Finding Nora

My oldest daughter, Nora, age 19, is no longer with us. Not that way not with us. Just not here.

My three redheads just before Nora left with her guitar for Toowoomba

My three redheads just before Nora left with her guitar for Toowoomba

I brought her to the airport in Seattle on January 20th and watched her saunter off through security to her airplane that would take her first to San Francisco, and then across the Pacific to Sydney, Australia. Her final destination was Toowoomba, Australia. To get there she flew from Sydney to Brisbane and then took a bus to Toowoomba. (Go ahead, say it out loud. You’re guaranteed to smile. It’s a fun word to say.) She’s on a semester-long quest to find out how God wants to use her and her amazing musical talents. She even started a blog to share her journey with others. You can check it out by clicking this link to Nora’s Blog. Here’s a quote from her first entry.

I’m part of a program for the next five months called “Music and Worship Discipleship Training School” (DTS). The DTS is run by Youth With A Mission Toowoomba (YWAM). For the first three months of the DTS, we’ll be studying the Word and diving deeper into a multi-faceted understanding of God. The remaining two months will be spent serving the city of Toowoomba as well as going with an outreach team to evangelize and be the hands and feet of Jesus in Southeast Asia. My DTS consists of 34 students from all over the world and 24 passionate leaders who give generously of their time and resources to teach us. I’m blown away by the fact that our leaders took up unpaid positions just because they genuinely care about us and want to spread the word of Jesus.

Youth With A Mission believes in championing young people everywhere. Orientation weekend was so great because I was able to connect with all of my fellow classmates and learn about the various cultures represented here in Toowoomba. Our leaders have emphasized that God doesn’t called the qualified; rather, He qualifies the called. No matter what place we come from in society, whether we have a degree or not, God qualifies us to do His good works. We can glorify Him in any job, any country, and in all circumstances. 

I’m guessing that some of you are wondering why I’m putting such religious stuff in my blog about being a Stay At Home Dad. Well, I’m not trying to push anything on your or preach. Nope, I’m just a proud papa sharing some really great news about his oldest kid. As a parent, and specifically as a SAHD, I’ve spent countless hours with Nora since she was born almost 20 years ago. I’ve had moments of success and moments that were learning experiences of how not to parent. We’ve shared thousands of laughs, many tears and many more triumphs. As the eldest, Nora was the one who blazed the trail for her five siblings. And by blazed the trail I mean bore the brunt of my parenting learning curve. Yet, miraculously, it appears I may not have screwed her up as badly as I thought. She’s a pretty awesome person and is following her heart and her faith by going to Australia. I’m grateful for the young woman she has become and excited to see what will be her next step after this semester. If you’re of the praying persuasion please keep her in your thoughts and prayers these next few months. I’m sure she would be encouraged by a positive word on her blog as well.

Ultimately, what’s really enjoyable for me as a parent is to watch my children grow and become more independent, knowing that I played a significant role in their development. Sometimes I get to see it when my youngest (19 months old) listens to me and doesn’t reach into the toilet while I’m rinsing her soiled cloth diaper and sometimes I get to see it from half a world away when my eldest (19 years old) is attending school in Australia. It puts the daily ups and downs of parenting into a little bit broader perspective, especially if you’re a parent of only younger children. What you’re doing now is worth it! Keep it up! G’day, mate!

Moments before Nora left for her journey to Australia

Moments before Nora left for her journey to Australia. Time for one last selfie!

PS-If any of you are interested in sending a care package to Nora, the only address I know for Australia is:

P. Sherman

42 Wallaby Way

Sydney

I guess you’d have to contact her through her blog (or message me) to get the actual one.

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20 Things Only Dad Can Do

Recently a mom posted a list of 15 Things Only A Mom Can Do and I read it, fascinated to learn that I’ve been living a lie as a Stay At Home Dad for the last 13+ years. According to her blog, I’m actually a mom. Who knew? But, thanks to her entertaining and enlightening post, I was inspired to come up with my own list for dads, some serious and some not. Since there is no “sarcasm font” please know that I’m not trying to incite any Mommy Wars here, just trying to show that we dads are not getting our undies all in a jam over her humorous list.

