Mr. High & Mighty

Even "superheros" can be wrong sometimes. Okay, so I'm not a superhero per say, but I'm definitely human in the truly fallible sense of the word. I've always considered myself tuned in to my kids - their likes, dislikes, personality quirks, etc; and I take a certain degree of pride in that. Pride can be a good thing when it dovetails into the healthy confidence needed for parenting. Too much, however, transforms me into "Mr. High & Mighty."

Tell me about a parent obsessively driving their kid to become a pro athlete or star entertainer and BAM! I'm suddenly wearing my cape and tights. Hear a father yelling obnoxiously at his kids in public like I did while taking my son to the movies, and I instantly straighten up, fists planted on hips, chest thrust out, chin in the air. Never fear! A "real" parent is here!

As fate would have it Mr. Douche Dad (that's what my wife & I call obnoxious dads who act worse than their kids) just happened to be seeing the same movie with his four boys, and he just happened to sit directly behind me and my son Harrison. Being as how he spent the entire time nit picking at his boys, who ranged in age from probably 3 to 10, I'm not sure Douche Dad even saw the flick. The guy was annoying the hell out of me and it was detracting from the experience I was supposed to be sharing in my rare, one-on-one time with my boy. I started to turn around and say something then stopped myself.

Now Ron, hold on a minute, I thought. You can't say anything to him. He's a Douche Dad. He's a mere mortal. He won't understand. Once a bad guy, always a bad guy. I started to sit a little higher in my seat. He's not like you. You're special. You're a stay-at-home Dad. You parent full-time. You even write about it. Set the example for him [pause] Superdad.

By the time I was done with my personal warm-n-fuzzy session, I probably was blocking his view with my humongous cranium which I graciously moved out of the way long enough to give Harrison a quick hug. Take that Douche Dad. Your "douchness" is no match for my parental powers.

But there was a problem (besides the obvious one). When I get to be with my boys, I make it a priority to spend individual time with each of them, and I try to pick activities I think they'd be into. Movies tend to be a favorite, or they used to be anyway.

"I don't want to go to the movies," Harrison tells me.

"But we're going to get ice cream afterwards?" I explained.

After a slight hesitation he gives in. "Uh, okay." And we're out the door for a movie and ice cream just like a great dad should do for (what about with?) his kids. During the ride Harrison hardly said a word, and when I bestowed my wonderfully parental hug during the movie, he looked up at me.

"Can we go, dad?"

"But we haven't got to the best part?" I was a little crushed to think he might not be having a good time.

"Ya, I just want to go."

Wanting to be the tuned in and emotionally sensitive parent I fancy myself to be, I agreed and we leave the theater for the ice cream stand.

Taking the single scoop lime sherbet I handed him, Harrison seemed a somewhat happier, which gave me some relief, but half-way through eating his cone, he placed it in his lap. "Dad, can we go home now?"

I was crushed (key word I). How can he not be enjoying himself? We got in the car and left. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, especially with Harrison. As the middle child, Harrison perceives me to be more into his older brother Noah's interests, while catering to his younger brother Sawyer's many needs as a 3 year old seemingly leaving little for Son #2. Throw in two step-sisters and I wonder if Harrison feels like the one getting the fewest scraps of love from his "super" dad.

I looked at him through the rear-view mirror. "Hey, Bud, what would you like to do when we get home?"

He turned his head from the window, "Can we catch things?"

By "catching things" he means to capture and study as many creatures as possible including snakes, birds, chipmunks, salamanders, crayfish, frogs, toads, fish and anything else he can find. He loves animals. During our last visit he was still begging me to "catch things" as we were loading up the car to go back to his mother's place. It's the stuff he calls me up in the middle of the day and asks about.

"Dad, it's Harrison. What do butterflies eat? Are there poisonous snakes where I live? Can I get a hamster?"

How did I miss this? "Sure, what do you want to start with first?"

"Crayfish! Can we eat them? What do they like to eat? How big can they get...."

He was smiling, and I smiled in reply as my eyes refocus back on the road in front of me. Who's the real Douche Dad now, Tough guy? I thought to myself. I really haven't mastered anything.

Here's a few photos showing off a few of the things Harrison captured. No animals were harmed during the production of this blog... for the most part anyway.


Appropriate / Inappropriate?

Let's play a game. We'll call it Appropriate / Inappropriate. In this game we'll take inappropriate things the kids have said to me recently and re-phrase it in an appropriate manner.

1) To start off, let's begin with an easy one. Four year-old Sawyer upon waking up and walking into the kitchen.

"Where's my bweck-fass!" That would be inappropriate. How can we change this?

"Good morning, father. I hope you slept as well as I did. Per chance, what shall we be dining on this most glorious of mornings?" Ah, yes, this would now be, not just appropriate, but palatable as well.

2) How about another? 5 year-old Avery's comment on why we don't sit in the front row at church.

"We cantz sit in the fwunt because dat's where the brown peoples sit." Uh ya, inappropriate. Let's fix that one shall we?

