Monday, December 27, 2010

Journey to the Center of ARKANSAS

I'm remiss.  You know, for not posting.  I could fill about 24 single spaced pages with the past week or two.  Where to start?  How to catch up?  The Harding U trip was a...  well, it was a trip.  Was our first time back to the alma mater in a decade-plus.  The one horse town we left back in the 1990s has got itself properly moved on up to the East Side:  They have a Chili's.

The first night at the hotel, Jack had the privilege of sleeping on a big boy, adult (fold-out couch) bed.  We finally got him down, and everyone was adios for the night.  Until I launch out of bed at 11pm after hearing a massive thud.  Jack had fidgeted himself right out of his huge expanse of bedding material, right onto the floor.  He hits the carpet hard, but rubs his eyes and never wakes up even as I shovel him back into bed.  The parents both agree, we'd now take this dude with us to Thailand, Uzbekistan, or Costa Rica.  This brother is a TravelBaby.

Besides the Chili's, there's a hibachi grill.  No kidding.  With real-deal Japanese folks running it.  Question:  How do you end up in the dead middle of ARKANSAS from JAPAN?  That's a long, long, llllloooooonnnngggg way, last I checked.  Jack really digged (dug?) the flames and the obligatory choo-choo onion trick.  FAYWAH! [Fire!] was all he could say forever.  I'm thinking that showing him 3-foot high towers of flame might have awakenened something best left sleeping.  Time will tell, but I'm buying asbestos jammies immediately.

The idea later that night was to go look at the neato Christmas lights on campus, but what actually happened was Jack (again) eating pavement and spitting lots of the red stuff out of a blackened, pfabat libbup.  My venomous quote as we hastily left the scene:  "I'll get you, Harding!"

The whole point was to take Jack to witness Uncle Blake graduate.  But the real show was taking Jack over to the college house.  Did I mention that they've got a full drum set, guitars, amps, and a mic?  Jack rocked (YAOUD!) with the two uncles for at least an hour, and ended up on the drums pounding the toms and the cymbal like it was his job.  That's right, my two year old, on the drums.  Ridiculous.  Everyone erupts with laughter and screaming when he nails the cymbal, and he throws up the touchdown, I AM A ROCKSTAR IN DIAPERS pose with the drumsticks.  I think I had as much fun snapping photos as he did.  Maybe not.  The highlight of the jam session was Uncle Jay's impromptu skaa Jingle Bells mixed into some Sublime.

TravelBaby was such a trooper on every flight to and from, but we figured our luck would eventually run out.  So thanks to the magic of iEverything, I loaded The Sound of Music on my phone for the plane ride back.  Genius move on our part, and a huge hit with the Frequent Flyer Sprog.  I recommend it.  Anyway, the dude was so tuckered out after we hit Houston that we couldn't wake him up from his nap. Shook him, turned on lights, we talked to him, but he simply withstood every method.

Had a great Christmas.  Jack got toys.  Shocker, I know.  I'll try to outline all the egregious gift action later on.

So later on, then.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Elves Have Left the Building

My illustrious and all-knowing wife helps me out quite a bit, and has for about a decade, plus.

This is no surprise.

And furthermore it's no real surprise that she helps me out with this here blog, by putting the sprog's activities to paper and giving them to me to blatantly misrepresent faithfully record.  It's usually an email or a scrap of paper entitled "Blog Notes."  Well, bingo.  This week has been long on work, short on time.  So you'll have to be content with Blog Notes with snarky (and arguably explanatory) Notes to the Blog Notes.  Duly noted?  Okay, then, herewego:

i told jack this morning that i was going to the doctor today.  i said "the doctor is going to look in my ears and nose and mouth and listen to my heart.  jack said "and she's gonna measure you!"

Majesty has been sick almost pushing one of those fortnight things, after catching the funk from Jack.  She's now generously given it to me.  The kissing.  It's gotta be the kissing.  It has to be stopped.  I digress.  Anyway, unless you're about 12, and your final adult height is still clouded by some uncertainty, most docs seem to just forego the whole measuring thing.  H.M. told me after the visit that, just like the little swami predicted, she got measured.  I demand to know how he learns this stuff.

jack's new favorite instrument is the bagpipe.

Uh, yeah.  You'll remember in The Twelve Days of Christmas where the eleven pipers pipe?  Majesty reckoned that JMW had never seen a set of pipes, well, ever.  Enter YouTube, and people bored enough to upload bagpiping videos.  They're out there.  Jack now walks around clutching big butterfly ornaments from the tree, their long wires stuck in his mouth, making the most awful of noises.

jack's "ice skates" - you need the picture to go along with this.

 The Lego phase has begun, as expected.  But I never planned on my son teetering on 2 long, straight, black Lego 4-blocks, gingerly balancing himself while he scrapes around the room, yelling EYE SKATINDG!  EYE SKATINDG!  And nope, I don't have the picture with me.  Promise I'll post documentation for this as soon as I can.

today i think he was doing "chin-ups" like daddy.  he was standing on 2 cans and holding on to the island, and counted everytime he popped his head up above the island.

jack's saturday out with daddy.

(Again, a very sick) Majesty needed to rest last Saturday, so Jack and I went to our local park.  It doesn't hurt that it's about 90 seconds away, either.  He was great, playing in the dirt, on the big kids' playground, on the little kids' playground, and pretty much everywhere in between.  The weather was fantastic, and I didn't even mind that he BASE jumped off of the tippy-top of the big kids' equipment (I caught him in mid-air, halfway down.  It was an awesome grab.).  Or that he tried to eat some abandoned orange slices off a park bench (disaster averted by about a picosecond).

