Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I am truly the Man Of The House (at least that's what my wife tells me)!

I AM the man of the house and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!  I know, I know... That's a very Old Testament approach to marriage.  But when you've got it... YOU'VE GOT IT! And how do I know I've got it??? My wife and kids let me know.  Plus, I have 5 reasons that fact can't be disputed.

First off... The remote is MINE!  I only ALLOW my wife and kids to use it every now and then (even though the baby just chews on it.  She's not old enough to know the power of the remote.  She also doesn't know that it's DADDY'S!).  And just because they have the remote more than me doesn't mean anything.  I'm a generous MOTH (when I write the acronym for Man Of The House like that, it doesn't sound as manly).  So I let them watch their little silly Hannah Montanas, Micky Mouse Club Houses (I kinda like that one) and their Private Practices.  But when I'm ready to watch my MANLY shows like Football, 24 or Desperate Housewives... they'd better hand over the remote.

Second off... I pretty much do what I want to do.  For example, I go play golf whenever I please.  Whenever I feel like going, I grab my clubs and tell my wife I will be back when I get back.  Now, I haven't played golf since March but that was MY choice.  I CHOSE to not go play golf.  I might CHOOSE to go play soon... like March... 2012. Then again... I might not.

Third off... When the kids want something, they know to go to their mother, FIRST.  Not because she's the final word, but because it's like a corporation.  When you have a concern you don't start out by going to the President.  You start lower and work your way up.  And I have a GREAT wife.  She makes sure most decisions don't get past her because she knows I have more important things to deal with (like golf and Desperate Housewives).  But when something does make it past my wife, I'm a nice MOTH.  I go back and ask my wife what she thinks about the issue.  And a lot of times I just let her have her way.  Then I put my foot down so everyone knows the decision is final!

Fourth off... They all treat my words as law!  When tell them something, they do it.  My 3-year old was taking a bath with the baby.  She decided to "clean" the baby's eyes by getting her hands all lathered up with soap and poking them into baby's eyes.  So my job as MOTH was to straighten this issue out NOW.  Whereas her mother counts to 3, I just told her ONCE!  I don't believe in all of that counting mess.  I told her once and she stopped.  Now... I had to tell her again a little later because 3-year olds have a short memory.  It wasn't that she was challenging me. She just forgot.  It's not her fault.  It's just our species.  And you know what... she stopped again!  That's what I'm talking about.  I did have to take the baby out of the tub after the 3rd time, though.  I didn't want her to be a 4-time victim of the "goldfish" memory of a 3-year old (It's not her fault).

And Finally... I made the decision to NOT have any boys.  My wife wanted at least 1 boy and I told her NO! I didn't want to deal with the inevitable power struggle between fathers and sons (too much of a hassle).  He would stand up to me. I would knock him down. Everyone would be mad.  I would have to put my foot down...  End of story. And then there would be hard feelings for years to come.  So being the intelligent MOTH that I am, I made that decision to save the family a few generations of heartache.  And it was my insight and willpower that made it all happen.  I kept ALL of the Y-Chromosomes to myself (See... even my genes yield to the awesome power that I hold).

So to those thinking I don't have the MOTH status, come on over to the house and see who has the remote (make sure you call to give us at least 5 minutes notice... you know... out of courtesy).  Then if that doesn't convince you, I will show you the control I have over the kids.  I'm sure watching that will shock and amaze you.  And if that still doesn't get you... count how many sons I have.  If that doesn't tell the story, I don't know what does!  Now excuse me... Desperate Housewives is back on.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our Purpose in Life

(Inspired by a family member)

When people go through a traumatic event they often experience something... life changing or at the very least philosophy of life changing.  For some of us it is a defining moment in the sculpting process of our souls.  We start with a square slab and events give us shape.  They help us chisel away a lot of the loose, weak and unimportant parts that cover up the solid foundation of our core.  But what happens when the event is so powerful we find it has dug too deep?  What happens when we find that it has caused a crack in our very foundation?

