Just 15 Minutes

I am hiding from my children.  It's not a game of hide and seek.  It's not in an effort to jump out and scare them.  Nope, I'm just hiding from my children.  I am not ashamed of this.  I find it necessary.

This is not a post bashing children.  This is also not a post claiming that being a stay at home dad is the hardest job in the world.  It's not.  Most times, it's down right awesome.  It's fun, it's rewarding.  I am my own boss.  I am the master of the house.  I am the Captain to my own group of mangHoms.  See what I did there?  I wrote Klingon.  I don't do it often, but it comes out of me at times.  I'm bilingual in a made up alien language.  I might write the rest of this blog in Elvish.  I could do it.  I'm not a proud man.

That is not to say that the being a stay at home dad does not have it's challenges.  I usually don't speak of it so much because the good far out weighs the bad.  The biggest one is that you are always "on".  You are always "at work."  Imagine that for a minute, you working stiffs, or what I call "weekenders."  I call you that because you fuck up my weekend grocery store runs.  I never wait in line until the weekend comes and you people flock to the store with your bad manners and poor parking.  You don't even know the name of your check out lady do you?  Mine is named Danielle and she has a coworker named Linda.  They are very nice.  We chat.  Weekenders don't chat unless it's in the middle of the aisle and you have forgotten that everyone around you still needs to get by but no, you must make a Les Mis style barricade.  If you bust into song I'm going to punch you.  I kind of hate you people.

But imagine with me if you will, if you had no lunch break.  That you had to consistently give orders, take orders, make conversation about things that are not intellectually stimulating.  Imagine that day in and day out.  Ok, a lot of you probably do that.  Now imagine doing that while one of your dining companions just took a dump in his pants and the smell won't go away.

Imagine your work commute.  Stressful?  Hateful?  Tiresome, annoying?  Have I hit all the right words?  What you fail to realize is that in that period of time, in your anger, you have freedom.  You are listening to your music, your news radio.  You are checking out the sports channel.  You are mentally preparing your day.  Imagine doing that while someone is headbutting you in the nuts.  Say all you are trying to do is to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while you mentally schedule your day.  Bam, headbutt to the balls.  You react but when you do, you smack your head on the counter.  As you collect yourself, someone yells "stop hitting me!"  You don't care, you just tell them to find their shoes and you know for a fact that they are not in the shoe basket because that would be too easy.

There is no alone time, there is no time to collect yourself.  You have to wake up that way and have to stay that way all day.

Sure, you can take a break.  But in my world taking a break means I sit on the floor while a one-year-old scales me like Mount Everest and only when he summits  do you realize that he has crapped his pants again.  You know this because he is now sitting on your head chirping like a monkey that has found a termite colony that is in your ear.

Like I said, this isn't the toughest job.  I don't make decisions that will cost millions and I don't fire people and send them home to sad families.  I no longer confront perpetrators and it is nice that no one has chased me with a crow bar in 6 years.  But it is constant.

From 6 in the morning to about 8:30 at night (sometimes longer, sometimes earlier), I am on.  It's a bit like Chinese water torture.  The first 1000 drips are fine, no big deal, a day at the beach.  But the 1001 you start to think, hey, this is kind of tough.  This is kind of constant.  This is always.

Now add to that that you control the future of three very little people and the things that you do over the next 18 years will determine their quality of life.  They end up in therapy?  Your fault.  They end up in in a bell tower with a high powered rifle?  Your fault.  I find this true with all parenting, this constant sometimes over whelming responsibility of the future, not just at home parents.  The difference is that I rarely get a chance to escape it. Some days I would kill for an hour long commute.  I would love to be able to fire someone.  That sounds horrible but think of it this way.  When you fire someone, it's over, your responsibility to that person is over, done.  It's thoughts like these, that I have in my late 30's that make me want to call my parents and thank them profusely.  I get it, it just took me 30 years to get there.

I have done the working dad thing in the past.  I have gone to work and did daycare.  I have worked at home, late nights, etc.  I must admit that I prefer the at home life much, much more.  The perks are unimaginable.  Yes, I go to the pool a lot, I take road trips with me and just the kids on a Tuesday.  I see the wacky and stupid.  I'm going to visit Monkey Island just because we can.  And I can see my children grow up, first hand.  I get to share in every single victory and fall in every single failure.  Those experiences and feelings are amazing and unable to replicate.  I realize that this is a gift that has been given to me and one that I am very sure that I will never take for granted.

But sometimes, you just need to hide, you just need to be by yourself and live for yourself, even if it's only for a short time in the evening when everyone has gone to bed.  You need to be able to watch something stupid without anyone telling you about the gigantic turd they just laid and dear god come see this I don't think it's going to flush DAD DAD DAD DAD.  And as much as I appreciate the ability to lay a giant poop sometimes Dad would just like a whiskey and some quiet. 

On those days, and they are not often, I hide from my children.  I go into my room and I lock the door.  This does not reflect poorly on them, my family is pretty god damn awesome.  But I just need a few minutes where I don't have to stitch a torn slipper or wonder about what we are going to have for breakfast.  I just need to sit.

Then I realize that my daughter has a spelling test tomorrow and it's a bit tougher than the ones she has had before.  We also have a birthday party at an indoor pool, I have to get swim trunks ready.  I also have to go shopping for a gift.  I think Bacon Hoss is teething and he's been waking up nights again, I need to have a back up pacifier ready.  Two kids start soccer next week, need to get our gear ready and perhaps get some drills ready as well.

Breaks over.  And gladly do I step back into their lives because without them I would be forced to go to work and make million dollar decisions and fire people.  That would suck.


The Shoe Basket

You can find his shoes on top of the couch.  You can find his shoes at the bottom of the couch.  Sometimes you can even find his shoes in the actual couch cushions.  How they end up there is freaking beyond me but I swear, I have found my son's shoes stuffed between the cushions of the couch.