20 Things Only Dad Can Do

  1. Spider control. There is a distinct shriek that beckons me to grab a tissue and come rescue my family from the menacing arachnid.
  2. Pee while standing. No comment about the aim or drips. Sorry.
  3. Lift and lower the toilet seat. Amazing. It goes up and down. Just don’t leave it up if you have a wife and/or daughters. Or a potty-training child. Or a walking toddler. Just put it down already!
  4. Plunger duty. I said duty…he he.
  5. Set and empty mouse traps. They’re not so cute when they’re scurrying across the kitchen floor…or when they’re caught.
  6. Gross out the kids by telling them their mom is hot. Gratuitous PDA or butt grab is optional, but(t) effective.
  7. Make Daddy cookies. Maybe that’s just me and my kids. And here’s the secret ingredient: The Mixing Dance.
  8. Remember useless sports stats, teams, plays and players from 30+ years. But forgets what his wife just told him five minutes ago.
  9. Get in trouble for saying “we’re pregnant” too soon. Or at all. Or to the wrong people.
  10. Get in trouble for making his wife pregnant. Usually uttered during the throes of labor pain, something along the lines of “You did this to me!”. And, no, he cannot imagine what the pain is like.
  11. Gain sympathy weight during his wife’s pregnancy. But then has trouble losing it since he’s not the one who actually gave birth. Oops.
  12. Be supportive of his wife (and any mom) if she chooses to breastfeed. If the Pope agrees it must be good, right? Besides, NIP is protected by law and not offensive.
  13. Nut shot empathy. There’s an involuntary cringe and leg crossing whenever he sees someone’s twig and berries receive a direct hit. Could be an athlete (in real life or on TV) or a fellow dad at the park.
  14. Take 15 minutes to drop a deuce. It’s his throne. Leave him alone. Don’t bother him like in the movie This Is 40. And don’t try to talk to him in there.
  15. Teach his son public urinal etiquette. Ladies, you want no part of this unless you’re prepared to explain why and how a trough might be used in a restroom instead of individual urinals.
  16. Daddy donut dates. Doesn’t help with #11 but that time spent with Dad is so worth it.
  17. Be the Father of the Bride. I know I’m going to cry if/when any of my five daughters get married. I look forward to it all the same.
  18. Be praised for being involved and engaged as a parent when Mom isn’t there. Something Moms have been doing for years, usually without recognition. Let’s encourage all parents to be involved.
  19. Be asked by strangers if he’s babysitting his own children! Nope. It’s called parenting.
  20. Tell terribly unfunny jokes. No one laughs. Except him. Yet, he’s unfazed because there’s a chance the next one might be funny. Or someone will laugh out of sympathy. Or pain.

There you have it. I hope #20 didn’t apply to this post. Unless you’re my wife or kids, in which case I’m certain they’re no longer reading, because I’m not funny. Just ask them. Add a comment below to tell me what you thought or if I missed something. Really, though, if you found yourself laughing or even smiling a little while reading this please do me a solid and share it with others who might benefit from a chuckle or two.

Less Cheese in 2015

280.

If that was my score in bowling I’d be thrilled. But, since that’s the number I saw when I stepped on the scale at the YMCA today, I’m not exactly thrilled. IMG_8416I’ve never weighed that much in my entire life. Since I’m not blind I know that I’ve added several (dozen) pounds over the last few years but hadn’t stepped on a scale in a while. Heck, my own 10 year old son even told me (in November), “You look like Mama when she has a baby in her tummy. Only you’re not pregnant, Dad.” Gee, thanks, son! I’ve allowed my once bean-pole skinny self to slowly transform into a 6’8″ version of Homer Simpson, only not quite as yellow.IMG_8426

Same hair, though I’d like to believe I’m a little bit smarter. I guess know that it’s time for me to take a serious look at myself and begin the process of getting back into shape. Even though I have lots of excuses like the arthritis in both knees and left foot, messed up (interior meniscus, who needs it?) right knee and other ailments that come and go with being 42, I need to get over myself and shred some cheese this year. Instead of some nebulous plan that involves eating less and exercising more I’ve decided to go public and make myself vulnerable and accountable to you, my dear readers. Here’s my plan as of now, January 3, 2015.

