Monday, December 17, 2012

I am that paramedic.

I write this on behalf of all of the first responders who had to endure living through the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Because, you see, they can't write about it. They won't be able to talk about it, except they will, to a select few people like their coworkers and spouses. But they won't be able to get on Facebook and set straight the misconceptions. They won't be able to tell anyone what they saw and what they did as they attempt to grieve and comprehend what they went through...and what they're still going through. And because everyone knows they were there, they are going to be asked a lot of questions. That they will not answer in an attempt to keep the victim's privacy. Other questions will be asked of them by the parents and family members of these children, and then, they will have to sort through the horror fresh in their mind in an attempt to decide what and how much to say, both legally and ethically.

You see, for all of us who have been in EMS for a while, we are that paramedic. Many people think that we have some sort of pretty existence, that we somehow know how to deal with these tragedies, or that maybe they don't affect us like they would everyone else. But here is the truth: I have cried with the mother as I tell her what gender her stillborn baby is. I have held my breath while drilled into the bone of a baby in an attempt to give medications and fluid because we can't get an IV in. I have remained calm as I explained to a father that his 5-year-old son might die before, but that I was going to do everything I could to give him life. I have also been the one to have to walk in and tell a family that I'm sorry, but their son or daughter didn't make it, swallowing the lump in my throat as they begin to loudly grieve. I have been clung to as I recant the last moments of a young person's life to their surviving family, to let them know that we tried so hard, and that we treated that person with respect and dignity.

I have taken care of the victims of murder before. I have taken care of the victims of domestic violence. I have taken care of the victims of accidents. But let me tell you, there is nothing that compares to a child victim. And there is nothing that could compare to walking into a mass murder scene. I hope, for all of us, that the rest of us will never, ever experience that. Because I know how hard this is going to be. These are the things that no one, no one, should ever have to see.

There will be a society pushing for Hollywood details, wanting us to paint a picture of the pale faces, the blood, the numbers. This will be done through the media and through our friends. What none of them realize, though, are the things that will stick in our head and that will bother us. Like how light the body was when we picked it up to put it in the body bag. The paleness of the skin. The texture of the blood, and of how we later had to wash it off of our arms because the gloves didn't cover everything. How the irony smell of blood won't leave our nose. We will think about the dirty clothes still left on that victim's floor at home. We will remember the backpack with the child's name on the classroom floor. We will remember the helpless feeling and the adrenaline making our heart stronger while we waited for the scene to be secured so that we can enter. And we will remember wanting to save the lives of every single person there...Oh, and the photos in the media? We will hate them because it is just exploiting the families who had to go through this. Enough is enough.

Most everyone will attend an incident stress debriefing, but still...Sleep will be difficult. Seeing blood might be hard. Leaving our children will be impossible. Some people will not go back and will find different careers instead. And then, because we work in a small town, we will see the parents. We will pass the memorials every day on our way to other calls. We will read the online news articles and watch the televised press releases. And we will know what those releases got right and what they got wrong...but none of it will matter, because we couldn't give these babies and teachers back to their families, which is what we want to do.

More than anything else, I want the families of these victims to know that we weep with you. We are horrified and terrified with you. We don't always know how to go on, either. But we will, we will always, love your baby through the tragedy, even after their last breath is gone. As we carry their bodies, they will be safe in our arms, and we will not leave any behind.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Printables For Your Home Management Binder

Here is everything you need for the contents of your Home Management Binder! Feel free to customize it to fit your family and needs, and watch it change as you get the hang of what you really want and don't want in it. I've divided everything into the categories I use, and it should be easy for you to download and print the forms that I have found to be the best out there. Also check out my last post that goes right along with this one: Tips for Creating Your Home Management Binder. Enjoy!



  • Living Will/Health Care Proxy DIY (by state)
  • Vaccination Schedules (look through and choose the appropriate one(s) for your family) or Vaccination Refusal if you are not able to vaccinate your children (search for the form if your state requires one)
  • Family Health Information (have yet to find a good printable for this. Should include: Names, DOB, Allergies, Past Medical History, Insurance, Medications, Dr. & Contact info, immunizations, as well as general family history including if and who in the family tree has things like cancer, diabetes, etc.



