Today is Dad's birthday. He's 52.
Since I've known Dad pretty much forever, at least my whole life, I've got lots of good things to say about him.
- He lets us steal his hats. Even when we drooled on them (if only I had to access to pictures from our toddler years!), and even now.
- He baptized all of us. Even Cody!
- Even though Mom was the major ride-along driving teacher, Dad was the one to dispense tips on things like how to haul a trailer, how to turn while hauling a trailer, and how to park a trailer. I never used these tips, but I remember them pretty well. I'm sure they'll come in handy some day. He also made sure we always knew to be especially careful when it had just started raining. I don't remember why, but I think it has something to do with the oil on the asphalt and the water not mixing.
- He made me feel comfortable about less than perfect teeth. I had chipped teeth since I was a toddler (never stand up in the bathtub kids, especially after your grandma tells you you shouldn't), and after they were replaced with pristine permanent teeth, I promptly had a bike wreck. I scraped my face and a front tooth. Dad was at home at the time and had to try to clean me off, stop me from crying, and get me to open my mouth. He made the mistake of showing me the damage in the mirror, causing me to cry harder and maybe (I could be remembering this wrong. I was 7.) yell out, "I'm ugly!" I was distraught. He convinced me that I would be fine. And after the tooth was fixed and I messed it up by eating some kind of hard caramel candy, he convinced me I would be fine if it didn't get fixed again. And lest you think that he was just doing this because he was tired of paying for my dental misadventures, let me assure you that he led by example. He's had crowns fall off, caps fall out, and during one spectacular fainting spell, he passed out and shattered his top front row of crowns. Fortunately, his busted lip was so swollen it blocked most of the damage. He had an....interesting smile. Mom never let me take pictures of the missing teeth episodes, but Dad was always willing to smile for us. I'm sorry if you never got to witness it firsthand because it's all been fixed. At least we have similar coffee-stained smiles now.
- Speaking of coffee, we have Dad to blame/thank for my caffeine habit. We are coffee fiends together! And sometimes he likes to have some of my Mt. Dew.
- He's a pretty positive guy. When he was unexpectedly laid off at the beginning of the summer one year, he broke the news to us and then brightly pointed out that he would have to use up all of his vacation days for cattle shows, of which there were many that year.
- He is an excellent cattle-fitter, sheep-fitter, and chicken judge.
- Whenever he uses my camera, he puts the strap around his neck without being told.
- He still pays for stuff. I know I sounded really shallow just then (or probably before that), but my parents have always wanted to help us if they were able, and I'm usually never more grateful for that, or more amazed, than when a dozen or so of us will go out to eat and Dad will tell the server that it's all on one ticket.
- He set a pretty high standard on how husbands should be. Even though Cody and Dad may seem pretty different at first glance (mostly because they're pretty different), Cody's got a lot of the qualities I've always enjoyed in my dad...mainly that he almost always lets me have my way, makes good (greasy) breakfast food, is kind, patient, forgiving, loving, and hilarious; and is gray-headed. I'm joking about the last part. And that husbands should totally carry wives, for no real reason whatsoever. Again, I really wish I had some old pictures on hand.
- It would appear that he's generously passed on his amazing metabolism to some of his kids. I am eternally grateful.
- He enjoys my awful sense of humor.
- He is just about everyone's friend. He's a very friendly, outgoing, jovial guy. It weirds me out. But he's always made an effort to get to know all of our friends and keep up with them.
- He made sure that we grew up to be loyal Razorback fans, in spite of the fact that none of his children really considered attending his alma mater.
- He's an involved parent. It goes without saying that most homeschool parents are pretty involved to begin with, but ours have always liked to take it one step further by chaperoning. Oh yes. Dad accompanied Levi and a few other kids from our youth group on the Wilderness Trek in 2006, which led to a week without showering at high altitudes that put a lot of pressure on your arthritic joints while surrounded by teenagers. He literally kept a few of the skinnier teenagers from blowing off the top of a mountain. Other examples of being an involved parent:
- Sara loves horses, so Dad took her to the track. Not in a neglectful, "I'm going to the track and dragging my kid with me" kind of way. It's done in a more, "Hey sweetie, let's gamble and watch the horses and make a day of it!" kind of way. It's turned into their yearly tradition and they love it.
- Let me just mention the livestock shows again. There have been hundreds. These are where 'vacation' days go. He did not get to relax on these trips, but he and Laine, Sara, and Levi had a great time. And sometimes Mom. And very rarely, me.
- Dismantling household appliances. I don't think I learned anything from those times, but I enjoyed myself.
- Dad and I don't exactly have a lot of common interests. I kind of already knew that, but when I was trying to give an example of involved parenting with me it was hard. Mostly because as a teenager, I wouldn't go anywhere, participate in any activities, or really do anything. However, he's always been willing to buy me fruit pies and Mt. Dews and listen while I ranted about everything. He also listened to a lot of my music, which I realize now, was probably kind of miserable for him. Oh Semisonic.....ha! There were some things we enjoyed doing together, mostly stuff along the lines of working in the yard and culling chickens. He still admires my yarn purchases, rejoices with me after finding a good book, and we both enjoy taking pictures.
- I was trying to think of any crazy talents. All I could think of was his really efficient chicken processing set-up in the back yard, and his ability to grab his own rib cage. (Levi and I can do it, too. Let us show you some time!)
- He wears cowboy hats. This is an endless source of entertainment for some people. For us, it just means he's made it a little easier to spot him in a crowd. Even in a sea of hats, we can recognize his anywhere.
- Bottom line: Dad is great. He's one of my favorite people. He's a nice man. And smart. And taller than I could ever hope to be. Old people, children, and most animals like him. We love him. You should wish him a happy birthday. And, because he'll let me, I'm putting up a ton of pictures. Happy birthday, sir!
With Dallas. And Laine. And his coffee.