The Tent

Rain. There is always rain. Relentless and unforgiving it crashes down on us, on my tent, on my soul. It does not matter when I go camping, the rain goes to. It talks to god and says "God, I think I need to go camping. Hossman is also going camping this weekend and even though he didn't invite me, I think he still expects me to come. It's a thing we have going on." And God says ok because he thinks it's funny. Hell, part of me thinks it's funny to. I would be a great God.

Whenever I go camping, and it has nothing with the time of year that I go camping, the rain comes with us. And my 1984 tent wasn't cutting it. It leaked. Bad. Like bad enough for me to wonder if we even were sleeping in a tent.

I don't go camping often. Actually, before last year, never. However, the kids finally reached an age where I thought that they would enjoy camping. So I got our old 1984 tent from my mom and we went camping. It rained. The tent leaked. We woke up in the middle of a lake that was inside the tent. I thought that the Apocalypse had come. It wouldn't have surprised me if the Loch Ness monster poked his little head up and asked for snasauges.

I put the experience behind us because the kids apparently love camping. And it turns out that so do I. I find them better behaved at camp than I do at home. I have since decided that I will raise my children outside.

We went again and again it rained. I was hoping that the first leaking experience was a fluke. I'm a half glass full type of guy which on occasion makes me an idiot. The tent leaked again. I sat there all night with the Chinese water torture smacking against my forehead.

One more time we went last summer and it did not rain. However, the dew was heavy enough to actually soak through the tent and it's leaking seams so that by 5 am the dripping and puddles easily formed. Nice one God, that one took some creativity. Way to keep me guessing.

Then Hossmom and my mother in law chipped in and bought me a brand new state of the art bad ass tent. For the first time this year, we tested it out.

It sleeps 8, a huge interior that resembles a Gothic cathedral. I can stand up and defy the rain with a shaking and pride in my heart. It's got wrap around windows that let the sunlight in but keeps the riff raff out. The top is also meshed so on rainless nights, nights that I'm not familiar with, I could look at the stars. It has a rain fly, the joy of my joys, a rain fly. This is an additional piece of tent material that goes over the top and keeps the rain out. Sleepless nights being belted by rain pellets were a thing of my past. It even has an electrical port providing even more luxury than my house.

We set up camp. We cooked smores and told ghost stories about evil banks that foreclose on the wrong houses to scare the adults, Papa Scrum and TV's Mike that went with us. Bank of America could be coming and they could be coming for you! We roasted meat on the fire pit and drank beer. We swatted bugs and discovered that ticks sometimes actually fall from tree's giving yet another reason why Hossmom never, ever camps with us.

Then we went to bed and the rains came, as expected. If your part of the country is having a drought, pay my site fee and gas and I will gladly camp in your neck of the woods.

The winds howled and I laughed in it's face. The tent wall blew sideways but we stood firm in the ultra badass tent. The rain pelted the top and I stood. I ripped off my shirt, clawed at my chest and cursed the rain. "I am beyond your reach!" I bellowed, shaking my fist and then laughing hysterically. The rain came harder and harder, the lightning illuminated the sky and my triumphant shadow stood as the solitary backdrop to my victory! The thunder shook the very ground but the tent stood and I with it.

I saw a drop of water come through the top of the tent and land on my sleeping bag. It came almost in slow motion, the splash rippling through my pride.

The new tent leaks.



The Slumber Party

They are down there and they are playing and laughing. They are down there doing super cool slumber party stuff. They are down there watching Tangled and playing hopscotch. They are down there without me. Because I'm not allowed. By my daughters words.

It's a girl's only slumber party.

Hossmom is with them. I'm up in the room sucking on stupid sun flower seeds. I call bullshit.

Girls only? Girls only? A pox on girl's only. What kind of crap is that? Little Hoss is having a friend over for a slumber party, another girl from our Dad's group. It's only thier second slumber party ever and they have both been excited for days.

I know this is normal, don't get me wrong. It's just that I didn't think it would happen for some time, it kind of like this snuck up on me. And I'm a little bit peeved that I have been excluded. There I said it. I want to go to a girl's slumber party because it sounds like they are having super awesome fun time. I picked my toenails.

This all makes me sound creepy, I realize that. I should not want to go to a little girl's slumber party. But it is at my house. I say it is bad etiquitte to have a party at someone's house and not invite them. I bet they are making smores somehow.

