Hold On Daddy's Coming!

Stories, rants and reflections by a clueless father of three

Archive for the tag “humor”

“I Do Not Have Gas!” And Other Highlights From Our Epic Trip to Korea

Seoul, Korea is an amazing place where strangers give your kids candy on the train and in no way is it creepy.  The people are genuinely nice… and fascinated by white kids.  Ours played their part well.  

I note that Seoul is in South, vice North, Korea.  For the three months that led up to this trip a  certain member of my family may have accidentally mixed up these two countries and told her friends we were going to “North Korea.”  Slight mix up.  

The trip was mostly amazing.  The kids gave us their fair share of “this is boring” and “when can we go back to the hotel.” Fortunately we combated this with new toys, orange sodas, and cake for lunch.  

Here’s a breakdown of our epic week in Korea: 

Day One: Korean War Museum  

On the first day we went to the Korean War Museum.  I’m not much of a museum guy, but this place has real planes, tanks, and boats all over it.  The kids wanted to be in all kinds of pictures while climbing on all kinds of historically-preserved war artifacts.  

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They also insisted on taking some pictures themselves.  Either this will need more practice or our youngest got a great picture of the two people he cares about the most…

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For lunch, we went authentic and ordered pizza.  

We also went to a market where a woman who didn’t speak english communicated to us through a translator app.  At one point in the conversation, she held her phone up which proudly declared “I do not have gas!”  I can only hope thats what she was actually trying to tell us.  

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Hooray for no Gas! 

It didn’t take long to discover that Koreans drive like legit maniacs.  Its not a stereotype, its just a fact.  Traffic lights seem to be more like “suggestions,” and even those don’t really apply to taxis and buses.  And I’ve concluded that people on mopeds in Korea are hoping to die because they commonly drive full speed into crowded intersections without regard for their safety.  Or anything.  

Day Two: Gyeongbokung Palace, Seoul Tower, and River Cruise 

On the second day we went big.  First, we went to this Korean Palace which dates back to the 1300s.  We didn’t take a guided tour, and I didn’t actually read much of the brochure, so I cannot tell you much about the palace other than it looks really, really cool.

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It didn’t take long for the kids to start complaining about how they were bored, hot, and anxious to get back.  On our way out, a group of Koreans asked us to be in a video where we all said “welcome to Seoul.”  I’m still hoping to become YouTube famous, so naturally I agreed.    

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For lunch, we really channeled our inner-Koreans and ate pizza.  At the exact same pizza place we went to the day before.  Gettin real cultured.  

In the afternoon we went to Seoul Tower, which offers the best views of Seoul in town.  We hitched a ride to the top.  They charged us about $30 for the whole family, and frankly I would have paid whatever they asked cuz it’s a ridiculously long way up.  

While up there we ran into some women who wanted pictures with the kids.  Why of course…  

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That night, we went on a Han River Cruise, where you can see the Seoul skyline at night and then watch fireworks.  We almost missed the cruise, and everyone was super tired.  But we held it together (literally) and had a blast (figuratively).  

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This is what the end of a day of tourism with kids looks like…

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Day Three: The Zoo. 

I don’t like zoos.  There, I said it.  Zoos are not my thing.  Every time we go its hot and crowded and smelly.  But on the third day in Seoul we went to the Zoo.  We saw lions, tigers, seals, and lots of other zoo-worthy stuff.

Problem is, our youngest was hoping to see pigs.  When he discovered the zoo did not have pigs, he was sure to let us know he was having the “Worst. Day  Ever!”  And so he was.  

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But we didn’t want to see zebras…  

Oh, and it turns out that I’m not the only dad who isn’t thrilled about the zoo.  I got a great pic of a dad fighting off sleep at the llama exhibit.  I’m right there with you, sir. 

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Here’s proof that some dad truths are universal

After the zoo we went to a marketplace in search of a Pokemon-inspired stuffed animal named “Psyduck.”  We didn’t find it, and this was devastating to our oldest.  He didn’t even need to say it.  We already knew it was the #worstdayever. 

That night, shockingly, we ate pizza.  And made some new friends.   Not bad for the worst day of my son’s life.

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The Photobomb that resulted in me looking super creepy

Day Four:  Lotte World

On the Fourth day we went to an indoor/outdoor amusement park called “Lotte World.”  On the way there our youngest made a friend on the train who wanted to get a picture.  He also invited our son to sit on his lap.  That wasn’t gonna happen, but they did have a great time.  

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Lotte World is endless.  It’s a junior varsity version of Disneyland, but less crowded and mostly indoors, so the temperature is perfect.  They had quite a few rides all of the kids could enjoy.  The problem with this place is that waaaaayyy too many rides required extra money.   And here I thought America had a lock on the nickel and dime approach…

Oh, but great news!  Lotte World had the “Psyduck” our oldest had been looking for.  With all due respect to Disneyland, Lotte World may have been the happiest place on earth for this kid.  

