All The Time

School starts back in less than two weeks. Summer this year was only about ten weeks long. We had lots of scheduled events and even some unscheduled ones that leaned hard on the fast-forward button of life. My oldest two girls are going horse riding for the second day in a row tomorrow. I let them go again because summer is drawing to a close, learning will soon replace riding for several months.

I don’t know why my mind has been fixated on perception of time but I was thinking about it on my drive home. When the kids go back to school they will probably tell their friends about riding horses all summer long. A teacher might ask about some of their summer routines and they might respond, “Oh sure, I did that all the time.”

If someone had asked me on a late August day in the 90’s what I did “all the time” I might reply in several different ways.

Swimming with my brother and sisters as soon as the water was warm enough. The pool was our summertime babysitter. Untold hundreds of hours of swimming. Millions of hot dogs on square plastic plates with a side of Macaroni and Cheese.

Watching TGIF shows on Friday nights and eating Little Caesars pizza. The good kind. The square pizzas with the cheese fried into the corners. Drinking a glass full of coke with a couple of gigantic ice cubes and a layer of pizza grease floating on the surface because I didn’t stop to wipe my face between eating and drinking.

Riding horses and bicycles at the State Park near our house. Camping in the front half of the horse trailer under an air conditioner that leaked condensation. I remember one night during a thunderstorm especially clear. I was curious if the lightning hitting the ground near our campsite would destroy one of the tall pine trees and crush our trailer. The spidery purple flash and thunderous boom made it a risk I was willing to accept.

Playing Nintendo with my mom because she was addicted to Mario 3 and my TV was the only color TV that would hook up to the Nintendo.

Going squirrel hunting after school during my freshman and sophomore year. In a time when a shotgun in a truck was just a way to save time and not have to stop back by the house. Never thought twice about it.

I remember a summer when my cousin came to visit every day. It seemed like every day. We played GI Joes from breakfast until bedtime. We had a cassette tape of Bart Simpson singing “Do The Bartman”. We adventured in creek beds and streams and found a couple of places where people dumped old junker cars.

Friday nights in middle school were spent at my friend Michael’s house. Sometimes we played Gin with his grandmother. Sometimes we walked the country roads and got to experience some dangerous independence. Wild dogs and/or sasquatch were always at the edge of the streetlights.

In college, I was working at Red Lobster and would get finished with work late. Supermom would meet me after work and we would go dancing. Several times her dad would join us and we always had the best time. Cheap beer and crowds of mismatched people.

All of these things I can remember had a first and a last time. The first is usually memorable but the last one sneaks by you. Disguised as one of the times in the middle, it is over before you even know what has happened. I could recreate some of the events but it would be for nostalgia. You can’t capture an old memory. Memory has too many pieces. Too many moving parts. They boil down to a specific feeling for each and every instance. A smell. A feeling. A song. A swirling picture in your mind.

I hope my girls are taking note of the things they enjoy in a routine. The routines that seem infinite until you look back and tally the actual count. Years, weeks, days, and hours. Measures of time. They all have a finite number. We eat them like candy and spend them like quarters at an arcade. I spend a few of my slices of time tucking them into bed or giving out random hugs. Listening to creative ideas and encouraging them to try new things. I do those things some-of-the-time.

Tonight, my girls are whisper-yelling in their beds about an hour past when they should be fast asleep. I go out about every fifteen minutes and threatened to bring down the thunder. I never do. They will eventually fall asleep. Judy Cornbread is sleeping on the foot of their bed because the girls are her pack. Night unwinds in a usual way. We do this all the time.

 

I hope they keep that familiarity of the people and things they enjoy all the time because…

 

All the time, for the Summer 2017, was ten weeks.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ghost Buster

I do not believe in ghosts.

I do believe that some happenings are hard to explain.

I love watching shows or reading stories about strange phenomena. I want all the legends to be true because it means life is more complex and interesting. The only time I don’t want the supernatural to be true is when it happens near me. Then I am a fan of skepticism.

When Jane was younger she talked about her “ghost friends”. She spoke of them like they were real things that she interacted with which is not unusual. Lots of children have imaginary friends. I asked her one time if they were imaginary and she looked at me for a quiet moment before responding, “No. They are dead people…”.

“But I thought you said there was a ghost baby. Does that mean a ghost boy and a ghost girl had a baby?”

“No. It is just a dead baby.”

“Okay. Let’s not tell your mother about this.”

“I think one is my great grandfather.”

“Nope. Stop talking.”

“One of them is behind you.”

“Shhhhh. It is bedtime.”

“But…”

“No.”

We all went to bed and I tried to put the incident out of my mind. I’m certain that Jane just has a really active imagination. Just like my mother thought I had when I told her about the water faucet turning on randomly or the light globe from our ceiling fan dropping on my head one night. Both true. Pure coincidence though, probably.

The question always gnaws at my brain. What is the explanation for these strange events? Is there a shadow world beyond our sight?

The other night while the kids were away Supermom and I were watching a movie late at night. The dog was pacing around and suddenly fixated on something beyond our doorway in the room of our youngest two daughters. She froze and bristled every hair on her back. Her chest vibrated in a low continuous growl. Something was lurking beyond. Some other-worldly being that floats at the edge of reality, coming to life through the eyes of clairvoyant children and dogs. Whatever it was, it was there.

Supermom, in a severe setback for gender equality, declared, “You’re the man. Go see what that is.”

To which I replied, “If it possesses my soul then there is no way you can defend yourself against me. I could take you out so you should probably be the first to make contact. You know, in case I have to kill you.”