Sometimes I can find them in the toy box which makes sense as they are shoes and are magical things that magically transport themselves to odd places.  They have transported themselves to the back of the van, inside the stroller, stuffed under the baby bag.  No one is sure how they got there.  They have transported themselves to my wife's closet, stuffed inside his memory box--where we keep some of his school work to embarrass him at his prom.  Look prom date, look how my son meant to write "pens" and instead wrote "penis"!  Isn't that great.  I only show you this because he made me look for his shoes so much when he was 6.

The one place though you will never find them though is in the actual shoe basket.  No, that is like the evil vortex for my children.  They don't even know it, but when they walk in from school and take the long way around the house to the living room because going the short way would require them to actually walk right by the shoe basket.  It's a subconscious thing.  I think they secretly believe if they actually put their shoes in the shoe basket then Santa would be found stuck in the chimney the next year and their toys would be ruined.  They don't care so much about Santa but they love their toys.  I'm a great parent.

So it's no surprise that this morning, with minutes left before the bus arrives, that we can't find my son's shoes.  They are not in the shoe basket, only the lost souls of the shoeless are in there (pun!).  I worked all night on that one.

No, his shoes are not in the shoe basket.  Well, one of them isn't at least.  I have the other one and I gave it to him.  Then I asked him to find the other one so he can go to school, graduate college, get his PHD in shoe basket technology and then invent a shoe basket that my family would actually put shoes in.

I ask him the question, where did you last have your shoe and why is only one shoe in the basket?  Watching his little mind turn is a delight though.  I'm not sure what he is going to say is what actually happened or some elaborate make believe story that will one day be a trilogy.  He's not lying, not intentionally at least, but he is just relating what pops in his head.  Sometimes that means that I get a true accounting for what I asked and sometimes that means I get a epic saga about how his shoe was abducted by aliens and sent to planet forgetful.

He tells me that he left his shoe in the baby's room the night before.  I don't ask him how or why, it would be pointless.  It's not hard to imagine my boy walking around for a good hour with only 1 shoe on and not realizing it or not caring.  He would look down at his one shoe and think to himself, Hmmm, how about that.  I only have one shoe on.  Let's go play.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I'm not imagining this at all.  I would bet everything that I own that this is exactly what happened.

I tell him to go upstairs to get his shoe and put it on.  Then I turned around to stop the baby from eating dog food.  Seriously, why dog food?  Every god damn day.

My son returns and proudly points to his foot and the shoe that is on it.  See you old bastard, my shoe is on the foot.  I tell him two things.  First, I tell him that his shoe is on the wrong foot.  Second, I ask him where the other shoe is, the one I just had, and why it is not on his foot.  Then he starts thinking and then I know that I am in trouble.

He doesn't know why, he doesn't know where his other shoe is, the other one that we just had.  The bus should be here in seconds, not minutes.  I start my search.  I begin checking all the places that I always check.  I check the places that someone without kids would never check because they would never think of it.  Experience would not have taught them to look in the dog food container because who would put a shoe in there?  My kids would, that's who.

The shoe is not in the dog food container.  But I did find my daughters glove, our spare set of car keys and a spoon.  Again, I don't question why I just acknowledge that they are there.  I check under the table, a sucking blackhole that brings everything within 15 feet into its center.  No shoe but a bottle and one sock. I ask my son if he has both his socks on.  Nope, he has one sock on.  I throw him the other one.

I check behind the curtains.  I find a spider.  I step on it while knowing that I'm just working out my own frustrations.  Sorry little guy.  I check the basement stairs because for some reason my 1 year old son likes throwing crap down the cat door that leads to the basement.  I find several pacifiers, a diaper (unused thank god), a sky lander (TreeRex rules) and a lot of dog hair.  If currency was dog hair, I would be freaking loaded.

I check toy boxes, I check backpacks, I check my daughters own feet to makes sure she hasn't put it on.  The bus is coming, I know that it's probably already on my street.  We have never missed the bus, not in three years.  It's one of my main accomplishments as a stay at home dad.  I know, sad, but everyone has to have something.  I check everywhere, no freaking shoe.

Then an idea forms in my head.  I saw my son head upstairs, then I turned around.  When I saw him come downstairs, he had one shoe on.  He didn't have both shoes on, just the one.  I know what has happened, I can see it in my mind's eye.

I told my son to head upstairs and get his other shoe from the baby's room.  I told him to put it on.  What I did not say was head upstairs, find your other shoe, put them both on.  I told him to only put one shoe on.

I know where the other shoe is.

I head up to the baby's room.  I look under the crib because why would a shoe be under there?  Always look first where you shouldn't look first, that is the best parenting advice I could ever give.

Under the crib, there it is, the other shoe.  My son went upstairs with the shoe that I have him.  He went to the baby's room.  He put that shoe on.  Then he came back downstairs.  I could explain the logic of his thought process but that would take another 40 pages and some bright shiny lights.  But I do know my son and for that, I am proud.

I run downstairs and send my daughter out to the driveway to stall the bus driver should we actually come.  I throw my son on the couch and put his other sock on (he was still just twirling it) and put his shoe on.  I throw his jacket at him, his backpack, a quick kiss on the head and push him out the door as soon as I hear the bus rumble up to our house.  Victory is mine, I am still the bus champion.

The kids are off and it's just me and Bacon.  I'm tired, Bacon is still getting me up at 5:30 or so.  But I'm good.  I've got no where to be today and the Olympics are on.  In fact, the big Canada vs USA hockey game starts in three hours.  I've been looking forward to this all week.  I'm going to go to the store, get some game watching essentials and Bacon and I are going to practice high fives (we are so close!).

I turn on the TV.  It's on some kids show, something that I don't know the name of but I could easily sing the theme song to.  I go to grab the remote to change the channel and set up the DVR timer.  The remote is not where it's supposed to be.  It never is.  Just like the shoes.

For the next 20 minutes I try to do it manually on the box but I'm not sure it's going well.  I think I'm recording a Spanish soap opera.  I begin truly looking for the remote, starting with the baby's room.  The kids were the last ones to have it,  I think my odds are good.

The remote isn't there.

I do spend the next 2 and 1/2 hours looking for it.  I do find it.

It was in the bottom of the shoe basket.

I take out my whiskey and wonder if it's to early in the day to start drinking. 


