Archive for February, 2009

Holy Shit I’m Jobless…

February 27, 2009

In a few short months I will be jobless. To make this even more interesting in a few short months I will be jobless in our rapidly collapsing, super-shitty economy. Yep, that sums it up nicely- sounds promising doesn‘t it? With that on the table, I need to get hot finding a second career. If anyone out there knows of some decent job openings you need to let me know- I’ll be available the first week of June.

If you’re wondering about my qualifications, rest assured the Marine Corps has done an excellent job making me competitive in today’s dynamic job market. So if you know of any organizations looking for the following strengths in a future employee please send them my way.

Retired Marine seeks employment:

Team player- Willing to go anywhere to do anything for minimal compensation.

Insured- Does not require health insurance as he is unlikely to admit when he is sick or broken in the first place.

Cool under pressure- Rarely gets flustered- unless you call for “jihad” on his happy ass and attempt to make him leave the planet before he is ready (in circumstances such as these the incumbent does not accept responsibility for his actions).

Relocatable- Airborne qualified enabling rapid relocation of family and personal effects as needed.

Reliable- will never be late for work (former employer stressed punctuality by incarcerating those who could not comply).

People person- Unless those people disagree with the Constitution of the United States or pose a threat to National security.

Capable-Will accomplish more before 8am than most of your employees will accomplish all day.

Multilingual- Mastered curse words and the phrase “stop or I’ll shoot you” in over 15 foreign languages- sure to be a hit during contract negotiations with international clientele.

Extremely knowledgeable- In automatic weapons, fields of fire, and offensive operations- a force multiplier for any corporation fearing hostile takeover or unwanted mergers.

Loyal-Spent 21-years placing the needs of his country ahead of his family‘s and his own- not willing to go that far for a “For-Profit“ organization, but he will still be pretty damn loyal.

Enjoys a challenge-One word “Marine“- can probably handle what you have to offer.

Strong work ethic-Can still crush the Marine Corps physical fitness test- wait a minute that‘s just strong. Never mind probably doesn’t apply- but he is a hard worker none the less.

Hours-Can work 18-hours a day without food or water, but does require (1) hour for physical training (PT) (non-negotiable).

Holidays-Can work those too, however demands that on 10 November the oldest and youngest employee in the company share a bite of cake in celebration of the birth of the Marine Corps.

Responsible-Consistently seeks positions of increased responsibility- will most likely challenge you for your job within two weeks of being hired.

Positive-“I can‘t“ does not exist in his lexicon. He’ll accomplish the mission just don’t ask him how he got the results- culpable deniability.

The Marine Corps has given me lots of other great skills that are surely in demand in the civilian sector. For instance I didn’t even mention that I’m a trained anti-tank assault man or a rappel master. Those skills alone should land me a great corporate job- but only if your competition drives tanks or you need to rappel into your cubicle to start the work day. My time on the drill field should be helpful as well- who wouldn’t want a former drill instructor in their office Fantasy Football league? Sure am excited about getting out there and making my fortune, so like I said if you know anyone interested in a guy like me please send my way.

Mack approached me the other night and started asking some pretty hard questions.  Seems he has some insider info about the tooth fairy and is looking to confirm his suspicions.  He opened the conversation with “I know you’re the one leaving the money under our pillows”- “Oh Shit, busted”.  Cornered I attempted evasive action:

 

Dad- “Dude, that’s gross you couldn’t pay me to touch your old teeth.”

Mack- (sly, knowing grin) “Dad I know it’s you- come clean.”

Dad- (Parry left) “I don’t know what you’re talking about”.

Mack- “Your choice Dad- we can make this as easy or as painful as you want.”

Dad- (starting to sweat) “Dude, come on, really, I have no idea what’s going on- if the Tooth Fairy isn’t real then we’ve both been duped.  I know, lets ask Mom, maybe she knows something” (willingly toss spouse under the bus).

 

It’s not that I really care about the Tooth Fairy- to be honest the whole idea of a tooth snatching, winged creature creeps me out to begin with.  But for some reason Connie and I fell in line like millions of parents before us and promulgated the myth.  Now eight years into my parenting career I get to break the news to my kids that “Yes boys, your Dad’s a big fat liar, there really is no tiny winged pixie with a tooth fetish and a big bag of dollar bills.”  I can offer up that I didn’t act alone- that every parent I know tells their kids the same thing.  But Mack can be such a smart ass he would probably counter with “Now Dad, if all your grown up buddies decided to jump of a bridge would you do it to?”- sadly son if it was in the name of childhood flights of fancy I probably would.

 

It’s never as simple as just telling the truth either.  Coming clean about the tooth fairy will inevitably lead to other painful little realizations.  For instance, if the Tooth Fairy is a sham won’t that bring all of the other holiday creatures i.e. Easter Bunny and Santa Claus into question?  I have a hard time with the Easter Bunny to begin with.  Seems a bit far fetched that a rabbit is leaving baskets full of candy hidden in our home- let alone a colored egg shitting, man-sized rabbit who possesses magical powers.  Who thought this one up anyway- couldn’t they have developed a myth that was just slightly more believable and easier for my kid’s imaginations to digest?  I researched the origin of the Easter Bunny and the internet tells me that the Easter Bunny is “a mythical character depicted as an anthropomorphic rabbit. In legend, the creature brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter” (Wikipedia).  This myth most likely came from German settlers in or around the 1600s.  I wasn’t sure what anthropomorphic was so I looked that up too.

