Hero’s journey.

King of Lions

Fall break is always an opportune time to take a vacation. The stresses of summer and starting back to the school routine often makes life too busy. The rains dry up and trees start to turn brown. Allergies happen. Federal budget standoffs. Elections on the even years. The fall is a tumultuous time. I always appreciate something that makes me take pause and enjoy my family. This year that something has been a trip to Disney World.

It has been an amazing trip. There have been moments here and there that are blog worthy and I will share them soon but overall… amazing. I think the part I have enjoyed the most is the waiting in line.


Maybe not exactly the waiting as much as the forced interaction. The pause. The conditions that make us stand or sit with one another for hours on end and share ourselves. Closeness as a family is found in the spaces between activities. Discussions on the car ride to school or right before bed. Most of the time we try to fill empty space with distractions. We avoid closeness in the day-to-day. This week has been different and I have enjoyed it.

A couple of things have reminded me how short of a time that we have with our kids while they are kids.

Jane is ten and growing into her own independent person. She is starting to rebel a little to establish her identity. She is being moody and opinionated at times. She has also insisted on being my partner on scary rides and has held my hand more in the last three days than during the entire last two years. I have enjoyed it.

Lady Bug is four and is at the magic age of being able to walk everywhere without a stroller. I am beyond excited that we have not had to use a stroller but, even so, she has grown more than I like to admit. During a live performance of The Lion King she sat in my lap and danced with excitement to Hakuna Matata. Later, during Can You Feel The Love Tonight, she turned and gave me a big smile and a kiss. Then she snuggled against my chest for the rest of the show.

My mind started to wander away from the show. I thought about her sweet gesture and how long it had been since my girls had offered me kisses. I put them all to bed every night. I tuck them in, give them a hug and kiss them on the forehead. When they were really little they would say, “Daddy give me kisses” and pucker their entire face.

Then someday it just stopped.

It had to happen sometime but I thought I would have noticed. I thought I would have protested. But here I am with four beautiful girls who are growing up, up, and away.

So, as I sat watching The Lion King, I felt a tear at the edge of my eye. I thought about how few of those moments may be left. I thought about the cycle. In the background, Simba became king and the performers sang Circle of Life. The metaphor of the moment was enough to make me want to shoot Simba and mount him on my wall. To stop the progression. To avoid the inevitable.

One day Dad will be replaced by a new lion. I hope he loves her enough to wear matching shirts at Disney and carry every item known to man in a backpack while sweating in the ninety degree heat.

I have tried my best to enjoy our moments this week. To capture the parts I can carry and to soak in the ones that pass like a cool breeze on a hot day. I hope to remember the smiles of wonder and joy. The holding hands so we don’t get lost in the crowd. The hugs when they were tired of walking or scared of an uncertain ride. More than that, I hope they remember.

I hope they read my words later and always know that the magic isn’t in the rides. It’s the person in the seat next to you.

And to Noni and Map, this post is for you – Thanks for passing that on!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

When September Ends

Picking up where I left off. Last weekend we took an overnight trip to Memphis for food, fun, and music. Memphis has all three of these so the trip was a success. We avoided other things that Memphis has such as aggravated assault and armed robbery. I count that as success also. Thank you, Memphis, for leaving my radio in my car and my driver side window intact.

Here are a few photos from the concert, The Pyramid, and a breakfast pancake worth stabbing a family member over. All you tourists hit places like Beale Street and the Rendezvous but I would encourage you to work in brunch at Automatic Slim. Oh, and dinner at Flight. It was amazeballs. Totes delish. I think I saw an actress from Bridesdmaids too. The one who played the new best friend of the bride (Maya Rudolph).


She wasn’t having as good a time because our table was next to hers and we were pretty loud. Or she was having a terrible time with her date. He looked concerned that she was unhappy and she looked unimpressed with life. Maybe she was unimpressed with out discussions about kid vomit and poop? Maybe it wasn’t her but this lady was a reasonable facsimile and I never see famous people so I’m claiming it. Don’t steal my joy. Yeah, the more I look at the photo, it was definitely her.