  • Folder with local restaurant menus/contact information (I have mine tucked in a page protector)
  • Business hours and information for local movie theaters, mini-golf courses, Science Centers, museums, etc.
  • Story Hour, MOPS, and other age appropriate social group information.


As Needed
  • Search online for "free printables" to help you stay organized when preparing for camping, shopping, a particular holiday, traveling, hosting a party, holding a yard sale, and more!
  • Devotional lists.

PS- photo at the top of this post came from and it is hers, not mine. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tips for creating your Home Management Binder

A home management binder is literally, a three ring binder with dividers that contain important information, menus, schedules, ideas, and so much more (I'll be giving you everything you need to make your own tomorrow!). Unfortunately, many people don't know where to start when creating a home management binder. It's simpler than you may think, though, and the effort is so worth it! You will always know where information is, have ideas at your fingertips, and will be able to manage your home more efficiently and smoothly. Here are seven tips to help you get started:

#1: Collect your supplies. 
You will need: a three ring binder (good sized), a 3-ring hole punch, paper to print forms off of your computer/Internet with, clear plastic page protectors, write on/wipe off marker, pens, tab dividers, a zippered pouch or two that will go into the binder, and a few business card page holders.

#2: Print a nice cover! 
You can download the ones in the photo for free by clicking here.

#3: Laminate/use page protectors for "to-do" lists so you can write on/wipe off instead of have to always print new ones.

#4: Keep your binder up to date.

#5: Make copies of anything really important you want to put into your binder, like automobile registrations, birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, etc.. Keep those originals in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet!

#6: Use dividers to organize your binder

#7: Get the printables for the contents of your binder. We already put together a list of everything that should go in your binder, as well as a bunch of Free Printables For Your Home Management Binder. So get clicking and be organized! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Twenty More Years To Live

I got one of those phone calls last week. You know, the kind that you don't want to have. The background to this phone call is that I've had a lot of strange symptoms for YEARS that no one has been able to figure out. Mostly, the sypmtoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue, dry skin, adult acne...then, I had other weird things, like an elevated liver enzyme last year, elevated erythrocytes periodically, and back pain/leg aches, and body twitches when I'm exhuasted. Nothing has ever been diagnosed, so I stopped looking, really. Then a few weeks ago, my knee started hurting. Badly. No reason why. Then a few hours later, my other knee started hurting. Slowly, the pain spread to other areas including my left hip, and it felt like I had bruises on my arms (but, no bruising was seen!). After two weeks of this, I visited the Dr. during a few hours I had off before work. They ordered blood work and I made an appointment two weeks out to follow up with a different Dr.

Then, a few days later, I received a message on my phone at 7pm. It was the PA who ordered the blood work, not even the one I'm following up with. She told me that I needed to call the office ASAP in the morning. YAY! I instead, opted to call back the number that called my phone. No one answered, so I hung up and resolved to call in the morning. At 7:30pm, she called me back again. On her personal phone. Great...

I was told that I have a significant finding, a positive ANA test. Grouped with my symptoms, I need to see a Rheumatologist as soon as possible, and even before the rest of my results come back. Lupus. Rhematoid Arthritis. Maybe something else? Maybe?

Considering that my grandmother has lupus and my symptoms line up, I'm thinking that's the most likely cause of my pain and the positive ANA. I'm slowly beginning to learn about it, though I'm holding off on doing a lot of research until I see the Rheumatologist. In the meantime, I hurt. My hands hurt. My calfs hurt. My eyes hurt. My back hurts. I'm exhuasted, which makes the pain worse. Thank God for Ibuprofin which does help take the edge off! Thankfully, the symptoms come and go, although they're coming a lot more than they're going right now. :)

And then, today, this is what I read about Lupus:
In the past, lupus was not well understood. People who had lupus died younger, usually of problems with vital organs. Now that the disease can be treated more successfully, life expectancy with lupus has increased significantly. Up to 90% of people with lupus live at least 5 years after diagnosis. Nearly 70% live at least 20 years after diagnosis. (WebMD)

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Nearly 70% live at least 20 years after diagnosis?! I will be 48 in 20 years.