Along the pathway there's one of those neglected sets of chin-up bars, the old metal ones with three different heights.  Neglected because they're not as much fun as an Xbox, let's face that.  Desperate to fill time, I grab Yakubu, setting him on my feet so he can grab one leg or other.  I manage about 8 or so of the most painful reps in memory.  Is he eating lead fishing weights when we're not looking?

Was it coincidence that I did an all-time personal best on chins the next morning in the gym?

Majesty has had to deal with several dodgy Christmas ornaments over the years that rub her fur exactly the wrong way.  Like those featuring The King.  They play music.  They're tacky.  I love 'em.  So we ended up teaching Jack who Elvis was.  And the rest is history:

i was telling jack today about santa's helpers at the north pole, the elves.  jack thought i said "elvis" so now he thinks that elvis helps santa make toys... maybe he's onto something?!

It would explain where he's been since 1977.  At some point after reading this, you'll find yourself as I did, sitting in your car, imagining this going down in Santa's Workshop:

You can't escape.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Parquet: Not for Eating

Barack isn't the only one looking like Tie Domi this week.

I did it.  I let it happen.  On my watch.  I let the best looking face around this joint magnificently faceplant into our parquet floor.  We filled up two paper towels with blood and trucked off to the E.R.  Yikes.

Majesty, of course, wasn't there, because this kind of parental negligence can only be handled by someone as dumb as me.  Anyway, Jack has this affinity for being YAPPTUP [wrapped up] in my soft old Royal Stewart flannel.  He looks like a little (Scottish) Masai.  But the arrangement has the obvious flaw of limiting arms that need to be outstretched during say, a gravitational emergency.  The reason why I let him run around like this can only be chalked up to willful idiocy.  Just flat out refusing to acknowledge the inevitable smack.  Oh boy, I be five kindsa stoopid.

As I've noted before, this kid is made out of pig iron.  He's got a pain tolerance that borders on the inhuman.  About a minute or so after the tears and red stuff, he finishes abruptly (I'm now grabbing my wallet, keys and hat) and yells TATUYATOR!  YANNIT!  [Oh loving father, may I please have the adding machine laying yonder on the credenza?].  So he's fine, just calmly playing with the calculator all the way to the hospital.  No crying, no nothing, other than regularly sucking on his getting-even-more-gigantic-by-the-second-lip, interspersed with, I IN THE CAAW!  I DWIVING!

H.M was getting her coiffure coiffed at the, uh, moment of impact and met me up at the ER.  The place was a fully functional zoo.  Thankfully our own on-call pediatrician pulls our card and tells us to go home and see a dentist the first thing next morning.  We find out then that the teeth are a little loose, and should (probably?) be fine, and that apples are off the menu for awhile.

I will now slink back under my rock.  Carry on.

Heard on the Street
Jack now coughs and says, BWESS YOU.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I'm a bit of an overexplainer.  Okay, I'm a lot of an overexplainer.  And we're now pretty sure those genes didn't stop with me:
Majesty:  What does Santa eat?
Jack:  Milk and cookies.  Like Cookie Monster.
Majesty:  What is on Santa's face?
Jack:  A mustache.  Like Mr. Potato Head.
And it explains everything in high decibels, too.  In his words, "I TAWK YAOUD...  USING SPEEKERS."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Twissmus Twees, Skype and Le Croupier

This week, Jack's been fighting the croup hammer and tong.  So as the name suggests, he's been dealing out immunological virulence like bad blackjack hands.  Majesty's got it, or got something-er-other that's similar.  I ALONE have escaped solely by denial.  If you don't admit sickness, voila! you're not sick.  It's mind over Kleenex, people.

We were going to host my parents with a big spread at our house, but Jack woke on Thanksgiving Day in pretty bad shape and we had to cancel.  His (frighteningly awesome) pediatrician happened to be on call, so we eagerly paid the 50 bucks for the privilege of nagging her on a national holiday and were able to skip an emergency room visit.  Chalk that up as another thing I'm thankful for.

But we trotted out the Big Brined Bird anyway, along with Thai Sweet Taters, Death By Cranberry Sauce and some Crack Cocaine Disguised as Giblet Gravy.  The Pie That Almost Ended Our Marriage brought up the rear.

The day after, and not one second before, the Twissmus Twee went up.  Jack was completely bored by the whole ornament-hanging thing.  Ah well, maybe next year.  He did enjoy strolling behind the tree when the grownups weren't watching, trying (I think) to illuminate himself in the spare 120v light socket.  We had to move the much discussed kitchen to make room for the aging fauxenbaum, so maybe he was just looking for his coffee pot.  Who knows.

We finally got a laptop that didn't use a small furry animal on a wheel as a power source, and the thing has a webcam.  And miracle of miracles, my son is now on Skype.  Amazing.

Okay, dad's gotta run.  Enjoy the week, everybody.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Thankful Post

"...[T]here is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more." - Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Taking Score
That's about the worst title ever.  Sorry 'bout that.  This resembles one of those ubiquitous year-end posts, but any similarity to actual year-end posts, either real or fictitious, is strictly coincidental.  Pretty much.

It's been a whopper of a year.  Let's recount our losses, in no particular order:
Memorial Church of Christ
The Most Evil Yippy Dog In All of Christendom (Waitaminute.  This is a WIN.)
Geographic Proximity to Super-tolerant Non-Family Members (a.k.a. "Friends")
And our wins:
Greener Pastures Capital, LP
The New House (including the cee-ment pond - Whoo doggy!)
Greener Pastures Capital, LP
The New Town
Greener Pastures Capital, LP
New Church (especially its ridiculously awesome Romans class)
Greener Pastures Capital, LP
What am I truly thankful for?  All of it.  Just the wins, right?  No, I mean all of it.  What?  Storytime?  Oh alright, storytime.

