Archive for June, 2009

Daily retirement chores

June 28, 2009

As my first week of retired life comes to a close I think I’ve settled into a comfortable pattern.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

0600- wake up, scratch man-parts, try to remember where I am and why it’s not pitch black outside- Oh shit, I’m late for work!

0615- I realize that I’m retired- but only after frantically searching for my black berry, pistol and boots for 15-minutes.

0620- check progress on beard, it’s mostly gray- friggin awesome, I wait 21-years to grow a beard only to discover that I’m Kenny Roger’s bastard love child. 

0630- Go to the gym because I’m a creature of habit.  The thought does pass through my mind that now that I’m a civilian I really don’t need to conduct physical training every day.  What kind of crazy thought is that?  I punish myself for those irrational thoughts by working out twice as hard as usual.

0820- Arrive at home the boys are awake and surprised to see me.  I explain to them that I’m retired for the 9-zillioneth time.  They nod like they understand but I know they’ll act completely surprised again tomorrow.

0830- Check beard progress.

0845-1000- make an elaborate breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast and pan cakes- kids eat like birds and then ask for “Corn Pops”.   (Note- I’m a dumb-ass, put away the pots and pans and feed the kids Pop Tarts until they throw up)

1000-1200-  Walk aimlessly around the house trying to think of something productive to do.

1200-1300- Settle on rearranging the linen closet- good chore for a trained killer, maybe tomorrow I’ll tune into Martha Stewart to figure out how to color coordinate our throw pillows and drapes.

1300-1500- Take kids to  pool, drink beer, scratch beard and discuss “John and Kate + 8” with the other stay at home Moms.  I think the other Moms are envious of my beard they have no facial hair to scratch- except that one Mom who has a thicker mustache than me.  If I would have known that she would get all huffy I never would have complimented her on her killer “Fu-Manchu” .  Good God, civilians are so sensitive.

1500-1630- Force kids to do summer school work and reward their academic achievements with “Flintstones” chewable vitamins.  Now that the good parenting block is checked take kids out back to shoot Mack’s air-soft rifle.

1632- Get tweezers to remove air-soft pellet from my buttocks- Mack refuses to apply Neosporin.  No way am I asking Connie- I’d never hear the end of it.  BTW, if you want to find out how much an air-soft pellet hurts shoot an unsuspecting pedestrian do not ask your child to shoot you in the ass- it will not turn out well.

1700-  Play catch with the boys- Because I’m retired.

1800- Light the grill and demonstrate to the guys what happens when you spray “Pam” directly into an open flame.

1810- Pencil on some eyebrows so Connie won’t find out what i just taught the boys.

1830- Eat Dinner.

1900- Let the boys catch fireflies and put them in our good Tupperware containers- “yes, you can punch holes in the lids to let them breathe”.

2030- Kids in bed, begin planning for the next day’s adventure.

Retirement is good to go.  Tomorrow I’m heading to the drug store to purchase a beard trimmer for my new pool buddy.  I know she won’t appreciate it, but if I want to really experience some “desperate housewives” type shit I’ve got to stir that pot.  Wish me luck…

I do love retirement…

June 25, 2009

I’ve got to wonder- if I was still on active duty would I be willing to gather the family and drag them down to the beach on a Thursday evening?

Chances are I wouldn’t- I’d be too busy prepping for the next day’s work and worrying about what challenges tomorrow would bring.

 I wonder how many smiles I missed worrying about such trivial things?

I have some catching up to do…

Who would have known…

June 24, 2009

Okay, so I’ve been retired for all of about a week now and I’m still kind of new to this whole “stay at home dad thing”, but that’s no excuse for the mistake I made earlier this week.  The boys were a bit over the top so I ran down to the neighborhood “Red Box” (video vending machine that will eventually be the death of Block Buster) and purchased an animated movie for the boy’s viewing pleasure.

I thought I was doing really well getting a cartoon and all.  The last movie I got for Mack was “Hellboy II”- probably a little inappropriate for the intended audience.  I can just see the crowd of angry parents gathering with pitchforks and torches.  But before you go stringing me up, remember I got a cartoon this time.  Shane was exercising some good parental judgement- well almost.

The DVD I got for them was “The Simpson Movie”- as in Homer, Bart, Marge and the gang.  I knew it was questionable, but hell this show ran for years on network television- how bad could it possibly be?

The attached photo may answer that question:

I call this masterpiece “Simson Guy”

Lets disect this piece of art shall we?

First of all the caption- “Dad this is for you, look at my finger”.  How should I interpret that?  Is Cayden flipping me the bird or simply wanting me to marvel at how well he has mastered drawing the traditional cartoon four-fingered hand?

BTW- whats up with the other hand?  It has  three fingers and two thumbs and it looks like it’s getting ready to “Pimp” slap me.

