A Doll House for my Daughter

As a dad who can’t get enough of being one, I am always trying to find a way to prove that I am a better father than the next guy.  Not really, but I do feel the need to be thought of as a good father.

The fact is, I’m a little cheap.  I don’t like to spend a lot of money on something I could do myself.  My father was a general contractor, and I inherited all of his toys.  There’s nothing like needing to hang a picture on the wall, and knowing that all I have to do is step into the garage, turn on the 6 ft. tall Campbell-Hausfeld compressor and choose which nail-gun I want to use.  Oh, yeah.  So whenever I see an overpriced toy that I think my kid needs, I think, “I could make that.”

The last time it was a set of bins for her toy that were twice as large as the ones at Ikea, and cost me half as much (if you don’t count the trip to the doctor when I shot a nail through my thumb).

So, with my daughter’s third birthday arriving in a bout two months, I have decided to build…a doll house.  My niece has a cool one that is three stories tall, one room deep, and has the whole back half open for easy access.

I looked around and these things go for around $300.  Of course, I thought, I can build one of those.  I have been thinking about it for a few months now, and collecting materials along the way.  Last month, I did a rough sketch and bought a couple of pieces of MDF and a piano hinge.

I did some more drawing, and realized that I needed another piece of MDF.  So, I finally decided that last weekend, I would have to start it if I were to have any chance of finishing it before her birthday.

I decided that I would not hide it from her for several reasons.  The first was the fact that hiding it would be difficult.  The second was the fact that I thought she would appreciate it more if she saw the effort that it took to make it.  And of course, if it made her love for me grow greater, that would be even better.

So I asked my mother to come and watch her Saturday, and got to work.  It was not that difficult, but it was hot, and as with anything like this, the time seems to fly by when are actually doing it.  By Saturday evening, I had the whole frame put together, and the piano hinge on the roof.  The wood for the interior walls had been cut, and I had decided that a lot of the work from this point on could be done in the house where there is air conditioning.

Since Saturday, I have done a little work every day.  The interior walls are in now, and I have cut the wood for a couch, love seat and chair for the living room, and a couple of beds.

As with most things that I do like this, I have gotten carried away.  I tend to build things that are a little more elaborate or just plain big.  This would fall into the ‘big’ category.  It is 57 inches tall, 49 inches wide, and 18 inches deep on a 24 inch deep base.  There are 10 rooms including a living room, study/library, dining room, kitchen, pantry, full bath, master bedroom, nursery, child’s room, and kid’s playroom.

I plan to make as much of the furniture as I can.  My focus will be on functionality rather than reality.  For instance, I want to make a chair and table for the dining room that will last if my daughter wants to play with it for years, not an ultra-realistic piece of miniature art that will break the first time she plays with it.  And, I want it to be big enough for Barbie when she gets one.

Special thanks to my wife.  She has done most of the measuring and marking, and without her assistance, it would not be done at all.

I have enjoyed it a lot more than I ever thought I would, and I will continue to document this process in case any other parents out there decide that they want to attempt it.  Stay tuned for pictures, and further documentation.

Cost so far:

3 pieces MDF: $22.00 each

48 inch Piano Hinge: $15.00

Screws: $0 (already had these)

Nails: $0 (already had these)

Tools: $0 (already had these)

Scrap Wood: $0 (already had some of this. Also took two small pieces from a trash pile at a home being built in the neighborhood)

Total: $81.00

Bitter?

This is one of the bitterest things that I have ever read.  It would be very funny except for the kids involved.  I don’t know why everyone needs to live their lives like a Springer episode.  This guy is a father and a professional, and I don’t care how much of an ungrateful b—- his wife is, he should know better.

The Bachelor Exploits a Child

I watch a lot of Reality TV.  I have watched every season of Survivor, The Mole, The Amazing Race, and several seasons of American Idol and The Apprentice.  I have also watched several reality failures like the recent pirate debacle.