I had this shack in Dallas that I lived in (we creatively refer to it as "The Shack").  It was on Richmond Avenue on the east side of Skillman and it was this sloppy, run-down duplex that I shared with some neighbor or other.  It was all I could afford.  The Shack had rock hard plaster walls that I would shoot pucks against in my dining room.  There was one window unit, and two gas space heaters, one in the living room and one back in the bedroom (reached by navigating the uneven, rotten wood floors).  The ancient gas range served as a pretty effective heat source in the kitchen.  The cucina itself wasn't huge, and one time I was standing in there, cooking up some pasta for the sixth night in a row dinner, when I made an abrupt movement and shot my elbow through the plate glass window behind me.  It went all winter with a black trashbag duct taped over it.  I'm classy like that.

Thanks to Canadia and the Great Plains and all of that, it gets moderately cold in Dallas and I was freezing one night at bedtime.  So I lit the little space heater in the bedroom, and was out like a cheap lightbulb.  Until the carbon monoxide detector that I bought on a fluke went screaming.  An open window and 40 degrees later, I fell asleep under a single quilt.

Appreciating the fact that I would be in a box with a tag had I not randomly spent 15 bucks at Home Depot, I didn't bother using the space heater again.  In the mornings I'd wake up, peer out from under my blanket, and see my breath.  I lived there for several years, until Majesty took me in, sweet soul.  But in the meantime, something curious began to happen.  People would show up in sweaters and coats.  I'd wear T-shirts.  It would snow, and the touques and scarves would come out.  And I'd switch to longsleeve T-shirts.  I could not feel cold.  Because I was always cold.

We're the most wealthy civilization in the history of the entire world.  But we're not conscious of that.  At all.  And in this phenomenally prosperous country, sometimes I doubt that I'm really on the more-wealthy-than-not end of the spectrum.  Until, that is, I look at those crazy IRS stats on my TurboTax report.  And I don't even make oodles and oodles of cash.  But there they are, numbers that say I'm probably one of the most wealthy men that was ever born.  In history.  You probably are, too.  You're thinking of your household income and disagreeing.  You're reading this on a computer, in your free time.  During a week where we'll chide ourselves for eating far too much and having too many leftovers.  Right.

And in me I can't help feeling ingratitude.  And in me is the small feeling of poverty.

Maybe that's in some way the point.  Perhaps the bit of ingratitude or poverty we feel accentuate the blessings we do have.  Maybe they allow us to understand the riches (of all sorts) we roll around in like Scrooge McDuck in his swimming pool of gold bullion.  Maybe the absence of thanksgiving (the feeling) makes it that much more valuable.

It could be that the other 364 days are more important than any of us thought, precisely because they are not Thanksgiving Day.

Have a nice one, everybody.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have a Swinging Thanksgiving, Baby

Yours truly is a bit pressed for time as the year dwindles down to nothing.  So I'll simply fling video spaghetti against the wall of the blogosphere in hopes of something sticking.  Jack, takeitaway!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Pumpkin Song

Here at CJMP, we are committed to bringing you the very finest in entertainment.  In today's episode, Jack attempts The Pumpkin Song.  With some prompting.  Of special note is the NASCAR-like sponsorship and the incredible hair.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Loxodonta Africana Africana

Go Ahead, Make My All Hallows' Eve
We had a really fine Halloween in the new environs.  On Sunday night, I was glad I had finally pulled the 9mm out of storage, because I'd of course be answering the door all night for trickertreaters.  It then dawned on me that it's probably frowned upon in our new neighborhood to answer the door with a pistol stuffed into your jeans.  The culture shock made me chuckle. 

And for the record, I went armed for the evening only with my sharp tongue and some melty chocolate.  The roughest situation faced was a kid in a San Fransisco Giants uni.  Seriously, kid?!  Where do you live?  Told him he didn't deserve any candy at all, but I'd make an exception.

Oh, and unlike last year, the family pumpkin SURVIVED.  He looks happy, doesn't he?

I Specifically Requested NO MASS MURDERERS
Not much else to report, but Jack did get to parade around the neighborhood as (what else?) an elephant.  In the wild, Loxodonta africana africana is pretty fearless, and doesn't fret about much short of finding the next watering hole.  An important exception:  costumed serial killer mass murderer types.  All bets are off when those dudes show up on the savanna.  As we approach Mr. Killer, I hear little Hathi say from behind my leg, "PICK.  ME.  UP."

Oh, a few weeks back Majesty and I tramped off to the eastern shore of Mobile Bay for a little getaway, just we two.  The expected getaway turned into a hotel quarantine, as both of us were sick.  And I use the term "quarantine" loosely, since we managed to infect H.M.'s entire family with what is now known as the "Vampire Cooties."  We'd like to now submit our formal apology to everyone involved.

The real zenith of the romantic getaway - this was for our (August) anniversary, mind you - was lying in bed, both of us surrounded by Kleenex, H.M. asleep, me watching the Strangers clinch the ALCS on an A-Rod strikeout.  In the immortal words of Dean Martin, "Memories are made of this."

Boy, Dino sure had that right.

The Hills Are Alive with... Victorian Nannies?
Majesty took Jack to a carousel yesterday.  His reaction while riding the horse:  "I'M MARY POPPINS!"

His favorite movie is now The Sound of Music.  The Captain was noticeably confused when Miss Poppins showed up in the Austrian Alps with her hair chopped off.

