Most Milly weekends start out when I pick her up from school on a Friday afternoon.  This Milly weekend started out at about 7 AM when I picked her up from Amanda’s and took her to school.  I was a WatchDOG dad today, meaning I got to hang out at her school and help out around there.


I love doing WatchDOGS.  DOGS stands for Dads of Great Students.  It’s a volunteer program where a dad (or father figure) helps out around school for a day.  This was my fourth time or so and I signed up to do it once every month this school year.  Milly really likes it too, which of course makes me feel good.

First we went to the office, where I signed in.  You get a volunteer name tag sticker with your picture on it, and at least the last couple times I pick Milly up and put her in the picture with me.  WatchDOGS also get another sticker that specifies us as such, and I let Milly write my name on that one.  She added a smiley face and a couple hearts, which a few kids noticed and asked about throughout the day.

Milly-Reading-at-the-School-LibraryNext you go outside and help unload kids in the car line.  I let Milly do that with me until it’s time for her to go to her class.  This time there was another dad helping out (lots of dads help with the car line, but there’s usually only one WatchDOGS dad on any given day) who happened to be the dad of one of the boys in her class and he was out there too.  They play music, usually a Kidz Bop CD (which is kids singing cleaned-up versions of current pop hits), and Milly was really rocking out to some Taylor Swift.

(On the way to Gastonia, Tristen called Taylor Swift T-Swifty, but I preferred calling her T-Swizzle.  We went back and forth about it a bit.)

I went to the media room to do a little interview during the morning announcements and got booed by the teacher for saying I was a Duke fan.  I talked to Mr. Holland, the librarian, a bit.  He’s a comic nerd and we were talking about old school X-Men stuff.

Mr. Beckstein, the art teacher, has a little segment he does on Fridays where he tells little facts.  I learned that there are mites living on my eyelashes (although I might have known that already) and that all the bacteria in a human body combine to weigh about four pounds.

I talked to Mr. Beckstein for a minute while I was walking the halls later.  People used to get us mixed up sometimes because we both had longish curly hair.  I told him I didn’t think people would get us mixed up anymore.  He told me he didn’t know he had curly hair until he let it grow out because he’d always kept it pretty short.

Anyway, after the morning announcements I walk around, check the halls, see if the office staff need help with anything then I get to hang out with Milly’s class for a bit.  She loves having me in there and I enjoy getting to interact with the class a little.

After that I walk around a little more then go help out a few other classes.  I ended up cutting open tennis balls for some chairs then tried helping some kids find information about different countries they were doing reports on.

One girl in one of the classes I helped remembered me from last year.  She was a sweet kid and I got the feeling she didn’t have a dad around, or she didn’t get much attention from him if he was around.  Actually, there are a few kids who really seemed to enjoy attention from me in the times I’ve done this before.  It makes me sad in a way, but it also makes me feel like just being there and helping kids and giving them some attention is worth more than I even realize.

I got to go to Specials today, which was a first for me.  Specials are the classes like music, art, that sort of thing.  They had library today.  Mr. Holland had them practice logging into computers, which they need to work on because most of them are so used to using tablets.  They got to play games for a couple minutes then went to look for books to check out.  Milly got one called How to be a Girly Girl in Just Ten Days and started reading it while sitting in line waiting to go back to class.  (She didn’t read it again for the rest of the weekend, though she did get it out of the car to show to Addy on Saturday.)

I helped out some more then ate lunch with Milly.  Kids having lunch with their parents are allowed to invite one friend to eat with them and Milly invited a girl named Izzy.

Later on I went to recess with Milly’s class.  Tristen and I showed Milly Red Rover last week, so Milly wanted to play it.  Every other time we ended up playing Duck Duck Goose, and the circles got huge.  This was sort of the same same thing.  We started out with just a few kids, but then both lines got really long.  Most of the kids, probably all of the first graders, had never played.  There were some fifth graders who were reading buddies with some of the kids who played too.  I had to start telling everyone to pick someone who hadn’t gone yet, and there were so many players that I eventually told them to start doing two names at a time.  Milly actually got through the time she was called.  Actually, most of the kids got through, so the lines stayed about the same size.

It was time to go shortly after recess.  At the end of the day I help with the car line again.  Milly sat on a bench and drew.

To Gastonia

We stopped by Target to get a pack of Shopkins for Addy’s birthday then went home and packed.  Tristen got home a little bit earlier than usual and we left in pretty good time.  We hit a little traffic just over the bridge leaving Wilmington, but that was pretty much expected.

