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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

 

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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.

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Madonna’s Muse?

The next one was peeing.

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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?

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And for the last one…

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

Ghosted

I am a grown man.

I am brave.

I do my best to ignore bumps in the night and a creaky old house.

I knew that when we moved in we would have some adjusting to do. The girls would likely hear things and make up stories. I was ready.

When they found an old photograph from right after the house was constructed, it was black and white and showed the father and mother sitting on the back porch, I dismissed it as something that was left behind.

When some of the doors move, I know it is a hinge that is misaligned from the foundation settlement.

When the girls created a Mrs Potatohead and dressed her in red and named her Lola which is also the name of the late matriarch of the house, I let it slide. Kids pick up on things. I don’t think they knew any names at that point but maybe they did.

When it sounds like someone is walking away from me when I go to the door at the carport, I could care less. Houses have their history and their owners. No need to get all excited about imagined ghosts and scary things.

But tonight… I must have had these thoughts hidden around the corners of my mind. They swirled and sat near the front while they waited for something to jump out and grab me. I needed a drink from the kitchen so I went through the living room where presents had been opened earlier in the day. When I rounded the corner of the living room and encountered the upper half of a torso rising out of the carpet, I nearly shit my pants. The wide dark eyes. The sparkling nails. The fact that something was emerging from my carpet and smiling at the same time. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to scream or warn my family. I just uttered an “uuggghh” while all my muscles locked into a ball of fear.

When I awoke a few seconds later I was face to face with the demon in the living room floor. I had one thought ringing in my head crystal-clear; Why did I buy this for Christmas and who the hell designed it.

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The room was darker. Stop laughing at me. 

My reptile brain didn’t even offer an alternative. It said, “Satan is crawling out of hell to eat your ankles.”

If you get freaked out over misplaced toys or strange shadows, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ripples In the Pond

I have a lot of wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood. One of those memories surfaced recently. That Christmas Eve I was told that I should be on the lookout because Santa was delivering a big gift overnight and it would be on the front porch in the morning. Imagine that feeling. A kid in the age of doubt about the whole Santa process was just told the time and location of the Santa Claus delivery. I took this information as a tremendous opportunity to discover some of the mystery of life. From my cot by the window I could see most of the front porch. A yellow streetlight cast shadows across the front lawn while specs of frost glinted on the grass. I watched constantly for throughout the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the gift or the man delivering it. I was primed to see a sleigh, some elves, a huge present… something.

Night came and went. At some point my eyes were too heavy and I fell asleep. I woke up while dawn was breaking and peeked over the window sill to survey the porch one last time before slogging to the living room to see if Santa had left anything at all. He had showered us with the usual living room decoration but the large mystery gift I was looking for was not around. “Did you look on the porch?”, my mother asked. “I didn’t see anything from my room.”

“Look again.”

I walked to the front door and opened it wide. Beside the pillar of the porch was a large box leaned against the column. It was just the perfect size and placement to be undetectable from my bedroom window. I dragged the box in the house and opened it to find a large telescope. Later that night we used the telescope to look at the Moon and Venus and some random stars. We could see things that our eyes weren’t made to see and it was awesome. Years later, in college physics, optics and focal length was relevant because I was terrible at finding things in the telescope and I figured out why.

Last week I was holding a telescope in Kohls when the memory came back to me. I had since learned that Santa was actually Mama C, my godmother. She loved computers and technology and the wonders of space.

She was the first person to introduce me to the internet. She had a series of numbers and decimals written on a piece of paper and when we typed them into the computer a NASA message board would load up line by line. She was also my teacher in high school for Computer Programming. She started as a math teacher and I have to assume was the first to volunteer to tackle a new subject concerning technology. We learned FORTRAN and C+. It was arduous to understand how computers work and the step-by-step logic behind it but I can’t count the times that it was helpful. The logic is beautiful and learning to think things through each and every step is good for an engineer.

