Month: September 2016

Ides of September

You just never know what to expect at our house. These past few weeks have been no exception. I walked into the living room yesterday morning and Kolaso the rabbit was sitting beside Jane on the couch watching cartoons. He has been neglected a little lately with all the new pets cycling through so I was glad to see him getting some love. Just a normal morning around here.

We recently fostered a squirrel baby who lost his mother and hurt his leg. His name is Phillip.


He loves to hang on the front of your shirt like you are a tree and he loves his special milk. For anyone taking notes the milk is puppy formula with heavy cream mixed in and he is growing really well. He should be big enough to release back into the great outdoors here soon. The girls are no longer surprised when we get a new animal to look at, they are mildly interested and learn just enough to tell their friends at school.

Our other “new” pet Judy Cornbread has been growing quickly and is still working on her place in the pack (the bottom). We think she might have the dog version of pica because she really enjoys eating plastic pieces that she chews out of cups and water bottles. This is extra fun because she will randomly puke up a wad of flotsam that has been rolled around in her stomach. They look like an owl pellet if owls ate small plastic toys. Sometimes it is worse than owl pellets. Sometimes she gets carsick like on Labor Day weekend on a long car ride to the river. I heard a slimy sound and smelled something akin to grease and corn chips for about five miles. It was dog vomit.


Oh God. Look at the bubbles. I can still smell it.

At least she is potty trained now. Crazy mutt.

The cat has been getting in the story mix as well. This morning I stumbled into the kitchen in my early morning haze and heard a desperate meow. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from but luckily the cat talks with me when I say, “caaaat”. She responded to my voice in an impromptu game of Marco Polo that led me to the stove. Confusing because there is only one way to get stuck behind the stove and that is from falling behind it against the wall. I noticed our bacon grease container had been knocked over near the edge of the abyss.


Mystery solved.

I slid the stove out and the poor cat began singing my praises. Meow-lelujahs. She had been wedged in one place while the spilled bacon grease slowly dripped on her rear end. I don’t know how long she was back there but it was long enough for her entire bottom half to resemble Danny Zuko’s hair.


So instead of making my coffee I held the cat under the sink faucet and scrubbed her butt with Dawn dish detergent for the better part of five minutes. She still looks like the napkin under microwaved bacon. Another added bonus, the smell of old grease is well dispersed in the kitchen. This brings us back around to Ms. Judy Cornbread who already has a mild obsession with the cat. She knows the cat is a friend but her instincts tell her to be really, really interested. If the cat were outdoors and ran away fast enough I think Judy would try to eat her. Fair enough because I think if the cat were bigger she would try to eat us. Now that Judy suspects the cat is bacon flavored she has been hovering around the kitchen and licking her lips. Strange to see your children thinking of eating each other but…. Nature.

In non-pet-related news, someone in our neighborhood called several homes in to the local City inspectors for grass that was longer than the regulation of six inches. It wasn’t at the time but if I’m going to be accused, I might as well be guilty. Game on assholes, game on. It needs to be mowed for sure but public nuisance… hardly. I can’t believe they called me out on this while the dead pumpkins were a non-issue for nine months.

I am counting down the days to our cabin in the woods. (It is hard to count when I don’t really have an estimated timeframe but I long for it.)


I haven’t been writing much of anything. Life is busy. Work is interesting because we are in the dry season which = work season. I designed a new outlet system for lakes and we are finishing the installation this week.


I have an underused engineering blog where I will put the details and story for all you STEM nerds. Also, we are taking a vacation to Arizona soon to Sedona. We want to see the Grand Canyon and the beauty of the southwest for our tenth anniversary.

If you hang around and wait for new stories, this post is for you. Thank you! Oh and you’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Economy Cars

Imagine for a moment that you own an automobile manufacturing company. For the past ten years you have been building economy cars. You know how to build economy cars really well. You are the KING of economy cars. While preparing for next year’s production plans you get a report.

Market analysis shows that companies who are shifting their production to trucks are doing very well. Your company has known about this trend for several years but changing is very expensive. The company has tried several initiatives to keep up with the changes.

You started a new division that makes a limited number of trucks and has lots of success. You know you need to make more trucks if you are going to be successful in the long run. However, the economy car employees aren’t trained to make trucks and finding the time or resources to train them is tough. You are doing the best you can but changing over completely would probably lose money the first year or two and the company can’t afford it. Large scale changes are risky.

To make things worse, economy car customers have been buying more and more trucks so demand for economy cars is at an all-time low. You reviewed the manufacturing process and made changes to make the process efficient. Materials were outsourced. Features were standardized. Costs are low but lack of demand is driving prices lower so profits are still not good.

