8:02 pm (night before) … I get the word. It comes through an e-mail. And then again on TV. And then again via Facebook. And then again through my other e-mail. And then again through a text to my wife. Yes, we have a snow day. Well, more of an ice day. Call it what you want; it doesn’t really matter, does it? Last year it wasn’t a snow day. It was a Royals day! Which makes me wonder about my Chiefs this year … could a Chiefs day be in the mix in a month or so? I digress. This ice day—which has not yet arrived midday as I write this, but oh well—is a pleasant surprise.
11:00 pm (night before) … I cancel my 6:00 am coffee meeting with the rest of the men in my small group at Starbucks. For some reason, doing my quiet time in the comfort of my black leather chair sounds more appealing. Confession time … I actually bring my own coffee to Starbucks for those meetings. It is cheaper, and for some weird reason I like Hy-Vee Morning Blend coffee. Call me crazy. I’m probably missing out, but the day I pay four bucks for a coffee is the day I hear that standardized testing is being eliminated from our schools. Translation: it aint gonna happen.
5:00 am … My five-year-old dives into bed between my wife and I. He just wants to snuggle, he says. I can’t say no. These moments won’t last forever. I carry him back to his bed, wrap my arm over him, and he’s asleep within two minutes after I sing him “My Savior My Goddy.” Well, you would know it as Aaron Shust’s “My Savior My God” but he calls it “My Savior My Goddy.” I sing it to my boys every night and know it by heart. The first Christian song I ever came to love way back in 2007 will always hold a special place in my soul.
5:15 am … I roll out of bed. Weird. I know. But I was already awake with my little one, the entire house was asleep and quiet, and I know that in two hours the house won’t be so quiet anymore. I read the final two chapters of Lisa Beamer’s book about her husband Todd, Let’s Roll. Todd was one of the heroes of Flight 93 on 9/11, and his code word to begin overtaking the terrorists was, “Let’s roll!” A year later after losing his father, their son Drew was saying the same thing. I wept. It makes me wonder … will I pass the baton of faith to my sons as efficiently as Beamer? He lived his life for Christ. I prayed for his testimony to reach others. Phenomenal read. Amazing. Words don’t do it justice.
5:45 am … I begin reading my New Testament Devotional. It is only a page, but it is from my favorite book of the Bible: Acts. The lesson, straight from Peter ministering to Cornelius in Acts 10, actually parallels Martin Luther King Day in a roundabout way. Nobody is undeserving of hearing the gospel. All of us—Jews, gentiles, even Raiders fans—we all are loved by Christ. How blessed we are to have men like King to change history. I soak in the message, wondering who God is allowing me to influence or witness to. I pray again. Use me, Lord. However You see fit today. Use me.
6:05 am … Big One, Big One as we call him, otherwise known as my six-year-old, awakes right as I close my Bible. Impeccable timing. I crawl into bed beside him, and he rests his sweet head on my shoulder, falling back asleep. Precious. Surreal. I lightly stroke his hair for ten minutes, just enjoying the moment, until he stretches and reminds me that we have donuts downstairs. I laugh, share a few quick stories about what I once did on snow days as a kid, answer a few of his questions about the dinosaur days, and finally creep downstairs for what my son calls a “special breakfast with Daddy.” He wraps himself in his blue bathrobe, and we escape downstairs without waking a soul. Just him and me.
6:30 am … My son prays for us before we indulge in our “special breakfast.” He praises God for the donuts, the snow day, and Mario—maybe the three most important things to him right then and there. The delectable, cream-filled chocolate long john, loaded with mini M & M’s on top, is going to dominate the calorie counter that I downloaded on my iPad, but who cares. Seriously. This moment is too precious. We munch on our donuts, talk about the new Sonic game my wife downloaded last night, and finished it off with a Martin Luther King Day history lesson. I figure if the kid is in kindergarten, why not tell him the story of why he gets another day off this coming Monday. And the teacher in me can’t resist a moment to teach.
