Adventures

Hero’s journey.

Return Of The Lizard King

We have had a setback. Over the last few months we have been slowly getting rid of animals. We sold the sugar gliders. James, Lily, Harry, and the future twins. Our snake escaped into the great wild beyond. Our gecko sneaked (snuck?) out of his open cage and was nowhere to be found. It was a very positive trend aside from the fact that two of the animals were reptiles and were roaming inside my house. At the current rate I expect we would be animal free in six months. Oh happy day!

Then one came back. Vanderwal the Gecko is alive and well. He was hanging off the side of the bunk beds about five feet away from his cage. The poor guy was emaciated and shedding a layer of skin. Probably just barely surviving on abandoned Froot Loops and idle cups of juice. We got him collected and lined out with water, food, and a heat lamp. Time will tell if he will survive. I can’t believe he made it this long.

Sometimes the things we are in charge of are stronger than we know and survive despite our poorest efforts. Thank goodness for that.

If you are a poor steward of health and safety, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Be careful what cages you leave open.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Late Night Raid

Sometimes my analytical mind gets me into trouble. I reason through problems, unchecked by pesky facts. As long as my thoughts are logical from one point to the next then I feel reasonably satisfied that the end result will be okay. That is not always a reasonable assumption.

Example.

I know that the exterior doors on my house have weather stripping to prevent air leakage from inside to outside. Those plastic-coated foam inserts seat firmly against the door and keep cooling costs to a minimum. Surely there is not a better seal available outside of bank vaults and the doors on aircraft. Air tight.

I also know that there are spiders in my garage. I walk into webs every time that I decide to go outside to find a tool (Allen Wrench) to repair a household item (stop the squeaking of children’s furniture). The spiders live in every crack and crevice. I know that dispersing a gas and allowing it to soak into each crack and crevice might be an effective approach.

I also know that the warning on Raid Bug Bombs suggests that “people and pets be removed from the residence for a period of not less than four hours” and that “upon returning to the residence, ventilate area for a minimum of thirty minutes”. A powerful warning and wise advice.

However, I remembered that the door to my garage has weather stripping and there are spiders in my garage. These two facts made me confident that I could disregard the instructions on a Raid Bug Bomb because, thanks to the door, my garage is outside my house. A) House is safe. B) Spiders must die. Thereby and heretofore there is no actual threat to the pets and residents inside the house and insofarsuchto the arachnids will perish.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Holy shit dude. What if some of that bug nerve gas seeps in through the cracks in the weather stripping around that air-tight door? It could wipe out your entire family. Not a problem. I learned enough in my freshman year of college to understand how to correctly tape the edge of a door frame. My RA didn’t smell any pot. These bugs will be sealed to their fates. Which I did with packing tape right after I deployed the Bug Bomb in the garage at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night while the dog and children played in the nearby living room. Yay! I make decisions!

The moment that the last piece of door tape had been applied I started to have second thoughts. Maybe they could be described more accurately as Delayed-First-Thoughts. Thing like, “Hmmm, is this a good idea?” and “Maybe 7:00 at night was a bit late in the day for an experiment.” I began to implement some additional safety measures. I decreed the bonus room as off-limits because it was directly above the garage. I started to think about the attic space not being separated from the garage at the soffits. I began to think about the fan for the air conditioner that was located in the attic and how the aluminum cover on the circulation unit is not exactly air-tight. I became convinced that I had not only accidentally exposed my family to a deadly nerve agent but that I had injected this poison with ninja-like precision. I started having ghost pains in my chest.

Thirty minutes later, while walking through the living room, I smelled a faint odor of fresh flowers. Similar to using six dryer sheets with a load of towels on high heat.

“Hey Supermom…”

“What?”, with an eyeroll.

“Walk by the stairs and tell me if you notice anything.”

Big sigh as she sets down her Kindle, “Hmmm, not really.”

“Do you smell something like dryer sheets?”

“Sort of. I don’t know. Maybe.”

I decided that to be safe I would venture outside and walk by the garage to see if any similar odors were present. They were. Strongly. Bigly.

Fuck.

I went back into the house. “Honey. Get the kids dressed and grab some iPads.”

“Where are we going?”

“Walmart parking lot for three hours I guess.”

“What about the dog?”

“We rescued her and let her sleep at the foot of our bed. It’s been a good life. If she doesn’t make it then that is a burden I will have to bear.”

“Okay.” Shoulder shrug.

