Think You Know Incriminating? Yeah, I Wore These Costumes

I don't know why I'm doing this to myself, but hey, I ran these pics last Halloween so it's like I should still feel embarrassed right? Never mind. In the spirit of the season, and because I'm buried with several other writing projects at the moment, I'll cheat and run these again. Try not to laugh too hard.

Yes, that's me at age 5 (maybe 4?), anyway, my mom was a heck of a seamstress and she took one of my dad's old uniforms (that's his beret) and hacked it down to my size. To add to the realism, she then smeared coffee grounds on my face giving me that rugged manly look (I was the first kid in my kidergarden class to learn how to shave). Don't even ask where that red hair came from, all I know is I don't have it now, thank goodness.

We didn't do much trick-or-treating a few years after this was taken. It's was a religious thing. Honestly, I had no regrets, but I'm pretty sure all those years of repression led to the rest of these other photos...

Halloween 2005: The Amish Pimp. The sign reads, "fine hoes (get it), fair price." What did you expect from a native of Pennsylvania? I was runner up at some big bash people my age shouldn't be anywhere near. When the band saw me, they quit playing they were laughing so hard - I was slightly embarrassed to say the least.

Halloween 2006: Clark Kent. No surprises here, except this is at one of those clubs in Vegas where the celebrities all hang out. We got to feel like rock stars because our friend was a manager and got us VIP seating... never would've imagined that at some point in my life Jenny McCarthy would come over and ask if she knew us from Hollywood (I finally fessed up by admitting I was a screenwriter. Yeah right.). Of course my friends and I had no idea our CEO had flown in from HQ in Miami and would be there too (of all the gin joints, right?). Hilarity ensues. I'd tell the rest, but that can be another post, another day.

And the one I'll never live down... ever.

Halloween 2007: Fire and Ice from the movie, Blades of Glory. We actually had an entire routine and everything. By the way, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a men's large size uni-tard in all of Houston? Neither did I.

Okay, fine. Here's one more...

Last year I didn't get to dress up due to a last minute event, and this year... well, we'll have see about that?

Happy Halloween!


The Chronicles of Nun-Ya

Are there times when it feels like your kids are being a bit too nosy? My stepdaughters seem to have a penchant for this, and it annoys me to no end. Mind you, we're not talking about their innocent and sincere curiosity to interpret the bigger world through inquiries as to the intent behind my actions. I'm perfectly willing to explain things such as how I managed to fix their broken Barbie party helicopter, or why I flipped the guy off at Wal Mart who failed to heed the stop sign as we attempted to negotiate the rigors of the crosswalk.

No. Instead it's the questions loaded with the insinuation of, you have something better/more fun/tastier than I, and I should have it too. Add to this the manner in which the girls will question me, and the needle on my agitation gauge is bouncing frantically beyond the red letters marked "Danger." They know full well those are cookies I'm holding, but they still ask what's in my hand, feigning ignorance in a tone that already has indicted me of a crime before I ever reply. It's much like appearing before a Senate hearing and being unfairly painted into a corner by the leading nature of the questioning. "Oh, so those are cookies in your possession, Stepfather. And what, you thought you'd just keep them for yourself without informing members of Congress?"

These inquisitions are so regular that I've formulated a standard response in the same stonewalling vein of pleading the Fifth.

Allie: Hey, whatcha eating?
Me (jamming another spoonful of ice cream into my face): Nun-Ya.
Allie: Nun-Ya?!
Me: Yeah, nun-ya. As in nun-ya business.

Avery: So whadda doing?
Me (clicking away at the game controller in my hand): Nun-Ya.
Avery: Nun-Ya?!
Me: Yup. Nun-ya business.

Allie: Where ya going?
Me: To get a extra large box of Nun-ya. We're just ran out.

Avery: What are you drinking?
Me: An ice-cold glass of Diet Nun-Ya.

Allie: Whatcha watching?
Me: The Chronicles of Nun-Ya.

My sarcasm hasn't cut down on the frequency of their self-serving questioning; however, watching them roll their eyes as they leave me to my few moments of indulgent solitude causes that agitation needle float back to "Safe."


