Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Now Why the Hell Are They BLINKING?"

Ah...'tis the season to do what all SuperDads must do for their families. Yes, it's time to put up the Christmas lights!

This weekend, I decided to start with putting the lights on the house. I was thinking I would put up another dazzling display like last year....lights on the porch, lights on the roof, lights on the bushes, and our two, lovely little, wicker, light-up deer. Nothing says winter like a 60-degree day and two deer in the yard...

I started by taking the old buck n' doe out of the box. I set the buck in the ground and lit him up. Success. I set the doe in the ground and...she was half burnt out. No problem, maybe only one deer this year, I thought.

Then, it was on to the railing along the porch. I decided to use the garland lights from last year for this. I strung up one set and then realized I hadn't tested it first.


I plugged it in was half burnt out. No problem, I have three more I might just have to buy one new set. I tested the second set was half burnt out. I tested the third set was half burnt out. I tested the fourth set and...nothing.

I've decided that, in order to become rich, I need to go work for a Christmas light company. Apparently, these products are built so well that you must go out and buy all new lights every year.

I decided to try the first set of "net lights" from last year. I plugged it in and got an incredible shock. The lights flashed, the porch light flickered and...the net lights went out. At this point, I went into a Christmas Vacation-like tirade and, instead of kicking plastic Santa's head in, ala Clark Griswald, I picked up the burnt out doe, bent her in half, threw her and her box in the trash, whipped all 7 sets of burnt out lights over my shoulder and kicked them in to the trash can. I didn't accomplish much but I felt better.

Until my wife poked her head out the front door and said, "No offense, but it doesn't look like you've gotten very far."

"A-ha-ha-ha," I said. "Here, try plugging in these net lights."

I decided to head to Wal-Mart to look for some lights. I was going to go to Target but, in their infinite wisdom, they decided to ban the Salvation Army from standing in front of their stores. Why don't you kick Santa in the head too, while you're at it? Steal all the presents from Who-ville, perhaps?

Wal-Mart was sold out of clear lights. I did, however, buy a bigger, 48" light-up buck WITH a moving head. With a moving head, it MUST look like a real deer, right? I also slipped a couple of bucks (that's dollars, not deer) to the Salvation Army guy ringing his bell. Call me crazy but that's one of the things I look forward to every year.

I headed to Lowes. Lowes was sold out of clear lights. Although, they did have these new, clear LED lights that "save energy". I tried them out. I can see why they save energy. "Hey, everyone, my front porch looks like the shuttle bay of the U.S.S. Enterprise!"

I had to resort to Target. There, I made an amazing discovery. There is a new brand of lights called Noma StayLit lights. These lights have a circuit for EVERY BULB! They are guaranteed for life! If they burn out, you send them back to the company and they send you a new set!


I can't figure out how this company makes money if you don't have to buy new sets of lights every year.

While I was there, I also bought some "energy saving" floodlights for our kitchen. These things are supposed to last SEVEN YEARS! I'll be 42 before I need to change these bulbs again! We have a light-switch in the kitchen that controls four floodlights. I figure I'll put all four of these bulbs in at once and see if they all burn out at the same time in 2013.

So five hours later (and seven sets of lights...and a deer...and three stores...and over $100), we have lights on the porch, lights on all of the bushes, and two light-up deer in the yard.

I couldn't wait to show the kids. We pulled up to the house Monday night. My ten-year-old daughter looked at the house, turned to me, and said,

"Where are the rest of the lights?"

"Here, try plugging in these net lights," I said.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Can't Drive 55

I need to rant. I admit this won't SEEM like it has much to do with parenting but IT DOES. Traffic in this town has gotten so bad it's disgusting. Every minute that I waste sitting in my car, trying to get home, is another minute I'm not spending with my family...

Now let me be fair. I usually work a good 30 minutes from home and, since I refuse to touch the beltway, I end up on I-95. At the end of the day I'm usually trying to decide which tunnel WON'T have an accident in it that night.

Sure, I make use of all the current technology. I listen to the radio for their oh-so-vague traffic reports every 10 minutes. "I-95 is heavy between Pennsylvania and Virginia, Dave, try rowing across the bay as an alternate."

I have also subscribed to so I can map out all of my possible routes home and figure out which one is least congested before I leave. I can even call them toll-free from the car for a "real-time" update from their server, which must be in Alaska since somehow they are always about 15-minutes "after the fact". In fact, I should call THEM from my car as soon as I hit a back-up so they can update their system MORE quickly.

Over the last two weeks, my luck has been such that, whatever highway I get myself onto, shuts down about 10 minutes later. I even tried leaving at lunchtime on a Friday, since getting home at the end of the week is like that scene in "Office Space" where the guy in the car sees the old guy using a walker pass him on the sidewalk. Even THEN, at lunchtime, there was an accident as soon as I got on 95 that shut it down....right after my update said my "Jam Factor" was ZERO.

