Hold On Daddy's Coming!

Stories, rants and reflections by a clueless father of three

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A Journey Through Shawn Kuykendall’s Awesomely Random Facebook Page: Part 2

This is Part Two of a four-part series on Shawn Kuykendall’s epically peculiar Facebook page.  In case you missed it, Part One featured a classic Christmas video, a larger-than-life pimple, and a late night run-in with Norman the Zebra.  With that in mind, it’s hard to believe things could get any more spectacular.  Oh but they do…

2010:

On March 27, after a two year Facebook hiatus, Shawn announces that he is “BAAAACK” and “better than ever.” And indeed he is.  But what truly makes 2010 such a special year is that Shawn linked his Twitter and Facebook accounts, opening up a floodgate of profound must-reads.  Like these:

Soooo I burned my mouth on hot cookies haha” or

“Golf at Oak Marr.  By myself haha again” or

“Aaaaand someone farted during prayer at the morning devotional.”

Note: can’t you just feel yourself becoming more intelligent?  

2010 is also when Shawn regularly begins using several variations of the word “donk,” which I confess is a new one on me.  The context in which Shawn uses this word leads me to believe it’s an abridged version of “donkey,” used to mock someone as both a noun (“haha you’re such a donk ”) as well as an adjective (“those cargo shorts are “ri-DONK-ulous”).  Which could explain this:  

"DOOOOOOONK!  It was so cold.  I had to!

“DOOOOONK! It was so cold. I had to!”

Botch” becomes another regularly employed Shawn-ism, especially when spelled with about seven extra “O’s” and used in the following context: Mess up of night by me…  I said, “down to your nutties” and “down to your uhohs!” BOOOOOOOOOTCH haha”  

Oh, and speaking of things botched, here are a few statements I’m sure Shawn would like to take back:

– August 14: “Redskins…Super Bowl.  There I said it.” (Finished dead last in the NFC East…). 

– September 14: “I could not be happier about having Donovan McNabb as our quarterback.”  (Replaced by backup Rex Grossman four months later…). 

– November 30: “The Miami Heat will NEVER win a championship.” (NBA Champions 2012, 2013).  

And since we’re talking sports, lets discuss the 2010 World Cup, during which Shawn’s 24/7, non-stop commentary created a flood of soccer analysis that nearly drowned my Newsfeed.  Think: “Wow Netherlands, WOOOOOOOOOWWW,” then “Come on Netherland,” then “Holland is not sharp right now,” then “Dumb foul by van bommel,” then “Violent tackle from de jong”…  all in the course of, like, fifteen minutes. 

Other highlights from this great year:

May:  Shawn portrays a main character in “For The Glory” – a movie about how Kurt Kuykendall found Jesus and became really good at – shocker here – the sport of soccer.   Shawn insists his dad is a living legend, but does so by merely referring him as a “ledge.”  To recap: Kurt Kuykendall = “ledge” = living legend.  Got it?  

May also marks the launch of Shawn’s “Hot Body Campaign,” inspired by the realization that he is both “fat” and “soft.” And while normal humans would characterize this as “getting in shape,” Shawn insists it’s all about “getting his body RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.”  Right.

June:  Shawn gets stranded on the side of the road with a “double flat tire” and praises God for it “in all seriousness.”  Funny how Shawn sees God’s wisdom in something as crappy and bizarre as a car breakdown.  In the future, Shawn will face circumstances that are infinitely more crappy and bizarre, and his response will be no different.  In all seriousness.      

July:  Shawn publicly eats Captain Crunch cereal and collects silly bands because, you see, he’s actually seven years old.  

"Seriously, if you wear silly bands you are nuuuuubs”

“Seriously, if you wear silly bands you are nuuuuubs”

August: Shawn has the most highly documented ACL surgery in the history of mankind.  And I’m not joking:

That's the knee...

That’s the knee…                                           

Same knee...

And here it is again.

And here it is again...

Same knee…

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2: Shawn announces that he is “In a relationship” with a girl that he clearly met that night. Here’s her classic take: “hahaa you’re a creep. I never accepted you as being in a relationship…and I just met youYou’re ridiculous.” 

Shawn’s response? “Were in a fight…our first fight.”   

It’s for the best that things didn’t work out, because if Shawn had a lady friend by his side then the following “Selfie of the Year” may very well never have been taken.  Props for an amazing caption: 

“The Owls of Ga’Hoole 3D IMAX! By myself!  Siiiick!”

“Owls of Ga’Hoole 3D IMAX! By myself! Siiiick!” 

Fashion Statement of the Year: “men can wear cardigans.”  Hooray!  Wait.  What about everything else Mr. Rodgers wore?  Any restrictions?  HELP!!!!

And then there’s this:   

Yep, what you just watched was Shawn (and sister Sami) dancing, leaping, and crypt walking around a miniature Christmas tree, with cameo appearances from a fake swordfish and just about every power tool in the Kuykendall shed – all to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”  It’s literally all I want for Christmas. 

2011:

This year ushers in a tidal wave of profound status updates.  Brace for the brilliance:

– “My butt just went numb from sitting on the floor next to the wall charger so my iSilly could charge…” and

– “At an orientation for new staff… This guy across me has a money coffee stain on his collar…. Yiiiiikes” and

– “Ryan Reynolds is a boat of dreams;” and

– “Thursday? yup… looks like a great night for a bath.”

2011 also marks the year Shawn becomes the king of “liking” his own comments, links, pictures and statuses.  There were times when Shawn was the only one.  He was never deterred…

Highlights from the year that was:

January:  Shawn gets stuck in an epic traffic jam (oft referred to in the DC area as the “Traffic-pocalypse”) and posts a video of himself singing “Hakuna Matata.”  What a wonderful phrase!  

May:  Shawn’s team makes it to the finals of the American University staff volleyball tournament.  Says Shawn: “we live for opportunities like this.”  And indeed we do. 

Shawn also launches a soccer training camp called the Kuykendall Academy.  My guess is that this is just an excuse to play soccer 100% of the time he is not otherwise sleeping, eating Popeye’s, or attending weddings.   

July: Shawn finally figures out why he’s “fat.” His explanation was lengthy, but the culprit was, of all things, his “extra volume” shampoo.  Oh Shawn…

July was also the height of his recreational soccer league.  Having played against his Kuykendall-heavy team on numerous occasions, our strategy was always to “keep the ball away from Shawn.”  And if that failed he was to be tripped.  And if that failed we were to make fun of his mom.  It was cutthroat…

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August 1: Posting from his vehicle, Shawn is not at all surprised that the incompetent driver in front of him is a female.  According to Shawn, this entire interaction is dictated by “science.” 

October: Shawn publishes the “Selfie of the Year.” And I ask: what could be better than a picture of Shawn driving eastbound on Route 66 while wearing an oversized Count von Count costume?

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

November:  Shawn has yet another surgery on his “#kuykenknee.”  The bad news?  Shawn’s mom drove him to the hospital while “slamming” some McDonald’s with full knowledge of the fact that Shawn couldn’t eat.  The good news?  The procedure was followed by some “siiiiiiiick” chicken from Popeyes.  So all is well…

Fashion Statement of the Year: “Girls with Jorts are not money.”  In case you’re confused, this is Shawn’s unique way of conveying his aversion to the way jean shorts look when worn by women.  Honorable mention: “no one looks sexy eating wings.” Of course… 

And speaking of fashion statements, here we go with a deluxe new profile pic:  

Best comment: "no homo you look like a model!"