"Step-father (the use of Ron is also an acceptable choice here), I can fully understand our decision to surrender our choices in a front row seating section, deferring instead to the refugee family who fled from persecution in the Sudan. Good show! Good show indeed." Wheeeew! Now that is appropriate.

3) Ready for the next one? 9 year-old Noah upset over the fact his brother's choice for a movie has been granted instead of the one he selected.

"That's bullsh*#t!" That, Mr. Ka-Ka mouth is definitely inappropriate.

"Father, I would like to express my extreme disappointment in the favorable nod given to my brother's movie selection as our tastes in entertainment vastly differ. However, I will acquiesce with the knowledge that your intentions in the matter are to provide the fairest of solutions for all involved." Ah, yes. Delightful and, of course, appropriate.

4) Here's another submission from Avery.

"Would you like to see my naked booty!" Not only and inappropriate, but creepy too.

"Step-father (or Ron), It would appear I seem to be experiencing some difficulty in my attempts to change my lady's undergarments, and I would like to employ your assistance in rendering some relief to my plight. However, I must warn you that at the present time, I am fully disrobed which may be something of an embarrassment for the both of us." Now this would be an appropriate request, and one that doesn't weird others out.

5) Let's go back to Noah.

"Grandpa, I'm going to kick your ass!" Tut tut, son. This is most inappropriate.

"Grand Pa-pa, I must inform you that should we engage in a competitive, yet friendly match of checkers, I am quite sure I will get the better of you in a quite convincing manner." Appropriate and much better than the taste of Irish Springs Fresh Scent. Do you not agree?

6) Avery again.

"I came out my mom's vagina!" Disturbingly inappropriate and more so, given the enthusiastic manner in which it was stated.

"Step-father (or Ron), I have just made the most wonderful discovery concerning the circumstances pertaining to my glorious entry into this world. Were you aware, that as a newborn, I had to first pass through mother's birthing canal? I find this fact most exhilarating!" Appropriate and almost adorable even.

7) How about some fresh material from 6 year-old Allie.

"When I lift my leg up, I can fart anytime I want." Uh, that would be inappropriate in both word and deed. This one's a little more difficult, but let's tackle it anyway, shall we?

"Step-father, I have noticed that should the situation dictate within my gastrointestinal tract, a slight adjustment in my lower extremities can facilitate the relief I require in a discreet and safe manner." This would be appropriate, although I hope to never hear it uttered again.

8) Last one from our all-star Avery, who, like her sister, also suffers from the vapors (among other things).

"I just farted. Would you like to smell it?" IN-A-PPROPRIATE!!! No doubt about it. What would be the appropriate phrasing of this?

...people, I really got nuttin' here.


Hot Christian Singles Are Looking To Find You

So, no kiddin' there I was, knee deep in Barbie clothes and Carebears, when I checked my Facebook account. Low and behold what did I see, but an ad banner at the top flashing the message, "Hot Christian Singles Are Looking To Find You."

Hmmm, I gotta see this, I think to myself. This is not because I'm a bored, lonely "housewife" but because growing up in the church "Hot" Christian Singles - especially of the female species - were something akin to a Sasquatch sighting. People claimed to have seen one, but it was rare and largely unconfirmed. Of course, Sasquatch probably is a poor choice of comparison given the similarities it also shared with the actual Christian singles I knew.

"Hey, Ron did you go to the Sunday night service?" A friend would ask.

"Uh, no. My dad wanted to watch Chips, but it was just a rerun. Why?"

"Ah Crap!" they would reply with less-than sublte disappointment. "Raymond said that there was this totally hot chick sitting in the third row last Sunday night."

"Ya, right. Raymond thinks Liza Minelli's hot." Further undermining Raymond's credibility was his exclusive use of sweatpants in his daily wardrobe and the excessive amount of time he spent in front of something called a computer. "Besides, if there really was a hot chick at church she was probably either someone's relative visiting to be nice, or she's Catholic."

At that age and with my level of spirituality, I was convinced of two basic premises when it came to Catholics. They weren't really true Christians, and all girls of that faith between the ages of 14 & 21 were smoking hot babes outfitted in sexy plaid school uniforms which they wore constantly except when showering. I've since recanted on both beliefs.

Now, in the event you are reading with a certain indignation over the fact that your Christian wife is totally hot, then allow me to apologize along with offering my congratulations. My wife is one smoldering Christian babe too, and, like you, we met under totally normal circumstances. I don't mean to insult anyone.

My premise is not that sexiness and faith are mutually exclusive. Heaven forbid (No, really. Heaven forbid. The day a supermodel turns her life over to Jesus, God does not in turn beat her with an ugly stick to the point her face could scare buzzards off a meat wagon. Rather, the idea of fronting single Christians with such sensual undertones seems to me, a bit ironic.

What's next? Adult Faith Finder - the only Internet dating site where Christians can find a long-term relationship, a "faith-buddy" or just a one-night fast.

christian hotties


If My Life Were A TV Show

If my life were a situation comedy then this would be the box cover to the DVD set for Season 1 (look close at everyone's expressions). It would be on FOX, and Tina Fey could be the head writer. Ya, I could see that.


Clark Kent's Tool Box...