So, the other day while watching the girls get off the bus, I noticed Avery bent awkwardly forward as she walked--gimped actually--towards me. It was obvious that her bulging backpack was forcing her to compensate for its weighty contents giving her the appearance of a pint-sized Hunchback of Notre Dame. Certain that Avery hadn't been afflicted by the same encumbered gait when she left for school, I couldn't help but wonder what she had since stuffed into the backpack. A discarded set of Encyclopedia Britannicas? Fifty pounds of quality Columbian flake? An illegal alien maybe (after all this is Houston people)?

Squinting my eyes, I asked, "Whadda you hauling in that big ol' backpack, girl?"

Turning her head but only slightly enough so as to not throw off her balance, Avery looked up at me and grinned. "Nun-ya." ass kids.


Happy Birthday To... wife. Thirty-X years ago today the world was made a little more beautiful.

Being the rebel that she is, my wife takes an anti-cake stance for her birthday. Instead she prefers pie - blueberry lemon to be exact. Last year I found an easy recipe for her request and amazingly I managed not to mess it up. Today I'm going for two in a row. I'm no PJ Mullen or The Good Cook, but thought some of you may enjoy the recipe yourselves.

And if you'd like to read the story of how Ashley and I met, you can read about it at this site.

Lemon Blueberry Pie

Pie Filling:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
5 cups fresh or frozen thawed blueberries, rinsed well

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 2/3 cup shortening, cold 4 + tablespoons ice cold water 1 tablespoon cold lemon juice

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice and grated peel, and blueberries. Roll out half of the pastry (recipe follows) - line a 9-inch pie pan and trim edges. Pour blueberry mixture into pie crust. Roll out remaining pastry to about 1/8 inch thick. Cover pie; trim, turn edge under and crimp. Cut a few vents in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Bake at 425° for 40 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned.

Pie Pastry:
Sift together flour and salt; blend in lemon peel. With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Mix together 4 tablespoons of the water and the lemon juice. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of lemon water over the dry ingredients; mix lightly, adding just enough additional cold water to hold dough together. Divide dough into 2 portions and shape each portion into a ball. Flatten pastry balls 1 at a time, on lightly floured surface. Roll out to form a circle, rolling from center edge until dough is 1/8-inch.


Some Naughtiness In The 'Burbs

Hey desperate housewives. I've got someone you need to meet. Her name is Petra (Bio) of The Wise Young Mommy. Petra is one of my best blogger friends in whole world, and if you follow her you will quickly see that, in addition to being vibrant, intelligent and funny, she's also an amazing wife and mother. Those qualities alone have earned her many friends and tons of fans. But add to the mix, the spicy subject matter of her other site, Sex and The Suburbs, and you have one hot tamale.

Petra is one of handful that can cover the topic of sex and not make me blush. Her insights are both witty and informative. And now she's writing a book based on Sex and The Suburbs, and she's looking for input from mommies everywhere as part of the research for this project. Knowing Petra both as a person and a writer, I'm sure this is going to be a great book, so I recommend you go to Sex and The Suburbs and join in.


Don Draper's Daddy Issues

This is post is pending publication and can be read in its entirety upon publication.


You're A Girly Man & Other Motivational Workout Slogans: Meet The Fit Dad.

Today I'd like to introduce Ed, a.k.a. "The Fit Dad." Over the last year, Ed and I have gotten to know one another while doing some collaborative work together, and as you've probably already guessed, he's one of those guys that stands around at the gym yelling motivational slogans while you blast your quads--well, maybe not quite like that. Actually, Ed's a great guy, a fellow Superman enthusiast, and above all, an awesome family man with a wife and daughter.

Living healthy obviously is important. At one point in my life I was 30 pounds overweight and suffering through a major bout of depression. A key element in overcoming these obstacles was forcing myself to hit the gym, and the program that worked proved to be simple, doable and overall effective. According to Ed, what I did was very similar to his regiment, which he has designed specifically for busy moms and dads (go here for a free no strings gift). Given the impact getting healthy had on my life, I've kept a link to Ed's site on the Lunchbox (see below). Is this some sort of Chuck Norris-Boflex infomercial? Nope. But I view Ed's knowledge as a resource that can benefit others in the same way it did me. With that, I turn it over to "The Fit Dad."