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Welcome to the family, Psyduck

Day Five:  The De-militarized Zone (DMZ) 

On the fifth day we went to the DMZ.  This is where the borders of North and South Korea meet.  With so much of the news revolving around N. Korea these days, this was great stuff to know and see.  

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We went to a tunnel that was dug by the N. Koreans to invade Seoul back in the 70s.  We also went to an overlook where you can see the entirety of the DMZ.  I won’t say too much more about what we observed because last time Hollywood talked too much about North Korea they all got hacked.  I don’t feel like changing all my passwords, so instead I’ll just post this funny picture of our son… 

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Our tour guide made some interesting observations.  She noted that tourism was way down because of “the Fat Man.”  Minutes later, she informs us that if North Korea launches a nuke at Seoul they will “all be dead in six minutes and there is nothing anyone can do about it.”  

But she assured us that we were all safe…  

The DMZ is a must see in Korea.  I knew nothing about the Korean War and had no legitimate background on what is inspiring current events until I went and saw it for myself.  

Day Six: Some Random Korean Neighborhood

On the sixth day we went to an “authentic Korean neighborhood” which is actually just a tourist trap filled with Starbucks Coffees and places to get fried chicken.  It’s not even worth my time to google the actual name of the place we went to. 

While we were there, we stopped to eat outside someones house.  While we were eating, the owner invited us into his house, gave us water, and set us up at a table.  Super nice guy.  Of course we all had to get a picture.  Psyduck too…

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The next day we went home.  Fully charged tablets made for an eventless plane ride.  Parents have it so easy these days.  

The trip was eventful, and super fun.  Koreans are some of the nicest, most genuinely friendly people you will ever meet.  We left with fond memories, new friends, and of course, our main man “Psyduck.”  

Also, in case you are wondering, I too do not have gas.    

On Helping the Kids Say Goodbye to their Favorite Dog in the World

I always knew “Lilo” was a really good dog.  But when I told the kids she was gone forever I realized she meant so much more…

In 2007, I was newly married, living in a small apartment with my wife and her Golden Retriever.  Upon return from the Honeymoon I discovered that this dog slept in the bed, which I found ridiculous.  Apparently this didn’t come up in pre-marriage counseling.  I wasn’t in a position to throw down the “its-me-or-the-dog” ultimatum; mostly because that first year of marriage was rough and I’m fairly confident Jackie would have chosen the dog.  So we compromised, and Lilo slept in the bed with us.  Such is marriage.    

Truth is, Lilo was a darn good dog.  If she had a ball, she was happy.  Her needs were simple, and our life was simple then, too.  

Before kids, Lilo was our “baby” – the one thing two newlyweds with different perspectives on life could almost always agree on.  Every night she would take us for a walk.  We needed it…

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The Biggest Loser and The Best Trainer

We used to laugh when Lilo would run in the snow because she would inevitably collect snow-dingleberries on her fur.  Seeing those always made us happy, mostly because saying “snow-dingleberries” is everything it’s cracked up to be.  

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As for Lilo, she was a golden wuss…

Bunnies?  Terrifying.  

Balloons?  The horror!  

Cute little kittens?  AHHH!!!!   

There wasn’t much that DIDN’T scare her, but Lilo always knew when she needed to be there for us.  Through a miscarriage, I never knew exactly what to say. Lilo did far more to support Jackie in her silence than I ever could with words.  She was a darn good dog.  

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Eventually we did have kids, and that rocked our world.  Hers too…  

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Like most new parents, we were determined to continue giving Lilo the endless attention we always had.  And like most new parents, we soon realized that was a promise unkept.  But she loved the kids.  She wasn’t scared of them, and perhaps she should have been.  Lilo quickly became the world’s handiest step stool, pillow, and walker.  She was out-of-this-world patient with the kids. 

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Our patient dog

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Ridiculously patient

So yea, the kids loved her, and the feeling was mutual.  Our kids got away with all kinds of maltreatment and animal torture that other dogs wouldn’t put up with. They would literally smother this dog in their unconstrained love for her.  Every once in a blue moon the kids would take it too far and she’d snap at the them.  Sorry kids, neither of you are victims.  

In the chaotic years that followed child-rearing, Lilo became a pseudo babysitter.  She was their best friend.  Those kids really loved that dog.  

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As the kids got older, she did too.  In the years that would follow Lilo lost a step.  She got sick – the tumors clearly visible.  When we got orders to Guam, we had a difficult decision to make.  At the time she was 14 years old.  Guam is miserably hot, and the vet couldn’t say with confidence that Lilo would even survive the 27 hour trip.  We left her in the care of Jackie’s mom.  

As the year went by, Lilo’s condition continued to deteriorate.  The tumors kept spreading, and her body kept slowing down.  The girl who had been there for us all those years was dying.  It pained all of us to be so far away when she was now the one in need.  

