[mccookgazette.com] A Few Clouds and Windy ~ 50°F  
High: 33°F ~ Low: 27°F
Monday, Dec. 22, 2014
Daydreaming of pillows and punching bags (10/24/14)
I  was folding clothes one afternoon earlier this week, daydreaming about the upcoming Rams game, when Declan said he wanted a pillow with my face printed on it for Christmas. I was flattered and continued to fold clothes as the comment shifted my imagination away from sports and towards a more serene setting...
A light at the end of my busy tunnel (04/18/14)
As I tucked Declan into bed earlier this week he looked up at me with wide eyes and proceeded to pull another rabbit out of his magic hat of questions. I am convinced it is no coincidence his last minute dialogue tends to delay his bedtime, however, his questions are typically far too creative to ignore...
When, not if, we create a time machine (02/28/14)
Declan asked me the other day if I was alive when everything was black and white. I laughed and told him everything has always been in color and that he was likely referring to television and photographs, which were limited to black and white during their early years...
Celebrating a 'polar vortex' of my own (02/07/14)
I am hopeful our temperatures will rise just enough this weekend so that I might take Declan sledding at Kelley Park without freezing one of my favorite fingers or toes off. Declan is approaching the age I was at when the majority of my winters were spent primarily outside, building snow forts in the front yard or sledding down the hill at the end of the block...
Aggressively searching for passive solutions (01/03/14)
The first city council story I wrote for the Gazette I used nearly every word in my thesauraus to describe their dialogue, in an attempt to avoid repetition. Council members commented, dictated, indicated, voiced, relayed, discussed, talked and added, all in one story...
Don't judge a cat by its cover, at least not from a mile away (12/20/13)
I was attempting to make a "things aren't always as they seem" comparison to Declan the other day when I became wrapped up in recounting an experience from my Washington state days. The long-winded conversation failed to make the comparison I intended on the topic at the time, but he certainly seemed to enjoy the tale...
Pajama buttons of the world beware (12/06/13)
Shortly after rousing Declan from his usual slumber earlier this week and directing him towards his outfit for the day, I noticed he was having trouble getting his pajama shirt off. I offered him what I thought was my usual early-morning brilliance...
Entertaining a visit to the old Willis place (11/15/13)
"Have you ever been to Indian Creek?" Declan asked from his throne in the back seat of our car as we made our way to school this morning. "No, can't say that I have. There are a lot of places around here I'm not familiar with though," I replied, having no issue admitting the fact I am geographically challenged and a little more than four years is simply not enough time for me to become familiar with a region...
Tired maybe, but still very crafty (10/25/13)
Declan was making his typical plea to avoid bed time earlier this week when he decided to add a little flare to his routine. I had been responding to his verbal barrage with my standard defense and reminded him of how grumpy he was in the mornings when he didn't get to bed on time...
Cartoons and budget stories have no place at the breakfast table (10/18/13)
Declan often struggles with grasping the logic behind the restrictions I place on his entertainment time. I had hoped his understanding would grow as he did, however, it seems his questions have only become more complicated and his knack for arguing more seasoned...
Holding my son accountable, for my mistakes (09/06/13)
As Declan has grown physically, so too has his comfort zone. More and more he pesters me to play outside with his friends or go across the street to the park without me. My comfort zone with his independence is not growing proportionally. Declan and I bumped into one of his fellow second-grade classmates recently at the park, whom we discovered had rode his bike a couple of blocks to the park by himself...
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Declan (08/30/13)
My young second grader begins each day with one of two personalities. As you might guess, one of them is quite pleasant and the other, not so much. I have determined that the early morning persona he embodies is almost entirely related to whether or not he gets to bed on time...
A walk I'll likely remember (08/23/13)
During my regular efforts to impart some form of wisdom to my children, it is not uncommon for them to make me feel like they believe me to be simply a fan of hearing myself talk. If that is the case, then I enjoy it most when the subject matter is focused on either of them...
