Old Timey Movie Extravaganza

Well, my last several posts have been a bit... um... heavy (and probably too long). My wife is blaming it on me falling off the wagon with my Midol addiction. It's likely I'll be back in Betty Ford by the end of the week.

In the meantime, how about I just show a couple old movies from the golden age of film. Did you know Indiana Jones, Forrest Gump and Ghost Busters were all remakes of originals from the 40's and 50's? No, it's true. Here, watch.

Indiana Jones

Forrest Gump

Ghost Busters

Okay so they're not really remakes, but I thought them very clever. Gotta run. I'll write you all from the clinic.

"Hello, Liza and Lindsay! How long has it been?"


The Hypocrite

When I wrote the Dear Soccer Mom post, I had no idea it would illicit such a response which is ironic seeing as how I almost didn’t publish it. Reading the comments, emails and tweets, I wondered why it had resonated so strongly with everyone, and what I concluded was that so many of us live our lives without pretention. We buy in bulk to save money, we drive cars that meet our needs, and we extend courtesy to those around us, all the while teaching our children to abide by the same general principles. So, when someone like Dear Soccer Mom looks down their nose at us, it flies in the face of not just our lifestyle but also of who we are. No one wants to be judged for wearing clothes from a discount store or for the dents in their minivan and there’s an indignity that swells within us—an indignity we have all experienced at some point. It was vindicating to see how many people felt the same as I did, and yet, this vindication was damped by an unexpected feeling of hypocrisy within me.

There is a portion of my life that I rarely, if ever, write about covering the years immediately divorce my divorce. There are several reasons for this, one of which being that I think a majority of people as parents would find it hard to relate to the carefree life I lead as a bachelor. And now with Jon Gosselin running around like the biggest tool in Lowes’ hardware section, I doubt many would sympathize with me either. I wasn’t quite as dumb as him, but there were moments. Partying with The Pussy Cat Dolls and Jenny McCarthy, dating gorgeous women, and generally living like a rock star isn’t going to win me any Father of the Year awards. However, what separated me from Jon was a my self-imposed rule never to engage in anything with consequences that would hurt my parenting responsibilities. Thus, no doing lines of blow off hookers’ asses. Even still, I also bought into this image—the hot car, the pricey lofts, the expensive clothes—and although I may not have been as snotty as Dear Soccer Mom, I based my identity on this extravagant lifestyle in the same manner portrayed in my letter. Of course, in the end we know how that turned out for me.

In a three-month span I met my wife, lost my job, and was forced to become a stay-at-home dad. All the major components of my identity were gone and everything I thought I knew had to be reevaluated. The change turned me into an asshole. I punched the console of the minivan out of the anger of having to trade in my car; I lashed out at my wife for having to move to our apartment in the “projects;” and I blamed everyone else for the fact I was apart from my sons. Time has changed my attitude now, but a part of me wondered if my contempt for Dear Soccer Mom stemmed from a jealousy of her owning the comforts that once made my life easier. But I don’t believe that’s the case.

With me staying home, my wife Ashley’s career has flourished, particularly her freelance work with many of her clients being some of Houston’s most prominent, hip socialites. The night after posting Dear Soccer Mom, we attended a party thrown by this hip group of cliental. Ashley was supposed to be a co-host and I thought it ironic that I now played the part of arm candy when a few years earlier it would have been the other way around. Needless to say, there were few parents at the bash aside from a great single father who is also a child therapist. Other than him, Ashley and I had difficulty connecting with the crowd beyond a superficial level.

We chatted with this young district attorney who thought he was impressing us with the details of a serious child abuse case. “Yeah, someone dropped these kids off in my office first thing in the morning and I had to baby sit them all day. They had had the shit beat out of them.” Of course this was horrifying and more so when he told us about having to drop them off back home with the very people he was prosecuting. “Well, not my problem.” He laughed.

Hey Chucklehead, you and your perfect hair wouldn't feel that way if you were parent.

An abrupt awkwardness set in prompting him to ask for direction to the bathroom. As he walked off, I scanned the room. I used to be a regular part of this kind of scene and now it felt like wearing an old pair of jeans from college that no longer fit. This wasn’t me.

The thought resurfaced in my groggy brain the next morning while making a donut run for the girls. A Coldplay song started to drown out mysterious rattle in the minivan’s engine. “The Hardest Part” off their X&Y album. I play this tune at least once a day much to the chagrin of my musically enlightened wife. I’ve heard it hundreds of time before, without ever hearing its message until this past year. It’s about dealing with change, the kind we have no choice other than to accept it which I find apt with respect to the recent events of my own life. I’m stunned into silence every time it crescendos into the end.

