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.

Sucky Choices

There is something amazing about the modern world. Our mobility allows us to live and work in completely different areas. We move from family homes and strike out into the world knowing that the people we love are only a plane ride away. Maybe a day-long drive. But for all our nimble-ness, modern life does stretch us to make weird decisions.

Last week we had a few scares in the family. A trip to the emergency room. An uncertain diagnosis. Lots of crossed fingers and wait-and-see.

There is something depressing about having to make a decision about visiting critically ill family or considering the possibility of needing to attend a funeral. What scenario exists where you don’t feel like an ass-hat for saying I would have done both but we have work and school and blah blah blah.

It is a human reaction to want to be all things to everyone. I get that. Too bad that isn’t how life works. We have to put value on things that are priceless. Time is endlessly limited.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

My Inheritance

I’m trying to catch up with life this week.

We registered Don Threeto for Kindergarten. I don’t know if the public school system is ready but August is coming whether they like it or not.


Meanwhile my friend’s son drew a picture of a superhero named Goober. I don’t even want to know what his sidekick is. 

Supermom and I thought that we did a good thing this week. It turned out to be further proof that your children just want to beat down every effort that parents make to be decent human beings. There are six of us living in a three bedroom house. Three of the girls sleep in one room and Lady Bug has her own. We felt like terrible people because Lady Bug was actually still sleeping in a crib but she seemed to like it. Fairness seemed to dictate that we get an even two people per room. Never-the-less, we decided it was high time that each girl have their own bed.

A few hundred dollars and two twin beds later and it is bedtime. Can anyone predict what happened? I’ll tell you. The four children, who each seemed so excited about the change from two real beds and two half beds to four full twin beds, ended up pairing up with each other because they didn’t like being in separate rooms. We could have simply thrown two beds away and ended up in the same situation.

What else? Let’s see… a fish named Vacuum died. He was the only one that survived our initial attempt at an aquarium. When things went south, he was moved to an aquarium at my work. That brave slime sucker made it about four years. Rest in peace Vacuum.


Speaking of memorials. I need to give a shout-out. Uncle Herbie’s memorial service was this past weekend and magically I ended up with a mysterious cardboard box of magazines that I remember discovering in my younger years. I consider it a final gift. Thanks Herbie. You will be missed but thanks to your superior pack-rat skills, Ms. January of 1991 will live on.


How did I not know that Ronald Reagan had a naughty daughter? Nice. She wasn’t nearly as adamant about taking down the iron curtain as her father was. 

There is a new litter of baby bunnies so I’m sure that I won’t escape without some new member of the family. Hopefully we can go a month without losing a pet.


The battle of the pumpkins continues well into February 2016. I have a series of photos to get you back up to speed. The basic plot is that I didn’t dispose of them in a timely fashion, I refuted the fact that it was my responsibility, Supermom countered with indifference, and now we are acting like they don’t exist while they rot into nothingness.



Pumpkins 9


If you are enjoying a whirlwind life and having trouble getting all the notes on paper, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

My Kids Continue to Be Smarter Than Me

Prima may not have as much gracefulness or attention span as your average 5 year-old but her wisdom takes me by surprise. It shouldn’t since the premise of my blog is that I am an idiot 90% of the time but some dad part of me thinks I am teaching my children. Passing the flickering torch of knowledge. However, she did break her wrist by falling off the couch watching Dora the Explorer so I can’t have her take the MENSA test just yet.

This week my children were the surviving flame and I continued to be the wind. I didn’t freeze my tongue to a spoon again but I did get a bug in my eye and it rolled back into my head. Three hours later it moved around and came out. Here’s a picture of that.

That little green piece of junk was a crawly bug inside my head. Gross.

That little green piece of junk was a crawly bug inside my head. Gross.

I left a jar of sprinkles in reach. So here is how that turns out.

All the multi-colored sprinkles. Yay!

All the multi-colored sprinkles. Yay!

Then I saw something smeared on the doorframe to the bathroom. No its not another poo encounter. I think it is toothpaste and it is high enough on the door that the ones who could reach should know better.

Toothpaste painting. Yay!

