of the Boy Scouts of America and get access to insurance and other resources. The recharter falls on my shoulders as well, since I’m running the show.

Then there’s the routine orders of business like running my Den meetings, Pack planning meetings as well as orchestrating our Pack meetings. Basically, it’s a busy time of year.

Aside from the Scout stuff, there’s just the usual myriad of things going on around the house and life revolving around the kids. Hockey, martial arts, dance, school work, chores, and whatever else comes along. Time seems to fly by this time of year because there’s almost no down time.

Plus, with the cold that’s now descended there’s the fireplace duties to manage. While it hasn’t gotten super cold as yet, it seems to me that this Fall has been cooler than the past several so far. I’ve got several pieces of anecdotal evidence for that statement. For one, my first fire was lit way back in September. Further, I’ve already had a couple of strings of days and nights where I’ve maintained the fire 24/7 to keep the house warm. In past years, I haven’t had to do that until after Thanksgiving.

Lastly, but not leastly, we’re fast approaching Christmas. In fact, a lot of the stores already have Christmas decorations out and available. The Wife and I have further shopping to complete for the big day. Just one more thing to add to the pile.

A parent’s work is never done.

Snatch the Pebble from My Hand

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“You always yell at us,” said the boy to his father.

“You think I always yell at you?” the father replied.

“Well, sometimes.” The boy was a little less sure upon cross examination.

Rather than belabor he point, the father opted for a different path. “Why do I yell at you?” he asked.

The boy hesitated, perhaps sensing there was a right answer and a not-so-right answer, perhaps actually trying to think of a good answer. Finally, he half-stated and half-asked “Because we don’t listen…” His voice trailed off at the end.

“Mmm,” the father intoned. “So what would be a logical way to not have me yell at you?” he continued.

The boy replied “By listening more…?”

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