We did get to see the Avett Brothers up close. Seth made a run through the crowd and came within fifteen feet of us. He had a thing with Jennifer Carpenter from the TV show Dexter which, by default, makes him one of my favorite members of the band. I don’t know if they worked out or not because he seems a little wholesome and she has a bad-girl streak. Wait, wait… I Googled it. They are married and had a baby boy named Isaac. Congrats!


Here is the aforementioned pancake. I wouldn’t stab anyone over this one actually, it was lemon meringue. But the peanut butter one is another story. After brunch we went to the Bass Pro Shop built inside The Pyramid. For all of the non-southern people and non-Tennessee people, The Pyramid was the product of Memphis embracing the fact that it is located on a major river similar to the Nile and named after a city in Egypt. This effect can also be witnessed at the Memphis Zoo whose entrance looks like something from the Valley of the Kings. The Pyramid is a giant hollow, metal skinned building which once housed a venue for sporting events and concerts but now is host to an outdoor store on steroids. Think if Outdoor Man had a love child with Celebrity Station. Does anyone remember Celebrity Station? That place with arcades and putt-putt and go-carts? Never mind.


Giant Ode to Commerce


PETA Disclaimer: Only real animals harvested with projectile weapons were used in this exhibit.

I would also like to include some photos of things my children leave in their wake as they move through the river of life. There are on-going disasters, curious relics, and little nuggets of beauty that make it all okay-ish.


Total war zone. I don’t think it counts as hygiene at this point. Four days time. How did the green spot even happen?


This was scribbled on a notepad left on my bedside table. It feels like something at the beginning of a horror film.


This happy little note was left in magnets on the pee-pee board we used to incentivise the youngest not to pee in the floor.  


If I write a book I think this would be the cover. Maybe the title too. 

Disney is coming soon…. I can only imagine the blog fodder that is coming my way. If anyone among the twelve to fifteen people that read this are associated with Disney please know that I would be more than willing to trade a bang-up review of the Beast Castle dinner for actually getting reservations to eat at the Beast Castle dinner. You don’t even have to make it that special. I will straight up lie if I have to. I know I won’t have to because it is magical and life changing in its breadth and depth. But on the off-chance that the night is less than magical, no one will ever know. Just think about it and let me know. I will be one of a group of eight people who all have the same T-shirt and squinty look of confusion.

If you love trips and kids and any combination thereof, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

The Cant Opener

The loneliest place in the world… when you start to make a fresh batch of five can soup and the can opener breaks. Mother of all things righteous, why have you left me defenseless against fate? Have you ever stabbed open a large can of diced tomatoes with a Calphalon steak knife?

I have.

I can tell you that there are prettier situations. While stabbing is good for dealing with unresolved aggression it is not handy for keeping metal shards out of your soup. Or blood. Probably a conspiracy by the “Big Bandage” industry.


What has our world come to? In this age of improving things with science and technology and materials engineering, how do we still have such shitty hand tools? A can opener should last longer than five months. I bought the most expensive one at Wal-Mart. I counted the additional cost as a wise investment, something that would pay back over time. Instead I bought a goodtime Charlie that abandoned me at the first sign of a struggle.


My great grandmother had a can opener that I am pretty sure was made during the great depression. Forged from carbon steel and tears of sadness. That can opener was made to beat the Nazi’s and spread freedom. It could peel through a Panzer tank. It might actually be how the Russians got into Hitler’s bunker.

They made things that would last because their lives depended on it. Imagine trying to survive the apocalypse on canned goods with a can opener that won’t grip the side of the can. Spoiler alert… you would die from exhaustion while trying to smash open your cans with a rock. Granny’s can opener might have required three hands to operate but it would cut through steel ball bearings if it had to. Not like this lifeless wad of steel that can barely push its way into some whole kernel corn. I’m disappointed in humanity.


If you have ever had a cheap utensil break mid-use, this post is for you. There is a thin line between civilization living with the brutality of a cave-man life. That line is long term food preservation. All you need to cross it is a damned can opener. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Totally Got Mooned

Hair Cut

I always enjoy my midday texts. This one was funny.


Not to Supermom. She cried. Lady Bug has long flowy hair. She wanted to have a haircut like her sisters and she was obviously not happy that her hair stylist left things so long. She did a decent job.

We like random funny things. We have a collection of cat-butt magnets on the refrigerator. Supermom and I marveled at the accuracy for a little while today.