Your Weekly Laugh Therapy

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Insomnia for Beginners

I'd feel an almost imperceptible bit of guilt writing nothing this week, so I'll give you... next to nothing.  Just mailing it in, here.

Somebody told me one time that if you ever can't sleep, get up immediately, grab a pen, and empty every thought in your head onto the paper.  Try it sometime - it works like a charm.  But it would complicate things if you weren't able to navigate pen and ink.

Last night, an infuriated Majesty stamps into our bedroom, where I'm trolling the interwebs on my phone.  I had put Yakubu down over an hour before, and he was still up, yammering along in his usual (ahem, inherited) way.  H.M. had gone up there to lay down the law.  Didn't work.  She finally figured out the dude was ITEE [itchy] and went downstairs for some MEHDITHIN [cortisone cream].  After slathering him with that, he still was The Figiteer.

The ensuing conversation:
H.M.:  Jack, do you need to tell mommy something?
The Figiteer:  YESH.
H.M.: What do you want to tell mommy?
The Figiteer: FAHN.
H.M.:  A fan?  Where's a fan?
H.M.: The fan's in Poppa's house.  Great.  Thanks, Jack.  What else do you need to tell mommy?
The Figiteer: BURDS EAT YURMS.
H.M.:  Birds eat worms?  They do.  Anything else?
The Figiteer:  BEESH EAT BUGS.
H.M.:  Fish eat bugs.  Alright.  Great.
The Figiteer:  IN YATER.  [In the water.]
H.M.: Right.  Will you go to sleep now?
The Figiteer:  YESH.
And he did.  I'd like to think what's buzzing around in my head when I can't sleep is more consequential, and of far more importance, than ceiling fans or bugs or YURMS.

But it's probably not.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Flashing Back to My Flashback of a Flashback
See the sun rise over her skin / Don't change it
See the sun rise over her skin / Dawn changes everything, everything
And the delta sun burns bright and violet
I'm inexplicably tied to music somehow.  I can't sing worth a lick, and don't play an instrument other than air guitar.  But songs stick in my head forever, firmly attached to a time and place.  Remembering the details of personal milestones is difficult for me... unless they're linked to music.  And so when I was walking myself in this morning, antisocially sporting one of Mr. Jobs' iWhatevers, a song flipped past that I listened to darn near every morning during my first internship at a credit card company and subprime lender (Hah!  How evil and corrupt do I sound now?!) in a 1998 version of Las Colinas.
Mississippi and the cotton wool heat / Sixty-six, a highway speaks
Of deserts dry / Of cool green valleys
Gold and silver veins / Of the shining cities
It's Heartland, from U2's 1988 Rattle and Hum.  That album continues U2's fixation on American music begun the previous year with The Joshua Tree.  There's a hopefulness in both albums that perhaps only foreigners would appreciate and quantify.  Anyway, when I hear Heartland, I'm suddenly driving the 82 miles one-way (I counted) to that first office job.  And I feel as green and young as in those days, where the morning wind whipped through my car.  And behind some still very wet ears.

To my surprise, I'm fielding questions lately about how someone might break into my particular industry.  I cringe.  It's completely accurate to say, "I'm doing what I'm doing by the grace and good pleasure of G0D Almighty.  That's it."  But that comes over as hackneyed, trite.  It's less than helpful to the asker.  But how to explain the path that led you here?  It's like the leaf telling precisely how it was carried downstream.

Family, Sass and Developmental Magic
Another thing that continues to stump me is what I expected (expect?) from Jack.  Meaning, what exactly did I expect him to do but grow and change and learn and... backtalk? 

Majesty tells him to do or not do something or other this weekend.  Can't recall what it was.  Both of us then hear clearly:
That's right, sports fans, the sassing is now underway.  Play ball.  I blame that one squarely on H.M. because it's not a phrase I'm likely to use.  Bit too finger snappy for me.  What we should have done at that point is to lay down the law.  What we did do is laugh hysterically.

I didn't expect it.  Logically, of course, I did, eventually.  But the JackBaby becoming someone that pops off sass (and in complete sentences, too) is quite jarring for an amateur parent.  He's been a constant presence in our lives for a while now, but he's not been too vocal about it.  His thoughts becoming words are him becoming a person.  And it is magical to watch.

Oh, Emu's My FAVORITE!
Yeah, so one of my projects this weekend was digging up some (comically brief) video footage and pictures from our Methuselah of a PC hard drive.  Hope you like it.  I had more video, but alas, persnickety Blogger has put the kibosh on that, refusing to upload anything else.

We did our second annual visit to the petting zoo/playground/pumpkin patch with Teams Reynolds and McIntosh.  So when you see various farm creatures, that's what's going down.  Final tally:  1 cow kissed (really), 3 rabbits violently patted, 1 pony rode, 2 sheep chased.

Legal Disclaimer:  No animals were harmed (We think.  Okay, the rabbits might still be traumatized).  Results not typical.  Manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Elementary School Fascism

Reviving Bicycles AND Pre-Columbian Culture
We're fortunate to now live near a park.  And I'm talking about a really good park.  With actual trees.  A park that didn't run out of upkeep money in 1974.  There's a kiddie pool and various sizes and configurations of newfangled play equipment, cool-looking stuff that, in my day, we would have violently pulled down like an endzone goalpost.

Trails run all through the place, headed to a zillion unknown suburban destinations.  There's a no-nonsense soccer field.  Standing on it, surrounded by trees, gives you a real Field of Dreams tinge, as if soccer players will just walk right out of the thicket and play. There are huge mounds of dirt (?) for the kids (ahem, of all ages) to run and play on like crazed little prehistoric Mound Builders.