Amazingly, she hung in there.  Earlier this summer, Jackie and the kids headed back to Virginia for 6+ weeks to visit family while I was traveling for work.  Lilo was on her last leg, but she was still with us.  

I was able to join the family a few weeks later and the dog I saw was unmistakably different than the one I remembered.  This was the face of a dog who was clearly ready to go.  She had stopped eating, could barely move, and couldn’t keep down water.  And she was vomiting blood.  The end was near.  

We decided to tell the kids.  Specifically, I told them Lilo was old, sick, and was going to die soon.  Of course, this hurt.  Our daughter took the news especially hard, and  wandered inconsolably around the house for the rest of the day refusing to talk to me.  As hard as this was, it gave the kids a chance to say goodbye.  And over the course of the next few days, that’s exactly what they did.  

It was beautiful.  

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Lost in all of this is how hard this was for Jackie.  This was her dog – the one who had been there long before I ever came into her life. Jackie gave me her hand in marriage, but it came with a dog named “Lilo.”  I would have had it no other way.  

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We always hoped Lilo would just fall asleep and not wake up, but that wasn’t to be.  And we could see it in her eyes: it was time.  Her veterinarian is one of the best in the world, and allows you to decide where the dog’s final moments will take place. Not surprisingly, Lilo was always terrified of the vet office, so he came to my mother in law’s house.  Sitting in the yard she loved so much, Jackie and I said a prayer, and then we watched as the life went away from her in the blink of an eye.  Goodbye girl.  

Then came the even harder part.  I wanted the kids to have a chance to say goodbye one last time, even though she was already gone.  We didn’t think it would be fair to just tell them she died and they would never see her again.  So I walked inside and told them I had bad news and they needed to sit down.  I didn’t mince words:  “Kids, Lilo is gone.  She died.”   

The screams were immediate.  Man this one really hurt.  

I brought them outside and they said goodbye with blinding tears in their eyes.  The sorrow was raw.  “I DON’T *WANT* LILO TO BE IN HEAVEN!!!” is all Jimmy could manage to say.  He would continue saying that for hours.  “WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DIE!!!” is all Riley said the rest of the day.  

I hear you, kids.  

I’ve often viewed dogs as pets, but it was only until I saw how hard my family took this loss that it truly dawned on me: Lilo was so much more to us than a “pet.”  She was family.  Shame on me for not seeing it this way all along.  

That Lilo passed while we were all visiting from halfway across the world was nothing short of a storybook ending on an amazing life.  Lilo was a good dog, and we will miss her.  The kids are doing well, and we have no regrets about the manner in which we told them the unfortunate news.  They deserved to be a part of the end.  That was their girl too.  

Lilo made it her mission to support us in good times and bad.  And in this she succeeded.  I’m sure she knew it too.  In fact, the last thing I said to her was “you did a really good job, girl.”  

And indeed she did.  

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NOTE: A special thank you is owed to Tricia Craddock, my mother in law, for taking such good care of our favorite dog in her final year.  I also want to thank Dr. Peter Hyatt of Pender Vet Animal Hospital in Fairfax, VA – in addition to his expertise, he has a genuine love of animals and comes highly recommended by our family.  

Mario-Karting Through Tokyo Is A Thing You Can Do and It’s Glorious

When someone told me you could actually drive a go-kart through Tokyo while dressed as your favorite Mario character I really didn’t believe it. And apparently I’m not the only one….

Indeed, MariCar is a Tokyo-based company that is not affiliated with Nintendo, Mario, or anything having to do with the game that makes this activity so nostalgically amazing. I’m told this was all the subject of contentious copyright litigation. Evidently MariCar has some amazing lawyers.

Anyway. A group of friends from my command organized a 90-minute tour around the streets of Tokyo and it was on…like Donkey Kong. Oh yes.

We started in Yokosuka at the Navy Base and headed over to the train station. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes to some place called “Akihabara”, which is the launch point for the trip. Meanwhile, “Akihabara” is super fun to say.

Navigating the Tokyo train system as a newcomer is not fun. I got through by repeating “now what am I supposed to do?” to my patient Japan-based friends each step of the way.  This is far more desirable than actually learning the system.  

Eventually we arrive at the MariCar location. They verify that you have an international drivers license and collect $50 – a small price to pay for a night of pure glory.

Now for the important part: picking a costume. I intended to go as a legit Mario character but the group was already saturated with Marios and Luigis. So, Jackie and I went with Toy Story.

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Some members of the group were a bit more courageous and in no way is that a bad thing…

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Having paid and dressed, we head out to the garage.

Now for the safety brief. The company rep asks us questions and gets a kick out of giving those who answer imaginary gold coins. As it turns out, they don’t allow you to throw bananas into the road, and this whole thing isn’t a race per se, its actually just a tour.   Regardless, the entire time I’m fantasizing about living out all my favorite scenes from Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.  I’m sure it was a great safety brief.

