April 21, 2011

The Many Hats We Wear

Like most guys I know, I have a collection of a few hats that I love to wear, usually on Saturdays when I need to hide my messy hair. I have a sweet Minnesota Twins baseball cap, with which I could probably step into the Twins current lineup and not look out of place, especially since I could hit better than most of them right now. I have a sweat-stained old green cap that I wear when doing yard work. I have a cool black minor league baseball cap, and for when I need to dress it up a bit, a burgundy golf cap. A hat for every occasion, an instant cure for a bad hair day.

Like most guys I know, I wear a much larger collection of figurative hats, on Saturdays and every other day of the week. By turns I am the dubious fix-it man, the chauffeur, the jungle gym, the insurance consultant, the gronk monster (a family game that's a cross between tag and wrestling), the disciplinarian, and the raucous buddy. I'm the big brother giving what I hope is good advice. I'm the son asking for advice. I'm the proud papa, and the usually loving husband. Again, a hat for every occasion, relationship, and wrestling match. Each has its own unique color, texture, and fit, and not all of them are always comfortable or pleasant to wear, but I wear them because they're part of who I am, and I've become as familiar with each as I am with my collection of "real" hats.

Today, I had to dig in the back of my figurative closet under a stack of old shirts to find a hat that I dread wearing. It's a simple black hat, one that I fervently pray that I have to wear as little as possible. Today, I'm the grieving family member.

My aunt Sue passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer. She was sixty years old. When my grandmother passed away about twenty years ago, Sue kind of assumed Grandma A's role in the family. She remembered every birthday with a card and a gift, even those of my kids. She treated each of her nieces and nephews like her own kids, even though she only saw most of us at holiday gatherings. She gave me sour apples from a tree in her backyard when I was little, and laughed along with everyone else when I made an I-just-bit-a-lemon face. She was always eager to hear about our lives, and gave great hugs. It's no wonder to me that she had an incredible network of friends and family supporting her through her ordeal because she was, simply stated, an excellent person.

Sue's death was no surprise, but does that really make it easier to grieve the loss of a loved one? I suppose the shock is lessened in a situation like hers because you have time to prepare for it, but death, when it comes, is still death, and final in this world. This makes me sad, but it also hardens my resolve to be the kind of person Sue was, someone who lived with love and died covered with the love of those with whom she spent her life. I don't need to tell you how precious and fragile life is; I doubt there is anyone reading this who hasn't experienced a similar loss at least once. What I DO need to tell you is that there is nothing more important than the people in your life. If you spend your life caught up in other things and neglect people, who will bring you chicken soup and hot dish when your turn to go draws near?

Finally, I have to note that I don't believe death is the end, and that is the brilliant gold lining to death's black cloud. I believe that Jesus died so that we don't have to fade into nothing when we die, that if we know him, we'll someday get to see those who also know him that went on before, including those we know and love. I'll see Sue again. If you don't believe in that stuff, I won't argue with you, but since none of us will get out of life alive, you've got to admit there's a lot of merit to that kind of hope and assurance. At any rate, it beats the heck out of coming back to Earth as a cow or just fading into the ether, don't you think?

So I guess I'll wear this hat for a while, even though black's not really my color. After a while, I'll lock it up again for a very, very long time, God willing. And then I'll go on wearing all the other hats I wear on a day-to-day basis, but with a little more emphasis on the people for whom I wear them.

After all, I'll need someone to bring me chicken soup and hot dish someday.

April 13, 2011

Not Much to Say? Do a Photo Montage!

I know I promised you an interview with Ellie in follow-up to last week's interview with Brady, but I'm sorry to say I'm going to have to break that promise. I had planned to sit down with Ellie last night over a few books or something to keep her occupied while I asked her questions, but she and her brothers were a trio of tired and cranky little volcanoes who spent most of the evening erupting in tandem, so we put them to bed early and didn't quite get to it. If you feel cheated because you didn't get your promised interview, Riley says you're a big whiny baby, but you can still check out some of my favorite Ellie-related posts herehere, and here if you really need an Ellie fix. Just relax. Ellie's interview will be coming soon.

And once you're done pouting, I've got a treat for you. Since I wasn't able to interview the princess and didn't really have a back-up plan, I thought I'd share some of the latest pictures of my kids and their antics. Enjoy!

The last snowman of the season, waving goodbye. I wanted to name him Old Man Winter, but Brady decided to go with Steve.

Brady and Ellie playing with Steve. Shortly after this photo was taken, they beheaded him. The pictures of that are too graphic to include here.

Riley, disgusted by his busted bracket. Yeah, you and everybody else, pal.

Brady and Ellie, just before they left for the Flock of Seagulls concert.