It's a great park, even though the absence of gangbangers and junkies is painfully conspicuous and sadly, the norm here.  It took us a long time to identify the strange people that did frequent the park.  Upon closer inspection, we found that they were...  yes, normal people.  Didn't even have weapons on them.  I know, I know.  Who comes to a park without packing iron?

Anyhoo, Majesty sends me over there yesterday with Jack to burn an hour or so.  (This park visit brought to you by the world's most munificent and awesome boss, ever.)  We roll over there, and sit on a park bench, eating our too-ripe bananas in the dappled [SHUNNY!] sunlight.  You can't buy 10 minutes like that, people.  We went off to play on the neo-jungle gym.

Near one of the dirt mounds, there's a catastrophically wrecked mountain bike.  This thing looks like it was involved in a nuclear weapons test.    Jack hops on and claims it to be JACK BICEEDLE [bicycle]!  He demands that DADEE HEP [Daddy help].  Help with what, dude?  I explained to little effect that there wasn't much to be done short of reading a burial rite.  He declares the frame of the BICEEDLE is a DEETAUR [guitar] Whatever.

I'll Bet She Had a Square Mustache
We end up over by the soccer fields at one point, because Jack ditched the swings when he heard kids.  Lots of kids.  We wander the field, and he plays in the nets a moment, and then he bolts to the trail.  I run after him, and hear a girl's voice say, "HEY!  IT'S JACK!"

A fence abuts the park, and it happens to be the fence of the local elementary school's playground.  Four little girls are yelling for Jack, by name, to come over to them, which he does.  "We see him almost every day!" one says to me.  "Who's your pediatrician?"  I answer.  "Wow!  Mine, too!"  "I'm in fourth grade, she is too, and she's in second."  "I'm in third!"  "Where do you live?  I live in Fairy Creek Bend Bramble Branch Rock Pines."  "I live in Valley Grove Bayou Hills Heath Meadows."  "Do you know where that is?"  "Who's your dentist?  Oooh, go to Doctor BROWN!"  "How old is Jack?"  "We talk to his mom."  (I talk to his mom, too.)  "Will he give us a high five?  No, Jack ALL of us!  Give ALL of us high fives!  Jack!"  Yakubu begins to wander off, now bored with his girl posse.  They plead:

"Don't leave us, Jack!  We're your FANS!"

Wow.  God sure knew what he was doing when he signed me up for a boy.

In retrospect, I know what Ms. Fascist Elementary School Teacher saw.  The little girls in a row against the fence, and Creepy Dude That Hangs Around Grade Schools (yeppers, yours truly) menacingly looming over them.  Between us, Jack would have been invisible.  About then I hear, and everyone cringes, at:


As they slink away, Second Grader offers, "Yeah, they don't like people being on the campus."  I feebly retorted, "Uh, I'm not, we're not, y'know, on the campus...  actually."  Jack heard the old hag with the voice of Satan teacher, too, and knew the jig was up.

I still hate elementary school.

The Rhyme Bible (a.k.a. The Rhyming Bible in these parts), is 256 pages long, with something like 4-6 lines per page.  I paused on page 184 a few nights back, and Jack recited it.  He does the same with page 218.  And others.  After finishing, he flips on his own to page 92, and recites that, too, just for good measure.  I can pause on any word, any sentence, on any page... in any book and he'll fill it in for me.  Two questions:  
  • Who says parenting isn't fun?
  • Where HAVE my brain cells gotten off to since I was 2?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Groundhog Day and the Sticky Punchline

I Like to Say a Prayer and Drink to World Peace
I flipped on that darn color teevee a few nights back and stumbled onto Groundhog Day.  If you haven't seen that movie, and where have you BEEN?, it's a (hilarious) study of what might be possible if you were to repeat living one day... indefinitely.

With each identical day, the man sees and learns from tiny mistakes.  He soaks up details to use again in varying ways, most of them hysterically funny.

Anyway, Majesty wasn't enthused with my choice.  She declared flatly that she had already seen it, and didn't want to see it over again, because once was plenty.  Which goes down as about the most ironic statement, well, ever.

Getting the skipper to go to sleep is a lot like that movie.  Small mistakes have huge repercussions.  You gather intelligence and use it to your advantage next time.  What you screw up this evening, you fix tomorrow night.

I think routine is kid nirvana.  And as they grow, the routines get more and more elaborate.  They get so involved that eventually you can pass for Patrick Roy before a playoff game.  There's a certain way to do, and to order, just about everything.  From choosing jammies, to brushing teeth, to turning on lamps and shuttering windows, to stories to be read, it all matters.  And if the delicate chain of events is broken or misordered, all is not lost, it's just... different.

And sometimes different doesn't work out.

I Find Adhesives Incredibly Amusing
I was comparing notes with H.M. last night and we got to talking about the books we read to Jack at naptime-slash-bedtime.  She went to the public library in town recently and had come away with just about every book they would lend her.  The large stack was upstairs.  You know the ones, with that smooth, crinkly, sort of worn layer of extra plastic on the dustcovers that only library books have.  I had dipped into most of them with Jack already.  I told her my set list.  She told me hers.  To nobody's surprise, we read them almost precisely in reverse order.

I thought, as I do a lot, that she outranks me by a huge margin on the Knowing-What-I'm-Doing scale.  And so that night, I read the books in her order.  Everything was going beautifully.  The normally nuclear-fueled boy was dead tired, and almost asleep.  The last story, I think it was If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, was up.  And then we hit the scotch tape.