 

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of uniquely human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, natural and supernatural phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Subjects for anthropomorphism commonly include animals and plants depicted as creatures with human motivation able to reason and converse, forces of nature such as winds or the sun, components in games, unseen or unknown sources of chance, etc. Almost anything can be subject to anthropomorphism”. (Wikipedia, again)

 

That is some scary shit if you ask me- especially the “almost anything can be subject to anthropomorphism” part.

 

But, if anything can be subject to anthropomorphism it begs the question how the hell a rabbit got the Easter gig?  If I had been around in the 1600s I would have made the Easter Bunny the “Easter Gorilla” (Gorilla’s are arguably the coolest animal on the planet).  Besides, a gorilla leaving gifts is much more believable considering their ability to grasp the handles of Easter baskets- i.e. the whole opposable thumb thing.  There would be other benefits to a simian Easter creature as well.  I guarantee it would be easier to get your kids to go to sleep the night before Easter if they knew a giant magical gorilla was going to be stalking around the house.  “Listen kids, the “Easter Gorilla” gets very angry when he enters our home in the dead of night and finds little boys and girls still awake, so go to sleep as quickly as possible and whatever you do don’t get out of bed before 9 am”- can you see the advantages of reworking the myth to suit modern parental needs? 

 

The possibilities to rewriting this myth are endless.  Yes, the “Easter Gorilla” leaves candy for all the good boys and girls- children who misbehave get dragged into the tree line and beaten like a piece Samsonite luggage.  “Hey kids instead of going to the mall and waiting in line to hang with a sweaty dude dressed in a rabbit suit lets go to the zoo and watch the “Easter Gorilla” fling poop at all the bad girls and boys”.  Speaking of flinging poo, you’ve got to wonder what the “Easter Gorilla” would hide in lieu of eggs- I guess that would depend on the amount of fiber in the big guy’s diet. 

 

If you’re the creative sort, personalize your holiday and start your own “Easter Gorilla” family traditions.  Maybe you can don Gorilla suits and wonder the neighborhood scaring the shit out of the neighbors who refuse to take care of their lawns and drive down the property value of your home (sorry I’m projecting again).  Or you can hang a tire swing in the front yard and light candles around it so the “Easter Gorilla” can relax a bit before {terrorizing his next victim} visiting the next deserving family.  Sadly, all this fun will go unrealized as we are stuck with a man-sized rabbit for a holiday deity.

 

I kind of went on a tangent with the whole gorilla thing (I really like gorillas) but the bottom line is Mack’s bullshit-o-meter is just about pegged and he is having a hard time logically accepting the Tooth Fairy.  This places me in a quandary.  If I continue to tell him I believe in the whole magic fairy thing then he is going to think that I should be heavily medicated.  Conversely, if I tell him the truth then I’m a liar and anything that comes out of my mouth from here on out is going to be questioned.  I wish I would have thought about this years ago, now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Why do parents do this to themselves?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go-Rillas and heat stroke…

February 21, 2009
So I’m at work one day, happens to be October 31st, and one of my midshipman, United States Naval Academy, is sporting a no-kidding full size gorilla costume. Most people would probably be alarmed at the sight of one of their employees dressed in such a manner- but I am a Marine, the only feelings that I experienced were those of pure envy.

It took my warped mind approximately 3-seconds to develop an intricate plan involving the use of the Gorilla costume and from that point on I would not be denied. So I pulled Magilla-Midshipman to the side and asked him if I could borrow the ensemble for a day or two; he quickly agreed.

A couple of hours later a beat-up cardboard box containing one well-used, full-sized Gorilla costume appeared in my office. After a detailed inspection I realized that maybe it was not as high tech as I had thought at 5 a.m. Hair (or what ever you call synthetic Gorilla fur) had fallen out in several spots and the rubber chest plate (complete with disturbingly erect Gorilla nipples) had started to peel away from the suit, but all-in-all not bad, especially for free. I found it very hard to concentrate on work with the temptation of wearing a full-sized Gorilla costume staring me square in the face, but somehow I managed to be productive. In fact, by the end of the day I was pretty sure that I had developed quite possibly the best Gorilla Suit plan in the history of the world.

As the work day drew to a close I considered jumping into the Gorilla suit for the ride home, but then considered the loss of peripheral vision due to the protruding brow and narrowed eye holes a road hazard so I ended up throwing the box in my back seat. (See how responsible I am?)

THE PLAN: I would call Connie and ask her if she could take the kids out of the house for a few minutes. I would then run in, put on the gorilla suit and move to the backyard. Our backyard is sloped upward toward the back. At the top of the slope are some trees and vegetation (the closest thing to woods that we have). My plan was to hang out near the top of the slope looking “Gorilla-like”. When the kids came home they would enter through the kitchen, walk past the sliding doors leading to our backyard and “Holy shit Mom, there is a Gorilla in our backyard!!!”. Don’t get me wrong we do not encourage nor condone our children using profanity, but if by chance there was a real gorilla in our backyard I would probably forgive them if they did.