The cars that you will sell next year are so cheap that the customers will buy them because they don’t have another choice and you will sell them because you don’t have a choice either. Resisting change and holding out on investing in the obvious success of trucks has killed your company. You may linger on for a few more years but if something doesn’t change you will face one of two outcomes: 1) All your customers will leave for trucks or 2) You will go broke trying to make economy cars.

Now imagine that you run a school system.

An economy school system.

A school system that has been in slow decline with a troubling record of customers leaving for nearby systems. There are parts of the system that are enjoying success but they are small parts and changing the entire system to match their method is daunting. Teachers would need additional training. Additional staff would need to be hired. It would cost a lot of money and at the end of the day, you are at a cross-roads.

You have to decide where you want to be in the world. Do you want to have lots of willing customers who enjoy your product or do you want to decline until the only customers you have are the ones who have no choice? The answer exists. The road is uphill but at least it is paved.

Maybe we can figure this out. Every kid deserves to be a truck.


A really classy truck. 

I have been reading Creative Schools by Ken Robinson, PhD. He has a TED talk that is worth watching, watch it here. This guy is onto something. The catch is that we can’t nod our heads in agreement, we have to actively promote change. I have no idea how to go about it but I’m looking into it.

Sorry to stray off topic of kids, poop, and wild animals. We recently fostered a squirrel so don’t worry, the stories are writing themselves. I just have to slow down enough to write them.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Judgement Day

Parent-teacher conference is not something that I mark on my calendar. I don’t lay awake the night before in nervous anticipation of the news of how my children are progressing versus the national standards. I go because I should. It gives a small indication that I am an involved parent.

Three of the girls are now in school; Jane, Prima, and Don Threeto. Each meeting with their teachers was awesome. I started the night light-heartedly joking about over-riding personality traits and ended in a tearful appreciation of the young women they are on the way to be.

Don Threeto just started in kindergarten this fall. On her first day home she smiled from each to ear and proclaimed, “I made four friends”. A precious moment wrapped in guilt because I guess she should have more friends at five. She had no idea what their names were but to her it didn’t matter. After a month into the semester we sat with her teacher and listened to how she was organized, obedient, and very friendly with all the other children. She takes her worklist each day and does each task in order. It is a Montessori school so she doesn’t have to follow the order but she does. I was proud to hear how well she was adjusting and I acknowledged that we haven’t spent as much time on pre-school subjects as we should have but she will be just fine. She loves the positive feedback from learning new things.

Stop number two was in Prima’s classroom. We heard the usual report that Prima was doing well and enjoying her work. She has a friend with whom she shares a love of reading and reading and creating stories. Together they decided that they would create a pop-up book and take it to the public library to be published. I was a little touched to hear that she routinely finishes her work and asks the teacher if she can help the younger students. My heart was continuing to melt. Kids are so precious.

I knew that my parenting karma wasn’t good enough for three good reports. Sure enough, Jane has been falling behind in her studies. She is very bright but like her dad, she has trouble focusing on things that don’t interest her. Perfect example: She had a project due on a Friday. The project was to create a model of different landforms and label them. On Thursday night I told her to finish her project and for about two hours we didn’t hear a word from her. Then she came in and presented us a project on wolves. She had pop-up figurines, hand drawn pictures, and fun facts all over a poster board. She researched all of the information on her computer. I asked her, “Cool. When is that project due?” She answered, “Oh it isn’t due. I just like wolves.” Sweet Jesus kid… Come on.

Jane’s teacher also let me know that very often Jane had completed her work but instead of turning it in, she just leaves it at her workspace and does something else. I told the teacher that I felt her pain and would work on things at home to try and get her more responsive.

Then she told me something that choked me up. There is a girl who I will call Amy who has been in Jane’s classes since kindergarten. Amy has a learning disability that has not allowed her to progress mentally beyond drawing pictures and watching cartoons. Jane has always had a soft spot for Amy and I think she could tell Amy was different. Jane befriended and protected Amy in kindergarten. Now in fourth grade, Jane’s teacher told me that part of her distraction has been stopping her work when Amy was allowed to join the classroom. She said that Jane would waste hours of time trying to help Amy draw horses. It was that moment that I knew I was doing okay as a parent.

Life is about taking care of people. Making friends. Fostering relationship. Having patience, and when needed, pouring your energy into lost causes. My kids may not dominate the alphabet or finish their checklists in record time but make no mistake, there is a difference between smart and intelligent. They are driven to make friends, help others, and stand up for the kids who need it. To see them grow from crawling poop machines into strong minded, intelligent young women does my heart good. They teach me how to be a better person every day and it makes me humbled and amazed. My girls rock.

That is pretty fucking special.

If you love your kids and they consistently impress you, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.