Shawn looking “SILLAAAYY” with his “iSilly”

And that about wraps up the epic years that were 2010 and 2011.  But worry not, because the next segment of this series contains still more hilarious songs, selfies, and statuses – all of which are nothing short of ri-DONK-ulous. 

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A Journey Through Shawn Kuykendall’s Awesomely Random Facebook Page: Part 1

Shawn Kuykendall’s Facebook page is an epically peculiar compilation of thoughts, pictures, and downright shenanigans.  It’s a place where every day is #throwbackthursday, female drivers are mocked at any given moment, and fashion faux pas are promptly called to the world’s attention.  

Stretching back to 2004, Shawn’s Newsfeed is no quick read.  See, Shawn’s the kind of guy who will let you know, via social media, that he has decided to take a bath while eating a chocolate Drumstick.  So pretty much NOTHING has gone undocumented.  

With that in mind, I recently spent literally hours upon hours scouring his Newsfeed, reading every last comment, post, link, and birthday wish for the last ten years.  It was a marathon, not a sprint.  But what I found was far from dissapointing.  Here goes Part 1…

2004:

Shawn joins Facebook in October.  That’s important.   Then someone reminds Shawn that he is a “10 out of 10” when it comes to being physically attractive.  Another labels him a total “hottie.”  Bottom line: Shawn is a bona fide Hottie McHotterson.  Like, totes magotes.   

2005:  

At some point this year Shawn became a professional soccer player.  On July 28, he apparently played soccer against some team named “Chelsea” and switched jerseys with some guy named Frank Lampard.  My guess is that this was a big deal, but I must confess I’m not much of a soccer guy.  Indeed, the only “Chelsea” I’m familiar with was a resident of the White House in the 90s, and it would be really awkward if he had switched jerseys with her…

In other news, “Deluxe” was a word Shawn used (and perhaps overused) quite regularly.  For instance, friend Jason McGraw posts “how does it feel to get served in front of all your people in the VIP?  Keep it deluxe, son.  Deluxe.”  Somewhat confused, I consulted Urban Dictionary, which uses the word as follows: “So, I was in this new club and these hot twins kept buying me drinks all night – it was so deluxe!” 

Umm, yea. “Deluxe” just might be my new favorite word.    

2006:

This year’s highlights include a gig playing soccer with the New York Red Bulls, a profile pic that resembles Ace Ventura Pet Detective, and a run-in with “Norman the Zebra.” 

Shawn Zebra 2006

Hey Norman!

Which kind of reminds me of this picture…

Hangover Tiger 2

Good times.

May 10: Someone suggests that Shawn start a boy band.  I’ve always kinda wondered if this was his true calling in life.  Think: better pay, and fewer knee surgeries.  For names, may I suggest The Shawnsington Boys?  Or Deluxe?  Or my personal favorite: The Smelly Shin Guards?  Just something to think about…

Oh, and here’s a video that proves I may be right about Shawn’s prospects for a career in pop music:

2007:

Things really started taking off this year.  I counted 228 separate friends who posted on Shawn’s wall at a time when there’s no chance I had 228 friends – Facebook or otherwise. 

Here’s one of my favorites from Ms. Susanne Tortola: “remember when you used to tuck us in burrito style and then give our stuffed animals hugs to smell all funky?”

WAIT A MINUTE NO FAIR!!!  Shawn’s never tucked me in burrito style…

Here’s another, from Mr. James Smith: “if you’ve ever seen the movie Cold Creek Manor, you look a lot like the bad guy. I’m a little scared of you.”

Here’s who Mr. Smith is talking about:

I kinda see the resemblance...

There’s a resemblance…

Also, 2007 is when Shawn regularly begins using several variations of the word “sick” to describe things that, ironically, are actually quite favorable or satisfactory.  These include “sick,” “sic” (without a “k”), and “siiiiiiick” – as in, “I love that Freelance Whales song…it’s so siiiiiiick.”    

For now, the variation of choice is “sickaness” – spelled with a seemingly unnecessary “a.” Ex: “The Wombats are quite simply put… The SICK-A-NESS.”    

A meaningful synonym for “sick” (and all variations thereof…) is “silly.”  Silly can be spelled the old fashioned way, or it can be misspelled (preferably in all caps) as follows: “Ryan Reynolds’s performance in The Proposal was SILLLAAAAYY!!!”  (I will touch on Shawn’s ridiculous man-crush on Ryan Reynolds in a subsequent post…).  “Silly bazilly” is also an acceptable variation, and if you don’t have the time to write all that out, “bazilly” works too…

To clarify: those are all ways of saying “silly,” even though the word “silly” doesn’t actually mean silly.  Are you following? 

Speaking of silly, what follows is a picture of what very well could be Shawn crashing the 2007 James Madison High School Homecoming Dance.  I’ll leave it to him to explain otherwise.

Shawn is Special

Rule #7: Blend in by sticking out.

Editor’s note: as it turns out the picture above was a premiere for this work of brilliance by Scott Jeschke, starring Shawn as a bad guy with a rather legit Russian accent.  As suspected, most members of the cast were in fact students at James Madison High School.  Check it out: 

In addition to hanging out with high schoolers, Shawn was in Germany this year, and provides several suggestions of up-and-coming German bands.  The entirety of my knowledge of German rock is based off a late 90s song called “Du Haste,” the video of which features a bunch of creepy dudes screaming “You Hate!” in German, mixed with some overly serious power riffs on the guitar.  To this day the video scares the crap out of me, so I’m definitely open to any other suggestions Shawn may have.  

And speaking of music… 

Yep, what you just watched was a video of Shawn Kuykendall dressed a bit like Fred Flintstone (with his sister Sami) while dancing out of his parent’s basement and a trashcan – all to the tune of Real McCoy’s Another Night.  Rendering it YouTube gold.  

As I scour through 2007, it’s clear Shawn was years ahead of the “selfie” craze.  See, according to the Internet, the selfie became popular in 2010, and a legitimate phenomenon in 2012.  But here we are years beforehand, with the skill already mastered: 

Selfie 2008

Brace yourselves for MANY more selfies to come…

2008:

Apparently Shawn went dark in 2008.  All we get from 2008 is a picture of a friend pointing out a super-sized zit on Shawn’s forehead, which obviously is fantastic.  

Shawn's epic zit

Shawn’s siiiiiiiiick zit.  

2009:

Another year of undocumented randomness.  Although I will point out that this was the year he had Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos” as his ringtone – which is characteristically SILLLAAYY for Mr. Kuykendall. 

And that about wraps up what I categorize as the “pre-Twitter” years of Shawn’s Facebook page.  But worry not, because the next segment of this little series contains endless amounts of fashion snobbery, botched sporting predictions, Bible verses, bizarre Shawn-isms, and world-renowned Christmas videos. 

It’s gonna be so deluxe, son! 

Throwback Thursday

Dressed like the sick-a-ness.

Our Wild and Crazy “Family Vacation” in Paradise

Vacationing with small children is a wild, exhausting, action-packed, drama-filled, Kodak moment-waiting-to-happen adventure suitable for those most brave, fortunate and reckless of parents.  I’ve pretty much said this before.  And in my family, it goes a little something like this:

The madness that was our recent trip to Aruba began right out of the gate.  Literally.  After landing, and then dragging four carry-ons and two diaper bags off the plane, and then weaving my way to the baggage claim, I notice something very odd.  Someone’s toothbrushes, sunscreen, big-boy underwear and other items are making their way around the conveyor belt, and everyone who was on Flight 829 from Baltimore is totally getting a kick out of this.  Whose luggage was it?  I’ll give you one guess…

Next stop: our all-inclusive beachfront resort where they serve endless amounts of French Fries drenched in nacho cheese, super-greasy chicken nuggets, and delicious fruity beach drinks.  This will be my meal of choice for the next nine days.  It’s a menu from Heaven – unless you actually mind undoing seven months of intense exercise in about four days.       

