Thursday, April 28, 2011


**Serious Warning** This particular posting contains serious content. If you are a reader of this blog for something light to do on a break from more serious things, then be forewarned.

I have been debating including a recent change in my situation as a Stay at Home Dad, but it will be hard to write about my days without explaining the difference. I have recently been looking for a part-time job that didn't interfere with my being the primary caretaker of my daughters or my wife's work, and since my wife doesn't get home until six p.m. or later, that doesn't leave many options outside of working overnight. I applied for overnight operations at Lifetime Fitness, overnight stocker at Target, and overnight stocker at a grocery store. Much to the detriment of my ego, Lifetime and Target didn't think I was a fit for those particular positions, at least that is what the emails said. But, recently, I was lucky enough to be hired at a grocery store as an overnight stocker. The manager who interviewed me said, "We are just going to go ahead and hire you right now because you are the first person who said anything more than ""I like the Cubs"" when I asked them to tell me about themselves." High praise.

So now, on three to four nights a week, I make the short drive to the store, clock in, and commence opening boxes, putting cans on shelves, stacking toilet paper and making sure everything is orderly and facing out. It is perfect in that it is physical enough to keep me awake, but brainless enough to allow me to think about other things. During the week, I work from eleven p.m. to five a.m., so when the end of my shift approaches, I stop what I am doing, push my cart of broken down cardboard boxes back to the bailer, load the boxes, compact them, collect my things, clock out, walk out from the fluorescent brightness into the light blue pre-sunlit sky. I make the short drive home, quietly creep up the stairs, trying to keep the dog from making too much noise. I wash the store off my hands, take the store uniform off, sneak into bed in the minutes before my lovely wife's alarm goes off. I wake a couple hours later to my little girls playing in their room.

The day after my second shift went exactly like that, but when I woke up, everything made me angry. IR was yelling "Daddy! Daddy!", so I jumped out of bed and ran into their room to find her distraught over a thread that was unravelling from her favorite blanket.

After making our way downstairs, I realized that the house was abnormally cold. I checked the thermostat and it read sixty-four. It was set to sixty-nine and the furnace wasn't running. I spent the morning running back and forth from getting the girls breakfast to trying everything I knew how to do to get the furnace running again. I didn't feel irritable, but I was snapping at the girls.

"I want more ice christies." ML said as she spooned some milk into her mouth, dripping it all down her pajamas.
"What do you say?" I snapped.
"You have to say please." IR whispered.
"Peas I have more ice christies?" ML whispered, following her sister's example.

Later I was getting them dressed and they were happily playing with each other and not paying any attention to me. "ML, please come get dressed."
"IR go first!" She said and went on playing with her fairy dolls.
"IR, please come get dressed." I said. She usually dressed herself, but I didn't have the patience to wait for her to do it.
"Okay," she said but continued to push a car across the floor.
"IR, get over here right now and get your clothes on!" I didn't feel as angry as it sounded, but the effect was immediate. She dropped her car and slowly walked to me. I expected her to start crying. This is the girl who cries when we calmly ask her to cover her mouth when she coughs, or completely melts down when I tell her that she needs to practice writing her J again. And this latest outburst was just the last of many impatient requests. She didn't cry. She walked right to me and as if trying to balance herself while putting her pants on, put out her skinny little arms, but instead of putting her hands on my head, as she normally did, she wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me on the cheek.

"I love you Daddy." She said and smiled.
"I love you." I said and returned her hug. I know it is fairly cheesy to admit this, but it seemed as if a fog was lifted and I was happy. I can't imagine being more proud of my daughter than I was in that moment. Many people are sympathetic, or empathetic, but that sympathy usually gives way to defensiveness and anger when faced with someone who is mean to us. I was mean to her and she had every right to be upset with me, to cry, and to pout, but she was strong enough to forget her feelings and worry about mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Mistakes

After my very unkind posting for public consumption of my cousin's unfortunate baby launching, I realized that I have endangered my children in more ways than just banging one in the head with a pot or stepping on the other's face. Let's be clear, I have never harmed my children intentionally, so please don't call any agencies.

