Dolesh Family

Dolesh Family

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Too Busy to Not Enjoy

As mentioned a few posts ago, the intent with this blog was never to fill the time.  Time seems scarce enough these days that we don’t find ourselves looking for things to do.  When I hear of people sitting down to watch TV at night, read a book, or post random ‘selfie’ thoughts on social media my thoughts are usually “How do people do that?”  “What are they giving up to squeeze in those activities?” “Is there a way we could equalize the world so that the single parents around the world could benefit from this apparent extra time that a percentage of the population has?”  While I have learned to embrace social media for the instantaneous electronic connection to ‘friends’ and other benefits it can provide, it sure seems like the world might not be getting smarter based on some of the posts I see.  OK….off the soap box.  The goal of the blogging was to improve the interaction with those close to us, namely our family, while we disappear for a few months.  Weekly pictures and updates on our family was meant to help others know we didn’t move to another country…..although sometimes that doesn’t sound too bad.

What I have found through the blogging is that squeezing in a weekly post may have actually had the opposite effect.  Instead of adding another item to the ever-growing ‘To Do’ list, it seems to have slowed down my life and created more reflection.  Truthfully, I don’t have time to blog and I don’t have time to post on social media how great my talented kids and hot wife are.  It’s possible that telling my kids how great they are by being fully present with them may be more beneficial than posting to my uninterested friends how great they are.  The blogging though….it takes time to collect new thoughts.  Yes, it seems to be well received with family members begging for pictures of the kids.  The time spent pondering the weekly thoughts and emotions though has forced me to stop for a moment and reflect.  While the last several posts have taken on a tone of frustration, exhaustion, and endurance, those are real thoughts.  Everyone is busy these days so I understand we are not the exception.  It’s a relative term.  However, sometimes I look at our life and wonder how much more complicated we have made it by simply living by our family standards.  It would be much easier to not make lunches for our kids and rely on some food program or MREs (Army term for meals that are ready to eat).  It would be much easier to shove the kids in the car and make the scheduled stops to drop them off at their respective locations rather than spend the extra 20 minutes to walk them to school and hear the thoughts of sometimes innocent kids.  It would be much easier to turn the TV on and let them be entertained rather than having them create their own adventure.  It would be much easier if Katy sold purses out of the home from 10a-1p rather than considering health insurance penalties and unnamed deductions on tax returns.  We would probably sleep better, the kids would fall into some kind of normal way of life, and a number of other things would probably be true that would seemingly improve our life.  At the end of the day, none of this would be true to our family. 
Winter is Back

So, we continue on…. The kids continue to cope with tax season in their own ways.  Katy misses the kids.  Work is busy for me and the evenings are usually filled with dishes, lunches, and at least one item on the ‘To Do’ list.  We skimp on sleep and we seemingly take the road less traveled in a lot of ways.  Along the way, we have tried to make the most of our circus and juggle the different acts as they come along.  Just as in a well-run circus, numerous acts are performed, but only one act can happen at one time.  Blogging has helped me reflect on the different 'acts' throughout our week.  Life does not always flow as well as the pictures would lead us to believe, but slowing down to be present within each act has been enjoyable for me.  Many of these moments with the kids are fleeting and will never come back.  Our kids get to be a part of the effort to make it through the marathon and see Mom and Dad work together.

We press on…..


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


We made Valentine's cards
Merritt's valentine bookmarks
Sometimes life has no explanations?  Or maybe there are explanations and we have simply run out of what's necessary to answer the questions.  Or maybe the answers to the questions are best left to the one asking the question....where providing an immediate answer devalues the question itself.  During tax season, I find myself asking "Why?".  The four months of Daddy Daycare seem to be going great at some moments and at other times, boulders start crashing down. I would like to think I have been able to anticipate the needs of our household.  I learned from the last minute gingerbread house making that I didn't want to be up at midnight making Valentine Cards for the kids and their school parties.  Why do we celebrate Valentine's day anyway?  Aren't we setting up our kids for major disappointments down the road (sending/receiving the right/wrong card in junior high)?