We hop into the cars and they divide us into 5 person groups, each of which gets an assigned lead driver. Ours was sporting an amazing cat outfit and kinda didn’t speak English.  This worked out perfectly.

Ready, set, go!  

And there I was, driving through downtown Tokyo at sunset dressed as Sheriff Woody. It was fantastic. Unfortunately the initial rush didn’t last long, as our leader blew through a light just before it turns red, leaving half the group separated at a busy intersection. The cars straddle a busy intersection and the leader hops out to navigate the rest of the group to weave through a few cars and perhaps a bus or two. And that’s when I grabbed my camera…

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Right about here is where it dawns on me: the fact that this whole thing is legal is a legit miracle. I mean, here I am making a mess out of local traffic without the slightest idea where I’m going and how to drive on the left side of the road…all while cars and busses go whizzing by just feet away.  But, whatever. “Hey guys let’s get a picture!”  

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You’d think locals would hate everything about this operation, but quite the opposite seemed to be true. We found ourselves receiving applause and thumbs up virtually every step of the way. It was incredible. I mean, just imagine a business in the United States that encouraged foreigners to drive on legit city roads.  It’s actually horrifying.

About 45 minutes into the trip we stopped at the Tokyo Skytree for pictures. I’ve already taken hundreds, but when you’re gallivanting around Tokyo dressed as Sheriff Woody this is just what you do. Besides, any given picture could be that magical Facebook pic that says “I’m an adult with responsibilities but I also like to party.” Cheese!

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We hop back in and drive. The course is a mix of highways, cross roads, and narrow alleys, and the route is not self-explanatory. Indeed, during our picture break someone tells me his lead driver got lost and had to use Google maps to get back on track. I don’t recall this being an option in Mario-Kart, but then again this is MariCar, which is totally different.

As for speed, these things go about “60km,” which means nothing to me because I’m from America and don’t use the metric system. It was fast enough.

Eventually we hear the sirens of a cop car. But the sound is ridiculously loud.   In addition to the siren I hear a man barking orders in Japanese from some megaphone. Apparently this is a regular thing here.  Fortunately he wasn’t coming to arrest me (although being dressed as Sheriff Woody would make for a great mug shot…).  This guy means business, so I make sure to get the heck out of the way.

About 90 minutes into the trip and we arrive at the garage where this adventure began. But we’re missing the fifth member of our group. None of us can recall how long she’s been missing. Uhh, whoops…

We notify our lead driver that a member of our group has gone missing. I’m guessing something got lost in translation, because immediatley his eyes light up with joy as he declares “THAT MEANS YOU WIN!” 

Umm…

Minutes later, our entire group was reunited safe and sound.  Everyone provides assurances they will send the pictures they took.  

Frankly, the trip was glorious.  I cannot conjure up a better, more fun way to take a tour around Tokyo.

If you have a pen, put Real World Mario Kart on your bucket list immediately. And if you’re ever in Tokyo, run – don’t walk – to the magical place where they give you a car and a costume and let you tear up the city at night. I mean, the worst that could possibly happen is someone gets lost. And you know what that means?

THAT MEANS YOU WIN!    

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Our ‘Classic Guam’ Dolphin-Watching Experience

This week, I decided we needed some dolphins in our lives.  I mean, why not?  Dolphins are super cool and there are no penguins nearby, so this is a no-brainer.  Bonus: the boat launches from the neighboring town of Agat, which will make this an easy voyage.  Yea Dolphins! 

We packed all the essentials – water bottles, sunscreen and Pokemon cards.  Because you never can be too prepared.  

We also brought friends.  Well, I should say Jackie brought her friend Sabrina and the kids brought some of their friends (Sabrina’s kids…).  None of my friends came.  See, if my wife fails to make arrangements for me to hang out with other dudes, it doesn’t happen.  My reliance on her literally stretches this far.  

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Not pictured: Any of Jim’s Dude Friends

We get to the Agat Marina around 10:15 but we cannot head to the boat because Dwayne Johnson is singing our children’s favorite Moana song.  We’re not going anywhere until it’s over, and frankly I have no problem with this.  You’re welcome, kids! 

So we’re in the parking lot and already this adventure has all the makings of a legit Guam experience: no signs, no customer representatives, and no boats preparing to take people out.  There’s also no clarity on what time this thing actually starts – indeed, the brochure says 10:15, but our voucher says 10:30, and some random guy tells us this thing starts at 10:45.  Classic Guam.   

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No information, no problem. 

While we wait, the kids feed fish in the marina with goldfish. I assure you the irony in real-world fish eating Pepperidge Farm Goldfish is not lost on our four year old.  “DADDY!  THE FISH ARE EATING THE FISH!!!”  

Why yes.  Yes they are.  

We set sail as expected, right at 11:00. Before we even get out of the marina, the kids begin identifying all the amazing sea creatures they somehow see.   Brody sees a dolphin and sharks.  Jimmy sees a whale.  Riley sees an octopus…  

I see adorable liars.  

