Gimme Shelter, Part 1

While standing in the backyard one afternoon, I noticed that I had a metal shed. I always knew it was there because I had been using it for storage. But for some reason, I didn’t really SEE it until that moment. I grabbed a measuring tape to see how large it was. It turns out that I have an 9.6 x 8.5, A-framed shed sitting on a concrete slab in my back yard! That’s over 80 square feet of space!! At that moment, I decided that it was time to make our shed functional.

My first thought was – MAN CAVE!! Then, I realized that I had two children to think about and a wife who I would have to “sell” this idea to. So, the idea morphed into a Man Cave/Play Area/Storage Unit for toys/ Reading Room/ Wreck Room/ Work Shed. Or, “MCPASUTRRWRWS!!” (Ok, we need a better name for it.)

The first step: clean out the shed!

I enlisted Justin’s help. (see, “Justin is Such a Tool”) I took him to Home Depot and bought him gloves, goggles, and a facemask. We returned home and began hauling out all of the junk that had been piling up in the shed. We pulled out a lawn mower, weed wackers, paint cans, bug killer, floor tiles, roofing shingles, carpet samples, hedge clippers, old sprinklers, etc. We put each item into one of three piles – 1) Save in garage, 2) “Dangerous” – store outside, or 3) Garbage.

I also pulled out an old, dilapidated wooden stand from a table that was no longer in use. I brought it into the middle of the yard and handed Justin a real hammer. He looked confused as he kept shifting his gaze between me, the table, and the hammer.

“Smash it!” I yelled!

“Huh?” he replied.

I yelled louder – “JUSTIN SMASH!!!” (like “HULK SMASH!!”) He gently tapped it three or four times.

“No,” I said. And with my own hammer, I slammed it into the wood repeatedly while grunting like a wild animal. Wood chips began flying everywhere and giant, gaping holes began to appear one after the other. When I was done, I looked over and Justin’s mouth was open, drool was coming out, and he had a look of primal excitement as he approached the table. Then, in slow motion, (as if he was one of the apes in the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey”) he lifted the hammer over his head and began to destroy each and every bit of connective wood paneling that he could find. When he was done, he dropped the hammer by his side and just observed the remains of his handiwork.

At this point, the shed has been cleaned out and we are waiting for Jose to get back to us with estimates so that we can add ventilation.

We’ll continue to update GenXDaddy with our adventures in “Shedding!”

A Hideable Feast

Ernest Hemingway once wrote: “Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it.” I had no intention of using hunger as a tool to teach my son a lesson, but it certainly made an impact on him this week!

On Monday, Justin asked me to make him a “special lunch” for school. The school provides lunch on a daily basis, but I think Justin was feeling a little neglected because GWE was out of town and I was spending a little more time with the baby. I happily agreed to make him the best lunch he’d ever had. (Yes, I did not realize it at the time, but I was about to set a high standard which would be impossible to maintain over time.)

With Garrett supervising from his high chair, I proceeded to make Justin a smoked turkey and lean roast beef sandwich on Milton’s bread with a little Thousand Island dressing (instead of mustard or mayo), a spinach salad with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes (sesame dressing on the side), 2 peaches from grandma’s garden, and a Danimal’s Smoothie. As a final touch, I put a “special” note on the top. I packed everything in his lunch box with enough ice packs to take down the Titanic and then we all left for school.

After dropping Garrett off in his room, Justin and I proceeded to his classroom. As we got to the kids’ gate, Justin ran up to it in an effort to hold it open for me. Unfortunately, there was another child holding the gate for his mother at the same time. The children exchanged a few words….and then fists began to fly. I quickly grabbed Justin by the shoulder and pulled him aside. I got down to his eye level and in an angry tone I told him that I was not ok with him hitting and that we had talked about this many, many times before – and then I added the final, “I’m very disappointed in you.” Justin had been in too many physical confrontations recently and it needed to stop. I was frustrated and felt that some sort of punishment was necessary.

So – I told him that I was taking away the lunch I had made for him. He would have to make do with the lunch the school provided. In that moment, Justin was destroyed. He begged and pleaded to keep the lunch, but I said “no.” He cried and he tantrumed…and I still said, “no.” I instructed him to go and play on the playground while I spoke with his teacher. With tears in his eyes, he sulked off.

