Month: April 2017

A Gift

I often get the question, “Do your kids ever read your blogs?”

Which I answer, “No.”

However, I know that one day they will. That is the whole point. To create a record of all of our craziness and random life events that they can look back on and laugh. That is also why I try to create nicknames and spread the love on embarrassing stories. I hope the stories will sneak past their teenage years. Past the unforgiving eyes of bitter tweens who may use the information for harm. I also hope that they are strong enough to ignore lesser mortals and their insults.

Even outside of this blog, I know my kids will share embarrassing truths with their friends and will face a situation where their delicate secrets get exposed. It happens. Friendships change and relationships end. Things you share in confidence don’t always remain that way. Write that down.

If I have learned something from writing my life stories for other people to read, it is this… Everyone has a similar life experience with someone else. In other words, if something has happened to you then that same something has probably happened to someone else. I can’t tell you how many of my stories that I thought were unique had a followup from a reader who said, “ME TOO!”

As adults we don’t share. We try to maintain decorum and civility. We try to act like we have things figured out. That life is going smoothly according to plan. It never is. Life doesn’t conform to plans. I try to keep the transparency pretty high for my kids. I figure that if I am going to be a mediocre parent then the least I can do is not lie to them.

We had a talk the other night about one of the kids and a funny poop accident. I could tell they were a little embarrassed so I let them in on a secret.

UD: You don’t have to be embarrassed about potty accidents.

Kid: I don’t?

UD: No. Don’t take that as an excuse to start crapping your pants but accidents happen.

Kid: Have they ever happened to you?

UD: Uhhh. Well… Sure. They happen to everybody. If you live long enough I guarantee that you will ruin at least one pair of perfectly good underwear.

Kid: *laughs* Tell me about it happening to you!

I sat for a moment frozen in fear. I have had no hesitation sharing their stories but I realized I didn’t want to tell them my own. What kind of role model is that? Some of their harshest stories are about poop-gone-wrong so I searched my soul and offered up a couple of tales.

UD: I can tell you that there were two times in my life when a fart lied to me.

Kids: *laughs hysterically*

I then shared the following accounts…

The first one that I can remember was during bath time with my cousin. I couldn’t have been more than three. I remember my cousin making bubbles in the bathtub using his mysterious internal gas powers.  I also remember my mother walking into the bathroom and spotting a suspicious looking floating object and having a mild “freak-out”. How to get this turd from tub to toilet was an interesting problem. The solution to this quandary was scooping handfuls of water out of the tub and into the air towards the toilet. Imagine trying to pick up a boat by scooping the water around the boat. Exactly like that but with a turd. I suppose the approach worked because I don’t remember anything after that except being blamed for the problem in the first place. That whole memory is fuzzy.

I also remember an incident from kindergarten. I was probably five. This one was not so much of an accident as much as it was a straight-up pants-shitting. It was nap time and I was drifting in and out of consciousness when suddenly I realized something wasn’t right. My body had bypassed all decision making processes and while I was dreaming, it shit in my pants. Adrenaline rushed into my veins and flooded my mind with one overwhelming feeling… Oh shit. Literally. I raised my hand and requested a trip to the restroom. I was told to wait a few minutes and we would go as a class. Fantastic. I didn’t have that kind of time but what else could I do? I waited. Play it off. Keep a poker face.

Fifty hours later (ten minutes) it was time for class potty break. Kindergarten is the worst kind of place to go to the bathroom. It is like an insane asylum. Other kids would peek through the cracks in the stall and try to hold a conversation. Not the best scenario for trying to perform damage control on what is left of your wardrobe. I won’t elaborate details but rest assured the logistics of the kindergarten bathroom were not suitable for me to discreetly correct the problem. I spent the rest of the day self-aware of my personal space and tried to minimize all movements. It was traumatizing. Like a kernel of popcorn in your teeth or a small rock between your toes when you are wearing boots, the feeling is unique and unmistakable. Somehow, I made it through the day and the ride home without drawing the attention of any of my soulless sociopathic five-year-old peer group. I rushed to the bathroom to try and re-handle the problem on my home turf. I recalled the process my mother used to clean my baby-sister’s underwear whenever she had an accident; wash them out in the toilet. Think through the steps. No mistakes. I knew that the water needed to be moving to wash the debris from the soiled cotton. No problem. I had seen it done several times before. Go time.

This is one of those memories that are burned extra bright.

I deftly pulled the handled to unleash the torrent of water and held the underwear against the raging stream. I remember thinking, “This is going to work!” The water promptly snatched the underwear out of my hand and sucked them down the toilet. I stood staring at the gurgling whirlpool with wet hands and wide eyes. Right on queue my mother, walking down the hall, asks, “What are you doing in there?”



Poor planning. I didn’t have any fresh fruit-of-the-looms. I should have gotten some before attempting triage. Idiot! Cut me some slack. I was five. From there I remember going commando and acting surprised at my amazing disappearing underwear.

Luckily that is the last incident I remember as a young child. The next closest call was at a church Christmas dinner. We went to a Methodist church and there was food which meant it was a Wednesday. Santa was a surprise guest and everyone lined up to sit in his lap. I had just eaten an after dinner peppermint. The semi-chemy kind that had been sitting in the glass bowl in the lobby since Easter. I wasn’t aware that a sudden intake of sugar is sometimes a strong stimulant. Instant gut bomb. I didn’t want to leave the Santa line but I broke out in cold sweats and had to admit defeat. Thanks to all that is holy, I didn’t shit in Santa’s lap. That would’ve been a disaster. The little helper elf photographer would have captured the moment for eternity. For all that has gone wrong in my life, that moment landed in my favor. What is church for if not for small miracles, right?

