The Kitty Book: An Adventure

To say that the new cat has had an influence on our lives around the house is an understatement. Take, for example, may stepdaughter Avery and her new art muse in the aptly named "Kitty Book."



I Wish Superman Was Real

Sometimes I wish he was real. Someone Super who can be there to stop evil and protect the innocent. It would  make life easier. It would even make sense--the good guys always win.

We know, though, that is not case; life can make no sense at all, and there are no answers no matter how hard we search for them. There is not even justice. The only thing we can look for now is some seemingly unimaginable goodness to reveal itself. How, I don't know. For now I only wish he was real.


Of Mice and Men and Cats

I don’t consider myself a pet person. It’s not that I hate them per se, but with five kids, the presence of an animal is the equivalent of another mouth to feed that carries with it the added joy of finding stray hairs in my food, cleaning up scattered piles of fecal matter, and shelling out the bucks for a medical procedure meant to keep the damn thing from getting knocked up by the neighbor’s oversexed, pedigree collie or a predatory tomcat just passing through the backyard. Just what I need, a perpetually hungry, pregnant mammal that can’t wipe its own ass. Fun.

To be fair, I wasn’t always this cynical. I used to love pets. When I was five, my dad brought me home a kitten. It was a white, fuzzy ball of hair with patches of grey, and when I held it, “Tiny” would move back and forth from hand to hand like a Slinky. Two days later I woke up to find my new kitten sprawled out on the screened in patio, dead—still as a stale cracker. A few years later, I got another kitten which our family’s German shepherd, “Nippy,” ripped from my hands and killed in front of me. Talk about traumatic. The gush of tears in my eyes blurred the image of the limp, blood-matted rag of fur Nippy proudly laid at my feet. From here my experiences only got worse. “read more"

Next was a kitten someone left in our front lawn and then drove off. This would’ve been a gift had it not for the fact the poor thing had a maggot-filled tumor in its back leg. Despite my father’s best efforts to save “Jane Doe,” it succumbed to its gory wound by week’s end. And then there was Scooter Kitty. Equal parts intelligent and psychotic,

Scooter Kitty was the feline world’s version of Ted Kaczynski ratty hair and all, just minus the shades and hoodie. As the bastard offspring of a meek housecat and wild tomcat, the uni-clawer, could strike at any moment—a stealthy strike to your head from atop the back of the couch, or a surprise attack to your ankles from under the steps. Scooter Kitty could be anywhere. The unpredictable nature of my cat, so named after my favorite Muppet, struck fear among the members of our household. I however, didn’t mind. Finally I had a cat strong enough to survive almost anything including Nippy the cat-killing German shepherd that Scooter Kitty repelled handily with a series of rapid scratches that left deep farrows in our stunned dog’s snout.

 “Well I never,” my father said in astonishment, watching the wounded dog slink off.

Despite such displays of invincibility, Scooter Kitty was not, however, immortal as it lost a one-sided confrontation with a .22-caliber hollow point, after my beloved pet turned on me, shredding my jeans and sending me to the hospital for tetanus shots. Not all of my pets were cats. I experimented with a Red Bone, coon hound, but its incessant howling wore on everyone’s nerves earning it a one-way ticket to a loving and more tolerant family.

And then there was “Butch,” a South American Anaconda rooster turned ruthless cock-fighter after losing its mate one late night to a thieving raccoon. That cold-hearted, chicken went 5-0, killing other roosters twice its size before finding peace with God courtesy of a passing ’86 Buick Regal. To this day none of are really sure whether it really just didn’t turn around quick enough or if madness drove him to suicide—a tragic end either way.

Why then, given my litany of pet-centric misfortune coupled with the ensuing hard boiled heart that developed as a result, would I ever agree to get a cat at this stage in my life? Two words: “mice infestation.”

Among many of the differences between the Deep South and the upper Midwest, which include, distinct changes in the seasons, and the elongated pronunciation of vowels, is the species of varmints. In Houston it’s three-inch flying cockroaches; in Indiana it’s field mice both of which have distinctly similar looking droppings as I learned a few weeks ago after finding the black, rice-like pellets strewn through the kitchen drawers. Such discoveries I associate with squalor which I further connect to sloth, sins I am repulsed by—enough so to make extreme compromises to atone for.

Traps, I realize are a more practical first option, but after smashing the heads of these shameless, turd-dropping intruders on a nightly basis to no end, drastic measures were warranted.

“Honey,” I called out, tossing another hapless mouse into the trash. “I think it’s time we get a cat.” 

“Really?” Ashley squealed, with overzealous glee. And before I could utter the word “free,” she had a suitable candidate in the most predictable of places—Craig’s List, a sweetly written description nestled in between a wanted ad soliciting for “used” fish and another expressing a deep desire to trade an X-Box 360 for any animal, preferably a large snake.

The picture included with the ad for the cat showed a seven month-old grey-striped tabby that the owner claimed was good with kids, along with being a rodent killing “machine. Sold! (Proverbially speaking. “Free to good home” is the only way to go here.)

The next day Ashley said we had ourselves a cat; we need only to meet the owner at the local Pet Smart, a convenient location that would afford us the chance to purchase a few cat-related products, namely sprays and powders meant to fight the smell of piss or prevent the destruction of furniture. 

When Ashley, Allie, Avery, and I arrived at the appointed time and place were met with a surprise—another family in line for the same said cat. This was disappointing to say the least. Ashley had prepared the girls to expect a new family member before dinner. They had even picked out a pink collar adorned with a tiny buttons and a jingly bell. I was just as letdown, and maybe more so recalling yet another morning emptying traps. Even so, I was willing to walk away right there and then.

Of all the pets in my past, none incurred the fuss reserved for parents angling to have their child selected for admission to an elite pre-school. “To hell with this bullshit,” I whispered to Ashley. She nodded in agreement. Nothing was said about interviewing about a cat. However, after watching Allie and Avery interact with their new best friend, it would have cruel of me to withdraw our family from the running. And besides, by the sounds of things, it appeared that we stood a solid chance of beating out the other wannabies.

“We need a new kitty,” a little girl from the other family told the owner. She scratched the cat with her stubby fingers. “Our other kitty ran away.”

The girl’s mother frowned. “Okay, honey, just give the kitty love.” The girl petted the cat with more fervor, but it didn’t shut her up.

“My daddy hateses kitties,” she went on. There’s something undeniably adorable about the unabashed and revealing honesty of a child, especially when it’s not your own.

“Oh, he does?” said the owner.

