3+ Uncommonly Good Gifts for a Happy Father’s Day

Stormtrooper in a pickle at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, S.C.

I just wanted them to pretend.

Kids are busy, though. There are church camps and chicken fajitas with friends in restaurants way past the dinner rush. There’s a whole day spent with a friend from school, laying out at the pool and baking chocolate chip cookies.

Kids my kids’ age don’t have time to pretend anymore.

So I will. My friends at Uncommon Goods have the coolest stuff you could possibly get your dad (outside of one of those sweet Rockies jerseys.) Uncommon Goods has some uncommon traits going for them as a company, too, in an effort for sustainability.

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Blissful Ways to Conquer Clutter and Embrace Chaos

stormtrooper flowers
photo credit: DocChewbacca Ueno Park via photopin (license)

Our couch has endured sleeping, chocolate, pizza sauce, snow, mud, cats, kids, and more.

It’s more than one couch. Our couches have more incarnations than The Doctor. They endure everything short of locusts, by all accounts. The damn thing will stay until it collapses on itself like that house at the end of Poltergeist.

But, that’s how we do things.

We wear clothes until they fall off our shoulders. We squeeze every molecule of Polynesian dressing out of the tubs we procure from Chick-fil-A (they’re so friendly there, they don’t stop my girls from asking for 17 packets of sauce for a six-pack of nuggets.)

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Dad in the Kitchen: Brown & White Sugar Waffles (For People of All Colors)

waffles lede.jpg

I love me some symbolism.

Like, red in the Colorado flag, to symbolize the state’s red soil. Or the Mandala, to stand for eternal harmony. Or even a blue star on the side of a silver helmet. This stands for a team allergic to playoff victories.

Symbolism isn’t lost on me in the kitchen, either.

Here’s the recipe for my Brown and White Sugar Waffles. They’re representative of my children, actually, part brown like dad, half white, like mom. In perfect harmony, ironed to light and crispy perfection, with a hint of vanilla.

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I Nearly Gave Up On Santa. Here’s What Happened Next

photo credit: Nukamari Preparing Christmas via photopin (license)

I can’t even blame Christmas.

Would it shock you to hear that even though my blog has collected moss like a molasses-slow manatee, I feel more on top of my game than ever? I feel a better grip on my carry-on? I do.

I have faith that this wresting back of control will lead me to hit the publish button soon, and often.

I have ideas – with no expiration dates, thankfully. I still want to write about elephants. I have a Go Ask Daddy thisclose to finished. The six words express steams on. I’m in talks with fantastic writers about guest posts.

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Guest Post: Cassie, of Secure Thoughts, on Parental Control Tips for Holiday Gifts

photo credit: black.zack00 ho! ho! ho! via photopin (license)

Grace sprung for her own tablet recently.

guest postShe justified the purchase – and also a llama keychain made from real llama fur and a tiny Peruvian blanket – as good investments, the kind of thing she could pass down to her kids someday. (I love this idea.)

One thing I need to pass down to my own kids: A plan for cyber security, not just for the content she can access, but to protect her accounts online.

That’s where Cassie comes in. She writes for a website called Secure Thoughts. No, this isn’t a site that safeguards my dreams of pizza buffets with Katlyn Carlson. It’s Internet security for everyday people. You know, like you and me.

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Time to Take a Stand on this whole Kneel Down Thing

Taking a stand on a gorgeous fall day in a Roanoke park.

Dear Mr. Kaepernick,

First, I’m a little late to this party, I admit. If you could see my inbox, you’d understand. I also could use a haircut. But who am I telling? This letter, though, has little to do with my hair and unanswered emails.

It has everything to do with the movement you’ve begun, by kneeling during the National Anthem before kickoff.

I happen to be a minority here in the USA. I’m the people you’re doing this for. First, I kind of appreciate that, Colin. There’s lots of hashtags out there for minorities, but generally, the ones for my people mostly have to do with #CincoDeMayo.

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My Home Away from Home

Here’s a glimpse of my home away from home.

photo credit: Martin Berglund via photopin cc
photo credit: Martin Berglund via photopin cc

It doesn’t have to be this exact field. Any soccer pitch will do. Even a rival’s.

I’ll tell you why this is my home away from home, ahead even a disc golf course or closest taco truck. (Maybe in heaven there’s a disc golf course around a soccer pitch with a taco truck. On each sideline).

