My Kids Are Lucky I am Not Their Mother

Every once in a while, my wife will leave town or have a reason to be away from the house during a time when my children require true parenting. Okay, maybe that diminishes some of my real contributions, but most of the time, my input consists of:

“How in the (muffled grunting as I struggle to keep my lips from spewing forth the words that are trying desperately to claw their way to freedom) does your room get so filthy so fast? I want this cleaned up immediately. I am SERIOUS!!! No friends until this room is at least somewhat presentable.” Then to myself, “Didn’t I have this exact same conversation with them yesterday?”

“Why is this towel on the floor? Haven’t we been over this at least a billion times that the towels go on the rack that we have so kindly provided you. Or in the dirty clothes hamper.” This is generally met with a confused look as if I suddenly switched to old world Latin in the middle of my lecture. “The dirty clothes hamper? You know, the extra table we put in your room a couple of months back? It’s that thing all of your dirty clothes are stacked around. Yeah, that. Your towel could go in there. Your towel could go just about anywhere, just not on the floor.”

“Why is your towel crumpled up on your bed? Yes, I know I said it could go just about anywhere but on the floor.” I sigh deeply as my face turns a deep shade of purple. “Put it back on the rack or in your dirty clothes hamper before I put you on the rack or in the dirty clothes hamper. THE TABLE, THE TABLE. Put inside the (muffled grunt again) table!!!”

“Who dumped their shoe full of sand all over the carpet I just vacuumed? Son, you’ve been playing on a playground full of sand for six years now. Just about everyday we’ve discussed not taking your shoes off on the carpet. Haven’t we? Well if you remember that we have, in fact, had that conversation daily for over 2000 days in a row, why did you take your shoes off on the carpet? You forgot. Well how about I help you remember…” This is when my wife then calls me into the other room before we have to remove one child’s picture from the wall and go about destroying evidence that we ever had four children as opposed to the three that would be left.

However, on those days when Shannon is away and it is left up to me to get them out the door and on their way to school, I am reminded of how grateful I am for my wife. How she patiently fills the role of short order cook, clairvoyant shoe finder and bathroom monitor is beyond me. This morning, my kids were actually really good and yet still I struggled to maintain my patience and not pick them up by the belt loops, toss them out the door and yell, “I can’t miss you if you won’t go away.”

This probably makes me sound like a terrible dad, and in the heat of a school day morning, maybe I am. But I will make up for it tonight. Dinner will be pizza and Family Home Evening will consist of whatever movie their mom doesn’t want them to watch. I’ll be a rock star. But it won’t change the fact that I will be so grateful when my wife gets home and resumes her 85% of our 50/50 split on the parenting responsibilities.

As an aside, I just finished reading Big In Japan, by Jennifer Griffith. She is a local author who has published four novels and someone I consider a friend. I have to say, if you are a reader, you really should get a copy of this book. It was fantastic. Now I understand that some might think I am too close to the situation to be trusted, but I assure you, if I hadn’t truly enjoyed the book, I would not have said anything and left it at that. But it is a truly enjoyable read and taught me a great deal about the Japanese culture. Big In Japan is available on and


And Here I Thought It Was a Good Day

Last Friday, I took the day off and headed down to the Valley of the Sun to play a little golf. Now I know some might question my sanity planning a golf trip to Phoenix in the month of August, but we got incredibly lucky. When we teed off at 7 a.m., it was a tad drizzly and weather stayed overcast for well over half the round. It did get quite muggy as the day progressed, but otherwise, we couldn’t have asked for better temperatures. All around, it was a very enjoyable day. The kind of day that lifts your spirits and reminds you that life isn’t that bad. I held onto those feelings all weekend. Unfortunately, I had to return to reality eventually. This morning I tuned back into the political news of the day and realized that there is no reason at all to feel good about anything. As evidence, I submit the following examples from the recent past.

“They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.” – VP Joe Biden

How do I not start off with this one? The Vice President, addressing a crowd in a southern state with a predominately black audience, used this imagery to describe what would happen if the Republican ticket were to win and allow the banks to get out from under some of their current regulations.

First of all, there is nothing quite so hilarious and yet icky as a country club seventy-something year old white man adopting a faux African American accent. I can honestly say, I have never really heard Joe Biden refer to his audience as y’all before. But anyway, his message was ominous. I was horrified to think that if Romney is elected, my family and I could end up in chains. But thankfully, I realized he said y’all, as in you all, meaning not him. So does that mean everybody but him? That doesn’t make sense. The only thing I could think of is he either meant Virginians or people who are somehow different than him…like maybe people with a different skin complexion.

See the other key word that gives me hope that I might avoid a life in chains is back. I’ve never been in chains. My ancestors have never been in chains (except for the horse thieves, but that’s a completely different story unrelated to banking). So I can only assume he was referring to people who have either been in chains or have had their ancestors in chains. I wonder who that could be?

Mr. Biden says he was misunderstood, and in no way was trying to make any racial comments…Okay?!? Either way, it sounds like I’m going to end up in chains or the candidates of unity and togetherness just ripped the country in half based on race. Neither option makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Medicare is going to end as we currently know it.

