Daddy’s Little Girl

All of my life my dad has been my hero. He was always there for me growing up and is still here for me now that I’m an adult. The strength and stability I always felt being in my Daddy’s arms can not possibly be measured. He would carry me on his shoulders when my legs were tired. He could do the best cannonball into the pool out of all the dads. When I was in trouble, he could put the fear of God into me with just a look. And when he’d jokingly ask me “What am I going to do with you???,” I’d say, “Just keep me and love me,” which he still does. 4887_94743471098_643154_n

And over the past year, he has fought cancer by having a stem cell transplant and will continue treatments for many years to come. He has always been strong – not only physically, but mentally – he’s a judge as well as retired military. (Yes, my upbringing was a little strict!)

Knowing that the next few years are going to have their ups and downs, there are some things I want him to know to help keep his spirits up. So this is for my Dad…

Dear Daddy,

I want to thank you for being so strict with me when I was a teenager. I used to think you were the meanest dad EVER for giving me a curfew of 10 p.m., but now that I am a parent, I realize that what you always said is true: “Nothing but trouble happens to a teenager after midnight.”

Thank you for letting me be Daddy’s little girl, but also Daddy’s little tomboy. Thank you for making sure I could take ballet and sewing classes, but I’m sure at some point you wished you had a son. I was as close to it as you got. I love going camping and doing everything outdoors because of you. You encouraged me to go outside and play so I never was really interested that much in TV -except for “The Donny Osmond Show” of course.

Thank you for insisting on meeting my (and Cathy’s) boyfriends, and giving them the kind of handshake that could break their hand and letting them know they were in for it if anything happened to me. Thank you for telling me straight off which boyfriends you liked, and which ones you clearly DID NOT. Looking back on several of my dating mistakes, I realize you did know what was best for me after all…if only I had listened!!!

Thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick-shift. Learning how to drive an “H” shift was pretty tough on the old F150, especially since it didn’t have power steering or power brakes, but I think it is something every girl should know how to do.

Thank you for teaching me manners. I have come to realize that “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” were not only polite when I was younger, but beneficial to me as an adult. These are traits I have passed on to Matthew as well and he, too, has seen how people react when they are treated with respect. 4887_94991191098_2137511_n

Thank you for loving me enough to give me boundaries. Although I didn’t get in too much trouble (because I was terrified of getting in trouble with you), I know I was not the easiest teenager to bring up. I got your stubbornness so I’m sure you saw some of yourself in me! And even though I never wanted to hear it, I thank you for loving me enough to tell me “NO” some times.

Thank you for teaching me to be financially responsible and hiding my first credit card from me when it came in the mail. You taught me that if I can’t buy it with cash, then I don’t need it. This is a lesson many never learn until later in life. You taught me that just because my friends may have new cars, big houses and go on luxurious trips, they are also probably swimming in debt. Because of you, our only payment each month is for our house, and if we don’t have the cash for other things that we want, then we save up for them.

Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself. As a single mom for almost 10 years, I had to handle things that can be foreign to many women, such as getting work done on my car. If you hadn’t taught me how to watch when someone was about to screw me over, I would have probably would have been financially taken advantage of numerous times.

Thank you for showing me what true love is. After 52 years of marriage (and counting!) you and Mama have shown me that marriages have good times and bad times, but you stick with each other and are there for each other no matter what. Watching you reach over and grab Mama’s hand just while driving in the car makes me smile.

Thank you for teaching me to treat everyone with the same respect. The circle of friends you have surrounded yourself with come from every race, gender, and sexual orientation and EACH ONE of those friends considers you to be a very good friend to them. What an amazing example you lead!

Thank you for teaching me right and wrong. Even when Mom got a speeding ticket in a different city, you never even considered contacting the other judge to get it erased. Instead you told her that since she was in fact speeding, that she needed to pay the $250 fine. I respected that so much more than you will ever know. So many others in your position would have “called in a favor” but you didn’t – and I love that about you.

Thank you for trusting me when I announced ‘I’m getting married!!!” only four weeks after meeting Dale. Although I’m sure you ran a background check on him, you still trusted me enough to officiate our wedding ceremony. To this day, that memory makes me smile. And thank you for setting the kind of example a good husband is. When I first met Dale, I was amazed at how many similarities the two of you share and I knew immediately that if he was anything like you, I had a keeper.4887_94743461098_2165253_n

I hope you are proud of me for what I have accomplished in my life. Everything I have in my life, in some way or another points back to you. Your guidance has led me to where I am and who I am today.