Monday night, on my way home, a SERIES of accidents (yes, a SERIES of accidents) shut down I-95 on my way home. I sat still on the highway for over an hour. We all had our cars turned off and it was dark so it sort of looked like "The Day the Earth Stood Still". I ended up missing my daughter's basketball game. She scored two of her team's three baskets. Sure, it was a lot worse for the people that were actually IN the accident...but still.

So, here are a few rules that maybe we can all remember to help us get through life a little more quickly:

SuperDad's 10 Commandments of Driving

1) When a sign says "Speed Limit - 40", they really mean it. It's not a trick. You don't have to go 35 or even 30, just to be safe. You actually have the freedom to go all the way up to 40mph. In fact, some of our finest that I've talked to say that they wouldn't even pull someone over unless they were going over 45mph...but I digress.

2) When it rains, you don't automatically need to go 10mph below the speed limit. In fact, this is MORE dangerous than going too fast. You could get rear-ended by someone who doesn't expect you to actually be going MORE slowly than the posted speed. It's just water. You bathe in it, you drink it. If you use those new-fangled "windshield wipers", you can even see well enough to still be able to drive in it. (By the way, if it WAS just pouring and now it has slowed to a drizzle, you don't need to leave your wipers on "High" for an extra 30 minutes. A quick switch to "intermittent" will preserve your blades' longevity.)

3) If a police car already HAS someone pulled over, with its lights flashing, you don't need to slam on your brakes before passing it. Not only does this look more suspicious than speeding, but he's obviously ALREADY busy. He's not going to say, "Sir, you're off the hook because this other guy just blew by me at 68mph!"

4) If there is an accident, it's safe to assume that there will ALWAYS be at least one police car, fire truck, and an ambulance on the scene. There might also be a few crunched up vehicles and some people rubbing their necks, talking on their cell phones, and walking around. We don't need to slow down to get a better look.

5) Which brings me to those flashing highway signs. These things contain MAYBE one sentence. "ACCIDENT AHEAD - DELAYS POSSIBLE". How long did it take you to read that just now? I bet if you were driving along, you certainly wouldn't need to jam on the brakes so that you had more time to read the sign. Soon they will have to add more signs, "TRAFFIC SIGN AHEAD - DELAYS POSSIBLE".

6) Let's talk about the FAST lane. You know which one this is, right? The one on the left? The PASSING lane? It used to be that if you were cruising in this lane without actually "passing" anyone, you could get pulled over. What happened to those days? If you're not passing someone, get out of the left lane. If you cut into this lane to pass someone, pass them and get back out of it. I love the guys who zip onto the highway and cut across all three lanes just to get to the left lane and do 50mph. Sometimes, I wish I had a grille missile.

7) Note to the highway authority: If there is an accident or construction in ONE tunnel, it is NOT OK to shut down lanes in the OTHER tunnel for construction at the same time. The only goal that this behavior could possibly have is to see if they make it onto the traffic report. "Well, Dave, in the Fort MacHenry Tunnel, you're pretty much screwed and in the Harbor Tunnel, you're S.O.L. there too. Try riding a camel home tonight, everyone."

8) Another note: If I'm paying for an E-Z Pass, it is NEVER okay to NOT have any E-Z pass lanes open. If I want to sit in line, I'll get out two dollars and tell you.

9) A note on traffic lights. If you are first in line at a red light, you can probably see when the light is about to turn. Even if you can't, you can always be prepared to GO when the light changes. "The light's green now. Let's see, I need to put down the pack of gum, get off the phone, close the map, get my foot onto the accelerator, and hit the gas. Oh, it's red again. Oh well, darn." NOTE: If you're waiting to make a left and the light turns yellow, that's when you GO. It is not adviseable to wait for it to turn green again and start all over.

10) Lastly, and this is a little ambitious but we have too many people in this town already, if you do NOT have to be at work or take the kids to school, stay off the roads from 7:30am - 9:30am and from 5pm - 7pm. I love being late for an appointment and being behind Elmer who is pointing out to his wife, Ethel, what a lovely job they did painting these new white lines on the road.

These things will probably never happen but, hey, at least I feel better. When all else fails, my motto is: "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way." Or, in the immortal words of Dudley Moore, in the movie "Crazy People",

"If you would all just GO, there wouldn't be any traffic!"

See you in my rear-view mirror.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Something off My Chest

I had a very traumatic experience the day after my 35th birthday. As I got into the shower, I let out a scream that startled my wife, who was getting ready for work herself...

Yes, I found my first grey chest hair. At first, I thought perhaps it wasn't attached. Surely, this is a hair from my dog that has attached itself to me. I went to pull it off of me...and it hurt.

My wife, kind person that she is, snipped it right off for me...there's a visual. Now at least I don't have to think about it until it grows back.

As if it weren't bad enough that I look like Chewbacca on Rogaine, I now have hair that is turning on me.

It gets worse. I'm now doing things that my parents used to do. When I'm upset at my kids, I start calling them by the wrong names. I find myself saying things like, "Don't make me come in there again!" and "I will turn this car around if you don't cut it out right now!"

