Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Crazy Train

I wish The Missus would take a break. Anyone who knows her at all knows her to be a completely unstoppable jauggernaught of force, creativity and at least three times the recommended daily allowance of will. She's thrown herself into cause after cause, made tremendous progress in all of them, and changed lives, organizations and even whole neighborhoods for the better.

But do you think she's capable of taking a night off?

nope.

Every year we add more things to our life than we ever thought possible. We cut out more and more that is superflous until we think we couldn't possibly cram in one more thing, and then the following year we do it again.

Thank God she finally found a hobby. She was into scrapbooking for a while, but then we got a good digital camera and the paper stuff never came out again. She's wicked good at writing though and has immersed herself in the Mommy-Blogosphere. I expect that shortly she'll write something that someone will want to publish and she'll make a good deal of money off it. But until the...

She'll cram every weekday with activity, and every evening with special activities for the kids. We'll travel extensively, which everyone knows is actually a good deal more taxing than work is. And she'll continue to say yes to nearly every single thing that somebody asks her to do because my Missus is more than just a good person, she is actually something more along the lines of being a force of nature or a figure from mythology.

Picture a Norse hero who's challenged to drink the king's drinking horn dry and can only lower the level a little. Said hero is shamed at first until he finds that the other end of the horn is connected to the ocean and nobody has ever made a dent in it before. My Missus would have drained it, refilled it for the kids, and gone off to look for a scrubby to take care of that ring around the rim.

The worst thing is that she knows she has a problem sitting still and can't do anything about it. So here's my latest effort.

Sit down on the fucking couch
for Pete's fucking sake!!!

Babe... seriously... if you need to go to Target three nights a week to get your head right, go and do it. I like it when you're here, but if you're out then I won't compulsively structure my evening around your blogging activities and it's a mental health bonus for the both of us. Go visit K in Ohio, with our without children. If you need me to kick you in the ass to accomplish any of this, just say so. As a possessor of the Y chromosome I am not receptive to the subtle hint, the not-so-subtle hint, or even the obvious hint. You run the schedule around here, so put yourself on it and let the rest of us sort it out. Kay?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

J-Man Turns 3

So J-Man picked up the hat trick today. Three years under the belt and he crossed the way-point sportin' a mighty fine mohawk. I spent most of today in preparation for the big shindig. The place was a total wreck and we had a dozen coming for dinner. It took all afternoon just to get the kitchen clean, and then I started in on getting the back yard ready. J-Man took a totally sweet nap and then was happy to chill in front of a Muppet movie till, all was ready.

He picked the menu himself, over a month ago. He wanted steak, steak sauce, rice, green beans, and black olives. I grilled enough steak to feed an army and we just ate and ate and ate. We topped it all off with ice cream sandwiches and cake topped with dancing penguins. He opened his presents with very little sibling interference and commenced to play with all the new swag.

The real highlight of the day though was when I decided to take a break after my second hour of doing dishes to load a J-Man retrospective into the digital photo frame. I spent half an hour in front of the computer reviewing his life. My wife has a camera glued to her hand at all times, so we have some well documented children.

I'll just come right out and admit that I got a little misty while watching those three years roll by. That devilish grin that I think he may have actually been wearing as he emerged into the air for the first time. All the crazy faces that keep us constantly amused. The real kicker was when I got to the folders from about six months ago, when his baby fat started to disappear and he started to look like a little man. It would be totally heart breaking if it wasn't for the fact that he get's exponentially cooler by the week.

I can't help but wonder what he'll be like when he's older. He's likely to be a hit with the ladies, that's for sure. Although he may loose points if he doesn't tone it down with the fart jokes a little. He's got time... I'm glad I keep remembering to pay good attention so it doesn't all go by in a blur.

And to J-Man:
Dude... you kill me! I just about pee my pants every time I look at you. You're the apple of my eye you little screwball. (I guess the screwball doesn't fall far from the tree.) The thing that kills me the most is how you never ever run out of material. Just when I'm ready to grab you by the ears and yell up your nose to try and get you to do something, you bust out with a new and ever more fabulous burst of priceless nonsense. I value nonsense and yours my boy... is top shelf.

I can't help but think about what you'll be like when you're 7 and 13 and 20. I imagine we'll butt heads a lot, but you're sure to survive if you can keep the one liners coming. The nerd in me shivers with delight at the cool-kid life you're going to have with that charm and that face. I'm going to re-live my childhood watching you, and I'm going to drink in what the version is like that's free from wedgies and book spills. And even when you turn into a teenage jerk, I'm probably still going to be laughing up my sleeve, even when I want to twist your head off.

