Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The day my job was all about graham crakers

For months now Sydney (4 year old) and I have been having this same conversation most every morning:

Her: “Daddy, do you have work today?”

Me: “Yes, Sydney

Her: “Why”

Me: “So you can eat and have a house to live in.”

Her: (thinking hard and choosing not to reflect on whatever I just said) “But I want you be a WatchDog (click the link) at my school.”

Me: “I will, but I can’t today”

Her: (after a huge huffing sound) “But when will you?!”

Me: “Not sure, but I’ll let you know. Now please go get ready for school, baby.”

this conversation happens while I’m getting ready for work after she breaks through a couple of locked doors. I’ve been putting her off for some time now, so I finally picked a day (last Friday) and went with her to her half-day preschool class. Here are a few observations:

- I think I’m a patient guy, but those teachers are off the charts. Pretty sure I could kick one in the shins really hard and she’d respond by offering me chocolate milk. Truly these are saints.

- It’s fascinating to see how kids don’t care about or even notice so many of the things we’re so hung up on (clothes, beauty, intelligence, personal hygiene . . . etc.)

- I tried to push Sydney and some other kids on swings at recess and was politely told by one of the teachers that that was a big no-no for liability reasons. Wow, that’s a sad commentary all by itself. I was paranoid for the rest of the recess.

- Graham Crackers and milk should be mandatory in corporate America. Everyone kinda stops fighting and it all just feels better while you munch.

- I’m an awfully lucky guy to have a daughter who’s so proud to show off her daddy. Now if she wants me to hang out with her like this when she’s 15 I’ll really have made it!

It was a great day. So my advice to my fellow fathers out there – when you’re asked to go hang out with your kiddos at school, send your boss some graham crackers, and say yes to the little person.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How I got my own "band"

Sunday there were some fun changes for Traci and I. In our church we have “callings” which are kinda like volunteer jobs since the local church is entirely run by a lay ministry (no one gets paid to do anything). The local leaders of each unit, the bishopric, decide, with prayer and discussion, who will serve in which calling. Then the members can decide whether to accept or not. We’ll for the last 2.5 years I’ve been in the bishopric of our congregation. It’s been fun, but it’s lots of hours, and a bit of stress. Nothing compared to what the bishop has to handle. Anyway, this weekend I was “released” from that calling and called to be . . . wait for it . . . the piano player in the primary (the children’s organization). BEAUTIFUL!! I was all-smiles on Sunday. Traci was called to be the president of the Young Women group (girls ages 12-18). So she’s the busy one now. It’s one of my favorite things about our church – that we all just help each other out and no one is more important or valuable than anyone else. It’s not easy, cuz we all have real jobs and families and all – but it’s part of what we do. So now all three of the Pope boys (Rob, Ryan & me) are “professional” musicians. People have asked me for years why I didn’t do that music thing like my brothers. In addition to the fact that I don’t have musical talent like them, I have several clever answers. Well now, I’m a piano player for a “group.” (ages 3-11) How about that?!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bands, Beards and Brothers

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to go see the Counting Crows with my brother, Ryan. He knows the promoter here locally and got us into the sold out show. This is a band I've been wanting to see for over a decade, but it never quite worked out. When we got to the show I realized that you don't exactly have assigned seats at a place like this. See, usually when we go see my brothers' bands we have a roped-off section with seats in the balcony where we can watch the show. It became pretty clear how spoiled I am. We aren't the tallest guys in the world, so as we tried to find our spots on the floor I was looking directly at some guy's back instead of at Adam Duritz. Not cool. And that guy in front of me tended to be a quite drunk college guy who really liked himself and had a vocabulary consisting of 50% R-rated words that really didn't make sense as he yelled incoherent phrases at the people around him. He also had a girl with him who seemed somehow impressed by Mr. Haughty. As he kept drinking heavily he started moving around a lot more and shared his beer with my shirt and shoes. Awesome.
But Ryan knows people. As we walked around the venue he strangely kept greeting and hugging shaggy-haired guys with huge beards. After three or four of these encounters I was wondering what the deal was with my brother's bearded friends. I figured if my lack of bushy facial hair was somehow making me even less cool. One of these guys happened to be the "bouncer guy" for the balcony section. Ryan chatted with him (and he chatted back extensively), and got us a spot standing behind the balcony seats where the ceiling is really low. (no problem for the vertically-challenged folks) It was marvelous! I could see everything I wanted to and I didn't even have to stand on my tip-toes. After we left the show and after I had pointed out that all his friends seemed to have foliage on their faces, Ryan ran into another one on the sidewalk. We both laughed as they shook hands. Hilarious.
The band was great and everything, but I'll tell ya, what I'll remember most from the night was joking around with Ryan.