The annual Fall time-change has also been a real treat. My 2-year-old is now waking up at 6am, raring to go. At 6am, I can't even remember how to open the bedroom door yet my daughter comes in, picks up the remote, and turns on "The Wiggles".

Then there's tonight.....Halloween! I took both of our girls 'trick or treating', one as a vampiress and the other as a doctor. Me, I went as Neo. Of course, once I saw the picture that my wife took, it occured to me that Neo doesn't really have a slightly receding hairline but, hey, what the hell?

We left the house with lots of energy and enthusiasm. By the fourth house I was carrying a bucket of candy, a stethoscope, and a doctor...which is ironic because, by then, it looked as though Neo might need one.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

35? There Must be Some Mistake

So today is my birthday. As Garfield would say, "Big, fat, hairy deal." I don't FEEL any older. I guess it's possible that my hair is a little thinner. Was that wrinkle there last week?...

Actually, I feel like I'm on top of my game. After all, males "peak" in their mid-30's...which I guess means I am no longer in my "early" 30's. Nope, I'm half-way to of the way to 105....look out Willard Scott.

My 2-year-old daughter stomped into our bedroom this morning and said, "Happy Birffday, Daddy!"

So you know those cards that tell you what happened during the year you were born? I hate those things. Not because they make one feel old but because no one actually REMEMBERS the year they were born. I know I don't remember being born.

This is a good thing because I'm sure I would not have liked it. I don't even like getting out of our nice, warm bed in October to hit the cold bathroom floor. I don't even like squeezing my head through a T-shirt that's too small. I really don't even like taking my shirt off at the beach, let alone being naked in room full of people.

I DO, however, remember being 10-years-old. Let's look at the year 1981....

- The hostages in Iran were freed (I remember my mother letting me stay home from school to watch it on TV......moms are the best!)

- Pope John Paul II was wounded by some crazy gunman

- President Reagan was wounded by some crazy gunman (hmm, is there a theme here?)

- A stamp cost $0.18

- The L.A. Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series (I KNEW I liked being 10)

- A little TV channel went on the air called MTV

- A little video game swept across the country called Pac-Man

- IBM introduced a strange little thing called a " personal computer" (actually, it was a huge device that would NEVER fit on your lap)

- The FDA approved of a sweetener called aspartame (NutraSweet), my wife and I haven't been the same since (thank you, Diet Coke).

- The Grammy for Record of the Year (you see records were these round things...oh forget it) went to Christopher Cross for "Christopher Cross"

- Miss America was Susan Powell (OK), I mean she WAS OK, but she was from Oklahoma

- Best Picture, "Ordinary People" (I have no idea what this was about but I'm guessing it was about people that were.....ordinary)

When I was 10, I walked 5 minutes across the street to school. Now, I drive 30 minutes to work...on a GOOD day with no traffic. Back then, I worried that my mom forgot to put a dessert in my lunch. Now, I worry that that goofball in North Korea is going to Nuke someone. Back then, my "baby" brother was 3 years old. Now, he's going to be 28...and he's taller than I am. How does THAT happen? Back then, my dad would throw the football around with me in his work clothes after he got home. Now, I toss the lacrosse ball around with my 9-year-old daughter and kick the soccer ball around with my 2-year-old my work clothes.

Back then, girls were still kind of gross. Now, my wife is my best friend, my kids are my life...and life is good. Watch out 40, here I come!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Where There's Smoke..."

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I have now seen it all. As I was flipping through the pages of this month's "Details" magazine, I saw the ad. Can we all agree that the "100% natural" trend has gone a little too far?...

You can now buy "natural" Kellogg's cereals and "natural" Ragu pasta sauce (I don't even want to know what's in it). There are now even "natural" potato chips. Where do they grow those, exactly? I don't recall ever driving through the country and staring in awe at the massive potato chip fields.

Anyway, there within the pages of the magazine is the ad. "Do you know what you're smoking?", it begins. Did you know that most cigarettes are full of artificial by-products? Well, now there is an answer. Yes, you too can smoke "Natural Spirit" cigarettes...the "all natural" cigarette. Are they serious??? The ad should just read,

"This cigarette will kill you MUCH more slowly."

We were watching a movie together last week and my two-year-old asked, "What's that in her mouth?"

It occurred to my wife and me that she had, fortunately, never SEEN someone smoke. We actually had difficulty explaining this. I mean, really, who was the first guy (or girl) that thought of this?

Who actually looked at some tobacco and said, "I know...let's roll it up in some paper, light it on fire, then stick it in our MOUTHS and INHALE it!"??

Thankfully, smoking has been banned in most indoor least here in Maryland. Of course, this just means that most people congregate outside the entrances and exits and smoke there.

I really enjoy going to the mall and pushing Sophia up the stroller entrance only to have to walk through the mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke from the 14-year-old Britney Spears Wanna-Be's who have somehow managed to get their hands on a pack of smokes.

