Month: December 2016

New Years 2017 – Lets do this

All-in-all 2016 has been a decent year for me. I could have done without the election drama and finding out that offering any thoughts on politics means I am an uninformed, idealistic Satanist.


I’m not a fan of all the celebrity deaths nor the manner in which they died. What happened to plane crashes? We have modern medicine and these people are wealthy, they aren’t supposed to fall victim to heart attacks. They should be cyborgs with turbine hearts like Dick Cheney. At least go out on a crack bender so we can remember the good times and feel a little better about not being rich because of what it does to your mental stability. Let’s be honest, I only play the lottery with hope that I can buy an immortal computer body and if celebrities keep dying in these ho-hum ways then my dreams of an android afterlife are all for naught.


It has to get fairly hot to melt rims into a liquid metal Terminator. 

Then there were the fires in the Great Smokey Mountains. Truly heartbreaking to see the damage and loss of life. At the same time, it is inspiring to see disaster response anywhere in rural America. When trucks, chainsaws, and donation centers get to work it is a force to be reckoned with. I’m proud of my home and the humanity that lives just below the irrational day to day discussions.

All that being said, I feel that 2017 has some potential. If it wanted to, 2017 could do some great things.

The idea of great things has been at the forefront of my mind along with the concept that great things are the result of small actions over time. The idea that for an ant to eat an elephant it has to do it one bite at a time. I want to use the age-old New Year’s Resolution to resolve my actions, not necessarily my goals.

  • Health has to be a front runner because everything else stems from that part of your life. I don’t have a goal to lose X numbers of pounds or run a marathon. I need to start smaller. I resolve to not kill myself with a fork. Each bite can be good or bad bite so I will try to focus on that. Maybe this will be the year I kick caffeine? Hahaha. Just kidding. Small steps. No need to sink this ship before it gets out of the harbor. That reminds me, I need to fix my coffee. Brb. Okay, where were we. Oh yeah, actions.
  • I want to be a better father/husband. That isn’t a clear goal in and of itself but I can resolve to listen more, talk less, and make decisions out of love instead of fear or personal preference. That will mean saying yes to more things and no to some others. Jane got a guitar for Christmas, maybe some lessons would be a good idea. Maybe I’ll try to learn some too. I need to work on structure and being more involved with parts of their life outside of making jokes and having fun. Yay for chores and homework!
  • I have the privilege to lead a group of talented people at my job. We have lots of exciting things going on and most of the time we are fighting fires and jumping around from subject to subject. Part of that is my communication and reluctance to delegate. There are new technologies and uncertainty in what the future holds. We are already leaders in the type of work we do. My long-term goal is for our group to be total badass rock stars. That starts with doing the small things well and getting routine problems solved quickly. Less talky more do-y.
  • I’ve always wanted to write a book. I have gotten really close a few times. A couple of times I have thrown away a pile of pages because I woke up and hated the thought of anyone reading my ideas. I have always struggled with public speaking for much the same reason. People who know me are always a little surprised when I tell them that public speaking gives me panic attacks because I do speak in front of groups on a regular basis. Fake it ‘til you make it. The solution to writing and talking might be to focus on a story. If you write a story long enough you will have a stack of pages that might as well be a book. I could print all my blog posts and have about 300 pages. I don’t know that an editing company would pick it up because it is random and fluctuates between insightful and blatant potty—mouth ranting but you get the idea. Books take time. Public speaking requires a story. Putting yourself out there is one of the toughest things I can think of for me. That will be my small step, put it out there more. Whatever that looks like.
  • I want to keep a strong connection with family. It is a hard thing to do. Families are constantly growing and moving and spreading. Time is accelerating. I want to do better at keeping up with everyone and try to visit at least annually. To find meaningful ways to spend an afternoon and help my kids have relationships with their family as well. One of the things I noticed this year while visiting different places is the tendency I have to mingle and visit while telling the kids to “go play”. Usually it is with some cousins but when all of the holiday is spent at different events then the personal time gets lost in the mix. That’s why I’m glad we spent Christmas Day on the couch in our PJ’s. After that maniac-depressive rollercoaster of presents and sugar, we were ready to spend some time apart again.