A little over two years ago, when IR had just turned three and ML was about six months old, I was home alone with them during the day. It was springtime then as well, and just like now I started to get a manly hankering to grill some meat. Sorry, the words grill and meat just naturally follow words like manly and hankering. Not the same when you say something like "I had a manly hankering to drive my minivan," or "I had a manly hankering to put pigtails on my daughter." But I need to get back to my story, as I said, the nice weather put me in the mood for some grilled meat. We live in a townhouse, and kitchen is on the second floor above the garage with a sliding glass door that opens onto a small porch that is cantilevered over the parking lot.

I made the necessary preparations for cooking some pork chops, like starting and cleaning the grill etc... It was still a little cold outside, but I had shorts and a t-shirt on, which is my normal uniform for being home with the girls. IR was in the wonderful territory of learning who she was and what the world was around her, and ML was just starting to crawl. IR was already being a good big sister and trying to coax her sister to some toys across the room when I stepped out to check the pork chops. I slid the door shut behind me and turned to see IR hanging on the handle and pressing her face against the glass. I pretended not to see her and was going to open the door with her swinging on the handle. I pulled on the door, but I realized quickly that IR had accidentally locked it. The lock is a little black lever that sits right under the handle.

"You locked the door sweetie." To which she responded with muffled giggles and dropped from the door.
"IR, you locked the door, can you push that little black lever up for daddy?" I don't know why parents start speaking in the third person, that is the subject of another blog. IR didn't understand so I pointed to the black lever and pretended to push it up. Her response was to mimic my movements on the glass. If I wasn't standing on a porch, ten feet off the ground, in shorts, a t-shirt, and barefoot in forty degree weather, I might have thought it cute how she put her little finger adjacent to mine on the other side of the glass and moved it up and down with increasing intensity.
"Honey, no, push the black lever, the black lever, please sweetie, push the black lever up!" My increasing intensity seemed to take the fun out of the game so she ran into the living room. It was then that I realized that I couldn't see ML, who was just barely crawling at that point. I imagined her chewing on a power cord or falling down the stairs. I banged on the glass. "IR! IR! Please come here!" She came back, but slowly--she thought she was in trouble. I can't blame her, I was mad and a little frantic. "Honey, please push the black lever." I said after I had tried to calm myself. She came to the door and sat down facing me. "Please, sweetie, I will give you some candy if you push up the black lever."
"Tandy?" She replied, standing up.
"Yes, I will give you two candies if you push the black lever." I held up two fingers to the glass, and she responded by putting two fingers on the glass. We repeated the earlier exercise. I pointed to the black lever and she pointed to the tip of my finger. I got frustrated again, and she ran away again. This time I pounded the door with the palm of my right hand in frustration. "IR, get back here right now!" I knew this wasn't going to work. I knew that none of it was going to work, so I was allowing myself to be angry. She didn't return, so I started to consider other options. I thought about breaking the glass, but I didn't know how and I couldn't help think of the cost.
I thought about jumping, but I was barefoot and for some stupid reason the fact that it was chilly out made the blacktop seem even less inviting. I climbed over the rail and tried to hang from the floor of the porch to gauge the distance, but I couldn't tell, and I couldn't let go. I tried to hang from the satellite dish that the former residents of the house left behind, but it was really flimsy. I looked up to see IR hanging from the door handle again and was relieved to see that I was forgiven for my earlier outburst. It was then that I jumped down onto the hood of the truck we had at the time, and luckily was parked under the porch. It wasn't too bad, but the cold blacktop did sting a little as I jumped from the hood. I opened the garage with the keypad on the door and went upstairs.
"Daddy, are you okay?" IR asked as I picked up ML and was relieved to see no injuries.
"No sweetie, you locked me out." I know, I know, it wasn't on purpose and I shouldn't have been mad at her, but I was. "Look daddy, I can do it! I can do it!" She said.
"What can you do?" Her response was to run into the kitchen and push the black lever up, unlocking the door. She couldn't have been more proud of herself, and though I am very proud of her for many things, pride was not on my mind in that moment.
Later that day, they were in the truck with me on the way to drop them off with their mother. It was a circumstance of us both working. To get to my class on time, I had to take them to my wife instead of waiting for her to get home before leaving. I was going through an intersection and was surprised by the car in front of me stopping in the middle of the intersection to avoid a pothole.
My wife called me later to tell me that IR had told her all about our day together. First, IR told her mother that I locked her out of the house, and second she told her mother that I had said a bad word in the truck.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eleven-Year-Old Black Labrador Retriever Seeks New Situation

Families with small children need not apply. My name is Truman and I am taking this opportunity to advertise my desire for a new family. My family doesn't know of my intentions, so please don't tell them about this.