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Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should mention that in addition to my family (two adults, three kids) our group consisted of an additional five adults and seven kids all packed into four hotel rooms.  It’s a gloriously-chaotic compilation of nieces, nephews, and in-laws.  Ten kids.  Average age of the little ones?  Three and a half.  There were ten of them. 

Our time spent at the resort was an awesomely-tiring circus of fun and craziness.  Here’s how an average day would go down:

3:00am: baby wakes up.

4:30am: baby wakes up again.

5:00am: baby…

Look, anyone who can maintain their baby’s sleep schedule throughout the course of an international vacation really has this parenting thing down.  Furthermore, baby Brody had an ear infection and I’ve found that when you’re traveling, you’re only ever as happy as your least healthy child.   

6:00am:  Jimmy decides he’s ready to be up for good.  

Quickly and quietly, I surrender and take my oldest outside so my still-nursing wife and the other kids can get a few minutes of uninterrupted sleep.   See, when our family of five shares one small hotel room, each night brings with it yet another hostage negotiation, and these kids know they have all the bargaining power.  They’re cute little criminals.   

Don't be deceived...

Don’t be deceived…

8:00am-10:00am: kids play in sand nicely while mom and dad enjoy coffee and conversation. 

Umm, just kidding.  The kids are probably arguing over who had the pink bucket first… at least that’s what I gather as I hear a chorus of toddlers screaming “MINE!”   Or perhaps it’s a scuffle over the rightful owner of an incredibly popular Thomas the Tank Engine toy.   The purple sand shovel?  That’s “MINE” too.  If you’ve ever been on a trip with a bunch of kids, chances are you’ve said “you can share” many, many times.  Or my personal favorite: “well, take it back from him.”  Either way it’s gonna end in tears. 

The aftermath...

The aftermath…

All of this leaves me wondering why I’m drinking coffee when I could be drinking bourbon.   I’m kidding, of course.  The bar doesn’t open til 11… 

10:00am-11:00am: get ready for the pool. 

Getting small children ready for the pool truly is God’s work.  If you’ve ever seen how ghostly pale I am, you’ll know that we’re rollin’ to the pool with sun shirts, sun hats, and lots of SPF 75 sun screen.   Spray-on sunscreen is amazing, but the best way to cover a face is the old fashion way, which can get sloppy.  So imagine all this happening while two toddlers scream “MY EYES!!!!” at the top of their lungs.   

Ready to swim?  Almost.  All we need is our flotation devices and ear plugs.  And one last trip to the potty.  Oh, and JUICE! 

I may need a vacation from all this vacation…

11:00am-2:00pm: pool time.

Time spent at the pool is legit family fun time, and involves a lot of playing a pretend “silly” lion, or launching kids up in the air as far as humanly possible, or contests to see who can make the most amazing football reception while leaping into the deep end.  It’s all good stuff.   

P1060084

P1060273

My wife and I keep those kids swimming as long as possible because every two minutes spent in the pool adds another minute to naptime.  It’s science.  And when you’re vacationing with small kids, each hour of naptime is like a stick of pure gold.  You treasure that stuff.   

2:00-3:00pm: shower and prep kids for their naps.

Getting multiple sandy children to willingly take a shower is painful, and once in the shower, getting them out can be twice as difficult.  I find bribing them with Skittles helps move this process along quicker and with fewer tears, but if you have a better method please let me know. 

3:00pm-5:30pm: naptime.  

Now quick!  Grab a drink, take a deep breath, and enjoy every glorious moment of childless conversation.   And remember the cardinal rule of naptime parenting: you wake ‘em, you take ‘em.   

NAPTIME!!!!!

NAPTIME!!!!!

6:00pm-8:00pm: dinner.

If there’s one way to ensure you’ll get terrible service and judgmental looks from strangers, it’s walking into a romantic restaurant at its peak busy hour and asking for a “table for 14 plus 3 high chairs.”  Predictably, once we’re seated it’s nothing but chaos.  Picture broken glass because someone didn’t use two hands.  Picture a toddler in timeout because he was climbing on the table and yelling for no reason. Picture a scene as loud, wild and destructive as a group of college students on Spring Break… only louder.  THAT’S what it’s like dining at a table for 14 plus 3 high chairs. 

CHAOS!!!!

CHAOS!!!!

8:00pm-10:00pm: keep kids occupied until bedtime. 

This usually involved long walks, contests to see who could make one of the babies laugh the hardest, or dance parties – and indeed, some of these kids can really shake it.   At this point I’m down for pretty much whatever it takes to bridge the crucial dinner-to-bedtime gap; however, that does come with a few caveats.  Climbing rocks?  “Just be careful.”  Running around the pool?  “Be careful.” Dancing around a cactus?  “CAREFUL!”

Which brings me to my point: I don’t understand why I tell my children to “be careful.”  It’s as senseless as “it is what it is,” and as unhelpful as when you lose your phone and some genius says “well, it’s gotta be SOMEWHERE.”  Lesson learned: “being careful” means nothing to my children – particularly Jimmy, who actually did fall on a cactus.  I guess that just is what it is… 

Not my fault.  I told him to be careful...

Not my fault. I told him to be careful.

10:00pm: bedtime. 

How do we go about capitalizing on this newfound freedom?  We go to sleep cuz we’re exhausted and this whole process will repeat itself in the morning.   

So yea, that’s what it was like vacationing with a bunch of kids. 

Timed family photo fail...

Timed family photo fail…

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering what it’s like getting a flight out of Aruba, apparently this is the process: you stand in line to check in, and then check your bags.  Then you stand in a line to have your passport checked, after which you stand in another line to have passport “verified.”  Then you stand in line to go through security.  Once your shoes and belt are back on, you make your way to “US Departures” where you grab the bags you just checked, and then stand in line again to go through another layer of customs, after which you go through security.  Again.  And then you check your bags.  Again. 

It was every bit as long and painful as a tax audit.  Or a Redskins game.  At one point I actually wondered if this was the island’s way of punishing me for not attending a single timeshare presentation.   Perhaps I’ll never know. 

What I do know is this: in a few years, these trips will be relaxing and rewarding.  But for now, while the kids are this young, I’m simply thankful that it was indeed a very rewarding nine days in paradise. 

Cuz let me tell ya, there’s nothing relaxing about a table for 14 plus 3 high chairs… 

P1060128

Here’s Why Alec Baldwin and I Owe Our Lives to a Flimsy Piece of Rope

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for a non-descript piece of rope that dangled off the back of the Mayflower in 1620, without which I would not exist.   Curious?  Hang on. 

In September of 1620, a 21-year-old Englishman stepped aboard the Mayflower without the slightest clue of what was in store.  His name was John Howland.  The “New World” toward which he was headed represented a new beginning, but it also presented some serious dangers.  Indeed, circulating the ship was speculation of starvation, disease, and savagery.  As it turns out, these fears were well founded.

Howland was an indentured servant, which, if my recollection of American history serves me correctly, meant he was in some serious debt.  His conditions were far better than those of a slave, but it’s worth noting that when John Howland came to America, he was not a free man.   

