Tag Archives: Kennedy

Gratitude and Marriage


Saying prayers with Kennedy earlier this week, I wanted to point out how grateful we are to have Holly. But I didn’t want to just say we should be grateful for Mom. I wanted to really drive the point home, so I said something like, “Imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have Mom.”

Kennedy thought for a split second and then she started to laugh. “Just you,” she said. “That would be so terrible.” The snickering went on a little too long for my liking. I started feeling a little defensive.

“I could do it,” I told her. If Aaron had been there, he would have had my back (We know you could do it, Dad!), but Kennedy just kept on giggling. We really do rely on Holly.

Not long after I got Kennedy queited down, she asked me if it was scary to be married. I told her about the day Holly and I got married. We had planned a small ceremony in our apartment: Harrell flew in from California and a pastor friend was going to do the service in our living room. Holly and I were out in the kitchen. The pastor suggeted we get started and suddenly my mouth got dry. I needed a glass of water. I told Holly I’d be along in a minute, but she grabbed me by the elbow and hissed, “You’re not going anywhere.” She might have been scared. I know I was nervous. But then you say a few words, kiss, and it’s all over.

“Do you have to kiss?” Kennedy wanted to know

“I think you do have to kiss,” I told her. “It may be a rule.”

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Drama in the Deep End

Aaron and Kennedy are playing water polo this year. Above is Aaron getting pulled as Kennedy guards the goal at the deep end.

Watch what happens.

The opposing team takes a shot and Kennedy propellers (this is what they call moving your feet to gain elevation in water polo) herself up to block. Aaron watches with mild concern.

water polo

The block is good. Aaron exults.

water polo

Kennedy acts like there was never any doubt, but I know she loves hearing her brother cheer for her.


water polo

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How to Make a Girl Who Just Joined the Swim Team Happy

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With an athlete like Aaron in the family, Kennedy is always getting the short shrift. It’s not that Kennedy isn’t an athlete. She just has a much different approach to sports than Aaron. But swim team is the right sport for her. With all the kids milling about, the meets feel more like afternoon picnics than sporting events, and Kennedy really thrives in this kind of environment. She’s also pretty fast in the water.

I was explaining all this to my in-laws last week at the reunion. Kennedy was within earshot. I said I remembered standing on the side of the pool and noticing an enormous rooster tail of water making its way from one end of the pool to the other.

Grandpa Jim raised his eyebrows and nodded his head.

I told them I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it looked like a motor boat and it was getting all the parents in front of us wet. The rest of the swimmers were cheering.

I asked Holly what it was and she said, ‘Silly man. That’s your daughter.’

All the in-laws smiled and politely shooed off my tall tale, but I didn’t care. I was watching Kennedy, who looked up at me with her googly eyes and a smile that just wouldn’t quit.

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Mother’s Day Dyn-O-rama

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For Mother’s day this year Kennedy and I made a dyn-O-rama. I am not even sure where I got that name, but that’s what we’ve been calling it.

Earlier in the week Kennedy told me she wanted to make Mom a little three dimensional scene like the nativity scene we put out at Christmas. Kennedy often makes off-beat suggestions like this and I have learned to go with the flow.

She suggested we work with wood. I suggested cardboard (sometimes you have to buck the flow). When Holly and Aaron went to the game Friday night, Kennedy and I got busy.

I let Kennedy pick out the materials at the craft store. When we got to my work, I asked her to draw some figures in action poses. She drew Holly reading a book and herself dunking a basketball. I created a picnic table for “Holly”  to sit on and a backboard for Kennedy’s avatar. We used the office color printer to print family photos from my flicr page and then cut and pasted the heads on our avatars.

We finished up late and then came home to ended the night watching Oklahoma on an old VCR tape. I told her how much fun I had with her and she agreed.

“I thought it was going to suck,” she said, without the slightest bit of malice.

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Blame It on The Wire


After hearing a lot about it on NPR, I just started watching HBO’s, The Wire, on DVD. If you haven’t had the chance, each season focuses on one aspect of life in Baltimore. Season one focused on the West Baltimore drug trade. D’Angelo Barksdale, a fictional lieutenant and the nephew of Baltimore’s drug kingpin, was one of the key players.

Earlier this month I was selling Girl Scout cookies with Kennedy. My role as parent in charge of the sales site was much the same as D’Angelo Barksdale’s role selling crack in the Baltimore projects. I brought a lawn chair and settled discreetly into the background, watching out for theft or any untoward behavior. I also held the cookie money.

I wasn’t really paying attention and when I reached close to $100 in sales I got scared. Wanting to make sure our count was right, I made furious calculations. At one point, it seemed as if we were off by as much as $50! 