I woke up a few days ago to the news that Mama C had passed away suddenly the night before. In seven short hours, she went from a normal day of running errands to gone from the world. She was resolute in her faith and her family was informed of her medical wishes so when the situation went from bad to worse, she was able to left on her own terms; on the eve of her late husband’s birthday she went to meet him.

She lived her life in the same way. She always had great love and purpose. Compassion beyond measure. She had no time for foolishness though. I remember one of the first days in computer class when a girl whispered to me that she heard Mrs. Davis was stern and that I should behave because she didn’t mess around. I didn’t tell her that I knew her as Mama C and that I knew better already.

I remember her and Daddy Ron smuggling Blue Bell ice cream from Texas in an RV. I knew whenever they went to visit Aunt Mia that we would have an ice cream party when they returned. A bowl of Blue Bell Vanilla Bean and a little whole milk chopped into a slush is still one of my favorite treats.

There are many other memories and people who hold those memories close. Her grandson wrote a heartfelt tribute that I’ve included it below:

For the 29 years you devoted to making me who I am, I owe you my life. 

Math is described as the abstract science of numbers, quantity, and space. It is often referred to as the universal language as it can be shared by all people regardless of race, culture, religion, or gender. There is something inherently beautiful about the ability to bridge divides and calculate the unknown in the ways that mathematics does. The irony here being that, though you can always provide a formula to find the answers you seek, you cannot quantify the impact on the lives that Mama C has touched.

She believed in leading by example, no matter how much dedication and sacrifice the situation required. She never turned away those in need, her contagious smile always worn for all to see. She would choose to put herself in the middle of narratives that others would scoff at, or simply not be brave enough to take on, all while making it clear she was doing all things in Christ. The beautiful home that would make Southern Living jealous could have just as easily become a Salvation Army Outpost or a Natural Disaster Recovery shelter on any given day. There always seemed to be room still left in the Inn, no matter the circumstances.

Mama C taught me to believe in my dreams, no matter how big or small. I remember the heartbreak I felt when I told her I no longer wanted to be a police officer because they had to endure being pepper sprayed during their training process. What was a 6 year old boy to do now that his dreams of being a sworn protector were now dashed? “Well, we’ll just have to find you something else then, won’t we?” she said. The next day, I set my sights on becoming the best race car driver in the world! Still waiting on how that one pans out.

Her and Daddy Ron also showed me what limitless, unconditional love was. Through the years, the bond between the two grew stronger, the flame evermore engulfing the two pillars that set the foundation of what I knew true love should be. The stories and life lessons they were able to share shaped the way [my wife]and I approached our marriage. Apparently, anytime you look at your best friend and life long partner and exclaim “You’re boring”, the next logical step is to do something spontaneous – like get your pilot’s license or go road racing at Daytona. This is known as problem solving. 

Without her, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to play guitar at a 2nd grade level, understand that the Power Rangers made taekwondo look super easy, or be able to use the ultimate trump card a la “Mama C said so.”

Without her, I wouldn’t know what it was like to be chosen by God himself to do great things beyond what the world told me was possible. I wouldn’t be able to have the courage to face new challenges down a career path I never knew I loved. We wouldn’t be making the impact we are in a culture that is hurting by promoting constant growth and change for the better. We wouldn’t be able to have the faith that God has a bigger plan in place and to trust the doors that He has opened and the ones He has not.

I am the product of the endless love and faith Mama C had for those around her. I have her fingerprints all over me as she helped shape me into the man you see before you today. I can only hope to continue her legacy with the same fiery passion and wisdom that she so effortlessly displayed. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22 – 23

If you had a Mama C in your life, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy

Merry Purgemas

Tis the season. So they say.

We joined most of the western world yesterday at a retail-outlet-near-you and completed our holiday shopping. Everyone had the same idea. It might have been just as busy as Black Friday at Hobby Lobby. Best Buy was a little better. Everywhere was crowded.

I had a better attitude while shopping this year and it freed me up to make some observations.