After months of logistical and financial shenanigans, the Mayflower set sail on September 6, 1620.  Unsurprisingly, the journey SUCKED.  Strong winds and severe storms kept all 102 passengers off the main deck and tightly cramped into the decks below for weeks at a time.  Food and supplies were scarce, turbulent waves rocked the ship night and day, disease spread, and it smelled freaking awful.   Not exactly your average cruise through the Bahamas…

With all this in mind, Howland needed a breath of fresh air.  Against orders, he climbed up the ladder to the main deck.  Immediately drenched, Howland took in a few deep breaths of glorious fresh air while waves crashed around him. 

And then, out of nowhere, a gust of wind blew him overboard. 

As Howland hit the Atlantic Ocean, he was a dead man.  See, ships like the Mayflower don’t just turn around like some Kawasaki Jet Ski – especially in a storm.  It was cold, and the waves likely made it impossible to see.  All bad news.

But then, a frantic Howland finds of a piece of rope dragging behind the ship, and desperately grabs it with all the strength he can muster.  This rope is technically called a “Topsail Halyard,” which sounds very fancy.  Anyway, the Mayflower was moving so fast and pulled him so hard that the rope dragged him nearly 10 feet underwater.  He was quite literally hanging on for his life!   

Moments later, members of the crew found Howland in the water and pulled him aboard.   He was sick for weeks thereafter – a small price to pay for cheating death.  The sequence of events that transpired minutes before was nothing short of a miracle.   

Image

“Pilgrim Overboard” by Dr. Mike Haywood. The pilgrim-looking dude at the bottom would be John Howland…

In November of 1620, the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, which is hundreds of miles north of the intended destination: Virginia.  Uhh… oops. 

It didn’t get any easier when the passengers found shore.  Howland was part of a small group that first disembarked the ship and looked for a settlement site.  Unfortunately, the Northeast weather was far colder than anyone expected.  Faced with below-freezing temperatures, inadequate clothing, and wet shoes, several members of this group died within hours of hitting land.  Half of the 102 passengers died that winter. 

That spring, John Howland’s master died of a stroke.  This made him a free man. 

What he did with that freedom makes his story worth telling.  A few years later, John married a much younger woman named Elizabeth Tilley.  He earned his living selling furs, and served his community in the militia and in local politics.  By all accounts, he was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ – which is the precise reason his master and fellow passengers came to America in the first place. 

John and Elizabeth lived in a house that stands to this day.  In fact, my dad took me there when I was in high school and I recall thinking the whole thing was “lame.”  But in retrospect, it was actually amazing.  The house sits at 33 Sandwich Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Google it! 

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John and Elizabeth Howland had 10 children, which went on to give them 88 grandchildren.  88 GRANDKIDS!  Consequently, millions of Americans can trace their lineage back to John Howland.  Here’s a few notable descendents:  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the entire Bush family, Henry Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Brigham Young, Chevy Chase, and yes, Alec Baldwin. 

Every last one of us descendants can rightly declare “our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie. Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever”. – William Bradford

God had a vision for John Howland, and his story perfectly captures what makes this country so great.  

Of course, none of it would have been possible without a flimsy piece of rope that just so happened to be hanging off the back of the Mayflower at the precise moment when he plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.   

Heck, even Alec Baldwin has to be impressed by that… 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

“In a mighty storm, a lusty young man (called John Howland) coming upon some occasion above the gratings, was, with a seele of the ship thrown into the sea; but it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail halyards, which hung overboard, and ran out at length; yet he held his hold (though he was sundry fathoms under water) till he was hauled up by the same rope to the brim of the water, and then with a boat hook and other means got into the ship again, and his life saved; and though he was something ill with it, yet he lived many years after, and became a profitable member both in church and commonwealth.”  – Firsthand account by fellow passenger William Bradford 

17 House Rules Our Toddlers Are Destined To Break

Kids, 

We need to talk.  See, it recently dawned on me that at all times our house is like a Wal-Mart on Black Friday.  It’s pure chaos.  So, what follows is a list of what functional families call “rules.” You probably don’t know what a “rule” is, but hey, until a few days ago I had no idea what “twerking” was.  So we’re all gonna learn something new this week.

Rules will take all those fun things you love doing (like standing on the dishwasher, running to the neighbors, running with scissors…), and prevent you from doing them any longer.  At least that’s the idea. They’re standing orders.  They’re the worst.  So please, sit down and take a few deep breaths as you soak these in.  Ready?  Here we go…

1.  No death-jumps onto the dog

Don’t get me wrong, “Lilo” really appreciates you using her rapidly-aging back as an art canvas, step stool and lunch tray.   However, your aggressive, Hulk Hogan-esque flying thrust kick from the couch is shockingly not all that comfortable for her.  So for now, let’s just stick to headlocks and bear hugs.  Or perhaps even just regular old hugs…

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2.  No sneaking outside when you randomly feel like it 

Look, I get it.  Escaping this house makes you feel like Tim Robbins in the climax of an uplifting prison drama.  But rules are rules.  You are banned from walking out of this complex we call “home” without adult supervision and underwear.  Or at least underwear… 

3.  Absolutely no street

The street is like the “shadowy place” in the Lion King – you must never go there!   This means you can’t sprint out onto the street with arms flailing about like a reckless maniac. It also means you can’t kneel down at the curb, put one finger on the asphalt, and then look up at me to see if that counts.  Trust me, that counts.

4.  No helping yourself to the hose 

I’m no expert on firefighting, but I did watch the end of Ladder 49 and would prefer you choose a different profession.  So, this whole “turn-up-the-hose-and-go-crazy-in-the-yard” routine can end.  And thank you, but there’s nothing in the foyer that needs to be watered.  No seriously, turn it off.

5.  No helping yourself out of your bed 

And just so we’re clear: “your bed” does not mean your sibling’s bed, my bed, the dog’s bed or the bathtub.  Now lie down, fork over the puzzle and go to sleep!  Wait, where did you get crackers?!?!   

6.  No helping yourself out of timeout 

Freeze sucker! Anything you say or do for the next two minutes can and will be used against you.  You do not have the right to be represented by your sister.  You actually have no rights whatsoever.  Is this funny to you?  Why are you laughing? 

7.  No Chuck E Cheese coins in the air conditioning vents 

For those who aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of our family, this rule may seem as bizarre and out of place as Shaquille O’Neal in the driver’s seat of the latest Buick sedan.  But unlike said car company, I have no choice in the matter.  So it stays. 

8.  No assaulting your baby brother

Or at very least no assaulting him while he’s sleeping.  Examples of assault include… oh, you know… hitting one’s stomach, vacuuming one’s ears, or furiously stuffing one’s face with pop tarts.  Stuff like that…

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9.  No highly-destructive fridge raiding

So let me get this straight: your story is that while I was in the other room someone broke into the house, dumped a dozen eggs onto the kitchen floor, and then immediately ran out the front door without taking anything?  You’re sure about that?   

10.  No un-chaperoned face-painting parties

Don’t worry; you will have plenty of opportunities to do things like this in college…  

Rules 4 and 10 captured in one highly incriminating picture

And what did I just say about the hose??

11.  No picking each other’s nose

You can pick your own nose as long as we’re not (1) out to dinner or (2) taking family pictures.  However, picking someone else’s nose is weird, gross, and somehow begs for a trip to the emergency room.  Yea, good luck explaining that one to the doctor…

12.  No dumping your drinks

Why yes, I went through all that effort to get you a cup of juice just so you could promptly dump it all over the carpet.  Say, you know what would make this floor smell really awesome?  Bingo!  Your milk! 