After I was discovered I would slowly begin the ascent to our back patio. Looking as menacing as possible I would inch closer and closer to the sliding doors. I visualized my boys transfixed as I drew near. Finally, when the moment was right I would charge at the sliding doors beating my chest while giving the best angry Gorilla roar that I could muster. Are you feeling me people? Or am I sick for thinking that this scenario could quite possibly be the funniest thing ever? I couldn’t wait to see their expressions; priceless.

HOW I T TURNED OUT:

I called Connie on her cell phone; she just happened to be out with the boys. I sketched out my plan for her. I can’t really put my finger on it but I don’t think she was as excited as I was, could have been the statement “Shane you’re an idiot, someone is going to get hurt!” I walked into the house and threw on the suit. It fit like a big, furry, sweaty glove. The only way to describe the feeling of wearing a full-sized Gorilla suit is to compare it to wearing a giant sheepskin seat-cover that had just been pulled from beneath a morbidly obese man after several hundred miles of driving on a hot August day. Secondly, I have never been close enough to smell a real gorilla, but I can all most guarantee they don’t smell like Axe Body Spray. Something tells me that the owner of the suit actually believed the Axe commercials and that the odor alone would draw women to him in droves; the fact that he was wearing a Gorilla suit must have escaped him. At this point I was all most running to get in place, but I did have the piece of mind to grab my cell phone just in case I needed it. Luckily the realistic Gorilla suit came complete with front slash pockets.

Once outside I moved into position and rehearsed some basic Gorilla mannerisms. It was a little past 5 o’clock just enough daylight left to successfully employ my plan. I was ready.

5:15- no Connie/kids

5:30- no Connie/kids

5:45- no Connie/kids

Right about 5:45 I started to question my plan. First of all it was getting dark and I hadn’t told anyone in our neighborhood what I was doing. This could go tragically wrong in a couple of ways. One, a good Samaritan could spot me and call the police then I would look like a fool trying to explain my plan to terrorize my children. The second scenario, and probably most likely, was that my 72-year old neighbor (Sonny) would see me and attempt to exterminate me. Sonny is my best friend; he’s also a good ole boy from Tennessee who has a penchant for getting rid of “Critters”. Sonny wouldn’t care if it was a rare silverback or a ground hog; he would view both as potential hazards to the health of his lawn, and once you fall into the “lawn-hazard” category it’s only a matter of time before you disappear. So to ensure I wasn’t hit over the head with a garden spade I called him on my cell phone. Here’s how the conversation went:

Shane- “Hey Sonny this is Shane I’m in the back yard dressed as a Gorilla”

Sonny- “Wire you dressed like a GO-Rilla?

Shane- “I don’t have time to explain, but it’s a joke I’m playing on the kids”

Sonny- “Good God-A-mighty, you are dressed as a Go-Rilla! (Sonny is the neighborhood depository of information as such he has an unmatched ability to immediately recognize even the slightest modification in normalcy, sort of like Robo-Cop only shorter and less metallic)

Shane- “I look cool don’t I?”

Sonny- “I think you look like a Baar” (Hill-Billy term for Bear)

Shane- “Close enough, please don’t shoot me”

Sonny- “I ain’t gonna shoot ya, if’n you stay off my grass”

Shane- “Deal”

Sonny- “When yer done, stop by for a Budweiser”

Shane- “Will do Sonny, Bye”

Feeling fairly safe from ending up in a garbage bag or buried in Sonny’s back yard I went back to work preparing for Connie/kids return. Another 20 minutes passed by, it was getting darker, I was getting impatient. The suit no longer smelled like Axe Body wash, it was starting to smell like a real gorilla. Ants had found there way into my suit and there was absolutely no way for me to reach them. On top of that, the rubber chest plate was starting to peel back from all the heat I was generating. I pulled off the gorilla mask to get some air, it was then I realized I was dangerously close to heat stroke. My lips were numb, my tongue was the size of a cucumber and I had stopped sweating 25 minutes beforehand. The fear of being found unconscious in the back yard dressed as a Gorilla started to become a very likely reality. I was able to hold out for another 15-minutes before my fight or flight mechanism kicked in. Looking like a tranquilized beast off some old “Wild Kingdom” episode I stumbled to the garden hose to bring down my core body temperature. But to my dismay I was unable to work the spicket with my Gorilla gloves and had lost the presence of mind to pull them off. In a last ditch effort to preserve my dignity (as much dignity as any grown man in a Gorilla suit can have) I opened the sliding door and threw myself in to the air conditioned comfort of our family room.

It was while laying in the family room half dressed in my Gorilla costume that the boys came bounding into the house. My plan was foiled. In fact to add insult to injury all that Mack said (matter-of-factly) was “Hey Dad, what’s going on? Can I have a play date?”

Moral of the story:

Gorilla suits, though exceptionally funny, can cause severe dehydration and loss of good judgment. They are not toys and should be handled with extreme care and should never be sold or lent to United States Marines. We just do not possess the level of maturity and common sense to employ them safely.

Super Tubers…

February 21, 2009
We recently took the boys snow tubing for the first time and it was a blast. Just to get this out of the way- I made it the entire day without incurring a serious injury. I know some of you worry that with a track record like mine sliding down a hill on a giant inflatable disc may be asking for trouble. But happy to report I made it out intact and am writing this from the joyous warmth of the “5am Pentagon Happy Train” vice the comfort of a hospital bed.

