Tag Archives: Anna

First-grader-to-be

Anna was dropped off at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School last Thursday just like nearly every other weekday morning the past nine months, but there were several differences.

  • Anna wore a pinkish-orange dress – something she picked out and purchased for herself while shopping with her mother. Given her propensity for making messes, wearing dresses to school was reserved for special occasions.
  • She went armed with a homemade card for Mr. Kepple – her kindergarten teacher.
  • Finally, Anna was dropped off just before 9 a.m. An hour later, she’d be leaving.
Anna Noel Kovak proudly holds her homemade card for her kindergarten teacher, Mr. Kepple, who Anna calls, "the best teacher ever."

Anna Noel Kovak proudly holds her homemade card for her kindergarten teacher, Mr. Kepple, who Anna calls, “the best teacher ever.”

Last Thursday was Anna’s last day in kindergarten. My bubbly, kind, caring, intelligent and funny 6-year-old is officially a first-grader-to-be.

Where did the time go?

It seems like only a few weeks ago when I walked Anna to school for her first day as an elementary student. She was excited beyond belief, and she sang a tune from Mary Poppins as we walked – hand-in-hand – toward the front entrance. And it didn’t seem like nearly 10 months passed since I took her to Kinder Camp, a weeklong program designed to get students acclimated to the new environment.

So many things about Anna made me believe she’d excel in a daily school setting and, so far, those premonitions have proven correct. She excels in mathematics. She reads books cover to cover with little need for help from mom or dad. Friends squeal with delight when they see Anna. Teachers like her. And she loves her teachers. (Mr. Kepple, if you end up reading this, Anna already misses you.)

Like I said months ago on this blog, she’s owning that school.

And I’m so proud of her.

Anna made tremendous strides in kindergarten, and she’s growing up more quickly than I could ever imagine. Her progress academically is amazing. She’s growing vertically, too. She still talks people’s ears off, but is learning there are times when it’s important to zip it shut. Anna will still walk hand-in-hand with me, just not for the long stretches I grew accustomed to.

And, it’s official. I now embarrass my daughter.

She best get used to it. We’ve got a long way to go together. Too bad it will pass in the blink of an eye.

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Happy birthday, Anna

Erin began having serious labor pains sometime during the second half of Super Bowl XLIII. A call was placed to the doctor. Erin wanted to finish watching the game, so did the doctor. I was ready to roll.

Her breathing intensified as the great Larry Fitzgerald shredded the Steelers’ defense for a late touchdown and a lead for the Cardinals. Our old, faithful golden retriever, Marley, was right by Erin’s side, his head occasionally on her lap in a canine’s attempt to make everything better.

Not long after Ben Roethlisberger’s game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, we were in the car and on our way through Pittsburgh to Magee Women’s Hospital.

Between 1 and 2 a.m., Anna Noel Kovak was born, and my life was forever changed.

Anna spent Saturday in Elsa costume for a Frozen birthday party with 12 of her closest friends.

Anna spent Saturday in Elsa costume for a Frozen birthday party with 12 of her closest friends.

After cutting the umbilical cord, nurses cleaned and wrapped Anna and asked if I’d like to hold her. There she was, all 7 pounds and 6 ounces of her. Wrinkly face. Dark hair.

Completely beautiful.

Now, there have been some powerful moments in my life – getting married, the precise moment the Grateful Dead’s music became an eternal soundtrack and, heck, even the time former Observer-Reporter sports editor Tom Rose was arrested. (If you need the details, fire up the Google machine.)

But I’ll never forget what ran through my mind the second I held Anna in my arms and looked into her eyes.

“I don’t know a thing about you, but I know I’ll die for you.”

Crocodile tears poured from my eyes. I was instantly smitten. Six years later, I still am.

Anna rules.

Anna rules.

Today marks Anna’s sixth birthday. She’s at school and I’m about to get ready for work, but it doesn’t damper the mood. She’s an incredible friend, and Anna amazes me on a daily basis. I marvel at her enthusiasm (a mother once told me Anna makes a story about eating bananas for snack exciting). her quest for knowledge, her sweetness and her exuberant personality. There’s nothing I don’t love about her, from the way she says “Daddy” to the way her pants always find a way to drift below her waistline in public.

Happy birthday, Anna Banana.

40 and loving 2-hour delays

Remember rolling over, tired and groggy, trying to wrap your head around another long, boring tedious day of junior high or high school only to find out there’s a 2-hour delay?

Life doesn’t get much better.

Sleep in. Take time getting ready. And still get credit for a full day in class.