I've trained my daughter to hold her breath as we approach the door. I've even been known to say something to the smokers congregating by the stroller entrance from time to time. I mean, if you want to fill kids' lungs with smoke, do it to your own and not to mine.

I was watching the news a few weeks ago and there was a clip of this woman fleeing from a burning house. She was smoking a cigarette. I felt like saying, "What's your hurry?". The fire would have only accelerated the process a few years and saved her from years of suffering from lung cancer, emphysema, etc. If I had to choose between slow torture and a bullet to the head, I'd choose a bullet to the head any day.

Well, maybe she was smoking one of those "all natural" cigarettes. At least then she might make it another 20 or 30 years.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can You Smell What Dad is Cookin'?

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OK, the title of this post has nothing to do with me cooking. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I make a mean bowl of cereal and that's about it. Oh, and I can also toast waffles.

No, this post is about my new, favorite thing to do with my 9-year-old professional wrestling of course... What better role model is there for a preteen girl these days than a WWE wrestler? What's more entertaining than watching grown men beat the snot out of each other? Watching grown men PRETENDING to beat the snot out of each other!

"It's OK honey, he's just PRETENDING to hit him with that steel chair."

"It's OK, those are just blood capsules."

Of course, it's not what it used to be. In my day, we used to have The Rock ("Can you smeeeeell what The Rock is cookin'??"). We used to watch great wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and Andre the Giant. We used to have great commentators like Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon.

In my day, I went to see Saturday Night's Main Event (filmed on Friday night of course) with my parents down at The Baltimore Arena (yes, at one point, before Ed Hale decided everything in Baltimore looked better with his name on it, it used to JUST be called The Arena). In my day, I went to see Wrestlemania IV on closed-circuit T.V. at Towson University. The only thing better than watching grown men PRETEND to beat the snot out of each other is PAYING to go see grown men PRETENDING to beat the snot out of each other LIVE on T.V.

Nowadays, of course, we still have Hulk Hogan...a little older and still bald. We have Andre the Giant's son, the 500-pound Big Show. And for some reason which I cannot grasp, we have Vince McMahon, the pro wrestler. If this guy isn't on steroids then I don't know who is. Vinnie Mac looks about as creepy all pumped up as that John Basedow guy that does those fitness commercials.

In any case, Marissa enjoys having this bonding time with Dad. Actually, wresting's not so bad. It's just a soap opera for men. What are our other choices?

Jericho: A nuke hits a small town and people are fighting with each other...and having sex.

Gray's Anatomy: People come into a hospital bleeding...and people have sex.

Standoff: Two FBI agents negotiate with hostage-takers...and have sex.

Six Degrees: People's intricate lives cross paths for no apparent reason...and then they have sex.

LOST: People are stranded on an island and, so far, have figured out that
A) the fat guy has an eating disorder
B) the hatch really DOES lead somewhere
C) the "others" are "bad"
D) the "numbers" are "bad"
E) that hobbit guy from The Lord of the Rings is REALLY annoying
Oh, and F) people have sex.

At least in the world of pro wrestling, no one has sex...well, except for that Ultimate Warrior guy but that's why he's not around any more.

Warping young minds? Nah, just good, clean, FAKE fun. Well, I'm off to go try out my new John Cena ring tone..."You can't see me, my time is now!"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Some readers are telling me that the blog is not displaying correctly. This is because, in order to view the blog as it was meant to be seen, YOU MUST USE FIREFOX as your browser, not Internet Explorer.

Aside from the fact that I.E. stinks like yesterday's diaper, it is also unsafe. Go get Firefox now and save yourself some hassle. Thank you.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Luau's, Showers, & Sears, oh my!

This was a great weekend in the SuperDad household. We kicked things off with my Aunt's annual Luau. It just wouldn't be the end of summer without it. This is where they invite everyone they know over to their house for some old-fashioned Hawaiian cuisine and festivities.

For example, there is the giant pink Flamingo... Each year, they stick a huge, inflatable Flamingo in their front yard to mark the event. Nothing shouts "Hawaii" like a giant, pink, inflatable Flamingo. Did I mention that it's huge?

Then there is the musical entertainment. This year they hired an accordian player. Nothing reminds me of the sunny beaches of Maui like a good accordian player. "Hey, do you know, 'Lady of Spain'?"

From there, we headed to a joint wedding shower for some friends of ours from church who are getting married in November. If you couldn't tell by now, this was one of those Saturdays where we didn't actually eat any meals, we just wolfed down chips, dip, and various other condiments throughout the course of the day, until we felt as though we were going to hurl.

There's nothing like a joint wedding shower. The women sit around and talk and open presents while the men watch football and throw beernuts at the poor sap taking the plunge. "Suuuure, she'll still let you watch football."

Sunday, though, was the really fun day. I decided that I would mow the lawn because, this summer, every three weeks just hasn't been fun enough. Luckily, it's been so damp, that I've been out there at least every other week, sometimes weekly. This time, it had just stopped raining the day before so the lawn had that nice, wet shimmer to it as it glistened in the sun that just shouted, "Go ahead...try and cut me."