Everything I know is wrong
Everything I do it just comes undone
And everything is torn apart
Oh that’s the hardest part
That’s the hardest part
Yeah, that's the hardest part
That's the hardest part

The words are reminder of how little I knew about myself before becoming a stay-at-home dad, how, no matter what I did to get back to that former identity built on the same things as Dear Soccer Mom, my efforts would just come undone.

With the music playing, I thought of reading the blogs of Matt Haverkamp, Eric Skates, PJ Mullen, Justin Howefitz and other great dads with new children, and they amaze me. When my kids were this age I wasn’t half as attentive as these guys. Even back then my struggle to build a false identity overshadowed the joy I should’ve been taking in my children. It took a divorce to finally make me tune into my boys’ needs, then it took me losing my job to understand who I really was—a father. Pulling away from the Starbucks drive-through, another realization occurred to me, one that brought with it an intense sadness: I hadn’t chose to be a father like some of these other dads; instead, I had to have fatherhood thrust upon me through circumstances that stripped away all those unimportant things I had been trying to hold on to.

After brining home the donuts, I went in the bedroom and cried for twenty minutes—partly out of shame for being so selfish and partly out of gratitude for what I know now.

P.S. Found out Friday that Dear Soccer Mom's daughter is having a birthday party next week to which we are invited. As a present we're getting her kid monogrammed bath towels... just like she did for our stepdaughter's birthday.


Dear Soccer Mom

Disclaimer: Just like stay-at-home dads who don't like the "Mr. Mom" title, I know there are mothers who feel the same about the term "Soccer Mom." If you are one of those (or any) mothers who loathes being categorized as such, please forgive me. In fact, this post is NOT even directed to the "Soccer Mom” demographic but rather, a particular person I had dealings with this summer who I'm referring to as such since she personified this stereotype.

Dear Soccer Mom,

I just wanted to take an opportunity to tell you thanks for having my stepdaughter over for a play date with your daughter. From what I heard afterward, it sounds like they had a wonderful time. My stepdaughter couldn’t wait till school started again so they could see each other every day.

I also wanted to express my thanks for being the first person to make me feel inferior about my life as a stay-at-home dad. It’s entirely possible that I am being overly sensitive here; there is an awkwardness that comes over me when explaining what I do to other men, but this never happens when I’m around mothers. However, from the moment when you came to pick up my stepdaughter and crawled down out of that ten-foot high SUV, you immediately put me on edge without a word. There is certainly nothing wrong with owning a nice vehicle that can also crush cars, nor is there a problem with wearing a skimpy white tennis outfit that failed horribly in hiding your spray-tanned skin, the consistency of which reminded me of a worn out catcher’s mitt. Had this been our first meeting, I wouldn’t have judged you on such a superficial basis, but you brought this upon yourself.

I understand how you could find this claim incredulous given the way you were intently gawking at the buildings in the apartment complex where my family lives. Again, I would’ve thought nothing of it until you hesitated after saying “this place is….” It seemed like you were searching that perfect word to complete your statement, but that pause changed the implied meaning in your use of “nice.” Yes, this place is nothing spectacular. It’s just that, we needed something in a hurry inside this school district, and being in a lease also helps make it easier for a future move to Chicago. I would’ve explained this to you, had you not been busy telling your daughter not to mess up the car’s interior loud enough for my stepdaughter to hear you.

Thanks too for informing me to be early in picking my stepdaughter up since you now needed to run a previously unplanned errand in the afternoon. As you may recall, I made good on your request, but then again, how could you forget, what with the dented minivan I pulled up in. By your facial expression, I thought maybe by parking it in front of your place your property value had dropped by 50%. Forgive me; I’m jesting of course. If the neighbors in your exquisitely manicured cul-de-sac inquire as to the van’s presence, feel free to explain that it was a pizza delivery or that the cleaners had come a day earlier than usual.

Again, maybe I was reading too much into our encounter, but I think not, not when you burst out with, “how did that happen!” after I admitted to being a stay-at-home dad. Maybe there hasn’t been much talk about it the country club, but the economy’s not doing well, so being unemployed is not all that uncommon right now. It was kind of funny the way you chuckled under your breath when you mentioned how your husband couldn’t lose his job because he’s too valuable to his company. I thought that once myself which is why I laughed too.

