Thursday, November 5, 2009

Daniel and the Crying Chair

In 100 Words or Less

Daniel is 2 1/2 years old and whines constantly. When he whines, he must sit on "the chair" until he stops. Sometimes he'll sit for 10 seconds, sometimes he'll sit for 10 minutes. When he decides he's done, he'll holler, "I'm done crying," and he is allowed off. This strategy works even when we are not near the chair.

We were walking to the car and Daniel started up. Mere mention of the chair stopped Daniel mid-whine, even though his older brother Sam helpfully remarked that he didn't see any chairs around.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boy Cheese Sandwich

In 100 Words or Less

A favorite family story concerns a five-year-old Ben. When ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, I would wink at the waitress and order a "boy cheese" sandwich. I explain that Ben would not eat a "girl cheese" sandwich.

Eleven years later, Lisa and I have noticed similarities between young Ben and now six-year-old Sam. They both eat like chipmunks, holding their food in both hands and gnawing it. I laugh out loud though when I hear Sam ask Lisa why they are called girl cheese sandwiches when they are for boys too.

The Father Who Had Ten Children

Lisa and I, and eight of our nine children have just finished eating at our local pizza joint. Lisa pulls a present out of the diaper bag and hands it to me. I feign surprise, and ask why she is giving me a gift. It is not my birthday. She smiles and says to open it.
The younger children jostle for position. The older ones shift in their chairs to get a better view. I ask Lisa if she is sure the present is for me. The kids repeat Lisa's request - just open it! I begin to tear away the wrapping paper very slowly. "C'mon Dad!" the little ones cry. When it is finally unwrapped, I ask, "A book, what is this for?" I hold up a copy of Benedicte Guettier's The Father Who Had Ten Children. Our two teenage daughters shriek, "OMG!" in unison. Seven-year-old Katie takes the book and reads it. Frowning a bit she declares, "But we only have nine kids." Her frown changes into a smile when Lisa explains that we are having another baby.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

“I’m done walking,” Sam declared solemnly, and he stopped. After mountain hikes the two previous days, the prospect yet another overwhelmed him.

On Monday, Lisa and I, and seven of our ten children hiked to the summit of Clingman’s Dome. At 6643 feet, it is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. To be clear, we drove most of the way. 90 minutes after leaving Gatlinburg, we were standing at the beginning of the trail. To the observation tower is a walk of one half mile – and the path is paved – so how difficult could it be? Serious hikers with sturdy boots and walking sticks jockeyed for position with parents in running shoes pushing strollers and teenagers in flip flops.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiking at Conkle's Hollow

Conkle’s Hollow is a gorge – 200-300 feet wide and half a mile long. Its Blackhand sandstone cliffs rise almost vertically, 200 feet straight up. The wind and rain have created many recesses and small caves in the sandstone.

Legend has it that one of these recesses still contains the booty of a Shawnee Indian raid of an Ohio River paddleboat. After the Shawnee relieved the passengers of their valuables, they made their way north. A posse trailed the raiding party straight into the dead end cliffs of Conkle’s Hollow. The Shawnee cut down a giant Hemlock, and let it fall against the cliff wall. They climbed up the tree and hid the loot in a small recess. They climbed down and pushed the tree over. The plan was to return when the posse had left, fell another hemlock to use as a ladder, and take the loot at their leisure. But the small party was captured just outside the hollow. They were hanged without telling anyone where they hid the loot.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ben Thinks I'm A Jedi

In 100 Words Or Less

Our family was discussing the latest Star Wars movie. I mentioned that I was a Jedi Knight.  Six-year-old Ben excitedly asked if I was a Jedi Master. I told him no, but I did know a Jedi mind trick – I could send mental messages.

Staring into my daughter’s eyes, I raised my left eyebrow. I asked if she received my message. Smiling she said, “You want Zach to clean his room.” “Correct” I confirmed. Ben had difficulty receiving his message though. After several attempts he finally said, “Dad, can you send me an easier message?”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Buckeye In Need Finds A Friend, Indeed

I planted the sapling with little ceremony but much love. I watered and fertilized it under the supervision of the family arborist — my wife, Lisa — and directed our children not to play around it. It is a special tree, I told them — a buckeye. Despite the care and warnings given, the tree barely survived its first year. Somehow, the leader — the branch that the next year would become the trunk — had broken off. The sole clue to the damage: a blue and
yellow ball lying next to the branch. The kids said they hadn’t seen the ball before. Everyone knows how resilient a buckeye is, though. And so, with at least a bit of hope, I spent a long, gray Columbus winter praying that the little tree would survive.

When the redbud blossoms finally broke winter’s grip, I realized that the little tree had sprouted a new leader. It had lost a year’s growth in height but otherwise seemed to be flourishing. (I secretly told myself that

Monday, June 29, 2009

Katie's Corner

by Katie

Luke runs onto the field of my older brother's baseball game for the 2nd time. My mom is not fast enough to catch him, so she calls out “Coach, oh no, coach!” He manages to stop Luke in time for my mom to catch up to him. We all try not to laugh at him because then he will do it again. That would not be funny. Well, then again, maybe it would.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Odyssey (The Red Ring Of Death)

I am marked with the red ring of death. My five comrades know I am mortally wounded, and beyond the healing my comrades can supply. The leader of my comrades, barely a young man, and my younger comrades, just boys, all of them, are disconsolate. But the leader of my comrades has rumor of a community of restorers that can give me new life. So my comrades enshroud me in a soft white covering, and then place me in a rugged caisson for the journey. It is said that this community of restorers resides five hundred or more leagues distant, far to the south, where it is ever warm, and even hot. My comrades do not know the way however. And even if my comrades did possess such knowledge, my comrades could not undertake such a journey. The masters of my comrades will not permit my comrades to forfeit training, the masters of my comrades not regarding my restoration as essential as do my comrades.

There is extant the brown travelers, a guild of professional conveyors, dressed all in brown, shod always with sturdy footwear, and the brown travelers offer to convey me south to

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Katie And The Sore Throat

Katie and the Sore Throat

Poor Katie. She was six at the time, and had two sisters and six brothers. Worse, the five siblings surrounding her are brothers. Aggravating Katie is the boy's mission. Being aggravated is Katie's job, and she fights back with (mostly) verbal punches.One night, Katie tells Lisa that her throat hurts, "When I scream at the boys real loud." Lisa replies, "Don't scream at the boys real loud." We know that her sore throat was not caused by screaming, though, since she does that constantly. Two days later, the doctor confirms that Katie has strep.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Father of 10 Turns Bath Time Into A Career

I was sitting recently on the side of the bathtub, studying my knees. Were those calluses? Before long, the answer dawned on me: The hardened spots had resulted from kneeling near the tub while bathing my children.

Early in our marriage, my wife, Lisa, and I tacitly agreed that I would be responsible for baths. Through the years, the chore became another task I do with little introspection. I still don’t tend to nearly half the work at home, even when I’m there, so I’m not complaining.

The calluses did make me wonder, though, how many baths I might give in my “career” as a father. (I’m a baseball fan, so statistics intrigue me.)

I bathe the kids about every other day (with Lisa pinch-hitting for me when I am on the road). Conservatively

Saturday, May 16, 2009

By Randy Imwalle

Originally published in the Columbus Dispatch on March 14, 2009.

No Irish blood runs through my veins, but I have long considered St. Patrick's Day special. Luck seems to find me. When I was younger, I looked forward to the holiday as a continuation of my birthday (on March 16). Later, I learned about the real St. Patrick and developed a passion for Irish music.

Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents about A.D. 387. As a boy, he was kidnapped and taken to