 

However, I have never enjoyed any of the programs based on relationships especially dating relationships.  I think that a marriage is simply too important to suggest that people should act as if they could ever enter into it though a television program where money is used as bait.  I also am uncomfortable with them men and women on these programs who use sex or their sexualityto help them get ahead (I know I am a little inconsistent here with regard to Survivor).  It is seedy and unseemly.

 

So, when I saw the touching commercial for the new bachelor program where the male contestant is a single father, I wanted to puke.  It was clear from the advertisements the his young son was going to be a big player in the plot of the show.  It is one thing for these people to screw around with each other’s emotions, but it is something else entirely when you involve a child and exploit him.

 

I find it hard to believe that no one at ABC objected to this, but I am sure that they thought all they had to do was to make a ‘touching’ commercial, and people would be all over it.  It is one thing for these despicable programs to present their warped ideas dating and marriage, but it is something else entirely when a child is brought in, a child who probably is looking for a mother figure.  So, they will put him on the program where these women will attempt to form emotional attachments with him in order to curry favor with his father in hopes that the father will choose them, and they will win the money.  The young boy will also get to see them throwing themselves at his father in a sexual way,… nice.

 

Shame on his father for using his own son to further a career in entertainment.  Shame on the women who use him for the same thing, and to win some money.  Shame on the producers for thinking up this tripe.  Shame on ABC for allowing this abomination to happen, and promoting it as if it is a good thing, and shame on everyone who helps this program in the ratings by watching it.

A Christian Family Halloween.

Last night my family got together for Halloween.  It included my wife, my two year old daughter, my mom, sister, her husband and my niece.  My bother-in-law’s father, sister, niece and his brother-in-law also were there.  On top of that, my sister is pregnant with my future nephew, as is my bother-in-law’s sister with his.  This was by far the largest family gathering of this sort since my sister’s wedding about 12 years ago.

I have to say, this was the most enjoyable Halloween of my life, and that includes when I was a kid.  I got to watch my two year old Daughter who has no fear.  She is amazing.  She watched her 4 year old cousin and her cousin’s cousin for the first few houses, and I even had to retrieve her from one house when she walked right in past the owner.  After a few houses, she had the hang of it, and at years old she was the one who got to the door first and knocked.  She would say, “Trick or treat! (it sounded like ‘tick-tee’)” and, “Thank you!”  Often, she needed no prompting, and she made me very proud.  There were a few times that she asked me to carry her to the next house, but when she saw the light on, she would run to the door.  She loved it and there was a couple of time when she grabbed me around the neck and just started giving me hugs and kisses repeatedly.  I guess she was just that happy.

The other thing that got my attention was the number of adults that were participating.  Almost every other house gave out candy.  The people were all very nice.  Some sat on their porches, and a few came down to the sidewalk to meet our children.  I noticed the ages of these people, and most were old enough that there children were out trick-or-treating on their own, or they probably already had grandchildren.  This made sense, as most couples with small children were roaming the streets getting the candy themselves.  This means that the numbers actually participating in the festivities were even larger than the numbers giving out candy.  Kind of amazing.  Isn’t America great?  All of these people could have been sitting in their respective living rooms, but they decided to take the time to give out candy that they bought from their hard owned money just to make people that they did not even know happy.

I wrote a post a couple of week’s ago about Christian Attitudes Toward Halloween.  Since, then I have been extremely busy with overtime work commitments, and have not had a lot of opportunities to write, but I have monitored my traffic and the search criteria that people have used to get to my posts.  The Halloween post has generated a lot of interest, though there have been no comments.  I was surprised about that because of the controversial nature of the subject.  It seemed like the people for and against were about even when looking at their search criteria.  I personally think that those who were against Halloween who read my post either did not stay long enough to read the article once they saw that it did not confirm their own ideas, or they, unfortunately, like most Christians do not take the time to form their own opinions and wait to be told what to think about ideas like Halloween by other Christians who often have no better reason than the fact that someone told them what to think.