I hope you believed me when I answered yes to all those questions pertaining to my proficiency at cooking meals, clean our apartment in the projects, getting the girls ready in the morning, picking up groceries and performing all those other duties you pay others to do. And yes, I’m a writer, and I’m happy about it. You’re right, it doesn’t make much money, and sometimes I wonder the same thing you did aloud about not being able to see how anyone could make it financially in such a profession. That’s why I felt compelled to add on that part about my consulting work with financial firms; it’s irregular, but sounds good at least. Besides suddenly not feeling good enough as a person, I didn’t want you calling CPS because you thought the children were living in squalor.

After so many probing questions, I trust you were still able to make it to that unexpected errand in time. You probably could’ve saved yourself twenty minutes by asking the one question that all the others appeared to have some basis in: What tax bracket did I file my 2008 Federal Return under? When you approached us at the school musical, I’m betting that they way my wife and I dressed caused you to believe we all were in the same bracket didn’t it? That’s probably silly of me to think, but I’m only saying this since that’s how you’ve been judging me all day. My wife says all the time that money can’t buy class, and I just got what this meant. Ha!

Well, here’s to surviving the new school year. It’s too bad that the girls don’t seem to be hanging so much now after being practically sisters before the summer break. I’m sorry the several invites for your daughter to have a sleepover don’t seem to fit with your schedule. Honestly, it’s for the best; I don’t want my stepdaughter using the words “Botox” and “augmentation” in her vocabulary until she’s old enough to vote. Despite everything, I do hope your daughter liked the bracelet my stepdaughter made for her to wear on the first day of school. That reminds me; I’ll have to send you an autographed copy of my book when it comes out. See you at the next school function?


- Ron

PS. I noticed you’re 3,500 square-foot home was for sale and I wanted to mention a few things: There are several shingles on the garage roof that need to be replaced; that green stuff at the gutter spouts should be power-sprayed as should the mildew on your siding, and adding a little color to your flower beds might give some curb-appeal. Also, I checked and your home’s been listed for almost six months, it’s priced well above the market and competing with four other newer homes less than a mile away. I guess I forgot to mention that my last job was as a VP of sales for the largest homebuilder in town. Had you not looked down your nose at me so much, I would’ve offered to contact three of the top realtors in the area and they could’ve had it sold before I ever made it back to the projects with my busted up minivan. Now I hope you loose a butt-load on it.

This Fatherhood Friday post brought to you courtesy of the good people at Dad-Blogs. Go there to read other great posts, by great parents. While you’re there, look around and join the Dad-Blogs community.

Additional fun provided courtesy of Kat's "Dear So & So." Join the fun.


Romeo, Romeo, Where Art Thou Ankle Tracking Device?

My middle son, Harrison is a lady's man with an ability to draw the opposite sex to him in almost any setting. When we lived in Chicago, I took the boys to see a movie. As we were walking into the theater, a little girl and her mother were walking out. Harrison hardly made eye contact with her; still, she got right up in front of him and introduced herself. Being single at the time, I was impressed (and even a little jealous). "Heeeey, Big Guy. She was cute." Without looking up, Harrison shot back, "Dad, don't even ask." His voice sounded almost exasperated, as if this sort of thing happened all the time... and it was getting really old. But this charming smile and feigned shyness of his that's melted more hearts than John Mayer and Nicolas Sparks combined, has created a few issues too.

Over the Christmas holiday, his step-sisters got into a fight after comparing notes and realizing Harrison had kissed them both. And his older brother Noah (who takes after his father's awkward tendencies in this area) often complains about how the girls in his own class flock to Harrison even though there's a three-year age spread. For his part, Harrison has indicated how much he prefers these more mature "cougar cubs." I guess it's because 5th grade girls know what they want out of life or something.

Whatever the case, his mother and I agree-half jokingly, half seriously-that we will be having "the talk" with Harrison well before his siblings. And even though we both are of the mindset to discourage the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing for all the kids until they reach an age where they are old enough to actually date, this still fails to curb Harrison's undying affections.

This should provide some context for a conversation Harrison and I had a couple nights ago.

Me: Hey, Bud. How are you?

Harrison: Dad, I can't talk long. This has gotta be quick.

Me: Why? What's the deal?

Harrison: I gotta call my girlfriend.

It's something like 8:30PM where he's at, so I'm wondering what's going on.

Me: Your girlfriend? Which one?

Harrison: DAD! You know!