When he was out of earshot, I told his teacher what had happened and about the punishment. But, then I explained that I didn’t feel right completely taking away his lunch. (No punishment should last 5 hours.) So instead, I asked her for a place to hide it in the classroom and instructed her to give it back to him at lunch. I felt satisfied with this. He would feel the sting of losing something he wanted (temporarily) and I felt like he was still getting a healthy lunch. Justin continued to cry as I left, but I knew that it would all be alright in a few hours.

At 6:00pm, I arrived back at the school to get the kids. My first stop was to get Justin. While he was preoccupied outside, I collected his belongings and signed him out. Realizing that his lunchbox was not in his cubby, I went over to other area in the room where lunchboxes and jackets were stored. Still, no lunchbox. All of a sudden, a pit grew in my stomach. I went back to the cabinet where I was instructed to “hide” his lunchbox and there it was….UNOPENED. His lunch was still inside!!

I stormed out of his classroom and up to his teacher while holding the lunchbox. I saw her face go pale and her jaw drop.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I’m so sorry! I forgot!!” She continued to explain that she took a break during lunch and forgot to tell the other teacher. She kept apologizing and I kept reassuring her that it was fine – accidents happen. But, I’m pretty sure my body language betrayed me and the truth was, I was pissed!! Justin saw me from across the playground and then he saw the lunchbox. He ran up to me and gave me a big hug. “Daddy! You brought my lunch back!” I bit my tongue and lied. “Yea buddy, I heard you had a much better day, so I brought it back.”

He told me how sorry he was for hitting his friend and that he had apologized to him later in the day. Clearly, he understood that his actions had consequences, but all I felt was guilt. As we got into the car, I told him that I was also sorry and I unwrapped the sandwich per his request. He happily ate half of it on the way home while humming with happiness.

By the way – everything was still ice cold thanks to my Syracuse-learned, Igloo, ice-packing abilities! GO ORANGE!!

The Week of Men

"Yay!! Daddy's lost control!!!"

If you follow the “real” me on Facebook, you know that I’ve spent the past week balancing the needs of my clients with the demands of running my company all while providing the sole care for my boys because GWE was out of town. Periodically, I would chronicle what was happening – like “Robinson Crusoe” being trapped on a deserted island observing the mutineers, captives, and cannibals. Here is my “Captain’s Log” for the past six days:

Week of Men, Day 1: GWE has been gone for 10 minutes. There are already whispers of mutiny among the ranks. Or, baby farts. Not sure which….

Week of Men, Day 2: I was woken up by the sounds of “whale-mating” on the baby monitor. I rushed into Garrett’s room to find him “sucking face” with his own image in the baby mirror. Kid’s got skills!

Week of Men, Day 3: Up at 5:35am. Not cool. Garrett was singing LOUDLY and Justin decided to pee LOUDLY. It is going to be a very long day.

Week of Men, Day 3.5: For the love of God, how can it only be noon?!?!? I’ve fed the kids six times and one of them is on nap #3. The bigger one refuses to wear clothes and the smaller one has been crying because he is teething again. I’m going to my inner “happy place” now.

Week of Men, Day 4: I was woken up at 5:51am to Garrett saying “da-da” through the monitor. I was so excited that I raced into his room. He looked at me, smiled, and (again) said “da-da.” I was thrilled!! Then, he looked at the green monkey on the wall, “da-da!” And then he looked at his taggie, “da-da.” Okay – one out of three ain’t bad!!

Week of Men, Day 4.5: I just looked over and both Justin and Garrett are watching TV on the sofa while scratching their privates like Spider Monkeys. My house has become “Planet of the (Nut-Scratching) Apes!”

“It’s 4:45 in the morning….Let’s play!”

Week of Men, Day 5: Up at 4:45am thanks to Garrett screaming like a maniac because his foot was stuck in between the crib bars. At 5:10, Justin walked in and went into great detail about the water squirting aliens in his dreams. Can’t take much more. I may “safe drop” myself at the local fire station today.

Week of Men, Day 6: Let’s see – went to sleep at 2am after finishing a tracking grid for a client, Garrett woke up at 5am and called me Da-Da (got it on tape), Justin yelled at me for turning off his radio and lights in the middle of the night, did the dishes, bathed the baby, made breakfast for everyone, fed the baby, made lunch for everyone, left the house, got to the gas station, Justin yelled at me for forgetting his “Angry Bird” and then I realized that I also left my wallet at home in the diaper bag, went back home, got the wallet (and Angry Bird), handled a client crisis via cell while going back to the gas station, went to school, dropped off kids. Handled a second client request via email while driving – (sorry to everyone on the 405). Got back in the car, made my way past a huge accident, and was in the office for my 10 am conference call. My life has turned into a crazy Japanese game show!