Early to Rise

You know whats better than waking up at 9 am?  Waking up at 8 am.  If you wake up at 8 am, you can get loads of 8 am stuff done.  At 8 am you admire the new morning, perhaps step outside just to get the brisk air.  At 8 am, you can waive to your neighbors as they all begin leaving for work.  You will silently judge them as you smile at waive.  Ms. Potter over there, the house on the left, she needs to do something about those bushes in her yard.  They are ugly as shit.  You know it, she pretends not to know it and certainly your other neighbor, Mr. and Mrs. Jean know it.  At 8 am, you'll smile at them too but in the back of your head you are thinking that you once caught their 14 year old daughter making out with her boyfriend.  You did the old parental rapid light flip to make them aware that you saw the boyfriend making a strong move towards second base.  And although you haven't told Mr. and Mrs. Jean what you saw or did, at 8 am you secretly know that they owe you for saving them from a  very early teen pregnancy.  8 am is great.

But what's better than 8 am?  7 am!  That's the money time to be up.  7 am is fantastic, I love 7 am.  At 7 am you will do alot of what you do at 8 am but you'll feel more smug about it because you are up earlier unlike all these other lazy bastards.  7 am says that you are ready to start the day, you are a man of quality!  At 7 am you will think about your genius stock tips you are going to hand out today.  Are you a stock broker?  Hell no, but you got up at 7 am so your judgement must be awesome.  At 7 am you've got time for a nice long morning poo where you will also discover the best way to fold fitted sheets.  At 7 am your mind is sharp, so sharp that you are surprised that no one is calling you to ask for your advice on how best to prevent teen pregnancy.  The answer, of course, is rapidly flipping a porch light.  Getting up at 7 am practically assures you at least nominations in one of the Nobel prizes.  Which one?  Who can keep up?  If you are getting up at 7 am then your name is on the short list for most of them already, why be picky?

If 7 am is great, then getting up at 6 am is even better.  7 am people are lazy, 6 am people know how to get shit done zen style.  If you are getting up at 6 am then you are the man.  You are the leader that everyone needs even if they don't know yet.  Look at you, 6 am and you get to watch the son rise over your kingdom.  You see the light as it touches all of your domain.  You see the paperboy and you know, deep in your soul, that his whole reason for being is to serve you.  Of course, at 6 am, being the leader that you are, you remind yourself to take that paperboy and let him know that his medium is dying and that digital is the only way to go.  Because of that talk, and your leadership, that guy will enroll in college and invent a computer program that somehow cures AIDS.  How?  Who cares how.   As a 6 am leader you can't get bogged down in the details.  Your job is to motivate, plot the course for the future and give witty sayings that will end up over a cat meme one day.  6 am and the world is yours and you know how to take it.

But if getting up at 8 am is great, getting up at 7 am is greater, and 6 am is greater than that, then what's the greatest time to get out of bed?

5 am.  5 freaking am.  That's the time boys, that's the time to roll out of that nice cozy, warm, wonderful bed and put your feet on that cold, hard unforgiving floor.  You'll head outside and suddenly you'll have a vision, you'll see the world as it is.  You'll see the world that is basically a cesspool of incompetence and screw ups.  You'll see the truth, the truth I say!  You'll know that that 14 year old is getting pregnant anyway.  You'll know that that paperboy is probably a pedophile and only took the job to case the neighborhood.  You'll know that Ms. Potter sucks massive donkey balls and that those bushes are only a reflection of her dead soul.  And most importantly, you'll know that your 1 year old son isn't screaming at 5 am because he loves you.  No, that's what 9 am people think.  But you are up at 5 am, you know what it's really about.  He isn't "talking", he isn't "communicating".  You'll know that your 1 year old son hates your guts and waking up at 5 am is his long term plan to wear you down mentally and physically.  7 am people will try and rationalize this behavior, but not 5 am people.  You'll know that your 1 year old is probably already part of a satanic cult who just needs one more sacrifice to bring on the 1000 year darkness.  And at 5 am, you are about ready to cave in and let them.

At 5 am you'll bring your infant son into your room and try to get him to cuddle with you but we all know that isn't going to happen.  What's going to happen is that he is going to do his damn best to head butt you right in the freaking nose while at the same time sending a tiny toe straight to your balls.  You'll be stunned that someone that measures only 21 inches long can somehow stretch at 5 am to do those two things.  How is that even possible?  It's possible because it's 5 am, that's how.  And eventually, after days of this, you'll give it up.  You won't fight it anymore because what is the point, you aren't going back to sleep.  Sleep is for the 6 am pussys.  Your destiny is to end up on some blood encrusted alter while you curse all of humanity.  5 am is truth, it is the wool pulled back from your eyes.  It is a world that is dark and cold who's only purpose is to make you fail. 

You'll head down stairs, not even bothering to look outside, carrying your 1 year old son.  The outside sucks, you hate it, you know that it's nothing but blackness and pain.  You'll put him in his high chair, you'll give him Cheerios and Mandarin oranges.  You'll sit down in your puked smelling robe and just look at your feet.  And for every Cheerio that is flung at your head, for every orange slice that finds it's way down the back of your robe, you'll know that you deserve this destiny.  This was tailored made for you, buddy and at 5 am you won't even care.  The world can go suck a bag of dicks.

Seriously, if he gets up at 5 am again tomorrow I'm giving him up for adoption. 


Hipster Taxes

I was going to be a stereotype, I was going to be one of "those guys".  I was totally looking forward to it.  I have my beard and I even packed my glasses this time strictly so I could put them on and take them off in dramatic fashion.  I even had a hipster necklace on that says my son's name.  He made it for me years ago and gets a kick out of it when I wear it.  Throw a red and pink scarf on me and I would totally pull off the hipster look typing away soul scathing reviews of society at Star Bucks.  It was on like Donkey Kong.

Except for a couple of things.