Found this little gem through StumbleUpon, at which point I tossed all my Craftsmen tools into the dumpster knowing this is the only thing I'd ever need to fix any and all broke crap for the rest of my time on earth.


Introvert or Extravert?

I read this article a few weeks back and for some reason there was a certain degree of satisfaction I gained from it. Although I don't necessarily like the tone the author takes on certain points on why people should leave him alone, I could still relate to what he was trying to convey.

Sometimes I feel bad because I tend to go out of my way to avoid people. It's not that I hate them or anything, but there are a number of times when I'm working on something in my head and to get interrupted, even with a simple social greeting, can mess my small brain up.

Don't get me wrong, I don't sit around in my basement with the lights out in the hopes of never having to deal with anyone. Rather, I tend to interact better with others in a social setting when I've had the needed time alone to charge my batteries in order not to appear closed off.

So, in the event you see me at my computer in the coffee shop and I'm staring intently at the monitor, or I don't make it to every mass gathering, it's not that I'm avoiding you because I'm a grumpy old troll under the bridge. I'm just an introvert.

Where do you fall? Party animal or Unabomber? Nothing wrong with either one.


Vacation Pics

I'm back from the good old Keystone State where it was hot and muggy... and AC consists of fanning yourself with a magazine or piece of cardboard. Ya, I know. Can you believe it? Even still the boys and I had a good time which I'll be writing more about once I get caught up on emails, new freelance projects and getting things at home back on schedule. Until then I thought I'd at least hold everyone over with a few of my favorite pics from the trip.

More to come.


Too Much TV?

Today started (or re-started) the regular routine of working at home with the girls. It's back to normal for them too. The week before I left to be with Noah, Harrison and Sawyer, the girls spent the week with their dad in Austin. I got to see them for a day and then I left for PA, during which Allie and Avery were watched by family while Ashley went to work.

When I woke up they greeted me as one would a co-worker at the water cooler after their return from a long vacation. "Have a nice time? How's the weather up that way? It's been a scorcher down here. Well, glad to have you back, I gotta get to work on that report for Jones up in accounting. Let's grab lunch sometime this week."

Yup, business as usual, but once lunch rolled around I started to get the impression the girls might need to take some time away from "the office." Pulling a box of molded strawberries from the refrigerator, Avery's bottom lip dropped out past her chin. "Those are my strawberries," she started crying. "I want strawberries!"

Ohhhh Hell No, I thought. We're not back to acting like this, which led to the following exchange.

[Ron] Girls, what doesn't Ron do?

[Allie & Avery in unison] Drama.

[Ron] That's right [to Avery] and what are we doing?

[Avery] Drama?

[Ron] Right. Now look at these strawberries. See how moldy they are? You wouldn't want to eat something that looked this disgusting would you?

[Avery] Ewwww! Those are gross.

[Allie] You know Ron, you really should try DEBBIE MEYER™ Ever-fresh Green Bags® and those strawberries would last longer.

[Ron, confused] What?

[Allie] DEBBIE MEYER™ Ever-fresh Green Bags®. Produce lasts longer and you can save more money by wasting less of it on unfinished produce that goes bad before it can be consumed. You see, Ron, ethylene gas accelerates ripening, aging and rotting, but DEBBIE MEYER™ Ever-fresh Green Bags® absorb and remove this damaging gas, dramatically extending the life of fruits, vegetables and even flowers.

[Ron stares at Allie and blinks once]

[Allie] I can write down the number for you off the commercial if you want? I highly recommend them.

[Ron] Been watching allot of TV these past few weeks, have you?

[Allie, smiling] I haven't changed my PJ's in three days.

[Ron] You don't say.


Check out Debbie's Fun Bags for yourself (no this isn't a plug and I'm not getting any money for it). By the way, none of the above is even remotely exaggerated. Allie could've been the spokesperson.


Taken For Granted

It’s 2AM on the morning of my last day with the Noah, Harrison and Sawyer, and I can’t sleep. In a few hours we’ll be heading back to where they live bringing to a close our two weeks of summer together. I can’t believe it’s over already, and the sadness of missing them has already set in. I’m not sure when our next time together will be, and there’s a certain anxiety in the notion that Christmas five months from now is the answer. I don’t think I can wait that long.

I would like to think our time together has been equally meaningful. Two weeks is a healthy stretch of time allowing me to be more than just a “fun time” dad, but a real dad as well. Week 1 was a getting-to-know-you period leading to a more disciplinarian, but teaching father in the second week.

On this trip more than ever the boys displayed more behavioral issues resulting from the divorce and their distance from me. Noah is apprehensive in saying what he feels, wondering what he can say in front of dad verses mom. Harrison, at six years old, still prefers baby-talk in most of his conversation with me and whines about anything even slightly challenging until someone does it for him. Sawyer is prone to dramatic temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way earning him long stints in solitary confinement until he cried out his willfulness.

