John Wayne + Thor = Dad

In everyone’s life, there are moments that leave us forever changed. The ones most of us share involve the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. They are usually moments that hurl us from the cusp of childhood into an in between – not quite young adult but DEFINITELY not adult. The most life-changing realization for me was when I discovered that my dad was, in fact, human.

Let me start by saying that I am a stereotype – I’ve always been a Daddy’s Girl. He’s my friend, my buddy, my pal. He’s my confidant, my sounding board, my kick-in-the-butt-when-I-need-it deliverer (don’t judge my grammar right now – that’s not why we’re here…). He always seemed invincible. To the childhood me, he was an actual super hero – the strongest, toughest man ever. It’s like if John Wayne and Thor had a brother, that would be my dad.

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Growing up, my dad always made us stack wood. He could be frequently found running the wood splitter. When that thing kicked in, we all made a unanimous groan of dismay. One day, I heard the splitter and cringed as I REALLY hoped he wouldn’t come get me to work with him. A short time later, the splitter stopped and my dad was nowhere to be found. Apparently, he broke(?) his wrist when it became caught between the splitter and a piece of wood. Immediately after it happened, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to “walk it off” (his favorite piece of advice to us…) so he drove himself to the hospital. See. Super tough, right? Nothing could hurt him.

Unfortunately, as it will do, time had a way of cracking my safe bubble and thrusting me into reality. I saw my dad get hurt which was really weird for me. In comic books, when Superman or Thor would get hurt and the worst was assumed but the next issue would clear things up and we would see that their powers saved them. Even John Wayne could always find his way out of a nasty situation. (Except for in “The Shootist” and “The Cowboys”. We don’t talk about those.) I just always assumed the same thing would happen for my dad.

And unfortunately, as it will do, time changes things and people. It moves things in unexpected directions. We are expected to recalibrate, adjust, and move on. For an adult, it can be difficult. For a child, it’s dang near impossible.

When I turned 13, I knew the absolute truth – my dad was a human being. It freaked me the heck out. How could this have happened? Where was the infallible Superman I always knew? I was very unsettled but my dad, the human, seemed to know what to do. He laughed at my jokes – even when the were lame. He encouraged my dreams – even when they were foolish. He supported my choices – even when they were the stupidest decisions ever. He loved me – even when I was not very lovable. He became one of my most favorite humans…and still is. The most amazing thing happened, I realized that he was treating me like a human, like an equal. It turned out being human wasn’t so bad.

In spite of my caustic-smart alecky-sarcastic-sometimes brutal-self, he still doesn’t mind when I’m around. I think he’s actually one of my biggest fans. I mean, who could blame him? I AM pretty awesome. What is probably the most surprising thing is that even when I was a bratty little kid, he loved me and liked me. When I was a moody-goth-“woe is me”- preteen, he loved me and still liked me. When I was an antagonistic teen, he loved me and actually liked me…while dreaming of whopping my hind end.

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What it boils down to is this: dads are human and that’s okay. If you’re just discovering this truth, take a cleansing breath, have a good cry, and straighten your spine. It’s all good. The way I see it, not all superheroes are from another world with super powers. I mean, Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. He IS pretty rich and can just buy power, but we won’t get into that.

Let your dad be human. Let him make mistakes. Basically, let him be himself the way he does for you. If your dad has even 1/10 of the awesomeness mine does, cape or no cape, matching shirts or not, you’re pretty dang lucky.

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What’s that? You want to know what I meant about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus? I may need some help with that…Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddd!

 

 

 

 

What My Dad Taught Me About Being A Strong Woman

Confused? Some reflection on childhood memories made me realize that my dad actually taught me some good lessons on how to be a strong woman. And, come on, if you really do know my dad then you know that there is always a lesson to be learned in EVERYTHING.

“Walk it off”

My siblings and I joke a lot about my Dad’s usual advice to walk it off. One time my youngest sister didn’t seek his advice and just assumed she’d get the same counsel as usual. Unfortunately, she was wrong and had actually pulled a muscle.

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For the most part, the words of wisdom ring true. Too often we whine and complain. Contrary to popular belief, women are NOT the weaker sex. We are not men but we are strong in our own right. I’ve watched some coddle and pamper (to the extreme and not the sweet way) their daughters to the point that their girls don’t realize it’s okay to toughen up. My dad could never be accused of babying us (may not sound like a compliment but it is).

“Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Okay. He stole this one from John Wayne but it still rings true. Let’s face it. We are ALL gonna be stupid from time to time.

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The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. No matter how entertaining it is for everyone else, you’re only truly stupid if you keep repeating them.

“I don’t care if it’s 6 am on Saturday. There’s work to be done.”

My dad taught me the value of hard work. He also taught me to REALLY appreciate sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

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Every Saturday, he would wake us up, feed us breakfast, and put us to work. If we’re being honest, we live in a world where women still don’t quite get equal pay as men. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. The best way to do that is to work hard and work well.

“Go ahead and cry. Once those tears are gone, move on.”

I have the tendency to hold on to things – to let them fester. We are all going to be hurt (physically or emotionally).There is a good chance that someone is going to do you wrong. It’s okay to get mad, sad, devastated or whatever. Take the moment you need, yell, swear (a lot if necessary), cry but after that, move on. Do not let someone else’s actions dictate how you live the rest of your life.

let it go

“I love you.”

We need the words. We need to hear them and we need to say them. In a world where hate is prevalent, deceit is around every corner, and there are more jerk-wads than you could shake a stick at, we really need to know who loves us. There is something truly powerful about being loved and knowing it. Love doesn’t make you weak.

Oh…and a bit of advice from me. If someone you love tells you that they love you, please don’t pull a Han Solo.

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(If you don’t understand the reference, we need to reevaluate our friendship.)

“You’re a survivor.”

At a very turbulent time in my life, my dad said those words to me. First, I thought he was off his rocker (more than usual). Then I realized something. I am a survivor because I am smart enough to know when to lean on others. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t ever ask for help. Being strong means knowing it’s okay to need help to go on. We survive because we know how to best utilize our resources.

don't let me fall

My dad is one of my best resources. He always believes in me, pushes me. He is always there when I need advice. Even though I’m well into adulthood (ask me my age and I’ll ask you your weight…), I still need him. He’s my friend…my burly, sarcastic, lovable, forgetful, buzzcut-wearing friend. I know some of my friends have dads who have passed on. I bet every single one of them could tell you lessons their dads taught them about being a strong woman. Some friends never had a dad in their lives. I bet every single one of them had some sort of a father-figure who taught them about being a strong woman. For those of us who still have our dads around, be sure to let them know how awesome they are.

I love you, Dad. You’re pretty awesome. Each night I thank Heavenly Father he placed me in your care. I wish we lived closer and that our conversations were face-to-face and not over the phone, but I will take what I can get. Wear your Father’s Day present proudly and think of me when you do.

If you’re curious what I bought him, see the picture below. (Yep. I’m a pretty awesome daughter.)

yoda best

 

 

What do you meme it’s your birthday?

I have a confession to make – I love memes. I also love birthdays. My father’s birthday was this past Wednesday. I did what any other doting daughter would do – I created wonderfully sarcastic memes and posted them on Facebook every hour. Here’s my dad as homecoming king. Studly, right? 11259519_10204676353374760_7314186120527722732_n  Yes, this is actually my dad. He used to scare the crap out of us as kids. Who sees a snake and goes, “Oh…it’s not that big. Go get me a bag.”?!    11263030_10204676538699393_4293961815772755409_o   In an effort to cushion some of the upcoming barbs, I threw in a pic of me. Yes, that adorable, chubby-faced blonde is me. Looks like maybe I should’ve walked away from a cake or two. 11255523_10204676730504188_4715248905751916552_o If I was going to throw myself to the fire, I figured I might as well bring my little sister with me (a couple of times). This is seriously one of my favorite pictures of her. She’s now 37 and I still see this face. 1465802_10204676870947699_8195700132949469880_o   Okay. This next one may have stung a bit but my dad did chuckle at it. Growing up, there was no such thing as a quick trip to town. He knew EVERYONE and had to stop to talk to them all. 11206094_10204677240396935_634045865993487726_n   I had to make sure to get an older picture of him in there. He really is totally original. 11014948_10204677452482237_2108347158579485870_n   One of the best things about my dad is just is who he is. He is so fun with my kids. They love that he is goofy and plays around with them. I love it because I always have a camera with me… 11264847_10204677649687167_3517716796477302460_n I saw this next picture of my brother and me and had to use it. I put in the post, “Watch out for the blonde. She bites.” #TrueStory 11200920_10204677886093077_7095923244297786111_o Childhood photos of my youngest sister just beg to be memed. 10931158_10204678027496612_7821192777116633655_o Another awesome thing about my dad was his willingness to hang with us. So, still sarcastic but a very true meme. I posted with the caption, “The sign of a REAL man”. 11212645_10204678182660491_8460317730911787633_o I had to make sure to leave things on a positive note. I love my dad. He’s awesome. I have a hard time using my words properly if I have to vocalize them. I’m much better at writing things down. My last post went something like this:

“Last birthday post for Mr. Max Phillips. Hope you don’t mind the laughter at your expense today. Better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? I know I tease, torment, and exasperate you, but it’s all out of love. Want to know what I noticed while going through my pictures? You’ve been there every step of the way – taking pictures of me as a baby while I put rocks in my mouth, pushing doll strollers, always around during middle school & high school (hard to shake you when you were one of my teachers), kept in the background in college, my wedding (of course!), and now one awesome grandpa.

Thank you for letting me struggle, fail, and ultimately learn my lessons. Thank you for giving advice when needed and being obnoxiously silent when I wanted you to tell me what to do. Thank you for listening to me vent, holding me together when I was falling to pieces, then helping me put myself back together. 

I love you…so much. I hate that we are so far away but know this, you are in my heart every day. I’m pretty sure I’m in yours too and that helps the distance seem not quite so far. I hope you have felt celebrated today. I celebrate (maybe not quite the right word but you get the point) that fact that you’re my dad everyday. Let’s face it – Heavenly Father knew what he was doing. Who else would’ve put up with me all these years? 😊

Happy birthday, Dad.” 11218587_10204678386345583_6885206113404364761_o

What’s in a name?

It seems that an embarrassing nickname is a right of passage. Growing up, I had no shortage of such things. I swear my dad had a new one for me each week. There was “Blondie” (not very imaginative but accurate for a tow-headed little girl), “Bootsie” (there’s a story of some fabulous red velvet boots I will share another time), “Sis” (this was – actually still is – his fallback so he didn’t call one of us by the wrong name), and “Dandelion Max” (this one needs some explaining).

I was an adorable little girl (there’s no room for humility when speaking the truth). Perfect amount of chubbiness. Perfect amount of smiles. Unfortunately, my hair (what I had of it) grew in a wild, downy fluff. My poor, poor mother. She tried slicking it down and pinning bows in it. There were desperate moments of her attempting to polish me into a perfect little girl (this was some total foreshadowing…too bad she didn’t catch on). No amount of water, hairspray, spit, you name it, was able to tame my head of so called hair. I flew wild and my hair was my co-pilot. (See picture for visual confirmation.)

774e…see what I mean about adorable?

My family started feeling a tug of deja vu when looking at my gloriously wild hair. Then it hit them – DANDELIONS! That’s exactly what my hair looked like. The creation of a nickname had begun. I have the fortune (?) of looking just like my father (just what every girl wants – to take after her Mr. Clean look-a-like father….love you, Dad 😊). In fact, they considered me a mini-me of my father. Can you guess what his name is? Yep. MAX. If you didn’t guess his name, you really need to evaluate your awareness skills. Thus an epic nickname was born: Dandelion Max. Fortunately, as I got older, my dad stuck with “Blondie” or “Bootsie” (though I don’t know that Bootsie is much better than Dandelion Max). Unfortunately, even though I grew out of the nickname, my hair did not change. It still is a soft, fluffy, wild, downy head of hair. All I know is the creator of hairspray is a GOD. I think my purchases alone keep my favorite brand a float.

So, why use Dandelion Max as a blog name? I’m finally at the point in my life where I’ve realized that I’m weird…awkward…different. No need to pretty it up and call myself unique. I’m okay with weird. Different is good. In a world where everyone is trying to fit in with each other, I’m just trying to fit in with myself. I have embraced (at least I’m working on it) my awkwardness and my nickname seems to sum all of that up.

I guess the only thing left to add is a disclaimer. There will be posts that bore you to death, shock you speechless, leave you confused, cause you irritation, and hopefully a few that make you smile. Here’s the deal: I’m writing for me but sharing it with you. So, read at your own risk.

Dandelion Max…out

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