Oh yes. This would be Jill (not actual name), the one where I was instructed to go into a closet where no one could hear Harrison tell me over the phone that he loved her.

Me: Right. Jill. I was just messin' with ya.

Harrison: Her dad's mad at me.

Me: What? Why?

Harrison: Because he told me not to call her anymore.

I'm quite aware of the phone rules where he lives and picking up a phone and calling girls at a whim, especially at his age, is sanctioned at a frequency equal to James Bond saying no to a beautiful woman. Thus, I am even more curious.

Me: Does Mom know you're doing this?

Harrison: She told me I could do it!

Me: Are you sure? How many times have you called her?

Harrison: [Inaudible number]

I started putting two and two together and deducted that my mini Don Draper had been allowed to call his dear, sweet Jill once. However, sometime after that call, he used the "recently dialed" feature on his Mom's cell without her knowledge.

Me: Harrison, you need to listen to Jill's dad and stop calling. Do you understand?

Harrison: I don't see what his problem is?

Me: That's not the point, son. You're being rude, and besides, daddy's are supposed to protect their daughters from boys like you.

Harrison: I don't care if I get in trouble. I love her!

This explains why he's been hounding me for a cell phone of late. It's also why I'm fitting him with ankle tracking device before he finishes the 1st grade.

You see? This is exactly what I'm talking about.


How To Write An Honest Thank You Note: Clark Kent's Icebox

The girls' dad has a girlfriend who the girls have nicknamed "Poofa." Poofa is very nice, and the girls like her quite a bit. When Poofa and the girls' dad attended the recent Curriculum Night, she brought them a couple things.

This week the girls sat down to write her a thank you note, and they held nothing back. The note was so... expressive, I thought I'd post it on Clark Kent's Icebox.

Like I said, the girls were very honest, almost a little sardonic even.

In case your can't read it...

... they really loved the socks though.

(In truth the girls were sincerely grateful for Poofa's gifts to them. It was just a tough day at school.)


Hot For Teacher

When Avery gets off the bus in the afternoon, she invariably greets me with an announcement that she has important news. It’s never “Hi, Ron,” or “Salutations, Exalted Benefactor,”—just, “I’ve got important news.” The real letdown, however, comes in the delivery of said “important” news which amounts to such earth-shattering occurrences as some kid dropping their lunch tray or how good glue tastes. Once, Avery told me that her “parts” were hurting, but I shut that story down before she could finish and handed her off to her mother before being subjected to any further unpleasantness.

I’ll admit Avery’s afternoon headlines might warrant air time as human interest stories on FOX News or CNN, but are they worthy of shouting, “Stop the presses?” No, and frankly, I’m tired of having my expectations set so high only to have them go unfulfilled upon learning that today’s big bulletin involved her ground-breaking discovery of bellybutton lint while sitting in math class. Of course, right when I start to remind myself not to get swept up in all her hoopla, that’s when Avery comes up with something legitimate.

“Guess what? I’ve got important news!” Avery said not five steps out the bus door.

“Oh really?” Then I caught myself. Don’t be a fool, Ron. Be strong. “Oh... really,” I repeated but this time with more apathy in my voice, not that Avery cared either way.

“Yeah, they gave us a special note that you and Mommy are supposed to read.”

A special note, huh? Okay, I’m listening… but only because you said it was “special.”

Turns out the news really was special (and good thing too since I planned on giving myself a paper cut with it as punishment for being duped again). Avery was being moved to a new class. Apparently the school’s administration determined three weeks into the academic calendar that the number of 1st grade students exceeded projections, and therefore required another classroom. How it took this long for a bunch of academics with advanced degrees to arrive at such a conclusion baffled me, but I suspected a tie in to the President’s controversial broadcast on education. Bus-stop pundits alleged that the school’s decision to ignore it resulted in classroom behavior deteriorating into scenes reminiscent of town-hall meetings. Furthermore, it didn’t surprise in me in the least to hear that a few kids were spotted with automatic Nerf rifles slung over their shoulders as they heckled some flustered social studies teacher. This is Texas, so what do you expect?

In any case, as far as Avery was concerned, the last several weeks didn’t mean squat: name tags, seating arrangements, birthday charts—all gone, condemned forever to some great art box in the sky. This suited her just fine. As the international poster child for ADHD, Avery thrives on such abrupt changes almost as much as she does overdosing on Red Dye #5. For parents, however, the switch meant going through the whole rigmarole of signing stacks of paperwork, relearning schedules, and getting acquainted with the new teacher all over again which usually requires a Meet-the-Teacher appointment. As a stepfather, I loath these meetings. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if my basic function didn’t consist of me standing around like I’m waiting to catch the 9:15 as the teacher actively engages my wife Ashley and her ex all the while eyeing my name tag suspiciously and playing surname Sudoku.