With great mustache, comes great responsibility (07/26/13)
The weekend after Declan's return from his summer visit with his mother I unexpectedly grew bored with my mustache and goatee. Shaving them seemed like a simple change at the time and I gave it no more thought than I would have when changing a shirt. My loving children, on the other hand, did not approve of my new look...
The difference between Herren and Damen (07/12/13)
Summer is winding down, although the temperature surely isn't, which means Walmart is putting out school supplies, my daughter is shopping for next seasons' basketball shoes and Declan will return from his summer abroad in a few days. Technically he wasn't "abroad," but I am certain the differences between his life with his mother and the one he will return to with me, feel quite similar to the experience of visiting a foreign country...
New 'Lone Ranger': Too dark, too violent, too much (07/11/13)
Tarred but never feathered (07/05/13)
As I gazed at several blocks of freshly poured roadway on East H Street, marred by tire tracks Tuesday morning, I couldn't help but feel sorry for everyone involved. Obviously my heart went out to the construction workers who labored extensively in the heat for the last several weeks only to realize much of it would need to be repeated. ...
Everything you never wanted to know (06/21/13)
My mother visited this week and informed me that one of my previous columns may have been exaggerated a bit. While recalling an incident where my mother drove her Mustang off the side of a snowy mountain pass road in Montana, many years ago, I said the vehicle suffered little to no damage and my mother walked to a nearby emergency phone to call for help. In reality, the vehicle suffered disabling damage consisting of a broken axle and needed significant body work as well...
The amazing cleaning properties of bubbles (06/14/13)
I read this week that the McCook School Board was presented with the task of determining how to discipline a teacher who had allowed high school students to drink alcohol in her home. I was a bit surprised to read further that the school board was split on whether or not to terminate the teacher and ultimately took no action. I am sure details about the scenario are still coming out and I am well aware of how difficult personnel matters can be in unionized operations...
Laugh and the world laughs with you, fall from a tree though and you fall alone (06/07/13)
As I was tucking Declan into bed a few weeks back he looked up at me with an unusual flash of sadness on his face. "I am not a nice person, I don't like my brain," he muttered in an unexpectedly serious tone. "What do you mean you don't like your brain?" I replied with my usual confusion...
A sports fan, for 2 good reasons (05/31/13)
It is no secret summer is my least favorite time of year, primarily because it is when Declan leaves for his visit with his mother, but also because I am a wuss when it comes to 100 degree weather. Considering it is typically fairly easy for me to find the positive in any given scenario, a trait I wouldn't trade for anything, I have spent an inordinate amount of time mulling over all the "benefits" of my summer freedom. ...
Grooming a future Scientist, one mistake at a time (05/24/13)
I had almost made it out of Declan's room after tucking him into bed earlier this week when he sat up and put his arms out for a hug. I knew he didn't really need a fourth hug goodnight but I am sucker for a hug and he knew it. It is his best bedtime stall tactic by far and he has an arsenal of them...
Calling means talking? No way! (05/03/13)
Declan is not a fan of the telephone, nor has he ever been. The interruption a phone conversation provides, from whatever adventure he is currently involved in, is of course a bother, however, the subsequent conversation generally holds little enjoyment for him either...
An overdue introduction to G. O. and tissue (04/26/13)
Declan and I were halfway through an afternoon drive home recently when he struck up a religious conversation with me, in a manner only he could pull off. "I asked G.O. to make me not pick my nose anymore," he informed me. I stuttered a bit before replying, confused by several aspects of his statement...
Sending out friendly reminders (04/19/13)
Declan is eagerly awaiting the arrival of grandma at some point this month. I made the mistake of telling him several weeks ago that she was coming for a visit in late April, all he understood was April. Since the first of the month the very first words out of his mouth every afternoon are "Is grandma here?" followed by a sigh of disappointment from him and me repeatedly trying to explain that it would be several weeks before she arrived...
Growing like a weed and 'Rapping' up some candy (04/12/13)
I made the mistake of getting excited about putting together a costume for Declan's first grade music program this week. To be more specific, my mistake really pertained more to underestimating Declan's resistance to my costume ideas. Declan was one of many weeds in a "How does your garden grow?" performance, which of course was a joy to watch, regardless of our pre-stage drama...