First off, my impression of hipsters is that they are generally skinny people, like freaky skinny.  Skinny enough to make me wonder if they stopped developing a chest at 10 and kept that nice inverted look.  I know, I know, I'm a judgmental bastard.  But if it makes you all feel any better I judge myself just as harsh.  Wait, no I don't, I'm fucking awesome.  Anyway, I'm not skinny.  In fact I may fall into the plus sized category.  I can be described as voluptuous, big boned, not one to skip a meal, hefty, a bear for the gay community to ogle.  Yes, all straight guys assume that all gay guys want us.  But in my defense, I naturally assume all women want me to.  No they don't, I'm hefty.  Tear. 

They also wear those black glasses because they are cool and send sort of message that says "hey society, I don't need your approval!  I'm beyond your wretched ways!"  Well, the glasses I wear are pretty puny and are defiantly not cool.  They are glasses for an older gentleman who needs a little assistance to see better at night.  I have to wear them while I watch football games at night or else I can't see the score.  It's a constant reminder that I am no longer 20.  I am a hefty bear wearing prescription glasses to watch a taped football game.  Not very hipster.  And in general, I'm not down on society at all.  Truthfully, I think it's pretty awesome.  I am lucky that I get to meet a variety of people from a variety of worlds.  I love their stories, I love their backgrounds, I find it interesting that I can't pigeon hole hardly any of them.  Rough and tumble liberals?  Preposterous!  Catholics that are ok with abortion, insane!  I people watch, it's a past time for me and I think society in general is moving in the right direction.  Sometimes slower than I wished, sometimes faster.  But it's going and I'm pretty hip with it.  Not very hipster. 

Finally, when hipsters come to coffee shops they drink coffee.  Well, I freaking hate coffee but I love me some hot chocolate.  Who the hell drinks something and enjoys the bitter taste?  Apparently hipsters commenting on society and not middle aged stay at home dads doing his taxes with his wife. 

The kids are with a babysitter for the afternoon while Hossmom and I do the taxes.  I don't like doing taxes with the kids around.  When I tell my son to get the W-2 and look in box 2 he usually hands me a Sky Lander and lets me know that Lord Chaos is at our gates, at our damn gates!  By the end of the night I'm trying to keep them upstairs so we can finish the taxes but nooooo, they insist coming down every 10 minutes and asking why they are such a lousy tax deduction. 

So this year the wife and I were smart and hired a babysitter (which I fully plan to deduct as tax prep fees) and head to Star Bucks to do our taxes.  It should be simple, the wife and I are not complicated people.  It should take a couple of hours on our little tax software and boom, we are done.  Then I would stroke my beard while I blog unbelievably funny things about how attractive I am to gay people.  But it turns out that not only am I not attractive to gay people (I got no stares, not a single one!), but I'm not writing unbelievable funny things. 

No, instead of being a hefty bear hipster blogging in a coffee shopping drinking hot chocolate, I'm looking for form 1099-G, finding out that in fact that we have 2 of them and wondering why there is only one space to put both of them.  Why can't they just call form 1099-G "that form that has to do with state income taxes" instead?  Or perhaps explaining that you may have two 1099-G forms and if you do, that's ok, don't panic.  But they don't.  The tax code isn't written that way.  It's written in some form of Sanskrit so that the only sentence you can understand after reading three pages of explanations is  the one that explains that if you fuck this up, even unintentionally, you are going to owe a crap ton of money and get showerized in some high max security prison. 

Listen, just let me make this clear to any government official looking at our tax forms.  Take my money, please, dear god just take it.  Take as much as you deem fit.  I tried working things out with 1099-G but I don't think it went well.  I think that I may have had a fling with form 5498-SA and I may have gotten it pregnant.  I don't even know where 5498-SA came from, it just showed up and made some moves.  Maybe it was gay, I don't know.  All I know is that next week I'm supposed to be on Maury for some sort of audit and I'm terrified.  I want to make things right with form 1099-G but I just don't know how and now it may be to late because I just found out that 5498 -SA and me may have made form 1191.  I'm not sure but hopefully Maury can shed some light on this. 

My wife and I cranked away for three hours doing our taxes and we still didn't finish.  I certainly didn't do any writing.  The only thing I wrote was a short note explaining to my children why daddy had to go to prison and that they will have to be sold because they are lousy tax deductions. 

I wanted to fit the stereotype, I thought it would be a good experience.  To step into the shoes of someone that I am not, to live the experience but it doesn't seem possible.  I am a middle aged father of three with an over inflated ego that has to pay taxes each year while hoping that the prison shows that I've watched in the past are really a lot more dramatic than they actually are.  I look like exactly how I'm supposed to look: poofy beard, bald, slightly stressed out dad that really just wants to follow the rules and do the right thing.

Unfortunately, doing the right thing requires form 1099-C, which is most defiantly not related to form 1099-G.  Crap. 

I'm still deducting the babysitter fees though. 


The Joys of Home Ownership

Home ownership, the American dream.  It's what we want to do when we are younger, it's a measure of success, of living that American dream.  Eat steak, perhaps get yourself some Cinimax for those lonely nights, a little radio in the garage.  It's the dream, it's what we strive for.  It takes hard work, and a bit of self reliance.  But that dream doesn't maintain itself.  Nope, that is something that is in the fine print, underneath the big letters congratulating you on your 30 year commitment to people that you've never met and that certainly wouldn't come over on a weekend to fix a busted pipe.  Pretty soon into the dream you find yourself elbow deep in an electrical socket thinking "I can PROBABLY cut this wire and PROBABLY nothing will happen and PROBABLY I won't die some horrible death like I'm on the Running Man."  That's the dream boys, right there, wondering if you've turned off the electricity before you cut a wire or running down to the basement to turn the water off before "record cold" freezes the torrent of water in your garage and makes it a mini short track speed skating venue. 

I have become a bit jittery in my years as a home owner.  Something always breaks, something always needs fixing.  It gets to the point, while living the dream, that every sound is a massive catastrophe that requires my samurai like home diagnostic skill.  I'm not sure what Samurai Home Diagnostic skill is, but I"m sure I have it. 