My initial reaction is that I have a very artistic, but angry, child sending me a message.

I think Cayden understood that his picture was a bit profane as well.  Like most things that my boys want to protect from the public at large it was secured with electrical tape- a staple item in our home.

However, if you can get past the whole middle finger thing the rest of the drawing is pretty legit.  Cayden drew his main character with proportionate dimensions, which is a huge improvement over drawings of the past.  Aside from the wacky hands and the absence of a neck, I would say he did a really good job.  Too bad I can’t encourage more of the same- I really think he found his niche.

Battle Royale…

June 16, 2009

I’m making dinner- chicken teriyaki sandwiches, I make the best by the way.  The kids are in the basement cleaning up a metric ton of Lego’s.  Every two seconds one of them yells up from the depths off our basement to tell on the other.  Here is what it’s like to be the father figure in the Groah household.

Note: I’m upstairs but can hear everything that’s going on in the basement.

Mack- “Dad, Cayden’s not cleaning”

Dad- “Cayden clean up please”

Cayden- “I am cleaning up”

Mack- “No you’re not”

Cayden- “Yes I am!”

Mack- “Dad, Cayden is  threatening to throw a metal ball at my head”

Dad- “Cayden no throwing metal balls at your brother’s head”

Mack- “NOOOOOO!”

Cayden- “Giggle, snort”

Mack- “Dad, Cayden threw a metal ball in the direction of my head”

Dad- “Did he hit your head?”

Mack- “No, but it was really close”

Dad- “Cayden, didn’t I tell you, no throwing metal objects at your brother’s head!”

Cayden- “Dad I didn’t throw a metal ball”

Mack- “Cayden’s not cleaning”

Cayden- “Yes I am!”

Mack- “No you’re not!”

Cayden- “Dad, Mack hit me”

Mack- “SHUT UP!”

Cayden- “Dad, Mack told me to shut up”

Mack- “No I didn’t”

Dad- “Mack, my hearings not that bad I heard you tell him to shut up”

Mack- Cayden’s just trying to get me in trouble”

Cayden- “You suck Mack”

Dad- “CAYDEN, hold your tongue boy, who taught you to talk like that?”

Cayden- “Mom did, she has “Pirate whore lips”- she says all kinds of dirty words when you’re not around (I made that part up because I think that the term “Pirate Whore-lips” is funny)

Mack- “You suck Cayden”

Dad- “Dude. shut your pirate whore lips” (again I didn’t say  that but I do like the term)

Mack- “I am not your brother anymore Cayden”

Cayden- “Fine I don’t like you anyway”

Mack- “Dad, Cayden says he doesn’t like me anymore”

Dad- “Can’t understand why- where’s my Carlo Rossi?”

Cayden- “I’m a thrity-four year old midget and I like to drink beer!” (no shit he said this- it started today when he told the barber he was an angry midget and he hasn’t let go of the idea yet)

Mack- “Dad Cayden’s a midget again and he’s bossing me around”

Dad- “Cayden, knock it off you are not a 30-year old midget”

Cayden- “I am so a midget and don’t call me Cayden- my name is Larry Powershields”

Dad- “Welcome back Larry help Mack clean up the Lego’s”

I ended the whole thing by having them come up from the basement and making them  sit on the living room floor.  No yelling, no arguing, no real punishment- just sit on the floor and don’t say a word.  Within 5-minutes they were so bored they promised to get along for the rest of the evening if I would just let them get up.  Sitting still is like Chinese water torture to my guys- they would do any thing to escape the pain.

The truce lasted less than 5-minutes- long enough for me to fill my glass.  Ahhh, parenthood how sweet it is…

Warped Reality…

June 13, 2009
Some things a man shouldn’t “Blog” about and watching reality television is one of them. But I’m secure enough to admit that on occasion I’ll join Connie on the couch and inattentively watch whatever reality program she may have on. Don’t get me wrong she doesn’t drag me to the couch, prop my eyelids open and blare “Dancing with the Stars” through the surround sound ( “A Clockwork Orange” is one of my favorite movies). But she controls the remote and if I want to relax on the couch after wrestling the kids to sleep I’m going to absorb a little network “un-reality“. Last night was one of those occasions.

The show of the evening? “The Bachelorette”- fine programming in it’s own right. This show is one of my favorites- but not for reasons you may suspect. You may think that I enjoy this program because it provides me a glimpse into the life of a successful yet unfulfilled woman desperately searching for her soul mate. If this sounds like a reasonable explanation to you don’t apply to be a contestant on “I‘m Smarter Than a Fifth Grader“- those kids will stomp your ass and steal your lunch. I like watching the Bachelorette because I take comfort in knowing that somewhere out there in the big, wide world is a collection of people dumber than I. But isn’t this what draws many of us to reality television in the first place? Don’t we tune in so that we can marvel at the stupidity of mankind in turn feeling better about ourselves? It’s like watching two trains collide- you feel really bad for the passengers- but at the same time you feel really good about yourself for having taken the bus instead.