Probably a result of watching so much of The Wire, I felt certain one of those nice Safeway shoppers had hoodwinked my girls.

Turns out it’s just much harder to keep track of the money than I expected. As I remember, I was never any good at selling narcotics either.

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Kennedy’s Letter to Santa

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  1. Inline skates
  2. A good book (any book)
  3. My family
  4. A whole packet of those gang animals
  5. Some Adidas sneakers
  6. A kiss from Mom and Dad
  7. No Fights
  8. Love (insert heart here)
  9. An iPod Nano (“but I wanted You Tube”)
  10. Some division flash cards
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Whenever I hear BFG, I think BFG 9000 from the old video game Doom, which featured an epic battle with monsters from hell by a futuristic space-marine.

In context of the game, I’m pretty sure BFG is an acronym for Big Fucking Gun. This is just how military people talk. For example, in the torpedo room of the boat where I served, any hammer over 10 ounces was known as a BFH. In the military, people extended this naming metaphor to just about everything, including large chicken breasts in the mess line (gimme dat BFB, son).

So I was surprised when Kennedy asked me to read The BFG.


I hadn’t even known about the Roald Dahl book until she suggested I read it. For Dahl, BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. Over the summer Kennedy read it herself. Most every morning, I find her awake in her bedroom, reading something. If it’s not Dahl, it’s a Nancy Drew mystery or something from the Warriors series (think: Lord of the Rings with cats). Although she had already read The BFG, she checked it out of the library, just because it was familiar and an old favorite. When she found out I hadn’t read it, she insisted I take it on. Now when I tickle-attack her, I claim I am the BFD (Big Friendly Dad) and she squeals with delight.

It’s great having nine year olds that love to read (Aaron’s into Calvin and Hobbs and Garfield). But how much longer can it be before Dad and even tickle-attacks fall out of favor? How much longer before my kids won’t bring home anymore library books for me to read? 

Will BFD ever come to mean something entirely different to the kids? As long as it’s not Big Fat Dad, I won’t complain.

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Murder She Spoke

Alice Sebold is on tour for her new book, and last night Kennedy and I went to see her.

I read somewhere that writers have responsibilities that go beyond writing, namely buying books and attending readings. Because I feel guilty buying so many books, this idea is immensely satisfying for me. It’s not just another book to pile in stacks on the floor, it’s an investment in my career. Readings are something else altogether. I never feel guilty about going to readings. Instead I feel uncomfortable, especially in the little receiving line to get my book signed. Even though I know Alice, last night was no different.

Alice remembered me, which was nice. I presented Kennedy, but this seemed to baffle Alice. One of the guys I work seemed shocked when he heard I was taking my daughter to the reading. And I’ll admit I wondered if it was the right thing to do myself. Alice’s big theme is violence to women, and her new book even features a matricide. But Kennedy got so excited about our date after I first suggested it, I didn’t have the heart to leave her at home. Lucky for me Alice picked something to read that didn’t require any explaining.

So another reading under my belt. Alice looks pretty much like I remember her, except a little bit older.

Speaking of writer responsibilities, last week I submitted my story, The Solution to All My Problems, to Tin House, primarily because their Spring issue is themed “Off the Grid,” by which they mean “stories about people that function out of the bounds of “normal” society.” It probably behooves me to do more research on journals, but the deadline for submissions was fast approaching, so I just made sure they publish non-fiction and sent it out.

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Raspberry Tiger Rides

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Ted tooling around with Kennedy and Riley. Kennedy loved this little cart and all the rides through the woods.

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Daddy’s Little Girl

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Not sure why, but Kennedy seems to love to humiliate me in front of other females. Earlier this week after soccer practice, I was talking to one of the other moms as we walked to our cars. Kennedy ran up to us and chirped, “Do you want to marry my daddy?”

I cringed. The other mom took it all in stride, pointing out that she was already married. I tried to appear amused, but this wasn’t the first time this had happened.

Last month after theater practice our whole family was headed toward the car. I dawdled about half a block behind, chatting with one of the other kids from the play. Kennedy came racing back down the block, stiff-armed with her chin jutting out. The girl beside me was only 13, but Kennedy laid into her.

“You’re not married to him,” she scolded.

The poor kid didn’t know what to say. Neither did I. Kennedy felt no such compunction.

“You stay away from my daddy,” she said, throwing her arms around my waist.

Wasn’t really sure what to make of that then, not sure now. Kennedy never scolds me, just the hapless females who speak to me. Nor does she yell at her mother for speaking to men.

I guess she’s just daddy’s little girl.

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