13.  No grabbing dog poo with your bare hands

Seriously?  You don’t smell that? 

14.  No unauthorized electronics

Unless told otherwise, all adult electronics are not to be touched.  This specifically includes laptops, hair dryers and shredders.  And don’t bother touching them with one finger and then looking up at me to see if that counts.  Because trust me, that counts.   

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15.  No unauthorized peeing

Forgive me for not explaining this earlier: the fridge is not a potty (PS: you are so weird).  Other things that aren’t toilets: the floor, the couch, the dinner table, mom and dad’s bed, the car, and the dog.  And if you’re gonna go in our bed, then at least do it on mom’s side…

16.  No drinking mom’s Diet Coke

Remember the sound that a protective momma bear makes when someone threatens her cubs?  Well, your mom can make that sound too…

17.  No endless crying sessions for no reason

It’s 10:00pm.  So as shockingly tyrannical as this is going to sound, the answer is “no.” I’m not changing you into your bathing suit.      

Phew, all done.  And I know what you’re probably thinking: I’m the worst.  I’m evil.  I sit on a throne of lies.  It’s all true.  And unfortunately there will be no “good cop, bad cop” routine here because you’re mom’s crooked too. 

However, rules are meant to be broken, and sadly there’s no chance you two conspirators will be following them anyway.  So, your mom and I may be willing to look the other way during one of your infamous hose fights if you’d kindly never go into the street, because that really scares us.  Deal?

-Dad

PS: Oh, and don’t bother standing at the edge of the curb hovering your right foot over the street to see if that counts.  Just trust me, that counts…

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28 Totally Random Thoughts From Myrtle Beach

I spent the last week in Myrtle Beach, SC swimming with children, bathing myself in sunscreen, and doing some thinking about life down by the boardwalk.  Consider this a print-out of those thoughts:

1. This whole YOLO thing isn’t going way. 

YOLO, or You Only Live Once, is the “WWJD” of this decade, as about half the shirts and hats I saw on the boardwalk bear the acronym.  It also goes on my official List of Things I Never Thought Would Last Longer Than Two Years, which includes energy drinks, Taylor Swift and text messaging.

2. If I ever see my daughter wearing a “Beer Slut” shirt she will be grounded for months, and then forced to wear a turtleneck and corduroy pants for the rest of her life.

To clarify: there will be no wearing of shirts that say “Beer Slut.”

To clarify: there will be no wearing of shirts that say “Beer Slut.”

3. Cruise by Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly kinda makes me wish I had a brand new Chevy with a lift kit…

4. My two year-old son is in love and he doesn’t care who knows it!!!

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Jimmy did not hide his feelings for this girl! Look at him…he’s hooked! Meanwhile, my wife, mother in law and I enjoyed chanting “Jimmy’s got a girlfriend!” and good Lord are we going to enjoy embarrassing him when he actually gets one.

5. We have a twin stroller and a baby stroller.  So naturally our twins fight like savages over who gets to ride in the baby stroller.

Riley wins this battle...but the war is far from over.

Riley wins this battle…but the war is far from over.

6.  My wife doesn’t think hotel maids need to be tipped.  I, however, vehemently disagree and think they deserve to be tipped.

Of course, what maids really deserve when they walk into our cracker crumb factory of a hotel room is a heartfelt apology and a pay raise.  Or better yet, a new job.

Of course, what maids really deserve when they walk into our cracker crumb factory of a hotel room is a heartfelt apology and a pay raise. Or better yet, a new job.

7.  I totally forgot our anniversary. 

Fortunately my wife did too, so I got a mulligan on this one.  Say, will someone out there please give me a heads up about three days before Valentines Day?   Equally important: will someone give my wife the same heads up?

Fortunately my wife did too, so I got a mulligan on this one. Say, will someone out there please give me a heads up about three days before Valentines Day? And equally important: will someone give my wife the same heads up?

8. The pool is no place to call a toddler’s bluff on the subject of going “poop.”  Moving on…

9.  Restaurants that slip a $.50 charge on the bill for each little Dixie cup of ice water served should be shamed publicly.

This place belongs on some kind of sex offender registry for restaurants.  If you see this establishment then I suggest you hide your kids and hide your wife!

This place belongs on some kind of sex offender registry for restaurants. If you see this establishment then I suggest you hide your kids and hide your wife! And your husbands too! 

10. Whoever invented spray-on sunscreen deserves a Nobel Prize as far as I’m concerned – a mind-blowingly genius invention on the same level as air conditioning and the bunk bed.

Totally covered.

Fear not: this white boy is totally covered!

11.  Navigating a double stroller through heavy pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk is pretty much the worst thing ever.  It involves a lot of this: “Excuse me.  Sorry.  Excuse me.  Sorry.”  Now repeat…

12.  No, daddy, no!” I hear that quite a bit now, and will probably continue to hear that for at least the next 18 years.  Nooooo!!!!

13.  Getting our toddlers to leave an arcade without crying is simply impossible.

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More! More! Please! Please! No, daddy, no!” Yea, that’s the thanks I get for shelling out every last quarter to my name.

14. Watching Shark Week minutes before heading out to swim in the ocean is kind of terrifying.

Not too deep son!!!!

Not too deep son!!!!

15. The 1200 N Ocean Boulevard at which we arrived after 8 grueling hours of driving is about 45 minutes from the 1200 N Ocean Boulevard we really needed to get to.  Dang you iPhone Navigation!!!!

16. Continental breakfasts are so underrated.  I applaud the hotel industry for making this pretty much standard.  Now let’s start working on Continental lunches, dinners and midnight snacks…

17.  There is an ocean and four amazing pools at this hotel, and naturally our kids want to spend almost all of their time on these 90+ degree days in the 102+ degree hot tub. 

18. Watching hundreds of disgusting catfish eat little pieces of grain is strangely fascinating to me.  Is that weird?

No, it's not weird.  It's actually awesome.

19. There is nothing worse than trying to enjoy a delicious fruity beverage in a lazy river, and having rowdy teenagers ruin EVERYTHING by turning it into a racetrack.  #firstworldproblems.

20. When your son wants to ride the giraffe but someone else takes it and all that’s left is a horse, carousel rides are only medium-fun. 

#toddlerproblems

#toddlerproblems

21. At what point during the course of an eight hour drive is it no longer a lie to tell your children that they’re “almost home”?  After two hours?  Three? 

22.  Nothing will make you run through a fast food restaurant faster than seeing your two-year old daughter naked in the play place.  Like, totally, completely, 100% naked.   Not even socks.

23. In high school, I came here for “Beach Week.”  Now, 12 years later, it’s referred to as “a week at the beach,” and trust me there’s a huge difference.

24.  You know you’re a mom when…

An expensive pineapple drink starts leaking and you fix the problem by putting a diaper on it.  Mom with the save!

…an expensive pineapple drink starts leaking and you fix the problem by putting a diaper on it. Mom with the save!

25. This is what 95% of our family pictures look like:

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26. The Ferris Wheel is the only place in Myrtle Beach that offers a military discount.

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Trust me, my wife checked everywhere. Every. Where.  

27.  My daughter sleeps with her bottom pretty much straight up in the air.  Which is amazing.

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What’s even more amazing is that my mother-in-law, Tricia Craddock, slept with these two each night of the trip so my wife and I could get some sleep.  Yes!

