Pay Attention Daddy!

This is not my world.

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Sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes things are messy. Sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes we have to find ways to deal with difficult situations, and sometimes things are just flat out ridiculous, and all we can do is laugh.

But, we have to find a way to work through them.

Don't you think?

Or is it easier to say: "I don't know how."

That's not very self reliant, and it's not very productive.

When I was a kid and I needed to learn how to do something my Dad would very often point me in the right direction, but not always realize that sometimes folks like me need detailed instructions.

He would say: "Pay attention. It doesn't cost anything."

(It took me a long time to figure out what, exactly that meant, but when I did it served me well. Though - a note here to the fellas. Do not say "Pay attention. It doesn't cost anything" to your wife or significant other - EVER! You're welcome.)

While my Dad saying this could be frustrating and create a bit of a learning curve that didn't necessarily need to exist, it did help me become very detail oriented, it helped me learn to pay attention, it made me read signs, it made me read the directions, it helps me quite frankly to be able to read people.

Of course, I don't do all of these things all the time, but I am able to recognize when I need to revert back to these methodologies to get something done correctly.

Recently, I had one of these moments.

D needed to print something, but the printer was out of color ink. So, like my Dad might have done I told D to pull out the tray the printer sits on and open it up.

The problem being that she had never opened up the printer before, and I hadn't told her what "it" was...

"It's right there," I said. "Open it up! What do you think you need to do?"

A very confused D just stared at me. Netter rushed in to help D deal with me and the problem.

So I asked Netter: "Am I a bad Dad."

"You're not a bad Dad," she replied. "You just suck at home tech support."


Well, as tech support is essentially what I do for a living I needed to figure this out. What could I do differently next time?

Clearly, I needed to get back to my methods. So, I sought out D and apologized for not providing enough guidance and specific instruction. I told her I was sorry I had not read her reaction well enough, and I encouraged her to stop me next time and ask me for steps. I told her I would tell her sister to do the same so we were all on the same page.

The next day I found K and explained to her what had happened. I told her I'd clearly had a "Poppa moment," God love him and that while I had learned to learn from him and his gruff yet effective style I did not expect my girls to have to do the same.

"What would Poppa do to you?" K asked.

I could think of no specific example, but some 20 year old flashes ran through my brain and I came up with the following scenario.

"Well," I replied "Poppa liked to watch Star Trek, but when I needed help with my math homework he would come into the kitchen to help me go over a few steps and then tell me to get to it while he got back to watching the show.

It was all I could do not to yell out, Darn it Dad! Captain Kirk is gonna sleep with the Blue B****. That's how it ends. Now Get back in here and help me with my math homework."

What's that?

Yes, I said that out loud to my daughter, who of course then repeated it to her younger sister and all the while Netter was asking me if she could tweet that or Facebook it or something so everyone could laugh as hard as we were laughing.

I have no idea where that came from, but I'm glad I have teenagers who are old enough to know that I was really just trying to show them that I am human, I make mistakes and I understand so all they need to do is ask and I will listen and try and help.

As I told a buddy last night: "I think being a kid, being a teenager is one of the hardest things any of us ever has to do in this lifetime. If I can do something to help make it easier for my kids, as long as they cooperate and work with me, then I'm gonna do it."

Parents - what do you think?

*A final note for the Star Trek fans. I know Captain Kirk's fantasy woman is green. For some reason I thought blue. Phase me!

Summing Things Up

This might get a bit rambly... What?

Of course rambly is a word. Check back for a link. Um, sometime...

Anyway, if you don't want to stick around for rambly that's okay. I'll be back soon with something different.

Still reading?

Last week, as I was finally whittling my way toward the bottom of the pile, (Yes, it really took that long.) Netter asked me what I was working on.

Without missing a beat, I replied. "I'm working on a bunch of 'little crap.'"

Now, obviously it wasn't "crap," but I am involved now with all the little things like Census forms, and property value paperwork, voter registration and life insurance minutiae, which even my insurance man grimaces about. In short, all the stuff that has to be filled out, sent in, dealt with whether we want to or not.