Forty-eight years old. Now, I'm not saying I have Lupus. I'm not saying I'm freaked out about any of this, beacuse I'm not. But reading about this "great" life expectency thing has made me think about this: if you knew you weren't going to have a "normal" lifespan, how many years do you think you'd need to feel peaceful about leaving this world?

I think 20 more years would be ok for me. I don't need a whole lot to feel peaceful about going to Heaven, because let me tell you, I am really excited about seeing Jesus face to face. The things that I need are pretty simple: I want to watch my children grow up, and I want to know that I've trained them to provide for themselves and make good decisions. I want them to be self reliant. I want to see my grandchildren. If I'm to die young(er), then I'd like my husband to still be young enough that he finds a wonderful new wife to be his companion while he ages (come on, I've done the single thing and it's really not great).

How long do you need? What would make you feel peaceful about being given a life-expectency less than "average"?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How To Do The "No Shampoo" or "No-Poo" Method

It's something I heard about a long time ago, actually, on a message board with a thread title of "no-poo support group." And my thought was: how does someone NOT poop? That can't be healthy! Little did I realize that it actually meant I don't use commercial shampoo. And then after that, it took me a little while longer to realize that not using shampoo doesn't equavalate to saying my hair is dirty. In fact, according to all of my research, for all of these people (who aren't generally hippies, by the way), they actually have not only clean hair, but it's soft, shiny, and really healthy looking.

And then...I discovered that two of my former piano students who moved away years ago have now gone shampoo-free (I still can't call it "no poo")! Their hair, one of them mentioned, has been much curlier and healthier since the transition. Then, a coworker mentioned that she has been shampoo-free for two months and is loving it--and loving her hair!

What to do?! More research. So here's the scoop:

No-shampoo doesn't always mean "I'm not using anything to clean my hair with." In fact, you will almost always see using Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) to clean the scalp and Apple Cider Vinegar to rinse the mid/end of the hair (BS/ACV) references for a cleansing regime. Most people seem to use this to just transition from shampoo to only water, and then just use the BS/ACV method periodically if they think their hair needs an extra push.

There are other things commonly used, too, like lemon juice for the rinse, egg yolks for a moisturizing mask, and brown sugar for exfoliating properties. The main thing about this idea is that we're not using the chemicals that are KNOWN to be harmful and that are LEGALLY in our shampoo and conditioner products (and a host of other products!). We're saving money, resources, and giving our body a chance to actually regulate itself like it's designed to do. Many people report that going No-Shampoo has relieved their dandruff, oily hair problems, and frizziness.

Here is how you do it, in a nutshell: (and I'm copying this directly from Kitchen Stewardship)

  • Use 1 Tbs baking soda to a cup of water – you can mix in an old shampoo bottle

  • Shake the bottle to combine, then sprinkle evenly on your scalp

  • Allow to sit a minute, then scrub your scalp in circles with your fingernails, working the baking soda through evenly, especially on the top

  • Rinse with warm water while scrubbing

  • Use 1-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar per cup of water – I mix this in a spray bottle, but others just use a cup and dip their hair

  • Apply as needed to detangle and clarify

  • Rinse well, preferably in cold water on the scalp at the end to close the pores back up. This one I just can’t handle in the winter sometimes, but it is easier if you have a hand-held shower head so your whole body doesn’t have to frigidify just to get your scalp cold!

  • I've also read that a lot of people just make a paste in their hand with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and massage it into their wet scalp instead of making a mixed bottle solution. The biggest thing, from my understanding, is that you will have a "transition period" when your scalp is still over-producing oil (from years of compensating for our shampoo stripping our hair of the oil). Apparently, your hair looks kinda gross and it may also feel rather gross while your body figures out how to regulate everything back to its normal state.