I'm not used to be excluded like this in my daughter's life. This is a new one on me. Let's face it, between Hossmom and I, I am the fun one. Her nickname is Practical Mom. My nick name is super awesome space dog. You tell me which one sounds more fun. Hossmom likes to orginize the pantry and pack luggage 5 days before going on a trip.

If I was down there we would have made the stairs into a water slide. And there would have been prizes for the best wreck. We would have streamers and balloons. I would be growly tickle monster and we would play hide and seek and the winner would get a football helmet full of icecream.

But I am not invited.

They want to have girl time to do girlie things. I can do girlie things. Hell, I'm a man in a woman's world, I can girl it up with the best of them. Painting toenails? I'm freaking Picaso at painting little girl's toenails. But I can do it with my paint gun in my garage from 20 feet away. Beat that.

Tea party with princesses. No problem. I own tea party princess time. My fake tea is like the freaking golden necture from the gods. Sure, I may look a bit strange in a princess dress and it may cause for some awarkward questions later in life, but beauty is on the inside and I reek of beauty on the inisde.

Now everyone is quiet. They are probably telling stories, scary stories with happy rainbow stupid endings. I tell the best stories. I write a blog, my stories are awesome. I have 65 followers and a bunch of those people aren't even related to me. My stories rock.

Check this out: Once upon a time a virus entered the world and turned everyone into zombies. It was horrible, brains were being eaten everywhere. Blood, guts and gore was the new normal for the survivors. But suddenly, from behind a rainbow, Dad came with his 300 horsepower chainsaw and chopped all the zombies heads off. Then he made tea. It was great. The end.

See, my stories rock. But no one wants to hear them because this is a girls only slumber party. Hossmom got to attend and she isn't even sending me text messages updating me on the fun.

I know that this is healthy and I am very happy that Hossmom is getting to spend some girl time with her daughter. I know that this is what little girls like to do. I know that there is bonding going on down there right now and that it makes us a stronger family. I get all that. But it would have been nice to have been asked. That's all I'm saying. I am super awesome space dog and super awesome space dog likes to be invited to parties that are at his house. Were people are having fun. Without me.

Fine then. They can have thier fun. I'm going to somehow fashion a giant sling shot out of Hossmom's bra's and launch barbies out my window at the neighbors who seem to be having a pool party. To which I have also not been invited to.

I need a beer.


The Trip Home

By now, you have a pretty good idea of how the Hossman family vacation to Disney World turned out. Awesome is as awesome does. Truthfully, it was probably one of the best times we have spent together as a family And I say this even after my mother in law told me that she couldn't find her pants and to not turn around. She told me this after I turned around.

But it was, it was damn near perfect and I am very happy that we all seemed to have a good time and got along. That we were able to make memories that I'm sure will be cherished forever.

This is what I was telling myself when they canceled our flight in Milwaukee for our return trip home.

Why Milwaukee? Because apparently the airlines think that Milwaukee is in the direct path to Kansas City. I was no geography major in college so I can only take their word for it but that may have been a mistake as I know them to be awful, awful liars.

We were supposed to leave at 4:00 from Milwaukee and land in our beautiful home in time for dinner. Those plans don't seem to be working out, the only plans that didn't work out on this whole trip.

The airline tells us that they apologize for the delay and that another plane will be arriving shortly which in airline speak means a very long time. But they promise that we will not be charged a transfer fee since we cannot take our original plane so I decide to look on the bright side of things. Besides, if we had taken off on our original plane they probably would have charged a crashing and death fee and I'm about fee'd out when it comes to the airlines.

The new flight is supposed to be here in an hour. That was an hour and a half ago.

The kids are restless, they just want to get home and they are hungry. I bought them some Cheeto's for dinner as that is pretty much all we could get in the terminal. We can't leave because apparently our flight will be here "at any minute" so now I also got them some peanuts.

Finally, our flight arrives, 4 hours late. But at least it is here. We are supposed to board in the A group. This is short hand airline speak for "You are not as important as A group of other people ahead of you."

Somehow there are select people that get to board the plane first. Normally, I wouldn't care about this. Because if there aren't 3 seats together in a plane I will gladly hand my child off to one of the assholes that just had to board before children and let them deal with the fact that I forgot the colors in the hotel. I'm assuming I can get 3 seats together.

