Archive for May, 2008

1.      My kids are afraid of the dark, but only the darkness that settles in around bedtime.  The inky blackness that accompanies a homemade fort made of every sheet, couch cushion and pillow in our home is A-Okay with them. 

2.      My kids are afraid of stingrays (yes stingrays, you know the aquatic creatures that sort of look like kites only with barbs on the tail that can zap the crap out of you if you step on them).  I know this because we paid big dollars to swim with them in the Cayman Islands and as soon as my children hit the water, they scaled my torso and deposited themselves into my ear-sockets in order to evade the circling hordes.  I nearly drowned in 4-feet of water as my wife stood laughing from the relative safety of our charter.  

3.      Mack is afraid of baseballs, at least he is as of yesterday afternoon when he misread a “heater” thrown by his old man and took one right on top of the gourd.  For blossoming major leaguers, an attempt to catch a baseball with anything other than a gloved hand usually meets with minimal success.  So far Mack has tried his ear, lips and now the top of his head.  I think he has learned a valuable lesson; if not he will soon run out of possible catching alternatives and go back to more conventional methods. 

4.      My children are afraid to play in the basement alone.  This is a dilemma because my wife and I engineered our basement to resemble a McDonald’s play land.  Of course we had selfish reasons; we thought we could buy our way into a 5-minute uninterrupted conversation.  Alas, this is impossible because the only way my children will venture into the basement is if one of us accompanies them. 

5.      Both of my kids are afraid of every medicine in our inventory that is designed to go on Boo-Boos.  My children firmly believe that the application of any disinfectant creates an unbearable stinging sensation.  Even the placebo container of water that I used to disprove this strange childhood psychological phenomenon resulted in wails of agony and a flood of tears. *NOTE- don’t call a 7-year old boy’s scrape a Boo-Boo, it’s condescending.  My oldest prefers the term “Wound”.   

6.      My kids are terrified of the Santa Claus/Easter Bunny proxy that we force them to take pictures with at the mall every holiday.  However, the thought of a winged pixie snatching their discarded teeth in the middle of the night is strangely comforting to them. 

7.      Mack is afraid of the spicy red peppers used to flavor Chinese food.  It only took one mouthful to firm up this very real and rational fear.  For those of you who have yet to experience the sight of a flaming mushroom cloud spouting from your child’s mouth take my advice and remove the peppers before giving them their meal.  This will cut down on replacement cost for several perishable items such as fire extinguishers and the gas it takes to get to the emergency room. 

8.      Both of my kids have an unhealthy fear of death.  To cope with this fear they have taken to counting down my remaining years at the beginning of each new day.  Nothing makes you question your mortality more than your children telling you each morning that you’re one day closer to leaving the planet. 

9.      Cayden is afraid of the theme music from “Jaws”.  He has never seen the movie, but the instrumental is so menacing that he actually runs from me every time I start a fresh chorus.  If I do this frequently enough I can accomplish the much sought after 5-minute conversation with my wife in 30-second intervals. 


That’s it folks, everything that my children are afraid of is listed above.  Of course some day when they grow up I’ll have to revise.   Eventually they will trade their fear of a guy dressed in a bunny suit for more grown-up fears such as fear of failing.  That’s going to be a very sad day in our home. 


My oldest son is fascinated by anything that comes in a non-environmental friendly aerosol can. If given deodorant in an aerosol can and left unsupervised, he will personally kill off a good portion of the Ozone within the time it takes to depress the trigger.


His favorite gift last Christmas was a cheap can of “Man-Spray” (his own term) presented to him by his younger brother. Of all the available items at the schools “Santa’s Workshop”, Cayden believed that musk body spray was the item that was best suited for his big brother. This was not as impulse purchase. It was as deliberate as a decision could possibly be. So he forked over the $1.00 asking price and toted his prize home.


At that point Christmas was still a week away, but the boys do not abide by social convention and started to needle me for their gifts the minute we got in the car. I protested for 6 minutes (5 minutes longer than their mother would have made it- to her credit she probably would not have allowed Cayden to purchase such an item in the first place).


Mack’s gift to Cayden was appropriate- he got a puzzle.


Here is what happened when Mack opened his gift from Cayden:


To say he was happy to receive this gift was an understatement; he was beside himself with joy. It was as if he was personally responsible for ensuring the polar ice caps melted that very day and he’d just received the instrument to guarantee his success.


With tears in his eyes, he embraced his brother lovingly and told him how fortunate he was to receive such an amazing gift (I’ve honestly seen less emotion in Publishers Clearing House Sweepstake winners). After the initial wave of emotional glee wore off, Mack ran to the bathroom and locked the door. Of course this happened so fast that I was unable to provide operating instructions or have a discussion on moderation.