“It says here that there’s going to be an impromptu Meet-the-Teacher on Wednesday morning,” Ashley said holding the “special” note up to her face. I groaned as an expression my unbridled enthusiasm, but she didn’t hear me. Her eyes were too busy darting back and forth as she skimmed through the rest of the letter. “Mm-kay… alright… ‘kay… and your teacher’s going to be Miss D, Avery.”

“We already met her, Mommy.”

“Oh yeah? I don’t think I know her.” Ashley squinted at the ceiling. “What’s she like, sweetie?”

Avery’s smile opened as if about to giggle. “She’s hot.”

“What time did you say that Meet-and-Greet was?” I asked turning around in my chair. I may not like going to these things, but I still owe it to the children as a good stepfather.

Ashley pressed her lips together communicating to me that the circumstances of my renewed interest in parent-teacher relations had not gone unnoticed. Even so, an investigation into the supporting facts behind Avery’s cursory assessment of Miss D took precedent in my wife’s hierarchy of self-assurance.

“Is Miss D hotter than your mommy?”

“Oh no, Mommy.” But something in how Avery responded failed to convince Ashley. Maybe it was too quick, or too canned to sound sincere; whatever the reason, my wife felt compelled to press the issue like an eager cub reporter smelling a big story hidden in an unspoken truth.

“Are you sure, Avery?” Ashley slid an arm around her unsuspecting daughter. “It’s okay, you can be honest. Is she hotter than me?”

Avery shifted in her seat and glanced around the room. “Well… yeah--but you’re still the hottest mommy.”

Oh look. My schedule for Wednesday is clear all day.

The day we were to meet Avery’s teacher, Ashley got up at 3 AM to start getting ready, and as always, she looked amazing by the time we walked out the door. Still, this didn’t keep her from checking her makeup in the visor mirror every few minutes. On one hand, I understood Ashley’s need to pummel Miss D in a beauty-queen beat down, yet on the other, I wondered how women gauge such a thing objectively. With men, at least there’s a definitive standard based on comparisons against the scientifically proven six inch average of a distinct part anatomy . Women are left with what—the subjective opinions of such “experts” as Prez Hilton and Chris Matthews? Pffft! Please. What’s fair about that?

Ironically, like Avery’s important news con, the hype over her new teacher outweighed the reality. Miss D was blonde, petite, and adorable, but in terms of overall hotness, my wife trounced her in a contest more lopsided than an Andy Kaufman wrestling match.

“She’s very nice,” I said on the way to the minivan.

“Yeah,” my wife agreed “But I wouldn’t call her hot.” Her tone in saying this made me think she might be having a talk with Avery about the elusive criterion for deeming someone a hottie.

“See, I told you. You’re hands-down gorgeous—a smokin’ hot babe. Schwing!” I did an exaggerated hip-thrust to punctuate my assurances which induced a satisfied grin from Ashley.

I thought this was the end of the story. However, during the ride home, Ashley sat quietly. She kept rubbing her hands across the top of her legs, starting mid-thigh and pushing the open palms to her knees, over and over. “Do you think I sounded stupid when I was talking to her?”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh brother, honey. She's a first year teacher; she was way more nervous and probably too self-conscious to even hear anything you said. Stop being so insecure.”

Ashley nodded before resuming her attempts at inflicting a friction burn on her upper legs in silence.

On an unrelated note, I asked Ashley to help me trim the hair on the back of my neck later that night. I now have one of those bowl cuts popular that you see on skater kids… then again, maybe this wasn’t so unrelated after all?

I'm a very lucky man to have such a hot wife.



When my sisters and I were kids, there was no more heated battle than who got to ride in the front seat on the way to school. Being the oldest, I felt this provided me an unspoken entitlement to the position. Nope. Our dad let left it to whoever called it first. To some extent this method lacked in fairness to the youngest siblings; they never had a chance, always too slow or forgetful to pose much of a threat to the all-out war raging between me and their older sister for front-seat supremacy. To the victor went the spoils along with twenty minutes of having their ears flicked by the loser sitting right behind them. After getting my driver’s license, the front seat issue no longer applied, and I suppose it would’ve been a nice thing to implement my “oldest-up-front” policy, but it was too much fun watching the two older sisters duke it out. With my kids, it’s a different story.