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A few minutes into the trip and the kids see Flying Fish.  But for real this time.  And who knew fish could fly?  Add this to their list of things that apparently exist.  

These fish have a legit superpower, and watching them in action easily occupies our group and about 30 asian tourists for the first 15 minutes of the trip.  Unfortunately, these little suckers are hard to photograph.  

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It’s a fish that flies.  Or is is a bird that swims?   

Right about here is when the boat started serving lunch.  The menu?  Sandwiches and water.  Only, the sandwiches are made of nothing but cake frosting.  Oh yes.  It’s a frosting sandwich.  Inevitably, the kids will ask me if they can have desert because they ate all of their sandwich.   And indeed they should be rewarded with cake.  

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Eat fresh, kids.

So. The boat keeps going out and we get word that there are dolphins in the area.  And sure enough there’s like eight of them swimming together. I’m super excited because we now see dolphins and that was the whole point of this trip.  Mission Accomplished! 

But another part of me is bummed because there’s a money back guarantee if you don’t actually get to see dolphins, and I was kinda hoping this whole thing would be free.  So it’s a mixed range of emotions.  

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Priceless

Anyway, we watched these dolphins for about 15 minutes while they entertained us tourists.  They’re mesmerizing – I could stand and watch them all day.  

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After the dolphin viewing we head out to some other remote area where we would be for the remainder of this excursion.  Upon arrival, the captain tells us we can fish or swim. Our kids don’t get many opportunities to fish cuz I hate touching those slimy suckers.  But there’s a crew here to take care of all that, so naturally we’re taking this opportunity to do some fishing.

Two minutes in, and Brody’s pole is trying to pull him overboard. I seize the rod from him and reel in a sweet-looking blue fish.  A member of the crew informs us that this particular fish has something on its gills that, if touched, will make grown men cry.  A solid reminder of why I despise touching fish… 

The crew member puts the fish into a bucket.  This will become relevant later.  For now, suffice it to say Brody is a proud fisherman. 

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Nearly an hour of fishing would yield zero additional fish. I’ll add that I definitely underestimated how much physical labor goes into assisting a bunch of young children with bait, rogue hooks, and intertwined fishing lines.  Which is conducive to this…

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Got er! 

Before the trip was over I went snorkeling. Despite Guam’s status as a mecca of underwater creature observation, I don’t do this often because (a) it’s too quiet, (b) sharks eat people, and (c), fish can apparently fly so who knows what else they’re capable of doing.  But with dozens of tourists in the water I figure I have math on my side.  

I will say, what’s amazing about these beautiful fish is that you can actually watch them poop.  It’s so cool! But thats about it.  

Eventually the captain tells us it is time to head back. Right about here is when the kids begin begging to keep the fish that Brody caught.  Our neighbor Vivian reminds me that she has a tank at her house the fish can live in.  That would be a beta fish…

We brief the kids on two potential courses of action.  Option One: we let the fish go overboard so it can be with its family.  Option Two: we keep the fish and it dies immediately.  

So which option did they choose?  I’ll let the suspense build for a second…

The kids unanimously vote for Option Two, despite the well-known fatal consequences.  Fortunately, the votes counted for nothing and there never really was an option, per se.  We let the crew keep the fish and I am quite certain he was fried that night.  But the kids don’t need to know all the details…

Before we reach land, I strike a perfectly creepy Titanic pose.  

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Feeling on top of the world!

In all, we went swimming, fishing, and saw some really cool sea creatures. We filled up on some frosting sandwiches, and I watched fish poop.  How could one ask for a better day?  

This is the kind of family time I need more of in my life.  It was a small reminder of why we agreed to come to an island in the middle of nowhere…  

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It was classic Guam.

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A Step by Step Guide on How to Move Your Family to Guam Without Any Drama Whatsoever

We’re baaaaacck! And in case you’ve been out of the loop since my last post (over two years ago), here’s a recap: I spent 8 months living by myself in Norfolk, VA prepping for a deployment, then I deployed for 7 months, then I came back. And then, we PCS’d (military slang for moved) to Guam.  So basically, we’ve followed the standard progression of any normal family of five from Northern Virginia…   

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Perfectly normal family here.

Bottom line: our kids are older, my hair is thinner, and my wife is *loving* the Navy more than ever. Which happens to be where this whole blog picks back up…

So. If you’ve ever wondered how a legit professional takes his family and moves them to Guam without ANY drama/tears/tantrums/ iterations of ”oh-my-gosh-why-are-you-doing-this-to-me”, then listen up. Because I’m about to educate you.

STEP ONE: BE DEPLOYED WHEN YOU GET YOUR ORDERS TO MOVE FROM THE EAST COAST TO GUAM.