Given this development, Ashley and I now felt we were shoe-ins to be awarded the cat, which we learned after 20 minutes of stilted conversation was named Suzy in honor of the owner’s crotchety, hermetic, Nanna. But alas, the win was not a given as there were two other families that had yet to show up who were also interested in the cat, and the owner wouldn’t be making a decision at least for a couple days.

With no further reason to stick around, Ashley and I realized it was time for us to go. As expected, highly sensitive Avery’s eyes filled with tears. Ideas of her in bed nuzzled up next to a lovable cat that evening were instantly doused. Ashley and I did our best to explain the situation to Avery.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” Ashley said. “The owner just wants to make sure Tallulah—I mean Suzy is going to go to a good home.” So sure were Ashley and the girls of the cat that they had already renamed it. Thankfully, though, Avery understood, and she refrained from full-blown hysterics. 

Hoping to reassure her I added, “If the owner doesn’t pick up for the cat, then we’ll get another, I promise.”

Avery’s face grew stern and her voice lowered. “Oh we’re gonna get that cat alright,” she said. The sinister confidence in her tone caused me to believe she may have a hit squad on standby to take out the competition.

The rest of the ride home was spent outlining all the arguments as to why we she be selected to be the cat’s new owners. “We clearly are the more adorable family,” Ashley started. “No doubt about it.” 

“Yeah,” Allie said. “And did you see how I watched the owner’s two daughters and kept them happy?”

Then Avery piped up. “I was acting my cutest the whole time.”

Even I jumped in. “If all else fails I could’ve told her how the cat is to make up from moving away from you girls’ dad. How could she refuse that?” There was a moment of abrupt silence. The move away from the girls’ father was a sensitive subject, and I had crossed the line even though I had promised the girls a pet as a bribe to ease the pain of separation. “Plus we have mice!” I then added, hoping to suppress the awkwardness now hanging in the air. The van was still quiet.

“I could’ve been cuter,” Avery finally sighed.

All logic aside, there just was no way of knowing for sure if the owner recognized that our family had turned the adorable setting to glass-shattering decibels. Stranger things have happened and I was caught off guard to find myself annoyed by the idea of Cat-Hating-Dad family being awarded that cat. Thankfully this did not happen.

Ashley texted me the next afternoon to let me know the owner had selected us to be the proud owners of the cat soon to be formally known as Suzy. Reading the message I smiled while visualizing scads of alarmed mice scurrying for their lives across my kitchen floor.

Later that evening, Ashley filled me in on the details. We were to meet the owner at the same Pet Smart to pick up the cat (and buy the supplies I had put back the shelf after our last foray.) As a precaution we agreed to keep the news to ourselves in order to prevent the girls anymore disappointment should things fall through. If Avery unleashed her hit squad things could get messy. 

Out of sudden last-minute curiosity I asked Ashley why the owner had selected us. The whole “adorable” family case has always been Ashley’s reason as to why any good fortune should come our way. I usually dismiss this as the go-to joke that it has become, but on this occasion, somewhere along the line I had bought into it. Clearly we were the more adorable family and I expected to hear so as at least a partial factor.

Ashley took a casual sip from her Diet Coke. “”Oh, she said everyone was so nice, she just decided to give it to us because we were the first to call.”

Obviously the owner was a poor judge of character. Lucky for us, fate did not suffer from the same failing. On the prearranged night of the pickup I went by myself to meet the owner. Things went fairly smooth except for the part when I was grilled with the line of questions, one would’ve expected to be asked at the initial interview.

“Do you know what to do with a cat?” the owner asked. “Are you going to get Suzy her shots? Do you have all the proper supplies? She only likes soft foods you know. Does anyone in your family have allergies?”

I answered each one with speedy adeptness to the owner’s satisfaction. I even managed to keep from rolling my eyes when the owner asked if I would send pictures of the cat from time to time. “Yes, of course I will,” I said smiling graciously.

After a final teary-eyed smooch with Suzy, the owner handed me the cat before asking probably the most fundamental of all questions. “You have had a cat before, right?”

“Oh, I’ve had a few,” I said with complete seriousness. “And I’m sure this one’s going to be just fine.”


Like Heaven for My HooHa

So I trust that, with the exception of a few pockets of resistance, your children are back in school? For as much as I couldn't wait for the bus to roll up and haul the kids away for the day, I'm surprised at how quickly the summer passed. In fact it didn't occur to me as to how quickly until I was sitting on the back porch with Ashley last week when she told me that the school shopping was complete.
"All done," she said.
"With?" I asked.
"All done with school shopping."
"Cool." I sounded subdued, but a part of me hoped a bottle of Cristal was somewhere among pencils and safety scissors on the list because I imagined dowsing myself in it at the bus stop as soon as they drove off. (Hey, give me a break here, people. It's been nothing but unstructured nuttiness, bored shenanigans, and pointless bickering around here while trying to run meetings and deal with clients. Think of it as Bring-Your-Child-To-Work Day but 3 months long.)
It was right about then that Allie appeared in the sliding glass door. There was an excited eagerness in her face that soon sagged into disappointment upon noticing my presence. This has been an increasingly common reaction from Allie who, in recent months, has been quietly challenging Galileo's notions as to what the Universe actually orbits around.
But no matter. Rather than, say, waiting for her obtrusive stepfather to leave, Allie launches into a series of spastic hand and facial movements. I've seen this before. It's a Spanglish-like hybrid dialect combining sign language with classic mother-daughter co-dependency--think Helen Keller meets Gilmore Girls.
Since it's used quite regularly when I'm around, I've managed to pick up on a few words and phrases. For example, widened eyes, three finger stabs to the opposite palm, followed by one long lip bite and two blinks means, "I need to talk to you right now." Another that gets used often is, furrowed brow, sigh, point, point, point, pressed lips, fist pound, fist pound, which roughly translates to, "Get rid of him."
This was exactly what Allie started off with as she stood in the doorway. I can't say as I appreciated such rudeness, but I managed to hold my tongue as mother and daughter proceeded to engage in a mad series of hand gestures and frequent eye rolls which concluded with Allie stomping off.