Let’s play “The Suppose” game.

Let’s suppose you decide to lose weight.

Let’s now suppose that in order to lose that weight you’re going to exercise.

Let’s also suppose you’re going to “watch what you eat” in order to lose that extra flubber.

Can we also suppose you’ll go to the gym, hire a trainer or buy a diet book? Will you join a boot camp?

Okay, now that we’ve “supposed” all those things, let me twist things around and make you think.

What is your first priority in this journey?

Is your first priority doing things the quickest way just to reach your goal?

Maybe your first priority is fitting into your clothes from high school and everything else be damned.

Is that right? Are those good priorities?


Sure they might get you to your goal and you might get there quickly, but you won’t stay there long.

You’ll revert back to your old self in no time and you’ll hate yourself in the process.

Now that I’ve painted that gloomy picture, I suppose I should tell you what your first priority should be.

Your first priority, whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, get rid of your gut, be “healthier”, or whatever else, should be your body.

Sounds simple, right?

But do you know what that actually means?

It doesn’t mean you should become a narcissist.

It also doesn’t mean you can flex your muscles in front of every mirror, ask random people to feel your “guns” or fix your hair and make-up every time you see your reflection.

Don’t get me wrong; wanting to look better is a great goal. It’s always near the top of my list, but you need more than that.

Making your body your first priority means listening to and understanding what your body NEEDS and WANTS.

You have to understand that in order to successfully achieve and maintain your weight loss goals, your body needs more than to just “look good.”

Your body has certain nutrition and dietary needs that you should listen to.

Your body NEEDS a lot of fruits and vegetables, and other real foods like seeds and nuts in order to perform at its peak while also cutting out the processed junk that leaves you with inflamed joints, a whacked out digestive system, poor skin and hair health and a flabby gut.

Your body also NEEDS to move. You have muscles for a reason – movement – and you don’t do near enough moving as you should.

Sitting for prolonged periods is the worst thing you can do for your body. It hates sitting that long and it tries to tell you by giving you back problems, hip problems and a weak stomach.

Listen to your body and fix those problems.

You need to make your body your first priority. If you do that, everything else will fall into place, including the “look better” goals, and you’ll be a much happier and healthier person.


Thanks, Ed! Reading this post sort of makes me feel a little guilty that my body's starting to look like a handful of walnuts shoved into a condom. (That's a picture of Ed doing push-ups while his daughter shouts motivational slogans in his ear. "Push your body to the max, Daddy! Don't cheat yourself! You owe me a new doll! One more set!")

Come back tomorrow for Fatherhood Friday and my post, "Don Draper's Daddy Issues." And next week I'll have humorous story about my kids' embarrassing Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde tendencies.

As a final note, thanks to all of you who commented and helped spread the info on the homeless American Girl Doll. According to my stat counter, Mattel spent some time checking out the post, so the message was at least received.


There's This Contest. I'm A Judge. It's Really Scary

Apparently I am highly qualified to serve as a judge for a contest to identify the scariest products around. Despite some of the crazy (and terrifying) stuff brought to my attention already, this is going to be a lot of fun. So what exactly is this contest? Well allow me to turn it over to Tracy, one crazy blogger and the creator of I Hate My Message Board. Take it away, Tracy.

The Contest

It is with great pride that I announce the first annual IHMMB Scary Product Contest. I’d be nothing without scary products like canned pupa and chicken in a can and I’m overjoyed – overwhelmed even – to be able to give back to the blogging community by hosting this award.

Find and photograph a product that is scary in a weird, unusual, wacky sort of way. This post or my Museum of Snack Foods are examples of the kind of scary we mean. Post the photos and any descriptions on your blog with a link back to this post and leave the URL of your entry in comments. If you don’t have a blog, you can post on Flickr and leave the photo URL in comments.

Judging will be based not only on the inherent creepiness of the product but creativity in presentation and description. Go wild! Make a diorama! Stop motion video! Write a play! Make a collage!

The Judges

Aside from myself, the judges panel consists of...

