Happy 3rd Anniversary!

Three years ago, I started this blog to ensure that I always put my family first and focused on being a great Dad to my two daughters, Elaina and Gabriella. Only reinforcing what I stated in this blog’s first anniversary post, if that was the only goal, this endeavor was a resounding success. Not that I necessarily needed the encouragement, but it always helps to keep yourself grounded and constantly evaluate how you are doing as a father, for better or for worse. Looking back through all our adventures over the past three years, the Calkins Family has been through a lot and we continue to drive on with our heads held high.

Gabriella (3) and Elaina (5) in 2018

While the second goal of this blog was to “to inspire and give hope to other single fathers out there,” I never dreamed of the positive effect that it would actually have. In the past three years, at least half a dozen newly single fathers have approached me for advice, guidance, and support. While each of their situations is different, they reached out to me after reading my posts, seeing in-person how my girls were fully involved in my personal and professional life (and vice versa), and how I was able to always put my family as a priority. While a few just needed someone to talk to that had been through similar circumstances, others needed clear advice and positive support so that they and their children could get to a stable footing. Regardless of how they got to that situation, single parents need positive reinforcement: Things will get better and putting your family first is always the best course of action. I hope that this blog will continue to be an inspiration for other single parents who are going through similar trials and tribulations.

Gabriella (6) and Elaina (8) in 2021.

Thanks for checking in on us and sticking with us for the past three years.

Cheers!

Team Calkins is Back!

After a productive yet semi-depressing Summer, Elaina, Gabriella, and I are finally back together. It was difficult for all three of us being away, but now they are home and we are ready to tackle the rest of 2021. First and Second Grade? Too easy. Delta variant? Bring it on. New job? Child’s play. Everything is easy if we do it together as a family.

My sister snapped this without me knowing… damn her for catching me getting emotional
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Looking Back on Last Year’s First Day of School

So tomorrow is the girls’ first day of school.  Elaina will be starting 1st Grade and Gabriella will be starting Kindergarten.  While I certainly will be posting about how the day went, when I went back to look over how I felt during Elaina’s first day of Kindergarten a year ago, I realized that I had not even posted about it.  Given that it was an extremely stressful day that also brought out the best in my being a parent, I figured I would share that today.

This feels like it happened a lot longer than a year ago…
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Saying Goodbye to Summer and Welcome Back to my Girls

There is a song stating that Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year.”  No disrespect to Andy Williams, but I disagree.  For me, the most wonderful time of the year is when the girls return home after summer vacation with their mother.  From Gabriella having her birthday to prepping for their return (the house and car are spotless right now), or to just me smiling and getting that spark of life back again, this is the best part of the year for me.

Someone looks ready to travel…
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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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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.

Cheers!

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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