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A Day at the Park Isn’t Always “A Day at the Park”

October 14th, 2009

My wife has a few obsessions in life.

A house that is spotless before we leave for a trip so that upon our return, there will be no work to do (yeah right.)

Food is either piping hot or “ice cold” . . . there is no in-between . . . there is no just warm.

Though most arenas of her life are completely organized and spotless, she subconsciously reserves for herself one completely trashed place to satiate her need for a little disorder: her car.

She can’t eat when the lighting is too low because she must see her food in complete clarity in order to consume it.

Her daughter cannot go out in public without being completely dressed to the hilt and usually adorned with a hair bow . . . even if it’s just to the grocery store . . . any trip outside the house means Sadie must look pristine.

And finally . . . the humdinger of all my lovely wife’s obsessions: shaved ice.  I know, you weren’t expecting that, were you?  It’s very true though.  It’s a part of the beautiful mystery of Laura.  She possesses a gourmet palette and understands the fusion of international flavors with a skill that rivals any judge on Iron Chef America.  This isn’t yellow journalism . . . I’m very serious.  She knows cuisine from around the globe and can usually tell you it’s regional origins and what ingredients set it apart.

Yet, the “mysterious” part plays out in her random cravings.  Despite her refined sense of taste and style, when she really gets hungry and has a craving, she’s very likely to swing her filthy car into Taco Bell or a hot dog joint.  I know, I know . . . I don’t get it either.  Hot dogs really do make her weak the in the knees . . . “knees” being one of the chief components of the hot dog, along with a whole host of other miscellaneous meat “parts” such as stomachs and eye balls all ground together and squeezed out in a meat tube to form a culinary delicacy that my wife actually craves.

Now, the only thing that can top off a good, meaty hot dog is a sugary shaved ice.  Not to be confused with lowly snow cones, shaved ice can only be made with a “high-end” ice shaving machine that produces just the right texture of ice.  Laura looks down her nose at carnival snow cones . . . such lowly fare.  Ah, but an authentic shaved ice . . . now that’s some fancy eating.

She’s so obsessed with them that she knows the opening and closing dates of the local shaved ice joint down to the day . . . a day marked on our family calendar and counted down each day with a reminder email . . . okay, I joke just a little bit, but not much.  It has an opening and closing date because it is exists on wheels and is parked for certain months of the year.

This past summer found us loading up Sadie almost every day late in the afternoon and heading out for some shaved ice.  It became an extremely enjoyable summer family tradition.  Sadie likes shaved ice, but not as much as Mommy.  Me?  Yeah, I’d rather swing through Dairy Queen on our way back.

So on one of these shaved ice sojourns, we decided to take Sadie to the local park and let her try out the swings for the first time.  Just let me tell you, she was ecstatic.  She laughed and screamed and giggled and squealed.  It was a glorious moment . . . here, see for yourself.

Sadie's First Go on the Swings

Mommy Enjoying the Magic of the Swing

Swingtime Fun

We played and had a wonderful afternoon. Shaved ice.  Warm weather.  Happy little princess.  Mommy and Daddy together. The only thing missing was a big hot dog!

So, a couple of weeks later, we decided to repeat the experience.  Now, you should know that this is a theme in my life.  I am guilty of constantly trying to replicate past experiences that I considered to be quality.  Like George Castanza in the “Jerk Store” episode of Seinfeld, I just want to recreate the moment again . . . just one more time.  “Hey, the jerk store called . . . they’re running out of you!”

Great vacations?  Yeah, I rebook them and try the exact location again hoping for similar results.  Same thing with restaurants.  When will I learn?  You just can’t mimic the past; you must live in the present.  My own personal aphorism would read, “Those who try to recreate the past are destined to taint their present.”

As usual, Sadie took it upon herself to help Daddy learn the lessons he needs in life.  The second time we visited the park, you would have thought that we were holding the child up to an open flame!  She cried and whined and wanted nothing to do with slides, swings, or anything of the sort.  We kept trying, but against what seemed to be sound adult logic, Sadie simply didn’t want to swing again.