And one more thing. I don't think you fully appreciate the magnificence of that mohawk, but you will... oh yes, you will.

Love,
Dad

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Be Dumb

It's been said at least 4.586 x 1047 times that the key to any good relationship is good communication. There are millions of articles, a sea of books, a constellation of web posts that lead off with this and then go in to way too much mumbo jumbo to actually be helpful. Most of these are written by egg head types who mostly want to show off how smart they are and who are also likely getting paid by the word. Most of these also involve a lot of hard work and determination, which, let's face it, we as Americans just aren't really that into anymore. And really, who has the presence of mind to remember a list of steps to better communication when you're in the middle of having difficulty communicating.So here's a tip that's brief, highly effective, and doesn't involve much work.

Early on in our marriage my wife instituted the "Don't Be Dumb" clause. Simply stated, this phrase can be instituted any time one party is acting irrationally, is failing to see the big picture, or just plain needs a good backing down. The key to this is to set it up in advance. For most people, just saying, "Honey, don't be dumb." is asking for trouble unless both parties understand the usage.

We didn't do that ourselves, but once she had used it on me a few times, I started to catch on. The phrase is never to be used in anger, and knowing this the recipient will not have reason to be offended and can more easily shift to an objective point of view. Once you've been Don't Be Dumb-ed, it's your responsibility to take a look at the bigger picture and listen to what the Don't Be Dumb-er (I'll just let that one lie) has to say to you.

Another technique that works well is the Time Out. We put our kids in time out all the time when they're misbehaving. There was one occasion when I got home from work and my wife was riding our daughter like a ten speed bike for every little noise she made. I didn't think that Miss O was being particularly annoying, so it must have been that The Queen Mum was overloaded with her royal duties and thus overly sensitive. So I got in front of her, made her meet my eyes, and calmly but firmly put my wife in Time Out. She took a walk, sat down in the garden, had a snack, and came back like a new person. Since then she has even taken to putting herself in time out, when she starts to sense that she's riding the kids unfairly.

Just a little something that works for us. A lot of people have told us things like, "Oh, I could never say that to my spouse." or "I would be so offended if someone said that to me." And to them we responded... "Don't be dumb."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fupped Duck

I used the term Fupped Duck as the title because it is likely to be the most interesting turn of phrase that I use in this post. It's also a lot craftier than saying F'd up when you mean fucked up, and I always prefer being crafty to being vulgar.

SO... I just read all three parts of an epic written by Hey You! Remember Me? who should be in the running for best blog name. Her thing seems to be gettin in all out and with the story she has to tell about her drunk step-dad, it's no wonder it was a three part saga to get it all out. Happy ending though, well worth reading all three parts.

My experience as a kid was profoundly different. I lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, with two parents who always loved me and never fought. And yet, for all this, I was still Fupped Duck all though my high school years.

For starters (brace yourself for some real stupidity here) I was envious of all my friends with divorced parents. It seemed like some exclusive club that I would obviously never have the proper credentials to get in. It all seemed so exotic.

Yeah, gimme a call this weekend. I'll be at my Dad's.

Sorry, I forgot my homework at my Mom's.


Phrases that I was sad would never cross my lips. Add to that the fact that all the club members seemed to be a little bitter toward me about my non-divorced parents. (Not only non-divorced, but after thirty some years of marriage have yet to have their first fight!) I was on the other side of my ten year reunion before I realized that all the club members were envious of me because I didn't have to deal with alcoholic parents throwing things at each other, so of course they did what you do when you're fifteen and envious... you're a bastard.

Quack, Quack...

The other thing that really hung me up after growing up in that environment was my own relationships. The first hang up was the deep depression that came with every break up. Not because I was going to particularly miss the girl or anything, but because she turned out not to be my wife. Even though it wasn't a concious thought at that age, what I wanted most in life was to be married, and it was such a bitch to constantly fall short of that goal.

The second hang up was that my bench mark for relationships was my parents' marriage. I thought that all relationships were supposed to go like that. Obviously teenagers can't hold it together once the bloom is off the rose and you have to actually work at a relationship. That, of course, is the point where love actually begins, and I didn't get that one figured out until I met my wife. Googely eyes and love notes are nice and all, but when you can look at some one past piles of dirty laundry and think, "DAMN! I love her!!!" that's when you're really getting somewhere.