So there you go. To my future kids. Here are a few tales of personal shame that you can enjoy. You’re welcome. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

The Danger Beyond

Before we get started I wanted to share evidence of laziness in the food industry. My last post lamented over a misplaced noodle in my Velveeta shells. This time there were fancy shell noodles in my poverty-comfort elbow macaroni.


The first encounter. 


I expect poor behavior from the elbows but I thought the shells knew better…

Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Think of a cold wind in your face. A Pacific Ocean breeze that chills your nose as you stand on a wooden dock overlooking fishing trawlers leaving the bay. Slowly disappearing into the fog of the morning. Got it? Good.

I’ve heard a story about an oil spill in Alaska that was devastating to wildlife. The part of the story that I remember centered on rescued seals that became the mascots for the environmental impacts. Concerned citizens rallied around the seals and cleaned their fur of oil and nursed them back to health. Television crews came from miles away to watch their triumphant return to the wild. As the handlers released the seals, the crowd cheered while watching them swim back to their place in the wild. A place that is somewhere in the middle of the food chain because within moments the precious seals were devoured by a group of orcas. A grim reminder of the brutality of nature.

I myself had a seal-orca moment this week.

It is a poorly kept secret that our house is a sanctuary for strange animals. Last fall we fostered a baby squirrel that had lost his mother to a cat and had nothing to show for it but a broken leg and was missing part of his tail. We bought small bottles, puppy formula, and specialty squirrel nipples online. I didn’t know you could buy squirrel nipples but we had purchased some wallaby nipples the year before and we happened to remember our specialty nipple supplier. What a wonder of modern technology – internet nipples! We bottle fed that little dude from a tiny baby to a young squirrel. He had a small yellow t-shirt with a dump truck on it from the little boy who first rescued him. We named him Phillip.

Phillip slept in his yellow shirt all the time. He loved to eat walnuts while sitting on a shoulder. He never once bit anyone although I can’t say he didn’t pee on the dog. My wife would let Phillip out to play and for some reason he would chase me down to sit on my shoulder. The only problem was Phillip’s claws. If you didn’t wear long sleeves he would leave scratches all up and down your arm.

Over the last few months it has been apparent that Phillip was ready to explore all things that the squirrel world had to offer. Like hot lady squirrels for example. We had to let him out into the wild and we had only been waiting because he reached maturity in the middle of winter and we knew he would die without a home or food storage. The weather turned nice so we thought we would just leave the door open and see what transpired.

Fast forward fifteen minutes. I was working in the yard that day and he was sitting on my shoulder watching me. He would run down my arm and sniff the things I was holding and then run back up to my shoulder to watch some more. Jane was looking at something under a tree and Phillip ran over to look with her. I got a quick video of him exploring before he ran away. He scampered from one side of the yard to the other getting further away each time until I looked and he was gone. He squeezed under the back fence. I figured he was exploring a little and would be back in a minute. Or an hour.

Then I started to realize the weight of my indifference. Two neighborhood children (in separate yards) had their pellet rifles out and were shooting tin cans. Somewhere in the canopy of the trees a hawk let out a cry and took flight. A fluffy grey cat stalked along the back fence. Dogs barked wildly two houses down. I looked over our fence and Phillip was nowhere to be found. A rickety shed was across the creek behind our house and I could only imagine that it had rat poison spread liberally inside to keep mice out of the packed up dishes and old clothes that used to fit well but now are too small but the owner is convinced that ‘this is the year’ that they shed fifty pounds and squeeze a freshly narrowed ass into those size fours. Best of luck with that. Those dreamers had probably surrounded the boxes with rodent death. If that didn’t get poor Phillip then I was sure that any of the other hundred hazards would mete out his demise.

If he ran up to a person in a friendly way they would probably be scared shitless and call animal control. He would walk right into that big metal cage expecting a Walnut and a back scratching. Next thing he knows, they would lop off his head for a rabies test and he would become a statistic on the negative column.

I felt deep down that I had screwed up. Phillip had become part of our family despite our best effort to keep him apart. He was too loving and full of character. I worried for three days over that damn squirrel. I felt deep down that he was probably dead. Thinking I had turned him out to an unsuspecting death and that all my efforts had been wasted in the form of a delicious snack for a lucky predator just didn’t sit well. I was much more upset than I thought I would be. Every trip by the back window was a little slower as I looked for signs of his return. Nothing.

‘He is dead and it is my fault,’ I told myself.


The next day we leave to go on a boat trip on the Mississippi River. An hour before setting sail and losing cell phone signal I received a call from Mamaw. “The squirrel is back,” she said. My heart jumped for joy over a common (yet non-native) tree rat. “How is he?”

She paused, “humble.”

Phillip had some wounds. He got bitten by a dog and scraped up pretty good on his hind end and tail but he had survived. He had found his way back to our porch and was hiding out in a birdhouse that we have been letting him use as his nest for the last couple of months. When we got home from the boat he was so happy to see us. He ran up on my shoulder and nuzzled my ear. Then he jumped to Supermom and curled up in her shirt. No longer did he want to run and explore. Only to be with people who give him walnuts and protection.

The good news is that he is a non-native squirrel so he can qualify as a pet. If I had to guess, Phillip is a city squirrel from downtown Detroit. He has been through a real ordeal with the downturn in the auto industry and all…

If you have ever surprised yourself with concern over something you didn’t like you really liked, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.