Of course, I've also got things that just don't fit in that box either, paperwork that needs to be filed when you buy something new, junk mail, and other stuff that piles up that we don't know what to do with and only deal with when the piles get that big.


I have an incredibly difficult time applying myself to these types of tasks, but instead of moving past them or ignoring them they tend to hang me up entirely. I end up watching a bunch of television I wouldn't ordinarily have watched or surfing the web, or checking Facebook or Twitter, or... I'm guessing you get the picture.

So, here's what I'm doing to get myself motivated.


I'm calling Timeout.

What does that mean?

It means that until I get those things done and progress beyond them I'm not adding any commitments or any other tasks, at least not during the work week.

I figure if I really apply myself it shouldn't take me more than a week or two to get on track.

But this isn't really just about my "to-do" list.

As part of staying on track and keeping on track I am renewing my commitment to my blog and to social media. I have been really evaluating my time in the space lately, figuring out if I belong, where I might fit in, what I'm missing, what I've tucked away and forgotten about, and how I might do better, learning how to scale as it were so that the time I do spend is quality time not only for me, but for everybody. For instance I've been using Foursquare, but I'm not sure I'm seeing the value from that tool as much as I just feel like I'm broadcasting my location to folks who may not care. (More on Foursquare in a later post.)

A friend asked me last week if I ever do anything "a little bit?" The answer is "No, no I really don't," but I do respect the things I'm doing and the other folks who are involved. Basically, I want to be sure I'm continuing to do that.

The other thing I'm doing is refocusing on my career. I had planned on doing this in the latter part of February, but of course my attention was pulled aside by my boy, who I am happy to say is doing very well. (Though he has turned into a bit of a nocturnal animal, which has been more than a little different. Still, we're figuring things out and making progress.)

So, about refocusing on my career? Yeah, another post maybe, but it is an important step, something I have to do for my sanity. I will say I will be spending a lot of time on my LinkedIn profile and even some time evaluating our finances, calculating risks and such.

I do have one other project I'm working on that is very exciting and may lead to a great opportunity with a local small business, but as nothing is official or even written down yet, I'm afraid I'll have only that to share today. Sorry, I know that's a tease.

I do have one other note, very positive, very happy news. Ms Single Mama has decided to continue blogging, and that makes me very happy. I think her voice is important to a lot of people, myself included, and I'm glad she's going to keep being heard.

What blogs do you read on a regular basis? What projects are you caught up in?

What are you rambling about?

Dear Anonymous - You suck!

Today, I am angry. No, I am outraged. Ms Single Mama, one of my favorite bloggers is basically being driven off line because of the actions of people who have decided that it is their place to judge her, her life, and how she raises her son. It should come as no surprise that most of these people are Internet idiots who post anonymously, use only their first name, or use some cryptic username whose origin or meaning is known only to them.

One of the things I have always preached to my girls is that when you are online you are responsible for what you say or post, what pictures you allow to be published of yourself, and in general your own behavior.

Of course, the one way around this responsibility is to use some anonymous user name.

This is why I post everything as Jim Brochowski, or JimBrochowski. Of course, if your kids are 13 and 17 you might not want them to use their full names. This is fine as long as they use names that uniquely identify them to their friends, their peers, and their family. When I reference K or D it's not just because I don't want to use their full names. It's also because that's truly what we call them sometimes. When I post somewhere as Jimbro or Jimmer, I do it only in a context where I know I'm going to be held accountable for what I say and do because that audience addresses me by those names.

It's called personal responsibility. We all should have it. It should be required for using the Internet.

Not demanding personal responsibility can lead to hateful remarks, deceitful lies, and the spread of ignorance, not to mention the complete and total lack of punctuation, spelling, or even sometimes grammar. But I digress...

More importantly it leads to hurt. It leads to fear, and it means that, in this case especially we will lose an important voice from our community.

Ms. Single Mama's story is an inspiration not only to single mothers, but to many others who are searching for confidence in themselves and their life choices. It is a way for children of divorce to understand what might have happened to their own parent's marriages and to find a "normal" in a life with only one parent, or maybe even several parents. It's a story for everyone to see that there is always a way, that we should never give up, that we should always keep trying to make our dreams come true.