 

So… we evacuated our house to Walmart parking-lot-purgatory while Supermom read her kindle and wondered why she married me or allowed me to reproduce with her so often. After about an hour we had all had enough and decided to return home and welcome death with open arms.

Upside – The house smelled amazing and the spiders in the garage were definitely dead. Live and learn.

If you are an idiot and bug bombed your residence with a total disregard for safety or directions, this post is for you. I hope you killed your spiders. You’re welcome.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Julyness

Sometimes we get busy and in a few short days we turn around and life has happened all around us. This is my attempt to capture a few moments over the last week and a half.

Annual Toy Clean

We are overrun with toys. Four kids with eight grandparents. Birthdays. Christmas. A little something for Easter. A little something for Valentine’s Day and the occasional “If you keep your senses about you in Wal-Mart then we will buy a treat”. For the sake of calculation let’s assume that each child has ten times in a year that they might receive a small toy or sticker book. That is a total of forty occasions with a minimum of five potential donors. I figure this gives us an annual toy potential of around two hundred units.

Last weekend we cleaned the bonus room above the garage. Those estimated toy numbers were an understatement. We threw away somewhere around seven bags of trash. Three bags of broken toys.

Someone peed in a tin box with a rabbit painted on the top. I have to focus on the rabbit to forget about the pee. What in the actual…

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The dog took a shit on a doll’s head and the kids reaction was to shove it under a bookshelf. I guess Judy Cornbread has made allies out of the girls. One of them at least.

On the bright side… Jane wants to be a vet.

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Supermom BDay Party

Supermom celebrated another 22nd birthday. The eleventh 22nd birthday so far.

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We visited the safari park and enjoyed a fresh coating of animal slobber on the side of our van. Buffalo are scary. Camels are assholes. Emus are creepy stalkers. Llamas do not wear red pajamas.

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Also… see if you can spot the error in the informational sign. Comment at the bottom. Winner gets a thumbs up.

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Early Baby

My brother and sister-in-law have been expecting a baby who was due in August. He decided on an early arrival and showed up about eight weeks early. It was a scary couple of days and has been a cautious few days since he entered the NICU but everything looks to be trending in the right direction. I’m sure he is just hard headed like his father.

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They are in the middle of construction of a new home and I got drafted to help finish some tile grouting. I found it therapeutic. For about thirty minutes. Then it was exhausting. I was oddly satisfied once we finished even thought I couldn’t move through my full range of motion for the next two days. I will never own a successful tile business and that is okay.

Fourth of July Party

We had a local pool party to celebrate the 4th since Baby D made his hasty entrance. My sister and her baby, Keanu, were also in town for the holiday. I felt life come full circle when we were all gathered around the pool and I watched someone else’s child become the focus of some hilarious action. It was a certified Pool Biscuit. I’m not saying he shit in the pool but I will say that no one else shit in the pool and there was definitely shit in the pool. I blame Grandaddy for not monitoring the diaper status.

Gecko on the Run.

So we found the missing snake. I already told you guys that information. However, we have had an escape of Vanderwal the Gecko. We searched for an hour but a gecko has sticky feet and the ability to walk on walls and the ceiling. That means he has five times as many places he could be and we didn’t find the snake for a week. I’m hoping that the dog or cat eat the gecko long before we locate him via smell. I would love to find him alive and well but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe he will crawl on someone’s face in the middle of the night!

Cracker Barrel Urinal

We ate dinner at Cracker Barrel tonight. For the readers who don’t know about Cracker Barrel. It is a southern food restaurant that serves deliciousness. Chicken fried chicken with hash brown casserole is pure dopamine. Or serotonin. Whichever is the happiness chemical. I ate the happiness.

I also drank sweet tea. Not iced tea. Sweet tea. You put the sugar in while the tea is hot so it gets super saturated. It is impossible to sweeten iced tea after it cools. I traveled to Boston once and a waitress brought me iced tea with packets of sugar. That is the sadness chemical. I drank sadness that day.

The reason I told you about the sweet tea has to do with going to pee. If you drink enough sweet tea you will have to pee. I went to the Cracker Barrel bathroom and while standing at a urinal an old man walked up to the urinal next to mine. Guy code demands that you approach this situation one of two ways; a) small talk about the weather, music, or exclaiming how much you have to pee or b) look up and never make eye contact.