Granted, this can be considered just normal child-like behavior, but even my parents and sister noticed the difference in them since their last visit three months ago. It’s also been around that same time their mom started dating a man who’d recently lost his wife to a long-term illness, not to mention I remarried last month. Now the boys have two step-sisters who their dad talks about and their mom has less time for them as she explores her new relationship with a man who has a boy Noah’s age and a girl several years older. It’s understandable how insecure they feel given the recent changes in both their parent’s lives and the effects on them.

Unfortunately it’s not something their parents can talk about. To their mother, co-parenting is not an option given the distance and her finite views on child-rearing. My role has been reduced to a mere source of income and an occasional interruption to their regular routine in her narrow opinion. Any attempt by me to take an active part in the boys’ life appears to be something she endures as an affliction on par with those qualifying one for sainthood in Catholic Church. Even my daily phone calls are treated by her as an obtrusive annoyance. I’m quite sure telemarketers attempting to sell antifungal creams dead-smack in the middle of the meal-time prayer are greeted with more warmth and politeness than I.

It’s been my strict policy to refrain from any direct commentary concerning my ex-wife. I don’t think it fair to present a side of someone from a single point of view. It’s OK for politics; it’s not OK when the other person is the mother of your children regardless of how justified you may feel. I can understand there is still unresolved hurt and anger, not to mention the fact she is the primary care-giver. Her side certainly deserves its credence, but I’m troubled when those personal issues, by her actions and attitude towards me, take precedence over the issues affecting our children.

I have tried to put my own feelings and resentment aside in dealing with these situations. However, it’s difficult to endure a diatribe, like the one I received this past week, about how I am putting the needs of my new family over the needs of my own boys because I cannot find employment earning the same six-figure salary that once provided for their financial security. It’s a sore spot with me already, and I feel like I’m letting, not just my boys down, but my wife and step-daughters as well.

Yet, at the same time, had I been working a job with that earning potential, it’s likely I wouldn’t have been able to spend two entire weeks with my boys. It’s also likely that my daily phone calls would be regularly interrupted by urgent business, and my focus on their behavior would be distracted by less meaningful tasks and work-related projects. I know because that’s how it was when I did make the big bucks. What’s the real priority here? I’d rather be a father than an ATM.

Before I went to bed last night my mother gave me a big hug, and told me how bad she felt for me given all I had to deal with. I don’t know if it was all the sugary deserts I’d consumed, the caffeine rush from four cups of coffee or my medication, but a sudden feeling of gratitude for the life I’m living came over me. “You know, mom. I guess I’m thankful for how things are; otherwise, I might have just taken it all for granted,” I said.

It’s true really. Had I lived closer, then maybe I would take the time with my boys for granted. Had their mother expressed a willingness to actually co-parent, then maybe I would have relied too much on her input rather than tuning into the boys’ individual development. Had I still be making heaps of money and giving it to the boys, maybe that would’ve become an easy fall-back for my parenting instead of working to have a real relationship with each of them. Of course, none of these realizations frees me from the need to physically be a part of their daily life, to avoid seeking joint parenting solutions with their mother, or to shrug off my financial obligations, but they do remind me that had my circumstances been “easier” maybe I wouldn’t have cared as much as I should.


One More Game

Growing up I used to play basketball in high school. I don’t mean to brag, but well, I was kind of a big deal. I’ll spare you the details as I’m not one of those guys living in the cold, fleeting glow of past glories 17 years after graduation. As part of my love for the game back then I did have a hoop set up in my parent’s driveway where I could practice year-round. The US Postal Service had nothing on me as I played in rain, sleet and snow from 7th grade through my senior year.

At that point in life I was much more competitive and the best times I had on that gravel stone basketball court were playing against my dad. He was a pretty good athlete in his day, but he got kicked off the team for stuffing some kid in a locker. He didn’t like the coach much anyway, or so the story goes. In any case he more than held his own against his young smart-mouthed son (like father like… you know the rest).

When I was in junior high, Dad would whip me soundly. He would spot me some points to keep me interested enough not to quit when the spread became insurmountable. The tide turned though, as I entered my freshman year as I started winning games on my own. By the time I became a junior, forget it. I left him in my dust, even spotting him the points eventually.

Over time, age and injury started to take their toll on Dad. Years of jumping out of planes in the Army and hoping off loading docs while carrying hundred pound bags of livestock feed wore down his knees like the elements crumbling the foundation of an old building. He wasn’t quite as fast anymore, and the day after our games he would hobble around like an amputee trying out a new set of prosthetic legs.

In my senior year, Dad wanted to play more games of “HORSE” than our usual games of “first one to 10 (points).” Of course in those games to 10, Dad started cheating more, throwing high elbows to get a rebound, tripping me when I blew past him, or stepping on my foot as I launched into a jump shot. I swear, the man had more dirty little tricks, and they would piss me off to no end. However when I did get angry, I played harder too, while taking a greater deal of satisfaction in when I would win despite his underhandedness.

What I didn’t realize until midway through my final season was how much tougher I had become on the court. I could aggressively channel my emotions into productive play which became essential when playing against teams from the larger cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I even incorporated a few of the those tricks too (when the situation warranted - like father, like… ya, you know the rest).

