Wednesday, November 26, 2008


A quick list of what I'm most thankful for with the girls (in no particular order):
  • Bike rides with Steffi
  • Watching gymnastics class
  • Telling me what they did in school that day, and being proud when they say it
  • Jesse running to the door to watch me leave in the morning
  • Playing basketball with Steff at the Y
  • That every vacation is the best vacation they've ever had
  • Taking the girls to Bowcraft
  • Riding waves all day with Steffi at LBI
  • Jessica helping rake leaves and asking for a giant leaf pile
  • Both girls asking me "which team do you want to win?" when they see me watching football and then cheering for that team
  • Jessica asking if I can stay home from work so I can play with her
  • Being into music
  • Steffi always looking out for Jess
  • Going to the movies
  • Wiffle ball in the front yard
  • The girls laughing hysterically about hiking a football and yelling "hut...hut...hike"
  • Jesse telling me not to put cheese on her bologna sandwich even though I did that once and it was about 2 years ago
  • Pretending I don't see Jessica playing spy even though I can hear and see her
  • The countless notes and drawings they give to me
  • The goodnight kiss and hug
  • The daddy daughter dance with Stef
  • Taking Stef to the Jonas Brothers at MSG
  • Playing Go Fish
  • Having Jess explain the rules to a board game to me, even if I have a 35 year head start on her
  • Playing ping pong with Steffi
  • Laughing every day
  • Finding myself saying "you know, the kids are alright" pretty regularly

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The other morning I was unsuccessfully trying to clean my jacket to avoid buying a new one when Steffi walked up close to me and inhaled deeply. "Oh, that's not shoe polish," she said disappointedly. She loves the smell of shoe polish, and loves helping me polish my shoes. It reminds me of when I was a kid, because I loved my dad's shoe shine box, and remember wanting to help him. The shoe shine box seemed like a symbol of someone who was important, at least important enough to have to shine their shoes. It represented making a living, because they were the shoes my dad wore to work every day. It was a way to connect with my dad, as well as a way to pretend to be a grownup, if only for the few minutes it took to help him shine his shoes.

Maybe Steffi feels the same way, or maybe she just really likes the smell of shoe polish. Either way we made a date to polish my shoes this Saturday.

Monday, November 17, 2008


When you're in your twenties you love Saturday night, but when you're...older...and have children you can really look forward to Sundays.

This past Sunday meant:
  • Watching Steffi sing in the children's choir at Mass, where she looks very grown up
  • Raking leaves with Jessica (she came flying out the door after first saying she'd rather stay inside)
  • Going to the family swim at the Y, which has become the late fall and winter "must do" activity
  • A dinner at Friday's where we recapped the swimming excitement

In between I watched two football games on DVR, including the Giants game, without hearing the score. I went to the Y sans any Giants hat or sweatshirt so no one would tell me what a great game I just missed. I even got to several sections of the Sunday Times, where I'm pretty sure I read that Henry Paulson's next bailout idea involves handing out George and Mary Bailey's $2,000 honeymoon money.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Post-it Note

Many times I come home to see the remnants of a game or activity the girls have played at some point during the day. It cracks me up to hear the explanations. Sometimes I'll see a mixing bowl of flour, sprinkles, spices, and water mixed together (both Jessica and Steffi have loved this "game" at different times, and the explanation generally comes down to "because it's there."

Yesterday there was red yarn that tied together the couch, recliner, and TV. Explanation? Jessica set up a circus for her stuffed animals. Once in a while I'll check on Jessica sleeping and I'll see 20 Care Bears wearing diapers (that's usually when she has trouble falling asleep; she'll play in her bed until she's ready to pack it in for the night).

But tonight there was a game that needed no explanation. There were Post-it notes all over the floor, each with the word "go" written on it. The notes started in the dining room and continued through the living room, up the stairs, into our bedroom, ending in the closet. Sitting on my shoe polish box (yes, I have one, and yes, I rarely use it) was a note that said, "We love you Daddy. Best Dad Ever!" I opened the note to find a photo of Steffi and Jessica, along with 10 reasons why they love me.

That made my week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who's Teaching Who?

Yes, parents play a huge role in teaching their children. But I've found that if you listen closely, you can also learn a lot from your kids. Here's a few recent lessons from the girls:

1) Focus on the positive. I know, it's easy for a five year-old to be positive, right? But if I gave Jessica a nickel every time she answered "great" to a question (in a Tony the Tigerish way), she'd be halfway to paying for her college education by now. She has so much enthusiasm when she says it that it makes me feel, ummm...great as well. Here's a sample of the questions I've asked her in the last couple days that have elicited the "great!" response:

"How did you sleep?"
"How was school?"
"How was lunch?"
"How were the Lucky Charms?"
"How was your playdate?"
"How is the bruise on your knee?"

She loves life, and always finds something to love about it.

2) Help others. I generally carry three dollars or less in my wallet. I actually bought a $2 soup at a deli the other day with my Amex card because I had 70 cents on me. So whenever I ask my wife if she has any money on her if I'm running out somewhere, Steffi will be the first to reach into her money jar (actually a can) and offer to lend me whatever I need. She genuinely wants to share what she has. Recently we were out shopping and she offered to buy me a pair of shoes. When I was her age I'm pretty sure I was more interested in buying the latest KISS album or baseball cards than asking my dad if he needed some extra cash. But the larger point isn't about money, it's about offering help to others, even if they don't take you up on it.

3. Don't take things for granted. Yesterday Steffi's class had a mock Presidential election, and she was so excited to cast her vote. Jessica says she can't wait until she's 18 so she can vote (I told her she'd be 18 soon enough). Many countries envy the freedom we often take for granted. One of the greatest manifestations of this freedom is voting for the candidate of your choice. Don't take it for granted.