I feel sorry for the Christian parents who did not take part in the festivities.  I was pretty nice about it in the last post, but now, I am just going to say it flat out.  They are wrong.  There is really no Biblical justification for their attitudes.  They are the kill-joys that drive people including their children from the churches.  It is a shame because it does not have to be that way.  Their noble intent of protecting their children will often build up resentments in these same children.  They, the children, as they grow up will know that the negative attitudes toward things such as Halloween are wrong, but often there is no one who can help them resolve the truth about the situation, and they end up becoming disillusioned with the whole Christian life because of the few problems that denominational Christian churches have including negative attitudes toward anything secular, including Halloween.

On Thursday, my family went to one of the Fall Festivals at one of the local Baptist churches.  We had a lot of fun, but it could have benefited from a little more organization.  That being said, they did not have to do it at all, and it was a nice attempt at a hospitable ministry to the community.  It is often hard to get a church to embrace these types of ministry activities because they cost money, they do not generate money, and they do not directly lead to converts during the activity, for the most part.  They are effective, however, because they bring in tons of people to meet the nice members of your church, and will result in people joining the church that may not have done so.

However, I read a couple of blogs last week that defended the “Fall Festival” idea last week.  These people felt that their party was being criticized as hypocritical by Christians who were against Halloween.  They went on to split hairs between taking part in Halloween, and attending their “festival” where you dress up, play games and give candy to children.  This is where I agree with the fundamentalists who hate Halloween.   If a Church has a “Fall Festival” as an alternative to Halloween, and denigrates the holiday at the same time, they are indeed being hypocritical.  But, where I differ from the fundamentalists is that I think having a “Fall Festival” or even a Halloween party at your church in accord with the generally accepted Halloween observances is a great idea, and a good ministry tool.  Let’s just not condemn Halloween while observing it in our churches.

In the end, it’s a shame on Christianity, my religion, when we allow the world to ‘show us up’ in the areas of hospitality, neighborly love and friendship, and if we continue to go down this road, we will become more and more irrelevant.

Brought low by my own hypocrisy

This is a follow up to the last article I posted.  Earlier in the year, I was chronicling my very successful attempt to lose weight.  In May, I fell off the wagon.  For the last few months, I have proceeded to undo much of the good that I did before I fell off.  Several times I have tried to get started again, but found an excuse to stop.

Yesterday, as I wrote about not taking irresponsible chances with my life for my daughter’s sake, I was faced with my own hypocrisy, and realized why I failed back in May.

I took my eyes off the prize and lost my focus.  When I started my weight loss program, my daughter was the reason that I was doing it.  At some point, I was so proud of all that I had accomplished, that I forgot why I was doing it.

So, yesterday, as I wrote about other people being irresponsible, I realized that I could not hold them to a higher standard than I was holding myself.  As a result, the diet is back on (for her sake), and I got off my fat ass and walked today.  Stay tuned….

Taking no chances…for my family

Yesterday, I was reading a story about Andrew Lee, an ‘aspiring chef’ from England who bet his girlfriend’s brother that he could make a really hot sauce.  This inevitably devolved into a contest between the two to see who could eat the most of it and, of course, Lee proved that he was able to make a damn hot sauce.  Unfortunately, he lost the eating contest after it killed him. 

I am a guy, and I think I have a competitive nature.  I, however, do not understand why guys find the need to show that they are bigger, tougher, crazier and dumber than the next guy.  There is just no need for it.  I like hot sauce, and I like it hotter than most, but once the capsaicin is so potent that the food has no other flavor, I no longer see the point.  You might as well drink some battery acid and speed up the ulcer creating process, because ultimately that is all you are going to get out of it.

Obviously no one intends to die from eating hot sauce that is too hot or drinking too much water at a water drinking contest (check out water intoxication), but it seems every day we are presented with another act of needless bravado that results in someone’s death.  Perhaps when we are feeling all amped-up about something, it would be best to tap the breaks a little.