This is huge. You see, when faced with orders to move to a small island kinda near Japan (but really not near anything), your spouse may want to talk to you about all these questions she has, like “where are we going to live?” and “when is all of this going to happen?” and most importantly, “where the heck is Guam?” Fortunately for you, you will be on the other side of the world, incapable of answering any questions whatsoever. It makes the news that much easier to digest.

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Me being too busy to discuss moving to Guam…

STEP TWO: GIVE YOUR WIFE A LAUNDRY LIST OF THINGS THAT MUST HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY BUT THAT CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT WRITTEN ORDERS, WHICH ARE COMING.  WE THINK. 

Medical screening needs to be completed. Are we sure Brody had his tetanus shot? Movers need to be arranged. Car needs to be shipped. We need to get on the base housing list. We need to enroll the kids in school. We need to do it now!

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Stop wasting time, this medical screening is due ASAP!!!

Problem is, nothing happens until written orders are in hand. And getting written orders from the military can be as enjoyable as a 16 week seminar in “Commercial Paper.”   Or (foreshadow alert!) a 36-hour flight to Guam. Super fun.

STEP THREE: COME HOME FROM DEPLOYMENT AND COMMENT ON ALL THE THINGS YOUR “WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY” TO PREPARE FOR THE BIG MOVE.

My wife just *loves* comments like these:

“You scheduled the pack out for a Tuesday, huh? I would have gone with later in the week.”

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Should have done this Friday…

“I see we let the kids color and paint all over the floor and walls in the dining room while I was gone.” Or…

“Did you forget about the lawnmower I left in the garage while I was deployed?”

Stuff like that goes over real well in our house.  

STEP FOUR: RENT OUT THE HOUSE OF YOUR WIFE’S DREAMS TO A FAMILY OF COMPLETE STRANGERS.

You love this neighborhood, huh?  Well this is no time to get all sentimental on me. Paint the walls. Clean the carpets. Replace the carpets. Fix the grout. Stain the deck. AND FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE DON’T LET THE KIDS WALK ALL OVER THE DECK I JUST STAINED!!!

Fun like that…

STEP FIVE: MOVE IN WITH YOUR MOTHER IN LAW FOR A FEW WEEKS WHILE YOU ARE HOMELESS AND EVERYTHING YOUR FAMILY OWNS IS ON ITS WAY TO GUAM.

Yep. I’m just gonna leave this one right here without further comment. Moving on…

STEP SIX: HAVE THE NAVY BOOK YOU SUPER CONVENIENT FLIGHT TO GUAM.

Sometimes Always the Navy likes to spend as little as humanely possible, without any consideration for your well-being or the well-being of your family. So a direct flight might make a whole lot more sense and cut out five hours of flight time, but if it’s costs an extra $10 in the system, you’re not getting that direct flight.

Nope, instead you wind up with a downright hellacious itinerary that starts in D.C. and goes to Detroit and then to Tokyo and then some random Japanese Island I’ve never heard of before called “Kansai”…and then to Guam. Leave Tuesday morning, arrive Wednesday at midnight. More on this in a bit…

STEP SEVEN: WATCH TIME SLIP AWAY AS YOUR BEST LAID PLANS TO “SEE EVERYONE BEFORE THE BIG MOVE” FALL APART DISASTROUSLY. 

If you end up with text messages like this, then you’re doing it right:

Friend:  Can you get together tonight? 

Me: Actually, I’m boarding a flight and won’t be available for three years.

STEP EIGHT: FLY TO GUAM.

It’s easy! I mean, it’s not like a 14 hour time difference will impact your children in any way.

But here is the REALLY important part: overlook where everyone is sitting until minutes before boarding. Then realize your seat is nowhere near your family’s. Then make your useless attempt at convincing the very nice Japanese couple that can’t speak a word of English to trade seats with you.

Then, sit alone in silence and pretend not to hear the screams from the back of the plane. 

IMG_4649

Me looking fabulous.  And not hearing the drama in the back…

STEP NINE: LIVE IN A HOTEL ROOM WITH YOUR WIFE, KIDS AND 15 BAGS OF LUGGAGE FOR 10 DAYS.

To soften the blow of a move to Guam the Navy sends you and your family to a hotel. It’s downright cruelty. From here, you will discover there is an “unanticipated shortage” of base housing and that we might be living there for a while. Welcome to paradise.

IMG_4762

Loving this hotel…

STEP TEN: GET YOUR CAR BACK.  

Here’s the process: (1) go to office that has your car and fill out forms, (2) go to the DMV to fill out forms, (3) go back to the office that has your car to…you guessed it…fill out forms. But wait! Brand new policy involving…you guessed it again…more forms. (4) Take the forms to customs, and then (5) bring them back for processing. And if you think your work is done? Start back at one.

Even Brian McNight couldn’t make this romantic…

STEP ELEVEN: GO PRETTY MUCH BANKRUPT.