I did. My lawn mower went up on me after I got through the first three rows. It kind of sounded like those old Mel Blanc cartoons where the car dies out...."Sputter, sputter, put, put, whirrrrrrr, CRUNCH!" Must have gotten some wet grass jammed under there, I thought. I flipped it over. Nothing. The blade won't even MOVE. Engine went up. Great.

My wife reminded me that we still had HER old lawn mower from her townhouse in the shed. There went my excuse. "Great idea, honey." I filled it up with just enough gas to test it out. It starts. It won't stop. I let go of the 'emergency release bar'. Still going (boom boom boom). No problem, I'll just mow until it runs out of gas.

I got half-way through the front yard before it ran out of gas. I filled it back up...and...dead. Won't start, won't turn, nothin'. Dead.

"Honey, I'll be back. I'm taking the minivan."

Off to Sears. Why, Sears? I truly have no idea. Whenever I have bought a lawnmower, I have gotten it from Sears. I think they only sell two things at's slacks and lawn mowers.

I finally walked away with a brand-new, Craftsman, 6 horsepower mower, with a Briggs & Stratton engine. Cue Tim Allen manly grunt.

This whole ordeal turned out to be a blessing in disguise. You see, my OLD mower would go about 4 feet through the thickest part of the grass and then turn to me and say, "You want me to do what??" before stalling out. This was repeated about 25 times throughout the course of mowing the lawn.

This NEW mower tore through the grass like Katie making a break from Tom. I don't bag so grass was flying everywhere. It was like a big party in the back yard with green confetti falling as I answered the $1 million question. What made it even better was doing this with my headphones on, listening to the Raven whoop the hapless Raiders (by the way, how do the purple birds constantly make winning look so scary?).

So here I sit, battered, bruised, stiff, sore, and wishing I hadn't eaten that last Hawaiian hamburger.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

That's So Raven...Nevermore

This past weekend we took the our two girls to the Maryland State Fair to see Raven Symone in concert. For those of you who don't know, Raven used to play Olivia on The Cosby Show and now has her own show, "That's So Raven" on Disney Channel aimed, of course, at preteen girls. This show teaches girls the important things in life like how to whine and use important phrases like, "Ewwwww" and "I don't THINK so"...

This should be fun, I thought. The thought of an infield full of screaming, 8- to 12-year-old girls was enough to make me shudder. Little did I know that it would be much worse.

Our first sign of trouble was when we arrived at the fairgrounds just as the infield gates opened. There was a sudden stampede of screaming preteens, much like I had seen in my nightmare the night before.

We arrived near the front of the grass and staked our claim on a piece of grass just large enough for the four of us to huddle together and maybe sit down for a bit.

Then it was time to get food. Of course, they didn't actually sell any food on the infield where the concert was taking place. I, being the hunter/gatherer of the herd, went BACK out to the midway to find something suitable for all of us to eat...which included chicken strips, a rare, specific request from Marissa, my 9-year-old step-daughter daughter.

I hit the midway stand. Good enough for all of us...oh, except for those chicken strips. I bought several slices of greasy, bowling-alley pizza and the cashier covered them with paper plates. I headed off in search of chicken.

By the time, I reached the opposite side of the State Fair, I finally saw a Boston Market, take-out stand where I bought what had to be the most expensive chicken strips on the market. The old law of supply-and-demand at work once again, I tell myself, being the Econ major that I am.

Luckily, the cashier took mercy on me and found an empty milk crate in which I could tote our four slices of pizza, 2 pretzels, 3 drinks, and an order of chicken strips back to the infield. As I marched across the infield I suddenly realized that I could make a killing if I were to suddenly start vending this stuff. Of course, then it would be my family doing the killing so I crossed that idea off of my list.

By the time I had returned, the crowd had grown substantially. I finally found my clan and provided them with the feast I had just, bought.

We dig into the pizza, which after removing the paper plates from the top, is now cheese-less. Brilliant, I thought to myself. It tastes something like cardboard with tomato sauce with a strange after-taste that I can't identify, nor do I want to try too hard to do so. Marissa certainly enjoys the chicken strips, though, so my status as "dad who rocks" just went up another couple of rungs.

The opening act finally hits the stage. Those of us that had been at the front of the field for hours in comfortable chairs were immediately overrun by those desperate to get a closer look at this apparent hip-hop star opening for Raven. We were not happy, nor were the other families around us. Low-thumping bass, rap music, hording masses, and the sudden feeling of being trapped hit me.

Then it was Raven time. She finally took the stage and what little piece of earth we had left was being invaded. My 9-year-old couldn't see over the new swarm of teens that had just stood in front of us. I think I tapped one of them on the shoulder and muttered something like,

"Gee, I really feel upset at the moment. It would be nice if you could move on to another part of the field."

Well, OK, not EXACTLY like that but they did move, strangely enough. I thought I felt my clothes beginning to rip...must have been the pizza. And why do they look so frightened? Oh well. We can see now.