Toothpaste painting. Yay!

So at the end of this day I was giving a bath to Threeto and she can sense when my give-a-shit meter is near the bottom. At that exact moment when I can’t take anymore I say, “Just put down the bath toys and get out right now!” She replies, “Okay take my rag.” And she squeezes a full washrag into my lap as I am looking the other direction talking to her mother. It was the perfect cherry on top and I just laughed at the apex of chaos.

A few deep breaths and we all gathered for some Lego’s before bed. I asked Prima how her first year at school had been. The short paragraph I got was a stream of consciousness but was impressive. Still waters run deep;

Prima: I have liked learning to read but I really like to draw.
UD: Oh yeah? What do you like to draw?
Prima: I want to draw. I want to draw how life IS. Like what life looks like.
UD: Wow. That is deep, can you do that?
Prima: Yes. I am courageous in my use of markers.

I got out some markers and paper because after that how do you not? She continued to talk and lay down some deep knowledge.

Prima: (Drawing intensely) Dad?
UD: Yes?
Prima: Did you know that in the future I am a teenager, right now. And if I think of a cheese sandwich and remember it, then it happened in the past. Yeah, you remember stuff in the past and you can’t see the future until right now.
UD: Did you eat mushrooms on your pizza?
Prima: …..

Then Threeto rushes into the conversation to tell me about a race they always have at the Grandparents house. “Papaw beats me every night!”
UD: He beats you?
Threeto: Yup. Every night (smiling).
UD: He wins?
Threeto: Naw, he just beats me.

But let’s not leave Lady Bug out of the rotation this week. I got this text from Supermom while I was at work. The only thing worse than finding a cap to red lipstick is this…

How do you respond? Good luck? That stinks?

How do you respond? Good luck? That stinks?

So I got bugged, heard the wisdom of Plato, saw a man be misrepresented, and was entertained by my wife’s struggles. Oh and one day while cleaning I found this and could have cried from the proudness…(It says Fosl Resrech, she likes Paleontology)


So if you had a fun rollercoaster week, this post is for you. Me too. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Daddy Can I Have A Puppy?

My reaction is complicated. I say no. To my kids it sounds like “No.” That’s because it is no. Jane has been wanting a pet since Christmas and she is thinking of every way in the world to get one. We have a couple pets already; Diaper Dog, Crazy Cat, lots of other animals who live at different grandparents’ houses. Part of me wants to say that she has enough interaction with animals and that another pet is a burden we don’t need.

Always up in someone's Kool-Aid.

Always up in someone’s Kool-Aid.

Pets are trouble from the word go. Whining, eating, pooping in the floor, taking them outside or changing a litter box, training them, getting attached to them, paying for medical procedures, and ultimately knowing that they don’t live long enough. If you ever try to go out of town then you have to find someone to watch over them or even tougher you have to take them with you. Why would anyone want a pet?

That is the easy button response. I need to know my reasons at a little deeper level so I did some research back into photo albums from the past. I wanted a complete picture of what dogs have meant to me growing up.

What roles have they filled?

My First True Friend

Sam was tolerant to say the least.

Sam was tolerant to say the least.

My first remembered dog was named Sam. He was a Golden Retriever and a perfect family dog. Sam was trained well and I enjoyed having him follow me on my adventures around the farm. I learned loyalty from Sam and, in a round-about way, empathy. I can remember telling him to sit and he didn’t listen to me so I hit him over the head with a plastic whiffle bat. I got in trouble but was told to think about what I did and how I would feel about someone hitting me. I can remember thinking about loving someone who is mean to you and that stuck with me. To this day I can’t stand people mistreating animals. Anything that can consider another something worth loving is at least worth respecting.


Sam followed my sister and me everywhere. Guarding over us because we were his pack. He proved that family doesn’t know trivial boundaries like race and species. Sam loved his family and was most at home in the middle of the madness. There is a similar dog at my mother’s house now and he is named Chester.

Chester the nervous peeing dog.

Chester the nervous peeing dog.