Not a very long list and most of it may fall by the wayside by January 5th but maybe not. If you have things you would like to do better or get accomplished, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Maybe the small-steps-approach will add up to an incredible 2017.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.


Over The River

Who was it that said, “Life is about the journey not the destination.”? What a warm and fuzzy sentiment.

Surely they spoke of holiday driving with four children under the age of ten. An interstate trip of four hours. How bad could that be?

Our planning was impeccable. The van was packed and ready for an after-school pickup. We would hit the highway at 3:30 and arrive at our destination city just after 7:00 which means we would miss all major traffic jams. We even made it to the front of the school pick-up line.

3:15 – All children safely buckled into the van and we are making our way to the Interstate. I hear the standard plea from the peasants, “Dad! I’m hungry. Can we eat something?” and “I have to go to the bathroom.” This was expected…

3:29 – We stop at Sonic and get after-school snacks with the hope that they will keep everyone satisfied through the trip. Small Sprites for the children in the hopes that peeing will be kept to a minimum.

3:35 – We accelerate down the onramp and reach highway speed. The van shifts as we merge into light traffic and Jane’s Sprite flies from her lap only to land top down, driving the straw through the bottom of the cup. Yay. This scene would be fun if we had just won some sort of championship game and the Sprite were champagne. It was not and we did not.

3:37 – We decelerate up the off-ramp and pull into a truck stop/Hardees restaurant. I dump out a pond of Sprite from the center console. We confuse a Mexican gentleman who was sleeping in a station wagon packed full of blankets. In fact, the entire car was so full of blankets there was only room for the driver so it is safe to say that we confused each other.

3:42 – We accelerate down the onramp and reach highway speed. The vans shifts as we merge into light traffic.

4:16 – A whisper floats in from the rear of the car. “I peed”, is announced at a volume that only dogs can hear. I request clarification, “You did what?” A small child erupts into tears. My direct style of questioning decimated her very soul.

4:18 – We decelerate up the off-ramp and drive to a store that is a truck stop/antique store/restaurant. The wet child gets a fresh set of clothes, pajamas because that is all we can get to in the suitcase. I declare a mandatory bathroom break. The offending child swears that she is finished and doesn’t need to go. When Supermom and the other three return the offending child decides that was mistaken and could perhaps go pee some more.

4:35 – We accelerate down the onramp and reach highway speed. The van shifts slightly as we merge into medium traffic. As king of the car I decree, “Anyone having to eliminate any bodily function shall go in their pants and we will deal with it when our journey is complete.” The crowd falls silent. I turn XM radio to 90’s on 9 and jam out to a little Country Grammar.

5:26 – Another whisper floats into my ear from the back of the van. “Daddy. I have to poop.”

5:37 – We decelerate down the off-ramp into the State provided rest area. The ace of deuce pinches her loaf and we return to the highway.

5:48 – An unnamed child removes her shoes. The stench swirls in the air, circulating in the vents. Dead rats in Tupperware containers in cars in Arizona don’t smell this bad. I thought we ran over a dead skunk that had been eating dead squirrels. Once my eyes stop burning and my nose goes numb, the world becomes tolerable again. 90s of 9 starts to play a song by New Kids on The Block. A piece of my man-soul begins to cry.

We complete one quarter of the journey in one half of the budgeted time. The next three hours are a constant volley of question and answer. “Are we close?” and “No.”

The trip started to feel impossible. The questions and singing of random songs wouldn’t stop. Children who are normally as loud as a Boeing jet engine were constantly asking questions in a whisper that I could never understand. And the feet, another child removed her boots. How have we missed these feet for so long? I swear they bathe regularly.