Mack emerged from the bathroom 3 seconds later, empty spray can in hand, cloud of musk circling his head, dilated pupils and wearing a proud look on his face. He opened the front door and stepped outside before I had an opportunity to stop him and three robins and one duck fell to the earth, dead from asphyxiation.


Luckily, cheap musk is not designed to last forever. The odor eventually subsided and I am happy to report that doctors believe Connie’s sight will return within the month.


At this point, I cannot report with any certainty that Mack’s armpits will recover. We are hoping that, with nightly Neosporin application, his pits will one day produce hair follicles. Like any good parent, I googled for information but could not find a single word on excessive cheap body spray application and whether the effects are reversible.


I don’t think that Mack caused any long-term environmental damage, but I also cannot explain why my grass is green year round and on average 15 degrees warmer than my next-door neighbor’s?



The first bowel movement of a baby’s life is considered somewhat of an event by most new parents.  Many feel the need to coo and brag about their baby’s accomplishment and will often drag anyone within arms reach to the nursery to gaze upon this wondrous creation.  I am not sure why this is?  It may be that up until the event, the baby has done nothing that would validate it as being a human child.  After all, they don’t look like the Gerber Baby when they are fresh from the womb. 

Extremely smart people must have also recognized the significance of this little treasure as they assigned a fancy scientific name to it.  Your baby’s first poop is called “meconium”.  I am fairly certain meconium is Latin for, “Good God! What the hell is that?”  Meconium resembles hot tar and if you open your baby’s diaper without prior knowledge of what to expect, you may think that your child was paving an interstate in the nursery. Doctors and nurses expect most parents to be alarmed upon making this discovery and are trained to talk you off the ledge when you start to spin out of control. I am positive this is one of the reasons that hospitals have mandated a minimum one day hospital stay for new parents. They probably needed to cut down on the number of people returning with fear in their eyes and little black poops in zip-lock bags.  

This meconium stuff eventually disappears and is replaced by what many refer to as “sweet-poo”.  I don’t believe anyone has ever tasted it to confirm that it is sweet; I think it is called that because of the way that it smells.  Your child’s poop is going to remain pretty inoffensive for as long as the child remains exclusively breast fed (I bet most Dads are unaware of this fact).  When your child starts to experiment with other forms of sustenance, however, the poop will no longer rate the adjective “sweet”.   I know this is a bit graphic, but parents spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with their children’s waste.  If you doubt this statement then please explain to me why the “Diaper Genie” sold like a billion units?  This is a great piece of gear; you deposit the dirty diaper into the opening, twist the lid and presto, 50 poop filled diapers strung together like sausage links (pure genius). 

In our home, Mackinley was responsible for naming the next level of excrement.  He named it “Holy Cow Poop”.  The name came into existence when Mack observed one of Cayden’s diaper changes after having consumed approximately 3-gallons of pureed peas.  When the diaper was removed Mack gazed at Cayden’s accomplishment and said “Holy-Cow!!”, thus the name “Holy-Cow Poop”. It stuck. The odor produced by “Holy-Cow poop” could easily strip the paint off an old tractor.  There is nothing cute about a child’s bowel movements once they have reached this developmental stage.  In fact, since our children refuse to flush the toilet, I have often thought we had an intruder suffering from irritable bowel syndrome breaking into our home at night to use the facilities.   

When your baby is still in diapers “Holy-Cow Poop” is fairly easy to manage.   However, you will be called into action several times a day in an attempt to keep your child from carrying a loaded diaper around the house.  What I determined from my experiences is that situational awareness is critical.  Here is my advice: 

Set yourself up for success by having a tub of baby wipes prepped and ready for use and a fresh diaper opened and ready for immediate application.   

When you crack the seal on your child’s diaper, be prepared to have your nasal hair disintegrate and your eyes start to water uncontrollably.  At the point of your initial disorientation, your child will make a two-handed grab for whatever is residing in his/her diaper.  To alleviate this concern, hold both of the child’s grasping devices (hands) while simultaneously pinning the child’s feet back toward his/her head with the same hand.  This allows for easy access to the child’s buttocks, which is most certainly covered with the “Holy Cow” substance.   *Be aware pinning the child’s feet back will increase the muzzle velocity of his/her intestinal tract. As quickly as possible, capture the offending substance on a baby-wipe (as many as necessary), and rapidly encase the child’s hindquarters in a fresh diaper.  Gently release the child back into the wild and begin recovery operations with gallons of Visine, hand soap and Glade Air Freshener.  By the time the initial wave of nausea subsides, it will be time to begin the process anew.  Good luck! You’ll only have to worry about this for 2.5-3 years per child. 

