Friday, December 3, 2010


Often over Thanksgiving I take one of my daughters to Pennsylvania and my wife takes the other one to Los Angeles California. It's a way for the girls to have solo time with their extended families and grandparents.

This year my mom and my youngest daughter drove north for near 3 hours to the area where my mom and dad grew up, and where my grandparents lived. My dad is not well, not able to travel so we left him behind in the nursing home. A few lovely girl cousins live in the area and it was great to see them, my people!

My mom's maiden name is Ide, she grew up in Idetown. We visited the cemetery where she and my dad will be buried... which was a trip. I came across my other grandma's tomb stone, she died when I was 6, I remembered her. Her husband, my mom's dad, died when my mom was 3. I can only imagine not being a dad growing up, what a burden, a psychic tear, you know something is missing but you don't know what, you see dad's in other families and must wonder why, how, what happened, what would that be like.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Go Jets, Go Hornets!

It was 11:30 pm as I wandered into the kitchen. There I found 2 teenage girls, one mine, and one I call my rental daughter, the kid who is now a young woman who's been hanging with my daughter and us as a family since she was 7, she's now almost 16 and is a lovely person and has been with us on vacations and many adventures.

I once took these two girls and my dog to my favorite isolated beach north of San Franscico CA. It was a day before my birthday and we were way out there walking to the sea cliffs. They were singing and being kids and sometimes... it's a little more than I care to be around. It's like sandpaper on an open wound... hence the headphones and the physical space I created between them and me.

And I start to hear the birthday song being sung. They were singing to me, ah.... that's so sweet. No one has ever sung a birthday song to me a day "before" my birthday. And when they were done they started in on the ... are you 1, are you 2, are 3...? So sweet, and they kept it going until they asked if I was 48 and I yelled out "YES!" How fun is that!

Now they are are both cheerleaders. My daughter just tried out after much inspiration and support from her mom and I. She's a tad shy and could easily stay away from something like this though we know she really wanted to do it and she's actually really good, even perfect for it with her earlier practice awards with gymnastics.

The girls are at different schools. They are both cheer leading this Friday night and the schools are local island rivals, so it will be good and I am excited to see my "daughters" both cheer. I'll have to run back and forth to both sides, maybe wear both colors?

So there they are, doing each other cheers, laughing, goofing around, being way silly and cute. And I just hung out and loved the moment. It was fine that I was there I (which is big) and they were comfortable doing their thing. It's a good sign how good the 3 of us are together, what kind of bond we have created over time that I hope continues.

Many Dad and Daughter blessings,
"The Art of Being a Dad" 120 page book full of color and insights into being a dad of little people.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Make It With Her, Not For Her (or at least try)

She didn't like her old bed, which actually new, heavy, and had black pull out drawers underneath the matress. So she and her mom posted the bed on Craigslist and finally off it went. Now she wanted a loft bed. The ones at Ikea weren't great SO I thought it would be good idea to build one, of course with expert help from a best friend, a man on my men's team, who is a contractor/builder.

My daughter Z came up with the drawing, which I thought was great (wonder if I can find that drawing to post). My buddy G  took some measurements and gave me the lumber list; plywood, 4 x 4, 2 x 4, 2 x 6, and shelf materials. Z was out of town for 2 weeks at summer camp and the idea was that when she got home the bed would be done. Well... as I was beginning to sand and prime the wood, I realized that I "didn't want to make it for her, I wanted to make it with her," you know, do the dad thing, bond over showing her how to works with tools and wood. It was a great idea to me.

She was game in the beginning. Electric sander, paint, we did get into trouble when I (and I am the professional artist!!!) got the oil and acrylic paints mixed up...I know, I know. The next day of painting started out well but the energy turned. Z has always been creative and a good sport around art but something snagged her when she was painting designs on one of the book shelves and she went down. She got critical of herself and what she had done that nothing I could say would help. She left and went inside for the rest of the day.

Next day our energy was off again. I wanted and needed her help (remember my idea that we do this together - bonding experience) and she... seemed to have no energy to the point that she ended up most the day on the couch reading and sleeping and not to be involved. So thanks to G, we got most of the wood cut and the bed put together on the side deck. I painted it some more that evening and the next day we took it apart and reassembled it upstairs and Z did help again in the end.

And wa-la, a loft bed for a new 7th grader!
Love, Dad

 The Art of Being a Dad is a highly illustrated and colorfully creative collaboration between a dad and his two small kids. It is also one man's journey as he navigates the colliding worlds of babies and career, co-parenting and being a man, and the awe, beauty and exhaustion of Being a Dad. The book is 120 pages and includes a Toolbox: 130 tips, tools and tricks of the trade for helping dads take care of their kids as well as themselves. Mark Wagner is unique, not because he has equally helped in raising two small kids, but because he is a freelance artist, and when he became a dad he was curious, observant, jotted down notes and insights, took photographs, created drawings and made art with his kids. 