As the saying goes, “rank has its privileges,” and being the oldest equates to rank in the sibling Army means front-seat privileges. (This also eliminates any needless bickering during the drive.) Of course, of my five kids, only my oldest son meets the requirements for legally riding in the front, but on short runs (less than a couple miles), I’ll let my oldest stepdaughter, Allie sit up with me even though she’s a few pounds short of the weight limit. At seven, Allie is almost as tall as ten-year old Noah, and I already cringe at the thought of how much attention she’s going to attract from slimy upperclassmen in high school. Still, the “who-rides-in-the-front” argument isn’t much of a problem since my boys live away from me, leaving Allie to win by default. Yet it’s a perk that meant more to her than I realized.

This summer on our family vacation to Pennsylvania, all five kids were together, and following my seating rule, I let Noah sit up with me on trips without my wife. No one made much of deal out of it, being content to carry on in the back of the minivan, behavior that remained unchanged on an excursion to the movies: Noah talked my leg off, the rest bounced off the windows. After the show, however, as the others filed out of the theatre, Allie lagged behind like she wanted to say something to me. “Can I ride in the front seat on the way back?” she asked with a mixture of hope and worry in her expression. Her request caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for a situation where my affections for my children might be perceived as greater than for my stepchildren. Yes, I knew this was a common issue in blended families, but I didn’t expect it come up in something this small.

To replace Noah with Allie would’ve signaled that he had been replaced, an idea he’s already sensitive over. And to leave him up front could reinforce the concern on Allie’s face, that I didn’t love her as much when my boys were around. An obvious solution might have been to let neither up front, but to me it felt like I would’ve been skirting things, leaving the real questions unanswered for both children.

Getting down on a knee, I took Allie by the shoulders and reminded her of all those days where just the two of us got ice cream, or went to the comic book store or the toy store. “Those are our special times,” I said. “If the boys lived with us then we would still do that—just you and me.” I watched her eyes become less anxious. “The boys and I only get a couple of weeks a year to see each other. That’s a short time for me do special things with them, but just because it seems like I’m paying more attention to them doesn’t mean I don’t love you less when they are around, sweetie.”

She smiled and nodded her head. Then I gave her a big hug and told her we’d do all kinds of stuff when we got back where she could ride in the front seat by herself. My reassurance was sincere, but there was a sick pit that grew in my stomach as I herded my crew out to the van where they climbed into their normal spots and picked up right where they left off. Even Noah continued finished the sentenced he had abruptly cut off earlier as if he had disappeared and then reappeared a few hours later without realizing it. As he went on, I winked at Allie in the rearview mirror. She smiled back.

This weekend I needed to make run to the grocery store, and when Allie found out that I was leaving she popped up from the couch where she had been watching TV. “Can I go?” she wanted to know. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods, not to mention being wore out from my recent bout of insomnia. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but gave into her big expectant eyes anyway.

“Can I sit up front too?”

“Sure. Fine. Whatever floats your boat, kid.”

During the whole ride, Allies yacked on and on, transitioning from subject to subject without the slightest hint of a period, and turning on the radio proved futile in slowing her down. For a run-of-the mill errand she acted as if it were the time of her life. Seeing her so excited reminded me of the moment on the theater steps.

“You talk too much,” I said interrupting her description of her teacher’s Miniature Yorkie.

“Yeah, I know,” she replied as if to say, what did you expect.

“I love you.”

“Yeah, I know. I love you too.” She wore a fat grin. “Can I get ice cream?”

“Not today.”

“A donut?”


“A Hannah Montana magazine?”

“No.” But once we were in store, I let her push the cart and pick out her favorite pizza for dinner.

By the way, I hope none of your rides are like this one:


Superman Doesn't Like Cleaning Up Your Messes

No matter how many times I repeat myself, scream, threaten--whatever, the girls (to include my wife) can't seem to grasp the concept of picking up after themselves. They will pull down a game; play half way through it; leave it on the floor (they also have follow-through issues); and then pull some other dumb thing out to mess with. Twenty minutes later, their bedroom looks like a helicopter tried to land in it... upside down. I could provide examples of my wife's proficiency in this matter, but I've long since given up that fight in the name of love (and my sanity).