My curiosity got the best of me. "What was that all about?" I wanted to know.
Ashley, however, waved me off. "Oh, it's nothing," she replied, taking a sip from her Diet Coke.
"No, seriously. What's up with her?" I asked. Why it is after all these years with the girls I haven't learned to abandon my quest for details in such situations beats me, but I was about to be reminded yet again of my repeated folly.
Ashley shrugged in that okay-you-asked-for-it sort of way. "I told the girls they could spend some of their birthday money today," she started. "So Allie wanted to buy a bra."
Just had to pry, didn't you, Ron?
My reaction, or course, was predictable. "What?! A bra? To hold in what exactly? She's ten for friggn' sake." Granted, there are girls who fill out early in life, but chopsticks have more form than Allie who, based on her family's genetic history, has a lengthy wait before needing to worry about reigning things in.
Well used to such outbursts from me, Ashley downplayed the whole things. "It's no big deal. It was just a sports bra."
I failed to see the logic in how this additional detail was supposed to quell my concerns, namely, why do little girls feel the high need to grow up faster than they should?
In the case of my stepdaughter's gateway drug to premature womanhood, I wanted to know which corrupted institution was at fault this time--Teen Nick? Katie Perry? Those stupid Twilight movies?
"Where in the world can you find sports bras for the under-aged?" I asked.
"At Justice," Ashley answered.
Justice. I should've known.
If you're not familiar with it, Justice is a chain of retail stores geared toward the tween demographic. A better way of putting it is that it's a sparkly, pink mushroom cloud explosion of trendiness and cheap plastic crap that's continually on sale for 40% off. This, I suppose, wouldn't be so bad until you consider what it is they are selling. Filling their racks and shelves is a bipolar array of merchandise ranging from cutesy dolls and fruity candies to flirty clothes and border-line naughty undergarments.
To a ten-year-old girl the message is that it's okay still play with toys as long as you're wearing the Party Dots Romper when you do. To me, however, it screams, "We are the official supplier of cherry lollipops to strippers and porn stars dressed as naughty school girls."
What ensued was a rant against the evils of Justice, in the middle of which Ashley got up to leave.
"Hey, where you going?" I asked, surprised she wasn't sticking around to hear more of my argument defending her own daughter's innocence from culture's depravity.
"Uh, I think I'm gonna go help Allie try on her stuff." And like so many other discussions, she was gone and it was over. Only it wasn't. Not quite anyway.

Later, over dinner, as soon as Allie had excused herself from the table, Ashley slapped me on the arm.
"Guess what Allie said this afternoon?" she asked looking past me to ensure her daughter was beyond earshot.
I took a bite of food. "What?" I replied unsuspectingly.
A grin spread across Ashley's face, one I've seen before, and all at once I knew I wanted nothing to do with whatever it was Allie had uttered. You see, my wife takes cruel pleasure in watching me squirm, and things were about to get uncomfortable for me.
"So, along with her sports bra I let Allie buy a pair of panties--"
I tried to say, "No, stop," but instead choked on a piece of half-chewed fish. Why Justice has to sell them as panties when Walmart refers to the same thing as underwear further underscored my disdain for the place. Either way, I had no desire to hear any more details, and I had to prevent Ashley from telling me anymore of the story. Too late.
"Yeah, so when Allie put them on I asked her how they fit, and she said." Ashley started to crack up. "She said they were like heaven... for her hooha!"

O.M.G! Justice, I hate you.


A BlogHer 2012 Recap by a Silly Dad Blogger

Thursday, August 2nd

4:00 AM - Wake up to make two-hour trip to catch plane in Indy on way to BlogHer 12 in NYC.
4:01 AM - Flashing beaming smile at wife and tell her how proud I am that she will be speaking and have the chance to show how talented she is. Happy to support her by staying home with the kids so she can attend her first-ever blog conference and first trip to the Big Apple.
6:37 AM – Arrive at airport. Pull luggage from van. Remind wife to kiss me goodbye before she rushes into the terminal. Chalk her oversight up to nerves and excitement.
7:13 AM – Buy vanilla milks for the kids at Starbucks to set tone for fun weekend together
8:56 AM – Receive first message from wife telling me she made it to DC and is about to aboard her flight to NY. Says she’s sure her computer bag smells like pee. I assure her otherwise. She’s so cute when she travels.
9:05 AM – Begin work.
11:23 AM – Wife calls to say she’s in NY but is waiting a few minutes before getting Taxi. “Baby steps,” she’s says. Occurs to me she may have forgotten to take her anxiety meds.
12:01 PM – Get text message informing me NY Taxi drivers use horns in place of turn signals. Adorable.
1:00 PM – Working
2:00 PM – Working
3:00 PM – …working
4:37 PM – Check news casts to see if any mention of President Obama’s address to BlogHer speakers.
6:12 PM – Wonder what’s for dinner and remember that I have to cook it for everyone. Realize we have no food. Make list, round up kids, and make trip for groceries. Forget milk.
6:25 PM – Make stop at liquor store for gluten free beer as a reward for the great job I’m going to do this weekend while wife is gone.
7:33 PM – Feed kids frozen pizzas. They are delighted. Decide to let them stay up past bedtime. Drink beer #1.
7:50 PM – Do dishes and put in load of laundry. Pretend not to be confused by electronic keypad on washer.
8:41 PM – Begin receiving flurry of text messages from wife on various conference-related observations. Recognize she is doing this to compensate from anxiety over meeting with others during the conference’s various social events. Hope she took her meds or got some from someone else. Encourage her to go find a few people we know.
9:36 PM – Get text message telling me various other bloggers I know have said hello.  Ah, how nice. Drink beer #2.
10:01 PM – Change channel to watch Ken Burns documentary on PBS. Note how nice it is to watch a history program instead of brain-rotting Dance Moms.
10:07 PM – Bored with documentary. Begin intensive yet unsatisfying channel surfing campaign.  
10:46 PM – Go to kitchen. Eat half a gallon of chocolate-covered cherry truffle ice cream also bought as reward for the great job I’m doing.
11:02 PM – Consider possibility I might be missing my wife.
11:03 PM – Wonder if she will send any more text messages to me. Secretly hope she will. Debate sending her a text message to say “good night,” but decide against it because I don’t want to interrupt her fun with friends by appearing needy. Don’t want to be that guy. Fall asleep on couch watching The Notebook.