    If you're having any problems, a great article that troubleshoots the specific things can be found here:

    And that's it! Who is up to the challenge?

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Groovy Girls Cali Candy Cane Review & GIVEAWAY!

    Manhattan Toy Company recently sent me their "Cali Candy Cane" Groovy Girls doll to review. It was a HUGE hit with my just-turned-4-years-old daughter! I actually brought it to her after she was in bed one night, and her eyes lit up and she got the biggest smile as she asked if it was for her...then she proceeded to sleep with Cali (who is now named "Susan" in our home) every night for over a week straight. The first thing that my daughter noticed about the doll is her hair. She commented on it multiple times, and asked if she could brush it. :) Her hair really is amazing though! It's super soft and pretty durable with yarn style fibers, having tiny braids and being attached SOLIDLY to her head. I don't, however, suggest brushing it. :)

    Another feature that my daughter liked a lot is that the dress is removable. The velcro holding the halter part of the dress isn't as strong as I'd like (it easily is undone), but it's not a big deal to put it in place again. The only thing my daughter doesn't care for is that the purse is secured to Cali's arm and so she can't take it off (which also means she can't lose it). Another cool thing is that the Groovy Girl dolls are bigger than you'd expect. Cali is 13" tall!

    The thing that I appreciate the most other than that the doll is made out of cloth, is that the dress is fashionable but not too-grown up. I think the Groovy Girl series would really be popular with any little girl from age 3 to 11 or so! The materials are solid, the idea cute, and the doll fun to look at.

    You can buy your own Cali Candy Cane doll for $20 at Manhattan Toy's website who describes Cali as being "as sweet as they come. Her velvet red dress and green and white striped stockings reveal her tasteful holiday personality. Her hair is full of candy cane colors with a mixture of light blonde and red highlights. Cali Candy Cane is as festive as they come, from her stocking cap to her cute green handbag."

    You can also WIN HER right here, right now!

    Disclaimer: Manhattan Toy provided product for review and giveaway. The opinion above is all my own. 

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    50% Off Christmas + Montessori/Waldorf Inspired Gifts! HURRY!

    I love, LOVE giving Christmas gifts. I do have a rule though: the gifts I buy need to be at around a 50% discount when I buy them (once in a while, I do make exceptions). To do this, I often buy throughout the year and store everything in large plastic totes. Our new Montessori Homeschooling journey has led me to also be keeping eyes out for Montessori-inspired sales, of which I almost never, EVER find.

    Until now!

    You can imagine my excitement at getting on Plum District tonight to check out another potential sale (I passed), and finding the one I'm sharing with you now! I was really stoked about Mama May i first of all because all of the toys are handmade. The store was launched in 2009 by a mama, inspired by her little ones and her knowledge of Montessori and Waldorf methods. Her stuff rocks, and she doesn't even know I'm saying this!

    The prices are very decent for this sort of product (trust me, I've been stalking and wishing that I could actually purchase materials like these for the last few months), the colors are gorgeous, the ideas behind them brilliant, and there is a LOT to choose from!

    So the deal I found is for $40 worth of merchandise for $20. You can buy two gift certificates per household, and it's good until 3/31/13. I'm stocking up and then going to wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday to use them, just in case there are going to be even bigger sales. I don't know if I'll be able to sleep the night before!!!

    You MUST buy your certificate within the next four days (the deal is "done" after that). To buy it, go to:

    Here are some of my favorite picks!

    Sound Bird- Flower ($14 full price)

    Made with 100% cotton fabric in coordinating colors, this little birdie is the perfect size for little hands to hug, toss, jingle, and hold. With a rewarding jangle sound every time he moves around; to a funky textured, ribbon tail feather; to the open ended play possibilities of having a bird to care for, this little Sound Bird is sure to hold the attention of your little naturalist.

