#AtoZChallenge: U is for Unconventional Loves

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I’d wanted to write, during this A to Z Challenge, about my girls’ stuffed animals.

UAll three have one that has meant something to them over the years. Haven’t we all? I had a stuffed dog I found in a park when I was a boy. I named him … boy. I loved him until he fell apart.

One of my girls loved a German Shepherd, so big she could use him as a pillow.

Another slept with a bear named Daddy. I last saw him tucked behind her headboard. Unceremoniously. A third girl kept a rasta monkey I won her at her bedside. I scrapped the idea, although to read the first four paragraphs here, you wouldn’t know it, right?

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#AtoZChallenge: T is for Teenagers

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So, my friend Tiffany wrote about teenagers a while back.

TIt was more than two years ago. I kept the link because even back then, I lived among the mess of a life with two teen daughters – then 17 and 14. It was as if Tiffany, who writes Sounds Like Life to Me, had looked into our window. Tiffany even included comic strips depicting life with teenagers.

You know, those awkward yet lovable collections of our DNA and parenting skills and 80% other factors we have no control over.

Teenagers are like those cool tropical fish you get after you’ve mastered goldfish.

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#AtoZChallenge: S is for Six Words

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photo credit: Kalexanderson Preparing for christmas via photopin (license)

There are all kinds of convergences going on around here.

6 words graphicWe’re up to the letter S in the A to Z Challenge. That’s the spot where my six words post will fit in – although it’s a few days earlier than I’d let on to friends (if you have an outstanding invitation, don’t worry – I will add them after this posts!)

For those of you who don’t know about six words

I compile a monthly post called 6 Words on my blog. Ernest Hemingway inspired it when he said any story can be told in six words. I ask bloggers, friends, strangers, and a few strange blogger friends to respond to a prompt.

SWe’ve done this for years around here.

I used to pick obscure holidays to center the prompt around. These days, I’m taking questions from a cool site – Q4KIDZ. Sign up there and get a daily question you can ask your kids. Leads to some interesting conversations!

For April, the prompt was:

If you had to buy a gift for yourself that you couldn’t open for 5 years, what would you get?


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photo credit: Thanks for over 2 million views!! Disney’s Fantasy Cruise Ship via photopin (license)

1. An all-expenses paid Disney Cruise.

Lisa A., of Life of an El Paso Woman


2. A new pair of running shoes.

Teri B., of Snarkfest


3. Private getaway…worth 5 years waiting!

Meredith S., of The Mom of the Year


4. Bottle of port and cheddar cheese.

Pat C., of New Bloggy Cat


5. New phone. I’m always behind anyway.

Tassy G., of Tassy Bakes


6. Financial independence as an accomplished artist.

Renee J., of RASJacobson


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7. Buy some perspective. There’s never enough.

Tessa R., of Nothing Was Said


8. Gifts stress me out. So money.

April, of Stories of Our Boys


9. All new telomeres to combat aging.

Rhea M., of Life is Messy, Life is Marvelous


9. Plane tickets to somewhere tropical, fun!

Lisa W., of The Golden Spoons


10. Shiny key to a beach cottage.

Melissa S., of Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen


11. A letter to remember the past.

Charlotte K., of My Pixie Blog


12. Tickets to Thailand to see elephants.

Jenny, of Peace from Panic


beach house florida.jpg13. Beach house, early retirement sounds nice.

Lauren S.


14. Instant gratification is best for me!

Maggie, of The Caramel Files


15. A bottle of nice red wine.

Miriam B., of Out an’ About


16. Buy a house, rent it out.

Karine, of Tropical Colours


17. A book read more than once.

Tiffany M., of Sounds Like Life to Me


18. My California beach house, fully furnished.

Tamara G., of Confessions of a Part-time Working Mom

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19. A new journal to write my adventures.

Diana T., of Creating Herstory


20. The truth I can’t face today.

Jack B., of The Jack B.


21. Dream vacation – waiting lets joy build.

Lulu, of The Real Adventures of Becoming (whatever this thing that I am presuming is the authentic and genuine) Me


22. A Disney World trip without kids.

Susan N., of Into Another World


23. Journal: For my five-year goals.

Lindsay E., of My Creative Days


24. Eggs and milk. Kidding! Books.

Eric, of All in a Dad’s Work


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25. Family photo books – done and adorable.