Friday, August 3rd

12:57 AM – Move from couch to bed.  …cannot get back to sleep.
1:46 AM – Still awake. Begin philosophical contemplation of life choices made between 1999 and 2003. Arrive at no definitive conclusions.  
2:48 AM – Recalling past experiences of my own at blog conferences and knowing some of the instigators are at the conference, first twinges of worry creep into brain. Imagination hits overdrive. Why do we lose all sense of rational during early morning hours? No way she’s at an after-hours, underground S&M club. Or is she?
2:50 AM – Send text message telling wife I can’t sleep without her. No response. Convinced she is at S&M club.
3:30 AM – Check phone.
4:30 AM – Check phone.
9:00 AM – Begin work. Rational thinking returns. She probably went to bed early after long day.
9:35 AM – Send text message telling her the girls and I are cheering for her today before she speaks. Gesture is sincere but also secretly intended to prompt response.
10:01 AM – Ploy works. Wife calls. There is slight sound of a hangover in her voice as she tells me she stayed out until “1:30-ish.” Oh, well, that’s not too bad I guess.
12:06 PM – Tell kids it’s lunchtime. Direct them to kitchen and assure them they can handle the situation themselves. Imagine wife sitting at table with Martha Stewart devouring Martha’s marvelous egg-salad on crust-less bread.
1:00 PM – Working
2:00 PM – Working. Wonder how wife’s speaking sessions are going. Hope she took her Mexican Zanex.
3:34 PM – Still working. Switch to stalking wife on Twitter. Password is rejected and takes over an hour to reset password. Son of a...
4:07 PM – Wife calls excited that her sessions went smoothly. I’m very glad to hear this.
5:39 PM – Break down and leave status update on Facebook: “I miss my wife,” then add “but glad she is at BlogHer12 getting some much deserved time away from me,” so as to not look too needy.  
6:30 PM – Wonder what’s for dinner, then remember I have to fix it. Kids seem ecstatic about hotdogs. Have first beer of the evening.
6:50 PM – Check phone for messages. Re-check notification setting to make sure is not on silent.
7:00 PM – Let kids stay up to watch Olympic volleyball, swimming and gymnastics. Have a swell time cracking jokes with them.
8:31 PM – Get Twitter notification that wife is in bar surrounded by daddy bloggers. That she uses an exclamation point at the end of the message makes me think she’s a little too exuberant about this.

8:32 PM – Begin to feel a little insecure. Wonder if wife feels this way when I’m away at mom blog conferences.
9:35 PM – Wife calls me to say she’s in hotel room and bored. By tone in her voice I can tell she’s not bored but actually changing into new dress for a social event. Please don’t be the sun dress that shows off how hot your legs are. I don’t want to know and therefore don’t ask. Wife says she is going to the Sparklecorn Party. I try to recall if this is the one where there’s all kinds of illicit sex talk and flirting as attendees write on each other’s breasts with Sharpie markers. Note that wife’s ample bosom is large enough to run a black marker dry. Wife says she misses me but sounds in a hurry, so I let her go.
9:37 PM – Recall we still need milk. Make quick run to store for expensive gallon of 2%. For unknown reason have sudden craving for Marlboros. Buy a pack. Come home and smoke two on back porch.
10:05 PM – Bored with Olympics. Switch to Ghost Adventures TV 3-hour marathon. Drink beer and eat ice cream while making fun of how douchey host Zak Bagans is. Hahahaha. Look at him flex his muscles as he says ‘spirits of the undead.’ Hahaha! Whadda douche. This makes me forget image of wife’s graffitied boobs.
10:06 PM – Check phone
10:10 PM – Check phone
10:12 PM – Check phone
10:17 PM – Check phone
10:21 PM – …check phone

Saturday, August 4th

1:05 AM – Tired of over-hyped supposed ghost encounters, I go to bed but leave all the lights in the house on.  Check phone and wonder if I should send text telling wife goodnight. Decide against it not wanting to feel rejection of not getting a reply. All rational thought abandoned.
2:10 AM – Wonder if we should get a cat.
9:03 AM – After restless night, wake up and check phone.  Nothing. Get idea to have kids use their phone to text mommy so I don’t look so needy. Nothing. Sorry kids, mommy’s ‘hungover.’
9:50 AM – Stalk wife on Twitter. Come across video of mommy blogger molesting cardboard cutout of Elmo during wild, drunken karaoke session sung to tune of Wilson Philips. Convinced I saw wife in dark corner.
9:53 AM – Stalk wife on Facebook and find photo molesting cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber. There is wild drunken look in her eyes. Do math based on time when picture was posted. Holy F@ck! Did she even sleep last night?!

9:58 AM – Send passive-aggressive text message to wife wanting to know how hungover she is.
11:23 AM – Wife calls. Voice is scratchy. Definitely hungover. Possibly high. She is elusive about details as to when she stopped partying. Gives incoherent rundown of people she hung out with. Casually informs me that a certain dad blogger is, like her, a Morrissey fan. Random nature of comment tells me she is crushing. Suddenly alert, she quickly adds that, “but you look like Morrissey, honey.”  I look nothing like that bloody limey bastard! Crush theory is confirmed.  Feeling all at once insecure.    
11:57 AM – Kids ask for lunch. I tell them to knock themselves out. Whatever.
12:39 PM – Begin working on leaky shower faucet. Successfully complete task but have extra parts upon finishing. Oh well. Take sense of manly pride in the fact I can fix things.
1:01 PM – Take shower and put on sexiest outfit I own—tight jeans that lift my butt and pear-button shirt half unbuttoned. Kids ask if we’re going somewhere.
1:31 PM – Check phone which has now become closer to me than my own skin.
1:57 PM – Wife calls (to my delight) to ask me to send her some files she needs for her next round of speaking sessions. Makes light chit-chat about Katie Couric appearance.  Laments she hasn’t gone dancing yet. Thanks me for help. Hangs up.

2:30 PM – Working on writing project for remainder of the afternoon. Finish off rest of the beer.
6:35 PM – Wonder what’s for dinner. Remember I have to make it. Kids seem elated about the prospect of Mac-n-Cheese with tuna.
7:01 PM – Check phone. Nuts!
7:02 PM – Realize I am out of beer
7:03 PM – Tell the kids to hop in the van to go get some frozen yogurt. While enjoying soft-serve I raise the question as if we should get a cat. There is no debate. Vote is unanimous in favor of cat.
7:48 PM – On return trip make stop at liquor store for more beer. Being the last night of BlogHer it’s going to be a long night and I’ll need my strength to make it through.
8:15 PM – Put kids to bed. Instruct them to leave mommy a long text message on their phone about how much they miss and love her. They are too slow and I type the damn message myself.
8:17 PM – Check phone
9:03 PM – Receive call from wife. Says she’s too tired and only going out for dinner with friends. Having said the same thing at such events, I am skeptical but hold my tongue not wanting to be a jerk. Ask her to text me when she goes to bed. She says she will but has to go meet people in the lobby.
10:00 PM – Check phone. Down 3 beers. Have several cigarettes and finish off all remaining chocolate cherry truffle in the freezer.
10:15 PM - Receive Instagram message from Redneck Mommy showing off my wife's legs. Holy Shiitake Mushrooms!

11:37 PM – After hour and half of aggressive channel surfing (freaking out) to keep mind occupied proves unsuccessful, I decide the best strategy is to take wife’s Ambien and sleep. Afraid of effects, I only take half and finish fifth beer.