And although we know the next couple of years are going to be both good and tough, please know that I plan on taking care of you and Mama as you have ALWAYS taken care of me. Cathy and I will be the strong ones for you this time.

I’m all grown up now, but I am and always will be, Daddy’s little girl.

Let me carry you on my shoulders now.

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It’s Okay To Play Hooky With Your Kids

There are some days that life just catches up to me and I just want to take a day off. I don’t want to turn on my computer. I don’t want to see what e-mails have come in. I don’t want to check Twitter or Facebook. I just want to veg out.

And then something wonderful happens. My sweet husband will say, “Hey – let’s go out to dinner tonight – just you and me.” And my day doesn’t seem so hard. Something as simple as that can really just make you happy.

I remember when I was in first grade. I was sitting in Miss Lapin’s class when the school secretary called my name over the intercom to come to the office. I was a good girl! I didn’t talk during class! Why was I being called up to the office??

With my heart beating a mile a minute, I rounded the corner to see my mother smiling at me.

“Am I in trouble?” I said.

“Nope! I have a surprise for you”, my mother said, leading me out of the school.

Thirty-eight years later I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. We drove into Downtown Atlanta to the Fox Theater… (If you’ve never seen the Fox Theater, google it!!!)…to WATCH A MOVIE! During school hours! This was awesome! I looked at my mother. She was grinning at me. My heart burst. I was so excited! This was by far one of the most fun days of my young life.

Me, not too thrilled about going to school

Many years later, I showed up at Matthew’s school to do the same thing. He is a hockey player, and the movie with Kurt Russell about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russian team had just come out. He was dying to see it and said so every time the trailer would come on TV.

I went to the front office and told the office staff that I needed to check him out of school for “an appointment”. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me what for.

As we got to the car he finally asked me what we were doing. I told him to wait and see. We drove to the local mall and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Shopping? Please, no.” he said.

But when we got to the line to buy movie tickets, things began to fall into place.

“Are we going to watch ‘Miracle’????” he asked, the pitch in his voice raising with each word.

“Yep!” I said.

The grin on his face is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Recently, my husband did the same with my step-son, Austin. They went to a midnight release for a video game that he had been saving up for. As Austin was getting ready for bed, Dale said “Hey, get dressed – we have to go somewhere.”

Austin looked confused but did as he was told. As they pulled into the BestBuy parking lot, it began to register that they were there for the game release. Dale said that Austin had that look that I had described to him that Matthew had when I took him to the movie.

Playing hooky from work or school isn’t something to make a big habit of. My mom only did it once with me, and I only did it once with Matthew. It was so special that I wouldn’t want to ruin those memories by doing it over and over.

I realized at that moment that we don’t need to buy our kids expensive gifts or take them to exotic places for them to be happy. It’s really just the little things that they will remember the most.

Matthew recently mentioned that day we played hooky from work and school just to spend the day together, doing something that he really wanted to do.

And I hope he does the same thing with his kids one day, and those “hooky day” memories will continue on for the next generation.

Are You A Baby Book Slacker?


How many times has your child done or said something funny and you think “I’ll always remember when he did that”? And then the following month you are wracking your brain trying to remember what exactly it was? My son is now 18 years old and I still think of funny events but can’t remember all of the details.
After my son was born I was determined to fill in his baby book with memories, sayings, firsts, etc. I think I got to month three before I became a slacker on the job. The only reason I remember what day he took his first steps is because it was my sister’s birthday. But which birthday? I don’t know because I didn’t write it down.

But that all changed, thanks to my mom.

Years ago when my son was just a toddler, my mother would often babysit him while I went to work. She was able to spend the first three years with him, often telling me some of the funny things he said or did while he was at her house.

That following Christmas I opened a present from my mother. It was a standard black notebook – the kind with the paper that has to be punched with three holes. Nothing fancy. But what was inside was utterly priceless.

My mother had written down almost every funny conversation they had, typed it all up, and gave it to us. She said that she kept paper in all of the rooms of the house and when Matthew said something funny, or something happened that she thought would be good in the book, she would write it down. At the end of the year she took all of her little sheets of paper and typed them up. (As a side note – my mom is Ninny.)

Here are some of my favorite “Matthew Funnies”, as the book is so appropriate titled:
Age 3 – Your Dad was teaching you the sign language alphabet. When he got to the letter “p”, you said “we don’t pee in the tub.”