A box of strawberries? $9. On sale. Dinner for five? $75. Kid’s meals aren’t what they used to be. Breakfast muffins? $5 each. The blows keep coming: Phone plans, sun screen, internet, moving costs, therapy. It all adds up SUPER fast, and your ability to make ends meet is ENTIRELY dependent upon the skill and capability of some Personnel Specialist Seaman Apprentice with about five months of experience in the Navy. So good luck with all that.

IMG_4572

DONT DROP THAT $9 BOX OF STRAWBERRIES!!!!

STEP TWELVE: BE AT WORK WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.  

See:  “The kids didn’t pass the swim test? So sorry. Gotta run!”

See also: “The air conditioner isn’t working at our rental? Bummer. Let’s talk about this later!”

Hate it when that happens…

STEP THIRTEEN: BE READY TO BRIBE YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY START ASKING ALL THE TOUGH QUESTIONS.  

Daughter: Daddy why did we have to move to Guam?

Me: Chocolate, or vanilla?

Oh, and for the older crowd…

Spouse:  Didn’t you say we would be making MORE money out here than back at home? 

Me:  White wine, or red?  

And if that fails…

STEP FOURTEEN: MISLEAD (OR, LIE) TO YOUR MILITARY SPOUSE AND TELL HER EVERYTHING WILL FALL INTO PLACE VERY SOON.

My personal go-tos are “I’m sure a house will open up any day now” and “we’re gonna do some amazing traveling real soon.” If you’re really desperate, you may try offering to acquire a new wardrobe. Or diamonds.  Or plastic surgery. Or something crazy like that. Regardless, you gotta go big here, because the usual flowers or night out on the town just aren’t gonna cut it. And besides, after all this, a night on the town with you is gonna be the last thing she needs.

 

IMG_0086

We’re going to Australia soon?  

STEP FIFTEEN: ENJOY EVERY SECOND.  AFTER ALL, YOU ONLY GET 36 MONTHS OUT HERE…

IMG_0052.JPG 

DISCLAIMER: In all actuality, we are having a great time, and making lots of new friends. Most of the time. And I’m told by the local Navy divorce attorney that my wife hasn’t made an appointment yet. So that’s always a good sign.

A Journey Through Shawn Kuykendall’s Awesomely Random Facebook Page: Part 3

This is Part Three of a four-part series on Shawn Kuykendall’s epic Facebook page.  In case you missed it, Part One featured #throwbacks and YouTube throw downs, and Part Two brought us numerous surgeries and selfies.  We now pick up where we left off, with yet another treasure chest of Shawn-given amazingness.  Let’s go!   

2012:

What’s notable about 2012 is that Shawn kept the fire that is his Facebook page burning brighter than ever.  Here are a few snapshots of brilliance:   

I just had a Baconato combo. I am about to throw up,” and

Sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door,” and

Recent poll (conducted by me) found that girls don’t like guys with a dumpy butt. #screwed.” 

Ahh, yes.  He’s still got it!     

2012 is the year Shawn proves he may be a thirteen-year-old girl trapped inside the body of a grown man.  As evidence, I note that he takes his use of the word “jeally” – a tween-friendly substitute for “jealous” – to extreme levels.  Further, he makes no mistake about his fondness for pumpkin spice lattes, The Bachelor, and Hansen’s hit song MMMBop.  Throw in status updates like “Omg Biebs and Selena broke up!!! #devastated” and it’s a no brainer. 

And then there’s “SIKE!” See, “Sike!” is a great way to note that the previous statement was totally false, and made with intent to deceive.  Ex: “Ankle socks look great with sandals!  SIKE!”  Shawn used this expression back when he traded Pogs and knew all the lines to Free Willy; but then, like the rest of his generation, he stopped using it shortly after the sixth grade…

SIKE!  Shawn will turn 30 this year, and he’s still going strong.

#Kuykenstrong

See? He works out…

Our last new word is “cised,” which appears to be some kind of synonym for “excited.”  Ex: “100% chance I wake up at 3am to preorder the iPhone 4s. I’m cised!”  As with most Shawn-isms, “cised” can stand alone as an entire sentence and be spelled with seemingly unnecessary letters, like this: “Banana Republic is introducing a new line of European-cut suits!  Ciiiiiised!” 

So to recap: “jeally” means jealous (if you’re still in middle school), “Sike!” means just kidding (if you’re still living in the 90s), “cised” means excited (at least I think), and “ciiiiiiised” means super-duper excited (with a cherry on top).  Got it?

Now let’s get “cised” about the highlights from this rather fantastic year: 

February: Shawn turns 30.  To mark the occasion, hundreds of people post on Shawn’s wall, and each of them has a different nickname.  Here’s a few: Shawny, Donald, Uncle Donnie, Prawny, Brodo Baggins, Sine, Dino, America, and Americaaaaaa.  And the notion that people actually call him “America” makes me so ridiculously jeally.    