It seems no matter which person I vote for, they are going to destroy Medicare as I know it. Then when I turn 65, they are going to load me up in a wheel chair and throw me over a cliff. Oh wait, they are only throwing grannies over a cliff. Gee, I wonder what is in store for the grandpas. If they aren’t even willing to talk about it, it must really bad.

For my entire life, Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to destroy Medicare and then leveled all kinds of other dastardly predictions of what Republicans would do to old people. Back in the eighties it was force feeding them cat food, now it is literally the wheelchair over the cliff. However, it is nice to see Republicans getting in on this “scare the old people” tactic this cycle. We wouldn’t want just one side demagoguing an issue like this. What I’m taking from this whole back and forth is that I had better win the lottery, strike oil on my 1/8 of an acre plot of land or divorce my wife and marry an heiress if I want to have any kind of healthcare in my golden years.  Isn’t that what both campaigns are effectively saying will be the case if the other side wins? I’m so glad the selection of Ryan has made this whole process more substantive.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” -Rep Todd Akin, MO running for the US Senate in that state talking about how small the number of pregnancies actually caused by rape actually is.

OH MY GOSH!!!!! If I hear one more Republican senate candidate say something so asinine that it effectively ends their bid for elected office I’m going to set a car on fire. (Not mine. Probably the car that belongs to the guy down the street who keeps letting his dog poop in my grass and not picking it up.)

I blame this on the tea party and their “let’s burn the whole process to the ground” mentality. This is the group that ran the witch in Delaware, the prohibitionist in Nevada and the guy who put a journalist in bondage in Alaska.  GUYS, there is a thing called a vetting process. I know that Akin has been in the house for a number of years, but good gosh, before we nominate someone for a senate seat, things like this need to come up. I mean how did nobody know that he believed something as insane as this? Now, the incumbent president gets to change the subject away from things like, I don’t know, jobs…and the economy, to talk about abortion and the crazies on the right who believe this kind of junk, all the while implying that a Mormon like Romney and a Catholic like Ryan probably agree with this bozo.

Now all of a sudden my head hurts and my Monday has been ruined. I should call back down to Phoenix and see if they have a tee time available for tomorrow. And every day until the first Tuesday in November.

A Parent’s Lament on the First Day of School

Like it was yesterday, I can remember the typical first day of the school year. It was always a slightly terrifying experience. Which makes no sense because I went to school in a very small town. Each year, the same 45 to 50 kids that I’d been with the year before gathered in the new classrooms we’d been assigned and we’d start the whole process over again. But something about leaving the safety of my home following a summer of never having to was scary.

If anyone would have told me back then that the first day of school would be even harder for me as an adult, I’d have said they were crazy. But with my children starting school today, I now know better.

I have a daughter starting eighth grade. Eighth grade is horrible. Sending her to eighth grade is almost the equivalent of asking her to cross a busy emotional freeway with cars speeding past at 80 miles and hour + and wishing her luck on getting safely to the other side. I remember thinking when I was in junior high that if my parents knew half of what went on at my school, and the things people said to each other in that environment, they would never let me go back. Now this morning, I hugged her and sent her off the same way my parents did. It makes me feel a little nauseous. 

Both of my boys are tenderhearted, kind and all-around good kids. In some ways I’m thrilled. That’s exactly what we’ve tried to raise them to be. But as my well-intentioned son prepared to walk out the door this morning, more excited about taking the state capitals test than any kid who doesn’t want to be labeled in some way should be, I couldn’t help but see a tender young zebra walking completely unprepared into the middle of the African pride lands with hungry lions on every side. In the real world of school, nice doesn’t always play well. Thankfully, he has some good friends. So if they get eaten, maybe they’ll get eaten together.

Finally, my second son is a sweet kid who just never seems to have any boys his age available to him to play with. He’s entering second grade and has yet to really connect with a best friend. I remember him telling me last year that he spent several recesses walking around the school by himself. It broke my heart. He seems to think it’s perfectly fine, but I just wanted to march down to that school and shake some sense into a few six year old boys heads. I’m sure that would have gone over well. And in no way would have resulted in my lifetime ban from the Jack Daley Primary school.

With all of these things on my mind, today has been a little tough. I just want to go home and make sure they all made it back safe…and happy.

I don’t necessarily try to derive religious connotation from all of my daily occurrences, but I do have to admit that my anxiety caused me to think. Is it possible that God feels this way about letting us come to this less than hospitable place called Earth? If so, I feel bad for Him. Because today’s first day of school was the worst I have ever experienced. And I didn’t even set foot on the campus.

Gauging the Highs and Lows of the London Olympics

With the London Games coming to a close, I find myself reflecting on the enjoyable times I’ve had watching them with my family. So, as we now have no choice but to sit back and wait for another four years, I’ve decided to recap the good with the bad of my Olympic experience.

High – The Saturday morning after the Opening Ceremonies, I woke up to find both of my boys in front of the TV watching the 150 mile bicycle race through the English countryside. I can’t imagine another scenario where I would sit and watch a bicycle race and that includes one with me in it. But for whatever reason, I got nostalgic for my time in England as the rider’s raced through scenes that looked vaguely familiar. The ending came down to two guys duking it out and it was a nail-biter.  It was my younger son’s first Olympic moment ever and we watched the ending together. Definitely a good memory.