So, I'm still Fupped Duck. My problems with perception could easily fill a triple-post epic. My love of sarcasm slash inability to detect it is a real side splitter. But at least I finally stopped being Fupped Duck about relationships and I'm

Hold it... proud's not even the word here. I should have a blog contest to find the word that means supremely, superlatively, thumbs-in-suspenders, proud

of the fact that I finally got past myself to be really in love with someone, dirty laundry and all. I've been married to my wife for nearly seven years and we have yet to have our first fight. The more hectic things get, the more in love we find ourselves. Dreams do come true folks, you just have to get rid of that duck.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Under Maple Trees

There's a book called Wild At Heart by John Eldredge that someone gave me last year. It's worth a read and goes on and on about being a real man, the kind that hunts and fights and protects his family, in a world that just wants you to do the dishes and take out the trash and just be a nice guy. Men were designed with a purpose, and for a long time filled it well, providing for their families with their strength and cunning, defending them and such. Nowadays we're expected to be calm and nice, fill out paperwork, mow the lawn and whatnot, and above all... not be dangerous.

That's all in the book and you should check it out on your own if you're a man in that kind of circumstance, or if you have one of them in your house. The part that I'm thinking about tonight is the section about getting into the wilderness. The author suggests taking a manly retreat, camping, communing with nature. The point is to take a break form the world of paperwork and taking out the trash and live the life you were built for. Hunt and fish, do strenuous labor to survive. He also talks about hearing from God on these epic journeys he takes. His example is finding a heart shaped rock in a stream after a day of fishing. It might not speak to anyone else, but that was God's own love note to him.

Now I don't care much about fishing or hunting, hiking, kayaking or any of that. I win my family's bread by the sweat of my brow and get plenty of exertion, excitement and danger while I'm on the clock, and a tan to boot. For me the place I want to get away to is home, that's where I find God slipping me a little love note.

I stepped exhausted into my front yard tonight, damp as the July air around me. I could see the moon rising through the branches of the mature maple trees in my neighbor's yard. The street lights I grew up under were shining down through the boughs of the maples in my yard. The oppressive humidity seemed more like a golden blanket thrown lovingly over my neighborhood out there. Even the sounds of trucks on the highway seemed to fit, I find them comforting the way people who grew up by the ocean love the sound of the surf.

I've lived most of my life under maple trees. Places I go that don't have them have no charm to me. The Grand Canyon was big, but it would be ten times more majestic if it was thick with maples. And so I stood tonight, under the maples that I grew up under, that my father grew up under, that my children now grow under, and in a way that had no words I distinctly heard God say...

Drink this in for a minute. I made this place for you and brought you back here when you could have gone anywhere in the world. It was my pleasure to put these maples here for you, to weather storms and survive droughts so they would be here to shade you. I breathed this soft night air so you could have a minute in golden street light under these boughs.

Sigh... God loves me.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Post Secret

There was a card on Post Secret about a 17 year old who's fondest wish was to develop laugh lines. I grew a beard at 17 and when I took it off 8 years later I was shocked and pleased to find I had laugh lines. Sweet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to Stop Violence

Here's a thought for anyone raising daughters. Boys are dumb. Let me elaborate on that a little bit. My boss has a son who tried to stop a fight between six jerks from a neighboring town and one of his friends. That's right, six on one. For his troubles he got kicked in the jaw, which broke it in two places, requiring seven hours of surgery, two titanium plates, twin six inch scars, and two months off from work.

It doesn't even matter what the reason was behind this fight. What matters is that this is typical of what goes on these days. When I was of a certain age, not so long ago really, when two guys got into a beef about something, usually a girl or an insult, they'd just hit each other until it got broken up, or maybe arrange to meet somewhere after school and duke it out. This business of gangs of guys pounding the tar out of somebody just goes way beyond what I used to think was some sort of basic chivalry that came along with the Y chromasome.

Whatever the cause of it, there's a way to stop it. It's not what you might think, some limp wristed effort on the part of schools to further emasculate boys, or public service announcements on TV aren't what's needed here. I'm talking about grass roots and as an added bonus it takes a step toward empowering our young ladies. Here's what it is.

  1. Start by explaning to your children that fighting is wrong.
  2. Tell your boys that there are much better/craftier/more satisfying methods than physical beatings to put someone in their place.
  3. Tell your girls not to kiss boys who fight.
I started at dinner tonight. I told J-man, who's two and Miss O who's five about the fight this weekend. Then I turned to J-man and said, "Fighting is bad, don't ever fight with people." Then I turned to Miss O and said, "Don't ever kiss boys who fight."