As I am finishing this blog post, GWE just texted me that she has landed and is on her way home. I hope she is well rested because tonight – I’m taking 2 Tylenol PMs with a Sparkling Rabbi and I don’t plan on waking up until the bed sheets need changing!

Sherlock: The Case of the [Bleeping] [Bleep]

Sherlock  has struck again. He just forwarded me a text that was sent to him from a young lady who wanted to get to know him a little better. There is very little I can print because it is SO graphic. However, in the spirit of dedicated, married fathers being torturing by their single friends with their stories of sexcapades and horizontal conquests, here is another “notch on the bedpost.”

(Direct text to Sherlock) “I’m quite [BLEEP] and [BLEEP] already thinking about you delivering those kisses. I’m wishing I was working from home, so I could go touch my [BLEEP] and rub my [BLEEP] and [BLEEP] my [BLEEP] in and out [BLEEP] and [BLEEP] with pleasure!…”

“…I’d [BLEEP] alright, would love to know! You better be sure to wear goggles! ;-)”

“…Then after I [BLEEP] all over I’d want you to push me down to the [BLEEP] and [BLEEP] your [BLEEP] [BLEEP] into my [BLEEP] [BLEEP], pushing deeper and deeper with each [BLEEP] so I can feel you fully [BLEEP] and reacting to each [BLEEP] and [BLEEP]!”

Sherlock’s final comment to me was – “Haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to invite her to visit, but sounds like it would be quite a fun trip if she did!”

What you just read are texts from a woman who either, A) Just finished reading her copy of “50 Shades of Grey” or, B) An imaginative (and limber) woman who really would like to spend some “quality time” with my friend.

In contrast, here are a few examples of texts that I (a happily married man with children) get from GWE:

“Forgot my Blackberry charger.”

“The 405 is ssssllloooowwwww today.”

“Miss you already”

I know! The differences between the two types of texts are subtle. But, I’m sure you’ll see how they differ given some time.

Honestly, I hope “she” shows up to Sherlock’s house with a five o’clock shadow and an Adam’s apple the size of a basketball. 🙂

Justin Is Such A Tool

(In this picture, Justin is "trapped" between the bottom drawer of the crib and the metal frame that holds the mattress in place.)

I would like to think that I contribute in a meaningful way around the house. I do the dishes, bathe the kids, take out the trash, kill things with more than two legs, and every once in awhile – I’ll vacuum (with a real vacuum, not the Dust Buster.) There are only a couple of things I can’t stand doing. And, there is no greater torture in my house then when I am called upon to raise or lower the mattress in the crib. I was recently asked (about 46 times) to lower the mattress so that Garrett wouldn’t flop out of the crib. Secretly, I delayed doing this because I was really hoping to walk into his room one morning to find him “riding the rail” like a cowboy waiting for his turn on the bull. The pressure from GWE and MOGWE became too great, so I caved and attempted to lower the mattress.

While it sounds like an easy task, it is deceptively complicated. In order to lower the mattress, you must unscrew the bolts on the metal frame that holds the mattress in place and then re-attach the screw and bolt comb into another hole while pushing down a metal “arm” that is spring loaded. This becomes insanely difficult because the new holes line up directly across from the bottom of the wooden frame – thereby blocking the screwdriver from direct access. You must go in at an angle…and you have to do this 4 SEPARATE TIMES!!!

On Saturday, I braced myself for the worst. I emptied the crib of all of Garrett’s toys (and Garrett), lifted it on its end, and began to unscrew what I could reach. With sweat pouring down my face and swear words pouring out of my mouth, I was just about to give up when Justin came into Garrett’s room and asked, “Whatcha doin’?” I stared at him for a moment. Maybe I was delirious from the heat or maybe it was the pain in my back, but when Justin walked in – I saw my oasis. There he stood….tiny hands, tiny fingers, tiny body…AH HA!!!

I quickly grabbed Justin and threw a pair of flat-nosed pliers into his hands. I instructed him to grab the bolt with the pliers and squeeze like he was crushing a bug. While he was squeezing, I quickly went to the other side of the crib and twisted in the screws as fast as possible. We finished an hour long job in about 15 minutes.

As it turned out, Justin was the best tool I ever had!!