    Sight and Sound Cards ($45 full price)

     These Sight & Sound Sensory Cards were the perfect little something for my little one to “grow on”. Each part of this ensemble has a high contrast black and white print on one side – great for little eyes and growing brains. I would hang one from her car seat as a something fun to look at while we traveled – for the “Sight” component. The reverse side has one of six colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple. Each of the colored fabrics has a different look and feel – they are textured to add a “Touch” component. For added texture and play there are four coordinating colored ribbons hanging from the sides – perfect for little hands to find once finger investigation and coordination are the modes to discovery. Not only are they finger and eye-candy but, when you shake them, they each have a different “musical” sound. So, when little explorers become interested in cause and effect, it’s a great reward for moving hands. A grow-with-me toy, even still…the colors, textures, and sounds make great conversation pieces and vocabulary building. Circles, Squares, Diamonds, Colors, Numbers, Counting, and Sound complete this whimsically sweet Sensorial Set – sure to elicit a giggle and inquisitive fiddle from your little one.

    Rainbow Regatta ($25 full price)

    Let this little fleet* inspire your little one’s imagination to set sail and wander freely among the high seas and low tides of rain-fallen puddles and hose water streams. Perfectly pieced for friendly competition, these little sailing teams will delight onlookers and sail sponsors alike. Collect the whole flotilla and choose a favorite color to cheer to the finish line. Each colored vessel comes with two matching people to lead the way to victory. Hoist the sail, load the cabin, and set off on a nautical adventure. Enjoy creating stories and triumphs with your little captain - whatever floats your little one’s fancy.

    Welcome Bees ($19 full price)

    ncluded in each set is one Rainbow Hive, and six miniature friends, each with tiny, colorful wingspans. The hive has room enough for the whole family to nest – such a great fine motor skill builder, even the bees would be impressed. They would be more than happy to meet, collectively swirling about their hive. Match up the colors and tuck them inside. 

    Flip Mat- Market ($29 full price)

    We are always looking for something portable and fun to tote with us and keep our little ones busy. Meet the Flip Mat: a friendly fabric folder created with little imaginations in mind. Portable, Open-Ended Play is inspired with each go-to. The Flip Mat contains a play world inside a soft fabric case. Let the magic unfold when your little explorer opens to find a playground and 12 adorable drawings to inspire imaginative thinking. 

    Let your little entrepreneur open her very own Farmer’s Market. “We Pick Them, You Eat Them.” Familiarize your little one with a love for fresh veggies while nurturing her business spirit with a sweet barter or haggle at the market. Use coins to broaden math skills and play with money to help build a better understanding of currency and business sense.

    Counting Acorns ($18 full price)

    I have been trying to add seasonal counting tools to our Learning Closet hence these cute and colorful acorns were made. These handheld manipulatives are great for transferring activities, counting, color sorting as well as a myriad of open-ended play (perhaps to make a "hay corn pie" as my little one always does!)
    (colored sorting bowls are separate)

    Don't wait! Get your discount certificate, too before it's too late!

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    50 Rules for (step)Dads of Daughters

    50 Rules for (step)Fathers of Daughters

    Dedicated to the Papa of my children, who had a father's heart before he ever even met them. 

    1. Be her daddy. Whether or not she accepts it isn't up to you. Be her daddy anyway. 

    2. Protect her. Watch what she is doing, those around her, and keep her safe. Don't give her any reason to mistrust you, so that when she leaves the safety of your home, she will remember what you taught her and your protection will be carried out even away from your walls.

    3. Be committed. The extent of this should be that if anything ever happened to her mother--even before you legally become a family-- you will always provide, protect, advocate for, and love her.

    4. Pray. In quiet, and also out loud so that she can hear you. Let her know that you intercede on her behalf in every way, and that you also pray that you will always be bettering yourself as a father to her.

    5. Be unconditional. Even when she says awful things to you as a teenager, attempts to claw your eyes out as a toddler, or given any other crazy circumstance, let her know that you are not going anywhere and neither is your love.

    6. Be consistent. She should know what to expect as far as your mood, rules, and love goes. Keep things stable, even when the rest of her or your world is falling apart.