But of all the things these people "forget" to clean up, I think throwing away the empty toilet paper rolls grates on my nerves more than anything else. For the heck of it, I've refused to clean them up on my own just so I can see how many will pile up before someone else takes action. The worst part of it is, the trash can is RIGHT NEXT to the TP holder! Yesterday, though, had a breakthrough... or at least I thought we did.

Later that evening while downloading the latest Java update, I inadvertently hacked into a video surveillance feed from a satellite owned by Halliburton and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They claim it's for conducting market research, but I'm a little suspicious as to how they managed to capture this footage in my bathroom. In any case, I now know exactly what happened to the TP roles. See for yourself.

When I watched this the first time, there were a couple frames that seemed a bit fuzzy so I had a buddy over in Homeland Security blow them up for me.

Yeah, that's what I thought....

...Superman doesn't like picking up after the girls any more than I do.

This post brought to you by the good folks at DadBlogs, sponsors of Fatherhood Fridays



Even though my three sons live several states away, we talk on the phone almost every night. Sometimes this yields some interesting dialogue as it did last evening with my oldest son Noah who's 10.

Me: Hey, Noah. How's it going.

Noah: Not too good. Harrison and I got into fight and mom just happened to pick that moment to show up. Here's the thing, I was trying to get him to calm down, but mom said she wasn't going to hear any of it.

Me: Why did Harrison need to be calmed down?

Noah: He was playing video games and Sawyer was on the same team and kept shooting his guy; so Harrison got ticked off and starting shooting Sawyer's guy over and over and over. When I tried get him to stop he started swinging. He hit me in the back of the head with a toy pizza and that sucker hurt. I was just defending myself.

Knowing how Noah thinks, I knew there was more to the story than his side of things, but then again, his tone was awfully casual. This was further supported by the sound of Noah chomping on something.

Me: Are you eating something?

Noah: Yeah, Chips. chomp, chomp.

When Noah settles into this nonchalant demeanor of his, he tends to mix in a large dose of scornful disgust and all the world is one big bull's eye. In the background I can hear Harrison sobbing his way through an explanation to his mother over what had transpired. Even though I can't understand what he's saying, it's clear he's upset.

Me: What's your brother saying? He sounds pretty upset.

Noah: Oh jeez I don't know. He's been going through one of those emotional phases of his.

I can see Noah rolling his eyes as he says this. A few seconds later his brother's crying fades into silence and Noah's voice bouncing off the walls of some enclosed space. He's still crunching on chips as he's talking to me, but as he goes on about something he found on the computer, his sentences are broken by a strained grunting.

Me: Noah, where are you?

Noah: In the bathroom.

Me: Wait. You're talking to me on the phone; you're eating chips; and you're going to the bathroom at the same time?

Noah: Chomp, chomp. Gulp. Grunnnnnnt. Hey, it's not like I sit in here all day like you.


On a totally unrelated note, I posted some relevant information over at Sugar Milk in case you're interested.


Mr. Sparkle

Whoever it was that thought it would be a real hoot to make cosmetics for little girls, I hope they’re having a good laugh. It’s one thing for kids to play dress up with toy makeup, but to make eyeliner and lipstick that they can actually smear all over their face? And furthermore, was is so necessary for them to push the envelope just that much more by mixing glitter in with these products? This added touch, this cherry on top, this pièce de résistance that someone up in R and D deemed so crucial, I consider to be the equivalent of the Viet Cong dipping punji sticks in excrement in order to inflict more damage those unlucky enough to impale a foot on the razor-sharp tips of such a diabolical invention.

As you can guess, Allie and Avery already possess so much of this junk whoever purchased it must have received a bulk discount from Costco in the process. But even before owning this lifetime supply of cosmetic crap, they felt compelled to spruce up their appearances. I say this in reference to time I looked in rearview mirror during our drive to school only to notice Allie and Avery had used black and red Sharpie markers to highlight their *eyebrows and lips. Like any good stay-at-home stepdad, my response to this was to let them go to class just as they were. So what if they both looked like characters from A Scanner Darkly, I thought maybe everyone laughing at them might be a better deterrent than anything I could come up with. However, the effectiveness of such a tactic would’ve proved a moot point after they were given “real” makeup.


Fast forward a couple years to this week. It was typical day getting ready for school. Allie and Avery had finished their list of regular tasks—brush teeth, load backpacks, do chores—in which case I told them to play in their room until it was time to meet the bus. Fifteen or twenty minutes later we headed out the door, but as we stepped into the outdoor light, I noticed something… peculiar about their faces.