It's also slow going for this group of special select important travelers. Somehow, in the 4 hours that we have been stranded, some dillhole is having a problem with his lack of a boarding pass but he swears he is one of the important ones so a boarding pass has to be reprinted. 4 hours dude. You had 4 hours to figure this out and now is the time you decide that it was important. I have visions of me walking up and booting him in the balls but I am assuming this is against airline policy unless you pay for it first. I'm out of patience and money. I do make a note to sit Bubba Hoss and his horrendous cheeto's gas right next to him. It should be a pleasant 2 hour flight.

Finally we all get on and we do get seats together. The kids fall asleep on the plane which actually worked out well because there wasn't much I could do about them asking me for dinner and a peanut butter and jelly sand which.

We land and I go and get our bags in the three ring circus that is the baggage claim. I don't understand why everyone has to stand right at the front of the little conveyor belt and touch every bag that comes out like it belongs to them. Look, the little pink Hello Kitty suitcase isn't yours Mr. 25 year old but thanks for checking it first. Your bag is the one next, the large black one that smells like weed.

We get our bags, crowd onto a bus and head to economy parking, the far away land where unicorns and gremlins still exist.

We find our car. The car will not unlock when I push the button. I think I have a pretty good idea why but I don't want to tell the family yet. I get into the car and try to start it. It won't start. It's 10:30 at night, the kids are tired and cranky, Hossmom's hair is all out of whack, and the car won't start.

I'll admit it. I lost it a little bit. But at least I tried to do it in private.

I go around to the back of the car. I may have screamed a few cuss words. The big dogs may have come out to play. The words that should only be used in a bar in Thailand. And I punched the car. I don't know why but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

"Daddy!" my little girl shouts behind me. "We do not punch the car and we do not say shit!" she admonishes me.

"Baby" I say. "Sometimes we do."


The Princess Lunch

My shoulder muscles are no longer working. The ache is the only reminder that I still have shoulder muscles. The burning makes me want to scream and lash out, destroy, seek vengence. My right arm is starting to go numb and it's spreading to the left side as well. I am either having a heart attack or I have a little tired girl perched up on top of my shoulders. The finger in the eyeball I recieve confirms that it is not a heart attack.

I can't stop, must keep moving forward. There is no pain. There is no pain. One foot in front of the other. I am zen, I am the unstopable. There is no pain. There is only the special Princess Lunch to get to. I will get to it. I will get my daughter to it.

Keep moving, no distractions. I see Mickey Mouse posing for pictures on the left. I do not pause to watch. A girl wearing heals and a very low cut shirt crosses my path. I barely glance. She probably wants my phone number and my underwear size. But unless it has a princess dress on and a tiara, I got no time for her. But I do think "Who the hell wears heals to Disneyworld?"

Hossmom is somewhere behind me, at least I think she is. I'm not sure. She has my son, hopefully. Maybe. Probably. And my mother in law is with them. Maybe. Probably not. It does not matter. I must trust her to corral the camp stragglers while Little Hoss and I proceed to the Princess Lunch in Epcot.

There are defining moments in life. This is one of those times. The Princess Lunch at Disney World was planned months in advance. It will have 8 princesses there. They will all say hi to my daughter. She will go crazy. It will be one of her dreams, to meet the princesses that we have read so many stories about. It will define her childhood. It will define me if I can get her there on time so she doesn't miss it.

We miscalculated a bit. We decided to ride one more ride at Animal Kingdom. It may have been a mistake. We left that park later than we had planned, and now we may not make the lunch. But that's the loser attitude, the defeatist that dwells within us all. But I am not all. I am Hoss. I will get her there on time. I have 3 minutes.

There was no time to mess with a stroller when we finally got off the bus for Epcot. There was also no time for pleasantries. My daughter was tired and her pace slowed. I did what a father was supposed to do. I hoisted her up on my shoulders. Come little one, I will be your steed.

She kicked me in the face and we were off. I shouted directions at the rest of our troops and then I took off.

Sweat pours off me, stinging my eyes and soaking my shirt. In the back of my mind, I know I look good. A father suffering for his little daughter? Nothing is more attractive. I am walking sex, I am testosterone personified.

2 minutes to go and I am pointed north. I know that I am headed in the right direction because I have studied this course for a month. I anticipated that this may happen. I was right. North. Towards Sweden. Towards my daughters dream.