At that same time, I started to feel a little sorry for Dad. He loved playing against me, maybe even more than he loved coming to watch me in my games. To him, the two of us battling on the court was our time together where he taught and I learned. Most of what I picked up from my Dad was through example, but in basketball, the lessons were more direct. Taking all those cheap shots was his way of telling me life and people wouldn’t always treat me like an all-star, and I would have to overcome those circumstances despite the unfairness. With graduation not far off, those moments would be fewer and farther between.

I also knew that Dad liked the competition. He liked to push himself. If he could steal a game or even keep the score close, then that was an indication the strength of his youth still wasn’t beyond his grasp. But in time we started to play more games of HORSE, where you rely on stationary shooting rather than the fast-paced nature of games to 10. Games of HORSE gave my Dad a somewhat even playing field since he was a good outside shooter, Even still the reality of aging can be a patient fellow as it waits for us to acknowledge its presence on the sideline.

Still in the prime of my playing condition I obliged Dad in the games of HORSE, not out of pity, but because I didn’t want to let go of our time together. Soon, I would be gone; having enlisted in the Army, then there would be college and later family and job responsibilities. I knew the playbook that reality carried as it watched me fire off a long shot that the rules of the game dictated would erase the “E” I had unfortunately earned, thus keeping me alive in the game.

I vividly remember releasing ball, my finger tips springing downward causing a text-book backspin on the ball as it arced toward the rim. There was a sense of sadness that hit me as I watched my shot drain the bottom of the net. One day HORSE would be the only game we’ll both could play.

After leaving home, I played ball here and there, but never kept up with it. I didn’t see much point in expending energy in something that would get me nothing more than bragging rights amongst a bunch of 40 year olds with great jump shots and no life. As such on visits home when Dad would issue a challenge to a game of HORSE, I would blow him off with excuse like, “Not today, Dad, I have a headache.”

On my most recent trip to visit my parents, my Dad hobbled over to his chair, explaining how he was thinking about writing a short story about us playing basketball all those years ago. “I’d drive from work,” he said, “And there would be my boy shooting hoops, just waiting for me to get to home in time to get in a few games before dinner was ready.” He smiled, revealing a secret pinch of Copenhagen snuff protruding slightly from his lower lip and gums. “Hey, I got a brand-new basketball. Only been shot a few times. We should play tomorrow.”

I was still thinking about his desire to write a story. Not that he isn’t capable. At one point Dad wanted to be a teacher, and his short stint in college was with intention of studying World Literature. I wondered if it was his way of trying to relate to my fledgling career as a writer. “Ok, sure, but let’s just play PIG.” I know there are many professional athletes my age, but sadly with the shape I’m in a full game of HORSE seemed daunting.

The next day, I could hear Dad dribbling and shooting ball at the old backboard and rim. In our conversation the night before he told me he left the hoop up as a memorial to me and our days playing together. With that in mind I knew that to not answer his call from the court would be an insult, but I was actually looking forward to renewing the rivalry with all the same nostalgia evoked by the Celtics and Lakers who we used to watch together and who ironically played in this year’s NBA Finals.

Dad grinned as he passed the ball my way. It felt good to run my fingers over the seems, as they searched out that familiar feel, signaling the perfect grip needed to create snappy backspin when releasing the ball. I hadn’t taken a jump shot in I couldn’t remember when, but the motion my body made seemed as smooth and natural as my last days of high school. I could already feel a hint of satisfaction that comes with the expectation of the swishing sound I would soon hear. Bong! Rattle, Rattle! It was instead the perfect brick and Dad laughed as he grabbed the rebound.

This is going to be a long game of PIG, I thought. For the next thirty minutes, Dad and I dueled in the humid summer heat, shooting and mimicking each others’ successful buckets. My Dad half-hobbled, and half-ran as he chased down loose balls, smiling the whole time, but in the end, I prevailed 3 games to 1. I don’t think the score will matter much, however, as my father sits in his recliner later, nursing the pain in his knees and recalling our chance to play one more time. I can almost see him smiling in the knowledge he managed to keep age and reality waiting just a little bit longer.



I have a new favorite blog site to check out when I need a laugh...

...check out for more goodies like the one below.

Date Failure
fail owned pwnd pictures
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The New iPhone

I would have to say this is an accurate assessment of the latest version of the iPhone. God bless you Joel McHale & crew.


Dishwasher Tetris

I like to keep even the most mundane of tasks interesting. Being couped up in an apartment with only my thoughts (when the girls are in school) can get boring and monotonous. I crave variety; otherwise, I turn into the human equivalent of asphalt, and I just lay there as life runs me over day after day. Eventually, you just want to pull out the electric razor and slit your wrists.

One of the ways I stave off the day-to-day routine is to come up with games for regular chores. At first I tried experiments with harmless house-hold competitions involving humans, but the results were an utter disappointment. For example, "Crazy Crap Pick-up" where I tracked who among Ashley, Allie and Avery could created the most piles of random crap scattered around the apartment and then picked them up over a week's time was an absolute failure. The scores were usually lower than those of a soccer match (if anyone did get a point it usually was the result of a random accident), and the level of excitement was on par with watching unconcerned lab mice aimlessly wander through a maze at their leisure, occasionally stopping for a twenty-minute nap.