Seriously, how long do you think this kind of behavior would go on in high schools if all the eligible young women were saying things like, "Hey, talk all you want about pounding that guy, but if you ever want to kiss me or my friends... you better not actually do it." Then let those same young ladies have just the slightest bit of soliderity, and let the young man who chooses to throw the punch find himself without a date for a semester and see if things don't quiet down around the ol' school yard.

What a concept, a young hot head might actually stay his hand to keep his girlfriend and somewhere in the mist and murk of all the testosterone find that he's acting like a real man. Personally I think the ladies are up to it. Sure there might be a few jeers if the object of the pounding is a geek, but a couple taunts will soon be forgotten. Once a few girls find out how much fun it could be to wield some actual girl power it's bound to catch on. It's just a thought, but it could work.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Musical Beds

While musical beds sounds like something you did in college, or wish you did in college, or wish you didn't do in college... don't let your mind get into the gutter here. We just got the short people all bedded down and I was just thinking about how non-traditional bedtime is at our house. All the books say that for happy, healthy children a regular schedule is what is required. We didn't read those books. We eat at all hours of the day and night, we travel spontaneously, we constantly change plans, and by and large, the short folk don't seem to be bothered by it. Not to any large degree anyway.

So, for a little background, we've been swapping things around a bunch lately. It all began over a year ago when our two youngest, the boys were sharing a room. Our middle son J-man would randomly shout, "Wake up baby!" to keep himself amused, and the baby had trouble sleeping and would shriek J-man awake all the time. Just about that time, Miss O was having anxiety about sleeping alone. So, lickety split, J-man had his crib moved in there and all was well.

Some might think it strange for opposite sex siblings to share a room, but when you're two and four and spend a good deal of the time running around naked anyway... what's the diff? Eventually the two of them got into a level of shenanigans that required some action on our part. My wife has posted exquisitely on this series of events here. Eventually, it was time for the boys to room together again, and so Miss O got her own room. The quote of the week that time was from Jack while decorating his sister's room, "I want my room decorated too... wiff Sis right dere!"

OK, so now you're about up to speed, except that this is where the mattress hopping begins. With a crib and bunk beds in the boys room, Sis sometimes crawls into an unused bunk to ease the lonliness of the Rapunzel tower that is her new room. It also doesn't hurt that the air conditioner is in there. Oh the drama that ensues when nobody can decide who get's the top bunk, or even if the top bunk is actually better. Then J-man reciprocates sometimes by crawling into the playpen that for some reason is living in Sis's room.

Add to all this that I've been bunking on the couch for several months and things have gotten pretty scrambled. Let me elaborate on that whole sleeping on the couch thing before your immagination runs away with you. My wife hadn't slept well for at least the first year of Little H-bomb's life, he was not a good sleeper right out of the gate. Add to that the fact that I am a world class snorer and we had a tired, cranky mommy on our hands. So when I started a new job I started sleeping on the couch so I wouldn't wake the whole flock at six, which had the added benefit of a peaceful night's rest for Queen Mum. And, just to satisfy anyone who might not be able to keep from going there, the level of adult-type naughtiness has actually gone up in recent months, so there you dirty minded wonderers you.

Anyway, said all that to express my amusement that at any given moment, myself and my two oldest may be found sleeping in any of half a dozen locations. The kids seem to find it amusing. Little H never knows who will be in the bunks across from his crib. J-man sometimes comes looking for me on the couch, only to find that I'm sleeping in Sis's vacant bed for the benefit of my back, or actually occupying my veryown space in the glorious pillow-top with The Missus.

I'm thinking that all this turmoil will be good practice. I think back to my own college experience and how long it took me to get used to the odd hours and constant upheaval after living under my parents' roof for so long. All their careful nagging about bedtime when I was wee seemed like such a waste when I would do everything from stay awake for two days to sleeping nearly that long afterward. My schedule ten years out of college has me rising and bedding down at nearly every position on the dial. Get used to it kiddos. When it comes to sleep in this ever more hectic world, you've got to catch as catch can.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Little Friends

Some old college friends dropped by for a quick visit this weekend with their little daughter in tow. The last time we saw her she was just a tiny baby in a high chair. Now she's a running, laughing, little friend who's most common phrase seems to be, "I'm happy". When last we met, our own flock wasn't nearly so far along either.

Two things really struck me during our little visit. The first was how much I loved their little girl. Mostly I don't care for other people's kids, but I guess when you have the kind of friends you can pick up where you left off with, their kids just fit right in there too.

The second thing was how well our broods hung out together. They were just all peas and carrots with one another. The big ones chased down the little ones to keep them out of trouble. And the little one's didn't annoy the big ones too much with their grabby hands.