Sunday, August 5th

12:05 AM - Check phone. Son of a…
12:10 AM – Decide half an Ambien is too little and down the other half.
12:12 AM – Check phone. Check Twitter. Check Facebook.
12:15 AM – Text wife to say I’m going to bed and that I love and miss her. Ask for return flight time even though I already know. Hope for response. Down last beer. See following picture on Instagram from Mr Lady. Swear they are all screwing with me on purpose. 

12:16 AM …ish – Fall asleep on the couch while watching Dance Moms rerun.
3:30 AM – Kids claim I allegedly get into a heated fight about gay marriage rights with a package of paper plates on the kitchen counter. The plates must work for Chick-fil-a because they are “Ultra Strong” conservatives in their stance, and I scream that they are assholes in their face. This is hilarious to the kids, they tell me later. I then must mistake the plates for Taco Bell because I urinate on them. The kids take pictures with their camera phone to show me later in the morning.
9:21 AM – Wake up covered in paper napkins. We miss church.
9:22 AM – Check phone. Seriously? She said she’d text me. That’s bullshit!
9:25 AM - Go back to bed and sleep off Ambien hangover.
11:59 AM – Wake up and check phone. Take shower, do a little manscaping, and put on cologne. Knock out a few pushups and select t-shirt that shows off my arms.   
12:23 PM - Get incoherent text message from wife saying she is, “vety tirred,” and plans to “sleeeep on th plaun.”  By this it’s clear she didn’t just go to dinner but rather went dancing, sung f*cking Morrissey karaoke with God knows who, and proceeded to get blitzed out her mind drinking dirty martinis. I wonder who’s feeling worse at this point but figure all my manscaping, and tight t-shirt are for not.
1:01 PM – Herd kids into the van to retrieve tired, hungover wife.  Imagine security rolling her up to the arrival curb in a wheelchair.
1:05 PM - Receive phone call from wife saying she got her dates mixed up. Her flight isn't until tomorrow! I feel sympathetic. Poor girl. But arrrrg! Another night without her.

Monday, August 6th

4:05 PM – Pull up to airport. See my wife standing there waiting for us. She is tired but smiles big at us. I see her eyes and suddenly feel silly about everything.  

Note: Despite all my embellishment above, I'm very glad my wife got to experience both the conference and NYC on her own apart from me. She absolutely needed it. Next year, though, you can count on us both being at BlogHer in Chicago.


Goth and Only 10

Ever wonder what's going through your kids' head sometimes?  To keep the girls' time structured over the summer, we've started carving out an hour per day for "writing time." The output from this little exercise has been enlightening. Take for example this little example from my oldest stepdaughter. It's her (touching) commentary on her feelings about our recent move. Consider it a guest post of sorts. (PS. I got permission first.)

My Heartbreaking Moment

Hi! My name is Allie, and I am from Houston, Texas. I lived in Texas for 10 years! But then tears came. I had to move to a nasty, disgusting, icky state. Indiana. 

My life fell 10 stories when I heard the news. I remember my heart falling to pieces. Sadly, I was leaving behind friends, family, and happiness. I almost felt Goth! Yeah! It was that bad. 

Even today my mother still tells me she is sad too. I thought about turning back, but it was too late. 

I'll always remember the sweet smell of Texas. Smoke, trash, happiness. I'll always remember the look. Litter, happiness and ghetto cars. H-Town.

* * * 

After I read this I told Allie, that even though I am happy to be with my boys again, I am also sad about some of the things left behind in Texas. 

"Really?!" she said.

"Yup, really," I answered. "But not the ghetto cars and no you're not old enough to be Goth."

We hugged.


Dump Truck Full of Dead Babies

Full of dead babies
"What's worse than a dump truck full of dead babies?" my teenage niece asks me. I shake my head. "Unloading them with a pitchfork," she answers with perfect deadpan timing. I laugh. I laugh so hard tears come from my eyes and my sides feel like they're being gripped by a monster's gigantic hand.

I haven't laughed like this in four, maybe five months. I don't know. It's been so long I can't remember.

I've been in a fog. A daze. A darkness that won't release me. The longest depressive state I've ever been in. Still is. I don't know yet.  That's how it works--just creeps in and never leaves.

My struggles with depression are not something I talk much about. As I recently told one well-known dad blogger who knows a little something about the topic, writing about my chronic depression isn't what I want to be known for. There are some, like this guy's wife, who do talk about it, and they have a gift for helping others as a result. Then there are others for whom blogging about depression is their jam, and they play it like a harp for comments and page views. I am too afraid of coming off as the later.

Besides, depression is ...depressing. Who wants to read about that all the time. Plus I'm a guy. Guys aren't supposed to be depressed. We're supposed to provide for our families, drive luxury SUV's, and have hair like Don Draper. Either that or we're supposed to be so slovenly stupid that our lone hope for survival is dependent on the female of our species. 

Honestly, both extremes sound depressing to me. Either way, there is no middle ground, no spectrum of reality where a guy can say, "Hey, I'm so depressed, I'd rather shovel dead babies from the rusty bed of a 25-ton Caterpillar than get up and face another day." Try using that line and not get some looks.

I'm of the opinion that it's easier for a man to admit he is gay than it is to admit he is depressed. For one, the very term gay (to be happy) has depressed (to wallow in a pit of dead babies) beat by a long shot. Done deal. When opening up about being gay, most people (the non-judgey ones at least), pat the person on back and applaud his courage to be himself (and rightfully so). "Well, done," they say. Mention that you deal with constant depression and you usually get an empathetic response followed by, "Are you on any medication?" The irony in this is that the depression is just as much a part of a person as is being gay for someone else.

To answer the question, yes, medication is involved. I've sampled the buffet on the dining car of the pharmaceutical crazy train. Sometimes it helps just long enough for you to get a few hours of work done, or to write a blog post, or to listen to your kids for a change or to sound completely normal to others, or perhaps not. It's never the same, and the effects never last. Eventually you'll pull back the curtain and see who's still really running OZ.

Today I do something different. Today I go for a run. It kills me. My lungs are blazing after only a minute and thirty-seven seconds. People walking their dogs pass me. I am dying. I can't see how this is supposed to be good for me. I try to forget about all the fears and worries as my feet pound (shuffle) against the pavement, and over the music from my iPod I hear my niece's voice. "Hey Uncle Pookie, what do your friends have in common with a tree?" There's a pause before the punchline. "If you hit them enough times with an ax they'll both fall down." I laugh again.



