Author: Underdaddy

I am a well-intentioned father of four girls. I assume the identity of Underdaddy to carry out my mission of publicizing my mistakes and funny adventures so that others may smile. Engineer by day, I understand that if no one ever discusses failures then no progress will ever be made. In that light, I represent a lot of potential progress.

Fun and Games

Day five hundred of my captivity…

I have taken a total leave of absence from writing for what is probably a year. And people still stop by the site and see if something new is rolling off the press. Thank you guys. It feels good.

I’ve been busy and my will to write anything at all has been missing in action. I got to the point where I don’t feel like I have anything to share and now that the girls are getting older some of my previous story styles are no longer mine to tell. Tales of toddlers taking mystery shits on the furniture is fun and games but teenagers with technology will probably not be as understanding. I even thought about pulling site down and archiving for some future generation.

But not to worry, COVID-19 has entered our lives and I don’t have much sanity left. I need the therapy that only blog-style bitching can provide. A unity through misery.

So here is a feeble attempt to document our craziness.

The strangest thing so far is dealing with the ominous slow crawling feeling of disaster and vacation all rolled into one. We started our distancing on the kid’s spring break so when school got cancelled (they call it postponed but we know better) it just felt like the world’s longest weekend. If you watch the news then the world is ending and if I look outside the magnolia tree is blooming. My black car is yellow from pollen and people are walking their dogs more than I remember. Select shelves are empty in the stores but the shoppers meander around smile at each other, making small talk about COVID-19 and the lack of toilet paper. Milk, water, and bread have recovered from the initial rush but paper products may never recover.

Work life is much the same. For the first week it felt like we were trying something new. The second week we all unplugged our hardware from the office and logged in from our living rooms to get emails and take conference calls where kids played in the background. We try to move things forward but this second week was marked by the depression of knowing that we are just getting started in our new normal and lots of wondering if there is a point to trying to work or teach the kids about fractions. The third week may be the charm. The week that we get the groove and settle in to fight this thing off. I hope it is.

I tell my kids to take note. To keep a journal.

I remember an ice storm in the early nineties. We lived in the country and power networks were decimated. I think it was around two weeks before power was reconnected for our area. We cooked on a wood burning stove in the basement. We stayed warm and managed to get a generator to hook up a few essential items like our well. It was a time I remember as fun and interesting. We were toughing it out and surviving and there is something fulfilling about that even when it isn’t easy. I hope my kids remember this time in the same light. For me it is different because we have all the luxury we could want for a quarantine. We have Netflix and Disney and Prime. We have tablets and phones and a schedule that hasn’t been this free since college. It doesn’t require any work or effort. It doesn’t feel like surviving and I assume that is why it also doesn’t feel fulfilling as much as it feels depressing.

Prima, our second daughter, came into our room a few days ago with the complaint of a fever and a headache. We checked and it was 102.5. Fantaaaaastic. Two weeks of distancing and it arrives anyway. The next morning the fever is gone but a slight cough has joined the party. By the end of the day the fever is back. We treat with Tylenol and go to bed feeling like the wave is about to start crashing around us. Then she woke up this morning with no fever, no cough, and a pep in her step. Like it never happened. She probably had one of a hundred colds and some spring allergies but when every sniffle feels like Ebola has taken root it is exhausting.

I think we are developing some sort of quarantine PTSD or cabin fever. That can lead to impulsive and irrational behavior. Which reminds me, we got a baby wallaby. Her name is Stevie.

Corona5

We also dressed up in fancy clothes and Mardi Gras masks to have our picture taken by a neighborhood photographer. She arranged to walk around and take photos of people on their porch. Three weeks ago that would have been a strange proposal but today we thought “Oh cool! Let’s dress weird and stand in the yard.”.

Corona3

Everyone is shoving stuffed animals in the windows to give people a fun game of I Spy.

I think recorded history will have a new milestone. I propose B.C. (before corona) and A.D. (after distancing).