On to tubing. We met some friends at Liberty Ski Resort in Pennsylvania for the afternoon snow tubing expedition. The minute we arrived Mack vanished with his friends and was not heard from again until the last run of the day. Cayden on the other hand was content to stay with Mom and Dad. Strangely enough Cayden requested that I, not his mother, make the first run of the day with him. I say strange because normally Cayden is a Momma’s boy and his willingness to stay with Dad when Mom is readily available is uncustomary. But I quickly agreed as I enjoy having some one on one quality time when the opportunity presents itself.

Up the mountain. We rode the “magic carpet” (conveyor belt) to the crest- giant snow tubes in hand. When we got to the summit I surveyed the landscape. Up until this point I had absolutely zero concerns for my health and well being. From the ground the slope appeared meager and the velocity of snow tubers seemed reasonable- but this was nothing more than a cheap parlor trick used to lure your stupid ass to the top. When you’re on top of the mountain looking down you can bear true witness to what you’re about to subject yourself to- and it isn‘t promising. The faces on the adults ahead of us told me that they too were coming to the same realization that I had- “Holy shit that dude ahead of me left a vapor trail- I‘m in for some serious pain”. Cayden on the other hand was undeterred- he was anxious to get to the head of the line and take his shot at glory.

While standing in line awaiting our turn Cayden suggested that we plummet to our deaths (my words) together by coupling our tubes with the attached leashes- this is a completely approved way of conquering the mountain. I eagerly agreed. My thoughts were that if needed I could possibly use Cayden’s 40lb body as an anchor to potentially slow my decent to just under warp speed. Cayden, surveying my bulk, was having some thoughts of his own- “Dad’s 210 pound body will provide enough momentum to propel me into the future“. His physics were more logical than my own, but by the time I came to this conclusion we were all ready lashed together and at the head of the line.

Perched on the edge of the mountain I had one final thought before we began our descent- if I bounce off my tube I will most likely land on Cayden squashing him like a grape. Mental note, avoid moguls at all cost and hold on tightly with every appendage capable of acquiring a grip. The ski attendant gave the go ahead and off we went.

Judging by Cayden’s facial expressions on the way down we must have been motoring pretty friggin good. I tried to slow us down by lifting my head to create drag but all that did was pull the saliva from my mouth which was wide open attempting to form a scream. Cayden didn’t look to good either. The sheer force of our descent kicked his all ready runny nose into overdrive and a four foot long stream of snot trailed from each nostril half way back up the slope. His knuckles were white, mine were numb, his teeth were clenched, so was my butt. When we neared the end of our run I saw about 50 people frantically scrambling for cover behind the protective barrier that the resort maintains for situations such as this. It was then I noticed several large snow tube sized holes punched into the protective barrier each equipped with quaint little roadside shrine- Holy shit, now I understand what those things represent. Obviously, I wasn‘t the first 200 pound asshole to lash himself to his child and hurl himself down the mountain- but I refused to end up like those that came before me. With all my might I dug the toes of my boots into the frozen earth like a couple of meat hooks and willed us to come to a stop. And yes my friends my determination, will and size 11 combat boots were just enough to save us from an untimely demise.

We released our death grips and stood. Cayden had a peculiar expression on his face which at first I mistook for post traumatic shock syndrome- but it wasn’t. The look on Cayden’s face was pure unadulterated glee.

Cayden- “That was awesome, let’s go again Dad”

Dad- “Sure buddy, but you know what I heard?”

Cayden- “What Dad”

Dad- “I heard that Mom’s can go even faster, let’s see if your’s is available.”

Connie up!

 

A photo’s worth…

February 19, 2009

Our guys:

They’re loving…

They’re nuts…

They’re tough…

And they got some big damn feet…

One of the benefits of being married to a loving, talented, artistic wife.  Thanks Honey!

Time on deck, 6pm…

February 18, 2009
I have been really busy lately and have neglected my blogging responsibilities. I swear if someone will pay me my salary I’ll sit around all day long and type up stupid things- but since no offer has been made I’ll do the best I can with time available.

My plan tonight is to describe my entire evening routine from the time I walk in the door until the minute I finally get to sit down. If you’ve been to my site before you probably know I have a tendency to get a bit wordy but for this post I’m going to describe the entire evening in a single paragraph- possible in a single run-on sentence. Here we go.