This disaster gave way to games with inanimate objects and included such heart-pounding thrillers as "Toilet Roll Count" where I track how many discarded tubes from a finished roll of TP will pile up on the ground before someone will put them in the trash can located three feet away (high score to-date is 10). Another doozy is "Laundry Drag Racing." In this game, I make teams out of the sorted categories - darks, colors, whites, etc. I then wash and dry all the clothes and throw them into one large mass on the bed where I commence to folding. First team completely folded is the winner.

Favorite among my domestic gaming is "Dishwasher Tetris." In the video game Tetris players take random shapes falling from the top of the screen and fit them into slots at the bottom of the screen much like you would a jig-saw puzzle. The concept is essentially the same in "Dishwasher Tetris." The object is to fit as many dirty dishes from the sink into the dishwasher in the tightest configuration possible. Sounds easy, but it's not as there are some other rules to follow.

- all the dishes must be 100% clean after running them through the washing cycle
- a player can pre-rinse the dishes prior to placing them in the racks, but they cannot cheat by washing them clean in the sink to ensure they will always be clean
- upon completion of the wash cycle, no dish, plate, cup can be chipped or broken, and no plastic items can be melted otherwise this is an automatic disqualification.

So far I think I'm up to 175 wins, 3 losses and 0 disqualifications. Try and find this bad boy on PlayStation 3, I dare you.


Let's Creep Out The Step-Dad

It wouldn't be right for me to have everyone guest blogging on the Lunchbox and then not include my own wife who lives a charmed life as a writer. The thing about her submission is... it's all true. They know exactly how to creep me out.

Some of the best parts of being a parent are those moments when you swell with pride at what your child has become. First steps and words.... school musicals and soccer games.... even just the recognition that some of your own best traits are moving forward another generation. I have those moments often with my girls. They are adorable on stage at school functions, they look like my little clones, and their sense of humor is spot on. As such, I was particularly proud of Allie when one evening, apropos of nothing, she excitedly said "Be right back, Mom. I'm gonna go creep out Ron."

It brings me such joy to know that my daughters have picked up on that fine line of comedy and creepiness. When I stopped laughing about that statement, I peeked out of her bedroom door and around the corner to see just what she was tormenting Ron with. I was pleased to see she had mastered a new technique judging by Ron's awkward face which seemed to fairly scream "HELP!"

So in honor of my dear husband's absence, I will share with you oh lovely internet, the best ways in which to creep out Ron. Allie's newfound effective creepy tactic starts us off at number 10.

10. Stand right next to Ron and whisper "bellybutton" in his ear. Its confusing enough to be creepy, and random enough to be funny.

9. Open eyes Cheshire-cat-wide, smile sweetly, and giggle. Doesn't matter if you're four or forty, this one is a keeper.

8. Stalk him with the creepy babies. No need to be elaborate... sometimes simple is creepier.

7. A simple "creepy dance" will do. Perfected by Avery, the dance simply involved clasping your hands over your head, moving your hips in a small circles and saying "Oooooh, eeeeeh, aaaaaaaah!" in a falsetto voice. Saying "I like my booty" afterwards is optional. (Video coming soon.)

6. Simply stating the word "panty". Or "High School Musical". Extra points if you use them in the same sentence.

5. Waking him up in the middle of the night with your hands on his neck, even if it was only because he was sick and you wanted to check his pulse.

4. Staring lovingly at him for more than 10 consecutive minutes. The lovelorn sighing seems to complicate matters.

3. Sniffing him. At any time, for any reason. He is averse to being sniffed for some reason. (Weirdo.)

2. Asking him to smell your finger. Even if you have valid, non-gross reasons for doing so.

....and finally. The absolute number one best way to creep out Ron....

1. Simply being me and/or my daughters. It's a gift, I admit. We can make just about anything creepy in Ron's eyes. Even if it seems sweet and adorable to us. Care Bears? Creepy. Playing doll house? Creepy. Admitting that you know where someone lives and what their habits are just from casual observation? Creepy.

It's never a dull moment around here. We're using his 2 week absence to come up with about 10 more creepy things. I'll let you know how they go over..... mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha..........................

I'm sure you have, but in the event this is the first you've heard of it, go read my wife's blog Schadenfreudette. She has a profile on Facebook too if you're looking to play Zombie Attacks.


I'm A Lucky Man

When you have a wife this gorgeous you can't help but show off a little bit...

These are some new photos from the wedding. Although, I'm enjoying my time with the boys, pictures like these make me miss my wife all that more.


Daddy Blog Reality Clip Review

By the time this post goes live I will have already been with my boys for a week, and I'm sure we're having a good time. If not pray for us (watch updates on Facebook and Twitter for current details - love that social networking). The plan was to camp out and go swimming, but parents said they spotted a bear just down the road and the weather has been near freezing so we'll see.

In the meantime I thought I'd post several of the more amusing tales of domestic bliss in Houston. Think of it as a reality clip show.