After two songs, Marissa states, "I want to go home now" and Sophia proclaims, "I have to go potty."

This can't get much worse.

We are surrounded. There is no way to leave and no way to get to a potty. We improvised. We emptied out Sophia's sippy-cup and formed a 'circle with the wagons'. Once Sophia stopped looking at us like a deer in the headlights, she was able to go in the sippy cup. A few moms around us giggle as I screw the lid back on the cup. Real funny, I'm thinking. Care for a drink?

After about 6 songs that sound remarkably similar, the crowd starts to thin. We see our opening. We make like a baby and head out.

My pulse returns to normal, the walls have stopped closing in.

That's So Raven...Nevermore.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

School of Rude Awakenings

As far as potty training is concerned, out little 2-year-old is making great strides. She can wear "big girl" underwear all day go accident-free. Bed-time, however, is another story...

When it's time for bed, my wife and I put Sophia back in a pull-up...just in case. It's clear to me now that this practice will soon have to stop. You see, we've run up against "The Rude Awakening".

2-year-olds wake up pretty early as it is. Nothing, though, beats hearing my daughter call my name in the baby monitor at 5:45am, poking my head into her bedroom, and hearing her proudly exclaim "I pooped!"

There are few things that I want to do at 5:45am. Walking, talking, showering, exercising...not on my list. By the way, these people that love to talk about how they wake up every day at 5am, walk 10 miles, ride a bike 15 miles, carry a boulder on their back for another 10 miles, then go to the gym really piss me off. I don't even like walking to the shower first thing in the morning, let alone doing a Richard Simmons impersonation. If anyone that perky comes up to me first thing in the morning and starts talking to me, they better duck.

Anyway, the LAST thing I want to see at 5:45am is a stinky diaper. There is something special about these morning poops, too. You see, they have had almost 10 hours to prepare for their release into the free world. It's almost as if they WANT to see you work to clean them up.

I really don't know how my wife manages to use just 1 baby wipe. I seem to get a wipe, wipe, throw away, get a wipe, wipe, throw away, get a wipe, wipe, throw away. Then again, I never understood the handkerchief either. That's a fun invention. Some guy says, "Hey, you know what would be great? We could carry a piece of cloth around with us that we can blow our noses in. Then we can put the snot-rag back in our pockets for later." Great one.

So, I think we will have to try underwear at bedtime. I think it will help her resist the urge. Otherwise, we're using a cork.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Holy Antique Chairs, Batman

As I was sitting at the computer a few nights ago, my 2-year-old daughter was doodling on a sheet of looseleaf paper with a pencil. What better way to stimulate her little mind, I thought. Maybe she will be the next Picasso, Shakespeare, or Erma Bombeck...

I had given my wife a "free pass" to go out and meet her parents to go shopping, since they were in town from Florida. "What the heck?"...I figured. Nothing ever goes wrong on Daddy's watch, right?

I heard a tapping sound coming from the next room so I asked my daughter what she was doing.

"Making holes in the paper", she said casually.

Ah, perhaps a nice connect-the-dots puzzle, I told myself. After about 20 minutes of this, I decided to check on her progress.

To my amazement, my daughter had indeed been making holes in the sheet of paper. This would have been a very cute activity had she not been doing so on top of my wife's grandparents' antique leather chair, which now also had about two dozen or so holes punched through its seat cushion.

My first reaction was very 'Incredible Hulk'-like. I could feel my shirt ripping right where my love handles were poking through the sides. Then I had a flashback to one Christmas when, as a little boy, my father let ME put the 'tree-topper' on our family Christmas tree. This topper was an antique, glass ornament that had belonged to my grandmother. Having been given this honorable task, I was lifted up by my father, and I proceeded to drop the thing about 6 feet down onto our living room floor where it shattered into a million pieces.

My father's reaction was very calm. Sort of a "that's ok, big deal" thing which totally shocked me. He later told me that he was pretty torn up about it but he didn't want me to feel bad so he let it go.

I, therefore, looked at my daughter, took her by the hand and said,

"Come on, let's go draw on the kitchen table, not on Mommy's favorite chair."

Later that evening, after the kids were in bed and my wife came home, I had the pleasure of telling her what had happened on my shift. I guess her dad never let her put an ornament on top of their tree.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I Need a Hero

Every so often, we SuperDads have to acknowledge our limitations. For instance, the other night my wife had gone shopping and my step-daughter asked me a question that sent a shiver up my spine...

"Daddy...can you help me?", she asked.

"With what?", SuperDad replied, not wanting to get roped into another discussion about why I could NOT fetch the remote control for her. After all, if you want the privilege of changing the channel without getting up, you have to EARN it, I say. Get up and get the remote yourself.

"I need help with my hair", my step-daughter replied.

At this point, I became greatly aware of how loudly the crickets chirp outside of our bedroom window at this time of year.

I felt as though we were standing in the middle of Target and my step-daughter had just asked me to help her pick a training bra size. Clearly, I was out of my league.

