May 23, 2014

It's the Little Things. . .

In life, we often get caught up I situations that provide stressors and anxieties instead of comfort and relief.  We often get so worried about the future and haunted by the past that we forget to enjoy the present. All too often, our minds are focused on the big picture. . .the overall goal. . . .the end game.  This takes us away from the little things. The things that make the world go round.  the things that really matter.

Over the last few days, I have been able to witness many "little things" and they have made a huge difference.

Three "little" words.  After a year of battling the structure needed for a classroom, one little friend dropped his guard and uttered, "I need help."  Those "little words"  showed tremendous growth.

Two "little" "Charlie Brown" trees.  On a nature walk in a preserve adjacent to our block, my family noticed a few tiny, nearly barren evergreens, reminiscent of the tree made famous in the Peanuts Christmas special.  One tiny tree.  Many fantastic memories.

One "little" hummingbird.  On that same walk, stopping in silence to admire an absolutely miniscule bird most would completely neglect to see. Observing a beautiful creature in its habitat is wonderful medicine.

One "little" worm for many, little babies. We were able to see a mother robin capture and gobble up an earthworm right in our own driveway. A delightful treat for growing fledglings and a reminder of the majesty of life.

Many "little" giggles. Spending an evening cracking up at the things my daughter does.  From her attempts at conversation to her excitement and blissful expression with every new discovery, each "little" giggle makes a gigantic love grow even larger.

Four or five "little" steps, with many more to come.  My daughter is learning to walk.  As my wife and I watched, she took her first steps. Though it was only a handful of steps before she plopped down clumsily, got back up again, and repeated for what seemed like hours, the happiness that exuded from her face as she realized her accomplishment was immeasurable.

What started as a few steps is just the beginning of a life's journey.  Hopefully, I can help her on her journey by focusing on the "little" things and letting life be something I love and enjoy, one "little" step at a  time.

May 20, 2014

DD #41 - Three Point Champion

Growing up, I knew I was destined to be a professional athlete.  The biggest dilemma I faced was deciding on which professional sport I would ultimately choose.  In my early years, I had a good deal of success with basketball, so for a time, the path to the NBA was my road of choice.  To prepare for my career, I would partake in some summer skills camps.  One summer, at my future high school, I participated in a MACC fund camp.  The MACC fund was a childhood cancer research-based organization founded by Jon McGlocklin, a 1971 NBA champ with the Bucks and current Bucks broadcaster. On one of the final days of camp, all the participants took part in a three point challenge. With the rainbow jumper being one of his trademark skills, it made sense that Mr. McGlocklin himself would be there to crown the winner and talk to all the campers. With many, many hours being spent in all seasons of the year shooting long range shots at my backyard hoop, I managed to win the shooting competition. I remembered getting my t-shirt, trophy and congratulations from Mr. McGlocklin, the first championship on the path to NBA stardom.

DD # 40 - Brandon

I couldn't wait to be an uncle.  I was ready to hold my nephew, play with him, and enjoy having another boy around since I was used to growing up with three older sisters. Despite only being ten years old, I was ready to take the responsibility of uncle seriously, even without truly even understanding what those responsibilities were.  So when my father called my sister and I into his room to talk, I didn't even know what to think about what he had to say. When he mentioned he had some bad news, instantly my mind went to my cat.  When he confirmed the cat was alive and well,  my mind moved on to to an older sister.  When he confirmed that they were alive, I remember being completely stumped.  In no way could I imagine that he was about to reveal that the nephew I was so anxiously waiting to meet didn't make it. I couldn't fathom a full-term baby dying during delivery. None of this made any sense. I remember a moment of confusion and denial before the tears came. I may have been only ten, but I felt like an adult for the very first time.

May 14, 2014

Discovering Dargatz #39 - Younger OIder Brother

I've heard that the baby of the family gets certain perks not enjoyed by older siblings.  Perks like more freedoms, lowered expectations, and a general entitlement to more individual choice. I guess my family missed that memo.  Of course, having a sister with cognitive disability and some pretty major behavioral issues can alter that traditional equation. Instead of taking advantages of being the youngest child, I assumed the responsibilities of a younger older brother. During summers, watching over the house and taking care of my sister was the way it was. In fact, I didn't really realize that wasn't the norm until much later in life. Kery and I spent summers spending a good deal of time inside watching television or working on various projects. We read, organized, and even cleaned.  We did venture into the outside world beyond the comforts of our yard. I recall afternoon walks down the creek's path or making the rounds at Mayfair. The memories of those times that often enter my mind when I need them most. I can't say I'm disappointed I missed out on those youngest child perks because the adventures I had helped shape me in a way nothing else could.

May 13, 2014

DD # 38 - The Tail Twitch

I was walking outside  to head to a wrestling show when I couldn't quite get myself to close the garage door.  With a strange chittering coming from the rafters, I decided to get the opinion of my father before making my next move. We were shocked to discover a raccoon hanging out on top of the garage door and were forced to come up with creative ideas to get him down and out before enjoying our evening.  After a few tennis ball tosses and a broom didn't result in raccoon freedom, we decided on closing the garage door he was perched on, hoping that jostling would motivate him to jump down and scurry away. As the door slowly moved down, we each had a moment of trepidation as we saw him try to squeeze himself between the door as the opening was shrinking by the second.  He avoided getting squashed. . . mostly.  What we did see was shockingly surprising, and gruesome.  When we re-opened the door, he angrily left the premises without his tail, as it was pinched off. The tail still twitched as we swept it up. We left silently, hoping to never see our masked friend again.

May 12, 2014

DD # 37 - BirthDay Disappointments

Childhood birthday parties are extremely important events.  they provide lasting memories to be enjoyed forever.  I can proudly say that i enjoy these memories because of the absurdity of events that happened to thwart my juvenile plans to throw an amazing party. To celebrate my 8th birthday, my family reserved a picnic area at Greenfield park for an outdoor party.  I was disappointed as we were forced to relocate to my house as the park and surrounding area was flooded out.  Having been disappointed, we tried again when I turned 9.  While we avoided floods, the party was once again relocated thanks to Mother Nature 's late deposit of about 4 inches of snow.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  I was NOT going to be fooled a third time. . .or so I thought. My 10th birthday involved a reserved room at Leaps N' Bounds, a venue made entirely of ball pits, slides, and tubes. Besides being an absolutely gorgeous summer-like May day, the host who ran our party had the worst games for 10 year old boys, including impersonating a wild animal for cake.  Birthday parties and I just don't get along!