I heard a bump on the roof, coming from the front of my daughters room.  After the busted pipe, broken microwave, ice maker crapping out, garage door busting, a/c leaking freon etc, etc etc, I could only naturally assume the worst.  Because when you own a home nothing is just a creek or a moan.  It's never something settling, that's a story we tell children so they can sleep at night.  Adults know that the bogey man is real and his sole purpose in life is to jack up your house and put raccoons in your attic. 

I could only assume, naturally, that that bump that I heard must have been a meteor striking my roof.  And of course since it's a meteor, it must be hot from it's fall from the sky.  Therefore, my attic is now engulfed in flames and little red lava aliens, that hitched a ride on that meteor, are now knee deep in my wiring and are jacking it up.  Any home owner can tell you that this is not a wild assumption to make, just a careful assessment given the needs of home ownership.  I'm sure it's happened to someone before but the government is just keeping it quiet so that our meteor/lava men insurance business doesn't go under because of to many claims. 

Of course I investigate taking my trusty screw diver with me.  I don't know why I had it with me but I seem to just have them around the house for the many times I randomly need one.  Turns out it wasn't lava men or an object from space but just an icicle finally falling off my roof line on to the lower roof below.  Now I'm worried about something called "ice dams"  Own a home and you'll learn what that term means.  While I'm now sad I don't have lava men to melt the rest of my icicles, I hear a very loud thud on my bedroom door. 

As a homeowner I of course know what this is.  It is probably pterodactyl that somehow got into my house.  It probably  used the back door because we all know those creatures don't use the front door like considerate guests.  No, they use the back door like some busy body neighbor that likes to come in while you are on the crapper and take pictures of your underwear before you even know they are there while they secretly cataloging the number of strips you have your boxer shorts.  And as this neighborly pterodactyl takes pictures of my underwear he will obviously see his reflection in the mirror that hangs in front of my dresser.  Now most of us homeowners have had a bird get into the house on occasion and we all know what happens.  They see their reflections and go apeshit.  I once had a cardinal brain himself on my front door window because he could see his reflection on the mirror in the hallway.  He hit that window everyday for like a week and one day he hit it just a bit to hard.  Somewhere, I could hear my cat laughing.  Now imagine a prehistoric bird like creature doing the very same thing in the closed space of my bedroom.  If I'm extremely lucky he's corked himself out on the wall before ripping my bed apart with his claws and leaving massive trails of dinosaur dookie all over my floor. 

I go into my bedroom and nope, it's just my cat doing the thing he does best, randomly running into things at break neck speed.  I have no idea why he does this or why he loves to run smack dab into objects that he has no chance of overcoming.  He was hit by a car once, knocked out his tooth.  Perhaps there was a bit more damage there than the vet led me to believe.  However, being the cautious home owner that I am, I check under the bed for that pterodactyl.  Those bastards got a weird voyeur streak in them too. 

This is when I heard the soft moan of the house, a little bit more downstairs than upstairs I would think.  Of course I know what this is.  I've owned a home for 15 years and I know exactly what this is. 

It would appear that my house was built atop some sort of burial ground.  Whether it was Native American or a squatters prison burial ground, I'm not sure yet.   If I was a betting man, I would say both.  I would expect my TVs to turn on any minute now and play nothing but static while a little blond girl stares at it with her hand out right before a midget lady shows up and tells me not to walk into the light.  I would tell her that I am a home owner and we all know not to walk into the light, Christ we are not amateurs here midget lady.  It is also uncertain if this burial ground is evil in nature, maybe just kinda evil, or perhaps a tad bit evil with a dose of weirdo.  I haven't seen anything flying around the house, books moving about by themselves or my card catalog I keep in the living room spitting out all of it's index cards but I'm sure it's coming.  Truly it's just a matter of time.  That time would be when it's most inconvenient for me because this is how things are done when you own a home. 

Let's say that you have a baby, a young one.  And it's cold as dirt outside, like it's cold enough to burst a pipe.  And when that pipe bursts you have to shut your water off.  Now, you need to make formula for the baby but you have no water and the plumber can't come out for a day or twelve.  Yourself, you might be able to not shower for that time period but your hard working wife must go to work.  She is not allowed to wallow in her own stink like your worthless self.  This is also about the time that your oldest daughter gets a case of the trots and a flushing toilet is a lot more important now than it was yesterday.  And it also turns out that a washing machine requires water and that you should really do more laundry before that pipe bursts.  That's how you find yourself at the store at midnight on a Tuesday with two carts full of water by the gallon wondering if they can give you 10 bucks in quarters for the all night laundry mat. The night clerk, who has running water because they rent, makes a joke of some kind but you don't really notice because you are 1) wondering if you can make some sort of manual jungle shower from duct tape and your shower curtain, it could work if you poked holes in it, you just know it.  And 2) if you could fashion such an ingenious device could you convince your wife to use it while role playing Me Tarzan, You Jane which she will not find funny or sexy and instead ditch you for the nearest hotel. 

See, that's what I mean by inconvenient. 

I am pondering my ghost problem when Bacon Hoss wakes up from his afternoon nap.  He is screaming, screaming loudly.  I sigh and grab my fire extinguisher, my large dino net and my crucifix and holy water.  I'm pretty sure that the lava men are trying to ride the pterodactyl (who wouldn't!) while the prison ghosts are tossing diapers all over the room and tearing apart the pillows.  As you can imagine, this would cause a lot of noise confined to the baby's room and of course it has woken him up.  Seriously, sometimes it just never ends.  


Snow Pants

All I wanted was snow pants for my daughter.  It was the only thing on my mind.  I didn't want cute booty shorts nor did I really want a cutoff tank top that proclaimed how cute it is to be dressed in pink.  I wanted fucking snow pants because it's negative fucking 10 and the kids would like to go fucking sledding.   I have entered the realm of girls clothing, 8 year old variety.  As you can probably tell, I'm a bit angry about the experience.