David of Blogger Dad (the brain-child of this contest and the logo designer)

Ron of Clark Kent's Lunchbox
(you may have hear of him?)

We’ll be visiting all the entries and might just Stumble, Tweet or link your post on Facebook or our own blogs if it’s particularly good. We don’t want this just to be a contest, we want this to be a community building exercise. What does that mean? Danged if we know, but we highly encourage participants and spectators to go around to all the other entries – leave a comment, talk some smack, kiss some butt, whatever seems to be the thing to do at the time.

Because the surest way to form a bond with somebody is to ask them “What the heck is THAT?!?”

The Prizes

First Prize will receive a I Hate My Message Board t-shirt as discussed in this post and only now going into production. It won’t look exactly like my crude rendering, but the same idea. And also a genuine...

Cheeseburger in a Can mounted in a Lucite box with an engraved faux-brass name plate declaring the owner the winner of the First Annual I Hate My Message Board Scary Product Contest.

And of course bragging rights.

3 Runners Up will receive a random food item of my choice. Could be limited edition Pocky, could be those fish n’ cheese sausages I’ve been putting off forever. The real prize is the anticipation.

Official Rules
  • Contest open to anyone, anywhere but if I can’t send you the prize because of customs regulations or other shipping problems, we’ll work out an alternate prize.
  • All entries must be 100% your own photos and text. You can not use other people’s photos or text.
  • All entries must have at least one photo and text to describe the item. You can do more than this, of course. We encourage you to go crazy!
  • Absolutely nothing that involves cruelty to actual animals or people. We reserve the right to toss out any entries we find offensive or degrading.
  • Link back to this post in your entry, either with a text link or logo button (provided below).
  • Post the photo and description on your blog or your own flickr account and post the url in the comments of this post.
  • We can’t accept entries by any other method than comments on this post.
  • You may enter as often as you wish but each entry must be a separate blog entry/flickr photo and make one comment for each entry.
  • Contest closes 11.59 PM CST October 29, 2009
  • Winner will be announced by 11.59 PM CST October 31, 2009
  • Winners will be notified by email, please comment using a valid email address that you check regularly. If we can’t reach you by 11.59 PM CST November 7th, we’ll give your prize to somebody else.
  • Creativity counts for a lot
  • So does enthusiasm – if it’s a tie-breaker, we’ll go for the person who helped us spread the word.
  • Judges aren’t supposed to be bribed but you know I bet they’d be tickled pink if you offered.
  • The more people participate the more everyone benefits. Who knows how many cool blogs and/or photographers this contest will introduce us to?
  • Visit the other entries! Have fun!
  • You can share your photos in our IHMMB Scary Product Flickr group (but still make sure you leave your url to your entry in comments)
  • Join us on Facebook or Twitter - we’ll be sharing the judge’s current favorites and our own scary finds.
  • If you like this contest, share it with friends. Any tweets, stumbles, sharing on Facebook or other social media is very much welcomed and appreciated.

Feel free to use the large graphic at the top of this post to share word about this contest, or you can use this button sized one:

Thanks Tracy! Well, everyone, let's see those entries. Have fun, y'all!


Why I "Hate" Mattel Toys' CEO, Robert Eckert

Some of you may be aware of the American Girl Doll and it's latest addition to their line (yes, it's been out for 10 months). I'm not going to expound upon all the details except to share that the doll's name is "Gwen," a homeless child who sleeps in cars with her mother after after being evicted from their apartment because her dead-beat dad left them.

In an absurd twist, "Gwen" also retails for $95 clams, is nicely groomed, and dressed better than most kids. You can read the rest of the details HERE, but there are several issues that I took offense to with poor Gwen.

What follows is the letter I sent to Mattel's CEO, Robert Eckert, outlining those issues.

Mr. Robert A. Eckert
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Mattel, Inc.
333 Continental Boulevard
El Segundo, CA 90245-5012

Dear Mr. Eckert,

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment over your homeless American Girl Doll, “Gwen.” Although I can appreciate your company’s intent to raise awareness for homelessness, as a businessman with an executive level background in sales and marketing, I question your logic, first in determining a target market for which a product of this nature is appropriate, and secondly, in overlooking the obvious paradox in charging nearly one-hundred dollars for a toy representing extreme poverty. Mr. Eckart, this represents poor leadership on your part.

