August 31, 2010

Back In The Saddle

I somehow managed to make it through yesterday, the first post-vacation work day. Reentry was rough, friends. I limped through most of it resembling a post-lobotomy mental patient wearing a suit. Which was unfortunate given the fact that I had to attend an all-day meeting involving 90 people in front of whom I had to speak and answer questions and sound reasonably intelligent in the process. It was not easy. Throughout the morning, I kept replying to questions inappropriately. When asked how are you? I'd say good morning. Shit like that. The morning was made less easy by the fact that I kept tripping. It only occurred to me later that this was due to the fact that I was wearing fancy work shoes for the first time in a week. I prefer flip-flops.

Apparently - based on feedback that I got later in the day - I managed to avoid sounding like an idiot. I ended the work day at a team happy hour where I was given a beer in a large frosty bowl about the size of my head. This was nice but I got tired holding it which only reminded me that I need to start working out or something. I'd hate to reach the point in my life where I become too weak to drink.

I'd by lying if I said it wasn't nice to get back to reality. But only a little. When Mia told us, repeatedly, that she didn't want to leave the beach, we explained that the thing that made it so special was its relative absence from our lives. That's true. But I'd like a better balance.

Do you all have any ideas as to how I could make a living - support my family in the manner to which they've become accustomed - in a little Delaware beach town? This is no hypothetical. I'm looking for answers.

Posted by Chris at 6:41 AM | Comments (18)

August 30, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Sweet baby Jesus. The worst, mod difficult morning of the year is the Monday after you get back from vacation. Provided you haven't done what any sane individual would do, namely take the day off to recover or, better yet, not come back from the beach at all and, instead, become a busker on the boardwalk or craft interesting things with shells and sell them for lots of money. I did neither of those things. I ventured back into reality. Silly me.

But how did we spend the last week?

There were plenty of performances...

...and plenty of rides at Funland.

There was a lot of attitude...

...and of course, plenty of time spent alongside the ocean.

This is our third year in a row taking this vacation, a vacation that involves every single member of our immediate family, one house, and an astonishing amount of patience. It is, without doubt, completely and utterly exhausting. By the end the kids are out of control in dire need of their schedules and the parents are barely hanging on to sanity and are seriously seeing the wisdom in binge drinking. But, as with previous years, the trip was wonderful and I sincerely miss the beach and want nothing more to return (though I'm not sure Owen is welcome in any restaurant on the eastern seaboard ever again).

We are lucky for lots of reasons, chief among them the fact that we have such a wonderful, close family who loves to spend time together and can create such wonderful memories year after year.

I'm already looking forward to next year's trip. Far more than the all-day meeting I have to sit through today.

So, how are you? It's been a while.

Posted by Chris at 6:51 AM | Comments (14)

Haiku For Monday #332

Coffee, coffee now.
I'm not kidding. Coffee now.
Don't test me Monday.

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM

August 25, 2010

Delayed Reaction

Dear Internet,

For some reason - four days into our vacation - it only now occurred to me that vacationing with kids is actually no vacation at all. Instead, it's a hell of a lot of work. Rewarding...but exhausting.

That is all.

Captain Obvious

Posted by Chris at 4:11 PM | Comments (11)

August 23, 2010

This Is A Recording

Dear Internet,

I'd like to say wish you were here and mean it but frankly if you all came the beach would be packed and the lines for pizza on the boardwalk would be obscene. So everyone stay where you are with the knowledge that I will be drinking beer at the beach instead of writing here everyday this week. Oh, and could someone please explain the five year old wearing a Hooteres shirt and the full back tattoo depicting the horse head scene from The Godfather? It really is a slice of life around here.

Tropically yours,
The Management

Posted by Chris at 7:47 AM | Comments (10)

August 20, 2010

The Weeklies #146

The Weekly Mental Condition. Worn out.

The Weekly Time Waster. Rotate and Roll sounds like an insult but it's really just a great time waster.

The Weekly Read. Mitch Myers' The Boy Who Cried Freebird was an odd yet cool book about music. It was a strange mix of music-focused fiction and non-fiction that made for a really great read. If you like music - particularly about lesser-known moments in music history - this is a must.