In most cases, one of two things will happen.  One... We let this define us as flawed. This is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When we take on the definition of being flawed it makes us flawed.  We also run the risk of the cracks growing into a grooves.  And the more these events bores into us, the less there is of us.  The end result is one where we look around and find nothing but pieces of our life around us but nothing holding them together any more.  And that's a mess.

The other thing that could happen is that we let the events define us as a work in progress.  I would like to say that we can use these events to define us as perfect.  But that's not possible.  But we can use these events as an indicator of where we should start the rebuilding (or healing) process.  We can use the cracks they form to refocus and change our mindset.  The cracks give us a visual starting point as to where we need to start building and stop chiseling.

This process is different for everyone because everyone has a different "shape."  We've all been molded by the events of our past.  So no matter the event it will always be a unique experience for each of us.  And it is this uniqueness that makes me think about our purpose.

What if our GRAND purpose in life is simply to be... US?  I don't want that small sentence to be mistaken for one that is of small importance.  If there will NEVER exist anyone else like us then I think we serve no greater purpose to ourselves and those around us than by being ourselves.  I don't think we should ever stop chiseling away or filing in the cracks but sometimes you should look at the life you molded and realize that it is exactly what it should be... and be happy with the results.  While you are admiring your handy work, you should take a few minutes to check out the "blocks" of those around you.  You will probably notice that the people you care about and those that care about you have designed parts of their masterpiece in your name.  And those who REALLY love you stay around long enough to help you clean up the mess!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Date Night - The Forgotten Episode

A few nights ago, my lovely wife and I had something called a "Date Night."  I'm not sure if any of you have heard of that but it does exist.  I know if you have more than one child below the age of 14 then there is a greater chance you will not believe anything I'm writing in this post.

Date Night is this "thing" where you and your spouse get to go out and pretend you don't have kids for an hour or 2.  I know I just lost some of you there so I will say it another way.  NO KIDS + NIGHT OUT = FUN YOU HAVEN'T HAD IN A LONG TIME.

We didn't even do anything spectacular.  We just went to dinner and a movie.  I think we only did that because we had forgotten who we were without the kids.  And since we left our 3 little pieces of identification at home with the grandparents, we defaulted to the status quo.  However, the experience was like I was getting to know my wife again (and, yep... she's still wonderful).  When we went to dinner, I ate a little more than usual because I wasn't worried about how much it costs to feed 5 people these days.  My belt was screaming for mercy before I was half done with the food.  Of course I told it to shut-up (a word I can say because the kids aren't around (not sure when that became a bad word, though)) and I loosened it to the next loop.  I really didn't want to be listening to THAT all night.

We also went to see a movie.  We watched "Couples Retreat." It was refreshing (and VERY funny).  I had almost forgotten what it was like to watch a movie that WASN'T rated PG.  We both loved it.  I will say this though... It will also make you look at the things going on in your own life and re-evaluate your priorities.  This is a good thing.  I helped me realize that there are certain things in life that you can't wait until you FIND time for... You have to MAKE time for them (or they will never happen).

And that was pretty much the Date Night.  Now, the funny thing about Date Night is that the closer you get to your home, the more you start to think about the crap that goes on in everyday life to make you really want another Date Night.  But after trying to pass the house for the 5th time, my wife made me pull into the driveway.  I guess she wasn't too keen on my idea about going away until the kids are ready for college.  She thought the idea sounded good in theory but had too many problems in the application.  I took that as a personal challenge.  So I will be revising my plan and submitting it in the next date night (penciled in for 08/19/2010).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teaching a 4-year Old a Lesson They Will Never Forget

I am writing this post from timeout.  My crime?  I told a 3-year old that she couldn't have any more Cheerios.  I'm not completely sure when this became a punishable offense, but it has.  I did the crime. Now, I'm doin' the time!

I guess the denying a 3-year old of Cheerios is a Class-A felony because I haven't even been told how long I am to stay in here.  And every time I try to leave the little timeout chair I get yelled at and time added to my sentence (I'm not sure about the time being added but if denying Cheerios is a Class-A felony then I'm sure trying to escape is at least a Class-B).