Mattel was once nationally recognized for its philanthropic contributions, but that reputation appears to have receded (again reflecting your deficient leadership during your five-year tenure). In this vein, I find it enigmatic that you failed to take a more proactive approach in the fight against homelessness. Why not create a doll called “Angel,” for example, who helps her father as a volunteer at a soup kitchen or who starts a clothing drive amongst her friends? How is it that you also didn’t think to donate a portion of the doll’s purchase price to a charity dedicated to helping the homeless?

However, Mr. Eckert, aside from the obscene irony in this product, what I take an even greater offense to is the negative representation of fatherhood included in “Gwen’s” back-story. As a stay-at-home dad with five children (three boys and two stepdaughters), I’m wondering why you felt the need to incorporate a dead-beat dad into the equation? How does this help the problem of homelessness? In no way am I defending irresponsible men, but they compose a small minority of fathers by comparison, so what reason justifies placing this cynical image into the arms of an eight year-old girl? On behalf of the millions of fathers who defy the societal stereotyping you are perpetuating, I would like to express what a great insult your “toy” represents.

Furthermore, the problems boys and young men are struggling with today are well publicized, and thus it is less than helpful to market a product that highlights men’s failures. This sends a discouraging message contrary to the original intent of the American Girl line. Instead of fostering positive self-esteem and empowerment, you are telling girls that they will be abandoned by men while at the same time saying to boys this is as high a mark as you will achieve.

Mr. Eckart, I realize that you may never read this letter, that you are probably sitting around some decadent conference table like the farcical executives of Mooby Cow in the movie Dogma, scrutinizing the latest rounds of earnings, while some assistant scans my words. However, I want you to be aware that I am publicizing this message on my blog Clark Kent’s Lunchbox. It has a modest following, with limited reach, but I’m hoping the viral power of social media to influence major corporations’ decisions will cause you to reconsider your poor judgment in merchandising the Gwen doll, as well as with similar products in the future. I’m also hoping that the $7 million in compensation that Forbes reported Mattel paid you in 2008 (along with the additional $6.2 million from your position at McDonalds) hasn’t insulated you from moral reason.

Am I on a high horse? Yes. But sometimes you have to ride one for worthwhile causes like the welfare of our children.


Ron Mattocks
Writer / Concerned Father

I've been to the American Girl headquarters in Chicago (nearly losing my life--another funny story), and would have loved to see some real homeless child wander in carrying a Gwen doll for a tea party and hair appointment.

Normally, I don't ask for much of readers (I'm just thankful you stop by), but if you feel as strongly as I do, please forward this message through your Twitter, Facebook and other social networking channels. There's just too many idiotic things out there influencing our children to have one more, especially from a product line that once was a vaunted for reinforcing positive self-esteem.

UPDATE: TIME Magazine just named Gwen #1 on their Top 10 List of Dubious Toys

This post brought to you by the great dads (and moms) at Dad-Blogs and Fatherhood Friday.

And also by Kat's Friday series, Dear So & So


I'm An Errant Parent

Today I am an errant parent... then again, when am I not? Anyway, I'd like to direct your attention to an essay of mine that was published by Errant Parent. If you've never read Errant Parent, it's an online magazine, "devoted exclusively to parenting-related humor with an irreverent, literary bent," and it showcases a number of different writers and contributors. It also has a Facebook Page you can join.

The magazine was created by the talented Whitney Collins who has been published a number of times to include The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and McSweeney's (I'm jealous). Given Whitney's background and the caliber of writers she's collected for Errant Parent, I'm very honored to have a submission of mine featured in this magazine. I'm also very thankful for Whitney's support of Sugar Milk.

My essay, "Portion Control," involves parental trust issues and lots of vomiting. If you like it, please pass it along. If you hate it, then I hope you enjoy the rest of Errant Parent's content.


Define Irony: My Wife Got Rear-Ended By A Stripper

Define Irony Part 1
Man writes post about practicality, minivan and a judgemental soccer mom.
Minivan gets wrecked in highway accident a week later.