6:50 am … Little One, Little One as we call him, otherwise known as my five-year-old, pitter patters his feet to the top of the steps. I see him squinting his eyes, holding his new talking stuffed dog Max from Secret Life of Pets, and he jumps into my arms. I carry him down, plant a quick kiss on his sweet cheek, and set him down for HIS “special breakfast with Daddy.” Big brother is already drawing pictures of Waluigi in the other room, and I repeat the entire breakfast routine all over again. He prays about the beautiful weather, thanks God for the donut, and quickly shouts an amen. That donut was too tempting to devour for a long prayer. I try the Martin Luther King lesson on him. Not sure if he understood a word of it, but it was enjoyable to capture his attention for five minutes.
7:30 am … Both boys are brushed, clothed, and drawing pictures with me in the office. It is therapeutic for them. They do it daily, and not to brag too much, but they are actually quite phenomenal for their age. They make me pull up a picture of Sonic on my iPad, and we all try to recreate it on our separate papers. I am meticulous. Every last sprig of hair, every curve of his shoe, Sonic appears on my paper. My little one tells me good job. I tell him his is better. My big one has already moved on to drawing a combination of Mario’s head, Hulk’s body, and Waluigi’s legs, with the character holding Captain America’s shield. I suppose if you don’t know what to draw, go big and put em all on there!
8:00 am … My wife actually comes downstairs. I wasn’t expecting her until 8:30 am at least. The boys and I contemplated bringing her donut upstairs on a tray for breakfast in bed, but hey, when you’re drawing Sonic you have a tendency to get sidetracked. She seems like she’s in decent spirits, the boys finish their drawings, and we begin mapping out our day. The ice storm that is supposed to hit hasn’t reared its ugly head, and if we want to get out of the house, it’s now or never. My wife checks her phone. The ice storm is supposed to hit later. Much later. Like 10:00 pm later. Our ice day has just been redefined as a just plain blistering cold day.
8:45 am … We decide to get some energy out on a family walk around the block. The boys grab their scooters. We all bundle up and head out. This is NOT a good idea. We’re only three minutes in and the boys are whining. Whining grates on my nerves like sandpaper, but I try to play the role of encourager. Keep going, boys! Daddy’s right here. Just down to that mailbox. My oldest faceplants. Tears wet his sweet little face. My youngest whines. Tears wet HIS sweet little face. My wife encourages, wiping tears, and it is at that point that we unanimously decide we’re heading home. The wind whips my face, turning it beat red, and I wonder what the heck we were thinking to attempt this madness.
9:45 am … After recovering from the walk debacle, we decide to go play with puppies. Hey, something to do, right? Petsmart has those little gated areas where kids can pick puppies out to hold and play with them. We pick out two cute little ones to start out with. Then they opt for a spotted big one. My dog breed knowledge rivals that of a kindergartner’s knowledge of quantum physics, so don’t ask me what kind they were. The last one they got I called a fluffball. I am the voice of reason, telling them over and over that we’re NOT GETTING A NEW PUPPY. But my wife and kids are having the time of their lives, and to see the joy on their faces … well, it’s priceless.
10:55 am … We swing by the new Taco Bell up the road for lunch. Well, my wife and five-year-old want food. My six-year-old says he hates Taco Bell. Such a strong word, right? We remind him he only hates Satan, and he apologizes. Rare moment there. Me? I already had my lunch made at home, thinking there was no chance of an ice day, so I inhale the leftover Hamburger Helper. Good stuff. Don’t hate on it. Seriously. I had it for dinner last night, lunch today, and if my wife served it for dinner tonight, I’d eat it again. I’m done in 15 minutes. School mode. It is somehow ingrained in my DNA to scarf and run. I wish I knew how to enjoy a meal.
12:30 pm … Knowing the ten-minute scooter ride wasn’t enough to get the energy out, we decide to do a family swim at the gym. The boys play on their noodles—err, excuse me, they call them their Yoshies—and we wear them out for at least an hour. My wife checks out to the hot tub and sauna early. Swimming is not her thing. I toss the boys around, race them on laps, enjoy the hot water with them, and take them back to change. It is there that I pray they don’t say anything weird in front of the other men changing in the dressing room. Today is a good day. They don’t play hide and seek in the lockers. They don’t say anything inappropriate. We all get dressed in peace. Thank you, God!