Since I've been sitting here I've had time to think...  Whatever happened to old school discipline?  There is no drug powerful enough to make me imagine a scenario where I would have been able to put my mom into timeout.  My mouth is hurting just thinking of slap I would have received for letting that thought go through my head.

Today's parent has to be more creative than my parent's generation.  Tools and Techniques they used are shunned in today's society. Their forms of punishment were not creative.  They were not pretty.  But BOY were they effective!

**DISCLAIMER** - I am not condoning nor condemning the "Tools" and "Techniques" in my post.  I think each child is different.  And one thing that works for one child may not work on another.  With that said.... here is my story.

My mother was the disciplinarian in the house.  She learned from the absolute best (my grandmother).  With the power to punish she also had the power to make the rules (attorney, judge and jury all rolled into one (kinda Andy Griffith style))

This particular day we were going through the local Big-K (This was not a BIG K-Mart.  The store was just called Big-K).  And like any other 4-year old, I wanted to go down the toy aisle.  My mother said no (because we were very poor when I was little and couldn't afford such things).  Usually, that's the end of it.  It WAS the end of it for the moment.  But life had other plans.  I was about to learn a lesson that can only be taught through experience (as in my friends blog title).

All was well while we went around the store.  Then right before we left, we passed the toy aisle.  I asked again and this time my mom gave in.  In retrospect, I don't know if she gave in because she felt sad that she would never be able to get me the toy and she wanted me to have 5 minutes of happiness instead of none... OR... she really just wanted to teach me a lesson that day.  She let me go but explained to me that we didn't have any money and I was to not ask for anything.  I agreed.

So I went down the aisle playing with all of the toys like it was Christmas and Santa accidentally dropped off everything at my house (Thanks Santa)!  But then I saw it.  A sliver of light began to shine on it like GOD was pointing to it as if to say, "This ones for you, little one."  In retrospect... I'm not sure if GOD (being the gracious and loving GOD) was doing this because I was from a poor family and would never be able to play with this toy under any other circumstances... OR he had the same lesson planned as my mother!  But there it stood... the 12 inch tall G.I. Joe action figure (doll).  AND I WANTED IT!!!

So I asked nicely if I could have it.  And my mother nicely told me no.  Then she reminded me of that EVIL pact I agreed to that said I could go down the aisle as long as I didn't ask for anything.  I was 4 so didn't remember back that far (3:47 seconds ago).  At that point the issue escalated.  I found myself breaking family rule number 1.  It had been passed down for ages.  My grandmother said it every time we went into public.  My mother agreed with it and refined it.  But family rule number 1 is "Don't show your @ss!" It was a very simple rule.  It was a easy to understand.  You didn't need a lawyer to interpret it.  You ALWAYS knew what it meant.  So what did I do... I showed my @ss!  In retrospect... It had to be done.  I was learning my lesson.

I yelled.  I screamed.  I kicked.  I rolled around on the floor.  My performance was truly Oscar worthy.  My mother's performance wasn't what I expected.  She didn't yell.  She didn't scream.  As a matter of fact, she didn't say much.  That doesn't mean she wasn't up for the same Oscar.  It just meant that she was the real star.  Her silence spoke volumes.  My 4-year old ears just couldn't hear it.  She let me continue my performance on up to the check-out line.  That whole time I was showing out, I didn't realize that my mother was setting the stage.

When it was her turn to pay, she told the woman behind the register to hold on for one minute.  I stopped crying because I thought I had won!  I thought I had worn her down.  I thought she was giving in and was going to get me the G.I. Joe I just had to have.... That wasn't the case.

She calmly grabbed my hand and took me in front of the registers.  She proceded to pull down my pants... AND my Superman Underoos (even the Man-of-Steel couldn't help me today).  In my head, I was thinking she's breaking family rule #1 by LITERALLY showing my backside.  In her head, she was teaching.  She gave me a bare-butt spanking in front of everyone in BIG-K.  Even GOD turned off the G.I. Joe light as if to say the rod was not spared this day. Game... Set... and... MATCH.