Age 3 – The pest control man, Tucker, came to the house today and you followed him around.
Tucker: How old are you?
Matthew: (silence)
Ninny: You know how old you are. You can tell him.
Matthew: (silence)
Tucker: When is your birthday?
Matthew: When I turn four!!!

Age 3 – Your Mom: I’ve got to go to the bathroom.
Matthew: I’ve got to go to the bathroom, too.
Your Mom: Well, you’ll have to wait a minute – I’m about to pop.
Matthew: Well, I’m about to poop.

Age 4 – You gave me a kiss on the cheek and then I felt something stuck on my cheek.
Ninny: Gross, Matthew! It’s a fingernail!
Matthew: No it’s not! It’s a footnail!

Age 4 – Ninny was working on the porch when you came outside.
Matthew: I have a new wallet. Want to see it?
Ninnny: Of course I want to see your wallet!
(And you showed me a rock that was about two-inches long.)
Oh my. Where did you get that nice wallet?
Matthew: I got it in the Army ‘bout four years ago.

She did the same thing for my sister with my two nephews. This is one of my favorites:

Zachary was sitting in his dad’s lap and was running his little hand over the hair on his dad’s arm.
Zachary: Hey Dad!!! Look! When I do this to your arm, your fur lays flat.

And now that my son is an adult, reading these precious stories helps me exactly remember these events that would have been lost long ago. Those yearly “chapters” continue to give me endless belly laughs remembering “funnies” that I have already forgotten.

To do this for your family, consider just keeping a little notebook in your purse and jot down simple memories as they happen. If you wait too long, you will more than likely forget certain details. As time allows type up your notes and then you can print and give numerous members of your family your child’s “Funnies” book. It is such a personal holiday present for grandparents, parents & friends.

Remember to write down the amusing stories but don’t forget the heartfelt ones too…

Age 4: You were gazing out the window and you were lost in deep thought.
Matthew: You know what, Ninny?
Ninny: No, what, Matthew?
Matthew: I love you.

Why I Will Never Be An Art Critic

By Dana McIntyre

When I was in high school, I did a lot of babysitting to make some quick and what I thought was relatively easy cash. I mean what was so hard about watching a couple of kids? (Answer: they weren’t mine.)

Anyway – after the parents left and the kids finished their platefuls of ketchup with a side of corn dogs, we decided to draw to pass the time until bedtime. We decided not to let each other see our pictures until we were all finished.

I was certain that upon revealing our drawings, the kids would oooh and ahhh and stroke my ego with compliments of my Renoir-like picture of a flower. But when the boy turned his picture around I was shocked and a little horrified to see this incredible drawing of what I assumed to be a very detailed sunflower. My bubble burst. My drawing started to look a little like a booger.

“Wow – ummm, that is a really good drawing”, I said. “Your sunflower is much better than my flower.” You could have heard a pin drop. I looked around. Had I accidentally broken his crayon?

“A SUNFLOWER?” he said sharply, sort of with a “duh” undertone. “It’s NOT a sunflower. It’s the High-Density Genotyping Array…” and he finished his sentence with several other really big words that I had never heard before..and had to Google just to write this post.

I felt like an idiot. He was looking at me like I had no brain. And did I mention that he was only six years old? Yes, you read that right. Six years old and schooling me on science. (Twenty years later, I would like to say he’s the guy working on my car but of course not. He’s a doctor.)

Which brings me back to the drawing. Has your child ever given you a drawing that they were so proud of but you couldn’t for the life of you figure out what it was? They were standing there beaming and you were trying to figure out what to say about it? That would be the perfect time to use the StoryMark app.

Take a picture of the drawing and have them explain to you what the picture is all about…then show them the StoryMark they just made. (Make it fun and they’ll want to do it every time!) The picture and audio are joined together and you can save both forever. (Plus, in case you don’t want to physically keep every drawing, you can save them on your iPhone or Android or save them to your photo library and then accidentally-on-purpose throw the original away.) And this way you can send copies of EVERYTHING to their grandparents!

So the next time you see a drawing where you don’t have a clue what it is of, just remember that Picasso probably got the same reaction from his mother….but unfortunately for her, they didn’t have StoryMark back then to save her the embarrassment of asking what the heck he was painting.

And, what I wouldn’t give to have a StoryMark of Matthew telling my parents what his “letter” to them says…

For more information on StoryMark, visit www.storymarklife.com, or download for free on your iPhone or Android.