Recalling a few ghosts, from Mustangs past (04/05/13)
My daughter becomes giddy whenever she sees a Mustang on the roadway. Her love for the automobile is obviously shared by many, even by myself when I was about her age. My freshman year in high school we lived in Missoula, Montana, in a neighborhood that was known then as "Snob Knob." It was a fairly new neighborhood and quite hilly as it was on the side of one of several, beautiful, mountainsides that make up much of the Missoula area. ...
Thinking fondly of coffee (03/29/13)
In conversations with readers it has not been uncommon for me to credit missing out on much of my daughter's childhood as an experience that equipped me with what I believe to be an inordinate amount of patience, pertaining to the complexities of parenting. Patience which I have foolishly prided myself on, and Declan has regularly tested the limits of...
Picking my battles, one name at a time (03/22/13)
I have been working on teaching Declan the proper name for each of our local parks, but he is about as interested in the knowledge as he is learning to tie his own shoes. "We're going to Norris Park," I said recently. "Where?" he replied, looking at me with more than a little confusion...
No matter the destination, there's always a first (03/15/13)
One day Declan simply tired of his blue winter jacket. I have no clue what prompted it, and when I questioned him as to why he didn't want to wear it, he replied with a growl, "Because it's the worst jacket ever!" He would offer no further specifics and complained incessantly every morning for several days, until I finally promised to shop for a new one...
Some toys really deserve to be crushed (03/08/13)
I was awoken an hour ahead of schedule earlier this week to a ghoulish laugh that made me sit up in bed, startled, and knowing only that something was wrong. It took me a few moments to clear my eyes and I could see that Declan was still sound asleep next to me. As I gathered myself, the pain from having his foot lodged in my rib cage became more apparent...
Deny repeatedly and never forget 'the Washingtons' (03/01/13)
Declan is already more than a little suspicious that Dad and the "Tooth Fairy" are one in the same, but I am hanging on to the fantasy by a thread, simply by refusing to admit it. "Did you put this under my pillow?" he asked about a week ago with a curious grin, after finding a trio of dollar bills under his pillow...
Best food ever: Egg drop soup? (02/22/13)
For some reason "Chinese" is a word missing from Declan's vocabulary. Everything Asian related is "China" in his world. I took him to lunch the other day at our local Chinese restaurant and you would have thought it was Chuck E. Cheese's the way he acted...
It's never too early for bedtime (02/15/13)
Declan and I were scrambling to beat the morning bell earlier this week, well I was scrambling he was mumbling grumpily as he put on his shoes, the equivalent of first grader profanity. His primary topic of frustration was that I would not allow him to watch morning cartoons. I adopted a "no morning cartoons until after you're ready" rule a few weeks ago and Declan is not at all a fan of it...
Ancient history or current event, good times either way (02/08/13)
I could swear it was just last week that I was marveling at how the first month of 2012 flashed by in the blink of an eye, and yet I find myself in the same scenario already for 2013. Time truly does move faster as you get older. Casey and I were reminiscing about our excitement filled adventure to meet Declan's mother last spring, when the infamous Angry Bird toy exploded in Declan's face as we were cruising down the highway, setting off a chain of emotional reactions that thankfully ended in laughter. ...
Savvy like a scientist, or something like that (01/25/13)
Typically Declan bathes in the evening, just before bed time, directly related to our efforts to minimize the morning madness. On rare occasions I have made the decision to scramble the little monster through a shower before school, usually related to a less-than-pleasant scent emanating from his unruly morning hair...
So, how good a hugger are ya? (01/18/13)
I asked Declan for an update pertaining to his marriage plans. It has been a few months since he, oh-so-confidently, informed me of his plans to marry one of his classmates. He has been silent on the topic ever since. "Are you still going to marry Betty?" I asked...
No early returns allowed; I tried (01/04/13)
I attempted this week what many parents have probably only dreamed of doing. I tried, unnsuccessfully, to return my child to school a day early from his Christmas break. It was a typical fire drill of a morning, the morning after New Year's Day. I prodded Declan out the door and swore to him for the 500th time he would never again watch morning cartoons until after he was ready for school...