Some of you might be reading this saying that was barbaric.  But as I said before, it was EXTREMELY effective!  I never asked for another toy at a store... EVER.  I never showed my backside in public like that again... EVER.  As a matter of fact, 30+ years later, I'm STILL quiet when I go into Wal-Mart with my mom.  If she asks me if I want something I always say "No Ma'am." 

After that day, I didn't even like G.I. Joe anymore.  All of my friends wondered why I didn't watch that cartoon growing up.  Well, there it is.  G.I. Joe was not the same after that.  The G.I. Joe movie came out earlier this year.  As good as it looked, I just couldn't bring myself to go to the theater to watch it.

Life-Long Lesson Learned: The 4 "L"s.

Well, it looks like I'm about to be released from timeout for good behavior.  At least that's what she's telling me.  But I really think it's because she just said she's hungry in her tummy.  Either way, peanut butter and jelly is a reasonable price to pay for freedom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fatherly Advice to My Middle Child

There are times in a dad's life that he truly has to be a father.  He has to put away the Guitar Heroes, PS3s, golf clubs, gym memberships, internets (yes, I know), cars, food and even the NFL Sunday Ticket (that last one might have been a bit too far but you get my point).  He has to stand up and learn to balance the dichotomy of being so small and inconsequential in some universes and being the most important entity this side of GOD in others.  He has to get rid of the biases and prejudices that have formed (and sometimes clouded ) his believe structure in order to teach one of his own the truth as it as and not necessarily how he sees it.

I feel that day has come in our home.  It's one of those days that one finds it hard to distinguish between fear and excitement.  The two emotions blending together like words on a page at 3:00AM.  I would imagine it would be the same feeling when one of my daughters is getting married or having a baby for the first time.  I find it difficult to accurately describe the feeling to someone who has never been in this situation.  But if you have been in this situation you will always remember it.

I realize the my middle child is not quite 4 yet but my message to her is no less important than if were talking to my wife about our finances or our childrens' futures.  I must find the right angle of approach so as to not lose my words in the sea of Dora and Spongebob that might be swimming in her head.  I must let her know that this is timeless advice and should be treated as the 11th Commandment.

To my middle child:  I love you.  I hope and pray for your happiness for years to come.  That's why I'm giving you this advice....  If you don't stop stepping on your little sister, she is going to BEAT you to a pulp in another year.  Yeah, you're bigger now but you have a 3-year head start and she is already 2/3 your weight.  She will outweigh you in another year and I fear for your safety.  You might not think that she will, but she WILL remember everything.  One day she is going to wake up and decide that enough is enough and you will be in some kind of trouble.  As a matter of fact, I'm convinced that the only thing saving you when we go to bed at night is the fact that she is in a crib.  But I'm here to tell you, she won't be in a crib for much longer.  The bars are set to come off soon.  And, at that point, the only things standing between you and a late night beating are 2 bedroom doors and about 25ft of carpet.

Remember this IS a warning.  You still have time to change your ways.  You might be ok if you STOP stepping on her feet every time you get the chance.  She MIGHT not remember ALL of the times you pulled her legs as she is trying to crawl to her favorite toys.  She just might decide to forgive all of the times you sat on her and tried to ride her like a pony (not making any promises on that one).  I hope she doesn't remember all of the times you walked by her and knocked her down just because you felt like it.  I will try to make sure she doesn't hold any resentment for all of the times you wouldn't let her play with any of your toys (or her own toys for that matter).  That's the least I can do.  I'm your father and I love you both.

So I will leave you with this parting thought: If you don't straighten up and fly right when it comes to your younger sibling, there won't be enough timeouts in the world to save you from the revenge of a BIGGER little sister.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When did the Mid-30s mean... OLD!?!

I must have missed the memo on this one.  And I guess the fact that I used the word "memo" means it's true.  When did the 30s become the NEW 80s?  I know they say you're only as old as you feel.  If that's true then I was 147 years old a few weeks ago.