I am an eleven-year-old male black lab. Yes ladies, I am "intact" with a nice pair of, well you know. I can catch a frisbee, but I must admit, that my age and lack of attention from my family has hindered my ability to catch more than a few frisbees before I collapse in front of a water bowl and hyperventilate for a few minutes. Yes, I was in better shape a long time ago. My master took me for at least two walks every day, and my mistress would let me sit on the couch and they would scratch me behind my ears all the time. My master would throw the frisbee and I would catch it. I don't know why, but the sight of a frisbee would make me almost lose my mind with excitement. In the first year, they let me sleep on their bed with them, or they would at least let me get up there in the morning. But about six years ago, something changed. I noticed my mistress started to smell differently and I felt an intense urge to protect her. If I only knew what this change meant for me, I wouldn't have been so eager to protect her.

Well, she had a baby and eventually another and my life couldn't have changed more. My master still walks me, but only once a day if I am lucky. Sometimes he is too tired or lazy and just lets me out the front door and yells at me if I take too long doing my business. I don't know about you, but I have a process for going to the bathroom. I have to smell for other dogs' business and make sure they know who I am by leaving my scent, and I can't just poop because my master is yelling at me. It is either going to happen or it isn't. He makes me so mad sometimes too, because he pays so much attention to his precious babies that he forgets to let me out when I need to go. I whine and walk towards the door, but he just ignores me, so sometimes I have to be a little more obvious. I drip a little pee in front of him and continue to dribble all the way to the front door, but its hard to stop once you've started, and I'm not a puppy anymore. Then he yells at me and runs to open the door and by that time I have emptied half of my bladder so he inevitably steps in it and gets more angry with me even though it is all his fault.

I'm not even allowed in their bedroom anymore, they yell and scream about how I lick my paws and make the carpet smell. What do they expect? I am bored out of my mind, so I lick my paws. I know the sound of it drives them crazy, but I can't help it sometimes. They really get mad when I lick other places. Sometimes, I get an urge to lick my butt, and whatever is in there gives me a little high and I forget where I am for a minute. By the time I gain use of my mental faculties, they are yelling and telling me that I am gross and to get out of the room.

Nobody pays attention to me anymore. Guests come, but I get so excited at the prospect of someone petting me that I end up knocking into someone and then I get locked in the basement until they leave. The kids are okay, but they try to hug me and they don't pet me very well. And besides, they scream if my tail hits them, or heaven forbid I accidentally step on their little feet. Of course, all is blamed on me, so I just try to avoid them. I must admit that I do appreciate the little one. She must feel bad for me, because she is always "accidentally" dropping food on the floor for me. Sure, she cries if someone sees her doing it and blames me for eating her food, but I know that is just so she won't get in trouble.

I know it is disloyal of me to want to leave, but I am a good dog and I deserve more attention. In the interest of not falsely advertising my ability to type or use a computer I must admit that I cannot do either. My master's brother must be an Apple Iphone salesman or something, because he is constantly showing people all the things his Iphone can do, so I asked him to find me an App that translates dog's thoughts. He wants a labradoodle, but his wife doesn't want a dog, so I told him that I would find a poodle bitch and make some strays that he could adopt. I don't think he liked the plan, but he helped me anyway.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mistakes we make with our children (new title for the entire blog?)

As a preface to this entry, I would like to change the online names of my daughters to IR(five-year-old) and ML(two-year-old). I don't want this blog to come up if a future friend, enemy, or the worst of all, frenemy, Google's them, so I will continue to keep their names out. (I know I didn't say boyfriend...shutup)

I would like tell a story about karma. I don't particularly believe in karma, but we sometimes get what we deserve, so when that happens I will call it karma.

I have a cousin, we will call him BA, who has a new baby boy. To say that BA is accident prone is like saying that a tsunami is wave. I am being a little mean for including this story in my blog, but if I was really mean, I could write a blog everyday for a year about all the things that BA has done to either embarass or hurt himself. I can only imagine the things that are in little baby BA's future, and I'm more than a little envious of all the stories he will have to tell about his father.

A few weeks ago, I got to see BA, his wife EB, and little boy BA at a wedding shower. Usually EB takes the opportunity of seeing me to tell me stories about BA and the absent minded things he has done, but this time, BA was more than happy to tell me a story about EB and little boy BA.