There have been upsides. We have been forced to slow down and exist around each other more than usual. We don’t have the pressures of early mornings and things to do at night. I sat with Jane and shared music for five hours yesterday. We went through notable hits from the eighties and the highlights of the millennial playlist. The we watched The Matrix. It was interrupted by a tornado warning and everyone huddling in the laundry room. We weren’t sure if we would rather die by tornado or suffocation from Judy Cornbread farting.

Corona2

There were terrible tornadoes in Tennessee a few weeks earlier and last night a bad one hit Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Corona4

Houses are sliding into the Tennessee River from flooding and an overly wet spring. Whoever is playing Jumanji needs to buckle up and finish the damn game because all this chaos is wearing thin. And we’ve all but forgotten that this is an election year. Once this virus clears they will be spending all that political ad money in a compressed window of time before the election.

Silver linings. Something to look forward to.

Anyway… good to talk to you and hopefully I will make a successful return to the keyboard.

If you are sheltering in place and trying to treat the virus from the inside out, with whiskey, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Patio for Bindi’s Bungalow

Remember that time that we drove to Colorado to buy a wallaby and everyone thought we were crazy?

Me too! That was a great trip. Part of it…

Remember when, seven months later, Toby died traumatically in a fit of convulsions, wrapped in a urine soaked towel that smelled like maple syrup, while I listened to five women crying over the phone because I was stuck in traffic on the way home?

Me too! Vividly.

Remember when we (Supermom) didn’t remember what a poor idea it is to own something with half a brain and very little will to live so we drove to St. Louis and got another wallaby?

Me too! What is money made for if not for giving to strangers at an interstate truckstop? I blame the mothering gene for this memory lapse and glass-half-full look on life.

Remember that time that we built Princess Bindi her own she-shed palace and installed a web cam so we could be tuned in to any possible murder or choke-to-death scenario?

Yep, still remembering that on this end too. Sidenote: The word she-shed irks me. It is a terrible mishmash of letters that hurts my brain. Like calling a person who is insane, cray-cray. Which also sounds like a three year old talking about coloring utensils. Where were we? Weird pet things…

What about that time we built a door for her to go outside her domicile and get some exercise and eat grass and we hoped that she would be smart enough to be appreciative?

That’s because this one just happened and I haven’t told you about it yet.

Oh_Juno9

The door becomes the ramp. How creative!

We dug posts, trenched in a fence, created a safe and inviting environment, and knew without a doubt that giving her some room to hop about was the key to convincing Bindi to not be such a moody bitch-deer. We worked so hard. Blisters. Soreness. Wire cuts. I fought three bees in hand-to-hand combat and risked my life.

Oh_Juno10

A happy Supermom makes it all worth it. Look at that craftsmanship on that gate!

How did Ms. Bindi react to all this?

Oh_Juno20

She is thinking about the best way to freak out at nothing at all. 

Like someone was chasing her with a butchers knife. That’s how. She lost her mind. She refuses to go outside during the day and generally emerges for only a few minutes at dusk.

So remember kids… when your college fund leaves you a few dollars short of that “nice” apartment or the upgraded meal plan, you can thank Bindi and, by extension, your mother. Just kidding, I’m not paying for college. Get oppressive loans like the rest of us.

Bindi is almost as bad a pet as Jasper. Just kidding, Jasper is terrible. He is sweet sometimes but I have never owned a dog so frustrating. Neither will ever top the sugar gliders for unbearableness. Those guys were the worst. Bindi has gotten better over the last few days and seems adjusted to her expanded freedom. She is not much of a people person but then again she isn’t much of a person.

However, we have some newer pets who are much better people. More on that later…

If you toil away and find yourself unappreciated by the very thing that you are seeking to please, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Thumbs Up

My documentation of life has been lax lately. I haven’t felt the writing bug or even the ability to remember much.

We’ve had weekend trips and baby goats and all kinds of excitement. Donna Threeto got glasses (see below). We had a flood. Then another flood. I got to see Washington DC. I’ll share some good flood photos in another post. Maybe. Sometime.

IMG_5317

Yay! Baby goats!

Anyway. Work life has escalated. In a good way but a busy way as well. I have been traveling a little more and anytime I am out of town life seems to make trouble for me back home.