Pat, pat on the backs of all the tall people in this picture. For all the days of wild obnoxious kids and clutter and annoyance, a quick afternoon of peaceful children getting along with each other is a well deserved reward for all the hours put in.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Kissing Bug

I was going to start out with my first actual post with my first actual content in it with a tale of swapping stories with an old friend and re-discovering the spark of love. But to hell with that... MY DAUGHTER IS KISSING BOYS!!!

Add that to the list of things she's doing that I thought I had about another decade to get ready for. Example one would be telling me she's moving to Canada while slamming the door in my face and capping it off with a heart felt, "I HATE YOU!". I actually, jokingly, imagined that scenario on the very day she was born and thought, "Whew... at least I have about thirteen years to get ready for that." Guess again. Apparently in this enlightened age when children get e-mail addresses before they learn to tie their shoes you start to be thirteen when you're four!

Whups! Went and spilled the whole thing right there and dun shorted myself a future post.

But at any rate, Miss O has been dropping the occasional statement about some boy from pre-school being the nicest boy in the world and wanting to marry him. But I chalked that up to her watching far too many Barbie movies and weaving the drama into her every day life. The child is only slightly less dramatic than, say... the hypothetical love child of William Shakespeare and Liza Minnelli.

On to the present mayhem. Right after work we hustled the kiddos off to the pizza shop for a quick family outing with my brother-in-law's family who is up from D.C.. For a chaser we took them for ice cream. To cap it off we looked around and saw that not only had we passed bed time, but bed time was actually stuck at a rest stop in Cleveland trying to scrounge up enough change to call someone to pick it up. What a fine time to go a-visiting.

So a-visiting we went to the home of some parent-type friends of my wife's, for me to look at their plaster and electricity. We left their mid-size people in charge of our short people in the back yard and got to lookin. After a solid hour of running and yelling (their favorite game), it was finally time to go. As I deftly split the herd like a german shepard with Jedi mind powers, my daughter rushed up to me and said with the flush of love in her cheeks that she had kissed the boys.

So there I stood blinking with my thirteen/five-year-old daughter beaming at me and speaking in tones right out of a sappy eighties teen movie. Shudder. At any rate, it finally came out that these boys she had been kissing (twice her age for corn sakes!) were actually in the heart of the girls-are-yucky stage and had to first be run down, cornered, relieved of their light sabres and then pecked in the middle of the back before released again into the wild.

It's a good thing my mind was too full of pizza and electrical talk for that all to sink in. Fortunately a quick, "Everybody wash your lips tonight!" left everybody laughing. I'm pretty glad I still don't have any time for all this to really sink in. I have an estimate to do and some bourbon to chase it with.

The moral: Kiss em while they're young (your kids) cause pretty soon they'll be hoochin' around the neighborhood with plans to move to Canada with some dirty Jedi in a Bill's shirt.

This just in... The Missus has just posted her own tale on the subject of our daughter kissing boys. You can find it on her blog entitled The Dayton Time



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

First Actual Post

OK, so... I just went to all the trouble of setting up this page for the sole purpose of being able to post comments on my wife's blog and have it say "The Mister" on top of them. After all that mucking about I discovered that I can simply type in whatever I want and have it link straight through to my blog without routing through this one. I'm not quite the computer genius I once was. I blame it on Al Gore. Stupid Interweb!

At any rate, now that I've got this place I figure I'll put it to good use posting all the posts from my regular blog that pertain to the subject of mister-hood; and toss in all the ones about my short people as well.

Then people who aren't:
  • sound geeks
  • my close friends
  • or interested in anything but the increasingly popular daddy-blog format
can just jump straight here and not be saddled with the task of sorting through my posts about:
  • pro-audio
  • cussin'
  • stupid things uttered at work.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy my attempt at being Black Hockey Jesus. He runs a little wisdom mill called "The Wind in Your Vagina" which is a little quote from his lovely daughter on the playground and not anything at all adult related so keep your dander in the lowered position, awright? It's daddy blogging with the top down and the radio blastin. He get's pushed out of shape and it's hard to steer... when he get's rubber in all four gears. (A Beach Boys reference and not anything to do with prophilactics, dander still down? Good. OK. Enough shameless plugging of my faorite-blog-by-a-person-with-outdoor-plumbing. (Gender reference there, you with me still?) It's off to the races in my own little deuce coupe. 'Cept I'd rather envision mine as a '70 Road Runner 440 in Sub-Lime with the shaker hood and Torqueflight 727.

First Post

By Way Of Explanation

I just started this page so I could post on
my wife's blog as "The Mister".

To read my actual blog, go here:

Simple Terms