"Last week, EB was sitting on the couch and little boy BA was laying next to her. She was doing something else and the baby rolled sideways off the couch." He went on to describe how his lovely wife performed a spiderman, Tom Cruise, or ninja like move and caught little boy BA with one hand a split second before he hit the ground. I think he teased her about letting him fall off the couch, even though, to me, it sounded like he was more than impressed by his wife's superhuman quickness in saving their son from hitting the floor.

Not long after telling me this story, BA was trying to figure out how to eat his food while holding his infant son. BA has trouble eating a peanut butter sandwich without getting a stain on his shirt, and nobody knows this better than his wife, so she told him to put little boy BA in the car seat and then move the car seat next to her. So BA gingerly placed his son into the car seat and grabbed the handle to swing it over to his wife. The problem was that he didn't lock the arm of the car seat, which allowed he seat to swing forward as he lifted it. Little boy BA didn't have a chance. As the front of the seat fell down, the back leaped forward, launching the baby into a head first dive into the carpet. There was a brief moment of stillness while everyone, including the baby, tried to figure out what just happened, but that ended when he let out a nice little scream to express his displeasure. I waited the obligatory few seconds to make sure the baby was okay before I laughed, and my wife scolded me until she realized that EB was laughing as well.

I was nice. I told BA how I accidentally hit IR in the head with a pot when she was two. Okay, yes, that was after I laughed for a while and, yes, maybe I reenacted the position of the baby on the carpet after he was launched into a faceplant, but I was nice after that.

So here is where the karma comes into play. The day after we got home, we were in the living room and one of the compact fluorescent bulbs in our ceiling fan burned out, or stopped working, I don't know the correct phrasing for when a bulb that is supposed to last for six years stops working after six months. So I got out the step stool to replace the bulb. IR and ML were playing on the floor around me and my wife was sitting on the couch. I climbed to the second step and unscrewed the old bulb and went to step back down. I felt something soft under my foot and looked down to see that it was ML's face. She had layed her head on the first step and I didn't know it. I jumped off and stepped on a toy and almost fell down. ML screamed and wouldn't let me console her. She went right to her mother and it was then that I saw a big red line across her cheek where it was pressed into the step stool. She eventually forgave me with a little smile after I got her a baggie of ice, but that just made me feel more guilty.

So BA, as long as you never step on your son's face, you will not be as bad as me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back by Popular Demand, or Polite Encouragement

If you sincerely appreciate this blog and don't just check in on it every now and then to be a nice person, I apologize for my absence these past few months. I have to admit, I thought people were just being nice to me when they told me that they liked my blog. I was in the midst of my passion for my blog when I did something that I should not have done. I cruised the so-called popular blogs. I was bombarded with pictures of various things like sleeping babies posed to mimic famous paintings, and I was bored to death with matter of fact accounts of everyday things that I would hope that my wife would know better than to tell me about. Yes, there are things about my lovely spouse's day of which I simply don't need a recounting, just as she really doesn't need to hear every detail of my day. I was amazed and appalled that some of these ridiculous diaries had hundreds of followers. They were everything that I didn't want my blog to be, and it made me think that if I kept going that I would fall into the trap of writing about things that nobody cares to read, so I stopped.

So if you were just being nice when you complained that I hadn't blogged in a long time, then this is karmic revenge. I will be the guy who shows up to your party after you accidentally talked about it in front of me and invited me to avoid awkwardness. I will be the neighbors who actually show up on your doorstep after you say "We should really get together sometime." to avoid a long conversation at the grocery store. On the other hand, if you were sincere in your urging for me to blog again, I will do my best to give you something to do instead of work, and hopefully it won't feel like work to read it.

You all have my cousin, Doug, to blame for the revival of my blog. I assume most of the readers of this blog know him, but for those of you that don't, here is a brief and relevant description. Doug is the opposite of your mom. If your mom is the only person who tells you that you are pretty, smart, handsome, brave etc... then you are pretty sure its not true. If your mom tells you that you could use some deodorant, then you better go get some. If Doug is the only person who tells you that you stink, you check with your mom before taking a shower, but if he gives you a compliment, first you check to make sure you aren't dying or something, and if you are satisfied that you, in fact, are not dying, then you are pretty sure the compliment is sincere.
Now, let me admit, Doug has never read the blog, but he relayed messages of encouragement from other people and that is enough for me.