“What were you two doing in your room?” I asked.

The two them looked at me as if my question was the most ridiculous thing ever uttered. “We gave each other makeovers,” Allie said finally.

I closed my eyes and sighed. Their faces glistened like dew in the morning sun.

“But we’re all sparkly glow-ee!” Avery countered in response to my disapproving reaction.


I explained to them that glitter makeup was meant for play, not for going out into public, and like the Sharpie marker incident, I let them grace the school in all their sparkly glow-ee glory. What I didn’t mention was my plan once they were gone.

Walking back from the bus stop, I resolved to find the items used in this latest round of makeover mischief. My search, however, proved futile leading me to the logical conclusion that the girls hadn’t just done up their faces, but they had taken the makeup to school as well. This wasn’t much of surprise to me given that my unannounced backpack inspections have turned up a number of smuggled contraband items such as a baggie of Pixie Stick powder with a street-value of five dollars and a shiv cleverly fashioned from a Barbie doll leg. Sure enough, when the girls got home, I found the culprit—a bottle of pink glitter spray crouching in bottom of Avery’s backpack.

“Do you know what your girls did today?” I rhetorically asked Ashley later that evening. “They thought it would be a good idea to give each other makeovers before school.” I held up the bottle of glitter spray, pinching it by the neck as if it were a squirming rodent.

A sheepish grin melted across Ashley’s face. “Yeah, sorry,” she said. “I uh… I got that for them.”

In what’s become my signature expression of late, I closed my eyes and sighed wondering whose side my wife was on these days. Opening my eyes again, I saw that Ashley was all sparkly glow-ee too. It looked like fairies had crop-dusted the entire region right above her bosoms.

Glancing down, Ashley chuckled. “Must’ve been from when the girls hugged me when I got home from work.”

I closed my eyes and sighed again.

The reminder that glitter could be passed from one thing to another “thrilled” me just that much more. I envisioned Allie and Avery running around with their grubby hands touching everything and everyone like King Midas transforming the entire apartment to a state of sparkly glow-ee-ness. Understand, I am very particular about home décor (a fact you will learn about in the October issue of Errant Parent). It’s bad enough that the sparkles look is so 1960’s, but the real problem is that once it gets on something, glitter can never be completely gotten rid of making it the arts and crafts version of herpes. The thought of this caused my mind to race in search of a solution for preventing a wide-scale outbreak. Too late.

Walking into the living room, I could see the sofa had already been infected. And by the extent of the affected surface area it appeared as Allie and Avery had rolled around on the entire thing the same way cats do when using the floor to scratch their backs. Despite my best efforts, all the Valtrex in the world couldn’t clear up the glitter festering on the seat cushions. I sighed and closed my eyes, resigned to the shimmering permanence of the disease. It would never be the same again.


This morning after stepping out of the shower and combing my hair, I caught the glint of something in the mirror. No, it can’t be, I thought, leaning forward. Using my fingers, I separated the follicles of hair above my forehead. There, right below my crown, a field of glitter, winked at me, brought to life by the bathroom lights overhead.

How in the name of Orion’s leotard did this—and then the answer dawned on me. After a three-day stretch of insomnia, I had finally fallen asleep on the couch last night. I sighed and closed my eyes, adding a disheartened head shake to further express my sadness over this life-changing discovery. I mouthed a curse word at the face staring back at me.

No longer would I be known as Ron—husband, father, all-around good guy. Now, I would be forever referred to as Mr. Sparkle.

I apologize in advance to my Canadian readers if you are unable to see the videos. Is there a solution to this I am not aware or?

Mr. Sparkle

The Meaning of Sparkly Glow-ee

* Shameless self-promotion warning: The Sharpie marker story is a tale I go into more detail about in Sugar Milk


I Have To See This Movie... There Are Goats!

I saw this trailer yesterday and the world stopped...

Reasons I have to see this movie:

1. George Clooney

2. Jeff Bridges + Big Lebowski + the Army = WIN!

3. The subject matter: I was an Infantry Captain and my dad was a Green Beret

4. It's basically a true story.

5. The First Earth Battalion? Priceless.

6. No Duggars were conceived during the filming of this movie--no wait, I'm wrong.

7. My schedule for 6 November is wide open.

8. I'll have saved enough money by then to afford it (thank you, paper route & lemonade stand).

9. To see that goat fall over again.

10. It's piss-your-pants funny.

I'm reserving a copy of the book at the library as we speak.

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