Time on deck is 6pm-

“Dads home!!“; Rummage for snacks; Grazing operations commence; Sponge Bob laughter; Fight; “Mack is touching me”; “My Couch!”; “My chair!”; Melt down; Injury; Stomp up the stairs; “Gotta go poop Dad“; Charge Nintendo; “Who left a poop in the toilet?”; Homework; “I forgot my homework”; “I found my homework”; “I only have to do half”; “You’ll do it all”; Guitar practice; Horse With No Name- for the 10 thousandth time; Craft time; Unglue Cayden from the floor; Remove glitter from eye sockets; 3 broken crayons and a missing marker cap; Duck!!! Too late- Nerf dart to the forehead; Money hunting; break up fight over the quarter they found in my coat pocket; “I’m bored”; “Can I have a play date?”; “Water please”; “I love you one million Dad- I love Mom the same”; “What’s for dinner dad?”; “I don’t like that“; “Can I help cook?“; Chicken- again; “Cayden set the table“; “I have to do everything“; “You’re a horrible Dad“; “You’re the best Dad“; “Eat your dinner“; “I‘m full“; Dishes in the sink; “I don’t want to shower first“; 5-minute delay in route to shower to absorb “I Carly” re-run; Naked kids giggling; “I washed my hair yesterday“; Buff dry boys; “Do I have to brush my teeth?”; Tooth paste explosion; “Can I have ice cream?”; “I want candy“; “5 more minutes Dad“; Re-brush , floss, rinse; Read a book; ”I can’t see the pictures Mack!”; Kiss Mom; Lights off; “One minute to talk Dad?”; “Minute’s up go to sleep“, “Gotta poop Dad”; “Me too”; “Hug Dad?”; “Good night guys- go to sleep; “Love you Dad”; “Love you too”; “Who left a poop in the toilet?” Silence.

The time on deck is now 9pm.

That’s about it minus an additional melt down or two. Whoever said parenting is easy is full of shit (sorry for the language but I’m pretty passionate about that statement). Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It consumes you. It robs you of your individuality- the person you once were is now the maid, the cook, the chauffeur, the tutor, the arbitrator, the nurse and a hundred other professions that you immediately assume the second you return from that damn day job that puts Power Rangers under the tree and Fruit Loops in the bowl. It’s exhausting and often frustrating and there are days when you’ll question the job that you’ve done thus far and the direction that you’ll take tomorrow. But all of that pales in comparison when measured against the unconditional love of your child. Without a doubt, I wouldn’t trade my worst day as a Dad for my best day as just another childless dude. On that thought I’ve got to run and go flush the toilet, I just watched Cayden walk out of the bathroom.

Come and get it…

February 15, 2009
I’ve seen the evening meal depicted in a thousand films and it always looks like such a pleasant experience. The family gathered around the table- passing the corn, smiling, discussing the day’s events. I want that. If the guys could just hold it together for the family meal I would be content. Let there be calm, friendly discussion while we break bread- just 30-minutes of peace, love and happiness. But I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. The only thing our family meal’s missing to be considered a full fledged circus is a Volkswagen full of clowns. Here is a short dialog taken almost verbatim from a meal about a week ago (cue circus music)
Dad/Mom- “Mack how was school today?”

Mack- “Oh, it was really good……….” (this is where Mack goes into a lengthy diatribe dissecting every facet of his day in ass-numbing detail- from the minute we parted ways to the minute he returned. Mack likes to dominate conversations in our family. Of course he attempts to do this while eating green beans with his fingers- if he stopped talking long enough to exercise good table manners someone else might get a word in edgewise.)

Dad- “Mack eat your food with a utensil like an intelligent Ape”

(Mack picks up fork in one hand a green bean in the other. This is not the hill that I will die on today, I accept the compromise. On Mack’s 9th straight minute of dialogue Cayden gets antsy and interjects.)

Cayden- “My best friend Mario threw up in school today”

Mack- (indignant) “Dad, Cayden interrupted”

Dad- “Cayden, don’t interrupt and please don’t talk about throw up at the table.”

Cayden- “Daaaaad! Mack won’t let me talk- he’s all blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”. (this goes on for several seconds because Cayden really likes to say blah, blah- plus he loves to flick his brother‘s stones.)

Mom- “You’re right, Mack let Cayden have a turn.”

Mack- “But, but I was going to tell you about who I sat next to on the bus ride to school……(Dad holds up one finger to single the start of the time-out countdown) No fair! (grumpy expression ensues)

Dad- “The floor is yours Cayden.”

Cayden- “Why? What do I do with the floor?”

Dad- “What do you want to tell us about your day son?”

Cayden- “It came out his nose holes”

Dad- “What came out of whose nose holes”

Cayden- “Puke came out of Mario’s nose holes”

Mack- “Coooooool!”

Dad- “Cayden, what did I say about that talk at the table?”

Cayden- “I don’t know, was that before you told me to take the floor somewhere?

Mom- “Can we talk about something else”

Mack- “I can”

Dad (thinking)- “No shit, Mack can definitely do that- but there is no guarantee we’ll be able to get him to stop ”

“Splash!”- (Can’t think of a better way to articulate a full glass of milk spilling onto our way to-expensive dining room table.)

To note, you can count on at least two things happening every meal. First, something is going to spill- most likely a full glass of fluid. Next, Cayden will need to go to the bathroom.

Mack- “I got it” (attempt is made to mop up a quart of milk with a single 2-ply napkin)

Dad- “No Mack I have it. No one move or speak until I get this mopped up.”

Cayden- “Dad I have a question to tell you, can you get me a bowl of Fruit Loops while you’re up?” (Every time Cayden wants to ask a question he must announce it- and he doesn’t ask you a question, he tells it to you.)

Mack- “Yeah, me too Dad, Fruit Loops would be good.”

Dad- “You bet guys, why don’t I grab you a couple of gallons of latex paint and a cutting torch while I am at it that way if any part of the dining room is left standing you can finish the job?” (My kids get sarcasm when they want to- but it has to benefit them)

Mack/ Cayden- “What?” (confused look on their faces- but I can tell Mack likes the idea of having a cutting torch at the dinner table.)