Five Years Passed, New Adventures Ahead

This month marks the 5 year anniversary of Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, but even more exciting, it also is the end of a journey to be reunited with my three boys. Yes, for those of you who don’t already know, our family is complete again. All my lamenting, enduring, and questioning over the previous years can now stop. A new phase in our lives begins, one I hope to chronicle a bit more faithfully than what I have been in previous months.

Despite everyone’s best wishes for a smooth move, it was anything but. For starters, I stuck a knife through my hand in a moment of adult stupidity a week prior to the big day. This required surgery to repair severed nerves and the fingers in my left hand will remain numb for at least 6 months.

Then, on the day I’m pulling the moving truck up into the driveway, Ashley finds out that BP reversed the decision they made in March, allowing her to telecommute and just like that she was out of a job. (As if BP didn’t already give us enough reason to hate them.) This naturally puts us in a tight spot but even so, doesn’t diminish the joy of being with my sons again.

Not to be sound like a Debbie Downer, but moves of this magnitude are hard. The transition can be hard to weather. Such is the case with my two stepdaughters and understandably so when if comes to leaving behind family and friends. They act like their normal crazy selves during the day. Last week they got the outlandish idea to write on each other’s behinds. Avery gave big sister Allie a Pac Man tattoo while Allie in turn wrote “I like little butts and I cannot lie,” on Avery’s tiny tuckus.

At night though, they cry to their mother about missing their own father who over the past year had really took an active role in their lives—more so than even me I have to admit. I feel badly over this but we are being proactive in keeping everyone in contact via text, phone, and video chat.

The new house is both nice and… interesting. The walls are spotted with an array of electrical switches that operate lights in mysterious fashion that keeps you guessing as to which one they will turn on in a whack-a-mole sort of anticipation. The backyard is spacious and comes complete with a playhouse which the kids have already filled with junk like squirrels storing nuts for the winter.As far as the weather goes, it is temperate with cool mornings and warm afternoons. At night there are fireflies that blink in the dark. It’s just like the summers I remember growing up at the kids’ age.

And so a new adventure begins for the Lunchbox crew. Who knows how long it will remain alive on this blog—maybe another five years, maybe more. We’ll just have to see.  


Second Thoughts. Tragic Lives.

Many of you know my story.  Corporate exec forced into the role of staying at home step dad, without the means to be near my own sons 1,300 miles away.  That story is now over and a new one begins.  I’m working full time again, and next week we make the big move only 13 minutes from boys.  I’m overjoyed to say the least.  Then why am I having second thoughts?  Because of two other kids who are not mine: Chris and Katie.

I have written about them before, Katie, cute as a bashful flower, and Chris, a frustrated boy of 10.  Their lives are miserable.

Katie is starved for attention from anyone, and Chris wants to know he’s a good kid.  They both need to feel loved, and yet they are victims of their divorce parents own selfishness.  The mother’s an alcoholic while the father reacts to every situation as anger--parents frustrated about their situations and too selfish to bother with their children.

I try not to be judgmental of other parents but then again the parents by talk with most are dads and moms whose worlds revolve around their children.  They know about sacrifice and joy yet Chris and Katie’s parents know none of these things.  They only know mistakes, mistakes they refuse to learn from.

The father is hooked up with a woman that isn’t allowed to see her own babies – something to do with a temper, the same temper that caused her to break an iPhone belonging to Chris and Katie’s father.  “They fight a lot,” Chris told us a few nights ago over dinner.  “That’s why I have my dad’s old phone.  She smashed it.” 

Chris goes on to tell how unsafe the apartments are where the girlfriend lives.  “We jump in the bushes when cars drive by,” he explains.  “A lot of kids get abducted there.” Whether this is true or not is immaterial because it’s true enough to him.  There is a somberness in his tone that questions why this is the life he and his sister have to live.

The mother’s choices are worse.  When we mentioned to Katie that we would be moving later in the year she announced, “Oh yeah we are moving too – with my mom’s new boyfriend.” My wife and asked if Katie liked the new boyfriend. Katie was quiet for a moment, then she shook her head no.  “I don’t like the way he tickles me. He won’t stop when I tell him to.”

My wife and I exchanged nervous glances.  It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but given everything else we’ve heard it doesn’t sound good. 

The mom lives with her parents.  Chis and Katie both say it’s a bad situation.  “Mom fights with them all time.” When one of my stepdaughters said she saw blood in one of the rooms, that’s when we suggested everyone just play at our house.

At dinner I told my wife this might be the only place the Chris and Katie might feel safe to be kids. My wife agrees. We are both sad to be leaving Chris and Katie knowing the tragedies that statistically await them.
I am angered over it.  I want to do something about it, but there are few options.  I handed Chris a business card for my blog and told him to call me if he or his sister ever get in trouble.  I don’t know what I can do from 1,300 miles away, but maybe there’s something.

Knowing that Chris and Katie’s story is not uncommon fills me with even more frustration. How people can be so selfish with their kids makes no sense to me. But it goes on.

I don’t blog much anymore – no time really.  There’s work and family, this move, and a second book that dominated my time.  Besides, I may have simply lost my stomach for it reading of some of the fishbowl pettiness.  I don’t know.

But what I do know, though, is if I could save Chris and Katie by blogging and to give I would do it. And I would adopt them in heartbeat no questions asked.  In fact I wish my blog, which is named for a superhero, really had the superpowers to rescue every kid out there like.

Clark Kent’s Lunchbox has served me and my family well as.  It has taken us many places, and in one sense, it has even brought me to my boys.  But I wish to God it could do something dramatic for Chris and Katie.  I wish it could hug them and love them the way they both need to be, that it could pull them out of their sad circumstances and fly them off to a happy life.  That it could protect long enough for them to rediscover their innocence. But blogs don’t do that.  Only people can.  Hence my second thoughts over their tragic lives.


THE AMERICAN BOY - Teddy Roosevelt


-Theodore Roosevelt


OF course what we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man. Now, the chances are strong that he won't be much of a man unless he is a good deal of a boy. He must not be a coward or a weakling, a bully, a shirk, or a prig. He must work hard and play hard. He must be clean-minded and clean-lived, and able to hold his own under all circumstances and against all comers. It is only on these conditions that he will grow into the kind of American man of whom America can be really proud.
There are always in life countless tendencies for good and for evil, and each succeeding generation sees some of these tendencies strengthened and some weakened; nor is it by any means always, alas! that the tendencies for evil are weakened and those for good strengthened. But during the last few decades there certainly have been some notable changes for good in boy life. The great growth in the love of athletic sports, for instance, while fraught with danger if it becomes one-sided and unhealthy, has beyond all question had an excellent effect in increased manliness. 