Fear the "Look"
It could be the 3 year-old in our family influencing that thought process with an overwhelming number of "Whys" throughout the day.  Consider a few of these conversations - "Merritt, you need to eat your vegetables before you can have hot dogs." Why?
"Merritt, can you please not dig your muddy shoes into the car seat?"  Why?  "Merritt, we are not going to be able to keep your favorite penny now that you threw it into the toilet."  Why? (sobbing - however Dad broke the family code.  After flushing and the penny did not go down, I figured it must have truly been a valuable penny. I reached in and then applied all forms of disinfectant that I could find . It was sure worth avoiding the deathly sobbing)  "Merritt, please do not put your hands in your mouth after rolling on the floor in the grocery store." Why?  "Merritt, please do not hit your brother." Why?

Overcoming 'meltdown'mode in the store. 
This past week, I was reminded about the "Why" dilemma. We have been setting the same alarm, to get up at the same time, to go through the same eating process, so we can brush the same teeth, put the same coats on, and leave the house at the same time to get to the same before-school program and yet the world crashes and the kids don't understand "why" we have to leave at that time.

We go to the same store to get the same food so that we can get the same stickers at the checkout and return the same carts to their spots when we are done.  For some reason, since Dad is along, the process doesn't go the 'same' way as it does with Mom.  Luckily, I step back and let Stimson do his magic and calm down the 3-year old while onlookers are aghast with my inaction.

Valentine's toy before the 'foot crunch'
Merritt got a new toy from one of her fellow students on Valentine's Day.  It is the 'new, favorite, all-time best' toy.  She wouldn't put it down and yet she steps on it as only Merritt would do.  When it broke, all she could say was "Why"?  Why doesn't it work anymore?

I was able to spend time with the kids on Monday.  President's Day meant a holiday for me and a day off from school for the kids.  It was going to be an epic day with the kids.  We would throw quarters in a washing machine, go to the toy store, go out to eat for lunch, geocaching downtown.  After two hours of the kids fighting, moody Monday attitudes, incredible misunderstandings and failed expectations....I was ready to go back to work. Why did this have to happen?

At the end of the day, I have been reminded how incredibly lucky I am to spend time with my kids (including the frustrating and comical fits), get to know more about the friends they are spending time with, see Merritt's eyes get big when I stop by her school to pick her up, enjoy the walks to school with the kids who will one day choose to walk with cooler friends, etc.  It also makes the Valentine's Day cards meaningful.

"Dear Dad, Happy Valentine's Day. You do such great things all the time.  Where would I sleep without you making my bunk bed? Love Stimson? "

"Dad, I love you! Happy Christmas (Valentine's Day)!  I like to go swimming with dad. I like to go to the park with dad.  I like going to waterslides with dad. I like going to the tunnel park with dad! Love Merritt" (dictated by Merritt)


Journaling and drawing the sunset for school

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Word of the week - PAIN.  Pain is a relative term, as we all know.  You have probably heard the phrases: "No pain, no gain." or "Pain is weakness leaving the body."....  Or maybe pain is the unexpected, frustrating, unfathomable, inconvenient.....
The "counting project" (from the last update) displayed at school......somebody wants to buy it!

This past week pain seemed to resonate in multiple facets and I noticed a few examples in our "House of Pain".  
 1) Merritt experiences pain when she doesn't get to "win" anything involving her brother.  This includes brushing her teeth, opening the front door, eating, putting on her shoes, getting dressed, and even throwing up.  

2) Stimson experiences pain when perfection is not achieved and it ends up being the "worst day EVER!"  (Sorry Stimson, I think those genes come from me).

3) Katy and I experience pain when attempt to have a conversation at the end of the day and we feel like a train is passing by inches two kids are also having a conversation with either Katy or me...or both.  Mom!!! Mom!!! Watch this!  Watch this!  Can I have an apple?  Can I have an apple?  Can I have an apple? Can I have an apple?  What's for dinner?  What's for dinner?  Are we having breakfast or dinner right now?  I don't want broccoli! 

