Friday, June 17, 2011

Big Dan

This post has nothing to do with food, sorry if that disappoints you.  I should probably start a separate blog for my life and those who want to read about it, especially after seeing how amazing some of the food blogs I've found on the world wide web are...I'm most definately not a pro at this, and don't know if I'll ever have time to be.  A lot of my food pics are from my cell phone, I tend to ramble instead of just producing recipes, and I am very lacking in the presentation department when we normally just fill our plates and eat...very little time for a photo shoot and absolutely no time for garnishes and wiping the sides of the plate for dribbles. 

Anyway, I've decided that I don't want to start a separate blog and there will be posts on here about me...just me.  What I've been up to, my thoughts on certain matters, exciting news, etc, etc.  So I guess it's up to you if you see the "All things Abby" label, you can go ahead and skip to the next recipe if that suits you better. 

Although this post has nothing to do with exciting news or what I've been up to, I have been thinking alot about the topic this week for some reason.  I've noticed that each year I age, I tend to get more and more emotional....maybe emotional is not the word, let's go with sentimental.  With Father's Day coming up this weekend, and with other events leading up to this weekend (friends' parents having health issues) that make me appreciate my parents' health and their presence in my life, I have been thinking a lot about Big Dan.

I have more memories with him than I can even count, or begin to share on a simple blog post.  I remember all the fun "adult stuff" he did was fun when I was a kid.  He is a do-it-yourselfer so there were always projects going on in the house. Painting the house looked like a blast (not so much fun now as I've had to do some painging in our house recently) so he would give me a bucket of water and paintbrush so I could paint along with him...I guess I was easily fooled between the consistencies of water and house paint.  This is one of my favorite pictures from childhood....he told us to shut our eyes and put out our hands for a surprise...we were surprised alright!  I still can't believe mom stood there with the camera and let us get pounded....kinda mean if you think about it :)

Boom, your Dad!

I was sort of a Daddy's girl/tomboy in my younger years so he spent a lot of time coaching my teams (including the all boys soccer team I was a part of because there was no girl's league), practicing with me, and making sure I knew that I could do anything I put my mind to on the field, and in life.  I never got a break becuase I was a girl on the boys team, I had to work harder to carry my weight with kids who were by nature stronger than me.  I never got to get off the bicycle going up a hill, walking is giving up, and if I just played our mantra (The Little Engine That Could's "I think I can, I think I can") over and over in my head, usually when I looked up, I was at the top!  When we would play catch in the yard to practice for softball, he would tell me I threw like a girl.  The fact that I AM a girl should have been enough to make that a non-offensive comment....but I didn't want to be just any girl...I wanted to be the girl who could do anything a guy could do, just like my Dad told me I was.
ALWAYS wear your helmets (do as I say, not as I do)!
 This attitude has served me well, even into my adult years.  Sometimes, he may not have been happy that he taught me to be so independant and headstrong (some would call it stubborn but headstrong sounds a bit better to me).  There were many times we butted heads throughout high school and even starting college where I'm sure he wished he hadn't raised such a smartass, know-it-all, girl who thought she could do whatever she wanted, and wasn't listening to anyone who thought otherwise.

But I do have a lot of Big Dan in me...I like to think I do a good job of emulating his work ethic, I've learned alot from him about being a responsible citizen, as well as a truly "good to the core" human being.  I've seen the sacrifices he and mom made for my brother and I throughout our lives, and although I wasn't so appreciative then....I do realize the point of their rules and punishments now.  I used to think he just wanted to ruin my life, that was his goal...he had kids to get a sick pleasure out of making me a huge loser by GROUNDING ME on the weekends if I came home late.  He didn't want me to have any friends because I had to do my CHORES before I could go play with the neighbor kids.  He STOLE half of any money I made at babysitting or lawn mowing or even the money I got for Christmas or birthday gifts and put it in a stupid savings account for college.  He MADE me get jobs like detassling that started early in the morning and were hard labor, not a silly babysitting job.  He TOOK the door off my room when I got caught sneaking out my window once. The nerve he had. 

But what I didn't realize at that point, was if he hadn't grounded me as punishment, took things from me when I didn't deserve to have them, stole from me to force savings and teach me responsibility, and made me do the hard work that is needed to get through life when you're an adult.....I wouldn't be the person I am today.  OK, now that the water works are starting....let's move on. 

As an adult, I still learn life lessons from my father, surprisingly even when he's not trying to teach me anything.  This will be the 4th year I have done RAGBRAI with him, we have a team that continues to grow each year.  Each year we do a hard ride, I see him at twice my age busting his ass on hills that are harder than I can handle.  We did TOMRV last year and I hate to admit it but I ran out of calories and had to get picked up 10 miles out from the finish on the first day...I could literally not even walk.  Dad did The Wall that day...a hill that honestly looks like it's straight up out of the ground.  He has a 20 year old bike and a 55 year old body....and he whooped me (I like to think he was chanting "I think I can" in his head the whole way up).  That's what mental strength and determination will do...that's what I want to be like...that's what goes through my head when I'm training.   

 Big Dan is not a sappy dude....when I say "I love you, bye" on the phone when we hang up, I inevitably get a "Yep, bye" back from him.  He's not a huggy person either, so I have to initiate any affectionate gesture that happens....but that doesn't bother me.  "Yep, bye" means "I love you too, more than you know" in Big Dan language.  And to be honest, a "Yep, bye" is all I need to know.  It's sort of endearing actually, it reminds me of the lyrics to this song (Bucky Covington: A Father's Love):

I know not everyone gets the chance to have a guy like this in their lives, and that makes me feel even more amazed that somehow I was chosen to get the luck of the draw in the Dad Department (I lucked out pretty heavily in the Mom Deparment as well)!  I hope I can give my children half of what you and Mom have given Ben and I throughout our lives.  I love you Big Dan, Happy Dad Day!!  Yep, bye.