    7. Treat her mother like a queen. The more adoration, protection, dedication, affection, and delight you show towards her mother, the more security you are giving to your daughter. Show her by example what sort of man she herself should marry some day.

    8. Lead. Know who you are, what you want, and what your role is in this family. Give her the comfort of knowing that you can guide not only her, but also yourself through life. Create opportunities for her, and gently lead her to grow when you know she is capable of something.

    9. Respect her biological father. Even if you don't care for him at all, find truthful positive attributes of his and point them out when possible. Give him the opportunity to shine in her life. Allow her to feel what she will about her biological father, and help her to express that in healthy, respectful ways. However, don't be obnoxious in any of this. It isn't your job to cover up for him.

    10. Call her your daughter. Leave that "step" word out.

    11. Say you are sorry. When you screw up, it's ok. She is going to forgive you and move on. But tell her you are sorry, and mean it.

    12. Dance with her. At least once in her lifetime, she should be able to dress up in her princess outfit and eat a dinner by candlelight and then dance with you in the living room to everything from Frank Sinatra to Who Let The Dogs Out. Just because it's fun, and because every little girl deserves a ball. If she is beyond the Disney Princess thing, find another opportunity to dance with her, even if you are embarrassed.

    13. Eat the food she prepares for you. That applesauce with ketchup and rainbow colored goldfish crackers may not seem very appetizing, but you will make her feel proud and like you two have a connection when you eat a big spoonful, give a big smile, and eat another big spoonful before she even asks you to.

    14. Tell her she is beautiful, and teach her to respect her body. It is not gross or inappropriate for a (step)father to tell his teenage daughter that she is not going on her date tonight if she is still wearing that low-cut shirt, nor is it wrong for him to tell her she is beautiful every single day. Get comfortable doing these things, because if you don't shape her self image and value, someone else will.

    15. Make her breakfast. Pancakes in the shape of her initials will do the trick at the age of three, and will also do the trick again when she is a teenager and just broke up with her first boyfriend the night before.

    16. Go outside and get dirty with her. She probably doesn't play outside often enough with mom, so make sure she gets out there with you. In the mud. Up the trees. In the rain. Under the leaves.

    17. Let her help you. As you serve her mother by fixing things around the house and changing the car oil, allow her to see these things and to help you in any way she can. She will learn useful skills as a result, and also learn better how to love others through servant hood. So even if it isn't really helpful to you, let her help.

    18. Write her letters. A written affirmation of how grateful you are to be in her life and of how much you love her and her mother open doors that conversations sometimes leave closed. These are treasures she can carry with her, think about, and revisit in her own timing.

    19. Allow her to cry. It might freak you out, so just be quiet and let it happen. If it seems like the right time to hug her, then hug her. If it seems like the right time to go buy her chocolate and a chick-flick movie, go buy them for her.

    20. Do not attempt to buy your fatherhood. She doesn't need stuff, to be impressed, or to be coerced. Earn your place as daddy by being that to her.

    21. Date the entire family. As you should never stop dating her mom, you should never stop dating the whole family, either. Take everyone out to an event. Create a regular "family" night at the house and get excited about it. The point is to just spend family time with your undivided attention. Doing this will show her that you value her time and company, not just her mother's.

    22. Do not make her choose between you and her biological father. Let her know that as long as she is safe, you support what she wants to do concerning both of her fathers and that whatever relationship she has with her biological father will not ever change her relationship with you. She is allowed to love both of you with all of her heart.

    23. Don't be afraid of tough love. As her father, you are responsible to discipline and raise her correctly and with boundaries, too. It might be a risk for you to do this, but it's a greater risk for you to not do this. Demonstrating tough love will build trust in you, and it's the right thing for you to do for her, anyway.

    24. Be on the same team as mom. In everything you do, be united on the parenting front. If mom says no, you had better say no, too. Your daughter needs to see the mutual respect between mom and dad.

    25. Let whatever is important to her be important to you, too. Practice piano with her, make every dance recital, attend all three showings of her school play. Help her make it happen, and rejoice with her when she does.