Five Moments of Domenstic Bliss

1. Sugar Milk

2. CK Mommy Chronicles Part 2

3. Band-aids For Gangsters

4. Make Me Some Pancakes Funnyman

5. Hitting Below The Belch


The Pastor's Covers

While I'm away from the Lunchbox for a few weeks I asked some of my friends and family to step in with some guest posts. Along with giving me a break, I thought readers would like to be introduced to some interesting and more mature subject matter - then my brother-in-law Robb, a pastor at Vintage Fellowship sends me a piece on the secret sex life of the clergy. ***********

I am about to tell you what is a rather open secret among the clergy - pastors have better sex lives than everyone else.

I might be writing about this today because I guess I am a bit of expert on sex. I was recently confused with Rob Bell, the pastor who actually wrote the book on sex. More likely than that, it might be that my three children are on their annual trek to their grandparents' house, leaving my wife and I alone for a week. We've come to refer to this yearly adventure as Sexapalooza. Or I might be writing about this in an attempt to get my brother-in-law Ron to squirm, "Dude. That's my sister."

Whatever my motivation, here I am writing about this counterintuitive yet well-documented phenomenon that pastors of all people get more and better sex than everyone else. Christianity Today broke Christianity Today International survey shows. Three-fourths of pastors say they are happily married, compared to 49 percent of married church attenders. One reason may be because they are more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives.

Maybe these survey results can be explained with something akin to the Wilder Effect. Pastors didn't want to admit to the nice, young Christianity Today intern on the phone that they are in fact dissatisfied with the quantity and quality of their whoopie-making. Maybe they were afraid that their wives would overhear them talking about sex on the phone, and so they just said "Yes" and "Daily" and "Very Satisfied" like they were taking a survey about their usage of squeezably soft Charmin toilet paper.

I think this survey is the best explanation of this t-shirt. But it is not a very good explanation for why pastors seem to "fall into" sexual misconduct with the about the same frequency of politicians. Maybe that is because both pastors and politicians have a narcissistic hunger that is fueled by their chosen professions.

Regardless, I think there might be a good explanation for why pastors and their wives get it on so frequently and so well. Sex is more than just a physical act. It is far more than just a procreation ritual.Sex is a deeply intimate union that connects us to a force bigger than ourselves. Our sexuality and our spirituality are intertwined. When the bodies of a man and woman are united in sex, they are connecting in a profoundly soulful way.

But sex is not the means by which this connection is made. I think it is the fruit of this kind of connection. For a man and woman to have a great sex life, they need to be connected deeply in all other aspects of who they are. They need to have harmonious values, shared vision, a common purpose in life that transcends just making it through the day, balancing the checkbook, and raising the kids.

The nature of pastoral ministry draws together people who want to do the same thing in this world, who want to have the same impact, who are headed in the same direction. A pastor's marriage simply won't make it if his wife is, say, an atheist.

Recently, a friend talked to me about the infrequency with which he and his wife have sex. (I felt bad talking to him about how he had sex maybe once a month when my number is ... that's probably oversharing, right?) Anyway, he had just told me that his wife wants them to move to another country but he is not so sure, that they have separate bank accounts, that they have vastly different parenting styles, that they go to radically different churches, that they spend very little time together. And then he wants to know why they are making the monster with two backs so rarely.

Sexapalooza is possible. And if you want it, you've got to work for it. Talk. Connect. Be together. And if that doesn't work ...
become a pastor.

Yes, Robb, I was squirming when I realized you were refering to my sister. For those of you not at the wedding, Robb was the pastor who married us and I highly recomend him to anyone. Not only will he take charge of the rehersal and conduct the ceremony, but he will also serve wine at the reception and clean up restrooms flooded by young children. Read more of Robb's work at his blog, The Grenzian or find him on Facebook.


The Unit Season 3 on DVD

This isn't earth shattering news, but as a fan I would be remiss not to announce the DVD release of season 3 for The Unit. The information comes from one of my favorite entertainment watch sites, Buzz Focus which announced the sale date for 14 October.

My only complaint is that for a strike-shortened season, we're still getting charged the full retail price of nearly $40. Guess they make up all that lost money somehow.

Here's a copy of the release statement.


Three-Disc Set Features All 11 Episodes From The Thrilling Third Season Along With Commentaries, Deleted Scenes And More Arriving On DVD October 14 From Fox Home Entertainment

CENTURY CITY, Calif. - The Unit’s top secret military world of conspiracy, danger and nail-biting suspense continues with compelling revelations about the team, their personal lives and the Unit’s increasingly complex nature as “The Unit” Season Three arrives on DVD October 14th from Fox Home Entertainment. Golden Globe®-nominee* Dennis Haysbert (”24“), Scott Foley (”Felicity“) and Robert Patrick (”The X-Files“) star in the Emmy®-nominated** series as members of a covert Special Forces team operating outside the usual military chain of command, their identities highly classified as they risk their lives on dangerous missions at home and abroad. But upon returning home from a successful mission the men are thrust into their most perilous situation yet when they discover the Unit is on stand-down pending investigation of criminal actions by their leader Jonas Blane (Haysbert) and those under his command. The men all fall under suspicion which quickly escalates to physical assault and are forced to use the skills they¹ve honed in the field to protect themselves and their families as they race to uncover who is behind the attacks which grow increasingly more deadly.