First off, I apologize to everyone for going shopping.  Clothes are not my strong suit.  Picking out "cute" things for my children are not where my strengths lie.  I have no idea what matches with what, what goes with what, plaid only with this, white only after labor day, no tennis shoes with a green dress.  I'll admit, I have no idea about fashion.  I have a reason though that I feel is more than enough though to explain why.  When I buy clothes, and this is rare, it is because I am looking at functionality.  If I have to dig a hole for a fence, I'm thinking that I probably need me some jeans.  Just some ordinary jeans.  Do they fit?  Check.  I buy them.  I wouldn't want to wear a sweater to dig a post hole for a fence, so I'm thinking I need a T-Shirt.  Check, I buy that.  Do they match, do they go together?  I have no idea because that is not what I'm thinking about.  I'm thinking about whether I should put in concrete to my post hole or go the easy route and just fill it up with dirt knowing that at some point it's going to lean and I'm going to have to redo it.  So I choose concrete and jeans.  Simple enough.

But in the world of women, children and apparently just about anyone else but me, this is a very stupid thing to do and I can't figure the fuck out why.  I get up in the morning, is it cold?  Yes, wear something warm.  Am I with a baby that will vomit on me?  Yup, wear something dark.  Is my daughter going to kick me in the junk at some point today while we play?  Guaranteed, let's wear the cup.  See, is it that hard?

Apparently it is if all you need is snow pants for an 8 year old.

First off you fashion fucktards, please stop selling next season's clothes before this season is done.  And if you can't help yourself, then please for the love of fuck make it closer to the actual season, say the end of March?  Outside we have 2 feet of snow.  That being the case, I do not think it is appropriate that I buy a bathing suit for my daughter.  She will probably get cold.

I am also convinced that those that determine when spring/summer clothes go on sale have never in their entire lives dressed a child. See, if I buy something for myself and plan to wear it in three months, no problem, it's probably going to fit.  I will look sexy, chicks will dig me.  I get that and accept that.  But my daughter?

I have no idea what size my daughter will be in three months.  She grows like a weed.  She has a different shoe size just about every three months.  Every day I'm throwing out clothes that she has outgrown, clothes that I know for a fact that she has only worn only a couple of times.  What I buy her today is not going to fit her in July.  So knock it off.  I need snow pants in the middle of February.
 And why do I need these snow pants?  Because the snow pants she had in December seem to have shrunk a bit and now her ankles stick out and the waist is to tight and for the ever loving fuck of fuck please just have snow pants when it's still winter.

Let me continue.

Like I have stated previously, I try to buy for functionality which is probably why my wife doesn't like me buying clothes much.  No worries but this was a special case.  My wife is not going to take the kids sledding.  Let's face it, she's delicate and doesn't do "cold" or rolling in the snow very well.  That is Dad's territory in our little family.  She does hot chocolate very well though.

But on occasion I do have to go shopping and I would like to buy something appropriate for my daughter to be active in.  Let me ask you, what is so fucking difficult about this?

First off, let's knock off putting words on the butts of 8 year olds.  She's an 8 year old.   She is not a butt billboard for a soda, she is not a place to put a catch phrase, and she sure as shit doesn't need to look "cute" when being athletic.  The athletic part is what will make her look cute, not the yoga pants that everyone appears to want my 8 year old daughter to wear.  Fuck off you pedophiles. 

And pink, I'm ok with pink for the most part, but come on, aren't we over doing it a little bit?  Not everything that a girl owns should be pink.  Pink gets dirty to quick, it's to hard to get stains out of and it doesn't hide blood very well.  Work with me a little bit.  My daughter plays soccer, I would like her to be able to play without wondering if she is a piece of gum that came with my baseball cards.

Moving on.

Shirts.  Are t-shirts really so fucking hard?  Do they all have to have some sort of heart on them?  Is the peace sign the realm of girls only?  Would I ever put my son in either of them?  No, I would not.  When my daughter is being active, I want her to be active.  When she is playing a sport, I want her to be aggressive.  Sure, I want her to be nice and play by the rules but I want her to kick some ass as well.  I don't want her giving out hugs and flowers when she is the goalie.  I want her to give the death stare to the other player coming to score on her.  There is a place for hearts and peace symbols but let's not make that place my daughters t-shirts or ass.

When Maria cut up those curtains to dress those snotty damn Von Trapp kids, that's what I was talking about.  She made them functional!  She said to the Captain, Listen dillhole, the kids had no play clothes, nothing that can get dirty.  So I made clothes out of a fucking curtain.  You need to be ok with that.  Boom, Maria is my new hero.  

I thought wind pants would be a good substitute for the snow pants, a good pair that is water proof that we can put several layers underneath.  I had to go to the boys aisle to find them.  And yes, they worked perfectly for what we needed as all the snow pants were removed, as well as all the gloves, hats, and anything else that one would need in cold weather that will still be here for some time.  But apparently girls are not allowed to wear wind pants, or athletic pants or anything else of the sort.  I must also apologize to the poor sales clerk that I said "you're fucking kidding me" when I asked him where the girls athletic pants were.  Not his fault, I understand that I may have just been at the end of my rope.  I didn't mean to make you shy away from me quickly.  I can only assume that by my dress of jeans and a tshirt that you inferred that I would have no problem punching you in the face.  I realize that it is not your fault, you are the poor dude that just happens to work there and not the fashionista that made the decision that my 8 year old would be much happier looking like she wanted to turn a few tricks on the playground.  However, if you can get me that persons name and address, we can make amends.

I came home a little upset, as you could imagine.  I railed to my wife who promptly just rolled her eyes.  She says she knows.  She says she deals with it every time she shops for our daughter.  She implied that I am late to the enraged party.  Then she went on to complete her "couples therapy" show.  I think she is trying to hint at something.  God Damn do I hate that show. 

Look, I know that I am late to the rage here but it really doesn't help me to have her not share in my rage in a more direct fashion.  Scream with me, yell with me!  Share my frustrations and do not give me the I told you so look!  I am a white middle aged male, people will listen to me!  The world is set up for my benefit!

Of course, I put that last part in there because I know that my wife will read this and get enraged that I said it, that it is indeed the case, that her gender has not been offered the same perks as me.  She knows that people constantly judge women on whether they stay home or work, that there is a thing called the "mommy wars" and that her motives are up for constant debate.  She also knows that for the most part, other guys think it's cool that I stay home with the kids and I get all kinds of undeserved credit just for going grocery shopping.    I will smile when she rages, I will roll my eyes, and I will go back to watching the X-files.  Nothing makes a person feel better than spreading the rage, even if you have to do it a little underhanded.  Toward the end of her rant, which should be epic, I will mention that there is a senate panel discussing birth control and that it has no women on it, only old white dudes.  