The Weekly Music. As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, I grabbed Iron Maiden's latest album - The Final Frontier - earlier this week. So yeah...there it is...I'm an Iron Maiden fan. I've loved Maiden since the late 80's when a friend and I would rent and watch all the old Maiden concert videos and laugh at the liberal use of spandex and twin guitar solos. But the thing we could never laugh at was the band's raw talent. Point and laugh all you want. Maiden is a group of damn fine musicians who have somehow maintained their longevity of the course of four decades. Their latest doesn't show any signs that the band is in any way getting long in the tooth. Instead, its a flashback to some of their great 80's albums showcasing what they're all about. Up the irons, people.

The Weekly TV Disappointment. Design Star (shut up) sucks this year. Last year was so good - there was a host which negated the need for Vern Yip to try and sound intimidating and the contestants had actual challenges involving real homes of real people with real design problems instead of integrating a crap piece of fashion or a flower into some prefab Trump apartment. Yeah, I'm still watching but compared with last year, it's crap.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. A cricket star in England got pulled over for drunk driving. The reason he was out? He had to run to a hardware store after he discovered his cat was trapped under the floorboards of his house. Sure, he'd been drinking and later admitted that he shouldn't have been driving. But we all know that men will do just about anything for pussy.

The Weekly Question. What little piece of the internet to you check out most often?

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (20)

August 19, 2010

We Pay Them To Be Rude

Peggy Noonan is right. In her recent Wall Street Journal piece, she said, in part, the following:

"I pay them to be rude to me" is kind of an anthem of the service economy.

You know the story: A steward named Steven Slater, after a difficult flight, apparently got fed up, grabbed the intercom, cursed out passengers, and made a speedy and unauthorized exit, activating and sliding down the emergency chute, some say with a beer in each hand. Then he drove home. He says passengers were unruly; two Wall Street Journal reporters, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Sean Gardiner, tracked down passengers who said he was unruly.
Once we were a great industrial nation. Now we are a service economy. Which means we are forced to interact with each other, every day, in person and by phone and email. And it's making us all a little mad.
In a service economy in the age of no manners, everyone gets on everyone's nerves. Everyone wishes they could take the chute. Everyone understands someone who did.

The other night Beth and I were sitting on the couch talking about the kind of awesome customer service we'd gotten from Sears. See, our washing machine crapped out and the repair costs rang up somewhere around $1500 which was more than twice what the thing was worth new. If you have kids you know that you can do without a washing machine for, oh, about an hour and forty-five minutes before feeling any pain. I met Beth that evening at a couple places, scoped out some replacements then headed home to do some research online. And Consumer Reports' top-rated model - a front-loader from LG - was available for a great price at Sears. Beth called. They cut us a sweet deal, taking a hundred bucks off the advertised price, and scheduled delivery for a day and a half later. Their delivery people called twice, first to tell us that they were scheduling delivery and would soon have a time then later to give us a two hour delivery window, 12:30 - 2:30. Amazingly at 12:30 the truck rolled up and two very nice men offloaded and installed the new one and hauled off the old one. Then their customer service people followed up to make sure everything was okay.

What struck me more than anything was that such great customer service was very much the exception, not the rule. And that's really very sad.

Surely I'm not the only one experiencing this. Is good customer service really the exception? Is everyone just phoning it in? Has no one learned that in a service-oriented economy during this economic slump how critical being nice is? And is the Jet Blue guy a hero or an asshat?

(By the way, Sears didn't sponsor this or anything. They just rocked. Credit where credit is due.)

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM | Comments (40)

August 18, 2010

Tolerance at Ground Zero

Somehow over the last couple of weeks I've managed to miss major news stories. This is probably due to the fact that I'm paying absolutely no attention to the news whatsoever notwithstanding Mel Gibson rave-outs and Jersey Shore cast negotiations. Yes, my priorities are all outta whack. But by the time I get home, get kids to bed and decompress, just about the last things I want to focus on are wars, oppressions, natural disasters and politics. Out of the corner of my eye, though, I've been watching this story take shape.

US President Barack Obama's endorsement of a controversial plan to build a mosque just blocks from Ground Zero poured fuel Saturday on a raging debate over religious freedom and sensitivities over the 9/11 attacks.

Muslims "have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at an Iftar meal at the White House for Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast late Friday.

That includes "the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan."