I guess that’s the way it goes.  Life isn’t an algebraic formula and plugging in the same variable today may not produce the same result as it did yesterday.  This concept should be considered within reason . . . there are certain things that you can always count on.  God’s forgiveness when requested.  The consequences of foolish choices.  Violent stomach cramps after eating hot dogs from a street vendor in a third-world country.

What I’m really referring to is the daily stuff.  What made your spouse happy yesterday isn’t a ticket for laziness that you can keep cashing in on forever by repeating what you once did.  Don’t be surprised when he or she actually expects you to be creative and live in the moment.  (Laura, if you’re reading this, please don’t rub this one in later . . . hot dogs on me tonight, baby!)

In God-terms, there is a newness to each day that requires us to listen, seek, and walk with Him independent of the positive or negative events of yesterday.  Like the refresh button on your internet browser, God resets the goodness of his mercy each day . . .we start with a clean slate and the chance for a new perspective.  As His word tells us, “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  (Lamentations 3:23 NLT)

So, some days we eat hog dogs and other days we eat shaved ice.  On some hallowed days, we eat both!  But don’t think that a grand day at the park yesterday means a repeat experience today.  Let your perspective be renewed and approach life today with creativity and hope that God wants to do something beyond what He did in you yesterday.

Oh, and after eating hot dogs, wait thirty or forty-five minutes before swinging.

October 14th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Good read man.
as for Laura’s obsessions….
..i must admit. i too dont like to eat where it has less light than others… kinda makes you wonder why they wouldnt want you to see your food.

Pretty Project
October 14th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

A girl after my own heart. I LOVE, LOVE shaved ice! 🙂

October 14th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

good. Thank you expect to continue.

October 14th, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Adorable daughter!! love the article!

October 14th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Great post. Cuuuuuuuuuuuute kid! And I too have a weakness for Taco Bell and hot dogs. Shaved ice, not so much. But that’s why God made us all different: so we could enjoy the infinite variety of his amazing universe. God bless you and have a great day!

October 14th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Great insight. I’m guilty of trying to recreate past experiences as well. But, as you said, it’s better to live in the moment and enjoy it for itself.

October 14th, 2009 at 8:59 pm


October 14th, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I scanned this when logging into WordPress. My first thought was, “I wonder if they live in Chicago?” I’ve never really enjoyed hot dogs or a flavored ice much, except for during my time spent living in Chicago. If you are not located in Chicago, tell your wife that she needs to visit Superdawg or/and Mario’s Lemon Ice stand next time she is there:). I am on the same page with spotless home while on vacation and daughter’s hair needing to be “done” when heading out to the grocery store though. Also, my husband calls my car a “trash can on wheels” …..

October 14th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

man all this food talk is making me hungry! i could go for some Taco Bell right now

October 14th, 2009 at 9:24 pm


October 14th, 2009 at 10:04 pm

thanks for that nice story. Although its getting cold here I want an ice cream now.. 🙂

October 15th, 2009 at 1:52 am

Hello from Melbourne, Australia.

Love the writing. Passed by your site when logging into WordPress

October 15th, 2009 at 6:49 am

That is a great story. It’s very true. It’s like going to the same restaurant over and over just because you love it. The experience just isnt the same and you find yourself craving something new. Each day is a new day, and experiencing it for what it is and the experiences it brings is living. Btw, cute daughter! 🙂

October 15th, 2009 at 9:32 am

What a beautiful read. But isn’t every woman like that?

October 15th, 2009 at 12:12 pm


That’s like, well, it ranks right up there with things like sex…sad. I know.

October 15th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I man who “gets it.” How refreshing. Especially appreciate the reference to cashing in on a ticket to laziness and interfacing it with Lamentations. Of course, there is always the wisdom of Ecclesiastics declaring “to everything there is a season” — sometimes pristine attire and bows in the hair are well chosen for the moment and sometimes a really messy, mustard-laden hot dog is the here and now alternative. Laura and Sadie are very lucky.

December 13th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

What a beautiful read.


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