This man was old enough that he has abandoned social rules and decided that telling a joke about big penises was acceptable. The joke where one man says “this water is cold” and the other says “its deep too!”. Usually the joke has the setting of two men peeing off a bridge but not when this renegade comedian told the tale. No sir! These two ficticious men were just like us, standing at a urinal. All I could think about was the totally gross fact that two men in this joke had dipped their penises into a public urinal. Who cares about length at that point because it has become a poisonous disease vector. Congratulations on your endowment, pity that it will probably fall off in a few days. Remember children, reproductive parts are not water quality sampling devices.

Pikachu In The Hood

We left Cracker Barrel and headed for home. Suddenly, Supermom’s phone dinged and she squealed in excitement, “Pikachu! Turn Right!”. We raced to the right to track down the elusive Pikachu. Holy grail of Pokemon-GO!. The Poke-Stop that we were trying to locate was in the parking lot of the Sacred House of Judah Church. We drove through a couple of housing projects.

I know I might not be qualified to say we were in the hood but I would offer the following evidence. 1) Three small children without parental supervision were throwing rocks at a man walking down the sidewalk while quasi-leaning on a single crutch. It is mid-summer and he was wearing a jacket. 2) Sixty percent of the driveways had inoperable vehicles and the other driveways had old police cars purchased at public auction. 3) A very large lady, who I assume is of Scottish descent because of her red hair and ivory white skin, was dressed in a camouflage night gown and Crocs. Nothing else from what I saw. She was speaking very aggressively and pointing a long pink fingernail at a tall skinny man talking on a cell phone and trying not to make eye contact with the enraged woman. In the pauses between her yelling I could see she was missing a single front tooth. In my mind, the man’s name was Curtis and her name was Merida and she was upset that he didn’t come home last night because he laid out drinking beer and smoking weed with his friends. Curtis had some explaining to do. We drove without stopping to ask for directions.

As we emerged from the hood, we saw the Sacred House of Judah Church. It was an elusive building because the name had actually been changed to Word Truth Church. Supermom began an epic battle with Pikachu who, like the neighbors nearby, was unhappy about our presence in the neighborhood. She tried to place Pikachu under arrest. He resisted. On the third attempt, Pikachu was apprehended. He was wearing a backwards cap that was colored similar to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. These smartphones try to track and adjust for everything. It was weird.

If you like birthdays, kids taking dumps in pools, looking for Pokemon in dangerous parts of town, cleaning playrooms, premature babies, or safari parks… this post was for you! You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Party Pegasus

Lady Bug recently had her birthday weekend. A two day run of festivities. We celebrated the birthday weekend because of parenting guilt for not preparing a party or bothering to bake a cake. In fact, we had no real plans for how to celebrate with our four-year-old until about two days before her big event.

As the day broke we realized that something must be done. When I got home from work everyone loaded up into the car for a trip to Toys R Us. Up and down the aisles looking at all manner of cheap plastic shit to step on. Why do we constantly buy this stuff? Each child selected something that they couldn’t live without and the birthday girl got a larger budget than the others. A total first-world way to handle the issue. Once everyone is satisfied with their selection we pay the lady at the front and get into the van. The children immediately open the new toys and lose 53% of all the accessory trinkets in each box.

All that shopping made us hungry so we went to the number one choice for when mommy says, “I don’t care..” when asked where to eat. Cracker Barrel. It was 7:40 at night so we hoped the dinner rush was finished. As we pulled in the parking lot I noticed a charter bus with a large Cruisin-for-Christ logo down the side. I don’t suppose the logo is relevant to the story other than I found it humorous as I imagined what road tripping for the lord in a charter bus and stopping at the Cracker Barrel actually looked like. I found out. Inside the lobby was a group of 40+ septuagenarians who refused to group up and share tables so they were being sat two at a time. I was disappointed. I feel that Jesus would have encouraged sharing of tables. Especially in the midst of a cruise in his honor. BDAY2

I could see that my family of six was out of luck for quick eats. We had to fall back to the always decent second choice of Olive Garden. The only place that I go into with the intent of eating soup and salad and end up bingeing on every carb ever created. This trip went exactly like that. Pasta speaks to me in a dark and romantic language. As I crammed the last scorched end of a buttery breadstick down into my stomach I remembered that we promised ice cream as desert. The girls were smart enough not to touch their dinner while I ate like a land based catfish; hovering over uneaten scraps. Shoveling the precious pasta into my pie-hole.

Once I felt totally defeated from the inside out I sat in my self-loathing for a few moments until I overheard a conversation that was happening a couple of booths down. A grandmother person was angry at a child person and was berating her. The child spilled a drink and it ran off the table into this grandmother person’s purse. Grandma proceeded to pepper the child with frustration and f-bombs to the point I thought she was going to become physically violent. The mother of the child was there but remained silent. Obviously, she was a victim of the same type of abuse. It was very disappointing to watch.

