Reila is a total daddy’s girl. She’s always sad when he leaves for work but lights right back up when gets back home. When she sees him, she stretches her arms out toward him to say, “Hold me,”  and “Dada” is her favorite word. It was also her first – although “Mama” was a close second.

Spence and I talked about future plans pretty early on in our relationship, so I knew he wanted to be a father and vowed to honor his wish of having children before he turned 30.

He’s always calm – maybe because he’s an Eagle Scout – and effortlessly knows how to make me feel better, regardless of the ailment or emotion, so I knew he’d make a great dad. And sure enough, nine months later, our happy little girl is proof.

When his parents came to visit her the night she was born, he followed them around with his hands underneath her for fear they might drop her. On the rare occasion she had a tummy ache, he would heat up her rice-and-herb-filled waistband and stay up in his La-Z-Boy, rocking her on his chest until she fell asleep. And when we finally started sleep training after six months of co-sleeping, he took it upon himself to put her down for the night. I have a feeling he’ll be tucking her into bed until she asks him to stop.

Total daddy’s girl.

I wanted Spence’s first Father’s Day to be a special one, but I also realize my family doesn’t need things, which makes gift giving difficult. If a polite interior designer came into our house, they may call us maximalists because of all the gubbins everywhere.

Two winters ago when Reila was still in my belly, I read an adaptation of “Gift of the Magi” aloud to my three dogs. Spence videotaped it because I sobbed throughout most of it while anxiously petting Lucy and sobbing, “It’s okay, they love each other.” In this adaptation, a girl sold her long hair to buy a gold chain for her beloved’s pocket watch but, of course, he sold his pocket watch to buy her some decorative pieces for her long hair. Now, the hormones didn’t help but the truth is the story hit really close to home for Spencer and me.

To avoid a “Gift of the Magi” situation, I generally gift Spence with experiences over objects. For his birthday a week ago, I got him one really awesome present I knew he wanted and then spent a day in Lawrence, Kansas. Once again, I opted for an unforgettable experience on Father’s Day by asking him for help making a present for Pops, his dad.

Well, to start the day, Reila and I shared a poem with him entitled “Daddy’s Little Girl.” If you know who the author of this lovely poem is, please let me know as I never figured it out. It goes a little something like this:

I’ve only been your little girl for just a little while.
I can’t speak the words, “I love you,” so I say them with a smile.
Right now I feel the safest when your strong arms hold me tight.
When you cudle me so gentle as I fall asleep at night.
When I grow up and fall in love, I know this much is true.
The place in my heart he’ll never touch is the part I gave to you.

Spence didn’t tear up when he read it like I hoped he would, but that’s okay.

Then I asked Spence to help me make a Father’s Day gift for his dad, whom Reila lovingly knows as “Pops.” I went and grabbed a bottle of non-toxic white paint, a sheet of purple paper and a paintbrush out of my craft room, then stood by armed with a warm, soapy towel to clean up the mess. Spence painted her feet, one foot at a time, and stamped them onto the paper. I immediately wiped them off after we got a good print. Reila liked stamping her feet but not her hands. It was fun, though, so I’m glad I included him in the task with me. I think it made it more special for him when we presented his dad with his Father’s Day gift at breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, Spencer’s sister, Tate, reserved a table for us at The Westside Local so we all met there for what they call “blunch.” She made Spence an awesome framed wall hanging that shows all the constellations visible from our house at the exact time Reila was born. Anyway, the food was great and the people watching was superb that morning. The only bummer was they didn’t get their bread delivered on time that morning, so there was no toast or sandwiches available. Womp, womp. All in all, everything was great, though. We splurged on a cheese and cracker board, fries and their donuts (which personally I think are kind of dry and could use more jam filling) then I ordered chicken and waffles with Sriracha syrup (yum). Everyone else ordered Bloody Mary’s and fancy cocktails, but I had just had a peach Jumex so I just stuck with water.

Pops hold Reila in front of the “Rei” guns at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

Next, we decided to venture over to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. If you’re planning to go there, look out for the “T/m” signs, which is their new branding. Spence and I drove by it twice before we realized those signs were for them. It was a fascinating place to spend the day although I don’t envy the artists who spend hours of their lives squinting and crafting miniature things. Their patience must be unreal. We enjoyed the toy section the most and had a lot of fun learning about marble tournaments as well as the origins of household toys, like the baby doll. Although Reila is just around for the ride at 9-months-old, there was so much to look at that I think she really enjoyed herself.

To end the day, we grabbed some ice cream at Betty Rae’s, a little parlor in Waldo known for having crazy unique flavors like Chips & Guac or Apricot Goat Cheese. Being dads, Spence and Pops got free scoops which I ended up using to get a cake cone with a single scoop of Jasmine Tea. Spence ordered a Build-a-Sandwich which was delicious but massive and took all six of us to finish. Days spent with family are usually the best days and so I hope Spencer liked this start to his many Father’s Day celebrations to come.

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