Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Braid my Daughters’ Hair)

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about some of the difficulties of doing my daughters’ hair and how I overcame them… it is pretty much a ten-minute read on how to do a pony tail.  One thing that I briefly discussed was that I was absolutely terrible at (even attempting) braids at that it would be a while until I tried again.  Well, Gabriella asked me for a braid the other night after her bath, and even though I feared the result, I acquiesced to her polite request.  And succeeded.

I mean, it is not gonna win any awards, but…

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Dental Appointments

Conveniently, the girls had their dental appointments scheduled right after Elaina lost her two bottom front teeth.  Unfortunately, their appointments were cancelled due to COVID-19.  After Arizona started easing some restrictions and the dentist’s office had put the necessary safety and social distancing protocols in place, I was able to rescheduled their appointments.  And crazy enough, the girls were really excited to go.

(Note: Some of these pictures were from before COVID-19, and thus before the safety protocols were in place)

Dental hygiene doesn’t get much cooler than this

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Elaina’s First Loose Tooth

It comes time in every child’s life that they lose their first tooth, and Elaina hit that milestone a couple months ago.  And while Elaina had to get over the fear of losing a baby tooth, Dad had to step into a new role: Tooth Fairy!

One guess as to all she wants for Christmas…

Elaina has been waiting for a long time for her first tooth to get loose.  Ever since her best friend Elora started losing hers, Elaina has been checking every day to see if hers would budge ever so slightly.  Eventually, her bottom center tooth starting wiggling, with the one next to it following suit the next day.

I think that watching this is even more eerie in Gif form

Every day she nudged it a little more, then a little more.  It took her a good week of working at it with her tongue for it to fall out.  Unfortunately, her first tooth fell out while she was sleeping (we are pretty sure she accidentally swallowed it).  Thankfully, we were prepared for this possibility and decided to write a letter to the Tooth Fairy that evening.

We captured the second one… at least for a little while.

But with a bit of luck, Elaina lost her second tooth while she was at school!  She was super excited about this because she thought she would get a tooth necklace just like Fancy Nancy (from Fancy Nancy and the Too Loose Tooth, one of her favorite stories).  She did get a cute little tooth holder, but no necklace.  Unfortunately (again), she must have accidentally popped the top off the holder while we were walking to the car, because when we got home, the tooth was gone.  She was so disappointed.  Sad from having lost both her teeth and having nothing to put under her pillow, we got a pen and paper and started making her case to the Tooth Fairy.

Transcribed verbatim

I jotted down the words as she dictated them to me, reading it back to her multiple times before she approved it (had to be correct, right?).  We put it under her pillow and she drifted off to sleep.

Anyone else remember when all you got was a quarter?  Ok, Boomer.

When she woke up, the note was gone, replaced by a dollar and a new toothbrush.  Given that she initially believed the Tooth Fairy did not accept letters, she was ecstatic.

Only 18 more to go!

This was a great experience.  Not only was this a big milestone for her, but it got her over the slight fear of losing her teeth, swallowing them, and/or not getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  Now she is moving ahead with a new sense of confidence that it is only going to get easier.  Now we just have to wait for her permanent teeth to come in…

Here they come!

Thanks for checking in on us.


Read Across America Week – Guest Reader

As part of Read Across America Week earlier this month, Elaina’s teacher asked parents to volunteer as guest readers for her class.  As busy as I am at work (even pre-COVID-19), there is always time to support Elaina and her school, so I volunteered to read two books to her class.

Elaina’s Book Choices (her teacher denied me reading The Dresden Files or Game of Thrones)

The hardest part of this was determining what books we were going to bring.  Elaina ended up choosing The Sneetches and Fancy Nancy, but Dragons Love Tacos and Fox in Socks were definitely considered.  After that, it was easy:  Show up to Elaina’s class at the right time, read both books (with the voices, of course), and answer a dozen questions from inquisitive kindergarteners (Child: “Why does Nancy want to be so fancy?”; Me: “She watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s one too many times.  Next question please.”).  It is always a great idea to volunteer to support your child’s class when available.  It makes your child very proud that their Dad is participating in a school activity, and a plus is that they get to see you during the school day.  It also lets the teacher know that you are an active participant in your child’s education while being supportive of her program and activities.  Improving my daughter’s education and putting a smile on both of our faces… yes, please!  So, if you get the opportunity, volunteer to support your child’s class as a guest reader, chaperone, or by making or donating something to support their activities; you will not regret it.

Elaina’s Words to Live by: Volunteer for your daughter!

Thanks for checking in on us.