The trip was pretty uneventful, though there was a good bit of fun singing.  Milly complained about being bored and kept asking how much longer we had.  She also seemed to be amazed at how dark it was getting outside.  We didn’t make any stops and we made pretty good time.  Tristen drove because she tends to get a bit carsick if she doesn’t, which works out well enough for me.

I tried watching the first Duke basketball game of the season on Tristen’s iPad, but we went through patches where it wasn’t getting good reception, so that didn’t last too long.  The Blue Devils beat Siena 92-74.  Grayson Allen had 26 points.  I vowed to watch the game later on WatchESPN.

While getting on Facebook to say something about basketball, I saw a number of posts about something happening in Paris.  I checked the news and several coordinated terrorist attacks had taken place.  There was an ongoing hostage situation in a concert hall where I think 80 or so people were killed.  In all, around 130 people were killed, but over 300 were wounded and some seriously, so the number was expected to rise.  ISIS was behind it.

It goes without saying that people from around the world were expressing shock, sadness and anger.  One of my thoughts was that it’s going to be a terrible thing for all the Syrian refugees.  Maybe that was part of the point, to make things harder on refugees, get them sent back home so disenfranchised that they end up joining ISIS and swelling their ranks even more.

Gastonia on a Friday Night

Addy-and-Milly-at-SoccerWe were meeting the Sawyers at a soccer field, which we got to sometime during the second half of Jackson’s team’s soccer match (coached by Josh).  It was really cold when we got out of the car.  Addy and Andra came out to greet us and Paige, Josh’s mom, was there watching the game.

One thing that struck me as I watched Addy and Milly walk back to the field is how much taller Milly is than Addy.  She’s always been a little taller, but it’s more noticeable now.  It’s funny because Milly’s parents are not very tall and Addy has one very short parent and one very tall parent.

The score was 5-1 when we got there, but the final score was 8-1 or 9-1.  I think it was their final game.  Josh got texts later from parents of the players who thanked him and told him what fun their kids had and what a great season it had been.


I kicked the ball around a little with Milly and Addy then with Jackson.  Well, I took a few shots at the goal with Jackson.  I scored once or twice, but my kicks usually flew off to the right.  I blamed my mostly square-toed boots.

Andra drove Tristen and the girls home, Jackson rode with me and Josh went to pick up some pizza.  Josh and Jackson share Tristen’s affinity for black olives on their pizza.  Blech.

Andra and Josh are trying to sell the house and they did a great job on painting it and cleaning it up.

Addy’s Birthday

I’ve had a hard time sleeping in lately.  I don’t remember what time I woke up exactly, but it was before everyone else.  I had a bit of a scratchy throat since Thursday evening or Friday morning, which didn’t help.

Ballarina-CousinsEveryone eventually got moving except for Tristen.  Milly went with Addy to her dance practice and was invited to participate, but I think she felt a little on the spot and ended up not dancing.  I’m hoping that dressing in a ballet outfit might rekindle a desire to do ballet, as she only takes hip hop right now.  Nothing against hip hop, mind you, but I’d like her to be more active, and the hip hop class is kind of short.

Jackson had practice too.  Tristen and I drove out to the dance studio and when it was all done she and Andra left to do some running around.  Josh and I took the girls (Jackson had a longer practice) and stopped at a grocery store to pick up lunch.

Addy got it in her head that she and Milly could go into the store and buy their own lunches.  I think Josh had made a sarcastic remark about letting them go do that or something.  Anyway, that became a struggle.  Even Milly tried reasoning with her about it.  We ended up letting them go pick out some Lunchables on their own and letting them use debit cards to pay for their purchases.  I tailed them a little and it was fun watching them think they were so grown up.

We went back to the house, had lunch and all that.  The girls played in Addy’s room while Josh and I played some Mortal Kombat for a bit.

I was keeping tabs on the Duke football game against Pitt.  Duke lost, which is sad because they lost the last three games.  That Miami debacle from Halloween stings even more now.

Addy-Opening-PresentsThe girls decided that after smearing chocolate all over their faces (on purpose, I think as some sort of contest) they should take a bath.  My parents showed up shortly after that and Tristen and Andra were back not long after that.  Tristen bought matching sweaters for the girls, which they enjoyed and wore for most of the rest of the weekend.  Addy went ahead and opened up a couple presents, since there were going to be plenty at the birthday party.

We all hung out for a bit then Mom and Dad went to go pick up my cousin Francis, who is going to Belmont Abbey College, which isn’t too terribly far away from Gastonia.

A couple of Addy’s friends were dropped off and we all headed off to some place in South Carolina for Addy’s birthday party.  I realized that it was the first time Milly had been to South Carolina and pointed it out to her.  She asked me if they talked different there, so of course I told her they did.