28. And lastly, thank you, Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, USMC.

A year ago this week, Jeschke was killed while honorably defending our country in Afghanistan.  He was a hardcore special ops Marine serving his fifth active duty deployment.  Five deployments.  He embodied “YOLO” before YOLO became YOLO. 

Or better yet, that’s WWJD.

And more importantly, he sacrificed his life for others, which is exactly “What Jesus Would Do”

May God bless his wife and family, and may our family never forget the sacrifices others have made so that we can spend a week playing in an arcade, drinking in a lazy river, and yes, chasing my naked daughter through a Chick-fil-A.

Butter, Butt Cream & Other Things Our Toddlers Eat (A Poem)

Here’s a little poetry,
On things our toddlers eat,
Never dined with a two year old?
Then hang on to your seat!
 
Consider this your warning,
And please try not to judge.
Our kids enjoy disgusting foods,
And their hunger just won’t budge.
 
I’ve also added things they drink,
Cuz neither has forbearance,
And when you read just what they chug,
You’ll think we’re awful parents.
 
One final little caveat,
While I have you in suspense,
Everything you’re about to read,
Is inspired by real events…
 
Let’s begin with bath water,
So quenching you may drool…
It features dirt and bubble bath,
And taste’s like a kiddie pool! 
 
It's basically Gatorade...

It’s basically Gatorade…

Yep, this concoction is a favorite,
And despite my desperate pleading,
These kids will drink it down so fast
You’d think they were competing.
 
They’d also take a Diet Coke,
The drink that keeps mom sane…
Looks like one of them sneaked a sip,
Aaaaannnnd now it’s going down the drain.

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To eat, they want full sticks of butter,
Which is always a sensitive issue.
“What do you mean we can’t have this???”
Oh boy, were gonna need tissue…
 
Now let’s add a boogar or two,
Freshly picked from the source…
If at first they can’t quite reach the prize,
They’re bound to stay the course.
 
And what’s tastier than a Sharpie?
Or even a flavored marker…
The perk is that it can also be used
To make pale skin just a bit darker.

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Oh, what’s this they found in the backyard?
Could it be an old sippy cup?
It contains a solid that used to be milk,
But who cares?  They’ll drink it all up!
 
I’ve read that the sins of the father,
Are passed to the next generation.
Perhaps that explains why their fingernails,
Are chomped at without reservation.
 
And who says dog food is only for dogs?
It has such a wonderful taste!
Besides, “Lilo” wasn’t hungry anyway,
And we don’t want it going to waste…
 
In the mood for some Italian?
Then do I have a meal for you,
Crusty old noodles found under the table…
It’s a perfect dinner for two!
 
And if that sounds delicious,
Then you’ll find this to be splendid:
Butt cream is a popular item,
And it’s highly recommended!
 
Craving something from the sea?
Well, we have the perfect dish…
A fist full of sand will not disappoint,
Heck it even smells like fish!

Jimmy sand

And although not a meal per se,
They’ll chew any pair of shoes,
The ones they wore in the rain and mud,
Are the ones they’re bound to choose.
 
In the mood for something cherry?
Then do yourself a favor…
Sink your teeth into mom’s ChapStick,
And just enjoy that flavor!
 
Surely you’d like an old fruit snack
That fell way under the seat…
Or better yet, a piece of gum,
They scooped it off the street!
 
Maybe it’s a “special night,”
And you’re craving something refined;
Our coins and jewelry are Zagat-Rated,
In case you feel so inclined….
 
Calamine lotion goes down so smooth,
And tastes just like apple juice!
But mom hesitates to call poison control,
Cuz they’re bound to think child abuse!
 
“Oh, please don’t drink dad’s special drink!”
It’s sure to make them nauseous…
“And spit that wire out right now!”
Cuz you can never be too cautious…

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Of course, some things don’t surprise me,
Cuz kids are easily predicted,
I guarantee he’ll eat that scab…
He was drooling when he picked it!
 
“NO, NO, NO! Let’s not eat that!”
You know you’ve said it too…
Cuz how was your kid supposed to know
That it’s “yucky” to eat dog poo?
 
True, they’ll eat some normal foods,
Some items worth retaining…
But if they neglect to use their forks,
The scene becomes quite entertaining.
 
Watch them using just their hands,
While scarfing down spaghetti.
Chocolate pudding without a spoon?
Yea… I’ll get the tub ready!

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Soon as they learned to open the fridge,
Our kids began living like kings,
“Who spilled juice all over the couch???
See, THAT’S WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!”
 
Mutiny!!!

Mutiny!!! 

That which our toddlers eat and drink
Will never cease to amaze me.
And the more I try to regulate,
The more they drive me crazy.
 
I might as well surrender,
And stop being so judicious…
Perhaps I should try some Desitin,
Who knows?  It’s probly delicious!
 
All along I’ve been close-minded,
And now I feel like a fool,
Why be constrained to just five seconds?
Let’s make it the Two Hour Rule!

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A mound of ketchup on my corn?
It makes my taste buds blossom…
Hot sauce on this Oreo?
Yea, that sounds totally awesome!
 
So here’s to a whole new attitude,
On healthy eating and diet,
Now pass that dog food over cuz…
I’ve desperately wanted to try it!
 
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16 Survival Tips From A Fellow Father of Twins

When I found out my wife was pregnant with twins, I asked as many people as I could for their advice on parenting. What I usually got was real sentimental stuff about how I should “cherish every minute” because “before you know it, they’re grown.” Now that’s nice, and it’s probably true, but it wasn’t very helpful at 4am with I was rocking a frantic baby for the millionth time, or when I was alone with the kids and poop was freaking everywhere.

So. After some collaboration with my wife, I present to you a list of practical advice specifically geared toward future and current fathers of young twins. I note that I’m not an expert on twins, parenting, or pretty much anything.  But I can change two diapers in less than 30 seconds, and dang it, that should count for something.  With credentials established, here it goes:

1. Don’t bother buying two of everything.

Ahh twins, so cute. Matching outfits, matching cribs, and matching toys are an obvious necessity, right? Umm, wrong. First off, matching clothes is something I pretty much never do because our children are actual people with unique personalities and not some public freak show. Furthermore, the “get-two-of-everything” approach is a big mistake because twins would rather steal from each other than each have their own.  If you really wanna plan ahead, get extra diapers and coffee instead.

2. Don’t plan on vacationing for, like, a really long time.

Oh gosh. Flashbacks. Jamaica. Our kids were seven months old. Between the flight, subsequent ear infection, lack of sleep, and lack of sanity, they pretty much cried the whole time. And come to think of it, I did too. Trips to visit new grandparents are much different because, to the glory of God, many of them don’t mind holding fussy babies. To recap: trips to visit family, decent idea; trips to a hotel in “paradise” with ultra thin walls and no room for a bouncy seat, terrible idea.

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Now everyone stop crying and smile!  

3. When people offer to hold your children, accept immediately and enjoy every last second of glorious freedom.

If someone wants to hold a baby, THEN FOR GOODNESS SAKE LET THEM! Social functions with lots of young single women or empty nesters are great for this, and church seems to be a place where both are in abundance. So if you’re a nonbeliever with twins, go to church and be saved in more ways than one.

Who wants him

Who wants him???

4. Don’t *EVER* do the shopping.

T.W.I.N.S. is an acronym for They Will Immediately Nullify your Savings. A double dose of diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, more diapers, more wipes, and more formula is a formula for near bankruptcy, and its best you remain blissfully ignorant of how much all of this is costing you. Now stop asking questions and fork over the platinum!