Nope, can’t beat it.

That special feeling was lost on me until this year, when my daughter Anna enrolled in kindergarten. The 2-hour delays are back, and she’s had three of them since the middle of last week.

Trust me when I say 2-hour delays only get better with age.

Anna loves her sledding. Lucky for her, so does dad.

Anna loves her sledding. Lucky for her, so does dad.

There’s no pleading with Anna to get out of bed by 8:05 a.m. No rushing her through breakfast, getting her backpack ready, making sure she’s taken her vitamins, brushed her teeth and either has her lunch packed or made the decision to buy from the cafeteria all before rushing out the door by 8:50 in a mad-dash attempt to get her to school by 9.

Nope. During a 2-hour delay, the coffee tastes sweeter, the rush to eat breakfast is replaced by a calm, casual pace and there’s no pleading to stop telling dad stories to focus on getting dressed.

It permits time to take the dog for a walk, permitted the temperature isn’t hovering around zero. We can sled in our backyard, which serves as the neighborhood slope given the steepness of our hill (trust me, it makes mowing brutal),

Unlike many parents, I don’t work mornings. So, the 2-hour delay doesn’t inconvenience me or my employment.

In fact, when the weather’s nasty on my drive home from work at night, I’m rooting for a 2-hour delay.

Father of the year

Dads, we get a bad rap. We rarely get enough credit. And, you know what, a lot of us totally rock.

We do the things no one else at the house will – plumbing, mowing, raking, gutter cleaning, taking out garbage and grilling. We don’t ask for credit. We don’t need praise or crave attention. Maybe it’s because we’re used to not receiving any.

That’s about to change.

It’s time to give dads credit. We deserve it.

Heck, we’ve earned it.

Earlier today, I dropped my only child off at Amos K. Hutchinson Elementary School, part of the Greensburg Salem School District, in Southwest Greensburg. The day was landmark for several reasons:

  1. Anna was embarking on her first day of kindergarten.

photo (7)Anna friends

  1. Dad works an evening job.

For 5 1/2 years, my daytime was filled with Anna. All Anna. All the time. We took walks. We read books. We listened to music and watched cartoons. We sang and danced to Katy Perry. We played soccer, wiffleball, rode bikes, went to the mall. Had lunch dates. She came to the gym with me. She was my constant companion, and one incredible friend.

Suddenly, at 8:53 a.m., my Anna walked herself inside Hutchinson after giving a couple football players from Seton Hill high fives and disappeared into the masses. She was officially a student. My whole world changed at that very moment.

I had something called FREE TIME.

What’s that you ask? Well, for parents, it’s that time when you’re not working and not watching your children. It’s rare, some say. I wouldn’t know. I hardly had any the past five-plus years. Now, I’ll have plenty of it. Golf? Fishing? Not rushing at the gym? Day drinking? These are all possibilities.

And I’ve earned it.

People keep asking me, “How are you going to be when Anna starts school?”

I dreaded the potential answers. The day before she started, I grew sentimental. I knew I’d miss her. I even teared up a time or two thinking about the impending event. I thought about how women would smile and tell me what a wonderful father I was because I took my child to the doctor’s office, the dentist, the grocery store or wherever. It always came across as sexist to me. After all, I don’t work during the day. What else would any respectable father do?

But as I walked with Anna, hand-in-hand, toward Hutchinson today, I didn’t get upset or sentimental or sad.

I was happy. Yes, I’m going to miss her constant chatter, companionship and love, but I’ll figure it out.

Happy for Anna, who was hopping along singing some Mary Poppins tune. Her life is just beginning, and I see someone who is going to seize every opportunity.

See, Anna isn’t your typical kindergartner. Sure, most parents would say that, but how many of them have kids who can more than hold their own in conversation with a roomful of adults or can name extensive songs from the KISS catalog or not only question everything and anything, but take the time to critically think about the answers. She’ll hear something two years prior and bring it up in conversation for the first time, every detail intact.

I’m only skimming the surface. If you’ve met Anna, you know. She’s the true definition of “something else.” She’s going to own that elementary school. No doubt in my mind. I hope you all feel the same way about your child.

And I’d like to think I played a big role in that. I’m certain I did.

Halloween

Dads, I know a lot of you are just like me. You’re willing to be there for soccer practice, school pickup, to put on your daughter’s jewelry when she asks, wear a costume to the school Halloween party or to sing a Guns’n Roses song when the mood hits. You’ve taken your child to the doctor and ice skating lessons and dance recitals.

So that’s why this one’s for you. Keep on rockin’.