He was rescued from under a bridge and totally destroyed my house. He is the reason we have hardwood instead of carpet and the reason that our wedding photo was destroyed. He is still a good dog and he has found his place living at my mother’s farm. He reminds me a lot of Sam and he hovers around my children in the same tolerant and protective way. He will always have a home.

Sam is also my first reference for unexpected loss. Sam had cancer in his mouth and after a while it looked like he was holding a tennis ball. He was in a lot of pain and one weekend when I was gone from home my parents had him put down. I came home looking for Sam as my mother cried and told me the news. I remember very clearly the feeling of realizing I wouldn’t see Sam again. Empty and hollow loss. I never got to say goodbye.

Dogs Are Playmates

Peanut the bluetick hound.

Peanut the bluetick hound.

Sam wasn’t our only dog. We had a squirrel dog named Alicia, coon hunting dogs, and several dogs that were just passing through. One dog was a hare-brained Fox Terrier named Hot Pants or “HP” for short. We weren’t afraid of any of the dogs and never thought twice about them not liking us. They followed us and played in the creeks and woods all around the back of our house.

Penny (left) and Alicia (right).

Penny (left) and Alicia (right).

My aunt had Scottish Terriers that loved chasing balls around the backyard. We loved the fact they would play soccer with us. I had a friend who had a mean Schnauzer that would chase me every time I came to visit. Dad had a dog named Panda that was so ugly that she was cute. Panda looked like a fuzzy warthog mated with a shaggy throw rug and she was a sweet heart.

There was a dog named Rebel (I called him Lenny) and he was shot by a redneck neighbor who thought he might try to breed with a [somehow pure-bred yet half-wolf] type of dog that he had chained to a shitty plywood dog house. That is the closest I have been to pure hatred.

Happy Go Lucky Lenny.

Happy Go Lucky Lenny.

My First Pseudo-Responsibility

Pets came and went.

We had gerbils from hell. The long tailed rats ate everything. They ate their wheel, the steel screen over the cage, the inside of a Websters Dictionary that I put over the holes in the screen, and the one time I tried to hold one of the bastards it ate my thumb. Well, a piece of my thumb. We had rabbits that bred into uncontrollable numbers and were eventually murdered. Cats that went crazy or got run over by cars. Pet goats, ponies, and even a tamed pig named Speck. None of them hold what dogs do for me.

I begged for a pet of my own as a kid. Eventually, my mother waved the white flag and let me get a Dachshund that we named Penny. She was a weird dog. Penny loved her little house that she slept in at night. She would hide everything in her house. We found toys, socks, empty cans, and bones stuffed in the back. I taught Penny to sit and roll over. Penny slept on the end of my bed at night and is a placeholder in my memory for a time from pre-teen to leaving for college.

Penny became my mother’s dog when I moved and lived until a few years after we moved back to town. She grew old and lost her sight and hearing. One day she wandered off and ended up in the road. Honestly, it was quick and in the grand scheme of things not a bad way to go. I cried when I heard because it was the turning of a page and it felt like a new chapter.

My Wife’s Little Sidekick

Beauty was intimidated by candles I guess.

Beauty was intimidated by candles I guess.

Supermom is an only child. She grew up with a cousin close to the same age so she has the experience of siblings but not living in the home with her. Beauty was a Cairn terrier who was her sidekick from ten years old until a little while after we started dating. Beauty lived the luxurious life of the only pet of an only child. She was treated like a person and the family liked to watch her explore snow and express her sassy personality. Like the baby toddler of the family, Beauty was doted on. Supermom brought Beauty to visit my apartment and she promptly jumped up and peed on my bed. She must have sensed competition and was trying to mark me out of her life. My mother-in-law would have been proud at the time, although hopefully she doesn’t still wish for dogs to ruin my sheets.

Snow playtime.

Snow playtime.

It wouldn’t work. Supermom and I were getting serious and one weekend we traveled across the state to meet my family. Beauty wasn’t allowed to come along. While we were driving in my hometown Supermom got a call on her cellphone and with a confused look handed the phone to me. It was my future mother-in-law telling me the sad news that Beauty had died. I had to be the one to tell her and hold her while she sobbed. My first time for being a shoulder to cry on. Her sidekick was gone and she never got to say goodbye. I didn’t have any words worth saying but I understood. Sucks.