To All:

I have received multiple requests for gift ideas for the boys and wanted to end the suspense by offering some insight into what our loving sons really want Santa to bring them this year.  I will try to keep the list reasonable, but excuse me if I occasionally get sidetracked; it’s been a long month. 

For Mackinley:

1.      Cordless drill preferably a Black and Decker (not for performance, but because he thinks black and orange is way cool).  He does not want the 14 volt model; he prefers something that will ratchet his arms out of the socket when he attempts to disassemble all the other toys that you may be thinking of purchasing for him this season.









2.      Electric guitarhe is not concerned with the make and model, only that it will propel him to “Naked Brother Band” level stardom in less time than it takes him to unwrap it Christmas morning.  Oh, and he wants a thermos to plug it into. For some reason, he believes that amplifiers and thermoses have a shared functionality and one can stand in for the other.

3.      Wii, XBox, PS3, and a Nintendo DS Mack is not big into research so he is unsure which one is best suited for his needs.  He feels that if he is provided one of each, he can then decide which ones can be sacrificed to the cordless drill (option #1) that you purchased for him.

4.      Leather Jacket, Mack appears to be reinventing himself.  The new Mack has big hair, wears leather, and gambles with Pokemon cards.  I blame this on the “Grease” soundtrack that Connie provided to the boys in their formative years.

5.      Motor cycle, refer to #4.

6.      Pokemon Cards,  Mack wants Pokemon cards really bad, trouble is he wants a specific card,  a card which I believe does not exist in this dimension.  Failure to produce this card results in complete and utter devastation.  You would probably have a better chance of finding the real Pokemon inviting him/her/it (not sure what it is) over for eggnog than finding the card Mack wants, so negate my last suggestion it will only produce pain and misery.


7.      Hand gun, Cross bow, or medieval war hammer, Mack prefers the real deal, if you supply him with anything made out of plastic or wood he will simply disassemble with option #1.  He assures me that he will be careful and that all implements of war will be stockpiled in the upper reaches of my closet where all things sharp, dangerous, and deadly are stored.  He specifically directed this request to Mum-Mum as he feels she is the most likely vehicle of success when asking for weaponry.   


For Cayden:


1.      Surplus of  Unhealthy Snacks, He did not specifically request this as a Christmas gift this season but I hear it  at least ten times a day so I am going to go out on a limb and suggest it.  Terry, make it snow cheese curls Christmas Eve and Cayden will be yours for all eternity.  


 2.      Drums, I think Cayden plans on hooking his wagon to Mack’s star.  He didn’t request a thermos to go with it, but knowing how competitive my boys are if you could include some other kitchen utensil in the box with the drums you may save me and Con from breaking up an argument.




3.      Chuck-E-Cheese plastic zippered pencil pouch, Cayden really wants the pencil pouch located at Chuck-E-Cheese, it’s on the second shelf next to the rubber tarantula and behind the super spy magnifying glass.  Con and I would get it for him, but it cost 13,000 tickets which is the equivalent of 72-straight hours of skeet ball or $4,200.




4.      Suzanne Summers Bone Muscle Blaster-  Cayden wants to maintain his physique but does not want to have to work at it real hard, so if you could find him a rib cage enhancing fitness device he would really appreciate it.




5.      Legos or Gorilla– Cay loves legos, he also kind of likes the idea of having a live pet, preferably something that is large, powerful and has an opposable thumb.  You chose which one is in your price range; I see pros and cons to both.




6.      G.I. Joe’s,  Cayden enjoys playing with G.I. Joe, do me a favor if you purchase a G.I. Joe will you please buy the accessories that go with it.  I spend more time trying to get Joe to grasp weapons that don’t belong to the G.I. Joe genre than I care to comment on.


7.      Pirate Videos,  Cayden is a pirate-a-holic, can’t get enough of Jack Sparrow and his crew so this is always a safe bet.    That being said be careful what pirate video you purchase; Cayden keeps grabbing “the Pirate” at Block Buster every time we go, starring Carmen Elecktra, not exactly the type of film you want you’re 5-year old watching. If I could be of any further assistance let me know, I am here to support. shane


An Average Evening

May 16, 2008

I am not sure why, but for the past several months my oldest son (7yrs old) has decided that the best time to catch up on mother/son time is at approximately the same time that my wife has achieved a deep REM state. I know this to be true because, when my children rise for the day, my wife rolls over with her best “I haven’t slept in three days” expression and tells me that Mack was “in for a visit last night”. As her loving partner, I understand the implications of this statement. For those of you without children, or the benefit of 16 years of marriage, it means the following: “You had more sleep than me. Step to the plate- you’re up”.