1:40 pm … I knock on my neighbor’s door and ask his help in removing our bulky old school TV that weighs as much as Rosanne Barr. Trevor is a rock star. Trevor is a football coach, 10-years younger than yours truly, and much more able-bodied than a balding, 40-year-old English teacher with a semi-bad back. Between the two of us, we crush it. I can’t believe Savers took it, not to mention the rickety, janky stand it was resting on for the last eight years. That’s right folks, news flash: the Daniels Family just got their first flat screen TV. For free! My brother updated his TV for Christmas, we got his hand-me-down, and now everyone is happy!
3:00 pm … Mario time. The boys get 30 minutes a day, and yes, we do time them. With our kitchen timer. There have been many a day when tantrums have been thrown when that timer goes off, but hey, that’s what being a parent is all about, right? You can’t communicate with my boys when they play Mario Kart. They are glued to the TV. Zoned out. The apocalypse could be beginning, and they’d still be jerking their little bodies around as they round corners in their Wii game. My wife and I enjoy the much-needed alone time. It is 30 minutes of heaven for us. Quiet. Peaceful. Beyond enjoyable. The timer goes off.
3:40 pm … My wife declares it is time to glitter my beard. Yes, you heard me right. I grew my first beard ever over Christmas Break, and it actually looks pretty doggone good if I do say so myself. About a week ago, my wife started showing me pictures of men who glitter their beards. I told her no. Over and over. She kept pestering. I said maybe. She got happy and started showing me numerous random bearded men who glittered it up. Facebook is so dumb. She did not ask today. She told me. So I let her glitter under the circumstance that I could shower immediately following. She glittered. I took it like a champ. Some of the glitter is still in there. And I am pretty sure I’ll appear on Facebook soon. Facebook is so dumb! Oh, the things we do to please our spouses.
4:00 pm … Writing is therapeutic for me. I empty myself onto the computer. Writing about nothing except a mundane snow day. Err, excuse me, ice day. Well, if you look outside, it is still a just plain blistering cold you’d-better-stay-inside day. Some may think it odd that one would choose to write about a mundane snow day. Not me. I truly don’t care if anyone even reads this. It just feels good to write it. My hands click on the keyboard rhythmically, effortlessly. Just like they do every Tuesday morning. Just like they have done forever it seems. It frees me. It makes me feel productive. And all the while, my wifey plays Candy Crush on my iPad, and the boys color. Their version of writing. Therapeutic. Liberating. Cathartic. Come to think of it, I think Candy Crush does the same thing for my wife. Or glittering my beard.
5:00 pm … Supper time. The boys toss five movies at me that they rented from the library, and I get to choose the family movie tonight while we eat on the coffee table. Nothing beats a picnic supper as we call it. I go retro for the movie choice. The Never Ending Story. I think I’ve seen it before, but I likely haven’t. No big deal. It is bound to hold my boys’ attention for an hour and a half. Dinner is heaven in a bowl. Layered on the bottom is a fresh piece of white bread, topped with a plump, juicy hot dog, and get this … smothered in piping hot mac n cheese. Like I said, heaven in a bowl. Then, my wife surprises me letting me know we have butter pecan ice cream for dessert. Darn you calorie tracker on my iPad! I log the calories. I come out over 300 for the day. Ouch!
5:05 pm … I remember I forgot to type in the exercise I did on my calorie tracker. One hour of swimming with the boys. I type it in—Booyah! I am back on board, baby, somehow with 134 calories left to utilize, which I am contemplating using immediately. How many calories are in a handful of Goldfish?
5:30 pm … The Never Ending Story is … umm … pretty much a never ending story. I am lost. The dinner is amazing, but I’m not into fantasies. My boys are though, and that’s all that matters. My big one, dinner completed, is sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, glued to the TV. Almost as engrossed as he is with Mario Kart. ALMOST. A big white dragon with a handlebar mustache floats across the screen over the Rock Biter. My five-year-old yells out, “Dada, he’s called Rock Biter because he … he … he bites rocks!” Thank you, Captain Obvious. Cute though. I ask him to snuggle up on my lap, and he gratefully does. I lean my head back, nod off to sleep, and enter my own dragon world of a never ending story. I jolt awake in the climax, thinking the movie might be over. It is not. Like I said. It is a never ending story.