Obama had remained on the sidelines over plans to build an Islamic cultural center, which includes a mosque, two blocks away from the gaping Ground Zero hole where the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001.

But after a New York city commission on August 3 unanimously approved the plans, the president came out to fully support the project.

"This is America," Obama said, "and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are."

It seems to me this is one of those problems that everyone thinks is very complex yet is, in reality, very simple.

Why would we - the American people - object to a manifestation of religious freedom on the hallowed ground of Ground Zero when it was that same intolerance on the part of others that led to the loss of two buildings and countless lives?

I get why people are scared. To many Islam is mysterious and, therefore, scary or intimidating. Its easy to dislike those you don't know, harder to judge them once you understand them as people. If we were forced to meet our enemies, shake their hands, share a meal, talk about their kids, before going into battle, there would be fewer battles. The same goes with religion. It's easy to assign shady motives to a theology you don't understand. I've also been to Ground Zero a few times. We went not long after 9/11. Wreckage still stood, personal memorials hung on chain link fences, devastated people stood and stared. The second time around - last year - Ground Zero looked like any other large construction site if you didn't know any better. The reminders hadn't disappeared, they'd just spread out, traveled farther afield. But the devastation is still there echoing all around you. It is, to many and to me, a sacred place where something terrible and unforgettable happened. Our minds are branded by 9/11, by the images we saw, the stories we heard, the sky so blue that day. But that shouldn't blind us to what's right.

Is the President right? Should such a place be built at the Ground Zero site? Or do you have reservations?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (34)

August 17, 2010


I'm not overly superstitious. But I might start becoming more superstitious if every Friday the 13th plays out like this last one did. It will live in infamy as The Day Stuff Broke.

The day started off all wrong. When the alarm on my iPhone went off, I turned over to pick it up, check the time and tell the alarm to rot in hell when I was met with Apple's White Screen Of Death. Any Apple technical manual will tell you this means one thing - you're fucked. Neat. The problem persisted randomly throughout the day. My phone slowly turned into a maddeningly expensive and rather good looking brick. And though I'm slightly phone-phobic, I use my iPhone for more than phoning. I use it for everything. Hi Steve Jobs. Sure, I'll be your bitch. Please allow me to drop my pants and bend over for you. Of course, I couldn't do anything about it immediately so that threw me off and I was pissy about it all day.

Then my work computer - how do I put this delicately? - shit the bed. It's not an Apple so now I had Bill Gates putting the moves on me. My home laptop, predictably, also began to follow suit though I was able to get my work email on it and thus not feel completely cut off from society though the O key failed to function more than 50% of the time and since, oddly, I found myself using the word counts in email throughout the day, I managed to send some pretty awkward messages to coworkers.

By 4:00, I'd managed to get everything done that I needed to accomplish, technical barriers be damned. So I headed to the Apple store to let them take a look at my phone. Along the way I had to stop for gas; the gas pump broke as soon as I swiped my credit card. I took a speedbump at a whopping two miles and hour and my car stereo died. I should have seen these things coming.

I arrived at the Apple store and they promptly replaced the screen (Steve with the reach-around) then I arrived home to find my computers acting normally.

All's well that ends well but for a while I felt like Alexander having a terrible horrible no good very bad day. I'd have moved to Australia but I'd probably have broken it. (You can thank me later, Aussies.)

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (14)

August 16, 2010

Oh Hi

Oh hi. Seems like you've caught me with my pants down, so to speak. Though I'll neither confirm nor deny whether or not im actually wearing pants.


Isn't Beth lucky to get to wake up to this?

Anyhoo, this weekend wore me out and I'm just getting a jump on the day (thought it could be argued that the day has already jumped on me). I need coffee. And perhaps a razor. And a comb. So, if you'll excuse me...

And how are you this morning?

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (17)

Haiku For Monday #331

If oceans were made
of coffee, the Pacific
might just be enough.

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM

August 13, 2010

The Weeklies #145

The Weekly Superstition. Hey everybody, its Friday the 13th!

The Weekly Beer. Full Sail Pale Ale

The Weekly Time Waster. Check out the Virtual Kaleidoscope!