For complex plot reasons unknown to me, "scotch tape" comes up in the book.  And Jack thought my saying "scotch tape" was hilarious.  I mean, really hilarious.  He laughed so hard, I could hear things gurgling and groaning and sloshing in there.  I thought he was going to spew.  And with the belly laughs, came the hiccups.  Monumental hiccups that shook Jack, myself, the tectonic plates under us and the entire chair we sat in.  And when you get the hiccups, you're as far away from sleep as you can be.

The better part of a flawlessly choreographed hour was down the terlit.  And I've filed a $2.7MM class-action lawsuit against 3M.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The missus and I just sit around sometimes, watching, stupefied by Yakubu's antics.

It's like appreciating opera.  You fight through the language barrier, and in onion-layers, the meaning gradually dawns on you.  I kid you not, we saw this played out in our kitchen yesterday: 
JMW:  (At our bathroom door)  PEETUW!  PEETUW! 
Audience:  Peter.  Who do you know named Peter?  (We shrug at each other.)
JMW:  (Runs to Laundry Room door, stage left)  NAH NAHK NAH NAHK! 
Audience:  Knock knock.  Okay, Peter knocks.  Got it. 
JMW:  (Runs to Bathroom door, stage right) DOOWH! 
Audience:  Door.  Yeah, that's a door, Jack. 
JMW:  (Runs frantically back to laundry door) PEETUW AT DOOWH!  OUTSHIDE!  OUTSHIDE!  PEETUW OUTSHIDE!  (Runs back to bathroom, peering under the door)
Audience:  Peter's at the door?  Peter's outside?  Peter's at the door outside?
JMW:  (At laundry again)  PEETUW!
Audience:   Waitaminute.  Oh that Peter!  I think he means the Peter.  Ah.  Didn't they do the story about Rhoda and Peter in Bible class?
JMW: (Runs into other room)  EEHYODAH!  PEETUW AT DOOWH!  OUTSHIDE!
Audience: Was that "Rhoda?"  I think he just said Rhoda.  Wow.
So with zero prompting from us, we get a Toddlerpiece Theater vignette from Acts 12.  Not bad.  It's amazing what happens when The Dude actually happily goes (and more importantly, stays) in Sunday School without clinging to HM's leg like a strawberry Fruit Roll-Up.  That's personal growth, people.

  • Majesty points to a pumpkin on this month's mag from a certain lovable and cuddly inside trader, expecting Jack to name the gourd.  His response?  "MATAH STEWAT."
  • After Jack bashes my leg with a pint-sized chair I get all over him, barking, "Oww!  Don't do THAT!"  He stands, head down, eyes up, and softly says, "SOWWY."  I felt about thiiiiiiis big.
  • Jack notices that "MOMMY HAHR ESS WET."  Feeling his own (dry) hair, says, "DAHK HAHR ESS HOT."  Hot.  Right.
  •  When Alabama runs, regardless of ball carrier, we hear:  ENDAHM!  [Mark Ingram].  When it's a pass play, regardless of receiver, we hear:   HOOEEYO!  [Julio Jones].

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Toy Kitchen Manifesto

You Tawkin'na Me?
So we got Jack a kitchen.  You know, like a toy kitchen.  With a fridge, a grill, coffeemaker, everything.  I've mentioned it before.  It's awesome and he loves it.  So does every little kid that has set foot in the house, boy or girl.

The kitchen's a hit.  But once in a while, if we happen to mention it, we'll get a little flak.  It's almost imperceptible, but it's flak.  "A kitchen, huh?"  As if a toy kitchen is an inappropriate toy for a little boy to have.

To some, I guess a kitchen isn't "manly" enough for a 2 year old.  I mean, Jack's entire world is full of manly, grown up things, to be sure.  Things like diapers, teddy bears, pre-cut meat, and sippy cups.  Heaven forbid that Jack do something (gasp!) infantile or non-manly, maybe even (double gasp!) involving cooking*.  Er, sorry, pretend cooking.  'Cause you know, that sort of thing might make him a big sissy.  Uh huh.  Like this mammoth, lumbering toddler that relentlessly tractorbeams everything in a skirt is in legitimate danger of that.

Well, phooey on all of it.  Phooey.  It's like I've been transported back in time a hundred years, here.  Take off that smoking jacket, put down your calabash and listen to me.

A two year old is a baby.  (A resourceful, calculating, manipulative, cunning baby, but a baby nonetheless.)  But that fact aside, I'd rather spend my time teaching my little boy to be a man, rather than teaching him how not to be effeminate.  There's a big, big difference, hombres.

Will I buy Jack the next Miss America Barbie?  Probably not, you're right.  But that's a far cry from rushing into the church nursery or preschool and intervening before he (triple gasp!) picks up a dolly.  There are bigger BEESH [fish] to fry.

What I'm really wondering is, what exactly are we worried about, here, boys?

Even women participate in accommodating male paranoia.  I can't number the times when a woman has called Jack "pretty" or some equivalently frilly word.  No problem.  Doesn't bother me one whit.  Catching herself, she'll then blurt in my direction, "Oh I'm sorry, I mean handsome."  Like I need to be patronized.  Like my fears need to be assuaged.  What in the Wide World of Sports have I got to worry about?

Don't misunderstand.  I don't deny the serial emasculation of the modern male.  For men of any age, it's rampant, destructive, and a real problem.  There's much to be said in defense of boys truly being boys, and not in a pejorative sense.  But all this shallow macho posturing doesn't solve that problem.  And it's lousy PR for our gender.

If anybody needs us, Jack and I will be in the kitchen.

*a.k.a. "women's work" to folks born when McKinley was in office.