When in doubt, declare a tie (12/28/12)
Declan has been wearing a very fashionable, well for a first-grader, bright red Angry BirdsⓇ snow-cap nearly non-stop since Christmas day. He even has matching red gloves, all courtesy of a gift package from his mother. The hat is quite soft, made of a plush material with "wings" that hang down the side of his face...
Let the coaches coach and the fans grumble (12/14/12)
Declan began his basketball career last weekend with his first practice. As much as I have been wanting to criticize my daughter's coach every time something goes wrong during her high school games, it was a nice refresher for me to be reminded just how difficult a job our youth coaches have...
Taste is of little importance to a 7-year-old (11/30/12)
Declan's taste buds must be experiencing some sort of expansion. It began with him enjoying his Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie, then was followed up by a surprising decision on his part to join Uncle Casey and I as we snacked on a bowl of sliced cucumbers...
Finding a place for tacos at our holiday feast (11/23/12)
Declan's latest curiosity is, understandably, the Pilgrims. He bombarded me earlier this week with an assortment of questions, including whether or not we were pilgrims. "No," I replied and explained our ancestors came over later from Scotland and Ireland, to be a part of the greatest country ever...
What comes around, eventually, goes around (11/16/12)
Declan attended a pair of birthday parties last month where he, of course, had a grand time. I probably felt more out of place than he did, helping man a game-booth at the first party, primarily so I could keep an eye on my little guy. I'm sure it was in part because most everyone there, although classmates of Declan and their family, were strangers to me for the most part. I was, however, just as concerned about the havoc my little man might unleash if I were absent...
Shrug it off and skip after your next adventure (11/09/12)
Declan came home from school earlier this week and informed me he voted for "Ritt Romney" for president. Apparently his class conducted a mock election of sorts and he was tickled to have placed his name in the box next to "Ritt's" name. I happened to approve of his choice, but I was a little surprised that he didn't choose the other box, since he said it represented a vote for "Bronco Bama." After all, his favorite shirt is his Denver Bronco's jersey...
Morning pep for the first grader on the go (11/02/12)
Most of us have seen a vast number of documentaries, studies and commercials, claiming health benefits from an assortment of items. Some as simple as wearing a copper bracelet and others slightly more taxing, such as an article I came across touting the health benefits of wearing high heels...
Testing boundaries, vocabulary and otherwise (10/19/12)
Declan has been testing the boundaries placed on "bad words" lately. Like a caged lion he pokes and prods at the barriers placed on his vocabulary, curiously testing for weak spots he can exploit. "Can I say the heh heh word?" he asked last night, carefully sounding out an H repeatedly...
Robots aren't concerned with table manners (10/12/12)
I can't help but notice the growth spurt Declan is experiencing, mind you it is a first grade growth spurt and nothing I would think that is out of the norm, but it seems like every week another pair of his pants is suddenly too short to wear. His resistance to traditional manners at the dinner table seems to be growing at the same pace, unfortunately...
Gone are the days of the two cent back rub (09/28/12)
I am already practicing my "when I was your age" lines that I plan to bombard Declan and Shawn with when they reach adulthood. It is part of my self-imposed therapy for all the typical youth havoc that they have unleashed upon me. Like a savings account for my revenge, I have promised myself I will be the goofiest grandfather any of their friends have ever known...
The hourglass is half full, or is it half empty? (09/14/12)
After finishing up a rather uneventful dinner last night Declan asked if he had time to play on his laptop before bedtime. It tends to make cleanup a little easier after dinner if Declan has some sort of a distraction, so I agreed to 15 minutes. "Fifteen minutes! Yay!" he chirped excitedly, the exact opposite of the response I was expecting from him...
Living a very charmed life (08/31/12)
It wasn't long ago I led a very different life. I was a division manager for a bottling company overseeing a territory that encompassed parts of three states and required at least one weekly overnight in a hotel. They were fun times, my evenings usually spent in lavish ski-resort hotels and many of my days golfing on ridiculously expensive golf courses, that even then I knew I could never afford a regular membership at...