The Weekly Read. Don Winslow quickly became one of my favorite authors after I read The Winter of Frankie Machine. He's got this insane style that gets you so involved in the story and provides such rich background, you feel as thought its real. While Winter might still be my favorite, nothing he's written has been bad. Savages, though, is a little different. Winslow tweaked his style. It's shorter, less detailed, written in a type of familiar slang that's tough to get used to at first then oddly familiar. The book had the feel of an experiment yet it's one that didn't sacrifice story. I was completely drawn in at the end, and left sucker-punched by its conclusion.

The Weekly Music. There is absolutely no reason why you should not own Mumford & Sons Sigh No More. None. It is a bizarre hybrid of folk and rock that somehow manages to avoid the trap of being boring that so many other bands fall into. In fact Sigh No More is a brilliant mix of serious, loose, joyful and nothing short of extraordinary.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Hear the one about the strippers who protested in front of a church? It's true. See, the strippers were tired of the church hauling out its signs and protesting in front of their place of business so they decided to show the church-goers how it felt. And more power to them. You can't judge until you've walked a mile in someone else's nine inch lucite stripper heels.

The Weekly Words of Advice. Whenever you're torn and have no idea which direction to turn, ask yourself this - What would Lego Jesus do?


The Weekly Question. The handicapped stall in public restrooms - forbidden or roomy and yours if available?

Posted by Chris at 6:56 AM | Comments (26)

August 12, 2010

Coulda, Shoulda

The other night Beth and I were watching the Freakshow Channel Discovery Health. After watching a parade of primordial dwarfs, women who inexplicably had no idea they were nine months pregnant until a human being fell from their uterus, and the fattest man on earth, we were presented with an hour-long documentary about women who'd gotten themselves knocked up. Okay, nothing extraordinary there. Except these women ranged in age from mid fifties to seventy. And then I wanted to claw my eyes out.

Patton Oswalt - one of the funniest comedians to ever walk the planet, by the way - has a great line he uses when talking about this very thing. "We're science - all about the coulda, not about the shoulda." And its true.

We are living longer than ever before. I'm slightly terrified because given my genetics I could very well find myself living to the ripe old age of 327. And what scares me about that is that our bodies are far outlasting our brains. Sure, I'll be upright but I'll think I'm the reincarnation of Liberace.

I don't have a vagina that I know of but I can't imagine the physical challenges of bearing and delivering children at that age. I know that my 37 year-old self sometimes has a pretty hard time handling two kids. I can't imagine the challenge if I was 20 or 30 years older.

But to focus on the physical ramifications for the parents is to miss the point.

Like I said, I'm 37 years old but I still need my mom and dad, I'm still happy they're in my life, and I count on them to be there for me. And hopefully the inverse is true. But kids with older parents - vastly older parents - aren't going to get the benefit of their parents' company, knowledge and wisdom. Because early in their lives their parents will die. To me that sounds like a selfish move by the parents and an unfair one to the kids.

What do you think? Is having a kid at an advanced age a good idea? When should people stop trying to become parents?

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (25)

August 11, 2010

Snot Fetishes and Hannah Montana's Gay Cousin

Woe is me. Though I make nose-blowing look good, I'm rocking a cold. Or at least something that seems to make my head feel as though it's stuck in poured concrete. To amuse myself - which doesn't take much - I pulled my site stats and, to amuse you, I pulled together some of the more amusing (and slightly terrifying) search terms for the last month.

  • Big massive buffolow asses. I like big bison butt and I cannot lie...
  • Awesome mullet. That's something of an oxymoron but I've got to admit that if any mullet could be considered awesome, it's mine.