"What exactly do you need me to do?", SuperDad replied. This was actually a stall.

"I can't get my pony-tail out.", she replied.

A pony-tail? This sounds like some sort of "knot" issue. We SuperDads know all about knots, don't we? I began running through the permutations in my head.

Maybe she just needs me to un-tie a knot. Maybe she just needs me to un-do a clip. This might not be so bad. SuperDad can handle this.

"Show me how Mommy usually does it.", came my witty reply. At this point, I was hoping for some sort of 'Tom-Sawyer-and-Huck-Finn-painting-the-fence' miracle and that she would just finish the job herself.

She reached up to grab her pony-tail when I suddenly heard a beautiful sound. It was a whirring, mechanical sound that could only be...the garage door!

SuperMom was home! My hero!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Real Dads Drive to Day Care

Today is Wednesday and for this SuperDad that means it's MY turn to drive the kids to day care. Nothing is quite so entertaining as a car ride with my two girls. Since I have now joined the modern music revolution... and gotten an iPod, my girls know that this means they can listen to anything they want, whenever they want.

The 9-year-old wants to listen to "High School Musical". This, of course, is Disney's latest stroke of genius ensuring multiple streams of income from video, CD's, T-shirts, bookbags, skywriters, etc. This is a new movie currently running on The Disney Channel geared toward our preteens' little sponge-like brains.

The 2-year-old, on the other hand wants to listen to The Wiggles. In case you aren't familiar with The Wiggles, this is a show (also on Disney...go figure) featuring 4 guys from Australia who, as part of a college experiment, thought to themselves..."I bet we could make a boat-load of money by starting our own for toddlers!" How true.

They wear 'brightly-colored' shirts and sing songs about pirates, dinosaurs, how much money they're making, etc. I might add here that another popular show, The TeleTubbies, also consists of 4...let's call them "creatures" with 'brightly-colored' fur. Barney is a 'brightly-colored' dinosaur. Clifford and Blue are 'brightly-colored' dogs.

I'm beginning to think that E.R. could be made into a children's show if all of the doctors and nurses would simply wear 'brightly-colored' scrubs and sing songs about what they do.

"Kids, let's sing 'The Catheterization Song'! Can you say, 'Catheterization'?"

In any case, as we were riding along to day care, my 2-year-old pointed out that we were actually gaining on a police car with its siren blaring. Why? Because he was doing about 50 mph on the beltway (glad it wasn't MY house that was being broken-into). I figured SuperDad needed to relax.

"OK,'s Daddy's turn to listen to some Green Day." Hey, it's a bright color! Maybe they'll like it!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Can't Spell DAD without A.D.D.

Is it just me or do you almost have to have A.D.D. to be a good dad these days? I've often wondered about this when forced to "multi-task" with my children. It seems to me... that we're all born with A.D.D. and then we outgrow it at some later stage in life (hopefully). Heck, we practically encourage this behavior in our kids every holiday season, don't we?

"Open this one. Isn't that nice? Say 'thank you'. Now, open this one. Isn't that nice? Say 'thank you'.", etc, etc. Some of us outgrow it, some of us don't.

I've become so attuned to what is happening around me at all times that sometimes it's diffcult just to have a conversation with my wife. God forbid one of my kids drops something or someone flicks on a light somewhere in the house. My eyes automatically "follow the light". When the house gets too quiet, that's when I get worried.

"No noise? Something must be wrong. Maybe they've killed each other!"

This makes swimming fun. One is in the deep end, one is in the shallow end. One went off the diving board and hasn't resurfaced yet, one pooped in her swim diaper (who invented THESE things? they must be the 'pita wrap' of the diaper family and they're about as absorbent as wax paper).

While we're on the topic of swimming, why is it that if we take the kids somewhere new, the DAD has to be the first one to strip down to the swimsuit and take the kids into the pool? My wife is gorgeous but she doesn't want anyone we don't know to see her in a bathing suit. Me, I've got more body hair than most Cro-Magnons but put me in a loin cloth and drop me in the middle of the street and suddenly I'm Frank "the Tank" in Old School. "We're going streaking through the quad!"

Well, I had a point when I started this. I forgot what it was, though. Maybe I DO have A.D.D.!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Insert Tab A into Slot B

Those of you with kids know that one of the things we SuperDads look forward to the most is installing the new car safety seat. The SuperGrandParents bought a new child seat so that they could take my 2-year-old daughter for a drive in their PT Cruiser...

(TANGENT: Can anyone tell me why this car is categorized as an SUV? If a PT Cruiser is an SUV, then Milli Vanilli is Led Zeppelin.)

This was a big step for me since riding with my dad sounds something like this...


So there we were, SuperPopPop and I, staring at the seat, staring at the car, staring at the seat, staring at the car. We finally had the brilliant idea to check the instruction manual that came with the seat. Now this went something like this...

"Look, we just MAKE these things. Check the owner's manual for your car to see how to actually INSTALL it."

SuperDad opens car manual...