I noticed my girls starting to stare at the action and I got their attention.

UD: See that lady. (I pointed)

Kids: Yes.

UD: No one should ever talk to you like that.

Kids: Okay daddy.

UD: Don’t let them!

Kids: We won’t.

UD: There’s a second part…

Kids: What?

UD: Don’t ever treat anyone like that. No matter how frustrated or mad you get. Look around. I mean it. Everyone here has an opinion of that woman now and it isn’t a good one. Her kids will grow up thinking that treating people that way is normal. You can’t be part of that.

Kids: Okay.

UD: I love you girls.

Kids: Love you too daddy.

They seemed to understand that not all people are nice and that calling a child a “stupid little f*ck” is generally in poor taste. It was hard to get out of my head because those scenarios are tricky. I have trouble deciding on action because nothing big will change and my saying something might make a bad situation worse for the child. I do report people who are really shitty but I don’t confront people directly as often as I would like. We paid off the Italian overlords and got up to leave.

As I lumbered into the parking lot, smelling like garlic and shining from the greasy glow of alfredo sauce, I realized that I would need a minute before heading to the ice cream shop. We went to the literary purgatory known as Books-A-Million. Everyone got a book because of course they did. I turn my back for one minute and they had made their selections. I didn’t really turn my back. I actually took a dump in the world’s most uncomfortable bathroom. The only stall is handicap accessible which means the door is five feet away so you already feel like you are pooping in the middle of a room but the extra gaps in the partition walls really help bring the feeling home. When you can make eye contact through the small gaps in the wall and feel the social impulse to wave or do the head nod thing, I think the gap is too big. Toilets should be caves of solitude. Regardless, I am a man of action. A second critique of the bathroom… washing up I learned that the water pressure at Books-A-Million is amazing. The slightest turn of the knob ignited a geyser that soaked my pants in the general region where incontinence would have done the same. I returned to the sales floor with a large wet stain on the front of my pants and I tried to not make eye contact with the gentleman who ventured into the bathroom and stared at me through the partition gap.

I was more than ready when we left for ice cream. Not just any ice cream. The good place where they mix all the candy you want into the most glutinous pile of sweet cream ever scooped. My children have a terrible habit of touching, licking, or face pressing any glass display cases that they come across. The only problem is that other kids do the same. I noticed Donna Threeto sliding her hand across the glass just in time to tell her that I think she ran her hand through a smeared and dried booger. It was crusty and slightly green. What did she do? Smelled her hand and then licked it. I suppose to see if I told her the truth. I don’t even try to understand anymore. All the girls devoured their ice creams and we realized that it was way past bedtime so we started for home.

We managed to bribe the kids into bed solely on the fact that we still had birthday festivities the next day. We had promised a night at the movies to see Captain Underpants. I started to question the whole birthday weekend concept.

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Captain Underpants was exactly the kind of movie that it promised to be. Fart humor. Funny banter. Crazy plot lines. Everyone had a good time. We snuck in some half -filled bags of candy and finished them off with popcorn once we got settled. Lady Bug set her bag down beside her chair and during the movie she started reaching down beside her seat by muscle memory to find her popcorn. Her eyes were glued to the screen. The bag fell away at some point and I noticed that Lady Bug was still reaching down beside her seat and eating something she picked up. Further investigation showed that she was eating the long forgotten pieces of old popcorn that fell between the seats sometime within the last five years. I only put the time limit of five years because surely, they manage to vacuum the seats at some interval? I shuddered in the darkness and then told her to stop eating the seat treats. What else could I do at that point? Charcoal, induce vomiting, stomach pumping? I leaned over towards Supermom.

UD: (in a whisper) I think Lady Bug just ate old seat popcorn.

Supermom: Nice.

UD: I told her to stop.

Supermom: Good.

 

The movie ended. We left the theater and Supermom decided that she needed a new bathing suit for going to the river the next day. We went to Target just before closing time; with four children who were jacked up on Sprite, popcorn, and a movie about flying around in underpants.

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It was a test of my patience. It also tested my humility because my job was to take pieces of the swimsuits back to the rack and exchange sizes as needed by Supermom. The only worse job would be taking the four girls tampon shopping and having to explain the features of all the wings and strings and where each might fit in their future active lives.