To my credit, I willingly oblige. I have been getting up at the crack of dawn for the past 20 years which is just part of being a Marine, so sleep, though pleasant, is a nice but unnecessary comfort.

So why am I blogging (that word makes me uncomfortable) about this? I am putting this in print so that I can explain to my wife my typical evening. I need her to know that yes Mack is exclusive in who he visits at 2 a.m., but once the dust is settled for Connie the winds change direction and my evening (or early morning) begins.

I have outlined my typical evening post-Connie awakening for her benefit.

“Shane’s at bat”
2:00 a.m.- Mack has once again wandered into our bedroom- a pretty common occurrence. From my position (feigning sleep,) I know it is one of two things:

1. He has had a nightmare, most likely something involving a giant opossum or Sponge Bob, or some combination of the two.
2. He believes 2 a.m. is when school starts and wants to make sure he is on time.

Connie takes the bullet. I begin to snore to confirm that, yes, I am asleep.

2:25 a.m.- Surprise! Mack is back and this time he has decided to ride the giant Opossum to school which starts at 2:30 a.m. I say something unintelligible that alerts Mack to my presence and confirms that dad will not be happy if he rises to full consciousness.

2:35 a.m.- Mack is now in bed with us.

2:38 a.m.- I look back in the darkness at my son’s smiling face. I think he is feigning sleep? He begins to snore in an attempt to throw me off his trail. I have taught you well, young Jedi, we’ll meet again…

2:43 a.m.- I feel two icy cold objects on the small of my bare back. Startled, I believe that indeed Sponge Bob IS in the house and he is conducting pre-op to see if I would be a good kidney donor for Mr. Crab who is in dire need of an operation to save his life. Obviously, Mack’s ramblings have woven themselves into my REM sleep. I determine that I need to lay off the Carlo Rossi before going to bed.

2:44 a.m.- Turns out the icy objects are Mack’s feet and he is earnestly pushing me from the nest like a mother bird teaching her babies to fly. Mission accomplished! I grudgingly trounce off to his kid-sized bed to see if I can catch a couple of hours of sleep.

3:00 a.m.- Now, I am in Mack’s bed.  Cayden is sleeping above me in his bunk. The blankets are small, but if I position them correctly, I can cover most of my exposed skin. I’ll try not to move for the rest of the night.

3:05 a.m.- I moved. Man, it’s cold in here; no wonder the kid wanted my spot.

3:10 a.m.- I repositioned myself and once more I am mostly covered up. I ripped open a couple of Mack’s stuffed animals and shoved my feet up their butts to keep warm. I’m starting to wonder if it would have been less painful to get the spare blanket in the guest room…

4:00 a.m.- I just learned, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Cayden is my son. I know this because he inherited my father’s God-awful snore.

4:05 a.m.- Three sasquatch are standing on my lawn.  They are responding to Cayden’s snoring.  They believe the sound to be a female sasquatch in search of loving.

5:00 a.m.- Cayden needs to poop. He steps on my face on the way to the potty. I commend him for going as I pull his sock fibers from my eye sockets.

5:05 a.m.- Mission complete! I know this because Cayden has come back into the bedroom trailing 18 feet of toilet paper. I investigate. The remaining 75 feet of toilet paper are piled into the toilet; strangely, all of it is clean; what does this mean? I am too tired to ponder the possibilities. Mental note: scrub Cayden’s butt first thing in the morning.

6:00 a.m.- Mack’s wondering if it is time to get up? I don’t know who he is, where I am, and for the life of me cannot figure out why my feet are embedded into the rectums of two stuffed animals. I ignore him, and the strange circumstances surrounding my situation, and roll over.

6:01 a.m.- Mack takes this as a sign that he should join me. I stick my icy cold hands to the small of his exposed back and feign sleep.

6:30 a.m.- I am awakened to the sound of the blender. That’s strange; Connie likes her Margaritas on the rocks. I roll over and go back to sleep.

6:32 a.m.- Holy shit! My kids are playing with a device designed to puree objects at a million miles per hour; I spring from bed grabbing the first aid kit next to the blanket I was too lazy to get two hours ago and rush to the scene.

6:32:03 a.m.- Mack and Cayden are enjoying their chocolate shakes and watching Sponge Bob. They are happy to see me and the feeling is mutual. I curl up on the couch and hug them close.