And Now For Something Completely Different
Found this interesting article today.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The (Kitchen) Oil Spill

Identitii Theftus Interruptus
We had ourselves a very tolerable weekend.  About everybody we know in the universe (which come to think of it, isn't really saying a whole lot) ended up at our house one night or the other.

We've had a rash of pregnancies in our old church group (everyone's switched to bottled water now) and we all got together to honor our good friends Jason and Valerie and very-soon-to-be-calling-the-shots-at-their-house little Norah.  So that was a lot of fun.  So was figuring out who's portable hard disk Jack pinched.

Late in the evening, Jack was walking around with a "phone" at his ear, something he does incessantly.  Looks like a stockbroker, I'm telling you.  But the BAH [phone] he was glued to looked different somehow.  Somebody thought it looked like a hard disk.  There's only one in the house: it's upstairs and (I thought) well out of Jack's reach.  So Jack's casually playing with, and dropping frequently, the family's entire accumulated storehouse of data and pictures.  Nice.

But nope, after I wrestled it from the feisty dude, it's not mine after all.  It's not anybody's.  I then call around to people that have already left to get some answers.  The victims of the theft hang a yooey and reclaim their property after 20 minutes.  I apologize.  I then explain to the kid that it's generally frowned upon to pilfer from your guests.  Unless you're running for office, then it's fine to charge 1,000 clams a plate and shamelessly beg for cash.

I just hope his victims changed all their passwords and checked their bank accounts today.

I'll Just Rub My Bread On My Face, Thanks
The next night, dinner with an old college friend of mine goes great, and towards the end Jack kind of, you know, vanishes.  Regular readers of CJMP will be familiar with The Silence.

I find Our Hero in the kitchen.  He's got most of our stock of olive oil poured on the floor.  And poured on him.  (The joint smelled like an olive press.)  He was incredibly slippery to carry upstairs and bathe, but his skin looks fantastic.

As for the kitchen, we've put out the oil booms and are hoping for the best.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Latest In Bulletproof Toys

A lot to report from the weekend now that I've (mostly) regained my senses from last week's neurological fiasco.

A Tropical Expedition
Saturday was a great day outside as we mobilized for the 25 foot long journey out to el patio de los gringos.  Preparations were extensive, sunblock was applied, reapplied, and re-reapplied, along with that ever present, necessary Houston evil, bug spray.  Everybody marched out there in their BEEP BOPS [flip flops] and made the best of it.

By the time we were done, we had burned several hours (but no pasty skin, thankfully), swam a bit, somebody got fidgety and replaced parts of two exterior light fixtures, and Jack had made at least 15 small donations to the hummingbird-sized mosquitoes that infest the Back Forty.  He's really very popular in the mosquito community nowadays.  Gets invited to all the parties, fundraisers, everything.

We did slather him with OFF! repeatedly to little effect.  On a completely unrelated note, I'm currently in the market for a smallish canister of DDT, so let me know if anyone sees anything on Craigslist.  (Would be for "scientific and/or research purposes" if the federales are asking.)

We also came back indoors with a neat little item.  Cobbled from my very first graphite hockey stick, an Easton Comp 7, I give you... the Comp 1/7th.  Apologies for the poor picture quality, but Tropical Storm Hermine didn't help improve photo conditions this morning.  It's hard to see scale, but it's a bit better than knee-high carbon with a Kevlar wrapped blade.  That's for durability and lightness while whacking anything and everything, well, whackable.  And for stray gunfire.  There's that.

And it's Jack's first hockey stick.

This Is Not A Pillow
Ultraweird naptime behavior continues.  Get this.  Majesty tells me that when she gets Jack up from his nap a few days back, he's (1) four kinds of buck rogers nekkid, has removed his (2a) shorts and (2b) diaper, (3) peed on the shorts from 2a, and is (4) using the, ah, somewhat less than fresh rolled up diaper as a pillow.  Unbelievably, he is totally clean.  Pictures (i.e. photographic proof of this) to come.

Personally, I'd Be Anxious About Who My Dad Is
Church and school have been getting tougher and tougher for Jack, and frankly neither is going well.  So in hopes to alleviate some building separation anxiety, I was instructed to take the sprog out to the mall playground.  The goal was exposing Jack to, simultaneously, both the maximum number of dangerous microbes, and the minimum amount of mommy possible.

I get the logistics hammered out on when to arrive, where to park, when to leave, where the ever-popular pet store is, all of that stuff.  No sweat.  And I'm executing the plan pretty well to be perilously unsupervised, just me and Jack.  I get him into the rinkydink umbrella stroller (looks NOTHING like an umbrella in any form whatsoever, by the way).  But the thing doesn't look quite right.  Ah.  It's not locked out.  I fix that with my foot.  And then Jack starts to shake.  Like he's in pain.  I check hands:  clear.  I check footsies:  clear.  Hmmm.

I figured out quickly that in closing the darned umbrella-on-wheels-deathtrap, I had pinched the daylights out of a small triangle of flesh under Jack's arm.  And I mean, I got it goooooooooood, too.  Looks like I branded him for the Double Rocking-Ouch Ranch.  He's crying.  I'm comforting.  And apologizing profusely.  So I grab him up and we sit in the front of the Tahoe to work things out and kiss and be Soul Brothers again.  And I bonk his head soundly on the doorframe.  On the upside, it did really take his mind off the whole death-by-pinching thing, though.