Dad- “No fruit loops eat your dinner”

Cayden- “But I’m full Dad”

Mom- “Then why did you ask for a bowl of fruit loops?“

Cayden- “Because I didn’t fill up this part of my stomach (points to belly button), all the healthy food goes here (points to his ribs) and that part is all full up“

Mack- “That’s not how it works Cayden, you’re a butt wipe” (the word butt is so often used in our home to describe each other that I no longer consider it an insult so I felt no need to correct Mack- had he said ass-wipe things would have gone much differently)

Cayden- “Dad, gotta go the bathroom.“ (mention of the word butt must have reminded Cayden that he should check his immediately)

(Cayden going to the bathroom during dinner is just one of those things that he consistently does. Personally I believe he hides in the bathroom to avoid finishing his dinner- but I have no proof. What I do know is that he rarely relieves himself when he’s in there- he sings, he dances, he reads Muscle and Fitness, stares at himself in the mirror and then he runs water- and when we call for him he usually returns)

Mack- “Can I have more milk?”

Dad- (goes and gets milk) “here you go”

Mack- “It’s not chocolate milk.”

Dad-”A thousand pardons Sahib, the prince’s chocolate cow has gone dry and all that remains in the kingdom is the meager vanilla variety.”

Cayden returns to the table and demands that I feel his hands, which happen to be sopping wet. This is to prove to me that he washed them.

Mack- “He didn’t wash his hands he just ran water over them.”

Cayden- “Did so they’re wet and I used soap!”

Mack- “No you didn’t!”

Cayden- “I did too Mack- you’re getting me frustulated (sic) you better shut your pie-hole” (I take credit for teaching that one to the guys, they know a lot of other cool Marine jargon too)

Mack- “What ever” (head tilt, hand wave and sass- Mack must have Tivo’ed Jerry Springer again.)

Cayden- “I’m going to kick your butt so hard you’re gonna be wearing it as a hat” (Cayden’s personal favorite comeback)

Mack- “Oh Yeah, I’ll pull off your ear and shove it in your back pocket so you can listen to me kicking your butt.” (Mack counters with a threat of his own)

Mom/Dad- “Boys stop, your talking privileges have just been revoked.”

All said and done that was about a 15 minute glimpse into the Groah family meal experience. If I continued it would be more of the same. Bottom line Connie and I can usually go the entire meal without saying a complete sentence to each other- it’s non-stop shenanigans from start to finish. Revoking speaking privileges normally allows us to get out about half a sentence but then the boys start making faces at each other, humming guitar hero riffs, gargling with their milk- basically anything they can to disrupt, deter and deny sensible conversation.

What I do bring to the conversation on a consistent basis are these two statements:

1. “Cayden eat your dinner”- otherwise he would forget why he is sitting at the table.

2. “Mack eat like a human being“- Because he becomes so engrossed with fueling his high octane metabolism that he often forgets he’s part of the human race.

These two statements have become so ingrained in my DNA that the last time Connie and I got out alone together I was tossed from a sushi place for demanding that all of it’s patrons eat with a fork and knife. What can I say, we must have been dining with a bunch of DINKs (Duel Income No Kids) that night- otherwise they would have been more understanding.

 

 

Happy Birthday- says who?

February 13, 2009
All of the happy, lighthearted people must have jobs that don’t require them to begin their commutes at five in the morning. I’m sitting on the metro and I don’t see a single person who would willingly point me in the direction of a garden hose should I burst into flames. I’m probably annoying them with the big stupid grin plastered to my face, but truth is, I love early mornings. If it wasn’t for evening family time, I would go to bed super early just so that I could wake up and drink coffee in the inky pre-dawn darkness. What can I say- I flat out dig the world at rest.

I view this eccentricity as yet another indication that I’m getting old. Now, I realize several of you will argue that turning 39 isn’t old, but you haven’t factored in years of Marine Corps service. Marines age similarly to dogs- every year you wear a tree suit, multiply by two. So that makes me about 60 and a hard living 60 at that. But it’s not just the actual number of years that tells me I’m approaching the top of the hill; there have been several other indications over the past few months as well.

For instance, I now own a pair of slippers. They’re not a cool pair of $90 Ugg‘s either. I’m sporting a pair with flannel lumberjack-patterned insoles. “Say hello to Grampa kids, but speak loudly his hearing shit the bed years ago“. This troubles me as I’ve never owned slippers. In fact until a few years ago I didn’t own jammies or any other night time comfort item- unless you count the occasional glass of Carlo. I was impervious to cold weather- you know the guy who amazes his neighbors by taking out the trash in the dead of winter wearing nothing more than a well worn pair of boxers. Now I have to bundle up just to convince my creaky-ass joints to get out from under the covers each morning. Obviously my blood is thinning and my circulation is slowing to a halt- that my friends is an undeniable sign of getting old.