This week, trouble was in the form of a broken thumb. Who else but Prima, our graceful low calcium princess. She was struck with a dodgeball and immediately had swelling and bruising in her thumb. I assumed that she had stubbed it. Her teacher texted me a picture and I suggested the dad approach of rubbing a little dirt on it and proceeding with life. After all, who the hell breaks a bone in dodgeball? Maybe an ankle but to snap a thumb at the growth plate?

IMG_5326

Made you look. 

Supermom sent me the picture after a fun trip to the doctor’s office at 7:00 at night. She took all four children because all of our babysitting options were out of town. In fact, I was at another hospital in another town visiting one of the grandparents. I got a series of texts that let me know the bone was broken and that she is going to a specialist the next day.

The next day I got a text that I should cancel my schedule the next day because the doctor was going to place her under anesthesia and re-break the thumb to set it correctly. Fun. And they wanted her to check in at the hospital at 6:00 am. More fun.

We did have a fun pre-op experience though.

It is important to remember that Prima is our worry-wart child. She once cried for an hour because poison berries existed and she was afraid that one day she may not be able to stop her hand from making her mouth eat them. True story. She also decided she was afraid of bugs and would barely leave the living room for a week or so. She has done a lot of self-therapy and is much improved but still has a panic from time to time.

So… our pensive princess is sitting in the prep-room and the nurse hands her a gown. She is given the instructions to remove all of her clothes and put on the gown.

Prima asks, “Can I leave my panties on?”

The nurse responds flatly, “The doctor doesn’t like to leave anything that can catch on fire…”

Her eyes widen to the size of dinner plates. I can only imagine the images that she was putting together in her head. Supermom saw the problem immediately and assured her that she was not at risk of burning to death while getting her thumb fixed. Prima was allowed to wear her undergarment without further question.

She was nervous until the IV of Versed convinced her that nothing really matters and life is a warm pool of happy.

IMG_5324

Procedure went good. Recovery was slow. I think the medicine was rough on her. She passed out after trying to get up too quickly. Eventually she got to head home after a little Sprite and some vomiting.

IMG_5325

In about five weeks everything should be good to go. Just in time for swimming and summer.

If you have been injured in a game of dodgeball this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Cousin Ralph

I am forever amazed at the strength of women. It is something that can be seen throughout the age range. They have a perseverance that men don’t deserve. Allow me to explain.

We are in the throes of an illness that I am pretty sure is the flu. It started Thursday with the youngest child and if you have an aversion to these kinds of stories this is where you need to exit the story train.

 

I even gave you guys an extra space to consider your actions so we can continue. My conscience is clear.

 

So all this started Thursday with Lady Bug blowing chunks of curdled milk at school. Supermom got the call and picked her up. She was acting normal except for the vomiting so we thought maybe just a minor thing. A couple of hours later I got a text that let me know that it was not a minor thing. Lady Bug left the room to “go potty” and came back without pants on. Supermom asked why she had no pants and she replied that she was hot. Sitting around with no pants is not too out of the ordinary so Supermom let it ride for a few minutes. Some brief few moments later Supermom discovered that “I was hot” is code for “I completed ruined my sweat pants”. No worries because the dog had discovered this already and had done some pre-cleaning. That text alone gave me the flu over the phone.

I weighed the options and considering everything that has been swirling around school I decided to pull the other three out of school and maybe cut down on the spread. We divided all the children and passed out the sanitizer. We rubbed the belly on a Buddha statue. We drank Elderberry juice. We patted our heads and rubbed our tummies at the same time. Anything for some good luck.

Everyone stayed out of school on Friday. By Friday night we thought we might luck out. I had started a fever but none of the other symptoms. We all went to bed and things were good until about 4:00 am. Threeto was crying and had created a slight mess. Her bed is a rustic style wooden bunk bed. She sleeps on top bunk and had apparently tossed her cookies on the top step of the stairs on the side. It walked down to the carpet like a putrid slinky. I heard the call and rose to the challenge. Fever or no fever I was going to help. Except… about the time I got to the bedroom I realized I was in my own brand of trouble. I didn’t explain. I just turned around and went to our bathroom for some porcelain prayer time.