  • Fear of shipwrecks. Yeah. That's me. Spiders and shipwrecks. No clue why.
  • Tinkerbell upskirt. What the hell is wrong with you people? And, um, do you have a link you can pass along?
  • The sweetest little bathroom story. Perhaps you haven't been paying attention. I have no sweet bathroom stories. Only terrifying ones.
  • Unless that is Spider-Man if Spider-Man were a backyard wrestler or Kurt Cobain your costume looks shitty. Nothing about that sentence makes sense and I'm now pretty convinced that a serial killer visited my site sometime in July.
  • Cheesehead panties. I don't think I want to know. You Green Bay fans are a dedicated bunch aren't you?
  • Dirty white trash neighbor won't leave us alone. We had one of those once. We found that there wasn't a spray for that. We had to move.
  • Good things about Friday. I think the more appropriate way to think of that is what is not good about Friday? And the answer to that is nothing.
  • Pepper Sparklepants Montana. Is that Hannah Montana's older gay cousin? Actually, I have an older gay cousin who fits that bill (really).
  • My son constantly says inappropriate things. Mom?
  • Midget brothels. I've heard rumors but never actually gotten independent confirmation or irrefutable proof. What do you know?
  • Sweat snot fetish. If that's the next big thing in porn, I'm out.
  • Does fish oil pills make you fart? Yes. Don't ask me how I know that...but..yes. Oh, and holy bad grammar, Batman.
  • Inappropriate preschool songs. I'll take Soundgarden's Big Dumb Sex for one-hundred, Alex.
  • The shocking rude hidden message behind Disney movies. There's a hidden clip in ever Disney movie that plays quietly after the credits are done rolling. In it Mickey Mouse is holding a gimp mask and a baseball bat and, while aiming the bat towards the audience, he looks out a parents and quietly says "we own you bitch". And Mickey is so, so right.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen on the net lately?

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (9)

August 10, 2010

Store Bought

I bought two pairs of shoes on Sunday. While I understand this sounds unremarkable, I assure it was not. The reasons are threefold.

Fold 1. I rarely buy shoes. The last time I did I think it was because the work shoes I owned had a hole in the bottom my foot kept falling through. I don't dislike shoe-shopping. It's just not on my go-to list of awesome stuff to do.

Fold 2. Whilst wondering through the store Owen loudly announced I can't find my penis and then launched a full-scale search and rescue mission.

Fold 3. I realized that, despite my love of shopping and spending money, those two pairs of shoes I bought (dress shoes for work and casual shoes for, well, not work, if you're curious) were the first things I've gone out and physically purchased in a long time.

I started thinking about this. My two great retail loves are books and music. When Tower Records still had a pulse, I'd wander the aisles for hours, at the very least stopping in on a Friday afternoon and decompressing from the long week. And then brick and mortar music outlets started to die. So my I found myself wandering through local bookstores, perusing the shelves. Now the buzz is that the print industry is dying. Apparently I'm part of the problem.

Over the last year or so, my buying habits have totally changed. Rarely do I wander through stores looking for something to buy. Now I search the internet, find what I want, compare prices and, generally, download whatever it is I was looking for. My book and music consumption is now almost entirely digital. But it goes further than that. 90% of the presents we bought Mia for her birthday we found and bought online. Most gifts I buy I find on the net.

There's benefit to this. It's convenient, the selection is nearly unlimited, and its cheaper. But at the same time I'm passing up the normal human interaction that goes along with stepping out in the world, handing over a credit card, and making small talk with the cashier. And I kind of think we're all a little worse off for that.

But still, buying a couple pairs of shoes was kind of a pain in the ass.

Has technology changed your shopping habits? And is this self-imposed isolation a good or bad thing?

P.S. Owen did find his penis. In case you were wondering.

Posted by Chris at 6:51 AM | Comments (19)

August 9, 2010

The Things I Learned

I don't know why but I feel like this was a very educational weekend. Actually, I'm tired and feel like I just got schooled by the weekend.

  • I learned that taking Owen shoe-shopping is something of an adventure. I mean, there are stacks of boxes all of which need to be opened.
  • I learned that shoe store ladies are obviously not parents based on the looks I got.
  • I learned there is nothing better than a grocery store with a model train chugging through it. earned I can easily sit through three hours of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle.
  • I learned that it's getting increasingly difficult to type with a computer that only has partially functional O and Enter keys.
  • I learned that my wife's obsession with Freecycle continues to grow. I discovered this as I was hauling my old patio table out to the driveway to get picked up.
  • I learned that getting water stuck in your ear for 24 hours can drive you batshit crazy.
  • I learned that my son can make a freakish sound when his fingers get shut in a door (I didn't do it).
  • I learned that in my old(ish) age, I'm still impressively sprightly in certain respects.
  • I learned (or at least came to the realization that) Chipotle is the best example of restaurant genius ever.
  • I learned that one of my readers was not, in fact, mugged at gunpoint in London.
  • I learned how to make a half-decent pomodoro sauce from scratch.
  • I learned (or realized) that my kids and I love lots of things my wife does not - Scooby Doo, progressive rock, Jello, Doctor Who.
  • I learned a great nearby place for a romantic, anniversary weekend for two that I can't wait to visit.
My head feels gigantic with all that knowledge crammed in it. How about you? What did you learn this weekend.
Posted by Chris at 6:51 AM | Comments (16)

Haiku For Monday #330

Is it too much to
hope that this week's an easy one?
Yeah, that's what I thought.