The place we went to had a bowling alley, laser tag, bouncy houses and all kinds of coin-operated games.  There were about 20 kids for Addy’s party and they all got to play laser tag.  I got drafted into a bowling game, which I didn’t do too great at.

Tristen had gone to get some candles for Addy’s cookie cake and didn’t get back by the time we started, so I took her first round.  I messed that one up so bad that my ball jumped the lane and went down the next gutter over, which scored a gutter for Josh on his first go.  It was pretty incredible (and funny).

The laser tag room arena was dark and Milly was scared at first (as were a few other kids I think), but Andra stuck with her.  They got to go a second time and Andra came to tell me that Milly really wanted to do it with me.  I missed out on my last frame or two in bowling, but laser tag is always fun, even if most of your competition is little girls.

Milly and I stuck together and mostly camped out in a couple good defensive places.  I ended up in second place by a couple hundred points (not much) behind some preteen boy.  Milly was 16th out of 20, but I think she was tenth in her first round.  People were doing another round later, and Milly and I were going to join again, but the last tickets for that session were bought right in front of me, so we didn’t get to do it.

After Addy’s party was officially over a lot of the girls spent time in the bouncy house area.  I mostly hung out with Tristen, Mom, Dad and Francis (who were my bowling team, by the way).  Dad beat Mom at a game of air hockey and said it was probably the first time he beat her at it.  Milly and I played a race car game together.  (I hit the gas, she steered… some).


We stopped at a gas station (gas is MUCH cheaper in South Carolina) and a grocery store on the way back to the Sawyer house.  Addy found out that Josh had let the girls in that car finish off what was left of the cookie cake, which became a pretty big to-do.

Back at the house, Addy had Milly and three other girls who were spending the night.  My parents and Francis left after a bit (though my dad was trying to talk my mom into staying).  Josh and I chatted about guy stuff over a couple drinks.  Duke played Bryant and beat them 113-75.  I had already missed most of it, so I planned to watch that game on WatchESPN too.  Next up is Kentucky.

I was already tired from being sick and waking up early, so I eventually went and passed out on Jackson’s bed until I moved back out to the couch.  Tristen and Andra were watching Trainwreck, but I was right back out.

Leaving Gastonia

Jackson had been wanting to play video games with me pretty much all weekend.  We had played a little bit of Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat the day before, but neither was for very long.  We ended up playing Diablo for a bit, which was fun.  Josh and Andra play it together and it’s probably something Tristen would enjoy playing too.

They had two showings scheduled for the day, so I helped Josh clean up the yard just a bit.  I also helped all the girls learn how to play a Shopkins board game Addy got for her birthday.  I actually came from behind and won and Addy got second place.  I think Milly got last, but to be fair, it’s a total game of luck.

Josh put together a breakfast casserole in a crock pot that had tater tots, eggs, sausage, cheese and onions.  It was amazing.  I had two helpings and was good to go for a while.

Milly-Passed-Out-Gastonia-WilmingtonThe girls were all playing with Shopkins outside when we left.

The trip was pretty uneventful.  Tristen missed an exit so we had to double back a few miles.  She was feeling pretty tired, so we did a Chinese fire drill at a stoplight in the middle of nowhere before getting back on the highway after we realized the mistake and turned around.  Milly slept most of the way home.  We made one stop for a potty break.

Home Again Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Milly saw that Abigail, the girl across the street, was outside when we got home, so I let her go play for a bit.  The Panthers were playing, so I told Tristen to go on inside and get the game on and I’d unload the car, so I did that and watched the end of the game with her.

Milly came back after a little bit because Abby and her family were going out to dinner or something.  We snuggled up on the couch while Tristen went out to the grocery store.  She came back and made couscous with chicken for Milly and gnocchi with chicken for us.  I got Milly to try the gnocchi, but she preferred the couscous.  Child loves some couscous.

After dinner we watched Return of the Jedi, and so now Milly has seen all of the Star Wars movies.  What did she think of that?  “Cool.”

She went to bed then Tristen and I watched The Walking Dead, half of which I liked.  The part with Daryl I thought was really good.  The part with Abraham and Sasha kind of dragged for me though.

After that was the premiere of Into the Badlands.  I enjoyed it.  It seems to be a blend of the post-apocalypse, western and ninja genres.  While the story seems slightly predictable at this point, the fight choreography is amazing, so it should be a fun watch.

All in all this was a very enjoyable weekend.  I wish Milly and Addy lived closer together so they could see each other more.  I always enjoy hanging out with my family.