I had a moment of weakness as a person and I allowed myself a daydream.

In my dream, I stopped the van on the side of the road and got out to walk alone across the country like Forrest Gump. The thought of frostbite and hungry coyotes was a comforting possibility. I had visions of fun conversations with highway bums around makeshift camp fires while eating canned beans.


Long, long beards and layers of clothes that I never remove because there is no better way to carry them. Perhaps a few cardboard signs with witty sayings to get me the occasional McDonalds coffee or five dollar bill. I would drift as a vagrant until my body was exhausted and I die peacefully in my sleep from late stage hypothermia.


What is that dude on the right doing? Getting a reference point for maximum shrinkage?

I snap back to reality from my highway depression to avoid a large truck changing lanes without using a signal. Asshole.

The highway rolls on and my stress subsides. We arrive at our destination happy and healthy.

If you enjoy road trips, this post is for you. You’re welcome. I’m sure I will look back on them fondly. One day.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Bahumbug 2016

I know that the holiday of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. I know it is about the hope and joy of a gift to the world. I am aware that this story is the start of a message of salvation but…

We went shopping today with the lofty intent to complete our Christmas shopping in one day. Everyone else in America had the same idea. The anxiety and stress really made me think and I have decided – Christmas is more of an Old Testament holiday.

I don’t know why exactly but driving through the parking lot just seems like it would be safer with the blood of a slaughtered lamb smeared above the driver’s side door of my Honda. The anxiety in the air over finding Hatchimals or the NES system feels like an impending plague. We spend our time trying to decide what sacrificial offerings will be laid at the altar of Santa. We continually recite the Ten Commandments as we squeeze the buggy past other shoppers on a toy aisle that was built at exactly two buggy widths without a centimeter to spare. The “Thou shall not kill” commandment was helpful.

We could bring over some positive parts of the Old Testament too. A little unleavened bread would have been nice in the long check-out lines.

Just a thought. I don’t think Jesus himself would be upset about putting some distance between himself and the holiday anyway. His primary message was about selling worldly things and going out to do good to your fellow man. The primary message of Christmas in modern times is to acquire worldly things and do it in spite of your fellow man. #OppositeDay

Shifting the theme of Christmas wasn’t my only revelation for the night. I also noticed a few things about humanity. We found ourselves in Target; a store that charges a little more than Walmart because people prefer to shop in stores that aren’t Walmart. Upon leaving Target we noticed a store named Five Below. It is a store that is themed on price – every item is five dollars or less. We thought it was an interesting approach to commerce and decided to check it out.

I couldn’t figure out how I felt about the store and I am having trouble describing it exactly. Imagine a large department store is raided during a zombie apocalypse. Now imagine that the remaining items were gathered together and placed in a smaller store. Now imagine that the items were all valued at less than five dollars originally but the employee in charge of pricing had an infinite stack of five dollar price tags and just thought, “eh, everyone I know and love has been killed by zombies so to hell with it”. That is how the store feels to me.

Then I realized… Target is the Rich-People-Walmart. Walmart is often surrounded by discount stores. Target would have its own category of higher class parasitic stores. Hence, Five Below is the Rich-People-Dollar-Store.

Something in human DNA urges us to simplify our thoughts and opinions. We are predisposed to make stereotypes and rules-of-thumb to keep our mental energy at a manageable level. The psychology of the dollar store is simple, everything is the same price and the total purchase price is simple to keep track of. Humans of the upper middle class are no different than anyone else. Who cares if a pencil case + a giant Hershey bar + a used pair of boots would be cheaper at Walmart? No one has time to add all those decimal values to compare. We know that 5 + 5 +5 equals 15 plus some magically calculation for tax. Thank you for simplicity, Five Below. Honestly, I was unsettled by this store.

Supermom and I returned to our side of town and visited Walmart and a real Dollar Store just to make sure we hadn’t crossed over into a weird alternate reality. Our Dollar Store had that poverty vibe that underlies an honestly poor customer base. For those of you who wonder if you could ever tell the difference between a faux dollar store and a real one, I would like to offer some key evidence.