Low – Why, oh why did they have to drag Paul McCartney out for the Opening Ceremonies. I mean, I get it, but both my wife and I walked around for days humming, Hey, Jude. And to quote Seinfeld, that’s not going to be good for anybody.

High – Staying up until 11:00 with my kids to see the women’s gymnastics team and Gabby Douglas win gold.

Low – Having to stay up until 11:00 with my young kids to see the women’s gymnastics team and Gabby Douglas win gold.

High – Hearing the announcers get so into the swimming coverage that they were actually yelling by the end of some of the races. It definitely added tension and drama to the proceedings. More than once, my children nearly exploded trying to contain themselves during a super tight race.

Low – Having the announcers build McKayla Maroney up to the point that you knew something was going to go wrong.

“There is no one on the face of this planet…or any planet that is going to be able to beat McKayla Maroney. She is absolutely the only person who can do the vaults she does and she neeevvvveeeerrrr messes up. She is practically god-like in her ability to do the vault. Here she goes, see how she runs? It is so superior to everyone who has ever run before. You just get the sense she could sprout wings and fly away like the mythical creature she is. She is so amazing and…

she fell on her butt. Well, she probably won’t win now.”

Thanks Al Trautwig, Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel. Please don’t make the trip to Rio.

High – Literally having my jaw drop at the speed of some of the sprinters during the preliminary rounds of the 100 m. It was like watching a Ford Mustang race a hobo with a shopping cart. It was amazing.

Low – Being force fed ‘wedgie-ball’ night after night after night. Congrats to the American beach volleyball teams on being very good, but when did this version of the sport become so much bigger than say, I don’t know, the original version of the sport which was a million times more interesting to watch. Or would have been had we been given a chance to see it.

High – The Queen skydiving.

Low – Ryan Seacrest

High – Experiencing the summer games again for the first time through the eyes of my children.

Low – 

No, let’s end on a high. Looking forward to Rio, but at the same time, wishing my kids didn’t have to be four years older when we get there.

Trying To Make Sense of the Senseless

Living in a world where logic is deemed so unnecessary is getting old. Just once in awhile, it would be nice if someone with a bully pulpit to do so would stand up and say, “This is stupid. And we’re not going to pretend it’s not anymore.” If you’re wondering to what I’m referring, I’ll list a few examples from just the last couple of weeks.

1. NBC Olympic Coverage (Mostly, but not limited to, the gymnastics) – If I’m going to invest the time to watch an athletic event, I want to actually see it. I don’t want to see highlights, that’s what ESPN is for. I don’t want to watch a short snippet of the event and then wait another hour while all of the momentum of what I’d been watching shrivels and dies in a corner before I get to see the next portion. And most of all, I don’t want to have to keep my four- and seven-year-old awake until eleven o’clock at night to see the finale of something that occurred at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. We understand, there are a lot of events and we can’t see them all. But at least let us see all of the one we are being told we’ll get to see. And more than anything, I would much rather watch the athletics than Ryan Seacrest interview some teenager whose name I’ll likely have forgotten by next week.

2. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, stating that he got an unsolicited phone call from an investor in Bain Capital, who he cannot name, in which he learned that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for ten years…


I mean the man is running for president for the second time. He is extremely wealthy and yet somehow the IRS let that audit slip by ten years running and he managed to avoid taxes the entire time without getting caught? Astounding. We should elect him strictly on his ability to pull that off. If he has that kind of economic mystical ability, he should be able to drop unemployment to 4% in a matter of weeks.

What is even more astounding is that not one Democrat is willing to stand up and say, “Yeah…ok. This is pretty absurd.”

With unemployment holding at over 8% for a record number of months and everyone’s taxes scheduled to go up astronomically because Congress can’t work together to avoid across the board tax increases, I can see how making up farcical garbage about a multimillionaire not paying taxes might be tempting if you have been the leader of the senate during the previous four years when all of this economic misery occurred. But the fact that anyone else is going along with it is mind-boggling.

3. The fact that anyone cares about the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson break-up. Why is this an issue for anyone? If a person cares that much about seeing the fallout of a relationship gone bad between two ugly people they don’t know, all they have to do is go to their local Walmart either between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. or anytime after 10 o’clock at night until the sun comes up. I am bewildered by the fact that anyone cares about this. At least with the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes break-up you have a psychopathic control freak who is a member of a fearsome…(having my own religion referred to as a cult makes me sensitive about throwing out the word willy-nilly so I will leave it at)…religious organization that has a mystical hold over its members to keep things interesting. Also with Tom and Katie, both are fairly attractive and, by all accounts, bathe regularly. Which is more than we can say for the two vampires.

The list of examples above is just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like lunacy is deemed reasonable more and more everyday. If things don’t get better, I might have to leave civilization, move into a small one room cabin in the woods, grow a long beard and write a meandering manifesto decrying the destruction of a once sensible society…or is that what I just did? I guess to be safe, if you know me, be careful of any unmarked packages showing up in your mailbox.