From Shawn Ryan, the creator of “The Shield,” and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer/director David Mamet (Redbelt), “The Unit” Season Three three-disc DVD collection includes all 11 episodes presented in widescreen, plus bonus features including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette and more. The DVD set is available for the suggested retail price of $39.98 U.S / $54.98 Canada.

Season Three Episodes / DVD Special Features:

“The Unit” Season Three DVD includes episodes presented in widescreen format (1.78:1 aspect ratio) with English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French/Spanish Surround sound plus Spanish, Cantonese and Portuguese subtitles. Individual disc content as follows:

Disc One:
Pandemonium Part One
Commentary by Executive Producer/Director Vahan Moosekian, Director of Photography Krishna Rao and Supervising Producer Sharon Lee Watson

Pandemonium Part Two
Commentary by actors Dennis Haysbert, Michael Irby and Rebecca Pidgeon, Co-Executive Producer Todd Kessler, Executive Producer Vahan Moosekian, Director of Photography Krishna Rao

Always Kiss Them Goodbye
Commentary by Visual Effects Supervisor Dave Altenau, actor Abby Brammell and Executive Producer Shawn Ryan

Every Step You Take
Commentary by actor Demore Barnes, Co-Executive Producer Lynn Mamet and Editor Rick Tuber

Disc Two:
Inside Out
Commentary by actors Audrey Marie Anderson, Demore Barnes and Abby Brammell and Writer Dan Hindmarch


Five Brothers
Commentary by actors Dennis Haysbert, Demore Barnes, Michael Irby & Max Martini and Co-Executive Producer Frank Military

Play 16
Commentary by actors Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick, Demore Barnes, Michael Irby & Max Martini and Co-Executive Producer Daniel Voll

Disc Three:
Binary Explosion
Commentary by actors Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick, Demore Barnes & Michael Irby, Story Editor Randy Huggins and Special Effects Coordinator Dennis Dion

Gone Missing

Side Angle Side

Special Features:
The Writers’ Roundtable featurette
Deleted Scenes
Price: $39.98 U.S. / $54.98 Canada


Getting Closer

As you're reading this I'm spending two weeks with my three sons, Noah, Harrison and Saywer, which if you're a regular subscriber, you know we live thousands of miles apart. This isn't the way I want it as Ashley and I are seeking opportunities to move closer to them, but it looks as if it will be a while longer until this hope becomes a reality. Ashley has now got a solid job, and Allie and Avery are about to will start school soon and we don't want to pull them out in the middle of the year.

Despite the practicality of these circumstances, the fact that I want to be an involved father takes precedence given the impact of the alternative un-involvement would have on my son's development. Surprisingly, I get flak over this stance from friends and even from their mother.

Unfortunately, we do not have an amicable relationship, which I want to be careful about drawing attention to in that I don't want to demonize her in such a forum given she has no opportunity to defend herself. I certainly wasn't blameless in the relationship, but that is over and my focus is squarely on the impact of the divorce as well as the physical distance between us.

Around Father's Day, when you start seeing all the articles related to being a dad I found this article from ADD Magazine, and it articulates many of my concerns over how not just Noah (who has ADD) grows up, but the other boys as well. The first two paragraphs especially define the issue particularly well, and so I wanted to at least include those within this post.

"Due to a variety of cultural forces over the past few decades, many women have had to take on greater responsibility in the raising of their children; sometimes even assuming the role of both mother and father. This model is not ideal for anyone — it asks too much of mothers, diminishes the influence of a loving father, and deprives the child of a role model they sorely need. It is especially not best for boys with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD). Boys with ADHD need their dads.

Boys learn what it is like to be a man and how to act like a man primarily from their fathers. Adolescents might look to other males in their life for guidance, but their father is the primary role model. It is critical that they feel that their father understands and accepts them as they are, ADHD and all. They did not ask to be born with hyperactivity, distractibility, and/or impulsivity — but they were."

- Dr Larry Silver

You can read the rest of the article Here.

After reading either the entire article of just the first few lines you can see why these two weeks with my boys are so important to me. Even still, as important as this issue is, it's also key that I don't become so emotionally entangled I ultimately lose perspective on what's happening to the boys. This is an easy trap to fall into particularly when the other parent is vocally uncooperative to the point they ignore the potential ramification with the belief the problem with go away once the other parent fades away.

Even if the frustration and resulting anger is justified, it's counter-productive to the example I set for each of my boys.

If you're the praying sort then if you would ask the situation works out as it should in His will. This is tough for me to say, one, because I never ask others to pray for me (it's a pride thing), and two, what I think is the right answer might not be the right one as far as God is concerned. I want a 'normal job.' I want Chicago (or nearby), I want to be near my boys. I want to write funny stories about them like I do their step-sisters. I want their mother to be a co-parent, but what I want might not be the answer. Irregardless of who wants what, it's still important for me to be the major male influence in their life.

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