That's what it is for me. That's what it should be for everyone.

I don't write much should or would or could. I don't get fired up about too much anymore at all. I don't do politics. I don't debate religion, and I don't address issues that pertain to a woman's body. The first two because a lot more negative than positive seems to stem from those discussions, and the latter because I'm not a woman.

But, I will defend to my death a person's right to not be judged, and especially to not be judged publicly.

When all is said and done; Wrong is still Wrong!

Note* I know there are people who use usernames that are very responsible, that use those names because they don't feel safe, and for a myriad number of other reasons. The difference is, those people don't act like fools. They aren't mean for the sake of being mean. They don't incite arguments for the sake of arguing. They don't judge.

I also know there are some people who are out there judging Ms. Single Mama who aren't hiding behind anonymity. To put it in the simplest terms, I'm not going to give them the traffic.

Now, here's your full disclosure: I am the son of a once single mother, and while my mother was fortunate enough to find a loving husband and father, (or maybe he was lucky enough to find her) there was still plenty of awkwardness, plenty of situations, and experiences that we had to deal with that just weren't, and quite honestly sometimes still aren't "normal."

What is that saying? Until you've walked a mile in their shoes...

Mulligan Update

Oh my, where to begin. We've all been consumed with our boy Mulligan for the better part of the last two weeks. Everything else it seems has gone by the wayside.

And really, I'm okay with that. Mulligan does mean that much to us, to me.

I learned long ago that there comes a point for every pet owner when you have to be able to set aside selfish reasoning and emotional attachment.

As I write this tonight, Mulligan is laying on the hearth in the living room with Netter and K, having just devoured, YES devoured his dinner. He has had two pretty good days in a row, and we are all happy, and cautiously optimistic that our boy is really starting to feel better.

I even had to stop him from rolling in the snow when I let him out after dinner. You may have heard how he loves rolling in the snow.

Just a few days ago, we didn't know that we might get here. In fact, both Netter and I were fairly certain we would not.

On Saturday Mulligan had a very bad day. The vet thinks he probably had a hemolytic episode, all part of the IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia) freight train we've found ourselves on for the last two weeks. As we progressed through the evening Mulligan seemed to be getting sicker and sicker. At 2 a.m. Netter went to bed. At 4 a.m. I fell asleep on the couch.

To put it bluntly, the day was a nightmare as far as Mulligan's well being was concerned.

At some point during the evening though I reached that clarity I talked about above. I didn't know what was next, but I knew I would always be able to do what is best for my boy.

Then on Sunday, much to our (happy) surprise Mulligan seemed better. He ate a little bit. He seemed to be evening out. Netter and I talked about the day before, and our shared concern that Sunday might have turned out to be the day we dreaded.

Monday morning, Mulligan would not eat, and again seemed very sick to me, but later in the day he rebounded. Tuesday brought a similar series of ups and downs. The roller coaster that the vet had warned about was rearing it's head.

But yesterday, (Wednesday) Mulligan ate more than he had in quite some time, even licked the bowl clean. He had a little more energy and a little glimmer in his eye when I got home that told me he wasn't done just yet.

Today, he continues the fight, and seems to be doing even better. We went for some tests, the results that were once stable at best, are finally improving.

Netter has been amazing through all of this most especially by working with Mulligan to help him eat. I've never seen so much food prepared for a dog in my life. Netter has done all of this with a smile on her face. When I thanked her today for all her effort, she told me it isn't effort it is a labor of love.

The girls have pitched in when we needed them, working from sadness to a very serious discussion on where things might progress to happy optimism as we've watched our boy the last two days.

We're still taking one day at a time, still trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves, and still just hanging onto hope.

One final note. Posting updates on Twitter and Facebook we've been able to share this story of Mulligan and honestly been overwhelmed with all the good wishes, thoughts, and prayers of countless friends and family. I want to thank you all so much for allowing us to share our boy, for rooting for him, for supporting us, for being there when we needed you.