The little 'Diva' herself
There is one phenomenon in our house however that seems to take PAIN to a new level.  I'm not even sure how to describe this other than to say that even though raising kids is a challenge, there are some things that should just not be this hard or painful.  The human body is amazing.  It sends up flares when you are hungry (our kids turn into gremlins) , tells you when things are not right, and even helps you know when it is time to use the bathroom.  Our daughter has taken it to a new level when it comes to listening to your body and knowing when to use the bathroom.  I'm not trying to get into a classic 'junior high' conversation here.  However, it is painful to watch the process.  Merritt seems to want to overcome all odds and set new records for how long she can hold her natural bodily functions.  Or maybe she is simply stubborn and doesn't want to listen to the wisdom of her parents (I sure hope this is not a preview of life 10-13 years from now).  It's also possible, she absolutely listens to no one, not even her own body.  She is "THE BOSS".  Either way, this manifests itself out in a number of ways, usually including clear signs that simple conventional wisdom would just say  "Yeah, its probably time".  I'm sure the problems would be solved if we stopped 'recommending' that she use the bathroom, since it wouldn't be our idea.  The pain piece of this - watching her walk around with an obvious shortness of breath and indicating she is in some sort of pain....or her agitated responses......or her sitting on the floor and rocking back and forth in rapid fashion......or the best one yet - running in place as she did while I was checking out at a store.  Her response was "I do have to go Dad, but I can hold it." It almost seem as if we are restricting her from going.  That is NOT the case.  Every time we ask her if she has to go to the bathroom, the answer is "No, I don't have to go!!!"

 This week, I was again reminded of the recurring conversation.  We are trying to let her respond naturally instead of us 'recommending' she go herself.  That works when we are home to some degree.  Yet, when we are about to head out somewhere, it is always best to 'try before we leave'.  Earlier this week, we were about to head out to get some groceries and I had this conversation:

My grocery helper

Dad (D): Merritt, can you go to the bathroom before we go?
Merritt (M): What?
70's Day at Stimson's school
D: Can you go to the bathroom?
M: I don’t have to go.
D: Can you just try?
M: No, I don't have to go.
D: Can you please try to go?
M: DAD!!!!!  Whhhaaattt issssssss the proooobbblem?
D: Can you go to the bathroom?
M: I don’t have to go!
D: Merritt, I would like you to try before we go.  If you don’t have to go, then you can get back off.
M: DAD!!!!!  I have to go really bad!!!

It turns out the 10 minute delay in getting to the grocery store due to this conversation was not a bad thing.  We learned about another painful event of our week - Katy had just separated her shoulder.  My wife has an incredibly high tolerance for pain.... puts me to shame.  When she says she would rather have a baby, I knew it was bad.  Off to the doctor as fast as we could go, hitting many more bumps than usual, while Merritt was sitting in the back seat softly asking "Can someone buckle me?".  Another wrench has been thrown into tax season, but we continue to move forward.

In the waiting room while multiple people pull Katy's arm back into place
On another note, we have caught on to the 'competitive' side of Merritt.  Stimson has started telling Merritt he has to go to the bathroom.  Since she has to win, she actually heads to the bathroom and goes.


Monday, February 2, 2015

5 More Minutes

There are some days when an extra hour or two would completely change the outcome of a day.  And then there are some days where a meager 5 minutes would make the difference.  There were several of those '5 minute-moments' this past week.  It was another busy week - keeping the wheels moving on the status quo of our household, a hectic week at work, the prospect of attending jury duty (for both of us), and volunteering to help take Stimson's class cross-country skiing.  Then there was the unplanned - regrettably installing new license plates on our car before heading to school (2 minutes turned into 30 minutes), getting to work early for an important meeting after delivering two kids to school, and Thursday.