    26. Tell her you love her. Often.

    27. Talk to her on the phone. Anytime she wants, day or night. If you can't talk and she leaves you a message, call her back as soon as possible.

    28. Take a photo of you and her. Silly or serious, those daddy-daughter documents are important!

    29. Take her on adventures. This may mean backpacking through the jungles of Peru, or building a fort in the living room. The point is that you are allowing, encouraging, and partaking in new and exciting things with her that she may not ever do otherwise.

    30. Tell her stories when she is little. True ones about your day, adventure Bible stories, or make believe plots about flying teddy bears.

    31. Let her do your hair. Those matching bows might look better than you think. However, gently explain to her about masculinity when you have to take it out of your hair before leaving the house.

    32. Respect her space. There may be some parts of her life she doesn't want you involved in, and as long as it's something you don't need to be involved in, let it go.

    33. Send her on mommy-daughter dates. They need girl time, so clean the house, babysit her brothers, or make reservations for this on a regular basis. This will remind her that you are not taking mommy away from her, but instead are creating a family by being her father.

    34. Sing with her. Even if you don't stay on tune very well, don't be afraid to belt out the hokey pokey while wildly spinning in circles.

    35. Make her wear sunscreen. The long term effects of this have been proven to be positive.

    36. Know that from time to time, you will feel overwhelmed. This is normal. Just take a deep breath, and carry on. Her mother even feels like this sometimes, too, in fact, probably at least once every day. :)

    37. Strive to bring out her best characteristics. Praise her for the things she does well, and brag about her to other people. Maximize her opportunities to use her talents and positive attributes.

    38. Get excited about her. When she walks into the room, smile. Every time.

    39. Be a kid with her. Be silly, extravagant, random, and spontaneous. She will love it, and odds are it will be therapeutic for you.

    40. Allow her to snuggle you. Positive, healthy, safe, loving physical contact is important for a child's development. If she wants to fall asleep in your arms, let her. Cherish those moments, she is going to grow fast and they will be gone. The sound of your heartbeat and the strength of your embrace can fix all of her problems when she is young.

    41. Make her a Valentine. Every year, no matter how old she gets. She will come to expect this, so make sure you don't forget.

    42. Roughouse with her. It's more fun with you than mom, since you aren't always telling her to "be careful" and sucking in your breath every time she falls. Mom will act like she is worried that someone will get hurt when you do this, but she will secretly be glad that you are brave enough to give her daughter this outlet.

    43. Have movie nights. Make popcorn and camp out on the couch while you laugh and hang in suspense with each other. You may be surprised to find that if she has seemed angry or ignoring of you throughout the rest of the day, she will silently climb onto your lap for the movie, and if you don't let her know you noticed it, she might even hold your hand.

    44. Allow her to watch you do the things you do. Take her to the firehouse for a drill or a meeting, let her watch you in your place of work, or ask her if she wants to sit by the window while you mow the lawn. Her observations may seem quiet to you, but she is talking non-stop to mommy about you and how she loves seeing you do these things.

    45. Take care of you can be there and fully participate throughout her life.

    46. Soothe her when she is sick. Midnight runs to Walmart for popsicles, rubbing her hair, letting her sleep in mommy and papa's bed. Take care of that little one, even if you can't fix the problem.

    47. Be spontaneous. Sometimes, your best efforts at planning will fail. The beautiful thing, is that she either won't notice or won't remember if you just go with the flow and have a good attitude about what happens next.

    48. Do "man things" with her brothers. Seeing this will show her that you are protecting and training her siblings, too. It will also help her understand men--this will be important later in life. Not to mention it might ease her life by way of not having to wrestle with her brothers if she doesn't want to. They will do it with you, instead.

    49. Give her piggyback rides. Yours are more fun than mom's. Beware, though, she has no understanding of the correlation between your neck being strangled and your ability to breathe. When you are done, flip her over your head and (safely) onto the ground. You will be a real life superhero for doing this.

    50. Remember that God chose a (step)father for Jesus, too. You are not any less of a father than any other father is...unless you choose to be.