7:30 pm … The story ended. Hallelujah! I clean dishes, toss in some laundry, and overhear my wife tell the boys they get to stay up an hour later. Yikes. Do I have the energy? Hello, good friend Diet Coke! Good to see you! As I write more here on this blog in the office, I hear some debate going on. No, this isn’t political. This is what family game we’re playing. Intense stuff. Finally, Blockus is decided upon, to which my oldest declares his allegiance to finishing coloring his picture. It is just my wife, my little one, and me. My wife dominates. She takes no prisoners. She blocks me. Numerous times. She tells me she knows where I should move. She doesn’t tell me though. I tell her to shut up in polite terms. She wins. I wince. Next time!
8:30 pm … Bedtime begins. Potty, pullup, plaque. I keep telling my wife we need to add PJ’s in there, but hey, three P’s is hard enough to remember, right? I challenge my boys to be ready for bed before I finish folding laundry, knowing that will never happen. But sometimes they like competition, so I try it. It fails. I graciously offer to do bedtime over my wife just because I like snuggling up to my boys. And I want a couple more intentional moments with them. We read out of my oldest one’s Awana book. Three pages about missionaries. Both boys eat it up. They talk about their friend Emmerson, a missionary in Niger. We talk about what missionaries do, and I slam it home by telling them how they can be a missionary right here in Kansas. Just tell people about Jesus! They agree that is a good idea.
8:45 pm … Storytime begins. I have no energy to read, but I let my imagination run wild with a story about Mario and Luigi. The problem is that every time I tell them one of Daddy’s stories, they think it is some kind of choose your own adventure. I get interrupted about 17 times with their cute suggestions. Sometimes I let their suggestions drive the story. Other times I say, “Hey, this is Daddy’s story. Lemme talk!” Mario and Luigi finally take down Wario and Waluigi. Classic stuff. One of my better ones. Story time ends, and I quickly slide into singing “My Savior My Goddy” and rubbing backs on both ends. Which can be awkward with the amount of room in the bed, but we make do. One song and I take Little One, Little One to his bed, drape my arm over him, sing “My Savior My Goddy” one last time, and drift off to sleep.
10:25 pm … I jolt awake next to my Little One. He is sound asleep. I kiss his sweet little cheek and run my hand through his soft hair. Moments like this won’t last forever. Absolutely precious. I am sure years from now I will look back at this moment and wish for simpler times. Times when my little guy liked to snuggle. Times when he’d say, “Daddy, hold you!” Alright, so it kinda annoys me now when he talks like a baby when he’s five, but at the same time, he’s adorable. I kiss him one last time, go brush my teeth, and find my wife watching her favorite show to watch without me around: Atlanta Housewives. She quickly says that there are plenty of our shows to watch and clicks off her show. Thank the good Lord!
10:30 pm … Superstore and Speechless. They’re always good for a few laughs, and we both love em. We need those shows. We unwind with them. We laugh with them. No brainers that are just an enjoyable way to end your day. Yes, there are times I fall asleep as we watch them in bed on my iPad, but oh well. Nobody’s perfect. I get plenty of elbows from my wife to stay awake. Sometimes we give up and say we’ll finish tomorrow. Tonight I find a third wind to power through. My wife rolls over to read. I pull up a boxing game on my iPad and dominate about 10 opponents before shutting down my iPad and charging it for the night. I drag a half asleep Big One, Big One to the bathroom one last time. His pullup is full already, and he’ll wet out if I don’t take care of him. The kid is getting bigger and bigger to carry to the bathroom, but I do it, being sure to plant one last sweet kiss on his temple back in bed.
11:45 pm … Lights out. I am wrung out. Toasted. Cooked. Done. You name it. The moment my head hits the pillow, I’m out. I used to be a light sleeper. Not anymore. Keeping up with a five and six-year-old is enough work as it is, and they don’t stop going all day. Ah, to have the energy of a young boy! I drift off to sleep with a full heart. I feel every bit of God’s perfectness surrounding my family. Keeping Him at the center helps us focus on what’s right. It keeps us grounded. Wrapped up in His love. And that is exactly what this day was. Flawless. Surreal. Incredible. Perfection.
So, how’d you spend your ice day?