My logic fell on deaf ears and an unimpressed facial expression. I got out of bed and started a slow slinking movement around the edge of the room. I don’t know why I thought I could sneak up on a ghost. Ghosts are magical supernatural beings with understanding of the future and the metaphysical ability to pass though solid objects. I was hopelessly outmatched.

But sneak I did.

The room was dominated by darkness. I peered around the door slowly taking more of the room into my view. Judy Cornbread sensed my tension and it amplified her own. Her teeth were bared and the low growl was becoming a deep roar. Familiar shadows formed in the room for the bed and the dresser. One shadow lingered in the middle of the room. Hovering in the air about four feet tall. Wavering and occasionally giving off a shimmer of light from the hallway. I held my breath as I reached for the light.

The switch snapped on and the room flooded with light. I saw it.

A balloon. A damn balloon with a stupid happy chicken on it.

I turned to give a disappointed look to my brave guardian, Judy Cornbread, but she had already retreated to the living room. A dedicated soldier. As reliable as Mexican tap water. Traitorous worm.

I’m such a brave hero. I expand my motto for creepiness, Children and Pets are Creepy.

If you ever get worked up by a mentally challenged mutt, this post is for you. You’re welcome. A special thanks to baby D for having helium Mylar balloons that we passed on to my children for their enjoyment.

-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.

Wondrous Women

We watched Wonder Woman over the weekend. I liked it. I have some questions but I liked it.

We can get the big questions out of the way first. I accept that this movie is based on a comic and that Zeus created a race of warrior women who are all extremely fit and fight in brass bikinis. I appreciate the selfish, if not sexist, designer who went to great lengths to protect the important parts of a woman while leaving vulnerable things like arteries and connective joints fully exposed. All that is good with me. At least they don’t glitter in sunlight and turn into rocket fuel when their heads come off. I understand all of the above. There are, however, two points in the movie that stumped me.

First, the battle scene where the German soldiers row up to Amazon Island and have a back and forth murder fest on the beach with deadly archer women on horses. After all the soldiers are dead the women grab up super spy Steve and go to the house. No one mentions the fact that there is a German battleship anchored in the harbor. I assume it has deck guns and lots more than the thirty soldiers who came to shore in a row boat. Did the captain just say never mind?

Second, super spy Steve crashed his plane near the beach of the Amazon Island. What is the average flight range of the paper airplane that he was flying. His flashback shows us that he took off from Turkey at a secret weapons installation. Somehow, he is still in flight all the way back out into the Atlantic Ocean. They never really say where exactly but in the following scenes they sail a wooden boat to London, in what appears to be, two days tops. If this is World War I, which I assume it is because of the aircraft and heavy use of trenches and mustard gas, then they didn’t have sophisticated radar to track a small paper plane. This means that once he eluded the ground crew it would be almost impossible for a naval group to pick him up and track him quickly.

Third and really small, the porcelain faced lady who makes the gas. If she was testing a gas that could crack the eye pieces on a gas mask… what was she using to contain it? Wouldn’t the glass bubble have exploded too? See, that one was nit-picky. I’m sorry. I’ll get back to the heart of the matter.

This movie was really, really good. It took someone who was naïve to the horrors of war and someone who was experienced and helped bring the audience along through the tough reality. The action was action-y. The writers did a great job with the sexism of the times. They showed us that sexism is very real but if you are a half-naked gorgeous Goddess then you can ignore the social norms. Cast off your trench-coat and strut in your bronze undies with pride. For the children.

I liked that her powers increased as the movie progressed and that she didn’t become fully “woke” until her final fight with Aries. The latest Star Wars jumped the gun a little with Rey’s powers going from mind suggestion to Jedi ninja in a couple of scenes. The tie-ins with Batman were good and should be helpful to the franchise to try and accomplish what the Avengers has done in the Marvel Universe.

One thing that bothered me, external to the movie, was two teenage girls sitting a couple of seats to my right. They giggled the entire movie. They are the exact reason that Jimmy Fallon made the “EWW!” characters. There was one place in the movie where Wonder Woman lands hard and the camera angle is on her legs as she hits the ground. The girls both gasped and said, “Oh my god! Did you see that jiggle?” They were talking about the back of her thigh. Of all the take-aways from this movie that is what they came up with. Here before you is a woman protagonist who is badass in every sense. Smart, powerful, independent, beyond beautiful, and pure of heart and her biggest critique comes from two tweens who thought her leg jiggled too much. (I was there. It didn’t. It was a very normal leg jiggle after landing from a thirty foot leap.) As a father of girls, it was a disheartening moment to be reminded that a woman’s biggest opponent is other women. I hope my girls don’t pick up that toxic attitude. Where no matter who you are or what you accomplish, if your leg jiggles, then you could have done better.

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I hope my girls grow up knowing the dirty little secret… that women could rule the world. They allow men to play the leading roles but we all know that is a façade. A fluke. If women held a secret meeting and all agreed that man rompers were the sexiest thing since Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, guess what? Department stores couldn’t stock them fast enough. Women are trained well enough to follow a man’s lead and take a role of support. That’s fine and well as long as it is a conscious decision and they agree with the direction the man is going. But don’t follow an idiot just because that’s how life works. Oh well. I’m wandering here so I’ll wrap it up.

If you like action movies and heroine stories, this post is for you. Not like the drug heroine. Women heroes. See. I told you women were powerful. There is a drug named after them. One of the most gripping addictions known to man. Synonymous. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.