A Dog Was Our First Child

Momma Dixie with babies Biscuit and Sammy.

Momma Dixie with babies Biscuit and Sammy.

After celebrating our first New Year together we visited my hometown again. My dad had a boxer named Dixie who was the mother of several family dogs. She was a brindle colored Boxer and we learned that in this family the brindle color came with hereditary joint problems that led to pain and paralysis. But a few years before we learned about that, Dixie had a litter of puppies.


Awwww. Wait, what the hell is on my chin?

One of them was a sandy colored puppy that took to me right away. I didn’t necessarily want or need a dog but after an afternoon of snuggling with this tiny life, Supermom and I decided that the puppy needed to be our first child.

Seriously, how cute is this dog? She snores like a buffalo but she was cute once.

Seriously, how cute is this dog? She snores like a buffalo but she was cute once.

Biscuit is the Diaper Dog that you may have seen in other posts. She moved with us back to college and lived in our apartment. Then later we moved in with my future father-in-law. Biscuit was a shared love and responsibility that helped teach us some of the basic tools of parenting. Namely that you have to plan ahead for feeding, pooping, and peeing. She also didn’t like Mommy and Daddy to be upset at each other and she would try to give kisses between us when we acted like we were angry with each other. Custody over Biscuit would have been an ugly battle.

Every morning at 5:30 Biscuit would wake me up to go pee outside. I would stand on the front porch while she went out in the yard and usually I would have to go too. At 5:30 am in the middle of nowhere… I peed off the porch. One afternoon I see my father-in-law standing in the yard staring at dead patches of lawn and scratching his head. “What in the world is killing the grass? Look it is just in this one spot.” I had to explain that I had been peeing in that spot for a couple of months every morning. I found out he had been trying to figure out the grass problem for about the same amount of time.

Friends for life.

Friends for life. She even loves a worthless cat.

Biscuit is our official relationship dog. She represents almost the entirety of my life with Supermom and even as I type this she is laying on a pillow napping next to me. Diaper and all. She loves her family as deeply as anyone and considers herself second in command. If I am away from home she doesn’t allow guests to approach the children or my wife. She doesn’t growl or make much of a show but she keeps her body between family and company at all times.

Anything for the pack.

Anything for the pack. She is protecting Lady Bug from the couch.

Dogs love sacrificially and I will always remember a day that I was swimming laps in the pool at my dad’s house. Biscuit was pacing at the edge of the water and very concerned that I was drowning. I continued my laps and suddenly she had decided that the risk was worth the cost and she dove into the pool. Boxers aren’t made for swimming and I had to rescue her but she proved herself to me. I hope that I would be as brave to protect my family. In fact, there are some stories on this blog that prove I wouldn’t be. Biscuit is definitely the unsung hero. That is something beyond words.

Getting old and grey.

Getting old and grey. Jane loves her “Bee Bee”.

Age isn’t nice to dogs and as she gets older I have the constant fear of finding her cold and still or even worse is the thought that I would have to make the decision to put her down. I don’t know that I could do it. She is in all of our photos. Biscuit was our first. She saw us date, marry, have children, move houses, celebrate birthdays and Christmases, travel to see family, welcome new pets to the family, and has more than once been a pillow to cry on for someone. She watched over our children and probably taught them some of the same lessons that Sam taught me. She is this stable symbol of friend, family, and love.

Go Vols!

Go Vols! She is nervous just like most vols fans.

Dogs Are Heavy On The Heart 

When the kids ask for another dog I think of all of these things. I have the denial of losing Biscuit. I have the bitterness of choosing her replacement. I think about what will replace her and mark the next phase of our life. Replacing Biscuit means allowing time to move forward. It means the kids will move from “Sam” to “Penny” and eventually a “Biscuit” of their own.

So when they ask, “Daddy can I have a puppy?” my brain screams, “No!”. But the kids know better. They see the look in my eyes and know that it isn’t even a question.

Of course we will have a puppy. Life requires it. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.