  • Everyone I interacted with in-person was nice and in a good spirited holiday mood. Some were tired from shopping and navigating crowds but nearly all showed some genuine goodwill towards men. One lady gave me a $20 coupon that she wasn’t able to use. A cashier suggested I make two separate purchases because the rewards system would save me $15. There was overwhelming care and concern.
  • Every car I met on the parking lot battle ground was a chunk of fiery metal cast from the forge of hell and the demonic drivers were all consumed with moving forward towards an unspoken destination and could give two shits about manners, traffic signage, or running over an elderly grandmother crossing the street. Civilization was coming apart at the scenes. I found myself happy that cars aren’t equipped with guided missiles because I would have blown at least three cars turning left (across five fucking lanes of traffic) into a flaming heap of aluminum and cheap plastic. I would have rummaged through the wreckage and taken any unburned gifts as my trophy spoils of war. There was overwhelming angst and rage.

Once we emerged from the madness and were on the ride home I thought about the whole experience. Is it possible that rage is an important ingredient in the Christmas spirit?

Is the holiday shopping experience just a version of the Purge? Do we empty the hate from our hearts onto random strangers so that we have more room for the good? Is this a version of the Orwellian Two Minutes Hate?

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Hear me out. Is there a pattern to holidays? Do you have to have good with the bad?

Let’s try some out.

Easter. It kicks off with Palm Sunday. There is a parade and kids get to carry palm leaves in memorial of the welcome ceremony for Jesus. The next Friday we get to remember the Angel of Death flying around Egypt and honoring an agreement that if a family will kill a sheep and rub its blood all over the front door then God will not murder their children. Seems more than fair to me, I love my children and I am lukewarm when it comes to sheep. There is also a brutal torture/murder where Jesus finds out he was setup by the trifecta of Jews, Judas, and (plot twist) his OWN FATHER. I guess the Romans had some blame as well. He handled it like a champ though. There was anger, sadness, violence, and the sweet release of death. Life starts to return to normal. Then BAM, Sunday it’s all rainbows and unicorns again because, just like a trick birthday candle, Jesus bounced back to life, busted out of his granite grave and encouraged a large rabbit to deliver candy eggs. DEATH WHERE IS THY STING? Jesus FTW! (Thats For-The-Win for you older people who are not hip to the text slang. If you read it too fast it would look like WTF and that would be an inappropriate sentence to associate with the resurrection.)

But you see what I mean about the holidays. The up and down mix.

What about Lent? There is a celebration period that climaxes with Mardi Gras which is notorious for splurge and excess and showing breasts for plastic beads. Drink all you want. Eat all you want. Steal a kidney or two on Bourbon Street. Live it up! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and a week of fasting. After that, food returns and everyone is happy and ready to repeat it all next year. Except the guy who lost his kidney. He probably had enough of the whole thing. I’m out of my depths with this Catholic holiday stuff. Don’t bother correcting me on this one. I never listen.

Christmas fits this same mold. We start with Black Friday; a shotgun-start to the financial footrace to outspend each other to show our deep love through material things. There is the gluttonish excess of Thanksgiving and the pleasurable swiping of the credit cards to get discounted deals. The continuous holiday parties and office lunch. The parades of cars looking at lights. Sitting on an old man’s lap and asking him for free things. Holiday TV specials where underprivileged people are given thoughtful things by over-privileged people and we all smile on the inside because justice has been served. Life has balance. With all this warmth filling us up from the inside it is no wonder that our normal amount of ba-humbug is condensed and squeezed to one end until it erupts over the jackass who stole our parking space.

I propose that we no longer fight this process. Feel free to scream and swear. Make rude hand gestures. Throw some serious Facebook shade. Get in a fist fight in the checkout line. This is America, we do what we want. No guilt. No apologies.

In fact, I think the shift towards a real and raw America has already started. I offer the following proofs…

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Gold plated metal turkey decoration.

If anyone reading this has one of these bad boys just say “guilty” in the comments. I want to know who Im dealing with.

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No PC language here. Just some genuine Piss-Remover.

Is urine a big enough problem to get a dedicated line of stain remover? Can we blame this on free range parenting? I feel like I am missing some context here.

If you have enjoyed holiday shopping, this post is for you. I’m exhausted. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.