I suffered the first back injury of my short life.  It was very painful and it put me out of commission for several days.  I have a really high pain threshold and I seldom go to the doctor or take medicine.  I did both after this injury.

Everything about this injury was VERY serious... except how the stupid thing happened.  I would love to tell the tale of how I hurt my back while saving 10 orphans from a burning building.  

I had even thought about telling everyone that I hurt my back while I was skydiving and my parachute didn't open.  It was a crazy free fall for at least 38,000ft!  As a matter of fact... if the plane hadn't SWOOPED down at the last minute to catch me, I wouldn't be alive to write this Blog.

I only wish I could tell you that I hurt my back while trying out for the Titans (because they REALLY need my help).  I won the starting QB AND starting WR spots.  We were working on plays where I would throw the ball to MYSELF.  On one of my amazing pass plays I threw the ball 65 yards... to myself.  And when I realized that I was going to embarrass the entire defense with this truly wonderful feat, I decided to one-up myself.  Since no one could catch me, I JUMPED from out of nowhere and had a HUGE diving tackle... on myself!

Unfortunately, none of those stories are true.  I know most of you are shocked.  You were expecting me to tell you that one of the three stories is legitimate.  But, alas... I can't.  I'm going to have to use one of those stories for the next injury (I'm not going to waste a good story).  SO I trade in those good stories for this crappy one.

It was a school morning and everything was routine.  I fed the kids. I got them ready.  I did the middle child's hair.  This would have been an awesome story if that was how I hurt my back.  Because any given morning she throws a fit so bad that just watching it is enough to make your back hurt a week.  But not this morning.  I mean, she threw a fit (like normal)!  But it wasn't enough to throw out my back.  She did cause a pain with her fit but saying it was in my back would be an improper ASSessment of the location of said pain.

Moving on... I got everyone ready and we got into the car.  We were running a little late (normal) so we were in a hurry.  We got in the car, pull out of the driveway and turn onto the next street.  Just then I hear a little sound from the back seat.... "Daddy... I forgot my yellow blankie."  If she hadn't used her mutant make-daddy-do-what-I-want-with-my-cute-smile ability, I wouldn't have this story to tell.  But she used her magic and I turned the car around (We had just left anyway).

So we turn around, go back home and pull into the driveway.  I turn to get out of the car and.... that's the end of the story!  I told you, I told you, I told you!  That's the story.  That's how I hurt my back!  I went from being in my 30s to being in my 140s on one turn to get out of my car.  I want to continue writing but the arthritis won't let me.  The Titans are doing terrible without me.  I guess I'm going to go to bed.

Now, where's my cane?!?

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Family Dogs

There are 2 dogs in our immediate family.  There is my dog: Smokee.  He is a red and white Shih Tzu that comes from a very good line of dogs (3 champions in his pedigree).  He is a very lovable and *quiet (most of the time) dog.  He wasn't hard to train.  He can do a few doggie tricks like sit, speak and lay down (I know that proper English would be for me to tell him to lie down.  But he's a dog so he doesn't know proper English).  He *doesn't beg for food nor *does he eat "people" food if I lay (see... proper usage of the word lay) it on the floor.  He doesn't eat or chew on objects that weren't made for a dog (minus a friend's aglet (thanks to my oldest I know what the plastic tip of a shoestring is called)... sorry Spuds.  I will buy you another shoestring one day).  He has too many wonderful qualities to post them all.

Now some of you might have noticed that I added a few *'s next to some items.  That means there are moments when he's just being a dog.  For example the quiet part.  He IS quiet most of the time.  But if you leave him closed off from people like in another room with the door closed, he goes nuts until you open the door.  That's only because he isn't tall enough nor does he have the thumbs necessary to open it himself.  His barking is just to remind you of that.  The other stars are all together different.  He didn't beg for food or eat people food when he was younger.  He has somehow learned this and other BAD behaviors from... the other dog...