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I thought we were nearing the end of the punishment when Lady Bug announces that she needs to poop. Supermom disappeared to the bathroom with Lady Bug. I was left holding a striped blue swimsuit top while standing near the entrance like a creeper guy who got a job as a greeter. If Target even bothered with greeters. Honestly the store feels a little too arrogant for that. A few minutes later Supermom emerged with the blank stare of a parent who is done for the day. The exact same stare I had for the previous 45 minutes. Turns out the seat popcorn might have triggered diarrhea. Awesome.

At that point I knew we had achieved birthday success. It started with indulgence. Progressed through entertainment. Ended with shitting of pants in a Target bathroom. The tale of all good birthdays!

If you enjoy a good celebratory binge, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

River Days

Yesterday we took the girls to the river. What river? THE River. Anytime a place becomes a familiar hangout it loses any associated proper nouns. The river. The lake. The farm. The movies. Our river is a place on a bluff against the Tennessee River.

It was a work trip. Our goal for the day was to get the boat dock secured in place after the spring floods. The dock had been stored on a trailer all winter and now that it is June, the red wasps and mud wasps had built lots of nests. No worries though, I didn’t get stung. Dad used a broom and water hose to send most of the bees away. The few that hung around were murdered in a brutal chemical attack from GJ. We put the floating dock into the water at the boat ramp and embarked on a voyage to float it back to its home. Granddaddy, Supermom, and I paddled like an out-of-shape group of river rafters from a Mark Twain novel. A neighbor tried to bring his Waverunner out to help us but he discovered that he was out of gas and needed a paddle of his own. No good deeds go unpunished.

The dock and gangway were installed with zero life-threatening events. A definite improvement over days gone by. We had an audience from the local water police agency. They were watching us through binoculars. I assume they were trying to figure out what the hell we were paddling down the river and if we should be ticketed for not having running lights, registration numbers, using an unregulated paddle, or not being properly secured within a coast guard approved life jacket. Ultimately, they seemed satisfied that we were not going to die and the raced off to more important violations.

After some lunch and cleaning out mud wasp nests from the boat, we were ready to take a river cruise. The girls had been waiting all day to ride in the boat and swim in the river. We slowly migrated down the 42 steps from the pavilion to the pontoon boat. Everyone took their seat and we set sail.

The sky was a deep blue with a healthy supply of cotton ball clouds. We had a strong wind in our hair because the first cruise of the year must be enjoyed at full throttle, for the good of the engine. The girls were riding on the front of the boat with their faces in the breeze like four happy Labrador puppies. The music was rocking some summer-boat-country tunes and the girls were dancing along. Supermom was sitting on the back reading her kindle and soaking up some sun.

It was one of those nice moments that exist in the midst of the chaos of life. In that moment, everything was simple and right with the world. It made me wonder if they would even capture the day as a memory. I think so.

We landed the boat on a sandy bank that we call a beach. A river beach. The girls played in the water beside the boat and tried to bury their legs in the muddy sand. Granddaddy’s dog, a sometimes mentally challenge chocolate labra-doodle, ran up and down the beach as fast as she could go. We played until the sun started to set and we went back to the pavilion for some chicken, corn, and macaroni & cheese dinner. Jane got to drive the boat for a few minutes and learned about navigation buoys. We played some side-yard whiffle ball. I learned my children have better hand-eye coordination than I give them credit for. Darkness settled in and Granddaddy started a fire in the fire pit. Everyone gathered around in chairs and told funny stories while the logs slowly burned.

Around 10:00, everyone was way past tired and ready for bed. Supermom and I loaded everyone up in the minivan and headed home. We rolled in the door and all four girls marched straight to bed and went to sleep. Supermom and I did the same. It was a good day.

I know the girls will remember the river as they grow up. They will remember being able to ride on a boat, play in muddy sand, run wild in the yard beside the camper, sit on the deck and watch the barges, hunt for fossils in the crumbly limestone rock that lines the river bank, smell meat cooking on at least one grill, and hear a constant backdrop of music that drifts from country to rock and back again. I’m thankful that they have those opportunities. I know that I am loving dad and a fun dad, most of the time. I also know I’m not the dad that is going to own a camper or a boat or be really motivated to put those experiences together.

Thankfully my dad is. Happy Father’s Day. I love you and all you do to create space for all the memories we enjoy!

I have a second father who my children call Papaw. He has a lot of the same motivations albeit more farm and horse oriented. I’ve learned from both that doing things creates more memories than having things. We’ve done lots of things over the years.

If you have a dad who is awesome, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.