I don’t know if anyone else has encountered the dilemma of choosing which problem to tackle first but my brain wasn’t in a good place. As I sat on the throne and held the garbage can in front of me I had an inner voice, let’s call it an angel, whisper to me. She said, “You need to put your face on the tile to survive.” So, by the time Supermom made it to check on me I was in some strange contortion, face down, trying to get every inch of my naked skin to touch cold tile. It was a graceful thing to see. I made it back to the bed and dosed up on some Phenergan which kept me off the tile for the rest of the night.

Everyone else is on alert and Supermom has started showing some symptoms. That makes four of us and it inspired a discussion on the strength of women.

All of my girls, wife included, have this supernatural ability to remain upright while puking. The younger two girls actually voluntarily do it from a standing position. Who stands up? Cyborgs who are unfamiliar with biologic functions? My body is not built that way. I have to lay my head on the toilet seat and practically duct tape myself in position because my muscles are useless. If I pass out and break my neck then that’s just how it goes. I break into sweats and start negotiating with the baby Jesus for an ounce of sweet release. They are all fancy about it like other women will be watching so they better keep things straight. It is impressive.

Anyway.

If you have ever watched a virus progressing its way through the family you know the terror. This post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Swimming With The Current

I have been really terrible about documenting life lately. It has been swirling and confusing and moving very quickly. And slowly somehow. It feels like I am swimming with the current and I can’t differentiate between the times when I am going downstream because I want to go or being swept along. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Both options are going the same way.

Things have been good. Just busy.

We have been crafty. I built a table for our dining room.

NewYear7

I made it in our sunroom and used it as an excuse to buy several clamps and tools that I felt I needed.

NewYear8

The polyurethane says to use in a vented area and that is legitimate advice. I think Supermom and I were both high by the time we finished each coat. We had the windows open and fans on but it is some strong stuff. At least it looks nice.

NewYear9

I expect it to collapse like a country porch and probably kill our dog(s). But until it does… we will enjoy our new table.

NewYear10

It seats eight. We don’t have eight matching chairs but Im not a man who gets upset by details. 

Our search for an old barn-wood table took us to a giant antique mall. The lack of an old barn-wood table at the antique mall led to me building my own which means this part of the story is out of chronological order. We got other things from the antique mall. We bought a couple of fancy old lamps with questionable wiring. We got some Keebler Elf sized rocking chairs to refinish. I also got lots of pictures of strange and terrible and just plain weird things that people had for sale. I will share a few of these photos below…

 

NewYear6

Classic Made-You-Look 

The next item looked to be some sort of traditional folk-art sculpture but I feel like the person has to pee.

NewYear5

Madonna’s Muse?

The next one was peeing.

NewYear4

This attaches to the top of a whiskey bottle. 

I have questions. A) Where was this made and sold? B) Is this a child or a cherub and is there a difference to the end-user? C) The “spout” is broken. What was the original piece? D) Who approved this at the whiskey novelty topper company?

At least the next one didn’t leave any questions. Well maybe one; Is this a slam or brag for people from Oklahoma?

NewYear3

And for the last one…

NewYear2

Just throw it away already.

It looks like something from a B-rated horror movie. A four point deer with cataracts.

In all of our nostalgia and looking through antiques Supermom started thinking about old pictures. She couldn’t find a specific box of photos from her childhood so we went searching in our storage shed. Turns out that a super colony of ants made a home out of the pictures box. We had to dump out millions of ants and sort through a pile of pictures one by one to clean off damaged inks and calcified ant urine. Many of the photos were a complete loss but we salvaged one that has become my new favorite.

NewYear11

Supermom even got the socks right. Im proud. 

We discovered that we have matching photos from the mid-eighties. Apparently baby pictures at Olan Mills required a large rock and a timber bridge in the background. The hallway art project is another product of our recent crafty-ness.

NewYear13

I look like I’m selling some sort of pyramid scheme to relatives.

NewYear14

Same Rock. Same Bridge.

What makes these more impressive is the fact that we were born 3 years and 300 miles apart. The power of consumerism.

The photo wall is really cool. I’ll have to share that with everyone next time. And the refinished desk.

If you have been treading water already in 2019, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.