5. Don’t out-complain your friends dealing with “just one” baby.

Twins provide an endless arsenal of complaints about pretty much everything. Nothing will make you lick your chops more than a friend who complains about how they had to change one poopy diaper the other day when you literally just changed, like, five of them. My advice: constantly remind yourself that raising children is really tough– even for new parents of “just one.” And then be amazed by the dads of triplets out there who think you have it easy with “just two!”

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6. Go out on a date every once in a while.

It’s probably not gonna happen every week, or even every two weeks. But hopefully at least once a month you can pull your wife out of the combat zone and take her to dinner – with no kids. While you’re there, let the most stress-inducing topic of conversation be what you’ll be having for dessert. And whatever you do, don’t let your wife call to check up on the little ones. She doesn’t want to know what’s really going on…

7. Give mom a decent night of sleep at least once every week.

On Friday nights, I was in charge. I got up with the kids, fed them, rocked them, and took care of them from 11pm to 9am. My wife slept alone those nights, and in return, she ensured that I had relatively-good sleep for the rest of the week. She was also just overall nicer to me. Those mornings were tough, but trust me: the best wife is a rested wife.

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8. Take tons of pictures.

Chances are mom will be too occupied to take the pictures that are truly magical, like the ones where they’re throwing a fit for no reason, or stuck in the dryer, or split seconds away from having a hand bitten by a pig. Also, digital cameras put the cost of each picture at $0.00, so there’s literally nothing to lose. Instagram that baby!

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9. Don’t compare your kids to others who seem to be developing much faster.

Odds are your twins will communicate with the non-verbal language they developed as POWs in the womb. So as much as they would love to shout out their letters, numbers and colors, you may have to settle for “moo” or “da-da” for a while – a looooong while. Also, twins are born ridiculously early. So while my son is in the bottom percentile for weight, height and other measurable indicators of whether he’ll be a star quarterback one day, I take delight in knowing he’ll make an amazing prom date one day.

10. Find one-on-one time for both children.

My son wakes up early and loves to play catch, so we get a lot of time together. Unfortunately, my daughter does neither, and her affection is much harder to come by. So, every now and then I will take her out – just us – and pay for whatever she can hold onto at the dollar store, or treat her to some delicious McDonald’s soft serve. The result: she likes me for a little while.

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11. Teach those babies how to sleep!

At around four or five months, just start plopping your babies in their cribs for a nap at the same time every day and don’t feel guilty when they scream bloody murder for the next 30 minutes – it’s all just part of the learning process.  And when your bachelor friends make fun of you for leaving a party early because it’s “way past their naptime” and the kids are “all off today,” just know I was right there with you, brother. Now hurry home before bedtime gets screwed up too!

12. Master the art of something helpful, like giving baths or taking long walks.

Apparently my wife isn’t a big fan of showering while two infants scream just yards away. To keep my wife sane (and sanitary), I would occasionally strap the kids in the stroller and walk them for a solid 30 minutes while I chatted with whoever was willing to help me kill the time (thanks mom!). As for me, well, I just pretty much stopped showering altogether…

13. Pray. Like, all the time.

Pray with them and pray for them. Pray that ear infections go away, pray that they eat better, and pray for two successive days without some new sickness they will soon share. Seriously, just pray. And when they’re answered, you’ll know better than to take them for granted. Amen?

14. Actually play with your kids for a few minutes every single day.

Stop everything you’re doing and roughhouse with the kids. You should see my daughter’s face when I playfully declare “TICKLE TIME!”, or the look of excitement my son gets when I grab a whiffle ball and head outside. My wife would much rather I help make a few frowns dissapear than help make a few dishes disappear… and frankly so would I.

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15. If possible, hire a maid for a while.

I’ve never really cared about a little dust on the headboard or toothpaste in the sink. Heck, if I put the toilet seat down I’m having a good day. But my wife cares about these things and had absolutely no time to clean. So, we had a maid come over every other week and it really seemed to help my wife calm down about the house. Usually by the time I got home there were already clothes, toys and crackers all over the place… but the floor sure did smell like Pine-Sol!

16. Just survive the first 9 months or so. You got this!

For months I found myself thanking God it was Monday. Weekends and holidays were a grind, and I was a ticking time bomb when holding the babies so my wife could go to the bathroom. Perhaps it didn’t help that I was working full time and going to law school at night during the worst of it.  But somewhere around 9 or 10 months, they started sleeping a bit more regularly, getting sick less, and playing more – which was amazing. Now they’re two, and they absolutely adore each other… except when they fight over a toy.

If only we had two of everything…

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My Golf Outing with President Obama

On Saturday, I ran into the President of the United States at a golf course.  Twice.  You know, no big deal or anything… 

Before I get into that, let me just say that I never truly appreciated the awesomeness of the sport of golf until I had kids.  It didn’t help that I was awful and would consistently hit the ball 60 yards into the woods.  Furthermore, it was expensive, exhausting, and dragged on for six hours.  SIX HOURS! 

But in a world of diaper changes, spilled milk, and unwanted drawings on the kitchen table, golf represents freedom and tranquility – for six glorious hours. 

This is why I golf

This is why I golf

Well, Saturday, my brother in law and I headed out to the Fort Belvoir Golf Course.  The only time I had ever played there before, President Obama was there.  So when we arrived and saw dozens of “golfers” with funky wires going into their ears, I already suspected he might be there again. 

When we walked up to the starter, we were informed that the course was on “lockdown.”  Nobody explained what that meant, but apparently everyone knew.  I probably heard the word 30 times in the course of about four minutes.  “Lockdown, lockdown.”  That’s fun to say…

Anyway, we were told that we would not be able to start our round because, well, the course was on “lockdown.”  Our choices were to go to the driving range, or hang out in the clubhouse.  We opted for the range. 

On our way over, the sheer number of secret service agents in the area multiplied.  POTUS was near.

Then we were frisked.  Now, in law school, I was taught to pretty much never consent to a search by law enforcement.  But when a secret service agent with a wand stepped up and asked if she could search my bag, I said “sure.”  Besides, something told me this search was not optional….

As I looked at the range, I noticed a group of tee boxes in the corner that was roped off.  There were fancy pyramids of balls on every station in that area, and so naturally I got as close to them as I could.   If the President wasn’t gonna show up, I figured I might be able to snag a few free range balls while noone was looking. 

I grabbed a bucket of balls and started practicing.  A few minutes later, I kid you not, I looked over and saw the President hitting a nine-iron.   There was no Hail to the Chief played, no red carpets, no big announcement.  I just hit a ball, looked to my left, and saw he was there.  “Yep, that’s the President three tee boxes over.”  

A few things I noticed while I pretended not to stare: he was wearing Chicago White Sox golf shoes (Go Nats!), he’s a lefty (which makes sense), and he’s very, very skinny (Michelle really is a health freak…).   He only worked on his irons – which he hit quite well.  Meanwhile, all I was pretty much hitting at this point was my driver.  If it weren’t for this, and politics, we would have so much in common…

Anyway, after about 10 minutes, the President headed up to his cart.  As he did so, he walked past me at no more than five yards away.  I noticed everyone else on the range was staring, but no one said a word.  Knowing this was my chance to interact with the most powerful man in the world, I yelled in his direction the only thing that came to mind:  “HIT EM STRAIGHT, SIR!” 