Posted by Chris at 6:50 AM

August 6, 2010

The Weeklies #144

The Weekly Square Root of The Weeklies. 12

The Weekly Affliction. Heartburn. Seriously, ouch.

The Weekly Read. I sometimes talk about generic thrillers but fail to cite examples. Well, They're Watching by Gregg Hurwitz is just such an example. It's not that it's bad - it's actually a pretty compelling read - it's just just very two-dimensional and, ultimately, forgettable. In other words, is a perfect summer beach read.

The Weekly Great Appliance Breakdown. Our washing machine bit the big one. Yeah, I was really looking forward to parting with $800 this month. Good times.

The Weekly Technological Death. Google is killing Google Wave. Which impacts me not at all because I can't say that I ever understood what it was all about anyway.

The Weekly Music. I remember buying the first Black Crowes album way back when. It pretty much rocked. Subsequently albums rocked slightly less until the band seemed to all but disappear. That didn't stop me from going to see them live last year. They kicked ass though there was a marked difference to the band that cranked out Jealous Again. They were sporting the latest in mountain man chic and took long winding musical trips into jam-band territory. That said, there was no denying that these guys still had it. Their latest - Croweology - just goes to further prove that. Twenty of their best songs re-recorded using an arsenal of acoustic instruments. Sure, it seems like a low-effort ploy to release an album and make a quick buck but it sure doesn't sound like it.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Jillian Michaels is a fitness fanatic and, apparently, something of a hazard to your health. At least her "Triple Process Total Body Detox & Cleanse" diet supplement is. A lawsuit claims that the supplement contains a "potentially lethal combination of toxic ingredients" including - according to TMZ - Irish Moss Powder (causes ulcers and is used as an airplane de-icer), bearberry (makes you puke), arrow (toxic), Chinese rhubarb (severe dehydration and liver damage) and fenugreek seed (which makes you poop...a lot). Um, oops.

The Weekly Question. What's the worst - or at least the most outrageous - lie you've ever told?
The Weekly Question.

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM | Comments (11)

August 5, 2010


Last night I found myself teaching a history lesson to two unsuspecting and somewhat uninterested children. See, they discovered something. A very foreign object. Something they'd never before seen.

They found my Walkman. And it still worked.


It plays music. No, it doesn't hold any music. You see, you take a cassette tape. This thing. Yeah, it's about the size of my iPod but there's tape inside that contains recorded music. But it holds, like, ten songs not the ten thousand iPods hold. So, you pop the tape into the Walkman, press this big old play button, adjust the volume dial, put your headphones on then...rock out! Or maybe not rock out since the first tape I found is Hall & Oates' Big Bam Boom which isn't 100% rock and roll in my book. No, it doesn't play any games and you can't watch YouTube. Yeah, I know it's heavy. You just clip it to your pants enough to pull your pants down, huh?

They got tired of hearing me talk. So they broke out another pair of headphones, cranked up Method of Modern Love and struck a pose. How very 1986.


What's the most old-school piece of technology you've got?

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (44)

August 4, 2010


From the time they're born until they're around two years old, kids want their moms. And that's as it should be. Because moms are magic. They're mind readers. They know exactly what's wrong and exactly how to fix it. And if they don't, they improvise well. Moms can translate any scream, figure out the motive behind any cry, and solve any problem almost instantly.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that moms don't have superpowers. They do. Enough to put even the toughest superhero to shame. But the thing is, most dads can do all of this too. It's just that kids don't really give dads much of a chance before a certain age. And this can make dads feel a little useless.

But things change. About a month ago, I became Owen's go-to parent.