I will assume that in this particular case, the guy did not have a family, other than a girlfriend (though there is no guarantee of this by any means), which mitigates the tragedy a little.  However, in many of these cases people leave the world with a sad and confused family.

As a father (and even before I became one), I have developed some strong opinions regarding responsibility.  I really don’t care what people do with their lives before they get married as long as what they are doing is not hurting someone else or causing them to be a burden to society (see inexperienced climbers who decide to tackle Denali and have to be rescued: stupid), but I believe once you are married, and especially once you have children, you accept new responsibilities that should lead you to more responsible actions.  I believe that when we accept these responsibilities and limit our own selfish desires for challenges and expressions of bravado we effectively show love to our families.  Unfortunately many men even after they are married and have children approach life as if they are starring in their own movies, and of course, nothing bad ever happens to the hero of the movie.
For me, these responsibilities are far reaching, and affect my behavior.  I would not consider climbing Mount Everest (please refrain from personal shots at this point.  I know this is about the same as me saying, “I will not accept a date with Angelina Jolee.”).  The chances of dying are just too great.  I saw an article about a woman who died on K2 (the world’s second tallest mount which is considered by some to be tougher than Everest).  The piece talked about how brave she was, and what a pioneer for women she was.  It also informed the reader, near the end, that she was a mother of two, ages four and six.  I have to be honest.  This woman had her priorities all out of whack.  If you are a mother, that is your primary identity.  She was a mother before she was a climber.  Mothers, and fathers, should put their parental responsibilities ahead of their other petty desires for a challenge or even fame.  My feelings go farther than this needless act of irresponsibility, however.

Several years ago my sister and her boyfriend (who eventually became her husband) went skydiving.  I am not afraid to skydive, and think it would probably be an interesting experience, but now, as a father and husband, I just cannot do it.  I know that most people who skydive do not have any problems, and enjoy the experience, but I can’t do it.  The consequences of a mistake by myself or anyone else in this situation are too great for me to risk.  I am not motivated by fear.  I simply have too much responsibility.

It extends even further.  The best example that I can come up with is the motorcycle.  I live in the Dallas area, and commute some distance to work.  With gas prices as high as they are, it would be a lot cheaper for me to ride a motorcycle to work.  As a father, I will not do it.  There are too many other drivers out there that do not pay attention to the road for me to take the chance.  I owe my daughter and my wife too much to take the chance that something bad could happen to me.  If you are on a motorcycle, and get into an accident, you are going to lose, and it could easily be very bad.  Every day it seems like you hear of a local fatality accident involving a motorcycle.

Part of me showing love to my wife and daughter is to avoid these things that add needless risk to my life.  Raising her, helping her to be a good person, and being involved in her life are just too important to me.  I know that I still have no guarantees, but I am going to do my best to do what is right by her, and the things that are beyond my control, I cannot worry about.

As I wrote this, I was faced with certain issues in my own life.  I could not finish it without confronting them, but I will deal with that in the next post.

Ah, Sweet Bitterness

I have been a connoisseur of bitterness for a few years.  Wine is a good analogy for bitterness, because when it is done well, and aged to perfection, it can leave the objective observer with feelings of amusement and maybe even a little sympathy.  Often, it leaves you with a nice after reading piquant of, ‘Wow, at least I’m not like that guy!’ or ‘At least I’m not having his problems’ or even perhaps, ‘I wish I could be that bitter!’  Bitterness can go bad or rancid just like wine or, for example, in the case of unbearably crotchety Andy Rooney (Oh, if CBS would only figure this out.), but most of the time, good bitterness leaves me with a pleasant smile on my face.  I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do.

 

I want to give a plug for the first story that I found on GordonKeith.com.  Gordon is a local radio and TV personality in Dallas who is otherwise known, appropriatly as ‘the prince of darkness.’  I posted a link to his blog on my blogroll.

 

With all of that being said, I would like to present this touching tribute.  Remember, you can’t get the last word in…when you’re dead.