Having said that I‘m sure that I offended someone. Probably the same people who actually cast votes on American Idol or get emotionally choked up when Tyra theatrical exclaims that “one of these girls may be America’s next top model”. If you’re having trouble thinking of any people who fit this description run through your list of friends- if any of them have changed their farewell salutation to “ (insert last name here), Out!” then you’ve just met a person who believes Ryan Seacrest should run for public office- steer clear of them they‘ve walked away from the light- there‘s nothing you can do for them now..

Where was I? Oh Yeah, the Bachelorette. So why do I consider this show stupid? Let me see:

The bachelorette (Jillian) was the runner-up on last season’s “The Bachelor”- which means she knows that the odds of this thing working out in her favor are extremely slim. Hell, with five or six seasons under our collective viewing belts we all know that this shit isn’t going to work- the difference is all of us didn’t apply for the inevitable kick in the junk.

Jillian believes that 25 random men from across the country signed up for the show because they were looking for a long term relationship, potentially marriage, with a woman they never met. Bullshit, they signed up for the show because being on TV’ is legit, plus while on their dates they get to do super cool stuff like take helicopter rides and go paragliding. Sorry, I doubt their sincerity.

The dudes on the show think the smart thing to do while courting Jilliam is to drink gallons of hard alcohol before, during and after each date. I agree, booze makes us appear smarter, funnier and better looking- to other drunk people. Good luck if Jillian experiences a moment of sobriety.

Did you ever notice that all of the guys have way-cool occupations? Well, not everyone. Last night Jillian went out with a guy who’s occupation was listed as “Pizza Entrepreneur”. I fell out when they announced that one. My God, call a spade a spade! You are not a pizza entrepreneur- you my friend are a pizza delivery boy. Just because you only have three payments left on that Pinto your driving and you can make it to my house in under 30-minutes doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with being a pizza delivery guy (if you’re 17) but don’t try to dress up the title just to impress a nation wide audience. It’s kind of like a rest room attendant calling himself a “A Facilities Management Czar”. I’ve seen corporations apply this formula in the past with minimal success as well- Subway “Sandwich Artists” or Starbucks “Coffee Baristas”. Bullshit, one makes bologna sandwiches and the other coffee- my Mom did this for years and no one gave her a fancy 6-syllable title.

Why else do I think “The Bachelorette” is stupid?

They always keep the biggest asshole in the running to improve ratings. This is one ploy that actually works for ratings but ruins the credibility of our heroine. So check it out, if you have absolutely no chance of winning but want to stretch out your 15-minutes of fame act like a complete ass and have all of America wondering what stupid thing you’ll do next. Trust me you’ll grace our screens for at least a couple of additional weeks.

One more, for me it is completely obvious that 99% of the dudes are “in it to win it”- the competition not the girl. I know this because when the guys get interviewed all that they can say is “I really want to stay in the house”, “I really want to win this thing” or “I don’t want to go home”. I can understand the Pizza Entrepreneur’s desire to not move back into his parent’s basement- but shouldn’t the rest of the dudes being saying “I love this woman and can’t live without her”? Just a thought.

I can’t let this one go, bear with me I swear this will be my last jab at the Bachelorette. It’s supposed to be a reality show right? But in what reality does a courting couple have such elaborately choreographed dates lined up one after another? I don’t know about you but in my reality I don’t helicopter up the side of a mountain to an exquisitely catered picnic lunch complete with hot tub and camera crew. And after the picnic I don’t take a limousine to a private Rolling Stones concert where I get to enjoy the show while sitting in a claw foot bathtub full of freshly plucked rose petals. Of course Jillian and her dates are happy- who the hell wouldn’t be? It’s easy to fall passionately in love when everything around you is designed to make you feel like the luckiest couple in the world- but is this the yardstick that you want to measure your true feelings with. I say no.

Why don’t we do this instead: We’ll temp loan them some kids and a stack of bills with barely enough money to pay them. They can eat whatever is in the frig and drink wine straight from the box. About midnight we‘ll simulate the children getting the flu so they can experience the joys of wiping butts and scrubbing vomit into the wee hours of the morning. When that’s all done we’ll let the happy couple fight over who gets too nap while the other makes breakfast for the amazingly recovered children before running them to their respective baseball games which go at the same time but are on opposite sides of town.

Yep, I think this would be a much more accurate “love” litmus test and I for one would tune in to see the carnage.



Pain in My Neck…

June 4, 2009

I guess it was that time of the month- that didn’t sound right. Let’s start over. It was time for my monthly trip to the ER last Friday- and as always the boys remained true to their method of alternating injuries. Last month it was Mack and his finger. This time around it was Cayden with a neck injury. Before I delve into the details let me start by saying Cayden is perfectly okay- 100% recovered. On to the story.