Forty or fifty years ago the writer on American morals was sure to deplore the effeminacy and luxury of young Americans who were born of rich parents. The boy who was well off then, especially in the big Eastern cities, lived too luxuriously, took to billiards as his chief innocent recreation, and felt small shame in his inability to take part in rough pastimes and field-sports. Nowadays, whatever other faults the son of rich parents may tend to develop, he is at least forced by the opinion of all his associates of his own age to bear himself well in manly exercises and to develop his body—and therefore, to a certain extent, his character—in the rough sports which call for pluck, endurance, and physical address.

Of course boys who live under such fortunate conditions that they have to do either a good deal of outdoor work or a good deal of what might be called natural outdoor play do not need this athletic development. In the Civil War the soldiers who came from the prairie and the backwoods and the rugged farms where stumps still dotted the clearings, and who had learned to ride in their infancy, to shoot as soon as they could handle a rifle, and to camp out whenever they got the chance, were better fitted for military work than any set of mere school or college athletes could possibly be. Moreover, to mis-estimate athletics is equally bad whether their importance is magnified or minimized. The Greeks were famous athletes, and as long as their athletic training had a normal place in their lives, it was a good thing. But it was a very bad thing when they kept up their athletic games while letting the stern qualities of soldiership and statesmanship sink into disuse. Some of the younger readers of this book will certainly sometime read the famous letters of the younger Pliny, a Roman who wrote, with what seems to us a curiously modern touch, in the first century of the present era. His correspondence with the Emperor Trajan is particularly interesting; and not the least noteworthy thing in it is the tone of contempt with which he speaks of the Greek athletic sports, treating them as the diversions of an unwarlike people which it was safe to encourage in order to keep the Greeks from turning into anything formidable. So at one time the Persian kings had to forbid polo, because soldiers neglected their proper duties for the fascinations of the game. 

We cannot expect the best work from soldiers who have carried to an unhealthy extreme the sports and pastimes which would be healthy if indulged in with moderation, and have neglected to learn as they should the business of their profession. A soldier needs to know how to shoot and take cover and shift for himself—not to box or play foot-ball. There is, of course, always the risk of thus mistaking means for ends. Fox-hunting is a first-class sport; but one of the most absurd things in real life is to note the bated breath with which certain excellent fox-hunters, otherwise of quite healthy minds, speak of this admirable but not over-important pastime. They tend to make it almost as much of a fetish as, in the last century, the French and German nobles made the chase of the stag, when they carried hunting and game-preserving to a point which was ruinous to the national life. Fox-hunting is very good as a pastime, but it is about as poor a business as can be followed by any man of intelligence. Certain writers about it are fond of quoting the anecdote of a fox-hunter who, in the days of the English civil war, was discovered pursuing his favorite sport just before a great battle between the Cavaliers and the Puritans, and right between their lines as they came together. 

These writers apparently consider it a merit in this man that when his country was in a death-grapple, instead of taking arms and hurrying to the defense of the cause he believed right, he should placidly have gone about his usual sports. Of course, in reality the chief serious use of fox-hunting is to encourage manliness and vigor, and to keep men hardy, so that at need they can show themselves fit to take part in work or strife for their native land. When a man so far confuses ends and means as to think that fox-hunting, or polo, or foot-ball, or whatever else the sport may be, is to be itself taken as the end, instead of as the mere means of preparation to do work that counts when the time arises, when the occasion calls—why, that man had better abandon sport altogether. 

No boy can afford to neglect his work, and with a boy work, as a rule, means study. Of course there are occasionally brilliant successes in life where the man has been worthless as a student when a boy. To take these exceptions as examples would be as unsafe as it would be to advocate blindness because some blind men have won undying honor by triumphing over their physical infirmity and accomplishing great results in the world. I am no advocate of senseless and excessive cramming in studies, but a boy should work, and should work hard, at his lessons—in the first place, for the sake of what he will learn, and in the next place, for the sake of the effect upon his own character of resolutely settling down to learn it. Shiftlessness, slackness, indifference in studying, are almost certain to mean inability to get on in other walks of life. Of course, as a boy grows older it is a good thing if he can shape his studies in the direction toward which he has a natural bent; but whether he can do this or not, he must put his whole heart into them. I do not believe in mischief-doing in school hours, or in the kind of animal spirits that results in making bad scholars; and I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school. While they study they should study just as hard as they play foot-ball in a match game. It is wise to obey the homely old adage, "Work while you work; play while you play."

A boy needs both physical and moral courage. Neither can take the place of the other. When boys become men they will find out that there are some soldiers very brave in the field who have proved timid and worthless as politicians, and some politicians who show an entire readiness to take chances and assume responsibilities in civil affairs, but who lack the fighting edge when opposed to physical danger. In each case, with soldiers and politicians alike, there is but half a virtue. The possession of the courage of the soldier does not excuse the lack of courage in the statesman and, even less does the possession of the courage of the statesman excuse shrinking on the field of battle. Now, this is all just as true of boys. A coward who will take a blow without returning it is a contemptible creature; but, after all, he is hardly as contemptible as the boy who dares not stand up for what he deems right against the sneers of his companions who are themselves wrong. Ridicule is one of the favorite weapons of wickedness, and it is sometimes incomprehensible how good and brave boys will be influenced for evil by the jeers of associates who have no one quality that calls for respect, but who affect to laugh at the very traits which ought to be peculiarly the cause for pride.

There is no need to be a prig. There is no need for a boy to preach about his own good conduct and virtue. If he does he will make himself offensive and ridiculous. But there is urgent need that he should practise decency; that he should be clean and straight, honest and truthful, gentle and tender, as well as brave. If he can once get to a proper understanding of things, he will have a far more hearty contempt for the boy who has begun a course of feeble dissipation, or who is untruthful, or mean, or dishonest, or cruel, than this boy and his fellows can possibly, in return, feel for him. The very fact that the boy should be manly and able to hold his own, that he should be ashamed to submit to bullying without instant retaliation, should, in return, make him abhor any form of bullying, cruelty, or brutality.

There are two delightful books, Thomas Hughes's "Tom Brown at Rugby," and Aldrich's "Story of a Bad Boy," which I hope every boy still reads; and I think American boys will always feel more in sympathy with Aldrich's story, because there is in it none of the fagging, and the bullying which goes with fagging, the account of which, and the acceptance of which, always puzzle an American admirer of Tom Brown. 