Suddenly a soup fan (08/24/12)
As Declan waved to me and waddled his way across the school playground, excitedly beginning his first day of school recently, it occurred to me that not too much had changed since his first day of kindergarten a year ago. He was still the same excitable little guy, shy of two front teeth and maybe an inch taller, but otherwise the same...
An arranged marriage, but arranged by who? (08/10/12)
I have been following Declan around with my notepad in hand, busily jotting down every comical blurb he makes after being deprived of his witty chatter for the last couple of months. It has been, as you would expect, a lot of fun. As prepared as I try to be, I am regularly blindsided by most of the comments he makes. Like when I was informed my seven-year-old was already planning his wedding...
A simple little 'Do whatever you want party' (08/03/12)
Delcan's first week back has been grand. His great adventure away from home was just what he needed. He has renewed excitement for every boring old toy he owns, excited to go anywhere in town, especially excited when he sees his friends and even excited for school to begin...
Wrapping up one hot summer (07/27/12)
Declan is scheduled to return from his "great adventure" this weekend, which has me scrambling to get my list of summer projects completed. It is inevitable that in a few weeks I will regret, in some fashion, not taking better advantage of my "kid-free" time. Hindsight is of course 20/20, as they say...
The real 'Magic Mike' is actually quite a carpenter (07/13/12)
When I asked Declan what he was up to, during a phone conversation earlier this week, he ever-so-casually let me know that he was "just on a great adventure with Gwamma." No biggie, just a great adventure. While I know he misses home as much as I miss him, I also know he is having the time of his life...
Have bucket will travel, ready for a festive 4th (06/22/12)
After I relocated to McCook to be closer to my daughter, my mother asked me regularly if it was going to work out, if I was really going to stay long-term. I initially responded with the tale of my neighbor welcoming me to McCook with a plate of fresh-baked cookies, seeing it as a sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be...
Wisdom from some of our more outspoken graduates (06/15/12)
Every spring we put out several graduation publications including my favorite, which was published in late April and focused on comments from graduating kindergartners. The project puts portions of popular phrases in front of the youngsters and they are tasked with completing the sentence, typically resulting in some fun responses...
Throwing stones from my glass house, what could go wrong? (06/08/12)
In my last column I so brazenly made light of my family's final summer vacation to South Dakota, more specifically the swarm of bees they drove through with open car windows during a trip I was unable to attend. During my road-trip to meet Declan's mother last week I got a little taste of my own roadway chaos...
Nothing like a small town summer (05/18/12)
Declan is gearing up for his summer and has been counting down the remaining school days for several weeks now. He is anxious to spend time with family members outside of McCook, primarily his mother and sister in Colorado, but he is also scheduled for an adventure with Grandma and most of his cousins, that I am more than a little disappointed to be missing...
One of these mothers just isn't like the others (05/11/12)
As a single father with custody of Declan since his early months, I am, for the most part, accustomed to filling both parenting roles. Typically I have looked at it as being no different than any other challenge and stubbornly set out to prove any nay sayers wrong...
Apparently, the key to a good nights rest is all about how it ends (04/27/12)
As Declan was readying his toothbrush this morning I asked him if he slept good last night. "No," he grumbled flatly. "You didn't, how come?" I asked. "Because you kept waking me up," he said in a matter-of-factly tone. I had to giggle a little because as he said it he bobbed his head to his left and pointed his toothbrush at me, unknowingly flapping his erect morning-hair in perfect sync...
As intimidating as a talking frog (04/20/12)
As entertaining as the back-and-forth chess matches I have had with Declan can be, pertaining to what he is and isn't going to eat, the addition of my younger brother Casey to our nightly dinner table certainly takes it up a notch. Casey is quite a bit younger than me and has been single for the majority of his adult life. That translates into him lacking some of what I would refer to as fatherly "wisdom," which he, in turn, would refer to as "weakness."...
Eat your cucumbers, or else (04/13/12)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Declan discovered water chestnuts last night. By discovered I mean he finally tried them, and as is usually the case, realized he liked them. He quickly snarfed up all of them included in his stir-fry dish and began pestering Casey and I for ours...