Yikes.  Sometimes I just stop myself and wonder if it's possible to get fired from Fatherhood. 
Non Sequitur of the Week:
HM:  "Jack, do you want fish or chicken nuggets for lunch?  Jack?  Fish or chicken nuggets?"
JMW, Capt.:  "Corndogs."*

*I officially object to Majesty's official objection to my use of the official term "cornydog."  Which is precisely how you say it.  Millions of heart disease-riddled fried food connoisseurs can't be wrong.  Amiright?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dispatches From The Bathroom Floor

Completely unfit to write + wicked migraine hangover = fasten your seatbelts, meine Damen und Herren.  But I'll at least spare you the Faulkner.  My head still feels like a half-peeled orange.

There are a few fine traits that I think I've passed along to my son:  Near-atomic energy levels.  A brow of absolute granite.  Insatiable curiosity.  Broad shoulders.

But so help me, I hope he dodged this ancestral mark:  The Migraine Headache.

For the record, I hate the very subject.  It makes me feel ill, because one of two things usually happens:  the discussion either begins (1) King of the Mountain or (2) Amateur Night.  By that I mean, either folks quibble over who has the more debilitating case, or someone will wonder aloud if they're afflicted at all.  Like y'know, it's a papercut they hadn't noticed yet.

I'd rather just ignore the things, letting them come and go in their shadowy, inexplicable way.  But they're difficult to blow off when extremities go numb, you get sick, or you can't see out of one eye.  It's great fun.  I've gone a stretch of two years without one.  Or like the two this weekend, 12 hours.  They're caused by food.  Or skipping meals.  Or stress.  Too much exercise.  Not enough.  Chocolate.  Caffeine.  Light.  Sound.  Weather.  BoozeSandwich meat.  Barometric pressure.  Concussions.  Allergies.  Or, more probably, some admixture of all, some, or none of these.

And also for the record, I can't walk and chew gum for about 3 days after a good one.  The big conference call yesterday planning how what was to be done where?  Didn't go so well.  I ended up holding my head in my hands over my speakerphone and getting the smartypantses to submit all non-yes-or-no questions via email.  Not quite my shining moment of ironfisted leadership.

The preponderance of genetics seems very much against Jack.  I have migraines.  His Grammy has them.  His uncles both have them.  His Poppa has them.  No doubt there have been many, many more.  And so, maybe one day when Jack's about twelve, he might come in from playing outside, and be unable to speak.  Or write.  (My parents thought I had had a stroke.)  That'll be great.

I thought as I lay slumped on my bathroom floor at 3 a.m., vomiting:
 "Oh, boy, I hope he missed THIS gene!"
'Cause boys and girls, it's a doozy.  And by the way, that's just a fine place for clarity of thought, your loo floor.  It is.  So forgive me, my son, if I unwittingly gave you something I wouldn't wish upon my worst foe.

But hey, last weekend started off well enough, and at some point through the fog I distinctly remember being utterly amazed while watching Majesty lead Jack through a recitation of the books of the Bible.  He got most of them, he really did.  Even Obadiah.  It was awesome, even if his crazy mom was teaching him to say "HAGG-EE-EYE" for "HAGG-EYE."  Potayto, potahto.

With that, he'll probably be well equipped for starting preschool this week (or appearing on Jeopardy).  We set him up in a little school this fall with our Disciples of Christ cousins.  Close enough, right?  A little inside baseball, here, but I'm sure everyone will get along just fine until they near the end of the 19th century.

We even got to go to a really good husband reeducation camp marriage seminar this weekend, and catch up with the friends we deserted some friends.  The speaker was Hal Runkel, who oddly enough is a dead ringer for the first fund manager I ever worked for.

Heck, this week?  For all I know it probably was him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cee-ment Pond Problem

Good grief, has it been another week already?  Sheesh.

My parents came down for a visit this weekend, and it was nice to see them, as always.  And Jack's activity level was supernatural, as usual.  With the grownups sitting around the table, it all looked like those time-lapse videos where people and dogs and squirrels run lightning-fast near a static park bench.  It was exhausting just watching the kid skim imaginary debris off the tile floor.  Yeah, so I incautiously let him watch me skim off the cee-ment pond and voila:  Copycat Pool Dude.

Majesty decreed, and rightly I think, that Jack should witness me doing more mainstream, sportsy-type dad activities.  So I spent a solid half hour trimming muscadine vines off of the inherited basketball goal in the back driveway.  Okay, waitaminit.  I can actually hear you snickering.  Yes, me shooting a roundball will be hilarious.  And yes, it's only a matter of time before I attempt to flip pucks up into the hoop.

I'm also strategerizing on how to install a putting green on my top balcony.  You think I'm kidding.

I read an article today about time, and just how much of it we're all wasting.  Which is ironic, seeing as how this blogging thing is a huge giant massive big big big enormous timewaste.  I choose to rationalize around the obvious conclusion.  Anyway, check this blurb out:
The authors of Discretionary Time write about the concept of "time poverty": "We all know about the working poor, people whose wages are so low that they cannot escape poverty even by working full-time.  There are also people who manage to avoid being 'money poor' only by making themselves 'time poor' -- that is, working terribly long hours."
And this one:
...the researchers argue that time is better than money as an indicator of success. [emphasis mine]*
By that measure, I told HM this morning, I have arrived.

No, really.  I think I have.  If that's the true measure of prosperity or success, then I've never had more time to spend with my family.  And I'm incredibly grateful for that.  And shocked, too.  And grateful.  Did I say grateful?  Because I am.  But contented?  Well, that's tougher.

I'm also hopelessly uncreative when it comes to whiling away those newfound hours in a fun, productive, memorable, good-dad way.  And so the kicker is exactly what to do with time, once you're fortunate enough to reclaim it.

*Zimmerman, Mike "How to Live Better on 24 Hours A Day." Men's Health Sept 2010:  140-141