I received a call around two in the afternoon from the school health assistant informing me that Cayden was in her office complaining about a sore neck. She told me that he seemed fine other than every time he moved his head he started to cry- I’m no doctor, but that doesn‘t sound fine to me. My youngest is tough as a ten-penny nail and doesn’t cry easily, especially at school where the other 6-year tough guys would surely see him. I immediately stopped whatever obsessive compulsive behavior I was engaged in and shot straight up to the school.

I called Connie on the way to let her know what was going on. Her advice- call 911 if anything looks peculiar. Good advice, but unnecessary- having been a member of the Groah brood my entire life I don’t need anyone to remind of the magic digits- I keep those on speed dial.

The minute Cayden saw me walk through the door, tears welled up in his eyes. He tried to move into my arms, but even that simple task caused a great deal of pain- peculiar enough- let‘s call 911. While we waited, I asked Cayden what happened and he told me that at “Resuss” (sic) he was doing a bunch of cartwheels and flips and in the middle of his stunt-man routine he missed a crucial landing. It wasn’t missed as much as redirected- he landed, it just happened to be his neck that he landed on. Why Cayden believed he could perform back flips and cartwheels is beyond me. I’ve paid for a number of extracurricular activities for the guys but gymnastics wasn’t one of them. I guess when you’re six, nothing is outside the realm of possibilities- thank God he didn’t pick flying or fire eating.

Having been the recipient of several spinal injuries in the past and being a proud owner of several fused discs and a titanium plate, I took the injury very seriously. I held him still as possible until the paramedics arrived and were able to secure him to a back board. It was official, my Friday afternoon sucked. Nothing looks more pitiful than a terrified 6-year old little boy strapped to a back board with a neck brace on. I called Connie to fill her in- she was on her way to the hospital at warp speed.

During the ambulance ride the paramedics triaged Cayden and attempted to gather details on the accident. If I was a betting man I would wager that the paramedic asking questions didn’t have children of his own. The conversation sort of went like this.

Paramedic- “On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most extreme pain you’ve ever felt where would you place your pain?”

Dad’s thoughts- “Are you serious, where’s the friggin smiley/frowny face chart that kids normally look at?”

Cayden- (Obviously confused) “The pain’s in my neck”.

Paramedic- “No, no buddy can you assign the pain in your neck a number from 1-10, 10 being the most excruciating pain you’ve ever felt, 1 being no pain at all?“

Dad’s thoughts- “Clueless non-child having paramedic is going to keep questioning him as if he is a 40-year old cancer survivor- “excruciating” is not a word in a 6-year old’s lexicon- unbelievable”

Cayden. “(Irritated) Yes, THE PAIN IS IN MY NECK!”.

Both of them were starting to get surly so I stepped in and put it into 6-year old little boy terms. Cayden’s reply, more than 100. Since I am a parent I was able to translate his pain rating to mean “Holy Shit!  This hurts a lot.  Make it stop!”

When we got to the hospital, the paramedic made one more attempt at non-age appropriate humor by asking Cayden if he planned on hitting on any cute nurses. Cayden simply replied “No, I don’t hit girls”.

Once we made it into a room, we met a wonderful nurse practitioner who built an immediate rapport with Cayden.  Super lady, really caring and great bed side manner (we love you Helen Brown). Her presence immediately put Connie and I at ease. She ordered all of the appropriate tests and ruled out all of the serious possibilities. Three hours later we left the hospital with one little boy diagnosed with a pulled neck muscle. The spasms are what caused so much pain- having had them before I can honestly say that Cayden weathered the storm better than his old man.

The best part of the whole ordeal for the Nugget was that he got to keep his super cool whiplash collar. He would wear it non-stop if we let him, but Connie and I decided to limit its use. However, we did let him wear it to school on Monday so he could enjoy his minor celebrity status as the only kindergartner transported from school by ambulance while strapped to a back board. The kid was a friggin “Rock Star”.

He’s okay.

Connie and I not so much. God made kids from rubber so they would have a good chance of walking away from the stupid shit they attempt without serious injury. But sometimes little guys do get hurt- and when they do we (parents) feel helpless. It’s when we feel helpless that we ask ourselves some very hard questions. When was the last time we played catch, freeze tag or hide-and-go seek? Do I have video tape of Cayden running, playing soccer, jumping on a trampoline? Can I remember vividly the last time Cayden ran to me and jumped into my arms? What if this is it?

I know these are morbid thoughts but I share them to remind everyone to enjoy every moment. Study your child in motion- watch them run, swim, jump, ride a bike, chase fireflies, dance and act like fools. Commit these images to memory, capture them in pictures and on video tape- take nothing for granted, have no regrets.