The morning of the mealtime standoff (04/06/12)
The dining roller-coaster with Declan must be on one of its uphill climbs because lately he seems to be less open than ever to the idea of straying from his favorite foods. In his defense, his breakfast of choice is not that bad, he is a fan of the cereals that I would classify as having a healthy balance of nutrition and sweet stuff. Life and Honey Nut Cheerios are among his favorites...
When following in the footsteps of a giant, keep to your left (03/23/12)
During my grade school years my Mom's "little" brother stayed with us for a time while he chased work on the then booming oil rigs of North Dakota. Uncle Chris was anything but little in size, I would estimate he weighed more than 300 pounds and was approximately 6 foot 3 inches tall. To me, during my 4th to 5th-grade school years, he was nothing shy of a giant...
My little co-pilot is doing his best to grow up, way too fast of course (03/16/12)
With the weather as beautiful as it was this week Declan and I broke out the bikes for the first time of the season. We added a little air to our tires, ensured the brakes were still functioning and off we went to the art guild to take pictures of their chamber mixer...
Not just any onion will do (03/09/12)
Just a few days after the McCook McDonald's was demolished I drove by the construction site and noticed the workers had already begun to frame the early stages of the new building's first wall. As I tried to imagine what the restaurant was going to look like once the project was completed I realized that it was unfortunately going to be a long while before I indulged in the double-cheeseburgers that I enjoyed so much...
Lets play 'Tortego' (03/02/12)
I spent a couple of hours teaching Declan how to play a chess-like boardgame called Stratego earlier this week. He enjoyed it so much that he protested adamantly when I had to stop to cook dinner. His pestering for "one more game" continued for some time until it was thankfully redirected towards his Uncle Casey, the minute Casey walked in from work...
Laundry etiquette, a foreign concept (02/24/12)
I regularly hear people marvel at the accomplishments of housewives of old. The many roles they played, the physical labor involved that has since been replaced by advances in technology. It is impressive, to say the least, and makes it easy to understand why only one member of the household typically worked full time...
A slight case of 'Beaver' fever (02/17/12)
Declan's first Valentine's Day party was of course a big success. Afterwards he excitedly flashed one card after another to me, surprisingly knowing exactly who each one came from. "This one is from Tasha, it's Justin Beaver!" he said, gushing with the thrill of the moment...
No snow, but enjoying a growl free morning (02/03/12)
I drug myself out of bed at 6 a.m. this morning, peeking out the window hoping to find 12 inches of fresh snowfall, only to see a dark drizzly rainfall and wet, but otherwise clear roads. Drat, no snow day for me. I suddenly was too tired to jump in the shower just yet and crawled back into bed, pushing the snoring six-year-old that had invaded my sleeping space over to the proper side of the bed...
Grant me stubbornness, I mean strength (01/27/12)
This week marks Declan's official graduation from his fear of the schoolyard playground. Gone are the days of him pestering me to walk with him all the way to his class line and wait until the bell rings. Yes, it is true, I did encourage him each morning to partake in the bustling whirlwind of activity around us and overcome his reluctancy to join the other children, but that doesn't mean I can't mourn the loss, for the both of us...
My mullet sporting hair critic (01/20/12)
Declan has been refusing to get his hair cut and I haven't had much of a problem with it, I miss the longer baby blonde he once had, but have had more than a few chuckles after seeing his hair once he removes his snow cap. I worry sometimes how he looks throughout the day at school and often catch myself trying to pressure him into a haircut, just to satisfy my insecurities pertaining to how he looks to other people. ...
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails (01/13/12)
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails McCOOK, Nebraska -- While on our usual drive home Declan began quizzing me about, of all things, zombies. "What are zombies made of?" he said. Having no idea where the line of questioning was coming from, I gave him my typically slow response, "Zombies? Zombies are pretend, they don't really exist," I said...