  • Two young boys (8-10 years old) were playing with plastic machine guns in the checkout lanes. They were “blasting” each other in the “muhfak’n” head. Mom (grandmom?) was busy checking Facebook on her phone.
  • A semi-drunken man was also on his cell phone, discussing his feelings of betrayal for not being included in Thanksgiving dinner and how his senile mother has been outwardly violent with her in-home nurse. All of this while trying to decide which color of disposable plastic party cups he should buy. Loudly.
  • There were board games that were made overseas and blatantly violate copyright laws. For example, there was a game titled Snakes and Ladders. The game was exactly the same as Chutes and Ladders but all of the chutes had been replaced with snakes via photo editing software. All of the game pieces were made of paper, including the board itself.
  • A man in the checkout lane beside us had driven back to the dollar store because the small bag of screws he had purchased were the wrong size and he needed a refund. He probably spent more than $1 in gas to make the trip for the refund of $1.
  • The store has exposed concrete flooring instead of vinyl tile. Not only that but the concrete isn’t sealed or epoxied. It is rubbed smooth by the dragging of sad feet.
  • There were cardboard boxes of Admiral Crunch cereal stacked along the grocery aisles. Cap’n Crunch would never stand for such laziness on his ship.
  • A lady in front of me bought about fifteen travel sized shampoos and lotions because they were only a dollar each. All together the shampoos may have filled half a normal bottle but in the small sizes they sold for fifteen dollars. No wonder these stores are popping up like meth labs.

Also, everything cost a dollar. Proof positive of a poor dollar store. 

These are the hallmarks of a real dollar-store. Don’t be fooled by impostors. The rich dollar store is stressful just like the poor dollar store but for different reasons. In the rich dollar store I worry that I might be trampled by someone Snap-chatting while shopping. In the poor dollar store I worry that a gunman will enter and rob the store like I see on the news every other day.

Both have their risks and rewards I guess.

If you enjoy the holiday season and shopping in a sea of assholes, this post is for you. Every year I find myself just as confused but just as involved as I was the year before. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Smiles Are Contagious

Today we took an excursion to the local movie theater to see the new feel-good cartoon Trolls.

The basic idea of the movie is this; Trolls are always happy and their enemies are always grumpy. The enemies are called Bergens. In typical Hollywood fashion, a grumpy Troll and a happy Bergen are the catalyst for bringing both sides together. At one point the Trolls become sad and all lose their color until the one-and-only grumpy Troll decides to sing and brings back the happiness. The faded Trolls catch a wave of color. Emboldened by their improved attitudes, the Trolls manage to cheer up the grumpy Bergens and bring peace to the land. Yay! An unlikely hero saves the world.

The moral of the story – attitude is important and one person can make a difference. How inspiring. I thought to myself how it was a fun movie even if the lesson was a little less than realistic.

As the credits began to roll a catchy tune played while all the main characters danced around. Lady Bug stood up and started dancing, totally engrossed in the music. She was bouncing and singing just as hard as she could go. We were all looking at her and laughing because she was really cute and totally unaware that we were watching. The smile on her face was a glow.

Then a funny thing happened.

Lady Bug heard a giggle and looked around. She froze for a minute, trying to decide if she should be embarrassed or keep hamming it up. Everyone was enjoying her cute show so, one by one, we all started dancing along with her and the music. No one wanted the moment to end. In a few seconds there were nine people dancing to the music of the rolling credits. It was a really cheesy moment but happy and beautiful too.

I was reminded that one person can affect the world, especially if no one tells them it is impossible. I hope I always remember these little lessons that my children teach me and maybe they can search through my stories one day and find a treat for themselves. (Amidst the ranting and swearing of course.)

If you are ever touched by the pure joy of children, this post is for you. It is nice to be reminded that smiles are contagious. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.