There is the same contrast between two stories of Kipling's. One, called "Captains Courageous," describes in the liveliest way just what a boy should be and do. The hero is painted in the beginning as the spoiled, over-indulged child of wealthy parents, of a type which we do sometimes unfortunately see, and then which there exist few things more objectionable on the face of the broad earth. This boy is afterward thrown on his own resources, amid wholesome surroundings, and is forced to work hard among boys and men who are real boys and real men doing real work. The effect is invaluable. On the other hand, if one wishes to find types of boys to be avoided with utter dislike, one will find them in another story by Kipling, called "Stalky & Co.," a story which ought never to have been written, for there is hardly a single form of meanness which it does not seem to extol, or of school mismanagement which it does not seem to applaud. Bullies do not make brave men; and boys or men of foul life cannot become good citizens, good Americans, until they change; and even after the change scars will be left on their souls. 

The boy can best become a good man by being a good boy—not a goody-goody boy, but just a plain good boy. I do not mean that he must love only the negative virtues; I mean he must love the positive virtues also. "Good," in the largest sense, should include whatever is fine, straightforward, clean, brave, and manly. The best boys I know—the best men I know—are good at their studies or their business, fearless and stalwart, hated and feared by all that is wicked and depraved, incapable of submitting to wrong-doing, and equally incapable of being aught but tender to the weak and helpless. A healthy-minded boy should feel hearty contempt for the coward, and even more hearty indignation for the boy who bullies girls or small boys, or tortures animals. One prime reason for abhorring cowards is because every good boy should have it in him to thrash the objectionable boy as the need arises.

Of course the effect that a thoroughly manly, thoroughly straight and upright boy can have upon the companions of his own age, and upon those who are younger, is incalculable. If he is not thoroughly manly, then they will not respect him, and his good qualities will count for but little; while, of course, if he is mean, cruel, or wicked, then his physical strength and force of mind merely make him so much the more objectionable a member of society. He cannot do good work if he is not strong and does not try with his whole heart and soul to count in any contest; and his strength will be a curse to himself and to everyone else if he does not have thorough command over himself and over his own evil passions, and if he does not use his strength on the side of decency, justice, and fair dealing.

In short, in life, as in a foot-ball game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don't foul and don't shirk, but hit the line hard!


What Your Kids Think of You


Hey Dad Bloggers

Hey dad bloggers, just dropping everyone a line about the Dad 2.0 Summit coming up March 8-10 in Austin. There's already over 100 people registered to go which means this is going to be a well-attended event with a lot of opportunities available for doing some networking, getting your name out there, and meeting brands like LEGO and Johnson & Johnson.

Also, at the moment, there are meetup events planned in various part of the country prior to the conference. The are the ones currently schedule (Houston's is coming up in a few weeks):

* Austin: February 1, The Cedar Door

* Chicago: February 15, Johnny O’Hagan's

* Atlanta: February 9

Wondering what the event will be like? Check out this great video by the crew at Dad Labs.

And if your looking to cut costs or have some special circumstances, get in contact with the organizers for help and questions.

If you're wondering what the value in going to one of these conferences is, particularly if you're hoping to take your blog to a professional level, then know that attending events like this this are what will make you stand out.


Would You Tell Your Children That You Used Drugs?

I’m going to make a confession here that few people know about: I’ve used illegal drugs. For a little over a year after my divorce I took X-stasy and smoked marijuana. That’s right, not in high school or in college, but as an adult.

Go ahead and judge me. This is the internet, which, among its many benefits, is the freedom to condemn others anonymously in the comments section. If you feel so compelled, have at it; just know I won’t care. It was dumb, I know. I’m not going to waste time justifying it, and that’s not exactly the point of this post anyway.

The question I’ve had to ask myself rather, is whether I will admit to my children that I once used illegal drugs. There are pros and cons to this of course, which boil down to... continue reading.


The History of Fatherhood in the United States

After yesterday’s post about Roman Krznaric’s essay on the history of the men as fathers, I decided to do a little research on my own; being a self-professed history nerd, I didn’t require much arm-twisting to do so either. Unlike Krznaric’s broader worldwide focus, I decided to hone in on just the progression of fatherhood in the United States, and what I discovered was surprising.

Most of us are familiar with the major events in history—the colonization of early America, the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, World War 2, and so on. What many of us may have not considered, however, was the part these events played in shaping the image and expectation we have of fathers today, which, when looked at through a lens of the past 300-plus years in its entirety, is slightly off in my opinion.

What’s more, when looking through that lens, keep in mind that many of the perceptions we’ve had of family dynamics throughout history are incorrect or only half-truths. For example, the idea of colonial fathers being an austere, unfeeling, authoritarian ordained by God isn’t entirely accurate. Did religious dogma dictate that the man was to be the head of the household? Yes, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t warm and unloving. We only see it as being so because such an arrangement seem archaic and stifling within the context of our contemporary society—a society that has morphed over three centuries at the hands of ever shifting socio-economic conditions and world-changing events beyond our control.

To get a true picture of this progression of fatherhood through time, there was no way I could fit everything into ten slides; thus the presentation is split into two parts (and even then it’s still probably not enough).

Slideshow 1: Fatherhood in the US: 1700's to 1900's

Slideshow 2: Fatherhood in the US: 1900's to Today


12 Month Plan for Dads To Prepare for the Apocalypse

Well, this is supposed to be the year the Mayan calendar runs out and the whole world’s supposed to go KABLAMO! Whatever. Personally I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I can’t say the same for my family. Last week my stepdaughter got in the van and started running down all the things that are supposed to happen. By the way she was listing them off I could tell what her source material for this was.

“Where did you find all this out?” I asked.

“I was watching TV with Grandma,” she replied.

Exactly what I thought. But then it occurred to me that all of this might be plausible. As a father I’d feel pretty stupid standing in the cul de sac watching fire and brimstone rain down from heaven come December 31st. So maybe putting a plan together might not be such a bad idea after all. I think what I finally came up with is pretty tight.


Worse Than a Non-Believer: Dad-Moms Are An Abomination to God

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not done with the whole Dad-Mom topic. In reading the various posts on Tide’s depiction of a stay-at-home dad being “awesome,” I came across the religious take on the topic played out in a point, counter-point debate between Owen Strachan, a professor of theology and church history at Boyce College, and Laura Ortberg Turner, an admissions counselor at Fuller Theological Seminary.

The discussion was a lively one, as you can imagine. To Strachan, the dad-mom, represented yet another of society’s attempts to pervert Bible’s stringent rules dictating who should and shouldn’t be laundering the frilly dresses and folding them with complete accuracy. In response, Turner contested this citing cultural context and scriptural misinterpretation before then mentioning the actions of Jesus that lead her to believe the Son of God wouldn’t be adverse to domestic duties. Read more about why God hates at-home-dads

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