My work here is done. 


Jim The Wonder Dog

Jim the Wonder dog is out there.  He's right past Monkey Island and not to far from the worlds largest 20th century pecan.  They are all just out there, right there.

I am stuck. For a month and a half I have been stuck.  The Tall Texan in me wants to make that an even 2 months.  I have been stuck for two months inside the house.  At the end of this little stickage I fully understand the bear that gnaws it's paw off to get out of the trap.  I respect that three legged bastard.  He is my new hero and if there was a plaque out there honoring him, I would travel to it and leave flowers at it's base.   But I can't because I'm stuck, I can't go anywhere. 

Don't tell me "Hey, Hoss, make sure you go to the grocery store, that counts as an outing!"  I will punch you in the face you unimaginative bastard.  A grocery store is not an adventure, there is no trail to be blazed, there is nothing there that I haven't seen before.  I once went on a quest to the grocery store to find Coconut Milk in a can.  Took me 3 hours, I had to dodge a tank of ferrel lobsters.  But I found it.  That's the most of an adventure that I can get out of a grocery store.

Go to the library you say.  I say line up next to your friend so you can receive your punching right after him.  I have been  to the library enough times to know that they usually carry porn on microfiche as well.  Yea, that's right, antique porn at the library. 

Well, what about the park or take a walk.  You, I'm not even going to deal with you.  Get off my blog, go read about bird watching and then sit at your back window and see if you can see the Pine Grosbeak.  Then write it down in your book and pat yourself on the back for your adventure. 

The stay at home dad life is actually pretty awesome.  In fact, it's the most awesome job in the world.  But the misconception people tend to make when they try to imagine themselves doing it is that they immediately consider flopping in front of the TV and watching hours of reruns with no responsibilities.  The problem however is that children don't usually sit still unless they are teenagers and using the weed to get potted up and if they are, then they don't want to hang with you.  Let me tell you something, that's good for about a week.  After that, your mind turns to mush, you start talking to your best friend the garden gnome and you make dinner plans that revolve around macaroni and chicken nuggets.  It suuuuuuuuuuccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkssssssssss.  Worst of all though, after a week of turning slowly into a type of moss and mushroom growth, you realize that you have missed an opportunity. 

You have missed an opportunity to explore with your kids, to discover the country, to see the oddities that are out there.  You have missed out on the stories that come from them, the silly games you play to get there, the mistakes you made that eventually morph into family legend.  If you want to be a stay at home dad, you want to educate, you want to raise, you want to build character.  It's pretty tough to do that when you realize that the baby is being raised by some crack head singing about friendship.  Those opportunities are gone my man and they aren't coming back and neither will your sanity. 

In December we had a bit of snow.  We couldn't go anywhere.  No problem, we wait it out.  Christmas break, that's our time!  Let's roll!  Nope, we have some chores we have to take care of to be ready for winter.  And a car repair. And we better save some money for presents.  Fast forward past the holidays, let's roll!  Wait, school play.  Ok, what about Tuesday.  No, girl scouts.  Ok, now we have some time off, lets get in the car and go somewhere we haven't been!  Or how about instead let's catch the plague that runs through the family one by one until I'm taking care of everyone while I'm hoping that I'm not shitting my pants.

But this week, we are good!  We are going to take some day trips, we are going to see Jim the Wonder Dog and figure out why he is a Wonder Dog!  What is this Monkey Island, is it actually  monkeys on an island?  Let's go find out!!  The older two kids are in school so we can leave by 9, just Bacon and me, drive an hour, see the thing, meet some locals.  We can eat at some sort of diner that has a very sticky floor and where your beverages are served in red Solo cups (dirty cups and yup, true story).  We can then head back right at Bacon's nap time, bam back by 3, kids home by 4, story time during dinner.  I. Have. To. Get. Out. 

Or how about we dump so much snow on the ground that school is canceled for an entire week and I have to dig 2 cars out at the bottom of a hill.  I have shoveled my drive way 2 times today and I know that I will have to shovel it again tomorrow morning.

It's not that I haven't made the most of the day.  We built a pillow fort.  It was epic.  We fought a spider in it.  We had movie time, a movie that I actually didn't mind.  We have played in the snow, we have had imagination time, we have done SCIENCE!  But we have done them all here.  Look, I love my house and I love my city.  But I would  prefer to love them from about an hour away for a little bit. 

In the 6 years that I have been doing this, I have rarely sat still.  I have seen the worlds biggest ball of twine (it was indeed big), I have glimpsed the largest can of condensed milk, I have toured a castle in the middle of the ghetto.  I have done all these things with my kids.  I have done much more.  I have seen the worlds biggest baseball, the world's largest electric steam shovel.  I have seen statues of people that are nothing more than a footnote in local history.  And in doing these things, I have raised confident kids.  Kids that believe in the wonder of the world, that believe that if they just keep going that they can figure out a way to get the Van out of the mud that we are stuck in (true story).  And they also say please and thank you. 

But most importantly, I have raised kids that have memories of our family and those memories will be with them forever, they will get them through tough times, will make them laugh or smile when it seems that is the last thing that they want to do.  That is what I have done with my time as a stay at home dad.  For me, it's the only way to go.  As the kids get older, we will do more grand adventures.  We will take our summer trips, we will tour Americana, we will road trip the country.  But for now, and for the last 2 months, we are stuck.

Jim the Wonder Dog is out there.  An hour at most, separated only by a highway and a foot of snow.  It's time Bacon Hoss started making some memories of his own.  And god help me, the guy from Yo Gabba Gabba is starting to make sense. 