Who is tasked with modelling cat butts out of clay and thinks, “This is pretty good but it is missing something… I know! A really detailed butthole!”

My Facebook friends might have heard this one already. It was a deep thought. We were driving home the other night from my mother’s house. There was a deer at the edge of the roadway.

Child: Daddy! Look it is a mommy deer.

UD: Oh I see it! How do you know it is a mommy deer?

Child: It isn’t horny.

UD: That is a sure sign…. Good eye.

I am planning on having a discussion on antlers versus horns in the very near future.

Solar Eclipse

After thinking long and hard about the consequences we decided to drive to a nearby state to watch the solar eclipse hit totality. I remember a partial eclipse from my childhood and I also remember holding two note cards and staring at a little shadow circle with a little wedge missing. My deep seated memory of that amazing celestial event could only be described as “boring as hell”. I wanted to see some spark from my own children and when the center of totality is only two hours away what else are you gonna do?


I live for this look. I put effort into my insane responses just to get this spunky look laid upon me. 

We packed the van as if some strange virus from “I Am Legend” was sweeping the land and we would have to live on the shoulder of an abandoned highway. Waters. Juice. Peanut Butter. Snacky snacks. Watermelon. Picnic Blanket. Chairs. Small Folding Table. Trash Bags. Frosted Mini-Wheats (To dip in Peanutbutter, Trust me – best thing ever.) Powerade. Energy Drinks. Homemade Trail Mix. Fake International Passports and Stacks of Multi-National Currency. You get the idea. We were ready to survive if some shit went down.

I mentally prepared for gridlock traffic. A grueling ten-hour drive when normal conditions would allow for a two-and-a-half-hour trip. The warnings from media outlets described national emergency levels of chaos. I heard some communities were threatening to use snow plow equipment to keep roads clear.

We loaded the kids in the van and departed town at 7 o’clock am. Zero traffic. We drove straight to our destination with a smooth three hours to spare. We had cell phone service the entire time and live streamed the coverage on the west coast. The kids all wore their masks correctly and enjoyed watching the moon creep up on the sun. It was magical.


Hmmm. I’ve seen this before…


Similar? Did cavemen watch an eclipse?

Then came the solar climax. Our group gathered in an open field and watched through our glasses as the small orange sliver disappeared. Once our solar glasses went dark we took them off and stared at the glowing ring in the sky. It was beautiful. It was like a black hole surrounded by a crown of light. Bugs and birds and frogs created the sounds of nighttime. The wind and traffic calmed. The world around us was still and dark and perfect. No one in our group reached for an iPhone. That was how good the moment was. Everyone knew that it was rare and limited to a precious few moments. No picture could capture totality. None of mine anyway.


Lauren Athalia Photography was able to capture it. She got lots of good shots and is selling prints I think. Check her out on FB. 

The term “totality” might be the only good description for the event.

For once, in what seems like a long time, my world was filled with people looking in the same direction at a beautiful moment in life. There weren’t any people offended by the eclipse or threatened by it. Maybe some conspiracy people were concerned but I think they were sort of excited to see if their bat-shit-crazy ideas might somehow come true. Flat-earthers might have been hard at work explaining the event but for two minutes they were looking up in utter confusion. We all watched objects that exceed our concept of size and power. We were reminded that no matter what stands in your way, if even a tiny spec of your light escapes into the world, there can be no darkness. Being exposed to less than 1% of the sun still requires special glasses.

How does a 100% sun not make us burst into flame immediately?

As the light returned I realized that I had been absorbed in the moment. I may have had a small tear resting at the edge of my eye. Probably allergies. We traveled several hours to sit in the front yard of a relative stranger and stare at the sky for almost three minutes. We left with a memory that will last a lifetime. And perhaps a small white dot in the center of our vision. Time will tell.


Zero matching socks…

To those who chase memories, this post is for you. You’re welcome. For the people who didn’t make it to the direct path remember that we have another chance in 2024. The difference between 100% and 99% isn’t 1%, it is literally night and day. Make the drive. Skip the classes. Be prepared to pee behind a bush on the side of a rural highway. No one dedicates delicate oil paintings to the shadows made from solar viewers made out of note cards and cereal boxes. #Sorrynotsorry

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

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.