  1. Stop drinking soda. Again. I quit it for 16 months from January 2013-May 2014. But then I was weak when Mt. Dew began to sing its Siren song to me again. No more. Too many empty calories from the nectar of the gods.
  2. Drink a gallon of water every day. I’ve been doing that for about a month already and it’s been going well. Only, there’s a serious side-effect of drinking that much water. You have to pee. A lot. (God bless you pregnant ladies and your squished bladders.)
  3. No more junk food stashes in the car. As a Stay At Home Dad one of my many roles is taxi driver. I like to eat while driving. Not conducive to losing weight. I’m going to pack healthy and delicious snacks like fruit, nuts or Mountain Muesli bites for when the urge strikes. No more of those peanut butter M&Ms or random donut stops. Now, if only my car would stop driving to all those donut shops.
  4. Daily exercise. I used to be pretty good about taking my dog for a 1-2 mile walk every night. Surprise surprise, I wasn’t very consistent with that this last year. My goal is to walk with my dog for 400 miles this year. Already have over two miles done. Speaking of walking, when I was in Europe this summer with my daughter I actually lost some weight despite eating really well every evening. Why? We were doing so much more walking than here in the States. I need to step my game up.
  5. Monthly challenges. I’m competitive by nature. Just ask my kids if I show them mercy on the air hockey table. I’m going to channel that into following some of the monthly challenges that I find online. My challenge for the month of January is the burpee challenge. Until a couple of days ago I had never done a burpee in my life. After this 30 Day Challenge I will have done over 1,300 of them. I know I won’t win any style points but I’m hoping to win the battle of the bulge. 30-day-burpee-challenge-chart
  6. Get more sleep. I naturally don’t require a lot of sleep. I’m good on 4-6 hours every night. I like the quiet of the night when everyone else is asleep. It’s my only “me” time that one of my kids (or wife) isn’t asking me to get them something. It’s also a dangerous time to have some Oreos and ice cream or chocolate or potato chips right before bed. I’ve read studies that have even shown a link between weight gain and lack of sleep.
  7. Eat better and wiser. Force myself to eat a healthy breakfast each morning. Hm…maybe if I sleep more I’ll wake up earlier and eat better instead of grabbing something unhealthy as I begin the morning school taxi service. Again, if I have healthier fruits, veggies and other snacks out during the day my kids and I will automatically eat better. And, since I’m no longer 18, I need to be smarter and stop taking seconds! Or thirds! One reasonable serving and be done. Let it digest. There’s plenty in reserve.
  8. Continue to be active with my family. More outdoor family activities. We love to kayak on Puget Sound, ride bikes, explore caves and hike at Mt. Rainier National Park. Explore new things to do and places to see. Less screen time and more outdoors.

My goal for the end of the year is to lose 30 pounds, which would put me at 250. I would love to exceed that by additional 10-15 pounds. I haven’t seen less than 240 in years. Maybe a decade. Yikes! I imagine that I would look and feel a lot better. Maybe my snoring would decrease (or disappear!). My balky right knee might be slightly less balky given the reduced load. I wouldn’t have to grunt every time I bend over to pick up something. I could be more active with my children. I’m sharing this with you in the hope that this “public” knowledge of my plan to “get lean in 2015″ will motivate me. Nothing like a little accountability to help push me in the right direction.

What about you? What is your plan to make positive change with your health for this year? Anyone else need to lose some weight? Who wants to join me in the 30 Day Burpee Challenge? It’s not too late to join as I’ve only done 15 over the first two days. Thanks for reading and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.