"Look we just make cars. Why don't you actually read the instruction manual that came with your car seat to see how to actually INSTALL it."

(Somewhere in the distance, I hear, "We control the horizontal...We control the vertical...")

At this point, I begin to recall some of my favorite labels and manuals of all-time. One of them was a label that was stuck to a 7-UP cake that SuperMom and I had at a party one time. The label proudly read, "Made with 7-UP". Clearly, these people belong to Mensa. My all-time favorite is on the bag of Peanut M&M's..."Warning: May contain nuts". May? A lot of people are going to be pretty pissed off if they don't.

I believe I was talking about the car seat. At this point, lacking any clear set of instructions, my only redeeming thought is, "Well, I was always pretty good at Tetris, I should be able to figure this out." After trying to install the seat in the left-rear seat, the center-rear seat, the roof, the trunk, we finally decide that the left-rear is the place to be. After all, she's only 2...she's got to have a window or it will be, "Pop pop, I have a booger" for the next 60 miles.

We finally jam a knee into the seat (what 2-year-old is as heavy as a grown man ramming his knee and all his body weight into a seat??), secure the LATCH system (don't get me started), and we're done. My wife comes outside with cold drinks to save the day. It was a "3-T-shirt" experience (I'll save that explanation for next time).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Captain's Blog: Stardate 19 Miles per Gallon

OK, so being the SuperDad that I am, I made a big decision this week. I made this decision after paying $3.25 per gallon for gasoline at the end of last week... I decided to sell my Ford Explorer. This is the same Explorer (my FIRST SUV) that I bought about 6 months ago.

You see, SuperDad has a 60-mile, round-trip commute to work & back and the Explorer was getting an ozone-scorching 19 miles per gallon, on a good day. It was even better once the temperature got so hot here in the Mid-Atlantic that the camels at the Maryland Zoo were going, "Damn, it's hot!" and I had to turn on the old A/C.

Something is wrong with the world when my monthly bill for gasoline is more than my car payment. Don't get me wrong, I loved cruising down I-95 watching my gas guage fall faster than Yahoo! stock. I loved riding high and watching all of the little compacts fly by, knowing that I could squish them with my mighty SUV at a moment's notice.

I simply realized that this is money I should be saving and spending on my took it back to CarMax and bought a Honda Accord. I made out pretty well on the deal. My "negative equity" was a whopping $18. I realize now that I missed being so low to the ground. It just FEELS faster, even though I know it's not...and I'm getting 35 mpg. So I never got to drive the Explorer in the snow. There's always the minivan.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Warm Air A-LOFT

This weekend, I undertook a task that surely any SuperDad must be able to do. Yes, I...Mr. Bob Vila, Jr. assembled a LOFT BED for my older daughter. I say 'Bob Vila, Jr.' because... anyone who knows me knows that I am rarely capable of assembling the kids' toys on Christmas Day, let alone an actual piece of furniture.

Therefore, I did what any good SuperDad would do in this situation. I called SuperGrandDad for help. Yes, if I couldn't do it on my own, I figured I might as well throw my 60-plus- year-old dad into cardiac arrest. At least it was one of the hottest days of the year. It one of those days where you start to question whether or not the central air is even working.

In any case, after more than 6 hours of toiling in the bedroom, the loft bed was finished. Now who in their right mind thought to themselves,

"You know what would be really fun? I think I'll have my kid sleep in a bed that's 6 feet off of the floor. That seems nice and safe."

This is especially true in this case. My 9-year-old daughter barely has room to do a push-up once she's 'in the loft'. I can only imagine what will happen when she has her first nightmare up there & goes to sit straight up in bed, only to whack her little forehead into the stucco ceiling.

I guess next weekend, SuperGrandDad and I will cut a few inches off of the legs. Maybe I should rent a defribulator.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Hi. I am the father of two wonderful little girls and I'm here to share my experiences with you. My brilliant, little deductions are 2 (going on 5) and 9 (going on 17). My 2-year-old is my own flesh & blood and my 9-year-old is my step-daughter... Have you ever heard people refer to someone or something as being treated "like a red-headed step-child"? My who you say that around because you might just find someone like me dumping Mentos in your 2-liter bottle of Coke.

(TANGENT: As an aside here, why do we need so many varieties of Coke? I mean now we have Coke, Caffeine Free Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Lime, Diet Vanilla Coke, Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Coke Zero, C2 Coke, and I'm sure I've forgotten a few. Do we really need this many choices? It's hard enough for me to pick out a shirt and tie that match every morning, let alone choose from a dozen varieties of the same soft drink.)

Anyway, back to my kids. My mission here will be to help you realize that you are not the only one in the world with insane kids. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing my older daughter tell me, "Daddy, sometimes....when I laugh really hard....I fall down." Nothing warms my heart more than when my 2-year-old little princess turns to me when we're playing on the floor and says, "Daddy, you smell like bad mouth."

These are the Kodak moments that make changing all those diapers (without puking once, I might add....EVER) worthwhile. I can't wait to share more of them with you.