Sugar and spice and everything nice (01/06/12)
When I was a young man little girls were made up of sugar and spice and everything nice. Little boys, similarly, were made up of snips and snails and puppy dog tails, at least according to the wooden signs that hung in my bedroom back then. The statements seemed a little unfair to me even then, but if Mother in all her infinite wisdom, had hung them on the wall of my bedroom, they must be true...
Silverware is overrated (12/30/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Pronunciation has become Declan's most recent challenge and seems to be the basis for the majority of our humorous scenarios in the evening. The latest was when his Uncle Casey was attempting to instruct him on why using a fork at the dinner table was the preferred method to eat your vegetables...
Because, I am a big kid now (12/23/11)
Declan was giddy with excitement last night. Surprisingly, it wasn't in anticipation of the rapidly approaching Christmas day, but focused on being able to go to daycare. He was unusually difficult to calm down, after jumping under his covers at bedtime...
Sometimes, timing is everything (12/09/11)
I had a particularly hectic moment one evening this week that had me feeling entirely inadequate as a parent. We had just arrived home from my daughter's basketball game and I was beginning to stress out as the clock on my car informed me it was over an hour past Declan's bedtime. Fifteen minutes past his bedtime means it will be a fight to get him ready in the morning, but an hour, oh man...
Always pack your parachute (12/02/11)
The youngest of my four little brothers is in his mid-twenties and moved to McCook this past summer. He is single and has never had kids of his own, but being the youngest of six siblings has made him a very patient young man. He is great with kids in general and it has been both wonderful and entertaining seeing Declan and Uncle Casey bond over the last several months...
This isn't Sunday morning football, just lose baby (11/25/11)
Another holiday season is already upon us and although I feel like the weeks are racing by, Declan complains each morning on the drive to school that "Christmas will never get here! How many days is it now?" However similar the scenery may be, we are definitely seeing the world from different perspectives. ...
Waiting for my turn (11/18/11)
On the way home from school earlier this week Declan expressed to me his dread around the upcoming Thanksgiving lunch to be served at his school. "This week we have our feast and I am really scared," he said. I was certainly confused as to why he would be afraid of a lunch at his school that I would be attending and asked him to explain...
Long live Daylight Saving Time (11/11/11)
I never realized there was actually a debate behind the whole "daylight saving time" practice until shortly after my move to Nebraska. I had always assumed there must be some mathematical need for it, pertaining to our calendars or keeping the days bright and the evenings dark. Yes, before I was bald, I was blonde...
Waddling after the little ones (11/04/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Considering all the times that Declan has informed me that he "learned nothing today," I am enjoying witnessing his academic progress. It is pretty incredible when you consider just a few months ago he had practically no reading ability, yet now I regularly catch him sitting on the floor of his room sounding out portions of words in books...
Recharging the parenting batteries (10/28/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- As challenging as parenting is, it amazes me sometimes how quickly our batteries can be recharged. It just takes one precious moment to wipe out weeks of seemingly fruitless efforts. I received one of those moments earlier this week and of course it occurred at the most stressful of all parenting locations, the dinner table...
End the morning madness (10/21/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- I don't remember the mornings being so tough growing up. I am definitely missing something, not hearing someone's advice or forgetting some golden rule that will hopefully slap me in the face soon. It is a struggle to get the little guy through only a few basic tasks each morning; clothes, breakfast, teeth, shoes, jacket, backpack and out the door. ...
The chess match continues (10/07/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- I once referred to the "forbidden fruit snack" and Declan's insatiable craving for the candy that is oh so cleverly disguised as something else. I eventually won the war against the dreaded sugar-packed snack and can now safely maneuver my shopping cart past them in the grocery store, without my son turning into something akin to a raving cookie monster...
The hardest part of a kindergartner's day (09/30/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- My first parent-teacher conference is officially behind me. It was a great experience, of course, and as you might have guessed not without a little humor. Declan's kindergarten teacher knows him pretty well already, even with only a few school weeks under their belt. She talked about what a sharp guy he was and said that her concerns were not at all pertaining to his academic progress, which is of course a relief...