Pole Dancing

Hossmom leaves the house after giving the kids a kiss goodbye.  She grabs her purse, usually throws a couple of old coupons on the floor, perhaps a receipt, kisses me and leaves.  The kids finish their breakfast and kind of clear the table.  They get dressed for school, dropping pjs wherever they happen to be.  They grab their backpacks, throw some papers out and head out to catch the bus.  Usually I wait with them because going outside is always a good thing.  I head back inside with Bacon Hoss and put him on the floor.  I look at my house. 

In the hour that we have all been up, somehow, it's a fucking disaster. 

If I didn't know that I lived with a bunch of kids and a wife that seems to carry full catalogs in her purse, I would contact an exorcist and insist that some kind of tornado poltergeist has visited my home.  One that has a special hatred for folded clothes or crayons that go in buckets because all of it has somehow ended up on my floor nestled next to some JC Penny's coupon printed on extra thick paper.  In the hour we have been up my living room and kitchen looks like the library scene in Ghostbusters when the ghost pitches the card catalog everywhere. 

But I know who I live with, my family and they destroy clean like they are getting paid to do it, like it's their life long ambition and thank god they majored in "flinging crap" at university.  It's a party school.

So every morning before Bacon Hoss does his  morning nap, he's been up since 6 singing very off key dirty baby limericks right in my ear, we do a clean up.  If we don't then farmers show up at my door wanting to add to my compost pile. 

It's not to bad though, we have a rhythm, Bacon Hoss and I.  First we turn on some very loud music.  Usually of the metal variety, classic grunge or some hair metal 80's.  If you can't rock out to a little Motley Crue, then how can you rock out to? 

My son is walking now.  Started at 10 months and hasn't stopped.  I think he got jealous that he wasn't able to contribute to the morning destruction of my house.  Now that he is mobile, he is practically running to every piece of paper on the floor and ripping it to shreds like it's chum and he's a carpet shark.  He tells me that it makes it easier for the vacuum cleaner. 

When he's not doing that, he likes to climb into the dishwasher because why the fuck not?  We try to make several fun games while we rock out.  One is called don't grab the knives.  This one keeps me on my toes and if he gets on the door of the dishwasher his little monkey hands can grip like a vice.  The other game we like to play in the morning is called "Get Out of The God Damn Garbage Can."  Another family favorite.  For a little guy that just learned to walk a couple of months ago, he can move surprisingly fast on those little hobbit legs. 

The last game we play is dancing time.  Because who doesn't like to dance and create their own little mosh pit at 8:30 in the morning?  I'll throw on one of our songs, like something from Pantera.  He'll hear it and immediately coming running into the kitchen.  He'll find me after a few seconds because apparently a large man is hard for a year old kid to spot.  Once he sees me, he starts his dance. 

He starts swinging his arms like he's a guy at a train station waiting for the next train to arrive.  Not fast and certainly not in in kind of rhythm but like he wants to almost clap but is embarrassed. Soon the squats will start, up and down while looking at me.  I have always figured that he is in training to eventually some Olympic team sport. We haven't figured out one yet but I'm leaning towards something in the clean and jerk weightlifting.  He's got a low center of gravity and some stubby legs, might be his thing. 

I grab the broom, while dancing myself of course, and head to the dining room.  I dare you to not dance when a little squirt is looking up at you doing squat thrusts.  Damn near impossible.  During breakfast more food ends up on the floor than in mouths.  For the baby, I'm pretty sure it's because he likes throwing oranges off his table to the dogs.  And while the dogs do a wonderful job licking up cereal the my other two kids drop, they are not big on oranges.  I keep reminding them about scurvy but you know, they are fucking dogs, they don't listen to me.  If I don't sweep these up quickly, eventually they will get stuck to someones shoe or far baby foot and be traced around the house turning into a very bizarre afternoon of find the orange slice.  Once they dry, they become almost indestructible and seem to stick to any surface better than super glue. 

I start sweeping but I have to stop.  The kid is being cute again and I'm thinking about taking a picture and sending it Hossmom.  She needs cute in her life as most days she deals with HTML JAVA I'm a nerd advertiser stuff.  Bacon has grabbed my broom because he apparently wants to keep dancing.  Squat, squat, run around the broom handle, waive other arm randomly.  He is a good 5 minutes into this.  Squat, run, squat, throw head back and look up at dad. 

It's at this point I realize that I have made a colossal mistake, one that I did not see coming.  It had just never occurred to me, I didn't even think about it.  My wife would say it's because I'm not in tune with feminism and gender equality and that I don't listen to her.  I'm not sure because I usually don't listen to her when she rants about this stuff because I'M A STAY AT HOME DAD I DON'T NEED TO REALLY THINK ABOUT IT.  Come on, seriously, I do my share.  I have bent the traditional roles of society and stay home with the kids so that my executive wife can freely pursue her career.  I say that I've done my part for the cause of gender equality and feminism.  And I really like to watch March Madness. 

But watching my son I realize that he is now in fact "Dancing on the Pole."  All father's everywhere will tell you that their number 1 job is keep their daughters off the pole.  That we don't want to raise a coked out stripper that is "trying to pay for school."  However, we never turn that around to realize that it's just as equally important to keep our sons off the pole as well.  I don't want him running away at 16, living on the streets with a good meth problem, turning 18 and hitting the male escort scene.  From what I've read, and I'd admit its not much, that involves jerking off middle aged married guys trying to score just 10 more bucks for their good friend, the dealer.  Soon he'll end up at some male strip joint down by the bad part of town doing lap dances in some outfit that has a built in pecker purse.  He'll get up on the pole, do his set with lifeless eyes, then head to the back to the champagne room while a lady with extremely long red finger nails wants to make him her "poppy."  He'll do his dance for a handful of ones while wondering why his father didn't love him enough to prevent this from happening.  Basically, every thing that I'm worried that could happen to my daughter that I have now projected onto my son. 

I quickly jerk the broom away in a moment of clarity and panic.  He loses his balance and falls face first onto the floor.  He begins to cry. 

Yes son, dancing on the pole will get you hurt.  Never forget that.  There is just one outcome from dancing on the pole, a faceful of ouch while you wonder what the hell just happened.  I should now go get my other two children and repeat the exact same lesson.  I am a father that cares, very much so.  And this is why I can never sweep the floors at my house.