And I haven't shaved since.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Siberian Soccer

I’m a weather guy. I like following extreme weather – from a safe distance of course. On Saturday morning Ethan had his first soccer game and the forecast looked a little cold. (40 degrees with wind and possible rain – which is pretty weird for KC in mid-April) I declared that I would be the brave parent to go tackle the elements so the Mrs. HTF could stay home with the kiddos. I told Ethan to go get ready and he came bounding down the stairs with his soccer shorts and short-sleeve jersey on. In the aggravating way that parents do, I told him repeatedly that he needed to wear more clothes cuz it was gonna be cold. He rolled his eyes and huffed so hard that he parted my hair . . . or at least would’ve parted my hair if I, you know, had some. He told me how “uncool” (that’s a nice word choice) he’d look wearing sweats and long sleeves. But I was the evil dad who made him bring warm clothes – though he wouldn’t actually put them on.

The second he got out of the Civic at the soccer field he jumped back in and put everything on.

It was FREEZING! The biting northern wind made me wonder if we were somewhere in Canada. He borrowed some gloves and did ok. I was forced to just stand and watch – along with all the other violently shivering parents. At least the kids got to run a little bit. The highlight was when a few little rain drops turned into sleet, and then into “sneet” (that’s a technical term created by me for the cross between snow and sleet) showers being blown at us sideways like we were in a dust storm. At one point it was full-on blizzard-like. I’m not a big soccer aficionado, but there’s no way kids should be playing soccer in weather like this, and I’m certain parents shouldn’t be standing/sitting watching kids play soccer in weather like this. But they trudged on – after the game some kids had to dig their parents out of piles of blankets and coats to let them know that the game was, you know, over. The smart parents stayed in the cars, or in the case of my omniscient wife, sent their spouses to the game. Let me know never be accused of being one of those smart parents! At the height of the icy blizzard I was warmed by a single profound thought –

I’m paying big money for this . . . awesome.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The girl I married . . . I think . . .

The 25th of April is our 10th wedding anniversary. I remember before we were married how well I thought I knew the future Mrs. HTF. I was sure that our 16 months or so of dating/engagement made me the definitive expert on Traci. Now a decade later I'm realizing more and more that I have a lot to learn and I continue to be surprised, almost exclusively in a great way. The girl I married thought that music stopped being created in 1979 (and should be played at a low volume) and that getting dressed up meant wearing your nicest flannel shirt and hiking shoes. (yes, she's quite Alaskan) I was good with all that - didn't matter much to me. I was lovin' her for other reasons. But last week I sat next to her at a rock concert as she rhythmically bobbed her head and belted out a few songs. She would occasionally smile at me with that grin that says, "surprise, I'll bet you didn't know I was secretly this cool." And her clothes were stylin'. (not that I'm any sort of expert on clothing style . . . as any of you know who me would attest) The girl I married also knew so little about current events that she couldn't tell me which two countries fought in the Iran/Iraq War. Now she zings me often with the "breaking news" of the day gleamed from significant reading of the big news web sites.

So I haven't been cool in many, many years (actually never), but I'm realizing that in addition to all the amazing things my wife is, that she's, . . . well . . . way cooler than me.

And I'm good with that.

Over the past six months or so especially, I've had to stop and stare as she downloaded amazing alt rock songs from iTunes or told me what was what in the presidential election. The way her coolness is increasing and mine is declining below zero . . . I'm just left to wonder . . . what'll this girl be like by the time we move into the nursing home?!

Friday, April 04, 2008

La Locura de Marzo

It's been hard to keep myself from blogging about March Madness. In my last little podcast thing I mentioned it. But I'll restate again, this is the BEST time of the year. Because of other fun things going on I haven't been able to catch as many games as I would've liked. But I'm really happy with how things have played out, with KU especially of course. Each year I get together with 40+ of my friends/family to fill out our brackets to see who the most educated basketball fan is. However, it inevitably ends up that basketball education has little or nothing to do with picking the brackets. That part makes it all the more fun. The Mrs HTF has now beaten me 10 out of the past 11 years. And I don't think she's watched an entire hoops game during that decade plus stretch. Humiliating? yeah, it is. You should read her recent post about the whole thing where she gives her take on it along with some history. She also makes fun of me for using yellow highlighters. I'm in 22nd place and Traci is one freakin' point ahead of me. Incidentally, Ethan (our 8 year old) is in 5th place. I guess we all know who he takes after. Anyway, I hope you all are enjoying the madness. GO JAYHAWKS!!
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