It’s cliché to call it a field of dreams. A field of hopes, maybe? Of transformation? You’d have to know me before the soccer pitch became part of my life. I’d never won. In anything. Introducing the King of Mediocrity. Average grades. Average SAT.

Plenty of third- and fourth-place ribbons.

Soccer wasn’t even on my radar.

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Something Fishy: Our Foray Into Fish Ownership

There’s something fishy going on around here.

No, this isn’t another post about Lance Armstrong, or lice. We’re past that.

We’re talking goldfish. And I don’t mean the snack.

It’s been just 48 hours of fish ownership, but it’s been a wild ride already.

It began with …

A movement

Pleas to haul the old tank out of the garage, scrub it, and fill it with gravel, plastic plants and fish. Grace begged me to research what it took to get a tank started. She posted lists everywhere: How often she’d feed them, and when, and how often she’d clean the tank.

Ask her. She knows what they eat, what temperature to keep them in, and that they love to play hide and seek in their bowl.


It was almost Christmaslike, to get to the pet store.

Grace, by virtue of her family-best NCAA bracket (complete with Louisville as champ), got to plan an entire day.

The centerpiece, accented by crepes for breakfast, a park visit and wings for dinner: A trip to PetSmart to pick out their fish.


Which PetSmart would we visit? Who would visit just before we got there? It’s a fine line between feeder fish and beloved pet with a name and fake plants and TLC, when your address is the 27-cent fish tank.

Each girl chose a goldfish among the din of orange, white, black and gold scales which darted around the tank. Kaden, the awesome fish-catcher lucky enough to help us, stalked each fish with a net, cornered them and scooped them into a plastic bucket.

One small orange comet and a skinny conspicuous feeder who’d probably snuck between bigger goldfish snuck their way out with our chosen fish like an escape from Alcatraz.


Fish struggle to breathe in a tank too small, we learned. We transferred two to a bowl, installed filters and air rocks and a kept keen eye on temperature management. We probably should have run the tank for a few days to get it just right, but well, just see the section on anticipation above.

Nature can hold back the fish wish of a second grader for only so long.

Goldfishing isn’t what it was when we were kids.

Remember the days a goldfish could sit in the sun in a jar of water at the fair, come home with a winner, and live a prosperous life in a simple fish bowl?

No more. The hardy life of the Dr. Seuss goldfish is a thing of the past.

All three goldfish: Bob, Fin and Ishy; and one feeder minnow named Lucky, are frisky, breathing and thriving in their new oxygen-rich environments. Fish funerals averted, for now. Good thing – Marie has already created photo montages of them all on Instagram.

I don’t mind if they become attached. If they cry or are sad when the fish goes to the big fishbowl in the sky. If they didn’t care about this small loss of life, that would bother me.

They girls have asked enough questions to load up a good Five For Friday – Go Ask Daddy edition this week to find out if fish have ears or eyelids or genitals.

What’s this all worth?

  • $10 for the emergency filter
  • $6 for the bottle of dechlorinator
  • $4 for a sack of blue gravel
  • $3 for the set of six fake plants
  • $2 for a small canister of fish flakes (not the smallest one available, but definitely not the biggest. I’m optimistic, but also a realist)
  • $2 for the air stone for tank No. 2
  • 81 cents for three fish (no charge for the 13-cent stragger known as Lucky)

Not all is perfect. We’d still like a bigger tank for them. A cool spot in a house that’ll only get steamier as the summer encroaches. Maybe a cave or two for them to play those underwater games of hide-and-seek.

And what about that little orange fish that tried to sneak into our bag? As Kaden fished him out, I struggled a bit. Should we reward his good fortune or serendipitous wandering into the net with a trip home with us?

When the others struggled to breathe on Day 2, I thought maybe that orange straggler was better served going back into the tank and take his chances with a hungry predator!)

So, why did we do this? Why do we now consider the benefit of getting one big aquarium for the living room so we don’t worry as much about perils such as room temperature and water quality and in-room soccer matches sending the smaller tanks tumbling?

Why is fish ownership even a good idea?

    • Because you never know if another second-grader ready to pick out that “pretty orange one” will come in to the pet shop next. I hope someone like Kaden will chase the lucky fish down with a net and give him a life, however long, as a pet.
    • Because the kids get a little lesson in responsibility and something else that lives and breathes depending on them.
    • Because the line between 27-cent feeder fish and the beloved and named pet is pretty thin, but it’s a world of difference. And we can all learn a lesson from that.

What stories do you have to tell about fish in your house?

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Ultimate Blog Party 2013