I may have developed a blister. It does not matter. No pain matters. My daughter's thumbs go into my ears. It is her game. I have no time for games. I can only hear my breath, ragged, sucking air into my lungs. I feel my heartbeat in each inhale that I do. It beats strong in my chest, covered by hair and determination. I will get us there.

1 minute until the lunch starts. I have no time to get to my wallet and pull out my reservation number. If I am questioned or stopped, I plan to throw Little Hoss through a window. She will crouch, giving a victory cry as she crashes through the stained glass. She will land on her feet and roll with the impact. She will jump up in a fighting stance. I know that she will do this because she is my daughter.

I see the top of the restaurant come into my line of sight. There are people blocking my path. But I am Hoss, my path is never blocked by the lesser people, the little ones that serve only to delay me but not thwart me. I walk in front of someone's picture. I apologize but do not stop. I know that the picture will turn out better with me in it anyway. I hip check a family in red shirts, there must be 15 of them. I note that their shirts mention a family reunion. I tell them that I am long lost uncle Hoss and do not stop for autographs.

I break through the crowd. I see the restaurant.

I see the line outside the restaurant. It is atleast 25 minutes long. 30 different princesses, ages 2 to 15 stare at my lumbering form as I finally stop. They all have thier hair done, tiara's in place, glitter on their faces.

And they all have reservations.

It appears that 12:30 was more of an approximate time. Would have been good to know.

My wife, son and mother in law come up behind me. Little Hoss jumps off my shoulders which are now raw from the friction. I hand her to Hossmom who has the Belle Princess Dress that my daughter is to wear. I shake their hand and let them know that I may be a bit late as I should really go back and make a few apologies to other families on vacation.

I walk away. Victory is mine, my goal has been accomplished.

I need to rest my shoulder's. Their dream come true ability will be needed later tonight. There is a parade later that night and I have a gut feeling that I will have use of their might once again.


Happy Father's Day

I'm watching my boy sleep. It's late at night, all the family is asleep. Before I go to bed I check on each of them. I don't know why other than it's something that I feel compelled to do. He's sleeping with a truck tonight. It's curled up near his chin. It doesn't look comfortable but perhaps to a 3 year old boy having your favorite toy anywhere near you is comfortable. I'm not sleeping tonight, getting to be a bit of a routine I think sometimes. Fatherhood changes a man, his sleeping patterns is just one of them.

Father's day is about appreciation for the guy that takes out the trash and kills bugs. You get a Spiderman Father's day card because let's face it, those are still cool. And in my house, you get a cake that was decorated by the children which means tons and tons of glitter. Always with the glitter. The family shows how much they love you and how much you mean to them.

But for fathers, Father's day it means something different. This is what I have come to understand now that I am a dad myself. For the family, it's about love.

For dad though, it's about hope.

You hope that he will catch the flyball because you spent so many hours showing him how. You hope he gets the good grade because you made him do his homework. You hope that one day he will tie his own shoe and run up to you with pride in his eyes. You hope that he beats you in chess one day, just like you did to your dad, and you can look down at him with pride in your eyes.

You hope that one day he will know why you have to be hard sometimes and you hope that he knows why you had to be soft sometimes. You hope that he will understand that the things that father's sometimes have to do are not pleasant and not easy. You hope that you have the strength to protect him but know enough to realize that sometimes you must let him fall. You hope that when he does fall that you can teach him how to stand up, admire his bruise, and keep going.

You hope that you have the courage to let him make his own mistakes, little by little, as much as it may kill us inside to watch it. You hope that through life's trails and difficulties, he knows that you are the rock in his world, the guy always in his corner and the one always rooting for him.

You hope that you will be half the man your own father may have been. You hope that you can be the icon that your own father was to you. You hope that your own son can look at you and be in awe just because you are dad. You hope and you hope and you hope.

Hope, it is the driving force of fatherhood.

You hope that he does't grow up hating you. You hope that you challenged him just enough to give him the confidence he will need but didn't push him so hard that that confidence is shattered to early. You hope that he takes the straight path and you hope that you have taught him how. And if not, you hope that you can show him the way back. You hope that you have shown him how a man acts, behaves and lives up to his responsibilities. You hope that you have given him all the tools he will need to face the world and all it's dangers and possibilities.

You hope to god that you don't mess this up because you have discovered that being a father is the hardest but yet the most important thing you will ever do with your life. You hope that one day he can look back on his childhood and realize how important he is to you. You hope that he knows that you love him.