Did I just mention creaky joints? I think I did but as I near 40 my memory seems to be failing me more and more. Oh Yeah, joints, which I’ll soon be smoking plenty of to ease my rheumatism. My joints don’t creak they scream. Twenty-one years of sleeping on the ground, humping a pack and wearing body armor have left me as crooked as a politician and as broken as our economy. My back and neck are riddled with arthritis and my knee caps and elbows float freely to and fro. But I’m hard headed and refuse to believe that this isn’t the same body I had in my late teens so I constantly test it just to see how jacked up I am. Here is a short list of thing I have tried in the past couple of months to prove my body is the same now as it was back then:

The worm- remember that fancy little break dance move form the 80’s? Yeah, I tried to show it to the boys one evening and all I could muster was laying on my stomach- I didn’t look like a worm I looked like a plank of wood yanked off an old barn door.

Sitting Indian Style (maybe I should say Native American style)- I told Connie I was going to try to get in this position and she called the paramedics before my butt hit the ground- good foresight, it took three full grown men and 6-percosets to get me off the floor.

Spinning in circles- Remember when you were a kid and you would spin in circles as fast as you could to get super dizzy- don’t try this as an adult. My spinning consisted of one fairly rapid 180 degree turn followed by a severe bout of nausea and confusion.

None of my tests worked out as I had planned- dead give away I’m getting old.

How about this one- I now wear glasses. I used to have bionic vision capable of amazing things. Now I have a pair of wire rimmed military issue spectacles strapped to my head so I can type a post about how old I’m getting- how ironic is that? I would imagine in the not so distant future I’ll need one off those helpful cell phones with the giant numbers so that I can punch in 911 when I slip and break my hip walking out of the Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans. Better yet, I wonder when my insurance will cover that snazzy emergency call button that alerts paramedics when I’ve fallen in the shower- you know what I’m talking about, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I‘veheard rumor that you can charge your IPOD with those things and that they double as a 4GB thumb drive when your not in the midst of a medical emergency- how useful. Speaking of insurance I got a no-shit letter from my insurance company last night wishing me a happy birthday and encouraging me to buy more life insurance. In what universe is that an appropriate birthday salutation? Happy Birthday Shane, you’re getting older make sure your family is taken care of before you kick the bucket! How friggin morbid is that? So instead of that anniversary “Matlock” box set I was thinking about I’m going to get an additional $14.99 worth of coverage and roll the dice.

My hearing is also shot but this was more of a consequence of shooting anti-tank rockets than an old age thing. Back in the mid-90’s they tried to convince me to consider hearing aids but my vanity would not allow it so I pretended not to hear them and walked out of the office. Maybe I should reconsider? With the way technology is today I could probably get some type of high speed space helmet that enhances all of my senses at once- I’d be like Spider Man only not so limber.

The last indication was the additional hair I seem to be sprouting in locations that should most likely remain hairless. What’s up with the extra hair follicles? I don’t strive to have an “Austin Powers” tuft of hair snugly nestled between my shoulder blades nor do I desire eyebrows that must be combed and gelled after a good gust of wind. Sure sign I turned one of life’s many corners was when my barber asked me if I wanted her to trim back my eyebrows. Holy shit woman that’s for old guys I’m just a kid, chill out with the brow clippers! Insulted, I pinned my eyebrows back away from my face and stormed out of her shop. It took me a week to come to grips with the realization that I would now have to fork over an additional $1.50 to keep my brows from intermingling with my “Magnum P.I.” chest hair- humiliating.

So there you have it a flattering look at an ageing guy. I know I’m not the only man going through this right now. I hang out with a crowd of dudes all about my age and we’re all faced with the same realization that we’re no longer 20 years old- but come to think of it when I was 20 I was as dumb as a wash cloth, what was so great about that? Maybe what I should do is just embrace the inevitable and age gracefully? Nope that doesn’t work either. I know, I’ll just bitch and moan a lot and tell people stories about what it was like when I was young- that’s a much better idea and it‘s the final indication that yes I‘m getting old..

Just a quick disclaimer before my Mom calls me up to yell at me:  I don’t really think I am old, because if I did that would mean that every single person older than I is really, really old.  And an insinuation like that my friends could make for a very lonely birthday.

Dad, look what I made…

February 10, 2009
Mack has found a new passion in life- he makes weapons. I guess I should be worried that my 8-year old son has fashioned a completely functioning crossbow out of rubber bands and old chop sticks. Or maybe I should be alarmed that he acquired the knowledge to build such a weapon from You Tube videos titled “Homemade weapons”. Lastly, maybe I should show a little parental concern because Cayden just shot through the kitchen with a pie-tin sized bull’s eye taped to his back- but I’m not concerned. This statement probably makes me sound like a horrible parent but I can explain.

The reason my panties remain un-bunched is that so far every weapon that Mack has built is pathetically inadequate for taking down Cayden sized prey. I’ve seen several of his creations throughout the weekend and I believe the majority of them are as benign as a feather duster. He has a homemade BB gun made from a mechanical pencil, a dart gun which used to squirt water and the above mentioned chop stick hurling crossbow. He told me the other day that “he was born to make weapons”- that admission was a bit unsettling. No parent wants to announce that their child is an international weapons manufacturer at the local garden club meeting- unless of course the club meets in Baghdad.

The one piece of this new found fascination that does concern me considerably is that the Marine in me can’t stand to see an ineffective weapons system and the tinker-er in me has the technology to make those weapons better, stronger, faster- sort of like the guy who rebuilt Steve Austin after his space ship crashed in the 6-Million Dollar Man.

