Friday, July 26, 2013

Will They Remember The Great Toilet Paper Fire?

Photo Courtesy 64MM
Lately, I've vowed to teach my daughters a bit about the great outdoors. We have too many i-devices and televisions, so it's imperative that they move around, see some stuff and learn a few things.

We've been camping, played outside at grandma's farm, seen how many lightning bugs we could catch, and various other fun activities. I've shown them where the milk in the jug comes from and how it's obtained, which brought groans from one and "Cool!" from the udder other.

The Great Fire!

Tonight was a departure from our normal Friday night, and my typical teaching moment. I made fire, from scratch!

Having been inspired by a great podcast a few days ago, I decided my two young daughters needed some survival skills. Truth is, so do I. The natural place to start was with fire.

It was 8:20 p.m. I told the girls that we were going to play a game. We needed to get a fire started before dark, which would be here in about 40 minutes. We had to run to the sporting goods store, find a fire starter, get home and get it going before dark fell. The race was on!

We made it to the store, found the starter and were back home 30 minutes after we left. "Great, we've got time, girls! We may survive after all!"

At that point, they were with me. We found some sticks to build a base, and plenty of dry, dead grass for tinder. Then, the race was truly on. We went into the back yard, metal was applied to flint, and sparks began to fly.

The starter stick said it was good for 4,000 strikes. The girls held on for about 150. Then, they played in the yard and came back about every 50 strikes. They were truly interested at about the 250 mark, when I showed them the blister I had just worn on my finger.

A great moment came at the circa 400-strike mark, when I had the little one get some toilet paper, because the dead grass wasn't getting the job done.

Turns out that was a good decision. Thirty minutes after we started making sparks, well after the sun had said good night, well past the point when my hands started aching, at about strike 600, right after the girls came back around to say, "Dad, can we go in?" a miracle happened. The toilet paper ignited and we had fire!

We would we would be warm this night. In July. In Kentucky.

I hope they remember.

Special thanks to Brett McKay of, as well as Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor, for the blister I now have on my finger.

A Real-Life New Dad Scenario

Warning! Do not be scared by this post. Though the content is tough to read, if you learn from it, the runway to a smoother fatherhood will be cleared, just a little bit.

If you read earlier posts in this blog, you'll see lots of wonderful things about having children. I just thought it necessary to share how life can "get real" in a hurry.

Ahh, the days of old

Free time is not the most important time that you will lose upon becoming a father. Once baby arrives, the time spent with your wife becomes short. Time for other important things like your extended family, bill paying, planning for the future, thinking, volunteering, organization participation, household upkeep, and time with friends, becomes a precious commodity. If you think it will be easy enough to prioritize and make time for the important things, think again.

Consider this real-life scenario

When my first child was born, I was driving 75 miles to work each day. When I arrived at home at around 7:00 p.m. daily, I was exhausted from work and the drive. Naturally.

Before the baby arrived, the little time remaining of my evenings were spent going to dinner with the wife, reading, exercise, or any number of relaxing, rejuvenating, spirit-lifting activities.

A few days after my beautiful child came home from the hospital, she developed colic, a stomach ailment common in babies, but also one that causes the poor child a lot of pain. In our case, it resulted in a baby that cried unconsolably from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day. I could almost set my watch by her.

So, each day for 12 weeks, I arrived at home tired, to a wife at her wits end, and a screaming infant. After getting up at 5:30 a.m. to drive to my job and working all day, it was now my turn take care of the baby.

After her daily bellyache stopped, it was always heartwarming. She would smile, laugh and play for a little while before nodding off to sleep around 11:00 p.m.

Following non-stop 17.5-hour days, there wasn't much left in the gas tank. Yes, that was my existence for three months. The pediatrician said colic typically would stop abruptly at 12 weeks. If not, it would continue for a year or more. To say that we were praying, holding our breath and crossing our fingers at the 12-week mark is, in my estimation, the largest understatement in the history of the world. We were blessed.