The "Counting Project"
Thursday, Stimson was headed into Bridger Canyon to go cross-country skiing with his class.  What a great field trip perk living in a skiing community. Through a great benefit at work, I was able to use volunteer hours to hang out with Stimson AND go cross-country skiing!!  An easy morning of getting the kids out the door and a fun day I thought.  I had 30-40 more minutes than usual!!  I decided to enjoy 5 minutes of relaxed breathing while getting the kids fed.  At about 7:30a, I realized that we were behind schedule.  Panic started to set in....I still had to help get the kids teeth brushed, get Merritt's hair out of her face, get Merritt fully dressed, get the skis, extra ski clothes, lunches, Stimson's "counting project", Merritt's snacks, wash dishes, put the food back in the fridge.  Time to hurry things along....only problem is the kid's tend to know when mom or dad is in a rush and their body somehow naturally goes into a catatonic state.....aka - "slo-mo".  Merritt laid on the floor refusing to put her shoes on.  Stimson was trying to push all of her "buttons" to amplify the entertainment he was getting out of this.  Finally, I had Stimson go get in the car.  If he goes, Merritt goes, right?  Or at least one of the kids is locked up in the car heading in the same direction and I can go from zone defense to man to man defense.  Merritt finally complied and headed out the door.  Now I only had to get the gas mask out and suck in some air while the kids were "getting in the car", grab my stuff, and head out.  After grabbing a few things, I ran out to the garage expecting to find Merritt sticking her head in the fridge looking for her lunch.
Skier in training
 She was not by the fridge, nor was she in the car with Stimson.....wait, didn't I see her walk out the door?  I started yelling for her in the garage, I looked outside, and then ran back to check in the house.  When I was frantically running outside, I did hear a faint voice in the distance of an adult asking "Where's your mom?".  My initial though was that it was definitely not my kid.  Why can't parents keep tabs on their own kids.  Wait, I don't know where my daughter is AND the front gate is open.  Hmmmm.  I ran to the front of the house and found Merritt making her way, on her own, to Stimson's school, without a coat.  Meanwhile, a school bus driver had stopped to ask my daughter where her parents were.  No police and no arrests for negligent parenting. We raced off to school to drop her off, only to play games at school with changing shoes.  Sometimes it is cute when Merritt plays around with her shoes....and sometimes it is NOT cute.  We raced back home.
 Meanwhile on the drive home, I made a list in my head of all the things I had to round up before heading to school....including Stimson's 100 fragile pine cones hanging on a stick.  We raced off to school and I shoved Stimson off to school so he could make it in before the bell rang.  I then raced into his classroom with the stick and 100 pine cones.  Hmmmm, where do I set this fragile beast in a classroom of 1st graders?  Why didn't we stick 100 marshmallows to a piece of paper and call it good?  Why are all of these pine cones falling off?  Oh, Stimson's class is here now and I'm going to be bombarded by all of these kids wondering what this tree is.  I left the project in a corner and ran back outside to get the skis.  If you have ever carried two sets of skis with poles and boots, you know that it isn't the most awkward thing you have carried, but it is close.  Add a backpack with extra clothes and a lunch, and I was breaking a sweat.  Just make it to Stimson's class....just make it to his class.  When I got there, the class was gone - potentially already leaving on the bus.  Looks like I might be driving up myself I thought.  As I walked aimlessly back down the hall, I ran into one of the student assistants.  "Are you Stimson's dad?"  Ah...yes, I think so.  Why do you ask?  Do I look like I need help?  "Everyone is on the bus and we are waiting for you" was the response.  Breathe......I loaded the bus, but of course the skis were taller than the ceiling of the bus.  Of course everyone was staring at me.   Of course I was sweating....and of course, it sounded like 100 people yelling all at the same time in my ears.  Am I the only one that is about 5 minutes off schedule?  If I just had 5 more minutes...

We did make it through the week.  Jury duty was cancelled for Katy AND I.  We had a great day cross-country skiing.  Saturday the kids and I were able to go swimming.  Katy and I also were able to cross-country ski a bit Sunday during Stimson's last downhill ski lesson.