It did not happen gradually. Instead, it was an abrupt shift. When he cries in the middle of the night, he asks (and asking can sound a lot like furious screaming) for me. My want dada! When he comes to our bed in the middle of the night, feverish and grumpy and sniffling, he climbs up my side of the bed and wraps his little arms around my neck and falls peacefully to sleep breathing his little breaths in my ear. When he needs a bath, I'm the one tasked with doing the scrubbing.

Yesterday while I was at work, Owen - battling a summer cold and feeling lousy - spend much of the day screaming for me. I'm sympathetic to Beth who had to listen to that all day long. To express my appreciation to her for being such an excellent mother I'll be stopping on the way home to pick up a bottle of wine and earplugs. But I've got to admit, it's nice to be loved and missed and wanted and needed like that.

Dads spend a lot of time on the outside looking in, trying not to get in the way of that mother-child bond. It's hard at the time but the inevitable payoff is pretty incredible.

Who was your parental go-to?

Posted by Chris at 6:46 AM | Comments (17)

August 3, 2010

Hoarders, Junior

I think my daughter has been inhabited by the spirit of some soul who toiled throughout the Great Depression. Maybe the Steinbeckian ghost of Tom Joad or something. Mia has, quite simply, turned into a hoarder.

I mentioned this a while back but didn't elaborate much but examples keep piling up. For instance: I walked downstairs on Saturday morning - Beth having graciously let me sleep in - and while attempting to stumble into the kitchen, aimed at the coffee maker, I hear quiet weeping. I asked why she was so upset.

Mia: Mwaaaahhh.
Beth: I threw the old deflated, dangerous-to-Owen because he will try to eat them birthday balloons away.

Like most things, Mia wanted to keep the balloons for ever and ever. If it were up to Mia, she would part with nothing. The wax that goes around the little cheeses you buy in the grocery store? She'd keep it. Phone book older than her? Prized possession. Bathing suit three sizes too small that now makes her look like a little red aquatic sausage? She will give it up to you only if you are an actual, verified princess.

Its fascinating, really. Fascinating and weird. If I had my own television network - RCTN, the Rude Cactus Television Network - I'd devote a whole show to it. Call it Hoarders Junior. It would be in the lineup between Infants and Tiaras and 274 Kids And Counting. Though it might be the perfect lead in to The Biggest Boozer or Celebrity Porn Fit Club. Or maybe just after a marathon of The Midget Whisperer.

For now, though, some of the shit is just disappearing. Out the back door. In the middle of the night.

When you were a kid, did you ever have anything you wouldn't get rid of? What was your one most prized possession?

Posted by Chris at 6:46 AM | Comments (19)

August 2, 2010

Cactus-Fish Kid Truth #4

Owen is just a smidge under the weather. Again. And the kid will pretty much sleep anywhere.


Posted by Chris at 5:30 PM | Comments (6)

You Know It's A Successful Weekend When...

...both of your children simultaneously leave their chairs at dinner, walk over to their parents and tell them that their fondest desire is not a puppy or a pony but to go bed.

That is precisely what happened at 6:00 yesterday evening. And we promptly complied with those requests.

On Friday, both of Mia and Owen's cousins came over for the afternoon. We hit the pool (briefly, because it was uncharacteristically chilly for late July in DC), got all dressed up and gave several performances, had a big dinner, and generally ran around like crazy people. Six hours of that will wear you out. The three hours of yard work I did before that certainly did. On Sunday there were birthday parties (okay, just one) to be attended. Owen - who had been awake a good portion of the previous night with a case of snifflous maximus (the sniffles) - decided to sit it out with me. Instead we went out and got lunch - Chipotle, where else? - and did some hardcore hanging around. Once Mia and Beth got home, Owen fell asleep on me which was a nice change of pace but slightly warm and drooly though having children who are old and decidedly 90% out of the sleep on dad phase, you just learn to go with it and hold on (even encourage) those moments when they present themselves. And then we ate dinner - Indian - during which the aforementioned bed request came to fruition.

All of this after perhaps the most hectic week I have ever had. I'm beat. But I'm back at work and bracing myself for more (thank you, may I have another?). When do I get to go to bed at 6:00?

What did you all do with your weekends? And how are the weeks ahead of you shaping up?

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (19)

Haiku For Monday #329

Okay week. I dare
you to try and kick my ass.
Wearing an ass-guard.

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (2)