Book on Sale @  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Like a Robot Malfunctioning...

Her roomed looked the same as it had an hour ago, piles of cloths everywhere, tables and dressers covered, a suitcase being packed for 2 weeks of summer camp. I'd been reminding her to clean her room before she leaves the next day. "What have you been doing, you room looks the same as it did an hour ago?" I said. "Oh my whites are still in the laundry and I have this thing about not being able to clean up until I finish packing," she said.

My inner circuits went on the glitch... if you where here now I could make the sound and show you how my eyes bugged out and my head twitched like a robot malfunctioning. I needed to leave the scene... I gotta get out of here > NOW~! Everything about what she and her younger sister were doing went against my very nature as a man and a once teenage boy. I know we (guys) get obsessed over other things, but spending a great deal of time and energy on what to wear on each day, doing several loads of wash, packing, repacking, checking the lists is.... not my thing.

One thing I have noticed that I think is really interesting is that girls getting dressed up is really for other girls and not so much for guys. Sure guys are up there on the list, but it's a chic world for them. Check who is really checking each other out, who appreciate and even acknowledges the way they have changed their hair, their new skinny jeans that kinda look like all the other ones they have. It's the other girls.

When I take my space and unplug from the scene then I get it, it's a girl thing, a teenage girl thing and I can relax. I can appreciate who they are and what they are doing and let them be. I can even enjoy it, glad it's not me, even feel sad... for them that so much of their time and energy goes into this direction when it's been said that if women could put some of that time and energy they put into being in front of the mirror the world would be a better and different place.

And I feel sad that I can' really personally relate to it and miss having them do things with me that I like to do like play video games, watch sports, go hunting and kill things, read the paper, drink beer - ha..... just kidding, got you didn't I? But think about it, a teenage boy (we call them young men and women) is obsessed also probably about the same degree into other things. Let's see, I was into getting outside and exploring nature, minibikes, sandlot football, girls, and eventually art.

The girls had slept in on this day. We just got back from a vacation in Hawaii which is different time zone. When the younger one got up after noon it was around 9am Hawaii time. When I went to check in on the older one she was still in bed on Facebook. "Hey.... you are still in bed, you haven't been outside at all today, get up and off Facebook, it's 4pm."She thought I was joking about the time until she looked.

She never did get outside, and her room never got cleaned up, she said she'd do it next morning before she left, like that ever happened.

The younger one had to get outside because her house chores are to wash the cars and she had 2 to do. We recently traded this chore because she refused to do any gardening because she has an ungodly afraid of spiders. Whose kid is she anyway? The world is full of spiders. I tell her that they are her "power animals, her teachers of fear," she hates when I do that! That night she came down twice not able to get to sleep. She was so tired and anxious about camp that she just couldn't let go and it was getting to her. I hung with her twice, the second time rubbing her feet I pulled on a toe that was.... unknown to me recently jammed and it now hurt her more than it did before. She started to cry, and I knew that was the best thing she could do, let it go, just release it, everything that a young girl cries about, all the known and unknown things the world has to offer. She asked me to stay until she fell asleep, I said yes, and did.

I feel for these young people, connected instantly to friends but in short sentences and words, separated by the digital, unconnected to nature, and to parts of themselves. But I am sure my parents thought the same way about me, about my piers, maybe too much TV and stuff? Well, I send all the young people blessings, I bless you all!

self published Art & Dad book, first seven years

Monday, May 3, 2010


to post

being a dad of girls
of basically two teenage
is .....
or silence.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Light in Her Eyes

She got into my truck and looked my way. I was taken by the light in her eyes. She looked so beautiful, her face flush. I could tell she'd been worked over. First day of the Teen "Kick Like a Girl" Self Defense course I signed her up for.

The beauty that she had was not pure physical beautiful though she is... she has eyes like her mom, but this was an inner beauty shining through. It was something that comes with being empowered, it comes along with a new well earned sense of confidence, a being free, a least for the moment, of going past the fear body and into a new territory of being alive.

She'd been screaming, kicking, punching, poking eyes out, stomping on the feet of well padded assailants, men double and tripled covered in protective gear so that the girls could respond to them in full forced, not a nice no... but a full SCREAM - NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
And then take em down, take em out, get away, and seek help!

The next day she and her girlfriend were at it again and I got see them do a session. I had to get to an appointment, my daughter was in the later group, and there was no way I was going to miss this! It was something we were doing together in a sense, her being afraid to walk a few blocks home 3 month ago in a quiet safe town and neighborhood, and me sensing that feeling safer in her body a wonderful investment into her life.

Fear, she's a girl that has fear. Ever read the Ennegram

Enneagram - Style Six

The Loyalist

Sixes live in a world filled with danger. They either run from it or toward it. Many people who perform great feats of bravery are trying desperately to ward off an inner fear. We call those Sixes who go toward danger "Counterphobic" Sixes. Counterphobic Sixes look quite different from Phobic Sixes who run away from danger.

