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dad and three girls


dad-ism(2008) — Does anyone else have a Dad who says the same things over and over?

I do. So about 20 years ago for my Dad’s birthday, my sisters and I put together an ENTIRE BOOK of his repeatisms. I will spare you the insider ones such as “I always carry a garlic shaker” and leave you with some of the true gems, the ones that turned out to be helpful in life rather than just annoying in the moment.

And ones that will possibly show up in my own book of Mom-isms one day.

dad and three girls

  • Sometimes you COUNT the votes and sometimes you WEIGH them.
  • You are blessed with parents who care.
  • Everyone is NOT doing it because YOU are not!
  • Who said the world is fair?
  • Treat people when you don’t need them the way you wish you’d treated them when you do need them (this one actually got me a job once).
  • Leave things better than you find them.
  • Come in when the streetlights are on!
  • Elbow your way in (meaning: get in there and do the dishes!).
  • Draw a wider circle (meaning: don’t find reasons to exclude yourself).
  • I’m glad I had daughters because they are so genteel (usually said after a burping contest — or worse).
  • 90% of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very good (we were not allowed to slack much).
  • Drive like everyone else is out to get you.
  • Here’s a book I want you to read.
  • Starting is half done.
  • Everything in moderation, including moderation.
  • Put the short things on the short shelf and the tall things on the tall shelf (he actually said this to me last week when looking in my fridge for tonic).

My Dad has always been a consummate teacher (although not by profession) teaching ordinary people about his main passions, freedom, personal power, and economics.

We kid him a lot, but my sisters and I hold immense respect and love for our Dad. It’s amazing to us that this man who grew up without a father had it in him to become a great one anyhow.

XOXO, Dad. Thanks for loving us so well.

Now I’m going to obsess and compulse over the height of things in my refrigerator.


I must make an addendum to last week’s Show & Tell photo.

I was reminded that besides the boots and the pipe, I was outfitted in a red velvet dress that my mom sewed. Not only sewed, but also embroidered and crocheted or one of those arts that was completely lost on me. The bib was made of organza into which she needled my name.

So amidst the charge of rotten-ness I leveled at them, I must also acknowledge the love they have always showered on me.

XOXO to you, too, Mom.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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23 Responses

  1. My Dad said things like “Go drink Drano”. He also bragged so much on me that I knew he loved me very much. What a contradiction! Enough said!Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers and Fathers-to-be!Alyson LID 01/27/06 (IA China)NCLM

  2. Isnt it amazing how these things stick with you throughout the years? Your father sounds like a very wise man.

  3. This one is perfect: Treat people when you don’t need them the way you wish you’d treated them when you do need them.We made a book like that for my mum years ago and illustrated it with photographs. It’s still out on the coffeetable.

  4. Hah! I love your Dad’s -isms. And, I think it is wonderful that you wrote them down. That will be a treasured book for your children and their children. I also loved that he had to clarify that Director of Economic Affairs does not mean that he arranged dates! I think I would *love* your dad. What a lucky girl you are.

  5. Sounds like my dad sometimes! How great that you’ve taken the time to write them down. I should do that!

  6. what a wonderful collection. glad you wrote them down and shared them. each one is probably like a trip down memory lane… what a sweet tribute. and I love the pic from last week too!

  7. Wow. I found your site through the recent NYT about infertility. I’m in Denver area- pursuing an open domestic adoption, been in the pool about 10 months now. WOWOW. Just finding folks who used the word barren is like coming home. My fertile friends thought I were crazy to use that word. Look forward to all your posts!! Shan

  8. The height of things in the refrigerator – now I have something new to obsess over! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  9. My Dad tells the same jokes over and over and over again. Luckily, since I have a really bad memory, they always sound new to me now!

  10. I love “what kind of sissy word is fair?”What a classic and your dad is definitely a keeper!My dad had his share of spouting platitudes in his own often warped and imaginative way!Happy Father’s Day to you and your dad!

  11. Your post made me smile – my Dad tells the same stories over and over!! And then looks all indignant when we call him on it!! It’s good job we love him!

  12. Those are great! A popular phrase around our house was “Can’t never did try very hard.” 🙂

  13. Your dad sounds amazing. I love his quotes.What kind of sissy word is *fair*…Love it! Thank you so much for sharing such a cool insight into your life.

  14. That was a great idea to write down all the dad-isms! Some of them sound really interesting.Here via NCLM

  15. You left out:When and every time you leave our house, be a leader.You picked out some really good ones and despite me and my “Dad-isms” you grew up to be a truly phenomenal and powerful woman of whom I am so proud and so blest. Keep on being you, building ideas and thoughts, and inspiring others. You’re the best.Love, Dad

  16. Here from the future via Time Warp Tuesday and loving this post!

    First off, I miss Tim Russert, he was one of my favorites and I miss seeing him on the air and getting his perspective on things, especially during election years/seasons.

    That is so cool that you and your sisters made a book for your dad with his fun and inspiring sayings. I especially like these isms that your Dad gave you:

    “Treat people when you don’t need them the way you wish you’d treated them when you do need them (sit with it a moment ’til it makes sense — it actually got me a job once).”


    “Draw a wider circle. (meaning: don’t find reasons to exclude yourself)” –> I think you referenced this in a Perfect Moment Monday post last year, as that is what I thought of today when you said you would be honoring your dad again with your Time Warp post.


    “90% of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very good (we were not allowed to slack much).”


    “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

    Thank you for sharing! I will chew on those for awhile, I am sure.

  17. I admit that I have said one or all of these at least once…or more. In fact, most will probably show up in a book my kids write about Momisms some day.

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