Note:  I’ve often thought about what I would say to the President if I had the opportunity, and always figured it would be something profound and inspirational.  Yet when it came down to it, I yelled something so unsophisticated you would think I was one of those idiots who screams “GET IN THE HOLE!” after every shot Tiger Woods takes.  Nice. 

Immediately, the President turned around and walked right up to me.  With a surprisingly genuine tone and demeanor, he asked my name, we shook hands, and he thanked me for “all I do.”  It was a questionably delicate handshake, but I think that mostly stems from the fact that he was wearing a golf glove…

Now, we live in a world where nothing like this is true unless there’s a picture on Instagram to prove it, but I didn’t feel like interrupting the President’s round of golf to do so.    And even if I did, I’m not sure that there’s a wall in our house on which my wife (who makes a conservative like myself look like Arianna Huffington) would let it hang.  So no, there’s no picture of this.    

I have to say: the sincerity with which President Obama spoke and interacted with me was undeniable.   It felt like we were just two guys on a golf course – only, surrounded by countless secret service agents.    Heck, if there weren’t snipers with guns pointed directly at my chest, I may have given him a hug to consummate this newfound bro-mance. 

And then he hopped in his golf cart and took off with his group.  In case you’re wondering, the other people in the President’s group paid for themselves.   I know this because they were in front of us when we paid.  So, apparently, Executive Privilege doesn’t get you very far at the golf course. 

Oddly enough, this whole interaction wasn’t even the highlight of my day…

On the 11th hole, I noticed more and more unmarked government cars pulling up.  Looking around, I also saw more of those “golfers” with lots of stuff going on in their ears.  As I approached the green, an agent with a wand walks out and frisks all of us, and then checks our bags. ***

*** At no point did he ask for my consent – the hallmark of an unconstitutional search! 

Anyway, I’m about to putt and realize what all the fuss is about.  Standing at about 350 yards back, I see President Obama and his group standing at the tee box.  It suddenly hit me: the President of the United States was waiting for me.  “In that case I’m sorry, Mr. President, but you’re gonna have to wait.”  I took a few practice strokes as I soaked all this in, and revisited the greatest golf tip ever given:

And then I tapped it in. 

It’s not everyday you see the President.  But Saturday, on a golf course of all places, I ran into him twice.  More importantly, I got to escape time-outs and endless requests for “more juice” and “new shoes” on a nice day… for six glorious hours. 

Man do I love golf… 

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And so does Riley

 

A Toast to My First Real Month as a Father of Three

Within minutes of walking through the door from Rhode Island, I watched in amazement as my two-year-old daughter pulled up her shirt and attempted to breastfeed one of her dolls.  Right then, I knew my life was about to become crazier than ever. 

For those unfamiliar, I was training with the military in Rhode Island from January to late March.  Naval Justice School involved me waking up at 9am on Saturdays, popping leftover pizza in the microwave, and watching college hoops all weekend.  IT WAS BASICALLY SLAVERY!!!  

Meanwhile, Jackie was home caring for our newborn son, as well as herding our toddlers 24/7.  I’m sure you’re probably wondering what she, as a temporarily single stay-at-home mom, was doing all day…

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Must be nice
(courtesy of parentsociety.com)

Transitioning from the bachelor lifestyle in Rhode Island back to a father of three at home was about as brutal for me as, well, an episode of The Bachelor.  For instance, recently I introduced baby Brody to the bottle for the first time.  This experience began with me assuring my wife that “it’s cool, I got this” and ended with me screaming “JACKIE!  THIS ISNT WORKING!!!” ***

*** These days everyone seems to have a shirt that says “Keep Calm.”  Well, I want a shirt for occasions like this that says “MAYBE I DON’T WANT TO KEEP CALM!!!”

To make matters worse, Brody already has to deal with all that comes with being the youngest of three.   Indeed, Riley loves smothering him with open-mouth kisses, and Jimmy just loves smothering him.   Thankfully, he only cries when (a) he’s hungry, (b) he’s gassy, or (c) he sees Jimmy coming. 

And while Brody may not communicate often, his older brother sure does… 

First off, if Jimmy hears anything outside, he points to the sky and assures me it’s an “air-pane” (although half the time it’s actually our neighbor’s lawnmower).  When I get up with Jimmy early in the morning, he will continually ask for “Wiley” until she wakes up.  And finally, he thinks “no” is the proper answer to every question asked.  Watch:

Me: “Can I change your diaper?” Jimmy: “No!”

Me: “You wanna go to bed?”  Jimmy: “No!”

Nothing abnormal so far, but wait…

Me: “You want ice cream?” Jimmy: “No!”

Me: “You want chocolate cake?”  Jimmy: “No!” 

Clearly he has no idea what he’s missing… 

As for “Wiley,” well, she calls her mom “Jackie” (we’re working on this…), and her crib is something you would see on the show Hoarders.  She loves Greek yogurt more than John Stamos, and she eats her Oreos cream first – the way we do it in America!   

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Future Oikos spokeswoman

Furthermore, let me just say I can only read “The Nose Book” to Riley so many times before it DRIVES. ME. CRAZY!  Fortunately, I have a solution called the “Three Reads Rule.”  It goes like this: I will read any book she wants three times, and then I will physically throw that book as far as I can across the room.  If Riley goes and gets it (which she usually does), then I will read it another three times.  Every now and then, though, she finds something else to do… and it’s glorious. 

Don’t judge.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention bath time.  See, you would think that because I am now a Naval Officer, I would have some ability to control my little sailors while they’re in the water.  But you would be dead wrong.   Despite my orders not to do so, those kids genuinely love drinking bath water – especially when it’s flavored with bubbles.  Indeed, they wait until they think I’m not looking, and then they chug.  Come to think of it, they drink like Sailors! 

And now for a few words in remembrance of my last phone.   See, our kids love phones, and there are ample toddler-friendly apps for smartphones that tend to make dinnertime much more enjoyable.  However, this all comes at a steep cost.  Indeed, last week the date on my phone was June 3, 1981, and shortly thereafter it died forever.  So, if you want to know the kind of wear-and-tear two curious toddlers will put on your smartphone, then simply drop it in the nearest toilet bowl for an hour and see how it goes. 

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The cell phone in Jimmy’s hands is doomed…

PS: on a related note, if I haven’t talked to you in years but randomly “like” your Facebook post about how “awful” Verizon’s customer service is, then odds are it was Riley messing with my new phone.  Besides, I have far more insulting things to say about Verizon. 

Anyway.  We recently celebrated Jimmy and Riley’s second birthday – two years old!  When Jackie was pregnant, experienced parents would encourage us to “enjoy every moment” because it’s over “before you know it.”  And although I certainly do not “enjoy every moment” of fatherhood, I try to make myself aware of those special moments that are bigger than they originally seem…

The other night Riley was crying in her crib for a solid hour and a half, refusing to sleep.   So, I reluctantly marched up to her room and sang Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” until she fell asleep in my arms.  For about 30 minutes, I sat on the rocking chair and thought about how much more incredible Jackie and my journey has been since these kids came along for the ride.  This is how parenting apparently works – constant chaos sprinkled with the occasional realization that you would have it no other way. 

I’m thankful God has given me a gassy-but-happy baby, a daughter that loves “The Nose Book,” and a son that thinks your lawnmower is an “air-pane.” 

So grab a glass of bath water and let’s toast to a crazy month with Brody, Jimmy… and “Wiley” too.  Cheers! 

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***In Loving Memory of Jim’s Droid (2011-2013)*** 

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