So when Mack wasn’t looking I tinkered with his dart gun and increased the muzzle velocity on the damn thing by approximately 300%- enough to fire a tooth-pick clean through a ½ inch piece of sheet rock (our dining room wall happens to be made of that material this is how I know the thickness, whoops). Smelling a potential law suit I quickly reversed the modifications I had made and put it back on the counter.

Note to self- deny my services if Mack finds “You Tube” directions for homemade hand grenades.

Into the Wild…

February 7, 2009

Okay, I’m not sure how I can work this into a post that makes any sense because my head is buzzing with so many random smart ass remarks that I feel like I am about to explode. A few weeks ago the Groah family was searching for some exciting weekend fun that wouldn’t crush our meager savings. We take this “national state of economic emergency-thingy” very seriously so we’ve cut back on a lot of unnecessary spending- BTW it sucks. Spending money is a damn good time.

Anyway, we decided to take the kids to the hillbilly mecca known as Bass Pro Shop. If you’re currently reading this while wearing a camouflage bathrobe by the light of your deer antler reading lamp I apologize- I’m not trying to offend.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bass Pro Shop, you’re really missing out. This place is about a million square feet of camouflage, tree stands, fishing poles, guns, knives and taxidermied wildlife- things that make Mack’s heart flutter with excitement. Mack believes that the only things our home is missing are a couple of animal heads hung from our dining room wall and a smoked glass gun cabinet in our kitchen- so Bass Pro is the perfect place to improve our home decor.

But I digress. I like Bass Pro and best of all there is no cost for admission- it’s like a free amusement park for rednecks. So when we went a couple of weeks ago, I brought our camera to capture some precious moments of two boys set free in “Man-Land”.

Photo #1- “The Wild”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mack is posing in front of an extremely authentic depiction of a moose’s natural habitat painstakingly created by Bass Pro wildlife engineers. Atleast I think that’s what the sign to Mack’s left told us. Just a couple of novice observations. In what wildlife dimension did moose and skunks share such close quarters?  They are far from related- I don’t think they travel in herds or share similar migratory patterns and I’m positive they can’t procreate (physically impossible). Not to judge, but if they did travel together and sensed danger and the ”fight or flight” mechanism kicked in, wouldn’t the skunk’s far shorter legs make it impossible to keep up with his friend the moose? Maybe the skunk rides the moose to safety, but then the question is how does the skunk get on top of an 8-foot tall moose?

My interpretation could be misguided. It could be that moose feed primarily on squat, stinky rodents (like this skunk for instance) and the intent of this scene is to show the moose about to swoop down and capture his prey. That’s some scary shit isn’t it? A giant, 9-zillion pound carnivorous moose running around eating skunks- sounds like a Stephen King book plot.

All of this could potentially make sense if it wasn’t for the hum of fluorescent lights and the giant climbing wall in the right hand side of the picture. If you include those two minor details, it appears that the moose and skunk are patiently standing in line for their opportunity to engage in some trendy, extreme sports activity.

Photo:  “The size of your paws is not directly linked to the size of anything else”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a giant man-eating grizzly bear, also standing in his natural habitat- which apparently is located among the Underarmour leggings and wildlife-themed embroidered sweatshirts.

I decided to feed my youngest to the bear just for fun. I know he is a man-eater but between meals he would probably appreciate a small, low-carb snack. Initially Cayden was terrified, but then we both noticed something that made us giggle (refer to below photo for explanation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bear was enormous except for one little appendage- his man-parts. No wonder the bear is angry, he must get teased mercilessly in the wildlife locker room after he hits the gym. Can you imagine the feelings of inadequacy? If I was him I wouldn’t go rearing up on my haunches unless I was wearing some panties. But maybe it works to his advantage during the hunt. He raises up, his victim gets one look at his junk, starts to giggle, and then while rolling on the ground in fits of laughter, is mauled to death by the bear with ease.

I wonder, if the bear could speak “horse” would he go to the horse for advice- maybe a couple of exercises or some supplement suggestions to help him with his little problem?

Sorry if you consider this a bit vulgar or inappropriate- but it’s kind of like watching monkeys throw poop at the zoo- you shouldn’t laugh but you can’t help yourself.

By the way, for the men out there, if your spouse tell’s you that you’re hung like a grizzly bear, it’s not a compliment.

Photo: “I’m crazy about fishing”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boys are crazy about fishing.  Even more so now that they know for a fact that fish larger than the lures in their tackle boxes exist in real life. Mack stood in front of this display for 20-minutes trying to hatch a plan to break in after the store closed for a little one-on-one angling time. All that Cayden wanted to do was to go for a swim and befriend the 70-pound catfish lurking toward the bottom of the tank.

Well I have to wrap this up. I just heard Mack fire Cayden from their band- AGAIN. That makes six firings in the last hour between the two of them. So as I head down to the basement to engage in contract negotiations, I’ll leave you with this:  Bass Pro Shops is a fun, free, Sunday afternoon activity for boys and girls alike- so turn off the TV, gather your survival gear, and make the trek. While you’re there, don’t forget to pay your respects to “Tiny” the man-eating grizzly- just try not to stare- he is very self conscious.