You hope that you don't disappoint him. So much time is spent with sons trying not to disappoint their fathers. I have found that on the other side of that equation is a father trying just as hard not to disappoint his son. You hope that one day he will know that himself.

You hope that you were there when it mattered and that you were there when it didn't. You hope that one day you can look at him and realize that you did something right, even if you can't figure out exactly what that was. You hope that one day he will look at you and know that you did something right, even though he doesn't know what it was.

And you hope that you will get more sleep, that you won't always be standing in his room watching him sleep with his favorite truck. But not for a while on that one. No. For now, you hope that this lasts a little bit longer. Just a touch longer.

Happy Father's Day son.


Lost At Disney World

I'm watching the GPS beacon that has jumped up on my phone with great interest. It represents a person, my mother in law in this case. It's bouncing around the Disney World map like a pinball. If I didn't know better, It would appear that my mother in law has taken up wrestling and is currently going off the top rope in a no holds bared cage match. But what the little dancing beacon really shows is that that my mother in law has no idea where she is, where she is supposed to be or where she is going. I thought this might happen on this vacation and so, I low jacked her phone.

The family vacation to Disney world, the greatest adventure that the Hossman family has yet undertaken. With crys of Victory (a chant that the kids and I do) we headed off to our adventure. After the first day there, my wife let me know that this was not a competition. And I let her know that if it was, we would be winning. Until we lost the mother in law. Now we may be losing a tad bit, something the kids and I are not used to.

Technically, she was never really lost. She was just not with us at the moment. Somehow she misheard my wife's request to meet us for dinner at Tomorrow Land. What she heard instead was "Wander around like your grandson until Hossman comes and gets you." I'm assuming that she saw some bright lights or a debate going on that distracted her.So now I am tracking my most worthy prey, my mother in law.

Travelling with family on an adventure is something that is a bit new to the kids and I. When we adventure, we get our game faces on and bust ass. We move quickly, make snap decisions and throw plenty of elbows on our way to victory. Traveling with my wife and my mother in law, the pace is considerably slowed. It's not so much the fault of my wife and my mother in law, they are not used to kick ass adventures. Their lives are filled with spreadsheets and morning meetings where coffee is provided. The only thing that we provide are scabs and ass kickery.

I realize that I need to change our approach when traveling with them but it is proving difficult. I always have a hard time dealing with things that I do not understand. For example, I do not understand how it takes an hour in the morning to get going when Disney World is out there provoking us. The kids and I would sit on the stairs in front of the hotel while my mother in law and wife do some sort of Wicca ritual in front of the mirror.

I don't get it. Grab a water bottle, throw some snacks and a change of underwear in a backpack, make a small goat sacrifice and boom, get out the door. I have learned to do this over a three year period of adventuring with the children. I have learned that a bored toddler is a destructive toddler and a destructive toddler likes to punch me in the nose. I am tired of bleeding.

My wife remains back in Tomorrow Land while I go and fetch my mother in law. With each step I take I try and figure out what is going on. She is able to turn on her own phone and find where we are at as well. But asking why is like trying to reason with a giraffe. It might be fun at first but it gets to the point where everything is just out of your reach. The GPS beacon isn't all that accurate mind you, but it does give you some simple facts that you can use to find a person. For example, it would show that the rest of the family is in Tomorrow Land and not in, say, Australia.

The beacon representing my mother in law has now left the middle of Disney World and has gone through the castle itself and is now in Fantasy Land. Not bad but it is still further away. She's a wily one, I'll give her that.

Finally she calls me.

"Stop moving" I tell her.

"I haven't moved an inch!" she says.

I am inclined to disagree as I have watched the beacon move around like a snake being chased by a mongoose. But I have no desire to get into an argument about the finer points of this witchcraft called technology.

"Just stay right where you are, I am coming to get you. Don't move!"

To help with my frustration, I punch Goofy in the nose. He understands when I scream "Family issues!" at him. He then throws Pluto my way to help me distress in this moment. The cast members at Disney truly are great.

I find my mother in law turning in circles and looking at the sky. I make sure she hasn't injured herself and promise her ice cream if she will just follow me. We hold hands to keep her on track and I point out the bright lights as we pass them.

We eventually make it back to Tomorrow Land where my wife is waiting. She has a bloody nose. Perhaps now they will both learn.