Kim, of Protean Mom


26. Family moments captured printed on paper.

Jaime H., of Jaime Haney


27. Beauty and the Beast worthy library.

Ashley, of Happy, Pretty, Sweet


28. Gingersnaps in bulk, at 2017 prices.

Eli, of Coach Daddy


The rest of the A to Z to this point:

A is for Addiction to Devices

B is for Burgers (3 Lessons I learned During a Month Without Them) Plus 3 Random Smartphone Pics

C is for Interview with a Cat

D is for Do What I Do and Eat What I Eat

E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind

F is for  Foods That Bring Me Comfort

G is for #GirlsRock: An Interview Mental Health Care Advocate Kitt O’Malley

H is for Halfway There

I is for Ice Cream

J is for Justification for the Blog Life

K is for 7 Women I’d Sing Karaoke With

L is for Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)

M is for Men I Forgot to Be

N is for the New Plan

O is for One Day From Payday Spicy Chicken Skillet

P is for Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time (a Guest Post from Kathy of The Second Half of My Life)

Q is for Quote Challenge

R is for Blogger Recognition

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#AtoZChallenge: R is for Blogger Recognition

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Lots of you know Eric.

RHe writes a dad blog called All in a Dad’s Work. He’s a good dude and an Orioles fan. (It could be much worse.) He and I share tons of common friends. He writes a post called Go Ask Your Father, which looks a lot like Go Ask Daddy. He’s a good guy.

(My lawyer says I should ask for a taco for every Go Ask Your Father post he publishes. I like the idea of getting tacos mostly.)

Eric nominated me for a blogger recognition award long ago. When these things happen, I give thanks and disclose my plan to someday – someday – do the challenge, whether it’s posting pics or writing underwater, etc.
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#AtoZChallenge: Q is for Quote Challenge

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Quotes are kind of like recycled words. Right?

QLaura from the blog with the longest and coolest name ever – The Real Adventures of Becoming (Whatever This Thing is That I Am Presuming is the Authentic and Genuine) Me – nominated me for a quote challenge, around the turn of the century.

It’s about time to pay the piper.

Here’s how it works: I will share with you three quotes, and nominate three bloggers to do the same. I’ll go one better, and share a story with each one. Because I’m a notorious non-follower of rules (except when it comes to the speed limit).

I chose these quotes at random from the hundreds I’ve used at the bottom of posts.

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#AtoZChallenge: P is for Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time (a Guest Post from Kathy of the Second Half of My Life)

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I will never catch up.

PSome of my friends will never understand that. They can’t fathom a life of to-dos and deadlines and commitments and unexpected obligations that pack the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight and sometimes beyond.

When does soccer end? they’ll ask.

They might not understand that after a work shift that starts before business hours and after a day truncated by travel and training schedules that sometimes I look at my phone and can’t even imagine trying to tap out anything cohesive on that tiny keyboard.

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#AtoZChallenge: O is for One Day from Payday Spicy Skillet Chicken

stormtrooper skillet kitchen

Just one more day.

OIt gets that close sometimes. It’s the day before payday, the man has taken most of your take-home, and, well … the kids insist on dinner. Rather than break out the plastic to break bread, I’ve found another way – and I suspect you have too.

Inspiration often comes from the show Chopped.

Last week, I nabbed a pack of chicken from the freezer (cut into tenders and stored in zip-lock bags, because we’re out of freezer bags), and mulled over the random assortment of canned goods and other tat lining the shelves.

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#AtoZChallenge: N is for the New Plan

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What do you think of those Facebook memories things?

NCrazy, right? The damn site looks back at what you posted a year ago. It’s like finding a stormtrooper figure in the pocket of shorts you haven’t worn since last summer. Or, something. (This happened to me last week, I confess.)

Depending on the user and the posts, they’re also a peek into our former selves – or current selves, if we’re still in the same currents.

Spring’s often been a time of loss for me, and only sometimes could I blame another slow start from my beloved Rockies. (Who are in first place at the time of this hacking, I might add.)  It’s also, then, a time of renewal, right? If we’re looking with a positive light?

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#AtoZChallenge: M is for Men I Forgot to be

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I feel like I have lots of mileage for a dude who just wrote how he’s halfway there.

MIf stop-and-go city driving miles push a car to the auto salvage yard quicker than country miles, maybe parenthood miles push a dad to pasture quicker than childless men’s miles. I’d so much rather take on the wear and tear than not to take this path, though.

Rather than a car, I am, as a dad, more like a skillet with age.

The seasonings of use and heat and duress enhance it for the next meal. I’m better off for that. I can look back at the men I meant to be for my girls that have fallen off along the way like pine needles on a Christmas tree when you strap it to the roof of your car with the tip pointing forward, not the trunk.

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#AtoZChallenge: L is for the Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)

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Most of blogging ought to be reading.

LI know this. In the middle of the night, I must choose: Start on my post I wish I’d written earlier, or get to my reading routine? I have a reading routine. It’s complex and it’s regimented, and tonight, I’m actually choosing the more selfish path – I will write this, rather than read more blogs.

However, I hope that by sharing some recent blogs I’ve read, I’m bending the karma.

I’m in a vortex of incredible work. It comes from the A to Z Challenge, but also the top six commenters on my blog. I find great reads in the WordPress bloggers I follow. And I’ve just joined a Facebook group, small in number and perfect in tone, to associate with.

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