Alas, I learned nothing yet again today (09/23/11)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- I have found it is significantly more rewarding to write a weekly column on the food page, coupled with the gratitude that follows from local mothers for giving them their Saturday morning chuckle, than it is to write the local crime and City Council stories. ...
Slap out of it, will ya? (02/18/11)
Declan went through a phase recently, in which he seemed to be in a bit of a rut. Getting multiple "time outs" throughout the day at his preschool was not uncommon. His daycare providers are great about communicating with me and I do my best not to be defensive or discourage them from keeping me abreast of his progress, or lack thereof...
Daily routine doesn't need a Doberman (09/03/10)
Declan has finally returned home from his summer visit with his mother and we have spent the last couple weeks working our way back into a daily routine. He has been filling me in regularly in regard to one adventure after another he experienced. I have been doing my best to make being grateful a priority, he is getting time with his mother. ...
The temptation of compromise (06/25/10)
A fellow Mason once told me that, "a long time ago I decided that in order to teach my children the importance of honesty, I would have to lead by example." He made a conscience decision that to do this, he would have to be honest in all circumstances regardless of how difficult...
Always room for improvement (06/18/10)
I will never be content with my performance as a parent. Constantly critical of myself and always striving to be better, as it should be. Maybe it's because I have been in the position of being a single father with full custody of my son since he was an infant. ...
Pasta to the rescue (06/11/10)
I once asked Declan, during one of our afternoon car rides home, "What would you like for dinner tonight?" He shrugged his shoulders at me as I watched him through the rear-view-mirror and said "I don't know, you think it around in your head and let me know." I chuckled and then asked "Does that mean I can pick whatever I want and you won't tell me it's yucky food?" He nodded his head in agreement at me and said "yep, as long as it's not yucky food."...
Poppers can be more than good food (06/04/10)
My favorite BBQ recipe is grilled jalapeño poppers for two reasons. First off, they are, of course, delicious, combining a flavor as good as their deep-fried counterparts but yet far less guilt afterwards. Secondly, the preparation involved doubles as a great practical joke and I am always looking for an extra laugh. I discovered this the hard way, unintentionally victimizing myself first...
The secret pass is always open sesame (05/28/10)
Historically this has been the worst week of the year for me, the week prior to the beginning of Declan's summer visit with his mother. I will still miss him at almost an unbearable level over the next two months but this being his third summer trip to Colorado, it has gotten gradually easier each year. ...
When will I ever learn? (05/07/10)
Its the tail end of an exhausting day and I have spent the last 10 minutes making the most delicious looking (and still healthy - which has become quite the chore) turkey sandwich I have seen in a long long time. I tip-toe into the living room, a "No Food Zone," and turn on Sportscenter. I get one bite into my masterpiece, which does not disappoint and I hear a yell from down the hall. "Dad! Dad come wipe my butt!"...
A good T-shirt makes all the difference (04/30/10)
I knew this past Saturday I had chosen the right Saturday casual outfit when Declan patted me on the shoulder and said "You're cute, your hair looks cute in that shirt." In case you can't tell from my column profile, I don't have any hair. His compliment was based primarily off of the Superman T-shirt I had just put on but nonetheless, it was very well received...
Taking the quick way out (04/23/10)
Declan and I were watching a preview for that new movie "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the preview featured one young grade-schooler attempting to educate his social misfit of a friend, on how to move up the popularity ladder. The misfit, of course, misunderstands his friends direction on complimenting other popular kids, and very publicly tells a more popular classmate, "nice butt" as if it were an everyday greeting. ...
The 'burgerless' burger (04/16/10)
One of my favorite dinners is to fire up my Foreman® grill and heat a few frozen turkey patties. Place one on a small wheat bun with a slice of swiss cheese on it, add some fresh baby spinach, sliced tomato and a thinly sliced dill pickle and I am happy as can be...
The forbidden fruit snack (04/09/10)
It used to be easy to get Declan to eat his vegetables. I remember when he was two I could steam any frozen vegetables I had and he would gobble them up without hesitation. One tragic visit to my sister's house in which he was ever-so-innocently given a small bag of fruit snacks and it was all over. ...
Bruce Baker
Dinner with Declan