Last week my wife was involved in a traffic wreck on the freeway as she came home from work. Thankfully, my precious wife was spared any injuries--not even any lingering soreness that we both anticipated the next morning. We are both grateful to say the least.

In a scene typical for rush-hour, Ashley approached the tail-end of the vehicular clog and slowed to a stop. Apparently, the girl behind her was apparently unfamiliar with this phenomena, however. She slammed her Mitsubishi Eclipse into the back of the minivan with enough force to shove it into the Chevy Tahoe ahead of Ashley. Again, thankfully there were no (real) injuries to anyone.

Define Irony Part 2
Woman has diagnosed anxiety issues. Woman gets in car wreck and takes charge in stressful moment.

The girl that rammed the minivan was a hysterical mess, and despite Ashley's anxiety she jumped in like a trooper and got this girl calmed down. Ash drew the line at accompanying her across 3 lanes of moving traffic to retrieve some unknown item that the girl was adamant about retrieving before the cops showed up. We're not sure what this item was, but pretty sure it was illegal... like maybe those turtles from South America (yeah, right).

Define Irony Part 3
Husband's phone get's destroyed and orders new one; in the meantime he uses wife's phone until arrives. Wife gets in accident and has no way to contact husband.

I have a habit of dropping calls--I mean my phone--which resulted in the need for a new cell. To ensure someone was around to sign for it, the phone company would only deliver to a business; hence, it arrives at my wife's office. She was bringing it home the night of the wreck. When anyone would ask if she had a phone, she'd hold up the package. "Yeah, it's right here. Can I borrow yours?" This only happens during those rare moments when you really need to have a cell phone on you.

Define Irony Part 4
Girl claims near crippling injuries to paramedics and is treated accordingly. Girl makes miraculous recovery once cops determine she is the cause of the wreck and is uninsured.

Apparently, this girl thought she was going to get a little bodily injury money out of the deal. When the police figured out what had happened, the girl got out of the ambulance and approached my wife and the driver of the Tahoe. "Didn't you guys already run into one another before I hit you?" My wife and the other lady just looked at her. Through the wonders of MySpace and Facebook, Ashley learned that the girl worked as an exotic dancer... and not a very attractive one at that (not that that would've made a difference). I saw the pictures: she could scare buzzards off a meat wagon setting in the desert sun.

Define Irony Part 5
Stepdaughter gets invitation to birthday party for Dear Soccer Mom's kid.
Man shows up to party in rental car and Dear Soccer Mom fails to recognize said man.

As we wait for the minivan to be fixed, the insurance company's covering a rental for us. The car is nothing special--a grey Pontiac sedan that I have no opinion about one way or the other. In fact the thing is so nondescript, I have trouble finding it in the parking lot. Twice, senior citizen groups on outings to the mall have assisted me in locating it. In both cases it was on the other side of the mall complex. The girls were excited about riding a new vehicle, but when I told them it was a Pontiac, Avery was confused. "I thought NPR said they weren't making these things anymore?" (I'm not kidding.)

When I showed up to the party, Dear Soccer wasn't sure if we had met before. She was also pretty quick to mention that I didn't need to stay. (I hadn't planned on it.) It didn't bother me, but I really hoped to explain to her how my wife got rear-ended by a stripper.


PS. If I haven't been to your blogs, returned your comments, or answered emails, forgive me. I'll get caught up this week. Between the wreck and then our Internet connection being on again / off again for a better part of the week, there's not been much time to get things done.

I'm very excited to share an article of mine about barf and trust issues that's being published Wednesday at the humorous parenting site Errant Parent.

Thanks for your comments and support of the cure for JM.


Making The World Better: Help Cure JM

The beauty of the blogosphere is the ability to help make the world a better place by reaching out to people you otherwise might have never known. Today is on of those opportunities.

Kevin of Always Home and Uncool has asked me to post this as part of his effort to raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago. The day also happens to be his wife's birthday.


Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions -- none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner -- then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source -- obvious and otherwise -- that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift -- a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago -- Oct. 2, 2002 -- the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit:

Cure JM Foundation at

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to:

Brought to you by Dad Blogs and their Fatherhood Fridays

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