Brady, doing his best Sid Vicious impression, just before he smashed his guitar on his amp. Riley's hair looks like that because he was just doing some righteous head-banging.

Buzz Lightyear...to the rescue! In case you were wondering, rubber-tipped air darts hurt a lot when they hit you in the eye.

Dad! You'll never guess what I have in my pants!

Brady, practicing his pose for his upcoming GQ magazine cover shoot, which happens to be the same day he gets to be the ring bearer in his uncle's wedding.

The pretty princess, rocking her Dora jammies and tutu.

SOOOO big!!!

And finally, just because it's hilarious, here's my kids' current favorite YouTube video, Ninja Baby.

Have a great day!

April 6, 2011

An Interview with a Four-Year-Old

You all know my oldest son Brady by now. He's four (and a half, better not forget that) and loving life. You've heard about his extensive knowledge regarding female anatomy, his future career as a ninja and sports star, and his imaginary friends, but I thought it was about time to let him speak for himself, to tell you, the readers of my "faceblog", as he calls it, a little more about himself in his own words. The following is a brief interview with him regarding a wide variety of topics ranging from sports figures to the situation in Lybia, from video games to underwear. Enjoy.


Me: Are you ready for me to ask you some questions, Brady?

Brady: .....

Me: Son, can you stop playing your maze game for a second so I can ask you some questions?

Brady: ...OK, but can I keep playing while I talk?

Me: Well, OK, we'll see how that goes. So first, tell me how old you are.

B: Daddy, you know! Four and a half.

Me: Great, and why is the sky blue?

B: Well, ...huh? Oh, because of the atmosphere.

Me: Wow, where did you learn that?

B: In my planets book. You read it to me, remember?

Me: Oh yeah, I'd forgotten. That's a good one. Is that your favorite book?

B: No, I like Peter Pan, when the crocodile bites off Captain Hook's hand and he screams like Ellie (Brady's little sister) when he hears the clock (that the alligator swallowed) ticking. And I like the Bible, but mostly the Bible stories with fighting in them.

Me: Cool. So, what's your favorite food?

B: Well, my favorite is macaroooooooni. (Then, with a big grin) Know what else is my favorite?

Me: No, what?

B: An elephant on a steak. And people on a marshmallow roaster. (laughs)

Me: Eww, that's gross!

B: (laughing harder) I like them with ketchup!

Me: OK, OK, let's move on, silly guy. So, what's your favorite thing to do outside?

B: What I really love to do is nothing and stay inside.

Me: But you love to go outside!

B: Yeah, but I just like to stay inside and play the maze game. (the same game he's playing as we speak, in which he helps the mouse find his cheese in a series of mazes) That's my favorite thing to do inside.

Me: OK, but what about outside?

B: Oh! Digging for treasure.

Me. Ah, good answer. OK, so who's your favorite sports player?

B: Well, my favorite guy goes like this. (gets up and mimes a left-handed batter swinging) He slugs really good slammers.

Me: A slammer-slugger, huh? Who is it?

B: Joe Mauer! He's number seven. I'm going to be number seven when I play for the Twins.

Me: Awesome! Next question, and we're almost done. If you could have any cartoon character on your underwear, who would it be?

B: (sneaks a peek at his underwear) The Incredibles, but I REALLY want some underwear with Wolverine on them. He's an X-Men. And he's got aluminumum on his bones and claws, so the bad guys can't hurt him.

Me: Do you mean "adamantium"?

B: Yeah, that.

Me: So, what's your favorite video game?

B: What would you choose?

Me: Super Mario Brothers, I think.

B: Well, I would choose Mega Man. (Then, with a laugh) Look, daddy, the mouse (in his maze game) has poopy on his hands!

Me: Oh, come on, that's silly! OK, last question. What do you think about the situation in Lybia?

B: What's Lybia?

Me: It's a country really far away. There's a bad guy there named Gaddafi there who's trying to hurt a lot of people.

B: Is he like Magneto? (a bad guy from 'The X-Men' comics and movies)

Me: Kind of, but he doesn't have any super powers, just a lot of guns and missiles.

B: Well, I don't know, but I think Wolverine could get the bad guy. The guns and missiles can't hurt him, and he could just "SCHING-SCHING" (clawing and punching) and get the guy with his claws.

Me: Good idea, bud. Well, those are all my questions. Thanks for answering them.

B: OK. Can I read them on your faceblog?

Me: You bet. Now let's get to bed.


Is there anything more refreshing than four-year-old humor and logic? I can't think of anything, but maybe Ellie will have a few things to say about it when I interview her. Like Brady, she's never at a loss for words. Tune in next time for "An Interview with a Two-Year-Old".