March: Shawn takes everything I know to be true about fashion and throws it out the window.  Indeed, first he announces that cargo shorts “couldn’t be more” out of style.  Then he claims he’s “over” plaid in all forms (including Target brand pajama pants), leaving me with practically nothing left to wear.  What’s next?  Is he gonna tell me I shouldn’t be wearing workout sneakers to social functions?!?! 

April 21: Shawn posts a picture and asks everyone to “name what’s wrong with it.”  Guesses include (a) that it’s a close-up of “some dude’s crotch,” (b) the fact that the man “doesn’t have arms,” and (c) the notion that “he’s physically disabled and you just don’t like that about him.”

Sneakers

All of these answers had promise, but as it turns out Shawn took issue with this man going to a social function in… you guessed it… his workout sneakers.  I should have seen this coming. 

May: Shawn asks Facebook if anyone “wants to cuddle?”  He gets one response from a female, but unfortunately it’s just a recommendation to “get a dog.”  Just as it started to look like all hope was lost, friend Jason McGraw saves the day with this rather adorable response: 

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May also marks the month Shawn drops this bomb of amazingness:

Yep.  What you just watched was a video of Shawn wearing questionably snug white pants to compliment some well-choreographed dance moves (with sister Sami), all to the tune of some song called “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing,” and all in front of the sheets that Shawn slept on when he turned seven years old.  By the way, did anyone else catch Shawn’s amazing intro slide about five seconds in?  Yea, the only reason I don’t feel like dancing is because I feel like slow-clapping instead.   It’s glorious! 

June: After years of keeping it in the dark, Shawn finally admits: “I think I like blue.” Wow.  Good of Shawn to finally get that off his chest… 

August:  Shawn posts one of his patented while-driving selfies.  To think: this is one of those valuable skills that driving schools simply aren’t teaching their students. It’s an outrage! 

Shawn Selfie 2012 Driving

The Inventor of Driver’s Seat Photography

September: Shawn’s friend Melanie posts a close up of Shawn’s torso, and if you look closely it appears to contain feint traces of definition.  Now, I’m not sure if this is the result of (a) a successful Hot Body Campaign, or (b) Shawn wearing smaller shirts.  Option (c) of course is man boobs.  But I seriously doubt that’s the case…

Hot Body Campaign 2 2012

October: American University’s finest soccer coach reminds us why he isn’t cut out for a desk job…

Election Day: Shawn contrasts political candidates with a man named Jesus Christ, and lets just say things don’t go so well for the politicians.  Say, this is legit wisdom!  Kuykendall for Congress! 

December: Shawn’s friend Kimberly takes him to the White House Christmas Party, where he apparently meets President Obama and then just kind of strolls around the Executive Mansion for a few hours with seemingly unfettered access.  Here he is stealing fruit belonging to the most powerful man in the world…

Who let this guy in?

Who let this guy in?

Days later, Shawn finishes the year off right by demonstrating how just one misplaced letter can account for the difference between having a sick mind, and being legitimately homesick:      

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2013 (January through June):

2013 marks the year Shawn assigned a fun little name to each day of the week.  From what I gather, they are as follows: Cabernet Sauvignon Sunday, Tickle Me Tuesday, Way Back Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Man Up Friday, and Selfie Saturday.  And apparently Monday no longer exists. 

February: Shawn earns something called an “A” Coaching License.  This is a really big deal to Shawn’s mom, who’s going nuts about it.  But that’s not saying much because as his former homeschool teacher it’s likely she goes nuts every time Shawn earns an “A.” Heyoooo!  

March:  Shawn posts the following picture of a cute little puppy taking a “legit” selfie while lying down for an afternoon nap:    

Concedes Shawn: "I have to respect it."

Concedes Shawn: “I have to respect it.”

March 28: Shawn is publicly admonished for that night’s dreadful goaltending performance.  The ensuing conversation sends Shawn spiraling through the four stages of grief: 

1.  Denial: “Sometimes you save it.  Sometimes you don’t.  What can I say!

2.  Anger: “I didn’t have gloves!  Blame Billy Knudsen!

3.  Depression:  “KuykenBotch in goal today.  Disaster.” 

4.  Acceptance:  “All I can say is sorry…

April: This happened…

Selfie in Bath 2013

Yep, leave it to Shawn to post a scandalous mid-bath selfie while eating an ice cream cone.  Even better are the comments, which range from “porno!” to “weeeeiiiird” to “I just threw up” to “I approve of this.”  And for the record I too approve of this…

June 17: Speaking of weeeiiiird, Shawn posts a picture with his parents and notes that they “made” him – both “figuratively” and “literally.” And I don’t know about you, but Shawn’s unsolicited crash course on human reproduction really makes my day – figuratively, and literally.  

Made Shawn 2013

Well folks, that’s the end of this leg of our journey through Shawn’s amazing Facebook page.  As a parting gift, I leave you with this picture of Shawn getting SILLAAAYY on the dance floor while other men judge him in the background.  So nice of the DJ to finally play MMMBop just for Shawn…

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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. 

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.   

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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… 

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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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