Now, if you think there will be lots of time for other important things in your life, think again. Take a moment to think of the shockwaves that could reverberate throughout your life.

What do you think? Will you be able to make time for the other necessities of life? If you have children, were you able to do it without much trouble?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Message for New Fathers: Be Prepared to Feel

I've been a father for a solid decade now. It has been quite a ride, to say the least; ups, downs, highs, lows, hundreds of trips to the doctor, a few trips to the ER, soccer practices, dance recitals, crying, laughing, screaming, and smiles, real ones.
My expectations about what fatherhood would be have been exceeded in every possible way.
This morning I was reminded of how my ability to feel was affected by the birth of my children.
Feeling Then: The Way it Was
There have been times I wanted to go back to the way things were, this morning was one of those times. Let me explain.

Before my children came along, I was always glad to see a friend overjoyed by an accomplishment of their child. I mean, the "Hey, that's great. You must be so proud" kind of gladness. My thoughts were genuine.
Likewise, I was saddened to hear of anything bad happening to a child; terrible injury, death, mistreatment, cancer, and so on. My sadness was genuine.

In good and bad cases, my feelings were real. They weren't tear-jerking, gut-wrenching joy and sadness. They were simply genuine.

Feeling Now: I Can Never, Ever Go Back

With the birth of my children, I experienced a new kind of love. I expected that to happen, but what I felt far exceeded my expectations. If your child hasn't yet arrived, you'll know of what I speak soon enough.
I was totally and completely unprepared, however, for how that love extended outward. Again, let me explain.
One night, when my oldest was an infant and she had decided that sleep was not in the cards, I was watching a late-night re-run of CSI. I can't recall the specifics, but a child was missing and had apparently been abused in some fashion. At the time, CSI was my favorite show, but I was horrified by the scenario that I couldn't continue watching.

I recall looking at my daughter in tears and thinking of the devastation I would feel if such a thing happened to her. I even had a deep empathy for the fictional family on the show. I knew my life had changed.
This morning, I read the following article from our local newspaper - Heroin's Hold is Hard to Escape, Richmond Parents Warn,"and I was reminded, once again, how my life has changed.
One of the most striking statements in the article was this, "Because even Dylan told us we did everything right." Those words were from the mother who recently lost her 22-year old son to a heroin overdose.
The article was a chilling reminder that, despite our best efforts, the worst can happen. I teared-up for the parents of the boy. I teared-up for my own children as I thought "What if?" Maybe I was getting choked-up for myself and how I would handle losing one of my precious children. 
It was a moment wrapped in horror, love, sadness, and fear.
Preemptive Action is Not Possible 
To you, expectant fathers and mothers, I wish I could say "Prepare yourselves now," but there's no way to do it. 
The only consolation I can offer is that as hard as stories of tragedy can unexpectedly hit you, instances of joy strike with equal force. When you see the tears of joy in a father's face after his daughter wins a gold medal, or see a mother hug her son as he exits the plane that brought him home safely from the war, you'll feel what they feel. 
This is the way it will always be.

Do you have a similar experience?

Image courtesy Joint Base Lewis McChord.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marathon Training Has Officially Commenced

If you've followed Fatherlyhood, you've gathered, by now, that I've been preparing to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January. I've been putting some miles on my shoes since late April.

Last week, my 29-week training program officially began. I'm following Jeff Galloway and his marathon training for first-time marathoners.  I love his run-walk philosophy for first-timers in training. Given that I've been training for several weeks, I'm a bit ahead of schedule and, if I stay healthy, I'll finish with a respectable time.

You may have also seen that I am planning to raise money for a charitable organization in connection with the marathon and other races I'll run this summer and fall. Right now, I'm researching the best solution for accomplishing that in the most effective manner.

If you have any ideas or experience with online fundraising, please let me know in the comments section below. I want to use my little fitness journey to benefit not only me, but those truly in need and actually putting themselves "in the line of fire," so to speak.