Long Time No Update

I think it is pretty safe to say that the last month has been a little rough for all of us.  I am certainly no different.  With a new job, the girls being gone for Spring Break, and the military preparation for COVID-19, the last two weeks in particular have been extremely difficult.  I just wanted to give a quick update to let everyone know that we are doing okay.  If there is anything that the Calkins Family does well, we endure, and tend to make the best of any situation.

Yep, they upgraded to a real trampoline.

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Finding Time for Rest & Relaxation

Any single parent is bound to tell you that it is difficult to fit in time for yourself or something other than child-related activities.  I assure you that I am no different.  When you get the chance though, I highly recommend taking it, as you do not know when you are going to get an opportunity again.  With my parents in town for the holidays, I definitely made good use of a few hours away from cleaning and making meals that will only be half eaten.

Pretty sure I got a double bogey on this hole…

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Elaina’s Graduation

There comes a time that when your little one grows up and finally leaves the nest.  But that will not be for another 13 years.  Elaina completed her Pre-Kindergarten class and had her graduation ceremony before she headed out to San Antonio, TX for the summer.  While it was just one of the many graduation or promotion ceremonies that she is likely that have over the next two decades, it still meant a lot to both of us.

The Proud Graduate

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Ponytails are just Perfect: A Dad’s Guide to Fixing your Daughter’s Hair

I have always been an active parent in my girls’ lives, and over the years through experience, I have acquired the skills needed to be an even better father.  Changing diapers and potty-training were easy (but thank God those stages are over).  Learning what colors and patterns match was a chore, but I eventually mastered it, with one of Gabriella’s teachers telling me last week that she never looks like “Dad dressed her.”  And cooking quality meals… I have been able to do that since I was ten, so no trouble there (Note: Getting my youngest to eat them is a completely different story though).  But once it was just me and them, there were only two things that I was seriously concerned about.  One of them I will have to deal with in about seven years… and the other is doing their hair.

Yep.  This post is going to be about pigtails, wide tooth combs, and unicorn hair ties… so try not to fall asleep.

Continue reading “Ponytails are just Perfect: A Dad’s Guide to Fixing your Daughter’s Hair”

Life Sometimes Gets in the Way (or A Brief Update)

Greetings!  As you may have noticed, I have not written anything in almost a month.  While the reports of my writer’s block have been greatly exaggerated, this has just been a very (unexpectedly) busy month for my family.  It all started a few months ago when I got selected for promotion, but did not really kick in until last month when I got accepted into the next level of the military’s education system.  The program, named Intermediate Level Education (Distance Learning, for me), is 18-months of classes, including numerous tests and papers.  As if that was not taking up enough of my time, I got selected to move to a new position, one that will set me up for greater success and mobility within the Army.  This is all great, do not get me wrong, but it also means that I have to study up on all the requirements and responsibilities of this new job, on top of the graduate-level classes I am already taking.  The last bit that was thrown onto my plate was that I have to support a training exercise… in Washington state.  Which means that, according to our parenting plan, the girls have to go back to Texas with their mother for a few weeks… ending only two weeks before they go back there for over two months.  Needless to say, I have been extremely busy and am about to really miss my girls for almost three months.  While I am certainly going to get back to writing, I just wanted to give a brief update that even though we have still been going on our adventures, writing about them has unfortunately taken a back seat to increase in workload.  In essence, I have only had to sacrifice my personal time to ensure than my family is taken care of, which I think is the right answer.  I will try to get a real post out as soon as I get some free time, but at least wanted to give everyone an update on why all the articles that I have been planning have not been forthcoming.  Thanks for understanding.


“Pick the best one… tell them I drew it.”
While these look like depressing pictures, this is really just our morning routine.  The girls say “Let’s do the window!,” and then we say goodbye to each other through all the windows in their classroom.

Welcome to our Adventure!

Enjoying the Tram Tour at the Pima Air & Space Museum

Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad. — Jack Baker


I am a single father to two daughters, Elaina (5) and Gabriella (3), who are more important than anything else in my life, as they very well should be.  Unfortunately, the marriage between their mother and I did not work out and I was appointed the primary custodian of our children.  While already trying to be the best father I possibly could, this meant that I had to step up my game even more.  Single fatherhood is always going to be a work in progress, but every day gets a little bit better as I gain more experience and the girls become a little more understanding.  Through school, meals, discipline, and our weekend activities, we are making it work and having a blast doing it.

I started this blog for two reasons.  The first is to be a productive outlet for my family and myself by highlighting how much fun you can have when you put family first, regardless of your family structure.  The second is to inspire and give hope to other single fathers out there, especially those that are the primary custodians of their children.  Getting through a divorce is extremely difficult and it is a full-time job being a single father, but hopefully this blog demonstrates that it not only gets better with time and experience, but can be truly rewarding.

Thank you for being a part of our adventure.  Cheers!