Enter my wife's dog... Pal.  I wish I could tell you what breed he is but even the Vets don't know what to call him (I have made several suggestions on what I want to call him).  He is pretty much red all over (like the devil) and only 3lbs heavier than my dog (even though he acts like he's Godzilla toward my little Smokee).  If you have ever seen the movie "Marley and Me" then you would recognize him as a pint size Marley.  If you haven't seen that movie then he is a mini Cujo (If you don't know then YouTube it)!

This dog will eat anything.  I have the Vet bills to prove it! He has eaten several items that should have killed him by now, like: a pound of chocolate from Godiva (Dead); a boot from one of my daughter's dolls (got lodged in his intestines... DEAD); a bag of balloons (although this could have killed him, it was by far the funniest thing he has eaten.  He had multicolored poop for days).  That was just to name a few things!  And he has survived them all!  So I'm convinced that the dog is going to live to be 300 (in dog years) just so he can see me go first.

If we don't watch him, he will walk right over to the kids and take whatever food they are eating.  He's also a big BRUTE even though he's a scaredy-cat!  And if he does something wrong, you can't yell at him or you run the risk of him just peeing right where he is.  Then, you can't yell at him for that because you run the risk of him running and peeing at the same time.  So the lake of pee now becomes a river of pee that winds around the house like the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. So there have been a many of times where I have had to just stand there and bite my tongue (instead of calling him some of those creative names I talked about earlier) and just watch him pee.  And he always looks at me with that look like, "It's either this one spot on the carpet or the whole carpet.  You decide.  One way or another... I'm peeing!"

And here is the end all, beat all....  I gave that dog to my wife as a present.  So I can NEVER get rid of him.  I guess I will have to use some of his quirkiness to fill some pages on my blog.

At least he's not a cat!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

OK... I'll Do It.... But, You First.

It's funny how most men will attempt some of the most dangerous things in life for some of the DUMBEST reasons.  I can only imagine how many appendages have been lost within 10 seconds of hearing "Hey, watch this!"  I can only wonder about how many broken bones or spleens (yes, I said broken spleens) have been involuntarily waged in a friendly game of dare (double that number for a double dare (and quadruple that number for a TRIPLE DOG DARE (Trust me.  The math works.))).  We (men) have a problem of looking past our 15 seconds of fame, glory and stupidity to see the numerous possibilities of supreme failure at our current task.  And if there's even a hint that our painful venture would land the newest viral video on YouTube... BONUS!  For some reason we are willing to throw such caution to the wind without a second thought.  That brings me to my question... With all of the bravery (and stupidity masked as bravery) we exhibit, why do we have a problem with going to the doctor?

For the sake of this argument we will leave the cost of healthcare out of the equation.  That is a completely different post and also good money says that even if there was a FREE option, we still wouldn't go.  The logical approach says that all you would need to do is DARE a man to go to the doctor and we would do it.  But logic fails in that scenario because there is no YouTube moment for success or failure.

I think there is a fear among us about going to the doctor.  I believe the fear to be real but I believe it to be misplaced or misdiagnosed, if you will.  I don't think it is the fear of the professional that is trying to heal us.  I believe it is the fear of what they might find.  Basically I will sum it up as this... Most men would rather die of something they didn't know they had than to live with something they knew.

I'm a guy and I don't understand it myself.  When I hear my car make a weird noise the first thing I want to check it out (or have someone more qualified to do it - like a geography teacher or something).  But if my body made the EXACT same noise (as unnatural as that is) I would think I could just sleep it off.  I would put the noise on the MAN-SCALE.  Headache - 30 minute nap. Backache - rest for a few hours. Diphtheria - this one might take a few days.

So MEN... You need to face that irrational fear of doctors.  We need to show BRAVERY in face of unknown.  You need to get checked.  This holds more weight if you have a spouse and children.  If the doctor says take a "deep breath and hold it" then by all means hold it like you are trying to get into the Guinness Book.  If the doctor tells you to bend over and cough... then make THAT your YouTube moment!  And when you come back with a clean bill of health... there is your 15 minutes of fame and glory (minus the stupidity). And look... I didn't even have to triple dog dare you!