Healthy Sixes are the glue of an office, family or community. They are charming and diplomatic, always concerned about the common good. They are often funny and imaginative. They are loyal, hard-working, and usually protective of a tradition. They make and keep lots of friends. They love win/win situations. Sixes make our bureaucracy run smoothly. They have the patience and charm and are willing to do the drudgery work.

More unhealthy Sixes become excessively devoted to a tradition or community (church, party, company) and become blind followers. They give away their power to the authorities, all the time not trusting the authorities. They become suspicious and begin to worry a lot. This can prevent them from taking appropriate action in their life. They control others by doubts and second-guessing each decision.

Recognizing Style Six

They may be ambivalent about many things.
They may accept a rational position, but won't act on it. Fear kicks in.
They may have trouble taking action. Worry replaces doing.
They may imagine the worst. "What if."
They may feel most anxious at the time of success.
They may constantly scan the environment for danger.
They may provoke you just to find out what you think.
They may be groupies.
They may distrust your information, your sources, etc.
They may be taut, unable to relax often.
How you can help

Create an atmosphere of trust. Nothing happens until that does.
Physical relaxation helps take the focus off obsessive thinking.
Teach them to doubt their doubting process. "What if you're wrong?"
Exaggerate to the absurd. "And if we're lucky, we'll die first."
Call them on their habit of projection.
Bring fears into reality. They fear most what is in their imagination.
Help them choose a larger role in the community.
Guided imagery is excellent prayer for them.
Massage and all bodywork are helpful.
For Christians, angels are helpful. (Consistent message: "fear not.")

there, that about sums it up

Saturday, January 30, 2010


The younger one is in the kitchen and living room cleaning up. She somehow always forget to clean up after herself and when friends sleep over, even after being told twice. It's a heated topic here at the house, kids cleaning up after themselves "so that" adults don't have to. It seems to be a groove that needs lots of supervision to create a habit.

CRASH.... from the kitchen, while I am writing this. Broken glass jar. I set her up to clean it up herself.

I just got off the phone with the older one (14). Oh man.... I got pissed/triggered. I like that word "triggered," it's when something occurs in your field of experience that sets something off inside, a part of you gets activated and your emotion body lights up usually in anger, judgment, or fear. It basically throws you into your inner kid or teenager in charge and you want to do anything you can to NOT feel. And if your not on top of your game, you know... owning your own stuff, able to understand how you feel, then you usually take it out on those closest to you.

So when she asks for a ride home and she's only 8 blocks away, and I say walk.... it's a sunny Sat. morning, and she keeps going at it, relentlessly, until I say, "see you here at home, I love you," and hang up.

She pulled one of these a few nights ago. After school she walked to a friends house after school. She called home, asked for a ride home, it's 6 blocks away, I said walk, and come home before it's dark.

Well time got away from her, it got darker than she thought and all the sudden she's afraid (that she will get raped, murdered) and calling for a ride. "No... walk, it's your responsibility, we already talked about this." She calls mom.

My wife and I are both bugged by this teen behavior, it's on-going. So she talks her friend into walking her home, and tries to make us wrong for it all. Wait..... it's too messy. She and I even try to talk about it later and its still messy.

One thing I do see is that a self defense class is important and would be empowering. I have talked her her about this and she's interested. Just found a class on line, "Kick Like A Girl," and singed her and a friend up.

to be continued....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Big Event of Chaos - Ten Preteens Sleeping Over

It's a good time to dad blog - there are 10 (ten) 6th grade girls (12 years old) here at the house for a birthday sleepover. Whew.... and my wife hasn't been here all day and won't be here tomorrow. And the girls now??? Let me turn the music down so I can hear what they might be up to. Just before I feed them all they were doing their first round of own version of America's Top Model.

Sounds like they are in the second round of make-up. I'll go out eventually and clean up some more. I'm not a big party person, didn't have many birthday parties as a kid so it's kinda a stretch for me to be the solo parent and host such a big event of chaos here at the house. But my wife grew up with many big parties and we made a compromise, one big party every other year.

So I just got off it, went party shopping with my new 12 year old and got into it. Actually it's pretty cool, a few of the girls I have known since they were in preschool - that's pretty cool. And this age they are pretty interesting, poised to becoming a teenager next year, all of them. How exciting and I imagine terrifying.

I sense boys are different. I watch both my girls getting into shopping, cloths, hair, make-up, refusing to get near anything that might have them appear nerdy - like riding a bike, hard enough to get it into their heads that they do have to get to school on their own. Oh sure it several blocks - OK I just looked, it's about 20 blocks, and you are getting there on your own - unless it's really cold or raining. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area - spring starts early.

Back to the party. It was silly string outside, the girls screaming in the dark, pretty cute, my new camera picking up lots of light at night and hey.... what's that on MY TRUCK?