I sat down to write this post on Father’s Day, but then we went camping, and then we went camping again, and then school started and Juliette turned six and I went to Paris and now my Father’s Day Ode is a Happy Birthday Dedication to my favorite guy, who turned 40 two weeks ago.  The reality is that I thank my ever-lovin’ lucky stars for Shane daily, but it feel like he’s due for a mondo helping of gratitude.  So I’m gonna try to lay this on extra-thick.

We took Juliette to a Mariners game over the summer and as we were leaving the ballpark I saw a mom grasping the arm of her toddler as he melted into a full-on tantrum: spaghetti legs and ear-piercing wails and tears that shot out of his eyes in wide, gushing arcs.  My heart-strings tugged as she struggled to get him back on his feet and just as I was about to offer her that empathetic “hang in there, Mama” half-smile, the kid’s dad swooped in from behind, flipping the boy over his shoulders and eliciting shrieks of laughter as he twirled him in the air.  I saw the mom’s shoulders relax as she fell into step behind them.  That moment felt so akin to the dance that Shane and I have come do over the past few years of parenting Juliette.  Granted, we’ve exited the melt-down phase, but Shane’s still swooping in, holding down the fort at home when I have to travel for work, signing up for after-school programs the minute they open because I’m not so good at keeping track of those kinds of things, pulling out the Legos and calling to Juliette when I’m trying to get dinner ready and she’s rapid-firing questions at me.  He’s the Batman to my Robin, the peanut butter to my jelly, the co-parent I’d go batshit crazy without.  It feels like we’re in the midst of a particularly full season of life right now, but he makes it work.  Ok, we make it work, but there’s no we without he!

Of course, it’s not just the logistical relief and mad calendaring skills he brings to our family.  He’s exceedingly engaged, patient beyond reason. When Juliette started showing interest in sounding out words, he bought “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons” and spent a couple of evenings a week on the couch with her, plodding through each page and offering her just the right amount of guidance when she got frustrated and wanted to give up. When Juliette said she wanted to play music, Shane spent hours looking for a West Seattle piano teacher and signed her up for lessons, sitting through each lesson himself so that he could help her along. He’s intent on giving her every opportunity he can offer, often with a deep investment of his own time. I’m guessing he’d like to watch his beloved basketball games with a little peace and quiet, but instead he invites Juliette to head downstairs with him after dinner and then answers her endless questions about who has the ball and why isn’t Kevin Durant playing and where’s Lebron and why does Pops look so mad?  Juliette bawled her eyes out when the NBA season ended in June, not because she was disappointed with the outcome (girl loves Kawhi!), but because she wanted to watch more basketball with Daddy.

He’s so present, physically and emotionally, and on the rare occasion that he can’t be around, like when he had to leave for a business trip on the first day of Kindergarten, Juliette still knows he’s thinking of her:

He brings a lightness to our house with his incessant air guitar, a sweetness to our lives with his gifts of affection and affirmation, a sanity to our days with his insistence on an 8:00 bedtime for Juliette.  He’s IT.  So when a milestone birthday rolled around, I started dreaming of ways to honor my guy.  Rent a party-pad in the mountains for the weekend and invite all our friends?  Cater a fancy dinner at our house?  Go on a bender with the gang and end up a karaoke bar?  I was ready to go big, but Shane would have none of it.  He wanted a mellow morning at home, a taco dinner with our nearest and dearest, and creme brulee for dessert.  Your wish is my command, Shane Schnell:

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by Shane’s birthday celebration request.  Dude hates karaoke.  However, I about fell out of my chair when he said that for his gift he wanted to go sky diving.  Shane, who prefers the gentle swish of cross country skis to the zip of downhill slopes, wanted to jump out of an airplane?!  He asked Jason and Jack to join him and once they recovered from their similar shock, they said they were game.  We convened in Snohomish last Sunday for the big event.  Let’s do this!  (And by “let’s”, I mean…”you”.)

The guys completed their training, suited up, channeled their inner Mavericks, and then were AIR-BORNE!

I quickly lost sight of the plane, but several minutes after take-off I saw their parachutes dot the sky.

Shane’s partner had a camera on his arm and the footage is pretty unreal.  The scenery from up there!  And Shane’s grin through it all!

I was fairly calm through the whole thing, but still felt my shoulders relax when I saw Shane’s feet touch ground again.

The guys were silly-giddy afterward, sky-high on adrenaline for the rest of the afternoon.  Total bro-fest.  I was so happy for Shane, so thankful for friends and sunshine and this guy that’s still manages to surprise me 20 years after our first date.

Happy Father’s Day, Happy Birthday, Happy Ever After to my one and only.

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