November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for a lot of things, including great friends, a caring family, loyal blog readers and very, very kind commenters. I asked my girls what they are most thankful for this Thanksgiving, and they dug deep in their hearts and both agreed that it was, without a doubt:


Have a wonderful, safe, pie-filled Thanksgiving everyone from all of us here at The Life of Dad!

And, for my cousin who is out of town this year celebrating Thanksgiving with some fine people in Michigan and my other cousin who is eating his turkey in Boston (though I believe both are part of a secret crime-fighting duo called Luchi and The Bear and are on assignment today), I'll be live tweeting the event so they aren't left out. Feel free to follow the #Klemsgiving hashtag to add an extra layer of fun to your Thanksgiving feast.

November 16, 2011

The Letter Everyone Should Write to Their Loved Ones

Too many things are often left unsaid, like "I love you" or "I appreciate you" or "I admit it, Toy Story 3 made me cry." In the wake of losing my Dad and my sister-in-law, I've been left completely shaken, worried that something could happen to me (like a tragic softball accident where I hit a game-winning grand slam and, upon crossing home plate, I spontaneously combust) and my daughters will be robbed of the opportunity to get to know their big-headed dad.

So I've decided to jot down some important notes that way if, God forbid, something awful happens to me in the near future, my girls will get at least some sense of who I am, who I strive to be and what I value in life. It's an exercise that I now believe everyone should do—whether the letter is to your kids, a spouse, siblings, a childhood friend, Zach Braff or the person who invented tag-free undershirts (seriously, that person is a genius). It may be the hardest thing you do, but—and trust me on this—one day someone else will be forever thankful that you did.

Here it goes:

Dear Ella, Anna and Mia,

If I die tomorrow, I want you to know …

I wanted to name all of you Bacon.

I don't want you to marry anyone named Larry.

I liked hooded sweatshirts before Mark Zuckerberg liked hooded sweatshirts. (The holey, green Adidas one I've worn since high school that your mom has been dying to throw away since we met is proof of that.)

I don't care what you do with my body so long as you don't eat me.

I always wanted to be a superhero, one that could save people when they were in trouble. I also wanted to invent a superhero outfit that didn't involve tights because I hate how tights feel. I hope both qualities are genetic and are in your genes too.

I checked the closets every night for monsters to ensure you were safe.

I ate a healthy diet that mainly consisted of the four major food groups: fruits, vegetables, meats and Nacho Cheese Doritos.

I had two guaranteed highlights of every day: Waking up in the morning to your smiling faces and singing you to sleep each night with beautiful renditions of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the theme to "Charles in Charge."

I wore the number 5 in little league not because it was the number of legendary Reds catcher Johnny Bench, but because I was the tiniest guy on our team and had to take the tiniest jersey available. Even though I was small, I always played with a big heart.

I played guitar, though I did not play a single song that impressed your mom. (I mean, come on, who doesn't like Jewel?) Must have won her over with my killer good looks.

I made it through life with the help of a lot of amazing friends. I hope you're as lucky in this department as I am. 

I was passionate about a lot of things—writing, Boggle, discrediting e-mail forwards, seeing how many days in a row I can wear the same pair of pants before someone noticed—and it was my passion that drove me to be better at everything I did. That passion included striving to be the best father in the world.

The designated hitter is stupid. Has little relevance here, but it's still an important fact you should know.

I was once on a Bar Game Olympics championship team called "The Tony Danzas." This is true. I have the number 5 jersey to prove it.

I always wanted to build a well-lit library room in the house, filled wall-to-wall with books and house one large, comfortable couch. That way I could read "The Lorax" to you when you were young and "When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent's Survival Guide" to myself when you were all grown up.

I always chose comfort over fashion, much to the chagrin of your mom (though I would bend on this for only the specialist of occasions).

I don't believe in opening gifts on Christmas Eve until you have finished singing at least an hour's worth of carols.

I went out of my way to recycle so your grandkids wouldn't have to live on big piles of garbage. (You're welcome.) Pay it forward.

I snuggled with you at naptime, not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I performed magic because it always impressed you guys. It was also a sneaky way to get you to "disappear" into the bathroom and go potty before bed.

I rarely bragged about my accomplishments, but I regularly bragged to everyone about how lucky I was to have such smart, kind, caring, funny, beautiful daughters. While I'd like to take credit, those are the same characteristics that caused me to fall deeply in love with your mom.

I loved going to the zoo, watching the giraffes stick out their long tongues and complaining about how bad the elephant house stunk.

I wanted nothing but the best for you girls, even if it meant I had to sacrifice everything (including my bobblehead collection).

And most important, I loved all of you with every molecule of my heart. I woke up every day believing in you, knowing that you'd grow up to be amazing. Whether I get to see it or not, know that I'll always be with you, in your heart, in your soul, watching out for you, protecting you from the monsters in the closet, and bragging to every spirit in heaven about how lucky I was to be a part of your life.

Trust me: Wherever I am, I'm thinking of you and smiling,
Your Dad

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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